Synod of the Churches of the Middle East – Pope’s Address

Pope Benedict XVI’s opening address to the Synod of the Churches of the Middle East on October 12th,
Feast of the Divine Motherhood of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

The Maternal Heart of Our Lady

Dear brothers and sisters,
On October 11 1962, 48 years ago, Pope John XXIII inaugurated Vatican Council II. At the time, on October 11, the feast day of the Divine Motherhood of Mary was celebrated and, with this gesture, with this date, Pope John wished to entrust the whole Council into the motherly hands and maternal heart of the Madonna. We too begin on October 11th, we too wish to entrust this Synod, with all its problems, with all its challenges, with all its hopes, to the maternal heart of the Madonna, the Mother of God.
Council of Ephesus

Pius XI, in 1930, introduced this feast day, 1600 years after the Council of Ephesus, which had legitimated, for Mary, the title of Theotokos, Dei Genitrix. With this great word Dei Genitrix, Theotokos, the Council of Ephesus had summarized the entire doctrine of Christ, of Mary, the whole of the doctrine of redemption. So it would be worthwhile to reflect briefly, for a moment, on what was said during the Council of Ephesus, on what this day means.
Through Mary: Within the Intimacy of God Himself

In reality, Theotokos is a courageous title. A woman is the Mother of God. One could say: how is this possible? God is eternal, he is the Creator. We are creatures, we are in time: how could a human being be the Mother of God, of the Eternal, since we are all in time, we are all creatures? Therefore one can understand that there was some strong opposition, in part, to this term. The Nestorians used to say: one can speak about Christotokos, yes, but Theotokos no: Theos, God, is beyond, beyond the events of history. But the Council decided this, and thus it enlightened the adventure of God, the greatness of what he has done for us. God did not remain in Himself: he went out, He united in such a way, so radically to this man, Jesus, that this man Jesus is God, and if we speak about Him, we can also speak about God. Not only was a man born that had something to do with God, but in Him was born God on earth. God came from himself. But we could also say the opposite: God drew us to Himself, so that we are not outside of God, but we are within the intimate, the intimacy of God Himself.
God Born From Woman

