Monday, June 17, 2013

Peace with a Broken Heart

Peace with a Broken Heart   versione testuale
Letter from the Maronite Archbishop of Damascus, Msgr. Samir Nasar, to our Dicastery

We read:
The more talk there is in Geneva II about peace in Syria, the more the war becomes violent and the suffering great…
We're talking about a typical game, in which each side tries to improve its position on the ground before reaching the final solution. This scenario does not take into account the poor people caught in the crossfire… We are in the third year of this global conflict, sinking into ever greater misery, in the face of the impotence of the United Nations.
This heavy ordeal is crushing THE FAMILY, the basic cell that has withstood the violence… Weakened by the war and by insecurity, the family can neither save nor protect. The Syrian family looks with sadness on the hesitant silence and the indifference of the international society faced by this cruel unending tragedy.
The father of a family, who has lost everything, came to the church complaining loudly: “I no longer have a home. I’ve lost everything. My family is living scattered with different cousins. I no longer have a job. I'm hungry. I'm sick and without medication. What does the Church do for me? You are not able to protect me, to find me shelter, and you can’t get me a visa so that I can leave the country…”
“I'm like a beetle that’s in the bottom of a cup and can’t get out; it goes around in circles until it dies at the bottom of its hole. That’s what I am”, he said this man as he left the archdiocese with deep anger.
Many Syrians are like this man. They go round and round at the bottom of their hole. All the doors are closed. They face their fate, immersed in accusing silence.
A mother, fleeing the bombing of her village, with four children, was forced, after five hours of walking in the mountains and valleys, to abandon the two youngest on the street. When she got to Lebanon, exhausted, to a place of a refuge, with the two oldest children, she was crying over her two youngest abandoned ones, because she was not able to bring them. She had to choose between the death of all and the survival of only one part. A terrible choice and a cruel situation. How long will this war last? How can we imagine the pain of this mother, forced to abandon two of her children in order to save the other two? Who would better comfort this broken heart than Our Lady of Sorrows? This harrowing scene joins that of Mary at the foot of the Cross.
At a meeting of the Bishops of the Middle East, listening to the pain of all these countries, the Apostolic Nuncio evoked ecumenical suffering that unites all Christians of the Orient in the same ordeal. A difficult, painful and providential path of unity. And the disappearance of our two bishops, since April 22nd, 2013, leaves us aghast.
The long list of refugees in the Middle East, which gradually joined by over six million Syrian refugees, is becoming longer. Ecumenism of the exiles without labels, Christians and Muslims… Could this suffering lead to reconciliation between the religions and the peoples of the Middle East? IS IT POSSIBLE TO SEE LIFE AND PEACE WITHOUT THE CROSS?

June 2013
+ Samir Nassar
Maronite Archbishop of Damascus

Pope's Evangelium Vitae Mass : Life is a Gift. Say yes to life, no to death!

Pope's Evangelium Vitae Mass : Life is a Gift. Say yes to life, no to death!

Friday, June 14, 2013

Francis to Complete Benedict’s Encyclical Pope Emeritus Will Not Contribute Additional Material to Work on Faith

 Thursday, Jun 13, 2013 2:08 PM Comment
Pope Francis is completing an encyclical on faith begun by Pope Benedict XVI, but the pope emeritus is not contributing further to the document, the Vatican has said.
Speaking to reporters May 24, Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi denied earlier reports claiming that Benedict XVI was continuing to write the encyclical that would then be signed by Pope Francis.

"As is known, at the time of his resignation, Benedict XVI left the encyclical project that had already been started," Father Lombardi said, adding that it "now appears his successor is completing it, even if I couldn’t predict the time necessary for its publication."
Earlier reports given by an Italian bishop claimed that Benedict XVI was concluding his work on the encyclical and that Pope Francis would be writing an encyclical on poverty.
Bishop Luigi Martella of the Diocese of Molfetta-Ruvo-Giovinazzo-Terlizzi wrote May 23 on his diocesan website that, after the encyclical on faith, Pope Francis was planning to prepare his first encyclical on the poor.

The Italian bishop added that it is to be about poverty "understood not in an ideological and political sense, but in the sense of the Gospel." He said Pope Francis revealed this when he and his fellow bishops met the Holy Father on their ad limina visit May 13-16.
Father Lombardi said the news about Benedict XVI "finishing off the text is completely unfounded," but he didn’t rule out a future encyclical dedicated to the poor.

"Let’s take one encyclical at a time," the Vatican spokesman said.

It would not be unprecedented for a pope to complete an encyclical begun by his predecessor. Benedict XVI’s first encyclical, Deus Caritas Est (God Is Love), contained a large section that had been written during the final months of Blessed John Paul II’s pontificate.

Benedict’s Objective
Benedict XVI wanted to use the encyclical on faith to share his reflections on what it means to be a Christian today and the role of faith in the life of man and society, especially in this Year of Faith.

In October, Vatican Insider claimed the incomplete passages had been getting "rave reviews" from those who had already seen drafts.

"The text of the Pope is beautiful," a senior bishop in the Curia is reported to have said. "With his simple language, Benedict XVI manages to express even the most complex and very deep truths using simple language, which has a widespread reach that goes beyond all imagination."

Many in the Church would welcome papal teaching on the faith at a time when, especially in many Western societies, the faith is in crisis.

Dominican Father Paul Murray, professor of literature of the mystical tradition at the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas in Rome, said that in an "age of great bewilderment, of a dictatorship of relativism," doubts are being sown among ordinary believers "in a way they weren’t 20 years ago."

But quoting Benedict XVI, he stressed the "simplicity of the faith," saying, "It’s not that complicated; it’s not just for intellectuals."

He believes such an encyclical is also needed at a time when there is a tendency to succumb to fundamentalism. "In an age of bewilderment, people panic and look for clear and distinct ideas; there’s a refusal to live with the complexity and mystery," Father Murray said.

Living with that mystery is "part of the faith process," he said, but stressed it is "not an ambiguity that renders everything relative." Rather, communion with God makes you "automatically humbled," he said.

"You can be very confident about the truths of the faith, but that confidence is not a fundamentalist confidence; there’s a humble joy that automatically comes from contact with God."

"I suspect that will be very important for us to be reminded of," he said.

‘Wonderful’ Collaboration
Father Murray said that to have two popes contributing to an encyclical on faith is "wonderful and beautiful."

"The genius of Benedict was just marvelous, but the genius of Francis is that he just talks over all our professional Christians and Catholics and speaks to the world," he said. "He speaks in a very direct, humble, Gospel way, and I hope the encyclical will have some of that, as well as all the great theological profundity of Benedict."

Read more:

Wednesday, June 05, 2013

AP not sweating details on stories

A reader passed along this gem from the Associated Press that begins:
SAN FRANCISCO DE YARE, Venezuela — The descendants of African slaves donned masks and bright red costumes as they danced through the streets of this small Venezuelan town on Thursday for its annual commemoration of Corpus Cristi.
Young men beat drums and shook maracas as the “devils” paraded through the streets and people gathered to celebrate Corpus Cristi, a Roman Catholic holiday celebrating the transformation of the body and blood of Christ into bread and wine.
Um, come again? A “Roman Catholic holiday celebrating the transformation of the body and blood of Christ into bread and wine?” I’m actually of the mindset that 100 percent of educated people should have a passing knowledge of what the Eucharist means to traditional Christians. But even if you think that’s too much to expect, I’m sure we all agree that reporters and editors on stories about the Eucharist should have a passing knowledge of it, right?

The error is repeated throughout a 16-photo slideshow over at Huffington Post. Each caption includes the error, including this one:
Men dressed as a dancing devils perform on the streets in San Francisco de Yare, Venezuela, Thursday, May 30, 2013. The descendants of African slaves donned colorful masks and bright red costumes as they danced through the streets of this small Venezuelan town on Thursday for its annual commemoration of Corpus Christi, a Roman Catholic holiday celebrating the transformation of the body and blood of Christ into bread and wine. (AP Photo/Fernando Llano)
I’m going to go ahead and let (HuffPo commenter) MirrorMonkey take it from here:
What incompetents who humorously claim to be “professional journalists” wrote this gross public display of doltish ignorance?
Corpus Christi is certainly not a “Catholic holiday celebrating the transformation of the body and blood of Christ into bread and wine.” It is instead a Catholic solemnity that commemorates exactly the opposite: namely, how in the Eucharist, mere bread and wine are transformed into the true Body and Blood of Christ. Reversing it, as the writer did, is as clueless as saying that a wedding ceremony celebrates the transformation of a married couple into two unmarried people who will live apart.
Furthermore, in a Corpus Christi procession, priests don’t ” carry sacramental bread.” If it were believed to be mere bread, there would be no point in carrying it and honoring it at all. Instead, Catholics believe that regardless of any appearances of bread (that is, the “accidents”), the reality of the Eucharist is that it isn’t bread at all, but is really and truly the Body of Jesus Christ. The priests therefore carry what they believe to be Jesus Christ through the streets — which is why the feast is called (doh!) Corpus Christi, or the Body of Christi.
I know that reporters today are not expected to know anything about the subjects of their stories, but it is unfortunate that the total lack of basic cultural knowledge is now tolerated among those who are supposed to be their editors as well.

Reporters writing about Corpus Christi festivals might consult this page or this one or this one.
Image of Venezuelan Corpus Cristi festival via cla78/