Monday, February 12, 2007
Israel-Vatican Relations & The Fundamental Agreement
On December 30, 1993, the Fundamental Agreement was signed by Msgr. Claudio Celli, Vatican assistant secretary of state and Israel's deputy minister of foreign affairs, Yossi Beilin, paving the way to full diplomatic relations between the two parties in 1994:
The Fundamental Agreement extends the theological advances of Nostra Aetate into the political realm, creating for the first time formal diplomatic relations between the Holy See and the State of Israel. The Agreement signifies a historic step in the evolution of the Roman Catholic Church’s attitude toward Judaism and the Jewish People.
The Fundamental Agreement addresses three spheres of relations: 1) political relations between Israel and the Holy See; 2) relations between the Jewish People and the Catholic Church; and 3) relations between the State of Israel and the Roman Catholic Church.
[Source: Milestones in Israel-Holy See Relations 1993-2005: Commemoration of the 40th Anniversary of Nostra Aetate
Consulate General of Israel in New York].
In 1997 the "Legal Personality" Agreement between the State of Israel and the Holy See was signed:
[regularizing] the status and legal personality of the Roman Catholic Church and its institutions under Israeli law, after approximately 500 years of undefined legal status under Ottoman Empire, the British Mandate, and Israeli sovereignty.
This agreement marks the first de jure recognition of the Roman Catholic Church by any government in the Holy Land. It bestows upon the Roman Catholic Church the autonomy to run its internal affairs, subject to Israeli law in interaction with other bodies. The Legal Personality Agreement constitutes a continuation of the Fundamental Agreement of 1993.
In an exclusive article, The ten years of the Fundamental Agreement 30 Giorni ["30 Days"] No. 12, 2003, Israeli statesman Yossi Beilin describes the "behind the scenes" discussions which led to the signing:
These were open talks, launched at the Vatican’s initiative in the summer of 1991, even before the Madrid Conference. It was Archbishop Andrea Cordero Lanza di Montezemolo, the apostolic delegate in Jerusalem, who announced the Vatican’s intention to initiate negotiations on an agreement with Israel, and he did so in consultation with Dr. David Jaegar, an Israeli Jew who had become a Franciscan priest, with boasted special knowledge in Canon Law.
The initial probes between Israel and the Vatican revealed the main dispute between them: Israel wanted to reach, first of all, an agreement on diplomatic relations between the two states, and only subsequently to discuss questions such as the freedom of religion, Church taxation, education, etc. The Vatican wanted to deal with all the practical matters, and to remove – at least at the first stage – the matter of the diplomatic relations from the agenda. . . .
Each party came to the table with its own priorities -- for Israel, the objective was (understandably) "the common war on anti-Semitism and unequivocal recognition of the State of Israel." For the Church, the concern lay with the rights of Catholics residing in the State of Israel:
. . . the guarantee of freedom of worship for Catholics, the legal status of priests, and the special approach of Pope John Paul II, who, as early as 1981, had sent to the President of the State of Israel a blessing for the New Year, and in 1986, had visited the synagogue in Rome – symbolic acts which stressed – alongside a long list of other acts – his special deep respect for Israel and its people.
John Paul II's greetings to Israel in celebration of their new year appears to have sprung from a collaboration with his lifelong friend Jerzy Kluger, who played a subtle yet instrumental role (at the Pope's request) in facilitating communication between Israel and the Vatican (How a Pope's Boyhood Friend Helped Forge Ties to Israel
When the Archbishop was named Pope in 1978, he stunned the world by granting his first papal audience, or formal reception, to Mr. Kluger and his family.
Three years later, the Pope was wounded in an assassination attempt. On Mr. Kluger's third visit to the Pope in the hospital, the Pope suggested that with the Camp David accords pointing the way for peace in the Middle East, it was time for the Vatican to consider opening diplomatic channels to Israel.
"Are you willing to help?" Mr. Kluger says the Pope asked him. "We must proceed cautiously, officially and unofficially."
Mr. Kluger played the role of broker and host, inviting Israeli and Vatican representatives to dine at his tennis club in Rome and playing bridge with key Cardinals. The steps were often small and symbolic. Once he relayed an Israeli diplomat's suggestion that the Pope send a telegram with Jewish New Year greetings to the President of Israel. The Pope sent the telegram.
In 1994, at the ceremony welcoming the first Israeli Ambassador to the Holy See, Mr. Kluger stood for photographs next to the Pope, sandwiched between Israeli and Vatican dignitaries.
"I was a friend," Mr. Kluger said. "And we had friendly conversations, and friendly relationships which one way or another helped these developments. That's all."
(Pope John Paul II and Jerzy Kluger's friendship was made the subject of Darcy O'Brien's The Hidden Pope: The Untold Story of a Lifelong Friendship
(Roedale Books, 1998).
Related Commentary on The Fundamental Agreement
- In Israel-Vatican Relations Since the Signing of the Fundamental Agreement, Rabbi David Rosen discusses some of the conceptual conceptual hurdles that were tackled in the process of formalizing the Fundamental Agreement and Israeli-Catholic relations since its signing in 1993. [Microsoft Word - printable format]:
. . . as the Preamble of the Agreement indicates, the accord took place within the wider context of Catholic-Jewish reconciliation on which it undoubtedly had a profoundly positive impact in turn. Indeed, for many Jews especially in Israel, the diplomatic normalization served as testimony and proof of the genuineness of the transformation in theological attitudes and teaching that had taken place over the previous thirty years. The third relationship addressed by the majority of the articles in the Fundamental Agreement, concerns the relationship between the Catholic Church in Israel and the State.Rosen's article was published in the anthology The Vatican-Israel Accords: Political, Legal, and Theological Contexts, edited by Marshall J. Breger. University of Notre Dame Press (February 2004).
While Israel's goal was essentially the first of these3, the Holy See's primary interest concerned the third. Indeed this difference reflects the divergent perceptions of the principle purpose of the bilateral relations.
- Israel's Relations with the Vatican by Aharon Lopez (former Israeli ambassador to Vatican). No. 401 13 Adar 5759 / 1 March 1999. Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs:
The establishment of diplomatic relations between Israel and the Holy See is not to be considered as a point of arrival, but rather as a starting point. We are climbing up a mountain together and, from time to time, we reach important and substantial milestones towards the mountain's peak.
In closing, let me share with you a very significant event which I cherish close to my heart. At the beginning of my mission as Ambassador to the Holy See, I received a fax from an Israeli Christian Arab who requested my help in asking the Pope to baptize his son. He and his wife were especially keen in seeing their wish fulfilled because, sadly, they had experienced the tragic loss of their first son.
Knowing that there are "only" 989 million Catholics all over the world, I feared we might have some difficulties in fulfilling such a request. Nevertheless, I contacted the proper authorities in the Vatican and emphasized that during the presentation of my credentials I had assured the Pope that I am representing all Israeli citizens--Moslems, Christians, and Jews alike--and therefore it was my duty to submit this request on behalf of a Christian citizen of Israel.
I was very pleased, a few weeks later, to receive a positive answer. Indeed, the Pope agreed to conduct the ceremony in his private chapel. I will never forget the smile on the face of the boy's parents after their dream came true.
The Vatican-Israel Accords: Political, Legal, and Theological Contexts
, edited by Marshall J. Breger. University of Notre Dame Press (February 2004). [Contents
Published during the tenth anniversary year of The Fundamental Agreement, The Vatican-Israel Accords brings together essays that analyze the legal, historical, theological, and political meaning of the Accords.
