April 24, 2014

The Church Will Become Small

Pope Benedict

Source: Catholic Education Resource Center | Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger (Pope Benedict XVI) The church will become small and will have to start afresh more or less from the beginning. She will no longer be able to inhabit many of the edifices she built in prosperity. As the number of her adherents diminishes . . . she will lose many of her social privileges. . . As a small society, [the Church] will make much bigger demands on the initiative of her individual members.... It will be hard-going for the Church, for the process of crystallization and clarification will cost her much valuable energy. It will make her poor and cause her to become the Church of the meek . . . The process will be long and wearisome as was the road from the false progressivism on the eve of the French Revolution — when a bishop might be thought smart if he made fun of dogmas and even insinuated that the existence of God was by no means certain . . . But when the trial of this sifting is past, a great … [Read more...]

Mattingly: Pope Benedict, President Obama and Religious Freedom

Terry Mattingly

- Source: The Republic | Terry Mattingly Pope Benedict XVI cut to the chase when meeting with the visiting bishops from Washington, D.C., Baltimore and the U.S. armed services. The pope mentioned "religious freedom" in the third sentence of his Jan. 19 remarks at the Vatican and he never let up -- returning to this hot topic again and again. The bottom line, he said, is that America's once-strong political consensus has "eroded significantly in the face of powerful new cultural currents which are not only directly opposed to core moral teachings of the Judeo-Christian tradition, but increasingly hostile to Christianity as such." It doesn't matter if these attacks originate in "radical secularism," "radical individualism," a "merely scientific rationality" or suppressive forms of "majority rule," said Benedict, during one in an ongoing series of meetings with American bishops. Catholic leaders must strive to defend church teachings in ways that reach all believers in their … [Read more...]

Pope to American Bishops: Secularism Threatens Liberty, Church Must Respond

Pope Benedict

Freedom detached from moral truth, said Pope Benedict XVI in a recent address to American Catholic Bishops, reflects an "extreme individualism" that requires response from the (Catholic) Church. This is an argument not limited to Catholics alone (see: "Has Europe Lost its Soul" by Chief Rabbi Lord Sacks) and includes the Orthodox as well (see: "With the Rise of Militant Secularism, Rome and Moscow Make Common Cause"). "The Gospel," said Pope Benedict, "proclaims unchanging moral truths," as indeed it does. If those truths are not proclaimed, particularly in the cauldron of moral confusion that characterizes Western Culture today, then we can conclude that fidelity to the Gospel does not exist. This is a hard saying but true: if religious leaders remain silent on the moral issues that have become flashpoints in the culture, then it is time to question whether they really comprehend this gospel that they say they guard. The Gospel of Jesus Christ cannot be conflated to a political … [Read more...]

With the Rise of Militant Secularism, Rome and Moscow Make Common Cause

Pat. Kyrill and Pope Benedict

The Acton Institute just published my essay. Source: Acton Institute | Fr. Johannes L. Jacobse The European religious press is abuzz over recent developments in Orthodox – Catholic relations that indicate both Churches are moving closer together. The diplomatic centerpiece of the activity would be a meeting of Pope Benedict and Patriarch Kyrill of the Russian Orthodox Church that was first proposed by Pope John Paul II but never realized. Some look to a meeting in 2013 which would mark the 1,700th anniversary of the signing of the Edict of Milan when Constantine lifted the persecution of Christians. It would be the first visit between the Pope of Rome and Patriarch of Moscow in history. A few short years ago a visit between Pope and Patriarch seemed impossible because of lingering problems between the two Churches as they reasserted territorial claims and began the revival of the faith in post-Soviet Russia, Ukraine and elsewhere. The relationship grew tense at times and while … [Read more...]

La Stampa: Divisions in Orthodox Church Hinder Pope’s Meeting with Patriarch of Moscow

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We are getting more news from the Catholic/Italian press than we are from Orthodox sources. This report appears reliable; the author has a good grasp of the ecclessiological disagreements between Constantinople and Moscow, particularly the conflict about what constitutes primacy in Orthodoxy. This question must be settled before a Pan-Orthodox Council can take place and before dialogue with Rome can proceed with any seriousness. Both Constantinople and Moscow have different interests at stake. Moscow sees a working alliance with Rome (not unity) as a practical necessity to re-Christianize Europe in order to roll back the hedonism, moral relativism, lowered value of human life and other afflictions associated with secularism. Constantinople has expressed little interest in Moscow's (and Rome's) agenda and prefers instead to focus on global warming and other boutique issues. Highlights from the article: In Ravenna, the delegation of the Patriarchate of Moscow decided to … [Read more...]

Interview with Met. Hilarion on Unity and Primacy in the Orthodox Church [AUDIO]

Metropolitan Hilarion

I published the article below earlier, but after listening to the recording of the interview, there's a lot more to report. The planning for a Pan-Orthodox Council continues, and one of the benefits is that thorny issues raised in the past such as the granting of autocephaly, the role of the Patriarch of Constantinople in world Orthodoxy and others are finally getting serious attention. Reading between the lines, it is clear that Constantinople's claims to universal supremacy have been rejected although they still possess a primacy of honor and limited authority to call a council and so forth. Met. Hilarion speaks highly of Pope Benedict calling him a "man of faith" and expressing particular appreciation of Benedict's knowledge of Orthodoxy. No promises concerning a meeting between Rome and Moscow are promised, although the newest date mentioned is 2013 which represents the 1700th anniversary of the signing of the Edict of Milan. Listen here: Source: Catholic News … [Read more...]

More to the Ecumenical Patriarch’s recent encyclical than meets the eye

Pat. Bartholomew and Pope Benedict in Rome

As I mentioned last week, I recently became a columnist for Catholic Online. They just posted my latest piece. (They are fast. I submitted it just this afternoon.) ++++++++++++++++++++++++++ Last week Orthodox Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew released an encyclical castigating what he called Orthodox “fanatics” who object to Orthodox ecumenical involvement. The encyclical was well received in Christian circles outside of the Orthodox Church, but raised eyebrows among those in the fold, not least for the strength of the language. Here’s the background. The Orthodox Church is emerging out of a period of active persecution that lasted centuries for the Greeks and a generation for the Russians and other Eastern Europeans. Orthodoxy still flourishes in the Middle East although under considerable Muslim pressure. It is growing in Africa, Indonesia (where an indigenous Orthodox Church was started by several Moslem converts), America, Western Europe, and elsewhere in the world. Two … [Read more...]

Papal Environmentalism: Pro-Life and Pro-Marriage

ethics-public-policy-center

Ethics and Public Policy Center | George Weigel In his January 11 address to the diplomatic corps accredited to the Holy See, Pope Benedict XVI continued to carve out an interesting Catholic position on ecology. The Pope insists that care for creation is a moral obligation that falls on both individuals and governments. His very invocation of "creation," however, challenges the secular shibboleths that underwrite a lot of contemporary environmental activism. Here is the money paragraph in the papal address to the diplomats assembled in the Sala Regia of the Apostolic Palace: "Twenty years ago, the fall of the Berlin Wall and the collapse of the materialistic and atheistic regimes which had for several decades dominated a part of this continent, it was easy to assess the great harm which an economic system lacking any reference to the truth about man had done not only to the dignity and freedom of individuals and peoples, but to nature itself, by polluting soil, water, and air. … [Read more...]

Patriarch Kirill & Pope Benedict: A Tale of Two Leaders for a new Missionary Age

Pat. Kyrill and Pope Benedict

I've been asked to become an Orthodox columnist on Catholic.org and accepted. Below is my first essay. Regular readers will notice ideas we discussed on the AOI Observer. +++++++++++++++++ Catholic Online (www.catholic.org) NAPLES, FL. (Catholic Online) - Over four decades ago Pope John Paul II said that the restoration of the Russian Orthodox Church was necessary for the cultural restoration of Western Europe. At the time his words seemed audacious. Russia was still under the Communist yoke, the winds in Poland were just starting to blow, and the Berlin wall loomed invincible. Culture watchers dismissed the statement as the wistful longing of a faithful man. Yet John Paul, with his gift of seeing through the clutter of immediate events into the deeper and far-reaching ways of God, knew better. He believed that the fall of Communism would unleash a transformation that could only come from those who suffered. His words are proving true. The Orthodox Church in Russia, … [Read more...]

Church has right to bring Gospel values to public debate, pope says

Catholic News Service VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Catholic teaching and the truths of the Gospel have a right to be heard in public debate, especially in a country where so many people claim to be Christian, Pope Benedict XVI told the bishops of England and Wales. However, the church must recognize dissent within its own ranks and not accept it as being part of a balanced discussion, he said Feb. 1 in an address to bishops who were making their "ad limina" visits. The meeting with the bishops, who were at the Vatican to report on the status of their dioceses, took place as Pope Benedict prepares to visit Great Britain in September. Referring to the Equality Bill under debate in Britain's Parliament, the pope said some legislation designed to guarantee equal opportunity for all people actually would impose "unjust limitations on the freedom of religious communities to act in accordance with their beliefs." Catholic bishops have said the bill means churches could be sued by … [Read more...]

Catholic Herald: In Russia, the path to unity is defrosting

the-catholic-herald

Roman Catholic reporting about union between Rome and Orthodoxy tends to be over optimistic. The Catholics seem to want union much more than the Orthodox do. A clearer assessment might be that Moscow sees cooperation with Rome as necessary to re-Christianize Europe, to help Europe rediscover its moral and religious moorings. Nevertheless, a significant thaw is occurring. +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ Neville Kyrke-Smith has visited Eastern Europe for the past 25 years. Now, he believes the end of the schism with the Orthodox is in sight "The Lefebvrists, the Anglicans... will it be the Orthodox next?" asked one slightly bewildered Catholic priest recently. Pope Benedict XVI is turning out to be ecumenically audacious. For this he has faced criticism, misunderstanding and accusations of insensitivity. But Pope Benedict and Patriarch Kirill of the Russian Orthodox Church seem now to be making progress in preparing the ground to overcome the Great Schism of 1054. When I … [Read more...]

“The Pope Is the First Among the Patriarchs.” Just How Remains to Be Seen

chiesa-express-online

ROME, January 25, 2010 – This evening, with vespers in the basilica of Saint Paul's Outside the Walls, Benedict XVI is closing the week of prayer for Christian unity. There are some who say that ecumenism has entered a phase of retreat and chill. But as soon as one that looks to the East, the facts say the opposite. Relations with the Orthodox Churches have never been so promising as they have since Joseph Ratzinger has been pope. The dates speak for themselves. A period of chill in the theological dialogue between the Catholic Church and the Orthodox Churches of Byzantine tradition began in 1990, when the two sides clashed over so-called "uniatism," meaning the ways in which Catholic communities of the Eastern rites duplicate in everything the parallel Orthodox communities, differing only by their obedience to the Church of Rome. In Balamond, in Lebanon, the dialogue came to a halt. It hit an even bigger obstacle on the Russian side, where the patriarchate of Moscow … [Read more...]