Category : Other Denominations

New date confirmed for historic Ecumenical Peace Pilgrimage to South Sudan

Pope Francis, the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland will make an historic Ecumenical Peace Pilgrimage to South Sudan from 3rd – 5th February next year.

The long-awaited visit was due to take place in July of this year, but was postponed after the Vatican announced that Pope Francis would not be able to travel on advice from his doctors. The visit was promised during a spiritual retreat held at the Vatican in 2019, in which South Sudanese political leaders committed to working together for the good of their people.

The three spiritual leaders have often spoken of their hopes to visit South Sudan – to stand in solidarity with its people as they face the challenges of devastating flooding, widespread famine and continued violence. Pope Francis has said: “I think of South Sudan and the plea for peace arising from its people who, weary of violence and poverty, await concrete results from the process of national reconciliation. I would like to contribute to that process, not alone, but by making an ecumenical pilgrimage together with two dear brothers, the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland.”

Read it all.

Posted in --Justin Welby, --Scotland, --South Sudan, Archbishop of Canterbury, Church of England, Ecumenical Relations, Pope Francis, Presbyterian, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic, Sudan

Pope Benedict XV on Jerome and Scripture for Jerome’s Feast Day

From there:

“If we ask how we are to explain this power and action of God, the principal cause, on the sacred writers we shall find that St. Jerome in no wise differs from the common teaching of the Catholic Church. For he holds that God, through His grace, illumines the writer’s mind regarding the particular truth which, ‘in the person of God,’ he is to set before men; he holds, moreover, that God moves the writer’s will—nay, even impels it— to write; finally, that God abides with him unceasingly, in unique fashion, until his task is accomplished. Whence the Saint infers the supreme excellence and dignity of Scripture, and declares that knowledge of it is to be likened to the ‘treasure’and the ‘pearl beyond price,’ since in them are to be found the riches of Christ and ‘silver wherewith to adorn God’s house….’

“Delay not, Venerable Brethren [i.e. bishops], to impart to your people and clergy what on the fifteenth centenary of the death of ‘the Greatest Doctor’ we have here set before you. . . . Our one desire for all the Church’s children is that, being saturated with the Bible, they may arrive at the all surpassing knowledge of Jesus Christ. In testimony of which desire and of our fatherly feeling for you we impart to you and all your flocks the Apostolic blessing.”

Posted in Church History, Roman Catholic, Theology: Scripture

Church of Scotland Moderator pays tribute to Her Majesty the Queen at St Giles Cathedral today

It is clearly evident and without doubt that the Queen’s Christian faith was genuine, and often gave clear and sincere expression in those remarkable Christmas broadcasts.

She spoke unashamedly of her trust in God and of the example and teaching of Jesus Christ whom she sought to follow as best she could – indeed, of that faith she said she had no regret.

Her focus on family, on community, on reaching across divisions and differences were evident to us through these short yet meaningful festive messages.

For 70 years, she reigned as our Queen.

She has been present amongst us as a follower of Christ and a member of his Church. And for that and much else beside, we give thanks to God together here this day.

Read it all.

Posted in --Scotland, Preaching / Homiletics, Presbyterian [PCUSA]

(CT) Theologians Craft Wesleyan Agreement for a Divided Methodist Era

Sixty-four scholars and theologians have signed on to a “Wesleyan witness,” a six-part, 62-page document they hope will shape the future of Methodism, define orthodox Wesleyanism, and ground more Christians in the story of sanctification and restoration through grace.

“This is classic, orthodox Wesleyan theology,” said Asbury University New Testament professor Suzanne Nicholson, who is one of the authors. “The power of the Holy Spirit is greater than the power of sin. It doesn’t matter your class, your race, your gender, God is at work among the faithful, and that leads us to a full-orbed devotion to who God is.”

“The Faith Once Delivered” was first drafted in January at a summit for “The Next Methodism.” Scholars allied with the evangelical wing of the United Methodist Church, as well as holiness and Pentecostal denominations, came together, formed five working groups, and co-wrote statements on five theological topics: the nature of God, Creation, revelation, salvation, and the church. A sixth section on eschatology or “the fullness of time” was added later.

Read it all.

