Thursday, September 16, 2010
Wednesday, September 08, 2010
Friday, September 03, 2010
Sunday, June 06, 2010
NICOSIA, Cyprus – The Vatican said Sunday that the international community is ignoring the plight of Christians in the Middle East, and that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the war in Iraq and political instability in Lebanon have forced thousands to flee the region.
A working paper released during Pope Benedict XVI's pilgrimage to Cyprus to prepare for a crisis summit of Middle East bishops in Rome in October also cites the "extremist current" unleashed by the rise of "political Islam" as a threat to Christians.
The paper said that the line between religion and politics is blurred in Muslim countries, "relegating Christians to the precarious position of being considered non-citizens, despite the fact that they were citizens of their countries long before the rise of Islam."
"The key to harmonious living between Christians and Muslims is to recognize religious freedom and human rights," it said.
In his final Mass in Cyprus on Sunday, Benedict said he was praying that the October meeting will focus the attention of the international community "on the plight of those Christians in the Middle East who suffer for their beliefs."
He appealed for an "urgent and concerted international effort to resolve the ongoing tensions in the Middle East, especially in the Holy Land, before such conflicts lead to greater bloodshed."
The Vatican considers mostly Greek Orthodox Cyprus as a bridge between Europe and the Middle East and invited bishops to come to the Mediterranean island to receive the working paper.
The pope said Cyprus can "play a particular role in promoting dialogue and cooperation" in the region.
A meeting between the pope and a Muslim leader was scrapped after the Turkish Cypriot official was delayed crossing the United Nations-controlled buffer zone that divides the island between ethnic Turks and Greeks, the Vatican said.
Yusuf Suicmez, the head of Turkish Cypriots' religious affairs department, said he had hoped to pray with the pope for peace and brotherhood. Benedict briefly met with another Turkish Cypriot Muslim leader on Saturday as part of efforts to talk to both sides of the island's decades-old conflict and help foster reconciliation.
Cyprus was ethnically split in 1974 when Turkey invaded after a coup by supporters of union with Greece. Turkish Cypriots declared an independent republic in the north in 1983, but only Turkey recognizes it, and it maintains 35,000 troops there.
The island's Greek Cypriot President Dimitris Christofias and newly-elected Turkish Cypriot leader Dervis Eroglu resumed long-running reunification talks in May after a two-month pause for the poll. The talks have yielded only limited progress so far.
Benedict has tread a careful diplomatic path since arriving Friday on the island, but he made a poignant appeal for peace before leaving.
The pope said he saw for himself the "sad division of the island" and that he was "deeply moved" by the pleas of Cypriots who wished to return to homes in the north that were lost during the war.
"Let me encourage you and your fellow citizens to work patiently and steadfastly with your neighbors to build a better and more certain future for all your children," the pope said.
A group of around 100 Orthodox Christian demonstrators earlier staged a peaceful protest against Benedict's visit outside the Nicosia sports stadium where the pope presided over Mass, holding aloft banners calling the pope "a heretic."
The Vatican estimates there are about 17 million Christians from Iran to Egypt, and that while many Christians have fled, new Catholic immigrants — mostly from the Philippines, India and Pakistan — have arrived in recent years in Arab countries to work as domestic or manual laborers.
The 46-page document said input from clerics in the region blamed the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories for inhibiting freedom of movement, the economy and religious life, alleging that access to holy places is dependent on military permission that is sometimes denied on security grounds.
It also complained that some Christian fundamentalists use biblical texts to justify Israel's occupation "making the position of Christian Arabs an even more sensitive issue."
The document said the rise of "political Islam" in Arab, Turkish and Iranian societies and its extremist currents are "clearly a threat to everyone, Christians and Muslims alike."
The Vatican expects about 150 bishops to attend the Oct. 10-24 meeting in Rome.
Sunday, April 25, 2010
By David Quinn
Friday April 23 2010
Joseph Ratzinger was elected as the successor to Pope John Paul II five years ago this week. Already a controversial figure, he has since gone on to become the hate figure du jour in certain circles, a sort of replacement bogeyman for George W Bush.
Those circles include aggressive secularists, angry ex-Catholics and some within the Catholic Church itself who still suffer from the delusion that the purpose of the Second Vatican Council was to turn the church into another form of failed liberal Protestantism.
Obviously, Benedict is in the news now because of the scandals and the ongoing, and mostly unfair, attempts to implicate him in the mismanagement of those scandals. But even without the scandals, Benedict was and is a hate figure for some.
Admittedly he has not always helped his own cause. For example, he would have been better off not quoting that Byzantine emperor's criticisms of Islam in his Regensburg address of September 2006.
He was also unwise to lift the excommunication order on Bishop Richard Williamson -- a Holocaust denier -- without, at a minimum, a full and proper explanation.
But in other respects he has been attacked without any proper justification. For example, in December 2008 he was widely condemned for comparing homosexuality with the destruction of the rainforests, except that he did no such thing. In that speech, he never even mentioned homosexuality.
A few weeks later, on his way to Africa, he defended the church's opposition to condom promotion in fighting the spread of HIV/Aids. He was excoriated for this and blamed for helping to cause the deaths of millions.
But none of his critics paid any attention to the actual scientific evidence, which shows that no condom promotion campaign aimed at general populations has ever succeeded in reducing the spread of HIV/Aids. What works, according to the evidence, are fidelity campaigns.
Attacks on Benedict, and on the Catholic Church generally, come from many directions. The church is attacked over its supposed attitude towards Protestants, Jews, Muslims and the other religions generally.
Benedict and the church are attacked over their attitude towards homosexuality and human sexuality generally. They are attacked over their defence of the right to life of the unborn, the elderly and the sick. They are attacked over their defence of marriage.
But in a way, all these attacks are an attack on the same thing, namely Benedict and the church's defence of objective truth and morality, its belief that certain things are right or wrong in themselves regardless of opinion or circumstance.
In an age of moral relativism, nothing is more offensive than the person who says, however calmly, that not all 'truths' are equal, that morality is not simply a matter of opinion, that religions are not all equally true or equally false, and that not all lifestyle choices are equal.
With regard to sex, for example, the church says that sex has an objective meaning and purpose and that one such purpose is procreation, which is intrinsically linked to heterosexuality.
This is connected to the defence of marriage. One reason the church says men and women should marry before they have sex is because it believes children have a right to be raised by their two married parents.
But many people, not least cohabiting couples, single parents and homosexuals find this offensive and it leads them into a denial that children have any need for, or right to, a married mother and father. The church cannot go down that road.
Nor can the church say all religions are equal because then it would have to deny that Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life. But this doesn't mean the church can't treat other religions with respect.
Why is this so difficult to grasp? Presumably we're all able to treat most of the people with whom we disagree with respect. Well, the church does the same, contrary to popular prejudice.
The paradox of relativism is that it claims to treat all points of view equally but in fact it damns and condemns those who deny relativism.
In other words, relativists defend their point of view as trenchantly and aggressively as the worst fundamentalists and will brook no opposition.
The Pope calls this ultra-aggressiveness the 'dictatorship of relativism'. The main reason these liberal fundamentalists spend so much of their time and energy attacking the Pope and the church is because they are the foremost defenders of objective truth and morality in the world today.
Destroy Benedict, damage or co-opt the church he leads, and you go a long way towards destroying opposition to liberal fundamentalism. This is a cataclysmic battle between those who believe in objective morality and those who think morality is relative. Joseph Ratzinger is smack bang in the middle of the hottest part of this battle.
- David Quinn
Tuesday, April 20, 2010
Wednesday, April 14, 2010
Tuesday, April 13, 2010
Let Us Return, Wounded, to Christ
by Julián Carrón*
*The author is the President of the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation.
None of us has ever been as dismayed as we are in front of the heart-wrenching story of
child abuse. Our dismay arises from our inability to respond to the demand for justice
which springs from the bottom of our hearts.
The request to assume responsibility, the acknowledgement of the evil committed, the
reprimand for the mistakes made in the handling of the affair – all of this seems to us to
be totally inadequate as we face this sea of evil. Nothing seems to be enough. And so we
can understand the frustrated reactions that have been coming forth at this time.
This has all served the purpose of making us stand face to face with our demand for
justice, acknowledging that it is limitless, bottomless – as deep as the wound itself. Since
it is infinite, it can never be satisfied. So the dissatisfaction, impatience and even the
disillusionment of the victims are understandable, even after all the injuries and mistakes
have been admitted: nothing can satisfy their thirst for justice. It’s like entering into an
endless struggle. From this point of view, the ones who committed the abuse are
paradoxically facing a challenge similar to that of the victims: nothing can repair the
damage that has been done. This in no way means that their responsibility can be lifted,
and much less the verdict that justice may impose upon them; it would not be enough
even if they were to serve the maximum sentence.
If this is the case, then the most burning question, which no one can escape, is as simple
as it is unavoidable: “Quid animo satis?” What can satisfy our thirst for justice? This is
where we begin to feel all our powerlessness, so powerfully expressed in Ibsen’s Brand:
“Answer me, God, in the jaws of death: Is there no salvation for the Will of Man? No
small measure of salvation?” In other words, cannot the whole force of human will
succeed in bringing about the justice that we so long for?
This is why even those who demand it most, those who are most insistent in calling for
justice, will not be loyal to the depth of their nature with its demand for justice if they do
not face this incapacity that they share with all men. Were we not to face it, we would fall
prey to an even crueler injustice, to a veritable assassination of our humanity, because in
order to keep on crying out for the justice that we formulate according to our own
measurement, we have to silence the voice of our hearts, thus forgetting the victims and
abandoning them in their struggle.
It is the Pope who, paradoxically, in his disarming boldness, has not fallen prey to
reducing justice to any sort of human measure. To begin with, he admitted without
hesitation the gravity of the evil committed by priests and religious, urged them to accept
their responsibility for it, and condemned the way certain bishops in their fear of scandal
have handled the affair, expressing his deep dismay over what had happened and taking
steps to ensure that it not happen again. But then, he expressed his full awareness that this
is not enough to respond to the demand that there be justice for the harm inflicted: “I
know that nothing can undo the wrong you have endured. Your trust has been betrayed
and your dignity has been violated.” Likewise, even if the perpetrators serve their
sentences, repent, and do penance, it will never be enough to repair the damage they did
to the victims and to themselves.
Benedict XVI’s recognition of the true nature of our need, of our struggle, is the only way
to save our full demand for justice; it is the only way to take it seriously, to take it fully
into consideration. “The demand for justice is a need that is proper to man, proper to a
person. Without the possibility of something beyond, of an answer that lies beyond the
existential modalities that we can experience, justice is impossible… If the hypothesis of
a ‘beyond’ were eliminated, that demand would be unnaturally suffocated” (Father
Giussani). So how did the Pope save this demand? By calling on the only one who can
save it, someone who makes the beyond present in the here and now, namely, Christ, the
Mystery made flesh. “Jesus Christ … was Himself a victim of injustice and sin. Like you,
He still bears the wounds of His own unjust suffering. He understands the depths of your
pain and its enduring effect upon your lives and your relationships, including your
relationship with the Church.” Calling on Christ is not a way to seek a hiding place to run
off to in the face of the demand for justice: it is the only way to bring justice about. The
Pope calls upon Christ, and steers clear of a truly dangerous shoal, that of distancing
Christ from the Church, as if the Church were too full of filth to be able to bear Him. The
Protestant temptation is always lurking. It would have been very easy to give in to, but at
too high a price – that of losing Christ. Because, as the Pope recalls, “it is in the
communion of the Church that we encounter the person of Jesus Christ.” And so, aware
of the difficulty both the victims and the guilty have “to forgive or be reconciled with the
Church,” he dares to pray that, by drawing near to Christ and sharing in the life of the
Church, they “will come to rediscover Christ’s infinite love for each one of you,” since
He is the only one able to heal their wounds and rebuild their lives.
This is the challenge facing all of us who are incapable of finding an answer for our sins
and for the sins of others: agreeing to take part in Easter, which we celebrate during these
days, as the only way to see the re-blossoming of hope.
Monday, April 12, 2010
Prayer for Pope Bendict XVI
Lord, source of eternal life and truth, give to your shepherd, Benedict, a spirit of courage and right judgment, a spirit of knowledge and love. By governing with fidelity those entrusted to his care, may he, as successor to the Apostle Peter and Vicar of Christ, build your Church into a sacrament of unity, love and peace for all the world. Amen.
V. Let us pray for Benedict, the pope.
R. May the Lord preserve him, give him a long life, make him blessed upon the earth, and not hand him over to the power of his enemies.
V. May your hand be upon your holy servant.
Tuesday, April 06, 2010
Cantemus Domino: gloriose enim magnificatus est.
“Let us sing to the Lord, glorious his triumph!” (Liturgy of the Hours, Easter, Office of Readings, Antiphon 1).
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
I bring you the Easter proclamation in these words of the Liturgy, which echo the ancient hymn of praise sung by the Israelites after crossing the Red Sea. It is recounted in the Book of Exodus (cf 15:19-21) that when they had crossed the sea on dry land, and saw the Egyptians submerged by the waters, Miriam, the sister of Moses and Aaron, and the other women sang and danced to this song of joy: “Sing to the Lord, for he has triumphed wonderfully: horse and rider he has thrown into the sea!” Christians throughout the world repeat this canticle at the Easter Vigil, and a special prayer explains its meaning; a prayer that now, in the full light of the resurrection, we joyfully make our own: “Father, even today we see the wonders of the miracles you worked long ago. You once saved a single nation from slavery, and now you offer that salvation to all through baptism. May the peoples of the world become true sons of Abraham and prove worthy of the heritage of Israel.”
The Gospel has revealed to us the fulfilment of the ancient figures: in his death and resurrection, Jesus Christ has freed us from the radical slavery of sin and opened for us the way towards the promised land, the Kingdom of God, the universal Kingdom of justice, love and peace. This “exodus” takes place first of all within man himself, and it consists in a new birth in the Holy Spirit, the effect of the baptism that Christ has given us in his Paschal Mystery. The old man yields his place to the new man; the old life is left behind, and a new life can begin (cf. Rom 6:4). But this spiritual “exodus” is the beginning of an integral liberation, capable of renewing us in every dimension – human, personal and social.
Yes, my brothers and sisters, Easter is the true salvation of humanity! If Christ – the Lamb of God – had not poured out his blood for us, we would be without hope, our destiny and the destiny of the whole world would inevitably be death. But Easter has reversed that trend: Christ’s resurrection is a new creation, like a graft that can regenerate the whole plant. It is an event that has profoundly changed the course of history, tipping the scales once and for all on the side of good, of life, of pardon. We are free, we are saved! Hence from deep within our hearts we cry out: “Let us sing to the Lord: glorious his triumph!”
The Christian people, having emerged from the waters of baptism, is sent out to the whole world to bear witness to this salvation, to bring to all people the fruit of Easter, which consists in a new life, freed from sin and restored to its original beauty, to its goodness and truth. Continually, in the course of two thousand years, Christians – especially saints – have made history fruitful with their lived experience of Easter. The Church is the people of the Exodus, because she constantly lives the Paschal Mystery and disseminates its renewing power in every time and place. In our days too, humanity needs an “exodus”, not just superficial adjustment, but a spiritual and moral conversion. It needs the salvation of the Gospel, so as to emerge from a profound crisis, one which requires deep change, beginning with consciences.
I pray to the Lord Jesus that in the Middle East, and especially in the land sanctified by his death and resurrection, the peoples will accomplish a true and definitive “exodus” from war and violence to peace and concord. To the Christian communities who are experiencing trials and sufferings, especially in Iraq, the Risen Lord repeats those consoling and encouraging words that he addressed to the Apostles in the Upper Room: “Peace be with you!” (Jn 20:21).
For the countries in Latin America and the Caribbean that are seeing a dangerous resurgence of crimes linked to drug trafficking, let Easter signal the victory of peaceful coexistence and respect for the common good. May the beloved people of Haiti, devastated by the appalling tragedy of the earthquake, accomplish their own “exodus” from mourning and from despair to a new hope, supported by international solidarity. May the beloved citizens of Chile, who have had to endure another grave catastrophe, set about the task of reconstruction with tenacity, supported by their faith.
In the strength of the risen Jesus, may the conflicts in Africa come to an end, conflicts which continue to cause destruction and suffering, and may peace and reconciliation be attained, as guarantees of development. In particular I entrust to the Lord the future of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Guinea and Nigeria.
May the Risen Lord sustain the Christians who suffer persecution and even death for their faith, as for example in Pakistan. To the countries afflicted by terrorism and by social and religious discrimination, may He grant the strength to undertake the work of building dialogue and serene coexistence. To the leaders of nations, may Easter bring light and strength, so that economic and financial activity may finally be driven by the criteria of truth, justice and fraternal aid. May the saving power of Christ’s resurrection fill all of humanity, so that it may overcome the multiple tragic expressions of a “culture of death” which are becoming increasingly widespread, so as to build a future of love and truth in which every human life is respected and welcomed.
Dear brothers and sisters, Easter does not work magic. Just as the Israelites found the desert awaiting them on the far side of the Red Sea, so the Church, after the resurrection, always finds history filled with joy and hope, grief and anguish. And yet, this history is changed, it is marked by a new and eternal covenant, it is truly open to the future. For this reason, saved by hope, let us continue our pilgrimage, bearing in our hearts the song that is ancient and yet ever new: “Let us sing to the Lord: glorious his triumph!”
Friday, April 02, 2010
Thursday, April 01, 2010
By VICTOR L. SIMPSON, Associated Press Writer Victor L. Simpson
VATICAN CITY – Cardinals rushed to Pope Benedict XVI's defense on Holy Thursday amid accusations he played a role in covering up sex abuse scandals, as an increasingly angry Vatican made a stinging attack on the U.S. media for its coverage.
The relationship between the church and the media has become increasingly bitter as the scandal buffeting the 1 billion-member church has touched the pontiff himself. On Wednesday, the church singled out the New York Times for criticism in an unusually harsh attack.
Western news organizations, including The Associated Press, have reported extensively on the burgeoning scandal, and new revelations have emerged on an almost daily basis.
Venice's Cardinal Angelo Scola expressed solidarity with Benedict in his Holy Thursday homily in the lagoon city, describing him as a victim of "deceitful accusations." He praised the pope as seeking to remove all "dirt" from the priesthood.
Warsaw Archbishop Kazimierz Nycz said the church should take notice of individual tragedies and treat sex abuse cases very seriously, but at the same time he criticized the media for "targeting the whole church, targeting the pope, and to that we must say `no' in the name of truth and in the name of justice."
And Vienna's Cardinal Christoph Schoenborn, speaking of Benedict's long years as head of a Vatican office that investigates abuse, said the future pope "had a very clear line of not covering up but clearing up."
He earlier reflected on the issue at a service in Vienna's cathedral Wednesday evening:
"I admit that I often feel a sense of injustice these days. Why is the church being excoriated? Isn't there also abuse elsewhere? ... And then I'm tempted to say: Yes, the media just don't like the church! Maybe there's even a conspiracy against the church? But then I feel in my heart that no, that's not it."
The church on Wednesday presented its highest-level official response yet to one of the most explosive recent revelations regarding sex abuse — a story the Times broke on the church's decision in the 1990s not to defrock a Wisconsin priest accused of molesting deaf boys.
It was the latest in a series of attacks on the press: Last week, L'Osservatore Romano, denounced what it said was a "clear and despicable intention" by the media to strike at Benedict "at any cost."
In the article posted Wednesday on the Vatican's Web site, Cardinal William Levada, head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, wrote: "I am not proud of America's newspaper of record, the New York Times, as a paragon of fairness."
Levada, an American, said the newspaper wrongly used the case of the Rev. Lawrence Murphy to find fault in Benedict's handling of abuse cases.
A Times spokeswoman defended the articles and said no one has cast doubt on the reported facts. (MY NOTE - No one has cast doubt because the NY TIMES never talked to anyone before publishing their malicious article.)
"The allegations of abuse within the Catholic church are a serious subject, as the Vatican has acknowledged on many occasions," said Diane McNulty. "Any role the current pope may have played in responding to those allegations over the years is a significant aspect of this story."
Tuesday, March 30, 2010
Then-presiding judge for the Archdiocese of Milwaukee gives first-person account of church trial
By Fr. THOMAS BRUNDAGE, JLC
To provide context to this article, I was the Judicial Vicar for the Archdiocese of Milwaukee from 1995-2003. During those years, I presided over four canonical criminal cases, one of which involved Father Lawrence Murphy. Two of the four men died during the process. God alone will judge these men.
To put some parameters on the following remarks, I am writing this article with the express knowledge and consent of Archbishop Roger Schwietz, OMI, the Archbishop of Anchorage, where I currently serve. Archbishop Schwietz is also the publisher of the Catholic Anchor newspaper.
I will limit my comments, because of judicial oaths I have taken as a canon lawyer and as an ecclesiastical judge. However, since my name and comments in the matter of the Father Murphy case have been liberally and often inaccurately quoted in the New York Times and in more than 100 other newspapers and on-line periodicals, I feel a freedom to tell part of the story of Father Murphy’s trial from ground zero.
As I have found that the reporting on this issue has been inaccurate and poor in terms of the facts, I am also writing out of a sense of duty to the truth.
The fact that I presided over this trial and have never once been contacted by any news organization for comment speaks for itself.
My intent in the following paragraphs is to accomplish the following:
To tell the back-story of what actually happened in the Father Murphy case on the local level;
To outline the sloppy and inaccurate reporting on the Father Murphy case by the New York Times and other media outlets;
To assert that Pope Benedict XVI has done more than any other pope or bishop in history to rid the Catholic Church of the scourge of child sexual abuse and provide for those who have been injured;
To set the record straight with regards to the efforts made by the church to heal the wounds caused by clergy sexual misconduct. The Catholic Church is probably the safest place for children at this point in history.
Before proceeding, it is important to point out the scourge that child sexual abuse has been — not only for the church but for society as well. Few actions can distort a child’s life more than sexual abuse. It is a form of emotional and spiritual homicide and it starts a trajectory toward a skewed sense of sexuality. When committed by a person in authority, it creates a distrust of almost anyone, anywhere.
As a volunteer prison chaplain in Alaska, I have found a corollary between those who have been incarcerated for child sexual abuse and the priests who have committed such grievous actions. They tend to be very smart and manipulative. They tend to be well liked and charming. They tend to have one aim in life — to satisfy their hunger. Most are highly narcissistic and do not see the harm that they have caused. They view the children they have abused not as people but as objects. They rarely show remorse and moreover, sometimes portray themselves as the victims. They are, in short, dangerous people and should never be trusted again. Most will recommit their crimes if given a chance.
As for the numerous reports about the case of Father Murphy, the back-story has not been reported as of yet.
In 1996, I was introduced to the story of Father Murphy, formerly the principal of St. John’s School for the Deaf in Milwaukee. It had been common knowledge for decades that during Father Murphy’s tenure at the school (1950-1974) there had been a scandal at St. John’s involving him and some deaf children. The details, however, were sketchy at best.
Courageous advocacy on behalf of the victims (and often their wives), led the Archdiocese of Milwaukee to revisit the matter in 1996. In internal discussions of the curia for the Archdiocese of Milwaukee, it became obvious that we needed to take strong and swift action with regard to the wrongs of several decades ago. With the consent of then-Milwaukee Archbishop Rembert Weakland, we began an investigation into the allegations of child sexual abuse as well as the violation of the crime of solicitation within the confessional by Father Murphy.
We proceeded to start a trial against Father Murphy. I was the presiding judge in this matter and informed Father Murphy that criminal charges were going to be levied against him with regard to child sexual abuse and solicitation in the confessional.
In my interactions with Father Murphy, I got the impression I was dealing with a man who simply did not get it. He was defensive and threatening.
Between 1996 and August, 1998, I interviewed, with the help of a qualified interpreter, about a dozen victims of Father Murphy. These were gut-wrenching interviews. In one instance the victim had become a perpetrator himself and had served time in prison for his crimes. I realized that this disease is virulent and was easily transmitted to others. I heard stories of distorted lives, sexualities diminished or expunged. These were the darkest days of my own priesthood, having been ordained less than 10 years at the time. Grace-filled spiritual direction has been a Godsend.
I also met with a community board of deaf Catholics. They insisted that Father Murphy should be removed from the priesthood and highly important to them was their request that he be buried not as a priest but as a layperson. I indicated that a judge, I could not guarantee the first request and could only make a recommendation to the latter request.
In the summer of 1998, I ordered Father Murphy to be present at a deposition at the chancery in Milwaukee. I received, soon after, a letter from his doctor that he was in frail health and could travel not more than 20 miles (Boulder Junction to Milwaukee would be about 276 miles). A week later, Father Murphy died of natural causes in a location about 100 miles from his home.
With regard to the inaccurate reporting on behalf of the New York Times, the Associated Press, and those that utilized these resources, first of all, I was never contacted by any of these news agencies but they felt free to quote me. Almost all of my quotes are from a document that can be found online with the correspondence between the Holy See and the Archdiocese of Milwaukee.
In an October 31, 1997 handwritten document, I am quoted as saying ‘odds are that this situation may very well be the most horrendous, number wise, and especially because these are physically challenged , vulnerable people. “ Also quoted is this: “Children were approached within the confessional where the question of circumcision began the solicitation.”
The problem with these statements attributed to me is that they were handwritten. The documents were not written by me and do not resemble my handwriting. The syntax is similar to what I might have said but I have no idea who wrote these statements, yet I am credited as stating them. As a college freshman at the Marquette University School of Journalism, we were told to check, recheck, and triple check our quotes if necessary. I was never contacted by anyone on this document, written by an unknown source to me. Discerning truth takes time and it is apparent that the New York Times, the Associated Press and others did not take the time to get the facts correct.
Additionally, in the documentation in a letter from Archbishop Weakland to then-secretary of the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith Archbishop Tarcisio Bertone on August 19, 1998, Archbishop Weakland stated that he had instructed me to abate the proceedings against Father Murphy. Father Murphy, however, died two days later and the fact is that on the day that Father Murphy died, he was still the defendant in a church criminal trial. No one seems to be aware of this. Had I been asked to abate this trial, I most certainly would have insisted that an appeal be made to the supreme court of the church, or Pope John Paul II if necessary. That process would have taken months if not longer.
Second, with regard to the role of then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger (now Pope Benedict XVI), in this matter, I have no reason to believe that he was involved at all. Placing this matter at his doorstep is a huge leap of logic and information.
Third, the competency to hear cases of sexual abuse of minors shifted from the Roman Rota to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith headed by Cardinal Ratzinger in 2001. Until that time, most appeal cases went to the Rota and it was our experience that cases could languish for years in this court. When the competency was changed to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, in my observation as well as many of my canonical colleagues, sexual abuse cases were handled expeditiously, fairly, and with due regard to the rights of all the parties involved. I have no doubt that this was the work of then Cardinal Ratzinger.
Fourth, Pope Benedict has repeatedly apologized for the shame of the sexual abuse of children in various venues and to a worldwide audience. This has never happened before. He has met with victims. He has reigned in entire conferences of bishops on this matter, the Catholic Bishops of Ireland being the most recent. He has been most reactive and proactive of any international church official in history with regard to the scourge of clergy sexual abuse of minors. Instead of blaming him for inaction on these matters, he has truly been a strong and effective leader on these issues.
Finally, over the last 25 years, vigorous action has taken place within the church to avoid harm to children. Potential seminarians receive extensive sexual-psychological evaluation prior to admission. Virtually all seminaries concentrate their efforts on the safe environment for children. There have been very few cases of recent sexual abuse of children by clergy during the last decade or more.
Catholic dioceses all across the country have taken extraordinary steps to ensure the safety of children and vulnerable adults. As one example, which is by no means unique, is in the Archdiocese of Anchorage, where I currently work. Here, virtually every public bathroom in parishes has a sign asking if a person has been abuse by anyone in the church. A phone number is given to report the abuse and almost all church workers in the archdiocese are required to take yearly formation sessions in safe environment classes. I am not sure what more the church can do.
To conclude, the events during the 1960’s and 1970’s of the sexual abuse of minors and solicitation in the confessional by Father Lawrence Murphy are unmitigated and gruesome crimes. On behalf of the church, I am deeply sorry and ashamed for the wrongs that have been done by my brother priests but realize my sorrow is probably of little importance 40 years after the fact. The only thing that we can do at this time is to learn the truth, beg for forgiveness, and do whatever is humanly possible to heal the wounds. The rest, I am grateful, is in God’s hands.
Father Thomas T. Brundage, JCL
Editor’s note: Father Brundage can be contacted at email@example.com or by phone at (907) 745-3229 X 11.
Monday, March 29, 2010
By John L Allen Jr
Intense scrutiny is being devoted these days to Pope Benedict XVI's history on the sex abuse crisis. Revelations from Germany have put his five years as a diocesan bishop under a spotlight, and a piece on Thursday in The New York Times, on the case of Fr. Lawrence Murphy of Milwaukee, also called into question his Vatican years as prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.
Despite complaints in some quarters that all this is about wounding the pope and/or the church, raising these questions is entirely legitimate. Anyone involved in church leadership at the most senior levels for as long as Benedict XVI inevitably bears some responsibility for the present mess. My newspaper, the National Catholic Reporter, today called editorially for full disclosure  about the pope's record, and it now seems abundantly clear that only such transparency can resolve the hard questions facing Benedict.
Yet as always, the first casualty of any crisis is perspective. There are at least three aspects of Benedict's record on the sexual abuse crisis which are being misconstrued, or at least sloppily characterized, in today's discussion. Bringing clarity to these points is not a matter of excusing the pope, but rather of trying to understand accurately how we got where we are.
The following, therefore, are three footnotes to understanding Benedict's record on the sexual abuse crisis.
1. Not the 'Point Man'
First, some media reports have suggested that then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger presided over the Vatican office with responsibility for the sex abuse crisis for almost a quarter-century, from 1981 until his election to the papacy in April 2005, and therefore that he's responsible for whatever the Vatican did or didn't do during that entire stretch of time. That's not correct.
In truth, Ratzinger did not have any direct responsibility for managing the overall Vatican response to the crisis until 2001, four years before he became pope.
Bishops were not required to send cases of priests accused of sexual abuse to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith until 2001, when they were directed to do so by Pope John Paul II's motu proprio titled Sacramentorum sanctitatis tutela. Prior to that, most cases involving sex abuse never got to Rome. In the rare instance when a bishop wanted to laicize an abuser priest against his will, the canonical process involved would be handled by one of the Vatican courts, not by Ratzinger's office.
Prior to 2001, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith got involved only in the exceedingly rare instances when the sex abuse occurred in the context of the confessional, since a canonical tribunal within the congregation handled cases involving abuse of the sacrament of penance. That, for example, is how the case of Fr. Marcial Maciel Degollado, the founder of the Legionaries of Christ, ended up in the congregation, and it's also why officials in the Milwaukee archdiocese directed the case of Fr. Lawrence Murphy there.
One certainly can question how Ratzinger's office handled those exceptional cases, and the record seems painfully slow and ambivalent in comparison with how similar accusations would be dealt with today. Moreover, Ratzinger was a senior Vatican official from 1981 forward, and therefore he shares in the corporate failure in Rome to appreciate the magnitude of the crisis until terribly late in the game.
To suggest, however, that Ratzinger was the Vatican's "point man" on sex abuse for almost twenty-five years, and to fault him for the mishandling of every case that arose between 1981 and 2001, is misleading. Prior to 2001, Ratzinger had nothing personally to do with the vast majority of sex abuse cases, even the small percentage which wound up in Rome.
2. The 2001 letter
In some reporting and commentary, a May 2001 letter from Ratzinger to the bishops of the world, titled De delictis gravioribus, is being touted as a "smoking gun" proving that Ratzinger attempted to thwart reporting priestly sex abuse to the police or other civil authorities by ordering the bishops to keep it secret.
That letter indicates that certain grave crimes, including the sexual abuse of a minor, are to be referred to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and that they are "subject to the pontifical secret." The Vatican insists, however, that this secrecy applied only to the church's internal disciplinary procedures, and was not intended to prevent anyone from also reporting these cases to the police or other civil authorities. Technically they're correct, since nowhere in the 2001 letter is there any prohibition on reporting sex abuse to police or civil prosecutors.
In reality, few bishops needed a legal edict from Rome ordering them not to talk publicly about sexual abuse. That was simply the culture of the church at the time, which makes the hunt for a "smoking gun" something of a red herring right out of the gate. Fixing a culture -- one in which the Vatican, to be sure, was as complicit as anyone else, but one which was widespread and deeply rooted well beyond Rome -- is never as simple as abrogating one law and issuing another.
That aside, here's the key point about Ratzinger's 2001 letter: Far from being seen as part of the problem, at the time it was widely hailed as a watershed moment towards a solution. It marked recognition in Rome, really for the first time, of how serious the problem of sex abuse really is, and it committed the Vatican to getting directly involved. Prior to that 2001 motu proprio and Ratzinger's letter, it wasn't clear that anyone in Rome acknowledged responsibility for managing the crisis; from that moment forward, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith would play the lead role.
Beginning in 2001, Ratzinger was forced to review all the files on every priest credibly accused of sexual abuse anywhere in the world, giving him a sense of the contours of the problem that virtually no one else in the Catholic church can claim. In a recent article, I outlined the "conversion experience" Ratzinger and his staff went through after 2001. Beforehand, he came off as just another Roman cardinal in denial; after his experience of reviewing the files, he began to talk openly about the "filth" in the church, and his staff became far more energetic about prosecuting abusers.
For those who have followed the church's response to the crisis, Ratzinger's 2001 letter is therefore seen as a long overdue assumption of responsibility by the Vatican, and the beginning of a far more aggressive response. Whether that response is sufficient is, of course, a matter for fair debate, but to construe Ratzinger's 2001 letter as no more than the last gasp of old attempts at denial and cover-up misreads the record.
3. Canonical Trials
Ratzinger's top deputy at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith on sex abuse cases, Maltese Monsignor Charles Scicluna, recently gave an interview to an Italian Catholic paper in which he said that of the more than 3,000 cases eventually referred to Rome, only 20 percent were subjected to a full canonical trial. In some reporting, including the Thursday piece in The New York Times, this figure has been cited as evidence of Vatican "inaction."
Once again, however, those who have followed the story closely have almost exactly the opposite impression.
Back in June 2002, when the American bishops first proposed a set of new canonical norms to Rome, the heart of which was the "one strike and you're out" policy, they initially wanted to avoid canonical trials altogether. Instead, they wanted to rely on a bishop's administrative power to permanently remove a priest from ministry. That's because their experience of Roman tribunals over the years was that they were often slow, cumbersome, and the outcome was rarely certain.
Most famously, bishops and experts would point to the case of Fr. Anthony Cipolla in Pittsburgh, during the time that Donald Wuerl, now the Archbishop of Washington, was the local bishop. Wuerl had removed Cipolla from ministry in 1988 following allegations of sexual abuse. Cipolla appealed to Rome, where the Apostolic Signatura, in effect the Vatican's supreme court, ordered him reinstated. Wuerl then took the case to Rome himself, and eventually prevailed. The experience left many American bishops, however, with the impression that lengthy canonical trials were not the way to handle these cases.
When the new American norms reached Rome, they ran into opposition precisely on the grounds that everyone deserves their day in court -- another instance, in the eyes of critics, of the Vatican being more concerned about the rights of abuser priests than victims. A special commission of American bishops and senior Vatican officials brokered a compromise, in which the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith would sort through the cases one-by-one and decide which ones would be sent back for full trials.
The fear at the time was that the congregation would insist on trials in almost every case, thereby dragging out the administration of justice, and closure for the victims, almost indefinitely. In the end, however, only 20 percent were sent back for trials, while for the bulk of the cases, 60 percent, bishops were authorized to take immediate administrative action, because the proof was held to be overwhelming.
The fact that only 20 percent of the cases were subjected to full canonical trial has been hailed as a belated grasp in Rome of the need for swift and sure justice, and a victory for the more aggressive American approach to the crisis. It should be noted, too, that bypassing trials has been roundly criticized by some canon lawyers and Vatican officials as a betrayal of the due process safeguards in church law.
Hence to describe that 20 percent figure as a sign of "inaction" cannot help but seem, to anyone who's been paying attention, rather ironic. In truth, handling 60 percent of the cases through the stroke of a bishop's pen has, up to now, more often been cited as evidence of exaggerated and draconian action by Ratzinger and his deputies.
Obviously, none of this is to suggest that Benedict's handling of the crisis -- in Munich, at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, or as pope -- is somehow exemplary. An accounting needs to be offered if this pope, and the church he leads, hopes to move forward. For that analysis to be constructive, however, as opposed to fueling polarization and confusion, it's important to keep the record straight.
[John Allen is NCR senior correspondent. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.]
All Things Catholic
Copyright © The National Catholic Reporter
Monday, March 15, 2010
Vatican Aide Stresses Pontiff's Work Against Crime
VATICAN CITY, MARCH 14, 2010 (Zenit.org).- The attempts of various media sources, especially in Germany, to implicate Benedict XVI in cases of sexual abuse by clergy, have failed, said the Vatican spokesman.
Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, director of the Vatican press office, affirmed this in a communiqué that was broadcast by Vatican Radio.
"It is obvious," he said, "that in recent days there are people who have tried -- with a certain tenacity in Regensburg and Munich -- to find ways to personally involve the Holy Father in the matters relating to the abuses."
"For every objective observer it is evident that these efforts have failed," Father Lombardi pointed out.
In particular, he noted, some have tried to blame Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger of having reassigned to ministry a priest who was guilty of sexual abuse of minors, while the cardinal was archbishop of Munich, Germany, in 1980.
The priest referred to the "ample and detailed press release" publicized by the Archdiocese of Munich, in which it demonstrated that the Pontiff had no responsibility in this case.
Cardinal Ratzinger had done nothing more than welcome this presbyter to his diocese in order that the man could undergo psychotherapeutic treatment, but the prelate did not approve the priest's pastoral reintegration.
The spokesman explained that Cardinal Ratzinger, who later became prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, worked in that capacity to establish and apply rigid and rigorous norms that the Catholic Church has used in its response to the abuse cases it has discovered in recent years.
"His line has always been one of rigor and consistency in confronting even the most difficult situations," Father Lombardi said of Benedict XVI.
To illustrate this point, the priest referred to an "important and lengthy interview" by Monsignor Charles Scicluna, who handles cases brought against abusive priests for the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.
This interview, published Saturday by Avvenire, explained in a detailed manner the significance of the canonical norms specifically established by the Church in recent years in order to "judge the very grave crime of sexual abuse of minors by ecclesiastics."
"It becomes absolutely clear that such norms do not intend and have not favored any cover-up of these crimes but, on the contrary, have brought about an intense activity to handle, judge and punish these crimes adequately in the framework of the ecclesiastical order," Father Lombardi affirmed.
For this reason, he said, "despite the tempest, the Church clearly sees the path to follow, under the certain and rigorous leadership of the Holy Father."
The priest concluded, "As we have already observed, we hope that in the end this travail can be a help to society as a whole to take ever better care of the protection and formation of children and youth."
Monday, March 08, 2010
By PAUL VITELLO
LONG BEACH, N.Y. — At home here on Long Island, he is Gary L. Krupp, medical equipment dealer, now retired after a career of ups and downs. He shares one car and a small house in a no-frills neighborhood with his wife, Meredith, and wryly describes himself as “an average schlemiel, just a Jewish kid from Queens.”
At the Vatican, he is known as Commendatore Gary Krupp, Knight Commander of the Pontifical Equestrian Order of St. Gregory the Great. For short, the Swiss Guard and cardinals address him as “Your Excellency.”
It is a compelling tale in itself: how Mr. Krupp became only the seventh Jewish papal knight in history, dubbed by Pope John Paul II in 2000 for persuading American manufacturers to donate $12 million worth of high-tech medical equipment to an Italian hospital.
But the more curious and complicated story is the transformation Mr. Krupp has undergone since. With no previous training or special interest in history, he has emerged as the Vatican’s most outspoken Jewish ally in a heated debate at the crux of tensions between Roman Catholic and Jewish leaders and historians: whether Pope Pius XII, the pontiff during World War II, did as much as he could have to save Jews from the Holocaust.
Mr. Krupp, 62, has raised enough money through the Pave the Way Foundation, a nonprofit organization he founded in 2002, to travel the globe, hire researchers to scour historic documents, sponsor a three-day symposium in Rome and publish four editions of a glossy, illustrated volume of evidence supporting his view that Pius XII spared no effort to save the lives of persecuted Jews.
He has pressed his case in a recent op-ed article for The New York Post, and in interviews with conservative Catholic television programs and Web sites, which have cited him as an expert on Pius.
And in a special audience at the papal summer residence in September 2008, Pope Benedict XVI thanked Mr. Krupp for bringing attention to “what Pius XII achieved for the Jews.”
Historians and religious leaders around the world have taken increasing notice of Mr. Krupp’s work — some with alarm, some with pleasure — because his advocacy has coincided with efforts within the Vatican to promote the canonization of Pius. Pope Benedict nudged that process forward in December by affirming Pius’s “heroic virtues” and pronouncing him “venerable,” a step on the path toward sainthood.
The controversy over Pius’s wartime conduct had stalled his elevation for so many years that Pope Benedict’s action shocked scholars on both sides of the debate. And while agreeing on little else, some in both camps credit Mr. Krupp for breaking the logjam.
“I wrote 10 books about Pius XII, but in all these years I never knew how to shake things up for the cause like this wonderful man, Mr. Krupp,” said Sister Margherita Marchione, a professor emerita at Fairleigh Dickinson University who is considered the foremost defender of Pius outside the Vatican.
Deborah Dwork, a professor of Holocaust history at Clark University, put it another way: “Pope Benedict would not have had the chutzpah to go forward with the veneration process if not for this P.R. work Gary Krupp does.”
In a dispute decades long, the church has maintained that Pius XII supported efforts throughout the war to hide Jews or help them escape, but worked behind the scenes to avoid retaliation from Nazi and Italian Fascist authorities.
Holocaust scholars, who consider Pius, with his worldwide network of diplomats and clergy, to be among the first world leaders to have grasped the scope of the Jewish persecution, have asked why he did not condemn it publicly. But most consider that and other questions unanswerable until the Vatican opens the complete archives of Pius’s papacy. Although a selection of those papers has been published, the Vatican has kept most off limits to outside researchers.
How Mr. Krupp happened onto this muddy battlefield is hard to explain, even for Mr. Krupp, a husky man who sometimes seems almost possessed, bounding up and down the stairs of his split-level house to retrieve copies of documents or books to make his points.
“Believe me, I never dreamed I would be defending a man who, when I was growing up, we believed he was a Nazi sympathizer,” he said.
He says he takes his faith seriously, though he was never very active in his synagogue, or a member of Jewish organizations. His rabbi, Barry Dov Schwartz of Temple B’Nai Sholom in Rockville Centre, called him “a bit of a stubborn guy, whom I happen to be very fond of,” but declined to comment on Mr. Krupp’s efforts on behalf of popes.
By Mr. Krupp’s account, that work evolved “organically.” A friend, a Long Island priest, got him involved with the Italian hospital in need of equipment.
Being knighted thrust Mr. Krupp into the ranks of some of the world’s richest and most prominent people, living and dead — Bob Hope and Rupert Murdoch included — who received the knighthood of St. Gregory the Great for serving the church in some way. Unlike the vast majority of them, however, Mr. Krupp said he saw his elevation as an opportunity to become a conduit between the Catholic Church and the world. In 2005, he brokered an agreement with the Vatican Library to lend a rare set of manuscripts by the medieval Jewish philosopher Maimonides to the Israel Museum. And gradually he decided he liked promoting interreligious understanding more than he liked selling medical equipment.
His Pave the Way Foundation became a full-time occupation in 2005, around the time a friend at the Vatican suggested that he might help clear up misunderstandings between Catholics and Jews about Pius. Mr. Krupp began collecting and underwriting research.
“Did you know Pius XII saved more than 860,000 Jews from the death camps? I mean, I never knew that before. It’s character assassination — a shanda — that so many Jews say he was an anti-Semite,” said Mr. Krupp, using a Yiddish word for disgrace.
The assessment of Mr. Krupp’s work among many scholars and leaders of long-established Jewish organizations has been equally harsh.
Rabbi Eric J. Greenberg, associate director of interfaith affairs at the Anti-Defamation League, called Mr. Krupp’s mission “a campaign of misinformation.”
Professor Dwork said Mr. Krupp’s research was “amateurish, worse than amateurish — risible.” More disturbing, she said, it seems to have emboldened some in the Vatican to push harder for Pius XII’s canonization.
He may be well-meaning, but his lack of experience in international affairs and historical research makes Mr. Krupp highly vulnerable to being manipulated by factions inside the Vatican, she said.
Several historians said the 860,000 figure that Mr. Krupp cited appeared frequently in biographies of Pius XII, but had never been documented.
The Rev. John T. Pawlikowski, a Catholic priest who is a founding member of the board of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and a professor of social ethics at the University of Chicago, said the Vatican was “discrediting itself by associating itself with this kind of questionable scholarship.”
Mr. Krupp has heard it all. In 2008, several historians called to ask him to cancel his three-day conference in Rome, which ultimately drew many Vatican-friendly scholars but few with independent credentials.
One caller, Paul O’Shea, who has written extensively about Pius XII, tried to warn Mr. Krupp that proponents of canonization might be trying to use him. He urged Mr. Krupp to wait for the Vatican to open its files, and for scholars to complete their work, before reaching conclusions.
Mr. Krupp thanked him for his advice and ignored it.
“Listen to me: Pius XII was the greatest hero of World War II,” Mr. Krupp said recently. “He saved more Jews than Roosevelt, Churchill and all the rest of them combined. We should not let him be an issue between Catholics and Jews.”
He added: “And I predict this: Historians are never going to solve this whole problem. There will always be questions.”
In the debate over Gary Krupp, too, there will always be questions. Why is he doing this? How has he marshaled deep-pocketed support for his foundation, which has an annual budget of about $500,000 and pays him and his wife a combined $140,000 a year? (Its board includes New York entrepreneurs and Wall Street managers, most of them Jewish.)
And what is it like to start your day in a house where your ceiling needs painting, and end your day, jet-lagged, in a house with ceilings by Michelangelo?
Meredith Krupp contemplated that question recently and answered with a koan-like reference to the white feather that appears mysteriously in the opening and closing frames of the movie “Forrest Gump.”
“It’s just like that feather,” she said. “It just goes and goes where it goes.”
Friday, February 19, 2010
February 19, 2010 From theTrumpet.comThe Romanizing of traditional Christianity reaches Down Under. By Ron Fraser
Reports are emerging confirming the prospect of 16 Anglican parishes in Australia converting to Roman Catholicism.
Ecumenism has been actively pursued in Australia since the 1950s. The highest profile activity has been among certain non-Anglican Protestant groups forming the Uniting Church of Australia. But Rome has also been active reaching out to those in Australia’s largest Protestant denomination, the Anglicans, or Church of England as it is more traditionally known Down Under.
Roman Catholics comprise 26 percent of the total Australian population, slightly edging out Anglicans, who make up 24 percent, with other Protestants over 17 percent. Up to World War ii, Anglicans were by far in the majority. However, a great influx of European migrants swung the pendulum toward a Roman Catholic majority after the war. Catholics are highly organized within Australian society, enjoying a high profile in the civil service, the legal profession, education, and medical and hospital services, plus having quite a degree of clout in Australian politics.
The pro-Catholic Anglican movement is riding on the coattails of similar moves toward Rome made in Britain following Pope Benedict’s issue three months ago of the apostolic constitution Anglicanorum Coetibus. This allows for Anglicans to obtain corporate union with Rome.
The precedent for the pro-Catholic Austro-Anglican move is that set by the Traditional Anglican Communion in Britain. It has already broken away from the corporate body of the Anglican Church having declared that its members will become Catholics under the apostolic constitution. The main driver of the Australian Anglo-Catholic movement is, as it is with the British Traditional Anglicans, the endorsement by the Anglican Church of homosexuals and female priests.
“Under the terms of the Vatican’s offer made last October, Anglicans who are disillusioned with the church’s liberal direction will be allowed to enter into full communion with the Holy See. But they may be able to continue using their old prayer books and church services, and will come under the pastoral care of a new bishop called an ordinary” (Telegraph.co.uk, February 16). This is an old and proven formula that has been used over generations of Roman Catholic evangelizing. It is not unusual to witness even pagan practices permitted continuance in numerous countries where Rome dominates their populations religiously. Latin America is a typical example.
Many of the most strident voices of conservatism increasingly hail from the Roman Catholic right within Anglo-Saxon countries. The decamping to Rome of influential Anglican communities may well work to enhance Roman Catholic influence in the politics of Anglo-Saxon nations as this universalist church aggressively pursues its global crusade under Pope Benedict xvi.
Look for this trend to continue and even accelerate as Orthodox communities follow the Anglican example and return to the religion that mothered them all.
To educate yourself in this phenomenon, read our booklet Who or What Is the Prophetic Beast? It may help you take a firmer hold on reality as world events rapidly gear toward the full exposure of the source of all this world’s religions, and its ultimate end, just prior to the implanting of the only true religion around this globe at its Savior’s return. •
Monday, February 15, 2010
Vatican City: February 15, 2010, (PCTV Newsdesk)
On Feb 13 the Holy Father received in audience members of the Pontifical Academy for Life, the president of which is Archbishop Rino Fisichella. The academy is currently meeting for its annual plenary assembly.
"The problems revolving around the question of bioethics", said the Pope, "bring the anthropological question to the fore"; this concerns "human life in its perennial tension between immanence and transcendence, and has great importance for the culture of future generations".
Hence, he went on, "it is necessary to institute a comprehensive educational project which enables these themes to be approached from a positive, balanced and constructive standpoint, especially as regards the relationship between faith and reason."
Bioethical questions often throw light on the dignity of the person, a fundamental principle which faith in Jesus Christ ... has always defended, especially when it is overlooked in dealings with the most simple and defenceless people", he added.
"Bioethics, like any other discipline, needs guidelines capable of guaranteeing a coherent reading of the ethical questions which inevitably emerge when faced with possible conflicts of interpretation. In this space lies the normative call to natural moral law".
"Recognising human dignity as an inalienable right has its first foundation in that law - unwritten by the hand of man but inscribed by God the Creator in man's heart - which all juridical systems are called to recognise as inviolable, and all individuals to respect and promote. Without the basic principle of human dignity it would be difficult to find a wellspring for the rights of the person, and impossible to reach ethical judgements about those scientific advances which have a direct effect on human life".
"When we invoke respect for the dignity of the person, it is fundamental that such respect should be complete, total and unimpeded, ... recognising that we are always dealing with a human life", said Pope Benedict. "Of course, human life has its own development and the research horizon for science and bioethics remains open, but it must be reiterated that when dealing with matters which involve human beings, scientists must never think they are dealing with inanimate and manipulable material. In fact, from its first instant, the life of man is characterised by the fact of being a human life, and for this reason it has, always and everywhere, its own dignity".
"Conjugating bioethics and natural moral law is the best way to ensure" recognition for "the dignity that human life intrinsically possesses from its first instant to its natural end".
The Pope also highlighted "the commitment that must be shown in the various areas of society and culture in order to ensure that human life is always recognised as an unalienable subject of law, and never as an object dependent on the whims of the powerful". In this context he pointed out that "history has shown how dangerous and damaging a State can be when it proceeds to make laws that touch the person and society, while itself claiming to be the source and principle of ethics".
"Natural moral law", the Holy Father concluded, "is a guarantee for legislators to show true respect both for the person and for the entire order of creation. It is the catalysing source of consensus among peoples from different cultures and religions, enabling differences to be overcome by affirming the existence of an order imprinted into nature by the Creator, ... an authentic call to use ethical-rational judgement to seek good and avoid evil".
Wednesday, February 10, 2010
By Carol Glatz
Catholic News Service VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- With love, faith comes alive, and without it, faith is dead, Pope Benedict XVI said.
It is God's love that grants true spiritual knowledge and transforms people's lives, he said Feb. 10 at his weekly general audience.
"Charity lies at the heart of faith and makes it come alive. Without love, faith dies," he said.
The pope's audience talk focused on the life and teachings of St. Anthony of Padua, a 13th-century Franciscan friar who was a contemporary of St. Francis of Assisi.
St. Anthony played a key role in developing Franciscan spirituality, the pope said, especially concerning the role and nature of prayer.
Only through authentic prayer can a person experience spiritual progress and fight the temptations of greed, pride, and impurity and instead live a life marked by poverty, generosity, humility, obedience and chastity, he said.
St. Anthony taught that prayer needs silence -- not so much an absence of audible noise and sounds, but an inner silence in which all worries and mental distractions are quelled and the soul finds a sense of calm, said the pope.
He said the saint taught that there are four "indispensable" steps to perfecting the art of prayer.
The first step is confidently "opening one's heart to God's presence," he said. The second is to "have an affectionate dialogue with God, seeing him present with me," the pope said.
The next step, he said, comes easily to most people: telling God what is on one's mind. Then lastly, praise God and thank him, he said.
These steps help make prayer a loving and joy-filled conversation with God that will enrich and strengthen one's faith and spiritual journey, he said.
He said the saint also urged people to pursue "true wealth -- that of the heart," which brings goodness and mercy to the world.
St. Anthony asked that the faithful not forget the plight of the poor, which is "a very important and pertinent message today," the pope said. Financial crises create serious economic gaps, which cause poverty and misery, he said.
In order for an economic system to function correctly, it must have an ethical basis that is based on friendship and respect for the human person, he said.
GENERAL AUDIENCE TEXT
Paul VI Audience Hall Wednesday, 10 February 2010
Saint Anthony of Padua
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Continuing our catechesis on medieval Christian culture, we now turn to Saint Anthony of Padua, a contemporary of Saint Francis who helped lay the foundations of the Franciscan theological and spiritual tradition. Born in Lisbon, Anthony became an Augustinian canon and then a Franciscan Friar. His great eloquence and learning made him one of the great preachers of his time. His Sermons, imbued with the traditional spiritual exegesis of the Scriptures, offer a guide to growth in the Christian life and stress the importance of prayer as a loving and joy-filled conversation with the Lord. Here we see one of the principal characteristics of Franciscan theology: its emphasis on God’s love, which grants spiritual knowledge and transforms our lives. At a time of great economic growth, Anthony called for the cultivation of interior riches and sensitivity to the needs of the poor. Typical also of the Franciscan tradition is his stress on the contemplation of Christ in his humanity, particularly in the mysteries of the Nativity and the Crucifixion. In this Year for Priests, let us ask Saint Anthony to pray that all preachers will communicate a burning love for Christ, a thirst for closeness to the Lord in prayer, and a deeper appreciation of the truth and beauty of God’s word.
* * *
I am pleased to offer a warm welcome to the Delegation of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America here with us today. I also greet all the English-speaking visitors present at this Audience, especially those from England, Denmark and the United States. Upon all of you I invoke God’s blessings of joy and peace!
Saturday, February 06, 2010
By Martin Beckford
The pontiff condemned support for euthanasia, which he said goes directly against the Christian understanding of the dignity of human life, and recent developments in embryo research.
He also said that too many people see the Roman Catholic Church in terms of “prohibitions and retrograde positions” but ignore its positive vision of the world.
The pope added that faith schools are a “powerful force” for improving society.
It comes just days after Benedict XVI made an unprecedented attack on Labour’s “unjust” equality laws, claiming that they restricted religious freedom.
He made his earlier intervention in politics, which triggered protests from MPs and campaigners, when he met 35 bishops from England and Wales on Monday.
On Friday the pope addressed Scotland’s Catholic bishops at the Vatican, where they had made the five-yearly “ad limina” pilgrimage.
Benedict XVI confirmed that he would journey to Scotland as part of the historic first papal state visit to Britain.
“Later this year, I shall have the joy of being present with you and the Catholics of Scotland on your native soil,” he said.
But he told the bishops they must “evangelise society” as he highlighted his concerns about the country.
The pope said: “That task requires a readiness to grapple firmly with the challenges presented by the increasing tide of secularism in your country.
“Support for euthanasia strikes at the very heart of the Christian understanding of the dignity of human life.
“Recent developments in medical ethics and some of the practices advocated in the field of embryology give cause for great concern.”
Last month Margo MacDonald, a member of the Scottish Parliament, published a bill that would let terminally ill people ask a doctor to help them end their lives. This would go even further than the guidelines for England and Wales being drawn up by the Director of Public Prosecutions, Keir Starmer, which are likely to state that anyone who helps a loved one die will not be prosecuted unless they did it for profit or the victim was not seriously ill.
In 2008 the UK Parliament passed a law that would allow the creation of hybrid human-animal embryos to help develop cancer treatments.
The pope went on: “The Church offers the world a positive and inspiring vision of human life, the beauty of marriage and the joy of parenthood.
“All too often the Church’s doctrine is perceived as a series of prohibitions and retrograde positions, whereas the reality, as we know, is that it is creative and life-giving, and it is directed towards the fullest possible realization of the great potential for good and for happiness that God has implanted within every one of us.
“You can be proud of the contribution made by Scotland’s Catholic schools in overcoming sectarianism and building good relations between communities. Faith schools are a powerful force for social cohesion, and when the occasion arises, you do well to underline this point.”
Cardinal Keith O’Brien, the most senior Catholic in Britain, told the pope: “Your Holiness has let it be known that you will visit Great Britain in the autumn, and we are thrilled that your visit will include Scotland.
“We remember with joy the visit of your venerable predecessor, Pope John Paul II, in 1982.
“We are certain that the Scottish people will give Your Holiness a heartfelt welcome. We hope that your visit to Scotland later this year will bring us renewed encouragement, vigour and joy as we seek to serve Christ in the circumstances of the present day.”
Homosexuality rights campaigners and secular groups have announced that they will stage protests when Benedict XVI arrives in Britain – likely to be in September – after he spoke out so strongly against equality law.
He had in mind the order that Catholic adoption agencies must consider same-sex couples as potential parents, and the clause in the Equality Bill currently before Parliament that could have left churches unable to require that employees are Christians, and forced to admit homosexuals to the priesthood.
Labour later disclosed that it would not seek to reintroduce the contentious clause of the bill, saying: “The Pope's intervention has been noted.”
Saturday, January 30, 2010
Reuters January 29th, 2010
Patriarch Irinej at a news conference in Belgrade, 28 Jan 2010/Ivan MIlutinovic
For all of Irinej Gavrilovic’s 80 years, his Serbian Orthodox Church has kept its distance from the Vatican and the pope, maintaining a division whose roots date back a millennium. But only a few days into the job as the 45th Serbian Orthodox Patriarch, Irinej has several times repeated an invitation to the Roman Catholic pontiff, hoping that both men could celebrate a significant anniversary in 2013.
It was an expression of hope, not only that the churches could overcome past differences, but also that two men already in their 80s could make plans three years into the future.
On Thursday, Irinej discussed the invitation in a forum that none of his recent predecessors had ever employed, the news conference, amid a give and take with a gaggle of reporters. There he said his church will be glad to welcome Pope Benedict to Serbia in 2013 in a bid to foster dialogue about reconciliation between two largest Christian communities, a millennium after their Great Schism.
The occasion would be the 1,700th anniversary of the Edict of Milan, which will be marked in Serbia’s southern city of Nis, the birthplace of the Roman Emperor Constantine. The Edict promoted religious tolerance and legalised Christianity in the Roman Empire, whose realm extended across the Balkans.
“For what we know, there’s a wish of the Roman Episcopate, the pope, that such a meeting should happen in the city which is the birthplace of an emperor who made such a landmark move,” Irinej said. Though there were no formal contacts between the Serbian Orthodox Patriarchate and the Holy See, “such a meeting would be a golden opportunity not only for an ecumenical meeting but also for the renewal of the dialogue. It would be an opportunity to open the issue of the reunification and discussion about that. It would be a long process since many centuries have passed since the split.”
The East–West Schism of 1054 split Christianity into Eastern (Greek) and Western (Latin) branches, which later became known as the Eastern Orthodox Church and the Roman Catholic Church. The Eastern Church further divided into the autocephalous groups including the Russian, Greek and Serbian Orthodox Churches.
In 1965, after centuries of sometimes bitter disputes, the Pope and the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople nullified the anathemas exchanged between Eastern and Western Christian leaders in 1054, but the split along doctrinal, theological, linguistic, political and geographical lines lines has never been healed.
Irinej said there had been discussions about a papal visit to the Balkans in the 1990s, shortly after the end of wars that tore apart Yugoslavia. “Back then, we as the Holy Assembly and as the Holy Synod, believed that it was not the right time, and that the visit should be postponed for more peaceful times,” he said.
Belgrade’s daily Blic quoted Vatican spokesman Father Frederico Lombardi as saying Irinej’s remarks demonstrated an “encouraging, open and ecumenical approach, something we received with a great joy … However, we are only at the beginning of the 2010 and the 2013 is still far. This is a positive possibility, but we still don’t have enough elements to foresee the exact date of the meeting.”
Irinej’s remarks about papal visit came weeks after Serbian President Boris Tadic visited the Vatican in late 2009.
At his new conference, Patriarch Irinej also said that the Serbian Orthodox Church will remain open for dialogue with much smaller Macedonian Orthodox Church which unilaterally split from the Patriarchate in Belgrade in 1967. Although it is not in communion with any Orthodox Church, it enjoys support from the government in Skopje. “Our door will remain open to the dialogue until the issue of the unrecognized Macedonian church is resolved in the best possible way,” he said.
Although he reached out to other Christians, the new patriach upset Serbia’s Islamic community. In an interview carried by Blic, Irinej said that “Islam’s philosophy was that Muslims, when they are in small numbers, can behave well and be fair, but that once they become superior, they start to exert pressure.”
The remarks, which echoed the church’s hardline practices during the Balkan wars of the 1990s when top Serbian clergy openly backed paramilitaries who committed war crimes throughout the former Yugoslavia, sparked outrage among Serbian Islamic communities.
“It is completely clear that this statement calls for genocide, because it shows that Muslims are acceptable to the patriarch only when they are in minority and when they live with their heads bowed down,” the Islamic Community in Serbia said in a statement.
Irinej sought to rectify the problem and at the press conference he said that his church has always respected Muslim community. “It is their religion and why would we interfere and give our opinion? We respect them as a religious community. That’s what we have always been doing. We will continue to do so onwards, to be fully tolerant toward every religion, religious community and ideology,” he said.
by Damian Thompson Religion
In a surprising departure from protocol, the Queen has sent the Lord Chamberlain, the most senior official of the Royal Household, to see Archbishop Vincent Nichols, leader of the Roman Catholic Church in England and Wales, to discuss Pope Benedict XVI’s offer to Anglicans wanting to convert to Rome en masse.
My source says Her Majesty – who is expected to meet the Pope when he visits Britain this autumn – was “unhappy” about aspects of the scheme as she understood it. So, late last year, she dispatched Lord Peel with a list of questions for the Archbishop. The nature of the questions has not been revealed, but Archbishop’s House confirms that the meeting took place and was “mutually beneficial”.
The Queen – a somewhat “Low Church” Anglican who feels it is her solemn duty to preserve the Protestant identity of the Church of England – appears to have been alarmed by press reports of Pope Benedict’s Apostolic Constitution, Anglicanorum coetibus. This allows groups of ex-Anglicans anywhere to convert to Rome together, retaining aspects of Anglican worship. Some members of the Church of England have expressed interest in doing so, but are very keen to carry on worshipping in their former Anglican parish churches. Possibly the Queen felt that this process might conflict with her Coronation Oath to maintain all the “rights and privileges” of the bishops, clergy and churches of England.
My source was surprised that the Queen should ask one of her courtiers, the Ampleforth-educated but Anglican 3rd Earl Peel, to quiz Archbishop Nichols on the subject. The source felt that the meeting – thought to have been held in November at Archbishop’s House, Westminster – could be seen as a breach of protocol: one would expect the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, to represent the Church’s Supreme Governor in such a discussion.
There have been rumours that the Queen is dismayed by the Anglican drift towards homosexual blessings and women bishops. Perhaps she felt that she needed an adviser answerable only to her to convey information impartially – particularly given that she will probably meet Pope Benedict in Scotland, either at Balmoral or Holyrood, when he visits Britain in September. (The discussion between Lord Peel and the Archbishop is unlikely to have been about this meeting, however, since the Scottish Catholic Church is independent of England and Wales.)
At any rate, the spokesman for Archbishop Nichols insisted tonight that the meeting was a success. “It gave the Archbishop the opportunity to correct some of the misunderstandings about the Apostolic Constitution created by misreporting in the media,” he told me. “It was a very successful meeting and mutually beneficial.”
What the spokesman couldn’t tell me – and indeed, didn’t seem to know – was why the leader of the Catholic Church in England and Wales should have been asked to see the Lord Chamberlain, of all people, to discuss what is essentially a theological and constitutional question.
The Catholic Bishops of England and Wales have been asked by Rome to discuss a provisional structure for the ex-Anglican “Ordinariate” (a quasi-diocese). Archbishop Nichols is a key figure in this process, and I don’t envy him. On the one hand, some of his bishops hate the Pope’s proposal and will work to make its provisions as ungenerous as possible; on the other, he has to report to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which is ultimately in charge of the Ordinariate scheme on behalf of the Pope, and which does favour generosity.
Now, it would seem, the Archbishop has also to bear in mind the Queen’s early misgivings about a scheme which could see a few parish communities moving from the Church that she governs – and that she promised to protect at her Coronation – to the jurisdiction of the Holy See.
Friday, January 22, 2010
Thursday, January 21, 2010
Rabbi Di Segni Analyzes Jewish-Catholic Relations
By Carmen Elena VillaROME, JAN. 20, 2010 (Zenit.org).-
Benedict XVI's recent visit to Rome's Synagogue was an important step on the way to understanding and reconciliation between Jews and Christians, says the Chief Rabbi of Rome, Riccardo Di Segni. On Sunday, the Pope became the second Pontiff to visit the Synagogue of Rome. Pope John Paul II was the first, in 1986. It was Benedict XVI's third visit to a synagogue, after visits in Cologne and New York.
Di Segni told ZENIT this week that he believes "it has been an important event, and one that goes beyond all the polemics that have taken place and that in a certain sense continue to take place inevitably."
"We thought it was a necessary moment in the path, an important sign of continuity," he added.
According to the rabbi, who has been Rome's chief rabbi since 2001, the Pope's visit "shows the existence of a foundation of good disposition by both sides, which constitutes the basis on which we can discuss with all frankness, without giving up anything, but going forward."
The rabbi sees two challenges to progress in the dialogue between Catholics and Jews, although he admitted that if he was to make a complete list, "I could stay until tomorrow morning."
In the first place, he clarified, "there is a problem that affects the interpretation of the role of the Church during the Shoa: the responsibility of Christians in anti-Semitism."
"A part of this problem is in fact the responsibility of Pius XII," the rabbi said. "The judgment on Pius XII is very complex, as there is no doubt that in his pontificate many Jews were hidden and saved, but for us there is no doubt that there was an acquiescence, a lack of action, in face of what was happening."
Di Segni said the second problem posed in Judeo-Catholic relations "is the theological role of Jews in the Catholic vision": "Must we be converted or can we arrive at salvation calmly?"
"Moreover," he added, "there are political problems that affect the land of Israel, but they are specifically political." Finally, among these challenges, the rabbi mentioned the relation of Jews and Christians "with the other religions, with all the problems of modernity."
Rabbi Di Segni said he appreciated what Benedict XVI said during his visit to the synagogue, in particular his quotation of John Paul II in which he asked for forgiveness for the sufferings caused by the children of the Church to the children of the People of the Covenant.
"It is a very noble, very important text on which we must reflect from different points of view, as in Judaism there is no delegation of forgiveness," the rabbi said. "Anyone can forgive the fault suffered personally and ask for forgiveness. It is something that serves above all as commitment for the future and, from this point of view, it is important."
"What sense does it make to ask for forgiveness without identifying the one I do not now say who is responsible, but perhaps indifferent? Then, on this, a discussion is opened which can be somewhat complex at this moment," he added.
According to the rabbi, the proposal of forgiveness presented by the Pope could purify future relations between Jews and Catholics: "For us, forgiveness must be understood as not to do the same again. This is what is important for us."
Bioethics and culture
The rabbi, who continues to practice his medical profession in the Radiology department of St. John's hospital in Rome, believes that the defense of life could become a common point of commitment for Catholics and Jews.
"I am actively involved in the field of bioethics," he said. "Obviously we share the theme of the defense of life from the beginning until the end."
"We have discussions on the way of defining the beginning and the end," the rabbi noted, "as we do not have identical positions."
He explained that Jews "do not see conception as the beginning of life." Finally, speaking about Benedict XVI, the rabbi stressed above all "his doctrinal profundity and his sensitivity to cultural topics."
"He is very different from the preceding pastoral image," Di Segni said. "And I can tell you that we, Jews, love culture."