Crux sancta sit mihi lux / Non draco sit mihi dux: Vade retro satana / Numquam suade mihi vana: Sunt mala quae libas / Ipse venena bibas
Hodie contritum est ab ea caput serpentis antiqui

pühapäev, 31. oktoober 2010

Peapiiskop Chaput väljakutse kristlastele

Peapiiskop Chaput pidas järgneva kõne oktoobri keskel, kateheetilisel kongressil Victorias, Briti Columbias.

Some of you may know the short story, “The Lottery” by Shirley Jackson. If you don’t, I need to spoil the ending to make my point. But I promise the story will still be worth reading.

“The Lottery” is set on a summer day in a small town in 1940s America. The people are assembling for a very old annual ritual. The ritual has something to do with imploring a good corn harvest -- but there’s no mention of any God, and no clergy anywhere in the picture.

Each person in the village lines up to draw a slip of paper from an old wooden box. Tessie Hutchinson, a young wife and mother, draws a slip with a black mark.

From that moment, the story moves quickly to its conclusion. The lottery official gives the word, and the villagers move in on Tessie. And they stone her to death.

“The Lottery” is one of the most widely read stories ever published in my country. And for good reason. It’s well told. The ending leaves you breathless. Teachers like it because it provokes sharp classroom discussions.

Or at least it used to.

A few years ago, a college writing professor, Kay Haugaard, wrote an essay about her experiences teaching “The Lottery” over a period of about two decades.

She said that in the early 1970s, students who read the story voiced shock and indignation. The tale led to vivid conversations on big topics -- the meaning of sacrifice and tradition; the dangers of group-think and blind allegiance to leaders; the demands of conscience and the consequences of cowardice.

Sometime in the mid-1990s, however, reactions began to change.

Haugaard described one classroom discussion that -- to me -- was more disturbing than the story itself. The students had nothing to say except that the story bored them. So Haugaard asked them what they thought about the villagers ritually sacrificing one of their own for the sake of the harvest.

One student, speaking in quite rational tones, argued that many cultures have traditions of human sacrifice. Another said that the stoning might have been part of “a religion of long standing,” and therefore acceptable and understandable.

An older student who worked as a nurse, also weighed in. She said that her hospital had made her take training in multicultural sensitivity. The lesson she learned was this: “If it’s a part of a person’s culture, we are taught not to judge.”

I thought of Haugaard’s experience with “The Lottery” as I got ready for this brief talk. Here’s where my thinking led me:

Our culture is doing catechesis every day. It works like water dripping on a stone, eroding people’s moral and religious sensibilities, and leaving a hole where their convictions used to be.

Haugaard’s experience teaches us that it took less than a generation for this catechesis to produce a group of young adults who were unable to take a moral stand against the ritual murder of a young woman. Not because they were cowards. But because they lost their moral vocabulary.

Haugaard’s students seemingly grew up in a culture shaped by practical atheism and moral relativism. In other words, they grew up in an environment that teaches, in many different ways, that God is irrelevant, and that good and evil, right and wrong, truth and falsehood can’t exist in any absolute sense.

This is the culture we live in, and the catechesis is on-going. But I don’t think this new kind of barbarism – because that’s what it is; a form of barbarism -- is an inevitable process.

It’s not easy to de-moralize and strip a society of its religious sense. Accomplishing the task requires two key factors: First, it takes the aggressive, organized efforts of individuals and groups committed to undermining faith and historic Christian values. Second, it takes the indifference of persons like you and me, Christian believers.

I want to focus on the second factor, because it involves us.

Christians in my country and yours -- and throughout the West, generally -- have done a terrible job of transmitting our faith to our own children and to the culture at large.

Evidence can be found anecdotally in stories like Kay Haugaard’s. We can also see it in polls showing that religious identity and affiliation are softening. More people are claiming that they’re “spiritual,” but they have no religion.

Religion is fading as a formative influence in developed countries. Religious faith is declining in Western culture, especially among Canadian and American young people. This suggests that the Church is actually much smaller than her official numbers would indicate. And this, in turn, has implications for the future of Catholic life and the direction of our societies.

What’s happening today in the Church is not a “new” story. We find it repeated throughout the Old Testament. It took very little time for the Hebrews to start worshipping a golden calf. Whenever the people of God grew too prosperous or comfortable, they forgot where they came from. They forgot their God, because they no longer thought it was important to teach about him.

Because they failed to catechize, they failed to inoculate themselves against the idolatries in their surrounding cultures. And eventually, they began praying to the same alien gods as the pagans among whom they lived.

We have the same struggles today. Instead of changing the culture around us, we Christians have allowed ourselves to be changed by the culture. We’ve compromised too cheaply. We’ve hungered after assimilating and fitting in. And in the process, we’ve been bleached out and absorbed by the culture we were sent to make holy.

If our people no longer know their faith, or its obligations of discipleship, or its call to mission -- then we leaders, clergy, parents and teachers have no one to blame but ourselves. We need to confess that, and we need to fix it. For too many of us, Christianity is not a filial relationship with the living God, but a habit and an inheritance. We’ve become tepid in our beliefs and naive about the world. We’ve lost our evangelical zeal. And we’ve failed in passing on our faith to the next generation.

The practical unbelief we now face in our societies is, in large measure, the fruit of our own flawed choices in teaching, parenting, religious practice and personal witness. But these choices can be unmade. We can repent. We can renew what our vanity and indifference have diminished. It’s still possible to “redeem the time,” as St. Paul once put it. But we don’t have a lot of time. Nor should we make alibis for mistakes of the past.

Sixty years ago, when Shirley Jackson wrote “The Lottery,” she could count on her readers knowing what right and wrong were. She lived in a culture that reflected a broadly Christian consensus about virtue and moral integrity. That’s no longer the case.

The culture we live in today proselytizes for a very different consensus -- one based on political and moral agendas vigorously hostile to Christian beliefs.

A recent article in the New York Times went directly to this point. It was about a new ad campaign launched by supporters of homosexual “marriage” in New York. The campaign features politicians and Hollywood celebrities making a series of reasonable-sounding arguments.

One example is from the actress, Julianne Moore. Her ad begins, “Hi, I’m Julianne Moore, and I’m a New Yorker. We all deserve the right to marry the person we love.”

The New York campaign is misleading and ultimately ruinous to real marriages and families. But when Christians don’t understand the content or the reasons for their own faith, they have no compelling alternative to offer.

The points I’ve been making are these:

First, either we form our culture, or the culture will form us. Second, right now, the culture does a better job of shaping us than we do in shaping the culture. And third, we need to admit our failures, and we need to turn ourselves onto a path of repentance and change, and unselfish witness to others.

The central issue in renewing Catholic catechesis has little to do with techniques, or theories, or programs, or resources. The central issue is whether we ourselves really do believe. Catechesis is not a profession. It’s a dimension of discipleship. If we’re Christians, we’re each of us called to be teachers and missionaries.

But we can’t share what we don’t have. If we’re embarrassed about Church teachings, or if we disagree with them, or if we’ve decided that they’re just too hard to live by, or too hard to explain, then we’ve already defeated ourselves.

We need to really believe what we claim to believe. We need to stop calling ourselves “Catholic” if we don’t stand with the Church in her teachings – all of them. But if we really are Catholic, or at least if we want to be, then we need to act like it with obedience and zeal and a fire for Jesus Christ in our hearts. God gave us the faith in order to share it. This takes courage. It takes a deliberate dismantling of our own vanity. When we do that, the Church is strong. When we don’t, she grows weak. It’s that simple.

In a culture of confusion, the Church is our only reliable guide. So let’s preach and teach our Catholic beliefs with passion. And let’s ask God to make us brave enough and humble enough to follow our faith to its radical conclusions.

Thanks for your attention. God bless you.

On's enamik meditsiini-uuringuist väärad?

BioEdge, Michael Cook

With much of the debate over stem cells centring on the success of treatments, can peer-reviewed studies which report success be trusted?

A feature in the latest issue of Atlantic highlights the work of a Greek academic who is a world leader in the study of the credibility of medical research. Dr John Ioannidis, of the University of Ioannina, has found that between a third and a half of the most acclaimed research in medicine may be untrustworthy.

Dr Ioannidis was struck by how many studies have been disproved by subsequent studies - even randomised controlled trials, the gold standard of research.

"Baffled, he started looking for the specific ways in which studies were going wrong. And before long he discovered that the range of errors being committed was astonishing: from what questions researchers posed, to how they set up the studies, to which patients they recruited for the studies, to which measurements they took, to how they analyzed the data, to how they presented their results, to how particular studies came to be published in medical journals."

"At every step in the process, there is room to distort results, a way to make a stronger claim or to select what is going to be concluded," says Ioannidis. "There is an intellectual conflict of interest that pressures researchers to find whatever it is that is most likely to get them funded."

In a famous article in the open access journal PLoS Medicine he contended that scientists were frequently manipulating data analyses, advancing their careers rather than science, and even manipulating the peer-review process to suppress opposing views.

Ioannides is by no means anti-science, he tells Atlantic. "The scientific enterprise is probably the most fantastic achievement in human history, but that doesn't mean we have a right to overstate what we're accomplishing... Science is a noble endeavor, but it's also a low-yield endeavor. I'm not sure that more than a very small percentage of medical research is ever likely to lead to major improvements in clinical outcomes and quality of life. We should be very comfortable with that fact." ~ Atlantic, November

laupäev, 30. oktoober 2010

Lex orandi, lex credendi

Mis on "igavene aeg", millele me "Au olgu..." palves viitame: "... nii kui alguses oli, nüüdki on ja jääb, igavesest ajast igavesti"? Mis "igavesest ajast" siin jutt käib? Nagu me ei usukski, et maailm on loodud konkreetse algusega, mitte ei kesta mingist alguseta igavesest ajast. Vanas palveraamatus, kui mälu mind ei peta, kõlas selle palve lõpp niimoodi: "... nii kui oli alguses, olgu nüüd ja alati ja igavesti". Kõlab usutavalt. Sobiks ka "... nii kui alguses oli, nüüdki on ja jääb, ikka ja igavesti" või "... nagu alguses, nii ka nüüd, ikka ja igavesti". Ladina keeli "... sicut erat in principio, et nunc et semper, et in saecula saeculorum". Literaalselt: "... nii [kui] oli alguses, [on] ka nüüd ja alati, ja ajastute ajastuteni". Inglise: "... as it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, world without end". Saksa: "... wie im Anfang, so auch jetzt und alle Zeit und in Ewigkeit".

Mäletatavasti muutis vanas palveraamatus toodud palve sõnastust isa Õunapuu oikumeenilistel kaalutlustel. Oikumeenia trumpas kreedo.

(Liiatigi on ortodoksidel "... nüüd, ikka ja igavesti". Ilus, selge, lihtne, tõene.)

reede, 29. oktoober 2010

Paavst teaduse ja religiooni vahekorrast

VATICAN CITY, 28 OCT 2010 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received participants in the plenary session of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, who have been meeting to reflect on the theme: "The Scientific Legacy of the Twentieth Century".

  Addressing the group in English, the Holy Father affirmed that "on the one hand, science is posited by some as a panacea, proven by its notable achievements in the last century. Its innumerable advances ... seemed to confirm the point of view that science might answer all the questions of man's existence, and even of his highest aspirations. On the other hand, there are those who fear science and who distance themselves from it, because of sobering developments such as the construction and terrifying use of nuclear weapons.

