In recent remarks that were stunning and profound, Pope Francis harshly criticized what he called “the cult of money” and condemned what he called the “dictatorship” of economies that are socially unjust and morally unfair.
These remarks, reported in The Daily Telegraph and highlighted on the Drudge Report (but not in major American media) suggest a papacy with the potential to transform the global economic and financial debate.
Most recent popes, including Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict, raised the same issues that Francis dramatized this week. What makes the Holy Father different today is that he views economic and social injustice as a defining, and possibly THE defining, theme of is papacy.
This is extraordinary, powerful and profound. There are profound differences between the policies of President Obama and Democrats versus the policies proposed by the atheist Ayn Rand and conservative voices such as Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), Rep. Paul Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and Republican leaders in Congress.
Francis suggests there should be far more economic and social justice regarding the wealthy and everyone else within the leading industrial nations, and between the leading industrial nations and poorer nations throughout the world.
There is a debate raging in Washington, across Europe and throughout the world pitting the right, which favors cruel austerity at a time of slow growth and high joblessness, versus progressives and moderates who believe harsh austerity today is economically disastrous and morally repellant.
The pope specifically calls on world leaders to address the great economic and financial injustices, and I agree with him completely. The pope uses words like “cult” and “dictatorship” to describe the champions of financial justice and the conditions their policies create, and I fully agree with him about this, as well.
Francis has also put his money where his mouth is. The Vatican Bank has already announced new openness and reforms at his direction, which should interest opponents of financial reform in America, Britain and elsewhere. Paul Ryan is a fervent disciple of Ayn Rand, who was the atheist champion of the culture of greed.
Ryan famously tried to employ Catholic theology on behalf of his budget austerity against the poor, and was quickly forced to retreat as the absurdity of this view became obvious. Various rightist and Republican voices have championed aspects of the cult of money, including Cruz, Ryan, Rand Paul, Ron Paul, Republican leaders in Congress and Mitt Romney, who famously ridiculed and demeaned much of the nation on video, championing the cult of money to a room of Republican donors whose money he sought.
It is ironic that these profound and important views of the Holy Father have so far received more attention from the Drudge Report than the leading newspapers of America, the network television news, or cable networks with so much airtime to put to work.
The BBC, Al-Jazeera, The Daily Telegraph and other international media have respected and reported the profound thoughts from Francis, which deserve far more attention here, which is why I write these words today.
Let us advance this great discussion to the center of politics and media throughout America and across the world. For those who disagree with my views, or for whatever reason continue to champion the cult of money and greed, I command to their attention the recent comments from Francis and the timeless words of the Sermon on the Mount.
In their ongoing effort to attack the Catholic Church, it seems not even something as uncontroversial and routine as the pope canonizing new saints can happen without the liberal media find some way to work in an attack. Witness Claudio Lavanga’s May 12 post at NBCNews.com headlined “A saint-making record is also a diplomatic headache for Pope Francis.” [h/t Creative Minority Report]
“Pope Francis canonized more than 800 Catholics in Saint Peter’s Square Sunday – the largest number to be elevated to sainthood at once in the history of the Catholic Church,” Lavanga noted. But alas, “The choice of some of the new saints was also striking, touching on the already-fragile relationship between Christianity and Islam” because the “new saints included hundreds of laymen from the southern Italian port town of Otranto who were slain in the 15th century by the invading Ottoman Turkish army after they refused to convert to Islam.”
After giving readers a brief history lesson into the invasion in 1480, Lavanga groused that Pope Francis’s “choice to highlight their sacrifice may put a strain on the already fragile relationship between the Catholic Church and Islam.” So who did Lavanga cite to substantiate that claim? Well, no one, it turns out.
You’d think that Lavanga could have found at least one diplomat from a Muslim nation who found fault with the pick, but no. Lavanga had squat.
Well, that’s not true, exactly. What Lavanga did have was an attack on the pope emeritus, Benedict XVI, whom the media loved to attack as reactionary and as having an antipathy towards Muslims (emphasis mine):
[W]hy risk creating yet another inter-faith row with a celebration which some in the Muslim world may be seen as a provocation?
