Monday, January 28, 2008
Pontiff Calls Practice a "Good Custom"
VATICAN CITY, JAN. 27, 2008 (Zenit.org).-
Benedict XVI considers the Jesuit tradition that newly elected superiors-general renew their obedience to the Pope a "good custom."
The Pope said this Saturday upon receiving the newly elected superior-general of the Society of Jesus, Father Adolfo Nicolás, reported the General Curia of the Jesuits in a communiqué.
Father Nicolás, 71, was elected Jan. 19 to lead the order, founded in the 16th century by St. Ignatius of Loyola. He succeeds Father Peter-Hans Kolvenbach, 79, who presented his resignation after having led the Society for nearly 25 years.
During the audience Father Nicolás handed an envelope to the Holy Father in which he renewed in writing his obedience to the Pope, fulfilling a Jesuit tradition for newly elected superiors-general of the Society.
In addition to this tradition for those leading the order, obedience to the Pope in missionary matters is the fourth vow that all Jesuits make alongside the traditional three vows of poverty, chastity and obedience."
The Pope opened the envelope right away and read the vows," reported the Jesuits. Then he said, "This is a very good custom."To serveThe Spanish Priest reaffirmed "his personal respect for the Vicar of Christ as well as the esteem of the whole Society of Jesus," as well as the "desire of the society to serve the Church all over the world."
The General Curia of the Jesuits reported that the Holy Father "encouraged the Jesuit leader to continue with dialogue with culture and evangelization and to ensure a thorough formation of young Jesuits."
The Jesuits reported that the Holy Father was pleased to hear a committee had been formed to study the letter he sent Jan. 10 to Father Peter-Hans Kolvenbach on the occasion of the order's 35th General Congregation.
In the letter Benedict XVI wrote: "It could prove extremely useful that the General Congregation reaffirm, in the spirit of St. Ignatius, its own total adhesion to Catholic doctrine, in particular on those neuralgic points which today are strongly attacked by secular culture, as for example, the relationship between Christ and religions; some aspects of the theology of liberation; and various points of sexual morality, especially as regards the indissolubility of marriage and the pastoral care of homosexual persons."
On Friday, Father Nicolas held a press conference in Rome in which he maintained: "The Society of Jesus has always been, from the beginning, in communion with the Holy Father, and will always be."The Society wants to collaborate with the Holy See, to obey the Holy Father. This has not changed, and never will."
© Innovative Media, Inc.
Thursday, January 24, 2008
By The Associated Press, Associated Press
Last update: January 24, 2008 - 11:01 AM
VATICAN CITY -
A Vatican official says Pope Benedict XVI doesn't want to roll back the modernizing liturgical reforms of the Second Vatican Council.
The pope last year removed restrictions on celebrating the old Latin Mass, a rite that was all but swept away by the Second Vatican Council. But Monsignor Guido Marini told Vatican radio that Benedict only wants to maintain continuity with Roman Catholic tradition.
"This may also require, in some cases, the recovery of precious and important elements that along the way have been lost or forgotten," Marini said in a Jan. 19 interview.
On Jan. 13, the pontiff celebrated Mass in the Sistine Chapel using the original main altar, facing away from worshippers during parts of the prayer. Under the modernizing reforms, clergy generally celebrate Mass facing the altar.
Marini said special conditions of the church allowed the stance, which he said was in line with Vatican II, according to Catholic News Service.
"There may be particular circumstances under which, because of the artistic conditions of the holy place or its singular beauty and harmony, it becomes desirable to celebrate at the ancient altar, where among other things the exact orientation of the liturgical celebration is preserved," he said.
Wednesday, January 23, 2008
By TJ Reporter - Wednesday 23rd January 2008
The Pope has backed calls to modify a controversial Good Friday prayer calling for Jews to convert.
Pope Benedict XV1 allowed wider use of a traditional version of The Latin Mass last year which calls for Jews to “take the veil from their hearts” and be “delivered from their darkness”.
The controversial lines were dropped as part of a move to improve relations between Catholics and Jews in 1965 but were reintroduced by the Vatican last July to create greater unity within the Church and with conservative bishops.
The Pope is expected to announce changes on Good Friday, the Il Giornale newspaper reported.
The American Jewish Committee welcomed the reports. Rabbi David Rosen, AJC's international director of interreligious affairs, said: “As we declared at the time, it is obvious to all who are aware of Pope Benedict’s commitment to Catholic-Jewish reconciliation that the extension of the use of the Latin liturgy had nothing to do with the old Easter prayer and we are grateful that our call for clarification is being responded to by the Pope himself.”
Friday, January 18, 2008
Pope to change controversial prayer on Jews
By Philip PullellaFri Jan 18
Pope Benedict has decided to modify a controversial prayer for the conversion of Jews, an Italian newspaper reported on Friday.
Il Giornale newspaper said this would involve at least the removal of a reference to Jewish "blindness" over Christ but the changes could be more extensive.
A Vatican source said he expected changes to be announced before Good Friday on March 21 this year, but had no details. Good Friday is the day Christians commemorate Christ's death.
The Vatican had no official comment on the report.
