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The Pope Francis Universal Translator...

Posted on Sep 25, 2015 in Blog | 0 comments

The secular press and media are having a field day spinning and extrapolating what Pope Francis’ words mean and imply. Politicians and pundits alike pontificate as if they were biblical scholars doing exegesis on passages from scripture. Opinionated commentators posing as journalists dissect and scrutinize every papal utterance as if they were all of the same weight and importance. Curiously, Jesus’ opponents did the very same thing. They took his words and deeds OUT OF CONTEXT. This is what is happening now with Pope Francis.
Just as the words of Sacred Scripture must be taken in CONTEXT in order to be correctly interpreted and understood, likewise, the same must be applied to the Vicar of Christ on earth. The Bishop of Rome is the supreme head of the Catholic Church. As Pope, he has full, supreme, immediate, and universal authority. He is infallible, however, only on matters of faith and morals. Supremacy and infallibility are different aspects of the Petrine ministry often misunderstood as being the same thing. They are distinct yet still interrelated. As Pope, the Holy Father is supreme pastor, which means he enjoys full primacy. There is no authority other than God higher than papal authority. No ecumenical council can overrule him. This is a juridical component as opposed to his infallibility that is a teaching or didactic aspect. The trifold munera (offices) of Christ’s ministry as Priest, Prophet and King are continued in the sanctifying, teaching and governing offices of the Church. The Roman Pontiff possesses supremacy in all of them. He is the supreme teacher on matters of doctrine; he is the high priest in matters liturgical; he is the supreme leader of the church in governing the universal church. Infallibility resides in his teaching or magisterial authority only. Nevertheless, since he possesses supreme authority in governance and in sacred worship, while non-infallible, it is still absolute. In other words, the Pope’s prudential judgments are not protected by divine intervention. Historically, some popes have made imprudent decisions while a few even made bad or immoral choices. The overwhelming majority, Deo gratias, have made reasonable and sensible judgments.
Pope St. John Paul the Great spoke as a philosopher and with a theatrical flavor. Much like Archbishop Fulton Sheen who took full advantage of the television when he had his weekly program, JP2 used both content (what he said) and context (where he said it). He was conscious of the scene and backdrop. He utilized the stage at every World Youth Day and at every international papal visit. His words and his gestures (like kissing the ground the first time he visited a country) spoke volumes. His words were deliberate and well thought out.
Pope Emeritus Benedict spoke as a gentile professor of theology. Unlike his predecessor, he was no actor, so his sense of theater was not the same. He was a scholar, like JP2, but he used the world as a classroom to teach, discuss and dialogue with his pupils. At times, one could feel like a high school freshman in chemistry class being taught by Albert Einstein, yet, very quickly, we learned that B16 wanted nothing less than to enlighten all his students with the same light of faith he himself found essential and fascinating.
Pope Francis, on the other hand, speaks and acts like a pastor. More like a parish priest than a diocesan bishop, in fact. He preaches unrehearsed sermons and speaks in colloquial vernacular that his flock immediately knows he is speaking to them about issues of a spiritual nature. Whereas Pope Benedict would give erudite theological explanations, Pope Francis gives mini-sermonettes and ferverinos often given by a parish priest at a weekday Mass. DE GUSTIBUS NON DISPUTANDUM EST.
Each pope has his own style and flavor of the papacy. It is unfair to compare JP2 with B16 and both with F1. Pope Benedict wore red shoes. So what. They were gifts. Pope John Paul wore red shoes and a red cape as well. Big deal. Pope Francis chooses to wear old comfortable shoes. Who cares? Just as each pope has his own taste of music, his own favorite sports team and his own favorite cuisine, likewise, each has his own opinion on economics, politics and science. Obviously, his prudential judgments on the latter warrant our attention and consideration (while the latter are purely personal), nonetheless, they are not exercises of papal infallibility.
When these distinctions are not made and when the secular media compare apples with oranges, you get non sequitur fallacies that would give any logician a migraine. If Pope Francis wanted, he could amend the Catechism, which would then be part of the Ordinary Magisterium. So far, he has chosen not to do so. Homilies, sermons and impromptu talks do not have the same weight as encyclicals, apostolic exhortations and constitutions, et al. Particular scientific, political and economic theories are similarly not the same and do not carry the same magisterial authority as do general moral principles and doctrinal tenets and canonical decrees.
The Pope has every right as an individual to express his personal opinions even though the faithful are not obliged to give them the assent of faith. As supreme head of the church and as the mouth of the Magisterium, he has every right, duty and obligation to comment on any issue or topic that might have an impact on Catholic faith and morals. You and I may disagree with non-infallible teachings but we cannot merely ignore, discount or casually repudiate them at first glance. We owe the Successor of Saint Peter a prayerful and intelligent deliberation of his position instead of dismissing without proper consideration.
Ecology, economics and politics do impact human life and each has moral implications. Subsidiarity, however, requires that those who have expertise in these areas and those at the local level first, have legitimate claim to the first word. Enunciating moral principles and dogmatic facts are the purview of spiritual leaders and shepherds, of whom the Pope is first and foremost. Applying those general principles to specific instances and particular cases is the responsibility of every person with a well formed conscience AFTER he or she has heard all the facts and pondered all the arguments.
One can licitly dispute the existence or the effect and response to global warming just as one can have a reasonable debate on the merits of democratic-republic vs constitutional monarchy, or whether the best from or governance is parliamentary or presidential. Catholics can also differ on big government or little; on the primacy of federalism or states’ rights. They can register democrat, republican or independent. What the clergy must and ought to do (be they popes, bishops, priests or deacons) is identify moral principles and issues that transcend opinion. A legitimate political or economic system must respect the Natural Moral Law and abide by the principles of justice. When it does not happen or when it seems that there may be breach, then the religious authorities have a duty to inform the electorate and those in power.
As a pastor, I often hear parishioners say “well Father So-and-so said this” or “he did it this way.” Leaders are often compares to their predecessors and we should be able to learn from their (and our own) mistakes. Opinion and style are personal choices particular to the individual. Hence, if the pastor wears a cassock or a clergy shirt with a white tab; whether he drives a fiat, a buick or a Honda; whether he wears tie shoes or loafers, French cuffs or button; none of these matter as long as he teaches the truth, celebrates the sacraments validly and reverently, and treats his people with pastoral love and mercy.
The papacy does not enjoy divine inspiration as does the revealed word of Sacred Scripture. It does have the charism of infallibility on matters of faith and morals and Holy Mother Church as a whole has the charism of indefectibility. Either we believe and trust in those or we do not. The former is orthodoxy, the latter is dissent. On prudential judgment matters, we can agree to disagree yet we must also submit to those in authority over us in areas where they have proper jurisdiction.

Pope Francis is no threat. He is the Successor of Saint Peter and he is the visible head of the Catholic Church. I must give an assent of faith to all infallible papal decrees and give respect and consideration to his opinions, views and prudential judgments. Just as we may not have agreed with everything our dad said and did, we still were required to obey (as far as possible) and respect and honor him. No less should be given to Our Holy Father, either.
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Pope Francis in the U.S. Day 2—DC and NYC...

Posted on Sep 25, 2015 in Blog | 0 comments

On This Day in History

When Pope Francis addressed a joint session of the US Congress on Thursday, he became the first pontiff to ever do so. And he did not let the opportunity to go to waste. Framing his message around four well-known Americans—Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King Jr, Dorothy Day, and Thomas Merton—the pope addressed a wide range of issues, many of which he had mentioned the previous day during his speech at the White House. He told members of Congress: “Let us remember the Golden Rule: ‘Do unto others as you would have them do unto you’ (Mt 7:12).

“This Rule points us in a clear direction,” he said. “Let us treat others with the same passion and compassion with which we want to be treated. Let us seek for others the same possibilities which we seek for ourselves. Let us help others to grow, as we would like to be helped ourselves. In a word, if we want security, let us give security; if we want life, let us give life; if we want opportunities, let us provide opportunities. The yardstick we use for others will be the yardstick which time will use for us.”

