Thursday, November 15, 2007

From Times Online

Pope seeks dialogue with non-Catholic Christians
Richard Owen in Rome November 1, 2007

Pope Benedict XVI is to hold an extraordinary consistory of cardinals later this month to promote ecumenical dialogue with non-Catholic Christians.

The gathering of 202 cardinals from 67 countries will take place on the eve of the consistory on November 24, convened by the Pope to create 23 new cardinals. The debate on ecumenism will be led by Cardinal Walter Kasper, head of the Pontifical Council for Christian Unity. It follows the Vatican's dialogue with Orthodox leaders at Ravenna last month and an inter-faith conference at Naples attended by the Pope and the Archbishop of Canterbury and organised by the Community of Sant' Egidio.

The Pope's choice of new cardinals has reinforced the European and American presence among voting-age members of the College of Cardinals. Ten are from Europe, so that Europeans now make up half of the 121 conclave voters.

New American cardinals are Archbishop John Foley, Grand Master of the Knights of the Holy Sepulchre and former head of Social Communications at the Vatican, and Archbishop Daniel DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, the first cardinal from a Texas diocese. This gives the United States 13 under-80 cardinals.

By contrast there are only two archbishops from Latin America on the list, one from Brazil and one from Mexico, even though Latin America has the world's largest Catholic population and many had expected a Latin American to be elected Pope after the death of John Paul II. Both Mexico and Brazil will now have four under-80 cardinals.

After the consistory, the global breakdown of voting-age cardinals will be 60 from Europe, 21 from Latin America, 16 from the United States and Canada, 13 from Asia, nine from Africa and two from Oceania. The Pope's emphasis on the West is seen as a reflection of his concern over shoring up the faith in Europe and the US in an age of secularism.

Most media attention at the time of the announcement however went to the appointment of the Iraqi Chaldean Patriarch Emmanuel-Karim Delly, 80, a sign of the Pope's his concern for the sufferings of the Christian population of Iraq. The Pope said the new cardinals "reflect the universality of the church with its multiple ministries."

The naming of Sean Brady, Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland, as a cardinal led to some speculation that Pope Benedict XVI might pay a visit to Ireland, including the North. The late John Paul II stopped in Ireland in 1979 on his way to the United Nations, visiting both the Republic and Northern Ireland.

A year ago Archbishop Brady invited Pope Benedict to make a similar visit, and some Vatican diplomats see a possible visit by the pontiff to the UN next April as offering an opportunity. "The British and Irish governments are known to support a papal visit to Ireland, and Archbishop Brady is in very good standing with the Irish Protestant community" said Gerard O'Connell, an expert in Rome on Vatican affairs. "His receipt of a red hat gives him extra leverage in persuading the Pope to add Ireland to his travel schedule".

Pope Benedict has repeatedly praised the peace process in Northern Ireland, observing that it offers "a witness to the world". Archbishop Brady's elevation means Ireland will now have three cardinals for the first time in its history, with Dr Brady joining Cardinal Cathal Daly and Cardinal Desmond Connell.

Some Vatican watchers had expected the Pope to give the red hat to Diarmuid Martin, the Archbishop of Dublin. But others said Monsignor Martin - who previously served in Vatican posts for thirty years - had only held the Dublin post for three years. He succeeded Monsignor Desmond Connell amid allegations of paedophile scandals among clergy in the Dublin diocese, which are still under investigation.

At his weekly audience on Wednesday, held in heavy rain, Pope Benedict urged Christians to live as good citizens, paying their taxes, sharing with the poor and working for political policies that promote justice and peace. He referred to St. Maximus, the fourth century bishop of Turin, noting that the Barbarian invasions at the end of the Roman Empire forced early Christian leaders to become civic leaders when social structures collapsed.

These "obligations of the believer toward his city and nation" remained valid, the pontiff said. St. Maximus had not only worked to increase Christians' sense of patriotism, but also preached their "precise responsibility to pay their financial dues, however heavy and unpleasant they may seem. His homilies reflect a growing awareness of the responsibility of Christians to promote a just social order grounded in solidarity with the poor".

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