Sunday, May 31, 2009

Opinion piece - Alberto Cutié

I have been following, with growing dismay, the story of Fr. Albert Cutié of Miami, Florida. In brief – he was a very public and popular Roman Catholic priest who lived a secret life with a woman now pregnant by him. In a matter of just a very few days, he broke from his vows of priesthood and joined the Episcopal church where he will no doubt eventually marry and perhaps regain a measure of his public life as an activist and now Episcopal priest.

These few words cannot begin to explain the pain this has caused so many. He has broken marriage vows as surely as anyone who has broken faith with a spouse. And, being a priest, whether right or not, he is held to a higher standard. We weak humans are expected to fall and pick ourselves up again. Clerics of any stripe, because of their vows and their position of moral authority, can’t avoid this higher standard. When they fall, they fall harder and usually leave a lot of damage in their wake.

Non-Catholics don’t necessarily understand that taking priestly vows is a sacrament no different from marriage. To receive a dispensation from vows is no easy process and nor should it be. The process of pursuing an annulment of marriage vows or a dispensation from priestly vows is a process imposed to encourage deep and meaningful reflection. This discernment is meant to get us to the why and the truth that underlies our actions. Fr. Cutié’s actions have circumvented this process. He has “. . . separated himself from communion with the Roman Catholic Church by professing erroneous faith and morals, and refusing submission to the Holy Father” (attribution to John C. Favalora, Archbishop of Miami). By his own actions, he has removed himself from any licit sacramental activities within the Church. He may continue to say Mass but it will not be a valid Mass that meets the Roman Catholic’s duty of weekly Mass attendance. He also cannot licitly officiate at any Roman Catholic marriage ceremony.

Like the Biblical reference of faith and works and how one cannot stand without the other, Fr. Cutié’s good works can in no way justify his actions when he turns his back on his vows and abandons his spiritual connection to his parishioners and to his followers. Like a betrayed spouse, most of them probably did not see it coming. "He has caused grave scandal to the Church, caused great harm to the diocese and priests of Miami and has led to division within the ecumenical community and the community at large" (Favalora) . But most grievous, in my opinion, is that he has caused great harm and confusion to his parishioners and followers and has no doubt taken some of them with him in his defection.

So what should Fr. Cutié have done that would have avoided the very public scandal he has created? I can only believe, at this point, that long ago, despite his own self-absolving words, Fr. Cutié became a victim of his own position and power to influence. Once that happened, once he fell into the sin of great pride, he became blinded to the darkness that lay beneath all the alluring temptations that followed. In addition, once he fell into a romantic relationship, he should have heeded the klaxon of warning bells and gone to see his Bishop. Sadly, it took two more years and a pregnancy to accomplish would ethical behavior could not.

Cutié did finally meet with his Bishop early in May to ask for a leave of absence from the exercise of the priesthood, which was granted. There was no public imposition of ecclasiacal penalty and Fr. Cutié’s private road to discernment would have started there. Scandal would have been avoided. Any final decision would have left him free to live a secular life and one of grace as well.

But he chose not to do that. His pride made it impossible for him to be patient and pursue his dark night of the soul privately. He had a public position he did not want to lose. He had a woman and child in waiting. And, he had another church waiting with publicly opened arms to receive him. And, about THAT.

It is no secret, thanks to the media, that many Episcopal priests, married and not, for doctrinal reasons have joined the Roman Catholic Church and sought ordination. It has always been the Church’s policy to not cause scandal for itself or others. Therefore, these defections have not been publicly discussed. It is then, all the more galling that the Episcopal Archdiocese of Miami did not afford the Catholic community of Miami the same courtesy and respect. Their very public acceptance of Fr. Cutié into their membership is a public slap that will set back ecumenical cooperation for years to come in that region.

My personal belief is that long after Fr. Cutié is gone and out of the spotlight that he loved more than he loved God, there will be good people, clerical and secular, in Miami who will continue to accomplish good works and with great faith. The spiritual brain of Miami will rewire itself and heal itself. The greatest gift we can give these workers in the fields of the Lord is prayerful support. And while we are at it, we must not forget that great Parable of the Prodigal Son and with forgiveness and mercy, also pray for Alberto Cutié’s salvation and return home.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Some things just scream to be read. This is one of them.