The compelling essays in this collection explore not only the document and events surrounding its signing, but also the past, present, and future of Catholic-Jewish relations. Contributors, who include scholars from Israel, Italy, France, Spain, and the United States, contend that the history and structure of the Accords offer lessons that may be instructive for others involved in seeking peaceful resolutions to conflict, particularly those who work for peace between Palestine and Israel.
Contributors: Marshall J. Breger, Laurenzo Cremonesi, Msgr. Richard Mathes, David-Maria A. Jaeger, O.F.M., Leonard Hammer, Silvio Ferrari, Rafael Palomino, Msgr. Roland Minnerath, Rabbi David Rosen, Moshe Hirsch, Geoffrey Watson, Giorgio Filibeck, Ruth Lapidoth, Fr. Drew Christiansen, S.J., and Rabbi Jack Bemporad.
MARSHALL J. BREGER is professor of law at the Columbus School of Law, Catholic University of America.
Reviews "The Vatican-Israel Accords promises to make a tremendous contribution to understanding a tangled relationship. It is a unique, and uniquely valuable, volume." --George Weigel, Ethics and Public Policy Center, Washington, D.C.
Israeli-Catholic relations since the 1993 signing have not always gone smoothly. Sandro Magister reported on two impediments to Israeli-Vatican relations and the subsequent implementation of the Vatican-Israel accords (with regards to financial issues and the status of Church property) in 2005:
The first skirmish came on July 12. That day, John Paul II was commemorated in the Israeli parliament, the Knesset. And on that occasion, apostolic nuncio Pietro Sambi delivered a speech that was reprinted in its entirety by "L'Osservatore Romano" six days later.
In the speech, Sambi complained about Israel's failure to take practical measures to implement the accords with the Holy See reached in 1993 and 1994:
"The Fundamental Agreement, which was ratified by the state of Israel on February 20, 1994, and is recognized internationally, has not yet been incorporated into Israeli law by the Knesset. The same must be said of the Legal Personality Agreement ratified by Israel on December 16, 1998, and recognized internationally on February 3, 1999. The so-called 'Economic Agreement', prescribed by article 10 of the Fundamental Agreement, has not yet been concluded."
A meeting between the two parties to discuss the application of these agreements had been planned for July 26. But the meeting never took place, to the great disappointment of the Holy See and the Catholic community in the Holy Land.
On the day the ceremony was taking place in the Knesset, on July 12, Islamic terrorists carried out a serious attack in Netanya.
But at the Sunday Angelus on July 24, Benedict XVI did not mention Israel as being among the countries recently struck by terrorist attacks: Egypt, Turkey, Iraq, Great Britain.
Exploiting this omission, the next day the Israeli foreign minister summoned the Vatican nuncio, Pietro Sambi, to communicate a note of protest [...]
For further analysis on Pope Benedict's 2005 omission of Israel from a list of recent victims of terrorism, I refer to John Allen Jr.'s "Context crucial in Vatican-Israel uproar"
(National Catholic Reporter
, August 12, 2005).
After some tit-for-tat jousting between diplomats, Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon moved to resolve any ill-feelings with the Vatican in a personal letter ("Israel, Vatican mend fences after dispute over pope's terrorism comments", by Arial David. World Wide Religious News August 27, 2005):
In his letter, Sharon said Benedict's efforts to promote dialogue with Jews and Israel made him "a true friend of Israel, genuinely committed to advancing tolerance, understanding and reconciliation," Ben Hur said in a phone interview, reading from the letter. He said Sharon then explained the reasons for his country's reaction to the omission.
"Israel has been devastated and victimized by terrorism, and we are very sensitive to any attempt to distinguish between Islamic terrorism which systematically targets innocent Israeli civilians and that which is aimed at citizens of other countries," Sharon wrote.
Sodano expressed his satisfaction with the letter during Tuesday's meeting, saying both sides had made mistakes and that he was happy to put the issue behind him, Ben Hur said. The letter also invited Sodano to visit Israel.
In August 2006, Magister also featured an interview with Israeli ambassador Oded Ben Hur, in which he commmented further on Israel's perception of Pope Benedict and Israel's expectations of Rome:
In mid-July, just when the war had broken out in Lebanon, [Oded] was deeply troubled by the first statements from the Vatican authorities: “All of them went the same way, against Israel. The true aggressor, Hezbollah, wasn’t even mentioned by name. But after this the judgments became more balanced.”
Q: Did this happen when Benedict XVI began speaking out personally?
A: I would go so far as to say that Benedict XVI looks at Israel from a different point of view, compared to others. He sees the state of Israel not as an error of history, but as the heart of the Jewish world, a heart that by right should beat in Jerusalem. At the same time he is a realistic pope, who understands that the Church’s political influence is limited. He knows that the Church’s strength is not political, but moral. And it is there that he exerts himself most. It’s the pope as the great educator of the world, reawakening consciences, illuminating the darkness of ignorance, and pointing out where evil is triumphing over the good.
Q: The Middle East is one of the places where evil abounds the most.
A: And it may be that today the international community is taking greater notice of this. What happened in Lebanon was not the rupture of a situation of peace. Peace wasn’t there before this war. In that country there was a cancer named Hezbollah, a state within the state, which held the civil population hostage and fought a war while using this population as a shield. Even today, after the ceasefire, Hezbollah says it does not at all consider the war to be over, and is refusing to disarm. And Hamas continues to launch Kassam rockets against Israeli cities. [...]
Q: What is expected from the Church of Rome?
A: A great deal. In Lebanon there is a strong Christian community that can act as a bridge for peace. The pilgrims to the holy places, when they come in great numbers, are also helpful to the local populations. I also have an idea that I have already proposed to the Vatican authorities: that of creating a task force with representatives from the three religions – Christianity, Judaism, and Islam – who would travel throughout the various countries of the Middle East spreading a message of reconciliation, in order to sensitize and mobilize those who sincerely desire peace, and separate them from extremist and violent groups.
In December of 2006 Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert met with Pope Benedict XVI (Catholic News Service Dec. 14, 2006) - among the topics of discussion was the "dwindling Catholic population in the Holy Land, including in Bethlehem," and peace in the Middle East:
Ben-Hur said Pope Benedict thanked the prime minister for Israeli's declaration of a cease-fire with Palestinian militias, although Ben-Hur said the prime minister said it is getting more and more difficult "to withhold reactions" to missiles being launched into Israel from Gaza.
Ben-Hur said that when Olmert renewed a government invitation for the pope to visit Israel, the pope said he really wanted to make such a trip, but was looking for "a moment of calm."
"The prime minister told him, 'You can bring the calm,'" the ambassador said.
Talks between Israel and the Vatican resumed in 2007 with the goal of applying the provisions of the Fundamental Agreement's over the holy places, the Church‘s properties, and finances. In Holy See-Israel: painstaking resumption of negotiations (AsiaNews.it Bernardo Cervellera, December 12, 2006), Oded Ben Hur gave another interview on the nature of the impediments to negotations.
- Franciscan Custody of the Holy Land, the institution that cares for the property of the Catholic Church in Israel and the Territories.
- Catholic Friends of Israel, founded by Don Kenner. I came into contact with Mr. Kenner shortly after the Israeli-Hezbollah conflict in July-August 2006 and have become an occasional contributor to their blog. To learn about the founder of CFOI, I recommend this interview with IsraPundit; see also "The Bishops and the Suicide Bomber" FrontPageMag January 28, 2004).
