Saturday, September 30, 2006

I found this on YouTube.
Valle Adurni has, ":-" their Regensburg correspondent but here is the choir that Prelat Ratzinger, the Pope's older brother, used to run, nice pictures too. They are singing a Christus Vincit.

Priest is horrified at body find

Angelika Kluk failed to turn up to work on Monday a Roman Catholic priest is "utterly shattered" that police looking for a missing woman have found a body in his Glasgow church.
Angelika Kluk, a 23-year-old Polish student, had been living at St Patrick's Church, where Father Gerry Nugent is the priest.
The police are looking for a man who worked in the Church as a handyman. Nowadays, following the scandals of a priest in our diocese, who was a serial paederast, and who after a period of treatment was deemed by experts to be "safe", and therefore allowed to resume some pastoral work by our then bishop, now Cardinal, Cormac Murphy O'Connor everyone involved with Church life who might have contact with children or vulnerable adults has to have a CRB (Criminal Records Bureau) check. This includes not only those who work directly with children: catechists, teachers, scout leaders but also adult altar servers and choir members when children are included, the sacristan, extra-ordinary ministers of Holy Communion etc, etc, etc. In this parish, as in many inner city parishes, some of these people have very good reasons for keeping their past lives secret, not because of any criminal sexual predilection, the only alternative we have is that we limit contact with children and vulnerable adults, to our maim Sunday Mass. It means that our ministry to children and the young is limited, which does not necessarily serve inner city children well.
If the man suspected of this murder is indeed the perpetrator, then it causes us some real concern. First of all the young girl was not a "vulnerable adult" and secondly the man used an assumed identity, he would not be picked up in a CRB check. I can understand the real anguish of the priest involved in this case not just over the murder of an innocent girl, and the sacrilege involved but the whole protection issue.
In an inner city parish one has a constant change of people involved in parish life, these are often lonely and damaged people. One is fortunate if one can get the types of things that might be happening easily in a leafier area to happen in such a situation. Inner city parishes are often poorer than their rural counterparts, and so in many ways are more dependant on volunteers. I for my part sympathise with Fr Gerry Nugent, I can well see myself in the same situation, though one tries to eliminate risk, the inner city is a risky place, people in my parish are dying all the time of accidental overdoses, suicide, at the hands of others.
The truth of the matter is that there is no way in which one can keep one's parishioners safe, children are abused by stepfathers and parents, the elderly by their children and the vulnerable by other vulnerable people they meet, and those who society thinks are not vulnerable at all, as a Pastor one knows just how fragile they are.
Pray for all who are involved, pray for priests especially those in the innercity.

"But, Father, what about the Lion, Father?"

I spoke about St Jerome and his love of the word of God and his writing of the Vulgate, this morning, in passing I mention the Pope, an Honorius I think, who passing an icon of the saint, in penitential mode, beating his breast, the Pope is said to have muttered, “O Jerome, if it were not for those stone, this day you would not be enjoying the joys of heaven but the very depths of hell”. I pointed out that Jerome gives us hope because he was so bad tempered and yet easily placated, the first because of nature the second because of what he read in scripture.

“But what about the Lion,” some asked me after Mass. I avoided mentioning the Lion, it sounds a bit like the Aesop fable to me. On reflection I think the Lion is a sign of the growling violence of Jerome’s nature, the same nature that drove him to so much effort on behalf of Christ and against heresy, something which could erupt and destroy, something hair triggered, and yet the lion was under the control of his master. In a way the lion, in images of St Jerome, is Jerome himself, Jerome is Christ. It is all about nature controlled by grace. The animal in all of us controlled by the love of God.

Memoria of St Jerome

Saint Jerome, [in Latin, Eusebius Hieronymus] (347?-419 or 420), was Father of the Church, Doctor of the Church, and biblical scholar, and whose most important work was a translation of the Bible into Latin (see Vulgate). Jerome was born in Stridon, on the border of the Roman provinces of Dalmatia and Pannonia, about 347. After a period of literary study in Rome, he withdrew to the desert, where he lived as an ascetic and pursued the study of Scripture. In 379 he was ordained a priest. He then spent three years in Constantinople (present-day Ýstanbul) with the Eastern church father, Saint Gregory of Nazianzus. In 382 he returned to Rome, where he was made secretary to Pope Damasus I and became an influential figure. Many people placed themselves under his spiritual direction, including a noble Roman widow named Paula and her daughter, both of whom followed him to the Holy Land in 385 after the death of Damasus. Jerome fixed his residence at Bethlehem in 386, after Paula (later Saint Paula) founded four convents there, three for nuns and one for monks; the latter was governed by Jerome himself. There he pursued his literary labors and engaged in controversy not only with heretics Jovinian and Vigilantius and the adherents of Pelagianism, but also with monk and theologian Tyrannius Rufinus and with Saint Augustine. Because of his conflict with the bishop of Jerusalem, by about 395 Jerome found himself threatened with expulsion by the Roman civil authorities. Although this threat was averted, Jerome's later years were overshadowed by the sack of Rome in 410, the death of Paula and her daughter, and his own increasing isolation.
In addition to his work on the Bible, Jerome's literary activity was extensive and varied. He continued the Chronicle of Eusebius of Caesarea, which covered sacred and profane history from the birth of Abraham to AD303, bringing the narrative to the year 378. For his De Viris Illustribus (On Famous Men), Jerome drew upon the Ecclesiastical History of the same Eusebius. He also wrote a number of commentaries on various books of the Bible, as well as polemical treatises against various theological opponents. Jerome was a brilliant and prolific correspondent; more than 150 of his letters survive. His feast day is September 30.
read more

Friday, September 29, 2006

al-Zawahri: Pope is a charlatan

The main thrust of al-Quaida’s #2 on a newly released video was an attack on President Bush, it was expected that he would also attack the Pope. A

According to the IntelCenter, al-Zawahri said Benedict is reminiscent of Pope Urban II, who in 1095 ordered the First Crusade to establish Christian control in the Holy Land.
"This charlatan accused Islam of being incompatible with rationality while forgetting that his own Christianity is unacceptable to a sensible mind."

"If Benedict attacked us, we will respond to his insults with good things. We will call upon him, and all of the Christians to become Muslims who do not recognize the Trinity or the crucifixion."

Trawling through the sites this seemed to be more or less all he had to say, about the Pope, which for al-Quaida is almost gentle, maybe the Pope's words are being listened to. Let us pray that is so.

not really directly connected but...
I thought it might be interesting to see what came up when I put "POPE" into the Ajazeera search engine, this is the top ten.

1 - Zawahiri blasts Bush, Pope in video (9/29/2006) Aljazeera reports that Ayman al-Zawahiri, al-Qaeda's number two, in a new video message has called US President George Bush a liar who had failed in his war against al-Qaeda.
2 - Echoes of the pope in al-Azhar mosque (9/27/2006) The protests in Egypt and the rest of the Muslim world over remarks made by Pope Benedict XVI, who implicitly linked Islam and violence, particularly in regard to jihad have still not abated.
3 - Pope tells of 'respect' for Muslims (9/25/2006) Pope Benedict XVI has met Muslim diplomats in Rome as part of the Catholic church's latest effort to mend relations with the Islamic world.
4 - EU official criticises Muslim fury (9/24/2006) Jose Manuel Durao Barroso, the EU Commission president, has strongly defended Pope Benedict XVI, saying Muslim criticism was unacceptable.
5 - Let us be rational (9/24/2006) The Muslim overreaction to the pope's remarks may go to support his point about Muslim's problems with rationality.
6 - Palestinians protest against pope (9/23/2006) Thousands of Muslims staged anti-pope marches in Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza on Friday, waving green Hamas banners and denouncing the pontiff as a coward.
7 - Pope invites Muslim envoys to Rome (9/22/2006) Pope Benedict will meet Muslim ambassadors to the Vatican and Italian Islamic leaders in an attempt to end the furore caused by his speech in Germany.
8 - Pope: Islam remarks not my views (9/20/2006) Pope Benedict XVI has said his use of medieval quotes critical of Islam, which infuriated Muslims worldwide, did not reflect his own convictions and were misunderstood.
9 - Papal envoys move to defuse anger (9/19/2006) The Vatican has begun a diplomatic drive to calm tensions after comments on Islam by Pope Benedict XVI.
10 - Pope's speech: Archbishop urges calm (9/18/2006) The Archbishop of Canterbury has called for calm over Pope Benedict XVI’s remarks about Islam, asking that they been seen in context.