The answer is that it wasn’t Pope Francis’ choice in the first place. The decision to canonize the hundreds of Otranto martyrs was rubber-stamped by his predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI, on Feb. 11 – the same day he announced his resignation.
It was a departing act of a pontiff that had become concerned about the mounting discrimination suffered by Christian minorities living in the Middle East in the wake of the Arab spring.
Pope Francis shares his predecessor’s concern. “By venerating the martyrs of Otranto” he said at Sunday’s canonization mass, “We ask God to protect the many Christians who in these times, and in many parts of the world, are still victims of violence”.
The Vatican’s relationship with Islam took a nosedive in 2006 when Benedict – now the Pope Emeritus – enraged Muslims by quoting the 14th-century byzantine emperor Manuel II Palaiogolos, who said: “Show me just what Muhammad brought that was new and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached.”
It was an uncomfortable parting gift for his successor, who now faces an uphill struggle to rekindle ties with Islam.
Again, Lavanga had nothing to back up his claims, nothing to prove the narrative he wished to engrain into the reader’s imagination. Nor did Lavanga consider that the newly-canonized saints might be of great comfort to persecuted Catholics all throughout the world, regardless of whether they live in Muslim countries or not.
When Francis became pontiff, the liberal media saw glimmers of hope that he might be the liberal reformer they’d long hoped for. That appears to not be panning out, but the pontiff’s humility and kindness to the poor and marginalized in society has seemed to inoculate Francis from harsher criticism.
But as this piece shows, to the extent that Francis follows in Benedict’s footsteps, the liberal media will resurrect specious and unsubstantiated charges that conform to a left-wing narrative.
The more something changes, the more it stays the same. It’s a cliché, yes, but it seems to be an increasingly apt one to apply to the situation between women religious and the Vatican.
For those watching the situation unfold since April 2012, when the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith mandated that the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR) be reformed by three U.S. bishops, this week promised to offer some explanations about where the new pope stands on the issue. Pope Francis even met with members of the International Union of Superiors General (UISG), a group of nearly 2,000 leaders of women religious throughout the world who have been meeting in Rome all week.
There have been high hopes for Pope Francis among those left spiritually bruised by the papacy of Pope Benedict XVI. Francis paid his own hotel bill after the conclave, took the bus with the rest of the bishops, refused to move into the papal apartment, claimed to want a “poor church,” and celebrated Holy Thursday at a juvenile detention facility where he washed the feet of 10 men and two women.
But a month after his election, a fly got caught in the balm Francis was pouring over the church’s body. LCWR leaders were informed in a meeting with the doctrinal congregation’s lead cleric, Archbishop Gerhard Müller, that the new pope had reaffirmed the mandated reform of the their organization.
Many Catholics who support both the LCWR and the new pope were at a loss to understand the news. Some imagined Francis simply wasn’t up to speed about the injustices behind the mandate. Speculation ran high that Müller hadn’t even spoken to Francis about the issue in any depth and that, somehow, Müller was speaking on behalf of Francis without the new pope’s approval.
Stay up to date throughout the day: Sign up for NCR email alerts to receive the latest news and your favorite columns.
There was hope this week that all this conjecture was accurate when Cardinal João Braz de Aviz, head of the Vatican’s Congregation for the Religious, told the sisters at the UISG meeting that the doctrinal congregation made its fateful decision without his knowledge and that it caused him “much pain.”
Less than a day later after his stunning admission, Cardinal Braz de Aviz was apparently taken to the doctrinal congregation’s woodshed. The Vatican quickly released a statement claiming that the media (namely, the report in NCR) had misinterpreted Braz de Aviz’s words and that Braz de Aviz and Müller “reaffirmed their common commitment to the renewal of Religious Life, and particularly to the Doctrinal Assessment of the LCWR and the program of reform it requires, in accordance with the wishes of the Holy Father.”
The statement made two realities clear. First, as has typically been the case throughout the church’s history, the doctrinal congregation wields more power than any other congregation in the Curia. Second, Francis is more familiar with the saga between the doctrinal congregation and LCWR than some had hoped.