- Christians for Fair Witness on the Middle East, founded by Sr. Ruth Lautt, O.P., Esq., advocates among mainline Protestants and Roman Catholics in North America for fairness in the churches’ witness on issues related to the conflict between Israel and its Arab neighbors.
- Milestones in Israel-Holy See Relations 1993-2005: Commemoration of the 40th Anniversary of Nostra Aetate Consulate General of Israel in New York.
- Pave The Way Foundation "dedicated to achieving peace by bridging the gap in tolerance and understanding, between religions through cultural, technological and intellectual exchanges." Gary Krupp, the founder, was promoted to the highest Pontifical Order of St. Gregory the Great -- the first Jewish man to be knighted by two popes.
- On September 9, 2007, Shimon Peres, in his first foreign visit as president of Israel, met with Pope Benedict at Castel Gandolfo and members of the Vatican curia, to discuss Catholic-Israeli relations and the situation in the Middle East. AsiaNews.it reports:
Rome (AsiaNews) – The Israeli President Shimon Peres is “quite optimistic” regarding negotiations between Israel and the Holy See and has declared that “within the years end the most important problems will be resolved”. Answering a question put forward by AsiaNews, during a press conference, he also said that he had invited Benedict XVI to visit Israel. ...
On the long standing question of the implementation of the Fundamental Agreement, 13 years on from its signing, the Holy See statement urges “a rapid conclusion to the important ongoing negotiations and the beginning of a constant dialogue with Israeli Authorities and local Christian communities, in view of their participation in working for the common good”.
September 3 last –after a long summer pause – and after years of deadlock, negotiations between the Holy See and Israel recommenced. They aim to lead to an agreement regarding issues of taxation and Church properties, which have been waiting implementation since ’93.
The Vatican statement makes no reference whatsoever to a possible visit by Benedict XVI to Israel, even if the pope has already expressed a positive opinion in the past. Peres told journalists that he was “moved” by the pope’s reaction to his proposal and defined Benedict XVI as “great spiritual figure”, underlining that “the Spirit” incarnated in the religions can give an important impulse to peace and the elimination of violence, “assassins and killings”.
Labels: israel, john paul II, politics
Saturday, April 09, 2005
Further commentary on Pope John Paul II: A Roundup
- Offering his thoughts on the funeral, Kevin Miller @ "Heart, Mind & Strength" believes John Paul II is on the road to Sainthood:
When the man who has been Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and is Dean of the College of Cardinals and was principle celebrant of the pope's funeral, together with the simple Catholics who crowded St. Peter's Square for that funeral, all express such a thought, one sees, I think, something very close indeed to the sensus fidei
. Of course, the main purpose of this morning's Mass and of the others that are celebrated at this time is to commend John Paul to God's mercy, and we ought to do that, until there has been a more definitive judgment by the Church. But in light of the thoughts
I'd already had, and of what I saw and heard this morning - and also in light of Cardinal Sodano's words in his homily on Sunday - I'm now quite comfortable speaking of Saint John Paul the Great, and honoring and praying to him as well as praying for him.
- Not yet ready to proclaim him 'John Paul the Great', but just as reluctant to pronounce him an abject failure, is Kevin Tierney @ Restore the Church, offering musings on the death of John Paul II from a "traditionalist" perspective:
So the score so far is that within the "secular" realm, he most certainly was a man who could be called "the Great." As far as the religious realm and that realm within the Church, well, for those young who so often call him the Great, it will rest on you to make him great. Live out the legacy he has asked of you. Be bold in proclaiming Christ and him crucified. Do not waste the gamble he took by paying such attention to us. In the meantime, pray for him as Karol Wojtyla. For he does not appear before God as anything but that. He appears before the throne the same as the peasant in the street. One of the great things about our Christian faith, it is no respecter of persons. The Pontiff needs our prayers just as much as anyone else does. Let us offer them without ceasing. Perhaps for the repose of his soul, and in honor of his accomplishments, say the devotion around which he died. For he died right around the Feast of Divine Mercy, the feast he instituted. Perhaps one could reflect for the rest of this month every night on the Divine Mercy devotion. For that is the way we honor him best, not by giving him titles so rashly or anything else. Those titles if he truly deserves them will come in time without a doubt.
- Christianity Today executive editor Timothy George, dean of Beeson Divinity School, says that "Pope Gave Evangelicals the Moral Impetus We Didn't Have". April 4, 2005.
Ted Olson @ Christianity Today's weblog interviews Thomas C. Oden, a Methodist theologian at Drew University on the way the Pope "broadened the way" for evangelical-Catholic relations, and compiles additional evangelical praise for the Pope, noting that he is "'Antichrist' No More" (4/5/05).
- "A Pope, A Reverend, And A War". The blogger from Mystery Achievement responds to an interesting post by Donald Sensing (One Hand Clapping) on "Pope John Paul II and resisting terrorism", which does "a superb job in chronicling and analyzing the sometimes confusing and seemingly contradictory statements made by the late Holy Father and the Vatican on war in general, and the GWoT in particular."
- "Farewell to John Paul II" - Arthur Chrenkoff says goodbye, offers more critical commentary on liberal bias in the MSM . . . including this piece of stupidity by Agence France-Presse.
- John Paul a giant despite criticisms - Rich Leonardi responds to Rev. Thomas Bokenkotter's "Catholic, but ..." view of JPII.
- "Tragic Blindness of John Paul II"? -- Rick Lugari @ Una Sanctum responds to the assessment by Catholic journalist Rod Dreher that "as governor of the church, John Paul was largely a failure"; Chris Burgwald of Veritas fisks Andrew Sullivan's incoherent ranting in The New Republic.
- President Bill Clinton -- yes, he of "I did not have sexual relations with that woman" fame -- had the nerve to tell reporters on board Air Force One that the Pope leaves behind "a mixed legacy". FoxNews television pundit Bill O'Reilly described the Church "a catastrophe. People are walking away . . . and things are going south fast." Colleen Carroll Campbell from the National Review counters with some facts, explaining why things aren't necessarily as bad as the nay-sayers suggest.
- "There are two kinds of people in the world: the kind who realize they are dogmatists; and blockheads." Disputations explains why Dogma is not a dirty word.
- If anybody could out-do Hans Kung in the "perpetual chip on the shoulder against the Vatican" dept., it's Matthew Fox, the former Dominican who came under investigation by Ratzinger and the CDF in the late 80's, was expelled from his order and ultimately left the Church for the Episcopalians ("Catholicism for the New Age", by Mitchell Pacwa, S.J.).
Never one to pass by an opportunity to slam the Vatican, Matthew Fox -- whose own website describes him as "the most creative, the most comprehensive, surely the most challenging religious-spiritual teacher in America" -- has published his "Reflections on the Recent Papacy of JPII".
According to Fox, "This pope and his self-appointed German mafia headed by Cardinal Ratzinger will have to face the judgement of history (and very likely God also)" for their preoccupation with sexual morality; active encouragement of population explosion by forbidding birth control; "head-long pursuit of Augustine's theology of sexuality"; "conscious destruction and systemic dismanteling of the Liberation Theology movement . . . with the encouragement and support of the CIA"; "the effort to eliminate theology and replace it with ideology by spreading fear among theologians"; "the rigid sticking to celibacy as a requisite for being a priest (as well as the requisite of having exclusively male genitals)" . . . oh, yes, and criticizing yoga -- in what amounts to "a prolonged effort to render fascism fashionable."