Patriarch of Constantinople speaks

Ecumenical Orthodox Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople speaks about the Popes forthcoming visit to Istanbul, religious freedom and there is a little about the Turkish state control (persecution) of the Orthodox Church Turkey as well as a snippet about thre Orthodox- Catholic talks in Belgrade.

"In general, the pope is awaited in Turkey with joy and love," he said. He added that he was certain the government would take all necessary security measures to guarantee the pope's safety during the visit. Patriarch Bartholomew met with reporters the day after the European Union pressed the Turkish government to take several steps to respect the rights of religious minorities. Turkey is trying to enter the European Union, and Orthodox church officials are hoping that process will help expand religious freedom in the country.

The patriarch ends by speaking of the recent theological encounter in Belgrade, Serbia-Montenegro, opened the way for a discussion on papal primacy, long considered one of the most difficult ecumenical issues. Metropolitan John of Pergamon, Orthodox co-chairman of the international Catholic-Orthodox theological dialogue commission, told the reporters that Orthodox representatives to the dialogue have somewhat divergent views on papal primacy. Because they represent 15 Orthodox churches, he said, they do not feel they have to assume a unified position."Of course, the Roman Catholic Church is more disciplined, more organized, more obedient. We are more ...," he said, pausing to find the right word."Democratic," Patriarch Bartholomew said with a laugh, completing his sentence for him.
read whole article

Today is the Feast of St Michael and the Archangels: A Sermon of Pope Saint Gregory on Angels

11th century icon of St Michael
We speak of nine orders of Angels, because we know, by the testimony of Holy Scripture, that there are the following: Angels, Archangels, Virtues, Powers, Principalities, Dominations, Thrones, Cherubim and Seraphim. It must be realized that "Angel" is the name of their office, not of their nature. For the holy Spirits of the heavenly homeland are always Spirits, but they cannot always be called Angels; they are Angels only when they are announcing something. Those who announce less important things are called Angels, and those who announce the highest things are called Archangels. And so not any Angel but the Archangel Gabriel was sent to Mary; for this ministry, it was fitting to have the highest Angel, since he was to announce the greatest news of all. These Archangels are also given special names to describe their particular virtue. For Michael means "Who is like to God?" Gabriel means "Strength of God," and Raphael "Medicine of God."
Whenever something is to be done needing great power, Michael is sent forth so that from his action and his name we may understand that no one can do what God can do. Hence that old enemy who through pride desired to be like God is shown at the end of the world, left to his own strength and about to undergo the final punishment, as destined to fight with Michael the Archangel, as John says, "There was a battle with Michael the Archangel." Similarly, Gabriel was sent to Mary; he who is called "Strength of God" came to announce Him who deigned to appear in humility to conquer the powers of the air. And Raphael is interpreted, as we said, "Medicine of God," for when he touched the eyes of Tobias to do the work of healing, he dispelled the "night of his blindness."

China: Organ supplies increase

The BBC's Rupert Wingfield-Hayes visited No 1 Central Hospital in Tianjin, ostensibly seeking a liver for his sick father.
Officials there told him that a matching liver could be available in three weeks.
One official said that the prisoners volunteered to give their organs as a "present to society".
It is a complete fabrication... to say that China forcibly takes organs from the people given the death penalty for the purpose of transplanting them
Qin GangForeign ministry spokesman28 March 2006

He said there was currently an organ surplus because of an increase in executions ahead of the 1 October National Day.
China executes more prisoners than any other country in the world. In 2005, at least 1,770 people were executed, although true figures were believed to be much higher, a report by human rights group Amnesty International said.
China is one of those places that fill me with horror. In this parish we have a steady trickle of Chinese Catholic women who have fled their homeland because of the dreadful one child policy which results in enforce contraception, sterilisation and abortion. Life is cheap. This is article again points to it cheapness. Who was it who said, "a Godless society is a soulless society"?
The One Child Policy bodes ill for the world and for China itself, what is going to happen when all these children who have grown up without siblings or uncles or aunts grow up in a society where there is vast disparity between the number men and women. What do vast numbers of men do without the possibility marrying or belonging to a family do: go to war, committ acts of violence? What is the role of women in such a society?

Theology of the Body

Q: Some say that since the sexual revolution of the 1960s, the Church has been challenged in a way it has never been before to defend its teachings on sexuality. In what way? Father Percy: Most cultural commentators would agree that the sexual revolution began in the 1920s. In fact, G.K. Chesterton said of the sexual revolution that there was "more madness coming out of Manhattan than there was out of Moscow!" He perceived that the next heresy the Church would have to deal with would be of a sexual nature. We, now living in the 21st century, surely have no problems in recognizing the immense challenge before us. But "today" is our starting point and not "yesterday" or "tomorrow" -- what might have been or what might be. And the starting point -- or so it seems to me -- is this wonderfully intriguing and inviting teaching called the theology of the body.
read more

Zen to retire?

( Benedict XVI has promised to consider allowing Cardinal Joseph Zen Ze-kiun to retire as bishop of Hong Kong, and expressed his affection for the city's Catholics, says a news report. Speaking after a private audience with the Pope, the 74-year-old Cardinal Zen said he had told the Pontiff of his desire to retire as head of the Hong Kong Diocese to play a bigger role in affairs related to the mainland Church, according to the South China Morning Post. "The Holy Father said he will consider it," Cardinal Zen said Wednesday after he emerged from the Vatican Apostolic

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Russian czar‘s mother‘s remains interred

Orthodox Patriarch Alexiy II (C) throws soil on the coffin of Empress Maria Fyodorovna in the St. Peter and Paul Cathedral in St. Petersburg.

ST. PETERSBURG, Russia - Cannon shots boomed, motorists honked their horns and church bells tolled as the remains of the Danish-born empress who was the mother of Russia‘s last czar were interred in the Romanovs‘ royal crypt 78 years after her death.
The pomp-filled events began with Orthodox Patriarch Alexy II leading prayers in St. Isaac‘s Cathedral, the principal church of the Romanov dynasty. He praised Maria Feodorovna as a true daughter of Russia.
As the procession moved around the city, people crossed themselves, military officers saluted the cortege, and car drivers blew horns.
Since the demise of the Soviet Union in 1991, the Romanov family have been working for the remains of Maria Feodorovna to be sent to Russia.
It reflects the importance of Orthodoxy and a growing retrospection within Russia, I am told that crowds were quite large.

Today is the anniversary of John Paul I

Pope John Paul I during a ceremony at the Vatican. Thursday, September 28 will mark the anniversary of the sudden death of Pope John Paul I, who had succeeded Pope Paul VI just 33 days earlier.
Cardinal Albino Luciani is elected as Roman Pontiff on August 26, 1978.

Fun with Hats

No not ear-phones! I did not know this still happened, in the past, but obviously now too, people would give the pope a new zuchetto in turn he would take of the one he was wearing and give it to them.
One belonging to St Pius X fetched several thousand dollars on ebay.
Here the Pope's secretary Mgr. Georg Ganswein seems to be having fun with hats. I think both and secretary and amused by the situation.

News from ICEL: Good on ya' Bruce

The back story is that the English translations of the Mass are so poor, so full of theological inexactitudes, that Pope John Paul II ordered a new translation of the entire Missal. Msgr Harbert, who incidently used to be a priest of our diocese and worked in Brighton as chaplain to the University here, is in charge of producing these translations. Many of us have been waiting for these translations with great eagerness.

Sean Tribe has this:
"Monsignor Bruce Harbert, executive secretary for ICEL and a member of the Society, announced his personal hope that the new-and-improved ICEL translation of the Latin Missal will first be used by the Holy Father at World Youth Day 2008 (Sydney, Australia). That, he said, is not beyond the realm of possibility, since ICEL has finished its work on the Ordinary of the Mass and is expected to complete the translation of the propers by this time next year (leaving sufficient time for Rome’s final approval of the work)."

Response to Regensburg, continued

I was sent this video last night, best to watch it without the sound turned off, the music is really irritating, it tries to put the words of Manuel ii into context, with some disturbing images. It is perhaps a little illiberal for my tastes, but even then I find that my opinions over the last few weeks like many are hardening.