Posted in Methodist, Theology

(CT) Russell Moore on the SBC Report on Sexual Abuse–This Is the Southern Baptist Apocalypse

Someone asked me a few weeks ago what I expected from the third-party investigation into the handling of sexual abuse by the Southern Baptist Convention’s Executive Committee. I said I didn’t expect to be surprised at all. How could I be? I lived through years with that entity. I was the one who called for such an investigation in the first place.

And yet, as I read the report, I found that I could not swipe the screen to the next page because my hands were shaking with rage. That’s because, as dark a view as I had of the SBC Executive Committee, the investigation uncovers a reality far more evil and systemic than I imagined it could be.

The conclusions of the report are so massive as to almost defy summation. It corroborates and details charges of deception, stonewalling, and intimidation of victims and those calling for reform. It includes written conversations among top Executive Committee staff and their lawyers that display the sort of inhumanity one could hardly have scripted for villains in a television crime drama. It documents callous cover-ups by some SBC leaders and credible allegations of sexually predatory behavior by some leaders themselves, including former SBC president Johnny Hunt (who was one of the only figures in SBC life who seemed to be respected across all of the typical divides).

And then there is the documented mistreatment by the Executive Committee of a sexual abuse survivor, whose own story of her abuse was altered to make it seem that her abuse was a consensual “affair”—resulting, as the report corroborates, in years of living hell for her.

For years, leaders in the Executive Committee said a database—to prevent sexual predators from quietly moving from one church to another, to a new set of victims—had been thoroughly investigated and found to be legally impossible, given Baptist church autonomy. My mouth fell open when I read documented proof in the report that these very people not only knew how to have a database, they already had one.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Baptist, Ethics / Moral Theology, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Violence

(AP) United Methodist bishops acknowledge breakup is imminent

The United Methodist Church’s Council of Bishops, ending a five-day meeting Friday, acknowledged the inevitable breakup of their denomination – a schism that will widen this weekend with the launch of a global movement led by theologically conservative Methodists.

The breakaway denomination, called the Global Methodist Church, will officially exist as of Sunday. Its leaders have been exasperated by liberal churches’ continued defiance of UMC bans on same-sex marriage and the ordination of openly gay clergy.

Bishop Thomas Bickerton, who became the Council of Bishops’ new president Friday, described the launch of the new movement as a “sad and sobering reality.” Bickerton said he regrets any departure from the UMC and values the denomination’s diversity of thought.

“There is no perfect church,” he said. “The constant fighting, the vitriolic rhetoric, the punitive behaviors have no place in how we preserve and promote our witness as Christian believers.”

Read it all and there is more there.

Posted in Methodist

(NC Reporter) Archbishop of Canterbury: South Sudan trip with Pope Francis may happen in coming months

Pope Francis and Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby may undertake their much anticipated, but delayed joint trip to South Sudan in “the next few months” to encourage peace in a country still recovering from a bloody civil war and a humanitarian crisis.

“God willing, sometime in the next few months, perhaps year, we will go and see them in Juba, not in Rome, and see what progress can be made,” said the head of the global Anglican Communion on Feb. 6, referring to South Sudan’s leaders.

“That is history,” said Welby of the likely trip that will mark the first time the two ecumenical leaders have traveled together in such a capacity.

Francis and Welby had sought to visit the war-torn country in 2017, although the country’s violent conflict and deteriorating conditions had foiled those plans.

Read it all.

Posted in --Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, Church of England (CoE), Ecumenical Relations, Pope Francis, Roman Catholic, Sudan

(Crux) Fourth Anglican bishop in a year joins Catholic Church in UK

A fourth Anglican bishop in a year has been received into the Catholic Church.

It was confirmed by the Church Times – an independent newspaper covering the Church of England – that the former bishop of Chester, Peter Forster, became Catholic last year.

The three other Church of England bishops to become Catholic last year are the former Bishop of Rochester, Michael Nazir-Ali; the former Bishop of Ebbsfleet, Jonathon Goodall; and the former Bishop of Burnley, John Goddard.

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Posted in Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Roman Catholic

Epiphany awakens the question in the hearts of all people–who is this Jesus?

