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NEWS ABOUT BENEDICT

Last Update: 1/5/2014 2:16 PM
2/24/2008 10:29 PM
 
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Posted today in the preceding page:

Pastoral visit to Santa Maria Liberatrice - Benedetto-fan posts screenshots from CTV,
and Yahoo news-service photos.

Angelus today - A brief homily on today's Gospel on Jesus with the Smaritan woman at the well,
a greeting for the upcoming International Eucharistic Congress in Quebec, an appeal for flood victims
in Ecuador, and a reminder of the March 1 Marian vigil with university students.






Reuters today picked up the Lefebvrian bulletin yesterday reported here yesterday, but ignored the other traditionalist response from Fr. Laguerie - whose group, not incidentally, broke off from the Lefebvrians to enter full communion with Rome two years ago.


Rebel Catholics say
Vatican caved on Latin prayer

By Tom Heneghan
Religion Editor



PARIS, Feb. 24 (Reuters) - Rebel Catholic traditionalists who champion the old Latin mass have accused Pope Benedict of caving in to "foreign pressures" by dropping negative comments about Jews from a rare prayer in the Church's official language.

The Society of Saint Pius X (SSPX), which was expelled from the Church in 1988, denounced the change in a Good Friday prayer that it said was one of the oldest in Christianity, dating back to the third century.

On Feb. 5, the Vatican revised the prayer, removing a reference to Jewish "blindness" over Christ and deleting a phrase asking God to "remove the veil from their hearts".

Jews criticised the new text because it still says they should recognise Jesus Christ as the saviour of all mankind. It asks that "all Israel may be saved" and keeps an underlying call to conversion that Jewish leaders had wanted omitted.

"Following foreign pressures on the Catholic Church, the Pope felt obligated to change the very venerable Prayer for the Jews which is an integral part of the Good Friday liturgy," the SSPX news service DICI said in a report at the weekend.

"While the necessity of accepting the Messiah to be saved has been retained, one can only profoundly deplore this change," it said. DICI did not elaborate on the "foreign pressures".

The change in the prayer will only be heard by a tiny minority of Catholics who attend services on Good Friday, the day marking Jesus Christ's crucifixion, that are held in Latin rather than in their local languages as usual.

Changing the Good Friday text was necessary after Pope Benedict allowed wider use of the old Latin mass last year. The Good Friday prayer said in local languages was revised in 1970 to drop all references that Jews had found offensive.

Widening the use of the old Latin or Tridentine mass was partly meant to attract followers of the SSPX back to Rome. The SSPX claims about a million followers, a small fraction of the 1.1-billion strong Church.

The leadership of the Swiss-based SSPX is still resolutely opposed to reforms of the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965), including changes in liturgy and in relations with Jews. The Vatican says they must accept the Council to be readmitted.

The SSPX was expelled from the Church in 1988 when its founder, French Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, consecrated four bishops without Vatican approval.

Jewish groups have criticised the new text of the Latin prayer as offensive. An assembly representing Conservative rabbis worldwide expressed dismay over it and called on the Vatican to clarify the text's meaning.

RABBI SUPPORTS POPE

But the Pope received support from a prominent Jewish scholar on Saturday. Rabbi Jacob Neusner of New York wrote in the German Catholic daily Die Tagespost: "Israel prays for non-Jews, so the other monotheists -- including the Catholic Church -- should have the same right without anyone feeling hurt."

Sometimes called "the Pope's favourite rabbi", Neusner was frequently cited in Benedict's 2007 book Jesus of Nazareth.


Now, I must go find that article in Die Tagespost!

Meanwhile, here is an example of a commentary tossed into the mix by siomeone who obviously does not have the background nor the right information even more critically, not the right attitude, either, to make these comments. It is so pitifully uninformed that it's not worth commenting on, and I only post it to remind us forcefully of what passes for religion jourmalism.

One can see that, starting with the premise stated in the headline, but the views he expresses are even more outrageously ignorant. And he even goes on to pontificate on indulgences, about which he knows nothing except warmed-over propaganda from the Reformation five centuries ago!



Pope trying to convert
Jewish 'elder brothers'

By Steve Gushee
Special to The Palm Beach Post
Friday, February 22, 2008



The Pope could easily lose the respect his office deserves by the divisive decisions he has recently made. He offended the Jewish community directly and, indirectly, insulted every thoughtful person.

Save that such actions are tragic for the church and the world, they would be quickly dismissed in any rational consideration of the church catholic.

Quite appropriately, Benedict XVI seeks the respect of the world as leader of more than a billion Catholics. He behaves, however, as if he were running an exclusive club with no need to consider the sensibilities or intelligence of that world.

The Pope approved a revision of a prayer for the Good Friday liturgy that asks God to enlighten the hearts of Jews "so that they may acknowledge Jesus Christ, the savior of all men." That is such an affront to the Jewish community that the international assembly of Conservative Rabbis meeting this week is considering a resolution to condemn the prayer for endangering the mutual respect engendered in recent years. [The writer - whose article was published Friday - does not even know the resolution was passed and that it expressed 'dismay' but nowhere near condemnation!]

The Pope's revised prayer would undo much of the good will that his predecessor, John Paul II, did for Jewish relations. John Paul called Jews his "elder brothers" in the faith. Benedict wants to convert them.

He seems intent to undo the remarkable work of the Second Vatican Council in the 1960s to engage the contemporary world.

He declared a plenary indulgence for anyone who visits the French shrine at Lourdes during its 150th anniversary this year.

That kind of spiritual abuse triggered the 16th-century Protestant reformation. Luther objected to indulgences offered by Pope Leo X in exchange for money to rebuild St. Peter's Basilica in Rome. A plenary indulgence allows the faithful to bypass purgatory, escape God's judgment and proceed directly to heaven.

Playing games with the souls of the faithful worked for a while in the Middle Ages, but since Luther it has been seen for what it is: A fund-raising marketing tool that mocks the mission of the church, the theology of Scripture and the justice of God.

The Pope needs to choose the role he wants to play. He can act the cult leader catering to the emotional needs of his followers and the power lust of his institution. He can take a responsible place in the world's religious community, embrace his "elder brothers" and give up the indulgence fantasies.

He can't do both.

YECCCCHHHHH - TO EVERYTHING MR. GUSHEE HAD TO SAY!!!!!!



Fortunately, there are more sensible voices, as this round-up by Canadian press shows - it helps clear the palate of all the literal disgust provoked by Gushee:


Are Jewish groups over-estimating
the impact of revised Catholic prayer?

Canadian Press
Feb. 22, 2008


NEW YORK - The Anti-Defamation League was "deeply troubled" by the prayer.

Conservative Jewish rabbis said they were "dismayed and deeply disturbed" by its language.

But some veteran interfaith leaders - Jewish and Roman Catholic - say there's no evidence that a revised Good Friday liturgy approved this month by Pope Benedict XVI is as threatening as some Jewish groups fear.

"Rather than over-react, we need to look to the future of the Jewish community and this pope," said Rabbi Gary Greenebaum, U.S. director for inter-religious affairs for the American Jewish Committee, a leader in building Jewish ties with the Vatican.

The prayer fuelling the tension is infamous among Jewish leaders but little known by the overwhelming majority of Catholics and Jews worldwide. It had historically been used as an excuse for violence and discrimination against Jews.

The prayer is from the old Latin rite, also known as the Tridentine rite. The church had put tight restrictions on celebrating the rite following the modernizing reforms of the Second Vatican Council in the 1960s. A New Mass emerged from the council, which was celebrated mainly in local languages.

But Benedict last year relaxed the rules on the old Latin rite, partly to mend ties with traditionalists and Catholic schismatics who had objected to the council's reforms.

But the old Latin rite contains a Good Friday prayer that asks God to lift "the veil" from Jewish hearts and deliver them from "blindness" and "darkness" so they might accept Christ.

Earlier this month, Benedict answered Jewish concerns about the prayer. In a reformulation, he eliminated the most offending language, while still asking God "to enlighten their hearts" so that Jews - and all humanity - can be saved through the church.

Many Jewish leaders reacted angrily. They feared it signalled a rollback in the church's commitment to Nostra Aetate, the 1965 document that revolutionized Catholic-Jewish ties. [Contrary to this erroneous notion, Nostra aetate is not just about ties with the Jewish but with all non-Christian religions.]

Philip Cunningham, a member of the U.S. bishops' Advisory Committee on Catholic-Jewish Relations, said he understands why Jews are upset. In his many talks with Jewish audiences, he is almost always asked whether the improvements in the church's relationship with Jews are temporary.

"My response is that there's a body of teaching there that's difficult to reverse," he said.

Regarding the revised Good Friday prayer, Cunningham said that "99 per cent of the Catholic world" uses the New Mass, which has "no mention of Jews coming to faith in Jesus the Saviour. There's not even a hint of it."

Rabbi Irwin Kula, president of CLAL-The National Jewish Center for Learning and Leadership, a training institute and think tank based in New York, was more blunt.

"The Catholic Church, unlike some religions in the world, has come through its murderous period and is neither violent nor dangerous, so Jews should chill out," he said.

Some of the anxiety stems from the fact that Benedict is a relatively new Pope.

He was elected three years ago and Jewish leaders are only at the start of their relationship with him. His predecessor, John Paul II, did more than any other pope to build Catholic-Jewish ties during his 26-year pontificate, including praying at the Western Wall in Jerusalem, Judaism's holiest site. [What secular commentators - who do not do their homework - ignore is that 1)it was Cardinal Ratzinger, as CDF Prefect, who laid the theological bases for the acts of reconciliation and seeking forgiveness for past offenses committed by members and institutions of the Catholic Church against other faiths that took place during John Paul's Pontificate; and 2) Joseph Ratzinger, as priest and theologian, has always been very vocal in acknowledging the historic and religious ties between Judaism and Christianity.]

Benedict has made his own significant gestures. He became only the second Pope, after John Paul, to enter a synagogue, visiting a Cologne, Germany, synagogue in 2005 during his first trip abroad as Pontiff.

He also visited Auschwitz the next year, although some Jewish leaders said they were disappointed that Benedict, a German who lived through the Second World War, didn't make a more explicit reference to German responsibility for the genocide.

Greenebaum said Jewish groups need to consider Benedict's broader goals in reviving the old Latin rite: helping restore a strong sense of Catholic identity and promoting Catholic unity.

"I think the Jewish community needs to always keep things in context," Greenebaum said. "This is a Pope who has a very strong sense of his own beliefs and his own philosophy and I know that he has made positive statements about Jews."

Jewish leaders will have a chance to air their concerns directly to Benedict, when he meets with them during his April visit to the United States, his first as Pope.

Meanwhile, Auxiliary Bishop Richard Sklba of Milwaukee, chairman of the U.S. bishops' Committee on Ecumenical and Inter-Religious Affairs, is trying to reassure the Jewish community.

"Central to the concerns of the Holy Father is the clear articulation that salvation comes through faith in Jesus Christ and his Church," Sklba said in a statement. "It is a faith that must never be imposed but always freely chosen."

"The Catholic Church in the United States remains steadfastly committed to deepening its bonds of friendship and mutual understanding with the Jewish community."


[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 2/25/2008 12:29 AM]
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2/25/2008 12:06 AM
 
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RABBI NEUSNER ON THE GOOD FRIDAY PRAYER




One of my first thoughts when some Jewish leaders raised an outcry over the new Good Friday prayer was to wonder whether anyone had reached Rabbi Jacob Neusner for any comment at all. I know that shortly after the issuance of Summorum Pontificum and the initial fuss among some Jews then over the Good Friday prayer, he was asked about them, and in two separate interviews, he said the following:

"I've pointed out that the synagogue liturgy has an equivalent prayer which we say three times a day, not just once a year."

And in the second interview, he described the prayer:

We should continue to say our prayer, the Aleinu, that thanks God for not having made us like the nations of the world and that has not assigned us their portion, and that asks God to bring the end of days and transform all humanity into worshippers of the one true God we know in the Torah. The Catholics used to pray that we would give up our (from their perspective) unfaith* and would see the light. It's a fair exchange, and God will resolve the matter in the end of days, as the Aleinu says.

*Rabbi Neusner was one of the few who has used the correct sense of the Latin word 'perfidia' as 'lack of faith' or 'unfaith' - which every other commentator has translated erroneously to English to mean 'treason', the meaning of the English cognate word 'perfidy'.

Now, here is my translation of the article he wrote for DIE TAGESPOST, that was referenced in the Reuters article in the preceding post. In which Rabbi Neusner reacts to the new prayer formulated by Benedict XVI and keeps to his sensible position.

Rabbi Neusner makes us wonder, once again, how it is that otherwise intelligent Jewish leaders should be so blinded by ideology and/or prejudice that they can completely ignore the objective facts that Neusner describes.



The logic of monotheism
By Rabbi Jacob Neusner
Translated from
DIE TAGESPOST, 2/23/2008



Israel prays for non-Jews, so the other monotheists - especially the Catholic Church - should have the same right to pray for non-Christians without anyone feeling offended.

The Catholic Good Friday prayer expresses the same magnanimous spiritual attitude that characterizes the Jewish prayer for non-Jews.

God's Kingdom opens its doors to all of mankind, and when the Israelites pray that this Kingdom may come soon, they express the same magnanimous attitude as Pope Benedict's Good Friday prayer for the Jews, or rather, for 'holy Israel'.

Let me make it clear. I would like to show the grounds for Judaism's theology about non-Jews from the normal service that is prayed three times daily in the synagogue.

The text comes from The Authorised Daily Prayer Book of the United Hebrew Congregations of the British Empire (London 1953), the official prayer book for the united Jewish communities of the United Kingdom, whose English translation contains a prayer for the conversion of non-Jews which is prayed three times daily, every day of the year, in public services at synagogues. This text is standardized for all Jewish religious services.

In the prayer "The Lord of all things must be praised by us", the holy people of Israel [not to be confused with the State of Israel] thank God that he has distinguished Israel from all other peoples. Holy Israel therefore prays that the world may become perfect when all of mankind can call on the name of God and every man must kneel before God.

Israel's particular 'destiny' consists in being distinguished from all other peoples. Therefore, God is implored to "free the earth from atrocities when the world under the rule of the Almighty will be perfected'.

This prayer for the conversion of "all the Godless on earth' which includes 'all inhabitants of the earth' is not just said once a year but every day. It finds correspondence in a passage from the Prayer of the Eighteen Blessings, in which God is asked to stop "the rule of arrogance".

We can say that in Judaism, we commonly pray to God that he may enlighten other peoples and lead them to his kingdom. And as if to underscore this prayer, it is followed by a prayer from the Kddisch: "May his Kingdom arise quickly and soon in your life, in your days and in the life of the entire House of Israel."

I cannot see how these prayers can be different from the contested Good Friday prayer either in spiritual attitude or in intention.

These passages from ordinary daily Jewish services leave no doubt that Holy Israel, in assembly, prays to God to enlighten the hearts of non-Jews.

This eschatological view is nourished by the Prophets and their prophecy of a single united mankind and openly encompasses all of mankind.

The prayers are addressed to God that he may speed up the coming of his Kingdom. And they are the counterpart to the passage in the Good Friday prayer "that when the fullness of the nations will have entered the Church, all Israel may be saved."

The reciprocal prayers offered by Jews and Christians have a common eschatological center, which is to wish to keep the door to salvation open to all peoples.

Just as neither Christianity nor Islam have taken offense because of the Jewish prayers, neither must Holy Israel raise any objections to the Catholic prayer.

Both prayers - "In us must the Lord be praised.." and "Let us now pray for the Jews" - express the logic of monotheism and its eschatological hope.


=====================================================================


A note says the article in Tagespost was translated into German from the original English by Claudia Reimüller. I wonder if the English original has been published elsewhere, as I am not comfortable about my translations of the quoted passages from the Jewish prayers.

