July 24, 2014

Erdogan and the Christians

Vatican analyst Sandro Magister takes a closer look at the recent meeting between Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I. "But like other conciliatory gestures in the past, this one also risks producing no results," notes the introduction on Chiesa online. Magister examines Pope Benedict XVI's reservations about the entry of Turkey into the European Union and "the caution" of Vatican diplomacy. Erdogan and the Christians. Few Promises, Zero Action by Sandro Magister ROME, August 27, 2009 – Samuel Huntington called Turkey "Janus-faced," you never know if it's a friend or enemy of the West. The same thought must have come to mind for Bartholomew I, ecumenical patriarch of Constantinople, when last August 15 he welcomed Turkish prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan for a visit to the orphanage and monastery of Saint George Koudounas on the Princes' Islands in the Marmara Sea. It was the first time that a Turkish prime minister had … [Read more...]

Stealing, Lying, Cheating and the ‘New Sins’

The Economist surveys recent commentary by religious leaders on economics and the environment, focusing on Pope Benedict XVI's recent encyclical Caritas in Veritate. Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I gets a nod for his upcoming symposium on the Mississippi. The Economist does a passable job of summing up these issues as viewed through the lens of faith, but does recoil a bit at more "purist" sentiments, such as when the pope invokes life issues. A good line here: Globalization, technology and growth are in themselves neither positive or negative; they are whatever humanity makes of them. And to make them good and for the glory of God and his Creation, we need more "purist" notions like the Christian virtues. Text follows: New sins, new virtues Jul 9th 2009 | ISTANBUL AND ROME As the world heats up and economic dislocation ravages the poor, religious leaders offer up their diagnoses and prescriptions Globalization, technology and growth are in themselves neither … [Read more...]

Brilliant

President Obama and Pope Benedict met in Rome today. As reported by Reuters: Obama and Benedict held private talks for about 40 minutes in the pope's frescoed study in the Vatican's apostolic palace and the Vatican said bioethics and life issues were a central part of the discussion. In a surprise move, the pontiff gave Obama a booklet explaining Vatican opposition to practices such as abortion and embryonic stem cell research, which Obama supports. The booklet was Dignitas Personae, described by the news service as the document that "defends life from conception to natural death." And a Vatican statement issued after the meeting said the topics discussed included "the defense and promotion of life and the right to abide by one's conscience." Here's what the president will find in the opening sentences of the document: The dignity of a person must be recognized in every human being from conception to natural death. This fundamental principle expresses a great “yes” … [Read more...]

Benedict to Bartholomew: Called to ‘One Hope’

The Zenit news agency published the translation of Pope Benedict XVI's address to the delegation the Ecumenical Patriarchate sent to the Vatican for the celebration of "the solemnity" of Sts. Peter and Paul and the conclusion of the Pauline Year. The patriarchate's delegation was led by Metropolitan Emmanuel of France, director of the Office of the Orthodox Church Before the European Union. The other members include Bishop Anthenagoras of Sinope, auxiliary bishop of the Patriarchate of Belgium, and Deacon Ioakim Billis of the Patriarchate of Constantinople. Pope Benedict: "Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ" (Epehesians 1:2). Venerable Brothers, It is with these words that St. Paul, "apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God," addresses "the saints" who live in Ephesus, "believers in Christ Jesus" (Ephesians 1:1). Today, with this proclamation of peace and salvation, I bid you welcome for the patronal feast of Sts. Peter and Paul, … [Read more...]

Patriarch Kirill: A Global Reach

Russia's new patriarch is "proving to be a capable administrator" and has surrounded himself with a team of "well-trained and capable younger clerics," say Leonid Sevastyanov and Robert Moynihan in the Moscow Times. In "100 Days of Patriarch Kirill," the writers also say that the new leader of the Russian Orthodox Church has a "fully European" vision for his ministry. Kirill now heads a church with about 140 million adherents, far larger than the Anglican Church and second only to the Roman Catholic Church. With a significant percent of Orthodox believers living outside Russia, this gives the church a truly global reach. But statistics are less important than suffering and faith. The Russian Orthodox Church suffered greatly under Soviet rule. Now it has re-emerged from the catacombs following the collapse of the Soviet Union 17 years ago to take on a greater role in post-Soviet Russia. Despite the enormous challenges that the Orthodox Church faces, now is the time of … [Read more...]

Pope and Patriarch meet in Jerusalem

Pope Benedict XVI paid a visit today to the Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem, Theophilus III. The pope, according to the Catholic News Agency, "spoke with the patriarch of his gratitude for efforts to achieve greater unity between their Churches and asked the Christians of Jerusalem to raise a generation dedicated to the faith." Pope Benedict began his speech to those assembled by calling to mind the past meetings between his two predecessors and the Orthodox patriarchs of their time. “These encounters, including my visit today,” he said, “are of great symbolic significance. They recall that the light of the East has illumined the entire world from the very moment when a 'rising sun' came to visit us and they remind us too that from here the Gospel was preached to all nations.” Here is the full text of the speech from Vatican Radio: Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ, It is with profound gratitude and joy that I make this visit to the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of … [Read more...]

Benedict XVI in the Holy Land

Pope Benedict's trip is off to a good start and the intense media coverage (1,300 journalists covering the trip by one estimate) is already bringing much needed attention to the plight of Christians in the Middle East. The Bishop of Rome has a deep appreciation for Eastern Christianity, as did his predecessor John Paul II. In his Vespers homily delivered in the Greek-Melkite Cathedral of St. George in Amman, Benedict said this: The ancient living treasure of the traditions of the Eastern Churches enriches the universal Church and could never be understood simply as objects to be passively preserved. All Christians are called to respond actively to the Lord's mandate -- as Saint George did in dramatic ways according to popular record -- to bring others to know and love him. In fact the vicissitudes of history have strengthened the members of particular Churches to embrace this task with vigor and to engage resolutely with the pastoral realities of today. Most of you trace ancient … [Read more...]

Alexy II: A ‘Transitional’ Patriarch

Vladimir Berezansky, Jr., a U.S. lawyer with experience in Russia and former Soviet republics, recalls an interview with Patriarch Alexy II in 1991. Like many Russians at the time, the Patriarch was coping with a "disorienting change" following the fall of the Soviet Empire, Berezansky writes. At the time, he seemed overcome by the changes taking place around him, and he did not know where to begin. "For our entire lives, we [clerics] were pariahs, and now we are being called on to do everything: chaplains for the military, ministries to hospitals, orphanages, prisons," he said. He even voiced regret about taking the time to travel to the United States. But he had gambled -- correctly, as it turned out -- that he could do more for his flock by seeking foreign assistance than by staying home to manage the Russian Orthodox Church's destitution. His plate was full and overflowing, and he seemed keenly aware of the ironies of his situation. The Russian state was returning … [Read more...]

Orthodox-Catholic dialogue ‘progressing’

In Rome for the feast of Sts. Peter and Paul, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I said that the Orthodox-Catholic dialogue was showing progress despite "considerable difficulties that exist and the well-known problems." The patriarch attended the inauguration of the Pauline Jubilee Year and Mass celebrated by Pope Benedict XVI. Zenit News said Patriarch Bartholomew voiced optimism about the prospect for closer relations: The theological dialogue between our Churches 'in faith, truth and love,' thanks to divine help, goes forward despite the considerable difficulties that exist and the well-known problems. We truly desire and fervently pray that these difficulties will be overcome and that the problems will disappear as soon as possible so that we may reach the desired final goal for the glory of God. We know well that this is your desire too, as we also are certain that Your Holiness will neglect nothing, personally working, together with your illustrious collaborators, … [Read more...]