Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Follow this link to an excellent article on what it means to be a man: http://catholicinsight.com/online/social/article_646.shtml


More from Dr. Jeffrey Bond, President of the College of St. Justin Martyr

Dr. Bond just forwarded this to me:

The TimesLeader of Wilkes-Barre, PA has published an article on the return of the suppressed Society of St. John.


Sad to say, this secular newspaper has done more than the Diocese of Scranton to expose the SSJ. Mark Guydish, whose past articles helped to inform the public about the SSJ, has evidently made a serious investigation into their reappearance. The Diocese of Scranton, however, wants to pretend the SSJ scandal never happened. Consider the following statement made by the spokesman for the Diocese of Scranton concerning the SSJ's latest effort to reinvent itself:

“Bishop Martino suppressed the Society of St. John in November 2004. Since that time, he has been taking all appropriate steps open to him under the Code of Canon Law to deal with the priests of the extinguished Society. The Diocese has no further comment on this matter.”

What exactly are the "appropriate steps" that Bishop Martino has taken? Why have the priests of the suppressed SSJ been allowed to wander here, there and everywhere with no sanctions being brought against them? How can Carlos Urrutigoity and Eric Ensey still be priests? How can the SSJ be permitted to raise money in the Church's name? Why does the Diocese of Scranton always seem to be drowning in a canonical glass of water?

At the very least, the Diocese of Scranton must tell the public where the SSJ priests are and what their status is. After all, a letter posted on the SSJ's new website claims that the SSJ is now operating under the authority of a bishop in Paraguay. (See http://www.ssjohn.org/documents/pdf/060101_Letter.pdf.) Does the Diocese of Scranton have nothing to say about this latest fraudulent claim? And is the Diocese of Scranton prepared to spend more money to settle more lawsuits after the SSJ priests homosexually abuse more boys?

Pax vobiscum,

Dr. Jeffrey M. Bond


Sunday, February 26, 2006

A Word Of Thanks

I would like to thank all of you who make the Spiritual Children of Saint Rita a reality. Your hard work and dedication have really paid off. Many of you will be meeting at our New Hampshire offices this week as we decide on team initiatives and long-term goals.

Together, let us work to spread devotion to the Saint from Cascia: Saint of the Impossible, and to follow her on the road to authentic peace.


Open Season On Christianity

Saturday, February 25, 2006


1. In recent years, various questions relating to homosexuality have been addressed with some frequency by Pope John Paul II and by the relevant Dicasteries of the Holy See.(1) Homosexuality is a troubling moral and social phenomenon, even in those countries where it does not present significant legal issues. It gives rise to greater concern in those countries that have granted or intend to grant – legal recognition to homosexual unions, which may include the possibility of adopting children. The present Considerations do not contain new doctrinal elements; they seek rather to reiterate the essential points on this question and provide arguments drawn from reason which could be used by Bishops in preparing more specific interventions, appropriate to the different situations throughout the world, aimed at protecting and promoting the dignity of marriage, the foundation of the family, and the stability of society, of which this institution is a constitutive element. The present Considerations are also intended to give direction to Catholic politicians by indicating the approaches to proposed legislation in this area which would be consistent with Christian conscience.(2) Since this question relates to the natural moral law, the arguments that follow are addressed not only to those who believe in Christ, but to all persons committed to promoting and defending the common good of society.

2. The Church's teaching on marriage and on the complementarity of the sexes reiterates a truth that is evident to right reason and recognized as such by all the major cultures of the world. Marriage is not just any relationship between human beings. It was established by the Creator with its own nature, essential properties and purpose.(3) No ideology can erase from the human spirit the certainty that marriage exists solely between a man and a woman, who by mutual personal gift, proper and exclusive to themselves, tend toward the communion of their persons. In this way, they mutually perfect each other, in order to cooperate with God in the procreation and upbringing of new human lives.
3. The natural truth about marriage was confirmed by the Revelation contained in the biblical accounts of creation, an expression also of the original human wisdom, in which the voice of nature itself is heard. There are three fundamental elements of the Creator's plan for marriage, as narrated in the Book of Genesis.
In the first place, man, the image of God, was created “male and female” (Gen 1:27). Men and women are equal as persons and complementary as male and female. Sexuality is something that pertains to the physical-biological realm and has also been raised to a new level – the personal level – where nature and spirit are united.
Marriage is instituted by the Creator as a form of life in which a communion of persons is realized involving the use of the sexual faculty. “That is why a man leaves his father and mother and clings to his wife and they become one flesh” (Gen 2:24).
Third, God has willed to give the union of man and woman a special participation in his work of creation. Thus, he blessed the man and the woman with the words “Be fruitful and multiply” (Gen 1:28). Therefore, in the Creator's plan, sexual complementarity and fruitfulness belong to the very nature of marriage.
Furthermore, the marital union of man and woman has been elevated by Christ to the dignity of a sacrament. The Church teaches that Christian marriage is an efficacious sign of the covenant between Christ and the Church (cf. Eph 5:32). This Christian meaning of marriage, far from diminishing the profoundly human value of the marital union between man and woman, confirms and strengthens it (cf. Mt 19:3-12; Mk 10:6-9).
4. There are absolutely no grounds for considering homosexual unions to be in any way similar or even remotely analogous to God's plan for marriage and family. Marriage is holy, while homosexual acts go against the natural moral law. Homosexual acts “close the sexual act to the gift of life. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved”.(4)
Sacred Scripture condemns homosexual acts “as a serious depravity... (cf. Rom 1:24-27; 1 Cor 6:10; 1 Tim 1:10). This judgment of Scripture does not of course permit us to conclude that all those who suffer from this anomaly are personally responsible for it, but it does attest to the fact that homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered”.(5) This same moral judgment is found in many Christian writers of the first centuries(6) and is unanimously accepted by Catholic Tradition.
Nonetheless, according to the teaching of the Church, men and women with homosexual tendencies “must be accepted with respect, compassion and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided”.(7) They are called, like other Christians, to live the virtue of chastity.(8) The homosexual inclination is however “objectively disordered”(9) and homosexual practices are “sins gravely contrary to chastity”.(10)