Aristotelian philosophy, as we well know, tells us that between God and man there is only an unreciprocated relationship. Man refers to God, but God, the Eternal, is in Himself, He does not change: He cannot have this relation today and another relationship tomorrow. He is within Himself, He does not have ad extra relations. It is a very logical term, but it is also a word that makes us despair: so God has no relationship with me. With the incarnation, with the event of the Theotokos, this has been radically changed, because God drew us into Himself and God in Himself is the relationship and allows us to participate in His interior relationship. Thus we are in His being Father, Son and Holy Spirit, we are within His being in relationship, we are in relationship with Him and He truly created the relationship with us. At that moment, God wished to be born from woman and remain Himself: this is the great event. And thus we can understand the depth of the act by Pope John, who entrusted the Council, Synodal Assembly to the central mystery, to the Mother of God who is drawn by the Lord into Himself, and thus all of us with Her.
Christ Born to Create a Body for Himself
The Council began with the icon of the Theotokos. At the end, Pope Paul VI recognized the same title of Mater Ecclesiae to the Madonna. And these two icons, which begin and end the Council, are intrinsically linked, and are, in the end, one single icon. Because Christ was not born like any other individual. He was born to create a body for Himself: He was born – as John says in Chapter 12 of his Gospel – to attract all to Him and in Him. He was born – as it says in the Letters to the Colossians and to the Ephesians – to summarize the whole world, He was born as the firstborn of many brothers, He was born to unite the cosmos in Him, so that He is the Head of a great Body. Where Christ is born, the movement of summation begins, the moment of the calling begins, of construction of his Body, of the Holy Church. The Mother of Theos, the Mother of God, is the Mother of the Church, because she is the Mother of He who came to unite all in His resurrected Body.
Our Lady of the Cenacle: Mary at the Heart of the Church
Saint Luke leads us to understand this in the parallel between the first chapter of his book and the first chapter of the Acts of the Apostles, which repeat the same mystery on two different levels. In the first chapter of the Gospel the Holy Spirit comes upon Mary and thus she gives birth to and gives us the Son of God. In the first chapter of the Acts of the Apostles, Mary is at the center of Jesus’ disciples who are praying all together, pleading with the cloud of the Holy Spirit. And thus from the believing Church, with Mary at its heart, is born the Church, the Body of Christ. This dual birth is the only birth of the Christus totus, of the Christ who embraces the world and all of us.
Cross and Resurrection
Birth in Bethlehem, birth at the Last Supper. Birth of the Infant Jesus, birth of the Body of Christ, of the Church. These are two events or just one event. But between the two lie truly the Cross and the Resurrection. And only through the Cross comes the path towards the totality of Christ, towards His resurrected Body, towards the universalization of His being in the unity of the Church. And thus, bearing in mind that only from the wheat fallen to earth can a great harvest be reaped, from the Lord pierced on the Cross comes the universality of His disciples reunited in this His Body, dead and risen.
Mother of the Church and Queen of Martyrs
Keeping this connection between Theotokos and Mater Ecclesiae in mind, we turn our attention to the last book of the Holy Scripture, Revelation, where, in chapter 12, we can find this synthesis. The woman clothed with the sun, with twelve stars over her head and the moon at her feet, gives birth. And gives birth with a cry of pain, gives birth with great suffering. Here the Marian mystery is the mystery of Bethlehem extended to the cosmic mystery. Christ is always reborn in all generations and thus takes on, gathers humanity within Himself. And this cosmic birth is achieved in the cry of the Cross, in the suffering of the Passion. And the blood of martyrs belongs to this cry of the Cross.
The Fall of the Divinities
So, at this moment, we can look at the second psalm of this Hour, Psalm 81, where we can see part of this process. God is among gods – they are still considered as gods in Israel. In this Psalm, in a great concentration, in a prophetic vision, we can see the power taken from the gods. Those who seemed to be gods are not gods and lose their divine characteristics, and fall to earth. Dii estis et moriemini sicut nomine (cf. Psalm 81:6-7): the wresting of power, the fall of the divinities.
The Triumph of the Martyred Children of Mother Church
This process that is achieved along the path of faith of Israel, and which here is summarized in one vision, is the true process of the history of religion: the fall of the gods. And thus the transformation of the world, the knowledge of the true God, the loss of power by the forces that dominate the world, is a process of suffering. In the history of Israel we can see how this liberation from polytheism, this recognition – “Only He is God” – is achieved with great pain, beginning with the path of Abraham, the exile, the Maccabeans, up to Christ. And this process of loss of power continues throughout history, spoken of in Revelation chapter 12; it mentions the fall of the angels, which are not truly angels, they are not divinities on earth. And is achieved truly, right at the time of the rising Church, where we can see how the blood of the martyrs takes the power away from the divinities, starting with the divine emperor, from all these divinities. It is the blood of the martyrs, the suffering, the cry of the Mother Church that makes them fall and thus transforms the world.
False Divinities in the World
This fall is not only the knowledge that they are not God; it is the process of transformation of the world, which costs blood, costs the suffering of the witnesses of Christ. And, if we look closely, we can see that this process never ends. It is achieved in various periods of history in ever new ways; even today, at this moment, in which Christ, the only Son of God, must be born for the world with the fall of the gods, with pain, the martyrdom of witnesses. Let us remember all the great powers of today’s history, let us remember the anonymous capital that enslaves man, which is no longer in man’s possession, but is an anonymous power served by men, by which men are tormented and even killed. It is a destructive power, that threatens the world. And then the power of the terroristic ideologies. Violent acts are apparently made in the name of God, but this is not God: they are false divinities that must be unmasked; they are not God. And then drugs, this power that, like a voracious beast, extends its claws to all parts of the world and destroys it: it is a divinity, but it is a false divinity that must fall. Or even the way of living proclaimed by public opinion: today we must do things like this, marriage no longer counts, chastity is no longer a virtue, and so on.
The Marian Mystery
These ideologies that dominate, that impose themselves forcefully, are divinities. And in the pain of the Saints, in the suffering of believers, of the Mother Church which we are a part of, these divinities must fall, what is said in the Letters to the Colossians and to the Ephesians must be done: the dominations, the powers fall and become subjects of the one Lord Jesus Christ. On this battle we find ourselves in, of this taking power away from God, of this fall of false gods, that fall because they are not deities, but powers that can destroy the world, chapter 12 of the Apocalypse mentions these, even if with a mysterious image, for which, I believe, there are many different and beautiful interpretations. It has been said that the dragon places a large river of water before the fleeing woman to overcome her. And it would seem inevitable that the woman will drown in this river. But the good earth absorbs this river and it cannot be harmful. I think that the river is easily interpreted: these are the currents that dominate all and wish to make faith in the Church disappear, the Church that does not have a place anymore in front of the force of these currents that impose themselves as the only rationality, as the only way to live. And the earth that absorbs these currents is the faith of the simple at heart, that does not allow itself to be overcome by these rivers and saves the Mother and saves the Son. This is why the Psalm says – the first psalm of the Hour – the faith of the simple at heart is the true wisdom (cf Psalm 118:130). This true wisdom of simple faith, that does not allow itself to be swamped by the waters, is the force of the Church. And we have returned to the Marian mystery.
The Unshaken Foundations of Faith
And there is also a final word in Psalm 81, movebuntur omnia fundamenta terrae (Psalm 81:5), the foundations of earth are shaken. We see this today, with the climatic problems, how the foundations of the earth are shaken, how they are threatened by our behavior. The external foundations are shaken because the internal foundations are shaken, the moral and religious foundations, the faith that follows the right way of living. And we know that faith is the foundation, and, undoubtedly, the foundations of the earth cannot be shaken if they remain close to the faith, to true wisdom.
Entrustment to the Mother of God
And then the Psalm says: “Arise, God, judge the world” (Psalm 81:8). Thus we also say to the Lord: “Arise at this moment, take the world in your hands, protect your Church, protect humanity, protect the earth”. And we once again entrust ourselves to the Mother of God, to Mary, and pray: “You, the great believer, you who have opened the earth to the heavens, help us, open the doors today as well, that truth might win, the will of God, which is the true good, the true salvation of the world”. Amen

Sunday Snippets–A Catholic Carnival

Sunday Snippets–A Catholic Carnival hosted once again by RAnn of This, That and the Other Thing, giving Catholic bloggers a chance to share their favorites posts with one another. Join the fun, and leave a comment, won’t you?

Well, once again,  I’m late and only have one post to share:

Contribution for the week:

Pervasive Darkness – Everlasting Light – Benedict XVI

Update:NY Times’ Ratzinger Story Wrong by Its Own Documentation

Update:NY Times’ Ratzinger Story Wrong by Its Own Documentation

H/T The Anchoress NY Times Never Talked to Judge

But curiously, as the media talk endlessly about an extremely sick case out of Wisconsin, the Times -which “broke” the story- seems to have been very selective in their sources. Fr. Thomas Brundage, JLC appears not to be considered “useful” to the sensationalists in the press:

I was the Judicial Vicar for the Archdiocese of Milwaukee . . . I presided over four canonical criminal cases, one of which involved Father Lawrence Murphy.

I will limit my comments, because of judicial oaths I have taken as a canon lawyer and as an ecclesiastical judge. However, since my name and comments in the matter of the Father Murphy case have been liberally and often inaccurately quoted in the New York Times and in more than 100 other newspapers and on-line periodicals, I feel a freedom to tell part of the story of Father Murphy’s trial from ground zero.