In the aftermath of the Pope's Regensburg Address, the anger of many in the Arab world has abated somewhat, after the storm reasonable voices are being heard.
However Gulf News carried this story
"Islamic ministers ask pope to retract remarks on Islam. United Nations: Foreign Ministers of the Organisation of the Islamic Conference have called on Pope Benedict XVI "to retract or redress" his "inappropriate" comments equating Islam with violence, according to a communique seen here yesterday.
Meeting late Monday on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly, the ministers of the 57-member OIC "expressed their profound regrets over the terms used by his Holiness Pope Benedict XVI in his lecture at the University of Regensburg in Bavaria, Germany, with regard to the Prophet Mohammad (PBUH)."
Some are waiting for Al Quaida's number 2 to issue a statement about the remarks, which he has threatened to do. i presume in some parts of the world that will mean more burnt churches and lives threatened.
Sheikh Abu Saqer, leader of Gaza's Jihadia Salafiya Islamic outreach movement, which seeks to make secular Muslims more religious, called the pope a "puppet" for "that Crusader George Bush."
The Gaza imam said the only Christian-Muslim dialogue that is acceptable is one in which "all religions agree to convert to Islam."

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Rite of degradation of a Bishop (or Archbishop)

Milingo's act of schism which caused his automatic excommunicaton has sent a buzz round some websites about the "Rite of Degradation of a Bishop", it was ordered to be printed for the first time in 1862 on the instruction of another Benedict, Benedict XIV.
Though one might suggest names, even those who qualify seem loathe to come forward to be publicly degraded, so I do not know when it was last used.

THE RITE OF DEGRADATION of a BISHOPIf the degradandus be an archbishop, the degrading prelate removes his pallium, saying:
We deprive thee of the rights and privileges of the episcopal dignity, symbolized in this pallium, since thou hast abused them.
Then, even if the degradandus be a mere bishop, the degrading prelate removes his mitre, saying:
We strip thy head of this miter, emblem of the episcopal dignity, since thou hast befouled it by thy ill government.
Then one of the ministers brings the Book of the Gospel to the degradandus, which the degrading prelate takes from his hands, saying;
Give us back the Gospel! Since thou hast spurned the grace of God and made thyself unworthy of the office of preaching, we rightly deprive you of this office.
Then the degrading prelate removes the ring from the finger of the degradandus, saying:
Rightly do we pull off thy ring, the sign of fidelity, since thou hast made bold to rape God's own bride, the Church.
At this time one of the ministers brings the degradandus a crosier, which the degrading prelate takes from his hands, saying;
Thy shepherd's staff we take from thee, that thou shalt be powerless henceforward to exercise that office of correction, which thou hast brought to disarray.
Then the ministers take off the gloves of the degradandus, and the degrading prelate lightly scrapes thumbs and hands with a knife blade or a shard of glass, saying:
We hereby deprive thee, to the extent of our powers, of the grace of spiritual blessing and of sacramental anointing, that thou shouldst forfeit the office of sanctifying and of blessing, and their effects.
With the same knife blade or shard the degrading prelate lightly scrapes the head of the degradandus, saying:
We utterly erase and eradicate the consecration, blessing and anointing bestowed upon thee, and we put thee out of the episcopal order, whence thou returnest unclothed.
The ministers remove the shoes from the degradandus Thus ends the ceremony.
He was then hand over to the civil authorities for secular punishment with the plea that blood should not be spilt nor should he be treated harshly.

Pope: doubts of St Thomas a support for those with faith insecurities, uncertainties

Every doubt can lead to an enlightened outcome,” said Benedict XVI. He recalled the missionary work of Thomas in Syria and India, and greeted delegates of the Asian Mission Congress.
Vatican City (AsiaNews) – The proverbial “unbelief” of Thomas is of comfort for all who have doubts and uncertainties, while the questions he asked Jesus about his divinity give “us too the right to ask Jesus for explanations”. With this modern take, open to non believers, Benedict XVI today resumed his catechesis on the personalities of the apostles, dedicating today’s to the apostle Thomas (known as “Didimo”, that is, twin).

read more

Berlin opera cancels Mozart production

Berin opera house said it has canceled a controversial production from its fall season, citing authorities' fears it posed undue security risks because it featured the severed heads of Buddha, Jesus and Muhammad.
In a statement released late Monday, the Deutsche Opera said it had decided "With great regret" To cancel a planned production of Mozart's "Idomeneo" From its fall season, after Berlin security officials warned of an "Incalculable risk" Due to scenes dealing with Islam, as well as other religions.
After its premiere in 2003, the production by Hans Neuenfels drew widespread criticism over the scene in which King Idomeneo presents the severed heads, not only of Poseidon, but of Jesus, Buddha and Muhammad.

"We know the consequences of the conflict over the (Muhammad) caricatures," The opera house said in a statement. "We believe that needs to be taken very seriously and hope for your support."
Germany's top security official, Interior Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble, who is visiting Washington, condemned the decision, which came ahead of a planned Wednesday
conference on Islam.
"That is crazy," Said Schaeuble told reporters. "This is unacceptable."

In Berlin they could of course not insult Judaism by featuring Moses. It is not Jesus or Buddha that is a problem, it is the fear of Islam. I say perform and be damned. It is now hardly original to be deliberately offensive to religions, what is being said, religion is something to be overcome? It reminds me of the performances put on during the French Revolution, Reason enthroned on the High Altar of Notre Dame du Paris, donkeys drinking out of chalices. The truth is of course, as history has shown, that what was really being portrayed was a culture that had lost its respect for any human values and moved from the Reign of Terror to the Napoleonic wars of European dominaton.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

This Archbishop excommunicated himself

Milingo's excommunication declared; Episcopal ordinations not recognized
Essential excerpt of the Holy See Press Office's communiqué:

For this public act, both Archbishop Milingo and the four ordained [bishops] incur in a latae sententiae excommunication, envisioned by Canon 1382 of the Code of Canon Law. Moreover, the Church does not recognize and does not intend to recognize in the future these ordinations and all ordinations derived from them, and retains that the canonical status of the four supposed bishops remains that in which they found themselves before the ordination.

Back story: Archbishop Milingo was deposed because of the wild charismatic/tribal excorcisms he performed, he was called to live in Rome, he then disappeared and was married to a Korean lady by the founder of the Moonies. He then returned to Communion with the Catholic Church and went back to Rome renouncing his marriage. A few months ago he disappeared and resurfaced in the USA with a schimatic group of former Catholics.

Jimmy Atkins has a rather frightening piece on the implications of this action, have a look.

This made me laugh

I found this on Fr Tim Finigan's site.
I was thinking we could use it as a parish promo.

A Rant: The elephant in the room

illustration from Banksy's exhibition "Barely Legal"
One of the things that has fascinated me, during the last few days is the Catholic reaction to the Pope’s Regensburg Address.
It ranges from the “we hate Muslims”, something which makes one wonder whose teaching we Catholics actually follow, to the much more worrying, "let us not say anything that might offend". The problem is that Truth is offensive, certainly to those who find the very concept of “the Truth” unacceptable.
The Boston Globe had a column recently by an ex-priest, he concludes by saying in a derogatory way, misreading the Pope’s words, his central theme was faith is not at odds with reason, reason is of God. “In all of this, Benedict is defending a hierarchy of truth. Faith is superior to reason. Christian faith is superior to other faiths (especially Islam). Roman Catholicism is superior to other Christian faiths. And the pope is supreme among Catholics . He does not mean to insult when he defends this schema, yet seems ignorant of how inevitably insulting it is. Nor does the pope understand that, today, such narcissism of power comes attached to a fuse.”

Yes, he is right, the truth is explosive, having beliefs is explosive. It would be unreasonable for a Catholic to assume that his beliefs, which he holds up as being True, are going to be accepted by everyone. Faith, the ability to comprehend Truth is a divine gift. The problem is that for us Truth is something important enough to die for, it is non-negotiable.
Today is the memoria of Saints Cosmos and Damian, John Paul II did many splendid things, but one of the things he did was devalue the currency of martyrdom, he canonised men and women as martyrs who might well have been holy but died because of their ethnic origin or even for acts of goodness, rather than a deliberate choice between Christ who is Truth and death. Cosmos and Damian, whose death the Church remembers today, like the other great Martyrs of the Church, died for one simple reason, the Truth of the Catholic faith.