Pope of your dreams
Max Lindeman - Phoenix Catholic Examiner

My right-leaning Protestant friends have just about had it with Pope Benedict. As though mourning a son who's dropped out of firefighting school, they wail that he showed such promise early on, when he declared homosexuality to be intrinsically disordered. Sure, he was always a little soft on the Mexicans, they admit, but they were prepared to give him a pass. Being a foreigner himself, he probably didn't know any better. But ever since he failed to dispatch the Swiss Guard to drive President Obama from the Notre Dame podium, he's been out of their prayers for good.

That's right: the same people who long ago dismissed John McCain as a RINO, or Republican In Name Only, are prepared to write off His Holiness as a SPINO, a Supreme Pontiff In Name Only.
"They should have picked that other black guy," one friend told me, referring to Nigerian-born Francis Cardinal Arinze, a papabile at the 2005 conclave. "He could have gone all Larry Elder on him."

It may come as a surprise that non-Catholics should ever have invested such high hopes in any pope, but some have done just that. Thanks to his stances against abortion and Communism, John Paul II won a great many fans among the American Right. With his own reputation as a doctrinal hardliner, Benedict inherited that good will without contest. Baptists and non-denominational Christians may have rejected them both as Christ's vicar on earth, but they accepted them as spokesmen for the cause, a pair of Rush Limbaughs in slippers.

But now these new fans feel betrayed. They haven't left the papacy; the papacy has left them. It's easy to understand their frustration. For anyone who came by his ideas of leadership observing American politicians and pundits, the pope's role and style must look pretty strange. In the name of inter-denominational understanding, I've prepared this quick primer on papal protocol. Hopefully, it will placate Benedict's critics to the point where they'll call off the hunt for his birth certificate.

Popes don't do snark
Oh, they can, all right. When serving as papal nuncio in France, the future Pope John XXIII once remarked that whenever a woman showed cleavage at an important ecclesiastical function, people looked not at her, but at him, to gauge his reaction. But few have used snark as a rhetorical weapon of first resort. When Stalin sneered, "How many divisions does the pope have?" Pius XII could have sneered back, "Being pope is just like being general secretary of the Communist Party -- except a pope has real responsibilities!" Only he didn't.

Popes don't make personal enemies
Actually, this rule emerged only after a long, grinding process of trial and error. Certain popes have jumped at the chance to go bare-knuckle with anyone -- layman or cleric, living or dead -- who got on their nerves. Sometimes it went well, as when John I of England tapped out against Innocent III, and became a papal vassal. Sometimes it went badly, as when Holy Roman Emperor Henry IV, having completed his penance at Canossa, raised an army to depose Gregory VII, the pope who had assigned it to him. But after Garibaldi's troops captured Rome and annexed the Papal States, the fix was in: future popes would have to be kinder and gentler than their predecessors, whether they liked it or not.

For popes, a little flip-flopping is a good thing
In January of this year, Pope Benedict lifted a twenty-year-old excommunication ban on four conservative clerics who had been ordained bishops without Vatican permission. Great, the world thought. Nothing like a big tent. Then it emerged that one of the bishops, British-born Nelson Williamson, a man of great faith but apparently very little reason, denied both that the Nazis had gassed Jews during World War Two, and that Muslims had attacked the Twin Towers on 9/11. Following protests from the German, Austrian and Israeli governments, the pope announced he would not permit Williamson to assume his episcopal responsibilities until he repudiated his controversial views. The about-face went over well, with no talk of Benedict alienating the base for the sake of the Euroweenies, or of Williamson ending up under the bus.

Popes can lack the common touch
This point can be overstated. If the Pew Research Institute ever bothered to poll Catholics on such things, we'd probably learn that John Paul II's guitar playing boosted his numbers, just as John XXIII's country-boy roots boosted his. But deep down, all Catholics are elitists. We understand that our leaders will have attended school for at least twenty years, speak four or more languages (including a couple of dead ones), and appear publicly in gold-embroidered dresses. If they spend their spare time chopping down the trees around Castel Gandolfo, great.
If not, we love them anyway.

Really, I get it. The desire to see one's own tastes and values reflected in high places is natural. Each of has a pope of his dreams. Mine would beatify Mickey Mantle, or at least Thurman Munson. To those whose ideal pontiff would tell the crowds at St. Peter's to go in peace and watch Gran Torino, I say, pray on it. And have someone check the voting machines at the next conclave.

