Pope welcomes Orthodox archbishop for historic meeting
AFTERCENTURIES of division Roman Catholics and Greek Orthodox must seek forgiveness and learn to work together for the good of the world, Pope Benedict XVI and Orthodox Archbishop Christodoulos of Athens and all Greece have said. In an historic meeting, the Pope formally welcomed the primate of the Orthodox Church of Greece to the Vatican. Sitting down together, the two men signed a commitment to preaching the Gospel together and to working towards full communion. “We want to live more intensely our mission of giving an apostolic witness, of transmitting the faith to those who are near and those who are far,” said the two leaders in a joint declaration, written in Greek and French on a large piece of parchment. In their speeches to each other and in the declaration, the Pope and the archbishop acknowledged how far apart their communities had grown over the centuries and how difficult their relations have been. Benedict XVI said Catholics and Orthodox should have learned from what the New Testament describes as the situation of the early Church in the Greek city of Corinth, which knew “the difficulties and serious temptations of division”. “In effect, a real danger appears where persons want to identify themselves with one group or another,” he said. Through increased contacts and formal dialogue, the Pope
Pope Benedict XVI and Orthodox Archbishop Christodoulos of Athens greet each other in the Vatican
went on, Catholics and Orthodox have come to value each other’s spiritual, liturgical and theological traditions and to see them as gifts from God. Pope Benedict XVI and Archbishop Christodoulos vowed to use the recently rediscovered
fraternity of their churches to ensure the future of Christianity in Europe and to address a host of modern challenges facing society. In reply, the archbishop told the Pope that “in our role as spiritual fathers of the pious
members of our churches” the two of them must raise signal the alarm about “all that threatens the values and structures of European civilization deeply impregnated by the Christian faith”. Archbishop Christodoulos said that developments such as the
“progressive de-Christianisation of Europe”; the numerous attempts to exclude faith-based speech from public life; “religious fanaticism”, and attacks on human life – including research on embryos – demanded religious leadership and moral guidance. In the joint declaration, the Pope and archbishop also pledged to coordinate their efforts for world peace. “We believe religions have a role to play in spreading peace throughout the world and that they must by no means sow intolerance and violence,” they said. “As Christian religious leaders, we ask all religious leaders together to continue to pursue and strengthen interreligious dialogue and to work to create a society of peace and brotherhood. This is one of the missions of religion.” Archbishop Christodoulos also thanked Pope Benedict for deciding to give a very important relic to the Greek Church: links from the chain that is venerated as the one which bound St Paul during his imprisonment in Rome. The Vatican said church documents from as early as the middle of the third century spoke of the chains kept at the Basilica of St Paul Outside the Walls, the site of St Paul’s burial. Over the centuries, some of the links have been distributed to for veneration. The gift to Archbishop Christodoulos consisted of two of the remaining nine links, each of which is in the form of a figure-eight and is about two and a half inches long.
Priest convicted for role in Rwandan genocide
A RWANDAN PRIEST has been sentenced to 15-years in prison after being convicted of genocide charges and crimes against humanity. The United Nations-backed International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, in Arusha, Tanzania, found the 43-yearold priest, Fr Athanase Seromba, guilty last week. Fr Seromba, a Hutu, is said to have directed a Hutu militia to his church, which was harbouring approximately 2,000 Tutsi refugees. He then watched for three hours as they poured fuel through the roof and pointed
out the weakest points in the building so that the fighters could bulldoze it to the ground. Last month a Rwandan nun was sentenced to 30 years of prison for delivering Tutsi refugees in her care into the hands of Hutu militia, where they were killed. In 2002 two nuns were convicted in Belgium for their part in the murder of 7,000 Tutsi refugees seeking protection in their convent. A Seventh Day Adventist pastor recently finished a 10year sentence for his part in the atrocity. Two more Catholic priests await verdicts in Arusha: Fr Emmanuel Rukundo, an army
chaplain and Father Hormisdas Nsengimana, the former rector of Christ-Roi College. Both Fr Seromba and Fr Nsengimana are said to have given themselves up to the tribunal in 2002 at the orders of their superiors. Fr Seromba had changed his name and was serving as a priest two parishes near Florence, Italy before he surrendered to the Tribunal on February 6, 2002, pleading not guilty to the charges held against him. According to the testimony in court, Fr Seromba, who was the parish priest in Nyange, a village in western Rwanda, delivered the Tutsis hiding in
his church to the Interahamwe militia on April 12, 1994. The Tutsis had managed to repel the first attackers who were throwing grenades. Fr Seromba is reported to have urged the soldiers to slaughter the survivors, whom he called “cockroaches”. It is estimated that 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus died in Rwanda as the result of mass killings launched by the extremist Hutu government between April and July 1994. While roughly 300 clergymen and nuns were killed during the three-month killing frenzy, accounts of silence, complicity and collaboration have placed the Church and
other Christian denominations in a dubious position. In 1996, Pope John Paul II wrote a letter about the Church’s position during the genocide. “The Church itself cannot be held responsible for the misdeeds of its members,” he said. “but those who have sinned during the genocide must have the courage to bear the consequences”. So that the massacre is not forgotten, the Tutsi president of Rwanda, Paul Kagame has left 10 ravaged churches as they were found after the horror with the human remains of the victims piled on the pews, as memorials to the genocide.
DECEMBER 22, 2006 THE CATHOLIC HERALD
A Pope who kept us on our toes in 2006
For many people, as far as religion is concerned, the most pivotal moment of 2006 has been the Holy Father’s lectio magistralis at the University of Regensburg on September 12th. The depth, relevance and impact of that historic lecture continue to resonate around the world, provoking a muchneeded examination of two of the most pressing contemporary problems: the loss of faith and reason in the West, and how to deal with the problem of irrational faith. “The Pope demonstrated at Regensburg that popes can do things that no one else in the world can do,” says papal biographer George Weigel. “They can intelligently put issues on the world agenda that identify their true and moral significance in a way that everyone has to pay attention.” Three months later, debate still continues as to whether the Holy Father was aware of what the consequences might be following what has been termed “The Regensburg Moment”. For those who know him, such as George Weigel, to suggest a man of the Pope’s intellectual ability was unaware is “absurd”. Certainly, it is doubtful the Pope’s visit to Turkey would have been so successful were it not for the hard questions he posed in Regensburg. Armed with humility and innocence and the spontaneity of powerful gestures of goodwill, he was able to bring healing and reconciliation. At the same time, he advanced the cause of religious freedom, significantly raised hopes of unity with the Orthodox church and cleverly removed himself from politically sensitive issues. Benedict XVI’s simple, humble and even innocent approach –so evident in Turkey and much in tune with his acclaimed first encyclical published in January, Deus Caritas Est (God is Love) –has been consistent throughout this year. Those qualities were present in his moving and momentous visit to Auschwitz and, although some criticised the German Pope for missing an opportunity to condemn antiSemitism, his choice of words and the depth of his speech were, for some, the highlight of the year. “It was an extraordinary speech, rich in theology, spirituality and personal testimony to the horrors that took place,” says moral theology professor and a former doctoral student of Professor Joseph Ratzinger, Vincent Twomey. Elsewhere, the Pope has continued to put his stamp on the Roman Curia. He appointed his old friend Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone as Secretary of State, and, in a move which reflected his own deeply held belief that religion and culture are closely related, he made Cardinal Paul Poupard president of both the Pontifical Councils for Culture and Interreligious Dialogue. Some complain that the pace of Curial reform is to too slow, but his friends knew he would take his time. “He doesn’t believe in revolutions,” says Prof Twomey. “He accepts the imperfections of society and the Church, so his changes are gradual.” Yet the Pope has not hesitated in frequently landing surprises on the faithful. Despite the risk of upsetting Beijing, he made Archbishop Joseph Zen of Hong Kong a cardinal; he appointed Cardinal Claudio Hummes, a onetime supporter of liberation theology, as prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy; he stripped the saintly founder of the Legionaries of Christ of his priestly duties over allegations of sexual abuse and he removed the papal title ‘Patriarch of the West’, risking possible friction with the Orthodox church. But perhaps most surprising of all is that, through his humility and the strength of his intellect, Benedict has been able to practically silence his old adversaries: Church progressives. Benedict XVI seems reckless at times, but in essence he is courageously spreading the Gospel, not performing to the gallery but working in obedience to truth. And all the time he is trying to draw attention not to himself but to Jesus Christ. In the year in which his eagerly anticipated book on Jesus is published, expect more of the same in 2007.
Rome Correspondent: Edward Pentin E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
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The Catholic Herald 1966 - 2006 A Scrap Book by Gerard Noel
From “The Bombshell Beginnings”to 1988-1992, by Peter Stanford! Have you been reading The Catholic Herald for thirty years, perhaps even longer? Yes? Well perhaps this Scrap Book will bring back some fond memories of joyful periods and also some traumatic episodes during a most demanding yet thoughtful and progressive time of change in our Catholic History.
Did POPE JOHN PAUL I die of natural courses or was he murdered as some claimed? Did POPE PIUS XII speak out in defence of the Jews? Some claimed he did not! These and many other important questions, some still disputed today, were answered by Gerard Noel during his editorship.
This is a 149 page illustrated ‘Scrapbook’of highlights from Gerard Noel’s forty years of association with The Catholic Herald. It contains extracts from contributions by the author to the paper during those years, including those when he was editor (between 1971 and 1982). Also included are contributions from Richard Dowdenand Peter Stanford, former editors. It makes for a brisk and lively piece of reading, giving a unique insight into the Catholic Church’s progress during an important period of Catholic History. A delightful gift for a friend or a pleasurable trip down memory lane!! The last few copies remaining. To order, please complete below and post with cheque to ‘Gerard Noel’ for £7.00 inc. p&p to: Gerard Noel, c/o 43 Caterham Drive, Old Coulsdon, Surrey CR5 1JP. Name: ....................................................................................................................... Address: ................................................................................................................... ...................................................................................Postcode: ............................... Telephone No: ................................................... I would like _____ copies of the book. I enclose a cheque made out for £_______ Do not send cash or postal orders with your order.
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Expert slams ‘psychotic’ morning-after pill campaign
THEBRITISH Pregnancy Advisory Service’s appeal to make the morning-after pill as “normal as Nurofen” has been described as “bordering on the psychotic” by Britain’s leading Catholic bioethics centre. Dr Helen Watt, of the Linacre Centre for Healthcare Ethics, denounced the controversial campaign, which aims to make the abortifacient pill as widely available as possible. “The morning-after pill does not ‘prevent’ pregnancy if a child has already been conceived,” she said. “It stops that child from implanting in the womb, thereby ending his or her life,” said Dr Watt. “To compare a homicidal drug to paracetamol shows a failure to appreciate the meaning of human life and sexuality bordering on the psychotic.” Designed to coincide with the Christmas party season, when sexual promiscuity reportedly rises sharply, the BPAS campaign encourages women to keep the the pill alongside plasters and painkillers in their medicine cabinets. In a statement the organisation, which has charitable status, said: “You don’t wait until you have a headache before buying aspirin and it makes no sense to wait until
you have unprotected sex before you get emergency contraception.” A spokesman told TheDaily Telegraph : “We are trying to make the morning-after pill as normal as Nurofen. Having it at home should be as normal as that.” It maintains that the pill should be purchased in advance in order to serve more effectively. At present, the contraceptive pill can be obtained for £26 in pharmacies, or less with a prescription from a doctor. Doctors and nurses at 17 BPAS clinics will be on hand at all times to provide the emergency contraception pill for less than half of its retail price at a mere £10. Ann Furedi, the organisation’s chief executive provoked anger among pro-life groups, with her description of the campaigns objectives. “Emergency contraceptive pills give us a second chance to avoid a problem pregnancy,” she said. “It makes sense to keep it in the bathroom cabinet, along with your plasters and paracetamol. You don’t wait until you have a headache before buying aspirin, and it makes no sense to wait until you have unprotected sex before you get emergency contraception.” BPAS is the largest provider of medical and surgical abortions, vasectomies and female sterilisation in the United Kingdom.
The Cardinal: ‘The Christian influence in the public sphere is built upon the foundation of friendship with our brothers and sisters in Christ’
Cardinal Murphy-O’Connor’s Christmas message
I NRECENT months, none of us can have failed to notice the extent to which controversies relating in some way to religion have dominated the headlines. This reawakening of interest in faith is an opportunity to make the Christian presence in society a prominent one. Our culture has its roots in faith, and so we should not bow to the pressures of secular tensions and hide our status as followers of Christ. The Christian
influence in the public sphere is built upon a foundation of friendship and fraternity with our brothers and sisters in Christ, which we should take great pride in. TheCatholic Herald has made a significant contribution to highlighting the positive role that religion can play in society. I would like to thank the staff and readers for their encouragement of and involvement in the life of the Church. As I offer you all my kindest wishes this
Christmas, I want to remind you of how important it is to keep Christ at the centre of our hearts and minds at this time. Let us all try to make Him known to those whose path to Him is blocked by the distractions of secular society. I will spend the few days before Christmas on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land with leaders of other churches in England. As we journey together to Bethlehem, the birthplace of our Lord, we will stand
together as Christians, making our presence in such a troubled land a sign of the support and prayers of Christians everywhere. Just as we will encourage the Christians of the Holy Land to invite God into their hearts at Christmas, I encourage you to do so too. We now celebrate the mystery of the Incarnation. May the wonderful gift of God made man bring us a deeper faith and much happiness this Christmastide.
Cardinal ‘not interested’ in Old Firm derby
Children don’t need father, says Government
C ARDINAL K EITH O’Brien has accused the Scottish National Executive of failing to do enough to stamp out “institutional sectarianism”. Speaking at a summit on the issue in Glasgow, the Archbishop of St Andrews and Edinburgh said the executive had focused too much on football and parades. “Most instances of sectarianism do not involve any of these and I think we should now begin to look at the wider social causes of sectarian animosity,” he said.
Despite reports to the contrary, Cardinal O’Brien did not attend last Sunday’s football match between Rangers and Celtic. After last week’s Summit on Sectarianism, several news agencies, including the BBC, claimed that Cardinal O’Brien would join Kirk Moderator Rt Rev Alan Macdonald at future matches between the Old Firm rivals, as “a show of unity”. Yet a spokesman for Cardinal O’Brien told the Herald that the prelate had no wish to “perpetuate the myth that Celtic is a Catholic football club”. “The cardinal is not interested
in football and will not be attending any matches,” said the spokesman. “At the summit it was made clear that football is a small reflection of the huge problem of sectarianism in Glasgow. “In reality sectarianism means anti-Catholicism, and it has been around in the city long before the football clubs were established in 1845.” Cardinal O’Brien told the summit that in order to put an end to religious bigotry “the wider social causes of sectarian animosity”, such as poverty, unemployment, poor housing and boredom must be tackled. The fierce rivalry
between the two biggest football clubs in Scotland has long been marred by sectarian violence, often prompted by the singing of aggressive songs by supporters of both clubs. At the summit Jack McConnell, Scotland’s First Minister, praised both Rangers and Celtic for working in their respective communities to stamp out sectarian bigotry. He said: “We must keep up the pressure and build on the good work.” Only last May, Rangers were fined by UEFA, European football’s governing body, after their supporters sang sectarian songs during a UEFA cup match.
THEREQUIREMENT that a child has a father should be scrapped from the law governing fertility treatment, a Government White Paper has proposed. In a move that would grant lesbian couples and single women equal access to NHS fertility treatment, the review of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act stated that “the reference to need for a father [in consideration of the welfare of the child] should
be removed from the Act”. Presenting the paper, Caroline Flint, the public health minister, said: “The UK is a world leader in reproductive technology and a pioneer in the way it is regulated. “But the current law, which has served us well, is in need of revision. Technology has changed and so have attitudes. I believe that the proposed changes we are publishing today will ensure that legitimate medical and scientific uses of human reproductive tech
nologies continue to flourish.” She also said that “treatment should be considered regardless of sexual orientation”. It has also been proposed that both women in a lesbian relationship should be granted automatic parental rights over babies conceived using donor sperm. In addition, homosexual men and unmarried couples who use surrogate mothers will be able to apply to a court for parental orders that would make both partners
legal parents –a privilege that is currently unique to married couples. The proposals were criticised by Dr Daniel Boucher of the Christian social policy charity Care. He said: “There is a great deal of research suggesting that children benefit optimally from the parenting presence of both a mother and a father. “If we are a society that genuinely cares for children we will not embark on social experiments that deny them this opportunity.”
YOURR CHRISTMASS // NEWW YEARR GIFTT FOODD FORR AA HUNGRYY CHILD
We wish all our friends and benefactors a very happy and peaceful Christmas and many blessings in the New Year.
Tens of thousands of children die each day of hunger and disease. Countless others are so weakened by lack of proper food in infancy that they are stunted in body and mind, and become permanently disabled. Street children throughout the world are driven by hunger and homelessness into crime: stealing, peddling drugs and prostitution, and millions of famished street children, totally abandoned, scavenge on rubbish tips for anything edible, or labour for long hours for a pittance. Many are brutally killed.
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YOUR CHRISTMAS GIFT FROM THE LITTLE WAY: A Novena of Masses for your intentions from 16-24 December
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WELLSS NEEDED Missionaries constantly appeal to us for funds to sink wells in order to provide clean water, the lack of which causes much illness and many medical needs. The sum of £1,500 would enable a missionary to supply a whole village with drinking water.
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THEE NEWW YEAR In present times the work of native Catechists is vital to the Missions. Many missions cover vast areas, and the missionary can only visit each village a few times a year to celebrate holy Mass, baptise, hear confessions, marry and instruct his people. He depends upon Catechists, who, sharing in the culture of the locality, can dispense the Christian message to the underprivileged who do not know Christ. A gift of £40 would pay a fulltime Catechist for one month Please help The Little Way to spread the Faith by responding to the constant appeals from missionaries for the upkeep of Catechists.
Australian cardinal gives England team a Christmas sledge
W HILE E NGLAND cricket supporters endure tortuous nights watching their team sink to humiliating defeat in the Ashes, an Australian cardinal is enjoying every minute. Cardinal George Pell of Sydney gave the England team a thorough sledging –cricketing slang for a verbal assault on an opponent –in a newspaper column. Writing in the Australian Daily Telegraph , the cardinal said: “Victory at cricket over the Poms is important as a national ambition.” Cardinal Pell, well-known for his muscular brand of Catholicism, said the Australian team should aim for a 5-0 series victory, adding “although you should never kick a man when he’s down, with the English cricket team, I would be tempted to add the rider –metaphorically speaking, of course –“unless he looks like getting up”. Despite Cardinal Pell’s partisan support of his home team, he did go on to say that at its heart the rivalry between the teams was a goodnatured one. “Outsiders, and even recent immigrants, often misunderstand the relationship between England and Australia –or at least the relationship between many Englishmen and most ‘old’ Australians because there are deep wells of affection underneath the warlike sports talk,” he wrote.
Eddie Condon, captain of the Recusant Cricket Club in London agreed with Cardinal Pell that matches between the two countries “are always special occasions”. But Mr Condon showed that when it comes to sledging, England can give as good as they get. “Cardinal Pell and Australia might be well advised to kick England when they are down, but taunting the wounded lion is a dangerous game,” he said. “Australia has the raging inferiority complex of a country which is still, in theory, a colony. The need to prove themselves all grown-up is what makes them so competitive. “For England, beating Australia is like winning an arm-wrestle against your much younger, not very clever, but infuriatingly large little brother.” As The Catholic Herald went to press, Australia had won the Ashes with a convincing victory in the third test in Perth and looked on course to complete a 5-0 drubbing.
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