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« Some Catholics might naively think... | Main | Benedict XVI speaks ten languages; sincerely believes in Catholicism »

Monday, April 25, 2005

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Eric Giunta

Is anyone but me the least bit disappointed in the fact that our new Holy Father has been very vague and ambiguous in the statements and homilies he has made thus far?

For instance, he speaks broadly of objective truth, and the need for Christian and religious unity; but never does he come out and say that Catholicism is this objective truth, or that unity will only be finally achieved when heretics, schismatics, and apostates themselves convert to Catholic Christianity.

I guess I'm just disappointed at his refusal thus far to make an unambiguous declaration that Catholicism is the true religion; he basically does everything he can to dance around this belief without actually saying it, as if he's afraid of beeing *too* politically incorrect.

I dunno . . .

Carl Olson

Eric: Do you think so many dissidents and MSM folks would be howling if this was a man who simply gives supposedly ambiguous statements? And then there is that Dominus Iesus document. And his 25 books. But how about this, from the homily at his installation:

"There is the desert of poverty, the desert of hunger and thirst, the desert of abandonment, of loneliness, of destroyed love. There is the desert of God’s darkness, the emptiness of souls no longer aware of their dignity or the goal of human life. The external deserts in the world are growing, because the internal deserts have become so vast. Therefore the earth’s treasures no longer serve to build God’s garden for all to live in, but they have been made to serve the powers of exploitation and destruction. The Church as a whole and all her Pastors, like Christ, must set out to lead people out of the desert, towards the place of life, towards friendship with the Son of God, towards the One who gives us life, and life in abundance."

"Today too the Church and the successors of the Apostles are told to put out into the deep sea of history and to let down the nets, so as to win men and women over to the Gospel – to God, to Christ, to true life. The Fathers made a very significant commentary on this singular task. This is what they say: for a fish, created for water, it is fatal to be taken out of the sea, to be removed from its vital element to serve as human food. But in the mission of a fisher of men, the reverse is true. We are living in alienation, in the salt waters of suffering and death; in a sea of darkness without light. The net of the Gospel pulls us out of the waters of death and brings us into the splendour of God’s light, into true life. It is really true: as we follow Christ in this mission to be fishers of men, we must bring men and women out of the sea that is salted with so many forms of alienation and onto the land of life, into the light of God. It is really so: the purpose of our lives is to reveal God to men. And only where God is seen does life truly begin. Only when we meet the living God in Christ do we know what life is."

"If we let Christ enter fully into our lives, if we open ourselves totally to him, are we not afraid that He might take something away from us? Are we not perhaps afraid to give up something significant, something unique, something that makes life so beautiful? Do we not then risk ending up diminished and deprived of our freedom? And once again the Pope said: No! If we let Christ into our lives, we lose nothing, nothing, absolutely nothing of what makes life free, beautiful and great. No! Only in this friendship are the doors of life opened wide. Only in this friendship is the great potential of human existence truly revealed. Only in this friendship do we experience beauty and liberation. And so, today, with great strength and great conviction, on the basis of long personal experience of life, I say to you, dear young people: Do not be afraid of Christ! He takes nothing away, and he gives you everything. When we give ourselves to him, we receive a hundredfold in return. Yes, open, open wide the doors to Christ – and you will find true life. Amen."

That is not vague or ambiguous at all. Unless, of course, you are looking for him to start naming heretics by name in homilies...

Eric Giunta

Carl:

Is there anything in those words that could not be said by any conservative non-Catholic Christian?

Carl Olson

Eric, you crack me up. Why not ask: is there anything in John 3:16 that could not be believed in by a "conservative non-Catholic Christian"? LOL.

Carl Olson

Eric, you crack me up. Why not ask: is there anything in John 3:16 that could not be believed in by a "conservative non-Catholic Christian"? LOL.

Eric Giunta

I know what you're saying, Carl.

But if one were to read over everything that's ben written by our Holy Father since, say, the Funeral Mass of John Paul II, one would get the impression that he's simply a conservative Christian who believes that faith in Christ is necessary for salvation; not that he's a traditional Catholic who believes that outside the Church htere is no salvation, much less that Catholicism is the true religion.

I know I'm probably just a bit over-worrited; I can't help it. I'm 20 years old, came to the Church all on my own, and have been putting up with all the crap today's Church has to offer. I'm just nervous that, since his election and before, I hear so much "Pope-Speak" from the new Holy Father. I worry that we'll have a repeat of JPII's pontificate. John Paul II may have been what we needed when he ascended the Papal Throne 26 years ago, but I don't know if I could bear any more of it.

Teresa Polk

Eric,

Part of what Carl quoted would not likely be said by a conservative non-Catholic Christian, unless it is by a conservative Orthodox Church Christian or a traditional Anglo-Catholic. That is the part in which Benedict XVI spoke so eloquently about the importance of history and the Church Fathers in determining our faith. To repeat that portion of what Carl already quoted:

"Today too the Church and the successors of the Apostles are told to put out into the deep sea of history and to let down the nets, so as to win men and women over to the Gospel – to God, to Christ, to true life. The Fathers made a very significant commentary on this singular task. This is what they say: for a fish, created for water, it is fatal to be taken out of the sea, to be removed from its vital element to serve as human food."

Carl can tell you better than I could that the solo scriptura folks do not like the "deep sea of history" and do not see that as part of "the Gospel" in the same way as Catholics, Orthodox and traditional Anglo-Catholics do. They certainly would not consider that vast sea of Tradition to be an essential element of the faith, as Benedict XVI described it.

Pope Benedict XVI's view of ecumenism is expressed in detail in his book "Truth and Tolerance," an excerpt of which is available on the Ignatius Press website. Since he takes such a strong interest in truth as opposed to relativism, and has mentioned that distinction in recent days, it is clear that his view of Truth will impact his ecumenical efforts. However, he does not take the kind of exclusive view of, for example, Dietrich Bonhoffer, and he does see value in other faiths to the extent that they lead people into those "deep waters" of the Truth that he describes. I would not take that openness as compromising his Catholicism in any respect whatsoever.

Moreover, it is exciting that he has shown so much oppenness toward ecumenical dialogue and has placed a high priority on trying to bring Christianity back into unity. I would not take that as indicative that he will be vague or that he will ever compromise anything important to the faith. However, it will be interesting to see what he does over the next few years in those efforts at peacemaking and unity.

In addition to everything that Fr. Fessio has said, and that Benedict XVI himself has said, about the significance of the name "Benedict," I also see the first St. Benedict as having played a great unifying role in the Church of his day. Dom John Chapman, OSB's classic book on St. Benedict and the Sixth Century describes Benedict as having drawn from more than 300 different sources in compiling his Rule, drawing from earlier monastic rules from sources very distant in time and place and creating a unified Rule that he expected could be put into effect over a broad geographic area, thus bringing together monasteries from different cultures under a single Rule. That is something of the kind of ecumenical effort that is needed today and that can be done in the context of Benedict XVI's thinking as expressed in "Truth and Tolerance." It does not involve compromising anything essential to the Catholic faith.

We will just have to wait and watch to see how all of that plays out. Although I think Benedict XVI expressed his views clearly and beautifully, he also did so in a way that was respectful of those present who were not Catholic and who will probably be included in future ecumenical dialogue. We will undoubtedly get more detail in the future.

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