Pave The Way Foundation Praises Pope

Says Criticism Comes From Groups With "Opposing Agendas"
NEW YORK, MAY 20, 2009 (
An organization that promotes interreligious dialogue is praising Benedict XVI for the "courage and strength" he demonstrated during his trip to the Holy Land earlier this month.
Gary Krupp, president of the he New York-based Pave the Way Foundation, sent a letter to the Pope this week in which he expressed his "sincere and heartfelt gratitude [...] for initiating and completing your most successful pilgrimage to the Holy Land."

The president, himself a Jew, lamented much of the criticism that was aimed at the Pontiff, explaining that it came from people or institutions "with opposing agendas."

"In a region separated by political, religious and cultural differences, walking a thin line to carry the message of God's peace to all who seek it requires enormous courage and strength," said Krupp.

"It is only those who try to walk in everyone's shoes that succeed in truly understanding the needs, the fears, and who can empathize with the pain of all of the people in the region," he said.

"Unfortunately, there are those with opposing agendas who are quick to criticize and undermine your valiant efforts in the name of peace. Mindful of this, please gain strength from the voices of those who spoke to you in song upon your arrival in Israel, and from the appreciation of those who see through the critics and the hostility and negativity of some commentators."

Krupp added, "May God grant you the strength to continue your pontificate for many years to come, and rich blessings of success in your endeavor to bring God's peace to our troubled world."

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

THANK you, Rabbi Bergman

Rabbi Aaron Bergman: Faith and Policy
Pope disappoints by being honest to Middle East foes

A phrase that I always hated as a kid and like even less now is "Wait until your father gets home." It implied that a parent was a potentially threatening figure. It causes the parent to feel unnecessarily authoritarian. And it creates pressure to fix relationships or situations that may not be fixable, causing disappointment and resentment.

Pope Benedict XVI was placed in one of those "Wait until your father gets home" moments when he recently visited the Middle East. It was a no-win situation for the pope -- a title that means father -- but he did better than most could have expected given the volatility of the region and the impossible expectations placed upon him.

Pope Benedict had two challenges. He is primarily an academic by vocation, one of the church's great scholars and theoreticians. Academics, though, tend not to be great diplomats, nor do they tend to inspire great passion. They are measured and careful with their words, and see many sides of an issue.

Benedict's other challenges is that he is the successor to Pope John Paul II, one of the most beloved popes in history by Catholics and non-Catholics alike. John Paul was one of the bravest religious leaders of the 20th century. He became pope at a much younger age than Benedict, showed vigor uncommon in most clerics and a true papa.

So Benedict was guaranteed to leave everyone unsatisfied.

I actually take this as an accomplishment. Every side in the Middle East said Benedict took someone else's side, not theirs. This speaks to Benedict's honesty. He could have been a hero by pandering to a particular audience. Instead, he chose a much more difficult path.

Everyone was waiting to hear key phrases or terms, and were angered when they did not hear them. If you read the transcripts of the pope's comments on the Vatican Web site, you will be surprised by his depth of thought and passion.

I will only speak for my own community, some of whom feel Benedict did not emphasize the bond between the Jewish community and the church as much as they remember John Paul II doing. Here are Benedict's words to the chief rabbis of Israel:

"Today I have the opportunity to repeat that the Catholic Church is irrevocably committed to the path chosen at the Second Vatican Council for a genuine and lasting reconciliation between Christians and Jews. As the 'Declaration Nostra Aetate' makes clear, the church continues to value the spiritual patrimony common to Christians and Jews and desires an ever deeper mutual understanding and respect through biblical and theological studies as well as fraternal dialogues."

This is actually as clear a statement as one could ask for.

I hope Pope Benedict always feels at home at the birthplace of the church as he does at the Vatican, and that his next visit is to a region of peace and fellowship, not a place that is "waiting for father to get home."

Rabbi Aaron Bergman is rabbi of Adat Shalom Synagogue in Farmington Hills. E-mail comments to

Monday, May 18, 2009

Oh PUL-EEZE, Carla. You let your faith lapse LONG before Holy Father's trip.

Carla Bruni has issued a scathing attack on Pope Benedict XVI saying that she has allowed her Catholic faith to lapse because of his approach to contraception in Africa.

By Henry Samuel in Paris
Last Updated: 6:26PM BST 18 May 2009

Carla Bruni has criticised Catholic teachings Photo: AFP
France's First Lady said that the Church's teachings had left her feeling "profoundly secular".

She departed from her post's traditional religious neutrality to accuse the Pope of "damaging" countries like Africa with his stance on birth control.

The Italian-born former supermodel risked angering believers in France and beyond by declaring that the Pontiff's proclamations showed that the Church needed to "evolve".

In March, the Pope sparked controversy while on an Africa tour by saying that the AIDs pandemic which has crippled the continent "can't be resolved with the distribution of condoms; on the contrary, there is the risk of increasing the problem".

Mrs Bruni-Sarkozy said: "I was born Catholic, I was baptised, but in my life I feel profoundly secular.

"I find that the controversy coming from the Pope's message – albeit distorted by the media – is very damaging.

"In Africa it's often Church people who look after sick people. It's astonishing to see the difference between the theory and the reality.

"I think the Church should evolve on this issue. It presents the condom as a contraceptive which, incidentally, it forbids, although it is the only existing protection," she told Femme Actuelle, the women's magazine.

The comments will cause Mr Sarkozy embarrassment in a country where, despite the separation of Church and State, a majority of the population was born Catholic.

André Roux, a constitutional historian said: "It's unprecedented for a first lady to criticise the Pope. Charles de Gaulle's wife was very Catholic and would never had taken up position, remaining very discreet. The same was true of Bernadette Chirac, who never gave her opinion on religion or international affairs.

"Even Danielle Mitterrand, the wife of François Mitterrand who was not a believer and aired her political views, never attacked the Pope.

"In my view, there is a certain obligation to keep counsel when one is the wife of a head of state, such comments are not opportune. Given her public position the effects of her comments risk carrying more weight than just the personal views of Carla Bruni."

Mr Sarkozy wrote in a 2005 book The Republic, Religions and Hope: "I acknowledge myself as a member of the Catholic Church", even if his religious practice was "periodic".

When he visited the Pope in Rome shortly after his election in 2007, he left his then girlfriend Miss Bruni – a single, unmarried mother – in Paris to avoid embarrassment.

After becoming Mr Sarkozy's third wife last year Mrs Bruni-Sarkozy has campaigned against the spread of Aids in Africa. The Pope's stance against the use of contraceptives in Africa was roundly criticised in France – including by many Catholics. Some 43 per cent of them wanted the Pontiff to step down, according to one poll.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Criticizing Pope Benedict's Yad Vashem speech misses the point
By Anna Ekstrom

These are strange, almost Kafkaesque times in Europe: Many find it more offensive to call someone an anti-Semite than to act like one and the Shoah has been drafted as a tool of anti-Semitic conspiracy theorists. Iranian President Ahmadinejad's latest Hitlerian speech got semi-positive reviews in parts of European mainstream press, some of which said he was "sort of right."

A critical mind is one of the most important assets for moral and physical survival - but there are times when one's verbal battles must be chosen with more than usual care. This is certainly true of the pope, whose words in the Holy Land are being scrutinized under a microscope, much

The pontiff's speech at Yad Vashem on Monday was philosophical. It is true that he did not make apologies for historic crimes in his speech. But he did something else, something urgent: He reminded the world that anti-Semitism is still rearing its ugly head, and he committed the Catholic Church to combating it worldwide - today and tomorrow.

In his speech, Benedict departed from the notion or concept of the name. In Latin, "nomen" means both 'name' and 'word of substance.' According to the Bible, the word preceded matter. The Book of Genesis describes God as a creative author. And the name was so important that Adam's first task as keeper of Eden was to name the creatures. Faith aside, this imagery is pertinent. We know what results from the reverse of naming. The boy in Imre Kertesz's novel "Man Without a Fate" was defined by others as a Jew.

Before then he had been a human being, an individual with a name. The drowning of the person within the collective was, and still is, a prerequisite for the reification of the human being. Once that is achieved, one ugly connotation after another can easily be linked to the word that labels a mass of nameless entities. Soon enough, you find yourself incapable of recalling that "number so-and-so" was once your neighbor Miriam.

The late pope John Paul II also understood the importance of the name, and lifted individuals out of anonymity. Among them was Edith Zierer, whom he had helped when his name was still Karol Jozef Wojtyla and he was a young priest in Poland. They reunited when he visited Yad Vashem in 2000. The young Joseph Ratzinger had quite another wartime youth experience, and he lacks his predecessor's direct link between heart and speech.

But Benedict made some noteworthy clarifications during his Middle East visit. In Jordan, he said that religion, like science, can be perverted for political purposes. The distinction is interesting. Most certainly those hungry for power are opportunistic in their choice of ideological justification; the fact that Nazism used biological theory neither means that Nazism is right nor that biology is to be condemned.

Knowledge, Benedict said, can broaden the mind and lead to tolerance when it is united with faith. The academic attitude is not uncontroversial and it is certainly no guarantee for moral action. Nobel laureate Elie Wiesel even said that it was not the scholars who tried to help his family - it was their illiterate housekeeper.

The Bishop of Rome does seem to have chosen the road of reason over that of the heart. But it would be hard to claim that he is not making a supreme effort to explore it for heart-felt causes: to promote peace within and between human beings, and to purify the meaning of vital words such as human, freedom and rights

Friday, May 08, 2009

Pope expresses respect for Islam in Jordan
By VICTOR L. SIMPSON, Associated Press Writer Victor L. Simpson, Associated Press Writer

AMMAN, Jordan – Pope Benedict XVI expressed deep respect for Islam Friday and said he hopes the Catholic Church can play a role in Mideast peace as he began his first trip to the region, where he hopes to improve frayed ties with Muslims.

The pope was met at the airport by Jordan's King Abdullah and praised the moderate Arab country as a leader in efforts to promote peace in the region and dialogue between Christians and Muslims.

The pope rankled many in the Muslim world with a 2006 speech in which he quoted a Medieval text that characterized some of the Prophet Muhammad's teachings as "evil and inhuman," particularly "his command to spread by the sword the faith."

The pope has already said he was "deeply sorry" over the reaction to his speech and that the passage he quoted did not reflect his own opinion.

"My visit to Jordan gives me a welcome opportunity to speak of my deep respect for the Muslim community, and to pay tribute to the leadership shown by his majesty the king in promoting a better understanding of the virtues proclaimed by Islam," Benedict said shortly after landing in Amman.

But his past comments continue to fuel criticism by some Muslims.

Jordan's hard-line Muslim Brotherhood said Friday before the pope arrived that its members would boycott his visit because he did not issue a public apology ahead of time as they demanded.

Brotherhood spokesman Jamil Abu-Bakr said the absence of a public apology meant "obstacles and boundaries will remain and will overshadow any possible understanding between the pope and the Muslim world."

The Brotherhood is Jordan's largest opposition group. Although it commands a small bloc in parliament, it wields considerable sway, especially among poor Jordanians.

Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi said the Vatican has made all possible clarifications, telling Associated Press Television News that "we cannot continue until the end of the world to repeat the same clarifications."

Despite the controversy, Benedict expressed hope his visit and the power of the Catholic church could help further peace efforts between Israelis and Palestinians.

"We are not a political power but a spiritual power that can contribute," Benedict told reporters on the plane before he landed in Amman.

The pope will also visit Israel and the Palestinian territories during his weeklong tour.

Jordan's king praised the pope and said the world must reject "ambitious ideologies of division."
"We welcome your commitment to dispel the misconceptions and divisions that have harmed relations between Christians and Muslims," said Abdullah.

The pope was also met at the airport by diplomats and Muslim and Christian leaders. A Jordanian army band equipped with bagpipes and drums played the Vatican and Jordanian national anthems before the pope and the king inspected the honor guard.

Abdullah Abdul-Qader, a cleric at Amman's oldest mosque, told worshippers during Friday prayers to welcome the pope's visit.

"I urge you to show respect for your fellow Christians as they receive their church leader," said Abdul-Qader at the Al-Husseini mosque.

Christians make up 3 percent of Jordan's 5.8 million people.

Benedict's three-day stay in Jordan is his first visit to an Arab country as pope. During his time in the country, Benedict is scheduled to meet with Muslim religious leaders at Amman's largest mosque — his second visit to a Muslim place of worship since becoming pope in 2005. He prayed in Istanbul's famed Blue Mosque, a gesture that helped calm the outcry over his remarks.

The pope is also expected to meet Iraqi Christians driven from their homeland by violence. About 40 young Iraqi refugees crowded into a tiny Catholic church in Amman on Friday, nervously practicing their last lesson before Benedict administers their first communion on Sunday.

"I really want to meet the pope," said Cecile Adam, an 11-year-old whose family fled Baghdad. "I think he can do something to help Iraq because Jesus gave him a good position and Jesus wants us to be happy."