After leaving Congress, the pope headed to the St. Patrick’s Parish, where he told those gathered, “I want to be very clear. We can’t find any social or moral justification, no justification whatsoever for lack of housing.” The pope then blessed a meal for clients of St. Maria’s Meals, a program run by Catholic Charities of Washington, D.C.

With that, Pope Francis ended his time in Washington D.C., and headed to New York City for a brief but busy stay. On Thursday evening, the pope got started, taking part in Vespers at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in the City. Priests and religious brothers and sisters who were in attendance heard the pope remind them of the need for rest. “But we need to learn how to rest in a way that deepens our desire to serve with generosity,” he told them.

Notable Quotes from Day 2

Address to Congress

“Each son or daughter of a given country has a mission—a personal and social responsibility. Your own responsibility as members of Congress is to enable this country, by your legislative activity, to grow as a nation. You are the face of its people, their representatives. You are called to defend and preserve the dignity of your fellow citizens in the tireless and demanding pursuit of the common good, for this is the chief aim of all politics.”

Vespers with the Clergy, Men and Women Religious

“In a special way, I would like to express my esteem and gratitude to the religious women of the United States. What would the Church be without you? Women of strength, fighters, with that spirit of courage which puts you in the front lines in the proclamation of the Gospel.”

More Highlights from Day 2

One day after the canonization ceremony of Junipero Serra, the Franciscans celebrated a Mass of Thanksgiving at the Franciscan Monastery of the Holy Land.

When he arrived at Kennedy International Airport on Friday evening, Pope Francis was once again greeted by local schoolchildren. The children presented the pontiff with gifts, including a Pope Francis Bobblehead.

Love is Our Mission Pope Francis in America

The post Pope Francis in the U.S. Day 2—DC and NYC appeared first on American Catholic Blog.

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Pope Francis in a Post-9/11 World...

Posted on Sep 25, 2015 in Blog | 0 comments

I can remember my parents talking about where they were when President Kennedy was assassinated in 1963. Looking back to the terrorist attacks of 9/11, I’m starting to get the feeling that I’ll talk about it in much the same way as time goes on.

I had just started my senior year of high school at St. Xavier, a Jesuit high school in Cincinnati, Ohio. In a somewhat ironic twist, I was in the middle of a class called “20th-Century History” when news of the attacks was announced. Our professor stopped his lesson for the day and said, “Gentleman, forget 20th-century history for today. This is 21st-century history.”

He turned on the TV, and we watched in both horror and disbelief as the events unfolded. I remember some of my classmates already starting to conjecture about whom they thought was responsible. Some immediately brought up Al-Qaeda. Although they were right about the particular terrorist organization, I also distinctly remember hearing the murmurings of instant vengeance and Islamophobia sprinkled in to their analyses.

Today, Pope Francis attended a multi-religious service at the 9/11 Memorial and Museum in New York City. He paid his respects to the victims of the attacks, and met with leaders from myriad religious backgrounds.

It’s part and parcel of the pope’s approach to our wounded world. Yes, we need to look to the past and mourn the human losses, the devastation of terrorism and all violence. But we also need to look to the future and mend the division that exacerbates and leads to future violence.

Communicating well with and understanding people of other faiths is vital to the healing process and the promise of a safer world. May Pope Francis’ example lead us and our political leaders to embrace peace instead of retribution.

Follow me at @StAnthonyMag for more coverage of Pope Francis’ in New York City!

Love Is Our Mission: Pope Francis in America is a rich collection drawn from Catholic News Service photographers and journalists to be released October 30. It will be a keepsake for anyone interested in the papal visit. Learn more about the book, and about Pope Francis’ visit, by clicking here.

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*****

Photo: Giulio Napolitano / Shutterstock

The post Pope Francis in a Post-9/11 World appeared first on American Catholic Blog.

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Pope Francis in a Post-9/11 World...

Posted on Sep 25, 2015 in Blog | 0 comments

I can remember my parents talking about where they were when President Kennedy was assassinated in 1963. Looking back to the terrorist attacks of 9/11, I’m starting to get the feeling that I’ll talk about it in much the same way as time goes on.

I had just started my senior year of high school at St. Xavier, a Jesuit high school in Cincinnati, Ohio. In a somewhat ironic twist, I was in the middle of a class called “20th-Century History” when news of the attacks was announced. Our professor stopped his lesson for the day and said, “Gentleman, forget 20th-century history for today. This is 21st-century history.”

He turned on the TV, and we watched in both horror and disbelief as the events unfolded. I remember some of my classmates already starting to conjecture about whom they thought was responsible. Some immediately brought up Al-Qaeda. Although they were right about the particular terrorist organization, I also distinctly remember hearing the murmurings of instant vengeance and Islamophobia sprinkled in to their analyses.

Today, Pope Francis attended a multi-religious service at the 9/11 Memorial and Museum in New York City. He paid his respects to the victims of the attacks, and met with leaders from myriad religious backgrounds.

It’s part and parcel of the pope’s approach to our wounded world. Yes, we need to look to the past and mourn the human losses, the devastation of terrorism and all violence. But we also need to look to the future and mend the division that exacerbates and leads to future violence.

Communicating well with and understanding people of other faiths is vital to the healing process and the promise of a safer world. May Pope Francis’ example lead us and our political leaders to embrace peace instead of retribution.

Follow me at @StAnthonyMag for more coverage of Pope Francis’ in New York City!

Love Is Our Mission: Pope Francis in America is a rich collection drawn from Catholic News Service photographers and journalists to be released October 30. It will be a keepsake for anyone interested in the papal visit. Learn more about the book, and about Pope Francis’ visit, by clicking here.

51dnUgKdvKL._SX258_BO1,204,203,200_

*****

Photo: Giulio Napolitano / Shutterstock

The post Pope Francis in a Post-9/11 World appeared first on American Catholic Blog.

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Pope Francis to US Congress on threats to the fami...

Posted on Sep 24, 2015 in Blog | 0 comments

GTY_pope_congress_11_mm_150924_4x3_992As I am in Tokyo, I haven’t kept my eyes glued to coverage of the papal visit of Pope Francis. I did, however, tune in via Slingbox to watch His Holiness address Congress. I had wished for stronger, clearer, obvious, inescapable words on some important issues, but he got the job done… at least if the listener is willing to hear him properly.

That said, one of my correspondents texted me:

CNN is reporting (Anderson Cooper) that Francis was intimating in his speech before Congress that he’s pro- gay marriage.

If I haven’t been tapping the live feed of Pope Francis, even less have I followed CNN.  Why bother with them if you can catch Fr. Murray and the gang on EWTN’s coverage. Still, it is hard to fathom how anyone could construe that from what Pope Francis said.

His words about the family:

I will end my visit to your country in Philadelphia, where I will take part in the World Meeting of Families. It is my wish that throughout my visit the family should be a recurrent theme. How essential the family has been to the building of this country! And how worthy it remains of our support and encouragement! Yet I cannot hide my concern for the family, which is threatened, perhaps as never before, from within and without. Fundamental relationships are being called into question, as is the very basis of marriage and the family. [Pretty clear what he means, no?] I can only reiterate the importance and, above all, the richness and the beauty of family life.

His delivery at that moment was energetic, thus underscoring his intent.

 

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"And now let us begin this journey, the Bishop and people, this journey of the Church of Rome, which presides in charity over all the Churches, a journey of brotherhood in love, of mutual trust. Let us always pray for one another. Let us pray for the whole world that there might be a great sense of brotherhood.

I will now give my blessing to you and to the whole world, to all men and women of good will."

-Papa Francis quote

He does not know you, yet he prays for you.
He will most likely never meet you, yet he loves you.

This is your chance to show your love, for as the Bible teaches, "Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven. But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven."