Month: June 2008

Pope Benedict Roundup!

[I have not blogged a “papal roundup” in quite some time — January 2008, in fact. What follows is a compilation of news, stories and commentary which caught my eye over the past several months. Enjoy!]

  • Ratzinger’s Thesis Seen as Key to Understanding His Papacy: Translation of ’57 Work on Bonaventure Published:

    To understand the papacy of Benedict XVI, one should become familiar with his formation as a theologian, affirmed the publishers of Father Joseph Ratzinger’s thesis on St. Bonaventure.

    This month in the Antonianum Pontifical University, an Italian translation of young Father Ratzinger’s study of St. Bonaventure’s theology of history, published in 1957 as part of the priest’s preparation for becoming a professor, will be presented by Cardinal Cláudio Hummes, prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy.

    Father Pietro Messa, director of the Antonian’s faculty of medieval and Franciscan studies, which collaborated in the publication of the translation, explained to ZENIT that current interest in this study is motivated by a desire to understand the thought of the man who is now Pope.

    Cardinal Ratzinger himself discussed his thesis in a Nov. 13, 2000, address to the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, saying his study of the 13th century theologian uncovered untold aspects about the relationship of the saint “with a new idea of history.” … (Read more).

  • Spe Salvi and Vatican II, by Brian A. Graebe. Homiletic & Pastoral Review March 2008:

    For all of Spe Salvi’s theological depth, however, it is what the encyclical does not say that has engendered no small amount of controversy. As numerous commentators quickly recognized, Spe Salvi contains not a single reference to any of the documents from the Second Vatican Council. Moreover, for one of the four major constitutions of the council, the very title of which contains the word hope (Gaudium et Spes), to be entirely absent from an encyclical devoted to hope begs consideration. Indeed, the omission is glaring: since the close of Vatican II, the four encyclicals of Pope Paul VI and all fourteen encyclicals of Pope John Paul II cite the conciliar documents in abundance. A brief look at the statistical compilation underscores the uniqueness of this omission. …

  • Exclusive: The Words that Benedict XVI Adds Spontaneously, When He Preaches to the Faithful, by Sandro Magister. http://www.Chiesa. March 11, 2008. “Textual analyses of five of his most recent Wednesday catechesis, on Saint Augustine. The words that the pope added spontaneously, beyond the written text, are underlined. They’re on the themes closest to his heart.”
  • “Summorum Pontificum” in the Seminary: Cardinal Rigali on Introducing Seminarians to the 1962 Missal March 14, 2008. Since Benedict XVI has said that the Mass celebrated according to the 1962 Roman Missal promulgated by Blessed John XXIII should be available to those who prefer it, seminarians should be taught to say it, says Cardinal Justin Rigali. To learn what some bishops are doing to implement the document in seminaries, ZENIT spoke with Cardinal Rigali, archbishop of Philadelphia, about his plans to introduce seminarians at St. Charles Borromeo Seminary to the extraordinary form of the Mass.
  • Holy Week: The Hidden Homilies of Pope Benedict http://www.Chiesa March 26, 2008. Hidden, except for those who were able to listen to them in person: a few thousand out of 1.2 billion Catholics in the world. Here are the complete texts. Required reading for understanding this pontificate.
  • When Your Little Brother Is the Pope Part I of an exclusive interview by Robert Rauhut with Pope Benedict XVI’s brother, Georg Ratzinger. National Catholic Register April 15, 2008. “My Brother, The Pope”, Part II. May 6, 2008.
  • What do Joseph Ratzinger, Walter Kasper, and Hans Küng have in common?”

    If you said, “They’re all German,” you’d be wrong: Küng is Swiss. All three, of course, are Catholic theologians and priests. But, to the point: all three also had Dr. Thomas Loome as a student some forty years ago. In an article posted by Press Publications, Dr. Loome—who holds a doctorate in Philosophical Theology from the University of Tübingen, Germany—talks about studying under Fr. Ratzinger …

    Carl Olson @ Insight Scoop has the story.

  • Pope’s Opposition to Euthanasia is Personal: Cousin had Down’s and Was Taken by the Nazis LifeSiteNews. April 11, 2008:

    NORTH HAVEN, Connecticut, April 11, 2008 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Many people are expecting Pope Benedict XVI to speak out in defense of human life and against abortion during his visit to the United States next week. What few people realize, however, is that the pope knows first-hand what happens when a society refuses to defend the most defenseless of its citizens.

    As a boy of fourteen, Joseph Ratzinger had a cousin who had been born with Down’s Syndrome, only a bit younger than himself. In 1941, German state “therapists” came to the boy’s house and probably informed the parents of the government regulation that prohibited mentally handicapped children from remaining in their parents’ home. In spite of the family’s pleas, the representatives of the Nazi state took the child away. The Ratzinger family never saw him again. Later the family learned that he had “died,” most likely murdered, for being “undesirable,” a blemish in the race and a drain on the productivity of the nation. This was Joseph Ratzinger’s first experience of a murderous philosophy that asserts that some people are disposable.

In April (15-20), Pope Benedict XVI made an apostolic visit to the United States of America, visiting Washington D.C. and New York City to commemorate the Bicentennial of the Catholic Church in America.

Several terrific websites were established to provide coverage of the events, including USPapalVisit.org (USCCB), Pope2008.com (Tim Drake / National Catholic Register) and Our Sunday Visitor‘s USPapalVisit2008.com.

The Pope Benedict Fan Club itself devoted an exclusive blog to providing day-by-day coverage of the events: BenedictinAmerica.blogspot.com, which is still being updated with post-visit stories and coverage.

  • “Teacher and Witness”: Benedict XVI and the United Nations, by John F. Cullinan (National Review April 28, 2008):

    So far most attention has rightly been paid to Benedict’s words and gestures in support of American Catholicsdeeply troubled by the legacy of the sexual abuse crisis and the reality of uncertain episcopal leadership. His pastoral remarks — simple, direct, and accessible — bear his characteristically forthright intellectual and moral imprint. Agree with him or not, there’s no doubt where Benedict stands.

    Benedict’s remarks to the U.N. General Assembly belong to an entirely different genre. His purpose was to explore and develop the first principles that underlie state sovereignty and the international system as a whole. It’s tempting to view these remarks merely as an academic lecture, given Benedict’s long career as a professor and theologian, but it’s more helpful to see his words as a kind of final exam for practitioners of statecraft. For it’s above all an invitation to think through his recommended first principles, apply them to specific cases, and draw appropriate conclusions regarding the proper shape of international order, law, and institutions today. And it’s especially relevant for Americans considering how best to reconcile interests and ideals in U.S. foreign policy.

    In a nutshell, Benedict sketches a familiar natural-law argument that unexpectedly points to some novel and potentiallycontroversial conclusions….READ MORE

  • Deus Caritas Est entrusted to pastors Zenit News. May 1, 2008:

    There is no doubt that “Deus Caritas Est” directs itself to various groups in the Church. Nevertheless, the main burden of responsibility for its implementation in dioceses and parishes is placed squarely on the shoulders of the bishops. It is not only the pastoral realism of the Pope, but also theological reasons that make the ordained pastors the principal target group for the encyclical.

    An excerpt of the April 7 address given by Cardinal Paul Cordes, president of the Pontifical Council Cor Unum, to the spring meeting of the bishops’ council of England and Wales. The talk titled “‘Deus Caritas Est’: The Splendor of Charity” is available in its entirety here.

  • Lessons to learn from the papal trip, by John Allen Jr. An address given at the annual World Communications Day luncheon of the Diocese of Brooklyn, hosted by Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio, in which the veteran Vatican reporter was asked to ruminate on lessons to be learned from the visit of Pope Benedict XVI to the United States:

    At the end of the day, it wasn’t stagecraft or slick PR strategies that made the trip a success. It was the gut-level impression of kindness and candor that radiated from the pope. If Catholicism hopes to gain a sympathetic hearing, its capacity to project those two qualities loom as the essential prerequisite.

    Here’s the thing, however: It’s not enough merely to project kindness and candor. We actually have to be kind and candid — and that, as any spiritual guide will tell you, is never a “once and for all” deal. It requires daily resolve. Living up to that standard, personally and institutionally, represents perhaps the most lasting challenge left behind by Benedict XVI’s six days in America.

  • America magazine reports on Pope Benedict XVI’s visit to the ailing Cardinal Avery Dulles (“In All Things” May 16, 2008). The meeting took place in Cardinal Egan’s suite in St. Joseph’s Seminary, after the Pope’s meeting with disabled children. The following account is taken from the New York Jesuits’ newsletter, written by Anne Marie Kirmse, O.P., Cardinal Dulles’s longtime assistant:

    “The Pope literally bounded into the room with a big smile on his face. He went directly to where Avery was sitting, saying, ‘Eminenza, Eminenza, I recall the work you did for the International Theological Committee in the 1990’s.’ Avery kissed the papal ring and smiled back at the Pope. Then the Pope looked at the people in the room who had accompanied Avery to the Seminary: Fr. Tom Marciniak, who served as Cardinal Dulles’s priest-chaplain for the meeting; Sr. Anne-Marie Kirmse, O.P.; and Francine Messiah and Oslyn Fergus of the [Jesuit infirmary’s] medical staff. After this warm and friendly exchange of greetings, the Pope sat down next to Avery to hear the remarks that Avery had prepared and which were read for him by Fr. Tom Marciniak. During the presentation, Fr. Tom handed the Pope a copy of Avery’s latest book, Church and Society: The Laurence J. McGinley Lectures, 1988-2007, which was published earlier this month by Fordham University Press. The Pope expressed great interest in the book, and even interrupted the reading of the remarks to ask again when the book had been published. He eagerly looked through it, and was touched by Avery’s inscription to him. Before leaving, the Pope blessed Avery, assuring him of his prayers, and encouraging him in his sufferings. He then said good-bye in turn to each of the four persons who accompanied Avery.”

  • Atheist scholar is ally (with reservations) in Benedict’s fight against relativism National Catholic Reporter May 16, 2008:

    Ever since his famous warning about a “dictatorship of relativism” shortly before his election three years ago, Pope Benedict XVI has been trying to kick-start a global conversation about truth. In particular, Benedict yearns for a new look at truth within the Western secular academy, that exotic region where Jacques Derrida’s relativist maxim “there is nothing outside the text” has, ironically, achieved the status of a near-absolute.

    This weekend, in the enchanting Alpine setting of Lugano, Switzerland, a cross-section of prominent Western intellectuals is taking up the papal challenge. Organized by the Balzan Foundation, which each year awards the Swiss-Italian equivalent of the Nobel Prize, this unique gathering of scientists, philosophers, and eggheads of all stripes, most of them without any specific religious conviction, is titled, simply, “The Truth.”

    I’m in Lugano covering the event. …

  • The Pope and the Press: Is the Love Affair Here to Stay?” asks Lisa Tomeo (Zenit News May 23, 2008):

    Whether it was HBO’s Bill Maher’s irreverent and downright sacrilegious remarks calling Benedict XVI a Nazi, and referring to the Catholic Church as a cult that houses and protects child molesters — which he did later apologize for — or the major broadcast networks of ABC, NBC and CBS referring to the Pope as a conservative, hardliner and traditionalist, the view from the media front did not look good.

    That was, of course, until the Holy Father himself hit the media with a very pro-active one-two punch. Not only was it the Pope who first addressed the fallout from the priest sex abuse scandal here in the United States, but he did it before even landing on American soil. He discussed the sensitive and embarrassing issue during a question-and-answer session with reporters on Shepherd One. And then later in the week he met privately with several victims of the sexual abuse scandal.

    Tim Graham, director of media analysis for the Media Research Center, explains it was the Pontiff’s humility and directness concerning the biggest white elephant in the room that may have forced the press to take a closer look at this Pope and make at least some effort to cover him more fairly and at least a bit more gently. …

  • Ten texts help crack pope’s pontificate, mission, ministry, by John Thavis. Catholic News Service:

    The collected talks are now being read and pondered by Catholics across the country who want to delve a little more deeply into the pope’s message during his April visit.

    But what about the rest of his pontificate? What about the hundreds of speeches, homilies, encyclicals, messages, prayers and letters that he’s produced during the first three years as pope?

    For those unable to keep up with everything Pope Benedict does and says, here is a starting point: a list of 10 fundamental texts that can help people understand the man, his thought and his ministry.

    One caveat: The list makes no claim to be a “top 10,” just a useful anthology. And where the works are particularly lengthy, this list indicates specific chapters or passages. …

  • The Vatican has created an anti-terrorist unit in order to guard the Holy See and the pope from a possible attack, reports the London Telegraph:

    Vatican security forces now include an anti-bomb squad and a rapid response team, according to Domenico Giani, the head of the Holy See’s 130-man gendarmerie [in an interview with L’Osservatore Romano, the official Vatican newspaper].

    “The rapid response team will carry out investigations across the spread of information channels and will be supported by a sophisticated technical team. It will be able to intervene immediately in case of danger,” said Mr Gianni.

    “The second group is made up of highly-specialised experts, armed with sophisticated and innovative technology,” he added.

    He said the two teams would not be confined to the Vatican, but would also travel with the pope.

    The Swiss Guards have also been given anti-terrorism training, and now carry SIG P75 pistols and Heckler-Koch MP5 sub-machine guns, as well as their traditional halberds.

    An unfortunate “sign of the times.” Via A Catholic View).

  • President George W. Bush paid a visit to the Vatican to see Pope Benedict during his European tour. (Video). To demonstrate his appreciation for the birthday party at the White House, the Pope received the President in the medieval Saint John’s Tower, followed by a stroll through the Vatican gardens.

    The Pope and President Bush gave each other the same gift: a framed photograph of the Pope’s visit to the White House.

    According to the Vatican, the two discussed the Middle East peace process, the food crisis and other international issues, the Vatican said. The pontiff also thanked Bush for his “commitment in defence of fundamental moral values.”

World Youth Day 2008

  • A website for international pilgrims has been launched as Sydney nears the 50-day mark in the countdown to World Youth Day:

    The Catholic Archbishop of Sydney, Cardinal George Pell, has launched the site http://www.ybenedict.org which will release news in English and Spanish.

    The website is a project of Towards 2008 – the national student and young adult campaign for WYD2008.

    World Youth Day, which will include a visit by Pope Benedict XVI Joseph Ratzinger, will be held from July 15-20.

    Organisers are expecting around 125,000 registered pilgrims from overseas, plus a further 100,000 from all parts of Australia, to converge on Sydney for the six-day Catholic event.

  • XT3 is the official “social networking” site for World Youth Day Sydney and Beyond – Attention Catholic youth! “Xt3.com is a site to help you connect with other young people interested in knowing more about the Catholic faith, to plug in to the Church and get to know what’s going on in your area. If you are going to WYD use Xt3 to connect with millions, make new friends, and keep in touch with those you meet there.” Kind of like Facebook, only without the trash.

The Pope’s Third Encyclical

The tentative title of the Pope’s third encyclical is “Caritas in Veritate,” “Love In Truth”, reports La Repubblica. It’s focus will be on Catholic social teaching, touching on issues as varied as poverty, peace, wars, international cooperation, energy sources, and globalization.

According to Cardinal Bertone, the Pope will complete his third encyclical over the European summer, with publication scheduled in the fall:

In his encyclical, the cardinal said, “[Pope Benedict] does not want to repeat obvious truths of Catholic social teaching,” but will apply Church teachings to contemporary problems.

Il Giornale‘s Andrea Tornielli reported last week that the committee working with the Pope on the encyclical includes the Pope’s recently named successor as archbishop of Munich and Freising, Reinhard Marx, a specialist in Catholic social teaching, the top two officials of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, Cardinal Renato Martino and Bishop Giampaolo Crepaldi, and Stefano Zamagni, a lay Italian economist.

Books

Events

  • The Lyceum Society of Vermont is set to host a luncheon and symposium on Pope Benedict XVI. On August 16, 2008 the Society will host “The Christian Humanism of Pope Benedict XVI” at the Hoehl Center at Saint Michael’s College in Colchester, Vermont. The event is set to feature Dr. John P. Kenney of Saint Michael’s College, Dr. Thomas Albert Howard of the Jerusalem and Athens Forum at Gordon College, and Dr. Jeffrey O. Nelson, President of the Thomas More College of Liberal Arts (Dr. Nelson is a son-in-law to the late great traditionalist scholar and social critic Russell Kirk).

On a Lighter Note…

  • Pope loves kosher cake March 26, 2008:

    A famous kosher Italian bakery has an important local patron: Pope Benedict XVI.

    Wilma Limentani, the owner of the Boccione bakery in Rome’s ancient ghetto, said she recently received a letter of thanks from the Vatican revealing the pope’s love for her biscotti and an almond-and-raisin confection dubbed “Jewish pizza.”

    One of the pope’s doctors — a Jew who stopped by the 453-year-old bakery en route to administering a routine checkup of the pontiff — introduced the pastries to Benedict.

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Goodbye, Kitty.

I said goodbye to my cat of 15 years this weekend.

I inherited him from a friend in college — a wee kitten, she had to part with him as his presence violated dorm regulations. For a while we had taken to calling him “kitty” until a roommate conferred upon him the name “Dashiki.” Somewhow it stuck.

I recall a time where he had escaped and was gone for weeks on end. One summer’s night I was watching television when a ball of fur burst literally through the screen door, tearing across the living room seeking refuge. To my suprise it wasn’t Dashiki, but he came trotting in a few minutes later, looking smug in hot pursuit. Just another of his romps through the neighborhood.

Somehow we survived those crazy years and upon graduation, he accompanied me from Hickory, NC to New York City. He settled down and adjusted rather well to the big city — and to my wife’s younger kitten, Lila. The two would put on a good show of disliking each other, but we’d often catch them snuggled up on the bed.

If cats have 9 lives, Dashiki used up quite a few. One time when we were living on the Upper West Side he disappeared from an open second-story window that a roommate had left open. I had feared the worst, putting up signs and combing nearby animal shelters in vain hoping for a familiar glimpse.

A week later, still unsuccessful, I had resigned myself to his loss when a neighbor found him huddled in a trash can in the basement. Turned out New York City was a little too intimidating for a country kitty. Needless to say he abandoned all desire to go exploring outdoors thereafter, content to gaze from the windowsill.

He was a reclusive, curmudgeonly-yet-immensely-loveable kitty. He’d spend most of the day in hiding, quietly napping — save for those occasions where he’d succumb to the smell of fried fish when we’d order Chinese takeout; or the lure of catnip, or at night, when he would jump on the bed and sprawl across my chest, purring madly in what became an evening routine.

I woke up Saturday morning to find him in our bathroom — an unusual place for him given his tendency to hang out in the closet. He didn’t protest (as he usually does) when I picked him up, and spent the rest of the morning in the living room, noticeably more lethargic than usual.

We took him to the vet. They discovered a tumor in the very back of this throat, probably melanoma. She explained the various measures that could be taken to buy him some time — hospitalization, tests, surgery, but the prognosis was grim.

I got to hold him one last time; to hear beneath the labored breathing a faint purr. It was hard to say goodbye.

The house feels empty without him — I didn’t sleep the night he died. Part of me kept waiting, to feel the weight as he jumped on the bed, nuzzling his head against my palm in the dark.

"Year of St. Paul" Begins

Anno Paolino – As Pope Benedict XVI ushers in “The Year of St. Paul”, Amy Welborn has a comprehensive roundup of information and resources, along with a stirring reflection:

There is nothing abstract about this. It is not about filling a gap in our religious education or ticking off “need-to-know” items off a checklist.

It’s about Jesus Christ, and the world he came to redeem.

A world which is no different from the world of St. Paul. If you don’t believe this, simply do as has been suggested – read the Letters of Paul and see how many times you nod in agreement. Yes, this is the way things are. This is the world that needs Christ.

But because of so many factors, we are tempted to forget this. Caught up in a culture in which religion is nothing more than one aspect of a socially acceptable life, a box that we stack next to those labeled Work, School, Shopping and Vacation, a box that we shop for and trade in according to how busy it keeps us or how little it challenges us, we forget this. Still stumbling out of the shadows of a cultural Christianity, still blinking in the harsh light of new paganism, high materialism and a society that is absolutely indifferent to Christian claims, we forget this, and are confused as to why our institutional claims are ignored and even reviled.

Fearful, lazy, selfish and comfortable, we forget this. …

Read the rest.

Treaty of Lisbon: "The Irish save Civilization", Part II?

The Telegraph‘s Chris Booker thanks the Irish for calling the bluff on one of the most shameless confidence tricks in political history this past week:

Seven years ago, Europe’s leaders decided that, as the consummation of their great “project”, they would draw up a Constitution for Europe. After extending its powers for nearly 50 years, often by subterfuge and deception, the European Union could emerge in its true light on the world stage, as an all-powerful, supranational government.

Under the Laeken Declaration of 2001, full of references to “democracy” and the need to bring “Europe closer to its people”, they set up a convention which spent 18 months drafting the constitution, tightly controlled at every point by its president, Valéry Giscard d’Estaing.
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For 18 months more they fine-tuned its details until it was ready to be ratified, by compliant national parliaments or by the referendums which various governments had been reluctantly forced to concede.

Then came that shocking moment in 2005 when the constitution was thrown out by the voters of France and Holland. The EU’s leaders were stunned, and bemused as to what to do next.

Then, last summer, they came up with a breathtakingly bold plan. They would rearrange the contents of the constitution in a way that made it virtually incomprehensible, omit the provocative references to a constitution, and railroad it through their parliaments without risking any more referendums – except for the only country, Ireland, whose constitution made one unavoidable. …

What are the aims of the Treaty of Lisbon?

The Treaty of Lisbon replaced — yet maintained in substance — the European Constitution rejected by Dutch and French voters in 2005 (“a little snip here, a little change there, a little paint touch-up there”, quips Hans-Jürgen Schlamp of Der Speigel). For a closer look as to the objectives of the Treaty of Lisbon, see this 12-point analysis by Prof. Anthony Coughlan (These Boots Are Gonna Walk All Over You Brussels Journal December 13, 2007):

The new European Union will have its own government, with a legislative, executive and judicial arm, its own political President, its own citizens and citizenship, its own human and civil rights code, its own currency, economic policy and revenue, its own international treaty-making powers, foreign policy, foreign minister, diplomatic corps and United Nations voice, its own crime and justice code and Public Prosecutor. It already possesses such normal State symbols as its own flag, anthem, motto and annual official holiday.

As regards the State authority of the new Union, it is embodied in the Union’ s own executive, legislative and judicial institutions: the European Council, Council of Ministers, Commission, Parliament and Court of Justice. It is also embodied in the Member States and their authorities as they implement and apply EU law and interpret and apply national law in conformity with Union law. Member States will be constitutionally required to do this under the Lisbon Treaty. Thus EU “State authorities” as represented for example by soldiers and policemen in EU uniforms on our streets are not needed as such.

Allowing for the special features of each case, all the classical Federal States which have been formed on the basis of power being surrendered by lower constituent states to a higher Federal authority have developed in a gradual way, just as has happened in the case of the European Union. Nineteenth century Germany, the USA, Canada and Australia are classical examples. Indeed the EU has accumulated its powers much more rapidly than some of these Federal States – in the short historical time-span of some sixty years.

The key difference between these classical Federations and the new European Union is that the former, once their people had settled, share a common language, history, culture and national solidarity that gave them a democratic basis and made their State authority popularly legitimate and acceptable. All stable States are founded on such communities where people speak a common language and mutually identify with one another as one people – a “We”. In the EU however there is no European people or “demos”, except statistically. The Lisbon Treaty is an attempt to construct a highly centralised European Federation artificially, from the top down, out of Europe’s many nations, peoples and States, without their free consent and knowledge.

If there were to be a European Federation that is democratic and acceptable, the minimum constitutional requirement for it would be that its laws would be initiated and approved by the directly elected representatives of the people either in the European Parliament or the National Parliaments. Unfortunately, neither the Lisbon Treaty nor the EU Constitution it establishes contain any such proposal.

Ireland’s Catholic Bishops on the Lisbon Treaty

Ireland’s Catholic Bishops addressed the Lisbon Treaty in a pastoral document entitled “Fostering a Community of Values”:

Speaking to diplomats and authorities in 2007, Pope Benedict XVI noted that:

“The ‘European home’, as we readily refer to the community of this continent, will be a good place to live for everyone only if it is built on a solid cultural and moral foundation of common values drawn from our history and our traditions. Europe cannot and must not deny her Christian roots. These represent a dynamic component of our civilization as we move forward into the third millennium.

While acknowledging that the preamble to the Treaty includes a reference to Europe’s ‘cultural, religious and humanist inheritance,’ it is regrettable that there is no explicit recognition of the Christian heritage of Europe in the Treaty. However, in keeping with the spirit of the Founders of the European project, the aims and aspirations that underpin the initiatives of the EU in many respects reflect the Christian humanist vision of the good society. For example, Article 1.4 of the Treaty of Lisbon promotes full employment, social progress and a high standard of environmental protection alongside respect for the rich cultural and linguistic diversity in the member states. It also includes a commitment to promote social justice and protection, equality between men and women, solidarity between generations and protection of the rights of the child, and to combat social marginalisation and discrimination in whatever form it may take.

On the contrary, I would think that the deliberate refusal to acknowledge Europe’s Christian heritage calls into question its “aims and aspirations.” Indeed, Ireland’s Bishops express the subsequent concern that:

In a climate of legal positivism attempts may very well be made to use traditional language concerning human dignity in ways which are contrary to the traditional sense.”

The Bishops’ concern over the perverse use of “rights” language is well-founded. In 2005, A European Union advisory panel issued a statement saying that medical professionals are not allowed to refuse to participate in abortions, even if they have conscientious objections, because the right to abort a child is an “international human right.”.

In March 2008, Polish President Lech Kaczynski expressed concerns that the European Union’s “Charter of Fundamental Rights” lack of clear definition of marriage as a union between a man and a woman, warning that may leave signatory nations open to attacks on the institution by the homosexualist lobby. (Polish President Warns EU Charter Could Force “Gay Marriage” on the Catholic Country LifeSiteNews.com March 19, 2008):

“An article of the charter,” he said, “…may go against the universally accepted moral order in Poland and force our country to introduce an institution in conflict with the moral convictions of the decided majority of our country.” The Polish constitution states that marriage is only between a man and a woman.

The European Union and other pan-Europe bodies have consistently attacked Poland’s constitutional protections of natural marriage and the unborn. Poland remains, despite declines, 89.8 percent Catholic, with about 75 percent practicing their faith, one of the highest rates of religious practice of any of the Catholic European countries.

Poland’s ratification of the Lisbon Treat was contingent upon the ability to “opt out” from the EU Human Rights Charter.

Earlier this month, Jens-Peter Bonde, President of the EU Democrats, and a Danish member of the two EU constitutional conventions, warned last week that the Referendum Committee was not telling the full story and that the Lisbon Treaty could well overpower the Irish constitution. The longest-serving member of the European Parliament, Bonde stepped down to campaign full-time for democracy and transparency within the European Union.

Related

  • Vox Nova‘s Morning’s Minion expresses his displeasure with the people of Ireland, dismissing those who voted “no” to the ratification — numbering some 860,000, it would seem — as “a rag-tag group of Marxists, ex-terrorists, hard-care nationalists, the extreme Catholic right, and a shady unknown businessman with ties to the US defense industry.” Keeping to form, he attacks the “US Catholic Right”:

    Completely oblivious to the voice of the Irish church, some US Catholics (the usual suspects) laud the no vote, the the grounds that Ireland has given the finger to “Brussels elitists”. As always, they are reflecting their own political and ideological biases onto Europe. They see the debate through the eyes of the kind of Enlightenment-era liberalism that prizes the liberty of the individual over the common good and solidarity (notice the whole comment is about economics- when the Irish bishops say that is exactly the wrong way to look at it). They are also wedded to a form of nationalism that elevates the role of the nation state above any supranational cooperation. Clearly, the dream of Erasmus and Thomas More for a united, peaceful, Europe was misplaced then…

  • All Hail the Irish! – Jeff Martin (Maximos) What’s Wrong with the World responds:

    the notion that the European Union instantiates a Christian conception of solidarity ought to be risible on its face. The EU commissars pointedly refused to acknowledge the Christian heritage of Europe in drafting their Constitution, and true to form, conceived of their union as a custodian of universal human rights doctrines owing much, much more to Enlightenment fabulisms than to anything that Christian natural law philosophers would recognize. Such protocols, as enshrined in the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms”, are expressions of the managerial, technocratic, secularist ethos of contemporary Western elites, which strives to normalize every moral deviation proscribed by Christianity, to the ends of making straight the paths of administrative and economic efficiency, and creating fields and pretexts for the exercise of power. We should be forthright, undissembling, undeceived, and absolutely settled in mind as regards what these technocratic powers are, what they entail, and the manner in which they will be exercised: they are employed, and will continue to be employed, to batter and buffet the tattered remnants of Christian civilization in Europe, and to facilitate the mass immigration of culturally alien, unassimilable, hostile Others into the European heartland, all the better to bury, and secure against the remotest possibility of resurrection, a possible alternative popular and elite formation predicated upon the Christian traditions of the West. When the indigenous traditions and cultures of the European peoples have been simultaneously subverted by the post-Marxist cultural enthusiasms of the partisans of universal human rights, and displaced by alien cultures, their historic bearers thus disinherited and dispossessed, what possibility of resistance will remain? Ah, yes, we’ve already been warned: any resistance will be stigmatized as fascist, Marxist, extreme, terrorist, and corrupt. One is sent into reminiscences of Auguste Comte, who inveighed against the opponents of his Religion of Humanity as “retrogrades and perturbators” who would be proscribed under the administrative reign of the positivist vanguard of humanity.

Libertas is a new European movement dedicated to campaigning for greater democratic accountability and transparency in the institutions of the EU and developing innovative policies which can benefit Europe and foster a more positive relationship between those institutions and the citizens for whom they legislate.
  • Update Why Irish Voters Rejected the Lisbon Treaty Brussels Journal June 16, 2008:

    One of the main objectives of the virtually unreadable treaty is to turn the EU into a “global geopolitical actor” that can counterbalance the United States on the world stage. To achieve this, European elites say the EU needs to speak with “one voice” in international affairs. In this context, the new treaty is designed to create the job position of (an unelected) European president as well as a powerful European foreign minister. It would also establish a European diplomatic corps with European embassies and a European army.

    As many observers of European politics know, democracy does not come easy on a continent where European elites view themselves as an aristocracy entitled to rule over the ignorant masses. Indeed, the entire European social welfare state has been built upon the unspoken quid pro quo of “bread and circuses” (ie, the cradle-to-grave nanny state) for the general populace, in exchange for their loyal submission to the political and intellectual classes.

    Thus it should come as no big surprise that the word ‘No’ does not exist in the European political lexicon. …

Fr. W. Norris Clarke, SJ – 1917-2008


Fr. Richard J. Neuhaus relays the news that W. Norris Clarke, SJ has died:

He was, over his long life, the indefatigable teacher, enthusiastically discovering with each new generation of students at Fordham University the inexhaustible riches of the Angelic Doctor.

In season and out, he sought to demonstrate, in the face of every new philosophical fashion or school, that St. Thomas had been there first. He was the original inspiration for my definition of a Thomist of the Strict Observance: Someone who believes that Thomas is the hardware that will run any software. I was never entirely persuaded, but his many books — for instance, The Philosophical Approach to God, The One and the Many: A Contemporary Thomistic Metaphysics, and interviews in The Universe as Journey — are warmly recommended to anyone seriously interested in exploring the riches of the Christian intellectual tradition.

Please join in the prayer that Father W. Norris Clarke will be welcomed with the words, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”

Via Fordham U. “Services Set for W. Norris Clarke, S.J., Professor and Thomist Philosopher”:

A native New Yorker, Father Clarke was born in 1915 and attended Loyola High School. He graduated, enrolled at Georgetown University in 1931 and entered the Society of Jesus two years later.

His deepening interest in Thomist philosophy was developed at College St. Louis in England in 1936. He continued his studies at Fordham, earning a master’s in philosophy in 1939. He earned his doctorate from Catholic University of Louvain in Belgium, where he studied under Roman Catholic philosopher Louis De Raeymaeker.

Father Clarke was ordained into the priesthood in 1945 and joined the Fordham faculty 10 years later as an assistant professor of philosophy. He taught for three decades before becoming an emeritus professor in 1985.

In 1961, Father Clarke helped found the International Philosophy Quarterly (IPQ), a journal promoting philosophical dialogue between Europe and the Americas. He served as editor until his 1985 retirement.

Even though officially retired, Father Clarke continued to teach in Fordham’s philosophy department and to publish articles. In 2007, he was honored by his peers at a philosophy colloquium on campus, where he presented a talk, “Integration of Personalism and Thomistic Metaphysics in Twentieth-Century Thomism.”

Father Clarke considered his philosophical journey as one moving from strict Thomism to a perspective revitalizing Thomistic philosophy to include an “implicit dimension of personalism.” He felt that the latter was inspired by the writings of Pope John Paul II.

The colloquium coincided with publication of a revised edition of his 1979 book, The Philosophical Approach To God (Fordham University Press, 2007). Additionally, the Press will publish a book of his essays on Thomistic philosophy in the fall of 2008, The Creative Retrieval of Saint Thomas Aquinas.

The author of eight books and more than 70 articles, Father Clarke was the recipient of numerous awards, among them the “Aquinas Medal” from the American Catholic Philosophical Association and a Fordham “Outstanding Teacher Award.” He held honorary doctorates from Villanova University and Wheeling Jesuit College.

In June 2000, International Philosophy Quarterly published a Festschrift in honor of Father Clarke’s 85th birthday and his longstanding editorial service. Presenting articles were religious philosopher Louis Dupré, the T. Lawrason Riggs professor of the philosophy of religion at Yale University, and the late Gerald A. McCool, S.J., (FCRH ’40) professor emeritus of philosophy and former chair of the department.

Father Clarke resided at Loyola Hall, where he was house confessor.

His wake will be held from 3 to 5 p.m. and from 7 to 9 p.m. on Sunday, June 15 in the Loyola Hall Chapel on Fordham’s Rose Hill campus, and his funeral will be at 10:30 a.m. on Monday, June 16 in Fordham’s University Church.

Related

Eugene Edward Blosser 1917-2008

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Eugene Edward Blosser (March 27, 1917 – June 8, 2008), career missionary in China and Japan cited in The Mennonite Encyclopedia (1955+), died Sunday morning at Parkview Manor in Wellman, Iowa, following a long respiratory illness. The son of Perry and Ada V. Lahman Blosser of South English, IA, Eugene was the eighth of nine children. In 1932, he discontinued his education at South English High School in order to help his father farm. During WWII he served in the Civilian Public Service corps in Nebraska and Wisconsin. After passing his General Education Development exams, he was admitted to Goshen College in Indiana, from which he graduated with a Bible major in 1949. He later continued his studies at Goshen Biblical Seminary and post-graduate work in Far Eastern Studies at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor.

In the summer of 1949, Eugene was commissioned by the Mennonite Board of Missions to serve as a missionary in China. Upon arriving in Hong Kong that September, he was married to Louella Gingerich, whom he had dated at Goshen, and who had preceded him to China as a medical missionary in 1947. They served together in Chengdu, Sichuan, from 1949 to 1951. Their efforts continue their work following the Maoist takeover of Chengdu on December 30, 1949, are chronicled in Dorothy McCammon’s We Tried to Stay (1953). In March 1951 they returned to the U.S., and were reassigned to Japan in 1953. They planted new churches in Hokkaido (Taiki, Sapporo, Hiroo), served established congregations (Obihiro, Kushiro), and administered a boarding facility for missionary children attending Hokkaido International School in Sapporo. In 1981 they returned to the U.S. after Luella was diagnosed with brain cancer. She died in 1982. After serving as interim pastor in Oregon and Nebraska, Eugene married Elsie Zook of Wellman in 1984. The couple lived together in Wellman for 24 years, where they continued active involvement in the local Mennonite church after retirement.

Eugene was preceded in death by his first wife, Luella; and adopted son, Thomas Yoshiro; his parents, and all of his siblings, including six brothers, Wilmer, Aquila, Dwight, Menno, Oren, and Amos; and two sisters, Abbie (Zook) and Mary Kate (Yoder). He is survived by his second wife, Elsie; his children, Philip, Rachel (Derstine) and Meiko (Schoemig); eight grand-children (Christopher, Jonathan Benjamin, Nathaniel, Hannah, Katherine, Elizabeth, and Julia); and four great-grandchildren (Augustine, Ambrose, Cyprian, and Raphael).