  "Science, of course", he added, "is not defined by either of these extremes. Its task was and remains a patient yet passionate search for the truth about the cosmos, about nature and about the constitution of the human being. In this search, there have been many successes and failures, triumphs and setbacks".

  "Nonetheless, even provisional results constitute a real contribution to unveiling the correspondence between the intellect and natural realities, on which later generations may build further", the Pope said.

  "Our meeting here today", he went on, "is a proof of the Church's esteem for ongoing scientific research and of her gratitude for scientific endeavour, which she both encourages and benefits from. In our own day, scientists themselves appreciate more and more the need to be open to philosophy if they are to discover the logical and epistemological foundation for their methodology and their conclusions. For her part, the Church is convinced that scientific activity ultimately benefits from the recognition of man's spiritual dimension and his quest for ultimate answers that allow for the acknowledgement of a world existing independently from us, which we do not fully understand and which we can only comprehend in so far as we grasp its inherent logic.

  "Scientists do not create the world; they learn about it and attempt to imitate it, following the laws and intelligibility that nature manifests to us. The scientist's experience as a human being is therefore that of perceiving a constant, a law, a 'logos' that he has not created but that he has instead observed: in fact, it leads us to admit the existence of an all-powerful Reason, which is other than that of man, and which sustains the world. This is the meeting point between the natural sciences and religion. As a result, science becomes a place of dialogue, a meeting between man and nature and, potentially, even between man and his Creator".

  In closing his remarks the Pope proposed "two thoughts for further reflection. First, as increasing accomplishments of the sciences deepen our wonder of the complexity of nature, the need for an interdisciplinary approach tied with philosophical reflection leading to a synthesis is more and more perceived. Secondly, scientific achievement in this new century should always be informed by the imperatives of fraternity and peace, helping to solve the great problems of humanity, and directing everyone's efforts towards the true good of man and the integral development of the peoples of the world. The positive outcome of twenty-first century science will surely depend in large measure on the scientist's ability to search for truth and apply discoveries in a way that goes hand in hand with the search for what is just and good".

Paavst räägib piiskoppidele sotsiaalsest aktiivsusest

VATICAN CITY, 28 OCT 2010 (VIS) - Prelates from the National Conference of Bishops of Brazil (Northeast region 5) who have just complete their five-yearly "ad limina" visit were received this morning by the Holy Father.

"I wish to speak to you today", the Pope told them, "about how the Church's mission to serve as the leavening of human society through the Gospel teaches human beings their dignity as children of God, and their vocation to the unity of all mankind, whence derive the need for justice and social peace in accordance with divine wisdom".

"First, the duty of direct action to ensure a just ordering of society falls to the lay faithful who, as free and responsible citizens, strive to contribute to the just configuration of social life, while respecting legitimate autonomy and natural moral law", the Holy Father explained. "Your duty as bishops, together with your clergy, is indirect because you must contribute to the purification of reason, and to the moral awakening of the forces necessary to build a just and fraternal society. Nonetheless, when required by the fundamental rights of the person or the salvation of souls, pastors have the binding duty to emit moral judgments, even on political themes".

"When forming these judgements, pastors must bear in mind the absolute value of those ... precepts which make it morally unacceptable to chose a particular action which is intrinsically evil and incompatible with human dignity. This decision cannot be justified by the merit of some specific goal, intention, consequence or circumstance, Thus it would be completely false and illusory to defend, political, economic or social rights which do not comprehend a vigorous defence of the right to life from conception to natural end. When it comes to defending the weakest, who is more defenceless than an unborn child or a patient in a vegetative or comatose state?"

"When political projects openly or covertly contemplate the depenalisation of abortion or euthanasia, the democratic ideal (which is truly democratic when it recognises and protects the dignity of all human beings) is betrayed at its very foundations. For this reason, dear brothers in the episcopate, when defending life we must not fear hostility or unpopularity, rejecting all compromise and ambiguity which would conform us to the mentality of this world".

In order to help lay people live their Christian, social and political commitments in a unified and coherent fashion it is necessary, said the Holy Father, to ensure appropriate "social catechesis and an adequate formulation of Church Social Doctrine. ... This also means that on some occasions, pastors must reminds all citizens of the right, which is also a duty, freely to use their vote to promote the common good".

"At this point politics and faith come together", he went on. "The specific nature of faith certainly lies in the meeting with the living God, Who opens new horizons far beyond the sphere of reason. ... Only by respecting, promoting and indefatigably teaching the transcendent nature of the human being can a just society be built. ... 'God has a place in the public realm, specifically in regard to its cultural, social, economic, and particularly its political dimensions'", said the Holy Father quoting his Encyclical "Caritas in veritate".

Benedict XVI concluded his discourse by joining the Brazilian bishops' appeal for religious education and, "more specifically, for the pluralistic and confessional education of religion in State schools". He also indicated that "the presence of religious symbols in public life is both a recollection of man's transcendence and a guarantee of its respect."

kolmapäev, 27. oktoober 2010

TriaLogos ja Via pulchritudinis

TriaLogos 2010 peateema on "Ilu tee" -- "Via pulchritudinis". Samal teemal andis Paavstlik Kultuurinõukogu 2006. aastal välja oma plenaarassamblee lõppdokumendi, mis on olemas ka eesti keeles.

esmaspäev, 25. oktoober 2010

Järgmine sünod uuest evangelisatsioonist

Käesoleva Kesk-Ida sünodi lõpetamisel kuulutas paavst välja järgmise, 2012. aastal toimuva sünodi teema: selleks on uus evangelisatsioon, täpsemalt "Uus evangelisatsioon kristliku usu edasikandmises".

TriaLogos 2010

Edastan Varro teate festivali TriaLogos kohta:
30. okt. kuni 3. nov. toimub TriaLogose 12. sessioon, mille raames leiavad aset mitmed silmapaistvad sündmused. Muusika poole pealt soovitan kõigile soojalt Venemaa folkloristi Sergei Starostini kontserti, mis toimub Niguliste kirikus pühapäeval, 31. okt. kell 18.00.

Akadeemilise sessiooni raames toimuvad mitmed väga huvitavad loengud. Suurepäraste lektorite seas on John Rao ja Michael Matt USA-st ning James Bogle ja Andrew Nash Inglismaalt. Julgen arvata, et TriaLogose näol on Eestis tegemist selgelt kõige olulisema kristlikku kultuuri käsitava intellektuaalse sündmusega aastas, mistõttu loodan väga, et leiate võimaluse panustada oma osavõtuga selle õnnestumisse. Oleks väga kahju, kui kui nii hea asi ebaõnnestuks üksnes seepärast, et kohalik kristlaskond ei pea seda oluliseks.

Kel muud võimalust ei ole (nt ei saa mõneks päevaks puhkust võtta, et loengutel osaleda), see võiks võtta kavva vähemalt prof John Rao loengud, mis räägivad hariduse mõtestamise dünaamikast Euroopa tsivilisatsioonis ning fundamentaalsetest probleemidest seonduvalt sellega, kuidas tänases kultuuris haridust mõistetakse. Loengud toimuvad esmaspäeval ja teisipäeval (1. ja 2. nov.) kell 17.15 ning kolmapäeval (3. nov.) kell 13.30.

Festivali kava leiate siit:

pühapäev, 24. oktoober 2010

Sünodi isade sõnum Jumala rahvale

22. oktoobri õhtul, sünadi neljateistkümnendal üldkogunemisel, võtsid sünodi isad vastu järgmise sõnumi Jumala rahvale:

“Now the company of those who believed
were of one heart and soul” (Acts 4:32)

To our brother priests, deacons, monks, nuns, consecrated persons, our dear lay faithful and all people of good will.


1.May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God the Father and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you.

The Synod of Bishops for the Middle East was for us a new Pentecost. “Pentecost is the original event but also a permanent dynamism, and the Synod of Bishops is a privileged moment in which the grace of Pentecost may be renewed in the Church’s journey” (Pope Benedict XVI, Homily at the Opening Liturgy, 10 October 2010).

We have come to Rome, We the Patriarchs and Bishops of the Catholic Churches in the Middle East with all our spiritual, liturgical, cultural and canonical patrimonies, carrying in our hearts the concerns of our people.

For the very first time, we have come together in a Synod, gathered around His Holiness, Pope Benedict XVI, with both cardinals and archbishops, who are heads of the various offices in the Roman Curia, presidents of episcopal conferences around the world, who are concerned with the issues of the Middle East, representatives from the Orthodox Churches and ecclesial communi¬ties and Jewish and Muslim guests.

We express our gratitude to His Holiness, Pope Benedict XVI for his care and for his teachings, which guide the journey of the Church in general and that of our Eastern Churches in particular, especially in the areas of justice and peace. We thank the episcopal conferences for their solidarity, their presence in our midst during their pilgrimages to the holy sites and their visits to our communities. We thank them for guiding our Churches in the various aspects of our life. We thank the different ecclesial organisations for their effective assistance.

Guided by the Holy Scriptures and the living Tradition, we have reflected together on the present and the future of Christians and all peoples of the Middle East. We have meditated on the issues of this region of the world which God willed, in the mystery of his love, to be the birthplace of his universal plan of salvation. From there, Abraham’s vocation was initiated. There, the Word of God, Jesus Christ, took flesh in the womb of the Virgin Mary by the power of the Holy Spirit. There, Jesus proclaimed the Gospel of life and the kingdom. There, he died to redeem humanity and free us from sin. There, he rose from the dead to give new life to all. There, the Church was formed and went forth to proclaim the Gospel of Christ to the world.

The primary aim of the Synod is pastoral. Thus, we have carried in our hearts the life, the pains and the hopes of our people as well as the challenges they need to confront each day “because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us” (Rm 5:5). Dear sisters and brothers, we therefore address this message to you. We wish it to be an appeal to safeguard the faith, based on the Word of God, to collaboration in unity and to communion in the witness of love in every aspect of life.

I. The Church in the Middle East: Communion and Witness throughout History
The Journey of Faith in the Middle East

2. In the Middle East, the first Christian community was born. From there, the apostles after Pentecost went evangelising the whole world. There, the early Christian community lived amid tensions and persecutions, “they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers” (Acts 2:42), and no one of them was in need. There, the first martyrs, with their blood, fortified the foundations of the nascent Church. After them, the hermits filled the deserts with the perfume of their holiness and their faith. There, the Fathers of the Eastern Church lived and continued to nourish the Church in both the East and West through their teachings. In the early centuries and later, missionaries from our Churches departed for the Far East and the West, bringing with them the light of Christ. We are the heirs of that heritage. We need to continue to transmit their message to future generations.

In the past, Our Churches provided saints, priests and consecrated persons; they still do in the present. Our Churches have also sponsored many institutions which contributed - and still do - to the well being of our societies and countries, sacrificing self for the sake of the human person, who is created to the image of God and is the bearer of his likeness. Some of our Churches continue to send out missionaries who carry the Word of God to many places in the world. The pastoral, apostolic and missionary needs mandate us to put together a pastoral master-plan to promote vocations to the priesthood and religious life in order to ensure the Church of tomorrow.