The elephant in the room is this Truth; secular society has truths, many of them. Catholicism has only one; the Gospels identify it as Jesus Christ; the Way, Truth and Life who says to the Apostles whoever listens to you listens to me, who guarantees that whatever Peter binds on earth will be bound in heaven, and promises to send the Spirit to guide us into all Truth. We can disguise the Truth we can make it blend in with the wallpaper, we can be a little shocked by it but for Catholics it is always there. John Paul and now Benedict, have been calling Catholics out of theological and moral relativism to see the Truth in our midst, for some Catholics this is going to be time of great joy, for others, who are consumed by the relativist theology and morals of the age, it is going to be a time of deep pain.

You Will Be My Witnesses

On the website of one the largest dioceses in the world, the Archdiocese of Milan (, that Dionigi Card. Tettamanzi (whom many consider a frontrunner among the papabili), on 8 September, feast of the Nativity of Mary, has initiated a missionary-style program of conversion there parish by parish. His Eminence has issued for this purpose a major pastoral letter entitled "Mi Sarete Testimoni…You Will Be My Witnesses" (cf. Acts 1:8) outlining a three-year plan. In his homily for the feast of the Nativity of Mary, Card. Tettamanzi stressed the importance of assuring that celebration of Sunday Masses, especially, was characterized by a very highly quality so that people could truly experience an encounter with God and thus be more able to give themselves over to Him in obedience. In response to the problem of so many people being sacramentalized but not actually, interiorly evangelized, the Archbishop of Milan also stresses the frequent reception of the sacraments in a way that is lived. Moreover, he urges the presence of solid practicing Christians in every aspect of the life of society. We cannot opt out and we must bring something new and fresh to the world. In his presentation of his program Card. Tettamanzi seems to be making an integral connection between what we receive through Holy Mass and the graces that come from the other sacraments, and the mores and trends of society as a whole. As the one goes, so goes the other. His Eminence is also basically saying that what has been going on as a routine for a long time now is no longer adequate. He is shaking things up in Milan.

Cardinal Tettamanzi did extra-ordinary things in his former diocese of Genoa, considered by many to to be the most conservative in Italy, simply by encouraging Catholics to be Catholic. From what I understand he encouraged regular confession, daily Mass, traditional prayer especially in families or small groups and training orthodox catechists who are capable of challenging men and women to love the Gospel. His time there saw large numbers of ordinations and professions of women to religious life, as well as a growth in "new" movements. Above all his central message seemed to be, "Do what the Church tells you!".
In connection with that, read this.

Today is the Memoria of Saints Cosmos and Damian

Martyred about 303
Twin brothers from Arabia who were physicians. They were very passionate about their profession, and took no fees. The Greeks therefore call them "Anargyri" ("the Moneyless"). They died for their Christian faith under Diocletian at Cyrrhus. Their remains were brought to Rome, where a great cult was generated. Their names are included in the Roman Canon.
The Roman basilica of these saints is rich in 6/7th century mosaics. They were extremely popular saints during the Middle Ages. In art they are shown standing side by side, holding surgical instruments and wearing robes of their profession.
Russian 19th Century icon Saints Cosmos and Damian flanking other healing saints.
click image to enlarge
Holy Martyrs: Pray for us

Monday, September 25, 2006

Radical Muslims against pope: two churches attacked in Mosul and Baghdad

Muslim militias have forced Christians to pin up posters condemning the words of Benedict XVI in Regensburg. But religious leaders, including al Sistani, have expressed their friendship with the Apostolic Nunciature. And the representative of the Iraqi Shiite leader would like to meet the pope.
read more

The Children of Men

Humanity is dying, hope is ended.

What happens when women stop having children? This is the basis of this adaptation of PD James' book. I cannot help thinking it is what is going to happen if we fail to take the Church's teaching seriously.

Do comment.

If you have seen the film yet say something about it.

Die Grosse Stille (Into Great Silence) trailer

German director Philip Gröning was allowed to film life inside the Grande Chartreuse, the mother house of the Carthusian Order in the French Alps. A breathtaking film, using mainly the silence as a soundtrack, has drawn large audiences in Germany and an increased interest Christian asceticism.

Pope meets Islamic world envoys

Pope Benedict XVI has met envoys from Muslim nations in an attempt to defuse a crisis in relations between the Catholic Church and Islam.
He expressed "total and profound respect" for the Muslim faith, and said inter-faith dialogue was vital.


"...The inter-religious and inter-cultural dialogue between Christians and Muslims is, in effect, a vital necessity, on which a large part of our future depends."


He also quoted his predecessor, John Paul II, stating the need for "reciprocity in all fields".
read whole bbc story

and from Canada Now
“In a world marked by relativism and too often excluding the transcendence and universality of reason, we are in great need of an authentic dialogue between religions and between cultures, capable of assisting us, in a spirit of fruitful co-operation, to overcome all the tensions together,” the pope said.
“Christians and Muslims must learn to work together, as indeed they already do in many common undertakings, in order to guard against all forms of intolerance and to oppose all manifestations of violence,” he added.

Holy See's site a fuller text of the speech
An email from the Jubilee Prayer Campaign

"Dear Praying Friends,

Sadly, the 3 Christians were executed Thursday night by firing squad, apparently around 1 a.m, Indonesian time, (about 6 p.m British time).

We can take some solace in the fact that our campaigning and prayers helped delay their execution by at least more than a month (originally they were supposed to be executed on August 12) no small amount of time for somebody on death row.

It also sent a much needed signal to the Indonesian authorities that the lives of Christians are not as "cheap and expendable" as some of them think, and this may make them think twice before they try to frame other Indonesian Christians in future.

To try to ensure that no further injustices like this ever occur in Indonesia again, Jubilee Campaign will be launching a campaign of protest to the Indonesian authorities over these executions. This will be included in the next letter writing actions and prayer diary.

Thousands of Christians in central Sulawesi have been protesting against the executions and tensions are running high in that area. Pray that conflict and violence will not be re-ignited in that region. Pray for the families of Dominggus, Fabianus and Marinus, that God will comfort and console them and provide for their needs, including their material needs.

Many thanks to you for all your help, to everyone who prayed and wrote letters on behalf of the 3 Christians.

Best wishes,


Parliamentary Officer
Jubilee Campaign"

It will be useful to write to the addresses on the "Newletter" part of this blog (see sidebar) expressing concern that the execution took place.

Catholic day of mild irritation

Look here
check out the comments, and add one or two.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Compare Christianity and Islam: a readers comment

A reader left this anonomously on the Chiesa post, below. I thought it was worth featuring.

The media often link religions and violence, coming up with the secularist, "they are all the same aren't they" arguement. But... Christianity (and Islam) is not primarily the practice of its adherents. It is the written revelation. In the Christian revelation there is NO sanction for violence or even the use of politics to extend the kingdom. ("Our warfare is not against flesh and blood etc"). When a Christian says that governments should do this or that he is at BEST applying a Christian mind to a worldly problem.In fact we are commanded to render unto Caesar that which is Caesar's and to God that which is His. So Christians are free to disagree with Pat Robertson and are likely to do so. However this is not the same in Islam. Many are the unrescinded references to the use of proactive force against unbelievers.

