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TERESA BENEDETTA
Friday, October 05, 2007 1:34 AM
THE POPE'S DAY TODAY

I've decided to post the Holy Father's daily calendar of public events on this thread as well, to give context to eventual news items about said events.

10/04/07

The Holy Father today met with
- H.E. Antonio Zanardi Landi, new ambassador of Italy to the Holy See, who presented his credentials.
Pope's address in Italian.

- Archbishop Paul Josef Cordes, president of the Pontifical Council Cor Unum.

- Archbishop Oscar Rizzato, emeritus Papal Almoner.

- Mons. Walter Brandmüller, President of the Pontifical Committee for Historical Sciences.

The Vatican Press Office issued instructions for journalists intending to cover the Papal Visit
to Naples on Oct. 21.

And here's the AFP report based on the Pope's address to the new Italian ambassador:



Pope says Catholic Church
wants no tax privileges



VATICAN CITY, Oct. 4 (AFP) - Pope Benedict XVI said Thursday that the Roman Catholic Church does not expect special treatment as EU competition regulators considered a probe into tax breaks it enjoys in Italy.

"The Church does not seek power, does not claim privileges and does not aspire to positions of economic or social advantage," Benedict said as he accepted the credentials of Italy's new ambassador to the Holy See.

"Its only goal is to serve mankind by drawing its inspiration ... from the words and example of Jesus Christ," he said without referring to the potential investigation.

The European Commission said in August that it was seeking information from the Italian government on tax advantages accorded to the Church for its property dealings and that it might open a formal investigation to determine whether they violate EU competition rules.

The Catholic Church is exempt from Italian property tax for its commercial activities, such as those of many Catholic institutions that house pilgrims.

In September, Vatican number two Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone said the debate over the Italian Church's tax advantages aimed to "destroy the credibility of religious institutions."

The European Commission, the European Union's executive arm, is responsible for policing state aid in the 27-nation bloc to see whether it threatens fair competition.

If an investigation finds that state aid is illegal, the Commission can require a member state to recover the money from the beneficiary.

====================================================================

There have been a number of interesting exchanges in the Italian papers these past two weeks over the widely promoted secular myth that the Catholic Church enjoys undue tax privileges in Italy, with the leftist mouthpiece La Repubblica coming out with downright erroneous and openly tendentious articles, while Avvenire has been answering back to lay out the facts. I hope I will be able to translate the most representative of the articles soon.


CHURCH-STATE COLLABORATION
FOR GOOD OF MAN


VATICAN CITY, OCT 4, 2007 (VIS) - In the Vatican today, Feast of St. Francis of Assisi, patron saint of Italy, the Holy Father received the Letters of Credence of Antonio Zanardi Landi, Italy's new ambassador to the Holy See.

In his talk to the diplomat, the Pope referred to the "mutual collaboration" between Church and State "for the promotion of mankind and the good of the entire national community. In pursuing this goal," he added, "the Church does not aim to acquire power nor does she seek privileges or positions of economic and social advantage.

"Her only aim," he went on, "is to serve mankind, drawing inspiration, as the supreme norm of behavior, from the words and example of Jesus Christ Who 'went about doing good and healing everyone.' Hence the Catholic Church asks to be considered for her specific nature, and to have the opportunity freely to carry out her special mission for the good, not only of her own faithful, but of all Italians."

Benedict XVI expressed the hope that collaboration between all components of Italian society may contribute "not only to carefully guarding the cultural and spiritual heritage that distinguishes [Italy] and that is an integral part of its history," but even more so that it may be "a stimulus to seek new ways to face the great challenges that characterize the post-modern age."

In this context the Pope mentioned "the defense of life, ... the protection of the rights of the individual and the family, the building of a united world, respect for creation and inter-religious and inter-cultural dialogue."

After recalling that the year 2008 marks the 60th anniversary of the Declaration of Human Rights, the Pope pointed out that this date "could constitute a useful occasion for Italy to offer its own contribution to the creation of a just order in the international arena, at the center of which is ... respect for mankind, for his dignity and for his inalienable rights."

Quoting from his own Message for World Peace Day 2007, the Holy Father then went on to say that the Declaration of Human Rights "is regarded as a sort of moral commitment assumed by all mankind. There is a profound truth to this, especially if the rights described in the Declaration are held to be based not simply on the decisions of the assembly that approved them, but on man's very nature and his inalienable dignity as a person created by God."

"Italy," Pope Benedict concluded, "by virtue of its recent election as a member of the Council for Human Rights, and even more so for its own particular tradition of humanity and generosity, cannot but feel committed to the tireless construction of peace and the defense of the dignity of human beings and all their inalienable rights, including the right to religious freedom."


Consultors Named
for Bishops Congregation


VATICAN CITY, OCT. 4, 2007 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI appointed two more consultors to the Congregation for Bishops.

The new members are Archbishops Fernando Filoni, "sostituto" for general affairs of the Vatican Secretariat of State, and Archbishop Mauro Piacenza, secretary of the Congregation for Clergy.

Among its duties, the Congregation for Bishops helps oversee the selection of new prelates pending papal approval.

Archbishop Filoni was born in 1946 in Manduria, Italy. He was ordained a priest in 1970 and has served as apostolic nuncio to Iraq, Jordan and the Philippines. He was appointed to his current position at the Secretariat of State on June 9.

Archbishop Piacenza was born in 1944 in Genoa, Italy. He was ordained a priest in 1969. In 2003, he was appointed the president of the Pontifical Commission for the Cultural Heritage of the Church. And in 2004, named president of the Pontifical Commission for Sacred Archeology.


VATICAN SECRET ARCHIVES:
"PROCESSUS CONTRA TEMPLARIOS"


VATICAN CITY, OCT 4, 2007 (VIS) - On October 25 in the Vatican's Old Synod Hall, the presentation will take place of the "Processus contra Templarios," a book published by the Vatican Secret Archives on the subject of the Knights Templar, the medieval military-religious order founded in Jerusalem in 1118 and suppressed by Pope Clement V (1305-1314).

According to a communique made public yesterday afternoon, the new volume is "a previously unpublished and exclusive edition of the complete acts of the original hearing against the Knights Templar."

The book, unique of its kind, will have a print run "rigorously limited to 799 copies" and contains the "faithful reproduction of the original parchments conserved in the Vatican Secret Archives."

The project, the communique concludes, "is part of the series of 'Exemplaria Praetiosa,' ... the most elaborate and important publication yet undertaken by the Pontifical Archives."

The new volume will be presented by Archbishop Raffaele Farina S.D.B., archivist and librarian of Holy Roman Church; Bishop Sergio Pagano, prefect of the Vatican Secret Archives, and experts such as the historian Franco Cardini and the archaeologist and author Valerio Massimo Manfredi."


TERESA BENEDETTA
Friday, October 05, 2007 1:40 PM
Anti-Pope Graffiti Appears In Naples



NAPLES, Oct. 4 (Javno) - Graffiti against Pope Benedict XVI, and amongst them the message “Death to Ratzinger”, appeared on walls in Naples before the Pope’s visit planned for later on this month, witnesses said on Thursday.

A source from the Italian antiterrorism police reported that the graffiti was probably made by leftwing and anarchic gangs and that an investigation is being held.

Graffiti against the Pope and archbishop Bagnasco, head of the Italian Episcopal Conference, appeared in several Italian cities in May after Bernasco made declarations that irritated homosexuals.

The Pope, former cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, had planned to make a one day journey to visit the biggest city in the south of Italy on October 21 in order to open a interdenominational meeting.
Published: October 04, 2007 19:54h

Graffiti against Pope Benedict XVI, and amongst them the message “Death to Ratzinger”, appeared on walls in Naples before the Pope’s visit planned for later on this month, the witnesses said on Thursday.

A source from the Italian antiterrorism police reported that the graffiti was probably made by leftwing and anarchic gangs and that an investigation is being held.

Graffiti against the Pope and archbishop Bagnasco, head of the Italian Episcopal Conference, appeared in several Italian cities in May after Bernasco made declarations that irritated homosexuals.

The Pope, former cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, had planned to make a one day journey to visit the biggest city in the south of Italy on October 21 in order to open a interdenominational meeting.


There are articles in Corriere del Mezzogiorno today with Cardinal Sepe's reaction to the graffiti as he talks about preparations for the Pope's visit. Will post when translated.


TERESA BENEDETTA
Friday, October 05, 2007 2:36 PM
[IMG]http://img230.imageshack.us/img230/4047/banner224napoli446x6060az9.jpg[/IMG]PASTORAL VISIT TO NAPLES, October 21, 2007
[IMG]http://img205.imageshack.us/img205/8333/811pxnapoli96ce4edzh6.jpg[/IMG]


The Pope in Naples:
A sign of friendship,
says Cardinal Sepe

By Carlo Franco



NAPLES - "It will be a great feast because the Neapolitans want it to be. I sense everywhere an engaging enthusiasm, there's an evident desire to 'embrace' the Pope and to pray with him for the resurrection of Naples."

Cardinal Cresencio Sepe, Archbishop of Naples, interviewed by telephone, managed to hide his chagrin at the graffiti that appeared yesterday on a wall near the Municipal Hall of Naples.

He had to comment about it, however and chose his words carefully: "It was a crazy instance, an isolated case which should not make news. But above all, it does not undermine the extraordinary confidence with which this city is awaiting the Pope's visit."

The interview was in late afternoon, at the end of a long working day for Cardinal Sepe. In the morning, he had presided at a meeting of the Curial Committee which is organizing the visit, and then had foreign visitors for lunch.

"We have been working hard,as you know," he said, "but it's all worth the while."


It appears that Benedict XVI makes a clear separation between his pastoral visit to Naples and his meeting with participants at the inter-religious meeting. The events on the program make that clear.

It's true. The pastoral visit is an unequivocal sign of affection for Naples. The Pope is coming to re-ignite hope in this city.


And to validate the mission that you have been carrying on since you became Archbishop of Naples. The Pope is aware that between the Neapolitans and their cardinal, a relationship of strong sharing and sympathy has been established.

The pastoral visit is also a sign of friendship for me, I could say that, and for this, I am particularly grateful to the Pontiff, but at the center of his interest and mine is Naples and its desire to get up again from its current crisis.


The highest point of the visit would be the Pope's homily at the Mass in Piazza Plebiscito.

I would say the Mass, before homily.


Could we anticipate, at least along general lines, what Benedict XVI will say? Do you think he will be as severe with secular institutions as John Paul II was?

The Pope will certainly take into account the religious reality in the city, but he will make explicit references to social issues and to the urgent crises that Naples faces.


Are you contributing to the draft of the homily?

The Neapolitan Curia has furnished the Pope with elements he can use for an objective evaluation of the city's problems.

Benedict XVI has limited his travels, but he would not have missed this opportunity to visit Naples. And this is another reason for all of Naples to be particularly proud.


But his most important appointment politically is the meeting with religious representatives from all over the world.

Of course. We are all looking forward to the outcome of the encounter. With this event, Naples is confirmed as a crossroads for peace and religious tolerance. When I was assigned here, this was one of my objectives, as well as a similar meeting for all the youth of the world, similar to what has taken place in Assisi.


Finally, what about the Pope's visit to the chapel of San Gennaro for a private prayer?

I think it will be the high point of the visit and its most beautiful. But the Pope will be left to himself in prayer. And I know he will ask San Gennaro's intercession for his people, the people of Naples for whom he is their beloved patron saint.


[IMG]http://img525.imageshack.us/img525/6549/napoli93fba5dyc3.jpg[/IMG]

There's another story about the preparations for the visit. For translation.

From Corriere del Mezzogiorno, 5 ottobre 2007



TERESA BENEDETTA
Friday, October 05, 2007 2:37 PM
[IMG]http://img230.imageshack.us/img230/4047/banner224napoli446x6060az9.jpg[/IMG]PASTORAL VISIT TO NAPLES, October 21, 2007
[IMG]http://img205.imageshack.us/img205/8333/811pxnapoli96ce4edzh6.jpg[/IMG]


The Pope in Naples:
A sign of friendship,
says Cardinal Sepe

By Carlo Franco



NAPLES - "It will be a great feast because the Neapolitans want it to be. I sense everywhere an engaging enthusiasm, there's an evident desire to 'embrace' the Pope and to pray with him for the resurrection of Naples."

Cardinal Cresencio Sepe, Archbishop of Naples, interviewed by telephone, managed to hide his chagrin at the graffiti that appeared yesterday on a wall near the Municipal Hall of Naples.

He had to comment about it, however and chose his words carefully: "It was a crazy instance, an isolated case which should not make news. But above all, it does not undermine the extraordinary confidence with which this city is awaiting the Pope's visit."

The interview was in late afternoon, at the end of a long working day for Cardinal Sepe. In the morning, he had presided at a meeting of the Curial Committee which is organizing the visit, and then had foreign visitors for lunch.

"We have been working hard,as you know," he said, "but it's all worth the while."


It appears that Benedict XVI makes a clear separation between his pastoral visit to Naples and his meeting with participants at the inter-religious meeting. The events on the program make that clear.

It's true. The pastoral visit is an unequivocal sign of affection for Naples. The Pope is coming to re-ignite hope in this city.


And to validate the mission that you have been carrying on since you became Archbishop of Naples. The Pope is aware that between the Neapolitans and their cardinal, a relationship of strong sharing and sympathy has been established.

The pastoral visit is also a sign of friendship for me, I could say that, and for this, I am particularly grateful to the Pontiff, but at the center of his interest and mine is Naples and its desire to get up again from its current crisis.


The highest point of the visit would be the Pope's homily at the Mass in Piazza Plebiscito.

I would say the Mass, before homily.


Could we anticipate, at least along general lines, what Benedict XVI will say? Do you think he will be as severe with secular institutions as John Paul II was?

The Pope will certainly take into account the religious reality in the city, but he will make explicit references to social issues and to the urgent crises that Naples faces.


Are you contributing to the draft of the homily?

The Neapolitan Curia has furnished the Pope with elements he can use for an objective evaluation of the city's problems.

Benedict XVI has limited his travels, but he would not have missed this opportunity to visit Naples. And this is another reason for all of Naples to be particularly proud.


But his most important appointment politically is the meeting with religious representatives from all over the world.

Of course. We are all looking forward to the outcome of the encounter. With this event, Naples is confirmed as a crossroads for peace and religious tolerance. When I was assigned here, this was one of my objectives, as well as a similar meeting for all the youth of the world, similar to what has taken place in Assisi.


Finally, what about the Pope's visit to the chapel of San Gennaro for a private prayer?

I think it will be the high point of the visit and its most beautiful. But the Pope will be left to himself in prayer. And I know he will ask San Gennaro's intercession for his people, the people of Naples for whom he is their beloved patron saint.


[IMG]http://img525.imageshack.us/img525/6549/napoli93fba5dyc3.jpg[/IMG]

Diagram shows the routes to be travelled by the Pope: He will arrive at Stazione Maritima
by helicopter, transfer to the Popemobile to go through Piazza Municipio, via Vittorio
Emmanuele, Piazza Treste e Trento to Piazza Plebiscito, where he will say Mass, lead the
Angelus, and meet with various religious delegations. Afterwards, he will proceed to the Naples
seminary on Colle Aminei for lunch and a brief rest. In the afternoon, back to the city center
up to Museo, turning to via Forla towards the Cathedral and a prayer visit to the Chapel of
San Gennaro. Then back to Stazione Maritima for the helicopter flight back to Rome. The red
zone by the waterfront is where the major hotels are located, and where most of the visiting
delegations for the inter-religious meeting will be housed
.


Naples mayor: For papal visit -
Yes to strict checks,
No to armored protection

By Anna Paola Merone

NAPLES — This will be a 'protected' city but not armoured. Naples is preparing for he Pope's visit on OCtober 21 and the XXI inter-religious encounter for peace using security measures that would normally be used for such occasions.

This was annunced by Mayor Iervolino after a meeting yesterday of the committee for order and public safety to define the security gudelines to be followed starting 6 p.m. on October 19, to 12 noon of October 25, after the 3-day inter-religious meeting ends.

Five days with certain streets closed to traffic and protected routes which, the mayor assured, will not 'penalize' Neapolitans unduly.

"We have agreed on a security system that will assure not only the security of the Pope but of all the other guests to the city," Iervolino said. "It is based in large part on what Rome has been doing, since they deal with such events frequently." This includes teams of sharpshooters stationed at strategic locations overlooking event venues.

The routes to be taken by the Pope himself through the city will be 'completely protected', with police barriers all along the route sarting from 6 p.m. on October 20 until he leaves back for Rome in the early evening of Oct. 21.

However, attendance at the Papal Mass in Piazza Plebiscito on Sunday morning will be limited to 20,000, although more than 100,000 requests for tickets have been received.

The area for the Massgoers has been divided into 16 sectors that will accommodate 7.800 seats, and 10 sectors that can accomodate 13,000 standing.

Giant GTV screens will be placed at strategic places along the routes that the Pope will take.

From Corriere del Mezzogiorno, 5 ottobre 2007


TERESA BENEDETTA
Friday, October 05, 2007 3:42 PM
A 'THIRD' ENCYCLICAL MAY COME OUT BEFORE THE 'SECOND'?

A Vatican correspondent for Il Messaggero has this 'exclusive' story today, translated here:


The next encyclical will be
about hope, against nihilism

By FRANCA GIANSOLDATI


The Pope is completing an encyclical about hope. This will follow his first encyclical Deus caritas est, dedicated entirely to love of God and fellowmen.

And it may come sooner than we think. Before the much written about 'social encyclical'.

Last July at the start of his vacation in the Cadore, the Pope replied with a smile when he was asked about this encyclical, which would deal with the great social issues of the day, particularly globalization and continuing injustices, and would update previous encyclicals like Jiohn Paul II's Centesimus annus and Paul VI's Popolorum progressio.

But no one imagined that the Pope was also working on a third encyclical which would focus on the second theological virtue, hope, the Christian aspiration to supreme happiness which is the Kingdom of God.

Far from being taken for granted, in a time marked by uncertainty and relativism - especially in reference to ultimate truths and eternal life - not all believers share the same unshakable certainty.

In an address to Mexican bishops two years ago, Benedict decried that "in the face of society's changing and complex panorama today, the virtue of hope is severely tried in the community of Christians."

Proclaimed in the Beatitudes of Christ and described by the Apostle Paul int he Letter to the Hebrews as the 'secure and firm' anchor of life which 'penetrates the veil of the sanctuary where Jesus has preceded us', hope is indicated by the Church as the way to go, trusting in the promises of Christ and relying not only on one's own powers but on grace in order to attain to eternal joy.

The Church teaches that just as caritas is a duty for every single person as well as for the entire community, hope cannot be less so, in order to arrive at perfect communion with God.

With the new encyclical, the theologian Pope intends to speak to every Christian and invite hope, to look forward to the future, without fear of death. It would call upon Christians to be witnesses for hope, remaining ever young and not yielding to pessimism, nihilism and human failings.

Int his context, the encyclical on hope would address the current public debates on challenges to humanity, scientific research, bioethics and the defense of life.

Nietzsche said that hope was 'the virtue of the weak' which makes Christians helpless and alienated from worldly progress.

Pope Benedict replies to such nihilism, which he has repeatedly denounced, with this encyclical.

The title of the encyclical will come from its opening words. Now all we can do is wait.

Il Messaggero, 5 ottobre 2007


TERESA BENEDETTA
Friday, October 05, 2007 4:26 PM
THE POPE'S DAY TODAY

The Holy Father met today with

- Christian Wulff, Minister President of Lower Saxony (Germany)
- Cardinal Stephen Fumio Hamao, emeritus President of the Pontifical Council
for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerants
- Mons. Félix del Blanco Prieto, Almoner to His Holiness
- Members of the International Theological Commission. Address in Italian.

A full translation of the Pope's address to the ITC has been posted in HOMILIES, DISCOURSES, MESSAGES.
Here are reports about it
:



Moral relativism
threatens democracy, Pope warns


Vatican, Oct. 5, 2007 (CWNews.com) - By denying the existence of natural law, secularism is undermined the very foundations of democratic society, Pope Benedict XVI argued in an October 5 private audience with members of the International Theological Commission.

Disregard for natural law, the Holy Father said, has caused "a crisis for human, even more than for Christian, civilization." In response to that crisis, he continued, Church leaders should mobilize "both lay people and followers of religions other than Christianity" to reclaim a common moral tradition.

The International Theological Commission had gathered in Rome this week to discuss a forthcoming document on natural law, and the Pope underlined the importance of that topic in his remarks. The natural law, he observed, "makes it clear that the ethical content of Christian faith is not an imposition dictated from outside man's conscience, but a norm that has its basis in human nature itself."

Because it is not a matter of faith, but a form of moral reasoning that is "accessible to all rational creatures," the natural law can form the basis for dialogue in civil society, the Pope observed, and society can reach a consensus on fundamental moral questions.

Once that shared recognition of natural law is withdrawn, the Pontiff warned, there is no means of resolving public debates other than a contest of political strength. Then process of legislation becomes "not the search for good but the search for power, or rather the balance of power."

The problem facing contemporary democracies, the Pope said, is a form of ethical relativism, based on the mistaken notion that "relativism guarantees tolerance and mutual respect."

In fact, the Pontiff said, this relativism has caused a profound crisis in society, so that "the fundamental essentials are at stake: human dignity, human life, the institution of the family and the equity of the social order - in other words the fundamental rights of man." The crisis can only be overcome, he said, by restoring an appreciation for the natural moral law "in conformity with right reason - which is participation in the eternal Reason of God."




Pope: Recognition of ethics
according to natural law
would promote human dignity

By Cindy Wooden
Catholic News Service


VATICAN CITY, Oct. 5 (CNS) -- The foundation of human rights, democracy, and cooperation among peoples and religions is threatened by a growing assumption that there are no ethical absolutes, Pope Benedict XVI said.

Not recognizing that certain ethical and moral principles are naturally part of being human has "enormous and serious consequences on the civil and social order," Pope Benedict said in an Oct. 5 meeting with members of the International Theological Commission.

Commission members, appointed by the Vatican, have been working on a document on the foundations of natural moral law and, specifically, on how those principles form the basis of a "universal ethic" that can be recognized and shared by all peoples of all religions.

"It is not an exclusively or predominantly confessional theme," the pope said, but is one that is important for all people and for their ability to live together in peace and mutual respect.

Pope Benedict said the commission's report is an important part of a project being promoted by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith to encourage universities, associations and individual scholars "to identify useful lines and convergences for a constructive and effective deepening of the doctrine on natural law."

The Catholic Church teaches that natural law, whose basic norms are reflected in the Ten Commandments, is not moral and ethical principles imposed on people by religion but is rights and wrongs that are part of human nature and can be identified by the use of human reason.

Because the principles are "accessible to every rational creature," the pope said, they are a secure basis for dialogue and cooperation among all peoples and for the building of societies in which human dignity and freedom are protected.

Unfortunately, Pope Benedict said, modern societies have lost sight of natural law and too many people are convinced that society or the majority of a society's citizens is "the ultimate source of civil law."

"Then the problem becomes not the search for what is good, but for power or rather the balance of powers," he said.

"At the root of this tendency lies ethical relativism, which some people even see as one of the principal conditions of democracy because relativism would guarantee tolerance and mutual respect," the pope said.

However, Pope Benedict said, history has demonstrated repeatedly that the majority can be wrong and that only reason and openness to perennial moral principles can guarantee a just society.

"When the fundamental needs of the dignity of the human person, human life, the institution of the family and equity in the social order -- that is, basic human rights -- are in play, no man-made law can subvert the norms written by the creator in human hearts without society itself being dramatically attacked in what constitutes its necessary basis," the pope said.

Natural law, he said, is "the true guarantee offered to everyone" so they can live in freedom, have their dignity respected and not be manipulated or exploited by the more powerful.

Pope Benedict said there is a need "to mobilize the consciences of all people of good will," whether or not they are Christians, so that natural law is recognized as the only certain basis for regulating social life.

The pope also congratulated members of the theological commission on their document, "The Hope of Salvation for Infants Who Die Without Being Baptized," which was published in April.

The document, which emphasized the importance of baptism as the ordinary means of salvation, said the traditional concept of limbo -- as a place where unbaptized infants spend eternity in happiness but without communion with God -- seemed to reflect an "unduly restrictive view of salvation."

Pope Benedict told commission members, "I trust that the document may be a useful point of reference for church pastors and theologians, and also a help and source of consolation for faithful whose families have suffered the unexpected death of a baby before it could receive the cleansing of regeneration" brought by sacramental baptism.



POPE UNDERLINES IMPORTANCE
OF NATURAL MORAL LAW


VATICAN CITY, OCT 5, 2007 (VIS) - This morning the Pope received members of the International Theological Commission, who have just completed their annual plenary meeting, held in the Vatican from October 1 to 5 under the presidency of Cardinal William Joseph Levada.

In his remarks to them, the Holy Father recalled the recent publication of a commission document on the subject of "the hope of salvation for children who die without receiving Baptism," and expressed the wish that it may "continue to be a useful point of reference for pastors of the Church and for theologians," as well as providing "assistance and consolation for the faithful who have suffered the sudden death of a child before receiving" the Sacrament.

Turning to focus on "natural moral law," a question being examined by the commission, Benedict XVI indicated that the doctrine on natural law "achieves two essential aims: on the one hand, it makes it clear that the ethical content of Christian faith is not an imposition dictated from outside man's conscience, but a norm that has its basis in human nature itself; and on the other hand, by starting from the basis of natural law - which of itself is accessible to all rational creatures - it lays the foundations for dialogue with all men and women of good will, and with civil society more generally."

The Pope then highlighted the fact that nowadays "the original evidence for the foundations of human beings and of their ethical behavior has been lost, and the doctrine of natural moral law clashes with other concepts which run directly contrary to it. All this has enormous consequences on civil and social order."

What dominates today, he continued, "is a positivist conception of law" according to which "humanity, or society, or in effect the majority of citizens, become the ultimate source for civil legislation. The problem that arises is not, then, the search for good but the search for power, or rather the balance of power. At the root of this tendency is ethical relativism, in which some people even see one of the principal conditions for democracy because, they feel, relativism guarantees tolerance and mutual respect. ... But if this were true, the majority at any given moment would become the ultimate source for law, and history shows with great clarity that majorities can make mistakes."

"When," the Holy Father proceeded, "the fundamental essentials are at stake: human dignity, human life, the institution of the family and the equity of the social order (in other words the fundamental rights of man), no law made by men and women can subvert the norm written by the Creator in man's heart without society itself being dramatically struck ... at its very core. Thus natural law is a true guarantee for everyone to live freely and with respect for their dignity, protected from all ideological manipulation and from all arbitrary abuses of the powerful. No one can disregard this appeal.

"If," he added, "by reason of a tragic clouding of the collective conscience, skepticism and ethical relativism managed to annul the fundamental principles of natural moral law, the very democratic order itself would be profoundly undermined at its foundations. Against such clouding - which is a crisis for human, even more than for Christian, civilization - the consciences of all men and women of good will must be mobilized, both lay people and followers of religions other than Christianity, so that together they may make an effective commitment to creating ... the conditions necessary for a full awareness of the inalienable value of natural moral law."

Benedict XVI concluded by stressing that "the advance of individuals and of society along the path of true progress" depends upon respect for natural moral law, "in conformity with right reason, which is participation in the eternal Reason of God."

loriRMFC
Saturday, October 06, 2007 3:01 AM
RE: Patriarch Alexei II
Thank you for the explanation on properties. I kind of see where Alexei is coming from in regards to that, but that's a tough situation. What does he expect them to do? Its not just as easy as 'just give us back the real estate,' one has to think of the effects on the parishioners, priests and religious sisters. It seems Alexei is willing to 'throw them out on the street' so to speak. I know the argument is that the properties were orginally Orthodox, but one can argue that the Orthodox were orginally Catholic and so the Uniates are just returning home.

The proselytism charge just makes me sigh. I think he's being irrational and that nothing will satisfy him. As if every single Catholic missionary is working to convert non-stop despite the Church teachings against this. The numbers you've noted are helpful and thanks for the link.

Hmm...He is unwilling to do anything in return despite the Vatican gesture, this doesn't bode well for ecumenism. I have to admit, I wasn't aware of the dislike Russians have of Polish till I read the article of the appointment to Moscow. This is not the Christian way. Perhaps Alexei needs to read about Peter's vision in the Acts of the Apostles.

P.S. - Thanks for the article about the Papal Mass site for WYD. Hmm..."visa arrangements for the estimated 140,000 international pilgrims"? Ya, right! There are already 200,000 registered from North America ALONE.


====================================================================

We must all be grateful to the Patriarch that he is so impassioned about a common Christian stand in Europe against secularism and all its ills, but I think he is too full of his own agenda when it comes to moving towards Christian unity. Here's another item to add to my "How many ways can he say NO?' series:



No planning yet for Catholic-Orthodox summit

Paris, Oct. 5, 2007 (CWNews.com) - Planning for a "summit meeting" between Pope Benedict XVI and Patriarch Alexei would be premature unless disputes between the Rome and Moscow are resolved, according to the top ecumenical official of the Russian Orthodox Church.

Metropolitan Kirill of Smolensk told reporters that no plans have been made for a meeting between the Pope and the Patriarch, although both Orthodox and Catholic leaders hope that such an encounter will soon take place.

Metropolitan Kirill said that the Moscow patriarchate hopes to resolve key differences with the Vatican before going forward with plans for a summit.

The Russian Orthodox Church has regularly complained about Catholic "proselytism" in Eastern Europe, and the activities of Eastern-rite Catholic communities. These issues should be resolved, the Moscow patriarchate argues, before Patriarch Alexei meets Pope Benedict.

Regarding where such a meeting would eventually take place, the Russian prelate declined to be specific. "Church leaders should meet in a place where both would feel at home," he told reporters in Paris, where he is accompanying Patriarch Alexei on a visit to France.


And to round it off, the view from the head of the French bishops conference, who invited Alexei to France:


Cardinal Ricard says Pope-Patriarch
meeting would be a 'good start'



PARIS, OCT. 5, 2007 (Zenit.org).- A meeting between Benedict XVI and Orthodox Patriarch Alexy II would be a starting point, not a final goal, said Cardinal Jean-Pierre Ricard when he welcomed the Russian patriarch to Paris.

The archbishop of Bordeaux and president of the French bishops' conference made these remarks Wednesday in welcoming Alexy II, Orthodox patriarch of Moscow and all Russia, and his delegation to the see of the episcopal conference.

Cardinal Ricard said: "You know that the hope and desire lives in the heart of many Catholics for a future meeting, at the appropriate time, between Your Holiness and His Holiness Benedict XVI.

"If that occurred, it would not be a point of arrival after a long process of clarifications -- even if some points must, in fact, be dealt with beforehand -- but rather, a point of departure for a long journey to be taken together in God's service and in the service of all mankind, loved by God.

"May your trip to France contribute to the promotion of this dynamic of brotherhood. We are ready to work with you. May the Lord bless us all, and give us his light and the strength of his Spirit."

Before leaving for Paris, in an interview with the French weekly La Vie, Patriarch Alexy II said that "the question of a papal visit to Russia is not part of this trip's plans. Despite this, the possibility of a meeting with the Pope of Rome has never been refused, even in difficult periods."

"We have always thought that the meeting between the leaders of the two great Christian churches must be accompanied by a real progress in our relations and not be merely a one-time gesture and a media event," he added.

In his welcoming speech, Cardinal Ricard underlined the common task of witness shared by Catholics and Orthodox, the "transcendent and sacred dimension of each human person, the importance of solidarity and the universal destination of goods."

Speaking about Europe, the French cardinal said: "In the recent European Ecumenical Assembly in Sibiu, the Christian churches recalled the responsibilities that Christians have in the construction of Europe.

"We cannot desert this place of construction and at a time of struggle. There is a reason to speak of Europe's Christian roots, but talking about it only in historical terms or patrimonial terms, referring to the past, is not enough - even though it is important.

"It is important to show through the efforts of all Christians and all churches that these roots, today, are a source of life and can bear much fruit."

PapaBear16
Saturday, October 06, 2007 4:47 AM
Re Caholic-Orthodox Relations
I guess more than a 1,000 years of trying to "dance" with each other has brought us to this point. It seems just when others see a snip of light in bringing Pope and Patriarch together, Moscow seems to feel a need to re-state their non-negotiables in order to even think about a meeting.

In a way, Alexy II seems to have danced into a corner, where in order to "save face" some concessions must be made.

As far as the "properties" issue, I can relate to that well, since in Hawaii, Hawaiian rights activists insist on the return of certain lands seized by the U.S. Government in the days of our monarchy. Some of these "ceded" lands have been actually returned, but to a Hawaiian Home Lands organization for their use in building or to sell. In fact, my parish church is sitting next to a former Federally-owned piece of land that was part of that acquisition and was returned by former Interior Secretary Bruce Babbit.

As to what happened to the users of that land? It was a Navy Laundry and the facility was closed down.

Very tricky questtons, those, especially as regards real estate.

=====================================================================

PapaBear - What an interesting analogy! Unfortunately, most exercises in trying to redress historical anomalies centuries later are always tricky.

Look at the 'formula' arrived at by the Italian State and the Vatican to make up for all the lands and properties confiscated by Italy during Italian unification in the 1860s.

Because a monetary value cannot be placed on much of these properties (the bulk of all works of art now held in Italian museums was Church property), they devised the '0.008 solution' as 'just compensation', whereby the Church in Italy (not the Vatican) would be entitled to 0.008 percent of annual tax revenues. (I have no idea how they arrived at the formula.) The fact that the beneficiary of the compensation is the Church in Italy, not the Vatican, obviously made it politically palatable, since the revenue share would be spent mostly in Italy (to pay the clergy and the bulk of parish expenses), with a certain percentage going to charities and other needy dioceses outside Italy. The Italian bishops conference meticulously renders a detailed annual report of how it has spent this revenue share.

The secularists in Italy keep questioning this arrangement - as though the Church were thereby robbing the state of something - without ever referring to the historical reason for it. This has been the subject of a new ongoing debate in the past two weeks between the leftist, virulently anti-Church La Repubblica - which started it, with an unbelievably erroneous editorial claiming the 0.008 revenue share went to the Vatican, and hasn't corrected itself - and Avvenire.

Repubblica also questions supposed tax privileges enjoyed by the Catholic Church - which receives exactly the same tax exemptions guaranteed by the Italian Constitution to all religious organizations for non-profit activities, no more, no less.

I think this is one issue about which the Italian bishops need to write a memorandum to be posted in every parish bulletin board that explains the situation in the simplest terms that will at the same time clear up the blatant distortions and lies apread by anti-Church secular elements.


TERESA



TERESA BENEDETTA
Saturday, October 06, 2007 4:54 PM
Pope to Join In a World Day Against Poverty


VATICAN CITY, OCT. 5, 2007 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI will participate in the World Day to Overcome Extreme Poverty on the 20th anniversary of its foundation.

The world day was begun Oct. 17, 1987, by Father Joseph Wresinski (1917-1988), founder of the ATD Fourth World movement. The Polish priest's motto was "Wherever men and women are condemned to live in poverty, human rights are violated. To come together to ensure that these rights be respected is our solemn duty."

The initiative was taken up by the United Nations in 1992.

To help spread Father Wresinski's message, various initiatives have been organized in Rome.

Wednesday, Oct. 17, during the weekly general audience, the Holy Father will mention his participation in the day.

The official celebration will take place that same day at the Basilica of St. John Lateran.

On Sunday, Oct. 14, Mass will be celebrated in the Basilica of St. John Lateran by Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, secretary for relations with states of the Vatican Secretariat of State.

It is possible to sign the Declaration of Solidarity online (www.oct17.org/Charter-of-the-World-Day-to.html). The declaration will be delivered to the secretary-general of the United Nations on Oct. 17.

TERESA BENEDETTA
Saturday, October 06, 2007 6:55 PM
Avvenire has a mini-special in today's issue on the
doctrine of natural law which the Holy Father spoke about
to the International Theological Comission yesterday.
To be translated.

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The headline reads:
'Natural law defends man
from the whims of power'

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I must note that Avvenire has now installed new software that enables one to see the entire issue
page by page on PDF, and to pick out any item or picture to see in detail and copy. I hope
Osservatore Romano under its new editors will see fit to do something similar.



TERESA BENEDETTA
Sunday, October 07, 2007 4:06 AM
THE POPE'S DAY, 10/06/07
The Holy Father met today with:

- The National Ski Team of Austria. Address in German.
[IMG]http://img70.imageshack.us/img70/6328/or419429115546a0ct7.jpg[/IMG]

- H.E. Vladimir Korolev, Ambassador of Belarus, in a farewell call

- Cardinal William Joseph Levada, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith

In the afternoon:
- Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, Prefect of the Congregation for Bishops

====================================================================

The VIS reports for the day:


SPORT MUST NOT BE REDUCED
TO A MERE SEARCH FOR RESULTS


VATICAN CITY, OCT 6, 2007 (VIS) - This morning in the Vatican, Benedict XVI received members of the Austrian alpine ski team.

Speaking German, the Holy Father told them that "when sport is practiced in the right spirit, and with respect for dignity, it helps to promote the development of the person.

"Sport," he added, "helps man to consider his own capacities as a talent and his life as a gift of God. Even when sport is practiced at high levels, it is important to maintain an inner harmony between body and spirit in order not to reduce it to a mere search for results."

The Pope then went on to enumerate a series of virtues "which must always characterize sporting activity: tenacity, a spirit of sacrifice, interior and exterior discipline, ... as well as a sense of justice, awareness of one's own limits and a respect for others. All virtues," he said, "for which you must train yourselves in daily life."

On the subject of sports men and women as a model for the young, Benedict XVI pointed out how, "in a period marked by a loss of values and a lack of orientation, athletes can provide powerful motivations to work in favor of good in the various areas of life, from the family to the workplace."


