Search This Blog

Wednesday, August 31, 2011


Finally a news / talk program in Canada that is not controlled by Ontario / CBC liberal political correctness !!!

"The protection of human life [at all its stages] is the "rock solid and inviolable" foundation upon which all other human rights are based." - Benedict XVI

Monday, August 29, 2011

Historic decision: Erdogan returns seized property to religious minorities 
by NAT da Polis
A decree published last night for the return of thousands of properties seized in '36, just hours before an Iftar of the Prime Minister with representatives of religious minorities. The beneficiaries are Greek-orthodox Christians, Armenians, Jews. Roman Catholics do not fall within the recognized minorities. The Prime Minister's hopes: end to era of discrimination. 

Istanbul (AsiaNews) - In a sudden twist, the Prime Minister Tayip Erdogan has decided to return thousands of properties, confiscated by the government after 1936, to non-Muslim religious foundations. 

This is Erdogan's second surprise reserved for the old establishment of the Turkish Republic after the recent decapitation of the heads of the armed forces and the return of the primacy of politics over the military. 

The publication of the draft-law on the restitution of property took place yesterday, just hours earlier than the traditional Iftar [the dinner-party that celebrates the end of the Ramadan fast] which the representative of the non-Muslim religious foundations, Lakis Vingas, held last night with the Prime Minister guest of honour. 

The publication of the draft-law is a real "coup de theater": it will return all property to religious foundations that the Turkish administration with various subterfuges has seized in the past, after the census of 1936. Non-Muslim religious foundations means those recognized by various international treaties signed by Turkish Republic after 1923. 

The decree has been published within a few days of Bartholomew I's request for the return of unjustly usurped properties to minorities. In his campaign to see the return of certain properties of the Greek-orthodox communities, Bartholomew I had approached various European forums. 

The decree provides: 

1) the restitution of property as they were surveyed and registered in 1936 and subsequently confiscated from the religious foundations by the various administrations of the Republic of Turkey;

2) the return of the management of cemeteries belonging to non-Muslim foundations, which have been improperly sold to various towns and municipalities; 

3) the restitution of undefined deeded property (such as monasteries and parishes), which were never recognized as legal entities by the Turkish Republic. 

4) In the event that these properties have been sold or disposed of in various ways by the Turkish state parties, the Minister of Finance of the Republic of Turkey will establish with the owners a just compensation. 

Interested parties are invited to submit the relevant documentation to the Directorate General of Foundations within 12 months. 

It should be noted that the last law of the Turkish parliament voted on February 20, 2008, challenged and never accepted by opposition did not provide any of these regulations. What remains to be determined is the fate of mazbut properties (the so-called "occupied" properties) in which management, administration and property passed to the Turkish state. 

According to an initial calculation, the decree provides for the restitution of 1000 properties to the Greek-orthodox Christians, 100 to the Armenians, numerous properties to the Chaldean Catholics and also to the Jews. 

Nothing is expected for the Roman Catholics as they do not fall under the Treaty of Lausanne. But according to observers, the passage of the decree gives hope. 

The decree has provoked positive reactions from all minority representatives. The director of the non-Muslim foundations described it as "a step of great importance and great historical content", the lawyer for minorities, Dr. Kezmpan, described it as a great revolution, after the liberation from the military dominance" . Another lawyer, Dr Hatem said that finally "the wrong done to the Church is restored." 

In recent years the EU has always asked Turkey to take steps to remove discriminatory laws against religious minorities. And in some cases the European Court for Human Rights has condemned the Turkish state to return property or compensate the former owners. 

At the Iftar yesterday, Erdogan said: "Like everyone else, we also do know about the injustices that different religious groups have been subjected to because of their differences…Times that a citizen of ours would be oppressed due to his religion, ethnic origin or different way of life are over". 

Saturday, August 27, 2011

ARGENTINA: Ukrainian Catholic University



25 August 2011, 09:03 | UGCC | 0 |   | Code for Blog |  | 

???-?????????.gifFrom 18 to 23 August, 2011, Rector of the Ukrainian Catholic University in Lviv, Fr. Borys Gudziak was on a working trip to the eparchy of Intercession of the Holy Virgin of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church in Argentine. During his stay there, Fr. Borys held a number of meetings and visited Ukrainian communities of Buenos Aires.

According to the Information Department of UGCC, Father Rector met with members of the cultural and educational organizations Prosvita, SUM and Plast. The meeting was held on 18 August at the central department of Prosvita where the visitor told the audience about the mission of UCU, its prospects, development and plans for the future. He also encouraged young Ukrainians from Argentine to participate in the educational programs of UCU.

On the next day, the rector met with representatives of the rectorate of the Catholic University of Argentine, Vice-Rector Dr Beatriz Balian De Tagtachian and the university's external relations manager, Maria Soledad Zapiola. The participants discussed cooperation between UCU and the Catholic University of Argentine.

On 21 August, the visitor met with representatives of the Institute of Patriarch Josef Slipyj Institute of Ukrainian Culture and told them about the current situation and challenges of UCU.

Father Borys also met with Professor Mykhailo Vasylyk of the Catholic University of Canada and nuns who provide spiritual care for the Ukrainian parishes.

Feast of St. Monica :)

From the Confessions of Saint Augustine, bishop
Let us gain eternal wisdom

The day was now approaching when my mother Monica would depart from this life; you knew that day, Lord, though we did not. She and I happened to be standing by ourselves at a window that overlooked the garden in the courtyard of the house. At the time we were in Ostia on the Tiber. We had gone there after a long and wearisome journey to get away from the noisy crowd, and to rest and prepare for our sea voyage. I believe that you, Lord, caused all this to happen in your own mysterious ways. And so the two of us, all alone, were enjoying a very pleasant conversation, forgetting the past and pushing on to what is ahead. We were asking one another in the presence of the Truth–for you are the Truth–what it would be like to share the eternal life enjoyed by the saints, which eye has not seen, nor ear heard, which has not even entered into the heart of man. We desired with all our hearts to drink from the streams of your heavenly fountain, the fountain of life.