This Weeks Angelus Message

Benedict XVI upheld the Sister killed in Somalia as an example of “artisans of peace”. He called for prayers for men of the sea and their families.
Castel Gandolfo (AsiaNews) – The “logic of Christianity”, that is, the giving of self to others, at times to the point of sacrificing one’s life, is testified to around the world by many Christians who “lay down their lives for others because of Jesus Christ, working concretely as servants of love and thus as ‘artisans’ of peace”, just as Sr Leonella Sgorbati did. The example of the missionary killed in Somalia was upheld today by Benedict XVI before 3,000 people in the internal courtyard of the Apostolic Palace of Castel Gandolfo.
Addressing the small festive crowd that applauded him warmly and vigorously called out his name, Benedict XVI made no other reference to a meeting set for tomorrow at Castel Gandolfo, with ambassadors of Muslim majority counties accredited to the Vatican and some Muslim religious leaders. Turning to today’s Gospel, Benedict XVI talked instead about the “logic of Christianity, which responds to the truth of man created in the image of God, but at the same time counters his egotism, a consequence of original sin. Each and every human being is drawn by love – that is ultimately God himself – but often makes mistakes in concrete ways of loving, and thus from a tendency with positive roots but often contaminated by sin, bad intentions and actions can emerge.”
Referring to the testimony of “peace artisans”, he said: “At times, some people are asked for the supreme witness of their blood, as happened a few days ago with the Italian religious, Sr Leonella Sgorbati, who was a victim of violence. This sister, who for many years served the poor and little ones in Somalia, died uttering the word ‘forgiveness’: here we have the most authentic Christian witness, a pacific sign of contradiction that reveals the victory of love over hatred and evil. There is no doubt that following Christ is difficult, but, as He said, only those who lose their life for his sake, and for the sake of the gospel, will save it (Mk 8:35), giving full meaning to their existence. There is no other way to be his disciples; there is other path to testifying to his love and aiming for gospel perfection. Mary helps us, who we invoke today as the Blessed Virgin of Mercede, to open our hearts always to the love of God, mystery of joy and holiness.”
After the recital of the Marian prayer, the pope recalled the upcoming celebration of World Maritime Day. He said in English: “I would like to invite all of you to pray for the men and women involved in seafaring, and for their families. I thank the Lord for the work of the Apostleship of the Sea, which for many years has offered human and spiritual support to those who live this difficult and challenging way of life.” The pope then applauded recent initiatives taken by the International Maritime Organization to contribute to the fight against poverty and hunger

Secrets Revealed

Vatican secret archives up until 1939 were opened recently to scholars.
They deal primarily with the Pontificate of Pius XI that great opponent of Facism and Nazism. In the face of threats to the Church by both Hitler and Italian Facists, he stood firm, risking the dreadful vengeance that would fall on the Church.

Documents now available from the Vatican Secret Archives will allow scholars to rewrite history and erase claims the church was not a staunch opponent of Nazism, fascism and other forms of totalitarianism, said a Jesuit historian. Jesuit Father Giovanni Sale, historian of the Jesuit journal, La Civilta Cattolica, said documents relating to the 1922-1939 pontificate of Pope Pius XI will have an impact on political and religious history. What emerges is an even clearer picture of the church as being "steadfast in the fight against totalitarianism, against fascism, against Nazism, but also against communism," he said in a Sept. 18 interview with Vatican Radio.

Holbein in England at Tate Britain

Exhibition: 28 September 2006 – 7 January 2007

Hans Holbein (1497/8–1543) was the first great British artist, and is regarded as one of the greatest artists of all time. He moved to England from Basel in 1526–8 and then again in 1532–43, an extremely turbulent time in English history when all around were losing their heads. His arrival effectively brought the Renaissance in painting from continental Europe to Britain. This major exhibition, which includes numerous remarkable loans from around the world, concentrates on the work Holbein produced in England under the patronage of the Tudor court and for King Henry VIII. Through an outstanding collection of paintings brought together from around the world, this exhibition documents the thrill of the court and life in Tudor England, reflecting the unsettled history and politics of the time.

Holbein in England concentrates on the artist’s two periods working in London: 1526 – 1528 and 1532 – 1543. For the first three years Holbein was working under the patronage of Sir Thomas More, a friend and admirer of Holbein’s previous patron in Basel, the important Humanist scholar Erasmus. He left London in 1528 for Basel but returned in 1532 and stayed until his death in 1543. During this latter period Holbein is best known for his portraits of King Henry VIII, the artist’s patron from about 1535 - 1543.

Structured both chronologically and thematically, a section of the exhibition will be dedicated to the images of the king and his family. Other sections will look at members of the royal court and examine the revival of intellectual learning of secular Humanism, the turmoil of religion and the Reformation.

Throughout, the exhibition will investigate the development of Holbein’s portraiture and the relationship of its differing forms to the various groups of patrons for whom he worked. It examines his work for the Protestant Reformation in relation to traditional religious beliefs and explores how he used his own portrait drawings and paintings, as well as other sources including sculpture, to develop a finely-poised balance between individualised character and ideal presentation. Finally the exhibition will highlight the artist’s contribution to the revolution in English decorative design, examining the ways in which his sophisticated understanding of the new classical decorative vocabulary was applied to designs for goldsmiths as well as to large-scale paintings.

Saturday, September 23, 2006


I have been exploring the Vatican Website and found a link to Vatican Television Archive, there are video downloads from Pope John Paul's funeral more or less up to the present day. I have put the link on the sidebar as a permanent feature, under "Benedictine Moments".
I have just been watching the Sistine Chapel Mass after the election, extra-ordinarily beautiful, especially the lone cantor.

I have a friend who videoed the announcement of the election to cheer himself up, now he log on to it.

The only disadvantage is that there are no translations or subtitles, downloading isn't immediate, but enjoy it.

Notre Dame

Spain ends subsidy to church

Zappatero's govenment has shown itself hostile to so much that the Church stands for, especially the traditional family. He is increasingly trying to push it to the sidelines, this seems to be yet another attack.

MADRID The Spanish government said Friday that it would no longer offer a direct subsidy to the Catholic Church, adding to a deepening divide between religious conservatives and the governing Socialist Party.
Details of the move were outlined Friday by María Teresa Fernández de la Vega, the deputy prime minister.
The church would still receive government funding, because taxpayers would still be allowed to direct a percentage of their taxes each year to the church. But the government would no longer add to the amount allotted by taxpayers to guarantee a minimum level of state financing for the church.
In exchange for the elimination of the direct subsidy, the government said it would increase the maximum percentage that taxpayers can contribute from 0.52 percent to 0.7 percent.
The proposal also calls for eliminating the church's exemption from the value-added tax, a move requested by the European Union.
The Spanish government has funded the Catholic Church under technically temporary agreements since the death of General Francisco Franco in 1975.
The church receives about €135 million, or $170 million, a year from the government. The direct subsidy that is to be eliminated accounts for about €30 million. Spain's Conference of Catholic Bishops would not comment on the announcement.

Anti-Gay Bishops Vote to Split Evangelical Church

The US Episcopal Diocese of Newark was voting for a new bishop Saturday, with an openly gay priest among the six candidates.
The election in the historically liberal diocese comes at a time when divisions over the Bible and sexuality are threatening the denomination and the worldwide Anglican family.
A win by Canon Michael Barlowe, 51, would put the diocese at the center of a crisis over whether Anglicans who disagree about ordaining gays can stay in the same fellowship.

Christianity Today
A new church structure has been created yesterday for evangelicals in the United States who oppose homosexuality, initiated by leaders of the Anglican Church’s conservative wing.
by Anne Thomas

A new church structure has been created yesterday for evangelicals in the United States who oppose homosexuality, initiated by leaders of the Anglican Church’s conservative wing. Archbishops from the 20 African and Asian provinces in the Anglican “Global South” grouping said that they understood the “serious implications” of their decision, following a meeting in Rwanda. But they added: “We believe that we would be failing in our apostolic witness if we do not make this provision for those who hold firmly to a commitment to historic Anglican faith.” The primates will now push for a two-Church solution in the US, serving as a model for Anglican provinces elsewhere with liberal majorities and strong conservative minorities, such as in England, Wales and Scotland. They are to develop an alternative Anglican structure in the US for the seven Episcopal dioceses who appealed this year to the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, for alternative oversight. Their appeal came after the General Convention of the Episcopal Church, when a female and pro-gay primate, Bishop Katharine Schori, was elected to succeed Frank Griswold as leader of the Episcopal Church. The conservatives are also angry that the Episcopal Church has stood by the election of the openly gay Gene Robinson as Bishop of New Hampshire. A new church structure would also offer a home to conservative parishes within liberal dioceses. The Global South is not planning to leave the Anglican Communion, but aims to develop a separate structure that will be a member in its own right of the Anglican Church. The two Anglican Churches would not be in communion with each other, but both would remain in communion with the Archbishop of Canterbury, one of the Communion’s “instruments of unity”. Such a structure exists in Europe, where both the Church of England and the Episcopal Church have a diocese that exists alongside each other in the same geographical territory. The Global South group have also appealed for another bishop to sit alongside Bishop Schori when all 38 bishops meet in Tanzania next year. They do not recognise Bishop Schori, who backed the election of Bishop Robinson. “We are convinced that time has now come to take initial steps towards the formation of what will be recognised as separate ecclesiastical structure of the Anglican communion in the USA,” the primates said in a statement yesterday. An insider said that the Church was moving with the times. “This is taking the realities seriously and saying that Anglican identity is not something to be determined by a single province but is something done globally. “In a globalised world with new communications, the medieval notion of one Church, one bishop, one territory is totally outdated. “The Global South primates are saying: ‘Let’s live in the modern world and recognise there are various possible configurations and these should not be determined by geography alone’.”

Christian Values: New EU Membership Criteria for Turkey?

Article from Turkish Weekly

Edmund Stoiber, the Bavarian premier who is a key ally of Merkel, called for the EU to halt accession talks with Turkey. He said Turkish leaders had been "especially aggressive" towards Pope Benedict XVI over a papal lecture last week in Bavaria state that quoted a 14th century Byzantine emperor badly criticizing Islam.
* "Turkey is not European and does not belong in Europe," said Stoiber* Turkish politicians and academicians argue that the real criteria for Turkey’s EU accession is the religious criteria and Turkey can never satisfy the EUBy Melek DURMAZPAN (JTW)ANKARA - When Turkish politicians including the leftist rightist leaders, severely criticized the Pope Benedict XVI, the religious leader of the Catholic Christians, some European politicians start to question whether Turkey is an eligible candidate for the EU or not. Edmund Stoiber, the president of Bavaria (Germany) and leader of the Christian Social Union Party (CSU), the “little sister” of Germany’s ruling Christian Democratic Union, proposed yesterday (Friday) that deliberations on Turkey’s possible acceptance into the European Union be ended. Stoiber said the reaction of many of the ruling political leaders in Turkey to the words of the pope was reckless and overly critical, Europa Press. According to Oldenburgische Volkszeitung, German daily, the Germany Government thinks like Stoiber yet Merkel cannot react Turkey in this way due to the diplomatic limits. Turks say that the latest criteria for Turkey’s EU membership is the ‘Christian values’.Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the prime minister of Turkey, Turkish opposition leaders, and some Turkish religious authorities continue to demand that the pope make a more sincere public apology for the words he spoke in a Sept. 12 discourse at the University of Regensburg, during his visit to Germany. Turkish media continue to argue that the Pope has undermined the harmony between civilasations. However Abdullah Gul, Turkish Foreign Minister, said the Pope’s visit to Turkey will be a great opportunity to restore the misunderstands.Some Turkish politicians even went so far as to compare Benedict XVI to Hitler or Mussolini, a comparison which exasperated Edmund Stoiber, who thinks that “Turkey is not now in the condition to enter the European Union.” Dr. Nilgun Gulcan from USAK, however, says that Stoiber’s only condition is Christinity:“Turkey is not a Germany, or a France, and it will never be like these countries. Turkey is different. If the current members want to establish Europe on the base of Christian values, Turkey can never be a European. If Europe means Christian discrimination, it means that the EU has to live with more than 100 million non Europeans (Muslims) inside”German politician Stoiber argued that Turkey has different cultural and spiritual background and these differences make it non-European: “Turkey is not Europe nor does it belong to the continent, because the country has such great cultural and spiritual differences with western values.Meanwhile the ranking prelate of the Catholic Church in England and the former head of the Anglican Communion have asked similar questions. Cardinal Cormac Murphy O’Connor, the archbishop of Westminster (London), told the Times of London, “I think the question is for Europe: will the admission of Turkey to the European Union be something that benefits a proper dialogue or integration of a very large, predominantly Islamic country in a continent that, fundamentally, is Christian?”Cardinal O’Connor said that the majority of English people are Christian who, regardless of the secular nature of their country, have a deep yearning for God, based upon their Christian traditions.A large majority of British Christians belong to the Church of England which Lord George Carey of Clifton used to head. The former archbishop of Canterbury added his voice to those questioning Turkey’s place in the EU yesterday, telling the “Today” program that “Surely a European community has to be more than economic? It has to have common values and so on."* ‘Old Europe vs New Europe’Assoc. Prof. Dr. Sedat Laciner, head of the Ankara-based USAK, argued that Stoiber and Cardinal O’Connor are the most sincere European politicians and religious leader yet sincerity does not make them right:“Many and many politicians and spiritual leaders in EU countries think in this way. I think the Pope Benedict XVI is not deeply sorry for his statement about Islam. He is sorry because his speech lures a severe reaction from the Islam peoples. Many EU politicians do not see any place for Turkey in EU because Turkey is a Muslim country. If the EU is only a Christian club, I think Turkey should not be part of it. Because Turkey is a secular country and I am personally against to be part of a Middle Ages understanding. If the EU wants to be a Middle Ages institution, so it cannot integrate the religions and ethnic groups of the European continent. There are more than 100 million Muslims in Europe. The millions of Muslims live at the heart of London, Berlin, Paris etc. Most of them are not immigrant but EU citizens, yet they cannot see the German or French Government as their own government. There are also many Euro-Muslim countries, yet none of them is EU member, including Turkey, Bosnia, Albania, Kosovo, Azerbaijan and Northern Cyprus Republic. I agree with Mr. Stoiber, Turkey has no place in a Christianity-based Europe. If the EU will be such a narrow-minded organization, Turkey should be outside of this discriminative structure and religious fundamentalism. It is really difficult to see any difference between Mr. Stoiber and Osame Bin Ladin in seeding religious hate. Europe is at a very critical stage as it was before the Second World War. Now the Turkish and Muslim peoples of the European continent can understand better what the European Jewish people felt before and during the Second World War. Turkey has always been a great opportunity to bridge Christians and Muslims, but I understand that we have lost that chance already”.Similarly Dr. Nilgun Gulcan says “both Mr. Stoiber and the Pope are German and this is not accidental. There is a strong Christian anti-Turkish root in Germany. They are after Christianity’s leader again. The Pope can criticize your cultural values or your very spiritual things, yet we cannot defend our self. When the Pope speaks, it is freedom of expression, when you question what the Pope says is attack against Christianity. I see double standard here. I accept some Muslims over reacted regarding the Pope’s statement, but not the Turkish politicians. They only criticized the Pope as he criticized a religion.”Sedat Laciner further says the Cyprus issue, Armenian issue and many other so-called obstacles are simply excuses produced to prevent Turkey’s EU membership:“The EU leaders accepted the Christian Cypriots as full member to the EU, but the Muslim Cypriots were rejected because they are not Christian. The EU cannot explain why and how it accepted such a problematic country. The border issues are still there and the Brussels breached all the EU principles by accepting the Greek Cypriots as full member. On the other hand the EU has not kept its words and has taken no concrete step to end isolation over the Turkish Cypriots.”“We want to see a more just and more balanced EU. We want to establish a common future instead of obsessing with the biases of the past.” Mr. Laciner added.

St. Pio of Pietrelcina (Padre Pio)

St. Pio of Pietrelcina (Padre Pio)
b.1887 d.1968
Francesco, named in honor of St. Francis of Assisi, was born to Giuseppa and Grazio Forgione, peasant farmers, in the small Italian village of Pietrelcina on May 25, 1887. From his childhood, it was evident that he was a special child of God. Francesco was very devout even as a child, and at an early age felt drawn to the priesthood. He became a Capuchin novice at the age of sixteen and received the habit in 1902. Francesco was ordained to the priesthood in 1910 after seven years of study and became known as Padre Pio.On September 20, 1918, Padre Pio was kneeling in front of a large crucifix when he received the visible marks of the crucifixion, making him the first stigmatized priest in the history of Church. The doctor who examined Padre Pio could not find any natural cause for the wounds. Upon his death in 1968, the wounds were no longer visible. In fact, there was no scaring and the skin was completely renewed. He had predicted 50 years prior that upon his death the wounds would heal. The wounds of the stigmata were not the only mystical phenomenon experienced by Padre Pio.The blood from the stigmata had an odor described by many as similar to that of perfume or flowers, and the gift of bilocation was attributed to him. Padre Pio had the ability to read the hearts of the penitents who flocked to him for confession which he heard for ten or twelve hours per day. Padre Pio used the confessional to bring both sinners and devout souls closer to God; he would know just the right word of counsel or encouragement that was needed. Even before his death, people spoke to Padre Pio about his possible canonization. He died on September 23, 1968 at the age of eighty-one. His funeral was attended by about 100,000 people.On June 16, 2002, over 500,000 Padre Pio devotees gathered in Rome to witness Pope John Paul II proclaim Padre Pio, Saint Pio of Pietrelcina. The Padre Pio Foundation and many benefactors traveled to Rome, San Giovanni Rotondo, Pietrelcina, Piana Romana and many other holy places to celebrate Padre Pio's Canonization.

Calm follows riots caused by execution of three Catholics

by Benteng Reges
The execution by firing squad of three Catholic men in Palu sparked protest in various parts of Indonesia. In predominantly Catholic Nusa Tenggara Timur province order has been restored. Tibo’s son says father asked for forgiveness, not vengeance. Requiem mass is held in Palu without the bodies.

Palu (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Things are under control in Nusa Tenggara Timur province after violence broke out following the execution by firing squad of three Catholic men: Fabianus Tibo, 60, Marinus Riwu, 48, and...

Rebel Greek monks face jail

Anti-Catholic monks, their slogan "Orthodox or Death, are being prosecuted by Greek authorities, having been declared schismatic by the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople.

link to bbc video

Friday, September 22, 2006

Why Benedict XVI did not want to fall silent or backpedal

Chiesa this week has several pieces that are full of insight about... yes the Regensburg Address, he and the other contributors recognise it as a truly significant statement, if it is the only thing you read on this blog this week make sure it is that.

Change in Vatican Approach

Reforms within the Roman Curia should involve not only administrative changes, but a difference in approach to the work of the Vatican, the new Secretary of State has told an Italian magazine.
In an interview with the Catholic weekly Famiglia Cristiana, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone stressed the pastoral dimension of the Vatican's activities. The Italian cardinal-- whose appointment to the Vatican's #2 position raised some eyebrows because of his lack of diplomatic experience-- said that the emphasis on pastoral work would be "the key to understanding" the pontificate of Benedict XVI.
Within the Roman Curia, Cardinal Bertone said, structural reforms will be undertaken to "respond to the requests from bishops and to the needs that have gradually appeared." But apart from these structural changes, he said, a more important consideration would be the selection of the officials who work at the Vatican.
The new Secretary of State, who took office on September 15, said that his own job involves two complementary roles: working within the Church, "building up relations with the episcopates and the faithful," and also working with the outside world, handling relations with different nations and peoples.
In the latter role, Cardinal Bertone said that the policies of the Vatican would be unchanged: "the defense of life and the struggle against any abuse of the human person; the defense of peace and the safeguarding of creation." For these purposes, he said, the Vatican's status as a permanent observer at the UN is "extremely necessary."
The Italian cardinal said that his first action as Secretary of State had been to go to the grotto of St. Peter's basilica, to pray at the tombs of previous popes. He mentioned that he prayed in particular at the tomb of Pope Pius XII, who was "a great Secretary of State" before his election to the papacy.
Famiglia Cristiana recounted the cardinal's report that he had had a vision of the late Pope John Paul II, appearing to him in the chapel of the Lateran University, walking with a wooden cane-- "like the one that Sister Lucia carried." [Sister Lucia, the last survivor among the Portuguese children to whom the Virgin Mary appeared at Fatima, died in February 2005.] Cardinal Bertone said that he told the late Pontiff of his concerns about the new job he would soon be undertaking, and asked for his blessing, "which he quite willingly gave me."
Courtesy of Catholic World News

Another Blogger and another, even in Albania

Cardinal Sean O'Malley, the Archbishop of Boston has started it, and another priest friend of mine has threatened to do so, Fr Sean Finnegan has recently started it. Blogging seems to have become the new trend amongst the clergy.
I was speaking to a priest in Albania about the possibility of getting seminarians who are learning English to do one based on those who suffered in the persecution of the Church under Enver Hoxha. he told me about a bishop who succumbed under torture and agreed to work for the police but he used to tell his priests and people, "don't tell me anything I am a spy, I will tell the authorities." Eventually he was shot. Another priest who he works with spent 20 years in prison. I hope Father Martin starts his students blogging soon, in the west we need to know about saints and heroes.
Maybe it might be interesting if in the comment box you left the address of some good priestly blogs or at least Catholic ones, leave them anonymously if you like.

Pope invites Islamic diplomats

read article
The pontiff will open the doors of his summer residence, Castel Gandolfo, to the ambassadors and members of the Italian Islam Consulta, according to ANSA, an Italian news agency. The Islam Cosulta is a council of the various Muslim community leaders in Italy who meet periodically with Italian government officials.

"The purpose of this meeting is to relaunch dialogue with the Islamic world," a senior Vatican official said on Friday.

Islamic diplomats accredited to the Holy See said they hoped the meeting would help restore trust between the Roman Catholic Church and Muslims angered by the pope's speech last week in Germany.

"We welcome it and are definitely going to participate," Iran's deputy ambassador to the Holy See, Ahmad Faihma, told Reuters.

"This is a positive signal from the Vatican. I know that this will improve relations with the Islamic world."

"This meeting will be very important, especially in these days, to try to stop every action that is not good," Fathi Abuabed, head of international relations at the Arab League's Vatican mission, told the agency.

John Allen's All things Catholic

Fall out from Benedict's comments on Islam; What's next for Christian-Muslim relations? click here for article

John Allen is one of the few religious commentators that should be taken seriously in this weeks column he speaks about Benedict and the Bush regime, Islam and Zionism. He dismisses the rather facile suggestions many have made recently about Benedict.

Jews preparing for New Year

According to the Torah, God created the world and the first human being precisely 5767 years ago.

Benedict: A Brief Analysis

Fr Guy Selvester has an interesting take on getting rid of the tiara from the pope’s coat of arms, something shocking for many traddies, a great sign of liberalism for others.

No longer is the Pope to be seen as monarch but as a bishop, a teacher of the Catholic faith, a leader of Christians, a sanctifier of men (yes, and women too, as well as children). We saw and we did not understand, here was a sign from someone often described as a “liturgist”, someone for whom signs and symbols (and words) are important.

If the panoply of sovereignty are gone, then what about the structures that support it? Well gone too is the Cardinal Sodano the diplomat replaced by a theologian, gone too is Archbishop Fitzgerald, the Islamic expert, gone with them is the spirit of rapprochement.

What has replaced it? I believe a papacy dedicated to the simply revealing the truth that Jesus is Lord. The most significant document of this Papacy was issued in 2000 Dominus Jesus, by the then Cardinal Ratzinger. Benedict believes with every fibre of his being that the world needs Jesus the Lord. He actually believes what he said in his Regensburg lecture that God is rational and communicates Himself through human reason. He sees the problems of the world coming from the rejection Truth, ultimately the rejection of Christ. Thus the triumph of Islam over the Byzantine Empire is indeed evil, for it is about Christ being replaced by something that lacks ultimate Truth.

In his struggle against Liberation theology, it wasn’t the idea of Christianity standing alongside the poor that worried him, far from it, it was the fusion of Christ and Marx, therefore the confusion of the Christian message, the blurring of Truth that caused him such concern.

In his books on the Liturgy, he argues that post Vatican II liturgy removes the image of Christ from its central position on the altar and replaces it with the priest. For Him the centrality of Christ is the only important thing. His ideal is that the Church, and the world, is re-orientated towards Christ and revealing Him with clarity.

His vision is one that is sharply Christo-centric, in his Regensburg address it is not merely Islam that should have drawn a sharp intake of breath but secularism and Protestant fundamentalism and liberalism, but above all Catholic Liberalism, for it is Christ presented in it His awesome clarity that is important to him, without the veils of modern philosophy that obscure his true image.

For the Church the Benedictine years are going to become increasingly exciting, for his constant invitation is to turn towards Christ and to reveal Him to the world.

For Benedict, Christ who is the Truth is discovered, or even revealed, in many different ways but only partially; ultimately Christ the Truth can be known fully only within mainstream Christianity, which is identified in Dominus Jesus as the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church.

Something nice

The pictures start of with the legend of St Joseph, the birth the Virgin etc.

What more could he do?

from Christianity Today
All apologies:

For 4th time, Pope clarifies Islam remark Many non-Muslims, though, said they were glad the pope spoke out about violence and Islam (The New York Times)

Pope says remarks on Islam misunderstood During an audience in a tightly guarded St. Peter's Square, Benedict acknowledged that his comments — which sparked fury across the Muslim world — were open to misinterpretation (Associated Press)

Pope tries again to calm furor among Muslims Pope Benedict XVI on Wednesday expressed "a deep respect" for Islam, but again chose not to apologize outright for remarks last week that sparked worldwide Muslim anger (USA Today)

Pope, in new step to end crisis, pays respect to Islam The pontiff uses a general audience in St. Peter's Square to again reassure Muslims after his words last week provoked their fury (Los Angeles Times)

In a rare step, Pope expresses personal regret Church experts said it appeared to be the first time a pope has made such a direct apology (The New York Times)

Earlier: Vatican says Pope Benedict regrets offending Muslims The Vatican statement stopped short of the direct personal apology from Benedict that many Muslims have been demanding (The New York Times)

Saturday: Some Muslim leaders want Pope to apologize Muslim leaders around the world accused Pope Benedict XVI of dividing religions in comments he made Tuesday about Islam (The New York Times)

Pope apologies: 'Medieval text does not express my personal thought' This crisis aside, Benedict does have a more hawkish approach to Islam than Pope John Paul II (John L. Allen, Jr., National Catholic Reporter)

Mixed reaction as pope expresses regret Pope Benedict XVI said Sunday that he is "deeply sorry" his remarks on Islam and violence offended Muslims, but the unusual expression of papal regret drew a mixed reaction from Islamic leaders as the Vatican worried about a backlash of violence (Associated Press)

Pope 'sorry' about reaction to Islam remark (The Washington Post)

Pope issues a rare 'sorry' Benedict XVI publicly apologizes over the reaction to his citation of material that faults Islam. Muslims say it doesn't go far enough (Los Angeles Times)

Vatican tries to calm Pope row Al Qaeda militants in Iraq vowed war on "worshippers of the cross" and protesters burned a papal effigy on Monday over Pope Benedict's comments on Islam, while Western churchmen and statesmen tried to calm passions (Reuters)

Apologies issued during John Paul papacy Some instances in which Pope John Paul II admitted errors or apologized for actions of the Roman Catholic Church (Associated Press)

Pope expresses 'deep respect' for Islam Pope Benedict XVI said Wednesday that he has "deep respect" for Islam, but he did not offer an apology demanded by some Muslim leaders offended by the pontiff's remarks in Germany last week (Associated Press)

Pope says anti-Islam quotes not his own views Pope Benedict said on Wednesday that his use of medieval quotes portraying a violent Islam did not reflect his views and were misunderstood, but he did not give the clear apology still demanded by many Muslims (Reuters)

Pope hopes that controversy will lead to dialogue The Pope today described the worldwide Muslim anger that has engulfed his recent remarks about Islam as the result of an "unfortunate misunderstanding" (The Times, London)

WAR PORN: U.S. Military’s Other Problem in Iraq

National Catholic Register

BAGHDAD, Iraq — Pornography in the military has been a problem for decades. But not like today.
During World War II, GIs carried decks of cards illustrated with naked women and posted photos of “pin-up gals” Betty Grable and Rita Hayworth.
The Iraq War at its most extreme had Abu Ghraib and its photos of naked Iraqi prisoners.
Catholic author Patrick Madrid said his first thought on seeing the photos was that Americans shouldn’t be surprised: “The pornography chickens are coming home to roost.”
Today, pornography is sold at most base exchanges (BXs) in the United States. It’s part of a $57-billion-a-year worldwide industry. Porn revenue is larger than the combined revenues of all professional football, baseball and basketball franchises, according to the Internet Filter Review. In the United States, revenue from pornography ($12 billion a year) far exceeds the combined revenues of the three major television networks — ABC, CBS and NBC ($6.2 billion).
In Iraq, alcohol and pornography — including Internet porn — are banned for enlisted personnel out of sensitivity to adherents of the country’s dominant religion, Islam. But despite the prohibitions and blocking software on military computers, Father Mark Reilly, who served as a marine chaplain in Iraq this year, said increasing numbers of both men and women serving in Iraq have access to porn, and have become addicted.
“I don’t think I’ve ever been confronted as much face-to-face with men and women — in and out of the confessional — saying, ‘I’m addicted to porn and I don’t know how to get out of it,’” Father Reilly said. “They’re looking for a life preserver. It’s wrecking their marriages. Like any addiction, they lose control.”
British historian Joanna Bourke said that at their worst, pornography causes imitative behavior like the Abu Ghraib photos — made by and for porn addicts. “The abuse is performed for the camera,” she wrote in the Guardian. “These obscene images have a counterpart in the worst, non-consensual sadomasochistic pornography.
Rochelle Gurstein in The New Republic said that the Abu Ghraib photos “speak to the coercive and brutalizing nature of the pornographic imagination so prevalent in our world today.”
The conditions soldiers must endure make them more susceptible to porn addiction, said Steve Wood, president of the Family Life Center in Port Charlotte, Fla.
Wood, a convert who has written about breaking addiction to porn, said the worst conditions to fuel an addiction are stress, isolation from family and sleep deprivation.
“If some Marine was out there on the front lines and got wounded, vast resources of the United States would be mobilized to bring him to health,” he said. “Here, he’s in mortal sin, which endangers not the body, but the soul for eternity, and he’s suffering in silence. These guys are hurting — good guys who want to be good Catholic men and husbands and fathers — but get hooked on this and can’t find their way out.”
Archbishop Edwin O’Brien, who leads the U.S. military archdiocese, told the Register that chaplains’ guidance in and out of the confessional is invaluable.
“They can counsel — whether it’s one-on-one or whether it’s in the sacramental realm,” he said. “But chaplains have the added opportunity to speak publicly about it and form policy. They have access to the commander, who sets regulations, and I think most commanders are leery of the spread of pornography.”
Chaplains can help influence “what is sold in the BX, what’s allowed in a public space, an office or a barracks, and I think a chaplain can have great leverage here,” the archbishop said.
Wood, who served in the Navy during the late ’60s, said most pornography addicts have internal scars — usually from childhood.
“High numbers of people — both men and women — involved in pornography have been sexually abused as children,” he explained. “It could be an oppressive, cruel father or abuse when they were young, a breakup of parents’ marriage — the type of thing that could cause depression and/or internal struggles in any average person.
“When you start dabbling in pornography, it becomes like an aspirin relieving that internal pain,” he said. But a stronger dose of pornography will be necessary to “medicate” the next time.
The key to breaking the addiction, he said, is to first go to confession, then seek professional counseling for the internal pain and the addiction.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches that any association with pornography is a grave sin. “It does grave injury to the dignity of its participants (actors, vendors, the public), since each one becomes an object of base pleasure and illicit profit for others. It immerses all who are involved in the illusion of a fantasy world. It is a grave offense” (No. 2354).
Barry Marteson is so ashamed of his own pornography use that he didn’t want his real name used for this story.
“It’s humiliating and certainly one of the seven deadly sins,” said the Catholic former Marine.
Marteson was a child when he began looking at discarded magazines his father owned. Being a Marine in the 1970s didn’t help.
“Some of the guys just got back from Guantanamo Bay and were talking about ‘how great the chicks were’ down there,” he said. “All these guys were 18 and I’m 23. I knew better, but I like to be one of the boys, so we would get drunk and go out to the X-rated film parlors” and strip clubs.
Now Marteson’s son is serving in Iraq and is also dealing with pornography addiction. Marteson finally reached a point where he knew he needed help.
“It became really obvious five years ago that it’s bigger than me,” he said. “I was getting it in the house over the Internet and it was truly addictive to the point where I’m panicked. I’m screaming and I’m crying.”
After years of going to confession and spiritual counseling, he says he’s having some success. After a recent trip to the airport, he had some time to kill in an area where he used to frequent strip clubs. When he made it home without stopping, he said he knew he was on the right path.
“It was hardly worth writing home about, but I put a note in my book about it,” he said. “It’s grace. There was an incredible amount of grace. I don’t know that I want to cry, but I just feel giddy!”

The Lord’s descent into the underworld

At Matins/the Office of Readings on Holy Saturday the Church gives us this 'ancient homily', I find it incredibly moving, it is abou...