In a press conference the following day, Braz de Aviz claimed not to have seen this statement from the Vatican and affirmed NCR‘s report as “precise.” He said the only idea that got lost in translation was his explanation of authority.
Braz de Aviz went on to reassert what Pope Francis had said earlier in the day about authority and obedience during his speech to the UISG.
“Christ and the church. The two have to be together. For some people, Christ is fine, but the church isn’t. You can’t separate the two,” the cardinal told the press.
Braz de Aviz was echoing Francis’ statement to women religious: “It is an absurd dichotomy to think of living with Jesus but without the church, of following Jesus outside of the church, of loving Jesus without loving the church.”
Francis has offered this idea more than once over the last few weeks, but when directed at women religious, as it was on Wednesday, it takes on a particular weight.
At the UISG meeting the previous day, Congregation of Jesus Sr. Martha Zechmeister, an Austrian professor of systematic theology, told the gathering of 800 women superiors, “Religious obedience ultimately can only respond to God’s authority. In the traditional language, fulfilling the will of God is the only legitimate reason for religious obedience.”
It is a sentiment we’ve heard often since the doctrinal congregation’s crackdown on LCWR, and one for which the new pope apparently has little sympathy. Francis makes it clear that it is impossible to follow Jesus and not follow the church. In Francis’ eyes, it seems, to love and obey God is to love and obey the church.
Though Francis was the first pope to meet with the UISG, those who expected a dialogue with the new pontiff were likely disappointed. Francis offered a 15-minute reflection on religious life, then shook hands and exchanged brief pleasantries with the UISG’s executive board and staff.
As NCR‘s Joshua J. McElwee reported from Rome, Francis’ speech “focused on three themes, telling the sister leaders to keep their lives centered on Christ, to think of authority in terms of service, and that they must hold a ‘feeling with the church that finds its filial expression in fidelity to the magisterium.’ “
In other words, the way to be a true daughter of the church is to be faithful and obedient to the teachings of the pope and bishops.
With ideas that are no different from those of Pope John Paul II and Benedict, Francis told the sisters they should accept a “fertile chastity” because women religious are “mothers” who “generate spiritual children in the church.”
The new pope maintained his and his predecessors’ belief in the “special” (but not equal) role of women in the church, telling the sisters that without them, the church “would be missing maternity, affection, tenderness.” He went on to tell them to put themselves “in an attitude of adoration and service.”
If there is a point on which both Francis and the sisters agree, it is the importance of “touching the flesh of the poor Christ in the humble, the poor, the sick, and in children.”
But Francis does not seem to understand that it is precisely because women religious regularly touch that wounded body of Christ that they have such rich theological imaginations and a longing to delve into the spiritual questions of our time. Their intensely sacramental lives of service help clarify their priorities in their pursuits of justice and mercy.
All that women religious have done — the work they have committed to, the leadership style they have developed and the theologians they invite to their meetings — has been inspired by their ministry to the broken body of Christ. What Francis and the doctrinal congregation may interpret as a “deviation from doctrine” or a “failure to obey” are really just the fruits of women religious fulfilling their vocation as a prophetic life form.
Perhaps the greatest irony is that the Vatican is punishing women religious for failing to strictly adhere to doctrines that they have had no voice in developing and no role in shaping — precisely because they are women.
The look and feel of the papacy may be changing under Francis, but the fundamental understanding magisterium’s authority and the requirement that the women obey the men, I’m afraid, will continue to stay the same.
[Jamie L. Manson received her Master of Divinity degree from Yale Divinity School, where she studied Catholic theology and sexual ethics. Her NCR columns have won numerous awards, most recently second prize for Commentary of the Year from Religion Newswriters (RNA).]
Editor’s note: We can send you an email alert every time Jamie Manson’s column, “Grace on the Margins,” is posted to NCRonline.org. Go to this page and follow directions: Email alert sign-up.
VATICAN CITY (RNS) Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI returned to the Vatican on Thursday (May 2), where he will live a few hundred meters from his successor, Pope Francis, in an arrangement that has no precedent in the history of the Catholic Church.
Benedict, 86, flew by helicopter from the papal summer residence of Castel Gandolfo, where he spent the past two months since his resignation on Feb. 28.
All the Vatican’s top officials, including Secretary of State Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, showed up at the Vatican’s helipad to welcome Benedict, while Francis chose to meet the the former pope in front of the Mater Ecclesiae convent where Benedict will live out his retirement.
Francis greeted his predecessor “with great and fraternal cordiality,” according to a Vatican statement, before the two men stopped briefly in the convent chapel to pray.
Benedict was accompanied by his personal secretary, Archbishop Georg Gaenswein, who is also serving Francis as prefect of the papal household, charged with setting the new pope’s schedule and arranging his audiences.
According to the Vatican’s statement, the former pope is “happy to be back in the Vatican, where he intends to dedicate himself … to the service of the church primarily through prayer.”
Benedict’s return was a low-profile event; Vatican TV didn’t cover it and the Vatican’s semiofficial newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano, didn’t mention the former pope’s return in its afternoon editions.
While some church observers worry that Benedict’s presence could overshadow Francis and his course of reforms, John Thavis, a former Rome bureau chief for Catholic News Service and a frequent Vatican commentator, said the side-by-side popes shouldn’t cause a “crisis in the church.”
Thavis wrote in his blog that Benedict understands that “even an offhand remark by the retired pope … could echo within the hierarchy or across the blogosphere, and possibly be construed as criticism or divergence from the current pope.”
Before resigning, Benedict said he would “withdraw into prayer” and live his final years “hidden from the world.” He also pledged his “unconditional reverence and obedience” to his successor.
According to Rebecca Rist, a specialist in church history at the University of Reading in Britain, the two popes will have a “very cordial” relationship, unlike the 13th-century scuffles between Celestine V and his successor Boniface VIII.
Boniface persuaded Celestine that it was “in the best interests of the Vatican for him to resign,” Rist said. But Boniface, “fearing that enduring loyalties to the former pontiff could provoke a schism,” ordered Celestine imprisoned until his death.
In the small Mater Ecclesiae convent inside the Vatican walls, Benedict will be assisted by Gaenswein and four members of Memores Domini, the conservative lay group that staffed his apartment during his pontificate.
During the past two months, the convent was renovated to suit the needs of the former pope. His residence will include a guest room for his older brother Georg Ratzinger, who is also a priest.
KRE/AMB END SPECIALE
In May each year there are many celebrations of Confirmation and First Communion, Graduations, and sometimes, Ordinations. In the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph, we annually gather to honor couples marking their 50th Anniversaries of Marriage. This year that will happen a little later on June 23, 2013, at the Cathedral.
This week we celebrate Jubilees with two gatherings: Wednesday, May 1, we had a dinner with all our priests to thank God for the accomplishments of 25, 40, and 50 years of ordained service as priests. Friday Evening, May 3, we come together at the Cathedral to offer Holy Mass in thanksgiving for 25 years of service as a bishop of Bishop Raymond Boland. The Mass, to which you are all invited, is at 7:00 p.m. with a reception at the Catholic Center to follow.
This year we are noting these many examples of faithfulness within the Year of Faith, begun by Pope Benedict XVI last fall, and continued by Pope Francis with its completion on the Feast of Christ the King, November 24, 2013.
Faith, of course, is wonderfully expressed in the work of “being faithful,” what we call faithfulness, or faithful love. “God so loved the world …” St John’s Gospel (Jn 3;16) teaches, that He sent His Son to share our human experience: to suffer, die, and rise. Faithfulness often includes the gracious act of “being with” those whom we love. God is faithful in His love despite our unworthiness and sins. We, in turn, live our Catholic faith in many ways, but also by being faithful to our calling and commitments. When all is said and done, we know that it is God’s grace, His faithful and never-ending love, which makes it possible for us to be faithful; and we must make the decision to be faithful over and over again in our lives.
The Jubilee celebrations this week – and next month – draw attention to this dynamic power of God in the lives of those He calls. The names of the priests, whose anniversaries we know about, and that are currently living and working in the Diocese are these:
50 YEARS OF PRIESTHOOD
Reverend A. James Blumeyer, S.J.
Reverend Kenneth Criqui
Reverend Joel Derks, O.S.B.
Reverend Charles Jones
Reverend Quentin Kathol, O.S.B.
Reverend William Miller, CPPS
Reverend Xavier Nacke, O.S.B.
Right Reverend Abbot Marcel Rooney, O.S.B.
Reverend Reginald Sander, O.S.B.
Reverend Thomas Wiederholt
40 YEARS OF PRIESTHOOD
Reverend Martin DeMeulenaere, O.S.B.
25 YEARS OF PRIESTHOOD
Reverend Matthew Brumleve
Reverend Gregory Lockwood
Reverend Benedict Neenan, O.S.B.
25TH ANNIVERSARY OF EPISCOPAL ORDINATION
Most Reverend Raymond J. Boland, DD
Twenty-five-year old Raymond James Boland was ordained a priest of the Archdiocese of Washington D.C. on June 16, 1957, and spent more than 30 years serving there.
On February 2, 1988, he received his call to become a bishop, and was ordained Bishop of Birmingham, Alabama on March 25 of that year. After serving for five years as the Second Bishop of Birmingham, Pope John Paul II named him Fifth Bishop of Kansas City-St. Joseph on June 22, 1993. He came to this place he now calls home and was installed on September 9, 1993. The Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI accepted his letter of retirement on May 24, 2005.
God continues to bless Bishop Boland, and our Diocese through him. He has weathered some health challenges recently and remains joyful and active. On the occasion of this special anniversary I know you join me in a hymn of praise to God for Bishop Boland and all our Jubilarians. We thank God for their faithfulness which shows itself in generosity, wisdom and dedication. May God continue to watch over you all. Ad multos annos!
The most underused sacrament of our Catholic faith is arguably the one people need to receive more frequently — reconciliation.
Reconciliation, also known as penance or confession, is one of the seven sacraments of the Catholic Church. Through this healing sacrament, the penitent experiences God’s love, mercy and forgiveness.
“I realize the sacrament of reconciliation is not for God’s benefit, but for my benefit. I need it,” said Chris Zajdzinski, founder of Tempe-based Virtuous Life Ministries. “There’s a real human need to be authentic, and a need to confess that to another person. We want to hear the words of Christ, not our neighbor.”
Catholics confess their sins to a priest because God, in the person of Jesus, authorized the priests of the Church to hear confessions and empowered them to forgive sins in His name.
“Jesus said to them again, ‘Peace be with you. As the Father has sent Me, so I send you.’ When He had said this, He breathed on them and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit, if you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained’” (John 20: 21-23).
When Catholics confess their sins to a priest they are, in reality, confessing to God because it is God who hears their confessions and it is God who does the forgiving.
“Confession is examining our conscience, and humbly bringing our sins to the Lord,” said Fr. Charles Goraieb, pastor of St. Timothy Parish in Mesa. “Pope Benedict said the New Evangelization goes through the confessional. It’s where people get restored and encounter God; we have our spirits refreshed.”
To understand the need for the sacrament of reconciliation, it’s important to understand the definition of sin; sin is something we say, do, or desire that is against God’s law.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church states, “Sin is an offense against reason, truth, and right conscience; it is failure in genuine love for God and neighbor caused by a perverse attachment to certain goods. It wounds the nature of man and injures human solidarity. It has been defined as ‘an utterance, a deed, or a desire contrary to the eternal law’” (§1849).
Fr. Goraieb said sin not only ruptures our personal relationship with God, but with the Mystical Body of Christ.
“The nature of sin isolates us from God,” he said, “it is so profound and wounding that it causes us guilt and remorse. Our emotions are so great we can’t hear God forgiving us on our own because of the intensity of the emotions.”
Satan, also known in the Book of Revelations as “the accuser,” is quick to remind sinners of their guilt and remorse.
“Satan plays on those two emotions,” Fr. Goraieb said. “We need someone to tell us we are absolved of our guilt, and it can’t be done by a friend or well-intentioned counselor. It can only be done by someone with authority, and Jesus Himself set it up so that a priest is authorized by the Church, and can do that for us.”
It is through the sacrament of reconciliation that sins committed after baptism are washed away by the blood of Christ, and the sinner is forgiven and reconciled with God.
Fr. William Schmid, parochial administrator of St. Mary Magdalene Parish in Gilbert, said the faithful need to understand the sacrament is a gift God gave to everyone.
“The sacrament of confession is beautiful, but a lot of people misunderstand it,” he said. “It is not about condemning somebody, or embarrassing them or making people ashamed. The sacrament is there to heal the damage caused by sin in someone’s life.”
All too often society tells us we can experience life on our own terms, and pull ourselves up by our bootstraps. When we confess, it’s an admission that we’re not perfect, don’t know everything or control everything.
“The sacrament of confession says you can’t do it alone, that you need healing and forgiveness,” Fr. Schmid said. “People are so afraid to face their vulnerability that they can’t do it by themselves.”
Typically, there are six parts to the sacrament of reconciliation: examination of conscience, reflecting on the Ten Commandments and the Sermon on the Mount; act of contrition, a prayer asking God’s forgiveness; welcome, a greeting and/or prayer by the priest; confession, or disclosure of sin; absolution, the words of forgiveness; and penance, an expression of prayer or action to show sorrow for our sins.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church says that we pray an act of contrition because our souls are filled with sorrow, and we detest our sins. We also promise to try not to sin again (§1451).
The Precepts of the Catholic Church state that Catholics need to confess their sins once a year. Mortal sins must be forgiven through the sacrament of reconciliation, and it must be done prior to receiving the Eucharist.
However, we are encouraged to receive the sacrament regularly.
“Even venial sins can harden our hearts,” Fr. Goraieb said. “The sacrament connects us and restores us to God.”
“Our Faith” is a special Year of Faith feature that seeks to clarify often misunderstood Catholic teachings.
Category: Year of Faith
VATICAN CITY, April 19 (UPI) — Pope Francis plans to visit a Roman parish in late May for his first pastoral visit as bishop of Rome, the Vatican announced Friday.
The pope will visit Santi Elisabetta and Zaccaria and attend a mass at which 44 children are to receive their first communion, the Italian news agency ANSA reported. It is scheduled for May 26.
Francis was archbishop of Buenos Aires from 1998 until his election March 13 to succeed Pope Benedict XVI. He was known for his modest lifestyle, living in an apartment and preparing his own meals.
The pope celebrated mass at a school for troubled teenagers on Holy Thursday, also known as Maundy Thursday.
Then Pope Benedict XVI was right when he said in February that his then impending depature from the papacy was no flight from the Cross. Proof of this is his continuing crucifixion by critics of the Church and pseudo-fans of Pope Francis. The latter extol the simplicity of the new Pope at the cost of tarnishing the character of the old one. They equate the Pope Emeritus with their own poor notion of the Middle Ages—dark, backward and decadent—and speak as if the saintliness of the new Pontiff is an anomaly among the Successors of Saint Peter.
It is fantastic that Pope Francis is conveying a resounding message of Gospel simplicity to the world by shunning the popemobile, wearing a silver rather than more bejeweled pectoral cross, donning simpler-looking liturgical vestments and choosing indefinitely to live in the Domus Sancta Martha rather than in the Apostolic Palace. Nevertheless, Church watchers, especially Christians, because they ought to suffer with the crucified rather than help those who nail him; especially journalists, because they are supposedly paragons of accuracy, fairness and balance ought to resist jumping to the conclusion that Pope Emeritus Benedict stood for a triumphalism, opulence or tyranny.
Those who take issue with the previous Pontiff’s official and liturgical garments would be well advised to brush up on their understanding of the meaning behind such garb, which does not rest on a taste for kingly style but grows out of the conviction that craftsmanship is a means to suggest the majesty of and give praise to the Almighty. Before those who carp start clamoring for churches without stained glass windows, manicured gardens or intricately designed adoration chapels, they need to meditate on why the Magi brought gold, frankincense and myrrh to the Child of Bethlehem, why Mary of Bethany poured a jar of nard onto her Master’s feet, why the Savior of mankind accepted acclaim from a crowd while making a glorious entrance into Jerusalem prior to his passion and death.
So-called Vaticanistas who praise Pope Francis for being more outgoing and in touch with the people than Benedict only evince how they limited their coverage of the Church to occasions like conclaves, a new Pope’s honeymoon with the media or an archdiocese’s payment of settlement money to victims of sexual abuse by priests. It is easy, since Pope Emeritus Benedict has a staggeringly weighty intellect, to typecast him as a professorial shepherd who was out of touch with his flock. That poor sketch persists in part because there were not five thousand journalists from around the globe who covered the moments when Pope Benedict cried with the molested, ate with and comforted the aged in a home, had to be prevailed upon by aides to spend the night in warmer accommodations rather than outdoors in a winter vigil with hundreds of thousands of youth, or celebrated Mass with children in conflict with the law. And does not launching Twitter, Facebook and YouTube accounts count as outreach? How about authorizing a catechism stylized for young people?
The crucifixion of Pope Benedict persists among those who deride him for being allegedly obsessed with theology when in fact his speeches and writings that point to the Gospel were and are messages that the world needs to heed. “Deus Caritas Est” is timeless source of inspiration. “Love is the light—and in the end, the only light—that can always illuminate a world grown dim and give us the courage needed to keep living and working. Love is possible,” he said in this letter, “and we are able to practise it because we are created in the image of God. To experience love and in this way to cause the light of God to enter into the world—this is the invitation I would like to extend.” “Spe Salvi” is a potent cure for despair. Consider what he wrote: “It is when we attempt to avoid suffering by withdrawing from anything that might involve hurt, when we try to spare ourselves the effort and pain of pursuing truth, love, and goodness, that we drift into a life of emptiness, in which there may be almost no pain, but the dark sensation of meaninglessness and abandonment is all the greater. It is not by sidestepping or fleeing from suffering that we are healed, but rather by our capacity for accepting it, maturing through it and finding meaning through union with Christ, who suffered with infinite love.”
For all the critics’ claim that a juggernaut Church under Benedict habitually imposed its will and refused to listen to the faithful, he was actually the only Pope who wrote treatises that he insisted should not be taken as magisterial, but as an intimate sharing of his own search for the face of God. I am referring to his “Jesus of Nazareth” trilogy of books that should be standard reading for anyone who wishes to deepen their familiarity with the person of Christ. In this book, Pope Benedict set out his philosophy of stewardship of the Church that would have prompted those who thought or think it a community with an deep will to naked power room to pause. If only they cared enough to read and ponder. The Pope said that as he did with Saint Peter, the Lord has to be vehement and tell us, “Get thee behind me, Satan!” when our way of doing things contradicts God’s essentially skirting the path of renunciation and the Cross. We can see in this reflection the root of Pope Benedict XVI’s dialog with the peoples of different faiths and convictions.
In one of his Palm Sunday homilies, Pope Benedict said happiness comes from saying “yes” to the will of God. People will have missed the point if they continue interpret the Pope Benedict’s renunciation of the Chair of Saint Peter as a surrender in the face of the weight of the problems besetting the Church militant. Early in his pontificate, Pope Benedict said a pope does not shine his own light but only that of Christ. In receding into the background Benedict XVI simply underscored that no pope is a master, they are only stewards who serve at the pleasure of a Supreme Judge and Christ alone is the light of the Church and the world.
Books will help readers explore world of popes
By Therese O’Halloran
Kenosha Public Library
With extensive media coverage of the recent resignation of Pope Benedict XVI and election and installation of Pope Francis, inquiring minds want to know: Who are the men who wield power within the Catholic Church, why do the internal workings of one religion demand such world-wide attention, what is the history and the future of the Church in the Americas and world-wide, what do Catholics believe and why, etc.
The Kenosha Public Library houses an extensive collection of materials to answer these questions and more, many written in very readable and intriguing styles.
“Chronicle of the Popes” is a chronological, “Reign-by-Reign Record of the Papacy” beginning with St. Peter and continuing through Pope John Paul II. This well-illustrated history of the popes, the Catholic Church, and its influence on world history, can be read beginning to end, or used as a reference source for information about various popes and the times in which they ruled. “A History of the Popes from Peter to the Present” by John W. O’Malley explores in more depth not only the history of the papacy but its involvement in and influence on world events.
For some true-life espionage and intrigue, check out Eric Frattini’s “The Entity: Five Centuries of Secret Vatican Espionage.” The author claims the Vatican has used the Holy Alliance, now known as the Entity, as its own secret service and through it has been deeply involved in international intrigue, assassinations, money-laundering, manipulations of financial markets, and more.
Another fascinating book is John L. Allen Jr.’s “Opus Dei,” which claims to be “an objective look behind the myths and reality of the most controversial force in the Catholic Church.” The organization that played such a major part in Dan Brown’s “Da Vinci Code” is examined in detail.
To get a fuller, balanced view of the church, read Thomas E. Woods Jr.’s “How the Catholic Church Built Western Civilization.” It extols the influence the Church has had in science, law, art, music, economics, and education, and gives credit to the Church for ensuring the survival of western Civilization as we know it.
The “Catholicism Answer Book: The 300 Most Frequently Asked Questions about the Church” by the Rev. John Trigilio Jr. and the Rev. Kenneth Brighenti answers in concise sections questions about Catholic theology, Sacraments, history, and practices — interesting reading for Catholics and non-Catholics alike.
Finally, for the armchair traveler, “The Vatican Revealed” is an AE documentary DVD covering Vatican City itself, St. Peter’s Basilica, the Sistine Chapel and many more beautiful sites. If you wish you had been in Rome for recent events, enjoy this visual tour.
Off the Shelves is published Sundays. Each week a different Kenosha Public Library or Community Library staff member organizes reviews of a handful of books (all centered around a certain theme) available through the library system.
Theology and/or Catechetics?
Michael Peppard, who teaches theology at Fordham and is a regular contributor to “dotCommonweal,” has a quite thoughtful article in the current issue of the magazine. In it he enters into respectful and spirited dialogue with Cardinal Donald Wuerl on the nature of theology and the ecclesial task of the theologian.
Picking up the Cardinal’s analogy to the workings of science, Michael disputes the Cardinal’s analysis of how science actually proceeds and makes a case for a more open-ended and innovative role for Catholic theology and the theologian. He even invokes Pope Benedict in support of his view!
Whether the analogy with science (whether invoked by Wuerl or Peppard) is adequate is not my direct concern. Rather, I’d like to question a standard trope among theologians. We often hear the refrain: “we’re doing theology not catechetics.” My question is whether such a statement posits too facile a separation in the one ecclesial task of “handing on the faith?”
Michael writes in his article:
Following Paul’s lead, we meet our students where they are, in order, God willing, to bring some of them forward on a path (educere). In that process of theological education—not catechetical instruction (instruere)—we learn and change together.
My question is: don’t we, especially at the undergraduate level, do both: educere and instruere? Or, put another way, must we not incorporate the insights of both Cardinal Wuerl and Pope Benedict: the Catholic theologian is both “bounded” and “searching?” And is this the paradoxical freedom of the theologian?
Peppard’s full article is here.
- a catholic prayer
- belief of catholics
- bible and catholic
- bible of the catholic church
- catechism of catholic
- catechism of catholic church
- catechism of the catholic
- catechism of the catholic church
- catholic beliefs
- catholic bible study
- catholic books
- catholic christmas cards
- catholic church
- catholic church bible
- catholic church catechism
- catholic church history
- catholic church online
- catholic doctrine
- catholic faith
- catholic first communion
- catholic guide
- catholic hymns
- catholic information
- catholic mass
- catholic missal
- catholic news
- catholic prayer book
- catholic prayers
- catholic source
- catholic sources
- catholic theology
- catholic topics
- catholics and the bible
- confirmation gifts
- doctrine catholic
- holy cards
- holy spirit catholic
- liturgical calendar
- prayers for children
- prayers for the catholic church
- resources catholic
- roman catholic doctrine
- roman catholic faith
- roman catholic teaching
- roman missal
- spiritual catholic
- st charles borromeo
- st francis de sales
- st john the evangelist
- st rose of lima
- sunday homilies
- the catechism of the catholic church
- the catholic catechism
- the catholic prayer
- the catholic saints
- the roman catholic faith