That was the substance of our talk, though not the exact words. But you know, O Lord, that in the course of our conversation that day, the world and its pleasures lost all their attraction for us. My mother said: "Son, as far as I am concerned, nothing in this life now gives me any pleasure. I do not know why I am still here, since I have no further hopes in this world. I did have one reason for wanting to live a little longer: to see you become a Catholic Christian before I died. God has lavished his gifts on me in that respect, for I know that you have even renounced earthly happiness to be his servant. So what am I doing here?"

I do not really remember how I answered her. Shortly, within five days or thereabouts, she fell sick with a fever. Then one day during the course of her illness she became unconscious and for a while she was unaware of her surroundings. My brother and I rushed to her side but she regained consciousness quickly. She looked at us as we stood there and asked in a puzzled voice: "Where was I?"

We were overwhelmed with grief, but she held her gaze steadily upon us and spoke further: "Here you shall bury your mother." I remained silent as I held back my tears. However, my brother haltingly expressed his hope that she might not die in a strange country but in her own land, since her end would be happier there. When she heard this, her face was filled with anxiety, and she reproached him with a glance because he had entertained such earthly thoughts. Then she looked at me and spoke: "Look what he is saying." Thereupon she said to both of us: "Bury my body wherever you will; let not care of it cause you any concern. One thing only I ask you, that you remember me at the altar of the Lord wherever you may be." Once our mother had expressed this desire as best she could, she fell silent as the pain of her illness increased.

You, O God, are everything to us

From an instruction by Saint Columban, abbot (6th cent. Ireland)
You, O God, are everything to us

Brethren, let us follow that vocation by which we are called from life to the fountain of life. He is the fountain, not only of living water, but of eternal life. He is the fountain of light and spiritual illumination; for from him come all these things: wisdom, life and eternal light. The author of life is the fountain of life; the creator of light is the fountain of spiritual illumination. Therefore, let us seek the fountain of light and life and the living water by despising what we see, by leaving the world and dwelling in the highest heavens. Let us seek these things, and like rational and shrewd fish may we drink the living water which wells up to eternal life.
Merciful God, good Lord, I wish that you would unite me to that fountain, that there I may drink of the living spring of the water of life with those others who thirst after you. There in that heavenly region may I ever dwell, delighted with abundant sweetness, and say: "How sweet is the fountain of living water which never fails, the water welling up to eternal life."
O God, you are yourself that fountain ever and again to be desired, ever and again to be consumed. Lord Christ, always give us this water to be for us the source of the living water which wells up to eternal life. I ask you for your great benefits. Who does not know it? You, King of glory, know how to give great gifts, and you have promised them; there is nothing greater than you, and you bestowed yourself upon us; you gave yourself for us.
Therefore, we ask that we may know what we love, since we ask nothing other than that you give us yourself. For you are our all: our life, our light, our salvation, our food and our drink, our God. Inspire our hearts, I ask you, Jesus, with that breath of your Spirit; wound our souls with your love, so that the soul of each and every one of us may say in truth: Show me my soul's desire, for I am wounded by your love.
These are the wounds I wish for Lord. Blessed is the soul so wounded by love. Such a soul seeks the fountain of eternal life and drinks from it, although it continues to thirst and its thirst grows ever greater even as it drinks. Therefore, the more the soul loves, the more it desires to love, and the greater its suffering, the greater its healing. In this same way may our God and Lord Jesus Christ, the good and saving physician, wound the depths of our souls with a healing wound—the same Jesus Christ who reigns in unity with the Father and the Holy Spirit, for ever and ever. Amen.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Heze, 2 years hard labour for Fr. Wang for refusing to submit to PA 
by Jian Mei
The priest is the diocesan administrator of the underground community. Relatives friends barred from visiting him during detention, but a Catholic source tells AsiaNews: "He was condemned for his firmness in refusing to subscribe to the Patriotic Association." The community asks the universal Church and the Holy See to pray for him and do everything for his release. Meanwhile, 30 believers from Tianshui released. 

Beijing (AsiaNews) - The Chinese government yesterday condemned Fr. Wang Chengli - diocesan administrator of the underground community in Heze Diocese (Caozhou) in Shandong province – to two years of "re-education through labour", probably because he refused to join the Chinese government's Catholic Patriotic Association. 

The sentence was handed down on 25 August. The Heze priest, 48, was transferred from the detention centre in Dongming, , to the re-education centre of Jining: more than 150 kilometers away. The government has not allowed the family (or anyone else) to visit him during detention, so the details of his conviction are not clear, however, some Heze Catholic sources have told AsiaNews that it is connected to his firmness in refusing to subscribe to the PA. 

The same Catholic sources believe that the ruling against Fr. Wang could be related to the issue of the ordination of the bishop of the official church of Heze. "Re-education through labour" is a sentence imposed by the Public Security offices which aims to reform political and religious dissidents, and minor offences.

Legal and human rights advocates describe it as a punishment with a system of detention without trial or means of appeal. Some estimate more than 300 thousand people in the country are being detained in re-education centers. The police detained Fr. Wang and three other priests late at night on August 3 and took them to the detention centre of Dongming County. 

They were reportedly not allowed to eat in the beginning of their detention, but were given food afterwards. Except Father Wang, the other three priests have been released earlier, and are doing pastoral work quietly in the area. Prayer houses, are closely monitored by officials. A relative of Fr Wang says that the priest has high blood pressure and that the family is afraid for his health. The family, all natives of Shandong, have been Catholic for generations. 

Heze Catholics urgently ask members of the universal Church and the Holy See to pray for Fr Wang and work for his release. The priest, born in Yanzhou, has led the underground community in Heze in recent years. Ordained a priest in 1991, Wang this year celebrated the 20th anniversary of his ordination. 