Dear friends, this is the question that the Church wishes to awaken in the hearts of all men: who is Jesus? This is the spiritual longing that drives the mission of the Church: to make Jesus known, his Gospel, so that every man can discover in his human face the face of God, and be illumined by his mystery of love. Epiphany pre-announces the universal opening of the Church, her call to evangelize all peoples. But Epiphany also tells us in what way the Church carries out this mission: reflecting the light of Christ and proclaiming his Word. Christians are called to imitate the service that the star gave the Magi. We must shine as children of the light, to attract all to the beauty of the Kingdom of god. And to all those who seek truth, we must offer the Word of God, which leads to recognizing in Jesus “the true God and eternal life” (1 John 5:20).

Benedict XVI.

Posted in Christology, Epiphany, Pope Benedict XVI, Roman Catholic, Theology

(Deseret News) ‘We can change the air that abusers breathe’: How faith communities are addressing domestic violence

They looked like the poster couple for faith and family. He was a successful professional, who provided for his wife and children and led them in prayer. She was a stay-at-home mom with a leadership position in their religious community. They seemed to exemplify how great a life rooted in belief could be.

But behind closed doors, Amy, who asked to be identified by a pseudonym, endured years of spiritual abuse as her husband turned aspects of her faith against her.

Shortly after they married, Amy says, her husband became obsessed with the idea that she wasn’t telling him the truth about her past. He forced her to pray with him about it. Constantly. He insisted she share with him every detail of her unmarried life.

After these discussions, he would manipulate and coerce his physically and emotionally exhausted wife into having sex. Only later did she realize the pattern amounted to sexual abuse, though he claimed he was driven by love and a desire to make their relationship perfect and eternal.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Islam, Judaism, Marriage & Family, Men, Mormons, Pastoral Theology, Psychology, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic, Sexuality, Violence, Women

(NC Register) Former Anglican Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali Discusses His Decision to Convert to Roman Catholicism

“Because it is the only Church where decisions that affect everyone are made so that they ‘stick’; where there is a body of doctrinal and moral teaching that can guide the faithful; and where there is a magisterium that can teach effectively. There is also a lively sacramental and devotional tradition which appeals.”

These plainly stated words were the reasons why Michael Nazir-Ali, a prominent former Anglican bishop, decided to become Catholic. Nazir-Ali spoke via email to the Register on Oct. 25.

A week or so before, on Oct. 14, the British political magazine The Spectator had reported that the Rt. Rev. Michael Nazir-Ali, the former Anglican bishop of Rochester, England, had joined the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham. This personal ordinariate, directly subject to the Holy See, was established by Pope Benedict XVI in 2011 to allow Anglicans to enter into full communion with the Catholic Church while preserving elements of their patrimony.

On Sept. 29, the feast of Sts. Michael, Gabriel and Raphael, Archangels, Nazir-Ali was received into communion with the Church by the group’s ordinary, Msgr. Keith Newton.

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Posted in Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Ecclesiology, Ecumenical Relations, Pope Benedict XVI, Roman Catholic, Roman Catholic

Faith leaders warn of risk to vulnerable posed by Assisted Dying Bill

The three faith leaders highlight the risks and dangers entailed in the provisions of the Bill and the ‘real-life’ practical inadequacies of its proposed safeguards.

The common good is not served by policies or actions that would place very many vulnerable people in more vulnerable positions, they warn.

They appeal for people of all faiths and none to join with them through the ‘common bond of humanity’ in caring for the most vulnerable in society.

In contrast to the Bill, the faith leaders call for measures to make high-quality palliative care available to all at the end of their lives.

The aim of a compassionate society should be ‘assisted living’ rather than an acceptance of assisted suicide, they note.

Read it all.

Posted in --Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, Church of England (CoE), Death / Burial / Funerals, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Inter-Faith Relations, Judaism, Life Ethics, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic

Rod Dreher–Billy Abraham, Gone To God

This is a newsletter focusing on the spiritual, and on reasons to hope. It might seem weird to you today to lead off with the death of Dr. Billy Abraham, a well-known, much-beloved Irish Methodist who taught for years, until his retirement this year, at SMU in Dallas. He was 73. Though his death is a shock, and an occasion of sorrow, let me tell you why I rejoice in Billy’s life and example.

