Potpourri Of Popery, Templeton Prize Edition

Three big stories around the world, so let's begin this time with

  • China: Cardinal Zen sees the olympics as an opportunity to highlight China's human rights violations. The Bush Administration likewise, at least in theory. The State Dept? Not so much.
  • Iraq: pray for the soul of that kidnapped Iraqi Archbishop Rahho: his body's been found. He was kidnapped after stations of the cross....
  • Poland: Polish scientist and priest wins the Templeton prize. Interesting choice:
    he "has brought to science a sense of transcendent mystery, and to religion a view of the universe through the broadly open eyes of science."
    In the WaPo story, he's said to be a critic of Intelligent Design on theological grounds. The statement at the Templeton Foundation site gives a fuller picture, RTWT.
Now, onward to Popery:

Amy Welborn riffs on what we can learn from when and how the Pope departs from his prepared texts:
It is not the Pope’s intelligence, or even the still-lively and absorbing mind of a man in his 80’s. It is that what Benedict is moved to break from the text and emphasize is the reality of Jesus Christ for you and me, today, in this moment. She goes on to note that the Pope "really believes this stuff."
Exactly. And that's the real reason the press gets all Catholic stories so grossly wrong; they only look for tactics, maneuvers, power plays. They cannot see or hear --not truly-- a person who simply believes something is true and proclaims it in season and out of season.
  • The Angelus from Laetare Sunday, on Lazarus:
    “Jesus loved them very much” (John 11:5), and for this reason wants to work the great prodigy. “Our friend Lazarus has died, but I am going to awaken him” (John 11:11). This is how he spoke to the disciples, expressing God’s view of physical death with the metaphor of sleep: God indeed sees it as sleep from which one can awaken. Jesus shows an absolute power in the face of this death: One sees it when he gives life back to the young son of the widow of Nain (cf. Luke 7:11-17) and to the 12-year-old daughter (cf. Mark 5:35-43). Of the young girl he says, “She is not dead but sleeping” (Mark 5:39), provoking the derision of those present. But in truth this is precisely what it is: The death of the body is a sleep from which God can awaken one at any moment.
  • [snip]he solemnly declares to Martha: “I am the resurrection and the life; whoever believes in me, even if he dies, he will live; whoever lives and believes in me, will never die.” And he adds: “Do you believe this?” (John 11:25-26).
    It is a question that Jesus addresses to each one of us; a question that certainly overwhelms us, it overwhelms our ability to understand, and it asks us to entrust ourselves to him, as he has entrusted himself to the Father. Martha’s response is exemplary: “Yes, O Lord, I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who is coming into the world” (John 11:27). Yes, O Lord! We too believe, despite our doubts and our darkness; we believe in you, because you have the words of eternal life; we want to believe in you, who gives us a trustworthy hope of life beyond life, of authentic and full life in your kingdom of light and peace.
  • Yesterday's Audience covered Boethius & Cassiodorus. He seems to take these two Christian politicians as models for public men in our current clash of cultures:
    We also live in times where cultures meet, where violence threatens to destroy culture, where we have a duty to pass on the great values and to teach the new generations the ways of peace and reconciliation. We will find this way by turning toward God and his human face, the God revealed to us in Christ.
  • The Apostolic Penitentiary holds a course each year during Lent on different aspects of the sacrament of Penance. The Pope's remarks are here. He puts the sacrament in the context of the contrast in the gospel between Simon the Pharisee and the woman who washes Christ's feet with her hair:
    The message that shines out from this Gospel passage is eloquent: God forgives all to those who love much. Those who trust in themselves and in their own merits are, as it were, blinded by their ego and their heart is hardened in sin. Those, on the other hand, who recognize that they are weak and sinful entrust themselves to God and obtain from him grace and forgiveness. It is precisely this message that must be transmitted: what counts most is to make people understand that in the Sacrament of Reconciliation, whatever the sin committed, if it is humbly recognized and the person involved turns with trust to the priest-confessor, he or she never fails to experience the soothing joy of God's forgiveness. ... Might it not be true that today we are witnessing a certain alienation from this Sacrament? When one insists solely on the accusation of sins - which must nevertheless exist and it is necessary to help the faithful understand its importance - one risks relegating to the background what is central, that is, the personal encounter with God, the Father of goodness and mercy. It is not sin which is at the heart of the sacramental celebration but rather God's mercy, which is infinitely greater than any guilt of ours.
  • Homily at the 25th anniversary of a youth center in Rome (scroll to post #12288), where he takes on nothing big. Just:
    what is life? what is death? how should we live? how should we die?
    The text riffs on St. John's use of two words for life: bios and zoe:
    Let us try to imagine what would happen if medicine did find this prescription against death, the prescription for immortality. Even in such a case, it would still have to do with medical means within the biosphere, medicine that is useful for our spiritual and human life, but by itself, still confined to the biosphere.

    It is easy to imagine what would happen if man's biological life were without end, if man were immortal. We would find ourselves in an 'old world', a world full of aged people, a world that would leave little room for the young, for the renewal of life.

    So we understand that this is not the immortality that we aspire to. This is not the possibility of drinking at the fountain of life that we all desire.
    Tell that to the Boomers, Holy Father! But seriously, RTWT.
  • Today the Pope held a day of Penance with the young people of Rome. I'll post the homily here when it's available.