Controversy arose last year when the Pope issued a decree allowing a wider use of the old-style Latin Mass and a missal, or prayer book, that was phased out after the reforms of the Second Vatican Council, which met from 1962 to 1965.
The Good Friday prayer in Latin asks that God remove the "veil" from Jewish hearts so that they would recognize Jesus Christ and speaks of the "blindness" of the Jewish people.
Jews have called for a change in the Latin prayer which, if left as stands, would be used by several hundred thousand traditionalists who follow the old-style Latin rite.
The overwhelming number of the world's some 1.1 billion Catholics would use a post Second Vatican Council missal, which includes a Good Friday prayer for Jews but makes no reference to Jewish "blindness" over Christ.
The strongest criticism to the Pope's decree has come from U.S. Jewish communities and there have been fears controversy could come up during the Pope's U.S. visit in late April.
Benedict's decree, issued on July 7, authorized wider use of the old Latin missal, a move which traditionalist Catholics had demanded for decades but which Jews and other Christian groups said could set back inter-religious dialogue.
Implementation of the decree has been difficult. The Pope's number two, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, said recently the Vatican was preparing a document on how it should be introduced around the world.
Before the Second Vatican Council, Catholic mass and prayers were full of elaborate ritual led in Latin by a priest with his back to the congregation.
Many traditionalists missed the Latin rite's sense of mystery and the centuries-old Gregorian chant that went with it.
Some denounced Council reforms that included a repudiation of the notion of collective Jewish guilt for Christ's death and urged dialogue with all other faiths.
Thursday, January 17, 2008
It is a great joy for me to meet the community of "La Sapienza - Università di Roma" on the occasion of the inauguration of the academic year. For centuries, this university has marked the progress and the life of the city of Rome, bringing forth intellectual excellence in every field of study. Both during the period when, after its foundation at the behest of Pope Boniface VIII, the institution was directly dependent upon ecclesiastical authority, and after this, when the Studium Urbis became an institution of the Italian state, your academic community has maintained a very high standard of scholarship and culture, which places it among the most prestigious universities in the world.
The Church of Rome has always looked with affection and admiration at this university centre, recognising its sometimes arduous and difficult efforts in research and in the formation of the new generations. There has been no lack, in recent years, of significant instances of collaboration and dialogue.
I would like to recall, in particular, the worldwide meeting of university rectors on the occasion of the Jubilee of Universities, which saw your community take the responsibility not only for hosting and organising the meeting, but above all for making the complex and prophetic proposal for the development of a "new humanism for the third millennium".
I am moved, on this occasion, to express my gratitude for the invitation extended to me to come to your university to deliver an address to you. In this perspective, I first of all asked myself the question: What can a pope say on an occasion like this?
In my lecture in Regensburg, I indeed spoke as pope, but I spoke above all in the guise of a former professor of the university, seeking to connect memory and the present. But at the university "La Sapienza", the ancient university of Rome, I have been invited as "Bishop of Rome", and so I must speak in this capacity.
Of course, "La Sapienza" was once the pope's university, but today it is a secular university with that autonomy which, on the basis of its founding principles, has always been part of the nature of the university, which must always be exclusively bound to the authority of the truth. In its freedom from political and ecclesiastical authorities, the university finds its special role, and in modern society as well, which needs institutions of this nature.
I return to my starting question: What can and should the pope say in meeting with his city's university? Reflecting on this question, it has seemed to me that it includes two more questions, the clarification of which should by itself lead to the answer. It is necessary, in fact, to ask: What is the nature and mission of the papacy? And again: What is the nature and mission of the university? It is not my intention here to belabour either you or myself with lengthy examinations of the nature of the papacy.
A brief summary should be enough. The pope is, first of all, the bishop of Rome, and as such, in virtue of apostolic succession from the Apostle Peter, he has Episcopal authority in regard to the entire Catholic Church. The word "bishop"—episkopos—, which in its immediate meaning refers to "supervision", already in the New Testament was fused together with the biblical concept of the shepherd: he is the one who, from an elevated point of observation, surveys the whole landscape, making sure to keep the flock together and on the right path.
This description of the bishop's role directs the view first of all to within the community of believers. The bishop—the shepherd—is the man who takes care of this community, the one who keeps it united by keeping it on the path toward God, which Jesus points out through the Christian faith—and He does not only point this out: He himself is the way for us.
But this community that the bishop cares for as large or small as it may be—lives in the world; its conditions, its journey, its example, and its words inevitably influence the rest of the human community in its entirety. The larger it is, the more its good condition or eventual decline will impact all of humanity.
Today we see very clearly how the situation of the religions and the situation of the Church—its crises and renewals—act upon the whole of humanity. Thus the pope, precisely as the shepherd of his community, has increasingly become a voice of the ethical reasoning of humanity.
But here there immediately comes the objection according to which the pope does not in fact truly speak on the basis of ethical reasoning, but instead draws his judgments from the faith, and therefore he cannot claim that these have validity for those who do not share this faith. We must return to this argument later, because it poses the absolutely fundamental question: What is reason? How can an assertion—and above all a moral norm—demonstrate that it is "reasonable".
