Daily Archives:February 8th, 2018

Charity, clarity, and their opposite

In his column on CatholicPhilly.com posted on 6 Feb 2018, Archbishop Charles Chaput writes on the recent call to bless same-sex union:

Nearly everyone trying to understand the current government turmoil in Washington is either (a) pre-committed to one or the other political party’s version of events; or (b) thoroughly confused.  Most of us fall more or less in the second group. And that means a great many citizens end up feeling powerless, then disgusted, then angry.  If, as Scripture says, the truth makes us free, the lack of it makes us frustrated and locked in a state of uncertainty.

To put it another way: Confusion is bad. It’s bad for the individual soul, and it’s bad for the health of a society. It inevitably breeds division and conflict.

Confusion can have different causes. Some of them are quite innocent. A person may hear or interpret information incorrectly. Or a person may express himself or herself unclearly. Or factors beyond anyone’s control — for example, the prejudice or sloppiness of a news organisation — may interfere with, or dramatically color, how a message is communicated and received.

These things happen as a natural part of life. This is why leaders have a special duty to be clear, honest and prudent in what they do and say. They need to “speak the truth with love,” in the words of St Paul. To rashly, or deliberately, cause confusion about a significant matter is a serious failure for any person in authority. So it is in public life. And so it is in the life of the Church.

There is no love — no charity — without truth, just as there is no real mercy separated from a framework of justice informed and guided by truth. At the same time, truth used as a weapon to humiliate others, truth that lacks patience and love, is a particularly ugly form of violence.

So what’s the point of these thoughts?

Over the past few weeks, a number of senior voices in the leadership of the Church in Germany have suggested (or strongly implied) support for the institution of a Catholic blessing rite for same-sex couples who are civilly married or seeking civil marriage.

On the surface, the idea may sound generous and reasonable. But the imprudence of such public statements is — and should be — the cause of serious concern. It requires a response because what happens in one local reality of the global Church inevitably resonates elsewhere — including eventually here.

In the case at hand, any such “blessing rite” would cooperate in a morally forbidden act, no matter how sincere the persons seeking the blessing. Such a rite would undermine the Catholic witness on the nature of marriage and the family. It would confuse and mislead the faithful. And it would wound the unity of our Church, because it could not be ignored or met with silence.

Why would a seemingly merciful act pose such a problem? Blessing persons in their particular form of life effectively encourages them in that state — in this case, same-sex sexual unions.  Throughout Christian history, a simple and wise fact applies: lex orandi, lex credendi, i.e., how we worship shapes what and how we believe. Establishing a new rite teaches and advances a new doctrine by its lived effect, i.e., by practice.

There are two principles we need to remember. First, we need to treat all people with the respect and pastoral concern they deserve as children of God with inherent dignity. This emphatically includes persons with same-sex attraction. Second, there is no truth, no real mercy, and no authentic compassion, in blessing a course of action that leads persons away from God. This in no way is a rejection of the persons seeking such a blessing, but rather a refusal to ignore what we know to be true about the nature of marriage, the family, and the dignity of human sexuality.

Again: All of us as human beings, whatever our strengths or weaknesses, have a right to be treated with the respect that our God-given dignity demands. We also have a right to hear the truth, whether it pleases us or not — even if it unhappily seems to complicate the unity of the Church herself. To borrow from Aquinas: The good of ecclesiastical unity, to which schism is opposed, is less than the good of Divine truth, to which unbelief is opposed (see STh II-II, q. 39, a.2).

Jesus said the truth will make us free. Nowhere did he suggest it will make us comfortable. We still need to hear the truth clearly — and share it, clearly, always with love. Creating confusion around important truths of our faith, no matter how positive the intention, only makes a difficult task more difficult.

Pope at audience: ‘brief, well-prepared homily at Mass’

General Audience, 7 Feb 2018.

VATICAN CITY – Pope Francis continued his catechesis on the Mass at his Wednesday General Audience on 7 Feb 2018, reflecting on the culmination of the Liturgy of the Word in the Gospel and the homily.

He said the Gospel sheds the light of the mystery of Christ on the scriptural readings that precede it.  “Within all of Scripture, as within the whole liturgical celebration, Christ is the centre and fullness,” he said.

The Pope said the rites surrounding the Gospel proclamation aim at venerating it as the living and saving word of God. “Through these signs the assembly recognises the presence of Christ, who sends the ‘Good News,’ which converts and transforms.”

He said, “We listen to the Gospel, and we must respond with our lives.”

Pope Francis then turned to the homily, which he said continues the dialogue between the Lord and his people already opened up by the Gospel.

“The Word of the Lord enters through the ears, arrives at the heart, and goes to the hands [to perform] good works. The homily,” he said, “also follows the Word of the Lord along this journey”.

The Holy Father said the homily requires both the preacher and the congregation to be open to God’s Word.

The homilist, he said, must “pay due attention, taking on the correct interior dispositions – without subjective pretexts – and knowing that every preacher has strengths and weaknesses. Sometimes the congregation has reason to be bored by a homily that is too long, irrelevant, or incomprehensible; at other times, it is prejudice that becomes an obstacle.”

Speaking off-the-cuff, Pope Francis spoke to priests, deacons, and bishops who preach at Mass. He said the homily must be well-prepared and brief.

The way to prepare a good homily, said Pope Francis, is with “prayer, study of the Word of God, and a clear, brief synthesis, which must not go over 10 minutes”. – Devin Watkins, Vatican News

Benedict, pope emeritus: I am on a pilgrimage towards home

VATICAN CITY – Pope emeritus Benedict has sent a short letter to the editor of the Italian news daily Il Corriere della Sera recently.

The pope emeritus was responding to the many inquiries from readers as to how he is spending “this last period of his life.” Noting the “slow decline” of his “physical strength,” Benedict says in the letter that “interiorly, I am on a pilgrimage towards Home.” The former Roman Pontiff admits that “this last stretch of the road” is “at times difficult,” but says, “It is a great grace for me to be surrounded by a love and goodness that I could not have imagined.”

Concluding his letter, Benedict said he considers the concern of the readers for his well-being as an “accompaniment” for the journey. In closing, he expresses his gratitude, and assures everyone of his prayers.

The paper says it had contacted Benedict XVI through a “reserved channel” to ask him how he was doing.

The letter, marked “urgent by hand”, arrived at their Rome headquarters on Tuesday morning, 6 Feb 2018,  from “Monastero Mater Ecclesiae, V-120, Città del Vatican,” the retired pope’s residence.

This Sunday marks the fifth anniversary of Benedict XVI’s shock announcement that he intended to resign the papacy. His resignation took effect on 28 Feb 2013.

In 2013, Benedict XVI became the first pope since Gregory XII in 1415 to resign the papacy. In the announcement of his resignation, Benedict said he would continue to serve the Church “through a life dedicated to prayer.” Since May 2013, the pope emeritus has resided in the Mater Ecclesiae Monastery within the borders of Vatican City State. – Vatican News, Catholic Herald

Pope Francis invites all to join forces to help victims of human trafficking

General Audience -Vatican Media Screenshot

VATICAN CITY – For this World Day Against Trafficking, Pope Francis has invited everyone, citizens and institutions, to “join forces” to prevent trafficking and to guarantee protection and assistance to victims.

Toward the conclusion of the General Audience on 7 Feb 2018, the Holy Father reminded that  February 8, liturgical feast of Saint Josephine Bakhita, the World Day of Prayer and Reflection against Trafficking will be observed.

Therefore, Francis exhorted to pray “so that the Lord will convert the hearts of the traffickers” and “give hope of regaining freedom” to those suffering from this shameful scourge.

The Pope reminded that this year’s theme is “Migration without Trafficking. Yes to Freedom! No to Trafficking!”

“With few possibilities of regular channels, many migrants decide to venture in other ways, where often abuses of all sorts await them, exploitation and slavery,” the Pope reminded. – zenit.org

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