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Pope: violence in God’s name is inspired by the Antichrist
March 11 2011 £1.50 (Republic of Ireland €1.80)
Thousands mourn Catholic ʻmartyrʼ Shahbaz Bhatti
BY ED WEST
THE POPE has condemned religiously motivated violence, describing it as a “favourite instrument of the Antichrist” in his new book about the life of Jesus published yesterday.
In Jesus of Nazareth – Holy Week: From the Entrance into Jerusalem to the Resurrection, published by the Catholic Truth Society, the Holy Father criticised the idea that violence in the name of religion is justifiable.
Looking at the way Christ was portrayed by theologians during the 1960s as a revolutionary, Benedict XVI said that according to theologians of that era Jesus belongs within the line of the Zealots, who rebelled against the Roman Empire.
The Pope said: “The cleansing of the Temple serves as the central proof of this thesis, since it was unambiguously an act of violence that could not have been achieved without violence, even though the evangelists did their best to conceal this. Moreover, the fact that the people hailed Jesus as Son of David and harbinger of the Davidic kingdom is construed as a political statement, and the crucifixion of Jesus by the Romans for claiming to be ‘King of the Jews’ is seen as definitive proof that he was a revolutionary – a Zealot – and that he was executed as such. The cruel consequences of religiously motivated violence are only too evident to us all. Violence does not build up the kingdom of God, the kingdom of humanity. On the contrary, it is a favourite instrument of the Antichrist, however idealistic its religious motivation may be. It serves not humanity, but inhumanity.”
Jesus, he said, was not a Zealot. He rejected the idea of political violence and his “whole ministry and his message ... point in a radically different direction”.
“No,” the Pope said, “violent revolution, killing others in God’s name, was not his way. His ‘zeal’ for the kingdom of God took quite a different form.
“In the just man exposed to suffering, the memory of the disciples recognised Jesus: zeal for God’s house leads him to the Passion, to the Cross. This is the fundamental transformation that Jesus brought to the theme of zealzelos. The ‘zeal’ that would serve God through violence he transformed into the zeal of the Cross. Thus he definitively established the criterion for true zeal – the zeal of selfgiving love. This zeal must become the Christian’s goal; it contains the authoritative answer to the question about Jesus’s relation to the Zealot movement.”
The Pope’s book was launched just days after the Holy See’s representative to the United Nations urged the UN to reiterate that freedom of religion was at the heart of fundamental human rights.
Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, permanent representative of the Holy See to the UN in Geneva, cited a statistic that 75 per cent of those killed because of their religion across the world are Christian. He was speaking at the 16th ordinary session of the Human Rights Council on religious freedom.
Pope Benedict has consistently spoken out against religiously motivated violence, including in his famous 2006 Regensburg lecture, in which he said: “Violence is incompatible with the nature of God and the nature of the soul.”
He began the year by condemning sectarian violence, including attacks against Christians in the Middle East.
In October he will host a meeting of religious leaders in Assisi to discuss how they can promote peace, 25 years after Pope John Paul II held a similar event. But soon after the meeting was announced the Islamic Research Council of the University of alAzhar in Cairo, the highest authority of Sunni Islam, said it was ending dialogue with the Vatican after the Pope spoke out against anti-Christian violence in Egypt.
Report: Page 4 Editorial Comment: Page 13
Pakistani Christian mourners attend the funeral of Shahbaz Bhatti in his native village of Khushpur, near Faisalabad AP Photo
BY MARK GREAVES
THE BISHOPS of Pakistan may ask the Vatican to formally recognise a murdered Catholic politician as a martyr, it emerged this week.
Shahbaz Bhatti, Pakistan’s minister for minority affairs, was shot dead by Islamic extremists last week after he refused to stop speaking out about the country’s blasphemy laws despite receiving death threats.
Pope Benedict XVI said he hoped the murder would “awaken in people’s consciences courage and a commitment to safeguarding the religious freedom of all men and women and, in that way, promote their equal dignity”.
A bishops’ conference official in Pakistan said the bishops would discuss the request to the Vatican at a plenary meeting later this month.
Bishop Andrew Francis of Multan, president of the bishops’ commission for interreligious dialogue, who drafted the proposal, said: “Bhatti is a man who gave his life for his crystalline faith in Jesus Christ. It is up to us, the bishops, to tell his story and experience to the Church in Rome, to call for official recognition of his martyrdom.”
On Sunday more than 20,000 Christians from all over Pakistan flocked to the remote village of Khushpur to attend Mr Bhatti’s funeral.
His body had been flown to Khushpur after a memorial Mass in Islamabad, about 300 miles away, attended by prime minister Yousaf Raza Gilani.
Mr Gilani said: “Today is a very sad day. All the minorities have lost a great leader.”
Bishop Joseph Coutts of Faisalabad presided at the funeral, which was attended by two Protestant bishops as well as dozens of Catholic priests.
Peter Jacob, executive secretary of the Pakistani bishops’ justice and peace commission, told the Catholic News Service: “It was a very emotional funeral, with the people wailing and weeping all through.” Mr Bhatti, who was ambushed by gunmen while on his way to work, is the second Pakistani official murdered this year for opposing the country’s blasphemy laws. In January Salman Taseer, a Muslim and governor of Punjab province, was shot dead by his own bodyguard.
Mr Bhatti and Mr Taseer became targets for extremists after they appealed for clemency for Asia Bibi, a Christian mother of five sentenced to death for blasphemy.
Mr Bhatti had said during a visit to Canada in January: “I have been told by pro-Taliban religious extremists that if I
will continue to speak against the blasphemy law, I will be beheaded.” But he added: “As a Christian, I believe Jesus is my strength. He has given me a power and wisdom and motivation to serve suffering humanity. I follow the principles of my conscience, and I am ready to die and sacrifice my life for the principles I believe.”
Meanwhile, Archbishop Lawrence Saldanha of Lahore has told Aid to the Church in Need that Christians were “fearful of the future”. The government, he said, was “very weak” and unable to stand up to extremists.
Editorial Comment: Page 13
Parishes will be asked to buy ‘interim’ Missals in September
BY ANNA ARCO
PARISHES will have to buy interim Missals between September and Advent to use before the full translation of the Missal is published, it emerged this week.
Martin Foster, the acting secretary of the liturgy office of the Bishops of England and Wales, said that the Catholic Truth Society (CTS) would produce a “cheap but worthy” Missal to be used at the altar for the three months between the introduction of the new Order of Mass and the publication of the full Missal.
He said there would be a number of options for the lay faithful, including buying a copy of the new Ordo, which will be available in June. He also said that the liturgy office would make the new Order of Mass available online as a PDF file so that people could download a copy for printing. A Sunday Missal will not be produced until the whole Missal is published, but there may be a supplement to existing Sunday Missals with the new translation of the Order of the Mass because the lectionary will not change.
A new lectionary is due to be published at some point in the future. But Mr Foster said: “What we had originally hoped was for the lectionary and the Missal to be released at the same time, so that we could publish them together. But now, it seems, even if the new lectionary came tomorrow, we would wait three years before using it.” This is because the lectionary follows a three-year cycle. Mr Foster said it would be up to the parishes how the laity will be given the new Missal when it is introduced in September. He said he thought some people would just have a card with the responses on them while others who were more interested might buy the available books.
Richard Brown, sales and marketing manager of the CTS, said staff were hard at work preparing the full version.
Pope to give historic television interview
Man plans to fast on beer during Lent
BY NICK PISA IN ROME
POPE BENEDICT XVI is to make history by answering viewers’ questions on an Italian television programme.
Pope Benedict will record the question-and-answer session next month and it will be screened on Italian television on Good Friday.
The show is a religious programme called In his
Image and is broadcast on the main channel of state broadcaster Rai, regularly attracting more than seven million viewers.
The topic of the show will be Jesus Christ and the three questions will have been picked from those sent in by viewers. The programme will be recorded by a team from the Vatican Television Centre the day before the broadcast.
BY ANNA ARCO
AN AMERICAN blogger has pledged to live on only beer and water during Lent.
Following the ancient tradition of Bavarian monks who brewed stronger beer during the Lenten fast in order to subsist on an almost entirely liquid diet, J Wilson will spend the 46 days of Lent subsisting on beer. The
38-year-old, who writes about beer on the internet and claims never to have done a Lenten fast in his life, will drink bockbier, which was originally brewed by the Paulaner monks in Munich.
The beer is a strong, dark malty lager and is known as “liquid bread”. Traditionally, it was brewed by the monks for the periods of fasting in Lent and Advent.
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