Daily Archives: May 22, 2007

Themes that clamour for the attention of the Pastor of the Universal Church

Okay, what themes do you think “clamour for the attention” of the Pope? Eh? What would you like to suggest? Evangelisation? Faithfulness to liturgical norms? Encouragement of regular confession? Promotion of vocations to the priesthood? Deeper catechisation? Defense of the family, the poor and the unborn?

Well, just in case you didn’t think His Holiness was listening, have a read of this address he gave to the Bishops of Brazil, which he concluded by saying:

God willing, my dear Brothers, we will find other opportunities to explore these questions that call for our joint pastoral concern. For now, without pursuing them in an exhaustive way, I have tried to put forward the more significant themes that clamour for my attention as Pastor of the universal Church.

If you want to know what’s on the Pope’s agenda, its all here. But he can’t implement it on his own. He needs the help of the bishops–the same fundamental obedience which Christ (in whose name they carry out their ministry) gave to his Father in heaven.

And lest there should be any doubt about the fundamental purpose of the Church and her ministry: “This, and nothing else, is the purpose of the Church: the salvation of individual souls.”

I was equally impressed by his statement that:

The Church does not engage in proselytism. Instead, she grows by ‘attraction’: just as Christ ‘draws all to himself’ by the power of his love, culminating in the sacrifice of the Cross, so the Church fulfils her mission to the extent that, in union with Christ, she accomplishes every one of her works in spiritual and practical imitation of the love of her Lord.

There is much here that will give faithful Catholics joy. We know that Papa Benny is hearing the “clamour” from the sons and daughters of the Church for the Bread of Life. Let us pray that the Bishops, not only of Brazil, but of the whole world, hear our cry and the pope’s entreaty to address these themes.

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A Dangerous Evangelical Theologian and Author

Others have written enough on the conversion of Evangelical Theological Society president Francis Beckwith to the Catholic Church. I was simply taken by this comment from an interview in the Washington Post:

His thinking began to change, he said, as he read more deeply into Catholic theology, including works by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI. After studying Ratzinger’s book “Truth and Tolerance” last year, he said, he called a prominent evangelical philosopher, read him a passage about whether theology is really knowledge, and asked him to guess the author. “He reeled off the names of a bunch of evangelical theologians,” Beckwith recalled. “I said, ‘No, it’s Ratzinger!’ And he said, ‘So he’s one of us!’ ”

Yes, you can’t be too careful reading this particular evangelical theologian. Peter Holmes and I both caved in after reading his “Called to Communion“, and I can highly recommend “Truth and Tolerance” which I myself finished reading a month or so ago. I often feel that if evangelicals and protestants and Lutherans etc. just tried reading Ratzinger for a bit, they would indeed find that he is “one of them” — although there is always the danger that they might find themselves, like Beckwith, as “one of us”!

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Pardon me, but aren’t you a Cardinal?

I mentioned recently my brief encounter with Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga in the corridors of the Cardinal Knox Centre just before I left for Turkey. At the time I was quite flustered and said something silly and foolish as one does on such occasions.

I feel better now that I have discovered that he himself is capable of saying silly things. I wonder if TIME magazine’s Jeff Israely not only “caught up with” Rodriguez in Brazil, but also caught him off guard. Listen to this little exchange reported by Rocco Palmo:

Q. Do you agree with the Pope’s statement that pro-choice Catholic politicians merit excommunication?

A. It is canon law that everyone who works for abortion is excommunicated. It’s not something the Pope invented. If you favor abortion, you are outside the communion of the Church. And it was necessary to say that. There are people in Mexico saying I am Catholic and I support abortion rights. This is a contradiction in its very essence. As a teacher of the Church, the Pope has a responsibility of teaching when something happening is wrong.

Q. Do you agree with bishops who deny giving Holy Communion to the these politicians?

A. This is a different point. For who am I to deny Holy Communion to a person? I cannot. It’s in the tradition of moral theology that even if I know a person is living in grave sin, I cannot take a public action against him. It would be giving scandal to the person. Yes, he should not seek [communion], but I cannot deny it from him….

I’m sorry, but may I suggest that “who you are” is the Cardinal Archbishop of Tegucigalapa? And that you have the authority to excommunicate unrepentant sinners? And that in fact the word “excommunicate” means “to deny Holy Communion to a person”? Really, your Eminence, not one of your more thought out replies…

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