However, here is an English translation of the Aleinu, the Jewish name for the prayers referred to by Rabbi Neusner - the closing prayers of the morning, afternoon and evening service - consisting of two prayers, Aleinu and V’al Kein.

According to the Jewish Viertual Library, some Jews believe Aleinu was written by Tanna Rav in 3rd century Babylonia for Rosh Hashanah services. Rav was the first to institute the Aleinu into the service. However, other Jews believe the prophet Joshua wrote the prayer after conquering Jericho, signifying the Israelites as a superior nation among nations.

Aleinu denotes the Jewish people’s struggle over being the “Chosen People” and the trials that arise with that responsibility. The prayer signifies the Jewish people’s faith and dedication to God.



It is our duty to praise the Master of all, to acclaim the
greatness of the One
who forms all creation. For God did not make us
like the nations of other
lands, and did not make us the same as other
families of the Earth. God did
not place us in the same situations as others, and
our destiny is not the same
as anyone else's.
And we bend our knees, and bow down, and give
thanks, before the Ruler,
the Ruler of Rulers, the Holy One, Blessed is God.
The One who spread out the heavens, and made the
foundations of the Earth,
and whose precious dwelling is in the heavens
above, and whose powerful
Presence is in the highest heights. Adonai is our
God, there is none else.
Our God is truth, and nothing else compares. As
it
is written in Your
Torah: "And you shall know today, and take to
heart, that Adonai is the only
God, in the heavens above and on Earth below.
There is no other."
Therefore we put our hope in You, Adonai our God,
to soon see the glory of
Your strength, to remove all idols from the Earth,
and to completely cut off
all false gods; to repair the world, You holy
empire. And for all living flesh
to call Your name, and for all the wicked of the
Earth to turn to You. May all
the world's inhabitants recognize and know that to
You every knee must
bend and every tongue must swear loyalty. Before
You, Adonai, our God,
may all bow down, and give honor to Your precious
name, and may all take
upon themselves the yoke of Your rule. And may
You
reign over them soon
and forever and always. Because all rule is Yours
alone, and You will rule
in honor forever and ever.
As it is written in Your Torah:
"Adonai will reign forever and ever."
And it is said: "Adonai will be Ruler over the
whole Earth, and on that day,
God will be One, and God's name will be One



In the thread REFERENCES ON 'SUMMORUM PONTIFICUM', I posted an article by Andrea Tornielli on a recent book by an Italian Jew who gives a good brief history of how the Aleinu itself has evolved over time.
freeforumzone.leonardo.it/discussione.aspx?idd=6119652



[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 2/27/2008 5:53 PM]
2/25/2008 8:39 PM
 
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In the Name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful


Pope Benedict provides
'new public grammar'
for reform of Islam,
says George Weigel





BOULDER, Colorado, Feb 24, 2008 (CNA).- George Weigel, Catholic thinker and biographer of Pope John Paul II, delivered a lecture on Thursday on religion and world politics in which he argued that Pope Benedict XVI has provided a unique model for global understanding between Christianity, Western secularism and Islam.

In the lecture, Weigel also called on Muslim leaders engaged in inter-religious dialogue to acknowledge and vigorously condemn the specific abuses of human rights and religious freedom found among some Muslim nations.

During the lecture at the University of Colorado at Boulder, sponsored by the Aquinas Institute for Catholic Thought, Weigel said that Pope Benedict XVI was uniquely suited to addressing world conflicts grounded in religious differences.

Weigel believes that the Pope, especially in his 2006 Regensberg lecture, provides a “grammar” to world leaders that could help them understand and reform both the relativism of the secular West and the violence of Islamic extremism.

At his 2006 lecture at the University of Regensberg, the Pope said that religious violence and compulsion are rooted in the idea that God is pure will instead of a rational, loving being.

He said that Christianity’s belief in a loving, reasonable God has helped Christians reconcile themselves to Enlightenment values of religious freedom and human rights, while aspects of Islamic theology have hindered such reform among Muslims.

Weigel countered the media portrayal of the speech as a “gaffe” for its perceived insult of Mohammed. Far from being a gaffe, he argued, the Regensberg address was an important reflection that considered questions important to world policy today.

These questions include:
“Can Islam be self-critical? Can its leaders condemn and marginalize its extremists, or are Muslims condemned to be held hostage to the passions of those who consider the murder of innocents to be pleasing to God? Can the West recover its commitment to reason, and thus help support Islamic reform?”

Weigel argued that no one other than Pope Benedict could have framed the discussion in such a way.

“No president, prime minister, king, queen, or secretary general could put these questions in play at this level of sophistication before a world audience,” Weigel said.

Pope Benedict’s lecture has given the world political community “a grammar for addressing these questions, a genuinely transcultural grammar of rationality and irrationality.”

“Far from being an exercise in theological abstraction, the Regensberg lecture was a courageous attempt to create a new public grammar capable of disciplining and directing the world discussion of what is arguably the world’s greatest problem,” Weigel continued.

Weigel also criticized some of the reactions to the Regensberg lecture. Though acknowledging that Muslim critiques of the West are often “not without merit,” Weigel argued that the October 2007 letter from the 138 Muslim leaders “sidestepped” the questions raised by the Pope’s lecture.

Muslim scholars addressed the letter, titled “A Common Word Between Us and You,” to global Christian leaders in pursuit of inter-religious dialogue. Many observers considered the letter an important breakthrough.

Weigel said the letter had spoken at length about the “Two Great Commandments” to love God and to love one’s neighbor as oneself. However, Weigel claimed, the letter said nothing applicable to relevant issues of “faith, freedom, and the governance of society,” such as death threats against Muslims who convert to Christianity or the prohibition of Christian worship in Saudi Arabia.

He challenged the Muslim leaders to be more specific in future dialogue:

“Do these 138 Muslim leaders agree or disagree that religious freedom and the distinction between spiritual and political authority are the issues at the heart of the tension between Islam and the West, indeed between Islam and ‘the rest,’ and even more within Islam itself.

"Would it not be more useful to concentrate on these urgent issues of classical reason, which bear on the organization of 21st century society, than to frame the dialogue in terms of a generic exploration of the Two Great Commandments, which risk leading to an exchange of banalities?"

“Why not get down to cases?” Weigel asked. He further asserted that authentic dialogue requires a “precise focus” and a commitment to “condemn by name the members of their communities who murder in the Name of God.”

Weigel also criticized the “secularization thesis,” which claims that countries become less religious as time advances. He argued that in fact the secularization of the West was the exception, rather than the rule.

The secularization thesis, he said, has clouded the analysis of Western thinkers and politicians who cannot understand the religious basis of many world movements, including Islamic extremism.

The centuries-long Catholic encounter with the positive Enlightenment values of religious freedom and human rights, Weigel thought, could be a model for Christian-Muslim dialogue.

While not compromising with what Weigel called the “chaff” of Enlightenment scientific atheism, past Catholic mistakes and successes could help Muslims navigate reforms of their own religion.

Weigel cited Pope Benedict’s 2006 Christmas address as evidence the Pope approved of a similar strategy. In that speech the Pope said:

“In a dialogue to be intensified with Islam, we must bear in mind the fact that the Muslim world today is finding itself faced with an urgent task. This task is very similar to the one that has been imposed upon Christians since the Enlightenment, and through which the Second Vatican Council, as the fruit of long and difficult research, found real solutions for the Catholic Church.”

Weigel’s lecture drew its content from his recent book, Faith, Reason, and the War Against Jihadism: A Call to Action. The lecture was co-sponsored by the St. Thomas More Society of Colorado.

[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 2/25/2008 8:57 PM]
2/25/2008 8:58 PM
 
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THE WEEKEND FOR THE BISHOP OF ROME




Pope's weekend activities
highlight his role as bishop of Rome

By Cindy Wooden
Catholic News Service


VATICAN CITY, Feb/. 25 (CNS) -- Addressing a rally in favor of education and celebrating Mass at a parish, Pope Benedict XVI's Feb. 23-24 weekend highlighted his role as bishop of Rome.

More than 40,000 of the city's students and parents, teachers, catechists and priests gathered in St. Peter's Square Feb. 23 in response to the Pope's call for a renewed commitment to education in the city.





Pope Benedict said the gathering was a sign of "a common concern for the good of new generations, for the growth and future of the children the Lord has given this city."

Educating young people has never been easy, he said, but with new technology, constant exposure to the media, increasing family breakdowns and looser ties to the church, it is more difficult than ever.

But, the pope said, no one can give up.

"The great heritage of faith and culture, which is the truest richness of our beloved city, must not be lost in the passage from one generation to another, but rather must be renewed and strengthened to be a guide and a stimulus for our journey toward the future," he said.

Speaking to the parents, the pope asked them to keep their marriages and their love for each other strong.

"This is the first and greatest gift that your children need in order to grow serenely, to acquire faith in themselves and faith in life and, in that way, to be capable of an authentic and generous love themselves," he said.

He also told the young people that they have a responsibility for their own moral, cultural and spiritual growth and that they must open their hearts and minds to "the patrimony of truth, goodness and beauty" that has been cultivated by the people of Rome for centuries.



The next morning, Feb. 24, Pope Benedict visited the parish of Santa Maria Liberatrice in Rome's Testaccio neighborhood and was treated to a poem written in his honor in Romanesco, the Roman dialect.

The pope smiled as the poem was read and then told parishioners, "Unfortunately I don't speak Romanesco, but as Catholics we are all a bit Roman and we carry Rome in our hearts."

In his homily at the parish, his remarks to members of parish groups and in his midday Angelus address at the Vatican, Pope Benedict focused on the day's Gospel reading about Jesus and the Samaritan woman at the well.

Pope Benedict told the parish groups that the woman is a symbol of modern men and women in their use of freedom and their search for meaning.

"She had five husbands and was living with another man," the pope said. "She made ample use of her freedom, but still did not become freer; in fact, she became emptier."

Yet, the pope said, when she was talking to Jesus at the well, she showed a clear desire to know God and to learn the proper way to worship him.

"In this woman, we can see the reflection of our lives today with all the problems that involve us; but we also see how, in the depths of our hearts, there is always the question of God," he said.

Pope Benedict also reflected on the fact that it is Jesus who first asks the woman for water.

"God thirsts for our faith and wants us to find in him the source of our authentic happiness," the pope said in his homily.

"Jesus wants to lead us, like the Samaritan woman, to profess our faith in him with strength so that we can then proclaim and witness to our brothers and sisters the joy of encountering him and the marvels that his love works in our lives," Pope Benedict said.


[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 2/25/2008 9:23 PM]
2/25/2008 9:22 PM
 
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THE POPE'S DAY



The Holy Father met today with
- Mons. Giuseppe Pinto, Apostolic Nuncio to Chile
- Bishops of El Salvador on ad-limina visit
- Participants in XIV Congress of the Pontifical Academy for Life
meeting this year
on the care of incurable and dying patients'. Address in Italian.


THE POPE CONDEMNS
ALL FORMS OF DIRECT EUTHANASIA




Vatican City, Feb. 25 (dpa) - Pope Benedict XVI on Monday launched a new condemnation on euthanasia, or medically assisted killings, describing the practice as a product of a materialistic and "utilitarian view of people".

The Pontiff made the remarks during a meeting with participants of an international congress at the Vatican entitled "Close by the Incurable Sick Person and the Dying: Scientific and Ethical Aspects".

"Death concludes the experience of earthly life, but through death there opens for each of us, beyond time, the full and definitive life," Benedict said.

"For the community of believers, this encounter between the dying person and the Source of Life and Love represents a gift that has a universal value, that enriches the communion of the faithful."

Stressing that "it is not science that redeems man", the pontiff said medical doctors "are duty-bound to express the solidarity of love, and to safeguard and respect human life in every moment of its earthly development, especially when it is ill or in its terminal stages".

The Pontiff, invoking what he called "therapeutic proportionality", also gave a Roman Catholic definition of what forms of treatment should be acceptable for patients to receive and doctors to administer.

"In more concrete terms this means ensuring that every person in need finds the necessary support through appropriate treatments and medical procedures... while bearing in mind the moral duty to administer (on the part of doctors) and to accept (on the part of patients) those means for preserving life which, in a particular situation, may be considered as 'ordinary'."

As for forms of treatment "with significant levels of risk or that may reasonably be judged to be 'extraordinary', recourse thereto may be considered as morally acceptable, but optional," Benedict said.

Situations such as the increasing number of sick and elderly people left alone in cities were increasing pressures towards euthanasia, "especially when a utilitarian view of people has become established", the pontiff said.

He then recalled "the firm and constant ethical condemnation of all forms of direct euthanasia, in keeping with the centuries-long teaching of the Church".

Benedict said the need to respect life from its beginning to it natural end was such that as in the case of parents taking maternity or paternity leave to care for their infant children, relatives of those ill should also be allowed time off work to look after their loved ones.


Pope calls for
'death leave' benefits



Vatican City, Feb. 25 - Pope Benedict XVI on Monday called for those caring for the dying to be granted "death leave" even as he reaffirmed the Catholic Church's strong opposition to active euthanasia.

Like maternity leave for couples having children, "similar rights should be accorded to close family members at the moment the illness of their loved ones is at a terminal phase," Pope Benedict said at a Vatican gathering on incurable illnesses.

He called on society to support families caring for the sick, arguing "a humane and interdependent society" could not do otherwise.

"A greater respect of individual human lives inevitably comes from real interdependence of everyone," the pontiff said, saying this was one of the greatest challenges of the moment.

Pope Benedict at the same time reiterated the "firm and consistent ethical condemnation for all forms of direct euthanasia."


THE POPE CONDEMNS EUTHANASIA

VATICAN CITY, 25 FEB 2008 (VIS) - At midday today, the Holy Father received participants in an international congress entitled: "Close by the Incurable Sick Person and the Dying: Scientific and Ethical Aspects".

The event is under the auspices of the Pontifical Academy for Life , which is holding its 14th annual general assembly at the Vatican this week.

"Death", said the Pope, "concludes the experience of earthly life, but through death there opens for each of us, beyond time, the full and definitive life. ... For the community of believers, this encounter between the dying person and the Source of Life and Love represents a gift that has a universal value, that enriches the communion of the faithful".

In this context, he highlighted how all the community should participate alongside close relatives in the last moments of a person's life.

"No believer", he said, "should die alone and abandoned". All society "is called to respect the life and dignity of the seriously ill and the dying", said the Holy Father.

"Though aware of the fact that 'it is not science that redeems man', all society, and in particular the sectors associated with medical science, are duty bound to express the solidarity of love, and to safeguard and respect human life in every moment of its earthly development, especially when it is ill or in its terminal stages.

"In more concrete terms", he added, "this means ensuring that every person in need finds the necessary support through appropriate treatments and medical procedures - identified and administered using criteria of therapeutic proportionality - while bearing in mind the moral duty to administer (on the part of doctors) and to accept (on the part of patients) those means for preserving life which, in a particular situation, may be considered as 'ordinary'".

As for forms of treatment "with significant levels of risk or that may reasonably be judged to be 'extraordinary', recourse thereto may be considered as morally acceptable, but optional. Furthermore, it will always be necessary to ensure that everyone has the treatment they require, and that families tried by the sickness of one of their members receive support, especially if the sickness is serious or prolonged".

Just as family members have specific rights to take time off work when a child is born, said the Pope, "similar rights must be recognised" for relatives of the terminally ill.

"A greater respect for individual human life inevitably comes through the concrete solidarity of each and all, and constitutes one of the most pressing challenges of our times".

After noting how it is becoming ever more common for elderly people in large cities to be alone "even in moments of serious illness and when approaching death", the Holy Father noted that such situations increase pressures towards euthanasia, "especially when a utilitarian view of people has become established".

In this context, he once again recalled "the firm and constant ethical condemnation of all forms of direct euthanasia, in keeping with the centuries-long teaching of the Church".

"The synergetic efforts of civil society and of the community of believers must ensure not only that everyone is able to live in a dignified and responsible way, but also that they can face moments of trial and of death in the finest condition of fraternity and solidarity, even where death comes in a poor family or a hospital bed".

Society, said the Holy Father must "ensure due support to families who undertake to care in the home, sometimes for long periods, sick members who are afflicted with degenerative conditions, ... or who need particularly costly assistance. ... It is above all in this field that synergy between the Church and the institutions can prove particularly important in ensuring the necessary help for human life in moments of frailty".


2/25/2008 10:01 PM
 
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VATICAN DENIES NEW INSTRUCTIONS
TO CHECK LITURGICAL ABUSES

Translated from
the Italian service of




Mons. Albert Malcolm Ranjith, secretary of the Congregation for Divine Worship has denied a story in today's issue of La Stampa which alleged upcoming norms were to be issued shortly to curb liturgical abuses.

Mons. Ranjith pointed out that the article is a collage of various statements he has made on various occasions and placed in an erroneous and misleading context.

He pointed out that the binding norms for the celebration of Mass, for the priest as well as for the faithful, are alrady quite clear in the liturgy books.

"Therefore," he said, "no new official pronouncements are planned on the matter, as the article insinuates. It is simply our hope that the existing norms and indications be applied regularly and that the Eucharist be celebrated with devotion, seriousness and nobility."


As I had a late start today, so I'm posting a DPA story based on the La Stampa article instead of translating it, especially since it has been promptly denied.

Vatican to 'review'
taking of Communion in the hand


Rome, Feb. 25 (dpa) - The Vatican is poised to introduce stricter norms on Roman Catholic mass, including halting the taking of communion in the hand and setting a time limit for homilies, an Italian newspaper reported Monday.

The Turin-based daily La Stampa quoted senior Vatican official, Archbishop Albert Malcolm Ranjith Patabendige Don saying the move was necessary to eliminate "extravagancies" that have crept into Mass celebrations.

Provisions include restricting to 10 minutes homilies and sermons and ensuring that they be exclusively based on the Gospel readings, said Ranjith who is Secretary of the Congregation for Divine Worship.

The practice of allowing the faithful to receive Communion - the bread host which Catholics believe represents the body of Christ - in their hands would also be "urgently reviewed", Ranjith was quoted as saying.

The Vatican wants the host "placed directly into the mouths of the faithful so they don't touch it (with their hands)... because many don't even realize they are receiving Christ and do this with scant concentration and respect," Ranjith said.

The distribution of communion on the hands of those attending mass has been widespread since the so-called Vatican II Council - a series of reforms introduced in the 1960s aimed at making church celebrations more accessible to the world's 1.1 billion Catholics.

But according to Ranjith the practice was "illegally and hastily introduced by certain elements of the Church immediately after the Council".

"Some people keep hosts with them as a sort of souvenir, others sell them while in some cases the hosts have been taken away to be used in blasphemous Satanic rituals," he said.

Ranjith said the measures to bring back "dignity and decorum" to mass celebrations were in line with Pope Benedict XVI's wishes, but he did not specify when they would be introduced, nor if they would be issues as an order or a set of guidelines.

Benedict, who earned a reputation as a conservative before being elected pontiff in 2005, last year eased restrictions introduced by Vatican II on the celebration of the traditional Latin mass.

The move which has included softening a prayer for the conversion of Jews contained in the Latin liturgical text, has drawn criticism from Jewish groups who resent what they say remains a singling out of members of their faith.

Meanwhile hard-line traditionalist Catholics have expressed anger over what they say is Benedict's tampering of the original Latin mass which they regard as sacred.

======================================================================

This gives me an opportunity to post this piece which I picked up online from an undated 'sampler' of Catholic World Report articles, generally available only to subscribers. It must have been writeen shortly after the Motu Proprio was released last year, but what it says is as valid as ever, particularly in the light of some reactions such as those in the above article.





Summorum Pontificum
Commentary by George Neumayr
Editor, Catholic World Report


It marks a new era of liturgical seriousness.

The forces in the Church most responsible for dividing Catholics from magisterial teaching are the quickest to use the word “divisive” in any controversy.

A “divisive moment” is the Catholic left's euphemism for any papal action that seeks to unite Catholics to the actual teachings and traditions of the faith.

So it goes with Pope Benedict XVI's Motu Proprio, Summorum Pontificum, which authorizes wider use of the traditional Latin Mass.

“Any liberalization of the use of the Tridentine rite may prove seriously divisive,” British prelate Kieran Conry, Bishop of Arundel and Brighton, said to the Telegraph shortly before the Motu Proprio's release. “It might send out an unfortunate signal that Rome is no longer fully committed to the reforms of the Second Vatican Council...”

No, what it signals is a welcome new era of liturgical seriousness and the beginning of the end to the demoralizing liturgical chaos and distortions of the last four decades. In Summorum Pontificum, Pope Benedict has not only revived a venerable liturgical tradition but supplied a catalyst to reform the new liturgy.

By making the traditional Latin Mass and the new Mass two uses (extraordinary and ordinary) of “one and the same rite,” Pope Benedict is fostering a climate of healthy coexistence, perhaps one could even say healthy competition, in which false innovations may fall away and a sense of the sacred can be recovered.

In his letter to the bishops explaining Summorum Pontificum, Pope Benedict writes:

the two forms of the usage of the Roman Rite can be mutually enriching: new Saints and some of the new Prefaces can and should be inserted in the old Missal.

The Ecclesia Dei Commission, in contact with various bodies devoted to the usus antiquior, will study the practical possibilities in this regard.

The celebration of the Mass according to the Missal of Paul VI will be able to demonstrate, more powerfully than has been the case hitherto, the sacrality, which attracts many people to the former usage.

Far from ignoring the “needs of our time,” as he is often accused, Pope Benedict is responding to the most crucial one: the hunger for holiness, the simple desire for a transcendent, God-centered liturgy. Ordinary Catholics have asked for bread and been given stones, and the Holy Father is correcting the injustice:

Many people who clearly accepted the binding character of the Second Vatican Council, and were faithful to the Pope and the Bishops, nonetheless also desired to recover the form of the sacred liturgy that was dear to them.

This occurred above all because in many places celebrations were not faithful to the prescriptions of the new Missal, but the latter actually was understood as authorizing or even requiring creativity, which frequently led to deformations of the liturgy which were hard to bear.

I am speaking from experience, since I too lived through that period with all its hopes and its confusion. And I have seen how arbitrary deformations of the liturgy caused deep pain to individuals totally rooted in the faith of the Church.

Never too concerned about the trauma these arbitrary deformations caused in the faithful, the liturgical innovators now give voice to their own.

“I can't fight back the tears. This is the saddest moment in my life as a man, priest and bishop,” Luca Brandolini, a member of the liturgy commission of the Italian bishops' conference, said to La Repubblica, reported Reuters. “It's a day of mourning, not just for me but for the many people who worked for the Second Vatican Council. A reform for which many people worked, with great sacrifice and only inspired by the desire to renew the Church has now been cancelled.”

This reaction would only make sense if the Second Vatican Council had decreed a hostility to tradition. But it didn't. All Summorum Pontificum cancels is the misapplication of Vatican II and mindless contempt for tradition, which resulted in a “fabricated liturgy,” as Pope Benedict has said previously.

The Catholic left's game of driving a wedge between Vatican II and previous councils — of treating Vatican II as in effect a mandate to start a new religion from scratch — now appears over.

By shaking up a failing status quo, Pope Benedict has performed a great service for the Church. It is abundantly clear that postconciliar attempts to make the Mass “relevant” — which were often nothing more than a pretext to smuggle secularism into it — has rendered the liturgy increasingly irrelevant and catechetically destructive, as declining Mass attendance and gross ignorance of the faith confirm.

And he deserves great praise for having the courage to address an act of self-mutilation which treated a long and fruitful liturgical tradition as something “forbidden” or “harmful” — an act that appears all the more perverse in light of the fact that many of those who endorsed it were simultaneously using the new liturgy to advance bewildering innovations alien to the traditions of the Church.

Summorum Pontificum represents a central piece in the overall project of this pontificate: to arrest a culture of self-worship and restore God to the center of life.

Many years hence, historians will likely see it as a critical turning point in the life of the Church—the moment the liturgy moved away from functioning like the invention of men and regained its splendor as the work of God.



More recently, Fr. Joseph Fessio, S.J., one of the few American priests with a long history of personal ties with Pope Benecist XVI, commented on the reactions to Summorum Pontificum, as pointed out by Ignatius Insight:



Excellent interview with
Fr. Joseph Fessio, S.J., about...



...a number of topics, especially the liturgy and education. It was posted yesterday (2/20) by Adam Raha on the "Sober Inebriation" website.
soberinebriation.blogspot.com/2008/02/interview-with-fr-joseph-fessio...

A snippet:

Initially and even now, the Holy Father received both copious amounts of criticism and praise (more heavy on the former than the latter) on the issue of Summorum Pontificum - why do you think it was such a polarizing document and do you see any relationship between it and the false sense of a 'spirit of Vatican II' so to speak that Benedict has alluded to often?
FR. FESSIO: Well, I don't fully understand this, but it certainly has been the case that in the past there has been a huge resistance to anything which would restore all or part of the old Mass. There's also huge resistance to saying the new Mass, the Novus Ordo, facing east, which is perfectly legitimate.

The bishop does not have the authority to prohibit the celebration of the Novus Ordo in Latin - in terms of his actual authority. In terms of what actually happens of course, bishops imposed their will on this, going beyond their own authority.

But why is there such hostility toward Latin and the Mass celebrated facing East? I believe that there are people who thought the Council was a call to massive change from a sclerotic church, and they think that if you restore the old Mass, or say the new Mass facing east, you're repudiating the Council. But this is completely false.

However, these people have spent the last 30-40 years of their lives committed to this vision of the Council which is not a vision of continuity but a vision of rupture. Their whole lives are being called into question.

So, there's enormous resistance to this (the motu proprio). This is the reason why the pope had to do the motu proprio. It's quite possible to say the Novus Ordo in ways that are very traditional, but today, it's simply taboo.

Fr. Fessio goes on to talk a bit about the influence of the Enlightenment on the liturgy:


This liturgy (the Novus Ordo) is really a Cartesian rationalistic liturgy that instead of the dark, the mysterious, the sacred, and the opaque, even bewildering that elicits awe and wonder, it's become didactic.

It's supposed to be easily understood, in your own language, a celebration of community, a form of entertainment- this is all part of the enlightenment project. It's working out its conclusions over time.



It brings to mind the best book I've ever read on this issue (the influence of Enlightenment-era philosophy on the Church's liturgy), which is The Mass and Modernity: Walking to Heaven Backwards (Ignatius, 2005) by Fr. Jonathan Robinson, who had this to say in my December 2005 interview with him:

"What I have tried to do in my book is to step outside this ecclesiastical framework and examine how the Enlightenment and Enlightenment-era philosophers, especially Kant, Hegel and their successors changed how people in the West understand and perceive God, man, society, religion, community, and much more. Then I trace the effect of those changes, noting how the worship of God is often radically skewed, even to the point where God is barely acknowledged."



[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 2/26/2008 10:51 AM]
2/25/2008 11:43 PM
 
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'White smoke' signals between
the Vatican and Moscow?

By Benny Lai
Translated from
Secolo XIX, 2/25/08

Forgive my skepticism about this story - especially since it is interpretative and does not really report any hard news. But Lai is a veteran Vatican reporter and has written at least four books about the Papacy, and the Genoa-based Secolo XIX is the most widely read nationally of Italy's regional newspapers, so ....



It is very probable, if not certain as some would claim, that Pope Benedict XVI will meet with Patriarch Alexei II of Moscow in 2008.

And in Russia, a country that has never yet seen a Roman Pope. The one country that Pope John Paul II could not visit despite the more than 100 foreign trips he made.

The reason for the estrangement cannot, of course, be attributed only to the Great Schism of 1054 and the crystallization of enmity between Catholics and orthodox.

In January 1964, Paul VI and Athenagoras, ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople met and embraced, bridging the centuries of separation between the Eastern adn Western Churches of Christianity. A meeting and an embrace that have been repeated many times since then in various places and by their respective successors .

The problem with the Orthodox Church is rather complex because it does not have a figure equivalent to the Pope - the ecumenical patriarch of Constantinople is merely 'primus inter pares' who has absolutely no power over other patriarchs, who are elected by the national orthodox church in each country.

If one considers that the Orthodox Russians alone numerically outnumber all the other Orthodox Churches combined, that Moscow likes to think of itself as the 'third Rome' as it came to be called historically (after Rome and Constantinople), and that the Patriarchate of Constantinople is very circumscribed in that it is geographically located within Turkey, an overwhelmingly Muslim country, then it is easy to understand the delay in reaching any conclusive agreement, even without considering the political aspects of the matter.

But something has changed - perhaps because the world of globalization appears to be a spiritual desert, nad/or perhaps because of a change in Popes, with Ratzinger the theologian succeeding to John Paul II, the itinerant messenger of the faith.

It was not by chance that last December, Benedict XVI met with Metropolitan Kirill, the number-2 man in the Patriarchate of Moscow. Days earlier, of course, a papal delegation was in Istanbul for the Feast of St. Andrew - a Vatican delegation in Istanbul while the Patriarchate was at odds with the Russian Orthodox which accuses Constantinople of protecting national churches who are not inclined to recognize the primacy of Moscow!

One may say that the papal audience was intended to show Rome's 'equidistance' between Constantinople and Moscow. Metropolitan Kirill appeared to appreciate this, because in an interview afterwards with L'Osservatore Romano, he was careful to say that Patriarch Alexei indeed considered the dialog with Rome of paramount importance.

But there is also the proselytism which Moscow accuses the Catholic church of pursuing in Russia. The Patriarchate of Moscow does not welcome Catholic missionaries working in places that Russia considers its ecclesiastical territory, including those that were formerly Soviet republics.

Thus, Moscow resents the return in force of Orthodox Catholicism to the Ukraine, and missionary work by various Catholic religious orders.

The worst episode between the Vatican and the Russian Orthodox Church took place when John Paul II wanted to formalize the presence of Catholicism in Russia by replacing the four apostolic administrations then functioning in Russia as full-fledged dioceses.

It was a normal step to take in order to provide the appropriate structures that could assist Russian Catholics. But Moscow considered it so hostile that Alexei-II used it as the pretext for refusing to meet with John Paul II.

But now, it appears that Moscow may be more reasonable. It is speculated that the Russian Orthodox authorities know there are very few Catholics in Russia compared to the Orthodox, and it will remain that way; that for Alexei-II, the problems brought about by secularization and globalization are more important; that the Russian Orthodox Church needs to ally itself with Benedict XVI in his fight for traditional matrimony, family values and various other questions connected with sexuality and bioethics - positions that the Russian Church fully shares.

And that is the starting point for drafting a 'Common Declaration' that must precede any meeting between the Pope and the Patriarch. And that is why, it is said, the Patriarchate of Moscow had expressed its warm support for Opus Dei, which has opened a Russian headquarters in Moscow. The Orthodox have expressed appreciation for Opus Dei because of its loyalty to traditional Christian values.

Il Secolo XIX, 25 febbraio 2008


=====================================================================

2/26/08
P.S. I've almost come to expect this. Everytime there's a positive-sounding story about Vatican-Moscow relations, an official statement, or at least something said by a high-ranking Russian orthodox offical almost invariably follows to douse any illusions with an icy Siberian blast! Here's an item from the Russian Interfax agency.



Moscow Patriarchate calls on Vatican
to discuss status of Catholic dioceses in Russia



Moscow, February 26, Interfax - The issue of the status of Catholic dioceses in the Orthodox lands as well as the issue of the status of the Orthodox dioceses in traditionally Catholic countries requires a "serious and elaborate discussion" in terms of the Orthodox-Catholic dialog, Bishop Hilarion (Alfeyev) of Vienna and Austria, Representative of the Russian Orthodox Church to the European Institutions, told Interfax-Religion on Tuesday.

"Many Western people think that the concept of a 'canonic territory' has lost its sense altogether in modern situation because Orthodox believers coexist side by side with Catholics, Protestants and representatives of other faiths," he said.

Recently Cardinal Walter Kasper, the President of the Vatican's Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity said the Moscow Patriarchate's wish to abolish four Catholic dioceses in Russia that had been created by the previous Pope John Paul II, was "very unexpected."

It is hard to discern a quality difference between Catholic dioceses in Russia and Orthodox dioceses in the West, Walter said. He called on the Russian Orthodox Church to show the same openness that the Catholics are demonstrating in relation to Orthodox parishes in Western Europe and the U.S.

In 2002, Vatican made a decision to upgrade the level of Catholic structures, operating in the status of apostolic magistrates in Russia, to the level of dioceses, and this decision led to a protest from the Russian Orthodox Church.

=====================================================================

I thought this question had been settled already - at least provisionally. When Benedict XVI named Mons. Paolo Pezzi the new Archbishop for Moscow last year, the Vatican was careful to note that his formal title was not Archbishop of Moscow, since Moscow was not a regular diocese but merely an apostolic administration, and that therefore, Mons. Pezzi's formal title was Archbishop of the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception (the main Catholic Church in Moscow).



[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 2/27/2008 11:58 PM]
2/26/2008 4:00 PM
 
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Pope Benedict to wear
Palm Sunday vestments
patterned after what Leo X
wore at his installation



PETRUS today reports an item from Il Giornale della Toscana, translated here:

VATICAN CITY - On Palm Sunday, March 16, Benedict XVI will wear liturgical vestments that reproduce the fabric and the Medici coat of arms of Pope Leo X.

It is a rose silk damask with gold thread, brocaded with the heraldic symbols of the Medici who ruled Florence for centuries - three rings with a diamond point that are concentric and inscribed within a two-lobed leaf.

Giovanni de Medici, son of Lorenzo the Magnificent, became Pope Leo X on March 11, 1513.

The initiative follows the execution for the Office of Pontifical Liturgical Ceremonies of the Ash Wednesday vestments worn by Benedict XVI, by the company Tridentinum of Ferrara, under lay liturgist Pietro Siffi, who proposed the concept. The Palm Sunday vestments would recreate the vestments worn by Leo X upon his accession to the Papacy.

The Ash Wednesday vestments were a violet brocade with the heraldic emblems of Pope Paul VI Borghese.

Siffi's project aims at a revaluation of some Roman liturgical vestments which have been practically forgotten.

The Palm Sunday ensemble will include chasuble, dalmatic, cope and other accessories carrying the Medici motifs. Corresponding vestments will be prepared for the deacons who will assist the Pope.

The original installation vestments of Leo X are in the custody of the Servants of Mary friars in the Basilica della Santissima Annunziata in Florence.

=====================================================================

If this story is true, one hopes Mons. Guido Marini will come up with a good explanation of why Leo X!

Leaving aside the obvious - and questionable - suggestion of picking a Medici Pope for 'snob value' (as was the case of choosing a Borghese Pope for the Ash Wednesday vestments) that most people would see, Leo X is not exactly a Pope whose memory one would want to dredge up at will. His short reign from 1513-1521 was marked above all by Martin Luther's schism from the Church - and Leo X was, of course, unable to stem the Protestant Reformation that followed.

Maybe to say that the threats to the Church today are as serious as Luther's schism was?


======================================================================

P.S. It turns out Father Z blogs about this today, and here are his observations and comments:




1) The historic vestments used by the Pope are not all being taken from the dusty cabinets which had been locked up for so long under the term of Mons. Piero Marini. They are also being commissioned.

2) There is a purposeful plan to "resurrect" historical fabrics and styles of vestments.

I think the Holy Father is saying something by commissioning new vestments of old styles and ancient fabrics. The very fabric and vestments he wears seem to reflect the principle of a hermeneutic of continuity: old treasures, made present as a guide into the future. So, there is an organic development taking place in his choice of important vestments for important occasions.

While I love the idea of simply drawing forth the splendors that have been so long locked up, rather than spending what must a not small amount of money, I also am pleased to see the Holy See becoming again a patron of fine works at this level of skill.

I know that in the past many vestments were commissioned, but very many of them were not really very successful. Those which were acceptable were forgettable while those which were memorable were apalling.

Holy Church has been the greatest patroness of the arts the world has ever known. That is harder to realize today, because the formation of artists is so lacking now. But it is time to get back into the game.

I am also interested to see the name of Pietro Siffi. This is the fellow who reproduced the Italian language liturgical manual for the 1962 edition of the Missale Romanum by Ludovico Trimeloni, the Compendio di Liturgia Pratica today (Milano: Marietti 1829, 2007). I wrote about it here and other places on this blog.

Siffi also has a little book out called, La Messa di San Pio V: osservazioni sul rito tridentino in risposta ai critici del motu proprio, an apologetic work about the older form of Mass as a response to critics of Summorum Pontificum.

So, this fellow is now working hand in glove with the Master of Ceremonies, Mons. Guido Marini and with the Roman Pontiff, in what seems more and more to be a coordinated projected.

I keep writing about a Marshall Plan. I think we are seeing another part of it.

Say what you want about other aspects of this Holy Father’s administration, which perhaps has not yet addressed some issues that need addressing, but he is certainly pushing ahead that all important tip of the spear, which is the liturgy.

Finally, Pope Leo X, whose body is found in Santa Maria sopra Minerva near the Pantheon, is the one who excommunicated Martin Luther
.



[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 2/26/2008 5:33 PM]
2/26/2008 5:44 PM
 
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What's with the snarky comments about the Pope's vestments? Two minutes ago, everyone was criticizing the horrible vestments John Paul usually wore and the even more horrible ceremonies he officiated at. Now, Benedict is trying to reinvigorate Catholic Masses with a modicum of dignity and tradition and people are critidizing THOSE. I guess some people are never satisfied.
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Who knows? May Benedict is taking a slap at the Protestants by using vestments with Leo X's coat of arms? If so, more power to him!
2/26/2008 11:20 PM
 
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BENEDICT AND BONAVENTURE - 1



The Feb. 27 issue of L'Osservatore Romano carries three articles taken from the lectures given Tuesday afternoon in an academic proceeding at the Antonianum Pontifical University, for the presentation of Joseph Ratzinger's book St. Bonaventure: The theology of history, published in a new edition by Edizioni Porziuncola in cooperation with the university's Superior School for Medieval Studies. It marks the Golden Jubilee of its first publication in Germany.




The Page 1 teaser to the articles printed in the inside pages reads:

It is a text - that was part of a much larger work - presented by the author as his post-doctoral thesis at the University of Munich in 1957 to obtain 'Habilitation' (formal qualification) as a university lecturer.

We publish parts of the interventions which serve to reconstruct the origins of Ratzinger's work on Bonaventure and to show the role that this work had on the cultural itinerary of the future Pope.

Two of the three articles are posted in the OR's online 'edition'. This is the first of them.



Towards Vatican II,
thinking of Bonaventure

By Mons. Angelo Amato
Secretary, Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith
Translated from the
the 2/27/08 issue of




Benedict XVI's cultural is wide and multiple. His bibliography proves it. His theological interests cover the entire area of Christian doctrine (cfr Introduction to Christianity and The Ratzinger Report).

From his younger days, in addition to his own scholarly research, he has been called on to answer questions from the church community itself and from his ministry.

The Ariadne's thread for a first review of the rich Ratzingerian bibliography could be chronological. Going through time, we find it divided into four great periods: his theological preparation, his participation in Vatican-II, his activities as Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and his Magisterium as the Supreme Pontiff of the Church of Christ.

But the fundamental concern of this great theological production has been unique: to remind those who are inclined to think only of the present and the future of that indispensable link to tradition and the living center of history, which is Christ and his church.

His research on St. Bonaventure takes place almost at the very beginning of his theological career, and it is well described in his autobiography (Milestones).



In it, he informs us, for instance, that in the summer of 1950, he was given the opportunity to participate in a contest for a research on St. Augustine. The topic chosen by Prof. Gottlieb Soehngen, who had great respect for his student Ratzinger, was "The People and House of God in the doctrine of St. Augustine on the Church".

To prepare it, he was greatly helped by his readings of the Fathers of the Church and by Henri de Lubac's book, Catholicism, which dealt with the faith as an experience that is thought and lived in community.

For De Lubac, moreover, since faith, by its very nature, is also hope, it should invest the whole of history and cannot be limited to the individual promise of private beatitude.

Another reading which was significant in that period was Corpus Mysticum, also by De Lubac, who disclosed to the young scholar a new way of understanding the unity between the Church and the Eucharist.

After passing his doctorate exams brilliantly in July 1953, the young Ratzinger prepared next to write a post-doctoral dissertation for his 'Habilitation' that would allow him to be a university lecturer.

Since his previous research had been Patristic in nature, Gottlieb Soehngen decided that the dissertation for Habilitation should turn to the Middle Ages. After St. Augustine, it seemed natural to him that the young scholar should devote his attention to St. Bonaventure, passing from an ecclesiological concern to one of fundamental theology, that of revelation, to be exact.

At that time, there was a great debate about the idea of the history of salvation which involved a new perspective on the idea of revelation - to be understood no longer as the communication of some truths to reason, but as the historical action of God in which the truth is revealed freely.

There was no lack of difficulties to bring this work to a happy end. While his adviser, Prof. Soehngen, was immediately enthusiastic over the finished thesis, the other adviser, Prof. Michael Schmaus, considered it unsatisfactory.

In recounting this episode, Ratzinger notes that there were at least three factors in play. First of all, he had not entrusted himself to the guidance of Schmaus who considered himself a specialist in the Middle Ages. Next, in Munich, the investigation into this question had remained frozen for some time, and had not received any of the new perspectives that had developed elsewhere in the meantime, especially in Franciscan circles (Bonaventure was a Franciscan). So Ratzinger's direct criticism provoked Schmaus's forceful rejection.

But the opposition was more substantial, because the young scholar had found out that in Bonaventure, and in general, with the theologians of the 13th century, the concept of revelation as simply the ensemble of revealed contents was unthinkable. In medieval language, revelation indicated action, and more precisely, it defined the act by which God manifests himself to man, not the objectified result of that act.

Moreover, the concept of revelation always implied that there was someone receiving the revelation.

"These insights, gained through my reading of Bonaventure, were later on very important for me at the time of the Conciliar discussion on revelation, Scripture and trad. Because, if Bonaventure is right, then revelation precedes Scripture and becomes deposited in Scripture but is not simply identical with it. This in turn means that revelation is always greater than something that is merely written down. And this again means that there can be no such thing as pure sole Scriptura, because an essential element of Scripture is the Church as understanding subject, and with this the fundamental sense of tradition is already given" (p.109, Milestones).

In any case, the obstacle was overcome when Ratzinger realized that the last part of his rejected dissertation, dedicated to Bonaventure's theology of history, had passed Schmaus without objections and was autonomous in itself. Therefore, he restructured the dissertation to limit himself to this and presented it again.

The public session for the Habilitation (at which the candidate would defend his dissertation) took place - not without passionate discussion between Soehngen and Schmaus - on Feb. 21, 1957, at which the candidate successfully earned his Habilitation.

Commenting years later in his autobiography on this rather difficult episode, Cardinal Ratzinger said it made him "resolve not to agree easily to the rejection of dissertations or Habilitation theses but whenever possible, to take the part of the weaker party."

What was the innovative contribution that Ratzinger recognized after some time in his work on Bonaventure's Collationes in Exaemeron? Up till then, it had been maintained that Bonaventure had no interests in the ideas of Joachim of Fiore. Ratzinger's work showed for the first time that Bonaventure, in his work on the six days of creation (Exaemeron), had minutely confronted Joachim's ideas and sought to assimilate whatever was useful of it to integrate it into Church canon.

Beyond the dynamic concept of revelation, the study on Bonaventure's theology of history also showed Ratzinger an original way to reach an understanding of Christian eschatology.

But there was a lasting consequence that Bonaventure left in the mentality of Ratzinger, who would never have accepted - since it is contrary to the eschatological thinking of the New Testament - the Franciscan assumption that there would be the advent of a final era of the poor on earth, just immediately preceding history's entry into God's eternity.

Long before liberation theology, Ratzinger already rejected that medieval anticipation of a liberationist eschatology.

In conclusion, his knowledge of the Fathers of the Church and of the great medieval theological tradition, and dialog with contemporary culture, have been the ever present coordinates in the mens of the theologian Ratzinger - during his participation in the second Vatican Council as well as in the preparation of the numerous documents at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which he led as Prefect from 1982 to 2005.

In that service, he had to face, on the one hand, numerous challenges coming from mistaken ideologies, insufficient methodological procedures, and ambiguous doctrinal interpretations, while on the other hand, he promoted clarificatory orientations and guidelines of great relevance in Christology (Dominus Iesus), ecclesiology (Communioni notio), and anthropology (Donum vitae).

As Supreme Pontiff, he continues his theological magisterium not only through his encyclicals on the theological virtues - Deus caritas est and Spe Salvi - but above all through the work JESUS OF NAZARETH, in which his story of Christ is an innovative and essential contribution to Biblical and ecclesial Christology.

=====================================================================

The second article available for translation is by Paolo Vian, who situates Ratzinger's work in the context of understanding medieval theology and how its useful elements are carried over into our time. It is entitled "Without tradition, theology is a tree that is uprooted from its bedrock". The translation is in the next post


BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH OF ST. BONAVENTURE:

ST. BONAVENTURE, OFM, Bishop and Doctor of the Church
Born in Bagnorea near Viterbo, Italy, in 1221
Died at Lyons, France, in 1274
Canonized in 1482
Declared a Doctor of the Church in 1587 by Sixtus V
Known as 'the Seraphic Doctor'
Feast day July 14.


Born Giovanni (John) di Fidanza, an untrustworthy legend says that his name was changed to Bonaventure ("good fortune") by Saint Francis of Assisi, who miraculously cured him of a dangerous illness during his childhood and exclaimed: O buona ventura!

A contemporary of Saint Thomas Aquinas and Saint Albert the Great, he went to the University of Paris when he was 14. There he studied theology under the English Franciscan, Alexander of Hales (the "Unanswerable Doctor"); and it was perhaps the influence of this teacher that induced him to enter the order when he was 20.

By 1248, he was a bachelor of Scripture; two years later he became a bachelor of theology; and three years after that he became a master of theology and was appointed to the professorial chair of the Friars Minor. He taught theology and Scripture, and preached in Paris for many years (1248-1255), concentrating on the elucidation of some of the problems that especially exercised men's minds in his day.

His teaching was curtailed by the opposition of secular professors, who were jealous of the new mendicants' success and were perhaps made uncomfortable by their austere lives when compared unfavorably with their own. Apparently, their disdain for the Franciscans, led the university to delay granting him a doctorate in theology, yet this did not embitter Bonaventure. With Aquinas he defended the mendicant friars against their opponents.

When the secular leader William of Saint-Armour wrote The perils of the last times, Bonaventure responded by publishing Concerning the poverty of Christ, a treatise on holy poverty. Pope Alexander IV denounced Saint-Armour, had his book burned, and ordered a halt to the attack on the mendicants. Thus, vindicated, the mendicant orders were re-established at Paris, and Bonaventure and Aquinas received their doctorates in theology in 1257.

That same year, when he was only 36, Bonaventure was elected minister general of the Franciscans. In this position he was faced with a difficult task, for though Saint Francis had established an incomparable spiritual ideal for his order, his organization was weak and since his death a number of different groups had arisen.

At the general chapter of Narbonne in 1260, Bonaventure designed a set of constitutions as a rule, which had a lasting effect on the order, and for which he is called the second founder of the Franciscans. It has, however, been claimed that he also weakened the spirit of Saint Francis; the Life that he wrote of him, in order to promote unity among the brothers, was accurate but incomplete, and he modified the rule that forbade the brothers to accept money or own property.

The strict-interpretation Spirituals among the Franciscans valued poverty above all else, including learning. Bonaventure strongly supported the importance of study to the order, and the need for the order to provide books and buildings. He confirmed the practice of monks teaching and studying at universities, believing that the Franciscans could better fulfill the need for preaching and spiritual guidance to compensate for other poorly educated clergy.

In addition to theological and philosophical works, Saint Bonaventure has left us sundry ascetical treatises, some of which have been translated into English including the Journey of the soul to God. The hymn In the Lord's atoning grief is a translation from Bonaventure.

Among his works are Commentary on the sentences of Peter Lombard (which covers the whole field of scholastic theology), the mystical works Breviloquium, Itinerarium mentis ad Deum, De reductione artium ad theologium, Perfection of life (written for Blessed Isabella, sister of Saint Louis IX, and her convent of Poor Clares), Soliloquy, The three-fold way, biblical commentaries, and sermons.

Bonaventure was nominated as archbishop of York in 1265, but refused the honor. In 1273, much against his will, Bonaventure was made cardinal and bishop of Albano by Pope Gregory X. His personal simplicity is illustrated by the story that when his cardinal's hat was brought to him at the friary in Mugello (near Florence), he told the legates to hang it on a nearby tree, as he was washing the dishes and his hands were wet and greasy.


At right is a photo of Zurbaran's 1629 painting of Aquinas and Bonaventure in Paris.

The following year, Pope Gregory called him to draw up the agenda for the 14th general council at Lyons to discuss the reunion of Rome with the churches of the East. Saint Thomas Aquinas died en route to the council. Bonaventure was the leading figure in the success of the council that effected the brief reunion, and led his last general chapter of the order between the third and fourth sessions. Bonaventure died while the Council of Lyons was still in session and was buried in Lyons.

Saint Bonaventure's reputation is based on his personal goodness and his skill as a theologian. "In him it seemed as though Adam had not sinned," wrote Alexander of Hales, and when he died the official record of the Council of Lyons stated: "In the morning died Brother Bonaventure of famous memory, a man outstanding in sanctity, kind, affable, pious and merciful, full of virtues, beloved of God and man. . . . God gave him the grace that whoever saw him conceived a great and heartfelt love for him."

The saint was known for his accessibility to any and all who wished to consult him, and once explained his urgency in making himself available to a simple lay brother by saying, "I am at the same time both prelate and master, and that poor brother is both my brother and my master."

Though Bonaventure and Aquinas were friends in their lifetime, the two men had strongly opposed each other on the question of the neo- Aristotelianism that was being introduced into theology, for Saint Bonaventure feared that as a result philosophy would be elevated above theology and that reason would be made more important than revelation.

Saint Bonaventure was a man of the highest intellectual attainments, but he would emphasize that a fool's love and knowledge of God may be greater than that of a humanly wise man. To reach God, he said, "little attention must be given to reason and great attention to grace, little to books and everything to the gift of God, which is the Holy Spirit."

Above all he emphasized charity: "For in truth, a poor and unlearned old woman can love God better than a Doctor of Theology."

Bonaventure believed that the created world gave us a sign of God. But faith was needed, honed by reason, to lead to contemplation of the divine. When his friend Aquinas asked where Bonaventure gained his own great knowledge, Bonaventure pointed to a crucifix. "I study only the crucified one, Jesus Christ," he replied.

Philosophy in itself was only an instrument, and unless it was modified in the light of revelation would lead into error, or into an arid preoccupation with intellectual arguments for their own sake.

In his opposition to Aristotelian philosophy, Saint Bonaventure no doubt went too far, and the synthesis achieved by Saint Thomas has had none of the disastrous effects that he feared.

Yet in taking his stand on the primacy of theology, he was aligning himself with the greatest of all Christian thinkers, Saint Augustine, and in stressing the supremacy of grace, he was following in the footsteps of the founder of his order, Saint Francis.



[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 2/27/2008 6:15 PM]
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BENEDICT AND BONAVENTURE - 2



Without tradition, theology is
a tree uprooted from its bedrock

By Paolo Vian
Translated from
the 2/27/08 issue of




"For the full and objective understanding of the spiritual history of Italy in the 13th century, we cannot, ever!, dissociate the two great figures which Dante - and with him, the best religious tradition of his time -- so indissolubly linked to each other: Joachim of Fiore and Francis of Assisi. The Appenine mountain chain is not only the physical dorsal spine of the peninsula: there was a stupendous spiritual continuity from Sila to Subasio, in the mature years of the Italian Middle Ages. To have introduced a fracture into that spine was a gesture of improvident iconoclasm."

Joseph Ratzinger would probably not have had any difficulty subscribing to that statement made in 1931 by Ernesto Buonaiuti at the start of his reconstruction of the life and thought of Joachim of Fiore.

In his own introduction to the book whose new Italian edition we are presenting tonight, the then young Bavarian theologian recalled how a theology and a philosophy of history are born above all during crisis periods in human history, starting with Augustine's De civitate Dei, which was a response to the collapse of the Roman Empire and the world of antiquity.


Augustine, Joachim, Bonaventure, Francis of Assisi.

"From then on, the attempt to dominate history in a theological sense was never again alien to Western theology..."(p. 15). At the start of the 13th century, this recurrent attempt to dominate history in terms of theology reached a new culminating point in Joachim of Fiore's prophecy of history" - and here is where the vision of the Italian 'modernist' and the German theologian coincide - "it reached...its maximum force only with the splendid confirmation given to it by the person and work of Francis of Assisi" (p. 16).

The two factors together - Joachim's call and the response of Franciscanism - placed into question the medieval image of history, generating a new, second culminating moment in the Christian way of thinking about history...represented by St. Bonaventure's Hexaemeron" (p.16)...

The intention of the Collationes was to 'counterpoint the spiritual disorientation of the time with the image of authentic Christian wisdom" (p.27), seriously settling accounts with the historical moment.

But - as Ratzinger is quick to take note - the six levels of knowledge, allegorically represented by the six days of creation and symbolized in the six eras of salvation, are further articulated into different levels which indisputably presented the growth in time of the levels of knowledge. Recognizing the historical character of Scriptural statements, Bonaventure differed from the interpretation of the Fathers and of scholastics who were guided by the idea of immutability. With the idea of theoriae arising from rationes seminales in a temporal perspective - 'a mirroring of future times in Scriptures" (P. 29) - Bonaventure adapted the interpretation of Scripture that Joachim had presented in his Concordia.

Bonaventure "thus affirmed that fundamental historic conception which was the decisive novelty brought by the Calabrian abbot (Joachim) to the thinking of the Fathers" (p. 29).

Scripture has certainly been fulfilled and Revelation is concluded, but its significance must continue to be searched continuously throughout history, and that search is not at an end" (cfr p. 29).

By our position in time, we see and understand more in some respects than the Fathers did. "In this way, the interpretation of Scriptures becomes a theology of history, an illumination of the past as prophecy for the future" (p. 30).

These were the premises that led Bonaventure to exclude Augustine from the theology of history, since he oriented everything to a correspondence between the story of the Old Testament and that of the New - an orientation which Augustine had resolutely rejected" (cfr p. 32).

In Bonaventure's theology, Christ is not the end of times - as in the Augustinian scheme - but the center of times, and it is this option that impels Bonaventure to believe in 'a new salvation that is realized 'in history', within the confines of earthly time" (p. 34). Then, even the Church in its realized form as "contemplative Church" is yet to come and we must still await its transformation in history (cfr p. 35).

Surprisingly, then, Ratzinger presents us with a Bonaventure who, in the summer of 1273, openly and consciously showed the influence of Joachim. But which Joachim?

Ratzinger quickly makes that clear: Bonaventure 'detaches himself clearly and resolutely' from the coarse manipulations that Gerardo di Borgo San Donnino had performed on Joachim, presenting the writings of the Calabrian abbot as an eternal Gospel designed to replace the transitory and perishable New Testament (cfr p. 45). But the rejection of Gerardo by Bonaventure cannot in any way be seen as a 'rejection of the original Joachim" (p. 46).

Thus, Ratzinger's reading fulfills two things at the same time: while he brings Bonaventure close to Joachim on the one hand, he separates Joachim clearly from the Joachimites, on the other hand.

I have said that Ratzinger's interpretation - which is in full and total rupture with preceding analyses by Martin Grabmann and Etienne Gilson, but along the lines of Alois Dempf and Leone Tondelli who paved the way for him, - brings Bonaventure close to Joachim.

But the young German theologian was also fully aware of the many differences between the Franciscan and the monk from Fiore.

The primary difference is in their evaluation of the times they lived in. Precisely because time and its passing are decisive in the visions of both Joachim and Bonaventure, the Franciscan could go beyond Joachim in reasoning, if only because 60 years separate the death of Joachim in 1202 from Bonaventure's Collationes in 1273.

The novelty introduced into medieval religion by Francis of Assisi
represents the great difference between the two. For Bonaventure - Francis's disciple, successor, and biographer - Francis was not a saint like others, but occupied an absolutely singular and preeminent place in the history of salvation, one who, in his conception, came to introduce the last phase of this history.

Francis, he wrote, was the new Elijah, the new John the Baptist, and, in Collationes, 'the angel who rises from the East' referred to in the Apocalypse (7,2), with the seal of the living God, namely the stigmata Francis received at Verna.

This image would run throughout the 13th century which Francis marked so much, and Bonaventure saw in Francis the figure announced by Joachim in the fourth book of Concordia who would be conferred 'the full liberty to renew the Christian religion".

To the Abbot of Fiore's prophecy, Francis's advent appeared like a prompt response, and it was Francis who would have the task of choosing the 144,000 elect who would found the chosen community at the end of times.

But in what measure does this novus ordo - mystic expression of the 'contemplative church' with which the sixth day of creation is transformed into the quiet Sabbath of the seventh day - correspond in empirical fact to the Franciscan order of which Bonaventure was the minister-general in that summer of 1273?

The question is fundamental, even for the consequences that it brings; and the analysis of texts conducted by Ratzinger is attentive to the nuances: It starts from Joachim, goes through the pseudo-Joachimite commentaries, to Jeremiah, and then dwells on the fundamental passages in Collatio XXI; before coming to the conclusion that Bonaventure, ignoring the pseudo-Joachims, takes off directly from Joachim, but actualizes him in the light of Francis and his movement.

If the fundamental thesis of the Spirituals was identification with the Franciscan order, or rather its spiritual branch as the order of the 'final times', Bonaventure rejects that equation and takes a different position: Francis had certainly inaugurated a new community of contemplative men but although it is intrinsically Franciscan, it could not be identified automatically with the actual Franciscan order. The order was perhaps originally destined to play such a role, but the the deviations of its members had brought the Franciscans, like the Dominicans, to the threshold of the 'new time' that they could prepare for, but without being able themselves to incarnate it personally.

And only when this new time arrived, only then would come the moment of full contemplatio and a renewed understanding of Scripture, the time of the Holy Spirit, and therefore, of introduction to the full truth of Jesus Christ.

In the eyes of Bonaventure, as analyzed by Ratzinger, Francis anticipated in his person the form of eschatological existence which, as a form of universal life, belongs to the future. One must conclude surprisingly that this realistic distinction between Francis and Franciscanism was "not only the discovery of liberal research on Francis" which had its most significant peak in the famous 1893 biography by Ernst Renan's pupil, Paul Sabatier, but had already been formulated by 'the great Franciscan superior-general of the 13th century" (p. 81).

This 'realistic distinction' is the key to understanding Bonaventure's behavior as minister-general and his attitude to life as a Franciscan: He could reject the sine glossa, the utter lack of compromise - that he recognized as Francis's desire - in both the exercise of his office, as well as his personal form of life, knowing that the hour had not yet struck. As long as the sixth day lasts, times would not be ripe for that radical Christian existence that Francis, by divine mission, could realize ahead of time in his own person.

Without any sense of unfaithfulness to the blessed founder of his order, Bonaventure could and had to, as a consequence, create for his order those institutional limits which he knew were never intended by Francis. [Bonaventure relaxed Francis's rules for the order.] It is too facile, and definitively wrong, to see this as a falsification of true Franciscanism....

Let us then return, in conclusion, to a passage in the preface of the American edition of this book, dated August 1969. In it, Ratzinger underscores how Collationes was the response to the profound crisis triggered in the Order and in the Church by the encounter between the Joachimite expectation and the Franciscan movement.

Bonaventure could have totally rejected Joachim, as Thomas Aquinas would later do, opting for a history that was all Augustinian and high Middle Ages, for the parable of a mundus senescens, an aging world, which is precipitating ineluctably towards a final crisis.

But doing so, he would have theologically rejected that novelty that Francis had brought, simply through his life, into the world: Bonaventure opts for a different path, which was risky but potentially very fecund: he interprets Joachim "within tradition, while the Joachimites interpreted him against tradition" (p. 12)

Doing so, the minister-general offered an ecclesial reading, which created an alternative to the radical Joachimites and at the same time sought to preserve the unity of the Order (cfr p.12).

Let us now take a step forward and remember that the author of the book we are presenting tonight became Pope on April 19, 2005, 46 years after his book came out, 36 years after he formulated the Preface for the American edition.

How can we not think, then, that the Pope, who addressed the Roman Curia on December 22, 2005, with his celebrated address on the legacy of the Second Vatican Council and on the need to read it as continuity in tradition and not as rupture, is not fulfilling - through that much disputed and discussed legacy of the Council - precisely the very operation that he identified in Bonaventure with respect to Joachim?

When Benedict XVI speaks of the 'right interpretation of the Council', its 'correct hermeneutic', the 'right key for its reading and application', is he not perhaps wishing for Vatican II the same reading that he was able to intuit in Bonaventure with respect to Joachim?

To interpret Vatican II 'within tradition', avoiding escapes and senseless defensiveness, is perhaps the profound key to this Pontificate. And it is quite fitting to think that a possible model for Benedict XVI could be seen in some way in the Bonaventurian theology of history as he portrayed it in his 1959 book and its reading of Joachim.

In this way, Prof. Ratzinger and Pope Benedict XVI reaffirm that theology, like Christian life, should remain in contact with its own history, without which it would be "a tree cut off from its own roots' (p. 12), condemned to dry up and wither.

We all know that the image of the tree was dear to Joachim, as it was to another 13th century interpreter, a faithful and original disciple of Bonaventure, Pietro di Giovanni Olivi - cited in a footnote of the 1959 book - who, in his comment on the Apocalypse, would present the history of the Church as a succession of statuses linked to each other by a concurrentia which unites them without a break, in such a way indeed that one generates the next.

It was Olivi, with the extraordinary parable of the man before the triple peak of a mountain, who expressed in the most effective way the new Joachimite-Bonaventurian conception of history.

We might add that it certainly does not seem by chance that the Prof. Ratzinger who dedicates the entire second chapter to the content of worldly hope in the new Joachimite-Bonaventurian sense would be the same person who in the 1980s and 1990s would face, as Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the premises and consequences of liberation theology, and who as Pope, would dedicate his second encyclical to the subject of hope.

But we can well see that it is not only the content of the Bonaventurian operation that inspires Benedict XVI - that even its form does. In the final analysis, it is the model of a theologian called on to assume responsibility within the Church - the profile of the theologian Augustine who became Bishop of Hippo, in the 5th century; and in the 13th, that of the master teacher Bonaventure who became minister-general of the Franciscan order and cardinal - which perhaps lives again in the first Bishop of Rome in the 21st century, who was a theologian and remains one, drawing from his theological reflections the nourishment for his preaching and magisterium.

In this sense, reading this book from 1959 is not only illuminating for understanding Bonaventure and Franciscanism. It becomes invaluable for understanding the spirit of its author and perhaps, the profound spirit of his Pontificate.


====================================================================

BIOGRAPHICAL NOTE ON JOACHIM OF FIORE:

Blessed Joachim of Fiore, OSB Cist. Abbot
(also known as Joachim de Floris)
Born at Celico, Calabria, Italy, c. 1130; died 1202.


Joachim was a visionary and prophet who, early in life, adopted an ascetic life. After a pilgrimage to Palestine, he entered the Cistercian abbey at Sambucina. In 1176, he became abbot of Corazzo, and about 1190, founded his own monastery at Fiore - a new Cistercian Congregation. His life was marked with great piety and simplicity.

He looked for a new age of the Spirit, when the papal Church would be superseded by a spiritual Church in which popes, priests, and ceremonies would disappear, and the Holy Spirit would fill the hearts of all Christ's followers.

Thus, his heart was Franciscan and, in a way, he anticipated the reforming zeal and simple faith of the Quakers. It is not surprising that doubts were sometimes thrown upon his orthodoxy and that many were disturbed by his original and even startling views.

Nevertheless, he opened the way for others to follow, and kindled a hope that ran through the medieval world and stirred the intellect of the Church. Reformation was in the air, and many things which he foresaw or foretold came to birth in the century that followed, in the great days of Dominic, Francis of Assisi, and Ignatius Loyola.

A new emphasis was placed on the work of the Holy Spirit, and after the gloom which preceded, there burst upon the world fresh and radiant visions of saintliness and virtue, and with them a new warmth and glow of religious life. A wave of exhilaration swept across Europe, and in that golden age of art and genius men looked beyond the outward forms and found in their own hearts a living and personal experience of God.

Joachim helped to give birth to this new mood of feeling and spontaneity, which later found song in such words as "O Jesus, King Most Wonderful" and "Jesu, the very thought of Thee." It was Pentecost set to music:

When once Thou visitest the heart,
Then truth begins to shine,
Then earthly vanities depart,
Then kindles love divine.
O Jesus, Light of all below!
Thou Fount of living fire,
Surpassing all the joys we know,
And all we can desire.

With this inner fire went a consuming love that burned in the heart of Saint Francis and his friars, that sent Dominic and his preachers out of their churches into the hills and highways, and that in a thousand monasteries set up Christian communities to care for the welfare of the people.

He was a prolific ascetical writer. His commentary on the Book of Revelation gave his the title "the Prophet" by which he was described by Dante: "the Calabrian abbot Joachim, endowed with prophetic spirit" (Paradiso, XII).

Thus Joachim was among the enthusiasts, who turned for inspiration to the Bible. Unfortunately, after his death the Franciscan Spirituals used his books to uphold their heretical tendencies. Nevertheless, Joachim has always been given the title of beatus, because, as a mystic and a prophet, he refreshed the life of the Church.



[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 2/27/2008 6:28 PM]
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Not all Jews share adverse reactions
to the new Good Friday prayer

By Jesús Colina



ROME, FEB. 26, 2008 (Zenit.org).- Jewish representatives have shown their willingness to continue dialogue with the Catholic Church, going beyond interpretations sparked by the new Good Friday prayer to be used by those communities that celebrate the liturgy according to the 1962 missal.

The messages, some of them addressed directly to the Holy See, have arisen after strong criticism of the text of this prayer, which asks that the children of the Chosen People, as well as the rest of humanity, can all come to recognize Jesus Christ and his Church.

The text replaces another prayer for the Jews, offered before the Second Vatican Council, which was perceived as offensive in some of its terms, in part due to the difficult history of relations between Christians and Jews.

Cardinal Walter Kasper, president of the Pontifical Commission for Religious Relations With the Jews, speaking on Vatican Radio on Feb. 7, clarified that this prayer -- prayed only by very small groups of Catholics, since the rest of the Church will continue with the prayer introduced by Pope Paul VI -- only professes the Christian faith, and does not seek proselytism of conversion.

"In the past, frequently this language was one of scorn, as Jules Isaac, a famous Jew, has said. Now there occurs a respect in diversity," the cardinal said.

Expressing identity

Among the reactions, an article published Feb. 23 in the German newspaper Die Tagespost is noteworthy. The article, written by Jacob Neusner, professor of History and Theology of Judaism in Bard College, supports the explanation given by the cardinal, explaining that the prayer does nothing more than express Christian identity.
[A full translation of Rabbi Neusner's article was posted earlier farther above on this page]

"Israel prays for the gentiles, so the other monotheists -- the Catholic church included -- have the right to do the same, and no one should feel offended. Any other policy toward the gentiles would deny gentiles access to the one God whom Israel knows in the Torah," wrote the professor, who has taught at institutions including Columbia University, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Brandeis University, Dartmouth College, Brown University and the University of South Florida.

"And the Catholic prayer expresses the same generous spirit that characterizes Judaism at worship. God’s kingdom opens its gates to all humanity and when at worship the Israelites ask for the speedy advent of God’s kingdom, they express the same liberality of spirit that characterizes the Pope’s text for the prayer for the Jews -- better ‘holy Israel’ -- on Good Friday," the Jewish professor explained.

"Both ‘It is our duty’ and ‘Let us also pray for the Jews’ realize the logic of monotheism and its eschatological hope," Neusner concluded.

Other representatives of important Jewish organizations have sent messages to the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, which oversees the Commission for Religious Relations With the Jews. The messages seek to advance in the dialogue that began with the Second Vatican Council.

A letter from the World Jewish Congress, for example, proposes to advance in the difficult path of dialogue to go deeper precisely in those aspects that mutually wound the believers of both religious, with frankness, respect and the necessary openness of spirit.

Cardinal Kasper has explained in responses to consultations from Jewish organizations that the text of the prayer is inspired in St. Paul's Letter to the Romans, Chapter 11, in which it speaks also of God's unbroken covenant with the Jews.

The prayer, he affirmed, leaves everything in the hands of God, not in ours. It does not speak of missionary activity.

Beyond the debate sparked by the prayer, the vast majority of Catholic faithful in the world will continue praying the great intercessions of the Good Friday liturgy, according to the missal adopted in 1969, which came into effect in 1970 during the pontificate of Paul VI.

That prayer says: "Let us pray for God's ancient people, the Jews, the first to hear his word […] that God will grant us grace to be faithful to his covenant to grow in the love of his name."

[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 2/27/2008 8:05 AM]
2/27/2008 12:55 PM
 
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The Pope champions Europe:
Interview with Massimo Introvigne

by Miriam Díez i Bosch
Translated from
the Italian service of




ROME, Feb. 25 (ZENIT.org) - Europe is undergoing a phase of 'aggressive relativism', says Prof. Massimo Introvigne, author of the book Il segreto dell’Europa. Guida alla riscoperta delle radici cristiane(The secret of Europe: Guide to the rediscovery of its Christian roots, Sugarco Edizioni, 2008).

"The new aggressive relativists would want relativism to become the law of the State," he told ZENIT in an interview. Introvigne is the director of Alleanza Cattolica, and founder and director of CESNUR, Centro Studi sulle Nuove Religioni [Center of Studies for New Religions].


Is Europe in an identity crisis?
The Holy Father on two occasions - in his address to the Roman Curia on December 22, 206, and on the 50th anniversary of the Treaty of Rome on March 24, 2007 - used a very strong expression, saying that Europe "seems to want to bow out of history".

'To bow out of history' means to bring down the curtains, greet the audience and say the performance is over. It was good while it lasted, but now it's over. Is it possible? Sure! Unlike human beings, civilizations do not have an immortal soul. The begin and end in history, and European civilization will not be an exception. Is it happening? Many politicians would deny it.

Nevertheless, Benedict XVI has brought to light three aspects - which he enumerated as such in the two speeches I cited - which correspond to given data that are very difficult to deny.

The first is Europe's 'apostasy of itself', the refusal to recognize its own roots - which are so obviously Christian as to render any discussion on the matter specious - and its own history, which has led to a weakness and a lack of identity in the face of any attack or external event. That Europe cannot speak with one voice we see these days on the question of Kosovo.

The second aspect is the separation of laws from morals. Not just the simple distancing from politics or any political figure of private and public morality - which is a problem that is neither recent nor solely European but that runs throughout human history.

No, this time, it has to do with an autonomy that was previously just theorized but has since been fatally put into practice and legislated. We are talking of the autonomy of law from ethics, not from religion, and so the accusations of 'interference' by the Church in public affairs makes no sense, because here, we are dealing with natural moral law and the rules of the game called society - the Pope has spoken of 'the grammar of social life' - which are, as such, neither Christian nor atheist nor Buddhist, but are principles everyone can and should share.


And this grammar of social life is not observed?
Because in Europe today, it is said that there are no 'rules of the game', that the legislator should limit himself to being a notary public, merely formalizing that which is already happening in society (or what the media make them believe is happening).

Are there homosexual couples? Then Parliament should take note and grant them parity to traditional families. Are there Muslims who live in polygamy? Let the law regularize them, or maybe adapt sharia law as some authoritative European figures have suggested. Is euthanasia being practised in hospitals? Let the State regulate it by law, as Luxembourg has just done.

The third aspect is the demographic crisis. The tragic fact is that increasingly fewer babies are being born in Europe. On this point, the facts obstinately refuse to fit the theories of those who insist that Europe is not in crisis, and even the questionable tendency in some nations where new norms of citizenship now include even children of immigrants in the national birth rate.


Aggressive secularism, anti-Christianity, relativism - are we in a new Dark Age?
A non-Catholic intellectual, who was Communist, Antonio Gramsci [Italy's leading political theoretician in the 20th century] used to say that when the weather was bad, one would blame the barometer, but 'abolishing the barometer won't abolish the bad weather".

Today in Europe, we are witnessing this phenomenon: For as long as Benedict XVI is the only one - almost, anyway - who denounces Europe's tragic crisis on the three aspects I have cited (and these are issues that politicians will not want to use in a campaign because usually the bearers of bad news are not rewarded at the polls) - then European secularists will continue to have the mentality implied in Gramsci's barometer.

And so, preventing the Pope from speaking, as they did at La Sapienza, is not going to make the problems go away!

There are those who say that what the Pope denounces as problems are really resources: that the crisis of the traditional family, abortion, euthanasia, denying the existence of natural law, multi-culturalism without reins - in which refusal to sanction polygamy in a European society where many Muslims live is seen as a form of racism - these, they say, are all positive phenomena which must be promoted because they will bring us a society with less conflicts.

For these people, the conflict lies in those who believe that truth exists, whereas when all can agree that there is no truth, then conflict disappears because everyone is right.

But his fantasy has been so frequently belied by history that it should be embarrassing even to consider it. But that's not the way it is.

Where societies are complex - and Europe today is very complex - there is no easy way out. Either persons with diverse cultures and religions find a common grammar of living together - common rules that will allow coexistence - which can only come from reason and natural law that reason can recognize, or we will be reduced to conflicts pitting everyone against everything.

That means, conflicts can be resolved peacefully by resorting to natural law which is valid for everyone, or they will be resolved by violence and bombs.


You have spoken of various phases of relativism. Where are we today?
We are now in the phase of aggressive relativism. The relativist used to theorize even if he did not always practise it, Voltaire's maxim according to which "I do not agree with what you say but will defend to the death your right to say it". As we know, Voltaire was the first to violate his own maxim when it came to dealing with the Catholic Church!

Still, there were, and there are still, old Voltaireans who truly believe what they say and, although they are relativists personally, they do not call on the State to punish those who are not relativist.

But the new aggressive relativists would like relativism to become the official law of the State, with a consequent penal repression of non-relativists.

A simple example: The old relativists said that "A homosexual's bedroom is his castle" (adapting an English adage in which the castle is a place where not even the king can enter freely), and that the State should have nothing to do with it, where homosexuals as much as heterosexuals should be left free to do as they please.

But the new relativist would have the State put up the castle walls for homosexuals and arrest those who dare to come near or even simply express critical opinions. And that's the sense of the new laws on homophobia, which do not punish those who insult or abuse homosexuals (because ordinary laws can do that) - but according to the formulation of the Italian government that was just forced to resign, they would reprimand those who express 'ideas of superiority', by which they mean, considering heterosexual marriages as intrinsically superior to homosexual unions, or those who think - as the Church does - that homosexual unions are intrinsically out of order.


What then is the secret that can sustain Europe?
Europe's secret strength is its millenary culture, in which other elements besides Christian are certainly included - for instance, you cannot eliminate the contributions made by the European Jews - but whose fundamental course is Christian. As much as they have been covered over by the detritus of the enormous landslide provoked by secularism and relativism, the values of this history are still alive and present.

Of course, the situation is better in some countries. For instance, with regard to Italy, Benedict XVI said at the Verona convention on October 19, 2006, that "the Church in Italy is a reality that is very much alive" - and we see that! - which keeps a permeative presence in the life of persons of every age and condition, and that "Christian traditions are still firmly rooted and continue to bear fruit."

So, we can see that the same Benedict can speak of a Europe that 'seems ready to bow out of history', on the one hand, as well as "Christian traditions that are still firmly rooted" (at least in Italy, but it it certainly not the only country for which analogous considerations may be valid. Is there a contradiction? Not at all.

The Pope, when he speaks of the European crisis, is not presiding at a funeral - he is sitting at the bedside of a sick man. someone seriously ill, from whom it would be futile to hide the gravity of the situation. But a sick person who still has - even if hidden somewhere deep - the potential to heal himself.

Like a good doctor, Benedict XVI does not hesitate to speak of the risks that the sickness may turn fatal, but he also scrutinizes attentively and systematically and values every slight improvement, any sign of healing.

If in the desert, a plant emerges and survives, then it should not be uprooted but cultivated so it can become a tree and who knows, some day, a woodland. But to cultivate such a plant, it must be irrigated. Enthusiasm alone won't do it. But when it is directed towards the Pope, to his words and to his apostolic travels, then it is always a good starting point. To nourish the plant, one needs the waters of doctrine and the magisterium.

The book Il segreto dell’Europa comes out of 35 years of my activities at Alleanza Cattolica, an agency of lay Catholics whose principal objective is the study, dissemination and application of the teaching of the Pontifical Magisterium.

It has never seemed more indispensable and urgent as in these years to propagate the teachings of the Pope - I am thinking for instance of the magnificent fresco of secular history and the story of salvation in Spe salvi, which like everything else, has disappeared from the radar of the mass media when it is no longer 'new'!


[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 2/27/2008 6:05 PM]
2/27/2008 2:07 PM
 
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GENERAL AUDIENCE TODAY



A full translation of the Holy Father's catechesis has been posted in AUDIENCE AND ANGELUS TEXTS.


At the General Audience today, the Holy Father today concluded his catecheses on St. Augustine with his fifth lecture on the saint who has been one of his spiritual and intellectual masters.

Once again, the Pope met the faithful at St. Peter's Basilica for initial greetings to the spillover crowd, and then at Aula Paolo VI for the regular catechesis.

Here is how he synthesized today's catechesis in English:

Today we conclude our presentation of Saint Augustine with a discussion of the process of his interior conversion.

In reading his Confessions, we see that his conversion was a life-long journey marked by a passionate search for truth. Despite living an errant life as a young man, Augustine had learned from his mother a love for the name of Christ. Platonic philosophy led him to recognise the existence of Logos, or creative reason in the Universe, which he later came to understand more fully by reading Saint Paul and finding faith in Christ. He completed this fundamental phase in his search for truth when he was baptized in Milan by Saint Ambrose.

The second stage of his conversion saw Augustine return to Africa and found a small monastery with a group of friends dedicated to contemplation and study. Three years later, he was ordained a priest and turned to the life of active ministry, placing the fruits of his study at the service of others through preaching and dialogue.

The last stage was a conversion of such profound humility that he would daily ask God for pardon. He also demonstrated this humility in his intellectual endeavours, submitting all his works to a thorough critique.

Augustine has had a profound effect on my own life and ministry. My hope is that we can all learn from this great and humble convert who saw with such clarity that Christ is truth and love!










GOD IS THE ANSWER
TO THE DISQUIET OF OUR HEARTS


VATICAN CITY, 27 FEB 2008 (VIS) - In his general audience, held this morning in the Paul VI Hall, the Pope concluded his series of catecheses on the figure of St. Augustine. Before the audience, the Holy Father went to the Vatican Basilica to greet pilgrims who had been unable to find a place in the hall.

St. Augustine "is one of the great converts of Christian history" said Benedict XVI. Reading the Confessions, he went on, "it is easy to see that Augustine's conversion was neither sudden nor fully achieved right from the start. Rather it may be defined as a ... journey, and remains as a model for each one of us".

"St. Augustine was, ever since the beginning, an impassioned searcher after the truth. ... and the first stage of his journey of conversion ... consisted precisely in his gradual approach to Christianity". He received a Christian education from his mother Monica and, despite having lived a wild youth, "always felt a profound attraction to Christ".

The saint's "passion for mankind and for truth ... made him seek God, great and inaccessible". But "Faith in Christ, led him to understand that the apparently distant God is not in fact distant. He has come close to us, making Himself one of us. In this context, faith in Christ was the culmination of Augustine's long search along the path of truth. ... This path must be followed with courage and, at the same time, with humility, while remaining open to the permanent purification of which each one of us has need".

St. Augustine, the Pope recalled, "was reluctantly ordained a priest in Hippo and assigned to the service of the faithful", in which role "he continued to live with Christ, but while serving everyone. He found this very difficult at the start, but he understood that only by living for others, and not just for his own private contemplation, could he truly live with Christ and for Christ.

Renouncing a life of pure meditation he learned, often with difficulty, to place the fruits of his intellect at the service of others, to communicate his faith to the common people, ... and thus to live for them in that city which he had made his own. ... This was his second conversion".

The Pope then went on to identify another stage in Augustine's journey "which we could call his third conversion and which brought him daily to ask forgiveness of God. ... We have a perennial need to be washed by Christ, ... to be renewed by Him". We need "the humility to recognise that we are all sinners, constantly journeying until God definitively gives us His hand and introduces us to eternal life". With such humility Augustine lived and died.

"Having converted to Christ Who is truth and love", the Pope continued, "Augustine followed Him throughout his life and stands as a model for all human beings who seek after God. ... Today too, as in his time, humankind needs to know this fundamental reality and, above all, to put it into practice: God is love and meeting Him is the only answer to the disquiet of our hearts".

Benedict XVI concluded his catechesis with a prayer that "every day we may be able to follow the example of this great convert, meeting in every moment of our lives, as he did, the Lord Jesus, the One Who saves us, purifies us and gives us true joy, true life".









A variation today on the usual GA pictures, but why don't the newsphoto services cover the audience inside the Basilica?

[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 2/27/2008 7:05 PM]
2/27/2008 2:22 PM
 
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Pope to stay in Archbishop Pell's home
during Sydney visit in July

The West Australian
27th February 2008



Pope Benedict XVI will stay with an archbishop in a church residence during his four-day visit to Sydney in July.

The Pope's visit to Sydney for World Youth Day (WYD) celebrations are expected to involve a massive security and logistical exercise.

Releasing some details of the visit on Wednesday, NSW Deputy Premier John Watkins said the Pope would stay with the Archbishop of Sydney, Cardinal George Pell, at the Catholic Church's residence next to Sydney's St Mary's Cathedral.

"When he's in Sydney he will be staying at St Mary's, at the house," Mr Watkins said.

Along with other visiting WYD dignitaries, the Pope will travel by boat to some Sydney locations and WYD events.

Apart from Randwick Racecourse, where he will conduct a mass, the Pope is likely to visit sites including the newly-named Barangaroo site in East Darling Harbour, the Domain, the Opera House and Centennial Park.

A spokesman for WYD said the Pope was expected to arrive at Barangaroo by boat for his official welcome.

But he said the program and arrangements for the visit would not be finalised and confirmed by the Holy See until shortly before WYD.

World Youth Day organisers have only 10 weeks exclusive access to Royal Randwick in which to transform the racecourse for the July 20 papal mass.

A stage to hold the Pope and 1,000 senior clergy as well facilities for the more than 300,000 people inside the racecourse must be built in that time.

Mr Watkins said the Randwick turf will be protected from pilgrims but replacement grass is being grown as a contingency.

He said the racetrack will be ready for racing again in time for the spring carnival.

More than one million pilgrims attended Longchamp racecourse in Paris for its World Youth Day, he said.

"They had racing up and running again three weeks later," Mr Watkins said.

"Now it's a different challenge here in Sydney, but we believe with the grass growing that's being done, and with the protection for the track that we are investing in, that we will also have racing up in time for the spring carnival."

2/27/2008 5:34 PM
 
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NEW DISTRIBUTION CHANNEL FOR THE POPE'S NEWSPAPER

In today's issue, L'Osservatore Romano formally announces that starting Sunday, March 2, it will be distributed in Italy as a Sunday supplement, free of charge, to L'Eco di Bergamo, a regional newspaper based in the northern Italian city of Bergamo, hometown of Blessed John XXIII.

To spread the Pope's word
Translated from the 2/27 issue of




What has always been a sore point for L'Osservatore Romano - and one of its problems - is the 'restricted range of its radius of circulation', in the words used in 1961 by then Cardinal Giovanni Battista Montini, writing on the centenary of the Vatican newspaper.

These circulation and distribution problems have only increased in the past few years, in the context of a communications panorama that is increasingly richer and also more confusing.

But obviously, the Pope's newspaper deserves to become more known and more widely circulated.

First of all in Italy, because of the natural relation of the Vatican newspaper with the great nation in which the Pope is also Bishop of Rome and Primate of Italy.

Osservatore deserves to be more widely read, especially since it has been reforming in order to better serve the needs of the Pope and the Holy See, which has raised new interest.

Two small examples. One of our habitual readers was pleasantly surprised to find it available among the newspapers placed at the disposal of patrons in a small but very popular trattoria in Verona. Equally glad was a young employee of the newspaper to see it available for customers of a bar in the center of Rome.

Small signs, surely, but there are others like subscriptions from new readers, as well as requests from newspaper kiosks in Rome that previously did not carry it.

Therefore, on March 2, the newspaper will take a very important new step in its history: At least for 2008 initially, our newspaper will be distributed every Sunday with another important Catholic newspaper, L'Eco di Bergamo, which was edited for decades by Don Andrea Spada, also known by the pseudonym Gladius, and edited today, with great professionalism and continuing success, by Ettore Ongis.

The Sunday edition of the Pope's newspaper will be transmitted electronically from the Vatican so it can be printed and distributed by the Bergamo paper, to go with its own Sunday edition without added cost to the buyer. [DIM]pt[=DIM][Sandro Magister says the Sunday circulation of Eco is 70,000.]

This unprecedented initiative - it is also the first time since 1929 that the newspaper will be printed outside the Vatican - is made possible by the generous offer to Benedict XVI from the Diocese of Bergamo and its bishop, Mons. Roberto Amadei, to mark the 50th anniversary of the election of Cardinal Angelo Roncalli who become Pope John XXIII.

We are humbly confident that, under the aegis of Benedict and Blessed John XXIII, L'Osservatore Romano will continue to build up its circulation.

[The item is signed with the initials GMV at the end, for editor Giovanni Maria Vian.]


=====================================================================


Coincidentally, Powerblog at the Acton Institute site had this commentary today on one of the evident changes at the OR under Vian:


Solid Economics at L'Osservatore Romano
www.acton.org/
Wednesday, February 27, 2008


Good news is not always so hard to find. Case in point: Free-market economics is making a comeback at the Vatican’s daily newspaper L’Osservatore Romano.

Previously known as a dry read, L’Osservatore Romano (which means The Roman Observer in English) now contains provocative interviews and real news stories from around the world.

This is attributable to the paper’s new editor, Giovanni Maria Vian, who was appointed to the post by Pope Benedict last October.

Ettore Gotti Tedeschi, a well-known Italian economist and banker, has been given prominent space to comment on current economic developments. He is a strong defender of the link between Christian principles and free markets, having authored a 2004 book titled, Money and Paradise: The Global Economy and The Catholic World.

In a February 13 article titled “The capital we should value most is human,” he warns against the temptation to resolve economic problems by merely increasing public spending. As Italians know only too well, high public spending will at some point translate into higher taxes. He stresses that these, in turn, diminish human liberty and dignity.

He is also critical of the Italian welfare state which only distributes resources without enhancing individual responsibility and future opportunities. His solution to the current economic difficulties is to leave more space for the market to push Italian businesses to a higher level of competitiveness, which then helps to increase investments and create jobs.

Gotti Tedeschi’s latest front-page article deals with an equally important subject -- the high price of oil and economic development. He directly confronts those who argue that we need to reduce economic growth in order to adapt to falling energy supplies.

In his view, this would signal an unwarranted pessimism and distrust in human creativity. Instead, future energy problems should be combated with more research in new technologies and through using existing technologies more efficiently. Getting human anthropology right and showing confidence in human inventiveness are crucial.

Gotti Tedeschi’s ability to combine economic issues with Christian thought greatly enriches L’Osservatore Romano and all supporters of the free market should be thankful for this turn to sanity. Three cheers for the Pope’s newspaper!
[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 2/28/2008 12:47 PM]
2/27/2008 8:02 PM
 
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In the Name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful


Muslim delegation
coming to the Vatican
for March 4-5 talks

Translated from
the 2/27 issue of



The first bilateral meetings between Vatican representatives and Muslim leaders pursuing dialog will take place in Rome on March 4-5.

The purpose is to set up a meeting, probably to be held in the spring, between the Pope and representatives of the 138 religious leaders who sent him an open letter entitled 'A Common Word between Us and You' last October.

Paving the way for this first encounter - called 'historic' by Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, president of the Pontifical Council for Inter-Religious Dialog (CIRD) - was the exchange of letters in November and December between Cardinal Tarciso Bertone and Jordanian Prince Ghazi bin Muhammad bin Talal, whose Amman-based foundation is sponsoring and hosting the "Common Word' initiative.

The Oct. 13 open letter addressed to the leaders of all Christian churches and confessions proposed to begin a dialog based on common adherence to the principles of 'love of God' and 'love of fellowmen.'

On Nov. 19, Cardinal Bertone wrote Prince Ghazi in the name of the Pope welcoming the initiative and proposing in turn that priority be given to practical common concerns, namely, respect for the dignity of every human being, reciprocal knowledge of each other's religion, sharing the religious experience, and promoting respect and reciprocal acceptance among people of different faiths. It ended with an invitation for the Muslim leaders to send a delegation to the Vatican in order to set up a formal basis for such dialog.

Prince Ghazi replied on December 12 accepting the invitation and said the group would send three representatives for the first meeting.


Cardinal Tauran in Cairo

Additional info from PETRUS:

The bilateral talks next week were also announced in Cairo by Cardinal Tauran, who is ending a two-day visit at Al-Azhar University for the tenth annual bilateral meeting between the CIRD with Muslim leaders.

Al-Azhar is the acknowledged doctrinal center of Sunni Islam, the majority Muslim sect.

The Egyptian state news agency Mena reported that at the meeting, Cardinal Tauran expressed the Vatican's condemnation of the recent re-publication in Danish newspapers of the Mohammed cartoons, which had sparked worldwide riots by Muslim protesters in 2006.

The agency also said that at the bilateral talks, the Al-Azhar panel was headed by its vice president, Sheikh Abel-Fateh Allam, and that the two sides examined ways to clarify wrong conceptions about religion and to demonstrate the social value of religion.

In a second dispatch posted by Petrus:

Cardinal Tauran is quoted as saying at the Cairo talks that "Our young people today are being formed by a global culture which is the antithesis of our beliefs in God. In this context, faith is the foundation on which we can get close to each other."

Referring to the theme of this year's meeting, Tauran said: "Without love for our neighbor, we are reduced to reciprocal threats among peoples and cultures. We aer here to face the challenges to religion, justice and peace, to human dignity and to human rights."

He recalled Pope Benedict's words to the Muslim community in Cologne in August 2005: "We wish to seek the ways of reconciliation and learn to live together respecting each other's identity."

Tauran said "the joint agreement between Al-Azhar and the CIRD is aimed at increasing such opportunities, because this will promote reciprocal respect and understanding among Catholics and Muslims through an exchange of information."

"Muslims and Christians," he said, "share a belief in the same God who asks us to consider mankind as one big family in which the strong must help the weaker members.... Religions contribute to the moral development of the human being, giving each one the possibility adn the tools to become better persons and to do good works according to God's plan."

Referring to the 'letter of the 138', the cardinal said he initiative 'was progressing' and that the Cairo discussions on the theme 'love of neighbor' can only contribute to it.


2/27/2008 9:45 PM
 
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In the Name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful



138 reasons to speak clearly:
Fr. Samir comments on
the dialog with 'the 138'

By GIORGIO PAOLUCCI
Translated from the
2/27/08 issue of







He knows Islam well. He has studied it for 50 years and he has lived with it for as long. Born 1938 in Egypt, he has been a resident of Beirut for 22 years, where he teaches Islamic studies at St. Joseph University.

In 2006, Benedict XVI invited him to Castel Gandolfo to give a lecture at the annual seminar-reunion of the Ratzinger Schuelerkreise, the Pope's former doctoral students. The seminar theme in 2006 was Islam.

We spoke to Fr. Samir, a Jesuit priest who is a theologian as well as an Islamologist, on the prospects opened by the 'letter of the 138' and the preparatory talks next week that could lead to a formal dialog between Pope Benedict XVI and representatives of the 138.


The meetings at the Vatican on March 4-5 will be a historic 'first'. What may we legitimately expect and what illusions should we guard against?
First of all, it must be made clear that the imminent bilateral talks are meant to define some procedural aspects. It will not get into the merits of any discussion points but will try to draw up an agenda to be faced.

This being the first time, one cannot really go too far because both sides will be calibrating their respective positions. And I wish to point out that there are not only two positions - because within both delegations, one will find differing attitudes and sensibilities.


A concept of dialog tends to set aside matters of difference, at least temporarily, and concentrate on the matters that are common and unifying. Is this the sense of the Holy See's position as expressed in the letter of Cardinal Bertone?
The Holy See [position is very clear in that letter: "Without ignoring or under-estimating our differences as Muslims and Christians, we can and should look at what unites us."

It shows realism and reasonableness: in dialog, one must look at the other in his entirety, not imagine him the way we want to. Let me make an example. If I say that Islam has great respect for Jesus, considers him a great prophet and the Koran tells about his miracles, I am saying something true but only partially so. I should also add that the Koran accuses Christians of having elevated Jesus to being God, of having invented the Trinity, of having falsified the Gospel.

Benedict XVI invites us to be thorough, not to stop at what is positive and not to be reined in by the negative. And that is what true dialog means.


Among the elements the two religions have in common, where do you think the most progress can be made?
Respect for the dignity of every human being is certainly the most important because it lays the basis for living together and for ethics.

The recent openness indicated by the Archbishop of Canterbury to the introduction of elements of sharia (Muslim religious law) in British society comes from the idea that everyone can be judged depending on his religious faith. Whereas what should be affirmed is that we are all held to respect inalienable human principles that are universally accepted, as is, precisely, the dignity of every human being.

That principle implies religious freedom, which in turn, includes the possibility of belonging to a faith other than the prevailing or dominant faith, or the faith in which one has been educated.

This is an open nerve in Muslim society, where anyone who leaves Islam is accused of apostasy and risks discrimination, persecution and even death.


So it is not enough to say that we all believe in one God and love for our neighbor, as the 'letter of the 138' says?
It's an important statement but it must be defined in concrete terms, otherwise it is only a vague wish. What does it concretely mean to love my neighbor? Can I love my enemy? Can I love the sinner who has betrayed divine law? And can I love someone who has changed his religion, the apostate? These questions are not secondary and define a measure for what is being affirmed.


One other important point in the letter from Cardinal Bertone was the need for objective reciprocal knowledge of each other's religion. What would make this possible?
Today, what prevails is knowledge based on stereotypes and on expectations one harbors about the other side. But one should also know what the other side says about itself. In this sense, it is therefore essential, for instance, to look at the approximations and the outright lies that are contained in scholastic texts, whether Christian or Muslim, which feed preconceived hostilities and sow poison along the road of a possible encounter.


Some have defined the 'letter of the 138' as deceptive because it does not face a central issue for contemporary Islam: the super-imposition of politics and religion. What do you think?
An objection one must share. The problem is not, as I said, theorizing on love of God and love of neighbor, but to understand how to live together while remaining different - how to accept the difference without demonizing each other (perhaps even in the name of God). How to love someone whose position is opposite mine.

This is definitely the open nerve in the contemporary Muslim world, about which many religious authorities make religious statements that serve as political instruments. They have used verses of the Koran to give a theological basis for political positions, to the extent of justifying suicide bombing attacks. Likewise, others will use verses of the Bible in the same way, this time to justify taking territorial possession or the need to make war against a people.


Does the wide spectrum of the signatories to the letter (Sunnis, Shiites, Ismailites, Sufi, belonging to 43 nations) indicate that the document has a consensus in the Muslim world, and what does it mean for the problem that Islam does not have a universally recognized hierarchy?
The signatories belong to 43 nations but they don't represent them. Many are authoritative and prestigious personalities, but, as is usual in the Muslim world, they cannot speak in the name of everyone. Anyone, in the name of Islam, can always object to anything they say.

To this we must add the fact that, as some of the signatories have told me, many signed the document without even reading it, merely relying on the authoritativeness of its proponents, which as we know, includes the royal house of Jordan.


In short, there are many reasons to be skeptical...
We must be realistic, as the Holy Father asks us to be. Realistic ,but also trustful in the good will of men and in the work of teh Holy Spirit who will not fail to enlighten us.

Even without hiding the difficulties irenically, the novelty of the event is indisputable and cannot be under-estimated. It is the first time that a group of Muslim wise men manifest that there is more than one reason for agreeing with Christianity.

And the response from the Holy See was not a simple acknowledgement that the letter was received. We must hope and pray that we can take a few steps forward together along a common path.

The important thing is not to discuss a document nor to draw up another, but to decide to meet regularly (at least once a year) to discuss issues prepared in advance with seriousness and responsibility. It should lead to a lasting relationship, not an occasional one.

Avvenire, 27 febbraio 2008


=====================================================================


More blunt and far more skeptical than Fr. Samir is this conservative columnist for Pajamas Media, a conservative LA-based site whose tagline is '...sending MS down the river'. What started as a loose affiliation of some 100 like-minded bloggers has developed into a daily journal of politics adn culture. This piece makes some pretty serious claims!


WHAT THE ISLAMIC SCHOLARS
FORGOT TO TELL THE POPE
by Patrick Poole
pajamasmedia.com/
Feb. 26, 2008


Last October, the international media establishment was abuzz over a letter sent by 138 Islamic scholars representing the elite of the worldwide ulema to Pope Benedict, entitled “A Common Word between Us and You”, in response to his papal address at Regensburg in September 2006.

The letter extols the common bonds between Muslims and Christians, and their common belief in the love towards neighbors. It further declares that “justice and freedom of religion are a crucial part of love of the neighbor.” Many Christian leaders have responded by welcoming this effort and affirming the Islamic scholars’ letter.

The letter was the product of the Royal Aal al-Bayt Institute for Islamic Thought in Amman, Jordan, and its chief scholar, Sheikh Said Hijjawi, was one of the 138 signatories (#49). In fact, according to the introduction, the letter was presented by the Institute to the Islamic scholars gathered at a conference held at their facilities in September 2007.

There is one thing, however, amidst all the flowery overtures, theological discussion, and representations of religious pluralism that the Royal Aal al-Bayt Institute and the 138 Islamic scholars forgot to mention:

The Institute, which operates a website, AlTafsir.com, which it calls “the largest and greatest online collection of Qur’anic commentary, translation, recitation, and essential resources in the world,” includes in an “Ask the Mufti” section a number of fatwas on apostasy issued by the Institute’s chief scholar, Sheikh Hijjawi, that call for the death of Christian reverts (Christians converting to Islam and then returning to the Christian faith) and Muslim apostates. Further they state that if the Christian reverts and Muslim apostates are not killed, they should be deprived of all rights and accorded the status of non-persons.

This glaring contradiction between the proffer of dialogue with Christians on the basis of allegedly shared common beliefs in freedom of religion and human rights, while simultaneously denying those very fundamental freedoms and recognition of rights to those Christians and Muslims who choose to exercise their freedoms, was first noted by an Australian Anglican cleric, Dr. Mark Durie, in a blog post.

Rev. Durie, a noted scholar on comparative theology who spent years studying the culture of the Acehnese in Indonesia and is fluent in Arabic, also is a fellow of the Australian Academy of the Humanities and senior associate of the Department of Linguistics and Applied Linguistics at the University of Melbourne. He previously served as the head of the Department of Linguistics and Language Studies there.

His analysis of the 16 apostasy fatwas that were posted on AlTafsir.com by Sheikh Hijjawi, who previously served as the Grand Mufti of Jordan and mufti in Oman, finds that they consistently rule that “there is no freedom of Muslims to choose whether to believe in Islam, and no human rights for Christians who have left Islam.” Durie notes that Sheikh Hijjawi’s apostasy fatwas cite a number of verses from the Koran and hadiths of Mohammed in support of his rulings.

And for those Christians and Muslims who are not killed, the fatwas condemn such to a living death as a non-person. Rev. Durie translates some of the punishments to be imposed according to Sheikh Hijjawi’s fatwas:

- His marriage is annulled by virtue of his apostasy.
- He cannot inherit the wealth of any of his relatives — whether they are Muslims or not — because the apostate is legally regarded as dead.
- None of his actions after apostasy has any legal validity (as the apostate is a legal non-person).
- An apostate cannot be remarried, whether to a Muslim or a non-Muslim.
- He cannot be a guardian for anyone else, so he loses custody of his children, and an apostate father has no say over his daughters’ marriages.
- An apostate must not be prayed for by Muslims after his death and must not be buried in a Muslim cemetery.
- If a male apostate comes back to Islam and wishes to resume his marriage, he must remarry his wife with a new ceremony and provide a new dowry for her.
- The apostate’s wealth and possessions are to be entailed upon an heir. If the apostate repents and returns to Islam, he receives his wealth back. If he dies while still an apostate, his wealth is inherited by his Muslim heir, but only the amount which he had at the time of his apostasy. Any wealth which accrued after he had left Islam is considered fay (and thus the collective property of the Muslim community).

Needless to say, the implications of this finding in light of the singular leading role played by Sheikh Hijjawi and the Royal Aal al-Bayt Institute in drafting and promoting “A Common Word” could very well be catastrophic for the attempted efforts to convince the international Christian community of their sincerity and amity.

Rev. Durie arrives at this very conclusion:

It does not seem to be the case that the signatories of “A Common Word” understand concepts such as justice, loving one’s neighbor, and “freedom of religion” in the same way that most Christians would. The Chief Scholar of the Royal Aal al-Bayt Institute, who was a highly prominent signatory of the Common Word letter, is calling for Christians who have converted to Islam to be killed, or else they should be deprived of their rights and treated legally as “dead men walking.”

Indeed, because these fatwas are available over the internet, the former Grand Mufti and the Royal Aal al-Bayt Institute are effectively calling for the death of Christians day after day, and will do so until this material is taken down from the site.

The implications were apparently not lost on Sheikh Hijjawi or the Royal Aal al-Bayt Institute either. Just hours after Rev. Durie’s blog post had appeared, the apostasy fatwas were promptly removed (the fatwas had appeared here).

In fact, the entire AlTafsir.com website was down for most of the following day, perhaps in an effort to scrub the site of this damaging information.

That the Institute has removed these fatwas without any acknowledgment of the previous presence is yet another incident in a seemingly endless procession of evasions, duplicity, and outright hypocrisy by the so-called religious leaders in the Islamic world.

It should be observed that the Institute’s list of 99 senior fellows, many of them signatories to “A Common Word,” reads like a “Who’s Who” of the international Islamic religious establishment.

And yet these Islamic leaders hail from countries that as a rule are among the worst offenders of religious liberties and human rights in the entire world (one only need to consult the annual reports issued by the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom for abundant proof).

The fact remains that under the very noses of these Islamic leaders, Christians, Jews, and other religious minorities (not to mention many Muslims themselves) are officially harassed, brutalized, and murdered in numbers so vast that the collective misery would stagger the imagination.

Meanwhile, Christians, Jews, and Muslims continue to flee the Islamic world for the West in one of the greatest human migrations recorded in human history — all in an effort to find refuge in the freedoms and liberties they have never been able to find at home. These clerics have thus far been unable or unwilling to address the virtual absence of religious liberty in the Islamic world from Nigeria to the Philippines (saving, of course, the freedoms enjoyed alike by Jew, Christian, and Muslim in Israel).

With this in mind, Christian leaders should be wary of sheikhs and muftis bearing “interfaith” letters proclaiming “common words.” If these Islamic scholars are serious about establishing a dialogue with the global Christian community they could demonstrate their sincerity, not by offering meaningless letters and hypocritical statements on religious freedom and human rights, but instead approaching Christians on their knees in repentance, contrition, and shame.

=====================================================================

Well, no, offending Muslims do not need to show such abjection. They only have to show good faith. But that's a tall order, because in the case of all the obvious offenses against human dignity, individual freedoms and religious freedom that Islam decrees to be right, the whole structure of Muslim law is so severe and uncompromising that one cannot expect even a prince of the royal house of Jordan to be able to temper it. Who knows what act of God it will take to alter rules and laws that have been codified and petrified since the 7th century?

But what about simpler things that an individual Muslim with common sense can and should do - unclouded by blind 'interpretation' of the Koran and the whole set of binding provisions that regulate every act in Muslim life?

To me, the most obvious earnest of good faith they could show was always for them to make public statements to condemn the killings everytime a suicide bomber takes lives in Iraq and elsewhere - most of them Muslim lives - or Palestinians target Israelis and vice-versa. The Pope and secular Western leaders do not hesitate to denounce such acts whenever they happen, on whichever side (rocket attacks and bombings in the case of non-Muslim offenders)! Which Muslim holy man does, other than the Shiite Ayatollah al-Sistani in Iraq?

Yet even at the time these Muslim wise men sent 'A COMMON WORD', did any single one of the signatoreis raise a voice to protest what is happening on a daily basis in Iraq and Palestine? No. Nor did they in Naples, at the much ballyhooed inter-religious encounter.

Where is 'love of God' and 'love of one's neighbor' in all this?


=====================================================================

In another apropos, here is An AsiaNews report from Amman last week:

Christian group expelled from Amman,
accused of proselytising among the Muslims



Amman, Feb. 21 (AsiaNews/Agencies) - Jordan has expelled a group of Christians accused of carrying out proselytising activities under the cover of humanitarian aid operations.

The foreign minister explained yesterday that "some foreigners arrive in the kingdom under the pretext of charitable activities, but break the law and carry out missionary activities".

According to the Saudi newspaper Al-Watan, the group of eight missionaries was distributing Christian material among the Bedouins to the north and east of the capital Amman. Their presence was identified by some inhabitants of the place where the group offered humanitarian aid to families and distributed fliers that "promoted Christianity".

Islam is the state religion in Jordan. The government outlaws conversion from Islam, as well as proselytism among Muslims.

Last week, the Council of Churches in Jordan, which represents the Christian community in the country, warned of the presence of about "40 sects". It also condemned the actions of these movements, from which it distanced itself, saying that they "create discord within Christianity itself and with the Muslims".

Of a population of 6 million inhabitants, 92% are Muslim, while the Christians represent about 6%.


[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 2/28/2008 5:39 PM]
2/28/2008 12:55 PM
 
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THE POPE AND THE JESUITS




The Pope and the Jesuits:
Explaining the Problem

By Jeff Mirus
www.catholicculture.org/
Posted Feb. 26, 2008


In my last Insights message I linked to an excellent Catholic World News story on Pope Benedict’s final words to the General Congregation of the Society of Jesus in Rome on February 21st.


Remember 4th vow, Pope urges Jesuits

Vatican, Feb. 21, 2008 (CWNews.com) - Pope Benedict XVI (bio - news) gave the world's Jesuits a pointed reminder of their oath of fidelity, during a February 21 audience with participants in the 35th general congregation of the Society of Jesus.

Meeting with the Jesuit leaders as they concluded their general congregation-- at which they had elected a new superior general, Father Adolfo Nicolas-- the Holy Father stressed that the Jesuit order today should act "in full fidelity to the original charism."

That original charism, the Pope continued, is marked by devotion and obedience to the Church and the Roman Pontiff; he reminded the Jesuit leaders of St. Ignatius' demand that his followers should always work "with the Church and in the Church."

The Pope’s message is even more striking when you consider what preceded it.

Before the Pope’s final address, the new Superior General, Fr. Adolfo Nicolás, greeted the Pope and attempted to anticipate his concerns.

He stressed the Order’s “commitment to the service of the Church and of humanity” inspired and impelled by “the Gospel and the Spirit of Christ.” He assured the Holy Father that “in communion with the Church and guided by the magisterium, we seek to dedicate ourselves to profound service, to discernment, to research.”

For these reasons, Fr. Nicolás lamented, “it saddens us, Holy Father, when the inevitable deficiencies and superficialities of some among us are at times used to dramatize and represent as conflicts and clashes what are only manifestations of limits and human imperfections, or inevitable tensions of everyday life.”

It is not the first time the new Superior has sounded this note. Apparently that’s his story and he’s sticking to it. But is the massive failure of the contemporary Jesuit Order to defend and explain the teachings of the Church nothing more than a human imperfection?

Is the widespread Jesuit refusal to weed out candidates with homosexual tendencies only a tension of everyday life?

Is the near total failure of Jesuit educational institutions to maintain a Catholic identity nothing more than an inevitable “limit” on the performance of deeply committed Catholics guided by the Magisterium?

Benedict does not appear to think so. In his response, he said in effect: “Don’t try to play this game with me.” Let’s list a few of the points he made:

- The Jesuits must seek “that harmony with the magisterium that avoids causing confusion and uncertainty among the People of God.”
- They must “adhere completely to the Word of God as well as to the magisterium’s charge of conserving the truth and unity of Catholic doctrine in its entirety.”
- The Order must realize that “the option for the poor is not ideological but rather is born of the Gospel” and so the Jesuits must “fight the deep roots of evil in the very heart of the human being, the sin that separates us from God.”
- The Order must again become “capable of challenging cultural historical adversities to bring the Gospel to all corners of the world.”
- Its members must defend Catholic teaching on precisely the points that are “increasingly under attack from secular culture.”
- The Order must “regain a fuller understanding of [its] distinctive ‘fourth vow’ of obedience to the Successor of Peter.”
- And the pièce de résistance: “I well understand that this is a particularly delicate and troublesome issue for you and for many of your colleagues.”

Inevitable tensions of everyday life be damned. Granted, it is as yet unclear whether Benedict will (or can) actually enforce a reform, but he is under no illusions as to the need.


It is well worth reading the Pope's full address to the Jesuits on Feb. 21. The translation has been posted on
freeforumzone.leonardo.it/newpost.aspx?a=edit&c=65482&f=65482&idc=12058&idd=354537&idm=78829...

[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 2/28/2008 4:22 PM]
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