Thursday, November 30, 2006
Istanbul, Nov. 30, 2006 (CWNews.com) - Pope Benedict XVI (bio - news) brought up the sensitive topic of the Armenian genocide-- although he did not mention it explicitly-- during a November 30 meeting with the Armenian Apostolic Patriarch of Istanbul, Mesrob II.
In his greeting to the patriarch, the Holy Father praised the Armenian people for their faithful witness to the Gospel, even under "truly tragic conditions, like those experienced in the past century." He was clearly alluding to the slaughter of Armenians under the Ottoman empire.
To this day the Turkish government refuses to acknowledge the genocidal campaign of 1915- 1917, in which an estimated 1.5 million Armenians were killed during massacres and forced marches, as the government of the "Young Turks" forced the relocation of an entire people. The Armenian Apostolic Church remains the largest Christian community in Turkey, but today numbers only about 50,000 faithful; in the late 19th century the number was several million. There are about 2 million members of the Church living in the country now known as Armenia.
In his remarks to Patriarch Mesrob, the Pope expressed regret over the divisions among the Christian faithful, repeating what he had said to the Orthodox Patriarch Bartholomew: that these divisions are "a scandal to the world" and a handicap to effective evangelization.
The Armenian Apostolic Church dates back to the year 506, when the Christian leaders of the region broke away from the Catholic Church over disagreements with the doctrines put forth by the Council of Chalcedon in 451. Those theological disputes have been resolved, and in 1996 Pope John Paul II (bio - news) and the former head of the Armenian Church, Karekin I, jointly signed a document affirming that the two churches have reached accord on the Christological issues that originally caused their separation.
Pope Benedict joined with the Armenian patriarch in a prayer service at the Armenian cathedral in Istanbul. Later he would meet with the city's grand rabbi, then end the day at a dinner with the Catholic bishops of Turkey.
Before I found the above...
I was looking for something on the Pope's meeting with the Patriarch of the Armenians, I found this rather chilling piece on Rorate Caeli.
From some famous exchanges between Turkish Interior Minister, Mehmet Talaat Pasha (soon to be one of the last Ottoman Grand Viziers, Talaat was one of the leaders of the "Young Turks" and an architect of the Armenian Genocide), with American Ambassador in Constantinople, Henry Morgenthau, in 1915 (in "Ambassador Morgenthau's Story", by Henry Morgenthau):
"...I have asked you to come here", Talaat said, "so as to let you know that our Armenian policy is absolutely fixed and that nothing can change it. We will not have the Armenians anywhere in Anatolia. They can live in the desert, but nowhere else.
"I still attempted to persuade Talaat that the treatment of the Armenians was destroying Turkey in the eyes of the world, and that his country would never be able to recover from this infamy.
"You are making a terrible mistake," I said, and I repeated the statement three times.
"Yes, we may make mistakes," he replied, "but" -- and he firmly closed his lips and shook his head -- "we never regret."
...One day Talaat made what was perhaps the most astonishing request I had ever heard. The New York Life Insurance Company and the Equitable Life of New York had for years done considerable business among the Armenians. The extent to which this people insured their lives was merely another indication of their thrifty habits.
"I wish," Talaat now said, "that you would get the American life insurance companies to send us a complete list of their Armenian policy holders. They are practically all dead now and have left no heirs to collect the money. It of course all escheats to the State. The Government is the beneficiary now. Will you do so?"
This was almost too much, and I lost my temper."You will get no such list from me," I said, and I got up and left him.
The only thing that has rather saddened me about the Papal vist was the Holy Father laying a wreathe on the ugly tomb of Kemel Ataturk. He stands alongside Hitler and Stalin as one of the dictators of the 20th century, his writings are as frightening as anything in Mein Kampf.
I suppose the poor Pope would not have got in if didn't do it.
1. We have recalled with thankfulness the meetings of our venerable predecessors, blessed by the Lord, who showed the world the urgent need for unity and traced sure paths for attaining it, through dialogue, prayer and the daily life of the Church. Pope Paul VI and Patriarch Athenagoras I went as pilgrims to Jerusalem, to the very place where Jesus Christ died and rose again for the salvation of the world, and they also met again, here in the Phanar and in Rome. They left us a common declaration which retains all its value; it emphasizes that true dialogue in charity must sustain and inspire all relations between individuals and between Churches, that it “must be rooted in a total fidelity to the one Lord Jesus Christ and in mutual respect for their own traditions” (Tomos Agapis, 195). Nor have we forgotten the reciprocal visits of His Holiness Pope John Paul II and His Holiness Dimitrios I. It was during the visit of Pope John Paul II, his first ecumenical visit, that the creation of the Mixed Commission for theological dialogue between the Roman Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church was announced. This has brought together our Churches in the declared aim of re-establishing full communion.
As far as relations between the Church of Rome and the Church of Constantinople are concerned, we cannot fail to recall the solemn ecclesial act effacing the memory of the ancient anathemas which for centuries had a negative effect on our Churches. We have not yet drawn from this act all the positive consequences which can flow from it in our progress towards full unity, to which the mixed Commission is called to make an important contribution. We exhort our faithful to take an active part in this process, through prayer and through significant gestures.
2. At the time of the plenary session of the mixed Commission for theological dialogue, which was recently held in Belgrade through the generous hospitality of the Serbian Orthodox Church, we expressed our profound joy at the resumption of the theological dialogue. This had been interrupted for several years because of various difficulties, but now the Commission was able to work afresh in a spirit of friendship and cooperation. In treating the topic “Conciliarity and Authority in the Church” at local, regional and universal levels, the Commission undertook a phase of study on the ecclesiological and canonical consequences of the sacramental nature of the Church. This will permit us to address some of the principal questions that are still unresolved. We are committed to offer unceasing support, as in the past, to the work entrusted to this Commission and we accompany its members with our prayers.
3. As Pastors, we have first of all reflected on the mission to proclaim the Gospel in today’s world. This mission, “Go, make disciples of all nations” (Mt 28:19), is today more timely and necessary than ever, even in traditionally Christian countries. Moreover, we cannot ignore the increase of secularization, relativism, even nihilism, especially in the Western world. All this calls for a renewed and powerful proclamation of the Gospel, adapted to the cultures of our time. Our traditions represent for us a patrimony which must be continually shared, proposed, and interpreted anew. This is why we must strengthen our cooperation and our common witness before the world.
4. We have viewed positively the process that has led to the formation of the European Union. Those engaged in this great project shouldnot fail to take into consideration all aspects affecting the inalienable rights of the human person, especially religious freedom, a witness and guarantor of respect for all other freedoms. In every step towards unification, minorities must be protected, with their cultural traditions and the distinguishing features of their religion. In Europe, while remaining open to other religions and to their cultural contributions, we must unite our efforts to preserve Christian roots, traditions and values, to ensure respect for history, and thus to contribute to the European culture of the future and to the quality of human relations at every level. In this context, how could we not evoke the very ancient witnesses and the illustrious Christian heritage of the land in which our meeting is taking place, beginning with what the Acts of the Apostles tells us concerning the figure of Saint Paul, Apostle of the Gentiles? In this land, the Gospel message and the ancient cultural tradition met. This link, which has contributed so much to the Christian heritage that we share, remains timely and will bear more fruit in the future for evangelization and for our unity.
5. Our concern extends to those parts of today’s world where Christians live and to the difficulties they have to face, particularly poverty, wars and terrorism, but equally to various forms of exploitation of the poor, of migrants, women and children. We are called to work together to promote respect for the rights of every human being, created in the image and likeness of God, and to foster economic, social and cultural development. Our theological and ethical traditions can offer a solid basis for a united approach in preaching and action. Above all, we wish to affirm that killing innocent people in God’s name is an offence against him and against human dignity. We must all commit ourselves to the renewed service of humanity and the defence of human life, every human life.
We take profoundly to heart the cause of peace in the Middle East, where our Lord lived, suffered, died and rose again, and where a great multitude of our Christian brethren have lived for centuries. We fervently hope that peace will be re-established in that region, that respectful coexistence will be strengthened between the different peoples that live there, between the Churches and between the different religions found there. To this end, we encourage the establishment of closer relationships between Christians, and of an authentic and honest interreligious dialogue, with a view to combating every form of violence and discrimination.
6. At present, in the face of the great threats to the natural environment, we want to express our concern at the negative consequences for humanity and for the whole of creation which can result from economic and technological progress that does not know its limits. As religious leaders, we consider it one of our duties to encourage and to support all efforts made to protect God’s creation, and to bequeath to future generations a world in which they will be able to live.
7. Finally, our thoughts turn towards all of you, the faithful of our two Churches throughout the world, Bishops, priests, deacons, men and women religious, lay men and women engaged in ecclesial service, and all the baptized. In Christ we greet other Christians, assuring them of our prayers and our openness to dialogue and cooperation. In the words of the Apostle of the Gentiles, we greet all of you: “Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Cor 1:2).
At the Phanar, 30 November 2006
signed Benedict XVI Bartholomew I
© Copyright 2006. Ecumenical Patriarchate
read John Allen's comments
Legend has it that Christ will return on Easter Day when the Divine Liturgy is celebrated again
Wednesday, November 29, 2006
Patriarch Bartholomew, who is honored as the "first among equals" in the Orthodox world, greeted the pope at the Istanbul airport and met him again shortly afterward on the steps of the patriarchate's headquarters, where dozens of Orthodox prelates were waiting in the Church of St. George.
The pontiff was met at the airport by Bartholomew I, head of the Greek Orthodox Church, as well as Armenian Patriarch Mesrob II and Syriac Patriarchal Vicar Filuk.
Benedict was to hold talks later with Bartholomew I in his quest for rapprochement between Christianity's Eastern and Western rites, estranged for nearly 1000 years.
Welcome by His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew to His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI After the Prayer Service at the Patriarchal Cathedral of St. George
Your Holiness, beloved Brother in the Lord,
It is with sentiments of sincere joy and satisfaction that we welcome you to the sacred and historical city of Istanbul.
This is a city that has known a treasured heritage for the growth of the Church through the ages. It is here that St. Andrew, the "first-called" of the Apostles founded the local Church of Byzantium and installed St. Stachys as its first bishop. It is here that the Emperor and "equal-to-the-Apostles," St. Constantine the Great, established the New Rome. It is here that the Great Councils of the early Church convened to formulate the Symbol of Faith. It is here that martyrs and saints, bishops and monks, theologians and teachers, together with a “cloud of witnesses” confessed what the prophets saw, what the apostles taught, what the church received, what the teachers formulated in doctrine, what the world understood, what grace has shone, namely…the truth that was received, the faith of the fathers. This is the faith of the Orthodox. This faith has established the universe.
So it is with open embrace that we welcome you on the blessed occasion of your first visit to the City, just as our predecessors, Ecumenical Patriarchs Athenagoras and Demetrios, had welcomed your predecessors, Popes Paul VI and John Paul II. These venerable men of the Church sensed the inestimable value and urgent need alike of such encounters in the process of reconciliation through a dialogue of love and truth.
Therefore, we are, both of us, as their successors and as successors to the Thrones of Rome and New Rome equally accountable for the steps - just, of course, as we are for any missteps - along the journey and in our struggle to obey the command of our Lord, that His disciples "may be one."
It was in this spirit that, by the grace of God, we visited repeatedly Rome and two years ago in order to accompany the relics of Saints Gregory the Theologian and John Chrysostom, formerly Archbishops of this City, whose sacred remains were generously returned to this Patriarchal Cathedral by the late Pope. It was in this spirit, too, that we traveled to Rome only months later to attend the funeral of Pope John Paul.
We are deeply grateful to God that Your Holiness has taken similar steps today in the same spirit. We offer thanks to God in doxology and express thanks also to Your Holiness in fraternal love.
Beloved Brother, welcome. "Blessed is he that comes in the name of the Lord."
"Blessed is the Name of the Lord now and forevermore."
During the Mass the Pope recalled the example of Father Andrea Santorole, who was killed by Turkish youth whilst at prayer in his Church.
Tuesday, November 28, 2006
Yet in his later address to the diplomatic corps in Turkey, Benedict returned to the two themes which have formed the core of his message to Muslims: the need to reject terrorism, and the need for “reciprocity,” meaning religious freedom.
“The civil authorities of every democratic country are duty bound to guarantee the effective freedom of all believers and to permit them to organize freely the life of their religious communities,” he said. “I am certain that religious liberty is a fundamental expression of human liberty and that the active presence of religions in society is a source of progress and enrichment for all.”
It’s noteworthy that Benedict chose to raise the religious freedom issue in his meeting with ambassadors rather than at the Religious Affairs Directorate, where it might have seemed a more direct compliant about his host nation.
Turkey’s tiny Christian population (roughly 100,000 in a country of TK million) suffers under a variety of restrictions, both de jure and de facto. Perhaps most notably, the Patriarch of Constantinople has been unable to train his own clergy at the historic Halki Seminary, which has been closed by order of the Turksih government since 1971.
Benedict also issued a clear warning that religions should shun direct political power, a point with special relevance in a country that features several Islamic political parties, and insisted that religious leaders must “utterly refuse to sanction recourse to violence as a legitimate expression of religion.”
In some ways, Benedict appeared to echo some of the warnings he and his predecessor, John Paul II, have issued to former states of the Soviet sphere now making their way into the EU, namely to avoid an exaggerated secularism that would assign religion to a purely private sphere.
In the context of both European and Turkish debates over secularism, Benedict affirmed the legitimacy of church/state separation, but argued that religious believers nevertheless have a legitimate political contribution to make in defense of human dignity, especially of the most vulnerable.
The comments by the pontiff could be reinforced later during the four-day visit when the pope meets in Istanbul with Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I, the spiritual leader of the world's Orthodox Christians.
The pope is expected to call for greater rights and protections for Christian minorities in the Muslim world, including the tiny Greek Orthodox community in Turkey.
"Freedom of religion, institutionally guaranteed and effectively respected in practice, both for individuals and communities, constitutes for all believers the necessary condition for their loyal contribution to the building up of society," the pope said following talks with Ali Bardakoglu.
"Pope Gregory spoke of the particular charity that Christians and Muslims owe to one another 'because we believe in one God, albeit in a different manner, and because we praise him and worship him every day as the creator and ruler of the world'," he said.
But Bardakoglu, who had had harsh words for the pontiff's remarks in September, showed in his speech that Benedict's words were not completely forgotten.
"Islamophobia," he said, "is gradually increasing."
He blamed this on a "mentality that Islam, with its history and origins, contains and encourages violence, that it was spread... by the sword, that Muslims are potentially violent."
"Those who perform erroneous acts in the name of religion by exploiting religion" are at the source of such claims, Bardakoglu said.
"We religious leaders must refuse to be instruments of the tensions of international politics and should contribute to the solution of social problems," Bardakoglu said.
The two men were addressing reporters after a short closed-door meeting with their respective delegations, itself preceded by an off-the-cuff, 15-minute chat in front of television cameras during which they exchanged gifts.
"Religions are for peace and reconciliation -- they should not be interpreted otherwise," the pope said during the chat.
Bardakoglu, the director of religious affairs, had accused Benedict of harboring "hatred in his heart" for Muslims after the leader of the Roman Catholic Church appeared to link Islam with violence.
In an interview Monday, Bardakoglu said the pope's four-day visit to Turkey, although "a step in the right direction," would not suffice to heal the hurt his comments had caused.
"I really wanted to come to Turkey because Turkey has become a bridge . . . between the religions," Benedict told Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who greeted him at the airport. The pope spoke in Italian and an interpreter translated his comments into Turkish.
"It is a democratic, Islamic country and a bridge," the pope said. "I wanted to come to Turkey since becoming pope because I love this culture."
"I want to reiterate the solidarity between the cultures," Benedict said. "This is our duty."
Benedict began a four-day visit to Turkey, where he will seek to ease anger over his perceived criticism of Islam and mend a split with the world's Orthodox Christians.
Monday, November 27, 2006
Dominus conservet eum, et vivificet eum, et beatum faciat eum in terra, et non tradat eum in animam inimicorum eius. [Ps 40:3]
Pater Noster, Ave Maria, Gloria.
Deus, omnium fidelium pastor et rector, famulum tuum Benedicte, quem pastorem Ecclesiae tuae prae esse voluisti, propitius respice: da ei, quaesumus, verbo et exemplo, quibus praeest, proficere: ut ad vitam, una cum grege sibi credito, perveniat sempiternam.
Per Christum, Dominum nostrum.
+ + +
Let us pray for Benedict our Pope.May the Lord preserve him, and give him life, and make him blessed upon the earth, and deliver him not up to the will of his enemies.
She added: "I passionately believe there is no more important role in life than motherhood. I admire her self-sacrifice, her ability to accept God's will and her trust in Him."
However, Mrs Blair admits she has doubts about the Church's position on the role of women, and says she chose to study law to annoy the nuns at the convent where she was educated.
Sunday, November 26, 2006
Turkey will not grant the Ecumenical Patriarchate legal "personality," in defiance of the Lausanne Treaty of 1923, which defined the legal position of minorities in Turkey; this refusal to deal with the patriarchate as a legal "person" (as churches are regarded throughout the West) is, according to the patriarchate memo, "a major source of many other problems." For to deny that the patriarchate is a legal entity with certain rights, an entity that can work with the Turkish government within the framework of the law, means that all issues between the patriarchate and the state become political issues, subject to political pressures and counterpressures—especially problematic, since less than one tenth of 1 percent of the Turkish population is Orthodox.
The Turkish government blocks work permits for non-Turkish citizens who wish to work at the Ecumenical Patriarchate, such that the 10 Greek clergymen, one American layman and one British layman now working at the Phanar are doing so illegally, and must leave the country every three months to renew their tourist visas.
The Ecumenical Patriarchate is not permitted to own property; thus it owns none of the churches under its religious jurisdiction. Turkish authorities have also confiscated houses, apartment buildings, schools, monasteries and lands that were once owned by the Ecumenical Patriarchate; the state seized the patriarchate's 36 cemeteries, which are now the property of various legal subdivisions of the city of Istanbul; and, earlier this year, the state confiscated the boys' orphanage run by the patriarchate (which is the oldest wooden building in Europe and of great historical value).
The Turkish government also determines who may teach in the elementary schools that serve the Orthodox community, and enforces a six-year "approval" process to control the flow of books to Orthodox school libraries.
No Christian community in the West would tolerate such conditions, which involve violations of basic human rights
It is plain that the Pope is going to a place where he is hated as is the Ecumenical Patriarch, the placard shows the Pope and the Patriarch as a double headed serpent on an Orthodox crozier. The book is the current Turkish bestseller about the assassination of the Pope.
It is important we pray, and pray hard for the Pope's safety and for the success of the vist.
Saturday, November 25, 2006
Here is an excellent way to finish off November by seeking to obtain an indulgence for a soul in Purgatory.
Requirements for Obtaining a Plenary Indulgence on Christ the King
- Public recitation of the prayer “Most Sweet Jesus, Redeemer - Act of Dedication of the Human Race to Jesus Christ King” (listed below)
- Say one “Our Father” and one “Hail Mary” for the intentions of the Pope
- Make a Sacramental Confession within a week of (before or after) the Feast of Christ the King
- Worthily receive Holy Communion (ideally on the Feast of Christ the King)
- that one be free from all attachment to sin, even venial sin.
Most Sweet Jesus, Redeemer - Act of Dedication of the Human Race to Jesus Christ the King
Most Sweet Jesus, Redeemer of the human race, look down upon us humbly prostrate before You. We are Yours, and Yours we wish to be; but to be more surely united with You, behold each one of us freely consecrates himself today to Your Most Sacred Heart. Many indeed have never known You; many, too, despising Your precepts, have rejected You. Have mercy on them all, most merciful Jesus, and draw them to Your Sacred Heart.
Be King, O Lord, not only of the faithful who have never forsaken You, but also of the prodigal children who have abandoned You; grant that they may quickly return to their Father’s house, lest they die of wretchedness and hunger.
Be King of those who are deceived by erroneous opinions, or whom discord keeps aloof, and call them back to the harbor of Truth and the unity of Faith, so that soon there may be but one flock and one Shepherd.
Grant, O Lord, to Your Church assurance of freedom and immunity from harm; give tranquility of order to all nations; make the earth resound from pole to pole with one cry: Praise to the Divine Heart that wrought our salvation; to It be glory and honor forever. Amen.
The “Technical” Stuff
“1. An indulgence is the remission in the eyes of God of the temporal punishment due to sins whose culpable element has already been taken away. The Christian faithful who are rightly disposed and observe the definite, prescribed conditions gain this remission through the effective assistance of the Church, which, as the minister of redemption, authoritatively distributes and applies the treasury of the expiatory works of Christ and the Saints.”
- Handbook of Indulgences, Norms
“22. The prescribed work for gaining a plenary indulgence attached to a church or oratory is a devout visit there, which includes the recitation of the Lord’s Prayer and the Creed (Pater Noster and Credo), unless otherwise stated in a specific grant.”
- Handbook of Indulgences, Norms
“23. 1. Besides the exclusion of all attachment to sin, even venial sin, the requirements for gaining a Plenary Indulgence are the performance of the indulgenced work and fulfillment of three conditions: Sacramental Confession, Eucharistic Communion, and prayer for the Pope’s intentions.
2. Several Plenary Indulgences may be gained on the basis of a single Sacramental Confession; only one may be gained, however, on the basis of a single Eucharistic Communion and prayer for the Pope’s intentions.
3. The three conditions may be carried out several days preceding or following performance of the prescribed work. But it is more fitting that the Communion and the prayer for the Pope’s intentions take place on the day the work is performed.
4. If a person is not fully disposed or if the prescribed work and the three mentioned conditions are not fulfilled, the Indulgence will only be partial ...”
5. The condition requiring prayer for the Pope’s intentions is satisfied by reciting once the Our Father and Hail Mary for his intentions (Pater Noster and Ave Maria); nevertheless all the faithful have the option of reciting any other prayer suited to their own piety and devotion.”
- Handbook of Indulgences, Norms
#27. A plenary indulgence is granted to the faithful, who piously recite the above Act of Dedication of the Human Race to Jesus Christ the King, if it is recited publicly on the feast of our Lord Jesus Christ the King, and piously carry out the precepts in Norm #23 listed above.
- Handbook of Indulgences, Grants
“Why not?” I asked.
“It is just boring”.
“That’s the best reason not to come”, I said.
A long moments silent thought.
“So what you’re really saying is I should keep coming, isn’t it?”
I could be having this conversation all over Brighton. It isn’t that people do not believe, it is just that they just do not get anything out of belief. It has no “cash value”.
There is expectation that we should be entertained or at least have some feeling.
This is the reason most people lapse or even why priests and religious give up prayer. Of course it is ultimately a sin against the First Commandment, we put ourselves at the centre of the relationship with God rather than Him.
Boredom and tedium are important in the spiritual life, praying without consolation is actually a grace.
Antonia posted the following advice from Professor Janet Smith:If you never want to get divorced ...
Don't have sex before marriage. If you are having sex, STOP!
Get married in a Church, go to Church every Sunday and pray
Use NFP, never contraception
Tithe; give 10% of your money to the Church or good Charities
The first feature film ever scheduled to premiere at the Vatican is causing controversy because the Virgin Mary is played by a pregnant, unmarried teenager.
"The Nativity Story" stars 16-year-old Keisha Castle-Hughes, who is expecting her first child in the spring.
Castle-Hughes will not be attending Sunday's premiere of the film, and neither will the pope, who is preparing for an upcoming visit to Turkey, The Times of London reported.
Some Christian groups in the United States and Canada reportedly have been questioning Castle-Hughes's "suitability" to play the role of Mary. But Castle-Hughes told sources she was "thrilled" to be pregnant, The Times said. The father is her 19-year old boyfriend of three years.
"The Nativity Story," which follows the trials of Mary and Joseph, is aimed at the Christmas market after the surprising success of Mel Gibson's "The Passion of the Christ" three years ago, The Times reported
Castle-Hughes became well-known in 2002 when she was nominated for an Oscar for her starring role in "The Whale Rider."
Friday, November 24, 2006
One of the problems we Christians have is that we are invisible; no-one knows we are part of society and therefore it is so easy for secularists to simply discount us. Although Christians who practice every Sunday form only 5% of the population, great swathes of the population claim to actually be Christian.
Willie Walsh, the BA chief executive, said criticism of BA as being anti-Christian had been misplaced and unjustified. I am sure he is right and the truth of the matter is that BA just forgot they had Christians working for them, or thought that crosses were nothing other than jewellery. I am sure it is a case of “out of sight, out of mind”. The post-Christian society myth lives.
Society in general tends to dismiss Christians, I heard one comedian on the wireless said, “If you insult a Christian the worst they are likely to do is ban you from a jumble sale.” It is our nature to turn the other cheek. It was only the rabidly militant that protest over something like Gerry Springer: The Opera’s rather horrid portrayal of Jesus as a spoilt homosexual, or pictures of crucifixes in urine; we have got used to insults and being the butt of jokes. Yet Christians, Catholics especially, were so active in the “Drop the Debt” campaign and they were listened to. Bishops and priests gave a clear lead and people took to the streets. The letters to MPs over our schools taking 25% of non-Catholics did change the Minister’s mind.
Political issues are one thing, it is the person and action of Christ we need to make visible.
Maybe, just maybe if we were a little more visible we might begin to be seen as having a place in society and not just us but the Lord himself. Brighton is full of Coptic Christians, many have the cross tattooed on their hands, obviously they are Christian. They are not afraid to have icons and crucifixes up in there shops or even to name them after saints, many of Brighton’s taxi drivers are Coptic, they have crosses or images of the Mother of God in their cars.
An easy form of evangelisation is to wear a Christian symbol, if you are bad it will be seen as a fashion accessory, if you are kind people might just connect your actions with the symbol.
As a child I remember seeing nuns in the street in habits and priests from the local Catholic school in cassocks, even as a three or four year old it had an impact on me. It is interesting congregation of nun’s with habits tend to grow and those with a medallion or broach are dying out.
On the rare occasions I wear a cassock in the street, rather than just a piece of plastic in what a rather reactionary parishioner describes as the “waiters ubiquitous black shirt”, I tend to behave differently, I am not as shy as I normally am, I am more inclined to talk to people. The reaction of people to me is strange. Muslims look horrified and give me a wide berth. People who live on the street come up and want to chat, not to beg but to talk, often about faith. Slavs, Poles come up and ask if I am really a Catholic priest and ask about Mass times, the location of the Church and so forth, and I subsequently see them at Mass. If I am in a queue or waiting for a bus then other people find an excuse to talk, often about their spiritual lives, quite frequently, if they are Catholics about how they can return to the Church. I know habited nuns who have the same experience.
I was allowed to try my vocation as monk for a while, I had to make a long train journey, the only clothes I had were my habit, someone who had been lapsed for years, thirty or forty, started to talk me about confession, if the train was less crowded I would have heard her confession and presumably brought her back.
Maybe you should wear a cross and I ought to wear cassock on the streets, this is something to my shame, the reason I don’t is the reaction of my fellow priests.
Thursday, November 23, 2006
Your Grace, Dear friends,
Grace and peace to you in the Lord Jesus Christ! Your visit here today brings to mind the important custom established by our predecessors in recent decades. It also reminds us of the much longer history of relations between the See of Rome and the See of Canterbury which began when Pope Gregory the Great sent Saint Augustine to the land of the Anglo-Saxons over 1400 years ago. I am happy today to welcome you and the distinguished delegation accompanying you. This is not our first meeting. Indeed, I was grateful for your presence, and that of other representatives of the Anglican Communion, at the funeral of Pope John Paul II, and again at the inauguration of my pontificate a year and a half ago. Your visit to the Holy See coincides with the fortieth anniversary of the visit of the then Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Michael Ramsey, to Pope Paul VI. It was a visit filled with great promise, as the Anglican Communion and the Catholic Church took steps towards initiating a dialogue about the questions to be addressed in the search for full visible unity. There is much in our relations over the past forty years for which we must give thanks. The work of the theological dialogue commission has been a source of encouragement as matters of doctrine which have separated us in the past have been addressed. The friendship and good relations which exist in many places between Anglicans and Catholics have helped to create a new context in which our shared witness to the Gospel of Jesus Christ has been nourished and advanced. The visits of Archbishops of Canterbury to the Holy See have served to strengthen those relations and have played an important role in addressing the obstacles which keep us apart. This tradition helped give rise to a constructive meeting of Anglican and Catholic bishops in Mississauga, Canada, in May 2000, when it was agreed to form a joint commission of bishops to discern appropriate ways to express in ecclesial life the progress which has already been made. For all of this, we give thanks to God. In the present context, however, and especially in the secularized Western world, there are many negative influences and pressures which affect Christians and Christian communities. Over the last three years you have spoken openly about the strains and difficulties besetting the Anglican Communion and consequently about the uncertainty of the future of the Communion itself. Recent developments, especially concerning the ordained ministry and certain moral teachings, have affected not only internal relations within the Anglican Communion but also relations between the Anglican Communion and the Catholic Church. We believe that these matters, which are presently under discussion within the Anglican Communion, are of vital importance to the preaching of the Gospel in its integrity, and that your current discussions will shape the future of our relations. It is to be hoped that the work of the theological dialogue, which had registered no small degree of agreement on these and other important theological matters, will continue [to] be taken seriously in your discernment. In these deliberations we accompany you with heartfelt prayer. It is our fervent hope that the Anglican Communion will remain grounded in the Gospels and the Apostolic Tradition which form our common patrimony and are the basis of our common aspiration to work for full visible unity.
The world needs our witness and the strength which comes from an undivided proclamation of the Gospel. The immense sufferings of the human family and the forms of injustice that adversely affect the lives of so many people constitute an urgent call for our shared witness and service. Precisely for this reason, and even amidst present difficulties, it is important that we continue our theological dialogue. I hope that your visit will assist in finding constructive ways forward in the current circumstances. May the Lord continue to bless you and your family, and may he strengthen you in your ministry to the Anglican Communion!
[Original text: English] © Copyright 2006 -- Libreria Editrice Vaticana
Wednesday, November 22, 2006
My birthday is the deathday of Catholic England.
Just to add to the bitter tears of that wretched day it is also the birthday of the notorious apostate Pierre François le Courayer the 18th century French theological writer of Dissertation sur la validité des ordinations des Anglais et sur la succession des évéques de l'Eglise anglicane, avec les preuves justificatives des fails avancés, he died in exile, an excommunicate and is burried in the cloister of Westminster Abbey.
How strange that one can change one's name, even one's gender but not one's birthday.
My appologies Paulinus but you can see my difficulty with this one, if you were born on such an accursed day...
Tuesday, November 21, 2006
He suggested that the ordination of women as priests and bishops and the ordination of active homosexuals was also leading the way, indeed he suggested that there were already homosexual clergy in both the Catholic Church and the Anglican Ecclesial Communion.
The theological naiveté of men like Butler is dreadful indictment of the C of E. I mean not being able to distinguish between theology and discipline. Language and celibacy are not doctrinal issues; indeed the Catholic Church in its Oriental Rites has always allowed married priests and liturgy in the vernacular. Silly, silly man!
Of course there have always been homosexual clergy, the difference is that in the C of E homosexuality clergy are actively encouraged and the teaching, which comes from the Apostles, is actively rejected.
The introduction of women priests and bishops is a novelty, no Apostolic Church has done this before or is doing it now, and indeed the consensus amongst those Churches that are Apostolic is that the Church’s authority is limited, that Church is the servant of the Word of God not its master.
I do think that one of the marks of Apostolicity in the Church is that “from their place in Heaven the Apostle guide us still” (Preface of Apostles). None of those Churches that Dominus Jesus identifies as sister Churches either has women priests or bishops nor actively encourages homosexual clergy, it only happens in Protestant Churches which have broken from Catholic Tradition and Communion.
Monday, November 20, 2006
One of the notorious facts about Islam is its sensual portrayal of paradise as a place flowing with wine and honey, springs and fountains, whose pebbles are rubies and emeralds, whose earth is camphor, and where the beds are made of musk. But the eclipsing all these glories are the charms of the houris -- resplendent and ravishing "dark-eyed" virgins, created, not of clay, as are mortal women, but of pure musk, and free from all natural impurities and defects. Their breasts are said to be kawa'eb -- swelling and firm, not sagging; and in order to enjoy them to the full, Allah will give to each Muslim man 72 houris and the manliness of a hundred mortals in this heaven of perpetual youth and, of copulation, "all that they desire." The righteous in paradise will be served also by boys, "pure as pearls," dressed in green garments of fine silk and heavy brocade, adorned with bracelets of silver, and used to drinking wine. And then, there's this:
In 1992, Islamic assassins had gunned down ... Farag Foda, a professor and columnist, a human rights activist, and an outspoken critic of the Islamic militants.... About two weeks before his murder, he mocked what passed for intellectual discourse among Islamicists by citing a recent sermon by Egypt's most popular preacher ... [who] had been telling his audience that Muslims who entered paradise would enjoy eternal erections and the company of young boys draped in earrings and necklaces. Some of the ulema, the religious scholars at al-Azhar University, the government's seat of Islamic learning, had disagreed. Yes, they said, men in paradise would have erections, but merely protracted, not perpetual. Other experts disputed the possibility of pederasty in paradise.
Sunday, November 19, 2006
Vatican City (AsiaNews) – The day for those who pray, which is celebrated on 21 November, the commemoration of the Presentation of Mary in the Temple, is traditionally dedicated to remembering cloistered religious communities. The value of this day and of cloistered life itself were at the heart of the reflection of Benedict XVI before today’s Angelus, delivered to tens of thousands of faithful gathered in St Peter’s square.
This day is an “opportunity, as timely as ever, to thank the Lord for the gift of so many people who, in monasteries and hermitages, dedicate themselves totally to God in prayer, silence and seclusion.” The pontiff appealed that “our spiritual and even material support” to such cloistered communities, male and female, will not fall short, “so that they may fulfill their mission of keeping alive in the Church the ardent expectation of the return of Christ.”
The pope said that in our time, “there are not a few people who leave their professional, often promising careers, often to the surprise of friends and acquaintances, to embrace the austere, regulated life of a cloistered monastery.”
Benedict XVI cited many objections that abound in society about such vocations: “Some ask what meaning and value their presence could have in our time, when there are numerous and urgent situations of poverty that need to be tackled.” Why “close yourself” forever within the walls of a monastery and thus deprive others of the contribution of your capabilities and experience? What effectiveness could your prayers have for the solution of so many problems that continue to afflict humanity?”
The pope showed that behind apparent futility, there lay a great, effective witness for believers and non believers. Above all, people who embrace the cloistered life have understood that the “Kingdom of the heavens is a ‘treasure’ which it is well worth giving up everything for (cfr Mt 13:44)? In effect, these brothers and sisters of ours testify silently that in the midst of daily life, at times rather tortuous, the only support that never vacillates is God, the unshakeable rock of faithfulness and of love. “Todo se pasa, Dios no se muda”, wrote the great spiritual teacher, St Teresa d’Avila, in a renowned text.”
In the second place, cloistered monasteries “apparently futile, are really indispensable, like the green ‘lungs’ of a city: they do good to all, even those who do not visit them and who perhaps ignore their existence.” And this is why there is the “widespread need” to “leave the daily routine of large urban cities in search of propitious places of silence and meditation, of monasteries of contemplative life that are like an ‘oasis’ in which man, pilgrim on earth, can better draw from the source of the Spirit and quench himself along the way.”
The pope concluded his reflection by reiterating “thanks to the Lord, who is his providence, brought about cloistered communities, male and female”, asking for them and for all, “the intercession of Mary who, in commemorating her Presentation in the Temple, we will contemplate as Mother and model of the Church, who unites in her both vocations: to virginity and to matrimony, to contemplative as well as to active life.”
THE POPE, who is this week meeting the Archbishop of Canterbury, is drawing up plans to welcome disaffected Anglicans into the Roman Catholic Church.
Pope Benedict XVI is keen to reach out to conservative Anglicans who have been antagonised by their church’s stance on women priests and homosexuality. Senior Vatican figures are understood to have drawn up a dossier on the most effective means of attracting disenchanted Anglicans.
The recruitment drive is a potential embarrassment for Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, who is travelling to Italy for his meeting with the Pope.
It is understood that Fr Joseph Augustine di Noia, undersecretary of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith, the most powerful of the Vatican’s departments, has led a team analysing the current schism in the Anglican world.
The ordination of the openly gay priest Gene Robinson as Bishop of New Hampshire in 2003 caused outrage among some Anglicans. It threatened to cause a split in the church, which has 70m members worldwide.
In America, some of the 2.5m Anglicans have already left the church and become Catholics. In some cases, entire parishes have “defected”, but they have been allowed to continue with some of their Anglican traditions and prayers.
John Myers, the Archbishop of Newark, New Jersey, who has been involved in supporting former Anglicans who have converted to Catholicism, has been helping di Noia with his recruitment dossier. He travelled to Rome last month to suggest ways of appealing to Anglicans.
The Pope’s enthusiasm for bringing traditional Anglicans into the fold was expressed powerfully three years ago when as Cardinal Ratzinger he sent greetings to a group of conservative churchmen meeting in Texas in protest at the election of Robinson.
Williams was involved in a controversy last week when it was reported that he had suggested the church might reconsider the issue of women priests. He insisted he had been misquoted.
While the Pope is keen to welcome any conservative Anglicans, he is also keen to forge good relations with Williams. “The Vatican will do nothing to undermine Williams at such a precarious moment in Anglican history,” one source said.
Despite the friendly overtures, the Pope believes the Anglican Church faces a difficult future.
Graham Leonard, the former Bishop of London and now a Roman Catholic monsignor, said: “The Pope’s view is that theologically Anglicanism has no guts in it.”
In 1703 the Sussex coastline was changed dramatically, most of lower Brighthelmstone (the former name of Brighton) disappeared overnight, literally on 26/27th November.
Across the country the booming roar of the wind became all pervading. Barns, outhouses, sheds and stables, haystacks and even men and animals were whisked into the air, no match for winds that were estimated to have exceeded over 120mph. Even such well built edifices as Westminster Abbey suffered greatly with the heavy lead on its roof "rolled up like parchment and blown clear of the building". Near Moorfields a whole row of houses was levelled and many London churches including St Mary Aldernay and St. Michael lost spires and towers.
The following day Defoe saw 700 ships between Shadwell and Limehouse "most crushed together" with one boat rammed up and over another. On the Isle of Wight spray from the tumultuous seas covered fields with a snow like incrustation of salt rendering whole pastures inedible to sheep and cattle. Thousands of trees toppled in the New Forest and back at the Eddystone after the storm had abated visitors found not a stanchion of the lighthouse remaining nor any trace of Winstanley.
Coastal towns such as Portsmouth "looked as if the enemy had sackt them and were most miserably torn to pieces". So much water had been forced into the Severn estuary that a huge flood inundated much of Bristol with water nearly 3 meters above previous high tides. In other parts of the country the sea came in 16 miles. The prosperous town of Rye lost its income as its harbour was swept away.
Off Cowes and Portsmouth these mighty vessels lay at anchor along with attendant merchantmen and store ships. In a veritable maelstrom brought about by the combined effects of hurricane force winds, high tides and the turbulent nature of the waters confined between the Isle of Wight and the mainland, ships were scattered and overwhelmed. Daylight revealed a mass of stricken vessels in the Solent and Spithead.
It was even worse in the 'Downs', a four mile wide channel between the notorious Goodwin Sands and Deal off the Kent coast. On that fateful night there were over 100 merchant ships and a number of naval vessels at anchor. By dawn many had been smashed to pieces and 1500 seaman had lost their lives.
Overall the number killed ranged from 8,000 to 15,000 along the whole coastline and the North Sea where some vessels were even blown to Sweden including Admiral Sir Cloudesley Shovell's flagship The Association.
Queen Anne who had been forced to hide in a cellar ordered a day of National Prayer and Penitence for the “Sins Which Do Cry Unto God”, the Puritans of the time saw a lack of personal morality as the cause. (I do remember seeing a pamphlet which blamed involvement with Catholics in the Spanish War of Succession, for such a disaster). Today we would not see gambling, whoring, infidelity and political corruption as the cause but a new type of immorality, ecological exploitation, wasteful consumerism and unchecked global warming.
Friday, November 17, 2006
The accession of Queen Mary, in 1553, changed the aspect of affairs however. Pole returned to England and became Primate in 1556. But his long services to the Papacy were not destined to be crowned with any lasting success. His friend, Paul III, had died in 1549 and Paul IV regarded him with dislike and suspicion. Having plunged into a war with Spain, he withdrew his Legates from all parts of Philip's dominions and, though Pole was desirous of remaining neutral, he found himself suspected of heresy and deprived of his legatine office at a time when he had special need of the authority which it conferred upon him. In consequence of his remonstrance, the Pope appears to have eventually yielded so far as to allow him to retain his position as legate.
Pole was spared the mortification of witnessing the final overthrow of the Papal domination in England, which followed the death of Queen Mary, for he survived the Queen but a few hours, dying of double quartan ague on 17th November 1558.
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