DEFEND THE FULL EXERCISE
OF THE RIGHT TO RELIGIOUS FREEDOM


VATICAN CITY, OCT 6, 2007 (VIS) - Made public today was the text of a talk delivered yesterday by Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, secretary for Relations with States, before the 62nd session of the U.N. General Assembly which is meeting to consider the question: "High-level Dialogue on Inter-religious and Inter-cultural Understanding and Cooperation for Peace."

In his English-language address, Archbishop Mamberti made it clear that "there cannot be peace without understanding and cooperation among religions. There cannot be understanding and cooperation among religions without religious liberty. The safeguarding and promotion of religious liberty for all requires both State action and religious responsibility."

"The full exercise of the right to religious freedom," he went on, "ensures openness to transcendence as an indispensable guarantee of human dignity; it allows all religions to manifest their own identity publicly, free from any pressure to hide or disguise it. Religious freedom includes the right to disseminate one's own faith and the right to change it. Respect for religious liberty would unmask the pretense of some terrorists to justify their unjustifiable actions on religious grounds."

"Fruitful high-level international gatherings of religious leaders aimed at praying for and promoting peace should be replicated at national and local levels. Indeed, prayer and good intentions are authentic only if they translate into practical gestures at all levels."

The secretary for Relations with States concluded by highlighting the fact that "religious communities can also make a positive contribution to peace by educating their own members in ... peace and solidarity."


WELCOMING REFUGEES:
A VITAL GESTURE OF HUMAN SOLIDARITY


VATICAN CITY, OCT 6, 2007 (VIS) - Archbishop Silvano M. Tomasi C.S., Holy See permanent observer to the Office of the United Nations and Specialized Institutions in Geneva, delivered a talk on October 2 during the 58th session of the executive committee of the U.N. High Commission for Refugees.

Speaking English, Archbishop Tomasi expressed regret that "the number of refugees has increased again to some ten million persons, and internally displaced people to well over 24 million. The statistical trend shows that uprooting people from their homes is a major injustice caused by persisting conflicts that trigger this dehumanizing condition.

"Other forms of violence," he added, "force people to leave their homes and native countries: these include extreme misery, environment degradation, religious intolerance and persecution, lack of freedom, lack of respect for advocacy activity on behalf of human rights. Millions of normal, ordinary human beings are thrust into situations of incredible humiliation and suffering."

"Public opinion tends to accept almost as normal the fact that millions of fellow human beings are so uprooted and relegated to miserable and painful conditions," the archbishop observed." But welcoming refugees and giving them hospitality is, for every one, a vital gesture of human solidarity in order to help them feel less isolated by intolerance and disinterest."

"In conclusion, addressing the problem of uprooted people from their own perspective, and that of their dignity and rights, will lead the international community to search for more comprehensive and humane solutions and to find the motivation for undertaking bold steps for their implementation."
TERESA BENEDETTA
Sunday, October 07, 2007 2:03 PM
ANGELUS TODAY

A translation of the Pope's full message at Angelus today has been posted in AUDIENCE AND ANGELUS TEXTS.

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Pope speaks on the Rosary
and the mission for peace



Vatican City, Oct. 7 (AsiaNews) – By praying the Rosary and supporting the work of priest, religious and lay people on “the missionary frontiers” we can contribute to “peace in families, nations and the entire world”, Pope Benedict XVI told pilgrims today before the Angelus prayers which he led from his study window at the Apostolic Palace.

On this day, the Church celebrates the feast of Our Lady of the Rosary. At the same time, he also recalled that the month of October is dedicated to the missions, culminating in the World Day for Missionaries on October 21.

“The traditional image of Our Lady of the Rosary," said the Pontiff, "is of Mary who holds the Baby Jesus in one arm, and with the other, holds out the rosary to St Dominic. This significant iconography shows that the Rosary is a means offered by the Virgin to contemplate Jesus and by meditating on his life, to love him and follow him more faithfully”.

[IMG]http://img516.imageshack.us/img516/963/madonnadelrosario1382deze8.jpg[/IMG]

The feast of the Rosary was inaugurated by Pius V in 1575 to celebrate the victory of Lepanto over the Turkish fleets which were threatening Europe. Since then the Rosary has become perhaps the most widespread Marian prayer in the world.

The Pope recalled that the Virgin Mary has left the message of the Rosary in all of her various apparitions.

"I think particularly of those in Fatima 90 years ago. To those three small shepherd children, Lucia, Jacinta and Francisco, she presented herself as 'The Lady of the Rosary' and recommended praying the Rosary to help end the (first world) war," adding that "We too take on the Virgin's request to bring peace to families, nations and the entire world”.

The commitment to peace also characterises missionary work, the Pope said, because “true peace is spread there where men and institutions open themselves to the Gospel”.

“Announcing the Gospel remains the most important aspect of the Churches work, offering Christ’s salvation to the people of today, oppressed and humiliated in so many different ways, in order to orient, in a Christian sense, the cultural, social and ethical transformations taking place in the world”.

This year is also the 50th anniversary of the encyclical Fidei Donum by Pius XII, through which the Pope exhorted priests and religious in the developed world to help out the Churches in Africa and Latin America which lack priests.

The pope also remembered one of the great Italian missionary founders, St. Daniel Comboni, who was a missionary in Sudan and whose feast day is celebrated October 10th.


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MAINTAINING THE MISSIONARY SPIRIT

VATICAN CITY, OCT 7, 2007 (VIS) - Shortly before midday today, Benedict XVI appeared at the window of his study to pray the Angelus with pilgrims gathered in St. Peter's Square. Prior to the Marian prayer, the Pope spoke of today's Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary, and of missions to which this month of October is dedicated.

"The Rosary," said the Holy Father, "is a means granted by the Virgin to contemplate Jesus and, by meditating upon His life, to love Him and follow Him ever more faithfully." He also recalled how Mary in her various apparitions, and especially in that of Fatima, had "insistently recommended the daily recitation of the Rosary in order to obtain an end to war.

"We too," he added, "wish to accept the Virgin's maternal request, committing ourselves to the faithful recitation of the Rosary for peace in families, nations and the entire world. Yet we know that true peace is established where people and institutions open themselves to the Gospel, and the month of October helps us to recall this fundamental truth through [its] particular concern for maintaining the missionary spirit alive in all communities, and for supporting the efforts of those people ... who work on the frontiers of the Church's mission."

The Pope recalled how the theme of this year's World Mission Day - to be celebrated on October 21 - is "all the Churches for all the world." He also highlighted the fact that "announcing the Gospel remains the Church's principal service to humanity, so as to offer the salvation of Christ to the men and women of our time, who suffer so many forms of humiliation and oppression, and to give a Christian orientation to the cultural, social and ethical changes that are taking place in the world.

"This year," he added, "there is another reason that encourages us to renewed missionary commitment: the 50th anniversary of Servant of God Pius XII's Encyclical 'Fidei donum' which promoted and encouraged cooperation between Churches for the 'ad gentes' mission."

Pope Benedict also recalled the 150th anniversary of the arrival in Sudan with five priests and a layman of St. Daniel Comboni, "the future bishop of Central Africa, and patron saint of those people."


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TERESA BENEDETTA
Monday, October 08, 2007 4:14 PM
THE POPE'S DAY - 10/08/07

The Holy Father today met with
- Mons. Angelo Bagnasco, Archbishop of Genoa
and president of the Italian bishops conference
- Brazilian bishops led by Mons. Geraldo Lyrio Rocha,
Archbishop of Mariana and president of
the Brazilian bishops conference.
- A delegation from the World Jewish Congress
led by Ronald Lauder, president.
- Former Italian Senate President Marcello Pera.
- Clerical Chapter of St. Peter's Basilica led by
Archbishop Angelo Comastri, Arch-Priest.
Address in Italian.


World Jewish Congress chief
meets with Pope Benedict XVI


[IMG]http://img228.imageshack.us/img228/11/r392658778858564cbur6.jpg[/IMG]
The Pope receives a gift from WJC president.

VATICAN CITY, Oct. 8 (AP) - Top officials from the World Jewish Congress met Monday with Pope Benedict XVI to stress their desire to continue Jewish-Catholic collaboration, despite recent internal feuding within the group.

WJC President Ronald Lauder and the group's new secretary general, Michael Schneider, met with Benedict and the Vatican's official in charge of relations with Jews, Cardinal Walter Kasper.

Schneider acknowledged at a dinner Sunday attended by Kasper and several Vatican cardinals that relations with the Vatican had been "unfortunately put in abeyance" because of a management shakeup at the Jewish organization.

But he said the group wanted "to continue the long relationship between us and the Roman Catholic Church," now that a new leadership was in place.

The congress, one of the most prominent Jewish organizations, has been beset by a series of problems that culminated in May with the unexpected resignation of then-President Edgar M. Bronfman Sr.

Bronfman had fired his longtime deputy, Rabbi Israel Singer, after a 2006 report by the New York attorney general concluded that Singer improperly used WJC funds for personal use. No criminal charges were filed.

Lauder, the son of cosmetics magnate Estee Lauder and a former U.S. ambassador to Austria, was named president in June. Schneider was appointed to his post two weeks ago.

In his remarks Sunday night, Schneider said the WJC was greatly concerned about a rise in neo-Nazi groups and anti-Semitic sentiments, and urged Catholic bishops around the world to join Jewish groups in a "clear condemnation" of racism and anti-Semitism.

He also cited the threat from Iran and the need to build "tripartite bridges of understanding" with moderate Muslims. The WJC previously has proposed that the Vatican expand its Catholic-Jewish dialogue to include moderate Muslims.

Officials said the group also planned to ask for clarification on Benedict's decision to remove restrictions on celebrating the traditional Latin Mass, which includes a Good Friday prayer that is offensive to Jews.

Founded in 1936, the World Jewish Congress is known for its campaign to win restitution from Swiss banks holding the assets of Holocaust victims, fighting anti-Semitism and lobbying to allow the Jews of the Soviet Union to emigrate.


AFP posted a more focused story later:

Pope cites Iran in vow
to curb anti-Semitism



VATICAN CITY, Oct. 8 (AFP - Pope Benedict XVI on Monday targetted Iran as he vowed to help fight anti-Semitism, a top official of the World Jewish Congress said following an audience with the pontiff.

‘We thanked the Holy Father for everything he did for the Jewish people, and more importantly what he will do,’ WJC vice secretary general Maram Stern told AFP.

The pope ‘recognised the question of Iran as an issue of big concern for him,’ Stern said, adding that Benedict pledged ‘to find how the message can be made, through education, to avoid the hatred of the Iranian leadership towards the Jews and Israel.

‘He expressed his concern over the rise in anti-Semitism. The Holy Father said he was very aware of it (and wants to) find a way to make it less prominent through education,’ Stern said.

The pontiff said ‘cooperation between the Jewish people and the Church is a matter that is close to his heart,’ Stern said, describing the meeting as ‘interesting and cordial.’

New WJC President Ronald Lauder, who headed the delegation, said that the pope had agreed in principle to host a ‘joint event’ with him when Benedict visits New York next year.

WJC Secretary General Michael Schneider was also present at the audience.

Iran’s government vehemently denies charges of anti-Semitism, pointing to the peaceful existence in Iran of a 20,000-strong Jewish community, the largest in the Middle East outside Israel.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad provoked an international outcry shortly after his election in 2005 when he called for Israel to be ‘wiped from the map’ and also described the Holocaust as a ‘myth’.

He has since toned down his rhetoric but last week he reaffirmed his deeply controversial questioning of the mass slaughter of Jews in World War II and his suggestion that Israel could be moved to arctic North America.


10/9/07 P.S. AFP revised the above story with a new lead today:

Pope urged to curb radio host

Vatican City, Oct. 9 (AFP) - The World Jewish Congress urged Pope Benedict XVI to crack down on a Polish priest accused of broadcasting anti-Semitic views on his radio station.

“Anti-Semitic statements by the Polish priest Tadeusz Rydzyj... should not be tolerated any more,” the WJC’s new president, Ronald Lauder, told the pope during an audience, the group said in a statement.

“He called on the pontiff to take action against those in the Church who wanted to do damage to the close and positive relationship between Christians and Jews,” the statement said.

Benedict met in August with Rydzyk, the controversial director of Radio Maryja whom he had reprimanded last year. [The drill once again: Rydzyk was in a group of Polish priests and pilgrims who were allowed to make a courtesy call on the Pope after Angelus that day. The contact between the two probably lasted no more than a few seconds.]

In response to expressions of alarm over the meeting by Jewish groups, the Vatican issued an unusual clarification, saying it “implies no change in the well-known position of the Holy See on relations between Catholics and Jews.”

Last year, Rydzyk fell foul of the Vatican over what were considered anti-Semitic broadcasts. Rome ordered Poland’s bishops to set up a watchdog body for the radio, but it apparently has had little impact and the Church has faced criticism for failing to bring Rydzyk under control.

During yesterday’s audience the pope also “recognised the question of Iran as an issue of big concern for him,” WJC vice secretary general Maram Stern, part of the delegation along with secretary general Michael Schneider, told AFP. [Subsequent paragraphs are from the first AFP story, but take note of the last paragraph.]

Lauder said the pope had agreed in principle to host a “joint event” with him when Benedict visits New York next year.


===================================================================

VATICAN BASILICA:
A PLACE OF PRAYER AND ADORATION


VATICAN CITY, OCT 8, 2007 (VIS) - At midday today, the Pope received Archbishop Angelo Comastri, archpriest of St. Peter's Basilica, accompanied by the vicar, canons and coadjutors.

The Holy Father recalled how the chapter of the papal basilica of St. Peter's dates back to 1053, "when Pope Leo IX confirmed on the archpriest and canons of St. Peter's, who had taken up residence in the monastery of Santo Stefano Maggiore, the possessions and privileges granted by his predecessors."

"Under the guidance of the archpriest," said the Pope, "the activity of the Vatican chapter has, since its very origins, been directed towards various fields of activity," liturgical, administrative, pastoral, charitable. "From the 11th century until today 11 Popes have been part of the Vatican chapter, and among them I particularly wish to recall those of the 20th century, Pius XI and Pius XII."

Benedict XVI then went on to tell his listeners of the "particular nature of the Vatican chapter, and the contribution the Pope expects from you: to recall with your prayerful presence at the tomb of Peter that nothing must be put before God; that the Church is entirely oriented towards Him, towards His glory; that the primacy of Peter is at the service of the unity of the Church, and that this unity is in its turn, at the service of the salvific plans of the Most Holy Trinity."

"I put great trust in you and in your ministry, that St. Peter's Basilica may be a true place of prayer, adoration and praise for the Lord. In this sacred place, where every day thousands of pilgrims and tourists arrive from all over the world, more than elsewhere it is necessary that ... there should be a stable community of prayer guaranteeing a continuity with tradition and, at the same time, interceding for the intentions of the Pope in the Church and the world today."


TERESA BENEDETTA
Monday, October 08, 2007 5:01 PM
THE POPE'S MESSAGES RARELY REACH THE GENERAL PUBLIC
...OR THE CATHOLIC CLERGY FOR THAT MATTER


Sandro Magister addresses something we have often taken note of - how the MSM ignore the non-topical content of the Pope's liturgy-related homilies and messages. His homilies, audience and Angelus texts are only reported by the MSM if he happens to say something topical or related to political and social issues.

Translation note: In the article's title, Magister's translator uses the word 'secret' to translate the Italian word 'sconosciuto', which means literally 'unknown'. In the context in which it is used, I would have translated it as 'little-known', since the messages are not completely 'unknown' or even 'hidden from view' or kept secret. They simply have not been reported enough.



The Secret Angelus Messages of Pope Benedict

They're secret in the sense that the media ignore them for what they mainly are: the explanation of the Gospel of that day's Mass. Apart from those present, almost no one knows this. Here is a sample of them: the last seven "little homilies" from the pope on Sundays at noon

by Sandro Magister



ROMA, October 8, 2007 – The words that Benedict XVI speaks every Sunday at midday, before and after the Angelus (or the Regina Coeli during the Easter season) – are among those most closely followed by the media.

But the media almost always reproduce only those words of the pope that pertain to situations or events in the news, especially when these are political.

For example, on Sunday, September 30, it was Burma, the two Koreas, and sub-Saharan Africa. The Sunday before that, it was his views on capitalism and the "logic of profit." And the Sunday before that, the Montreal protocol on the hole in the ozone layer.

What the media say and write gives listeners and readers the impression that the pope dedicates his entire message to the topic cited.

But that's not the case. It is almost always during the greetings in various languages, which he extends to the faithful after the praying of the Angelus, that Benedict XVI dedicates to current issues just a few brief remarks that are then emphasized by the media.

The real and proper message comes before the prayer. And it is – with rare exceptions – a brief homily on the Gospel and the other readings of that day's Mass.

This little homily is most of what is heard by the great numbers of faithful who come to each Sunday noontime encounter with the pope, at Saint Peter's Square in Rome and at Castel Gandolfo in the summer.

These are texts unmistakably conceived and written by pope Joseph Ratzinger. In some cases, it is easy to note similarities with his book Jesus of Nazareth, in the places where he discusses the same passage from the Gospel.

As in the Wednesday catecheses Benedict XVI is gradually recounting the life of the Church from the Apostles to the Fathers, so in the Sunday Angelus he is presenting to the faithful the figure of Jesus.

But there's more. The path that the pope takes to get to Jesus each week is the same one that every member of the Catholic faithful travels in participating at Mass that same Sunday.

This is clearly a deliberate decision, and one typical of this pope's vision. The Gospel upon which Benedict XVI comments at the Angelus is not "sola Scriptura," it is not a bare book. It is the Word that becomes flesh – the body and blood of Jesus – in the liturgy of the day.

In order to raise to acceptable levels the average quality of the millions of homilies pronounced every Sunday all over the world, Catholic priests could do no better than to enroll themselves in the school of Benedict XVI's Angelus addresses.

[He follows with a translation of the last 7 Angelus messages that contained mini-homilies. We have all these Angelus messages in the AUDIENCE AND ANGELUS TEXTS THREAD, but since he has assembled these seven homilies together, I have posted them as a separate post in that thread .
freeforumzone.leonardo.it/discussione.aspx?idd=354486&p=16

=====================================================================

This is a problem that the multiple and perhaps overlapping elements of the Vatican communications system has failed to address despite - or perhaps because of - 26 years of a super-mediatic Pope.

Vatican media authorities probably assumed during those 26 years that they did not need to do anything to 'improve' their communications effort because John Paul II was bound to attract media coverage one way or the other.

True, but the media chose which angle to report, and almost always, it was the 'charismatic' aspects of any Papal event rather than his words that were given emphasis. And his message came across to the general public in a filtered way, almost skewed - the media reporting only what they saw fit to report about it, as they do with Benedict now.

It still would be interesting to find out what system, if any, the vast and overlapping communications channels of the Vatican have, to reach individual parishes around the world. Once before, on this topic, I had remarked that if the Vatican press office were prompt about their translations into the major languages, they would do well to e-mail these right away to individual parishes and the various bishoprics around the world, for very obvious reasons.

The bishops and priests could do worse than read directly and promptly what the Pope has to say about the mission of the Church and the Word of God, and it would provide them an example for what they must say and do as bishops, as well as an initiative to post these messages on their parish bulletin boards or even print them for distribution.

Surely, the Secretariat of State, through the Apostolic Nuncios, could mobilize a crash job to compile e-mail addresses for local dioceses, parishes and seminaries, and get the communications system to use these addresses in the best way possible - to communicate the word of the Vicar of Christ on a regular basis.

Imagine how gratifying it would be for any parish priest to know that twice a week, at least, he can be sure of getting a copy of the Holy Father's words at the general audience and at Angelus. Then, there are his Mass homilies, and the transcripts of Q&As that he has with priests, specific messages he addresses directly to bishops and priests during his addresses to visiting bishops. What he has said in the past 25 months about the duties of priests and bishops, as well as their problems is a virtual handbook for priests.


TERESA BENEDETTA
Monday, October 08, 2007 6:18 PM
ANOTHER BOOK ON THE REGENSBURG LECTURE
FOCUSES ON HOW THE ITALIAN MSM REPORTED
THE LECTURE ITSELF AND THE CONTROVERSY THAT FOLLOWED


I would probably have posted this article from PETRUS in POPE-POURRI, except that it is the first formal analysis of the media coverage given to that seminal event. The study is limited to 7 Italian newspapers, ranging from the Catholic bishops' Avvenire to the Italian Communist Party's Manifesto- and the political spectrum between those two extremes.

I think it is safe to assume that the analysis would reflect the biases that govern media coverage anywhere in the world, depending on the newspaper's ideological agenda.

Here is a translation:




[IMG]http://img210.imageshack.us/img210/5341/assandri5c22633fz9.jpg[/IMG]
'Quando le parole sono rumore'
[When words are rumors]
Fabrizio Assandri
Published by Scoop Edizioni



VATICAN CITY - More than one year since Pope Benedict XVI's lectio magistralis on faith and reason at the University of Regensburg - which roused unfounded protests in the Muslim world - this book by Fabrizio Assandri analyzes its reverberations in the Italian newspapers.

[The book title has a double sense, because in Italian, 'rumore' means both 'rumor' as well as 'noise'.]

Assandri, a 23-year-old Turin-based journalist with Avvenire, looked at the news reports and commentaries published in Avvenire, Il Secolo d'Italia, Il Giornale, Corriere della Sera, La Stampa, La Repubblica, and Il Manifesto.

Assandri analyzed the reportage on the basis of choice of headlines and pictures, position of the item in the newspaper, the use of direct quotations, and citations from press releases, interviews and other articles of commentary.

It is no surprise that he found, in general, a tendency to sensationalism and extremization, which are typical of contemporary journalism.

Nor that the newspapers 'spun' the contents of the Papal text according to their individual political and ideological agenda, arriving at a polarizing presentation of what the Pope said, manipulated starting from the choice of headline.

And the manipulation does not end there. What may be most interesting to those who are not working in media themselves is that the biases are not simply reflected in what the articles say, but that the manipulation is effected - subliminally or very obviously - in the way the articles are presented.

Along with the choice of headline, the choice of accompanying pictures, the page and section on which the article appears, and its placement in the page, are not simply for graphic or esthetic reasons. Rather, they represent an editorial pre-judgment of facts, which affects not just the presentation of the article, but also what facts to include or to omit, depending on how compatible these are with the newspaper's agenda.

Assandri's work is useful not only to reflect on the increasing importance, relevance and responsibility of the mass media in shaping the public discourse - including the way 'religious' news is reported - in a time of 'the clash of cultures'.

It is also useful ass a reminder to the individual consumer of information not to be a passive recipient but to be critical and attentive.

Often, instead of helping the public to understand an issue better, the media contribute to the confusion by reporting unfounded rumors, thereby further preventing the reader from a truer acquaintance with the facts.

At the same time, the analysis highlights the responsibility of the Church and those who speak for it to properly take on the challenge of communications.

Monsignor Vincenzo Paglia, Bishop of Terni, wrote the preface for the book, with an introduction by Mimmo Candito, who writes for La Stampa, and an epilog by Natale Spineto, professor of the history of religions at the University of Turin.

Assandri also writes for Turin's archdiocesan newspaper La Voce del Popolo, and writes a column for the monthly What's Up (in Italy). In 2006, he edited and published, also through Scoop publishers, Link@to a Dio, a collection of letters written by the faithful to John Paul II.


TERESA BENEDETTA
Monday, October 08, 2007 6:36 PM
BENEDICT WILL VISIT MARIAN SHRINE IN POMPEII
...BUT NO DATE HAS BEEN SET YET


Another item from PETRUS, translated:

[IMG]http://img210.imageshack.us/img210/5172/samnta5f7f895pz8.jpg[/IMG][IMG]http://img49.imageshack.us/img49/7872/rosariopompeirid212b748fm6.jpg[/IMG]
The Basilica of Our Lady of Pompeii, and image of Our Lady of Pompeii


The Holy Father has promised to visit the Shrine of our Lady of the Rosary in Pompeii but no date has been set, contrary to an item published in a regional newspaper.

A statement from the Pontifical Legation to Pompeii (equivalent of a Diocesan seat, as in Loreto and in some churches of Assisi) clarified that "The Archbishop-Prelate and Pontifical Legate to Pompeii, Mons. Carlo Liberati, addressed the crowd that heard Mass yesterday at the Basilica and the Piazza and told them that when he met the Holy Father on an ad limina visit last January, the Holy Fahter promised that he would visit the shrine in Pompeii."

No date has been set. The Mass yesterday, on the Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary, was presided over by Archbishop Fernando Filoni, deputy Vatican Secretary of State for internal affairs.

[Pompeii is a short drive away from Naples, but because it is a major Marian shrine in its own right, it merits a separate visit rather than just a side trip from Naples. Pope John Paul II visited Pompeii in 2003. Information about the shrine can be read in yesterday's THE SAINTS... post #9616) about the Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary] on
freeforumzone.leonardo.it/discussione.aspx?idd=354952&p=11


TERESA BENEDETTA
Monday, October 08, 2007 10:44 PM
IF ONLY THE WHOLE CHURCH FOLLOWED THE POPE
AND TALKED MORE ABOUT GOD
By Mons. Tommaso Stenico

Serendipitously, this reflection by Mons. Tomasso Stenico in PETRUS develops in a more specific way the theme of the Pope's speaking to the clergy that I referred to in my comments on Sandro Magister's post above.

Not surprisingly, because Mons. Stenico has appropriately appreciated the Pope's discourses addressed specifically to his brother priests and bishops, enough to publish two volumes so far of these discourses, entitled CARI SACERDOTI (Dear priests) - one covering the period April 2005 to the end of 2006, and the second one, which came out last August, covering 2006 to the Pope's Q&A with the clergy of Belluno and Treviso in the Cadore last July.

In this reflection, translated here, he describes his own personal reaction to Pope Benedict's teachings:



VATICAN CITY - I don't hide it. I am fascinated by the Magisterium of Benedict XVI. The Pope's ministry of the Word is followed word for word, from beginning to end, by his audiences, with an attention that amazes the experts. [Too bad this physically present audience is not now amplified aggressively by the Vatican by a more focused and systematic use of the vast communications resources it now has to take advantage of the instant global reach made possible by today's technology.]

All you have to do is be among the congregation that participates during a Mass celebrated by the Pope. His style is always moderate, but in touch with his congregation. And its symbolic expressivity comes totally from the liturgy, which he celebrates with great authority.

Beyond the masses and the catecheses, Benedict XVI always projects humility.

"The Pope should not proclaim his own ideas but he must always link himself to the Church in obedience to the Word of God," he said when he took possession of the Basilica of St. John Lateran in May 2005. He has kept to this criterion even in his public actions.

He wants the faithful to focus on the essential, not his person, but Jesus Christ who is living and present in the Sacraments of the Church.

Personally, I felt myself touched anew in my heart and mind by his poetic invocation during the liturgy of consecrating new bishops last Sept. 29, inviting them to be "angels of their Church to talk to men about God, to orient them towards God."

One can easily conclude from a rapid bird's-eye's view of the two-plus years of this beloved Pope's magisterium that he has done nothing but speak to men about God.

Inasmuch as when you are in the grip of something, you follow it through seriously, this led me to meditating, asking myself, among other things, why is there very little talking about God in the Church today? Talking about God to men, as the Pope does?

It may sound paradoxical, but I think it is the fundamental problem of the Church at the start of the third millennium. To reduce it to a slogan, which may be too harsh, one might say the Church has stopped talking about God, and because of that, it has become less interesting to many.

Of course, it defends human rights, life and death in accordance with God's plan, human dignity, but has not learned - and this is the tragic problem for evangelization and catechetical efforts - to find its place in a world which is more and more indifferent to the God which the Church has the mission to proclaim.

The non-confessional ['confession' used here in the sense of professing a religious faith] society promoted by the majority of European governments today has deliberately placed the Church out of play, so that now the Church seems to be striving mightily to recover the space which it, until not too long ago, it was acknowledged to have.

This situation has forced the Church to adopt a strategy that straddles between defending itself against secular attack and demonstrating how its practices differ from secular practice.

It has not been wrong in opposing civilian legislation which undermines ethics and morals in a catastrophic way. It is right to denounce the new and old forms of poverty. It is laudable that it concerns itself with the welfare of immigrants. That it expresses itself on DICO, on heterologous reproduction, on migrant waves....

But I would much prefer a Church that reaches out to 'the other' starting from what the Gospel says, by talking openly about God and conveying a powerfully spiritual experience that can 'shake' contemporary man out of his complacencies, because it challenges him to think about God and his relation to God.

The great 'absence' from the Church's institutional message today is God himself. And this is not simply a slogan or a statement fort effect. We are becoming` specialists of everything and in everything, but we do not speak directly about God.

I mean to say, why don't we let go, for the moment, of so-called 'burning' issues of the day, and start talking instead about God's paternal love for all of mankind. If only because many concrete actions in life have sense and meaning only if they are done as a response to the love of God.

Every moral action has sense only if it is done out of love for God. But one cannot teach ethical and moral principles without first having spoken about God who is the ultimate end of our life and our moral conduct.

How can I love someone I do not know? Who do I live for, as a Christian? Why should I observe the commandments of God if first I am not told that I was created to know, love and to serve God in this life in order to enjoy eternal life with him?

Tell me about God and what is pleasing to him so I may do the things that are pleasing to him. That is the mission and obligation of Mother Church: to fill up the contemporary void by a message that helps man to encounter God.

Of course it is not easy. But I recall the passage in the Acts of the Apostles when the Ethiopian tells Paul: "How can I understand what I read if no one instructs me?" (cf Acts 8,31).

Hence the crucial question today: Where are the bishops, masters of prayer and men of God, masters of the Word and sanctifiers of the people entrusted to them? Where are the priests who make their ministry a true ministry of the Word in continuity with the sacrifice of the Cross? Where are the faithful who bear proud witness of their faith in God with words and actions?

Pope Benedict, speaking to the priests of Poland, did not hesitate to state clearly: "From their priests, the faithful expect only one thing: that they are specialists in promoting the encounter of man with God. They do not ask the priest to be an expert in economics, in politics, in construction. They expect the priest to be an expert in the spiritual life."

The more a pastor is free, the more freely he can speak about God without constraints, the better he will be able to share his experience of his encounter with the God of life and mercy. It doesn't matter that, like all of us, he too knows the burdens of sin and limitations. The important thing is to be able to get up every time, after every fall or failing, to sing the glory and the mercy of God.

Without God, the world drifts towards an empty abyss. Pope Benedict recently said, "We need God - because a life without God is a life without direction."


maryjos
Monday, October 08, 2007 11:13 PM
Angelus etc.
A beautiful painting of Our Lady - ideal to be made into a prayer card.

You know, some of our priests [I'm thinking of one in England] would do well to study Papa's short Angelus homily every Sunday. It's profound yet easily understandable. The website Chiesa publishes them every week.

I'm afraid I never saw any of John Paul's Angelus addresses. Does anyone remember - did he also deliver a short homily, then pray the Angelus and finally give a short topical talk? This is the format of our Papa.

I'd love to know if he initiated it or if it's always been like this.

Mary x
[SM=g27811]
PapaBear16
Tuesday, October 09, 2007 12:37 AM
Angelus format
Mary, I went to vatican.va and clicked on Papal Archives and there you can select John Paul II and review his Angelus addresses. In the beginning, there weren't even English translations (1978). I clicked on various years just spot-checking and they don't seem to have a format like our Papa's. It seemed to focus on a topic, sometimes seasonal (like on the Blessed Mother in October or December) and sometimes not. Then there would be the prayer and after, the greetings, like today.

Everyone has their own style, but our Holy Father wants us to remember why we are Church - it's because of Jesus (not the Pope) and he wants us to recall why these Gospels are important to us.

And yes, I do check our Forum the first thing when I get into my RCIA office on Sunday morning (just before 6am) and I go straight to the Angelus/Audience thread to see if the translation is posted. If it is, thanks to Teresa's quick and prompt posting, I print it and red highlight the important phrases I want to remember and use it in our RCIA scripture reflection that very morning at 9:30am.

I once heard the thought that Papa has, after so many years of teaching and writing, learned to "chisel" his words as in a sculpture to create something cohesive, smooth and expressive without getting complicated. That's what we need. I'm certain that Libreria Editrice will be publishing a collection of his Gospel reflections in some format, just as they already have with "Apostles" and I'm sure one on the Church Fathers will follow soon when he finishes with that series.

What a teaching marvel! He has certainly found a way to do what he wants and always wanted to do - teach! When you think of the sacrifices he has made so that the Word might be heard, one only has to smile and love him.

[SM=g27836] [SM=g27836] [SM=g27836]
TERESA BENEDETTA
Tuesday, October 09, 2007 8:40 PM
NATURE AND DEMOCRACY ACCORDING TO BENEDICT XVI

Thanks to Lella, here is an essay from the Rone newspaper L'Occidentale today, translated here:

By Stefano Fontana
Director
Cardinal Van Thuan International Observatory
on the Social Doctrine of the Church



One of the most pervasive aspects of relativism today is the substitution of nature with culture, which is supposed to be a fact that celebrates men's freedom but has now become a prison.

Benedict XVI spoke about this on Friday, October 5, in an address that shows civilization and good sense at its best, that relates secularism to right reason.

Without natural moral law, the Pope told members of the International Theological Commission, one loses a sense of the indispensability of human rights and the true content of democracy, which is not only freedom to vote and to express oneself, but also and above all, a defense of freedom and the human being.

We often perceive nature as a limitation. Pirandello said, if you are born lame, you are lame and will remain lame all your life. And so, to liberate ourselves from nature, we have mobilized many things, including lately, the silicon microchip.

We think nature is a shadow over us because it is something given, not something which we ourselves project. Thus, man has striven to cast his own shadow, and inevitably, to 'produce' man himself. But this is not the sense of the word 'nature' when we say 'natural moral law.'

Nature in this context does not refer so much to natural things but to human nature and human reason which is capable of seeing what is good.

In this sense, nature is not oppressive nor an obstacle to be overcome, but the freedom to choose and be oneself, to be responsible for oneself with full awareness, to be a slave to no one, to looking each other squarely in the face, knowing that no one can be reduced only to what he may be useful for, that being a human being is much more than that.

Notwithstanding all the criticisms, it seems obvious that there exists a natural moral law of which we have many examples before us.

Philosopher Robert Spaemann recently said, "Whoever saw Fr. Kolbe offer himself in Auschwitz to take the place of a family man about to be executed cannot call that anything but a good action. Whoever!
Moreover, how could anyone not acknowledge, in the face of international mobilization in defense of human rights in recent days with respect to Myanmar, that thinking minds have converged to identify the good against the bad?"

Benedict XVI has insisted for some time that man is not only his history, or his physical existence, or his culture. Above all, man is nature, with his own distinctive 'nature' or essence, a subject with his own distinctive consistency of being.

It is man's relationship to others and to nature that produces culture, and it is because he does something, 'is someone', that he makes history.

But if man were history alone - as many have sustained, including Marx - then he can be used and exploited, because nothing transcends history, and therefore, nothing is indispensable.

If man were history alone, then dialog would be impossible, because no superior criterion would exist to decide the truth of one side against the other.

And dialog is one of the principal reasons that Benedict XVI has taken up this theme. The rational possibility of recognizing what is good is the basis of dialog among religions, between believers and non-believers. It is also the basis for reciprocal respect and of research. Finally, it is the basis for democracy.

Reiterating known teachings by John Paul II, Benedict XVI has said that a democracy that does not refer to natural moral law is reduced to nothing more than procedures. And that being guided only by numerical majority can lead to injustices and abuse, as history has taught us.

The Pope said natural moral law is nothing but our own conscience which understands that every man deserves respect and certain basic rights by the mere fact that he is a man. And that society, or its majority, should respect this.

In his speech on Friday, the Pope said that many institutions of the Church, along with academic and ecclesiastical study groups, have been studying the doctrine of natural moral law in depth.

It would be very timely if even secular institutions and think tanks undertook the same efforts in the service of enlarging the space of human reason.

In the face of new technological capacities available to man, natural moral law can indicate the way to salvation from injustice and catastrophe.

In the face of procedural democracy which is limited to tolerating all egoisms equally, man needs a common measure of goodness towards which we can all converge in freedom.

====================================================================

Stefano Fontana is an Italian-born science policy expert who also heads the working committee of the multinational European Strategy Forum on Research Infrastructures, a project of the European Union.




TERESA BENEDETTA
Tuesday, October 09, 2007 11:38 PM
ANOTHER GERMAN INTELLECTUAL ON THE POPE'S SIDE

'Militant atheism will not do
any good to the secular state'

By Marina Valensise
Il Foglio
Oct. 9, 2007


A 76-year-old German constitutional jurist and philosopher has been much in the news this week in Italy, first because of the publication in Italy of his book of essays Cristianita, liberta, democrazia, but because he has also taken part in public discussions about the secularized state.

Ernst Wolfgang Böckenförde, who is Catholic, is the source of a quotation often used by both Jurgen Habermas and Joseph Ratzinger: "Nations look to the religions for the those foundations which they cannot generate by themselves", as well as a related dictum which has been called 'the Böckenförde dilemma' in political theory, namely, "The modern secularized state cannot originate the ethical disposition needed for its continued existence."

Here is a translation of the Il Foglio article:




The attraction this afternoon in Rome's Teatro Eliseo is hardly a worldly one. The great German constitutional jurist Ernst Wolfgang Böckenförde, scholar of democratic power and the paradigms of the modern state, will discuss the liberal state with Italian cabinet ministers Giuliano Amato, minister of the interior, and Rosy Bindi, minister for family affairs.

In particular, the issue is: Does the liberal state need religion? A question posed by Biancarlo Bosetti, editor of Reset magazine, who organized the event.

Böckenförde has centered his writings on the inadequacy of the modern liberal state to guarantee its own premises.

Earlier, the German philosopher of human rights answered questions from Il Foglio.

"My thesis is that the secularized liberal state lives with certain premises that even the state itself does not respect. Religion is one of these premises, one of the most important, because it is that which transmits the ethos of relationships among citizens, without which coexistence would be impossible in a liberal order."

So what happens in a secularized state which would decree the end of religion?

"Because of the separation of Church and State which is vaunted in a liberal state, religion has to depend on itself alone. It is no longer directly guaranteed by the state in any way, but its very existence is possible because a liberal state guarantees basic freedoms, one of which is freedom of worship. Thus religion can demonstrate its effectiveness to the degree in which it can use its own interior power, and only in this way."

Is that the reason you use the concept of societas imperfecta for the liberal state?

"The concept refers to the fact that the modern state no longer encompasses all the fields of human existence. The liberal state, precisely because of this separation of state and church, is no longer a societas perfecta like the polis of Aristotle, but a societas imperfecta."


But isn't this criticism of the liberal state an Aristotelian nostalgia?

"I do not criticize the liberal state - I defend and support it. But I cricize liberalism when it is no longer open to religion and forces it to keep away from public life, to retire from the agora of public discourse."

In this statement, one hears not only the scholar of constitutional law who has furnished decisive arguments to Jürgen Habermas, leading to the dialog on religion between Germany's leading philosopher and theologian Joseph Ratzinger. One also hears the scholar and onetime disciple of Carl Schmitt, the 1930s jurist who wrote extensively about the doctrine of decisionism and the totalitarian state, a criticism of liberal democracies and their faulty premises.

"I learned much from Carl Schmitt, particularly from his writings on constitutional law and his political theory. But I have also criticized many of his concepts, " he comments, although he prefers not to talk about his experiences with him.

"I still have many of his letters but I don't intend to publish them. I do intend to write about the many conversations that we had."

What about Pope Benedict XVI's attempt to bring back religion to public life?

"It is a legitimate attempt, especially if one considers that, as John Paul II once said, a modern state should not make religion or the lack of it a political concept, but it should promote a cultural climate and a legislative context that will allow every individual and every religious community to live his/her faith freely and even to express it in public discourse."

Thus, he does not advocate either militant secularism nor an unreined scientism. "In Germany, the obligation to keep in mind the 'just measure' of human desires is a positive norm of constitutional law, by virtue of which I believe the state can place limits on scientific research, and, according to my own personal beliefs, to ban the use of human embryos for stem cell research. Positivism and militant secularism with its exclusivist tendencies are incompatible with my idea of a secularized state."

Il Foglio, 9 ottobre 2007




Last Saturday, Avvenire carried a review of Böckenförde's book and an article written by the philosopher for the newspaper. These are translated here. The book review establishes context.



Ethical principles and
the liberal state

By MARCO RONCALLI

Ernst-Wolfgang Böckenförde
CRISTIANESIMO, LIBERTÀ, DEMOCRAZIA
edited by Michele Nicoletti
Morcelliana, 360 pp.


Ernst-Wolfgang Böckenförde has two upcoming Roman appointments. Monday, October 8, he will be at the Center for American Studies for a seminar entitled "Religion and the secular state: a post-secular perspective", with Gian Enrico Rusconi, Michele Nicoletti, Geminello Preterossi e Gustavo Zagrebelsky.[I have no idea who these names are, and have not had time to google them.]

And Tuesday he will be at the Teatro Eliseo for a confrontation with Giuliano Amato and Rosy Bindi on "Ethics, secularism and faith in the liberal state".

On the same day, his book Cristianesimo, libertà, democrazia is coming out in Italy. It is an important collection which presents some of the most important essays by the German philosopher who, in 1967, theorized on the prospects for a coordinated cooperation between the religious and political spheres, while recognizing a necessary distinction between them.

This, of course, was the issue in the 2004 dialog between philosopher Juergen Habermas and then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, but it is also implicit in the address delivered by Benedict XVI at the Italian church convention in Verona in October 2006, almost as a complement to his Regensburg lecture on the dialectic between faith and reason, conversion and conviction.

One can also find in these essays the recurrent issues during the actual public debate in Italy over the relationship between politics and religion. Böckenförde gives technical reasons as well as concrete orientations for active participation by persons of faith in the public discourse, in the name of human coexistence.

A 1996 essay, "Religion in the secular state", is particularly outstanding for raising a series of questions that generate others to which answers are more elusive. The author updated it last October during a discussion at the Center for Italo-German Historical Studies in Trent on 'political religions', the problem of state neutrality in case of religious conflicts, and of secularism in its various national manifestations.

It has been 40 years since Böckenförde first coined his dictum that
"the modern secularized state cannot live by normative premises which it cannot guarantee", but this remains the core of the problem
of secularization and the scourges which it has caused.


And Böckenförde himself wrote this anticipatory essay for Avvenire:


'The political community needs
from religion the ethos necessary
for its functioning'

By ERNST-WOLFGANG BÖCKENFÖRDE


Is it all the same whether there exist one or more religions in a political community, or whether a commmunity founded on freedom should refer itself to religions or one religion for its continued existence even if it cannot guarantee the existence of said religion?

Underlying this question is another one: Where does the State - the political community - find the spiritual foundation and the communality which are necessary to it, if religion cannot be taken into account on the ground that it is not universally obligatory?

Can a common basis be reached some other way, for instance, through politico-cultural legacy, or rational cognition, or effective consensus? Or, is it, as Hegel said, 'up in the air' until a 'civilian religion' can be devised?

In earlier epochs, religion was the greatest connective force for political order. Essentially, the state drew from religion both its enabling power over the community as well as the forces to regulate freedom.

Afterwards, during the secularization process of the political community, the 19th century believed it could find a new spiritual link and a new unifying force in the concept of nation, and in tjeh political-cultural identity which derives from it. The 'nation' came to be considered as something 'sacred' in a secular sense, and its existence, its honor, its grandeur were deemed to merit - or even imposed - the need to sacrifice one's life if need be.

Nationalism not uncommonly became, and continues to be, a substitute for religion, and sometimes reaches the status of religion.

But the concept of the nation does not carry any guidelines for essential human concepts, for ethico-moral responsibility or for an inter-human ethos or code of conduct.

Wuth these premises, it is understandable that there have been efforts to attribute to religions some function in the interests of preserving the political community. This function is conceived as that of being a subject which does the bidding of the state and society, of a representative or mediator of a consensus on values which thye State by itself is incapable of doing.

But we must ask ourselves to what point religion and religious communities can accept being subjects at the bidding of the State. Does such a relationship to the State, which makes religion carry out a service in the interest of the secular political order, correspond to the mission of a religion?

Every religion must answer that for itself. It cannot let the state or society impose the answer. The state certainly must keep its end on existing laws which guarantee religious freedom, but it does not have to identifiy itself with any religious community or its spiritual foundations.

But today, another question appears more relevant to us. Up to what point can the State count on the integrative function of religion or of most religions, in the ethico-moral plane?

Europe needs to think about religion. On the one hand, to overcoem widespread ignorance about religions, not the least, about Islam. This ignornce is fertiel ground for cultivating prejudices, usualyl negative. On the other hand, so that our culture can be comprehensible to the next generation.

Just consider the great works of literature. How can schoolchildren, for instance, understand Goethe's Faust if they have no knowledge of Christianity?

Teaching ethics, not as an optional subject but something required for everyone is a task which - in the face of the religious, sipritual and ethico-spiritual pluralism thayt characterizes our society - arisesfrom the educative function of teh State and its integrative goals.

Teaching general ethics does not conflict with the state's reiligous and ideological neutrality, because this neutrality does not mean neutrality or indifference to values in the absence of an ethico-spiritual framework.

Good ethical teaching does not have a confessional [in the sense of professing a religion] character and doesnot prescribe any position in a binding manner. We can use classical texts from Plato and Aristotle, through Cicero and Aquinas, Luther, the humanists, down to Kant, Hegel, Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King.

But besides this, one can and should keep religious instruction for those who belong to a faith. The contents of such instruction would be based on the principles of the faith being taught.

Organized where possible like other school subjects, religious instruction will be rid of the need to teach ethics as well, which has often been sacrificed anyway in usual religious instruction. Not being the subject principally responsible for ethics intruction, it will then be able to devote to religious instruction the space which it requires. I think this will be good for everyone.

Avvenire, 6 ottobre 2007

TERESA BENEDETTA
Wednesday, October 10, 2007 3:35 PM
GENERAL AUDIENCE TODAY

A full translation of the Holy Father's catechesis and messages has been posted in AUDIENCE AND ANGELUS TEXTS.

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HILARY OF POITIERS:
PATH TO CHRIST OPEN TO EVERYONE


VATICAN CITY, OCT 10, 2007 (VIS) - St. Hilary of Poitiers, doctor of the Church, was the subject of Benedict XVI's catechesis during his general audience, which was held this morning in St. Peter's Square in the presence of 23,000 faithful.

The saint was born in Poitiers around the year 310 and raised, probably as a pagan, in a family of local Roman aristocracy. After some time spent searching for truth, he converted to Christianity and was baptized.

Elected as bishop of his hometown about 353, his opposition to Arianism - which denied the divinity of Christ - led to his being exiled to Phrygia by order of the emperor Constantius who had aligned himself with the decisions of a council held in Beziers at which the majority of the participating bishops were Arians. Following the emperor's death in 361 Hilary returned to Poitiers where he remained until his own demise six years later.

In his most important work, "De Trinitate," Hilary "describes his personal journey to a knowledge of God and is concerned to show how Sacred Scripture clearly testifies to the divinity of the Son and His equality with the Father, not only in the New Testament but also in the Old where the mystery of Christ is already apparent," said the Pope.

The bishop of Poitiers "develops all his Trinitarian theology on the basis of the formula of Baptism which the Lord Himself gives us, in the name of the Father, of the Son and of the Holy Spirit."

The Holy Father explained how St. Hilary presents "precise rules" for a correct reading of the Gospel when he indicates how "some pages of Scripture speak of Jesus as God, others underline His humanity, others still ... His pre-existence at the side of the Father ... His descent to death ... His resurrection."

"Firm in his opposition to radical Arians, Hilary showed a more conciliatory spirit towards to those who were prepared to confess that the Son was like to the Father in essence, always seeking to lead them to a complete faith: ... not just likeness but equality ... in divinity."

This is a "spirit of conciliation," said Pope Benedict, "which seeks to understand those people who have not yet arrived" at the truth and "helps them in a sprit of peace and with great theological intelligence to a full faith in the true divinity of Jesus Christ."

"God the Father, being all love, is capable of fully communicating His divinity to the Son," the Holy Father concluded. "By taking on a human nature, the Son united all humankind to Himself. ... For this reason the path to Christ is open to everyone ... although it always requires individual conversion."


Pope urges prayer for full unity
between Catholics and Orthodox


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Vatican City, Oct. 10 (AsiaNews) – A fresh appeal for Christian unity, in particular between Catholics and Orthodox was made by Benedict XVI today, who at the end of his general audience asked the faithful to pray for the successful outcome of the meeting of the International Mixed Commission for theological dialogue between the Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church currently underway in Ravenna.

At the end of his weekly encounter with over 20 thousand faithful gathered in St Peter’s square – among them also a group of Buddhist monks from Sri Lanka – Benedict XVI recalled that the tenth plenary assembly of the mixed commission is taking place this week in Ravenna, Italy.

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It is “discussing a theme of particular ecumenical importance: ‘the ecclesiological and canonical consequences of sacramental nature of the Church – ecclesial communion, conciliation and authority’. I ask you to join me in prayer – concluded the pope – so that this important encounter help the journey towards full communion between Catholics and Orthodox, and that they may soon share in the one and same Chalice of the Lord”.

The mixed commission meeting began Monday and continues through to Sunday. It is made up of 60 members, 30 Catholics and 30 Orthodox, and is jointly presided by Cardinal Walter Kasper, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, and His Excellency Ioannis (Zizioulas), metropolitan of Pergamo.

During Benedict XVI’s trip to Turkey last November, Bartholomew3 I had proposed that he and Pope Benedict could attend the session as a sign of the strong desire between the two Churches to proceed towards unity.

However, some Orthodox leaders strongly opposed the idea, first and foremost the Patriarch of Moscow, who maintains that there is no existing hierarchical structure within the Orthodox Church equivalent to the Catholic Church – with one single leader – and that the primacy of the ecumenical patriarch – unlike the pope – is “an honorary” one.

The commission which is due to publish a document at the end of its working session was established in 1979 by Pope John Paul II and Ecumenical Patriarch Dimitrios I, and held its first assembly in Patmos-Rhodes in 1980.

These meetings have confronted various questions, but were suspended for a number of years, because of deep-seated disaccord over the Oriental rite Catholic Churches, the so-called Uniates, who were once Orthodox but chose to acknowledge the Primacy of Rome.

Today, before his ecumenical appeal, Benedict XVI continued his reflections on the figures of the early Church Fathers, speaking of St Hilary of Poitiers.

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Benedict XVI meets
Italian soccer team



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VATICAN CITY, Oct. 10 (AP) - A third division soccer club of Italy was praised by Pope Benedict XVI for for ports signing on to a program by a Christian sorganization that seeks to promote ethics in soccer.

"I encourage them to work so that the game of soccer may become ever more an instrument of education to the ethical and spiritual values of life," Benedict said.

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Wearing red jerseys, the players of the Ancona team were among the faithful gathered in St. Peter's Square for the pope's weekly audience.

"I encourage them to work so that the game of soccer may become ever more an instrument of education to the ethical and spiritual values of life," Benedict told the crowd.

The team's captain later presented Benedict with Ancona's pennant as well as a red-and-white soccer ball.

The agreement between Ancona and the Italian Sports Center, a Christian organization that promotes education through sport, provides for higher ethical standards in the administration of the club as well as in the behavior of players and fans.

Last year, Italian soccer was hit by a corruption scandal, and fan violence remains a problem, as it is elsewhere in Europe.

Under the "Project Soccer" deal, parents of young players will be helped in raising their children as they grow up in the world of professional soccer, while the main squad will take part in educational and solidarity programs.

Before the audience, the Vatican made clear that neither the Vatican nor the Italian Bishops Conference had any involvement with the project.


WITH CHILDREN UNDERGOING
CANCER TREATMENT


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At the end of the audience, the Holy Father had special words of encouragement for a group of children being treated for cancer at the the Tumor Institute of Milan.

Calling them his 'dear friends', he reminded them that tomrrow, Thursday, will be the liturgical commemoration of Blessed John XXIII, known to Italians as 'Papa Buono' for his grandfatherly manner.

Later, he greeted the children individually.

TERESA BENEDETTA
Wednesday, October 10, 2007 3:44 PM
CELEBRATIONS TO BE PRESIDED BY THE POPE:
OCTOBER 2007-JANUARY 2008


VATICAN CITY, OCT 10, 2007 (VIS) - The Office of Liturgical Celebrations of the Supreme Pontiff made public today the calendar of celebrations to be presided over by the Holy Father between the months of October 2007 and January 2008:

OCTOBER

- Sunday, 21: 29th Sunday in Ordinary Time. Pastoral visit to Naples.

RITES OF BEATIFICATION APPROVED BY THE HOLY FATHER

- Saturday, 20: At 4 p.m. in the cathedral square of Tubarao, Brazil, beatification of Servant of God Albertina Berkenbrock.

- Sunday, 21: 29th Sunday in Ordinary Time. At 4 p.m. in the "Parque Municipal de Exposicoes" of Federico Westphalen, Brazil, beatification of Servants of God Manuel Gomez Gonzalez and Adilio Daronch.

- Friday, 26: at 10 a.m. in the cathedral of Linz, Austria, beatification of Servant of God Franz Jagerstatter.

- Saturday 27: at 4 p.m. in the Roman basilica of St. John Lateran, beatification of Servant of God Celina Chludzinska.

- Sunday 28: 30th Sunday in Ordinary Time. At 10 a.m. in St. Peter's Square, beatification of 498 Spanish martyrs (1936-1939).

NOVEMBER

- Monday, 5: At 11.30 a.m. at the altar of the Cathedra in the Vatican Basilica, Mass for the repose of the souls of cardinals and bishops who died during the course of year.

RITES OF BEATIFICATION APPROVED BY THE HOLY FATHER

- Sunday 11: 32nd Sunday in Ordinary Time. At 10 a.m. in Chimpay, Argentina, beatification of Servant of God Ceferino Namuncura.

- Sunday, 18: 33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time. At 3 p.m. at the "Palazzetto dello Sport" of Novara, Italy, beatification of Servant of God Antonio Rosmini.

DECEMBER

- Saturday, 1: At 5 p.m. in the Vatican Basilica, First Vespers for the first Sunday of Advent.

- Saturday, 8: Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary. At 4 p.m. in Rome's Piazza di Spagna, homage to Mary Immaculate.

- Sunday, 16: 3rd Sunday of Advent. At 9 a.m., pastoral visit and Mass at the Roman parish of "Santa Maria del Rosario ai Maritiri Portuensi."

- Monday, 24: Vigil of the Solemnity of the Birth of Our Lord. Midnight Mass in the Vatican Basilica.

- Tuesday, 25: Solemnity of the Birth of Our Lord. At midday from the central loggia of the Vatican Basilica, "Urbi et Orbi" blessing.

- Monday, 31: At 6 p.m. in the Vatican Basilica, First Vespers of thanksgiving for the past year.

RITES OF BEATIFICATION APPROVED BY THE HOLY FATHER

- Sunday, 2: 1st Sunday of Advent. At 4 p.m. in the Barradao Stadium of Sao Salvador da Bahia, Brazil, beatification of Servant of God Lindalva Justo de Oliveira.

JANUARY 2008

- Tuesday, 1: Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God and 41st World Day of Peace. Holy Father to preside at Mass in the Vatican Basilica at 10 a.m.

- Sunday, 6: Solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord. Holy Father to preside at Mass in the Vatican Basilica at 10 a.m.

- Sunday, 13: Feast of the Baptism of Our Lord. Benedict XVI will preside at Mass in the Sistine Chapel at 10 a.m., during which he will impart the Sacrament of Baptism to a number of children.

- Friday, 25: Feast of the Conversion of St. Paul the Apostle. At 5:30 p.m. in the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls, celebration of Vespers.

TERESA BENEDETTA
Wednesday, October 10, 2007 4:06 PM
REGENSBURG REVISITED
Interview With Father James Schall, S.J.

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Benedict XVI at today's General Audience-
13 months since the Regensburg lecture
.


WASHINGTON, D.C., OCT. 9, 2007 (Zenit.org).- When one interprets Benedict XVI's Regensburg lecture, which he delivered more than one year ago, as simply an address on Islam, one misses the point, says Father James Schall.

The professor of political philosophy at Georgetown University is the author of "The Regensburg Lecture," published by St. Augustine's Press.

In this part 1 of this interview with ZENIT, Father Schall comments on the Pope's remarks regarding Islam question, but then more importantly, the deeper point of the lecture.


Just over a year has passed since Benedict XVI's Regensburg lecture was delivered, followed by an international outcry from some Muslim circles. Was it the Islamic response that prompted you to write this book or was there something else?

Actually, I had read the address before the Islamic response, which took some time to orchestrate. I do not think it was a "spontaneous" reaction.

When I first read the lecture, a day or so after it was available to the public, I went to my class and told them frankly that it was the most important address in modern times. It put everything together. I was not exaggerating.

The Islamic context of the lecture was merely an introduction to what has proved to be an insight into Benedict XVI's overall agenda, namely, the grounds on which we approach all religions, cultures and philosophies in the name of their truth, in the name of all truth, including the truth of revelation.

Benedict XVI's sights are by no means narrow. He knows that besides the world of Islam, where most Christians have either left or been driven out, Christianity has only a minimal presence in the great Chinese, Hindu, Buddhist and modern philosophical worlds.

The Pope is seeking a way to see what these worlds have in common and to establish a basis from which each can be addressed in well-grounded terms that cannot be ignored.

Of course, the Islamic reaction quickly made this lecture known throughout the world, something the militants might have had second thoughts about had they realized what they were doing. Many wanted to chastise Benedict XVI for being "imprudent" or "insensitive." But he was neither.

He addressed an issue that did, to be sure, come to world attention because of Islamic militancy. This issue was stated succinctly: "Is it reasonable, or does God will, to spread one's religion by violence?" This was a question asked by practically everyone in the world who thought of the implications of "suicide bombings," or about the earlier holy wars -- jihad -- in Islamic history, wars largely, though not exclusively, against Christian lands. The issue is the deliberate choice of violent means as the proper way to propagate a religion, together with a theological justification to do so.

The Pope pointed out that within the Koran itself we can find two different answers to the question: one that says "no," one that says "yes." The current turmoil in the world is caused by those in Islam who answer "yes" to this question.

The Pope showed a singular courage in his response to the uproar. He did not back down. He merely said that if anyone was offended by the very posing of the question, he was sorry. But it is not legitimate to be "offended" by a serious question, formally posed, in search to the truth of an issue in an academic setting.

But what first interested me in this lecture was Benedict XVI's more basic concern. This was Europe and the modern scientific mind.

To think that Islam was his main target misses the more penetrating issue that the lecture raised, namely, is the same root cause that justifies suicide bombings at work among us theoretically justifying, by the same philosophic principles, the widespread violent killing of innocent lives?

Militant Islam makes no bones about the idea that it intends to conquer the world for Allah. Thus, there is something starkly simple about Islam, its constant effort since its beginning to submit the whole world to Allah. We tend to think this is fanatical or outlandish. But to many Muslim minds, it is perfectly logical and indeed a basis of action. What the Pope was concerned about was the basis of this claim.


In the book, you compare Benedict XVI's visit with Pope John Paul II's first visit back to Poland. What are the similarities?

John Paul II's first visit to Poland was the revelation of the power of truth against a tyrannical system. It was more than that.

Together with U.S. President Ronald Reagan's insistence of showing the Soviets that they could not keep up in the area of military balance, and the internal decline of morals and will in the Soviet citizens, the Polish Pope's brave and firm presence was something that Poles and the world simply wanted to see, wanted to be there. It was a sign that there was something else in the world but political power. Very few western thinkers predicted the collapse of the Soviet system.

By the time of Benedict XVI's Regensburg visit the whole focus of the world had shifted to suicide bombers, to efforts to pacify Islamic terrorism, either by war or by covert or political action.

The initial political reaction to 9/11 was one that sought to find the terrorists who irrationally caused this astonishing feat of blowing up, before our very eyes, two of the world's largest and most famous buildings in one of the most famous cities in the world.

Subsequent bombings in Madrid, London, Bali, Paris and elsewhere suddenly made the war not between opposing armies but, like the famous raids of the Barbary Coast pirates, sudden incursions out of almost anywhere on almost any target.

A new form of war has been developed which cannot really be explained in traditional western sociological or moral terms. This situation suggests, as the Pope understood, that a much more fundamental analysis of what is going on is required.

What is of importance is that what he found to be the central cause was not something peculiarly Islamic, though it was that too. Islamic philosophy and western philosophy, not to mention Eastern philosophy, often had similar intellectual roots and presuppositions. This is why it is not correct to view this lecture as simply concerned with Islam. It strikes very much closer to home.

Just as John Paul II's first visit to Poland was a kind light in the darkness of despair about ever doing anything about Marxism, so the Regensburg visit of Benedict XVI was a brilliant flash over the whole of intellectual history telling us what was really at stake. Good politicians trying to do something about terrorism cannot proceed, really, until they know exactly what it is they are opposing.

The fact is, it is not terrorism, a sort of vague abstraction. In this sense politics depends on mind. The Regensburg lecture, as Socrates reminded us in the "Gorgias," addresses real politics by addressing the issue of why men act as they do and their reasons for doing so.


You called the lecture "one of the fundamental tracts of our time." Why is that?

The Regensburg lecture has this quality of suddenly illuminating whole fields of knowledge because it knows what belongs where, what the issues are, what is at stake in understanding our times in theoretical terms.

I have even suggested that this lecture brings up again the medieval issue of the harmony of the two swords. That is, what is lacking in the civil discussion is intelligibility of what is at stake, of what in fact is going on.

If we reduce the issue to one of violence by fanatics, we will never understand why political or military solutions, however also needed, as here, will not get to the heart of the problem.

This heart consists in understanding what is going on from a theoretical and theological point of view. The political order is disordered because the order of the soul is disordered, as Plato taught us. It is no accident that Benedict cited Socrates twice in the lecture and found the heart of what he has to say on the side of reason coming from classical Greek philosophy.



Part 2, 10/10/07:

The Holy Father included in his lecture a discussion of the roots of voluntarism, a theological idea that attempts to put no limits on God, defying even reason. What role does this factor play in Islam as well as in non-Muslim thought?

This question, of course, was already in Greek and medieval philosophy. It exists as a perennial issue for the human mind to resolve. Voluntarism did not originate with Islam, except perhaps in the sense that nowhere else has it been carried out with such logical consistency and backed by such force. "Voluntarism" here means not the spontaneous effort to do something to help others of which the Pope spoke in "Deus Caritas Est," but the philosophic and theological idea that the will is superior to the intellect and is not subject to reason.

The Pope is quite careful to note that the same problem exists in the West via Duns Scotus, the great medieval philosopher and theologian. It goes from him to William of Ockham, to Niccolò Machiavelli and to Thomas Hobbes, and onward into modern political philosophy. I have just been reading with a class Heinrich Rommen's most insightful book "The Natural Law," which spells out in much detail why legal voluntarism stands at the basis of modern positivism and historicism, subjects that Leo Strauss and Eric Voegelin were concerned with.

From this point of view, the Regensburg lecture was directed at the heart of Europe and America, to those "justifications" that are in fact used by its laws and customs to justify the killing of the innocent. The Socratic principle that "it is never right to do wrong" still remains the bedrock of a philosophy not based on pure will.

Pure will can justify anything because it has evaporated any nature or order from man and the universe. Voluntarism allows no grounding for absolute principles of human dignity. If it is asked, if I might surmise a guess, why the Pope chose to begin his lecture with the conversation of the Greek Byzantine Emperor in the 1300's with a Persian gentleman, it was because it enabled him graphically to state the most pressing issue of our time, not merely "is it reasonable to extend religion by violence," but is it reasonable to use this violence on any innocent human being.

This is where the Islamic problem, in fact, is substantially the same as the Western problem. Both systems have to resort to a voluntaristic theory of state and being to explain why they are not immoral for using violence against those who are innocent and protected by the divine and natural law itself.

We miss the point if we think voluntarism is not a theoretic system that seeks to praise God in the highest possible way. Voluntarism means that there is no nature or order behind appearances. Everything can be otherwise. Everything that happens occurs because God or Allah positively chose it, but who could have chosen the exact opposite.

Some philosophers, not just Muslim, think that God cannot be limited in any way, even by the principle of contradiction. He can make right wrong, or even make hatred of God his will. It sounds strange to hear this position at first. But once we grant its first principle, that will is higher than intellect, and governs it, everything follows.

This theory is why so-called Muslim terrorists claim and believe that they are in fact following Allah's will. They might even be acting on a good, if erroneous, conscience. Allah wants the whole world to worship him in the order laid down in the Koran.

The world cannot be settled until this conversion to Islam happens, even if it takes centuries to accomplish. This submission to Allah is conceived to be a noble act of piety. There is in voluntarist principles nothing contradictory if Allah orders the extension of his kingdom by violence, since there is no objective order that would prevent the opposite of what is ordered from being ordered the next day.

Again, I must say, that behind wars are theological and philosophical problems that must be spelled out and seen for what they are. This spelling out is what the Regensburg lecture is about.


Explain why the Pope cites the recovery of a particular kind of reason? He speaks of a "re-Hellenization," or a return to Greek philosophy, as the solution to the current crisis of civilization.

Actually, the central part of the lecture was rather on the "de-Hellenization" of western culture and what it meant.

The Pope indicated three states: 1) the Reformation position that there was too much philosophy in Catholicism, so that what was needed was a return to the pure Jesus, without the philosophy.

2) The second was the result of the denial of the divinity of Christ, so that, with Adolf von Harnak, Christ was just a man to be studied by science in the universities.

3) The third was in effect multiculturalism, that there was no possible unity on the basis of principle or reason. Everyone was right within his own system.

The tradition from even the Old Testament, as the Pope sketched out, was rather that revelation itself pointed to Greek philosophy. In the case both of Genesis and the Prologue of John, the very term "Logos" was the form in which God chose to speak to us, in the word.

The very definition of God - "I Am" - was clearly something that was comprehensible in a philosophy itself based on reason. The Pope is quite careful to note that Paul's turning to Macedonia and not to some other culture had to do with a providential decision about what it means to comprehend revelation, particularly the Incarnation and the Trinity, the two basic doctrines that are denied in all other religions and philosophies.

It is because of the unique contribution of Europe that this relation was hammered out, particularly by St. Augustine and St. Thomas Aquinas and their heritage. To receive revelation of the word, of the inner life of the Godhead, we must have a preparation, a philosophy that allows us to comprehend what it being revealed to us. Not all philosophies do this, which is why it makes a difference what philosophy we understand to be true.

The Pope pointed out that for Kant, reason and revelation are not any longer directly related as being addressed to each other. Faith and reason are two separate things, with no possibility of mutual comprehension, however minimal. Kant is the origin of much subsequent philosophy that has been perplexed, as Gilson showed in his famous "Unity of Philosophic Experience," by how to put things back together again.

The small error in the beginning leads to a large error in the end, as Aristotle taught us. This Kantian, and before it Cartesian, background too is the origin of the two different concepts of "reason" that the Pope made the key question of modern intelligence and of intelligence itself. The logic of the Reformation's position on philosophy and its relation to theology led to an attempt to have a pure human Jesus without any real basis in reason to explain why it is credible to believe in him.

The Pope wants to do two things. First he wants to defend science within its own competency, and second he wants science to abandon the "self-limitation" of itself that cannot see the reality of nonmathematical things because being is not limited only to things that can be measured.

This broader openness to human truths that can be known by intuitive reason, love, friendship, suffering or hope is why the Eastern and other religions think the West because of its scientific narrowness has lost its soul, as it appears from their vices, that they have.

Scientific reason, which is not coextensive with reason in its fullness, cannot speak to what really counts in human existence. This distinction between two kinds of reason gives an even greater insight into what this Pope is about.

What he is really doing is seeking for grounds, which have to be reason, by which we can approach all religions and cultures, including Europe itself, busily losing not only its soul but its very bodies, as population decline shows.


10/11/07
The third and concluding part of the interview:


Benedict XVI's Regensburg lecture not only pinpoints the heart of the current international situation, but also reality itself, says Father Schall.


How do you see the Regensburg lecture in relation to John Paul II's encyclical Fides et Ratio?

What Benedict XVI sees is the fundamental importance of Fides et Ratio on a world scale, not just with Islam, which was something new in John Paul II's time.

John Paul II was rightly taken up with fascism, Marxism and the moral status of the West. John Paul did collaborate with Muslims in several U.N. conferences - Cairo, Beijing - especially about the family, in spite of the differences between Muslim and Christian views on what the family is.

Fides et Ratio is the consequence, as it were, of the other two stages of de-Hellenization in Western thought. The second step was with von Harnack who took the consequences of denying that Jesus was divine. He was just human, a nice man. He was a leader or prophet or voice, but he was not the God-man, not the incarnate "Logos." Thus we did not need theology to understand him; rather, we need the social and historical sciences.

Benedict XVI, as he indicates in his book Jesus of Nazareth, is often concerned with the claim of scholarship to unearth the fundamentals of faith by science's own methods alone. All it can unearth is what is known by the methods, so more and more fundamental things are left out as such scholarship claims priority.

Fides et Ratio is a long, incisive analysis of modern philosophy alongside of the question of what kind of philosophy will enable us to understand what is really revealed.

The very notion of a "Christian philosophy" arises from the need to understand in terms of reason just what was said in revelation. The use of a Greek word, not a scriptural word, at the Council of Nicaea, as the Pope said, indicated that under the pressure of understanding revelation, the philosophical experience could be fundamental.

Faith and philosophy are not in contradiction, but are related to grasp the whole of reality. Both are necessary. This is why pure Scripture is not enough even to understand Scripture's own positions. As Chesterton remarked at the end of Heretics, it would be revelation, not reason, which, in the end, said that the grass is green, that reason in faith alone would affirm the ordinary things of reality that the modern philosophers could no longer comprehend.


In your book, and in the Holy Father's lecture, there is no effort to "turn back the clock" and deny the achievements of modernism. In what ways do you see an integration of the old and the new?

First of all the term "modernism" is generally meant to be a declaration of independence of modern thought from what is past, Greek or scholastic. However, thought in modernity more and more loses its moorings in an ordered reality.

As the Pope points out, the third de-Hellenization is what we call "multiculturalism," a belief that there is no real truth in any culture so that there are no fundamental issues between civilizations or religions, only a kind of tolerance about truth's impossibility.

Despite the claim that multicultural tolerance does not involve violence, its very system contains within itself a tradition within history that does claim that violence is in fact justified by voluntarist premises. In other words, on a purely multicultural theory, there is no reason why voluntarism is not a legitimate position as there is really nothing to oppose it except power.

The Pope repeats several times that he does not want to "go back," but he does wish to distinguish what is good and what is not in modern thought and culture.

Rommen said that the natural law is perennial, that is, it keeps coming back when we reach positions within a culture that normal men of common sense can see clearly wrong. The objective standard keeps calling disorder and injustice to our attention.

The Regensburg lecture is an intellectual challenge. This is why it is precisely an academic lecture and not an encyclical; it insists we face the truth and falsity in any culture on the basis of "logos," of reason.

You will notice that the Pope brings in the notion of the fascination with mathematics that we found in Plato. He addresses the scientific mind directly and tells it that its discoveries are based on the fact that mathematics and its many sophistications work in reality. There must be a correspondence between principles of reality and principles of mathematics.

Why is there this correspondence if there is not a realistic philosophy to explain why? And if there is this correspondence, why is there not an ultimate mind that orders all things found with mathematics as well as with its own systems?

Much current literature is based on the claims of a new kind of atheism, one that often lacks the intellectual rigor of more classic forms. The confidence of modern atheism does not face the strange correspondences between mind and reality that even science cannot avoid.

The problem with science is not only what it is, but what are we going to do with it? The classic Greeks were said to have known all sorts of inventions but chose not to pursue them because they understood the dangers they might entail for human living itself.

The Regensburg lecture gives science and technology their due by pointing out that they are not everything, but what they do is valid for a certain aspect of things. They can only explain what falls to their competence.

Philosophy, ethics, theology and poetry all reach to realities that are not direct objects of science, to things that are essentially spiritual and nonmaterial. The human intellect transcends its own being to be concerned with all that is.

We are bewildered if we think that science can explain everything, but this does not mean that what it cannot explain is therefore not explicable. It rather means that other insights and ways of knowing have their own validity.

The word of the Pope to science is not "don't be scientific" in the proper sense. It is rather to stop limiting itself to only one concept of reason, a very narrow concept. This concept is good as far as it goes. But it is one that excludes by definition most of the important things men are concerned with.

The Regensburg lecture takes us to the heart not only of current events, but also to the heart of reality itself. Philosophy and revelation are not enemies of each other, but are directed at one another. The exaltation of man by revelation does not imply that he is not what he is created to be, a rational animal, one who does all he does by "logos," by reason.

Man is the glory of God in the sense that God can address his word to him and he can know and comprehend because he is created with the power to know the truth of things. The moral and political life of man is designed to enable us to know what is addressed to us from reason and even, if it happens, from revelation.

What seems clear about the Regensburg lecture is that the best place to understand our times is in the heart of Rome itself. Here, in the native tongues of recent Popes, in Polish, or German, and, yes, Latin, they speak to us of what it means to be human, to be beings addressed by God in both reason and revelation.


TERESA BENEDETTA
Thursday, October 11, 2007 7:48 PM
REGENSBURG REVISITED:
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In the Name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful



NEW 'OPEN LETTER' TO
THE POPE AND ALL CHRISTIANS
FROM MUSLIM INTELLECTUALS
ON THE COMMON GROUND BETWEEN
MUSLIMS AND CHRISTIANS



Thanks to Lella who has just posted an Il Giornale online notice about it just now, to inform us there is a new website called A COMMON WORD
www.acommonword.com/index.php?lang=en
apparently set up by The Royal Aal al-Bayt Institute for Islamic Thought, Jordan, among whose projects is ISLAMICA magazine, where an Open Letter to the Pope from 38 Muslim intellectuals was published last year.

The new site coincides with what is an effect a new Open Letter to the Pope and all Christians, which sets forth the common ground between Muslims and Christians, as the following introduction says. It is not made known if a formal delivery of the message will be made to the Pope.

The Summary and Abridgment of the text itself available on
www.acommonword.com/index.php?lang=en&page=option1
and is 17 printed pages long.



Introduction to
'A COMMON WORD BETWEEN US AND YOU'


On October 13th 2006, one month to the day after Pope Benedict XVI’s Regensburg address of September 13th 2006, 38 Islamic authorities and scholars from around the world, representing all denominations and schools of thought, joined together to deliver an answer to the Pope in the spirit of open intellectual exchange and mutual understanding.

In their Open Letter to the Pope
ammanmessage.com/media/openLetter/english.pdf
for the first time in recent history, Muslim scholars from every branch of Islam spoke with one voice about the true teachings of Islam. [This full text was posted here in REFLECTIONS ON ISLAMD last year.]

Now, exactly one year after that letter, Muslims have expanded their message. In A Common Word Between Us and You, 138 Muslim scholars, clerics and intellectuals have unanimously come together for the first time since the days of the Prophet to declare the common ground between Christianity and Islam.

Like the Open Letter, the signatories to this message come from every denomination and school of thought in Islam. Every major Islamic country or region in the world is represented in this message, which is addressed to the leaders of all the world’s churches, and indeed to all Christians everywhere.

The final form of the letter was presented at a conference in September 2007 held under the theme of “Love in the Quran,” by the Royal Academy of The Royal Aal al-Bayt Institute for Islamic Thought in Jordan, under the Patronage of H.M. King Abdullah II.

Indeed, the most fundamental common ground between Islam and Christianity, and the best basis for future dialogue and understanding, is the love of God and the love of the neighbor.

Never before have Muslims delivered this kind of definitive consensus statement on Christianity. Rather than engage in polemic, the signatories have adopted the traditional and mainstream Islamic position of respecting the Christian scripture and calling Christians to be more, not less, faithful to it.

It is hoped that this document will provide a common constitution for the many worthy organizations and individuals who are carrying out interfaith dialogue all over the world. Often these groups are unaware of each other, and duplicate each other’s efforts.

Not only can A Common Word Between Us give them a starting point for cooperation and worldwide co-ordination, but it does so on the most solid theological ground possible: the teachings of the Qu’ran and the Prophet r, and the commandments described by Jesus Christ in the Bible. Thus despite their differences, Islam and Christianity not only share the same Divine Origin and the same Abrahamic heritage, but the same two greatest commandments.


Here is how A COMMON WORD opens:

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In the Name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful

A Common Word between Us and You
(Summary and Abridgement)

Muslims and Christians together make up well over half of the world’s population. Without peace and justice between these two religious communities, there can be no meaningful peace in the world. The future of the world depends on peace between Muslims and Christians.

The basis for this peace and understanding already exists. It is part of the very foundational principles of both faiths: love of the One God, and love of the neighbour. These principles are found over and over again in the sacred texts of Islam and Christianity. The Unity of God, the necessity of love for Him, and the necessity of love of the neighbour is thus the common ground between Islam and Christianity. The following are only a few examples....




WHO WAS THE LETTER SENT TO?

Here are the INDIVIDUALS to whom A COMMON WORD is addressed by name:



In the Name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful

On the Occasion of the Eid al-Fitr al-Mubarak 1428 A.H. / October 13th 2007 C.E., and on the One Year Anniversary of the Open Letter of 38 Muslim Scholars to H.H. Pope Benedict XVI,

An Open Letter and Call from Muslim Religious Leaders to:

His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI,

His All-Holiness Bartholomew I, Patriarch of Constantinople, New Rome,
His Beatitude Theodoros II, Pope and Patriarch of Alexandria and All Africa,
His Beatitude Ignatius IV, Patriarch of Antioch and All the East,
His Beatitude Theophilos III, Patriarch of the Holy City of Jerusalem,
His Beatitude Alexy II, Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia,
His Beatitude Pavle, Patriarch of Belgrade and Serbia,
His Beatitude Daniel, Patriarch of Romania,
His Beatitude Maxim, Patriarch of Bulgaria,
His Beatitude Ilia II, Archbishop of Mtskheta-Tbilisi, Catholicos-Patriarch of All Georgia,
His Beatitude Chrisostomos, Archbishop of Cyprus,
His Beatitude Christodoulos, Archbishop of Athens and All Greece,
His Beatitude Sawa, Metropolitan of Warsaw and All Poland,
His Beatitude Anastasios, Archbishop of Tirana, Duerres and All Albania,
His Beatitude Christoforos, Metropolitan of the Czech and Slovak Republics,

His Holiness Pope Shenouda III, Pope of Alexandria and Patriarch of All Africa on the Apostolic Throne of St. Mark,
His Beatitude Karekin II, Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of All Armenians,
His Beatitude Ignatius Zakka I, Patriarch of Antioch and All the East, Supreme Head of the Universal Syrian Orthodox Church,
His Holiness Mar Thoma Didymos I, Catholicos of the East on the Apostolic Throne of St. Thomas and the Malankara Metropolitan,
His Holiness Abune Paulos, Fifth Patriarch and Catholicos of Ethiopia, Tekle Haymanot, Archbishop of Axium,

His Beatitude Mar Dinkha IV, Patriarch of the Holy Apostolic Catholic Assyrian Church of the East,

The Most Rev. Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury,
Rev. Mark S. Hanson, Presiding Bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, and President of the Lutheran World Federation,
Rev. George H. Freeman, General Secretary, World Methodist Council,
Rev. David Coffey, President of the Baptist World Alliance,
Rev. Setri Nyomi, General Secretary of the World Alliance of Reformed Churches,

Rev. Dr. Samuel Kobia, General Secretary, World Council of Churches,
And Leaders of Christian Churches, everywhere….


To give you an idea how new the site is, I was only visitor #790 to the site.


An AsiaNews story datelined London informs us that the entire letter is on the BBC website, but I can't see it yet!

We have “a Common Word,”
say 138 Muslim scholars
in a letter to the Pope


The letter, which was signed by Sunni and Shia scholars from almost every Muslim country,
is addressed to all Christian leaders.
“If Muslims and Christians are not at peace, the world cannot be at peace.”



London, Oct. 11 (AsiaNews) – “A Common Word between Us and You” is the title of a letter signed by 138 Muslim scholars sent to Benedict XVI and the leaders of all Christian Churches in order to promote greater understanding between the two faiths.

“Muslims and Christians together make up over half of the world’s population,” begins the 29-page letter that is available on the BBC website. “Without peace and justice between these two religious communities, there can be no meaningful peace in the world. The future of the world depends on peace between Muslims and Christians.”

And, says the letter later on, “If Muslims and Christians are not at peace, the world cannot be at peace.”

Released on the first anniversary of a letter by 38 Muslims scholars in response to the Pope’s lectio in Regensburg, this letter was signed by 138 Muslims scholars, including the secretary-general of the Organisation of the Islamic Conference, a member of the Committee of Senior Ulema of Saudi Arabia, the acting secretary of the Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs, the secretary general of the Nahdhatul Ulama Consultative Council of Indonesia, the grand muftis of Egypt, Jordan , Bosnia, Russia, Croatia, Kosovo, Syria United Arab Emirates, Oman, the mufti of Istanbul, the head of the Fatwa Council of Yemen, ministers and former minister of religious affairs of Algeria, Sudan, Mauritania, Jordan and Morocco, the president of Al-Azhar University, and Iranian government officials and academics.

The letter highlights the similarities between the Bible and the Qur‘an, stating that their “differences [should] not cause hatred and strife,” stressing in particular one’s attitudes towards one’s “neighbours,” which includes all those who believe in the One God.

Hence, faith becomes the basis on which the scholars say coexistence ought to be promoted. They do not however mention the violence that is often carried out in the name of faith within Islam.



TERESA BENEDETTA
Thursday, October 11, 2007 9:42 PM
THE POPE'S DAY TODAY, 10/11/07

The Holy Father met today with
- H.E. Ji-Young Francesco Kim, Ambassador of the Republic of Korea to the Holy See, who presented
his credentials. Address in English.
- Cardinal Franc Rodé, Prefect of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life
- Bernard Lander, President of Touro College, New York, and delegation;
- Prof. Mario Agnes, editor of L’Osservatore Romano

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NB: The VI International Festival of Sacred Music opened in Rome today with the Italian premiere of TU ES PETRUS,
a Mass composed for the Pope's 80th birthday. Mons. Angelo Comastri, arch-priest of St. Peter's Basilica, celebrated
the Mass at the evening performance.


HOLY SEE PRAISES EFFORTS
TOWARDS RECONCILIATION IN KOREA


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VATICAN CITY, OCT 11, 2007 (VIS) - Today in the Vatican, Benedict XVI received the Letters of Credence of Francis Kim Ji-young, the new ambassador of the Republic of Korea to the Holy See.

In his English-language address to the diplomat, the Pope mentioned "the remarkable growth of the Catholic Church" in Korea which, he said, is "due in no small part to the heroic example of men and women whose faith led them to lay down their lives for Christ and for their brothers and sisters.

"Their sacrifice," he added, "reminds us that no cost is too great for persevering in fidelity to the truth. Regrettably, in our contemporary pluralist world some people question or even deny the importance of truth. Yet objective truth remains the only sure basis for social cohesion. Truth is not dependent upon consensus but precedes it and makes it possible, generating authentic human solidarity.

"The Church - always mindful of the truth's power to unite people, and ever attentive to mankind's irrepressible desire for peaceful coexistence - eagerly strives to strengthen concord and social harmony both in ecclesial life and civic life, proclaiming the truth about the human person as known by natural reason and fully manifested through divine revelation."

Turning to consider the Korean people's desire for peace on the peninsula and in the region as a whole, Benedict XVI reiterated "the Holy See's support for every initiative that aims at a sincere and lasting reconciliation, putting an end to enmity and unresolved grievances." And he praised the country's efforts "to foster fruitful and open dialogue while simultaneously working to alleviate the pain of those suffering from the wounds of division and distrust."

"Every nation shares in the responsibility of assuring a more stable and secure world. It is my ardent hope that the ongoing participation of various countries involved in the negotiation process will lead to a cessation of programs designed to develop and produce weapons with frightening potential for unspeakable destruction."

The Pope noted how Korea "has achieved notable successes in scientific research and development," especially in biotechnology which has "the potential to treat and cure illnesses so as to improve the quality of life in your homeland and abroad." However, he added, "discoveries in this field invite man to a deeper awareness of the weighty responsibilities involved in their application," and "under no circumstances may a human being be manipulated or treated as a mere instrument for experimentation.

"The destruction of human embryos, whether to acquire stem cells or for any other purpose, contradicts the purported intent of researchers, legislators and public health officials to promote human welfare. The Church does not hesitate to approve and encourage somatic stem-cell research: not only because of the favorable results obtained through these alternative methods, but more importantly because they harmonize with the aforementioned intent by respecting the life of the human being at every stage of his or her existence."

Pope Benedict concluded his remarks by recalling how "the promotion of human dignity also summons public authorities to ensure that young people receive a sound education. ... It is incumbent upon governments to afford parents the opportunity to send their children to religious schools by facilitating the establishment and financing of such institutions. ... Catholic and other religious schools should enjoy the appropriate latitude of freedom to design and implement curricula that nurture the life of the spirit without which the life of the mind is so seriously distorted."


Don't use embryos
for stem-cell research


VATICAN CITY, Oct. 11 (Reuters) - Pope Benedict appealed to scientists on Thursday to stop using human embryos in stem cell research, saying it violated "the dignity of human life".

The Vatican is a proponent of stem cell research as long as it does not harm human embryos, which the Catholic Church holds are humans from the moment of conception.

"The destruction of human embryos, whether to acquire stem cells or for any other purpose, contradicts the purported intent of researchers, legislators and public health officials to promote human welfare," the Pontiff said.

The Church supports research on adult cells and even promising alternatives to embryonic research, like the use of amniotic fluid protecting fetuses in the uterus.

The Pope said such research methods "harmonize with the aforementioned intent (to promote human welfare) by respecting the life of the human being at every stage of his or her existence".

The Pontiff made his statements in a letter to South Korea's new ambassador to the Holy See.

South Korea earlier this year announced plans to removing some of the blocks to human embryonic stem cell research which had been in place since a 2006 scientific scandal involving forged data in stem cell studies.

TERESA BENEDETTA
Friday, October 12, 2007 2:49 AM
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In the Name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful



138 Muslim leaders call for
common ground with Christians

By JOHN L. ALLEN JR.
Washington, D.C.
Oct 11, 2007


Here's John Allen's report about the actual launching of A COMMON WORD, and he has a reaction from the Archbishop of Canterbury:


Asserting that “the future of the world depends on peace between Muslims and Christians,” an ad-hoc group of 138 Muslim clerics and scholars from around the world have appealed to Pope Benedict XVI and 25 other Christian leaders “to make peace and to come together in harmony.”

The 28-page appeal was released on Thursday during news conferences in Dubai, London, and the National Press Club in Washington, D.C.

The missive comes on the one-year anniversary of a similar letter addressed to Benedict XVI by 38 Muslim scholars, that one drafted in the wake of his controversial Sept. 12, 2006, lecture at the University of Regensburg, which fired Islamic protest by quoting a 14th century Byzantine emperor to the effect that Muhammad brought “things only evil and inhuman,” such as “his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached.”

This time around, the Muslim leaders said they wanted to issue a letter that would not be merely "reactive," but rather one that would initiate something.

John Esposito, director of the Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding at Georgetown University, described the letter as an “historic event,” saying that "this is really the first time in history that we’ve had an initiative in which Muslims have collectively come together and agree to what binds them theologically to Christians."

The document argues that the twin commands of love of God and love of neighbor are shared by the two traditions.

“Whilst Islam and Christianity are obviously different religions – and whilst there is no minimizing some of their formal differences – it is clear that the Two Greatest Commandments are an area of common ground and a link between the Qur’an, the Torah and the New Testament,” it says.

On that basis, the Muslim leaders say, there is no necessary antagonism between the two traditions.

“As Muslims, we say to Christians that we are not against them and that Islam is not against them – so long as they do not wage war against Muslims on account of their religion, oppress them and drive them out of their homes,” the document says, referring to a passage in the Qur’an.

The Muslim leaders argue that the sheer size of the two faiths makes cooperation essential.

“Christianity and Islam are the largest and second largest religions in the world and in history,” the letter says. “Christians and Muslims reportedly make up over a third and a fifth of humanity respectively. Together they make up more than 55 percent of the world’s population, making the relationship between these two religious communities the most important factor in contributing to meaningful peace around the world.”

“If Muslims and Christians are not at peace, the world cannot be at peace. With the terrible weaponry of the modern world; with Muslims and Christians intertwined everywhere as never before, no side can unilaterally win a conflict between more than half the world’s inhabitants. Thus our common future is at stake. The very survival of the world itself is perhaps at stake.”

The Muslim authors also reject violence in the name of religion.

“To those who nevertheless relish conflict and destruction for their own sake, or reckon that ultimately they stand to gain through them, we say that our very eternal souls are also at stake if we fail to sincerely make every effort to make peace and to come together in harmony,” the letter reads.

While the Vatican has not yet issued an official reaction, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, who is also among the Christian leaders to whom the letter is addressed, welcomed the initiative.

The world’s top Anglican called it “indicative of the kind of relationship for which we yearn in all parts of the world, and especially where Muslims and Christians live together. It is particularly important in underlining the need for respect towards minorities in contexts where either Islam or Christianity is the majority presence.”

“I shall endeavor in this country and internationally to do my part in working for the righteousness which this letter proclaims as our common goal,” Williams said in an Oct. 11 statement.

TERESA BENEDETTA
Friday, October 12, 2007 7:08 AM
REGENSBURG REVISITED, the 3-part ZENIT interview with Fr. James Schall,
is now posted in its entirety in the original posting on this page.
TERESA BENEDETTA
Friday, October 12, 2007 2:32 PM
REPORTING 'A COMMON WORD'
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In the Name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful


THE GENERAL SPIN APPEARS TO BE
THAT REGENSBURG HAD NOTHING TO DO
WITH THIS MUSLIM RESPONSE AT ALL!



Significantly, none of the reports I have seen so far, except the original Il Giornale online item which first alerted us yesterday, refers to the website of A COMMON WORD, from which it is worth repeating here the opening paragraphs of its "Introduction to A COMMON WORD...":

Introduction to
'A COMMON WORD BETWEEN US AND YOU'


On October 13th 2006, one month to the day after Pope Benedict XVI’s Regensburg address of September 13th 2006, 38 Islamic authorities and scholars from around the world, representing all denominations and schools of thought, joined together to deliver an answer to the Pope in the spirit of open intellectual exchange and mutual understanding.

In their Open Letter to the Pope
ammanmessage.com/media/openLetter/english.pdf
for the first time in recent history, Muslim scholars from every branch of Islam spoke with one voice about the true teachings of Islam. [This full text was posted here in REFLECTIONS ON ISLAM last year.]

Now, exactly one year after that letter, Muslims have expanded their message. In A Common Word Between Us and You, 138 Muslim scholars, clerics and intellectuals have unanimously come together for the first time since the days of the Prophet to declare the common ground between Christianity and Islam....

In other words, the movers behind A COMMON WORD themselves acknowledge Regensburg from the get-go, but it seems the MSM have chosen to present it as a completely Muslim initiative challenging the Pope and other Christian leaders to a dialog for peace!

Here is the link to A COMMON WORD website:
www.acommonword.com/index.php?lang=en
and here, a link to the full 29-page letter:
news.bbc.co.uk/2/shared/bsp/hi/pdfs/11_10_07_letter.pdf

Next, it is strange that none of the major news services has run a wire story about this truly historic event - which is the most significant response so far to Pope Benedict XVI's Regensburg challenge for inter-religious dialog based on reason.

In Washington, DC, one of four cities where a news conference was held to launch A COMMON WORD, the Washington Post ran a Page 9 story in its On Faith page, but the New York Times saw fit to devote a single paragraph in World Briefings to it.

And in Italy, Marco Politi, one of the most veteran - and also the most openly partisan and anti-Benedict - of Vatican correspondents, wrote a story about it that does not even mention the Regensburg lecture and reports the story as though the new letter were an initiative completely originated by the Muslim side, i.e., not having been prompted by anything! A spin, I soon found out, taken by the other MSM reports now available online. [I will post a translation of Politi's fairly short article later].

In the Italian papers, only Politi's Repubblica and Il Giornale - other than Avvenire - report on it today. If you thought, as I did, that Corriere della Sera is Italy's newspaper of record, no, it did not report A COMMON WORD today - as strangely enough, as Lella reminds us, it chose not to report the Pope's Letter to the Catholics of China!

Osservatore Romano itself does not appear to carry any word at all today about A COMMON WORD! It might use as an excuse the fact that the Pope has not formally received the letter yet - which would be another story in itself - but it could at least have reported that the document exists and has been presented to the worldwide press!

The British newspapers came out one day ahead with the story since London was one of four cities where a presentation news conference was held (with Washington, Amman and Abu Dhabi). Both the Times and the Economist 'spin' the story as a Muslim initiative, as does teh BBC.

In short, all those liberal elements - who so criticized the Pope for having been 'undiplomatic' to say the least in the Regensburg lecture - would now pretend that it had nothing to do at all with the Muslim response!




Pope told 'survival of world' at stake
if Muslims and Christians do not make peace

Ruth Gledhill, Religion Correspondent
The Times of London




The "survival of the world" is at stake if Muslims and Christians do not make peace with each other, leaders of the Muslim world will warn the Pope and other Christian leaders today.

In an unprecedented open letter signed by 138 leading scholars from every sect of Islam, the Muslims plead with Christian leaders "to come together with us on the common essentials of our two religions" and spell out the similarities between passages of the Bible and the Koran.

The scholars state: "As Muslims, we say to Christians that we are not against them and that Islam is not against them - so long as they do not wage war against Muslims on account of their religion, oppress them and drive them out of their homes."

The phrasing has echoes of the New Testament passage: "He that is not with me is against me" - a passage used by President George Bush when addressing a joint session of Congress nine days after 9/11.

The Muslims call instead for the emphasis to be on the shared characteristics of world's two largest faiths.

The letter, addressed to Pope Benedict XVI, to the Orthodox Church's Patriarch of Constantinople, Bartholomew 1 and all the other Orthodox Patriarchs and to the Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Rowan Williams and the leaders of all other Protestant churches worldwide, will be rolled out around the world this morning in a series of press conferences beginning in Jordan. It is supported by the Bishop of London, the Right Rev Richard Chartres.

It is expected to be followed by a joint conference between Muslim and Christian world leaders at on "neutral" ground, such as at a university in America.

"Finding common ground between Muslims and Christians is not simply a matter for polite ecumenical dialogue between selected religious leaders," the Muslim scholars say, noting that Christians and Muslims make up over a third and a fifth of humanity respectively.

"Together they make up more than 55 per cent of the population, making the relationship between these two religious communities the most important factor in contributing to meaningful peace around the world. If Muslims and Christians are not at peace, the world cannot be at peace."

The Muslims even quote passages verbatim from the Bible, extremely rare in a publication of this kind and at this level and an indication of their resolve to bring the two faiths together and end the present tensions between them.

The letter continues: "With the terrible weaponry of the modern world; with Muslims and Christians intertwined everywhere as never before, no side can unilaterally win a conflict between more than half of the world's inhabitants. Thus our common future is at stake. The very survival of the world itself is perhaps at stake."

It says: "And to those who nevertheless relish conflict and destruction for their own sake or reckon that ultimately they stand to gain through them, we say that our very eternal souls are all also at stake if we fail to sincerely make every effort to make peace and come together in harmony."

Concluding with a quote from the Koran, the scholars say: "So let our differences not cause hatred and strife between us. Let us vie with each other only in righteousness and good works."

The letter is being sent out today by the Royal Aal al-Bayt Institute for Islamic Thought in Amman, Jordan.

Among those launching the letter in the UK will be two world leading figures in interfaith dialogue Professor David Ford and Aref Ali Nayed.

Professor David Ford is Regius Professor of Divinity, and Fellow of Selwyn College, University of Cambridge. Professor Ford is also the Founding Director of the Cambridge Inter-Faith Programme and led this year’s international inter-faith conference at Lancaster House in June on ‘Islam and Muslims in the World Today’.

Aref Ali Nayed is a leading theologian and senior adviser to the Cambridge Inter-Faith Programme. He is formerly Professor at the Pontifical Institute for Arabic and Islamic Studies in Rome, and the International Institute for Islamic Thought and Civilization in Malaysia.

Signatories include Shaykh Sevki Omarbasic, Grand Mufti of Croatia, Dr Abdul Hamid Othman, adviser to the Prime Minister of Malaysia and Dr Ali Ozak, head of the endowment for Islamic scientific studies in Istanbul, Turkey. They also include Shaykh Dr Nuh Ali Salman Al-Qudah, Grand Mufti of Jordan and Shaykh Dr Ikrima Said Sabri, former Grand Mufti of Jerusalem and Imam of the Al-Aqsa Mosque.

The first reaction to the letter, from the Bishop of Rochester, Dr Michael Nazir-Ali, a leading Anglican expert on Islam, appeared to be critical.

Dr Nazir-Ali, who was born in Pakistan, welcomed the Muslim scholars' deisire for a dialogue, but said that the appeal was based on the Muslim belief in the oneness of God.

"What I would say to that is that Christians uphold belief in one God vigorously but our understanding of the oneness of God is not the Muslim understanding," he told The Times. "We believe in God as source from whom everything is brought into being. Jesus is God's word and presence for us but is also human."

He added: "One partner cannot dictate the terms on which dialogue must be conducted. This document seems to be on the verge of doing that."

But the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, appeared to disagree. He said: "The letter’s understanding of the unity of God provides an opportunity for Christians and Muslims to explore together their distinctive understandings and the ways in which these mould and shape our lives."


The Economist of London appears to consider the Pope's Regensburg lecture as merely incidental to this letter - instead of its impetus and prime mover - and ends its report with a typically snarky unwarranted and unfounded comment:


Let's talk, says a letter from Muslim leaders:
the survival of the world is at stake

Oct 11th 2007 | ROME
From The Economist print edition



“THERE will come a day when we will agree with one another.” Those were the parting words of a Muslim participant in one of the classic medieval texts of Islamic-Christian dialogue, describing a conversation about matters of faith between Saint Gregory Palamas, a 14th-century eastern divine, and a group of Turks.

A similar, if rather more qualified, spirit of optimism seems to have inspired 138 Muslim scholars — including grand muftis from most of the world's Islamic nations — who this week wrote to Christian leaders, appealing for a sort of strategic dialogue.

Almost teasingly, they suggest the basis for such a dialogue should be two commandments offered by Jesus Christ as a summary of all the law and prophecy of the Hebrew scriptures: to love God with all your might and to “love your neighbour as yourself.” Since Muslims agree with both injunctions — and could indeed back them up with copious material from the Koran — why not take them as a starting point?

As inter-religious initiatives go, the statement dated October 13th, as Muslims round the world were celebrating the end of Ramadan, was spectacular — both in the number and variety of its signatories, and in the range of its named recipients. (They include Pope Benedict XVI, every Orthodox patriarch, many other eastern prelates and the heads of the Anglican, Lutheran, Methodist, and other Christian churches.)

Also striking was the starkness of the warning it gave about the consequences of a breakdown between the two largest monotheistic faiths. Christians and Muslims, the letter pointed out, account respectively for about a third, and over a fifth, of humanity.

This implies that the relationship between the two faiths could be a decisive factor in the prospects for stability in the world. “If Muslims and Christians are not at peace, the world cannot be at peace. The very survival of the world itself is perhaps at stake.”

If the message is a challenge to anybody in particular, it is to Pope Benedict, who triggered uproar in the Muslim world with a speech in September 2006 that cited (while not endorsing) a Byzantine emperor's view that Islam's only innovation was to propagate violence.

The new Muslim message comes exactly a year after a previous one by 38 senior representatives of Islam which politely took issue with the pope on several matters of theological detail. The latest statement says, in effect: We still want to talk to you — and there are even more of us now — and we want to talk to other Christian leaders too.

As it happens, the timing of the initiative could be propitious from the Vatican's point of view. Since the rumpus over the pope's speech in Regensburg, the Vatican has been working quietly to repair the damage and to position itself for a new relationship with Islam, one that combines theology with what it calls an “ethical dialogue”—in other words, a conversation about shared values, which sounds rather similar to what the Muslim authors of the letter are proposing.

In institutional terms, the pope has already reversed one move which had been seen by Muslims as unfriendly. The Vatican's department (in effect, ministry) for inter-faith relations, which had been merged with the culture department in March 2006 (and, it was thought, thereby downgraded), was restored to independent life in May this year.

Its new head is Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, a senior figure who knows the Arab world well. The Vatican hopes that “ethical dialogue” will make it easier to raise its concerns about the hard-pressed Christian minorities living in Muslim countries such as Iraq, Egypt and Pakistan.

How might other recipients of the letter react? Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, is known to favour the sort of Christian-Muslim dialogue that brings together theologians steeped in a long tradition of scriptural commentary and interpretation. In other words, he sympathises with the view, held by many of the Muslims behind this appeal, that amateurish theology stokes religious extremism.

For those who wonder what difference the musings of a bunch of learned men will make to the hotheads who start riots or plant bombs, it is worth remembering that some of the fallout from the pope's Regensburg speech could probably have been avoided if the pontiff had been a little more careful over the nuances of history. Perhaps a “hot line” — of the sort that used to connect Washington and Moscow during the cold war — would be a way to forestall such avoidable problems.

[And pray tell, Messrs. Wise Men of the Economist, just exactly who would be at the Muslim end of such a hot line - and how many would there have to be? Did you even think before writing what you did?]


Meanwhile, here is how BBC News reported it - ahead of the rest. Not that it relates the letter to the aniversary of the Open Letter of 2006, without mentioning that that first Open Letter was a direct response to the Regensburg lecture. In fact, the word Regensburg does not even appear in the report.


Muslim scholars reach out to Pope


More than 130 Muslim scholars have written to Pope Benedict XVI and other Christian leaders urging greater understanding between the two faiths.

The letter says that world peace could depend on improved relations between Muslims and Christians.

It identifies the principles of accepting only one god and living in peace with one's neighbours as common ground between the two religions.

It also insists that Christians and Muslims worship the same god.

The letter comes on the anniversary of an open letter issued to the Pope last year from 38 top Muslim clerics, after he made a controversial speech on Islam.

Pope Benedict sparked an uproar in September last year by quoting a medieval text which linked Islam to violence.

The letter coincides with the Eid al-Fitr celebrations to mark the end of Ramadan.

It was also sent to the Archbishop of Canterbury, the heads of the Lutheran, Methodist and Baptist churches, the Orthodox Church's Patriarch of Constantinople Bartholomew I and other Orthodox Patriarchs.

The letter, entitled A Common Word Between Us and You, compares passages in the Koran and the Bible, concluding that both emphasise "the primacy of total love and devotion to God", and the love of the neighbour.

With Muslims and Christians making up more than half the world's population, the letter goes on, the relationship between the two religious communities is "the most important factor in contributing to meaningful peace around the world".

"As Muslims, we say to Christians that we are not against them and that Islam is not against them - so long as they do not wage war against Muslims on account of their religion, oppress them and drive them out of their homes," the letter says.

It adds: "To those who nevertheless relish conflict and destruction for their own sake or reckon that ultimately they stand to gain through them, we say our very eternal souls are all also at stake if we fail to sincerely make every effort to make peace and come together in harmony."

One of the signatories, Dr Aref Ali Nayed, a senior adviser at the Cambridge Inter-faith Programme at Cambridge University, told the BBC that the document should be seen as a landmark.

"There are Sunnis, Shias, Ibadis and even the... Ismailian and Jaafari schools, so it's a consensus," he said.

Professor David Ford, director of the programme, said the letter was unprecedented.

"If sufficient people and groups heed this statement and act on it then the atmosphere will be changed into one in which violent extremists cannot flourish," he said in a statement.

The letter was signed by prominent Muslim leaders, politicians and academics, including the Grand Muftis of Bosnia and Hercegovina, Russia, Croatia, Kosovo and Syria, the Secretary-General of the Organisation of the Islamic Conference, the former Grand Mufti of Egypt and the founder of the Ulema Organisation in Iraq.



Muslims Call for Interfaith Peace:
Letter to Christian Church Leaders
Seeks Common Ground

By Michelle Boorstein
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, October 12, 2007; Page A09


Dozens of Muslim leaders from around the world released a letter yesterday to "leaders of Christian churches everywhere" emphasizing the shared theological roots of the two faiths and saying the survival of the world depends on them finding common ground.

The document, "A Common Word Between Us and You," was signed by 138 clerics, scholars and others and released at news conferences in Jordan, London, Abu Dhabi and Washington.

The effort was organized by the Royal Academy, the same Jordan-based group behind a letter sent last October to Pope Benedict XVI after he delivered a lecture about Islam that set off protests.

Noting that the two faith groups together make up more than half of the world's population, the letter said: "If Muslims and Christians are not at peace, the world cannot be at peace. . . . thus our common future is at stake. The very survival of the world is perhaps at stake."

The letter was addressed to more than 30 Christian leaders, including Pope Benedict and the leaders of the world's Orthodox Christians and Anglicans. Its signatories include present and former grand muftis of Syria, Slovenia, Palestine and Egypt as well as professors, political leaders and advocates such as the co-founder of the Council on American-Islamic Relations.

At the Washington news conference, John Esposito, director of the Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding at Georgetown, said that the letter was a feat partially because it was able to bring together Muslim leaders from a wide range of theological schools across Sunni, Shia, Salafi and Sufi traditions.

"This is a challenge to Christianity," he said. "It will be wonderful to see their responses."

The key point of the 29-page letter is that Christianity and Islam share two foundations: love of one God, and love of one's neighbor.

"Christians don't see how central these are to Islam, too," said Seyyed Hossein Nasr, an Iranian-born Islamic studies professor at George Washington University who signed the letter.

Reactions were mixed.

Sister Mary Ann Walsh, spokeswoman for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, said the letter "gives compelling reasons why Muslims and Christians should work together. As Catholics, we look forward to a broad dialogue of civilizations and cultures that will take up the challenges and hopes of the distinguished Muslim authors of this important 'Common Word.' "

Rowan Williams, archbishop of Canterbury and spiritual leader to the world's 17 million Anglicans, said in a statement that the letter "provides an opportunity for Muslims and Christians to explore together their distinctive understandings. . . . The call to respect, peace and goodwill should now be taken up . . . at all levels and in all countries."

Anglican bishop Michael Nazir-Ali said, however, that the letter seems to undercut the role of Jesus by emphasizing a part of the Koran that urges non-Muslims not to "ascribe any partners unto" God. The two faiths' understanding of the oneness of God is not the same, he told the Times of London. "One partner cannot dictate the terms on which dialogue must be conducted," he said. "This document seems to be on the verge of doing that."



Vatican City: Muslim Letter to Pope
By IAN FISHER
The New York Times
Published: October 12, 2007


A group of 138 Muslim scholars urged Pope Benedict XVI and other Christian leaders to engage in a deep dialogue for peace between the faiths. “Muslims and Christians together make up well over half of the world’s population,” the 29-page letter read. “Without peace and justice between these two religious communities, there can be no meaningful peace in the world.” There was no immediate reaction from Benedict, criticized for a speech he gave last year that Muslims said equated their religion with violence. He has since called repeatedly for a similar dialogue between Christians and Muslims.



Muslim leaders call Christians
for talk to promote peace

By IANS [an Indian news service]
Friday October 12


Amman/Rome, Oct 12 (DPA) For the sake of world peace there must be greater contact and understanding between the Muslim and Christian faiths, a group of Muslim leaders said in an open letter addressed to Christian leaders, including Pope Benedict XVI.

Both religions accept that there is a sole God and both stress the importance of living in peace with neighbours, the more-than-130 scholars and clerics said Thursday in the letter coinciding with the Eid ul-Fitr celebrations marking the end of Ramadan.

'As Muslims, we say to Christians that we are not against them and that Islam is not against them - so long as they do not wage war against Muslims on account of their religion, oppress them and drive them out of their homes,' the letter said.

The letter, organised by the Royal Aal al-Bayt Institute for Islamic Thought, a non-governmental organisation based in Amman, came on the anniversary of one letter sent to Pope Benedict by 38 top Muslim clerics after the pope made a controversial speech on Islam.

The new letter, entitled A Common Word Between Us and You, was signed by prominent Muslim leaders, politicians and academics, including the Grand Muftis of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Russia, Croatia, Kosovo and Syria, the secretary-general of the Organisation of the Islamic Conference, the former Grand Mufti of Egypt and the founder of the Ulema Organisation in Iraq.

Apart from Pope Benedict, it was addressed to Anglican leader the Archbishop of Canterbury, the heads of the Lutheran, Methodist and Baptist churches, the Orthodox Church's Patriarch of Constantinople Bartholomew I and other Orthodox patriarchs.

'This historic document is a crystal clear message of peace and tolerance from 138 Muslim leaders from across the Islamic world,' John L. Esposito, a professor director of the Centre for Muslim-Christian Understanding at Georgetown University in Washington, said in a statement.

The letter stressed that Muslims and Christians made up more than half the world's population, making their relations 'the most important factor in contributing to meaningful peace around the world'.

It added: 'To those who nevertheless relish conflict and destruction for their own sake or reckon that ultimately they stand to gain through them, we say our very eternal souls are all also at stake if we fail to sincerely make every effort to make peace and come together in harmony.'



Muslim scholars reach out to Pope
From Angola Press

Vatican, 10/12 - More than 130 Muslim scholars have written to Pope Benedict XVI and other Christian leaders urging greater understanding between the two faiths.

The letter says that world peace could depend on improved relations between Muslims and Christians.

It identifies the principles of accepting only one god and living in peace with one`s neighbours as common ground between the two religions.

It also insists that Christians and Muslims worship the same god.

The letter comes on the anniversary of an open letter issued to the Pope last year from 38 top Muslim clerics, after he made a controversial speech on Islam.

Pope Benedict sparked an uproar in September last year by quoting a medieval text which linked Islam to violence.

The letter coincides with the Eid al-Fitr celebrations to mark the end of Ramadan.

It was also sent to the Archbishop of Canterbury, the heads of the Lutheran, Methodist and Baptist churches, the Orthodox Church`s Patriarch of Constantinople Bartholomew I and other Orthodox Patriarchs.

The letter, entitled A Common Word Between Us and You, compares passages in the Koran and the Bible, concluding that both emphasise "the primacy of total love and devotion to God", and the love of the neighbour.

With Muslims and Christians making up more than half the world`s population, the letter goes on, the relationship between the two religious communities is "the most important factor in contributing to meaningful peace around the world".

"As Muslims, we say to Christians that we are not against them and that Islam is not against them - so long as they do not wage war against Muslims on account of their religion, oppress them and drive them out of their homes," the letter says.


=====================================================================

OBVIOUSLY, A SOBER SYSTEMATIC ANALYSIS OF 'A COMMON WORD' IS STILL FORTHCOMING...


TERESA BENEDETTA
Friday, October 12, 2007 4:24 PM
A MUSLIM REACTION
[IMG]http://img156.imageshack.us/img156/9655/b16islamlogoreducedtn7.png[/IMG][IMG]http://img147.imageshack.us/img147/8370/basmallahlogoqv7.png[/IMG]
In the Name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful


I really have not had the time to search for Muslim reaction/commentary about A COMMON WORD, but here is one I did come across, from a feature called JIHAD WATCH and posted by Robert Spencer, oen of two names appearing on the banner. The feature is part of a Jewish site
www.frontpagemag.com/
whose Home Page frustratingly does not give us at least a capsule description of what Front Page is exactly [a common-sense rule most sites don't think about, surprisingly} - and even its contact page does not contain an editorial address!

October 11, 2007

Muslims to Christians: make peace with us,
or the survival of the world is at stake


...My immediate impression is that while saying it wants to build on common ground, the letter (amid copious Qur'an quotes) never mentions
- Qur'an 5:17, which says that those who believe in the divinity of Christ are unbelievers,
- or 4:171, which says that Jesus was not crucified,
- or 9:30, which says that those who believe that Jesus is the Son of God are accursed,
- or 9:29, which mandates warfare against and the subjugation of Jews and Christians
.

It would seem to me that verses like these would need to be addressed in some way, even if only to give them some benign interpretation, if there is to be any true and honest dialogue....

I will eventually post these stories in REFLECTIONS ON ISLAM for the record, but meanwhile, I will keep the immediate reactions here. In fact, REGENSBURG may now need a thread of its own in this section. I'll start organizing it.

P.S. Simple question to those who mindlessly talk about 'theological dialog' between Muslims and Christians: Do they really think that any Muslim - who believes that every word in the Koran came directly from God to Mohammed - would eliminate passages like those cited above?

Or that at least that the imams would point out to their people that those lines which unconditionally condemn Christians are an aberration that can be explained away? Who knows what sophistic contortions they may have to resort to, for that - but it's apparently SOP for them to explain away all the time hundreds of contradictory passages in the Koran. Which means either that a) God speaking to Mohammed was unbelievably slipshod and careless, and worse, inconsistent; or that b) God being God and perfect, the Koran as it is cannot have been dictated by God!

Nothing but landmines in 'theological dialog' across faiths! Best to keep ourselves - both sides - to statements common to both faiths that we will not argue about, not as a theological exercise, but as a basis for doing practical things together for the common good. That is the practical goal of dialog, not trying to convert each other. Any conversions that may result from dialog - out of a better understanding of the 'other' faith - will simply be incidental.

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