We are now at a turning point in our history: The God who has given us the faith in our Eastern lands 2000 years ago, calls us today to persevere with courage, strength and steadfastness in bearing the message of Christ and witnessing to his Gospel, the Gospel of love and peace.

Challenges and Aspirations

3.1. Today, we face many challenges. The first comes from within ourselves and our Churches. We are asked by Christ to accept our faith and to apply it to all situations in our lives. What he asks from our Churches is to strengthen the communion within every Church sui iuris and that of the Catholic Churches of various traditions, and to exert every effort in prayer and charitable acts in order to attain the full unity of all Christians so as to fulfil the prayer of Christ: “that they may all be one; even as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me” (Jn 17:21).

3.2. The second challenge comes from the outside, namely, political conditions, security in our countries and religious pluralism.

We have evaluated the social situation and the public security in all our countries in the Middle East. We have taken account of the impact of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict on the whole region, especially on the Palestinians who are suffering the consequences of the Israeli occupation: the lack of freedom of movement, the wall of separation and the military checkpoints, the political prisoners, the demolition of homes, the disturbance of socio-economic life and the thousands of refugees. We have reflected on the suffering and insecurity in which Israelis live. We have meditated on the situation of the holy city of Jerusalem. We are anxious about the unilateral initiatives that threaten its composition and risk to change its demographic balance. With all this in mind, we see that a just and lasting peace is the only salvation for everyone and for the good of the region and its peoples.

3.3. We have reflected in our meetings and in our prayers the keen sufferings of the Iraqi people. We have recalled the Christians assassinated in Iraq, the continued suffering of the Church in Iraq and her sons who have been displaced and dispersed throughout the world, bringing with them the concerns for their land and their fatherland. The synod fathers have expressed their solidarity with the people and the Churches in Iraq and have expressed their desire that the emigrants, forced to leave their country, might find in the welcoming countries the necessary support to be able to return to their homeland and live in security.

3.4. We have extensively treated relations between Christians and Muslims. All of us share a common citizenship in our countries. Here we want to affirm, according to our Christian vision, a fundamental principle which ought to govern our relations, namely, God wants us to be Christians in and for our Middle Eastern societies. This is God’s plan for us. This is our mission and vocation - to live as Christians and Muslims together. Our actions in this area will be guided by the commandment of love and by the power of the Spirit within us.

The second principle which governs our relations is the fact that we are an integral part of our societies. Our mission, based on our faith and our duty to our home countries, obliges us to contribute to the construction of our countries as fellow-citizens, Muslims, Jews and Christians alike.

II. Communion and Witness Within the Catholic Churches of the Middle East
To the Faithful of Our Churches

4.1. Jesus says to us: “You are the salt of the earth, the light of the world” (Mt 5:13.14). Your mission in our societies, beloved faithful, through faith, hope and love, is to be like “salt” which gives savour and meaning to life; to be like “light” by proclaiming the truth which scatters the darkness; and to be like the “leaven” which transforms hearts and minds. The first Christians of Jerusalem were few in number, yet they were able to take the Gospel to the ends of the earth because of the grace of “the Lord who acted with them and confirmed their Word by signs” (Mk 16:20).

4.2. We want to greet you, Christians of the Middle East, and we thank you for all you have achieved in your families and societies, in your Churches and nations. We commend you for your perseverance in times of adversity, suffering and anguish.

4.3. Dear priests, our co-workers in the mission of catechesis, liturgy and pastoral work, we renew our friendship and our trust in you. Continue to transmit to your faithful with zeal and perseverance the Gospel of life and Church’s tradition through your preaching, catechesis, spiritual direction and the good example of your lives. Build up the faith of the People of God to make of it a civilisation of love. Provide the sacraments to the People of God so that this People might aspire to be renewed. Gather them together in the union of love by the gift of the Holy Spirit.

Dear consecrated men and women in the world, we express to you our gratitude and with you we thank God for the gift of the evangelical counsels – of consecrated chastity, of poverty and obedience – through which you have made the gift of yourselves as you follow Christ, the special love to whom you long to witness. It is thanks to your diverse apostolic initiatives that you are the true treasure and wealth of our Churches and a spiritual oasis in our parishes, dioceses and missions.

We unite ourselves spiritually to hermits, to monks and nuns who have dedicated their lives to prayer in contemplative monasteries, sanctifying the hours of day and night, carrying the Church’s concerns and needs to God in their prayers. You offer the world a sign of hope through the witness of your life.

4.4. We express to you, faithful lay people, our esteem and our friendship. We appreciate everything you do for your families and societies, your Churches and home countries. Remain steadfast amidst trials and difficulties. We are filled with gratitude to the Lord for the charisms and talents which he has showered you and which equip you to participate, through the power of your baptism and chrismations, in the Church’s mission and her apostolic work to permeate the temporal world with the spirit and values of the Gospel. We invite you to give the witness of an authentic Christian life, of a conscientious religious practice and of good morals. Have the courage objectively to proclaim the truth.

Those of you who suffer in body, in soul and spirit, the oppressed, those forced from your homes, the persecuted, prisoners and detainees, we carry you all in our prayers. Unite your suffering to that of Christ the Redeemer and seek in his cross patience and strength. By the merit of your sufferings, you gain God’s merciful love.

We greet each of our Christian families and we look upon your vocation and mission with esteem as a living cell of society and a natural school of virtue and ethical and human values, the “domestic Church” which transmits the practices of prayer and of faith from one generation to the next. We thank parents and grandparents for the education of their children and grandchil¬dren, who, like Jesus grow “in wisdom, in stature and grace in the sight of God and men” (Lk 2:52). We commit ourselves to the defence of the family through our pastoral programmes on its behalf, through marriage preparation courses and centres, open to all but mainly to couples in difficulty, where they can be welcomed and obtain counseling, and by defending the fundamental rights of the family.

We now wish to speak to the women of our Churches in a special way. We express to you our appreciation for what you are in the various states of life: girls, mothers, educators, consecrated women and those who engaged in public life. We revere you, because you harbour human life within you from its very beginnings, giving it care and tenderness. God has given you a special sensitivity for everything that pertains to education, humanitarian work and the apostolic life. We give thanks to God for your activities and we hope that you will be able to exercise greater responsibility in public life.

Young women and men, we look to you with the same love which Christ had for the young man in the Gospel (cf. Mk 10:21). You are the potential and renewing force for the future of our Churches, our communities and our countries. Plan your life under the loving gaze of Christ. Be responsible citizens and sincere believers. The Church joins you in your desire to find work commensurate with your talents, work which will help to stimulate your creativity, providing for your future and making possible the formation of a family of believers. Overcome the temptation of materialism and consumerism. Be strong in your Christian values.

We greet the heads of Catholic institutions of education. Pursue excellence and the Christian spirit in your teaching and education. Aim at the consolidation of a culture of harmonious living and concern for the poor and disabled. In spite of the challenges which confront your institutions, we invite you to maintain them, so as to further the Church’s educative mission and to promote the development and common good of our societies.

We address with great esteem those who work in the social sector. In your institutions you are at the service of charity. We encourage and support you in this mission of development, guided by the rich social teaching of the Church. Through your work, you strengthen the bonds of fellowship between people and serve the poor, the marginalised, the sick, refugees and prisoners without discrimination. You are guided by the words of the Lord Jesus: “Everything you do to one of these little ones, you do it to me!” (Mt 25:40).

We look with hope to prayer groups and apostolic movements. They are schools where our faith can mature and we can be given the strength to live that faith in family and society. We appreciate their activities in parishes and dioceses and their support for pastors, in accordance with the Church’s directives. We thank God for these groups and movements which are active cells in the parish and seed-beds for vocations to both the priesthood and the consecrated life.

We appreciate the role of the means of social communication, both printed and audio-visual. We thank you journalists for your collaboration with the Church in broadcasting her teachings and activities and, over the course of these days, for having given global news coverage to the Special Assembly for the Middle East of the Synod.

We are pleased with the contribution of the media, both international and Catholic. With regard to the Middle East, Télé Lumiere-Noursat merits a special mention. We hope it will be able to continue its service of providing information and forming the faith, of working on behalf of Christian unity, of consolidating the Christian presence in the Middle East, of strengthening interreligious dialogue and the communion of all peoples of Middle Eastern origin, presently in every part of the globe.

To Our Faithful in the Diaspora

5. Emigration has become a generalised phenomenon by Christians, Muslims and Jews alike. All emigrate for reasons arising from political and economic instability. However, Christians also emigrate from a sense of insecurity, in varying degrees, in many Middle Eastern countries. May Christians have trust in the future and continue to live in their dear countries.

We send our greetings to you, members of our Churches in the various countries of the Diaspora. We ask you to keep alive in your hearts and concerns the memory of your countries and your Churches. You can contribute to their development and their growth by your prayers, your thoughts, your visits and by various other means, despite the fact that you are far from the Middle East.

Look at your goods and your properties in your home country; do not abandon and sell them too quickly. Keep them as your patrimony and as a piece of the homeland to which you remain attached, a homeland which you love and support. The land is part of a person's identity and his mission. It is a vital aspect of the lives of those who remain there and for those who one day will return there. The land is a public good, a good of the community and a common patrimony. It should not be reduced to a question of individual interests on the part of those who own it and who alone decide, according to their desires, to keep or abandon it.

We accompany you with our prayers, you the children of our Churches and of our countries, forced to emigrate. Bear with you your faith, your culture and your patrimony, so as to enrich your new countries which provide you with peace, freedom and work. Look towards the future with confidence and joy. Hold fast to your spiritual values, to your cultural traditions and to your national patrimony, in order to offer to the countries which welcome you the best of yourselves and the best of that which you have. We thank the Churches of the countries of the Diaspora which have received our faithful and unceasingly collaborate with us to ensure the necessary pastoral services for them.

To the Migrants in Our Countries and Our Churches

6. We send our greetings to all immigrants of varying nationalities, who have come to our countries seeking employment.

We welcome you, beloved faithful, and we see your faith as a source of enrichment and a support for the faithful of our Churches. We joyously provide you with every spiritual assistance you might need.

We ask our Churches to pay special attention to these brothers and sisters and their difficulties, whatever may be their religion, especially when their rights and dignity are subject to abuse. They come to us not simply to seek the means for living but offer the services which our countries need. Their dignity comes from God. Like every human person, they have rights which must be respected. No one should violate those rights. That is why we call upon the various governments which receive them to respect and defend their rights.

Communion and Witness Together with the Orthodox and Protestant Communities in the Middle East

7. We send our greetings to the Orthodox and Protestant Communities in our countries. Together we work for the good of all Christians, that they may remain, grow and prosper. We share the same journey. Our challenges are the same and our future is the same. We wish to bear witness together as disciples of Christ. Only through our unity can we accomplish the mission that God has entrusted to us, despite the differences among our Churches. The prayer of Christ is our support; the commandment of love unites us, even if the road towards full communion is still distant for us.

We have walked together in the Middle East Council of Churches and we wish, with God’s grace, to continue on this path and to promote its activity, having as an ultimate goal a common testimony to our faith, the service of our faithful and of all our countries. We acknowledge and encourage all initiatives for ecumenical dialogue in each of our countries.

We express our gratitude to the World Council of Churches and to the different ecumenical organisations which work for the unity of the Churches and for their support.

IV. Cooperation and Dialogue with Our Fellow-Citizens, the Jews

8. The same Scriptures unite us; the Old Testament, the Word of God is for both you and us. We believe all that God revealed there, since he called Abraham, our common father in the faith, Father of Jews, of Christians and of Muslims. We believe in the promises of God and his covenant given to Abraham and to you. We believe that the Word of God is eternal.

The Second Vatican Council published the document Nostra aetate which treats interreligious dialogue with Judaism, Islam and the other religions. Other documents have subsequently clarified and developed the relationship with Judaism. On-going dialogue is taking place between the Church and the representatives of Judaism. We hope that this dialogue can bring us to work together to press those in authority to put and end to the political conflict which results in separating us and disrupting everyday life in our countries.

It is time for us to commit ourselves together to a sincere, just and permanent peace. Both Christians and Jews are called to this task by the Word of God. In his Word, we are invited us to listen to the voice of God “who speaks of peace”: “Let me hear what God the Lord will speak, for he will speak peace to his people, to his holy ones” (Ps 85:9). Recourse to theological and biblical positions which use the Word of God to wrongly justify injustices is not acceptable. On the contrary, recourse to religion must lead every person to see the face of God in others and to treat them according to their God-given prerogatives and God’s commandments, namely, according to God's bountiful goodness, mercy, justice and love for us.

V. Cooperation and Dialogue with Our Fellow-Citizens, the Muslims

9. We are united by the faith in one God and by the commandment that says: do good and avoid evil. The words of the Second Vatican Council on the relations with other religions offer the basis for the relationship between the Catholic Church and the Muslims: “The Church regards with esteem also the Muslims. They adore the one God, living and subsisting in Himself; merciful and all- powerful, the Creator of heaven and earth, who has spoken to men” (Nostra aetate 3).

We say to our Muslim fellow-citizens: we are brothers and sisters; God wishes us to be together, united by one faith in God and by the dual commandment of love of God and neighbour. Together we will construct our civil societies on the basis of citizenship, religious freedom and freedom of conscience. Together we will work for the promotion of justice, peace, the rights of persons and the values of life and of the family. The construction of our countries is our common responsibility. We wish to offer to the East and to the West a model of coexistence between different religions and of positive collaboration between different civilisations for the good of our countries and that of all humanity.

Since the appearance of Islam in the seventh century and to the present, we have lived together and we have collaborated in the creation of our common civilisation. As in the past and still existent today, some imbalances are present in our relations. Through dialogue we must avoid all imbalances and misunderstandings. Pope Benedict XVI tells us that our dialogue must not be a passing reality. It is rather a vital necessity on which our future depends (Pope Benedict XVI, Meeting with Representatives from the Muslim Communities, Cologne, 20 August 2005). Our duty then is to educate believers concerning interreligious dialogue, the acceptance of pluralism and mutual esteem.

VI. Our Participation in Public Life: An Appeal to the Governments and to the Political Leadership in Our Countries

10. We appreciate the efforts which have been expended for the common good and the service to our societies. You are in our prayers and we ask God to guide your steps. We address you regarding the importance of equality among all citizens. Christians are original and authentic citizens who are loyal to their fatherland and assume their duties towards their country. It is natural that they should enjoy all the rights of citizenship, freedom of conscience, freedom of worship and freedom in education, teaching and the use of the mass media.

We appeal to you to redouble your efforts to establish a just and lasting peace throughout the region and to stop the arms race, which will lead to security and economic prosperity and stop the hemorrhage of emigration which empties our countries of its vital forces. Peace is a precious gift entrusted by God to human family, whose members are to be “peacemakers who will be called children of God” (Mt 5:9).

VII. Appeal to the International Community

11. The citizens of the countries of the Middle East call upon the international community, particularly the United Nations conscientiously to work to find a peaceful, just and definitive solution in the region, through the application of the Security Council’s resolutions and taking the necessary legal steps to put an end to the occupation of the different Arab territories.

The Palestinian people will thus have an independent and sovereign homeland where they can live with dignity and security. The State of Israel will be able to enjoy peace and security within their internationally recognized borders. The Holy City of Jerusalem will be able to acquire its proper status, which respects its particular character, its holiness and the religious patrimony of the three religions: Jewish, Christian and Muslim. We hope that the two-State-solution might become a reality and not a dream only.

Iraq will be able to put an end to the consequences of its deadly war and re-establish a secure way of life which will protect all its citizens with all their social structures, both religious and national.
Lebanon will be able to enjoy sovereignty over its entire territory, strengthen its national unity and carry on in its vocation to be the model of coexistence between Christians and Muslims, of dialogue between different cultures and religions, and of the promotion of basic public freedoms.

We condemn violence and terrorism from wherever it may proceed as well as all religious extremism. We condemn all forms of racism, anti-Semitism, anti-Christianism and Islamophobia and we call upon the religions to assume their responsibility to promote dialogue between cultures and civilisations in our region and in the entire world.

Conclusion: Continue to Bear Witness to the Divine Path That Has Been Shown to Us in the Person of Jesus

12. Brothers and sisters, in closing, we say with the St. John the Apostle: “What was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we looked upon and touched with our hands concerns the Word of life for the life was made visible; we have seen it and testify to it and proclaim to you the eternal life that was with the Father and was made visible to us what we have seen and heard we proclaim now to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; for our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ.”(1 Jn 1:1-3).

This Divine Life which has appeared to the apostles over 2000 years ago in the Person of our Lord Jesus Christ and to which the Church has witnessed throughout the course of her history will always remain the life of our Churches in the Middle East and the object of our witness, sustained by the promise of the Lord:“Behold, I am with you always, until the end of the time” (Mt 28:20). Together we proceed on our journey with hope,“and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out into our hearts through the holy Spirit that has been given to us” (Rm 5:5).

We confess that, until now, we have not done what is possible to better live communion in our communities. We have not done enough to better live communion among our communities. We have not done everything possible to confirm you in your faith and to give you the spiritual nourishment you need in your difficulties. The Lord invites us to a conversion as individuals and communities.

Today we return to you full of hope, strength and resolution, bearing with us the message of the Synod and its recommendations in order to study them together and to put them into practice in our Churches, each one according to the Church’s states of life. We hope also that this new effort might be ecumenical.

We make a humble and sincere appeal to you, that together we might embark on the road of conversion, allowing ourselves to be renewed through the grace of the Holy Spirit and again draw close to God.

To the Most Holy Virgin Mary, Mother of the Church and Queen of Peace, under whose protection we have accomplished our Synodal task, we entrust our journey towards new, Christian horizons in the faith of Christ and through the power of his word: “Behold, I make all things new” (Rev 21:5).

laupäev, 23. oktoober 2010

Sünodi isade ettepanekud

Sünodi isad on esitanud oma 44 ettepanekut seisukohavõtuks paavstile.

kolmapäev, 20. oktoober 2010

Paavsti kiri seminaristidele

Preestrite aasta lõppemise puhul kirjutas paavst kirja seminaristidele, mis avaldati 18. oktoobril, püha evangelist Luuka kirikupühal. Rõhuasetused on minu poolt.

Dear Seminarians,

When in December 1944 I was drafted for military service, the company commander asked each of us what we planned to do in the future. I answered that I wanted to become a Catholic priest. The lieutenant replied: "Then you ought to look for something else. In the new Germany priests are no longer needed". I knew that this "new Germany" was already coming to an end, and that, after the enormous devastation which that madness had brought upon the country, priests would be needed more than ever. Today the situation is completely changed. In different ways, though, many people nowadays also think that the Catholic priesthood is not a "job" for the future, but one that belongs more to the past. You, dear friends, have decided to enter the seminary and to prepare for priestly ministry in the Catholic Church in spite of such opinions and objections. You have done a good thing. Because people will always have need of God, even in an age marked by technical mastery of the world and globalization: they will always need the God who has revealed himself in Jesus Christ, the God who gathers us together in the universal Church in order to learn with him and through him life’s true meaning and in order to uphold and apply the standards of true humanity. Where people no longer perceive God, life grows empty; nothing is ever enough. People then seek escape in euphoria and violence; these are the very things that increasingly threaten young people. God is alive. He has created every one of us and he knows us all. He is so great that he has time for the little things in our lives: "Every hair of your head is numbered". God is alive, and he needs people to serve him and bring him to others. It does makes sense to become a priest: the world needs priests, pastors, today, tomorrow and always, until the end of time.

The seminary is a community journeying towards priestly ministry. I have said something very important here: one does not become a priest on one’s own. The "community of disciples" is essential, the fellowship of those who desire to serve the greater Church. In this letter I would like to point out – thinking back to my own time in the seminary – several elements which I consider important for these years of your journeying.

1. Anyone who wishes to become a priest must be first and foremost a "man of God", to use the expression of Saint Paul (1 Tim 6:11). For us God is not some abstract hypothesis; he is not some stranger who left the scene after the "big bang". God has revealed himself in Jesus Christ. In the face of Jesus Christ we see the face of God. In his words we hear God himself speaking to us. It follows that the most important thing in our path towards priesthood and during the whole of our priestly lives is our personal relationship with God in Jesus Christ. The priest is not the leader of a sort of association whose membership he tries to maintain and expand. He is God’s messenger to his people. He wants to lead them to God and in this way to foster authentic communion between all men and women. That is why it is so important, dear friends, that you learn to live in constant intimacy with God. When the Lord tells us to "pray constantly", he is obviously not asking us to recite endless prayers, but urging us never to lose our inner closeness to God. Praying means growing in this intimacy. So it is important that our day should begin and end with prayer; that we listen to God as the Scriptures are read; that we share with him our desires and our hopes, our joys and our troubles, our failures and our thanks for all his blessings, and thus keep him ever before us as the point of reference for our lives. In this way we grow aware of our failings and learn to improve, but we also come to appreciate all the beauty and goodness which we daily take for granted and so we grow in gratitude. With gratitude comes joy for the fact that God is close to us and that we can serve him.

2. For us God is not simply Word. In the sacraments he gives himself to us in person, through physical realities. At the heart of our relationship with God and our way of life is the Eucharist. Celebrating it devoutly, and thus encountering Christ personally, should be the centre of all our days. In Saint Cyprian’s interpretation of the Gospel prayer, "Give us this day our daily bread", he says among other things that "our" bread – the bread which we receive as Christians in the Church – is the Eucharistic Lord himself. In this petition of the Our Father, then, we pray that he may daily give us "our" bread; and that it may always nourish our lives; that the Risen Christ, who gives himself to us in the Eucharist, may truly shape the whole of our lives by the radiance of his divine love. The proper celebration of the Eucharist involves knowing, understanding and loving the Church’s liturgy in its concrete form. In the liturgy we pray with the faithful of every age – the past, the present and the future are joined in one great chorus of prayer. As I can state from personal experience, it is inspiring to learn how it all developed, what a great experience of faith is reflected in the structure of the Mass, and how it has been shaped by the prayer of many generations.

3. The sacrament of Penance is also important. It teaches me to see myself as God sees me, and it forces me to be honest with myself. It leads me to humility. The Curé of Ars once said: "You think it makes no sense to be absolved today, because you know that tomorrow you will commit the same sins over again. Yet," he continues, "God instantly forgets tomorrow’s sins in order to give you his grace today." Even when we have to struggle continually with the same failings, it is important to resist the coarsening of our souls and the indifference which would simply accept that this is the way we are. It is important to keep pressing forward, without scrupulosity, in the grateful awareness that God forgives us ever anew – yet also without the indifference that might lead us to abandon altogether the struggle for holiness and self-improvement. Moreover, by letting myself be forgiven, I learn to forgive others. In recognizing my own weakness, I grow more tolerant and understanding of the failings of my neighbour.

4. I urge you to retain an appreciation for popular piety, which is different in every culture yet always remains very similar, for the human heart is ultimately one and the same. Certainly, popular piety tends towards the irrational, and can at times be somewhat superficial. Yet it would be quite wrong to dismiss it. Through that piety, the faith has entered human hearts and become part of the common patrimony of sentiments and customs, shaping the life and emotions of the community. Popular piety is thus one of the Church’s great treasures. The faith has taken on flesh and blood. Certainly popular piety always needs to be purified and refocused, yet it is worthy of our love and it truly makes us into the "People of God".

5. Above all, your time in the seminary is also a time of study. The Christian faith has an essentially rational and intellectual dimension. Were it to lack that dimension, it would not be itself. Paul speaks of a "standard of teaching" to which we were entrusted in Baptism (Rom 6:17). All of you know the words of Saint Peter which the medieval theologians saw as the justification for a rational and scientific theology: "Always be ready to make your defence to anyone who demands from you an ‘accounting’ (logos) for the hope that is in you" (1 Pet 3:15). Learning how to make such a defence is one of the primary responsibilities of your years in the seminary. I can only plead with you: Be committed to your studies! Take advantage of your years of study! You will not regret it. Certainly, the subjects which you are studying can often seem far removed from the practice of the Christian life and the pastoral ministry. Yet it is completely mistaken to start questioning their practical value by asking: Will this be helpful to me in the future? Will it be practically or pastorally useful? The point is not simply to learn evidently useful things, but to understand and appreciate the internal structure of the faith as a whole, so that it can become a response to people’s questions, which on the surface change from one generation to another yet ultimately remain the same. For this reason it is important to move beyond the changing questions of the moment in order to grasp the real questions, and so to understand how the answers are real answers. It is important to have a thorough knowledge of sacred Scripture as a whole, in its unity as the Old and the New Testaments: the shaping of texts, their literary characteristics, the process by which they came to form the canon of sacred books, their dynamic inner unity, a unity which may not be immediately apparent but which in fact gives the individual texts their full meaning. It is important to be familiar with the Fathers and the great Councils in which the Church appropriated, through faith-filled reflection, the essential statements of Scripture. I could easily go on. What we call dogmatic theology is the understanding of the individual contents of the faith in their unity, indeed, in their ultimate simplicity: each single element is, in the end, only an unfolding of our faith in the one God who has revealed himself to us and continues to do so. I do not need to point out the importance of knowing the essential issues of moral theology and Catholic social teaching. The importance nowadays of ecumenical theology, and of a knowledge of the different Christian communities, is obvious; as is the need for a basic introduction to the great religions, to say nothing of philosophy: the understanding of that human process of questioning and searching to which faith seeks to respond. But you should also learn to understand and – dare I say it – to love canon law, appreciating how necessary it is and valuing its practical applications: a society without law would be a society without rights. Law is the condition of love. I will not go on with this list, but I simply say once more: love the study of theology and carry it out in the clear realization that theology is anchored in the living community of the Church, which, with her authority, is not the antithesis of theological science but its presupposition. Cut off from the believing Church, theology would cease to be itself and instead it would become a medley of different disciplines lacking inner unity.

6. Your years in the seminary should also be a time of growth towards human maturity. It is important for the priest, who is called to accompany others through the journey of life up to the threshold of death, to have the right balance of heart and mind, reason and feeling, body and soul, and to be humanly integrated. To the theological virtues the Christian tradition has always joined the cardinal virtues derived from human experience and philosophy, and, more generally, from the sound ethical tradition of humanity. Paul makes this point this very clearly to the Philippians: "Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honourable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things" (4:8). This also involves the integration of sexuality into the whole personality. Sexuality is a gift of the Creator yet it is also a task which relates to a person’s growth towards human maturity. When it is not integrated within the person, sexuality becomes banal and destructive. Today we can see many examples of this in our society. Recently we have seen with great dismay that some priests disfigured their ministry by sexually abusing children and young people. Instead of guiding people to greater human maturity and setting them an example, their abusive behaviour caused great damage for which we feel profound shame and regret. As a result of all this, many people, perhaps even some of you, might ask whether it is good to become a priest; whether the choice of celibacy makes any sense as a truly human way of life. Yet even the most reprehensible abuse cannot discredit the priestly mission, which remains great and pure. Thank God, all of us know exemplary priests, men shaped by their faith, who bear witness that one can attain to an authentic, pure and mature humanity in this state and specifically in the life of celibacy. Admittedly, what has happened should make us all the more watchful and attentive, precisely in order to examine ourselves earnestly, before God, as we make our way towards priesthood, so as to understand whether this is his will for me. It is the responsibility of your confessor and your superiors to accompany you and help you along this path of discernment. It is an essential part of your journey to practise the fundamental human virtues, with your gaze fixed on the God who has revealed himself in Christ, and to let yourselves be purified by him ever anew.

7. The origins of a priestly vocation are nowadays more varied and disparate than in the past. Today the decision to become a priest often takes shape after one has already entered upon a secular profession. Often it grows within the Communities, particularly within the Movements, which favour a communal encounter with Christ and his Church, spiritual experiences and joy in the service of the faith. It also matures in very personal encounters with the nobility and the wretchedness of human existence. As a result, candidates for the priesthood often live on very different spiritual continents. It can be difficult to recognize the common elements of one’s future mandate and its spiritual path. For this very reason, the seminary is important as a community which advances above and beyond differences of spirituality. The Movements are a magnificent thing. You know how much I esteem them and love them as a gift of the Holy Spirit to the Church. Yet they must be evaluated by their openness to what is truly Catholic, to the life of the whole Church of Christ, which for all her variety still remains one. The seminary is a time when you learn with one another and from one another. In community life, which can at times be difficult, you should learn generosity and tolerance, not only bearing with, but also enriching one another, so that each of you will be able to contribute his own gifts to the whole, even as all serve the same Church, the same Lord. This school of tolerance, indeed, of mutual acceptance and mutual understanding in the unity of Christ’s Body, is an important part of your years in the seminary.

Dear seminarians, with these few lines I have wanted to let you know how often I think of you, especially in these difficult times, and how close I am to you in prayer. Please pray for me, that I may exercise my ministry well, as long as the Lord may wish. I entrust your journey of preparation for priesthood to the maternal protection of Mary Most Holy, whose home was a school of goodness and of grace. May Almighty God bless you all, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.

From the Vatican, 18 October 2010, the Feast of Saint Luke the Evangelist.

Yours devotedly in the Lord,


Paavst nimetab 24 uut kardinali

Nagu mitmed Vatikani-vaatlejad juba pikemat aega on ennustanud, nimetab paavst uued kardinalid 20. novembril toimuval konsistooriumil.

VATICAN CITY, 20 OCT 2010 (VIS) - Following today's general audience, the Holy Father announced the names of twenty-four prelates who will be created cardinals in a consistory due to be held on 20 November, eve of the Solemnity of Christ the King. The consistory will be the third of his pontificate.

  "Cardinals", said the Pope, "have the task of helping Peter's Successor carry out his mission as permanent and visible source and foundation of the Church's unity of faith and communion".

  Twenty of the new cardinals, being under the age of eighty, will be electors. Their names are:

 - Archbishop Angelo Amato S.D.B., prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints.

 - His Beatitude Antonios Naguib, Patriarch of Alexandria of the Copts, Egypt.

 - Archbishop Robert Sarah, president of the Pontifical Council "Cor Unum".

 - Archbishop Francesco Monterisi, archpriest of the papal basilica of St. Paul's Outside-the-Walls.

 - Archbishop Fortunato Baldelli, penitentiary major of the Apostolic Penitentiary.

 - Archbishop Raymond Leo Burke, prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura.

 - Archbishop Kurt Koch, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity.

 - Archbishop Paolo Sardi, vice chamberlain of Holy Roman Church.

 - Archbishop Mauro Piacenza, prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy.

 - Archbishop Velasio De Paolis C.S., president of the Prefecture for the Economic Affairs of the Holy See.

 - Archbishop Gianfranco Ravasi, president of the Pontifical Council for Culture.

 - Archbishop Medardo Joseph Mazombwe, emeritus of Lusaka, Zambia.

 - Archbishop Raul Eduardo Vela Chiriboga, emeritus Quito, Ecuador.

 - Archbishop Laurent Monsengwo Pasinya of Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo.

 - Archbishop Paolo Romeo of Palermo, Italy.

 - Archbishop Donald William Wuerl of Washington, U.S.A.

 - Archbishop Raymundo Damasceno Assis of Aparecida, Brazil.

 - Archbishop Kazimierz Nycz of Warsaw, Poland.

 - Archbishop Albert Malcolm Ranjith Patabendige Don of Colombo, Sri Lanka.

 - Archbishop Reinhard Marx of Munich and Freising, Germany.

  Having pronounced the names of the new cardinal electors, the Pope then indicated that he had also decided to elevate to the dignity of cardinal "two prelates and two priests", all over the age of eighty and hence non-electors, for their "generosity and dedication in the service of the Church." Their names are:

 - Archbishop Jose Manuel Estepa Llaurens, military ordinary emeritus of Spain.

 - Bishop Elio Sgreccia, former president of the Pontifical Academy for Life.

 - Msgr. Walter Brandmuller, former president of the Pontifical Committee for Historical Sciences.

 - Msgr. Domenico Bartolucci, former director of the Pontifical Choir.

teisipäev, 19. oktoober 2010

Kaks prolife võitu

ÜRO generaalassambleel septembri lõpus, kus arutati "Aastatuhande arengueesmärkide" saavutamist,  võeti vastu lõppdokument, millest jäeti välja abordi-aktivistide esialgne ettepanek lülitada "abordiõigus" inimõiguste hulka. (LSN)

Oktoobri alguses võttis Euroopa Nõukogu Parlamentaarne Assamblee vastu resolutsiooni, millega kinnitatakse tervishoiutöötajate õigust südametunnistuse vabadusele, ehkki algne ettepanek seisnes südametunnistuse vabaduse olulises piiramises. (LSN)

Vaikiva solidaarsuse päev

Täna on vaikiva solidaarsuse päev, mil tuhanded kooliõpilased USA-s, Kanadas ja Uus-Meremaal väljendavad oma solidaarsust abordiohvritega demonstratiivse vaikimisega protestiks elude vaikima-sundimise vastu.

Abort ja 9/11

By John-Henry Westen

ROME, October 18, 2010 ( - Msgr. Philip Reilly, the founder of Helpers of God’s Precious Infants, delivered a fascinating address to attendees of the Human Life International World Prayer Congress last week.  Reilly, who has devoted most of his 50-year-long priestly ministry to the pro-life cause, recounted his experiences of the horrific September 11, 2001 terrorist attack from the perspective of a native New Yorker.

“On the morning of 9/11 I was praying and counseling outside of a large abortion clinic in Brooklyn,” said Msgr. Reilly. “The abortion mill is located a few blocks from New York Harbor, at a point where you could look across the Harbor and easily see the Twin Towers.”

“The wind was blowing that day from Manhattan to Brooklyn,” recalled the veteran pro-life leader. “So when the Towers came down, an incredible black cloud came over our heads. Outside the abortion mill, it became midnight at midday.”

Committed as he is to praying for the women contemplating abortion and the abortionists themselves, Msgr. Reilly refused to abandon them even on that day, when he wanted to go to Ground Zero.  Reilly noted that due to the disaster all businesses stopped but, he said, “There was a bizarre exception, namely the killing of unborn babies continued, especially at the mill where I was counseling.  Inside the abortion mill, they were actually watching the events unfold on TV, yet the killing of the babies inside continued.”

“Thus I could not leave the mill at that time to go to Ground Zero,” he said. “I didn’t get to Ground Zero until it was midnight.”

Msgr Reilly described how helpless he felt standing at Ground Zero at midnight.  He noted that he then decided to pray the rosary and described his vision:
As I prayed the rosary, I closed my eyes and with my eyes closed, I suddenly saw the people in the Tower getting ready for work at 9 a.m. Some were getting a drink of water, others a cup of coffee, all feeling safe and secure inside their office. Then I saw the terrorist plane breaking into their secure quarters and exploding like a great bomb with the people in the office having no place to hide, no place to flee. Then still standing at midnight at Ground  Zero, I saw not the people in the Towers, but I saw a womb with an unborn child inside, feeling so safe and secure and suddenly breaking through the wall of the womb was this terrorist object, the instrument of the abortionist, with the child having no place to hide, no place to flee from this terrorist instrument.
Msgr. Reilly concluded his address noting that when he opened his eyes, there at Ground Zero, “it became absolutely clear to me that Ground Zero is ongoing. Be not afraid then to go Golgotha, to the abortion clinic, to Ground Zero near you, to rescue the unborn children.”

esmaspäev, 18. oktoober 2010

Peapiiskop Burke'i kõne täistekst

Mõni päev tagasi postitasin ülevaateartikli peapiiskop Burke'i kõnest HLI kongressil. Nüüd saab lugeda kõne täisteksti.

pühapäev, 17. oktoober 2010

27. november -- Vigiil tärkava elu eest

Järgnev info pärineb USA Piiskopide Konverentsi leheküljelt:

On Saturday, November 27th at St. Peter’s Basilica, Pope Benedict XVI will celebrate a “Vigil for All Nascent Human Life” coinciding with first vespers of the First Sunday of Advent. The Holy Father has also requested that “all Diocesan Bishops (and their equivalent) of every particular church preside in analogous celebrations involving the faithful in their respective parishes, religious communities, associations and movements.”

Kas ka meil?

Uued pühakud

Paavst kanoniseerib täna Roomas kuus uut pühakut:

André Bessette on esimene Kanada ja Mary McKillop esimene Austraalia "oma" pühak, st. esimene sünni poolest kanadalane, teine austraallane.

reede, 15. oktoober 2010

Armulaua-aasta Colombo peapiiskopkonnas

Colombo peapiiskop Malcolm Ranjith, Püha Liturgia ja Sakramentide Kongregatsiooni endine sekretär, kuulutas Colombo peapiiskopkonnas välja Armulaua-aasta, mis kestab käesoleva aasta augustist järgmise aasta augustini. Seoses sellega toimus 1.-3. septembrini Colombo peapiiskopkonnas liturgiline kokkutulek, millel lisaks srilankalastele esinesid ka Püha Liturgia ja Sakramentide Kongregatsiooni prefekt kardinal Antonio Canizares Llovera, isa Uwe Michael Lang ja Martin Mosebach. Järgnevalt toon viited liturgilisel kokkutulekul peetud kõnede tekstidele (viide Rorate Coeli):

Msgr. Pozzo Vatikani II Kirikukogu eklesioloogiast

Blogist Rorate Coeli

Msgr Pozzo on Aspects of the Ecclesiology of Vatican II

The following is a private, unofficial translation of Msgr. Pozzo's speech on July 2, 2010 to the FSSP in Wigratzbad, the original of which has been posted on the Italian-language version of the main FSSP website. The text of Fr. Paul Aulagnier's reaction to this speech is being translated and will be posted shortly as well. DICI has published a short article comparing this speech with the views of Romano Amerio and Brunero Gherardini (see here). CAP.
All emphases are in the original.

The text of a conference given by Msgr. Guido Pozzo, Secretary of the Pontifical Commission “Ecclesia Dei,” delivered to the European priests of the Fraternity of St. Peter on July 2, 2010, at Wigratzbad. That same day, Msgr. Pozzo had celebrated a Solemn High Mass in the church of Maria Thann, at which more than a hundred priests and seminarians of the same Fraternity were present. (Photos can be found here.) The following day, his Eminence Cardinal Cañizares Llovera ordained five deacons to the priesthood (Photographs of the ordination rites).



If one considers the Dogmatic Constitution on the Church by Vatican Council II, the grandeur and the fullness of the mystery of the Church and her inner renewal are immediately apparent, thanks to the efforts of the Council Fathers.

If, however, one reads or hears much of that which has been said by certain theologians—some of them famous, some of a more amateur theology—or that which has been broadcast in the post-conciliar Catholic press, it is impossible not to experience a deep sadness and to harbor grave apprehensions. It is truly difficult to conceive of a greater contrast than that which exists between the documents on the one hand, and, on the other, the many, ambiguous ideas and affirmations, which are debatable and often contrary to correct Catholic doctrine, and which have multiplied in Catholic circles and in public opinion in general.

When one speaks of the Second Vatican Council and the way it was received, the key point of reference ought to be one only, that which the papal Magisterium itself has formulated in an unequivocal and very clear way. In the discourse of December 22 to the Roman Curia, Pope Benedict XVI expressed himself as follows: “The question arises: why has the reception of the Council, in many parts of the Church, unfolded up till now with so much difficulty? Indeed, everything depends on the correct interpretation of the Council or—as we would say nowadays—on its correct hermeneutic, the correct key for reading and interpreting it. The problems of its reception have been born of the fact that two contrary hermeneutics have found themselves opposed and have been in a struggle with each other. One has caused confusion, the other—silently, but always more visibly—has borne and continues to bear fruit. On one side, there is an interpretation that I [continues the Holy Father] would call the ‘hermeneutic of discontinuity and of rupture’; it has often been able to avail itself of the sympathy of the mass media and even of part of modern theology. On the other side, there is the ‘hermeneutic of reform, of renewal in continuity of the unique subject-Church, which the Lord has given us; it is a subject which grows and develops, remaining nevertheless the same: the one, only subject of the pilgrim people of God.” [Cf. Benedict XVI, Insegnamenti, vol. I, Ed. Vaticana, Vatican City, 2006, pp. 1023 et seqq.]

Evidently, if the Holy Father speaks of two divergent interpretations or interpretive keys—one of discontinuity or rupture with Catholic Tradition, and one of renewal within continuity—that means that the crucial question or truly determinant point regarding the origin of the difficulties, disorientation, and confusion that have characterized and continue to characterize in part our own times is not Vatican Council II as such, the objective teaching contained in its documents, but it is the interpretation of that teaching. In this address, I propose to develop briefly two particular aspects, with the purpose of highlighting the fixed points for a correct interpretation of conciliar doctrine, in contrast to the deviations and obfuscations brought forth by the hermeneutic of discontinuity:

I. the unity and unicity of the Catholic Church;
II. the Catholic Church and other religions in relation to salvation.

Finally, I would like to conclude with certain considerations on the causes of the hermeneutic of discontinuity with Tradition, setting in relief, above all, the forma mentis that lies at the root of it.


1. Against the opinion, held by numerous theologians, that Vatican II introduced radical changes in regard to the understanding of the Church we must attest above all that the Council remained on traditional ground as far as its doctrine on the Church. That does not, however, mean that the Council did not introduce new orientations and propound some key aspects. The novelty, in regard to declarations prior to the Council, is in the fact that the relation of the Catholic Church to the Orthodox Churches and the evangelical [Protestant] communities born of the Lutheran Reformation is dealt with as a self-sufficient theme and in a formally positive way, whereas in the encyclical Mortalium animos of Pius XI (1928), for example, the intention was to delimit and distinguish with precision the Catholic Church from non-Catholic Christian confessions.

2. At any rate, in the first place, Vatican II insisted on the unity and unicity of the true Church, referring to the existent Catholic Church: “This is the one Church of Christ that in the Creed we profess to be one, holy, catholic, and apostolic” (LG 8). In the second place, the Council answers the question of where the true Church can be found: “This Church, constituted and organized in this world as a society, subsists in the Catholic Church” (LG 8). And to avoid any equivocation regarding the identification of the true Church of Christ with the Catholic Church, it is added that under consideration is the Church “governed by the Successor of Peter and the bishops in communion with him” (LG 8). The one Church of Christ, therefore, is realized, given existence, and established in the Catholic Church. There is no other Church of Christ alongside the Catholic Church. With this is affirmed—at least implicitly—that the Church of Jesus Christ is not divided as such, not even in its substance, and that her indivisible unity is not nullified by the many divisions among Christians.

This doctrine of the indivisibility of the Christ’s Church, of her substantial identification with the Catholic Church, is recalled in the documents of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith Mysterium Ecclesiae (1973), Dominus Jesus, 16 and 17 (2000), and in the Responsa ad dubia [i.e., replies to inquiries] on certain ecclesiological questions (2007).

The expression “subsistit in” [“subsists in”] of Lumen Gentium 8 means that Christ’s Church is not lost in the vicissitudes of history but continues to exist as a unique and undivided subject in the Catholic Church. The Church of Christ subsists, is found, and is recognized in the Catholic Church. In this sense, there is full continuity with the doctrine taught by the earlier Magisterium (Leo XIII, Pius XI, and Pius XII).

3. With the formula “subsistit in” the doctrine of the Council—in conformity with Catholic Tradition—wished to exclude expressly any form of ecclesiological relativism whatsoever. At the same time, the substitution of “subsistit in” for the “est” [“is”] used in the encyclical Mystici Corporis of Pius XII was meant to confront the ecumenical problem in a more direct and explicit way than had been done in the past. If, then, the Church is one only and is found in a unique subject, there exist, nevertheless, outside this subject ecclesial elements, true and real elements, that impel Catholic unity because they are proper to the Catholic Church.

The merit of the Council is, on the one hand, to have expressed the unicity, indivisibility, and non-multiplicity of the Catholic Church while, on the other hand, having recognized that there exist even in non-Catholic Christian confessions gifts and elements possessing an ecclesial character, which justify and encourage the work of restoring the unity of all Christ’s disciples. The pretext of being the one Church of Christ cannot, in fact, be understood in a way that does not recognize the essential difference between the non-Catholic Christian faithful and the non-baptized. It is not possible, in fact, to place on the same level, in regard to adherence to the Church, non-Catholic Christians and those who have not received Baptism. The relation between the Catholic Church and the non-Catholic Christian Churches and ecclesial communities is not that between all and nothing, but between the fullness of communion and partial communion.

4. In the paradox, so to speak, of the difference between the unicity of the Catholic Church and the existence of truly ecclesial elements outside this unique subject, there is reflected the contradiction of division and of sin. But this division is something entirely different than that relativist vision that considers the divisions between Christians not as a sorrowful fragmentation but as a manifestation of manifold doctrinal variations of a single theme, in which all variations and divergences are in a certain way justified, and which should be mutually recognized and accepted as differences and divergences. The idea that stems from this is that ecumenism should consist of the reciprocal and respectful recognition of differences, and that Christianity should be, in the end, the sum of the fragments of Christian reality. Such an interpretation of the Council’s thought is precisely an expression of discontinuity and rupture with Catholic Tradition and represents a profound falsification of the Council.

5. In order to recover an authentic interpretation of the Council in line with an evolution in substantial continuity with the traditional doctrine of the Church, it is important to stress that the elements of “sanctification and of truth” that other Christian Churches and communities have in common with the Catholic Church constitute, taken together, the basis for reciprocal ecclesial communion and the foundation that characterizes this communion in a way that is true, authentic, and real. It would be necessary, though, to add for the sake of completeness that whatever they have that is proper to them and not shared with the Catholic Church, and which separates them from her, connotes them as not the Church. They are, therefore, “instruments of salvation” (UR 3) by virtue of what they have in common with the Catholic Church and their faithful, following that which is common to both, can attain salvation; but in regards to whatever in them is estranged from and opposed to the Catholic Church they are not an instrument of salvation (provided that one is treating of an invincibly ignorant conscience, in which case their error is not imputable to them, even if their conscience must be regarded as erroneous) [cf. for example the fact of ordination of women or homosexual persons to the priesthood and episcopacy in certain Anglican and Old Catholic communities].

6. Vatican II teaches that all the baptized are, as such, members of (the Body of) Christ (UR 3), but at the same time declares that one can only speak of an “aliqua communio, etsi non perfecta” [“some communion, even if not perfect”] between the non-Catholic baptized Christians on one hand and the Catholic Church on the other (UR 3).

Baptism constitutes a sacramental bond of unity among those who believe in Christ. Nevertheless, this is in itself only the beginning and prologue, so to speak, because Baptism intrinsically tends towards the acquisition of the entire life in Christ. Indeed, Baptism is ordered to an integral profession of faith, to an integral communion with the institution of salvation willed by Christ, which is the Church, and finally to an integral inclusion in the Eucharistic communion (UR 22). It is clear, therefore, that belonging to the Church cannot be considered complete if baptismal life is subsequently something objectively defective and adulterated regarding doctrine and Sacraments. A Church can only be identified in the fullest sense where those various necessary and inalienable “sacred” elements that constitute it as a Church are found together: apostolic succession (which implies communion with the Successor of Peter), the Sacraments, and Sacred Scripture. When one of these elements is missing or present but defective, the reality of the ecclesial presence is altered in proportion to the defect involved. In particular, the term “Church” can legitimately be applied to the separated Eastern Churches, but not to the communities born of the Reformation, since in the latter there is an absence of apostolic succession and the loss of most of the Sacraments, especially the Eucharist. This loss wounds and weakens a substantial part of their ecclesiality (Dominus Jesus 16 and 17).

7. The Catholic Church possesses in herself all truth, because she is the Body and the Spouse of Christ. Nevertheless, she does not fully comprehend it; wherefore, she must be guided by the Holy Spirit “into all truth” (John 16:13). Being is one thing, the full knowledge of being another. Therefore, research and knowledge progress and develop. Even the members of the Catholic Church do not always live at the height of their truth and dignity. Thus, the Catholic Church is able to grow in the comprehension of truth, in the sense of making her own consciously and self-reflectively that which she is ontologically and existentially. In this context, the usefulness and necessity of ecumenical dialogue is recognized, in order to recover that which gradually had been marginalized or obscured in certain historical periods and to reintegrate partially forgotten notions back into the synthesis of Christian existence. Dialogue with non-Catholics is never without fruit nor merely pro forma so long as one presupposes that the Church is conscious of having in her Lord the fullness of truth and the means of salvation.

The following doctrinal articulations are meant to develop a theology in full continuity with Tradition and at the same time in line with the orientation and enrichment desired by Vatican Council II and the subsequent Magisterium up to the present.


It is normal that, in a world that increasingly grows more connected to the point of producing a global village, even religions should come in contact. So today the coexistence of diverse religions increasingly characterizes the daily life of mankind. This leads not only to an external encounter of the followers of various religions but also contributes to a development of interest in systems of religions unknown up till now. In the West the tendency of modern man to cultivate tolerance and liberality prevails more and more in the collective conscience, along with an abandonment of the notion that Christianity is the “true” religion. The so-called idea of the “absolutism of Christianity,” translated in the traditional formula that salvation is in the one Church, encounters nowadays incomprehension and rejection on the part of Catholics and Protestants. For the classic formula “extra Ecclesiam nulla salus” [“outside the Church there is no salvation”] is often substituted now the formula “extra Ecclesiam multa salus” [“outside the Church there is much salvation”].

The consequences of this religious relativism are not only on the theoretical level, but they have devastating repercussions on the pastoral level. Ever more widespread is the idea that the Christian mission does not have to pursue the goal of the pagans’ conversion to Christianity, but the mission is limited either to a mere witnessing to one’s own faith or to working in solidarity and fraternal love to bring about peace among peoples and social justice.

In such a context, one sees a fundamental deficiency: that is, the loss of the question of Truth. With a loss of the question about Truth, that is, about the true religion, the essence of religion no longer is differentiated from that of mystification. That is, faith can no longer be distinguished from superstition; authentic religious experience from illusion; mysticism from false mysticism. In fine, without the demand for truth, even the appreciation of that which is just and valid in various religions becomes contradictory, because a criterion of truth is lacking by which that which is true and good in other religions can be ascertained.

It is therefore necessary and urgent to recall today the fixed points of Catholic doctrine on the relation between the Church and other religions as concerns the question of truth and salvation, with special concern for the profound identity of the Christian mission of evangelization. Let us examine in order a synthesis of the teaching of the Magisterium, which will shed light on how even in this aspect there is a substantial continuity of Catholic thought, though with a richness of emphases and perspectives with their root in Vatican Council II and the more recent papal Magisterium.

1. The missionary mandate. Christ sent forth His Apostles so that, “in His Name,” “conversion and forgiveness of sins might be preached to all the nations” (Luke 24:47). “Teach all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit” (Matt. 28:19). The mission to baptize, and therefore the sacramental mission, is implicit in the mission to evangelize, because the Sacrament is prepared by the Word of God and by faith, which is in conformity with this Word (cf. The Catechism of the Catholic Church 1122).

2. Origin and scope of the Christian mission. The missionary mandate of the Lord has its ultimate origin in the eternal love of the Most Holy Trinity, and the ultimate end of the mission is nothing other than to make men sharers in the communion which exists between the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit (cf. The Catechism of the Catholic Church 850).

3. Salvation and Truth. “God wills that all men be saved and come to a knowledge of the truth” (1 Tim. 2:4). This means that “God wills the salvation of all by means of the truth. Salvation is found in the truth” (Declaration Dominus Jesus 22). “The certainty of the universal salvific will of God does not lessen but rather increases the duty and the urgency of proclaiming salvation and conversion to the Lord Jesus Christ” (ibid.).

4. The true religion. Vatican Council II “professes that God Himself has made known to the human race the way by which men, if they follow it, may find salvation and become happy. This unique true religion, we believe, subsists in the Catholic and Apostolic Church, to which the Lord has entrusted the mission to communicate it to all men” (Declaration Dignitatis humanae 1).

5. Mission to the nations and interreligious dialogue. Interreligious dialogue is part of the evangelical mission of the Church. “Understood as a method and a means for a reciprocal acquaintance and enrichment, not only does it not oppose the mission to the nations, but it indeed has special ties to it and is expressive of it” (Encyclical Letter Redemptoris missio 55). “Dialogue does not excuse from evangelization” (Ibid.), nor can it substitute for it, but it accompanies the missio ad gentes (mission to the nations) (cf. Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Declaration Dominus Jesus 2 and the note on evangelization). “Believers may draw profit for themselves from this dialogue by learning to know better “all that which is of truth and grace to be found in the midst of the nations, through a hidden presence of God” (Decl. Ad gentes 9). If, in fact, they proclaim the Good News to those who were ignorant of it, it is in order to consolidate, complete, and elevate the truth and goodness that God has diffused among men and peoples, and in order to purify them from error and evil “for the glory of God, the confounding of the devil, and the happiness of man” (Ibid.; Catechism of the Catholic Church 856).

6. As to the relations among Christianity, Judaism, and Islam, the Council does not affirm, in fact, the theory that unfortunately has been spread in the consciences of the faithful, according to which the three monotheistic religions (Judaism, Islam, and Christianity) are like branches of the same, divine revelation. The esteem towards the monotheistic religions does not diminish or limit in any way the missionary duty of the Church: “the Church proclaims and is bound to proclaim incessantly that Christ is the way, the truth, and the life (John 14:6),” in Whom all men find the fullness of religious life” (Nostra aetate 2).

7. The bond between the Church and other, non-Christian religions. “The Church recognizes in other religions the search still “amid shadows and images” (Dogmatic Const. Lumen Gentium 16) for the “God unknown” though near, for He it is Who gives to all life and breath to everything.” For that reason, the Church considers “all that is good and true” in other religions “as a preparation for the Gospel and as given by Him Who enlightens everyone so that he may have life in the end” (Ibid.; Catechism of the Catholic Church 843).
“But in their religious behavior, men show forth limitations and errors also, which disfigure the image of God” (Catechism of the Catholic Church 844): “very often men, deceived by the Evil One, have erred in their thoughts and exchanged divine truth for a lie, worshipping the creature rather than the Creator, or else living and dying without God in this world, they have embraced final despair” (Dogm. Const. Lumen Gentium 16).

8. The Church as universal sacrament of salvation. Salvation comes from Christ by means of the Church, which is His Body (cf. Catechism of the Catholic Church 846). “It must be firmly believed that “the pilgrim Church is necessary to salvation. In fact, only Christ is the Mediator and the Way of salvation; He makes Himself present to us in His Body, which is the Church” (Dogm. Const. Lumen Gentium 14; Dominus Jesus 20). The Church is “the universal sacrament of salvation” (Dogm. Const. Lumen Gentium 48), because, always united in a mysterious way and subordinated to Jesus Christ the Saviour, her Head, she has in God’s design an ineluctable relation with the salvation of every man.

9. Value and function of other religions in relation to salvation. “According to Catholic doctrine, one must hold that insofar as the Spirit works in the heart of every man and in the history of peoples, their cultures and religions, He assumes a role of preparing for the Gospel” (Encyl. Lett. Redemptoris missio 29). It is therefore legitimate to maintain that the Holy Spirit brings about salvation in non-Christians even by means of those elements of truth and goodness that are present in the various religions; but it is entirely erroneous and contrary to Catholic doctrine “to hold that these religions, considered as such, are ways of salvation, because there is also present in them lacunae, insufficiencies, and errors, which relate to fundamental truths about God, man, and the world” (Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Notification in regard to the book by J. Dupuis, Towards a Christian Theology of Religious Pluralism 8).

In summary, it is clear that the authentic proclamation of the Church in relation to her claims of supremacy is not substantially changed after the teaching of Vatican II. The Council makes explicit certain motives which complete her teaching, avoiding a polemical and bellicose contest, and bring back into balance doctrinal elements considered in their integrity and totality.


What lies at the root of the hermeneutic of discontinuity and rupture with Tradition?

There is what we may call the Conciliar, or more exactly the para-Conciliar ideology, which was imposed on the Council from the beginning and which overshadowed it. By this expression is not meant something that concerns the texts of the Council, nor (even less) the intentions of the subjects, but the frame of overall interpretation by which the Council was situated and which acted as a type of internal conditioning in the subsequent reading of the acts and documents. The Council is not, in fact, the para-Conciliar ideology, but in the history of the ecclesiastical milieu and the means of mass communication it, i.e. the para-Conciliar ideology, has operated in large part towards a mystification of the Council. Since all the consequences of the para-Conciliar ideology have been manifested as an historical event, the revolution of 1968 must indeed be acknowledged, taking as its point of departure rupture with the past and a radical change in history. In the para-Conciliar ideology 1968 signifies a new form of the Church in rupture with the past, even if the roots of this rupture had been present for some time in certain Catholic circles.

Such an overall frame of reference, superimposed on the Council in an extrinsic way, can be characterized principally by these three factors:

1. The first factor is the renunciation of anathema, that is, the clear contradistinction between orthodoxy and heresy.

In the name of the so-called “pastoral nature” of the Council, there has become current the idea that the Church has abandoned the condemnation of error, i.e. the definition of orthodoxy in contrast to heresy. The condemnation of errors and the anathema pronounced by the Church in the past on all that is incompatible with Christian truth has been distinguished from the pastoral character of the Council’s teaching, which never intended to condemn or censure but only to exhort, illumine, and give witness.

In reality, there is no contradiction between a firm condemnation and refutation of errors in the area of doctrine and morals and the attitude of love towards the one who falls into error, as well as respect for the dignity of persons. Indeed, precisely because a Christian has a great respect for the human person, he is endlessly obliged to free him from error and from false interpretations of religious and moral reality.

Adherence to the Person of Jesus, the Son of God, to His Word, and to His mystery of salvation demands a response of simple and clear faith, which is what is found in the Faith’s Symbols [Creeds] and in the Rule of Faith [regula fidei]. The proclamation of the truth of the Faith always implies as well the refutation of error and the censure of ambiguous and dangerous positions that spread uncertainty and confusion among the faithful.

It would, therefore, be erroneous and groundless to hold that after Vatican Council II dogmatic definitions and censures by the Magisterium should be abandoned or excluded, just as it would be correspondingly an error to hold that the expositive and pastoral character of the documents of Vatican II do not imply as well a doctrine that demands a level of assent on the part of the faithful according to the various degrees of authority of the proposed teachings.

2. The second factor is the translation of Catholic thought into the categories of modernity. The opening of the Church to the concerns and needs begotten by modernity (see Gaudium et spes) is interpreted by the para-Conciliar ideology as a necessary reconciliation between Christianity and modern philosophical thought and ideological culture. This involves a theological and intellectual work that substantially proposes once more the idea of Modernism, condemned at the beginning of the 20th century by St. Pius X.

Neo-modernistic and secularist theology sought an encounter with the modern world just as the “modern” was beginning to dissolve. With the collapse of the so-called “Socialist Reality” in 1989 there collapsed as well those myths of modernity, which served as the postulates of socialism and secularism, and the myths of the irreversibility history’s emancipation. For the paradigm of modernity there has been substituted today, in fact, the post-modern paradigm of “chaos” or “pluralistic complexity,” whose foundation is radical relativism.
In the homily of then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, before his election as Pope, on the occasion of the liturgical celebration “Pro eligendo Pontifice” [“For the election of the Pope”] of April 18, 2005, the heart of the question was isolated thus: How many winds of doctrine have we known in these last decades, how many ideological currents, how many modes of thought! … The little barque of thought of many Christians has not infrequently been rocked by these waves, tossed about from one extreme to the other: from Marxism to liberalism, even libertinism; from collectivism to radical individualism; from atheism to a vague religious mysticism; from agnosticism to syncretism, and so forth …. To have a clear faith, one according to the Church’s Creed, has often been labeled as fundamentalism. Meanwhile, relativism—that is, allowing oneself to be carried “here and there by whatever wind of doctrine”—appears as the only attitude appropriate for today. A dictatorship of relativism has been established that does not recognize anything as definitive and that allows as the ultimate standard only one’s own ego and desires.
In confronting this process it is necessary above all to recover the metaphysical understanding of reality (cf. Encycl. Fides et ratio of Pope John Paul II) and a vision of man and society founded on absolute values, both meta-historical and permanent. This metaphysical vision cannot prescind from a consideration of the role of Grace in history, that is, of the supernatural, the depository of which is the Church, the Mystical Body of Christ. The reconquest of the metaphysical sense by means of the lumen rationis [“light of reason”] must be paralleled by that of the supernatural sense by means of the lumen fidei [“light of faith”].
Contrariwise, the para-Conciliar ideology holds that the Christian message must be secularized and reinterpreted according to the categories of modern culture both inside and outside the Church, compromising her integrity, or rather under the pretext of an “opportune adaptation” to the times. The result is that religion is secularized and the Faith made mundane.

This pretext has led the Catholic world to undertake an aggiornamento [updating] which in reality constituted a progressive and, at times, unconscious blending of the Church’s mentality with the reigning subjectivism and relativism. This surrender has brought with it disorientation among the faithful, depriving them of the certainty of faith and of hope in eternal life as the highest end of human existence.

3. The third factor is the interpretation of the aggiornamento desired by Vatican Council II.

By the term “aggiornamento,” Pope John XXIII wanted to indicate the primary task of Vatican Council II. This term in the thought of the Pope and the Council did not, however, express what has occurred in its name in the ideological implementation of the post-Conciliar period. “Aggiornamento” in the sense intended by the Pope and the Council was meant to express the pastoral intention of the Church to find more adequate and opportune ways to bring the civil conscience of the present-day world to a recognition of the perennial truth of Christ’s message of salvation and the Church’s doctrine. Love for the truth and missionary zeal for the salvation of mankind are the foundation for the principles of putting “aggiornamento” into action as desired and understood by the Second Vatican Council and the subsequent papal Magisterium.

The para-Conciliar ideology, however, which was spread above all by groups of neo-Modernist Catholic intellectuals and by secularist, worldly centers of power in the mass-media, understood and proposed the term “aggiornamento” as a demolition of the Church in the face of the modern world: from antagonism to receptivity. Ideological modernity—which certainly ought not to be confused with the legitimate and positive autonomy of science, politics, art, and technological progress—posited as its starting-point the denial of the God of Christian revelation and of grace. It is, then, not neutral to the Faith. That which led to the idea of a reconciliation between the Church and the modern world led, paradoxically, to forgetting that the anti-Christian spirit of the world continues to be at work in history and in culture. The post-conciliar situation had already been described in this way by Paul VI in 1972:

By some fissure there has entered into the temple of God the smoke of Satan: there is doubt, uncertainty, problems, unrest. Doubt has entered our consciences, and it has entered through the windows which were meant to have been opened to the light. This state of uncertainty reigns even in the Church. It was hoped that after the Council there would be a day of sunlight in the history of the Church. Instead, there came a day of clouds, of darkness, of groping, of uncertainty. How did this happen? We will confide Our thoughts to you: there has been interference from an adverse power: his name is the devil, that mysterious being to whom frequent allusion is made even in the Epistle of St. Peter” (Paul VI, Insegnamenti, Ed Vaticana, vol. X, 1972, p. 707).

Unfortunately, the effects as enumerated by Paul VI have not disappeared. A foreign way of thinking has entered into the Catholic world, stirring up confusion, seducing many souls, and disorienting the faithful. There is a “spirit of self-demolition” that pervades modernism, which has wrested control over, among other things, most of the Catholic press. This kind of thought, foreign to Catholic doctrine, is revealed, for example, under two aspects.

A first aspect is the sociological vision of the Faith, that is, an interpretation that assumes the social dimension as the key to evaluating religion and that brings with it a falsification of the concept of the Church according to a democratic model. If one observes contemporary discussions on discipline, law, or celebration of the Liturgy, one cannot avoid taking note of the fact that this false understanding of the Church has become widespread among the laity and theologians, as in the slogan: “We are the People, we are the Church” (Kirche von unten [“the Church from below”]). In reality, the Council offers no foundation for this interpretation, since the image of the People of God, in reference to the Church, is always tied to a conception of the Church as Mystery, as a sacramental community of the Body of Christ, composed of a people that has a head and of a sacramental organism composed of members hierarchically ordered. The Church cannot, therefore, become a democracy, in which power and sovereignty derive from the people, because the Church is a reality that comes forth from God and that was founded by Jesus Christ. She is the intermediary of divine life, of salvation, and of truth, and she depends on the sovereignty of God, which is a sovereignty of grace and love. The Church is, at one and the same time, a gift of grace and an institutional structure, because her Founder has willed it so: calling the Apostles, “Jesus instituted twelve of them” (Mark 3:13).

A second aspect I would draw your attention to is the ideology of dialogue. According to the Council and the Encyclical Letter of Paul VI Ecclesiam suam, dialogue is an important and undeniable means by which the Church converses with the men of her own time. But the para-Conciliar ideology transforms dialogue from an instrument whose primary purpose and end are the Church’s pastoral work, emptying it of meaning more and more and obscuring the urgency and the call of conversion to Christ and adherence to His Church.

Against such deviations, it is necessary to retrieve and recover the spiritual and cultural foundation of Christian civilization, that is, faith in God, transcendent and Creator, provident and Judge, whose Only-begotten Son became incarnate, died, and rose again for the redemption of the world, and who has poured out the grace of the Holy Spirit for the remission of sins and for making men sharers in the divine nature. The Church, the Body of Christ, an institution both human and divine, is the universal sacrament of salvation and unity among men, of which it is the sign and instrument. It is in the sense of uniting men to Christ that the Church is His Body.

The unity of the entire human race, which LG 1 speaks about, does not have to be understood, therefore, in the sense of achieving concord between and the unification of various ideas, religions, or values in a “common or convergent kingdom,” but it is attained by drawing all to the one Truth, of which the Catholic Church is the depository entrusted therewith by God Himself. Here there is no harmonization of “various and strange” doctrines, but an integral proclamation of the patrimony of Christian truth, with due respect to liberty of conscience, and with esteem for the rays of truth distributed throughout the universe of the world’s cultural traditions and religions, but at the same time opposing views that do not agree with and are not compatible with the Truth, which is God revealed in Christ.

I conclude by returning to the interpretive categories suggested by Pope Benedict in his “Discourse to the Roman Curia,” cited at the beginning. They do not refer to the usual and obsolete three-fold division of conservative, progressive, and moderate, but they rest on an exquisitely theological duality: two hermeneutics, one of rupture and another of reform within continuity. It is necessary to take on this latter orientation in order to confront areas of controversy, and thereby free, so to speak, the Council from the para-Council—which has been intermingled with it—and preserve the principles of the integrity of Catholic doctrine and of complete fidelity to the deposit of faith handed on by Tradition and interpreted by the Church’s Magisterium.