Pope Francis

The head of secretariat of the synod of bishops was reportedly “furious” about “Remaining in the Truth of Christ,” [Ignatius Press publication] which includes chapters by Cardinals Burke and Brandmüller   (February 25, 2015 12:00 EST   Carl E. Olson)

 

Both Kath.net and Edward Pentin are reporting that Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri, head of secretariat of the synod of bishops, ordered the interception of over a hundred copies of the book Remaining in the Truth of Christ, which had been mailed to participants in last October’s Extraordinary Synod. 

The book, which consists of essays by five Cardinals—including Cardinals Burke and Brandmüller—and four other scholars, was written in response to Cardinal Walter Kasper’s book The Gospel of the Family, and defends the Church’s teaching that Catholics who have been divorced and civilly remarried cannot receive Holy Communion. It was edited by Fr. Robert Dodaro, OSA, who was interviewed about it by CWR last September. 

Pentin reports:

Reliable and high level sources allege the head of secretariat of the synod of bishops, Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri, ordered they be intercepted because they would “interfere with the synod.” 

A source told me that Baldisseri was “furious” the book had been mailed to the participants and ordered staff at the Vatican post office to ensure they did not reach the Paul VI Hall.

Kath.net reports that around 200 copies of the book were mailed, but only a few apparently made it into the hands of the proper recipients, a report that has also been confirmed by Fr. Joseph Fessio, SJ, of Ignatius Press. Pentin states that the books were mailed through “the proper channels within the Italian and Vatican postal systems”, but that Baldisseri claimed they were mailed “irregularly,” and so the interception of the books was legitimate. 

In other words, Baldisseri has apparently admitted that the books were taken; the dispute is over why they were taken. Pentin further reports that the books were apparently destroyed after being taken.

Three months ago, Fr. Federico Lombardi, the Vatican spokesman, said he knew nothing about allegations regarding the stolen/intercepted/confiscated books, and dismissed the sources for the allegations as not being “serious and objective.” Pentin, a veteran and respected Vatican reporter who recorded a controversial interview with Kasper during the Synod, concludes his report by stating that since December, “the allegations have become more widely known and have been corroborated at the highest levels of the church.”

To read the whole disturbing article, click here.

UPDATE (Feb. 27, 2015): Canon lawyer Dr. Edward Peters weighs in: “It was worse than a crime—it was a blunder”

{ 0 comments }

Neither Dignity Nor Justice: Canadas Supreme Court Legalizes Euthanasia

By Father John Flynn, LC

ROME, February 15, 2015 (Zenit.org) – On February 6 the nine judges of the Canadian Supreme Court legalized euthanasia in a unanimous decision, reversing a previous 1994 ruling.

The move continued a tendency towards judicial activism that started with the striking down of about laws, then the introduction of same-sex marriage, and the striking down of laws on prostitution.

While technically the court did not eliminate the legal prohibition regarding assisted suicide it said that it no longer applied to a person consents to the termination of their life and has a “grievous and irremediable medical condition (including an illness, disease or disability) that causes enduring suffering that is intolerable to the individual in the circumstances of his or her condition.”

Commentators pointed out that this is not limited to terminal illnesses and could even apply to persons with psychological problems, including depression.

The effect of the decision is suspended for twelve months so that parliament has an opportunity to pass a law on this matter. With an election coming up later in the year in October there is doubt that a law will be passed in the near future.

“Grievous and irremediable” is not the same as terminal, never mind “at the end of life,” while what is “intolerable” is explicitly left “to the individual” to decide,” Canada’s National Post newspaper observed in a February 6 editorial.

“We believe such an open-ended liberalization to be unwise and dangerous,” it concluded, after having commented that the Canadian decision seems to follow the more liberal models of the Netherlands and Belgium.

The archbishop of Gatineau, Paul-André Durocher, President of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops, issued a statement the same day as the decision in which he said that Catholics are called upon to help all those in need and that comforting the dying has long been a part of Christian mercy.

No mercy

“Helping someone commit suicide, however, is neither an act of justice or mercy, nor is it part of palliative care,” he added.

“The Bishops of our country invite Canadians, especially Catholics, to do all they can to bring comfort and support for all those who are dying and for their loved ones, so that no one, because of loneliness, vulnerability, loss of autonomy, or fear of pain and suffering, feels they have no choice but to commit suicide,” he said.

