Tuesday, January 11, 2011
Assisi One and Assisi Three
As a loyal priest I found myself at the time trying to defend the barely indefensible. I did so by suggesting that the Pope alone as the first and foremost world spiritual leader was able call such an assembly and that it was perhaps necessary for all "spiritual leaders" to express some solidarity with one another for the promotion of "Peace" in the face of growing secularisation and materialism.
Cardinal Ratzinger was the lone member of the curia who broke ranks and publicly criticised the event as being "ill judged". Since becoming Pope he has changed the structures governing the use of the Assisi churches, he has stressed that although Christians may pray alongside non-Christians they may not pray with pagans. Although he seems happy to recite the Psalms and the Old Testament with Jews he is quite clear about the inability of Christians to pray with rather alongside other "faiths".
At the beginning of the year the Pope announced Assisi Three, I was surprised but Benedict's Assisi will be quite different to his predecessors.
The Pope's New Year address to the the Diplomatic Corps clearly spoke of religious freedom, he condemned by name the Pakistani blasphemy laws, he has also called for the right of Christians to build churches and freely worship in Islamic countries. Again and again Benedict stresses the uniqueness of Christ and the Catholic Church the necessity of salvation through Christ and the possibility of other "faiths" to learn from Christianity. The difference between Assisi One and Three is Pope Benedict is charge and calls a spade a spade, and isn't afraid to do so.
This initiative should be seen as a corrective to Assisi One and perhaps a sign of the Pope's confidence that his reforms are actually taking hold of the Church.
Posted by Fr Ray Blake