I met Billy back in 2005 at St. Seraphim Cathedral in Dallas. He was a dear friend of Archbishop Dmitri, and had come to visit. I instantly liked him. It was impossible not to. Billy was a small-o orthodox Christian, and we discussed the manifold problems within both the Catholic and the Methodist churches (I was still a Catholic at the time, and was contemplating becoming Orthodox). The difference between Billy and me was that while I back then was broken and angry, Billy was indefatigably optimistic. Actually, scratch that: he wasn’t optimistic, because he believed that for the Methodists, things were going to get worse (and they did); rather, he was hopeful. For Billy, hope wasn’t simply an act of faith, but a reasonable response to what he had seen in his own life.

Billy grew up in Northern Ireland, in the time of the Troubles — that is, the terrorist warfare between the Irish Republican Army and Protestant paramilitaries. He saw evil up close — a lot of it. I won’t go into detail in this recollection, because I don’t want to get any of the particulars wrong, and our discussion of the topic was a long time ago. But Billy told me about growing up as a Protestant in Belfast during a time when it was very, very easy for a young man to be drawn into political violence. I seem to recall him saying this happened to him and some or all of his five brothers, but my recollection is fuzzy, so I don’t want to say more. He came to Christ through the ministry of local Methodists, and changed his life. What stands out in my mind as I think today about that first encounter of mine with Billy is how grateful he was to have been liberated from the bonds of hatred….

Read it all and watch the whole video.


Posted in Death / Burial / Funerals, Methodist, Theology

(CT) Southern Baptists Agree to Open Up to Abuse Investigation

It took three weeks of scheduled meetings, at least three law firms, dozens of statements, hours of closed-door briefings, and extensive back-and-forth debates across boardooms, social media, and Zoom calls for the Southern Baptist Convention’s Executive Committee (EC) to agree to the terms of a third-party investigation into its response to abuse. But on Tuesday, it did.

The EC voted 44–31 on in favor of waiving attorney-client privilege in the investigation, after a half dozen members resigned and several switched their position in favor of the waiver. For a moment, it felt like the conclusion of a long and heated process, though the decision is only the start of a long investigative process.

EC chairman Rolland Slade, who oversaw the proceedings, expressed his relief after the tally was announced. Then he remarked, “I want to express sorrow over the conduct we have displayed as Southern Baptists.”

For the EC—the denominational body tasked with Southern Baptist business outside the annual meeting—the debate pitted the desire to open fully to the investigation against concerns that such transparency would threaten its financial solvency, insurance coverage, and other fiduciary duties to protect the entity.

Read it all.

Posted in Baptist, Ethics / Moral Theology, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology

(Economist Erasmus Blog) A high-noon moment for Pope Francis over the Amazon

As for the Americans who have found a leader in Cardinal Burke, many are unhappy with the radical economic view that underpins the synod: one that blames greedy extractive industries and agri-businesses based in the northern hemisphere for the felling and burning of trees whose existence is crucial to the planet.

However, in recent weeks the 82-year-old pope has shown every sign of fighting back hard. On last month’s African tour, he was encouraged by the warm response of ordinary people in Mozambique and Madagascar, counterbalancing the unhappiness over his liberal stance among some African prelates. On the flight out, a French journalist presented him with a book that sets out to document the economic and political interests lined up against him in the United States. The pontiff accepted with a smile, saying: “For me it is an honour if the Americans attack me.” Francis added that, although an outright schism in the church would be highly undesirable, he is not scared of that prospect.

The very fact that Francis mentioned the s-word was seen as a sign of intra-church arguments moving into new territory. In the most extreme scenario, traditionalist prelates might formally declare that Francis had lost all moral authority and start consecrating like-minded bishops without papal approval, as Marcel Lefebvre, an ultra-conservative French archbishop, did in the 1980s. The breakaway group would then be excommunicated. But for now, that still seems far-fetched. In the assessment of Francis himself, “today we have pockets of rigidity which aren’t a schism, but they are [in] semi-schismatic ways of life that will end badly.”

Read it all.

Posted in Africa, Pope Francis, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic

Archbishop, Pope and Church of Scotland Moderator write to South Sudan’s leaders

When we last wrote to you at Christmas, we prayed that you might experience greater trust among yourselves and be more generous in service to your people. Since then, we have been glad to see some small progress. Sadly, your people continue to live in fear and uncertainty, and lack confidence that their nation can indeed deliver the ‘justice, liberty and prosperity’ celebrated in your national anthem. Much more needs to be done in South Sudan to shape a nation that reflects God’s kingdom, in which the dignity of all is respected and all are reconciled (cf 2 Corinthians, 5). This may require personal sacrifice from you as leaders – Christ’s own example of leadership shows this powerfully – and today we wish you to know that we stand alongside you as you look to the future and seek to discern afresh how best to serve all the people of South Sudan.