As I have found that the reporting on this issue has been inaccurate and poor in terms of the facts, I am also writing out of a sense of duty to the truth.

The fact that I presided over this trial and have never once been contacted by any news organization for comment speaks for itself.

NY Times’ Ratzinger Story Wrong by Its Own Documentation

A Response to the New York Times – Fr. Raymond J. de Souza – The Corner on National Review Online.

Excerpts from the response by Fr. Raymond J. de Souza :

The New York Times on March 25 accused Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI, of intervening to prevent a priest, Fr. Lawrence Murphy, from facing penalties for cases of sexual abuse of minors.

The story is false. It is unsupported by its own documentation. Indeed, it gives every indication of being part of a coordinated campaign against Pope Benedict, rather than responsible journalism.

The documents show that the canonical trial or penal process against Father Murphy was never stopped by anyone. In fact, it was only abandoned days before Father Murphy died. Cardinal Ratzinger never took a decision in the case, according to the documents. His deputy, Archbishop Tarcisio Bertone, suggested, given that Father Murphy was in failing health and a canonical trial is a complicated matter, that more expeditious means be used to remove him from all ministry.

To repeat: The charge that Cardinal Ratzinger did anything wrong is unsupported by the documentation on which the story was based. He does not appear in the record as taking any decision. His office, in the person of his deputy, Archbishop Bertone, agreed that there should be full canonical trial. When it became apparent that Father Murphy was in failing health, Archbishop Bertone suggested more expeditious means of removing him from any ministry.

Furthermore, under canon law at the time, the principal responsibility for sexual-abuse cases lay with the local bishop. Archbishop Weakland had from 1977 onwards the responsibility of administering penalties to Father Murphy. He did nothing until 1996. It was at that point that Cardinal Ratzinger’s office became involved, and it subsequently did nothing to impede the local process.

The New York Times flatly got the story wrong, according to its own evidence. Readers may want to speculate on why.

Read here– the documentation

Read more from Archbishop Dolan here

and more from the Anchoress here

Advent Reflection

As this Dec. 7th, the 68th anniversary of the Pearl Harbor attack, causes us to reflect on war and suffering, the Church has us read:

Isaiah 35: 1-10

The desert and the parched land will exult;
the steppe will rejoice and bloom.
They will bloom with abundant flowers,
and rejoice with joyful song.
The glory of Lebanon will be given to them,
the splendor of Carmel and Sharon;
They will see the glory of the LORD,
the splendor of our God.
Strengthen the hands that are feeble,
make firm the knees that are weak,
Say to those whose hearts are frightened:
Be strong, fear not!
Here is your God,
he comes with vindication;
With divine recompense
he comes to save you.
Then will the eyes of the blind be opened,
the ears of the deaf be cleared;
Then will the lame leap like a stag,
then the tongue of the mute will sing.

Streams will burst forth in the desert,
and rivers in the steppe.
The burning sands will become pools,
and the thirsty ground, springs of water;
The abode where jackals lurk
will be a marsh for the reed and papyrus.
A highway will be there,
called the holy way;
No one unclean may pass over it,
nor fools go astray on it.
No lion will be there,
nor beast of prey go up to be met upon it.
It is for those with a journey to make,
and on it the redeemed will walk.
Those whom the LORD has ransomed will return
and enter Zion singing,
crowned with everlasting joy;
They will meet with joy and gladness,
sorrow and mourning will flee.


Isaiah sees each man’s part, Strengthen the hands that are feeble, make firm the knees that are weak. Say to those whose hearts are frightened, ‘Be strong, fear not! Here is your God’ ” With Isaiah, Pope Benedict XVI sees every man’s participation in this coming of peace, this becoming of each and every man and woman. Benedict sees the vocation of all as integral in their fulfillment and God’s destiny for His people.

St. Augustin wrote:

The garden of the Lord, brethren, includes – yes, it truly includes – includes not only the roses of martyrs but also the lilies of virgins, and the ivy of married people, and the violets of widows. There is absolutely no kind of human beings, my dearly beloved, who need to despair of their vocation; Christ suffered for all. It was very truly written about him: who wishes all men to be saved, and to come to the acknowledgement of the truth.

In Caritas in Veritate, Pope Benedict quotes Pope Paul V in  Populorum Progressio:

Progress, in its origin and essence, is first and foremost a vocation: “in the design of God, every man is called upon to develop and fulfill himself, for every life is a vocation.” This is what gives legitimacy to the Church’s involvement in the whole question of development. If development were concerned with merely technical aspects of human life, and not with the meaning of man’s pilgrimage through history in company with his fellow human beings, nor with identifying the goal of that journey, then the Church would not be entitled to speak on it.”

Further, Pope Benedict challenges every woman/man, every generation,

“Love in truth — caritas in veritate — is a great challenge for the Church in a world that is becoming progressively and pervasively globalized. The risk for our time is that the de facto interdependence of people and nations is not matched by ethical interaction of consciences and minds that would give rise to truly human development. Only in charity, illumined by the light of reason and faith, is it possible to pursue development goals that possess a more humane and humanizing value.

Benedict goes on to say:

“Fidelity to man requires fidelity to the truth, which alone is the guarantee of freedom (Jn 8:32) and of the possibility of integral human development. For this reason the Church searches for truth, proclaims it tirelessly and recognizes it wherever it is manifested. This mission of truth is something that the Church can never renounce.”

Benedict with Isaiah calls us to a journey and a service to truth which sets us free, despite the constantly changing life-patterns of the society of peoples and nations.

Evangelize Without Yielding to Secularization

"Love in Truth" – "Caritas in Veritate"

From the Introduction of Caritas in Veritate

“Love in truth — caritas in veritate — is a great challenge for the Church in a world that is becoming progressively and pervasively globalized. The risk for our time is that the de facto interdependence of people and nations is not matched by ethical interaction of consciences and minds that would give rise to truly human development. Only in charity, illumined by the light of reason and faith, is it possible to pursue development goals that possess a more humane and humanizing value. The sharing of goods and resources, from which authentic development proceeds, is not guaranteed by merely technical progress and relationships of utility, but by the potential of love that overcomes evil with good (cf. Rom 12:21), opening up the path towards reciprocity of consciences and liberties.

The Wall Street Journal reports “Anyone seeking a repudiatyion of the market economy will be disappointed.”

The Pope on ‘Love in Truth’

By ROBERT A. SIRICO

In his much anticipated third encyclical, Caritas in Veritate (Love in Truth), Pope Benedict XVI does not focus on specific systems of economics — he is not attempting to shore up anyone’s political agenda. He is rather concerned with morality and the theological foundation of culture. The context is of course a global economic crisis — a crisis that’s taken place in a moral vacuum, where the love of truth has been abandoned in favor of a crude materialism. The pope urges that this crisis become “an opportunity for discernment, in which to shape a new vision for the future.” Yet his encyclical contains no talk of seeking a third way between markets and socialism. Words like greed and capitalism make no appearance here, despite press headlines following the publication of the encyclical earlier this week. People seeking a blueprint for the political restructuring of the world economy won’t find it here. But if they look to this document as a means for the moral reconstruction of the world’s cultures and societies, which in turn influence economic events, they will find much to reflect upon. Caritas in Veritate is an eloquent restatement of old truths casually dismissed in modern times. The pope is pointing to a path neglected in all the talk of economic stimulus, namely a global embrace of truth-filled charity. Benedict rightly attributes the crisis itself to “badly managed and largely speculative financial dealing.” But he resists the current fashion of blaming all existing world problems on the market economy. “The Church,” he writes, “has always held that economic action is not to be regarded as something opposed to society.” Further: “Society does not have to protect itself from the market, as if the development of the latter were ipso facto to entail the death of authentically human relations.” The market is rather shaped by culture. “Economy and finance . . . can be used badly when those at the helm are motivated by purely selfish ends. Instruments that are good in themselves can thereby be transformed into harmful ones. But it is man’s darkened reason that produces these consequences, not the instrument per se. Therefore it is not the instrument that must be called to account, but individuals, their moral conscience and their personal and social responsibility.” The pope does not reject globalization: “Blind opposition would be a mistaken and prejudiced attitude, incapable of recognizing the positive aspects of the process, with the consequent risk of missing the chance to take advantage of its many opportunities for development.” He says that “the world-wide diffusions of prosperity should not . . . be held up by projects that are protectionist.” More, not less, trade is needed: “the principal form of assistance needed by developing countries is that of allowing and encouraging the gradual penetration of their products into international markets.” The encyclical doesn’t attack capitalism or offer models for nations to adopt. “The Church does not have technical solutions to offer,” the pope firmly states, “and does not claim ‘to interfere in any way in the politics of States.’ She does, however, have a mission of truth to accomplish, in every time and circumstance . . .” Benedict is profoundly aware that economic science has much to contribute to human betterment. The Church’s role is not to dictate the path of research but to focus its goals. “Economic science tells us that structural insecurity generates anti-productive attitudes wasteful of human resources. . . . Human costs always include economic costs, and economic dysfunctions always involve human costs.” He constantly returns to two practical applications of the principle of truth in charity. First, this principle takes us beyond earthly demands of justice, defined by rights and duties, and introduces essential moral priorities of generosity, mercy and communion — priorities which provide salvific and theological value. Second, truth in charity is always focused on the common good, defined as an extension of the good of individuals who live in society and have broad social responsibilities. As for issues of population, he can’t be clearer: “To consider population increase as the primary cause of underdevelopment is mistaken, even from an economic point of view.” Several commentators have worried about his frequent calls for wealth redistribution. Benedict does see a role for the state here, but much of the needed redistribution is the result of every voluntary and mutually beneficial exchange. To understand such passages fully and accurately, we do well to put our political biases on the shelf. This encyclical is a theological version of his predecessor’s more philosophical effort to anchor the free economy’s ethical foundation. Much of it stands squarely with a long tradition of writings of a certain “classical liberal” tradition, one centered on the moral foundation of economics, from St. Thomas Aquinas and his disciples, Frederic Bastiat in the 19th century, Wilhelm Roepke, and even the secular F.A. Hayek in the 20th century. It also clearly resonates with some European Christian democratic thought. Caritas in Veritate is a reminder that we cannot understand ourselves as a human community if we do not understand ourselves as something more than the sum or our material parts; if we do not understand our capacity for sin; and if we do not understand the principle of communion rooted in the gratuitousness of God’s grace. Simply put, to this pope’s mind, there is no just or moral system without just and moral people. Father Sirico is president and co-founder of the Acton Institute.

Year of the Priest

Pope Benedict XVI inaugurates a special Year of the Priest starting on the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

H/T Deacon Greg

Checkout Joan’s Rome for her interesting coverage of the Pope pilgrimage with a personal touch:

PALESTINIANS, INCLUDING GAZANS, WELCOME BENEDICT XVI WITH GREAT JOY, POPE SAYS “HOLY SEE SUPPORTS THE RIGHT OF YOUR PEOPLE TO A SOVEREIGN PALESTINIAN HOMELAND

Pope Patient Facing Misunderstanding,Prejudice

Pope Benedict XVI is a man of patience and hope. God gave the Catholic Church one more giant in the face of mediocrity and meanness from those who look for reasons to find fault where there is none.  Rather than build for a future that supports true peace between men called to live as children of the One God of Abraham, some chose nitpicking.

Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, director of the Vatican press office, responded to criticism in the Israeli press that in part misrepresented the Pope’s obligatory enrollment in the Hitler Youth during the war (clarified by the Pope in his book “Salt of the Earth”and also for using the word “killed” in his address at Yad Vashem instead of “murdered” and  the word “millions” (of Jews) instead of “six million.” The Pope had already referred to “six million Jews” in an earlier address on his arrival that day.

Zenit reports that Fr. Lombardi pointed out that the speech was not a treatise on the Holocaust and noted other discourses where the Pope has mentioned Germany and his past, and Nazism.

“Moreover in the morning, he had already said that six million Jews died and that we can’t forget, and that there is still anti-Semitism,” the spokesman said, referring to the Holy Father’s first address in Israel at the Tel Aviv airport, delivered just hours before his visit to the Yad Vashem.

Father Lombardi commented that Benedict XVI does not get offended when the press alters or takes issue with his words.

“He does not react superficially or immediately,” the spokesman said. “He is very patient and is ready to listen to the others — everyone can voice their ideas. It’s true, he feels that he has not been understood, and I feel the same, but we know how the world is and how attitudes are. There is not always a willingness to understand well; sometimes there are prejudices and not everyone is open to an attitude of readiness to listen.

Yad Vashem – God Remembers Their Names

“I will give, in my house and within my walls, a  monument and a name. I will give them an everlasting name which shall not be cut off.” With this passage from the Book of Isaiah, Pope Benedict XVI began a recollection of those slain in the Holocaust and memorialized at Yad Vashem. This passage furnished two words: Yad meaning “memorial” and shem “name.” The Pope recalled how each person remembered there bears a name. Though robbed of their life they could never be robbed of the name God had given them.   The Pope said that he can only imagine the joyful expectation of their parents as they anxiously awaited the birth of their children; “What name shall we give this child?  What is to become of him or her?” He said, that they could never have imagined that they would be condemned to such a degradable fate. Their cries still echos in our hearts.  the Pope said that it is the cry of Able rising from the earth to the Almighty.  Pope Benedict prayed from the Book of Lamentations proclaiming that the favors of the Almighty are never exhausted and His mercies are not spent.They are renewed each morning. So great is His faithfulness.

The Unity of the Entire Human Family

ADDRESS OF POPE BENEDICT XVI

DOME OF THE ROCK JERUSALEM

12 MAY 2009

Dear Muslim Friends, As-salámu ‘aláikum! Peace upon you! I cordially thank the Grand Mufti, Muhammad Ahmad Hussein, together with the Director of the Jerusalem Islamic Waqf, Sheikh Mohammed Azzam al-Khatib al-Tamimi, and the Head of the Awquaf Council, Sheikh Abdel Azim Salhab, for the welcome they have extended to me on your behalf. I am deeply grateful for the invitation to visit this sacred place, and I willingly pay my respects to you and the leaders of the Islamic community in Jerusalem. The Dome of the Rock draws our hearts and minds to reflect upon the mystery of creation and the faith of Abraham. Here the paths of the world’s three great monotheistic religions meet, reminding us what they share in common. Each believes in One God, creator and ruler of all. Each recognizes Abraham as a forefather, a man of faith upon whom God bestowed a special blessing. Each has gained a large following throughout the centuries and inspired a rich spiritual, intellectual and cultural patrimony. In a world sadly torn by divisions, this sacred place serves as a stimulus, and also challenges men and women of goodwill to work to overcome misunderstandings and conflicts of the past and to set out on the path of a sincere dialogue aimed at building a world of justice and peace for coming generations. Since the teachings of religious traditions ultimately concern the reality of God, the meaning of life, and the common destiny of mankind – that is to say, all that is most sacred and dear to us – there may be a temptation to engage in such dialogue with reluctance or ambivalence about its possibilities for success. Yet we can begin with the belief that the One God is the infinite source of justice and mercy, since in him the two exist in perfect unity. Those who confess his name are entrusted with the task of striving tirelessly for righteousness while imitating his forgiveness, for both are intrinsically oriented to the peaceful and harmonious coexistence of the human family. For this reason, it is paramount that those who adore the One God should show themselves to be both grounded in and directed towards the unity of the entire human family. In other words, fidelity to the One God, the Creator, the Most High, leads to the recognition that human beings are fundamentally interrelated, since all owe their very existence to a single source and are pointed towards a common goal. Imprinted with the indelible image of the divine, they are called to play an active role in mending divisions and promoting human solidarity. This places a grave responsibility upon us. Those who honor the One God believe that he will hold human beings accountable for their actions. Christians assert that the divine gifts of reason and freedom stand at the basis of this accountability. Reason opens the mind to grasp the shared nature and common destiny of the human family, while freedom moves the heart to accept the other and serve him in charity. Undivided love for the One God and charity towards ones neighbor thus become the fulcrum around which all else turns. This is why we work untiringly to safeguard human hearts from hatred, anger or vengeance. Dear friends, I have come to Jerusalem on a journey of faith. I thank God for this occasion to meet you as the Bishop of Rome and Successor of the Apostle Peter, but also as a child of Abraham, by whom “all the families of the earth find blessing” (Gen 12:3; cf. Rom 4:16-17). I assure you of the Church’s ardent desire to cooperate for the well-being of the human family. She firmly believes that the fulfillment of the promise made to Abraham is universal in scope, embracing all men and women regardless of provenance or social status. As Muslims and Christians further the respectful dialogue they have already begun, I pray that they will explore how the Oneness of God is inextricably tied to the unity of the human family. In submitting to his loving plan for creation, in studying the law inscribed in the cosmos and implanted in the human heart, in reflecting upon the mysterious gift of God’s self-revelation, may all his followers continue to keep their gaze fixed on his absolute goodness, never losing sight of the way it is reflected in the faces of others. With these thoughts, I humbly ask the Almighty to grant you peace and to bless all the beloved people of this region. May we strive to live in a spirit of harmony and cooperation, bearing witness to the One God by generously serving one another. Thank you!

Israel – Sheikh Attacks with Words -Pope Walks

The enemies of peace are many and emerge unexpectedly.  In the events of the day we are getting another admonition to be ever vigilant because those enemies are poppong out of the woodwork even in the name of peace.  Islam, I believe, means peace.

H/T Whispers in the Loggia for this report by The Jerusalem Post.

“Sheikh attacks Israel, Pope walks out”

Chief Islamic Judge of the Palestinian Authority, Sheikh Tayseer Rajab Tamimi, launched a poisonous verbal attack on Israel at a Monday night gathering attended by Pope Benedict XVI. In a meeting with organizations involved in inter-religious dialogue at the Notre Dame Jerusalem Center, Tamimi called upon Muslims and Christians to unite against what he said were the murderous Israelis.

Taking the podium after the pope without being on the original list of speakers scheduled for the evening, Tamimi, speaking at length in Arabic, accused Israel of murdering women and children in Gaza and making Palestinians refugees, and declared Jerusalem the eternal Palestinian capital.

Following the diatribe and before the meeting was officially over, the pope exited the premises. Army Radio reported that the pope shook Tamimi’s hand before walking out.

Minutes after the embarrassing occurrence, Father Federico Lombardi, director of the Holy See press office, released a response to the incident.

“The intervention of Sheikh Tayseer Tamimi was not previewed by the organizers of the interreligious meeting that took place at Notre Dame Centre in Jerusalem,” the message read. “In a meeting dedicated to dialogue, this intervention was a direct negation of what [it] should be,” it continued.

“We hope that such an incident will not damage the mission of the Holy Father aiming at promoting peace and interreligious dialogue, as he has clearly affirmed in many occasions in this pilgrimage,” Father Lombardi added.

“We hope also that interreligious dialogue in the Holy Land will not be damaged by this incident,” the message concluded.

Israel condemns Tamimi’s disparaging comments,” read a joint statement issued by the ministries. “Instead of advancing peace and coexistence, he chose to sow fear and hatred between Israelis and Palestinians, and between Jews, Muslims and Christians.”

Nine years ago, Tamimi caused a similar scandal when at an interfaith meeting at the Notre Dame Jerusalem Center, attended by the late Pope John Paul II who was the pontiff at the time. Then, the Palestinian religious leader condemned Israel for a long list of offenses.

Never referring to Israel by name, Tamimi had called on “the occupier” to stop “strangling Jerusalem and oppressing its residents.”

St. Teresa of the Andes – Letter 115

I am having trouble being in the world, but not of it. Paul’s word’s challenge me.  Pope Benedict XVI wants them to push me into the mind of Paul and the arms of the Holy Spirit. “Do not conform yourselves to this age but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and pleasing and perfect.” Romans 12:2

As Pentecost draws near, I’m reminded that it is the Holy Spirit not my spirit that will transform me into conformity with Christ of the Cross and the Resurrection. Tomorrow morning, God willing, I’ll find myself before the Blessed Sacrament once again.  Here are the words I will take with me into the silence:

“How poor, how graceless, as I see it, the worship we offer to God sacramentally present! What scant respect we have for the One before whom the seraphim cover themselves with their wings, prostrating themselves before Him. And He bears it all in silence, remaining without splendor, hidden beneath the bread, that He may live in the midst of those He created. Oh, how good He is! What infinite love He has! Why aren’t we crazy with love for Him?”  St. Teresa of the Andes – Letter 115

Whispers….. Remembers

Whispers in the Loggia reminds us:

“…it was year ago tonight when, not far from where I’m sitting now, I got to behold a beautiful, almost magic experience unfolding in these streets.

The Big PopeTrip to the nation’s capital and this “capital of the world.”

Liberal View / Moral Monster

Pope Benedict XVI must be doing something right because the press is crucifying him again.  Monsignor Raun writes, “On his way to Africa, the Pope was asked what the Church thought of AIDS and condoms.  Our Holy Father answered that the real answer was sexual morality, not pieces of plastic.  The press dubbed him ‘a moral monster’.”

The liberalized world and press avoid the Truth, especially on issues of life.  They prefer to propagandize, for the furtherance of liberal, secular, “progressive” agenda’s, which leave God out of such deliberations.  As if an investigation without Truth could be substantive.

“I suspect every abortion, every “compassionate” bit of euthanasia has the evil one stamping his foot in triumphant glee.” says the Anchoress.  In speaking of God’s influence and grace in the world, she submits that such grace is “subdued in  the world” when those “enthusiastic about subduing new life – of judging how much life there should be, and of what quality” play God.

Monsignor Raun makes a few points of his own:

1. Ten to twenty percent of the time, condoms don’t
work. For argument’s sake, let’s say they don’t
work 1 percent of the time. Would anyone say it
was moral to do something that there was a one-ina-
hundred chance of giving someone a deadly illness?
Would any sane person take such a chance
with their own life? (If there was a one-in-a hundred
chance that holy water could give you
AIDS, would any of you put your fingers in the
fount, or allow your children to do so?)
2. And the sad fact is that some people think they are
“invulnerable” if they wear a condom, and so they
are all the more promiscuous – all the more spreading
the possibilities of infecting others with the disease.
Condoms are the answer to AIDS for those people who
are only willing to do what it takes to stop this horrible
disease as long as sexual freedom is preserved – which
for liberal society has become the ultimate good in life.
If you don’t want to get sexually-transmitted AIDS, be
faithful to your spouse or live a chaste single life. This
and this alone, is guaranteed to be 100% effective. It is
also the moral teaching of Christ and His Church –
which is the Holy Father’s duty to teach. To teach anything
else is cruel, and to gamble with peoples lives.

And, from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, we have this:

To achieve the maximum protective effect, condoms must be used both consistently and correctly. Inconsistent use can lead to STD acquisition because transmission can occur with a single act of intercourse with an infected partner. Similarly, if condoms are not used correctly, the protective effect may be diminished even when they are used consistently. The most reliable ways to avoid transmission of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), including human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), are to abstain from sexual activity or to be in a long-term mutually monogamous relationship with an uninfected partner. However, many infected persons may be unaware of their infections because STDs are often asymptomatic or unrecognized.

The above report sounds like Russian Roulette to me.  Chastity is still the best policy, even according to disease control scientific and statistical reports.


Neuhaus' The One True Church

Richard John Neuhaus writes in a previously unpublished essay appearing now in First things of how the Church may best characterize herself in relationship with other ecclesial communities of the Body of Christ.  Neuhaus wants us to think more fully about this, saying, “We need to clarify what the Catholic Church claims for herself and what she does, and does not, acknowledge with respect to other Christian communities.”  He acknowledges that it is a tricky business. In the long search for a greater visible unity of the Body of Christ in the world,  a  miss-step, misunderstanding or misspoken phrase can produce ever greater dis-unity and contention in tribal disharmony.

Neuhaus quotes Christopher J. Molloy, writing in his essay titled “Subsistit In: Nonexclusive Identity or Full Identity?” in reflecting on the uniqueness of the Catholic Church.  Molloy states, “one can affirm both the essential fullness of the ecclesial reality of the Catholic Church and the concrete poverty and woundedness of her lived life, together with her practical need of the expressive ecclesial riches found outside her visible boundaries.”

On the Church, Lumen Gentium, the Constitution on the Church, reads:

“This is the one Church of Christ which in the Creed is professed as one, holy, catholic, and apostolic, which our Savior, after his Resurrection, commissioned Peter to shepherd, and him and the other apostles to extend and direct with authority, which he erected for all ages as ‘the pillar and mainstay of the truth.’ This Church, constituted and organized in the world as a society, subsists in the Catholic Church, which is governed by the successor of Peter and by the Bishops in communion with him, although many elements of sanctification and of truth are found outside of its visible structure. These elements, as gifts belonging to the Church of Christ, are forces impelling toward catholic unity.”

The word “subsists” in the Lumen Gentium statement is thought by some a weakening of the Church’s understanding of Herself as the One True Church.  Enter our present Pope Benedict XVI, then Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger.  He clarifies with:

“The word subsistit derives from ancient philosophy, as it was later developed among the Scholastics. It corresponds to the Greek word hypostasis, which of course plays a key role in Christology in describing the union of divine and human natures in the one person of Christ. Subsistere is a special case of esse. It refers to existence in the form of an individual subject. . . . With the word subsistit, the Council wanted to express the singularity and non-multipliability of the Church of Christ, the Catholic Church: the Church exists as a single subject in the reality of history. But the difference between subsistit and est also embraces the drama of ecclesial division: for while the Church is only one and really exists, there is being which is from the Church’s being—there is ecclesial reality—outside the Church.”

Neuhaus writes on, including discussions arising from works of Avery Dulles as well as Molloy, finally, coming to this:

“In sum, Catholics should not fear offending our ecumenical partners by affirming what we believe the Catholic Church to be. To be sure, that affirmation has weighty implications. For instance, Lumen Gentium also says, “Whosoever, therefore, knowing that the Catholic Church was made necessary by Christ, would refuse to enter or to remain in it, could not be saved.” But that, too, should not offend non-Catholic Christians, since we can all agree that such a person would be acting against his conscience and his sure discernment of the will of God. If he continues on that course without repentance, he could not be saved. It is quite a different matter with those who do not know—i.e., do not recognize the truth—that the Catholic Church is what she claims to be. They are wrong about that, of course, but that, presumably, is one reason why they are not Catholics.

And so I think I’ll stay with my admittedly provocative title, “The One True Church.” ….  I will also continue to make the case for the proposition that “the Catholic Church is the Church of Jesus Christ most fully and rightly ordered through time.”

For those who would argue on, here is an olive branch: “All Christians can agree on the formula that there is finally only one Church because there is only one Christ and the Church is his Body.”

Touch Down Africa

Pope Bededict XVI touched down yesterday in Cameroon.  According to the AP, this is the Pope’s first trip as pontiff to Africa. “For Benedict, whose only previous stop in Africa was in Kinshasa in 1987 as a cardinal, the continent presents major challenges and opportunities. He is expected to address them in meetings with Muslim representatives, bishops, health workers and women’s advocacy groups.”

This is the first day in his seven day pilgrimage. The Roman Catholic Church is booming and blooming in Africa. “Africa produces priests at a higher rate than anywhere in the world but finds itself in competition with Islam in Cameroon..”

“Benedict said he wants to invigorate the growing church in Africa. ‘I intend to confirm Catholics in their faith,” he said, and ‘proclaim the peace entrusted to the Church” by Jesus. Benedict said that as he sets out for Africa, he has in mind ‘the victims of hunger, disease, injustice, fratricidal conflicts and every form of violence which unfortunately continue to afflict adults and children, without sparing missionaries’ and volunteers working on the continent.”

“The Catholic Church has been one body that has been consistent in the development of the African continent not only spiritually, but in the provision of quality education, health care, caring for the neglected and victims of natural and man made disasters. It has also spoken up against corrupt and inept leaders in a fearless and constructive manner. The Church is only fulfilling its mandate to bring light to a darkened world and needs to continue this mission unceasingly. Africa definitely needs the Church. Osayawe Ogieva, Nigeria”

Don't Forget the Angels

Don’t forget about the angels.  They are the guardians of nations as will as persons.  When we pray, and we are humble, we become the “anawin” in Hebrew terms, they are “the little ones” of God, relying on God for all. We are told, “Their angels in heaven always look upon the Face of My heavenly Father.” Matthew 18: 10

Pope Benedict XVI had this to say here.

“We find these figures throughout the Old Testament who help and guide men in the name of God. Just consider the Book of Tobit, in which the figure of the angel Raphael appears to assist the protagonist through many vicissitudes. The reassuring presence of the angel of the Lord accompanies the people of Israel through every event, good and bad.”On the threshold of the New Testament, Gabriel is sent to announce to Zachariah and Mary the joyous happenings that are the beginnings of our salvation; and an angel, whose name is not mentioned, warns Joseph, directing him in that moment of uncertainty.

“A chorus of angels reports the glad tidings of Jesus’ birth to the shepherds, as the glad tidings of his resurrection will also be announced by angels to the women. At the end of time the angels will accompany Jesus in his glorious return.”

“We would take away a significant part of the Gospel if we left aside these beings sent by God to announce his presence among us and be a sign of that presence.” “Let us,” he said, “call upon them often, that they sustain us in the task of following Jesus to the point of identifying ourselves with him.”

LENT for the Soul

Message From Pope Benedict XVI for LENT 2009

“He fasted forty days and forty nights, and afterward he was hungry” (Mt 4,1-2)

“The practice of fasting is very present in the first Christian community. The Church Fathers, too, speak of the force of fasting to bridle sin, especially the lusts of the “old Adam,” and open in the heart of the believer a path to God. Moreover, fasting is a practice that is encountered frequently and recommended by the saints of every age. Saint Peter Chrysologus writes: “Fasting is the soul of prayer, mercy is the lifeblood of fasting. So if you pray, fast; if you fast, show mercy; if you want your petition to be heard, hear the petition of others. If you do not close your ear to others, you open God’s ear to yourself.”

…………………………..

Dear brothers and sisters, it is good to see how the ultimate goal of fasting is to help each one of us, as the Servant of God Pope John Paul II wrote, to make the complete gift of self to God (Encyclical Veritatis splendor.)  May every family and Christian community use well this time of Lent, therefore, in order to cast aside all that distracts the spirit and grow in whatever nourishes the soul, moving it to love of God and neighbor. I am thinking especially of a greater commitment to prayer, lectio divina, recourse to the Sacrament of Reconciliation and active participation in the Eucharist, especially the Holy Sunday Mass. With this interior disposition, let us enter the penitential spirit of Lent. May the Blessed Virgin Mary, Causa nostrae laetitiae (Cause of our joy,) accompany and support us in the effort to free our heart from slavery to sin, making it evermore a “living tabernacle of God.”

A Fly on the Vatican Wall

Oh, to have been the proverbial fly on the wall when Pope Benedict XVI met privately with Madam Speaker Pelosi.  Actually,  if I were the fly, I’d have perched myself on Nancy’s nose as she posed Speakerential.  The Pope is cool, kind, and slendorously Poperific so he’ll continue fighting for her soul while she’s stuck in radical wrong-headed feminism.

From Whispers in the Loggia, the Vatican statement:

Following the General Audience the Holy Father briefly greeted Mrs Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the United States House of Representatives, together with her entourage.

His Holiness took the opportunity to speak of the requirements of the natural moral law and the Church’s consistent teaching on the dignity of human life from conception to natural death which enjoin all Catholics, and especially legislators, jurists and those responsible for the common good of society, to work in cooperation with all men and women of good will in creating a just system of laws capable of protecting human life at all stages of its development.

Date With Destiny

It’s confirmed, Nancy Pelosi has her date.   According to the Vatican’s Press Office, Pope Benedict will be receiving U.S. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi in an audience at noon on Wednesday.

Though a self-described “ardent Catholic,” Speaker Pelosi is confused about what it means to be Catholic.

Hopefully many of you are praying for her.  Monumental efforts appreciated!

After her Meet the Press appearance the US Conference of Catholic Bishops responded via this statement issued by,  Cardinal Justin Rigali of Philadelphia and Bishop William Lori of Bridgeport:

In the course of a “Meet the Press” interview on abortion and other public issues on August 24, 2008, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi misrepresented the history and nature of the authentic teaching of the Catholic Church against abortion.

The Church has always taught that human life deserves respect from its very beginning and that procured abortion is a grave moral evil. In the Middle Ages, uninformed and inadequate theories about embryology led some theologians to speculate that specifically human life capable of receiving an immortal soul may not exist until a few weeks into pregnancy. While in canon law these theories led to a distinction in penalties between very early and later abortions, the Church’s moral teaching never justified or permitted abortion at any stage of development.

These mistaken biological theories became obsolete over 150 years ago when scientists discovered that a new human individual comes into being from the union of sperm and egg at fertilization. In keeping with this modern understanding, the Church has long taught that from the time of conception (fertilization), each member of the human species must be given the full respect due to a human person, beginning with respect for the fundamental right to life.

I Want a Miracle!

According to the Drudge Report and Rep. John Culberson of Texas, Speaker Nancy Pelosi may already be in Rome; on the supposed agenda, a meeting with His Holiness Benedict XVI.

Nancy strikes me as an upfront,in your face,no apologies-type gal.  I can see her kissing the papal ring while sporting a Pro-Choice tee? However, despite my knee jerk emotions, I'll be joining the Anchoress praying for Nancy's enlightenment. I can hang with hope, since I must, but I want a miracle!