On New Year’s Eve, Pope Francis delivers his ‘silent majority’ speech
ROME - A pope is also the Bishop of Rome, and every once in a while, Romans expect to hear something special from their shepherd. On Sunday Pope Francis delivered, offering a New Year’s Eve homily expressing gratitude for his own Roman flock - although in terms, however, which will have resonance well beyond the Eternal City.
In effect, this was Pope Francis’s version of the famous 1969 “silent majority” speech by U.S. President Richard Nixon, suggesting that the concerns of ordinary people aren’t necessarily reflected in the rattle and hum of media coverage. Read more
Let's remember what Christmas is actually about to counter the stress and sadness
A psychologist friend told me recently that she and her colleagues are always overbooked at this time of year.
Make a note, if you need some time on the therapist's couch in December you'll need to get in early.
Conversations with friends this week certainly evoked a sense that, even when cognitive behavioural therapy isn't part of the mix, gritting teeth to endure the festive season is. Often rueful jokes about in-laws or wayward brothers mask a profound sadness that life hasn't turned out the way we'd hoped.
How did this happen? Where did the magical Christmases we enjoyed as children go? Read more
On not quenching the Spirit
Nicholas King SJ
Pope Francis’ concern about the wording of the Lord’s Prayer has generated plenty of debate, and if that makes us more attentive to the working of the Spirit then we should embrace it. However, we ought not to be seeking a perfect translation, says Nicholas King SJ, with support from this Sunday’s second reading. ‘The function of the divine Word is to set us free, not enslave us.’
You have to be careful about words. There have been ruffled feathers in the past week because the pope indicated a certain dissatisfaction with the Italian translation of the Lord’s Prayer, ‘do not lead us into temptation’, indicating that the God whom we address as ‘Father’ could not possibly do such a thing. Read more
With remembrance goes compassion: Manus
In 'Epic', Irish poet Patrick Kavanagh mused on the relative importance of world and local contemporaneous events — Chamberlain's meeting with Hitler in Munich and a bitter local dispute about a patch of land.
'I have lived in important places, times / When great events were decided, who owned / That half a rood of rock, a no-man's land / Surrounded by our pitchfork-armed claims.'
This poem came to mind when the refugees on Manus Island were forcibly evicted from their quarters. In Australia it was a small event ... Seen through the eyes of the refugees it was a large event, Read more
What brings a Jesuit pope to Asia?
The seeds of the pope's interest in the region and his missionary zeal were sewn by the former head of the Order, Pedro Arrupe.
One of the biggest influences on Pope Francis remains relatively unexplored — Pedro Arrupe, the Superior General of the Jesuits who appointed Jorge Bergoglio as Provincial of the Jesuits in Argentina at the fairly tender age of 36. Though he described the appointment as "crazy," the now pope, who served as Provincial from 1973-79, was set on a path of leadership by someone who was to shape his imagination in ways that almost daily are reflected in his ministry as the Bishop of Rome, including the priority he gives to Asia. Read more
The war against Pope Francis
Pope Francis is one of the most hated men in the world today. Those who hate him most are not atheists, or protestants, or Muslims, but some of his own followers. Outside the church he is hugely popular as a figure of almost ostentatious modesty and humility. From the moment that Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio became pope in 2013, his gestures caught the world’s imagination: the new pope drove a Fiat, carried his own bags and settled his own bills in hotels; he asked, of gay people, “Who am I to judge?” and washed the feet of Muslim women refugees.
But within the church, Francis has provoked a ferocious backlash from conservatives who fear that this spirit will divide the church, and could even shatter it. Read more
Threat to religious tolerance from 'modern elites'
The Hon Dyson Heydon (centre)
In a stinging attack on “modern elites”, former justice of the High Court Dyson Heydon AC QC has condemned attempts to exclude religion from Australian public debate.
Delivering the inaugural PM Glynn lecture in Adelaide on Tuesday evening, Mr Heydon referred to Patrick McMahon Glynn’s contribution to the Australian Constitution, notably for ensuring the words “humbly relying on the blessing of Almighty God” were included in the preamble. “Those words reflected what the elite of the Federation generation saw as fundamental,” Mr Heydon said in his address entitled Religious ‘toleration’ in modern Australia: the tyranny of relativism. Read more
How forced migration defined Francis' papacy
From the very first moments of his pontificate, Jorge Bergoglio signalled a departure in style from that of his immediate predecessors. His taking of the name Francis, his eschewing the full papal vestments, and his appeal to the masses gathered in Saint Peter's Square below to pray for him, before imparting his own blessing, all indicated a more personal, pastoral style.
Francis, most commentators agree, was elected on his perceived ability to address the need for reform of a Roman Curia increasingly beset by paralysis, inefficiency and scandal. It soon became apparent, however, that he saw this reform as a subset ... Read more
An Ecumenical Day of Prayer for Creation
Today, September 1, the Church celebrates the Day of Creation with a message from the pope drafted jointly with Orthodox Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople.
Peace on January 1, Youth on Palm Sunday, Vocations the Fourth Sunday after Easter...Each of these world days sprinkled throughout the Catholic Church year is the occasion for a message from the pope to the faithful.These messages are often published several weeks in advance so that communities will be able to prepare, ....The only exception to this rule is the brand new World Day of Prayer for Creation launched by Pope Francis in 2015 ... Read more
How beauty is the true goal of leadership
“The ideals which have always shone before me and filled me with joy are goodness, beauty, and truth.” ~ Albert Einstein
At a leadership seminar that I recently ran for senior students from twelve schools, one of the more intriguing conversations I became engaged in was with an obviously sincere young Muslim man. He told me that in a discussion with his peers on the essential objective of leadership, he had provoked bewilderment, and not a little laughter, by suggesting that it was beauty.
As he tried to find the words to articulate his conviction, Read more
Seamus Heaney: ‘Walk on air against your better judgement’
On 30 August 2013, news of the death of Nobel Prize-winning poet, Seamus Heaney, was met with sorrow around the world. He was universally admired for his kindness as well as for his poems, which ‘gaze into the reality of the world and see its mystery’. On National Poetry Day, Edel McClean pays tribute to the life and work of a man whose death, according to his fellow poet, Don Paterson, ‘seems to have left a breach in the language itself’. Read more
Review: God Is No Thing (Rupert Shortt)
An excellent response to New Atheism
Some high-profile atheists insist on arguing against propositions that no serious Christian writer would endorse. This (book) is a spirited corrective, argues Rowan Williams, covering the origins of the universe to the use of the Bible.
In one of his letters, CS Lewis repeats the story of an earnest atheistical school teacher instructing her young charges that all forms of animal life derived from the higher apes, under the impression that she was teaching them Darwinism. The anecdote is probably too good to be true, but it is a reminder that in any decently reasonable argument it helps to know what exactly it is that is being attacked or defended. Read more
Spiritual Pilgrimage to India (2018)
Information evening 6pm, 12 September 2017
Marie Fonseca (Spice Odyssey) is organising her 6th Christian spiritual pilgrimage to India “One Heart and One Soul” from February 19 – March 10, 2018.
The highlight of this pilgrimage will be a four night meditation/yoga retreat with daily mass led by Fr. Joe Pereira (Mumbai), in Goa. The pilgrimage also includes attending a Mass at St. Teresa of Kolkata’s Tomb and visits to some of her homes.
Breaking the family legacy of silence over the Third Reich
Nearly 70 years after being executed as a war criminal, the memory of Third Reich ambassador to Slovakia, Hanns Ludin, continues to weigh on his descendants. His granddaughter Alexandra Senfft has broken the family silence.
The room at the Literaturhaus Foundation in Munich, the prosperous Bavarian capital, is packed for a debate hosted by the Institut für Zeitgeschichte.The institute was founded in 1940 to promote research on the National-Socialist dictatorship with respect to the memory of Germany’s Nazi past contained in family histories.
Don’t ignore family history. Read more
The fear conundrum
How much fear do we want? Enough of it preserves our lives. Too much of it diminishes our lives. Currently, the balance is skewed by an overload of fear. Anxiety, its clinical name, is in epidemic proportions.
In favour of the measure to monitor social networks, it can be argued that it can significantly improve security agencies’ ability to deal with terrorist organizations. The claim is that intelligence agencies that monitor the networks, in many cases, can protect their territory from terrorist attacks. For instance, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), ... Read more
Evangelical Fundamentalism and Catholic Integralism in the USA: A surprising ecumenism
In God We Trust. This phrase is printed on the banknotes of the United States of America and is the current national motto. It appeared for the first time on a coin in 1864 but did not become official until Congress passed a motion in 1956. A motto is important for a nation whose foundation was rooted in religious motivations. For many it is a simple declaration of faith. For others, it is the synthesis of a problematic fusion between religion and state, faith and politics, religious values and economy. Read more
Flannery O’Connor’s ‘Sacred Monstrosity’
Flannery O’Connor, who died on 3 August 1964, was a celebrated but divisive author whose stories are notorious for both their violence and their religiosity. Can her work speak to modern readers, or is it necessarily of her time? Michael Kirwan SJ considers this question, with a little help from James Joyce, René Girard and Quentin Tarantino. Read more.
Was Luther an anti-Semite?
Commemorations of the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation have revived a controversy over anti-semitic writings by Martin Luther. "La Croix" talks to an expert on the issue. Pierre-Olivier Léchot, dean of the Protestant Theology Faculty in Paris, a historian of Christianity in the modern era, unravels a polemic over the vehemently anti-Jewish texts written by Luther, which has resurfaced during the 500th anniversary of the Reformation.
La Croix: Over the last few weeks, we have witnessed a revival of the polemic over Luther’s alleged “anti-semitism” based on the image of a sow, representing Judaism, on bas-reliefs on a church in Wittenberg. Read more
Finding the high way
In our society ethical questions such as those to do with marriage, crime and punishment, the beginnings and endings of life and freedom of speech are often 'highway' issues. Protagonists establish in advance the right way to go, keep their foot down and their eyes on the road without noticing the terrain the highway traverses. Road signs indicating other destinations or alternative routes are ignored and towns by-passed. Certainty is gained; understanding of country is sacrificed.
Ethical reflection can also be done by taking the tourist route, preferably by bicycle. Read more
Pope Francis appoints Italian biblical scholar as secretary of the C.D.F.
Pope Francis has appointed an Italian biblical scholar, Monsignor Giacomo Morandi, 51, as secretary of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and made him archbishop. The Vatican made this announcement today, July 18.
In less than three weeks, Pope Francis has reshuffled the top leadership of the C.D.F. by not renewing the mandate of Cardinal Gerhard Müller (which expired on July 2) and by promoting the number two and number three officials up one position, thereby ensuring that the C.D.F.’s most senior officials are now rowing with him. Read more