Read it all.

Posted in --Justin Welby, --South Sudan, Archbishop of Canterbury, Church of England (CoE), Foreign Relations, Politics in General, Pope Francis, Presbyterian, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic

(RNS) Ed Litton, a pastor known for racial reconciliation, is surprise winner for SBC president

Ed Litton, the relatively unknown senior pastor of Redemption Church in Saraland, Alabama, defeated two preeminent rivals to be elected president of the Southern Baptist Convention during a session of the SBC’s annual meeting Tuesday (June 15).

Litton has made racial reconciliation a hallmark of his work since at least the 2014 riots after the killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. Litton’s election is considered a defeat for hard right conservatives in the Southern Baptist Convention’s recent battles over race, sexual abuse and gender roles.

Litton won in the second round of voting Tuesday, defeating conservative Georgia pastor Mike Stone, a former SBC Executive Committee chair and favorite of the Conservative Baptist Network, which has been critical of SBC leadership, saying it has become captive to liberal ideas.

Read it all.

Posted in Baptist, Ethics / Moral Theology, Parish Ministry, Race/Race Relations, Science & Technology, Violence

(CT) Supreme Court Sides with Catholic Foster Care Agency

The United States Supreme Court ruled decisively in favor of a Catholic foster care agency on Thursday, with all nine justices agreeing that the city of Philadelphia violated the First Amendment’s protection of religious liberty when it ended a contract with Catholic Social Services (CSS) over service to…[prospective adoptees with same-sex parents].

“It is plain that the City’s actions have burdened CSS’s religious exercise by putting it to the choice of curtailing its mission or approving relationships inconsistent with its beliefs,” wrote Chief Justice John Roberts.

Philadelphia claimed the city could not contract foster care services with a Catholic agency that only served married heterosexual couples because of an antidiscrimination law ensuring that everyone, regardless of sexual orientation, has equal access to public accommodations. The court found, however, that foster parenting is not a “public accommodation,” since certification is not available to the public and “bears little resemblance to staying in a hotel, eating at a restaurant, or riding a bus.”

According to the court, there was also no evidence presented in the record that the Catholic agency’s policies ever prevented a same-sex couple from fostering a child, or that it would have that effect.

Read it all.

Posted in --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Children, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Religious Freedom / Persecution, Roman Catholic, Supreme Court, Urban/City Life and Issues

(CT) Southern Baptists Take Sides Ahead of Nashville Meeting

In the two years since Southern Baptists gathered as a convention, tensions around racial and political issues escalated. But just a couple weeks before their upcoming annual meeting in Nashville, another topic has taken center stage, as new documentation alleges high-ranking leaders in the denomination resisted its efforts to address abuse.

Some Southern Baptists are calling for an investigation of the Executive Committee (EC) after a series of leaked material has suggested that its leaders—one of whom is the conservative pick in the current race for SBC president—worked to hamper efforts to hear from victims in their own terms and to investigate churches with credible claims of cover-up.

“What those docs did kind of reoriented and shifted what the conversations and priorities were going to be going into the convention this year,” said Tennessee pastor Grant Gaines, who along with North Carolina pastor Ronnie Parrott announced plans to make a motion at the June 15–16 meeting calling for a third-party investigation into the EC.

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Posted in Baptist

A Prayer for the Feast Day of John XXIII

Lord of all truth and peace, who didst raise up thy bishop John to be servant of the servants of God and bestowed on him wisdom to call for the work of renewing your Church: Grant that, following his example, we may reach out to other Christians to clasp them with the love of your Son, and labor throughout the nations of the world to kindle a desire for justice and peace; through Jesus Christ, who is alive and reignest with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Posted in Church History, Roman Catholic, Spirituality/Prayer

(First Things) Fr. Vincent Druding–Remembering Richard John Neuhaus

Upon his death, I joined Sr. John Mary, SV and a couple of the Sisters of Life at his bedside to pray and sing the Office of the Dead from the Liturgy of the Hours. Thousands of times, Fr. Richard would have repeated Simeon the Prophet’s words to God on the completion of his mission, “Lord now you let your servant go in peace…your word has been fulfilled.”