At this point, I would like to note briefly that John Rawls, while he denies that religious doctrines overall have the character of "public" reasoning, he nonetheless sees in their "non-public" reasoning at least a reasoning that cannot simply be dismissed by those who support a hard-line secularist rationality.
He sees a criterion of this reasonableness in, among other things, the fact that that such doctrines are derived from a responsible and well grounded tradition, in which over a long span of time sufficiently strong arguments have been developed in support of the respective doctrines. It seems important to me that this statement recognises that experience and demonstration over the course of generations, the historical backdrop of human wisdom, are also a sign of their reasonableness and their lasting significance.
In the face of an a-historical form of reason that seeks to construct itself in an exclusively a-historical rationality, the wisdom of humanity as such—the wisdom of the great religious traditions—should be viewed as a reality that cannot be cast with impunity into the trash bin of the history of ideas.
Let's return to the opening question. The pope speaks as the representative of a believing community, in which throughout the centuries of its existence a specific life wisdom has matured; he speaks as the representative of a community that holds within itself a treasury of ethical understanding and experience, which is important for all of humanity. In this sense, he speaks as the representative of a form of ethical reasoning.
But now we must ask ourselves: What is the university? What is its purpose? It is a huge question which I can only answer once again in almost telegraphic style by making just a few observations. I believe that it can be said that the true intimate origin of the university lies in man’s craving for knowledge.
He wants to know what everything around him is. In this sense the Socratic questioning is the impulse that gave birth to the Western university. I am thinking here, just to mention one text, the dispute that sets Euthyphro, who defends mythical religion and his devotion to it, against Socrates. In contrast Socrates asks: “And do you believe there is really a war amongst the gods, with terrible feuds, even, and battles . . . Are we to say that these things are true, Euthyphro? (Euthyphro, 6: b and c).
In this apparently not very devout question—but which drew in Socrates from a deeper and purer sense of religiosity, one that sought a truly divine god—the Christians of the first centuries recognised their path and themselves. They accepted their faith non in a positivist manner or as a way of getting away from unfulfilled desires but rather as a way of dissolving the cloud that was mythological religion so as to discover the God that is creative Reason as well as Reason-as-Love.
For this reason, asking themselves about the reason for the greater God as well as the real nature and sense of being human did not represent for them any problematic lack of religiosity, but was part of the essence of their way of being religious. They therefore did not need to solve or put aside the Socratic dilemma but could, indeed had to accept it. They also had to recognise as part of their identity the demanding search for reason in order to learn about the entire truth.
The university could, indeed had to be born within the Christian world and the Christian faith. We must take another step. Man wants to know; he wants the truth. Truth pertains first and foremost to seeing and understanding theoria as it is called in the Greek tradition. But truth is not only theoretic.
In correlating the Beatitudes from the Sermon on the Mountain and the gifts of the Holy Spirit mentioned in Isaiah 11, Augustine asserted the reciprocity of scientia and tristitia. For him just knowing is a source of sadness. In fact those who only see and learn all that happens in the world end up becoming sad. But the truth means more than knowledge.
The purpose of knowing the truth is to know what is good. This is also the sense of Socrates’ way of questioning: What good thing makes us true? Truth makes us good and goodness is true. This optimism dwells in the Christian faith because it was allowed to see the Logos, the creative Reason that, in God’s incarnation, revealed itself as that which is Good, as Goodness itself.
In medieval theology there was a great dispute over the relationship between theory and praxis, over the proper relationship between knowledge and action, a dispute that we must not go into further here. In fact with their four faculties medieval universities embodied this correlation. Let us begin with medicine, which was the fourth faculty according to the understanding of that time. Although it was seen more as an “art” than as a science, its inclusion in the realm of the universitas meant that it was seen as belonging to the domain of rationality.
The art of healing was seen as something guided by reason and was thus beyond the domain of magic. Healing is a task that always requires more than simple reason but exactly for this reason it needs the connection between knowledge and power and must belong to the realm of ratio. Inevitably in law faculties the relationship between praxis and theory, between knowing and doing takes front seat for it is about giving human freedom its right shape which is always freedom in reciprocal communion.
The law is the premise upon which freedom is built; it is not its adversary. But this raises another question. How can we identify what the standards of justice are, that is those that make freedom as part of a whole possible and serve mankind’s goodness? Let us come back to the present. It is a question that is related to how we can find legal rules that can govern freedom, human dignity and man’s rights.
It is an issue that concerns us insofar as it relates to the democratic processes that shape opinions but also one that can distress us insofar as it relates to humanity’s future. In my opinion Jürgen Habermas articulates a view, widely accepted in today’s world of ideas, in which the legitimacy of a constitution as the basis for what is legal stems from two sources: the equal participation of all citizens in the political process and reasonable conflict-resolution mechanisms in politics. Insofar as the reasonable mechanisms are concerned he notes that the issue cannot be reduced to a mere struggle for who gets more votes but must include a “process of argumentation that is responsive to truth” (wahrheitssensibles Argumentationsverfahren).
This is well said but it is something difficult to turn into political praxis. We know that the representatives of this public “process of argumentation” are for the most part political parties which shape the formation of the public will. In fact they invariably will seek a majority and will almost always take care of the interests they pledge to protect which are very often partisan and not collective interests. Responsiveness to the truth always takes the back seat to partisan interests. To me it is significant that Habermas should say that responsiveness to truth is a necessary component of political argumentation, since it reintroduces the concept of truth in philosophical and political debates.
Pilate’s question then becomes inevitable: What is truth? How do we recognise it? If we turn to “public reason” as Rawls does, another question necessarily follows: What is reasonable? How does a reason prove to be the true reason? Whatever the case may be, it is obvious that in the quest for freedom and for living together equitably groups other than parties and interest groups must be heard; although that does not mean that the latter are any less important. Let us go back to medieval universities and the way they were set up.
Along with law, philosophy and theology had their own faculty with the task of studying mankind in his totality and thus keep alive responsiveness to truth. One might even say that this is the real and enduring meaning of both faculties—they maintain responsiveness to truth and prevent man from being distracted in his quest for the truth. But how can they do this?
This is a question which we must always work at and which can never be raised and answered once and for all. Hence at this point not even I can properly give you an answer. I can though invite you to keep asking this question, one that has involved all the great thinkers who throughout history have fought for and sought out the truth, coming up with their own answers and enduring their own fears, always going beyond any one answer.
Theology and philosophy are an odd couple; neither can be totally separated from the other and yet each must keep its own purpose and identity. Compared to the answers Church Fathers formulated in their day and age, St Thomas Aquinas deserves a special place in history for highlighting the autonomy of philosophy as well as that of the law. He equally has the merit of pointing out the responsibilities that fall on reason when it questions itself on the basis of its own strengths.
Unlike neo-platonic ideas that saw religion and philosophy inseparably intertwined, the Church Fathers had presented the Christian faith as real philosophy, insisting that this faith corresponded to the needs of Reason in its quest for the truth, that is a faith that was a “Yes” to truth when compared to mythical religions that had ended up turning into mere custom. However, when universities were founded in the West those religions were no more—only Christianity existed. This meant highlighting in a new way reason’s own responsibility, one that was not absorbed by the faith.
Thomas lived at a special time. For the first time all of Aristotle’s philosophical writings were available as were the Hebrew and Arabic text that embodied and extended Greek philosophy. Thus as Christianity interacted with others and engaged their reason in a new dialogue it had to fight for its own reasonableness. The Faculty of Philosophy, i.e. the so-called artists’ faculty, was until then only a preparatory stage before moving onto theology.
Afterwards it became a faculty in its own right, an autonomous partner to theology and the faith which the latter reflected. We cannot dwell on the gripping confrontation that followed. I would say that St Thomas’ idea about the relationship between philosophy and theology can be expressed by the formula handed down by the Council of Chalcedon on Christology, namely that philosophy and theology must relate to each other “without confusion and without separation.”
“Without confusion” is understood in the sense that each will maintain its own identity so that philosophy is truly a free and responsible search for reason and aware of its own limits and thus of its own greatness and vastness. Theology must instead continue to draw from a source of knowledge that it has not invented and that is always greater than itself, and which always renews the process of thinking since it is never totally exhausted by reflection.
“Without confusion” does not stand alone for there is “without separation,” that is the idea that philosophy never starts from scratch in isolation but is part of great dialogue found in the accumulated knowledge that history has bequeathed and which it always critically but meekly accepts and develops. Yet it should not shut itself off from what religions, especially the Christian faith, have received and given to humanity as a sign for the path to follow. Indeed History has shown that many of the things that theologians have said in the course of time or that Church authorities have put in practice have been proven false and today they confuse us.
But it is equally true that the history of the saints and the history of the humanism that has developed on the basis of the Christian faith are proof of the truth of this faith in its essential core, making it something that public reason needs. Of course, much of what theology and faith say can only be appropriated from within the faith and thus cannot be seen as a need for those to whom this faith remains inaccessible.
It is true however that the message of the Christian faith is never only a "comprehensive religious doctrine" in Rawls’ terms, but that it is instead a force that purifies reason itself, further helping the latter to be itself. On the basis of its origins the Christian message should always encourage the search of the truth and thus be a force against the pressures exerted by power and interests.
Well, so far I have only talked about the university in the Middle Ages, trying however to show to what extent its nature and purpose have remained the same all along. In modern times knowledge has become more multi-faceted, especially in the two broad fields that now prevail in universities.
First of all, there are the natural sciences which have developed on the basis of experimentation and subject matters’ supposed rationality.
Secondly, there are the social sciences and the humanities in which man has tried to understand himself by looking at his own history and uncovering his own nature. From this development humanity not only acquired a great deal of knowledge and power but also an understanding and recognition of the rights and dignity of mankind.
And for this we can be grateful. But man’s journey can never be said to be over and the danger of falling into inhumanity is never just warded off as we can see in today’s history. The danger faced by the Western world, just to mention the latter, is that mankind, given its great knowledge and power, might give up on the question of the truth.
At the same time this means that reason in the end may bow to the pressures of partisan interests and instrumental value, forced to acknowledge the latter as the ultimate standard. From the point of view of the academic world this means that there is a danger that philosophy, feeling incapable of fulfilling its task, might degenerate into positivism, a danger that theology and the message it has for reason might be confined to the private sphere of a group more or less big.
If however reason, concerned about its supposed purity, fails to hear the great message that comes from the Christian faith and the understanding it brings, it will dry up like a tree with roots cut off from the water that gives it life. It will lose the courage needed to find the truth and thus become small rather than great.
Applied to our European culture this means that if it wants to constitute itself on the basis of its arguments and whatever appears to it to be convincing, with concerns about its own secular nature, it will cut itself off from its life-sustaining roots, and in doing so will not become more reasonable and pure but will instead become undone and fragmented.
And so let me go back to the initial point. What does the Pope have to do or say in a university? He certainly should not try to impose in an authoritarian manner his faith on others, which can only be freely offered. Beyond his ministry as Pastor of the Church and on the basis of the intrinsic nature of this pastoral ministry, it is his task to keep alive man’s responsiveness to the truth.
Similarly he must again and always invite reason to seek out truth, goodness and God, and on this path urge it to see the useful lights that emerged during the history of the Christian faith and perceive Jesus Christ as the light that illuminates history and helps find the way towards the future.
Copyright © 2008 Spero
Soul-searching in Italy after Pope scraps speech
Thursday, 17 January, 2008, 02:05 AM Doha Time
VATICAN CITY: University students poured yesterday into Vatican City to show support for Pope Benedict after protests over his views on science forced him to cancel a speech at Rome’s top public college.
The German Pontiff decided late on Tuesday not to deliver an address today at La Sapienza university following protests by a small but vociferous group of students and faculty members. Some had occupied part of the campus to demand he stay away.
Italians condemned the protests, saying they smacked of censorship. Politicians and pundits used words like “shame” and “humiliation” to describe national sentiment.
The Pope, with a smile, welcomed university students who showed up at his general audience. As he entered the audience hall, they shouted: “Freedom!”, in a reference to his right to free speech.
“If the Pope won’t come to La Sapienza, La Sapienza will come to the Pope,” read one banner held by students.
The vicar of Rome, Cardinal Camillo Ruini, invited Romans to show their support for the Pope by coming to St. Peter’s Square on Sunday for his weekly prayer.
He said the “sad episodes” that forced the Pope to cancel his speech “delivered a very painful blow to the whole city”.
Since being elected in 2005, the conservative Pontiff has fought what he sees as efforts to restrict the voice of the Church in the public sphere - particularly in Europe.
But his public posturing on issues ranging from abortion and gay marriage to euthanasia has led critics in Italy to accuse him of meddling in politics.
The protesters said if the Pope wanted to speak, he could do so from the Vatican. They criticised his views on science, saying a speech he gave in 1990 showed he would have favoured the Church’s 17th century heresy trial against Galileo.
Student leader Francesco Raparelli called the protests “a tremendous victory”.
But hostility toward his appearance at La Sapienza, which was founded by a Pope more than 700 years ago, outraged free speech advocates. Leading newspaper Corriere della Sera ran a front-page editorial headlined “A Defeat for the Country” and left-leaning La Repubblica called the protests against the Pope “sick”.
Italy’s President Giorgio Napolitano wrote to the Pope condemning “demonstrations of intolerance”.
The episode drew out allies of all stripes who condemned the students’ actions, ranging from Rome’s chief rabbi to outspoken Church critic Dario Fo, a Nobel Prize winning writer.
“Being secular does not mean closing your ears when someone who is religiously inspired speaks,” said Rabbi Riccardo Di Segni, who has invited the Pope to speak at his synagogue. – Reuters
Sapienza Rector to Re-invite Pope
Papal Discourse Read by Professor Gets Standing Ovation
VATICAN CITY, JAN. 17, 2008 (Zenit.org).- The rector of Rome's Sapienza University announced that he will re-invite Benedict XVI to visit the institution.Renato Guarini affirmed this after the inauguration ceremony today that was supposed to have included a lecture given by the Pope. The Vatican announced Tuesday that the visit would be postponed, due to what the Pope's secretary of state called a lack of the "prerequisites for a dignified and tranquil welcome."
A small protest that eventually reached the point of several students occupying the rector's offices motivated the Holy See to cancel the visit. The protestors called the Pope "hostile" to science and took issue with a 1990 speech by then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger on the Galileo case. The 1990 speech in its entirety showed the protestors to have taken Cardinal Ratzinger's words out of context.
Guarini said, "I will offer a new invitation to the Pope, Benedict XVI." He said the invitation would "be in accord with the desire of the majority of Sapienza's academic community."
During the inauguration ceremony, a professor read the discourse the Holy Father had prepared for the occasion. A standing ovation and students' shouts of "Long live the Pope" followed the reading.
Fabio Mussi, the Italian minister of education, and Walter Veltroni, the mayor of Rome, were present.
Protests around the university continued, since the issue has ballooned into a national debate about the roles of science and religion. Auxiliary Bishop Enzo Dieci of Rome was blocked from entering the university, thus impeding him from celebrating Mass in its chapel.
Pope didn't want 'unpleasant' protests
By FRANCES D'EMILIO, Associated Press WriterWed Jan 16, 2:38 PM ET
The pope's top aide said Wednesday that Benedict XVI's reason for canceling a visit to a Rome university was that he did not want to create a pretext for further "unpleasant" protests by professors and students opposed to the religious leader speaking at a secular campus.
Anti-pope slogans have appeared on banners and posters around buildings at La Sapienza University, where Benedict was to have spoken on Thursday.
A group of professors, mainly from the sciences, wrote to the university rector late last year to object to the pope's visit, depicting Benedict as a religious figure opposed to science. On the grounds of separating secular and non-secular, they disapproved of him speaking at a public university.
The rector had given students a designated space where they could protest during the pope's visit.
The Vatican said Tuesday that the pontiff would not go to the university because protests by students and professors had made such a visit "inopportune."
It is rare for the pope to cancel a visit, and on Wednesday, the Holy See's No. 2, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, spelled out the reasoning behind the decision.
"Since there were no longer the conditions for a dignified and calm welcome, thanks to the initiative of a decidedly minority group of professors and students, it was judged opportune to skip the planned visit to remove any pretext for demonstrations which would have ended up being unpleasant for all," said Bertone in a letter to the university rector, Renato Guarini.
Bertone also sent the rector a copy of the speech that the pope would have read, "with the hope that all can find in it reason for enriching reflection and probing."
In the speech, the pope explores the mission of popes and of universities.
As if answering the skeptics who opposed his visit, the pope wrote: "What does the pope have to do or say in the university?"
Benedict said he did not intend to "impose faith in an authoritarian way on others" but that it was his task to "maintain high the sensibility for the truth, to always invite reason to put itself anew at the service of the search for the true, the good, for God. ..."
Benedict's speech was supposed to have been one of several addresses during a ceremony to inaugurate the academic year at the university, which was founded by Pope Boniface VIII in 1303.
Wednesday, January 16, 2008
Pope's visit to university canceled
By FRANCES D'EMILIO, Associated Press WriterTue Jan 15, 6:37 PM ET
Pope Benedict XVI has canceled his visit to a Rome university following protests by secular professors and students, the Vatican said Tuesday.
Such a cancellation of a scheduled papal event is extremely rare, and the few times it has happened in recent decades, the Vatican cited security concerns. No specific reason was given in a brief Vatican announcement and Vatican spokesmen could not be reached for comment.
"It was considered opportune to skip the event," the Vatican said of Benedict's planned visit and speech Thursday at La Sapienza, a public university. Instead, the pope will send his speech to the university.
When news of the cancellation reached the campus, students in a political sciences hall broke into applause.
About 60 of the 4,500 professors at the university had signed a letter to the university rector, opposing the visit. Banners reading "Science is secular" and "No pope" have been strung from university buildings and posters plastered on walls objected to the visit. Students had announced several days of demonstrations this week. The university has 145,000 students.
On Monday, Vatican Radio had described the mobilization by students and professors at Europe's largest university as smacking of censorship.
Benedict was scheduled to deliver the speech as part of a ceremony to inaugurate the academic year at the university, which was founded by Pope Boniface VIII in 1303.
The theme for the school ceremony is efforts to abolish the death penalty worldwide, a cause close to the Vatican's interests. The topic of the pope's speech was not revealed.
University rector Renato Guarini expressed "regret" but said he respected the pope's decision.
Italian Premier Romano Prodi urged the pontiff to change his mind. "No voice must go silent in our country, let alone that of the pope," Prodi said in a statement.
The politically influential Italian bishops conference said Benedict was the object of "antidemocratic intolerance."
Interior Minister Giuliano Amato ruled out security concerns as the reason for cancellation.
This, in my opinion, is infuriating. Sixty signatures out of 4500 professors. How could such a squeek become such a roar?? The speech, seemingly, wasn't even going to be on the topic of any science. I can only wonder what really pushed this to occur. I don't think a protest would have led Holy Father to cancel. He's dealt with harsher stuff than student protests.
Monday, January 14, 2008
Protest ahead of Pope's lecture at Rome university
Some professors and students are protesting against plans for Pope Benedict to address Rome's most prestigious university, saying a speech he made nearly two decades ago showed he had reactionary views on science.
The German-born Pope is due to speak at La Sapienza on Thursday at a ceremony opening the 2008 academic year. The inaugural event's theme is the death penalty, which the Vatican and the Italian state want abolished globally.
But more than 60 professors have written a letter saying the invitation should be withdrawn because the Pope's views "offend and humiliate us."
They pointed to a speech he made in 1990, saying it showed he favored the Church's heresy trial against Galileo in 1633 for teaching that the Earth revolved around the sun.
That clashed with the Bible, which read: "God fixed the earth upon its foundation, not to be moved forever."
The Pope's supporters say the speech by the pontiff, then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, only quoted an Austrian philosopher saying the Galileo trial was "rational and just" and did not reflect his own views.
"He expressed a different position, distancing himself from that belief and absolutely not adopting it as his own," wrote conservative newspaper Il Giornale, after republishing a transcript of the speech.
Still, some students have seized upon the controversy to launch protests against the Church, with one group declaring an "anti-clerical" week, and preparing protest banners.
"There have been a few protests and moves (at La Sapienza) with tones of censorship," lamented Vatican Radio on its website: www.radiovaticana.org.
The protest has put La Sapienza's chancellor on the defensive, and prompted a genetics professor to come out on Vatican radio on Monday to denounce the "shameful" protests.
"I would invite him a hundred times," Renato Guarini, the chancellor of La Sapienza, told Italian state television.
La Sapienza was founded by a pope in 1303, and Guarini noted that this would hardly be the first time a pontiff has addressed an Italian university.
Benedict's supporters have noted that the Galileo controversy itself was long over. The late Pope John Paul II acknowledged in 1992 the Church was wrong to have condemned the revolutionary Italian scientist.
The controversy has added to a fierce debate about the power of the Catholic Church in Italy, which even divides the Catholics-to-Communist coalition government.
(Writing by Phil Stewart)
Pope Benedict celebrated parts of Sunday's Mass with his back turned on the congregation, reintroducing an old ritual that was phased out decades ago.
The Pope used the Sistine Chapel's ancient altar, set right against the wall under Michelangelo's dramatic depiction of the Last Judgment, instead of a mobile altar which allowed his predecessor, John Paul II, to face the congregation.
A statement by the Vatican's office for liturgical celebrations said it had been decided to use the old altar, where ballots are placed during papal elections, to respect "the beauty and the harmony of this architectural jewel".
That meant that for the first time in this kind of celebration since the Second Vatican Council, between 1962 and 1965, the Pope occasionally turned his back on the faithful and faced the Cross.
The pontiff is slowly reintroducing some of the rituals phased out after Vatican II, which modernised the Church and ordered that local languages be used instead of Latin.
In another nod to traditionalists, he has said he would like the centuries-old Gregorian chant to be more widely used.
During the Mass, the Pope also baptised 13 babies, pouring water on their heads from a golden shell.
There was a brief panic when the pontiff realised that he had lost his papal ring, which an aide found near the altar.
Thursday, January 03, 2008
By NICOLE WINFIELD, Associated Press Writer Thu Jan 3,
VATICAN CITY - The Vatican has begun drafting a document to elaborate on Pope Benedict XVI's recent liberalization of the old Latin Mass because some bishops are either ignoring his move or misinterpreting it, Vatican officials said.
The Vatican's No. 2, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, said in comments published Thursday that the Vatican would be issuing an "instruction" on how to put the pope's document into practice, since there had been what he called some "uneven" reactions to it since it went into effect last year.
The document Benedict issued in July removed restrictions on celebrating the so-called Tridentine Mass, the rite celebrated in Latin before the liberalizing reforms of the Second Vatican Council in the 1960s paved the way for the new Mass used widely today in local languages.
Following the 1960s reform, the Tridentine rite could only be celebrated with permission from local bishops — an obstacle that supporters of the old rite said had greatly reduced its availability.
In a gesture to such traditional Catholics, Benedict removed that requirement in his document, saying parish priests could celebrate the Tridentine Mass if a "stable group of faithful" requested it.
Implementation, however, has been uneven, with some bishops issuing rules that "practically annul or twist the intention of the pope," Monsignor Albert Malcolm Ranjith, secretary of the Vatican's Congregation for the Divine Cult and Discipline of Sacraments, said recently, according to the Vatican's missionary news agency FIDES.
Such reactions amounted to a "crisis of obedience" toward the pontiff, he was quoted as saying, although he stressed that most bishops and other prelates had accepted the pope's will "with the required sense of reverence and obedience."
Bertone, the Vatican's secretary of state, said the upcoming instruction would lay out criteria for the pope's document to be correctly applied, according to an interview published Thursday in the Italian religious affairs weekly Famiglia Cristiana. He gave no date for its publication.
He complained that reactions to the pontiff's document had been uneven.
"Some have even gone so far as to accuse the pope of having reneged on Council teaching," Bertone was quoted as saying. "On the other hand, there are those who have interpreted the (document) as authorization to return exclusively to the pre-Council rite. Both positions are wrong, and are exaggerated episodes that don't correspond to the pope's intention."
Despite such incidents, the Rev. John T. Zuhlsdorf, who runs a blog that has charted implementation of the pope's document, said he had seen growth in both interest in and celebrations of the older form of the Mass.
"In some dioceses in the United States, bishops have been stepping up to the plate and not only learning the older form, but celebrating it themselves," he said in an e-mail. "Younger priests are attending workshops. Several seminaries are offering training for their priesthood candidates."
Even before the pope's document was released, liberal-minded Catholics had complained that Benedict's move amounted to a negation of Vatican II, and some bishops and cardinals publicly warned that its implementation would create a rupture in the church.
Jewish groups also complained because the old rite contains a Good Friday prayer for the conversion of Jews. Bertone has said the issue could be resolved and that the church in no way intended to go against its spirit of reconciling with Jews.
Benedict's document was also a bid to reach out to the followers of an excommunicated traditionalist, the late Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, who split with the Vatican over Council reforms, notably the introduction of the new Mass.
In his New Year message to millions of Catholics worldwide on Tuesday, Pope Benedict reaffirmed the status of the family as one of the most important foundations for peace in the world.
The Pope expressed his support for the family in a midmorning mass on January 1, traditionally celebrated within the Catholic Church as World Day of Peace. He later appeared at his window to wave to thousands of believers in St Peter’s Square.
"The family is the first and indispensable teacher of peace," he told the crowds.
Although the Pope stopped short of naming specific policies, he criticised political moves in a number of countries to undermine the traditional family.
The UK is among the countries that have introduced legislation conferring legal rights upon same-sex and unmarried couples in recent years.
Pope Benedict said in his New Year prayer for peace that the family was an “irreplaceable” institution and that undermining the traditional family headed by a husband and wife would undermine peace.
“Whoever, even unknowingly, circumvents the institution of the family undermines peace in the entire community,” he said.
"Everything that serves to weaken the family based on the marriage of a man and a woman... constitutes an objective obstacle on the road to peace.”
Thousands turned out for a pro-family rally in the largely Catholic Spain on Sunday, during which the Pope defended the family in an address via videolink.
He said: "Founded in the indissoluble union between man and woman, it is the place in which human life is sheltered and protected from its beginning until its natural end.”
Wednesday, January 02, 2008
MORE THOUGHTS ON CLIMATE CHANGE
INTERVENTION BY THE HOLY SEE
AT THE "HIGH-LEVEL EVENT ON CLIMATE CHANGE
ENTITLED "THE FUTURE IS IN OUR HANDS:
ADDRESSING THE LEADERSHIP CHALLENGE OF CLIMATE CHANGE"
ADDRESS OF MSGR. PIETRO PAROLIN
Monday, 24 September 2007
Thank you for giving me the opportunity to express some considerations of the Holy See in light of what we have heard today from the preceding distinguished speakers.
Climate change is a serious concern and an inescapable responsibility for scientists and other experts, political and governmental leaders, local administrators and international organizations, as well as every sector of human society and each human person. My delegation wishes to stress the underlying moral imperative that all, without exception, have a grave responsibility to protect the environment.
Beyond the various reactions to and interpretations of the reports of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the best scientific assessments available have established a link between human activity and climate change. However, the results of these scientific assessments, and the remaining uncertainties, should neither be exaggerated nor minimized in the name of politics, ideologies or self-interest. Rather they now need to be studied closely in order to give a sound basis for raising awareness and making effective policy decisions.
In recent times, it has been unsettling to note how some commentators have said that we should actually exploit our world to the full, with little or no heed to the consequences, using a world view supposedly based on faith. We strongly believe that this is a fundamentally reckless approach. At the other extreme, there are those who hold up the earth as the only good, and would characterize humanity as an irredeemable threat to the earth, whose population and activity need to be controlled by various drastic means. We strongly believe that such assertions would place human beings and their needs at the service of an inhuman ecology. I have highlighted these two extreme positions to make my point, but similar, though less extreme attitudes, would also clearly impede any sound global attempts to promote mitigation, adaptation, resilience and the safeguarding of our common future.
Since no country alone can solve the problems related to our common environment, we need to overcome self-interest through collective action. On the part of the international community, this presupposes the adoption of a coordinated, effective and prompt international political strategy capable of responding to such a complex question. It would identify ways and means of mitigation and adaptation which are economically accessible to most, enhance sustainable development and foster a healthy environment. The economic aspect of such ways and means should be seriously taken into account, considering that poor nations and sectors of society are particularly vulnerable to the adverse consequences of climate change, due to lesser resources and capacity to mitigate their effects and adapt to altered surroundings.
It is foreseeable that programmes of mitigation and adaptation would meet a series of barriers and obstacles, not so much of a technological nature, but more so of a social nature, such as consumer behaviour and preferences, and of a political nature, like government policies. We must look at education, especially among the young, to change inbred, selfish attitudes towards consumption and exploitation of natural resources. Likewise, government policies giving economic incentives and financial breaks for more environmentally friendly technologies will give the private sector the positive signal they need to programme their product development in such direction. For instance, present-day research into energy mixes and improving energy efficiency would be made more attractive if accompanied by public funding and other financial incentives.
We often hear in the halls of the United Nations of "the responsibility to protect". The Holy See believes that applies also in the context of climate change. States have a shared "responsibility to protect" the world’s climate through mitigation/adaptation, and above all a shared "responsibility to protect" our planet and ensure that present and future generations be able to live in a healthy and safe environment.
The pace of achieving and codifying a new international consensus on climate change is not always matched by an equally expeditious and effective pace of implementation of such agreements. States are free to adopt international conventions and treaties, but unless our words are matched with effective action and accountability, we would do little to avert a bleak future and may find ourselves gathering again not too long from now to lament another collective failure. We sincerely hope that States will seize the opportunity that will be presented to them shortly at the next Conference on the Framework Convention on Climate Change in Bali.Thank you, Mr. Chairman