Thursday, May 25, 2006

May 18, 2006: Birthday of John Paul II

John Paul II, the new David, removed the armor of Saul and gained freedom to do battle with Goliath - empowered by the Lord .
"There are some very real grounds to fear that the Church may assume too many institutions of human law, which then become the armor of Saul making it difficult for the young David to walk. We must always ascertain if institutions which were once useful still serve a purpose. The only institutional element the Church needs is the one give to it by the Lord: the sacramental structure of the people of God, centered on the Eucharist;” Josef Ratzinger, 30 Days, No. 5 – 1998, p. 22.
John Paul II: The New David Confronting the Goliaths of East and West
Two Facets: In Communist Europe/In the West.
a) In Communist Europe: John Paul II was a towering, virile figure with no fear. In the homily of June 2, 1979, he gave the Poles back their identity as a Christian nation. He sparked the peaceful revolution that was “Solidarity” and the eventual fall of Communism worldwide. Unbelievably, under the guns of a grinding and dehumanizing Communism, he dared to say blatantly and unafraid:
“Without Christ, it is impossible to understand this nation, with a past so splendid and at the same time so terribly difficult. It is not possible to understand this city, Warsaw, the capital of Poland, which in 1944 committed itself to an unequal battle against the aggressor, a battle in which it was abandoned by the allied powers, a battle in which it was buried under its own rubble, if one does not recall that under this same rubble there was also Christ with his cross which can be found facing the church of Krakowskie Przedmiescie. It is impossible to understand the history of Poland from Stanislaw in Skalka to Maximilian Kolbe in Oswiecim, if one does not apply, to them also, that unique and fundamental criterion which bears the name, Jesus Christ.”[1]

All the while, during the homily, the crowd – also under the guns – “began a rhythmic chant, `We want God, we want God…, we want God in the family, we want God in the schools, we want God in books, we want God, we want God…’ Seven hours after he had arrived, a crucial truth had been clarified by a million Pole’s response to John Paul’s evangelism. Poland was not a communist country; Poland was a Catholic nation saddled with a communist state. Poland’s `second baptism,’ which would change the history of the twentieth century, had begun.”[2]

b) In the West: Lourdes 2004: John Allen reported: “During his homily at a Mass for some 200,000 pilgrims Sunday morning, John Paul struggled again. He could be heard muttering `Jesus and Mary’ under his breath in Polish, and once mumbled `help me’ to no one in particular. Later John Paul seemed confused during the Eucharistic prayers, and had to be reminded to elevate the host at the consecration. At another point, the pope muttered, `I have to finish,’ almost as if to will himself forward…. We may find that 50 years from now, it’s not his role in the collapse of Communism that we remember, but these years of decline and public suffering. John Paul has not allowed himself to be shunted off to a home, the normal fate of elderly and infirm people. He has refused to spare us the embarrassment of his saliva and his slurred, unsteady speech. He makes us watch him slump, and wince, and become confused, and thereby forces us to confront the reality of decline and death – our own and that of our love ones.

“Whatever one makes of the particular policy choices that have marked his pontificate, one simply can’t watch the pope these days and not think about the final things, about the meaning and purpose of life. That, indeed, is a legacy.

Allen quoted French Cardinal Jean-Marie Lustiger:

“The pope, in his weakness, is living more than ever the role assigned to him of being the Vicar of Christ on earth, participating in the suffering of our Redeemer. Many times we have the idea that the head of the church is like a super-manager of a great international company, a man of action who makes decisions and is judged on the basis of his effectiveness. But for believers the most effective action, the mystery of salvation, happens when Christ is on the cross and can’t do or decide anything other than to accept the will of the Father.”[3]


John Paul II: “Radiating Fatherhood" Gives Oneness to the Church and Identity to Persons and Nations

Supreme Trinitarian Principle: Without affirmation by another, one does not have identity as person. Someone must name me. I see myself as good only when told so by another. I cannot do this to myself.

Benedict XVI said: “The root of man’s joy is the harmony he enjoys with himself. He lives in this affirmation. And only one who can accept himself can also accept the thou, can accept the world. The reason why an individual cannot accept the thou, cannot come to terms with him, is that he does not like his own I and, for that reason, cannot accept a thou.

“Something strange happens here. We have seen that the inability to accept one’s I leads to the inability to accept a thou. But how does one go about affirming, assenting to, one’s I? The answer may perhaps be unexpected: We cannot do so by our own efforts alone. Of ourselves, we cannot come to terms with ourselves. Our I becomes acceptable to us only if it has first become acceptable to another I. We can love ourselves only if we have first been loved by someone else. The life a mother gives to her child is not just physical life; she gives total life when she takes the child’s tears and turns them into smiles. It is only when life has been accepted and is perceived as accepted that it becomes also acceptable. Man is that strange creature that needs not just physical birth but also appreciation if he is to subsist… When the initial harmony of our existence has been rejected, when that psycho-physical oneness has been ruptured by which the `Yes, it is good that you are alive’ sinks, with life itself, deep into the core of the unconscious – then birth itself is interrupted: existence itself is not completely established.”

John Paul II, not simply ex officio but in the existential act of self-gift, was the Bridegroom before the Bride. His love was spousal, and therefore, had the divine quality of agape: self-gift to death. It doesn’t seek goodness already there, but creates it. In so doing, he dynamized persons to make the gift of self – be they bishops, ministers or lay faithful. He was Pontifex Maximum and, as Benedict XVI clarified at the beginning of 2006, the Pope and Vicar of Jesus Christ on earth. He was not merely the “Patriarch of the West” but the “vice-Dios en la tierra”[5] (as St. Josemaria Escriva liked to day), that is to say, Peter, who has primacy over the universal Church.
As head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, then-Cardinal Ratzinger wrote that "communion with the universal Church and the Successor of Peter is not an `external element’ in the life of a particular Church, but `constitutes one of its inner elements as a being.’ Hence it is ecumenism’s aim `that in continuously new conversion towards the Lord everyone may be enabled to recognize the continuity of the primacy of Peter in his successors – the bishops of Rome – and to see the realization of the Petrine office as the Lord wished it: as the universal apostolic service, present in all Churches from within’[6] (bold mine).

Globalism depends on accessing the one universal truth that can order global freedom. That truth is not the fruit of abstract ideology, but the experience of the existential truth of the human person. It can be accessed only in Jesus Christ who is the prototype of the human person, and that again can be accessed only through living faith emanating from the one Church of Christ that subsists in the Catholic Church.

That one Church of Jesus Christ subsisting in the Catholic Church is a communio of particular Churches, which is not to say that it is a federation of churches. There is only one Church of Christ that is instantiated in particular churches each engendered by a bishop in union with the Bishop of Rome: Peter. “12… The unity of the Church is… rooted in the unity of the episcopate. As the very idea of the body of the Churches calls for the existence of a Church that is head of the Churches, which is precisely the Church of Rome, `foremost in the universal communion of charity,’ so too the unity of the episcopate involves the existence of a bishop who is head of the body or college of bishops, namely the Roman Pontiff. Of the unity of the episcopate, as also of the unity of the entire Church, `the Roman Pontiff, as the successor of Peter, is the perpetual and visible source and foundation.’ This unity of the episcopate is perpetuated through the centuries by means of the apostolic succession, and is also the foundation of the identity of the Church of every age with the Church built by Christ upon Peter and upon the other apostles.

“13. The bishop is a visible source and foundation of the unity of the particular Church entrusted to his pastoral ministry. But for each particular Church to be fully Church, that is, the particular presence of the universal Church with all its essential elements, and hence constituted after the model of the universal Church, there must be present in it, as a proper element, the supreme authority of the Church: the episcopal college `together with tier head, the Supreme Pontiff, and never apart from him.’ The primacy of the Bishop of Rome and the episcopal college are proper elements of the universal Church that are `not derived from the particularity of the Churches,’ but are nevertheless interior to each particular Church.
Consequently `we must see the ministry of the successor of Peter, not only as a `global’ service, reaching each particular Church from `outside,’ as it were, but as belonging already to the essence of each particular Church from `within.’ Indeed, the ministry of the primacy involves, in essence, a truly episcopal power, which is not only supreme, full and universal, but also immediate, over all, whether pastors or other faithful. The ministry of the successor of Peter as something interior to each particular Church is a necessary expression of that fundamental mutual interiority between universal Church and particular Church”[7] (bold mine).

As Christ-Bridegroom, John Paul II radiated fatherhood – and engendered sons and daughters, particular Churches, and nations. He is the Good Shepherd as Father Engendering Life with Pastoral Charity (self-gift).

Texts: a) “Jesus Christ is head of the church, his body. He is the `head’ in the new and unique sense of being a `servant,’ according to his own words: `The Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many’ (Mk. 10, 45). Jesus’ service attains its fullest expression in his death on the cross, that is, in his total gift of self in humility and love…. The authority of Jesus Christ as head coincides then with his service, with his gift, with his total, humble and loving dedication on behalf of the Church. All this he did in perfect obedience to the Father; he is the one true Suffering Servant of God, both priest and victim [His unique mediation as priest]…

“Christ’s gift of himself to his Church, the fruit of his love, is described in terms of that unique gift of self made by the bridegroom to the bride, as the sacred texts often suggest, Jesus is the true bridegroom who offers to the Church the wine of salvation (cf. Jn. 2, 11). He who is `the head of the Church, his body, and is himself its savior’ (Eph. 5, 23) `loved the Church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, that he might present the Church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish (Eph. 5, 25-27). The Church is indeed the body in which Christ the head is present and active, but she is also the bride who proceeds like a new Eve from the open side of the redeemer on the cross.

“Hence Christ stands `before’ the Church and `nourishes and cherishes her’ (Eph. 5, 29), giving his life for her. The priest is called to be the living image of Jesus Christ, the spouse of the Church.”

b) “The internal principle, the force which animates and guides the spiritual life of the priest inasmuch as he is configured to Christ the head and shepherd, is pastoral charity as a participation in Jesus Christ’s own pastoral charity, a gift freely bestowed by the Holy Spirit and likewise a task and a call which demand a free and committed response on the part of the priest.

“The essential content of this pastoral charity is the gift of self, the total gift of self to the Church, following the example of Christ. `Pastoral charity is the virtue by which we imitate Christ in his self-giving and service. It is not just what we do, but our gift of self, which manifests Christ’s love for his flock. Pastoral charity determines our way of thinking and acting, our way of relating to people. It makes special demands on us.’

“The gift of self, which is the source and synthesis of pastoral charity, is directed toward the Church. This was true of Christ who `loved the Church and gave himself up for her’ (Eph. 5, 25), and the same must be true for the priest” … The gift of self has no limits, marked as it is by the same apostolic and missionary zeal of Christ, the good shepherd, who said: `And I have other sheep, that are not of this fold; I must bring them also, and they will heed my voice. So there shall be one flock, one shepherd’ (Jn. 10, 16).”



John Paul II: Gift of Self to Death

Assassination attempt (1981
Onset of Parkinson’s
Removal of colon tumor (1992)
Dislocated shoulder (1993)
Broken femur and hip replacement (1994)
Appendix (1996)
Serious development of Parkinson’s until death on April 2, 2005.

Notwithstanding, he completed 104 pastoral visits outside of Italy, and 144 within, visiting almost 130 countries – tirelessly. The only scheduled ceremony that he missed came on February 27, 2005. Cardinal Deskur referred to John Paul II’s will and fortitude to serve indomitable.

Final Verbal Legacy: Suffering Rebuilds Goodness.[10] Benedict XVI made much of it in his address to the Roman Curia on Dec. 22, 2005. He said:

“In the end… his lot was a journey of suffering and silence. Unforgettable for us are the images of Palm Sunday when, holding an olive branch and marked by pain, he came to the window and imparted the Lord’s blessing as he himself was about to walk toward the cross.

“Next was the scene in his private chapel when, holding the crucifix, he took part in the Way of the Cross at the Colosseum, where he had so often led the procession carrying the cross himself.

“Last came his silent blessing on Easter Sunday, in which we saw the promise of the Resurrection, of eternal life, shine out through all his suffering. With his words and actions, the Holy Father gave us great things; equally important is the lesson he imparted to us from the chair of suffering and silence.

“In his last book `Memory and Identity’ (Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 2005), he has left us an interpretation of suffering that is not a theological or philosophical theory but a fruit that matured on his personal path of suffering which he walked, sustained by faith in the Crucified Lord. This interpretation, which he worked out in faith and which gave meaning to his suffering lived in communion with that of the Lord, spoke through his silent pain, transforming it into an important message.

“Both at the beginning and once again at the end of the book mentioned, the Pope shows that he is deeply touched by the spectacle of the power of evil, which we dramatically experienced in the century that has just ended. He says in his text: "The evil... was not a small-scale evil.... It was an evil of gigantic proportions, an evil which availed itself of state structures in order to accomplish its wicked work, an evil built up into a system" (p. 189).

“Might evil be invincible? Is it the ultimate power of history? Because of the experience of evil, for Pope Wojty³a the question of redemption became the essential and central question of his life and thought as a Christian. Is there a limit against which the power of evil shatters? "Yes, there is", the Pope replies in this book of his, as well as in his Encyclical on redemption.

“The power that imposes a limit on evil is Divine Mercy. Violence, the display of evil, is opposed in history - as "the totally other" of God, God's own power - by Divine Mercy. The Lamb is stronger than the dragon, we could say together with the Book of Revelation.

“At the end of the book, in a retrospective review of the attack of 13 May 1981 and on the basis of the experience of his journey with God and with the world, John Paul II further deepened this answer.

“What limits the force of evil, the power, in brief, which overcomes it - this is how he says it - is God's suffering, the suffering of the Son of God on the Cross: "The suffering of the Crucified God is not just one form of suffering alongside others.... In sacrificing himself for us all, Christ gave a new meaning to suffering, opening up a new dimension, a new order: the order of love.... The passion of Christ on the Cross gave a radically new meaning to suffering, transforming it from within.... It is this suffering which burns and consumes evil with the flame of love.... All human suffering, all pain, all infirmity contains within itself a promise of salvation;... evil is present in the world partly so as to awaken our love, our self-gift in generous and disinterested service to those visited by suffering.... Christ has redeemed the world: "By his wounds we are healed' (Is 53: 5)" (p. 189, ff.).

“All this is not merely learned theology, but the expression of a faith lived and matured through suffering. Of course, we must do all we can to alleviate suffering and prevent the injustice that causes the suffering of the innocent. However, we must also do the utmost to ensure that people can discover the meaning of suffering and are thus able to accept their own suffering and to unite it with the suffering of Christ.

“In this way, it is merged with redemptive love and consequently becomes a force against the evil in the world.”


Intellectual Achievement

Wojtyla: Person as “I” – Being
(Phenomenological Metaphysics)

John Paul II made this personalism of self-gift into a metaphysic of Esse after exploring and disclosing the “I” phenomenologically. This is his intellectual legacy that may be the greatest since 6th Century Greece. Josef Seifert commented:

“I do not know any work in contemporary philosophy which addresses itself in an equally original way to this key topic of metaphysics and to an issue of such significance for ethics: the person. It is perhaps not since the time of Augustine that a philosopher as deeply committed to the truth and to the great philosophical tradition as Wojtyla has moved so far beyond a metaphysic of being and substance in general, and gone into the metaphysics of the personal being as actualized in consciousness and freedom. And while Augustine’s profound insights into the nature of the person, deeply inspired by Plotinus, are inserted in theological contexts (notably in De Trinitate), The Acting Person is a `purely’ philosophical work which applies a rigorous phenomenological-philosophical method to its topic….

“(T)he book is full of discoveries which properly belong to its author. The philosophical originality of the work manifests itself especially in the deliberate attempt to overcome a one-sidedness in the philosophical approach to the person which has dominated philosophy since Descartes, but which actually goes back to Platonic and Aristotelian philosophy. The one-sidedness in question lies in approaching the person primarily through knowledge and cognition. The book The Acting Person tries to correct this one-sidedness by viewing the person primarily as he manifests himself in action, and ation as it reveals the person. This approach itself is highly original; so are those philosophical investigations in the book which elucidate the essence of freedom and of `man-acts.’”

I might add that the great contribution to the recovery of the “I” as being – which is unique to Wojtyla - is precisely his use of phenomenology in describing the act of faith as he had discovered it in his doctoral thesis on “Faith in St. John of the Cross.” His discovery that the “proportional medium” of identity, and therefore knowledge, between the Divine Being and the human person in the beatific vision is no created concept, but the very person of the believer experiencing self as transcendent act, i.e., loving as self-gift. Faith, then, is not merely the act of a faculty, but the gift of the entire person, and, as such, was an experience of the entire self in this transcending act. He deployed a new style of phenomenology to describe this interior experience of self-determination – which is in fact an empiricism because as experience it is access to being (not thought) – and he applied Aristotelian act and potency to give a philosophic account of the act. That done, he invariably found that the self was not consciousness but Being disclosed through the experience of self-determination in the genesis of the moral act (faith). Notice that, as Seifert points out, the “I” is not disclosed by reflection of the faculty of the intellect on itself in its act of knowing something, but the conscious awareness of self – unmediated by sensation of concept – in the act of self-determination and self-gift. John Paul II expressed this in Fides et Ration #83 when he said: “In a special way, the person constitutes a privileged locus for the encounter with being, and hence with metaphysical enquiry.”

Ratzinger: Person as “I” - Being

(Theological Deduction)

Keep in mind also that, from another angle, Josef Ratzinger had come to the same point from a theological perspective when he observed: “I believe that if one follows this struggle in which human reality had to be brought in, as it were, and affirmed for Jesus, one sees what tremendous effort and intellectual transformation lay behind the working out of this concept of person, which was quite foreign in its inner disposition to the Greek and the Latin mind. It is not conceived in substantialist, but, as we shall soon see, in existential terms. In this light, Boethius’s concept of person, which prevailed in Western philosophy, must be criticized as entirely insufficient. Remaining on the level of the Greek mind, Boethius defined `person’ as naturae rationalis individua substantia, as the individual substance of a rational nature. One sees that the concept of person stands entirely on the level of substance. This cannot clarify anything about the Trinity or about Christology; it is an affirmation that remains on the level of the Greek mind which thinks in substantialist terms.”[13]

Consecration to Mary and the Collapse of Communism

On March 25, 1984, John Paul II made the consecration of Russia (and the entire world) to the Immaculate Heart of Mary together with all the bishops and faithful of the entire Church. In of the letters written by Sister Lucia (visionary of Fatima), she said: “Our Lord has never ceased to persevere in this request, promising recently – if Your Holiness will deign to make the consecration of the world to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, with special mention of Russia, and order that in union with Your Holiness at the same time all the bishops of the world also make the consecration – to shorten the days of tribulation with which He has decided to punish the nations for their crimes, through was, hunger and various persecutions of Holy Church and of Your Holiness.

“This consecration was made by Pius XII with a veiled mention of Russia which God well understood. But the act was carried out without the union of all the bishops of the world, and since this consecration is a call for union with all the people of God, this particular condition was indispensable.

“Later, the Popes that followed Pius XII repeated this consecration. But they did so more or less under the same conditions, without the union of all the world’s bishops. This is why in 1982 I said to the Apostolic Nuncio, Archbishop Portalupi that the consecration that the Virgin Mary requested had not yet been carried out. It was later made by the present pontiff John Paul II on March 25, 1984, after he wrote to all the bishops of the world, asking that each of them make the consecration in his own diocese with the people of God who had been entrusted to them. The Pope asked that the statue of Our Lady of Fatima be brought to Rome, and he did it publicly in union with all the bishops who with His Holiness were uniting themselves with the people of God, the Mystical Body of Christ, and it was made to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, …

“Thus the consecration was made by His Holiness John Paul II on March 25, 1984. I believe there is no contradiction here, and that we must keep in mind that the most important thing about this consecration is the union of all the people of God, as Christ desired and asked of the Father…”

Third Part of the Secret of Fatima

“After the two parts which I have already explained, at the left of Our Lady and a little above, we saw an Angel with a flaming sword in his left had; flashing, it gave out flames that looked as though they would set the world on fire; but they died out in contact with the splendor that Our Lady radiated towards him from her right hand point to the earth with his right hand, the Angel cried out in a loud voice: Penance, Penance, Penance! And we saw in an immense light that is God: `something similar to how people appear in a mirror when they pass in front of it’ a Bishop dressed in White `we had the impression that it as the Holy Father.’ Other Bishops, Priests, men and women Religious going up a steep mountain, at the top of which there was a big Cross of rough-hewn trunks as of a cork-tree with the bark; before reaching there the Holy Father passed through a big city half in ruins and half trembling with halting step, afflicted with pain and sorrow, he prayed for the souls of the corpses he met on his way; having reached the top of the mountain, on his knees at the foot of the big Cross he was killed by a group of soldiers who fired bullets and arrows at him, and in the same way there died one after another the other Bishops, Priests, men and women Religious, and various lay people of different tanks and positions. Beneath the two arms of the Cross there were two Angels each with a crystal aspersorium in his hand in which they gathered up the blood of the Martyrs and with it sprinkled the souls that were making their way to God.”[15]


“Theological Commentary”

Cardinal Ratzinger:

“Let us now examine more closely the single images. The angel with the flaming sword on the left of the Mother of God recalls similar images in the Book of Revelation. This represents the threat of judgment which looms over the world. Today the prospect that the world might be reduced to ashes by a sea of fire no longer seems pure fantasy: man himself, with his inventions, has forged the flaming sword. The vision then shows the power which stands opposed to the force of destruction – the splendour of the Mother of God and, stemming from this in a certain way, the summons to penance. In this way, the importance of human freedom is underlined: the future is not in fact unchangeably set, and the image which the children saw is in no way a film preview of a future in which nothing can be changes. Indeed, the whole point of the vision is to bring freedom onto the scene and to steer freedom in a positive direction. The purpose of the vision is not to show a film of an irrevocably fixed future. Its meaning is exactly the opposite: it is meant to mobilize the forces of change in the right direction. Therefore we must totally discount fatalistic explanations of the `secret,’ such as, for example, the claim that the would-be assassin of 13 May 1981 was merely an instrument of the divine plan guided by Providence and could not therefore have acted freely, or other similar ideas in circulation. Rather, the vision speaks of dangers and how we might be saved from them.”[16]

John Paul II commented: “It was a motherly hand that guided the bullet’s path, and the agonizing Pope, rushed to the Gemelli Polyclinic, halted at the threshold of death.”

Ratzinger: “That here `a mother’s hand’ had deflected the fateful bullet only shows once more that there is no immutable destiny, that faith and prayer are forces which can influence history and that in the end prayer is more powerful than bullets and faith more powerful than armies….

“And so we come to the final question: What is the meaning of the `secret’ of Fatima as a whole (in its three parts)? What does it say to us? First of all we must affirm with Cardinal Sodano: “…the events to which the third part of the `secret of Fatima refers now seem part of the past.’ Insofar as individual events are described, they belong to the past. Those who expected exciting apocalyptic revelations about the end of the world or the future course of history are bound to be disappointed. Fatima does not satisfy our curiosity in this way, jus as Christian faith in general cannot be reduced to an object of mere curiosity….

“I would like finally to mention another key expression of the `secret’ which has become justly famous: `my Immaculate Heart will triumph.’ What does this mean? The Heart open to God, purified by contemplation of God, is stronger than guns and weapons of every kind. The fiat of Mary, the word of her heart, has changed the history of the world, because it brought the Savior into the world – because, thanks to her Yes, God could become man in our world and remains so for all time. The Evil One has power in this world, as we see and experience continually, he has power because our freedom continually lets itself be led away from God. But since God himself took a human heart and has thus steered human freedom towards what is good, the freedom to choose evil no longer has the last word. From that time forth, the word that prevails is this: `In the world you will have tribulations, but take heart; I have overcome the world’ (Jn. 16, 33). The message of Fatima invites us to trust in this promise.”

Totus Tuus Sum Ego

Santo Subito!

[1] Quoted by Rocco Buttiglione in his “Karol Wojtyla, The Thought of the Man Who Became Pope John Paul II,” Eerdmans (1997) 6.
[2] George Weigel, “Witness to Hope,” Cliff Street Books (1999) 293-295.
[3], August 20, 2004.
[4] J. Ratzinger, “Principles of Catholic Theology,” Ignatius (1987) 79-80.
[5] Letter, January 9, 1932, no. 20.
[6] “When Pope Benedict XVI visits Istanbul, Turkey, in November, he will visit as a Pope and no longer as the Patriarch of the West (or the Occident). Patriarch Bartholomew I will receive `only’ the Successor of Peter as Bishop of Rome – hence the Pope and the Vicar of Jesus Christ on earth. It will be a friendly encounter between the two in Phanar, the seat of the Patriarch of Constantinople But it will no longer be an encounter between two equals. Pope Benedict ensured this when he eliminated his title `Occidentis Patriarca’ – Patriarch of the West – out of the list of titles in the `Papal Yearbook 2006 at the beginning of the year. It was a small step of great significance….
“Already as prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Cardinal Ratzinger emphasized the Roman standpoint on several aspects of the Church as a communion. In 1997, he wrote that communion with the universal Church and the Successor of Peter is not an `external element’ in the life of a particular Church, but `constitutes one of its inner elements as a being.’ Hence it is ecumenism’s aim `that in continuously new conversion towards the Lord everyone may be enabled to recognize the continuity of the primacy of Peter in his successors – the bishops of Rome – and to see the realization of the Petrine office as the Lord wished it: as the universal apostolic service, present in all Churches from within;’” Inside the Vatican, May 2006, 8-9 (all emphasis mine).
[7] SCDF, “Letter to the Bishops of the Catholic Church on Some Aspects of the Church Understood as Communion,” L’Osservatore Romano, N. 24 – 17 June 1992 8/9.
[8] John Paul II, Pastores Dabo Vobis #21, 22
[9] Ibid. #23.
[10] “Suffering must serve for conversion, that is, for the rebuilding of goodness in the subject, who can recognize the divine mercy in this call to repentance. The purpose of penance is to overcome evil, which under different forms lies dormant in man. Its purpose is also to strengthen goodness both in man himself and in his relationships with others and especially with God. 13. But in order to perceive the true answer to the `why’ of suffering, we must look to the revelation of divine love, the ultimate source of the meaning of everything that exists. Love is also the richest source of the meaning of suffering, which always remains a mystery: we are conscious of the insufficiency and inadequacy of our explanations. Christ causes us to enter into the mystery and to discover the `why’ of suffering, as far as we are capable of grasping the sublimity of divine love;” Salvifici Doloris, #12, 13.
[11] Benedict XVI, “Interpreting Vatican II,” Origins January 26, 2006. Vol. 35, No. 32, 534-535.
[12] Josef Seifert, “Karol Cardinal Wojtyla (Pope John Paul II) As Philosopher and tne Cracow/Lublin School of Philosophy,” Aletheia, The International Academy of Philosophy Press, Irving, Texas (1981) 131-132.
[13] J. Ratzinger, “Concerning the Notion of Person in Theology,” Communio 17 (Fall, 1990) 448.
[14] 30 Days March 1990, 13.
[15] L’Osservatore Romano – Special Insert, N. 26 (1649) – 28 June 2000, IV.
[16] Ibid. IX.
[17] Idem.


Himself said...

Fr Bob,

Isn't there something in the bible about not being left orphans?
My spiritual life is in tatters-I've gone from an oasis pouring out streams of living water to a desert, a veritable dry branch suitable only for the fire.
Come back before it's too late!


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