The Canadian Catholic Organization for Family and Life also criticized the decision saying that it was a “sad day for our country.”

“Christ calls each of us to do everything in our power to serve the most vulnerable in our society, to eliminate suffering — but never at the price of eliminating those who suffer,” the statement explained.

The court, the declaration continued, based “its decision on false notions of autonomy and human dignity; these terms are being misused in such a way as to seriously weaken the common good.”

The organization also raised the question about the rights and autonomy of those in the health care field who in the future may find themselves obligated to help kill people, particularly as the population ages and there is increasing pressure on resources.

“We need to ask ourselves: Can anyone feel safe in a society in which the state, having relieved us of the responsibility of being our brother’s keeper, has given some among us permission to be his killer?” they concluded.

Suicide creep

In a February 6 press release the Institute of Marriage and Family Canada pointed out the many problems associated with countries and states that have legalized euthanasia.

For example, in Belgium, a study published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal found that 32% of euthanasia deaths took place without the express request of the patient. Most of these cases involved persons 80 years or older who were mostly in a coma or had dementia.

In the Netherlands, they referred to data showing that the number of deaths by euthanasia doubled between 2008 and 2013. Moreover, in recent times the right to assisted suicide has expanded to include babies.

“The Institute of Marriage and Family Canada sees no evidence to believe ‘suicide creep’ won’t also happen in Canada,” they declared.

“At the time when our physical powers fail us, every Canadian will now be obliged to calculate how much love and support is too much to ask of others,” commented a statement from the Council of Canadians with Disabilities.

“The Canadian disability movement remains united in our claim that the lives of people with disabilities matter,” they said.

In an address last November 15 to the Italian Catholic Physician’s Association Pope Francis said that: “in the light of faith and right reason, human life is always sacred and always has ‘quality’.”

“Every human life is sacred,” Pope Francis declared: A concept that unfortunately does not find favor with the justices of the Supreme Court of Canada.

{ 0 comments }

Needed: A New Church Policy toward Islam (Pt. 1)

by Steve Ray on February 3, 2015

POPE-TURKEY/

Pope Francis meets with the Grand Mufti of Istanbul Rahmi Yaran during his three day state visit to Turkey last November.

In a speech to Egypt’s top Islamic authorities (see YouTube video below), President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi called for a “religious revolution.” Why? Because he believes that Islam has problems: “That corpus of texts and ideas that we have sacralized over the centuries … is antagonizing the entire world.” He continued: “Is it possible that 1.6 billion people should want to kill the rest of the world’s inhabitants…?” He then warned the assembled imams not to “remain trapped within this mindset” but to “reflect on it from a more enlightened perspective.”

Three Part Series 1However you interpret el-Sisi’s remarks, it’s clear that he believes the problems of Islam are not the fault of a tiny minority. He seems to think that a great many are to blame, and he particularly singles out Islamic religious leaders, whom he holds “responsible before Allah” on “Judgment Day.” And, most tellingly, he refuses to indulge in the this-has-nothing-to-do-with-Islam excuse favored by Western leaders. Rather, he states that “the entire umma [Islamic world]” is “a source of anxiety, danger, killing and destruction for the rest of the world” because of “the thinking that we hold most sacred.”

By contrast, after his visit to Turkey, Pope Francis compared Islamic fundamentalists to Christian fundamentalists and said that “in all religions there are these little groups.” A little over a year ago in his apostolic exhortation, he joined the ranks of those who say that terror has nothing to do with Islam by observing that “authentic Islam and the proper reading of the Koran are opposed to every form of violence.”

So the leader of the largest Muslim country in the Arab world thinks that the entire Islamic world is suffused with dangerous and destructive thinking, and the leader of the Catholic Church thinks terror is the work of a few misunderstanders of Islam.

Or does he?

It’s very likely that when world leaders say that terror has nothing to do with Islam, many of them do so for reasons of state. In other words, they are afraid that if they say anything else they will provoke more violence.

Is this the case with the Pope? My guess is probably not. The Pope does not seem the type to dissemble. He, along with many of the bishops, seems to genuinely believe that Islam is a religion of peace that has been hijacked for nefarious purposes.

Still, even if many prelates do entertain doubts about the peaceful nature of Islam, it can be argued that the present policy of saying positive things about Islam makes sense from a strategic point of view. A great many Christians live as minorities in Muslim lands, and the wrong word might put them in danger. After Pope Benedict’s Regensburg reference to the violent nature of Islam, Muslims took out their anger on Christians living in their midst. And things have worsened since then. Christians in Iraq, Syria, Nigeria, Pakistan, and elsewhere already live at peril of their lives. Why make it any worse for them?

There’s another argument for this power-of-positive-thinking approach, although it’s an argument that’s best left unsaid. One of the unspoken hopes of Church and secular leaders is, undoubtedly, that such an approach will set in motion a self-fulfilling prophecy. Keep saying that Islam is a religion of peace and eventually even the Islamists will believe it and begin to act peacefully.

Of course, jihadists aren’t the main target of this strategy. Even if hardcore Islamists remain unmoved by this flattering of their faith, the tactic will—or so it is supposed—have the merit of reinforcing moderate Muslims in their moderation. If Catholic prelates were to start criticizing Islam itself instead of the terrorist “betrayers” of Islam, they would risk alienating peaceful Muslims. A hardline policy might even have the effect of pushing moderates into the radical camp. Better, from a strategic point of view, to stress our commonalities with Muslims. If they see us as a brother religion, they are more likely to protect the Christians in their midst.

Whether or not this is the reasoning at the Vatican, I don’t know. But such a strategy is not without merit. In Islam, blasphemy and slander are taken quite seriously and any criticism of Islam or its prophet can be construed as blasphemous. Slander is defined even more loosely. One of the most authoritative sharia law books defines it as “saying anything about a person that he would dislike.” That covers a lot of territory. So the argument that drawing attention to the violent side of Islam will only incite further violence is a compelling one.

On the other hand, there are good reasons for questioning the Church’s accommodative approach. The primary and most practical one is that it doesn’t seem to have worked. The let’s-be-friends approach has been in place even since Vatican II, but other than dialoguers congratulating themselves on the friendships they have made, it hasn’t yielded much in the way of results. Christians in Muslim lands are less safe than they have been for centuries. So, for that matter, are Muslims themselves.

What’s wrong with the diplomatic approach? Well, look at it first from the Islamic point of view. Islam is a religion that respects strength. It was spread mainly by the sword. To say that it is a peaceful religion might elicit reassuring responses from those Muslims who, like their Western counterparts, are constrained by diplomatic protocols, but from others it elicits scorn. The Ayatollah Khomeini put it this way: “Those who know nothing of Islam pretend that Islam counsels against war. Those are witless.”

Muslims of Khomeini’s ilk don’t care whether or not others think of Islam as peaceful, they only care whether God is on their side. A weak response from the enemy, whether on the battlefield or from the pulpit proves that he is. Appeasement on the part of prelates reinforces the conviction held by many Muslims that Christianity is an inferior religion, not worthy of respect. By the same token, it reinforces the belief that Islam is the superior religion, deserving of special respect. “Allahu akbar” doesn’t mean “let’s dialogue”; it means “God is greater” and its specific meaning to Muslims is that their God is greater than your god. Duke University recently reversed its decision to allow the Muslim Student Association to chant the call to prayer from the massive chapel bell tower, but if the decision had held it would not have been seen as a sign of Duke’s commitment to cultural diversity but as a sign that it is on the road to submission. Duke was founded by Methodist Episcopalians and was originally called Trinity College. The Muslim call to prayer includes the words “Allahu akbar,” and the Allah they call upon is decidedly not a Trinity.

Islam, which considers itself to be the best religion on the planet, is also the touchiest religion on the planet. The way you show Islam respect is not by treating it as an equal but by treating it with deference. Not doing or saying anything to offend Muslims might seem like a wise strategy, but once you adopt it, you’re already on a slippery slope. Islam has an insatiable appetite for deference, and there is no end to the things that offend Muslims. The word “Islam,” after all, means submission, and that, ultimately, is how non-Muslims are expected to show respect. Catholics who are worried about offending Islam might note that in Saudi Arabia the mere presence of a Catholic church is considered offensive. Will the wearing of a cross by a Christian student at Duke someday be considered intolerably offensive to the Muslim students? How much of your weekly salary would you be willing to wager against that eventuality?

Of course there are many Muslims who are tolerant and open-minded, but in much of the Muslim world they keep their open-mindedness to themselves. What about them? The Church’s current “diplomatic” policy runs the risk of increasing their sense of hopelessness. Islam is an oppressive religious and social system. Many Muslims feel trapped by it. President el-Sisi acknowledged as much when he urged Egypt’s imams not to “remain trapped within this mindset.” When Christian leaders won’t acknowledge the oppression, it reinforces the “trapped” Muslim’s belief that he has nowhere to turn. The problem is compounded when Church leaders insist on expressing their respect for Islam and their solidarity with Islamic religious leaders. Muslims who are disaffected from Islam aren’t likely to convert to another religion which proudly proclaims its commonality with the faith they would love to leave.

The current approach is unlikely to win over many Muslims. At the same time, it’s likely to alienate a lot of Christians. For one thing, it does a disservice to Christian victims of Islamic persecution. As I observed in a previous column:

Such an approach also tends to devalue the sacrifices of those Christians in Muslim lands who have had the courage to resist submission to Islam. It must be highly discouraging to be told that the religion in whose name your friends and relatives have been slaughtered is prized and esteemed by the Church.

That’s not to say that Church leaders shouldn’t exercise discretion in what they say. During World War II, Vatican officials understood that saying the wrong thing about the Nazis could result in retaliation against both Jews and Catholics. On the other hand, they did not go out of their way to express their esteem and respect for Nazis and thus risk demoralizing Christians who lived under Nazi control. In order to protect Christians and Jews in Nazi-occupied Europe and later in Communist-controlled Eastern Europe, the Vatican did exercise a degree of diplomatic caution. But that diplomacy was based on an accurate understanding of Nazi and Communist ideology. It’s not at all clear that today’s Church leaders possess a correspondingly clear-eyed understanding of Islamic theology/ideology. The current outreach to Islam seems to be based more on wishful thinking than on fact. And, as Pope Francis himself observed inEvangelii Gaudium, “Ideas disconnected from realities give rise to ineffectual forms of idealism” (232).

“Ideas disconnected from realities” is a good way to describe the Church’s Islam policy. That policy does not seem to have done much to prevent persecution of Christians in Muslim lands. How about Catholics who do not live in the danger zones? Catholics who live in the West and rely on the Church for their understanding of Islam can be forgiven if they still remain complacent about the Islamic threat. That’s because there is absolutely nothing in recent official Church statements that would lead them to think that there is anything to worry about. Lumen GentiumNostra AetateThe Catechism of the Catholic ChurchEvangelii Gaudium? All discuss Islam, but not in a way that would raise the slightest concern. The Catholic who wonders what to think about Islamic terrorism and then consults his Catechism only to find that “together with us they adore the one, merciful God” will likely conclude that terrorists are distorting and misinterpreting their religion. Confident that the Church has spoken definitively on the matter, he’ll roll over and go back to sleep.

Conversely, Catholics who do not rely strictly on the Church for their assessment of Islam are in for a bout of cognitive dissonance. On the one hand, they know what the Church says. On the other hand, they can read the news and note the obvious discrepancy. As time goes by and as car bombings and beheadings occur at more frequent intervals in the West, dissonance is likely to be replaced by disrespect. Church officials who keep repeating the one-sided narrative about “authentic” Islam will lose credibility. Catholics won’t necessarily lose their faith, but it will be sorely tested. At the least, they will stop trusting their bishops on this issue. The trouble with “ideas disconnected from realities” is that they eventually do bump up against realities, and when they do, the bearers of those ideas lose respect. A good case can be made that Catholic leaders should pursue a policy geared toward weakening Muslims’ faith in Islam (a proposition I will discuss in the next installment), but the current policy seems more likely to undermine the faith that Catholics have in their shepherds. It’s ironic that a Catholic can get a better grasp of the Islamic threat by listening to a short speech by President el-Sisi than by listening to a hundred reassuring statements from Catholic bishops.

Of course, it’s not enough to simply criticize the Church’s current policy without proposing a viable alternative option. That’s something I propose to do in my next column.


{ 1 comment }

Pope Gives his Take on Divisive Family Meeting

December 10, 2014

Notice a good friends comments below :-) VATICAN CITY (AP) – Pope Francis says bishops spoke their minds, and may have even fought among themselves during a divisive church meeting on family issues. But he says no one questioned church teaching on marriage. Francis gave his first complete assessment of the October synod during his [...]

Read the full article →

Joint Statement by Pope Francis and Patriarch Bartholomew (Peter and Andrew)

November 30, 2014

On Sunday Pope Francis and Patriarch Bartholomew signed a joint declaration affirming their common commitment to full Christian unity as well as their support for suffering Christians in the Middle East. “We cannot resign ourselves to a Middle East without Christians, who have professed the name of Jesus there for two thousand years,” the joint statement reads. [...]

Read the full article →

What Do 2,400 Vatican Workers Actually Do?

November 11, 2014

Interesting article in Legatus Magazine. Read it HERE.  It gives us an idea what goes on behind the Vatican Walls and the Swiss Guards.

Read the full article →

Pope Francis Talks with President Peres of Israel about Gaza, War and Peace

July 18, 2014

Pope Francis spoke to President Peres this morning and asked to deliver a message of coexistence, moderation and peace to all the citizens of the region in light of the current security situation. His Holiness Pope Francis spoke to President Shimon Peres earlier today (Friday, 18 July 2014), and conveyed a messaged of coexistence, moderation [...]

Read the full article →

Pope Francis Says He will Renounce the Papacy in the Future

June 14, 2014

Interesting story. Looks like Pope Benedict started a trend. You can read about it at… …Pope Francis May Renounce the Papacy Someday: Six Things You Should Know and Share.

Read the full article →

Radio and TV Shows with Steve about the Pope in the Holy Land and the Situation Over There

May 23, 2014

It has been a busy week. Yesterday EWTN’s “The World Over” that will be repeated three more times this week. It was a good time with Raymond and the segment flew by. All his staff and producers were wonderful.You can find out more here www.ewtn.com/tv/live/worldover.asp. Today I will be on Drew Mariani’s Show on Relevant Radio [...]

Read the full article →

I Will Join Raymond Arroyo Thursday on World Over on EWTN – The Pope in the Middle East

May 20, 2014

The show will focus on the Pope’s visit to the Middle East. We will discuss the sites he will visit, what he will find, the mood of the local Christians, the controversy over his Mass in the Upper Room and more. The show airs at 8:00 PM Eastern time from Washington DC. I have to [...]

Read the full article →

Amazing! Pope will Celebrate Mass in the Upper Room

March 27, 2014

This is quite incredible since it has not been done since Pope John Paul II received permission from Israel to celebrate Mass there on his visit to the Holy Land. Pope Francis will do the “not allowed”–he will celebrate Mass in the Upper Room. Seems odd, eh, that the place where the first Eucharist was [...]

Read the full article →

Obama Meets the Pope: the Spin Begins

March 27, 2014

By Phil Lawyer | March 27, 2014 2:07 Speaking to reporters after his meeting with Pope Francis, President Obama said that Church concerns about religious freedom and individual conscience were “not really a topic of conversation” during the exchange. That’s funny. The Vatican summary of the discussion mentioned “questions of particular relevance for the Church, [...]

Read the full article →

Fortune Magazine Names Pope “Greatest World Leader”

March 21, 2014

Francis Heads List of 50 Persons Chosen for “Energizing Their Followers and Making World Better” NEW YORK, March 20, 2014 (Zenit.org) – The global business magazine has named Pope Francis the world’s greatest leader in a world “starved for leadership,” it says. The list of 50 men and women “some famous, others little known” have been chosen [...]

Read the full article →

Pentecostal Kenneth Copeland and Pope Francis (quite an amazing encounter)

March 14, 2014

Kenneth Copeland is a Pentecostal preacher who has championed the “name it, claim it” tradition in Protestantism. He has an “empire” which he has built that spreads across the world with tens of thousands of followers, or more. I remember as a teenager listening to him on TV and radio with my parents. Many of [...]

Read the full article →

An Example of How the Secular Media Exploits the “Pope Francis Effect”

February 4, 2014

Phil Lawler writes, Yesterday I called attention to a very perceptive critique, by Bishop James Conley, of the Rolling Stone cover story about Pope Francis. The purveyors of pop culture aren’t interested in reporting what Pope Francis thinks, Bishop Conley warned; they’re interested in promoting their own ideas, and using the Pope as window-dressing. Recognizing [...]

Read the full article →

I Like the Bishops Recently Chosen; but Now a New Group of “Bishop Pickers” has been Chosen. Hum?

December 18, 2013

David Gibson of Religious News Service writes, After last month’s annual meeting of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, I wrote a story handicapping the four American churchman who enjoyed growing influence in the new(ish) pontificate of Pope Francis. They were Cardinal Sean O’Malley of Boston, who is one of the eight members of Francis “kitchen cabinet” of advisors [...]

Read the full article →