Meanwhile, the group of 30 Catholics in the underground community in Tianshui diocese (Gansu) was released yesterday. The group included retired Bishop Casmirus Wang Milu, administrator Father Wang Ruohan, several priests and about 20 lay leaders. A Catholic source told AsiaNews that they are "happy to see their return." In the evening prayer "we thanked the Lord." 

Blessed Feast of the Piercing of St. Teresa of Avila's Heart !!!

"The protection of human life [at all its stages] is the "rock solid and inviolable" foundation upon which all other human rights are based." - Benedict XVI

Thursday, August 25, 2011

UKRAINE: Catholic, Orthodox leaders talk of easing tensions

Ukrainian Catholic, Orthodox leaders talk of easing tensionsRSSFacebookAugust 25, 2011

Major Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk of the Ukrainian {Catholic} Church met on August 23 with the leader of the Russian-backed Ukrainian Orthodox Church, for a friendly conversation that contrasted with past bitter exchanges between the Ukrainian Catholic and Orthodox hierarchies.

Metropolitan Volodymyr of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (Moscow patriarchate) welcomed the Catholic leader to his residence, and Major Archbishop Shevchuk congratulated his Orthodox counterpart on the 45th anniversary of his episcopal ordination, before the two settled in to a more substantive discussion of relations between their churches.

The Ukrainian Catholic Church—the largest of the Eastern churches in communion with the Holy See—has frequently been the focus of complaints from Orthodox leaders, especially in Moscow. After years of Communist repression, the Ukrainian Catholic Church burst vigorously into public life after the fall of the Soviet regime. The Russian Orthodox Church has complained about this Catholic activity in a land that the Moscow patriarchate regards as its own "canonical territory." Ukrainian Catholic leaders, in turn, demanded the return of Catholic parish churches that had been confiscated during the Stalinist persecution and handed over to local Orthodox communities. During their meeting, Metropolitan Volodymyr and Major Archbishop Shevchuk agreed that future conflicts should be handled through friendly dialogue.

The Orthodox Church in Ukraine is also divided, with Metropolitan Volodymyr heading the group that has maintained its alliance with Moscow. Another group, the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Kiev patriarchate, is headed by Patriarch Filaret. Once recognized by Moscow as the Metropolitan of Ukraine, Filaret broke away from the Russian Orthodox Church to establish a separate Ukrainian patriarchate after the country won independence.

Source(s): these links will take you to other sites, in a new window.

Georgia (Caucasus) grants Catholic Church legal statusRSSFacebookAugust 25, 2011

Georgia--the former Soviet republic located between Russia and Turkey--has granted juridical status to the Catholic Church and other ecclesial communities "that have close historical ties with Georgia or that have become lawfully recognized as religions in member states of the Council of Europe."

"This decision, so long awaited and now received with great satisfaction, allows religious institutions to be registered and to place themselves around the negotiating table as legally recognized partners," L'Osservatore Romano notes.

Source(s): these links will take you to other sites, in a new window.

Monday, August 22, 2011

EVANGELICAL CATHOLICISM: Benedict XVI and the Future of the West

Evangelical Catholicism: Benedict XVI and the Future of the West 
By George Weigel 
Posted: Monday, July 11, 2011 

Publication Date: July 1, 2011 

A year ago, my subject would probably have struck some as counter-intuitive, implausible, even absurd: why would an octogenarian German theologian with little practical experience of political and economic life have anything interesting or important to say about "the future of the West"? Pope Benedict XVI's Westminster Hall address last September ought to have put paid to at least some of that cynicism. For as many Britons conceded after last September's papal visit, the elderly German theologian had indeed given the United Kingdom, and the rest of the West, a lot to think about in his reflections on the relationship between the health of a culture, and the health of the democratic institutions that culture must sustain.

And that, in turn, should focus our attention on the font of wisdom from which Pope Benedict drew in analysing the current cultural situation of the Western democracies: the social doctrine of the Catholic Church as it has developed from Leo XIII-the last pope of the 19th century and the first pope of the 20th-through John Paul II, the last pope of the 20th century and the first pope of the 21st. Benedict has, of course, made his own distinctive contributions to this evolving body of thought; but before exploring those themes, a brief sketch of the Catholicism that has emerged during the period following Leo XIII, and that is struggling to come to full maturity today, will help orient the distinctively Benedictine reflections on society, culture, politics, and economics that follow.

Blessed John Paul II and Benedict XVI represent the full flowering of a renaissance in Catholic thought that began with Pope Leo XIII, who, after his election to the papacy in 1878, sought an engagement with modern intellectual and cultural life through distinctively Catholic methods. The Leonine Catholic renaissance flourished in the mid-20th century in philosophical, theological, liturgical, historical and biblical studies. Those studies in turn paved the intellectual way to the Second Vatican Council, and shaped its deliberations between 1962 and 1965. The Second Vatican Council was unique, however, in that it did not provide keys for its proper interpretation: it wrote no creeds, legislated no canons, defined no doctrines, condemned no heresies-all the things other ecumenical councils had done in order to provide keys for their interpretation. Absent such keys, the nature and terms of Vatican II's achievement were sharply, even bitterly, contested in the years immediately following the Council's conclusion. As a result, the evangelical energy that Blessed John XXIII had intended his council to ignite-the determination to bring the Gospel of God's passionate love for the world to the world through a two-way dialogue with the world-was dissipated.

Then came the Wojtyła-Ratzinger years. Since October 16, 1978, the Second Ecumenical Council of the Vatican has been given an authoritative interpretation by two popes who, as young men, had both been influential participants at Vatican II. And with that authoritative interpretation, which synthesises the achievements of Catholic intellectual life since the Leonine revival of the late 19th century, a decisive moment has been reached in the history of the Catholic Church: the catechetical-devotional Catholicism of the Counter-Reformation is giving way to what may be called Evangelical Catholicism.

Evangelical Catholicism takes its ecclesiology, its idea of the Church, from Lumen Gentium (Light of the Nations), Vatican II's Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, as interpreted by John Paul II's 1991 encyclical Redemptoris Missio (The Mission of the Redeemer). In this ecclesiology, the Church does not so much have a mission (as if "mission" were one among a dozen other things the Church does); the Church is a mission. Everything the Church does, the Church does to propose Jesus Christ as the answer to the question that is every human life. Everything the Church does, the Church does in order to offer friendship with Jesus Christ as the true means of satisfying the deepest longings of the human heart. Evangelical Catholicism takes John Paul II's injunction in the 2001 apostolic letter, Novo Millennio Ineunte [Entering the New Millennium], to heart: it sets sail from the stagnant shallows of institutional maintenance into the deep waters of post-modernity, preaching the Paschal Mystery as the central truth of the human condition, while building communities of integrity, decency, solidarity, and compassion-Eucharistic communities of supernatural charity capable of nurturing genuine human flourishing.

Evangelical Catholicism is thus both culture-forming and counter-cultural. It is culture-forming, in that it takes the formation, nurturance, and maturation of a distinctive culture-the Church-with utmost seriousness. And it does not look to the ambient public culture for suggestions as to how this distinctive ecclesial culture, this distinctive mode of life called "Christian," is to be structured and lived. Thus it is no accident, as the Marxists used to say, that the emergence of Evangelical Catholicism has been concurrent with the liberation of the Catholic Church from the Babylonian captivity of ecclesial establishment, with its evangelically unbecoming nexus between the power of the state (however that state might be organised politically) and the life of the Church. This liberation has been a fruit of the Second Vatican Council and its Declaration on Religious Freedom (Dignitatis Humanae); it has been codified in ecclesiastical law by Canon 377, which bars governments from any direct role in the nomination of bishops. Evangelical Catholicism is, then, post-Constantinian Catholicism. It does not seek the favour of the state. Rather, it asks of the state, and if necessary it demands of the state, the free space in which to be itself: a community of Eucharistic worship, evangelical proclamation, and charity. And it does so in order to ask the state (and society, and culture, and economics) to consider the possibility of their redemption.

This last suggests at least one facet of Evangelical Catholicism's counter-cultural character. This side of the Kingdom of God, the Church will always be challenging the principalities and powers (be they political, social, economic or cultural) to admit that the things done by states, societies, cultures, and economies stand under the judgment of moral norms that do not emerge from within those states, societies, cultures and economies. Rather, the moral norms applicable to constructing and sustaining states, societies, cultures and economies that foster the conditions for the possibility of genuine human flourishing are transcendent; they reflect the inalienable dignity and value of the human person-a dignity and value that is inherent, not conferred. Those moral norms stand in judgment on us; we do not construct them or tailor them to our own requirements.

At a moment in the cultural history of the West when utilitarianism is the default moral position in public life, Evangelical Catholicism insists that "Will it work?" is not the only question. "Is it right?" is the prior question, and the answer to that question, Pontius Pilate and the Guardian notwithstanding, can be known by the arts of reason, properly deployed.

Evangelical Catholicism, in the line of development that runs from Leo XIII through Benedict XVI, thus takes a rather different stance toward public life than the Catholicism of Christendom (whose conception of Church and State-or, more broadly, Church and Society-long outlasted the 16th-century fracturing of Christendom). Evangelical Catholicism declines the embrace of state power as incompatible with the proclamation of the Gospel: the Gospel is its own warrant, and the power of that warrant is blunted when coercive state power is put behind it, however mildly. Evangelical Catholicism is also wary of a direct role by the Church, as institution, in the affairs of the state. There may be moments when a robustly evangelical Church must speak truth to power, directly and through its ordained episcopal leadership, bringing the full weight of their unique form of authority to bear on a matter in public dispute. But the normal mode of the Church's engagement with public life will not be that of another lobbying group. Rather, Evangelical Catholicism takes its lead from the Second Vatican Council's Decree on the Laity (Apostolicam Actuositatem), and from Blessed John Paul II's teaching in the encyclicals Redemptoris Missio and Centesimus Annus and the post-synodal apostolic exhortation Christifideles Laici: it seeks to form the men and women who will, in turn, shape the culture that creates a politics capable of recognising the transcendent moral norms that should guide society's deliberations about the common good.

Within the Anglosphere, this facet of Evangelical Catholicism will necessarily cause some reexamination of consciences and political alignments. In the United States, it has already caused a major, and in some cases wrenching, reexamination of the traditional Catholic affinity for the Democratic Party, as that party has embraced what John Paul II called the "culture of death" in the party's radical commitment to an unfettered abortion licence. In Great Britain, the emergence of Evangelical Catholicism is likely to cause a similar reexamination of traditional Catholic alignments with Labour, although it is not clear, from the western shores of the Atlantic at least, where, in practical terms, such are-alignment might eventually lead. But as the life issues and the challenge of lifestyle libertinism continue to define the great fault lines in the domestic politics of the West, Evangelical Catholicism-which follows John Paul II (in Evangelium Vitae) and Benedict XVI (in Caritas in Veritate) in insisting that the life issues are basic social justice issues-will find itself, irrespective of voting patterns, in a profoundly counter-cultural position, much as the Evangelical-Wesleyan opponents of the slave trade found themselves in a counter-cultural position in early 19th-century Britain.

The Evangelical Catholicism that has been struggling toward maturity in the pontificates of John Paul II and Benedict XVI is also a Catholicism with a distinctive public voice-or perhaps I should say, voices. Within the household of faith-inside the distinctive culture that is the Church-that voice is a Gospel voice, and the deepest warrants for the Church's defence of life, of religious freedom, and of the dignity of the human person are found in the Church's sacramental life, and in Scripture and tradition as interpreted by the Church's authentic magisterium. In addressing the wider culture and society, and in the give and take of the democratic political process, the public voice shaped by the culture of Evangelical Catholicism is a voice that makes genuinely public arguments, deploying a grammar and vocabulary that those who are not of the household of faith can engage.

That voice, it should be added, is primarily the voice of truly converted disciples: lay men and women, bringing the universal moral truths learned within the household of faith to bear in their workplaces, their voluntary associations, their cultural activities, and their political lives. The voice of the pastors is not, and cannot be, the only voice of the Church in the public square. The pastors' voice ought to be heard when questions of first principles are at issue (as, to be sure, they are, and not infrequently these days). But when there are legitimate differences of prudential judgment on how the principles of the Church's social doctrine are to be driven into the hard soil of political reality, the principal voices in those debates should be lay voices. The pastors have graver matters to which they must attend.

What have been Benedict XVI's contributions to the emergence of Evangelical Catholicism and to its interface with the public life of the West?

A profound and compelling synthesis of Benedict XVI's contribution to the development of Evangelical Catholicism may be found in the recently-published second volume of his projected three-volume study, Jesus of Nazareth. In this middle panel of his Christological triptych, in which the Pope analyses the biblical texts that deal with Holy Week and Easter, the Evangelical Catholic project is laid out with scholarly insight and catechetical power. For Benedict's intent is nothing less than to bring his readers into a personal encounter with the world-transforming power of the Paschal Mystery through his reflections on the Passion narratives and Easter accounts: the axial moment of human history in which the human drama finds its climax in the suffering, death and resurrection of the Son of God. Here, a lifetime of scholarship is sifted and distilled in service to the essential Christian kerygma, the proclamation of Jesus Christ, crucified and risen, as Lord. It is a hard heart indeed that does not read Benedict on Holy Week and Easter without sensing the power of God at work in history, bending history towards redemption.

As for the interface between this unapologetically evangelical Catholicism and the principal questions of public life in the West today, the first, and perhaps most important, of Benedict XVI's contributions has been his challenge to the West to recover the full richness of its cultural patrimony. Here, as in so many other ways, Benedict XVI's magisterium is in dynamic continuity with that of his predecessor (which of course should be no surprise, as both men's thought emerges out of the great tradition of the Catholic Church). We remember John Paul II's insistence, during the 2003 debate over the preamble to the European Constitutional treaty, that the New Europe of an expanded 25-member European Union ought to acknowledge Christianity as one of the sources of contemporary Europe's commitments to human rights, democracy, and the rule of law. Benedict XVI has continued to press this theme while sharpening it in his gentle, scholarly way. The civilisation of the West, he regularly reminds us, is the product of the interaction of three great cultural forces: biblical religion, Greek rationality, and Roman law. Or, if you will, what we know as "the West" emerged from the mutually fruitful interaction of ancient Hebrew convictions about the God of the Bible (who comes into history as a liberator freeing humanity from the often bloody-minded whims and caprices of the pagan gods); the Greek conviction that there are truths embedded in the world and in us, truths that we can know by reason; and the Roman conviction that the rule of law is superior to the rule of brute coercion in public life.

Absent any of these three supports, the entire Western project in history begins to teeter, and may eventually collapse. Twentieth-century high-cultural post-modernism, with its principled epistemological scepticism and the metaphysical nihilism that inevitably follows the notion that, while there may be your truth and my truth, there is no such thing as the truth, followed readily from the abandonment of the God of the Bible in the name of human liberation: a 19th-century project Henri de Lubac analysed in great depth in the 1944 study, The Drama of Atheistic Humanism. So with the God of the Bible gone, the foundation stone of the Western civilisational project labelled "Greek rationality" project began to crumble, with the first signs of decay being the irrationalism that shattered European political life in the two great mid-century wars. Today, the situation is perhaps even more perilous: for absent both biblical religion and the arts of reason (to which post-modernist scepticism and nihilism can hardly be said to contribute), the foundation stone of Western civilisation marked "law" has begun to crack and may, under the pressure of political correctness (which is itself a lame substitute for moral reason), crumble, such that mere coercion will be the order of the day in democratic law-making.

This unhappy prospect is the situation often described by Benedict XVI as the "dictatorship of relativism": absent agreed moral reference points that can be rationally known, defended, and deployed in public life, coercive state power is deployed to impose the canon of moral relativism-in the definition of marriage, in the resolution of debates over the life issues, in the legal understanding of religious freedom-on entire societies. When couples are declared incompetent to be foster parents because their Christian convictions compel them to teach the truth about men and women and the ethics of human love, the dictatorship of relativism is at work. When doctors are threatened with the loss of professional accreditation because they will not perform procedures that are immoral, or facilitate behaviours that endanger both health and morals, the dictatorship of relativism is at work. When the state imposes a definition of "marriage" that is incoherent in itself and that has no standing in the history of the West-or, even worse, when the state requires ministers of religion to cooperate in confecting such unions-the dictatorship of relativism is at work. In all these cases, democracy is threatened, because a false idea of freedom as personal wilfulness is being imposed by coercive state power and the virtues that make democratic self-governance possible are being attenuated.

The Evangelical Catholicism of Vatican II, John Paul II, and Benedict XVI thus brings a thicker idea of "democracy" to bear on public life than the thin concept of procedural democracy that dominates political science departments in the West's universities. Thin democracy is democracy unmoored from its historic moral-cultural foundations in biblical religion and Greek rationality. Democracy that enables genuine human flourishing in the 21st century-the democracy that can defend the West against other civilisational projects with very different views of what constitutes "human flourishing"-is one that has reestablished the link between forms of democratic governance and the cultural foundations of democratic civilisation: a democracy that understands that it takes a certain kind of people, possessed of certain virtues, to make democratic self-governance work.

This brings us to another of Benedict XVI's signature challenges to those who care about the future of the West: his distinctive understanding of how the Catholic Church might help the West meet the challenge of jihadist Islam, a challenge that is by no means resolved by the death of Osama bin Laden and that reflects a deep conflict within Islam itself about Islam's relationship to modernity. In Benedict's view, the Church will help facilitate a useful conversation between Islam and the West, and thus help shift the correlation of forces within Islam away from the jihadist radicals, not by being acquiescent and "understanding," but by posing challenges-politely, to be sure, but challenges nonetheless.

The Pope laid out these challenges in his 2006 Regensburg Lecture-an event that may take the gold medal for comprehensive media incomprehension (which would be no small accomplishment). Rather than the "gaffe" that it was immediately assumed to be, the Regensburg Lecture, and the Holy Father's subsequent exegesis of it in his Christmas 2006 address to the Roman Curia, correctly identified the two challenges facing Islam in the 21st century, within its own house and in its interaction with those who are "other". The first challenge is to understand religious freedom (which necessarily includes the right to convert to another faith) as a universal human right that can be known by reason and thus lays moral obligations on everyone. The second challenge for Islam is to find, within its own intellectual and spiritual resources, Islamic warrants for a clear distinction, in theory and in practice, between religious and political authority in a 21st-century state.

Benedict XVI also suggested that the Catholic Church might be of some assistance to genuine Islamic reformers interested in advancing these developments of Islamic self-understanding. Why? Because the Church itself had taken almost two centuries to find a Catholic understanding of religious freedom and political modernity that did not represent a rupture with, but a development of, classic Catholic understandings of the act of faith and the nature of political society. This process did not involve a wholesale, uncritical embrace of Enlightenment thought. Rather, it involved the recovery of classic Catholic notions of the distinction between sacerdotal and imperial authority, and the development of those ideas in light of the emergence of the political institutions created by the Enlightenment.

Retrieval and renewal, Benedict XVI proposed, was the way ancient religious traditions engaged political modernity without losing their souls. It remains to be seen whether the Pope's offer to reframe the Catholic-Islamic dialogue along these lines is taken up by Islamic scholars, legal authorities, and religious leaders. But an offer like Benedict's does seem more congruent with the demands of both faith and reason than a supine acquiescence, in the name of "toleration," to the agenda of those who would impose the social mores and cultural standards of seventh-century Arabia on Western societies.

Two other themes have been prominent in Benedict XVI's commentary on the contemporary challenges facing the civilisation of the West. The first is his distinctive papal environmentalism. While there is a sense in which Benedict is the first "green pope," in that concern for environmental quality is a regular feature of his public commentary, the full meaning of that papal environmentalism is often missed by the global media. For as the Pope insisted in the 2009 encyclical Caritas in Veritate, a truly humanistic environmentalism does not limit its concerns to clean air, water, and soil, nor does it deny to men and women the dominion over the natural world that is the gift of the Creator. Rather, a truly humane environmentalism will pay equal, if not greater, attention to what the Pope called "human ecology:" the moral-cultural environment of civilisation, which, like rivers and seas, belts of black earth and the jet stream, can be poisoned. And among the toxic wastes threatening the human environment of the West, the Pope relentlessly points out, are the practices of abortion and euthanasia, which a poisoned moral-cultural environment imagines to be technological "solutions" to situations in which the human protaganists have been dehumanised to the status of problems-to-be-solved. The decline of the family in the West is another facet of the ecological crisis of the 21st century, the Pope has taught, as is the demographic winter that Europe has brought upon itself by its own will.

Benedict's public commentary has also embraced economic questions where, like John Paul II, the Pope takes an anti-libertarian or anti-Benthamite view by insisting that the free economy, like democratic politics, is not a machine that can run by itself. The free economy, like the democratic polity, is bound by moral norms that transcend it. Those norms emerge from a careful and rational reflection on the dignity of the human person as an economic actor who is the subject, not merely the object, of economic processes.

21st-century economic life should thus value the entrepreneurial creativity built into humanity by God the Creator. 21st-century economic life should also think of the fruits of economic activity as what we might call "profit-plus". Thus, in Benedict's vision, business, making its own distinct contribution to the common good, will sustain private and independent sector philanthropies that educate and empower the poor, that care for those who are unable to care for themselves, and that give expression to a vibrant culture of life in a society of solidarity. (Implicit in this view, of course, is the judgment that the social welfare responsibilities of society are not exhausted by, and indeed ought not be dominated by, the state-a judgment sustained by the bedrock Catholic social-ethical principle of subsidiarity.)

What chance does this Catholic challenge to the 21st-century West have to be heard? It has been mounted in an intellectually impressive way by two popes in whom the Second Vatican Council, and indeed the entire Leonine reform, have come to full flower. If it has the wit and will to seize them, the Church has unprecedented opportunities to get its message out, through the new media that have broken the chokehold of the mainstream global press (much to the fury of Ms Polly Toynbee and other cultured despisers of orthodox Christianity). So both message and medium would seem to be properly aligned for Evangelical Catholicism to advance the "New Evangelisation" of which John Paul II and Benedict XVI have spoken so often. Yet there are two major obstacles to the flourishing of the New Evangelisation that should be identified.

One is the phenomenon that the international constitutional legal scholar, Joseph Weiler (himself an Orthodox Jew), dubbed "Christophobia" during the 2003 debates over the European Constitutional Treaty. It was on raw and ugly display in the months preceding Benedict XVI's visit to the United Kingdom last September, and while the Pope's self-evident humanity and decency-as well as the power of his message-drew a lot of the poison out of the air (for the moment, at least), the broader problem of Christophobia remains. This irrational and, let it be said frankly, deeply bigoted refusal to concede that Christian moral ideas have any place in the public square (even when "translated" into genuinely public language) is evident throughout the Western civilisational orbit. It is evident in the attacks on Christian orthodoxy and classic Christian morality that are now a regular feature of the European Parliament and other EU bodies. It is evident when the Star Chambers known in Canada as "human rights commissions" lay severe monetary penalties on evangelical Protestant pastors who dare teach publicly the biblical understanding of marriage. The measure of its potency and its potential for wickedness may be taken from the remark of a senior member of the Catholic hierarchy in the United States, a man of deep learning, who has said privately, "I will die in my bed; my successor will die in prison; and his successor will die a martyr." The formulation was deliberately provocative, but it does not take an especially lurid political imagination to construct scenarios in which precisely such a history unfolds. The pressures from the dictatorship of relativism-which is one political expression of Christophobia-could become that severe. And in those circumstances, the public impact of the New Evangelisation will be severely impeded, even halted, because Evangelical Catholicism will have become an underground religion.

This fate is not inevitable, although its possibility may illustrate in our own time what Hans Urs von Balthasar called (as only German-language theologians can name things) the "theological law of proportionate polarisation": the more God's presence is felt within history, the more opposition that Presence elicits; the more vigorously the Gospel is preached, the more those forces determined to deny the divine love will intensify their efforts. This is the rhythm of salvation history: it is evident in the intensifying opposition to Jesus as he goes up to Jerusalem for the last time; it is described in spectacular world-historical imagery in the Book of Revelation. Yet we know, in faith, the way the story will end. And so we can live within history with an eye to the vindication of God's purposes in the end of history and the coming of the Kingdom in its plenitude.

And because of that, we can, here and now, take heart from what Edmund Burke taught this country two centuries ago: that the immediate triumph of evil here and now is possible only if good men do nothing. Burke's dictum has an unintended but unmistakable implication for the Catholic Church of the 21st century in the West. For if Christophobia is one major obstacle to the flourishing of a New Evangelisation that will be a culture-healing presence in all of society, so is ecclesiastical pusillanimity: a timid response to the challenges of Christophobia and the dictatorship of relativism, married to a less-than-fervid embrace of the New Evangelisation, both born of an internalised sense of marginality to the tides of history as they are flowing in the 21st century. This is the timidity from which Blessed John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI have been calling the Church throughout the Western world. This is the timidity to which the antidote is the courage to be Catholic: vibrantly, compellingly, evangelically Catholic, not out of some cranky wish to recreate the old regimes (however we imagine them), but out of an apostolic passion to bring the Gospel to the world-and in so doing, to create conditions for the possibility of free and virtuous societies.

Thus the New Evangelisation requires radically converted disciples, and bold leaders who call the timid to the fullness of conversion. It requires disciples and leaders who are unfailingly pro-life, and who are capable of rebutting the spurious charge that to be pro-life is to be anti-woman. It requires disciples and leaders who are prepared to defend religious liberty in full, and who refuse to concede that religious liberty can be whittled down to freedom of worship. It requires disciples and leaders who are pro-family and pro-marriage, and who are prepared to defend their advocacy against the charge that they are "homophobic." It requires disciples and leaders prepared to speak truth to power, especially when coercive state power is deployed to impose the agenda of the dictatorship of relativism.

And to form these disciples and leaders, the demands of the New Evangelisation require the Church throughout the Anglosphere to learn the lesson that Blessed John Henry Newman tried to teach more than a century ago, and that the sad fate of liberal Protestantism and the disintegration of the Anglican Communion illustrate in our time: that "religion as mere sentiment [...] is a dream and a mockery." Religion as "mere sentiment" is our search for God, which inevitably ends up in the sandbox of our own self-absorption, where anything may be countenanced as an expression of my "authenticity." Biblical religion, by contrast, is about God's search for us, and our learning to take the same path through history that God is taking: a journey guided, Catholics affirm, by the doctrines of the Church and the regula fidei, the rule of life that is the sacramental system. The New Evangelisation requires teachers who teach that, pastors who support that, and disciples who believe that-and believe it, not as a personal lifestyle option, but as the revealed truth of the world, which has been given into our completely unworthy and often trembling hands. It requires evangelical Catholic communities in mission like St Patrick's, Soho.

The late French journalist André Frossard was a convert to Catholicism from the fashionable atheism of his class, an atheism that was once a Parisian intellectual fad but that has now taken on a much harder, Christophobic edge across the 21st-century Western world. When Frossard saw John Paul II at the Mass marking the beginning of the Pope's public ministry on October 22, 1978, he wired back to his Paris newspaper, "This is not a pope from Poland; this is a pope from Galilee." It was a brilliant metaphor, and it still speaks to us today.

For that is where the Leonine revival that has reached its fulfillment in John Paul II and Benedict XVI, heirs and authentic interpreters of the Second Vatican Council, is inviting us: it is inviting us to Galilee, and then beyond Galilee. We are being invited to meet the Risen Lord in the Scripture, the sacraments, and prayer, and to make friendship with him the centre of our lives. We are being invited to think of ourselves as evangelists, and to measure the truth of our lives by the way in which we give expression to the human decency and solidarity that flows from friendship with Christ the Lord. We are being invited, through the New Evangelisation, to make our distinctive, Catholic contribution to the renewal, and perhaps the saving, of Western civilisation, which is beset from within by the corrosive forces of the dictatorship of relativism and from without by the passions of jihadist Islam.

Through the witness of John Paul II and Benedict XVI, and by the teaching of the Second Vatican Council, we are being invited to have the courage to be Catholic. Whether we accept that invitation or not, God's purposes will be vindicated. But a lot of what happens to the West during this century will depend on whether a critical mass of men and women embrace the Gospel in full, and have the courage to take the Gospel beyond Galilee and out to the nations.

George Weigel is Distinguished Senior Fellow and William E. Simon Chair in Catholic Studies at the Ethics and Public Policy Center.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

SCOTLAND: An Ancient History (video)

A great series of videos on the ancient history of SCOTLAND !!!! 
Pope: The eclipse of God, relativism and mediocrity in need of Gospel radicalism
Benedict XVI thanks thousands of young religious women (also cloistered) gathered in the courtyard of El Escorial for their testimony, which is even more urgent in the secular world. Their radicalism is needed also in communion with the pastors and the laity, and in the various fields of the mission. 

Madrid (AsiaNews) - In a world marked by the "eclipse of God", from "amnesia, if not an outright rejection of Christianity," "in front of relativism and mediocrity", there is an urgent need for radical nature of "consecration" to God , witnessed "with all the transforming power in our lives." 
This is what Benedict XVI said today to several thousand consecrated young women gathered at El Escorial. A gathering which also saw the participation of cloistered nuns. 

It is perhaps the first time that a meeting with young consecrated women has been included in a World Youth Day. Card. Rouco Varela, archbishop of Madrid gave one reason: "Without their spiritual contribution, there would be no World Youth Day." In his speech, the pope illustrated others, such as the urgency in today's world for a " Gospel radicalism ", such as " a life devoted to following Christ in his chastity, poverty and obedience becomes a living 'exegesis' of God's word ". 

In stressing this theme of " Gospel radicalism " in consecration, the pope referred directly to the World Youth Day this year: "The radicalism of the Gospel - he explains - This Gospel radicalism means being "rooted and built up in Christ, and firm in the faith" (cf. Col 2:7). In the consecrated life, this means going to the very root of the love of Jesus Christ with an undivided heart, putting nothing ahead of this love (cf. SAINT BENEDICT, Rule, IV, 21) and being completely devoted to him, the Bridegroom, as were the Saints, like Rose of Lima and Rafael Arnáiz, the young patrons of this World Youth Day" 

The consecrated vocations are important in rendering God close to the secular world: " Your lives must testify to the personal encounter with Christ - he adds - which has nourished your consecration, and to all the transforming power of that encounter. This is all the more important today when "we see a certain 'eclipse of God' taking place, a kind of amnesia which, albeit not an outright rejection of Christianity, is nonetheless a denial of the treasure of our faith, a denial that could lead to the loss of our deepest identity" (Message for the 2011 World Youth Day, 1). In a world of relativism and mediocrity, we need that radicalism to which your consecration, as a way of belonging to the God who is loved above all things, bears witness". 

The "radicalism" is also needed to live in communion with the Church, with pastors, but especially with "the laity, who are called to make their own specific calling a testimony to the one Gospel of the Lord." 

"Finally - he explained - Gospel radicalism finds expression in the mission God has chosen to entrust to us: from the contemplative life, which welcomes into its cloisters the word of God in eloquent silence and adores his beauty in the solitude which he alone fills, to the different paths of the apostolic life, in whose furrows the seed of the Gospel bears fruit in the education of children and young people, the care of the sick and elderly, the pastoral care of families, commitment to respect for life, witness to the truth and the proclamation of peace and charity, mission work and the new evangelization, and so many other sectors of the Church's apostolate " 

"The Church - concluded the pope - needs your youthful fidelity, rooted and built up in Christ. Thank you for your generous, total and perpetual "yes" to the call of the Loved One. I pray that the Virgin Mary may sustain and accompany your consecrated youth, with the lively desire that it will challenge, nourish and illumine all young people"

Saturday, August 20, 2011




16 August 2011, 13:07 | UOC KP | 4 |   | Code for Blog |  | 

????????_???????.jpg"A year ago, an attempt was made to fight the Kyivan Patriarchate, to destroy it, to merge it with the Moscow Patriarchate. All the attempts were not successful. The attacks in Donetsk, Kyiv Oblast, in Kyiv, in other regions showed that not only our public (public organizations, political parties) but Europe and America stood up to defend the Kyivan Patriarchate," Patriarch Filaret said in an interview to Radio Freedom.

According to the hierarch, the people who intended to destroy the Kyivan Patriarchate realized that it is better not to touch it. The patriarch said it was indicated by the meeting of the president with representatives of the All-Ukrainian Council of Churches. It showed that in Ukraine, despite the presence of many religions, all Christians churches coexist peacefully. "It is another indication that the Kyivan Patriarchate exists and will continue to exist," stressed Patriarch Filaret.

According to the head of the church, in the last 20 years, the number of believers of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church-Kyivan Patriarchate has grown four times. Canonicity or non-canonicity of the UOC-KP "are simply fantasies of Moscow."

"We should thank God for giving us an independent state. The Ukrainian nation struggled for independence for nearly a century. When the time came, the Lord finally gave us the independence and we thank Him for that. Twenty years have passed, which shows that Ukraine as a state exists and will continue to exist. It is a sufficient time to see if an independent country is going to remain such. Presidents replace each other, but every one of them defends the interests of his state.

"We all are glad that the independent Ukrainian Church, the Kyivan Patriarchate was established in independent Ukraine. In the beginning, no one believed that it was to stay. In these twenty years, the size of Kyivan Patriarchate has quadrupled. In 1992, we had about 1,200 parishes and 12 bishops. Today, the numbers reached 4,500 and 41 accordingly. The Kyivan Patriarchate today is completely self-maintained and enjoys the support of the people," said the hierarch. According to Patriarch Filaret, the time has come for the Ukrainian Orthodox Churches to establish one local autocephalous church.

"We celebrate the 20th anniversary of our independent state, we celebrate our church victory. We hope to reach [editor: the establishment of] one Ukrainian Orthodox Church. Our confidence is based on several moments. First, it is the existence of the state itself. When there is a state, there must be also the independent Ukrainian Church. Today, it is divided. But one can already see in the other part of the church, the Moscow Patriarchate, a division. A part of the Ukrainian population understood that they want to be fully independent from Russia and the other part, on the contrary, seeks to unite with Moscow. But the part of the church seeking independence will be victorious. Then, we will unite in one local Orthodox church. The timing depends on God. We cannot know the time exactly, but we are sure we will reach it. We were confident of establishing the Kyivan Patriarchate in 1992 and, in the same way, we are confident of establishing one Ukrainian Orthodox Church. That is why we celebrate the 20th anniversary with confidence and optimism," said the patriarch.