Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Pope sees social teaching embodied in Chrysostom


At his regular weekly public audience on September 26, Pope Benedict XVI continued his discussion of St. John Chrysostom, speaking about the personal example set by the 4th-century bishop.
Although he is known today primarily as a preacher and theologian, St. John Chrysostom was a great reformer during his tenure as Bishop of Constantinople, the Pope said. "The austerity of the episcopal palace" set the tone of dedication that he expected from his clergy. At the same time, the great preacher was also known as a great alms-giver, who established new charitable initiatives in his diocese.
As a pastor of souls, St. John Chrysostom "always showed tender concern for women, and took special interest interest in marriage and the family," the Pope continued. He was deeply involved in liturgical questions, setting the standards for the liturgy that is still used in the Byzantine churches. And he was active in the political world whenever that was required for the welfare of the faithful. His political involvement, in fact, led eventually to conflicts with the regime, and he died in exile in 407.
Returning to the theological insights of the saint, who is honored by both Catholic and Orthodox believers as a doctor of the Church, the Pope told the 20,000 people gathered in St. Peter's square that St. John Chrysostom emphasized the understanding that God is a "tender Father," offering infinite love to each of his human children.
The reality of God's love transforms mankind, St. John Chrysostom taught, and gives Christians a radically new vision. Pope Benedict observed: "Chrysostom understood that it was not enough to give alms, to help the poor one case at a time, rather that it was necessary to create a new structure, a new model for society." In that sense, the Pontiff said, "we may consider him as one of the great Fathers of the Church's social doctrine."


Michael Petek said...

Didn't St John Chrysostom make a number of extreme antisemitic statements, or are these taken out of context?

Philip said...

It was a great address, which also reminded me of the ecumenical angle and how we should be praying for S John Chrysostom's successor as he fights the current attack by Turkey's secular (neo-Islamic?) government in stripping him of his title of "Ecumenical Patriarch" and also its powers of jurisdiction.

I noted that the Holy Father referred to the end of S John Chrysostom's life when his teaching returned to the theme of "God's plan for humanity," reaffirming that "God loves each of us with an infinite love, and therefore He wants everyone to be saved."

You don't get more catholic than that!