Fr. Richard’s last published words read: “The entirety of our prayer is ‘Your will be done’—not as a note of resignation but of desire beyond expression. To that end, I commend myself to your intercession, and that of all the saints and angels who accompany us each step through time toward home.”

Fr. Richard, we have interceded for you, and continue to do so, but now it is we who ask you to intercede for us at the throne of glory. As you knew so well, the darkness of our time and culture—and even the darkness that has crept into our own Church—is great. But we believe with you that the Light has entered the darkness and the darkness cannot overcome it. We proclaim with you the power and authority of Christ in all times and places, and in all circumstances. We ask your assistance, Fr. Richard, to persevere in trials, to carry the cross, and to witness joyfully to the power of the Resurrection, so that we may preach with our lives, teach as you taught, and imitate your example of giving glory to God by throwing your life away for Jesus Christ and joining that high adventure of living life on high in Christ. Fr. Richard John Neuhaus, thank you, we love you, pray for us.

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Church History, Lutheran, Media, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic

(PD) Can We Still Reason Together? A Conversation with Robert P. George

SS: In a discussion about advocacy for traditional marriage, one Princeton graduate student told me that she was uncomfortable with the idea of trying to convince others to oppose same-sex marriage by appealing to social science or the kind of arguments you have articulated in What Is Marriage. Although she herself is Catholic, to this student, such an approach felt deceptive—like smuggling in religious precepts under the guise of neutrality and disinterested intellectual inquiry.

How would you respond to her? Is it intellectually honest to make arguments based on natural law or social science for positions you only hold because of your own religious faith?

RG: From your description of her, it sounds like the graduate student you were talking to doesn’t understand the teachings of her own Catholic faith when it comes to the nature of morality, moral questions, and moral judgments, including those concerning marriage. Catholicism self-consciously embraces and proposes a certain understanding of marriage and the norms shaping and protecting it for reasons—reasons that are in principle accessible to anyone, Catholic or not. The point of What Is Marriage? Man and Woman: A Defense was to articulate, explain, and defend those reasons.

Catholicism is not a fideistic religion. Quite the opposite. Its basic view of marriage as conjugal union (and not a mere form of sexual-romantic companionship or domestic partnership), for example, is not a matter of “religious precepts” that we (or the pope, or the Church) know because God has communicated them to us only by special revelation. Your friend may happen to believe what she believes about marriage because that is what the Church believes and teaches; but the Church herself believes and teaches what she believes and teaches on the subject for reasons that by the Church’s own lights—and her teachings—are available to be understood by “disinterested intellectual inquiry.” These reasons are matters of natural law.

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology, Philosophy, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic, Theology

A look Back to Benedict XVI’s 2013 Ash Wednesday Homily

Today, Ash Wednesday, we begin a new Lenten journey, a journey that extends over forty days and leads us towards the joy of Easter, to victory of Life over death. Following the ancient Roman tradition of Lenten stations, we are gathered for the celebration of the Holy Eucharist. The tradition says that the first statio took place in the Basilica of Saint Sabina on the Aventine Hill. Circumstances suggested we gather in St. Peter’s Basilica. Tonight there are many of us gathered around the tomb of the Apostle Peter, to also ask him to pray for the path of the Church going forward at this particular moment in time, to renew our faith in the Supreme Pastor, Christ the Lord. For me it is also a good opportunity to thank everyone, especially the faithful of the Diocese of Rome, as I prepare to conclude the Petrine ministry, and I ask you for a special remembrance in your prayer.

The readings that have just been proclaimed offer us ideas which, by the grace of God, we are called to transform into a concrete attitude and behaviour during Lent. First of all the Church proposes the powerful appeal which the prophet Joel addresses to the people of Israel, “Thus says the Lord, return to me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning” (2.12). Please note the phrase “with all your heart,” which means from the very core of our thoughts and feelings, from the roots of our decisions, choices and actions, with a gesture of total and radical freedom. But is this return to God possible? Yes, because there is a force that does not reside in our hearts, but that emanates from the heart of God and the power of His mercy. The prophet says: “return to the Lord, your God, for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, abounding in steadfast love, and relenting in punishment” (v. 13). It is possible to return to the Lord, it is a ‘grace’, because it is the work of God and the fruit of faith that we entrust to His mercy. But this return to God becomes a reality in our lives only when the grace of God penetrates and moves our innermost core, gifting us the power that “rends the heart”.

Read it all.

Posted in Lent, Pope Benedict XVI, Roman Catholic, Theology: Scripture

(CNS) Sacred Scripture needs to be respected, valued, Vatican says

In preparation for the Sunday of the Word of God Jan. 24, the Vatican issued recommendations for the day as well as reminders on respecting the sacred Scriptures.

For example, liturgical books should be high-quality texts and not photocopies, and the ambo is reserved for specific moments in the liturgy and prayer, and should not be used for making commentaries or announcements, said a note from the Vatican Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments.

The note, released Dec. 19, was signed by Cardinal Robert Sarah, congregation prefect, and Archbishop Arthur Roche, secretary.

The note was a reminder that the Sunday of the Word of God, instituted by Pope Francis in 2019, is meant to reawaken in the clergy and the faithful “the importance and value of sacred Scripture for the Christian life, as well as the relationship between the word of God and the liturgy,” it said.

Read it all.

Posted in Roman Catholic, Theology: Scripture

Epiphany awakens the question in the hearts of all people–who is this Jesus?

Dear friends, this is the question that the Church wishes to awaken in the hearts of all men: who is Jesus? This is the spiritual longing that drives the mission of the Church: to make Jesus known, his Gospel, so that every man can discover in his human face the face of God, and be illumined by his mystery of love. Epiphany pre-announces the universal opening of the Church, her call to evangelize all peoples. But Epiphany also tells us in what way the Church carries out this mission: reflecting the light of Christ and proclaiming his Word. Christians are called to imitate the service that the star gave the Magi. We must shine as children of the light, to attract all to the beauty of the Kingdom of god. And to all those who seek truth, we must offer the Word of God, which leads to recognizing in Jesus “the true God and eternal life” (1 John 5:20).

Benedict XVI.

Posted in Epiphany, Pope Benedict XVI, Roman Catholic, Theology

Pope Francis at Urbi et Orbi for 2020: Christmas reminds us we are all united as brothers and sisters

Pope Francis gave his traditional Christmas message and Blessing Urbi et Orbi (“To the City [of Rome] and the World”), offering words of hope and consolation, saying a birth is always a source of hope, and “this Child, Jesus, was born ‘to us’ … without any borders, privileges or exclusions.”

He pronounced his message in the Hall of Benediction of St. Peter’s Basilica, the upper area just behind the central loggia where he would usually have delivered his message. The pandemic and safety measures in place led to a decision to avoid the risk of large public gatherings in St. Peter’s Square and hence to broadcast live his message from inside the Basilica.

Read it all.

Posted in Christmas, Pope Francis

(RNS) After Nice attacks, Pope Francis and French Catholics call for peace with Muslims

After a man killed three people Thursday (Oct. 29) at the Catholic cathedral in Nice, France, Pope Francis expressed his closeness to the French Catholic community, offering prayers for the victims as well as wishes that “the beloved French people may respond united for good against evil.”

The attack, one of three on Thursday attributed to Muslim extremists, took place in the Basilica of Notre-Dame in Nice as a man reportedly yelling “Allahu Akbar,” or “God is great,” stabbed the cathedral’s custodian and two women, one of whom was taken to a nearby café but later died, according to The Associated Press.

“It’s a moment of pain, in a time of confusion,” said Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni in a statement to reporters. “Terrorism and violence must never be tolerated. Today’s attack sowed death in a place of love and consolations, such as the house of the Lord.

“The pope is informed of the situation and is close to the grieving Catholic community,” the Vatican statement continued. “He prays for the victims and their loved ones, so that the violence will cease, and they may return to see each other as brothers and sisters and not enemies so that the beloved French people may respond united for good against evil.”

Read it all.

Posted in Ethics / Moral Theology, France, Islam, Muslim-Christian relations, Pope Francis, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic, Terrorism

(Sky News) Three die in France in ‘suspected terror incident’

A woman has been decapitated in a suspected terror attack in Nice, French police say.

Three people have died and several others are injured after a knife attack took place near the Notre Dame church.

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Posted in France, Parish Ministry, Roman Catholic, Terrorism

(PD) Ryan T. Anderson And Robert P. George–Pope Francis, Civil Unions, and Moral Truth

In What Is Marriage, we opposed a “consent-based” view of marriage that saw marriage as being primarily about companionship, establishing a companionate relationship with what one scholar called “your number one person.” We argued that a faulty understanding of marriage actually makes it harder for people to find happiness, both inside and outside of marriage. That a vision of marriage that sees it as just about whatever ordinary friendships and relationships have, but taken to the nth degree—that marriage is simply the best, most important of whatever makes human sociality good to begin with—gets marriage wrong in ways that can harm both married and unmarried people.

For married people it can make them presume that their marriage is to be their primary means of fulfillment in all the areas of their life, that they should be able to say of their spouse “you fulfill me.” But no one human being and relationship totally fulfills any of us. And no one should seek total fulfillment from their spouses or their marriage.

For unmarried people, it can make them feel—and the rest of society view them—as not only lacking one aspect of fulfillment, marriage itself, but as lacking the pinnacle of human fulfillment, and thus as not flourishing at all. A vision of marriage that sees the relationship between spouses as the peak of human sociality in turn renders the unmarried as second-class flourishers.

Instead, we should view marriage correctly, as a distinctive good with a distinctive nature: a conjugal union of husband and wife ordered to, and thus normatively shaped by its unique aptness for, the bearing and rearing of children. Doing so not only allows us to see family as involving much more than just the spouses themselves—to include extended family and friends grafted into the family—but also allows us to appreciate the unique and irreducible goodness of non-marital forms of human sociality.

A sound vision of marriage thus offers wide vistas of human fulfillment to people who may never marry, for whatever reason. It offers hope of meaningful non-sexual relationships to people who experience same-sex attraction in a way that makes forming a truly marital partnership impossible.

More deeply understanding the truth about marriage and human sexuality will help all of us flourish. And that, of course, is what a pastor like Pope Francis desires. We can understand—indeed we share—the frustration of our fellow Catholics with the ways in which the Holy Father conducts interviews and the ways in which the media distorts them, but we must not do anything to undermine the truth that sets us free.

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Posted in --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology, Pope Francis, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic, Sexuality, Theology, Theology: Scripture

Pedro Gabriel–Those Pope Francis quotes: Video editing and media controversy

I find it interesting how the Pope spoke here about the media taking his words out of context. I also find it interesting that the Pope specifically said that none of this means approving homosexual acts. This completely alters the implication of the quote that was presented to us. Of course, if you read the entire interview, you will see the Pope railing against abortion and saying, explicitly, “I am a conservative.”

What is even more interesting is that the quotes that appear in the clip from the documentary are scrambled. Additionally, there is absolutely no mention of homosexual unions in the interview—or at least in the official transcript. When I have time, I will watch the full interview, but there is no reference to it in the Vatican News transcript.

If we watch the clip from the documentary, we can see that during the part where the Pope speaks about civil unions, the background is the same as that of the 2019 interview. It appears that the part where Francis talks about approving civil unions must have been edited out of the final product. (Although, again, this is a provisional conclusion on my part, it may change after I watch the full interview).

How did Evgeny Afineevsky, the director of the documentary, get his hands on footage that was apparently edited out of the interview? CNA reports that “the documentarian … was given unprecedented access to Pope Francis until filming completed in June.” Perhaps this explains how he obtained this previously unaired snippet.

Still, the way the video preview rearranges the order in which his words actually appear in the interview should give us pause. Maybe after we see the interview in its full context, we will have a different impression of his words altogether, especially since the Holy Father uses the Spanish term “convivencia civil,” which can be either “civil union” or “civil coexistence.” If he means the latter, he may simply be referring to laws that protect the human rights of homosexuals. Note that he mentions that “this way, they can be legally covered.”

This is just my theory, but I think it’s quite possible that the snippet about civil unions came from a different part of the interview than the discussion of the family. Maybe Francis was discussing his political role in Argentina during an attempt to legalize civil marriage there. This is plausible, because in the interview they do discuss his time as an archbishop in Argentina.

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Posted in Ethics / Moral Theology, Media, Pope Francis, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic