Pro Pontiff, Pro-Magisterial, Pro-life, Pro-family. These articles reflect these values and I believe should be Interesting to Catholics. If there are any article I have missed, or you feel should not be here, or you agree/disagree with, then please feel free to post a comment.

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Saturday, September 24, 2005

A Guardian, Not A CEO

As appears in BusinessWeek May 2, 2005

The cardinals picked history and mission over management

By Christopher Power in New York and William C. Symonds in Boston, with Gail Edmonson in Frankfurt, Carol Matlack in Paris, Ann Therese Palmer in Chicago, and bureau report.

When the lightly built, white haired prelate appeared at the balcony to give his first papal blessing, many Roman Catholics in the U.S., Europe, and elsewhere felt a sense of foreboding. Benedict XVI, as Germany’s Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger is now known, is not charismatic - unlike John Paul II. He’s not from the Third World, the source of the Church’s growth. His nickname in German is Der Panzer Kardinal - “tank cardinal” - because of his scary role as the enforcer of doctrinal purity and definer of the party line on priestly celibacy, the role of women in the Church, and more. And many fear Benedict won’t move boldly to tackle all the financial, management, and personnel issues facing the Church. “The organization he has inherited is in massive disarray,” says Janet Hauter of Voice of the Faithful, a U.S. lay organization founded in the wake of the sex-abuse scandals. (1)
From a management Point of View, then, the choice of the Vatican’s new “CEO” could be seen as a serious blunder and a missed opportunity of historic proportions. And if the Church continues to lose grounds in the West, such criticism of the cardinals’ choice could well prove justified.
Given such pressing problems, why did the cardinals choose Ratzinger? And obvious, political reason is that John Paul II had appointed most of the cardinals, so it was natural they would choose the late Pope’s right-hand man. The choice also signals continuity with his monumental papacy. But there are deeper forces at work as well, and it helps to consider them as the world tries to figure out what this new Pope will do. Here they are:

ON VATICAN TIME: The church is emphatically not a corporation, and it has nothing resembling a next-quarter mentality. It is ancient, and its leaders think in time slots that no modern company could consider: After all, the Chu7rch’s mission relates to eternity, not annual results. Put in this perspective, the Church feels no compulsion to fix its problems by making costly compromises. The crises of the past 30 years - the dearth of vocations, the sex scandals, competition from evangelical Protestants, the de-Christianization of Europe - are serious indeed. But the Vatican has been through crises before and has weathered monumental challenges to its authority - the Reformation, the French Revolution, the rise of Nazism and communism. With is sense of history, the Vatican is in no hurry to reverse course on issues such as priestly celibacy, human sexuality, and bioethics.
Ratzinger understands the sense of Vatican time well. He has had his own brushes with history, a point that has not been stressed enough. He saw firsthand the Church’s disastrous experience with Nazism Germany, when a concordat between the Vatican and the Nazis failed to protect the Church from Hitler. After the war, he saw the hugely divisive impact of student movements in 1868, when protesters stormed his classroom at the University of Tubingen. That Year “was a turning point for many people,” says Klaus Fitschen, professor of Church history at the University of Leipzag. “Society felt the aggression and feared that reform was turning into revolution.” Ratzinger also concluded that liberals had distorted the meaning of the reforms of the Second Vatican Council. The lesson Ratzinger drew from history: If you compromise, you don’t gain anything. “He doesn’t water things down [to] avoid criticism,” says Thomas S. Monaghan, founder of Domino’s Pizza and a leader of conservative lay Catholics. Ratzinger the doctrinaire appeals to another aspect of Rome’s mind-set:

STANDING FOR SOMETHING: Pope John Paul, a onetime actor, played on the stage of the world to brilliant effect, and he connected with the masses. But he was also a theological purist and was abetted by Ratzinger in this purism. To many in the Vatican - especially Ratzinger - the point is to bear witness to Christ in the right way. Popularity is not the final goal. If the world wide Church started to shrink but the remaining members were true believers, purists like Ratzinger might be able to accept that outcome. Opponent of that line argue that the Church’s rigid orthodoxy smothers the real message of Christ, especially when it relates to social issues like the use of condoms to prevent AIDS. But Ratzinger’s supporters clearly have the upper hands. “The Church can risk secularizing itself,” Marcello Pera, president of the Italian Senate and co-author with Ratzinger of a book on the Church, told Vatican Radio on April 20, “or it can shake up the modern world.”
The Vatican can also make the argument that churches that stand for something are the ones that are growing. Fundamentalist Islam is strongly on the rise globally. In the U.S, the most conservative churches are growing - including the Mormons and evangelicals. In contrast, churches that have made too many accommodations to secular culture are crumbling. And the Catholic Church has strongly conservative constituencies around the world that are expanding. Father Pedro Benitez Mestre, 32, theology teacher at Los Remedios seminary near Mexico City, believes Ratzinger’s doctrinal discipline will appeal to many in Mexico, a traditional society where there is virtually no public pressure on the church to allow women priest or to accept homosexuality. “The Pope has to be the guardian of the faith of the church,” he says. The Pope is also an accomplished theologian, “one of the best in Europe,” says Rev. Theodore M. Hesburgh, president emeritus of the University of Notre Dame. That leads to the final point to consider:

THE POSIBILITY OF A SURPRISE: Ratzinger has the hard-line credentials and intellectual underpinnings needed to initiate changes without being attacked from the right. Herve Legrand, a leading French theologian and Vatican adviser who knows Ratzinger, sees a chance of that happening. “We should avoid caricatures of this man,” he says. “He is very conservative. But we could have some surprises.” Legrand notes that when John Paul said ordination of women was contrary to the teaching of Jesus, Ratzinger pointed out this was “not a matter of infallible doctrine. It was very subtle. But he left the door open.”
Whether that door opens enough to satisfy reform-minded Catholics is impossible to answer now. Some thing Benedict will simply act as a caretaker until a younger, more vigorous Pope succeeds him. But Popes have a way of surprising, for good and for ill. One way or another, Benedict XVI will write his page in the papacy’s 1,900-year history.
Bio: Pope Benedict XVI
The making of a conservative
  • Born: On Apr. 16, 1927, in Marktl am Inn, Bavaria
  • Family: His father was a police officer with strong anti-Nazi feelings. As a teenager, Joseph Ratzinger was forced to join the Hitler Youth and later to enlist in the German army.
  • Vocation: Ratzinger first entered the minor seminary at age 12, then reentered after the war. Ordained a priest in 1951, he later participated in the Second Vatican Council.
  • Turning Point: The student protest of 1968, which soured Ratzinger on liberalism.
  • Vatican Role: As prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Ratzinger polices the ranks of Catholic Theologians. Later he becomes dean of the College of Cardinals.
  • Achievements: Polylingual. Author of numerous books. Brilliant theologian. Good listener. Very conservative. Raises hackles among liberals.

For those that aren’t aware: Voice of the Faithful is an extremist organization that pretends to operate within the pretext of the Church. - Q.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Leading Vatican Cardinal Says Cloning Worse Threat than Weapons of Mass Destruction

ROME — The Catholic Church's second most powerful prelate, Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger has said at a public debate that cloning poses a greater threat to humanity than weapons of mass destruction. Ratzinger was speaking on the rise of secularism in the European Union when he made the comments. He was debating Ernesto Galli della Loggia, a professor of history of political doctrines and writer for the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera on October 25.
"Man is capable of producing another man in the laboratory who, therefore, is no longer a gift of God or of nature. He can be fabricated and, just as he can be fabricated, he can be destroyed," said the prefect of the Vatican Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.
The Cardinal, a long-time critic of the direction of biotechnological research, made his comments while the issue of a ban on cloning is still being considered at the United Nations with a possible vote on the matter in late November. While a majority of nations oppose all human cloning, a significant portion of European Union nations are supporting cloning for “therapeutic research.”
See also:

The Idea of Church

Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger

“Herein lies the cause of a good part of the misunderstandings or real errors which endanger theology and common Catholic opinion alike.
“My Impression is that the authentically Catholic meaning of the reality ‘Church’ is tacitly disappearing, without being expressly rejected. Many no longer believe that what is at issue is a reality willed by the Lord himself. Even with some theologians, the Church appears to be a human construction, an instrument created by us and one which we ourselves can freely reorganize according to the requirements of the moment. In other words, in many ways a conception of Church is spreading in Catholic thought, and even in Catholic theology, that cannot even be called Protestant in a ‘classic’ sense. Many current ecclesiological ideas, rather, refer to the model of certain North American ‘free churches’, in which in the past believers took refuge from the oppressive model of the ‘State Church’ produced by the Reformation. Those refugees, no longer believing in an institutional Church willed by Christ, and wanting at the same time to escape the State Church, created their own church, an organization structured according to their needs.
“For a Catholic the Church is indeed composed of men who organize her external visage. But behind this, the fundamental structures are willed by God himself, and therefore they are inviolable. Behind the human exterior stands the mystery of a more than human reality, in which reformers, sociologists, organizers have no authority whatsoever. If the Church, instead, is viewed as a human construction, the product of our own efforts, even the contents of the faith end up assuming an arbitrary character: the faith, in fact, no longer has an authentic, guaranteed instrument through which to express itself. Thus, without a view of the mystery of the Church that is also supernatural and not only sociological, Christology itself looses its reference to the divine in favor of a purely human structure, and ultimately it amounts to a purely human project: it Gospel becomes the Jesus-project, the social-liberation project or other merely historical, immanent projects that can still seem religious in appearance, but which are atheistic in substance.”
(During Vatican II there was a great emphasis - in the interventions of some bishops, in the statements of their theological advisers, but also in the final documents - on the concept of the Church as “People of God”, a conception which subsequently seemed to dominate in the post-conciliar ecclesiologies.)
“That’s true. There was and there still is this emphasis, which in the Council texts, however, is balanced with others that complete it. A balance that has been lost with many theologians. Yet, Contrary to what the latter think, in this way there is the risk of moving backward rather than forward. Here indeed there is even the danger of abandoning the New Testament in order to return to the Old. ‘People of God’ in Scripture, in fact, is a reference to Israel in its relationship of prayer and fidelity to the Lord. But to limit the definition of the Church to that expression means not to give expression to the New Testament understanding of the Church in its fullness. Here ‘People of God’ actually refers always to the Old Testament element of the Church, and one is a member thereof, not through a sociological adherence, but precisely through incorporation in this Body of the Lord through baptism and the Eucharist. Behind the concept of the Church as the People of God, which has been so exclusively thrust into the foreground today, hide influences of ecclesiologies which de facto revert to the Old Testament; and perhaps also political, partisan and collectivist influence. In reality, there is no truly New Testament, Catholic concept of Church without a direct and vital relation no only with sociology but first of all with chirstology. The Church does not exhaust herself in the ‘collective’ of believers: being the ‘Body of Christ’ she is much more than the simple sum of her members.”
Taken from the Ratzinger Report, Ignatius Press, 1985

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Make Known Full Teaching of Church on Marriage

Pope John Paul II
"What we preach is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord with ourselves as servants" (2 Cor 4:5). With these telling words of Saint Paul I cordially welcome you, the bishops of New Zealand, and thank Bishop Browne for the kind sentiments expressed on your behalf. I warmly reciprocate them and assure you of my prayers for yourselves and those entrusted to your pastoral care. Your first visit ad Limina Apostolorum in this new millennium is an occasion to give thanks to God for the immense gift of faith in Jesus Christ so treasured by the peoples of your country (cf. Ecclesia in Oceania, 1). That same faith, for which Saints Peter and Paul shed their blood, saw from the earliest centuries the Church of Rome as "the ultimate reference of communion" (Pastores Gregis, 57). Coming to see Peter (cf. Gal 1:18) from an island nation so distant, you attest to the strength of that communion which "safeguards legitimate differences and yet is vigilant to ensure that particularity not only does not harm unity but serves it" (Pastores Gregis, 57).
New Zealand enjoys a proud heritage, steeped in rich cultural diversity, yet like many other countries is today suffering the effects of unrestrained secularism. This radical "split between the gospel and culture" (Evangelii Nuntiandi, 20) is manifested as a "crisis of meaning" (cf. Fides et Ratio, 81): the distortion of reason by particular interest groups and exaggerated individualism are examples of this perspective of life which neglects the search for the ultimate goal and meaning of human existence. Your own reports indeed unequivocally indicate the pressing need for Christ’s liberating message in a society experiencing the tragic consequences of the eclipse of the sense of God: the drift away from the Church; the undermining of family life; the facilitation of abortion and prostitution; a misguided vision of life which seeks pleasure and "success" rather than goodness and wisdom.
Faced with such disquieting developments, New Zealanders look to you to be men of hope, preaching and teaching with passion the splendor of Christ’s truth which dispels the darkness and illuminates the true path of life. Know that the Lord Himself is close to you! Listen to His voice: "Courage! It is I! Have no fear" (Mk 6:50). With your hearts and minds firmly fixed on Christ, I am confident that you will lead others from the limitations of shallow thinking into the open radiance of God’s love. Indeed, it is only by contemplating the unfathomed beauty of humanity’s final destiny — eternal life in heaven — that the multitude of daily joys and sorrows can be adequately explained, enabling people to embrace life’s challenges with the confidence born of faith and hope.
All the faithful of Aotearoa, through their baptismal vocation, are called to share in your witness to the hope that the Church holds (cf. 1 Pt 3:15). There is no better way to do this than through joyful participation in worship. Sunday Mass, beyond the fulfilment of a solemn obligation, is a glorious epiphany of the Church in which the holy People of God, actively and fully sharing in the same liturgical celebration (cf. Dies Domini, 34), testify to the "supreme day of faith," "an indispensable day," "the day of Christian hope!"
The weakening in Sunday Mass observance, of which each of you has spoken with profound concern, dims the light of witness to Christ’s presence in your country. When Sunday becomes subordinate to a popular concept of "weekend" and is unduly dominated by entertainment and sport, rather than being truly sanctified and revitalized, people remain trapped in a relentless and often meaningless pursuit of novelty and fail to experience the freshness of Christ’s "living water" (Jn 4:11). In this regard, echoing the words found in the Letter to the Hebrews, I join you in urging the laity of New Zealand — and in a special way the young people — to remain faithful to the celebration of Sunday Mass: "hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering,...not neglecting to meet together...but encouraging one another" (Heb 10:23-25).
From her sacred liturgy, the Church draws strength and inspiration for her mission to evangelize. This was expressed with great clarity during the Synod for Oceania: the "purpose of being with Jesus is to go forth from Jesus, in His power and with His grace" (Ecclesia in Oceania, 3). This dynamic, articulated during the Prayer after Communion and the Concluding Rite of every Mass (cf. Dies Domini, 45), directs every Christian to the task of the evangelization of culture. It is a duty that no single believer can ignore. Sent by the Lord Himself into the vineyard — the home, schools, the workplace, civic organizations — Christ’s disciples find no time for "standing idle in the marketplace" (Mt 20:3), nor can they be so absorbed by the internal aspects of parish life that they are distracted from the command to evangelize others actively (cf. Christifideles Laici, 2). Spurred on by word and strengthened by sacrament, the followers of Jesus must return to their "vineyard" burning with a desire to "speak" of Christ and to "show" Him to the world (cf. Novo Millennio Ineunte, 16).
Dear Brothers, your own pastoral letters are a fine example of the way in which you earnestly seek to present the truth of Christ in the public arena. The cordial relations which you have diligently developed with the government authorities allow you to be firm in your appraisal of their deliberations when necessary. In this regard, I encourage you to continue to ensure that your statements clearly convey the whole of the Church’s magisterial teaching. Among the many challenges currently confronting you in this regard is the need to defend the sanctity and uniqueness of marriage. Established by the Creator with its own nature and purpose, preserved in natural moral law, and given expression in all cultures, the institution of marriage necessarily entails the complementarity of husbands and wives who participate in God’s creative activity through the bearing and raising of children. Spouses rightly deserve specific and categorical legal recognition by the state, while any attempt to equate marriage with other forms of cohabitation violates its unique role in God’s plan for humanity.
Within the context of the evangelization of culture, I wish to acknowledge the outstanding contribution of your Catholic schools. Their growth has enriched the faith of the Christian community and contributed to the promotion of excellence in the nation. The worth of our schools cannot, however, be measured simply in numbers. Catholic schools today must be active agents of evangelization at the heart of parish life! To this end I appeal directly to the generous and sincere young faithful of New Zealand: Enter into your religious education with enthusiasm! Listen to the voice of Jesus calling you to share in the life of His family, the Church! Take up your rightful place in parish life!
Catechesis and religious education today is a taxing apostolate. I thank and encourage those many lay men and women, together with Religious, who with unstinting dedication strive to ensure that "the baptized...become daily more appreciative of the gift of faith which they have received" (Gravissimum Educationis, 2). As bishops, it is your grave obligation to assist teachers to deepen their personal witness to Jesus Christ among the young and to grow in their readiness to teach pupils to pray, thereby enriching their contribution to the specific nature and mission of Catholic education. This demands, particularly for specialist teachers, a solid theological and spiritual preparation that is in harmony with that of your priests; it also points to the need to ensure that your tertiary education chaplaincies are vibrant sources of sound catechesis. Here I wish also to make a special appeal to the apostolic religious: strengthen your commitment to the educational and school apostolate! In places where the young are easily lured away from the path of truth and genuine freedom, the consecrated person’s witness to the evangelical counsels is a marvellous and irreplaceable gift.
Dear Brothers, you have assiduously promoted collaboration in your leadership of the Church in New Zealand, making it possible for "all to journey together along the common path of faith and mission" (ibid., 44). Authentic collaboration never weakens the clear and unequivocal right and duty of governance which pertains to the munus episcopale but rather is one of the fruits of its fullness. I know you are selflessly assisted by your priests for whose pastoral generosity and commitment I join you in thanking the Lord. Assure them that the Christian faithful depend upon and are greatly appreciative of them. Similarly, religious priests, brothers and sisters need to be encouraged as they too seek to foster ecclesial communion by their cooperative presence and apostolate in your dioceses. As a gift to the Church, the consecrated life lies at her very heart, manifesting the deep beauty of the Christian vocation to selfless, sacrificial love. In accord with your endeavours to promote a "culture of vocation", I urge religious to propose afresh to young people the ideal of consecration and mission found in the various states of ecclesial life which together exist "that the world may believe" (Jn 17:21).
With affection and fraternal gratitude I offer these reflections to you and encourage you to share the fruits of the charism of truth which the Spirit has bestowed upon you. United in your proclamation of the Good News of Jesus Christ and guided by the example of the saints, go forward in hope! Invoking upon you the intercession of Mary, "Star of the New Evangelization," I cordially impart my apostolic blessing to you and the priests, religious, and lay faithful of your dioceses.

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Prayer Intentions for September 2005

Friday, September 2, 2005

Pope Benedict's general prayer intention for the month of September is:
"That the right to religious freedom may be respected by the governments of all peoples."
His mission intention is:
"That the proclamation of the Christian message in the new Churches may ensure its thorough insertion into the existing cultures."

Seek Always His Face

Author: Pope Benedict XVI
Monday, August 29, 2005

Dear brothers and sisters! For those that lived in Cologne last week, it was truly an extraordinary ecclesial experience to mark World Youth Day, with the participation of a huge number of youth from all parts of the world accompanied by many bishops, priests, and men and women religious. It was a providential event of grace for the entire Church.
Speaking to bishops of Germany shortly before my return to Italy, I said the youth have launched an appeal to their pastors, and in a way to all believers, a message which is at the same time an appeal: "Help us to be disciples and witnesses of Christ. Like the Magi, we have come to worship him." The youth left Cologne to return to their cities and nations animated by a great hope without however losing sight of the not inconsiderable difficulties, obstacles and problems which accompany a genuine search for Christ and faithful adherence to his Gospel in our times.
Not only youth, but communities and their pastors also, should take note of a fact which is fundamental for evangelization: where God does not take first place, where he is not recognized and worshipped as the Supreme Good, human dignity is undermined. This is why it is urgent to lead mankind today to "discover" the true face of God revealed to us in Jesus Christ. In this way, even mankind of our time will be able, as the Magi did, to prostrate themselves before him and worship him. As I talked to German bishops, I recalled that adoration is not "a luxury but a priority." Searching for Christ must be the incessant craving of believers, of youth and adults, of the faithful and their pastors. This search should be encouraged, sustained and guided. Faith is not simply adherence to a set of dogmas complete in itself, which would suppress the thirst for God present in the human soul.
On the contrary, it projects man on a journey in time towards a God who is always new in his infiniteness. So the Christian is at the same time one who seeks and one who finds. It is precisely this which makes the Church young, open to the future, rich in hope for all humanity. St Augustine, whose memory we mark today, makes some stupendous reflections about the invitation in Psalm 104, "Quaerite faciem eius semper - Seek always his face." He notes that this invitation is valid not only for this life: it applies also to eternity. The discovery of the "face of God" is never exhausted. The more we enter into the splendour of divine love, the more beautiful it is to proceed with the search, so that "amore crescente inquisitio crescat inventi - in the measure in which love grows, the search for He who has been found grows." (Enarr. in Ps. 104,3: CCL 40, 1537).
This is the experience to which we too aspire in the depth of our hearts. This is obtained for us by the intercession of the great Bishop of Hippo; it is obtained for us by the maternal help of Mary, Star of Evangelization, who we invoke now in the Angelus prayer.