5. Faced with the fact of homosexual unions, civil authorities adopt different positions. At times they simply tolerate the phenomenon; at other times they advocate legal recognition of such unions, under the pretext of avoiding, with regard to certain rights, discrimination against persons who live with someone of the same sex. In other cases, they favour giving homosexual unions legal equivalence to marriage properly so-called, along with the legal possibility of adopting children.
Where the government's policy is de facto tolerance and there is no explicit legal recognition of homosexual unions, it is necessary to distinguish carefully the various aspects of the problem. Moral conscience requires that, in every occasion, Christians give witness to the whole moral truth, which is contradicted both by approval of homosexual acts and unjust discrimination against homosexual persons. Therefore, discreet and prudent actions can be effective; these might involve: unmasking the way in which such tolerance might be exploited or used in the service of ideology; stating clearly the immoral nature of these unions; reminding the government of the need to contain the phenomenon within certain limits so as to safeguard public morality and, above all, to avoid exposing young people to erroneous ideas about sexuality and marriage that would deprive them of their necessary defences and contribute to the spread of the phenomenon. Those who would move from tolerance to the legitimization of specific rights for cohabiting homosexual persons need to be reminded that the approval or legalization of evil is something far different from the toleration of evil.
In those situations where homosexual unions have been legally recognized or have been given the legal status and rights belonging to marriage, clear and emphatic opposition is a duty. One must refrain from any kind of formal cooperation in the enactment or application of such gravely unjust laws and, as far as possible, from material cooperation on the level of their application. In this area, everyone can exercise the right to conscientious objection.

6. To understand why it is necessary to oppose legal recognition of homosexual unions, ethical considerations of different orders need to be taken into consideration.
From the order of right reason
The scope of the civil law is certainly more limited than that of the moral law,(11) but civil law cannot contradict right reason without losing its binding force on conscience.(12) Every humanly-created law is legitimate insofar as it is consistent with the natural moral law, recognized by right reason, and insofar as it respects the inalienable rights of every person.(13) Laws in favour of homosexual unions are contrary to right reason because they confer legal guarantees, analogous to those granted to marriage, to unions between persons of the same sex. Given the values at stake in this question, the State could not grant legal standing to such unions without failing in its duty to promote and defend marriage as an institution essential to the common good.
It might be asked how a law can be contrary to the common good if it does not impose any particular kind of behaviour, but simply gives legal recognition to a de facto reality which does not seem to cause injustice to anyone. In this area, one needs first to reflect on the difference between homosexual behaviour as a private phenomenon and the same behaviour as a relationship in society, foreseen and approved by the law, to the point where it becomes one of the institutions in the legal structure. This second phenomenon is not only more serious, but also assumes a more wide-reaching and profound influence, and would result in changes to the entire organization of society, contrary to the common good. Civil laws are structuring principles of man's life in society, for good or for ill. They “play a very important and sometimes decisive role in influencing patterns of thought and behaviour”.(14) Lifestyles and the underlying presuppositions these express not only externally shape the life of society, but also tend to modify the younger generation's perception and evaluation of forms of behaviour. Legal recognition of homosexual unions would obscure certain basic moral values and cause a devaluation of the institution of marriage.
From the biological and anthropological order
7. Homosexual unions are totally lacking in the biological and anthropological elements of marriage and family which would be the basis, on the level of reason, for granting them legal recognition. Such unions are not able to contribute in a proper way to the procreation and survival of the human race. The possibility of using recently discovered methods of artificial reproduction, beyond involv- ing a grave lack of respect for human dignity,(15) does nothing to alter this inadequacy.
Homosexual unions are also totally lacking in the conjugal dimension, which represents the human and ordered form of sexuality. Sexual relations are human when and insofar as they express and promote the mutual assistance of the sexes in marriage and are open to the transmission of new life.
As experience has shown, the absence of sexual complementarity in these unions creates obstacles in the normal development of children who would be placed in the care of such persons. They would be deprived of the experience of either fatherhood or motherhood. Allowing children to be adopted by persons living in such unions would actually mean doing violence to these children, in the sense that their condition of dependency would be used to place them in an environment that is not conducive to their full human development. This is gravely immoral and in open contradiction to the principle, recognized also in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, that the best interests of the child, as the weaker and more vulnerable party, are to be the paramount consideration in every case.
From the social order
8. Society owes its continued survival to the family, founded on marriage. The inevitable consequence of legal recognition of homosexual unions would be the redefinition of marriage, which would become, in its legal status, an institution devoid of essential reference to factors linked to heterosexuality; for example, procreation and raising children. If, from the legal standpoint, marriage between a man and a woman were to be considered just one possible form of marriage, the concept of marriage would undergo a radical transformation, with grave detriment to the common good. By putting homosexual unions on a legal plane analogous to that of marriage and the family, the State acts arbitrarily and in contradiction with its duties.
The principles of respect and non-discrimination cannot be invoked to support legal recognition of homosexual unions. Differentiating between persons or refusing social recognition or benefits is unacceptable only when it is contrary to justice.(16) The denial of the social and legal status of marriage to forms of cohabitation that are not and cannot be marital is not opposed to justice; on the contrary, justice requires it.
Nor can the principle of the proper autonomy of the individual be reasonably invoked. It is one thing to maintain that individual citizens may freely engage in those activities that interest them and that this falls within the common civil right to freedom; it is something quite different to hold that activities which do not represent a significant or positive contribution to the development of the human person in society can receive specific and categorical legal recognition by the State. Not even in a remote analogous sense do homosexual unions fulfil the purpose for which marriage and family deserve specific categorical recognition. On the contrary, there are good reasons for holding that such unions are harmful to the proper development of human society, especially if their impact on society were to increase.
From the legal order
9. Because married couples ensure the succession of generations and are therefore eminently within the public interest, civil law grants them institutional recognition. Homosexual unions, on the other hand, do not need specific attention from the legal standpoint since they do not exercise this function for the common good.
Nor is the argument valid according to which legal recognition of homosexual unions is necessary to avoid situations in which cohabiting homosexual persons, simply because they live together, might be deprived of real recognition of their rights as persons and citizens. In reality, they can always make use of the provisions of law – like all citizens from the standpoint of their private autonomy – to protect their rights in matters of common interest. It would be gravely unjust to sacrifice the common good and just laws on the family in order to protect personal goods that can and must be guaranteed in ways that do not harm the body of society.(17)