Evangelical Lutheran blogger Christopher Johnson ("Midwest Conservative Journal") provides the appropriate fisking.
- Trivializing the Conclave and More Roman Catholic Church Bashing -- two excellent pieces of analysis of the Los Angeles Times from Hugh Hewitt.
And in other news . . .
- Dave Morrison on "the next pope":
If there is one guy for whom I already feel a twinge of pity it is the poor cardinal who is walking around not realizing that, somewhere and at some time, the Holy Spirit has already tagged him to be The Next Pope.
Poor guy, he is already the recipient of all sorts of unsolicited advice from various media-friendly types about what his course of action should be . . ."
- "Just after midnight on April 8, 1,500 young adult Catholics (and some older friends and professors) from throughout the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston gathered to honor the life of a pope who had touched them through his teachings, his witness, and his presence for them at World Youth Days and other celebrations throughout his pontificate." Story from the Houston Chronicle. Bill Cork has photographs; Vincent posts his reflections of the midnight march @ What a Mystery.
- A Georgia Woman Being Starved and Dehydrated. Fr. Rob Johansen has the details. "Her doctors have said she is not terminally ill . . . Furthermore, Mae's Living Will provides that nutrition and hydration are to be withheld only if she is comatose or vegetative. Mae is in neither condition. Neither is her condition terminal." (More here; another update here from BlogsforTerri.com).
- "Terri Saved My Brother's Life", by Callie S. Baillie, posting to Life Matters.
- "Thinking Straighter: Why the world's most famous atheist now believes in God", by James A. Beverley. Christianity Today April 8, 2005. Philosopher Antony Flew has joined other intellectuals in "become a deist like Thomas Jefferson." Well, I suppose it's a start.
Labels: john paul II
Friday, April 08, 2005
Cardinal Ratzinger's Funeral Homily for Pope John Paul II
Cardinal Ratzinger's Homily at John Paul II's Funeral Mass
Zenit News Service. April 8, 2005:
He interpreted for us the paschal mystery as a mystery of divine mercy. In his last book, he wrote: The limit imposed upon evil "is ultimately Divine Mercy" ("Memory and Identity," pp. 60- 61). And reflecting on the assassination attempt, he said: "In sacrificing himself for us all, Christ gave a new meaning to suffering, opening up a new dimension, a new order: the order of love. ... It is this suffering which burns and consumes evil with the flame of love and draws forth even from sin a great flowering of good" (pp. 189-190). Impelled by this vision, the Pope suffered and loved in communion with Christ, and that is why the message of his suffering and his silence proved so eloquent and so fruitful.
Divine Mercy: the Holy Father found the purest reflection of God's mercy in the Mother of God. He, who at an early age had lost his own mother, loved his divine mother all the more. He heard the words of the crucified Lord as addressed personally to him: "Behold your Mother." And so he did as the beloved disciple did: "he took her into his own home" (John 19:27) -- "Totus tuus." And from the mother he learned to conform himself to Christ.
None of us can ever forget how in that last Easter Sunday of his life, the Holy Father, marked by suffering, came once more to the window of the Apostolic Palace and one last time gave his blessing "urbi et orbi." We can be sure that our beloved Pope is standing today at the window of the Father’s house, that he sees us and blesses us. Yes, bless us, Holy Father. We entrust your dear soul to the Mother of God, your Mother, who guided you each day and who will guide you now to the eternal glory of her Son, our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.
Labels: john paul II, ratzinger
Tuesday, April 05, 2005
After the Funeral, the Coming Storm . . .
It was only a matter of hours after the Holy Father had died, that the MainStreamMedia (MSM) launched its furious campaign of distortion and propaganda. Perhaps readers can sympathize with my frustration at watching pundit after television pundit proclaim how they loved and admired the Pope as a person
, while simultaneously voicing their personal disagreement with the pope's "dogmatic" teachings
-- on birth control, on abortion, on gay marriage, on celibacy, on women priests, etc., etc., etc.
Don't get me wrong, there may be a time and a place for discussion of various issues by non-Catholics (or disgruntled, excuse me "progressive" Catholics) -- but it seems that for some of these talking heads, the chief priority is not so much to report the death of the Pope with some semblance of journalistic objectivity, as to maintain one's liberal credibility by exploiting the situation, siezing upon the end of his pontificate and the prospect of a new Pope as an opportunity for the Catholic Church to "catch up" with the rest of the enlightened world after being mired for decades in tired, old, and oh, yes, "rigid" orthodoxy.
Congrats to Fox News Channel, whose coverage is proving better than most, as well as those channels that bucked the trend by offering interviews with faithful Catholic commentators. It's refreshing to see the likes of George Weigel, Fr. Neuhaus, Janet Smith, Christopher West being interviewed 'midst the sea of heterodox or lapsed Catholics like Joan Chittister, Andrew Sullivan, Chris Matthews, and those who clearly have a chip on their shoulder regarding our beloved pontiff.
Pleased to see as well a few of St. Blog's own, such as Jimmy Akin on Fox (who insists that he wasn't tired, just blinking -- see the photo and judge for yourself), and Peter Vere on MSNBC, speaking on behalf of Catholic bloggers everywhere. Rather interesting, seeing screenshots of Catholic Light and Catholic & Enjoying It on the tube, and "St. Blog's Parish" mentioned for all the world to hear (Out of curiousity, who coined that phrase, anyway?) -- Oh, and Amy Welborn was mentioned on CNN.
In any case, here's a roundup of some critiques of the mainstream media's coverage of the death of John Paul II.
- Birdbrains on the religion beat. Sean Gleeson prepares us for the onslaught of television media stupidity that accompanies the death of a Pope -- or any major event at the Vatican:
Watching the press try to cover religion is like watching that chicken play the piano. When the light goes on, they sit at their keyboards and peck out the same sequences of keys over and over and over again, with no understanding of the words they're producing. And someone keeps feeding them. . . .
- "Ignore everything the media says about the succession," says Mark Shea ("Catholic & Enjoying It"): "When it comes to papal elections, the media are idiots who think they are covering (and influencing) the New Hampshire primaries. They. Don't. Have. A. Clue."
- "What the media misunderstands about selecting a new pope", from Jay @ DeoOmnisGloria.com, listing the most frequent errors you're sure to witness in the coming weeks.
- "Pope John Paul II Dies: New York Times Can't Find Somebody who Liked Him" - Powerline captures for posterity clear evidence of the Grey Lady's oozing hatred of the Pope. Further commentary by Terry Mattingly at Get Religion.
- Extreme Catholic on Sean Hannity's manifest ignorance of the Catholic faith.
- In the coming weeks, months, and years, we’re going to see many people trying to hijack the legacy of Pope John Paul II for the own uses," says Domenico Bettinelli, Jr., "just as they have done with Pope John XXIII and the Second Vatican Council ("In the spirit of Vatican II"). The process has already begun."
- "The Washington Post and the Pope", The Daily Standard April 3, 2005. Jonathan V. Lasch employs George Weigel's biography of the pope to fact-check The Washington Post's skewed reporting of an incident during the Pope's trip to El Salvador . . . and reveals, guess what? more liberal bias.
- "See a common theme here?", asks Carl Olson of InsightScoop.
- The Seventh Age remarks that "once the good feelings die down because of popular sentiment, it will be open season on his legacy as a new pontiff is chosen," -- seeing as a harbinger of what is to come this ridiculous piece by Thomas Cahill in the New York Times.
- Jay Anderson ("Pro Ecclesia * Pro Familia * Pro Civitate") has a question about the polls.