Associated Press Writers Jamal Halaby and Dale Gavlak contributed to this report.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Jordan King Breaking Precedent to Greet Pope

The king of Jordan plans to break protocol this Friday when he receives Benedict XVI.

Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, director of the Vatican press office, gave a briefing Monday on the Pope's upcoming weeklong Holy Land pilgrimage.

The spokesman noted that King Abdallah II will welcome the Pontiff at the airport where he is scheduled to arrive at 2:30 p.m.. And in a particularly unusual gesture, he and Queen Rania will again accompany the Holy Father to the airport when he leaves on Monday.

Father Lombardi contended that this king is offering a noteworthy contribution to interreligious dialogue through various initiatives. He pointed to his Amman Message, encouraging the Islamic world to leave aside extremism, and the Amman Interfaith Message, directed primarily to Christians and Jews and inviting the promotion of peace and values shared among the religions.

The Vatican spokesman further noted that one of King Abdallah's advisors is Ghazi bin Muhammad, who coordinated the initiative from 138 Muslim scholars who responded to 2006 attacks against the Pope following his address in Regensburg.

It was this group who wrote "A Common Word," which eventually led to the formation of the Catholic-Muslim Forum in Rome.

Saturday, May 02, 2009

Atheism has led to some of the “greatest forms of cruelty and violations of justice” known to mankind, the Pope said yesterday.
Richard Owen in Rome

Atheism has led to some of the “greatest forms of cruelty and violations of justice” known to mankind, the Pope said yesterday.

He also said that humanity would not be saved by scientific progress or political revolution, but only in the hope offered by Christianity.

“A world which has to create its own justice is a world without hope,” he said in an encyclical released yesterday, the most authoritative statement a Pope can issue to the faithful and the second of his pontificate.

In Spe Salvi (Saved by Hope), Pope Benedict said that atheists argued that “a world marked by so much injustice, innocent suffering and cynicism of power cannot be the work of a good God”. Since there was “no God to create justice”, atheists said, Man himself was called on to establish it on Earth. This protest against God was understandable, the Pope said, but “the claim that humanity can and must do what no God actually does or is able to do is both presumptuous and intrinsically false”.

He added: “It is no accident that this idea has led to the greatest forms of cruelty and violations of justice: rather it is grounded in the intrinsic falsity of the claim. A world which has to create its own justice is a world without hope.”

He said that faith in progress through science was illusory. Scientific advances offered mankind “new possibilities for good”, he said, but science also “opens up appalling possibilities for evil, possibilities that did not formerly exist. We have all witnessed the way in which progress, in the wrong hands, can become and has indeed become a terrifying progress in evil”.

He also said that Christianity itself had ignored Christ’s message that true Christian hope involves salvation for all, focusing instead on individual salvation. “We must do all we can to overcome suffering, but to banish it from the world is not in our power,” the Pope wrote. “Only God is able to do this.”

In the 76-page document, peppered with scholarly and theological references but written in a clear, limpid style, Benedict argued that the modern world was shaped by the French Revolution of 1789 and the Russian Revolution of 1917, the latter inspired by the ideas of Karl Marx.
He praised Marx’s “acute analysis” and “precision” in describing his times. But Marx’s “fundamental error” was that he “showed precisely how to overthrow the existing order but did not say how matters should proceed thereafter”. Marxism, the Pope wrote, had left behind “a trail of appalling destruction” because it failed to realise that Man could not be “merely the product of economic conditions”.

Cardinal Albert Vanhoye, the Vatican biblical scholar who presented the document, said that it was addressed not only to Catholics but also to Protestants, Orthodox Christians and nonChristians. The Pope, who has shown increasing concern over global warming and other green issues, said that “Christian hope” also meant protecting the planet.

“We can free our life and the world from the poisons and contaminations that could destroy the present and the future. We can uncover the sources of Creation and keep them unsullied, and in this way we can make a right use of creation, which comes to us as a gift,” he said.

The Pope said that many people reject faith today, “simply because they do not find the prospect of eternal life attractive. What they desire is not eternal life at all, but this present life, for which faith in eternal life seems something of an impediment. To continue living forever – endlessly – appears more like a curse than a gift”. But he concluded that Eternity was “not an unending succession of days in the calendar” but an encounter with Christ after death which is “like plunging into an ocean of infinite love, a moment in which time, the before and after, no longer exists”.