- Threshing Grain catalogues some of the more disturbing/annoying press releases from various groups exploiting the Pontiff's death to grab their 15 minutes of fame. Just one example: "Women-Church Offers Prayers for Pope, Announces 'Open Conclave'.
- Amy Welborn has started a thread on Covering the Coverage to talk about the coverage of this week's events. She asks: "Is there a Catholic in the US who hasn't been on television yet? Has Chris Matthews calmed down yet?" -- Heh. Chris Matthews' incessant barking and bellowing is one reason I tend to bypass MSNBC in my channel-surfing.
- "How Stories Evolve" - Arthur Chrenkoff observes how Reuter's reporting of Hans Kung's latest outburst -- " Catholic rebel decries Pope's legacy" -- has managed to evolve into the plural by the time ABC News' gets around to it: "Church figures question Pope's legacy").
How suprising that at the time of his death Kung would make an appearance? -- As Arthur notes, "a typical laundry list of ultra-liberal complaints from a man who has been John Paul's theological nemesis throughout the whole of the pontificate."
For more in-depth analysis of posthumous attacks on the Holy Father by Arthur, see also "Cultural studies versus John Paul II " and "The Pope helped spread AIDS: Euroleft not happy ".
- Further commentary on the above from Teófilo (Vivificat), who concludes "The Next Pope Should Clean House".
- Rich Leonardi ("Ten Reasons") provides a more suitable title to an article from USA Today: "Contracepting, pro-abortion and nonpracticing Catholics unlikely to find relief from next pope".
Labels: john paul II
Monday, April 04, 2005
George Weigel on Pope John Paul II
|George Weigel is a Senior Fellow of the Ethics and Public Policy Center and author of the 1999 biography Witness to Hope: The Biography of Pope John Paul II, which was published in eleven languages. He has traveled with the Pope and over the course of his life has explicated his thought in articles, interviews and addresses, which are collected here.|
The Pope in Private, from the April 11 issue of Newsweek. ("A serious philosopher, John Paul II also had a serious sweet tooth . . . .")* * *
John Paul II in Words and Pictures: Remembering the "Witness to Hope", Ethics & Public Policy Center (EPPC) COLLECTION April 4, 2005.
Mourning and Remembrance: The pope believed that "history" is His-story--the story of God's quest for man. Wall Street Journal April 4, 2005.
"A Man Who Believed That Jesus Christ Is the Answer". Interview with Zenit on the impact of John Paul II's pontificate. April 3, 2005.
A Disciple Defined by His Faith Obituary for The Boston Globe April 3, 2005.
Pope John Paul II: An Appreciation Scripps Howard News Service. April 2, 2005.
Witness to a Man of Hope & Inspiration Interview with Kathryn Lopez on the life and legacy of John Paul II. National Review April 2, 2005.Lessons of a Pontiff's Twilight The Washington Post March 22, 2005.
The Next Pope...and Why He Matters to All of Us The Fourth William E. Simon Lecture. Delivered January 12, 2005.
What The Pope is Teaching Us Now Interview with Zenit.org. Oct. 18, 2004.
The President and The Pope. From the Ronald Reagan Memorial Issue of National Review. June 22, 2004.
Why Everyone Counts: What John Paul II Has Helped Teach Us. Commencement speech at the Franciscan University of Steubenville. May 8, 2004.
A living prayer of self-sacrifice. "The Catholic Difference". Oct. 28, 2003.
The great Christian witness of our time. "The Catholic Difference". October 22, 2003.
The Heroic Papacy. "John Paul II has dramatically revitalized the world's oldest institutional office, and continues to surprise." Beliefnet.com. Oct. 2003.
On the 25 Year "Silver Anniversary" of John Paul II Interview with Zenit.org. Sept. 29, 2003.
The Pope & The Genius. On the Pope's appreciation of Michaelangelo. "The Catholic Difference". April 11, 2003.
On the Pope's New Poetry Interview with Zenit.org. March 20, 2003.
And the Wall Came Tumbling Down: Pope John Paul II and the Collapse of Communism A Lecture Given at Grove City College (Grove City College, PA). Feb. 15, 2002.
John Paul II: A Life for Life Keynote Address: Culture of Life Conference Notre Dame Center for Ethics and Culture. University of Notre Dame. 29 November 2001 [.pdf format]
Holy Land Pilgrimage: A Diary. First Things 104 (June/July 2000): 27-34.
The Holy Father in the Holy Land The Weekly Standard Volume 005, Issue 29 April 10, 2000.
Pope John Paul II and the Dynamics of History. The 2000 Templeton Lecture on Religion and World Affairs. Watch on the West Volume 1, Number 6. April 2000.
John Paul II and the Crisis of Humanism. First Things 98 (December 1999): 31-36.
John Paul II's Hope for the Springtime of the Human Spirit. Religion & Liberty. The Acton Institute. September-October 1999.
Prepared to Lead Crisis 15, no. 9. October, 1998.
John Paul II and the Priority of Culture. First Things 80 (February 1998): 19-25.
II Papa Meets El Presidente: John Paul II goes to Cuba. The Weekly Standard Volume 003, Issue 18. January 19, 1998.
John Paul II: preparing the 21st Century. Crisis 15 No. 10. November 1997.
The Mobile Pope From the issue "John Paul in America", The Weekly Standard October 9, 1995.
Update! - Via Fr. Bryce Sibley. New York Businesswire announces :
HarperCollins will publish a new book about the end of Pope John Paul II's life and the beginning of a new era for the Catholic Church by George Weigel. . . . Weigel's as yet untitled new book, to be published later this year, will examine the death of the pope and the Church he left behind, while also offering an unparalleled inside account of the election of the next pope. With his unique access and experience, Weigel plans to provide an in-depth portrait of this key figure who will lead the Church into the 21st century, and a challenging analysis of the issues he and the people of the Church will confront.
"No writer today has a better understanding of the papacy than George Weigel," says Tim Duggan, Executive Editor at HarperCollins. "I'm absolutely certain that he will provide a rich, illuminating account that stands as the defining chronicle of this next phase in the Church's history."
Labels: john paul II
Cardinal Avery Dulles on Pope John Paul II
|Avery Cardinal Dulles, S.J., is currently the Laurence J. McGinley Professor of Religion and Society at Fordham University. Past President of both the Catholic Theological Society of America and the American Theological Society and Professor Emeritus at The Catholic University of America, Cardinal Dulles has served on the International Theological Commission and as a member of the United States Lutheran/Roman Catholic Coordinating Committee. He was made a Cardinal by Pope John Paul II in February 2001, the first U.S. theologian to be so honored in such a manner. He is author of The Splendor of Faith: The Theological Vision of Pope John Paul II.|
- John Paul II and the Mystery of the Human Person - Oct. 1, 2003. Fordham University McGinley Lecture. [Streaming Video]; Article in Print America February 2, 2004. Vol. 190 No. 3. [subscription required].
Truth as the Ground of Freedom: A Theme from John Paul II The Acton Institute, 2002.
Can Philosophy Be Christian? On the encyclical Fides Et Ratio. First Things 102 (April 2000): 24-29.
John Paul II and The Advent of The New Millennium originally delivered at Fordham University on Nov. 16, 1999 as the Eighth Annual Fall McGinley Lecture.
John Paul II and the Truth about Freedom First Things 55 (August/September 1995): 36-41.
Centesimus Annus and the Renewal of Culture Markets & Morality Volume 2, Number 1. Spring 1999. Speech delivered to a conference on the encyclical Centesimus Annus, sponsored by the Acton Institute, Washington, D.C., May 13—14, 1996.
The Gospel of Life: A Symposium. First Things, 56 (October 1995): 32-38. Participating in a discussion of Evangelium Vitae.
Labels: john paul II
Fr. Richard J. Neuhaus & Michael Novak on John Paul II
|Fr. Richard John Neuhaus is editor-in-chief of First Things, published by the Institute on Religion and Public Life, and the author of several books on Pope John Paul II, including Appointment in Rome: The Church in America Awakening -- chronicling the Synod for America held in Rome, 1997 -- to which he was a special delegate designated by the Pope -- and Doing Well & Doing Good: The Challenge to the Christian Capitalist, on the Papal encyclical Centesimus Annus.|
"John Paul the Great" New York Post April 4, 2005.
The Cuban Revolutions First Things 83 (May 1998): 23-28. Notes and observations from Fr. Neuhaus' trip with Pope John Paul II's historic to Cuba, which was unfortunately shrounded by the media coverage of President Bill Clinton's sex scandal.
The Liberalism of John Paul II First Things 73 (May 1997): 16-21. On the liberalism (properly understood) of the Pope, as expressed in the encyclical Centesimus Annus.
John Paul II Plays "The Capital of the World". First Things 59 (January 1996).
The Gospel of Life. Review of Evangelium Vitae. Wall Street Journal April 3, 1995.
|Michael Novak is the George F. Jewett scholar at the American Enterprise Institute.|
- Farewell to a Great" National Review Online. April 12, 2005.
John Paul the Great. National Review April 8, 2005. Cover story in the April 25, 2005 issue.
The Embodied Self, First Things 130 (February 2003): 18-21. On Pope John Paul II's meditations on human sexuality presented during his general audiences.
A Pope and His Critics: What the young people are responding to and the elites don't get, by Michael Novak. National Review Online. July 26, 2002.
The Pope's Critics, by Michael Novak. National Post July 26, 2002.
Capitalism Rightly Understood: The View of Christian Humanism. Faith & Reason, April 1991. On the papal encyclical Centesimus Annus.
Labels: john paul II
Sunday, April 03, 2005
The World Remembers, Reflects and Pays Tribute to Pope John Paul II
* * *
"Be Not Afraid . . ." The Vatican's Special Feature on the Holy Father, Pope John Paul II, from 1978 thru 2005.
The Pontificate of Pope John Paul II EWTN Special Feature.
Pope John Paul II: Photo Gallery from the book John Paul II: A Light for the World. From a special feature on the website of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops.
All-Embracing Man of Action for a New Era of Papacy, by Robert McFadden. New York Times April 3, 2005. Also from the New York Times: Papal Transition: The Long Path, by Daniel J. Wakin.
A Man for All Seasons: The very modern papacy of John Paul II Wall Street Journal:
. . . this was a man eminently comfortable with modernity--even while he refused to accept modernity's most shallow assumptions. Just as he offered his first public words as pope in Italian to make himself understood by those below his balcony, he held that ultimate truths about man and his relationship with his Creator are never outdated, however much they require constant expression in new languages and new circumstances.
"A magnificent pope who presided over a controversial pontificate", by John Allen Jr. National Catholic Reporter
The Last Anti-modern Pope, by Sandro Magister; interview with Giovanni Maria Vian. "His was a Church of saints set against the powers of evil: first Soviet communism, then the civilization of money, sex, and the liberty that enslaves."
"A Man Who Believed That Jesus Christ Is the Answer", Zenit interviews George Weigel on the impact of John Paul II's pontificate. April 3, 2005.
President's Statement on the Death of Pope John Paul II President George W. Bush. April 2, 2005.
Theologians, Authors Reflect on Pope John Paul II April 3, 2005. Exclusive from Ignatius Insight, featuring Scott Hahn, Dr. Robert P. George, Thomas Howard and others.
"He Lived the Splendor of Truth", by Thomas Hibbs. National Review April 2, 2005: "John Paul presented to youth an attractive possibility, that maturity need not mean boredom, that fidelity and responsibility might be wedded to adventure and risk, and that heroic suffering need not quench joy or hope."
John Paul II, 1920-2005, by William Kristol. The Weekly Standard April 2, 2005:
What made John Paul II an extraordinary historical figure--one of the giants of the last half of the 20th century -- was his central role in three distinct realms: in politics, religion, and ideas; in the life of the world, the life of his Church, and the life of the mind. To be a major figure in any of these is rare. To be central in all three areas is unique. No political leader did more than John Paul II to bring an end to the Cold War. No religious figure had more impact in the 20th century than John Paul II had on the Roman Catholic Church. And few thinkers confronted the philosophical crisis of modern humanism more directly than Wojtyla.
John Paul II: The Millenial Pope PBS' Frontline "explores the characters and beliefs of Pope John Paul II and his challenge to the modern world." Featuring biographical information, interviews with personal friends, scholars and journalists. Given the source some of the content -- including the roundtable discussion of "The Catholic Church and Sex" -- may be skewed from a liberal perspective, as is much of the ongoing commentary by the MSM (Main Stream Media).
From 'St. Blog's Parish' and the greater Blogosphere
"Well done, Good and Faithful Servant", by Mark Shea @ Catholic & Enjoying It.
From the diary of St. Faustina, by RC @ Catholic Light.
Prayers for a Deceased Pope, from Lane Core Jr. @ Blog from the Core.
"Numbers cannot do justice to the incredible pontificate of Pope John Paul II. But they provide some helpful context," says Carl Olson of InsightScoop.
Dave Armstrong (Cor ad cor loquitur) offers Tribute and Long List of Links to biographical articles and Papal Documents.
Disputations muses on the "elephantine papacy" of Pope John Paul II, and offers recipe for a drink in his honor.
Remembrance, by Jeff Miller, aka. The Curt Jester, who -- true to form -- manages to inject a bit of humor: "He was both an optimist and a mystic so I guess that made him optomystic."
When Patrick Sweeney ("Extreme Catholic") "got the news I was doing Catholic evangelization in Grand Central Terminal with the Catholic Evidence Guild . . ."
"A Day with Mixed Feelings, by Josh M @ Fiat.
Two Deaths, One Voice, One Message. Benedict Seraphim @ Blogodoxy reflects on the deaths of Terri Schiavo and Pope John Paul II.
Teófilo @ Vivificat: "Pope John Paul II, has been called Home to his reward, by the Lord he served all his life."
"Tonight we are all sedevacantist.", by Peter Vere @ Lidless Eye Inquisition.
Personal Reflections on the Passing of the Holy Father, from Katolik Shinja.
"John Paul II the Law-Giver" Canon lawyer Dr. Ed Peters reflects on the Pope's influence on canon law.
Claud Muncey @ A Pilgrim's Walk: "I cannot feel sad for him -- for our brother Karol Józef Wojtyla, the race is almost run now, the victor's laurels already await him."
Ithilien (April 3, 2003):
We are a culture of death because we are a culture of fear. Far from being irrelevant, John Paul was feared and hated because his message was exactly the message we needed to hear. We said that he did not understand us, because he understood us too well. He did not accept our heroic vision of ourselves, so we said he was blinded by his archaic prejudices. But in fact, like all prophets, he saw through our false images of greatness. He saw our pitiful souls, made for holiness and contented with mediocrity--he saw us and he loved us, as his Master loves us. And we could not stand it.
Personal reflections from TS @ Video meliora, proboque; Deteriora sequor.
Amy Welborn ("Open Book") reflects on the Pope's passing, notices how "time flies" ("What a difference 26 years made, and either we barely noticed, or we simply forgot"), and asks her readers to share their memories of John Paul II.
"Arise, Let Us Go Forth", thoughts from Phil Dillon @ Another Man's Meat:
"He was known to his flock and to the world as the Vicar of Christ, but his most cherished title was "good and faithful servant." He was fluent in eight languages and, by some accounts, could converse in twenty-six. He communicated love and grace in all. He'd known the sting of oppression and tyranny, yet he never surrendered to bitterness and hate. . . ."
Live blogging the Lion's last breath... by The Anchoress. An impressive "round the clock" live-blog of online and television coverage of the passing of Pope John Paul II. Also, another good roundup from liberal blogger Jeff Jarvis.
Arthur Chrenkoff reflects on "My Pope". April 3, 2005.
Chris Burgwald (Veritas) got to see the Pontiff not once, but twice.
Nathan Nelson (Fides, Spes, Caritas) makes a "progressive Catholic" case for Ioannes Paulus Magnus.
Kevin Miller @ Heart, Mind & Strength offers "some summary thoughts on Pope John Paul II's legacy, with reference to his living of this threefold office" of Prophet, Priest and King.
Daniel Darling @ Winds of Change, on seeing the Pope at World Youth Day 2002:
"He was clearly suffering even then, but the purity of his spirit shined through even then, not only for me but for all the thousands who had come from all over the world to see him."
"No man lived more fully", -- speaking "as a Catholic first, as a conservative second," reflections on the Pope by Thomas @ RedState.Org. April 1, 2005.
Dean Esmay ("Dean's World") shares his thoughts, and provides a roundup of posts from political bloggers.
Reflections from Larry Kudlow, former Reagan economic advisor, a syndicated columnist, CNBC television host (oh, yes -- and blogger).
On Pope John Paul II, reflections from Jewish blogger "Out of Step Jew". April 4, 2005.
He Was My Pope, Too, by Uwe Siemon-Netto, a Lutheran from Christianity Today. April 4, 2005.
Protestant Praise for Pope John Paul II, a good roundup by Dave Armstrong. Billy Graham, Chuck Colson, James Dobson, Pat Robertson, Norman Geisler, Os Guiness and other big names in the Christian evangelical world.
A Radical Love: May God Bless the Pope, from the blog "Being! Or Nothingness":
Pope John Paul II wasn't a pansy. He wasn't a man who was heirarchical or distant or cold. He wasn't a man who busied himself with the beauracracy of the Church and ignored the grandeur of life. He wasn't a man who lived in ideas and away from reality. Overall, when I looked at Pope John Paul II I saw virility, I saw devotion, I saw love . . . I saw something radical. In the Pope I saw the radicality of the Christian life, a radicality that was courageous in the face of opposition and adversity, full of vigor in front of life, full of awareness in front of reality and full of love in front of humanity.
"His Supreme Legacy" - From Roger Kimball of Right Reason:
n politics, no one, with the possible exception of Ronald Reagan, did as much to hasten the end of the totalitarian blight of Soviet Communism. "Be not afraid," John Paul proclaimed in St. Peter's Square in October 1978, shortly after becoming Pope. "More than one year after he spoke these words," Lech Walesa, the founder of the Solidarity movement said, "we were able to organize 10 million people for strikes, protests and negotiations. Earlier we tried, I tried, and we couldn't do it. . . Of course, communism would have fallen, but much later and in a bloody way. He was a gift from the heavens to us."
In religion, John Paul helped preserve the Catholic Church from becoming a latitudinarian social club devoted to a minimalist theology and progressive orthodoxy on moral and political matters. The New York Times bemoaned the Pope's "rigid adherence to many basic Church teachings." ("Rigid" is nice: as opposed to what -- flaccid? dilatory? non-commital?) But in fact his robust traditionalism saved the Catholic Church from the ghastly irrelevance and dwindling congregations that most I'm-okay-you're-okay religious denominations have suffered in recent decades.
Labels: john paul II
Saturday, April 02, 2005
Pope John Paul II: 1920-2005
- Papal Election and Succession - What happens when a pope dies? Domenico Bettinelli Jr. provides the answers.
- Andy Hagans at "The Pope Blog" will provide regular updates "around the clock."
- Curiously, I find myself moved by the experience of watching the passing of our Holy Father, but not particularly saddened or distraught. He has run the good race, fought the good fight, lived a full life of great service to Christ and his Church -- and he himself seems content to go when the Lord calls him.
Of course I will miss him, like all those faithful Catholics who were blessed to live under his pontificate, but I know as well that he will be going to his eternal reward. Fr. Fessio, via Insight Scoop, offers some good advice on this matter:
The Pope, like all of us, is mortal. And like all of us he was created for eternal joy in heaven. If this is the moment God calls him to himself, we should all rejoice and pray that he will be rewarded for his heroic labors for Christ, the Church, human dignity, and the world. The achievements of his long and fruitful pontificate are too numerous and varied even to make a selection. But he certainly fulfilled the prophetic role of the Vicar of Christ and of every bishop and priest: to proclaim the Good News of Jesus Christ in season and out of season. His successor? It will be a surprise. The Holy Spirit will guide the choice. Speculation is a harmless indoor sport; but it is not a good use of one’s time.
- According to the New York Post today the Pope was able, with the help of his secretary, to write a note:
"I am happy. You should be as well. Let us pray."
Today Christ opened the doors to his vicar on earth.
Labels: john paul II
Sunday, February 27, 2005
On the suffering of the Holy Father
- Suffering in Christ - responding to a Protestant (Calvinist) blogger upset with the Catholic "gospel of suffering and defeat", Fr. Jim Tucker (Dappled Things) gives a remarkable presentation on this topic.
- Musing from National Review's "The Corner", Michael Novak on "the most important work of the Pope's life":
A Pope is not actually like the Commandant of the Marine Corps, there is really nothing he has to do except be. The church normally runs itself, its departments hum on. Only a few decisions await him, really. The church could go months without appointing new replacements for bishops. What a Pope does is be another Christ. What does Christ have to do, except be? And the comparative advantage of Christianity is that it roots itself in suffering, the suffering of age that each of us will undergo, of cancers and disabilitities and mental illness in the family, the inescapables of every life. Secular humanism ignores these. Professor Rawls thinks Christian emphasis on suffering is life-denying. Not so. I think that's why so many people are touched by JPII. They know all about suffering, but nobody ever says how ennobling and transformative it can be. That it's quite all right to be ill and suffering. That it's a great and valuable gift. That it means a lot. That it's at the heart of things. In a way, the Pope is teaching more powerfully about Christianity and its comparative advantage than he ever has. The most important work of his life.
(Via Catholics for Bush).
- And from the Holy Father himself:Salvifici Doloris: "On the Christian meaning of human suffering." Given at Rome, at Saint Peter's, on the liturgical Memorial of Our Lady of Lourdes, 11 February 1984, in the sixth year of his Pontificate.
Labels: john paul II
Tuesday, February 01, 2005
Pope taken to Rome hospital
. CNN.com. Feb. 1, 2005. John Paul II has acute respiratory infection, Vatican says.
Pray for our Holy Father, that -- Lord willing -- he may make a safe recovery.
Update: CNN reports today that "Pope's Condition Stabilizes":
ope John Paul II's condition stabilized this morning after overnight hospital treatment for an acute respiratory infection, a papal spokesman said. The pope will remain in the hospital "a few days," according to a Vatican radio report. "Today there is no reason to be alarmed," spokesman Joaquin Navarro-Valls said.
* * *
Parkinson's Lent, by Nathan Nelson. A moving reflection on the Pope's ailing health and his own experience with a grandmother who was lost to Parkinson's:
It must be the promise of Resurrection that will lead the Church through the Great Lent that we are about to experience. We will suffer with this man who we call Papa
, and it will be profoundly difficult. But we have the promise of Resurrection for him. If he is, God willing, able to persevere in faith, how long will it be before he is Pope St. John Paul II? We must remember that for Catholic Christians, death is the gateway through which we pass to life, a life which is unlike any life we have experienced before. No, we will not want to see this suffering, and yes, we will miss the Holy Father when he passes -- but we know that perseverance in faith will give him life that will never see suffering again. It is that knowing which enables us to walk through these trials as Catholic Christians who believe in a God of Resurrection, a God of the living, not the dead.
As we prepare for liturgical Lent, and as we prepare for the Great Lent that we will walk through with the inevitable suffering and death of the Holy Father, let us always remember that the end of Lent is always Easter -- when death passes over us, and life comes to us in abundance.
Labels: john paul II
Sunday, May 18, 2003
Happy 83rd birthday, Pope John Paul II
- At the beginning of the Eucharistic celebration, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, in his capacity as dean of the College of Cardinals, congratulated the Pope on his birthday, not only on behalf of those present in Rome, but also on behalf of the "innumerable people spread throughout the world, well beyond the confines of the Catholic Church, including beyond the confines of the Christian world."
"To believe and to love: this is the program of his pontificate. You show us, tirelessly, the face of Christ, the face of the merciful God," Cardinal Ratzinger said. "Tirelessly you lead us, grounding us in Christ, to overcome the forces of hatred, the prejudices that separate, to pull down the walls that attempt to separate us," he added.
"By beginning afresh from Christ, you help us to find the way that leads to salvation. For this, we wish to give you our heartfelt thanks. May the Lord reward you as he rewards his faithful servants," he said.
Vatican City. May 18, 2003. ZENIT.org
For the first time, the Holy See has given an e-mail address: John_Paul_II@vatican.va
on its web page (http://www.vatican.va), so that any one who wishes to send congratulations may do so.
Labels: john paul II
Saturday, March 29, 2003
How much of a pacifist is the Pope?
- Wall Street Journal editor William McGurn addresses characterizations of the Holy Father as a pacifist in a recent editorial (War No More?: How much of a pacifist is the pope?), and questions whether the Vatican's current opposition to the war in Iraq reflects "not simply a disagreement over Iraq but a strain in John Paul's thinking that sits uncomfortably with 1,500 years of Catholic teaching on the legitimate use to force".
Archbishop Renato Martino, head of the Pontifical Council for Peace and Justice, has stated that the classic just-war teaching of the Church may be headed the way of the death penalty, namely, that nations have recourse to alternatives to war that "make it all but impossible to justify in practice." Such revisions to just-war doctrine, says McGurn, provokes further questions: "Namely, how President Bush can be held in breach of moral criteria that (a) are in the process of being radically revised and (b) really can't be met anyhow."
Archbishop Martino characterized the American response to Iraq as replying with "bombs to a people that has been asking for bread for the last 12 years." The Vatican role, by contrast, would be to play the "the Good Samaritan who kneels to tend the wounds of an injured, weak nation."
Which begs a question: If the biblical Good Samaritan had arrived on the scene a little earlier and stumbled on the robbers instead of their victim, what would have been his obligation?
- Weekly news analysis from Zenit.org focuses on the issue of civilian casualties and moral principles, noting what has been readily apparent from the beginning: the sharp and increasing contrast between the efforts of the United States to minimize civilian casualties and the deplorable actions of Iraqi troops (using women & children as human shields, locating military sites next to (or in) schools & hospitals, etc.).
Also demonstrating Iraqi's notable lack of concern for civilian welfare are reports of Iraqi militia firing on fleeing civilians or those which imply a potential use of chemical weapons by Iraqi troops (which is sure to have an inevitable damage on civilian bystanders).
- "How do you admit you were wrong? What do you do when you realize those you were defending in fact did not want your defense and wanted something completely different from you and from the world?" -- Thanks to Bill Cork for linking to the detailed testimony of Assyrian Christian minister Ken Joseph, Jr. -- the "human shield" who changed his mind whom I referred to in an earlier post.
- Finally, in what demonstrates the necessity of reading multiple sources of information on this conflict, a recent CNN story on alleged resurgence of Iraqi nationalism seems to be challenged by the following report from Essam Al-Ghalib, war correspondent for arabnews.com:
When we finally made it to Safwan, Iraq, what we saw was utter chaos. Iraqi men, women and children were playing it up for the TV cameras, chanting: “With our blood, with our souls, we will die for you Saddam.”
I took a young Iraqi man, 19, away from the cameras and asked him why they were all chanting that particular slogan, especially when humanitarian aid trucks marked with the insignia of the Kuwaiti Red Crescent Society, were distributing some much-needed food.
His answer shouldn’t have surprised me, but it did.
He said: “There are people from Baath here reporting everything that goes on. There are cameras here recording our faces. If the Americans were to withdraw and everything were to return to the way it was before, we want to make sure that we survive the massacre that would follow as Baath go house to house killing anyone who voiced opposition to Saddam. In public, we always pledge our allegiance to Saddam, but in our hearts we feel something else.”
Different versions of that very quote, but with a common theme, I would come to hear several times over the next three days I spent in Iraq. The people of Iraq are terrified of Saddam Hussein.
-- "Terrified of Saddam Hussein"
Sunday, March 30, 2003.
Labels: iraq, john paul II, justwar
Thursday, March 20, 2003
"Why doesn't the Pope do something"?
That's a question that's posed to the RFC on numerous occasions. I think that some traditionalists would very much like to see a mass-excommunication of American Catholics and perhaps would even celebrate a return to the days of burning heretics at the stake. In my search for an answer to this question, I came across an essay by Catholic apologist Dave Armstrong, who provides a reason for the more cautious and diplomatic response on the part of the Vatican:
The role of the pope is much different, ecclesiologically and strategically, from the role of a local bishop. Pope John Paul II is most definitely effecting positive long-term change by forcefully teaching truth, promulgating the Catechism and various reforms, of schools, of architecture, of moral teaching, etc. The damage of liberalism has been so profound that one must look at cures in terms of decades and generations, not "right now" (as in a certain perfectionist and utopian mindset). A major reason (if not the sole one) for this strategy, I firmly believe, is to avoid schism, because schism is generally longer-lasting (and arguably, even more damaging) than even heresy.
I think John Paul II's and the Church's primary concern is for souls. There is no easy choice. If one acts with principle but excludes a corresponding prudence or foresight as to result (as Luther and Calvin did), then one barges ahead and slashes away at all the heretics and de facto schismatics. The pope wants the same result that people who ask this question do: how to have an orthodox Church and how to retain as many souls in the Church (and for ultimate salvation) as possible. He thinks it will take a long time. His critics (or those who are simply bewildered) often think the solution is instant and simple: slash and burn!
From "Why Doesn't Pope John Paul II DO Something
About the Modernist Dissenters in the Catholic Church?"
by Dave Armstrong.
Labels: john paul II
From the new blog