10. If it is true that all Catholics are obliged to oppose the legal recognition of homosexual unions, Catholic politicians are obliged to do so in a particular way, in keeping with their responsibility as politicians. Faced with legislative proposals in favour of homosexual unions, Catholic politicians are to take account of the following ethical indications.
When legislation in favour of the recognition of homosexual unions is proposed for the first time in a legislative assembly, the Catholic law-maker has a moral duty to express his opposition clearly and publicly and to vote against it. To vote in favour of a law so harmful to the common good is gravely immoral.
When legislation in favour of the recognition of homosexual unions is already in force, the Catholic politician must oppose it in the ways that are possible for him and make his opposition known; it is his duty to witness to the truth. If it is not possible to repeal such a law completely, the Catholic politician, recalling the indications contained in the Encyclical Letter Evangelium vitae, “could licitly support proposals aimed at limiting the harm done by such a law and at lessening its negative consequences at the level of general opinion and public morality”, on condition that his “absolute personal opposition” to such laws was clear and well known and that the danger of scandal was avoided.(18) This does not mean that a more restrictive law in this area could be considered just or even acceptable; rather, it is a question of the legitimate and dutiful attempt to obtain at least the partial repeal of an unjust law when its total abrogation is not possible at the moment.

11. The Church teaches that respect for homosexual persons cannot lead in any way to approval of homosexual behaviour or to legal recognition of homosexual unions. The common good requires that laws recognize, promote and protect marriage as the basis of the family, the primary unit of society. Legal recognition of homosexual unions or placing them on the same level as marriage would mean not only the approval of deviant behaviour, with the consequence of making it a model in present-day society, but would also obscure basic values which belong to the common inheritance of humanity. The Church cannot fail to defend these values, for the good of men and women and for the good of society itself.
The Sovereign Pontiff John Paul II, in the Audience of March 28, 2003, approved the present Considerations, adopted in the Ordinary Session of this Congregation, and ordered their publication.
Rome, from the Offices of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, June 3, 2003, Memorial of Saint Charles Lwanga and his Companions, Martyrs.
Joseph Card. RatzingerPrefect
Angelo Amato, S.D.B.Titular Archbishop of SilaSecretary

(1) Cf. John Paul II, Angelus Messages of February 20, 1994, and of June 19, 1994; Address to the Plenary Meeting of the Pontifical Council for the Family (March 24, 1999); Catechism of the Catholic Church, Nos. 2357-2359, 2396; Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Declaration Persona humana (December 29, 1975), 8; Letter on the pastoral care of homosexual persons (October 1, 1986); Some considerations concerning the response to legislative proposals on the non-discrimination of homosexual persons (July 24, 1992); Pontifical Council for the Family, Letter to the Presidents of the Bishops' Conferences of Europe on the resolution of the European Parliament regarding homosexual couples (March 25, 1994); Family, marriage and “de facto” unions (July 26, 2000), 23.
(2) Cf. Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Doctrinal Note on some questions regarding the participation of Catholics in political life (November 24, 2002), 4.
(3) Cf. Second Vatican Council, Pastoral Constitution Gaudium et spes, 48.
(4) Catechism of the Catholic Church, No. 2357.
(5) Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Declaration Persona humana (December 29, 1975), 8.
(6) Cf., for example, St. Polycarp, Letter to the Philippians, V, 3; St. Justin Martyr, First Apology, 27, 1-4; Athenagoras, Supplication for the Christians, 34.
(7) Catechism of the Catholic Church, No. 2358; cf. Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Letter on the pastoral care of homosexual persons (October 1, 1986), 10.
(8) Cf. Catechism of the Catholic Church, No. 2359; cf. Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Letter on the pastoral care of homosexual persons (October 1, 1986), 12.
(9) Catechism of the Catholic Church, No. 2358.
(10) Ibid., No. 2396.
(11) Cf. John Paul II, Encyclical Letter Evangelium vitae (March 25, 1995), 71.
(12) Cf. ibid., 72.
(13) Cf. St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologiae, I-II, q. 95, a. 2.
(14) John Paul II, Encyclical Letter Evangelium vitae (March 25, 1995), 90.
(15) Cf. Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Instruction Donum vitae (February 22, 1987), II. A. 1-3.
(16) Cf. St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologiae, II-II, q. 63, a.1, c.
(17) It should not be forgotten that there is always “a danger that legislation which would make homosexuality a basis for entitlements could actually encourage a person with a homosexual orientation to declare his homosexuality or even to seek a partner in order to exploit the provisions of the law” (Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Some considerations concerning the response to legislative proposals on the non-discrimination of homosexual persons [July 24, 1992], 14).
(18) John Paul II, Encyclical Letter Evangelium vitae (March 25, 1995), 73.

We cannot ignore this teaching and what it has to say to us when discussing the whole question of same-sex "couples" and adoption in the State of Massachusetts.


Thursday, February 23, 2006

DOMINE Iesu Christe, qui neminem vis perire, et cui numquam sine spe misericordiae supplicatur, nam Tu dixisti ore sancto tuo et benedicto: Omnia quaecumque petieritis in nomine meo, fient vobis; peto a te, Domine, propter nomen sanctum tuum, ut in articulo mortis meae des mihi integritatem sensus cum loquela, vehementem contritionem de peccatis meis, veram fidem, spem ordinatam, caritatem perfectam ut tibi puro corde dicere valeam: In manus tuas, Domine, commendo spiritum meum: redemisti me, Deus veritatis, qui es benedictus in saecula saeculorum. Amen.

LORD Jesus Christ, who willest that no man should perish, and to whom supplication is never made without hope of mercy, for Thou saidst with Thine own holy and blessed lips: "All things whatsoever ye shall ask in My name shall be done unto you"; I ask of Thee, O Lord, for Thy holy Name's sake, to grant me at the hour of my death full consciousness and the power of speech, sincere contrition for my sins, true faith, firm hope and perfect charity, that I may be able to say unto Thee with a clean heart: Into Thy hands I commend my spirit: Thou hast redeemed me, O God of truth, who art blessed for ever and ever. Amen.

For those too "educated" and "enlightened" to accept the idea of chastisement from God, I offer the following as a reminder:

Jesus to St. Faustina:

“In the Old Covenant I sent prophets wielding thunderbolts to My people...Today I am sending you with My mercy to the people of the whole world. I do not want to punish mankind, but I desire to heal it, pressing it to My merciful Heart. I use punishment when they themselves force Me to do so. My Hand is reluctant to take hold of the sword of justice. Before the Day of Justice I am sending the Day of Mercy.”

Jesus IS the truth (John 14:6). He can neither deceive nor be deceived.


Sunday, February 19, 2006

Prayer Intentions

Dear friends,

Should you have any prayer intentions for our intercessors at the Spiritual Children of Saint Rita apostolate, please send them to Mr. John Ansley @ frappe19751975@yahoo.com

Apostolate staff will be on vacation this week.

Thank you,

Friday, February 17, 2006

A request from Dr. Jeffrey M. Bond

Dear Friends,

I just received this notice from Dr. Jeffrey Bond, President of the College of Saint Justin Martyr, and thought I would pass it along to all of you:

Many of you have probably already heard about the suppressed Society of St. John's latest initiative. Having been formally suppressed last May, the SSJ is now presenting itself as a "civil corporation" that is "following the Pope." Carlos Urrutigoity and Eric Ensey, both of whom were sued in federal court for homosexual molestation, are the first two pictured on the new SSJ web site ( www.ssjohn.org). The others pictured there are Dominic Carey, Basel Sarweh, Anthony Myers, Kevin Lieberman, and Paul McCleary. All of these individuals were past members of the SSJ. Noticeably absent from the current list are two former priests of the SSJ, Daniel Fullerton and Dominic O'Connor.

We long ago exposed the SSJ as a homosexual cult. The overwhelming evidence of their sexual and financial misconduct is set forth at www.SaintJustinMartyr.org/news/notices.html. When Bishop Joseph Martino of Scranton became convinced that Urrutigoity and Ensey were guilty as charged, he suppressed the SSJ. When the SSJ appealed the decision, the Vatican upheld the suppression. (For details see http://www.zwire.com/site/news.cfm?newsid=14665342&BRD=2185&PAG=461&dept_id=416046&rfi=6.) Since Bishop Martino has denied the SSJ priests' request to reestablish themselves in another diocese, it is clear that the SSJ is acting on its own authority. Urrutigoity and Ensey do not have permission to function as priests, yet both men are pictured celebrating Mass as if they are priests in good standing.

The SSJ's new web site gives Maple Hill, Kansas as their new location in the United States. They are asking for donations so that they can build a priory, chapel and classrooms in Paraguay. Having wasted over five million dollars of Catholic donations to build a "city on the hill" in Shohola, PA (where not one building was ever constructed), the SSJ is now ready to begin abusing Catholic families once again.

Please warn anyone you know who might be approached by the SSJ, especially those living in the Maple Hill area. In addition to the names given above, families should be forewarned about Joseph and Anthony Mioni who, I have been told, are living in the same area. These former employees of the SSJ, despite their knowledge of SSJ priests sharing their beds with young men, continued to support the SSJ. In fact, Anthony Mioni has founded a company (Sacros, formerly known as Patmos) that sells a missal for children that presents the perverts of the SSJ as model priests.

Pax vobiscum,

Dr. Jeffrey M. Bond

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Effeminate Christianity and anger

Our age has succumbed to a cult of softness. It is fashionable to believe that any display of anger is due to a lack of charity or to some psychological problem. This cult of softness has, in turn, contributed much to an effeminate Christianity which is incapable of opposing the evils of our present epoch.

It is forgotten that sometimes anger is the proper response to value. In the words of Fr. Bede Jarrett, O.P., "Not only may I sin by being angry when I should not, but I may sin by not being angry when I should be. If my reason tells me that it is right to be angry, then I disobey God when I refuse to give place to wrath; for, as the New Testament teaches, it is possible to "be angry and sin not" (Ephesians 4:26). Our Lord Himself, when need arose, roped together a bundle of cords and drove from the Temple those who trafficked in the House of Prayer, and down the front steps He flung the tables of the money-changers. Perhaps for most of us, the fault is not that we are too angry, but that we are not angry enough. Think of the evils that are in the world, that are known to all, admitted to exist by public press and on public platform. Would they have survived thus far, had folk all shown the indignant anger of Christ? Hypocrisy, cant, and the whole blatant injustice that stalks naked and unashamed in national life - may not our own weakness and silence have helped to render impotent all efforts to reduce these terrible things?....I have got to make myself realize that anger is itself neither evil nor good, and that it can be either. Hence I must pledge myself to see how far I allow anger to rule me when it should not, and how far I overrule it when I should give it a free hand." (Classic Catholic Meditations, p. 168, Sophia Institute Press).

All too many Catholics refuse to give vent to a righteous anger which opposes the myriad evils of our time. At the same time, these confused souls will be found engaging in road rage and flipping off the driver in the next lane or becoming impatient with the cashier at their local fast-food restaurant.

I am always amazed at how Catholics can get so worked up over trivial matters and sink into the morass of unholy anger while refusing to become indignant over the very idea of babies being slaughtered in the womb or government trying to redefine marriage so that homosexual "couples" can receive societal recognition of their perversion.

In a word, it's schizophrenic.


Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Trouble in Mexico

Church's desecrated and closed in Mexico. Blessed Sacrament and Sacred Vessels stolen in La Paz: http://www.zenit.org/english/visualizza.phtml?sid=84426


Physician Heal Thyself

New Hampshire's homosexual "Bishop," V. Gene Robinson - the same intellectual giant who said that the Vatican's ban on ordaining men with a homosexual inclination was "vile" and represented an "act of violence" - is now receiving treatment for alcoholism: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/02/14/AR2006021400820.htm/

This story reminds me of Jimmy Swaggart and his attacks on the Catholic Church. Mr. Swaggart, a shining example of Christian charity, had referred to the Catholic Church - the Mystical Body of Christ - as a "whore" and said that unless John Paul II and Mother Teresa came out of that "whore" they would be damned to Hell. Not long after, Mr. Swaggart was caught by law enforcement frequenting a brothel.

First take the plank out of thine own eye....you know the rest.


Note: For some reason, the above link isn't working correctly although it is correct. After clicking on it, you will be taken to the Washington Post site. Simply type in Bishop Gene Robinson into their search engine and the story will come up.

From Mr. Russell Pond of the NH Pro-Life Council

This message was forwarded to me from Mr. Russell Pond, a pro-life activist from Nashua:

From: "Michael Balboni>>

Subject: Marriage Constitutional Amendment>>>>>>

The marriage constitutional amendment (CACR34) is currently in the House Judiciary Committee. We are currently 5 votes short of a majority on the committee for a committee recomendation to pass the amendment. The members of the committee need to hear from you and many others that you want the committee to pass the amendment and let the people of NH decide this issue, not the courts. Phone calls and letters to the committee members would be most effective this week (the earlier in the week the better). Also effective would be to write a letter to the editor of your local paper in support of letting the people of NH decide this issue, not the courts. Include in the letter to the editor an encouragement to readers to write and call their legislators. So, please get the word out fast to your friends and family to call and write the legislators. The members of the Judiciary Committee are listed below.


Cynthia J. Dokmo (Chairwoman) PO Box 577 Amherst, NH 03031-0577 Phone: (603)673-0395 email: cyndokmo@aol.com

Tony F. Soltani (Vice-Chairman) 1073 Highland Dr Epsom, NH 03234-4409 Phone: (603)736-9653 email: tsoltani@metrocast.net

Robert H. Rowe 18 Jones Rd PO Box 1117 Amherst, NH 03031-1117 Phone: (603)673-2693 email: N/A

Vivian J. Desmarais 257 Gray St Manchester, NH 03103-2808 Phone: (603)641-5142 email: vivianjd@earthlink.net

Maureen C. Mooney (Clerk) PO Box 1676 Merrimack, NH 03054-1676 Phone: (603)578-4890 email: maureen.mooney@leg.state.nh.us

Richard W. Morris PO Box 644 Seabrook Beach, NH 03874-0644 Phone: (603)682-4622 email: richard.morris@leg.state.nh.us

Gregory M. Sorg 129 Gibson Rd Franconia, NH 03580-5603 Phone: (603)823-8856 email: gregorysorg@aol.com

James E. Wheeler 523 Mason Rd Milford, NH 03055-3241 Phone: (603)672-6062 email: rep.james@miracleacresfarm.net

James P. Pilliod 504 Province Rd Belmont, NH 03220-5379 Phone: (603)524-3047 email: jimp3047@metrocast.net

Donald R. Buxton PO Box 373 Epping, NH 03042-0373 Phone: (603)679-5233 email: N/A

Nancy J. Elliott 8 1/2 Seaverns Bridge Rd Merrimack, NH 03054-4540 Phone: (603)889-3179 email: nancy_elliott@elliott-controls.com

Bea Francoeur 5 Anthony Cir Nashua, NH 03062-4215 Phone: (603)888-1736 email: beaforlife@comcast.net

Robert D. Mead PO Box 308 Mont Vernon, NH 03057-0308 Phone: (603)673-3203 email: bob.mead@leg.state.nh.us

John B. Hunt 165 Sunridge Rd Rindge, NH 03461-5478 Phone: (603)899-6000 email: johnbhunt@starband.net

Janet G. Wall 4 Pudding Hill Rd Madbury, NH 03823-7601 Phone: (603)749-3051 email: janet.wall@leg.state.nh.us

Bette R. Lasky 15 Masefield Rd Nashua, NH 03062-2517 Phone: (603)888-5557 email: brl1647@aol.com

Frances D. Potter 38 Little Pond Rd Concord, NH 03301-3007 Phone: (603)225-3399 email: N/A

David E. Cote 96 W Hollis St Nashua, NH 03060-3146 Phone: (603)882-2244 email: david.cote@leg.state.nh.us

Peter S. Espiefs 29 Middle St Keene, NH 03431-3306 Phone: (603)352-9582 email: N/A

Gail C. Morrison P. O.Box 133 Sanbornton, NH 03269-0133 Phone: (603)286-4596 email: gail.morrison@leg.state.nh.us

Bernard E. Buzzell 433 Hillside Ave Berlin, NH 03570-2122 Phone: (603)752-2656 email: berniesnorth@aol.com

Stephen J. Shurtleff 11 Vinton Dr Penacook, NH 03303-1583 Phone: (603)753-4563 email: steve.shurtleff@leg.state.nh.us

Together, let's make a difference by contacting these legislators.
God love you,

Paul Anthony Melanson

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger

In an interview published on 22 September 2000, the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung invited Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, to respond to the principal objections raised against the Declaration Dominus Iesus. Even if the questions and answers reflect the German context, the text of the interview offers sound explanations that are also applicable and useful outside this context. The daily edition of L'Osservatore Romano therefore published an Italian translation of the interview, omitting the parts that only concern the German situation. Here is a translation of the Italian version of the interview.
Your Eminence, you head a structure in which "there are tendencies to ideologization and to an excessive penetration of foreign and fundamentalist elements of faith". The reprimand was contained in a communication published last week by the German section of the European Society for Catholic Theology.

I must confess that I am very annoyed by this kind of statement. For some time now I have known by heart this vocabulary, in which the concepts of fundamentalism, Roman centralism and absolutism are never missing. I could formulate certain statements on my own without even waiting to receive them, because they are repeated time and again, regardless of the subject treated.

I wonder why they never think up anything new.
Are you saying that criticism is false because it is repeated too often?
No. It is only that this type of predefined criticism fails to address the various topics.
Some proffer new criticism with the greatest of ease, because they consider everything that comes out of Rome in the light of politics and the division of power, and do not tackle the content.

Indeed the content is somewhat explosive. Is it really surprising that a document in which it is claimed that Christianity is the sole repository of truth and the ecclesial status of Anglicans and Protestants is not acknowledged should encounter such opposition?
I would like first of all to express my sadness and disappointment at the fact that public reaction, with a few praiseworthy exceptions, has completely disregarded the Declaration's true theme. The document begins with the words "Dominus Iesus"; this is the brief formula of faith contained in the First Letter to the Corinthians (12:3), in which Paul has summarized the essence of Christianity: Jesus is Lord.

With this Declaration, whose writing he followed stage by stage with great attention, the Pope wanted to offer the world a great and solemn recognition of Jesus Christ as Lord at the height of the Holy Year, thus bringing what is essential firmly to the centre of this occasion which is always prone to externalism.
The widespread resentment precisely concerns this "firmness". At the peak of the Holy Year, would it not have been more appropriate to send a signal to the other religions rather than setting about confirming one's own faith?

At the beginning of this millennium we find ourselves in a situation similar to that described by John at the end of the sixth chapter of his Gospel: Jesus had clearly explained his divine nature in the institution of the Eucharist. In verse 66 we read "After this, many of his disciples drew back and no longer went about with him". In general discussions today, faith in Christ risks being smoothed over and lost in chatter. With this document, the Holy Father, as Successor of the Apostle Peter, meant to say: "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life; and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God" (Jn 6:68ff.). The document is intended as an invitation to all Christians to open themselves anew to the recognition of Jesus Christ as Lord, and thus to give a profound meaning to the Holy Year. I was pleased that Mr Kock, President of the Protestant Churches of Germany, recognized this important element in the text in his reaction, which was moreover very dignified, and compared it to the Barmen Declaration of 1934, in which the recently founded Bekennende Kirche rejected the Church of the Reich founded by Hitler. Prof. Jüngel of Tübingen also found in this text—despite his reservations about the ecclesiological section—an apostolic spirit similar to that of the Barmen Declaration. In addition, the Primate of the Anglican Church, Archbishop Carey, expressed his grateful and decided support of the true theme of the Declaration. Why, on the other hand, do the majority of commentators disregard it? I would be glad to have an answer.

The explosive element of a political-ecclesiastical nature is contained in the section of the document concerning ecumenism. With regard to the evangelical section, Eberhard Jüngel made a statement, asserting that the document ignores the fact that all the Churches "in their own way" want to be what in fact they are: "one holy, catholic and apostolic Church". So is the Catholic Church deceiving herself by claiming to have the exclusive right, since, according to Jüngel, she shares these rights with the other Churches?

The ecclesiological and ecumenical issues of which everyone is now speaking occupy only a small part of the document, which it seemed to us necessary to write in order to emphasize Christ's living and concrete presence in history. I am surprised that Jüngel should say that the one holy, catholic and apostolic Church is present in all the Churches in their own way and that (if I have understood correctly) he thus considers the matter of the Church's unity to have been resolved. Yet these numerous "Churches" contradict one another! If they are all Churches "in their own way", then this Church is a collection of contradictions and cannot offer people clear direction.

But does an effective impossibility also stem from this normative impossibility?
That all the existing ecclesial communities should appeal to the same concept of Church seems to me to be contrary to their self-awareness. Luther claimed that the Church, in a theological and spiritual sense, could not be embodied in the great institutional structure of the Catholic Church, which he regarded instead as an instrument of the Antichrist. In his view, the Church was present wherever the Word was proclaimed correctly and the sacraments administered in the right way. Luther himself held that it was impossible to consider the local Churches subject to the princes as the Church; they were external institutions for assistance and were certainly necessary, but not the Church in the theological sense. And who would say today that structures which came into being by historical accident like, for example, the Churches of Hesse-Waldeck and Schaumburg-Lippe, are Churches in the same way that the Catholic Church claims to be? It is clear that the Union of German Lutheran Churches (VELDK) and the Union of Protestant Churches in Germany (EKD) do not want to be the "Church". A realistic examination shows that the reality of the Church for Protestants lies elsewhere and not in those institutions which are called regional Churches. This should have been discussed.
The fact is that the Evangelical side now considers the definition "ecclesial community" an offence. The harsh reactions to your document are clear proof of this.

I find the claim of our Lutheran friends frankly absurd, i.e., that we are to consider these structures resulting from chance historical events as the Church in the same way that we believe the Catholic Church, founded on the apostolic succession in the Episcopate, is the Church. It would be more correct for our Evangelical friends to tell us that for them the Church is something different a more dynamic reality and not so institutionalized, or part of the apostolic succession. The question then is not whether the existing Churches are all Churches in the same way, which is obviously not the case, but in what does the Church consist or not consist. In this sense, we offend no one by saying that the actual Evangelical structures are not the Church in the sense in which the Catholic Church intends to be so. They themselves have no wish to be so.

Was this question addressed by the Second Vatican Council?
The Second Vatican Council tried to accept this different way of determining the locus of the Church by stating that the Evangelical Churches are not actually Churches in the same way that the Catholic Church claims to be so, but that "elements of salvation and truth" are found in them. It might be that the term "elements" was not the best choice. In any case, its sense was to indicate an ecclesiological vision in which the Church does not exist in structures but in the event of preaching and the administration of the sacraments. The way in which the dispute is now being conducted is certainly wrong. I wish there had been no need to explain that the Declaration of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has merely taken up the Council's texts and the postconciliar documents, neither adding nor removing anything.

On the other hand, Eberhard Jüngel sees something different there. The fact that in its time the Second Vatican Council did not state that the one and only Church of Christ is exclusively the Roman Catholic Church perplexes Jüngel. In the Constitution Lumen gentium, it says only that the Church of Christ subsists in the Catholic Church, which is governed by the Successor of Peter and by the Bishops in communion with him", not expressing any exclusivity with the Latin word "subsistit".

Unfortunately once again I cannot follow the reasoning of my esteemed colleague, Jüngel. I was there at the Second Vatican Council when the term "subsistit" was chosen and I can say I know it well. Regrettably one cannot go into details in an interview. In his Encyclical Pius XII said: the Roman Catholic Church "is" the one Church of Jesus Christ. This seems to express a complete identity, which is why there was no Church outside the Catholic community. However, this is not the case: according to Catholic teaching, which Pius XII obviously also shared, the local Churches of the Eastern Church separated from Rome are authentic local Churches; the communities that sprang from the Reformation are constituted differently, as I just said. In these the Church exists at the moment when the event takes place.
But should we not say then: a single Church does not exist. She is divided into numerous fragments?

In fact, many of our contemporaries consider her such. Only fragments of the Church are said to exist, and the best of the various pieces should be sought. But if this were so, subjectivism would be warranted: then everyone would invent his own Christianity and in the end his personal taste would, be decisive.
Perhaps the Christian actually has the freedom to interpret this "patchwork" also as subjectivism or individualism.

The Catholic Church, like the Orthodox Church, is convinced that a definition of this kind is irreconcilable with Christ's promise and with fidelity to him. Christ's Church truly exists and not in pieces. She is not an unattainable utopia but a concrete reality. The "subsistit" means precisely this: the Lord guarantees the Church's existence despite all our errors and sins, which certainly are also clearly found in her. With "subsistit", the intention was to say that, although the Lord keeps his promise, there is also an ecclesial reality outside the Catholic community, and it is precisely this contradiction which is the strongest incentive to pursue unity. If the Council had merely wished to say that the Church of Jesus Christ is also in the Catholic Church, it would have said something banal. The Council would have clearly contradicted the entire history of the Church's faith, which no Council Father had in mind.

Jüngel's arguments are philological and in this regard he claims that the interpretation of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which you have just explained, is "misleading". In fact, according to the terminology of the ancient Church, the one divine being also "subsists", and not in one person alone but in three. The following question arises from this reflection: If, therefore, God himself "subsists" in the difference between the Father, Son and Holy Spirit and yet is not separated from himself , thus creating three reciprocal othernesses, why should this not also apply to the Church, which represents the "mysterium trinitatis" in the world?

I am saddened to have to disagree again with Jüngel. First of all, it is necessary to observe that the Church of the West, in her translation of the Trinitarian formula into Latin, did not directly adopt the Eastern formula, in which God is a being in three hypostases ("subsistences"), but translated the word hypostasis with the term "person", since in Latin the word "subsistence" as such did not exist and would therefore not have been adequate to express the unity and difference between Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

However, I am particularly determined to oppose this increasingly widespread tendency to transfer the Trinitarian mystery directly to the Church. It is not suitable. In this way we will end up believing in three divinities.

In short, why cannot the "otherness" of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit be compared to the diversity of ecclesial communities? Is Jüngel's not a fascinating and harmonious formula?
Among the ecclesial communities there are many disagreements, and what disagreements! The three "persons" constitute one God in an authentic and supreme unity. When the Council Fathers replaced the word "is" with the word "subsistit", they did so for a very precise reason. The concept expressed by "is" (to be) is far broader than that expressed by "to subsist". "To subsist" is a very precise way of being, that is, to be as a subject which exists in itself. Thus the Council Fathers meant to say that the being of the Church as such is a broader entity than the Roman Catholic Church, but within the latter it acquires, in an incomparable way, the character of a true and proper subject.

Let us go back a step. One is struck by the curious semantics which are sometimes found in Church documents. You yourself have pointed out that the expression "elements of truth", which is central in the current dispute, is somewhat infelicitous. Might not the expression "elements of truth" betray a sort of chemical concept of truth? The truth as a recurrent system of elements? Or: is there not something overbearing about the idea of being able to separate truth from falsehood or from partial truth through theorems, since certain theorems claim to reduce the complex reality of God to a pattern drawn with a compass?

The Second Vatican Council's Constitution on the Church speaks of "many elements of sanctification and of truth" that are found outside the visible structure of the Church (n. 8); the Decree on Ecumenism lists some of them: "The written word of God, the life of grace, faith, hope and charity, with the other interior gifts of the Holy Spirit and visible elements" (n, 3). A better term than "elements" might exist, but its real meaning is clear: the life of faith that the Church serves is a multifaceted structure and various elements can be distinguished inside or outside it.

Nevertheless, is it not surprising that there should be a desire to make a phenomenon that escapes empirical verification, such as religious faith, intelligible through theorems?
With regard to faith and to making it understandable through theorems, dogma is distorted if it is regarded as a collection of theorems: the content of faith is expressed in its profession, whose privileged moment occurs in the administration of the sacrament of Baptism and is thus part of an existential process. It is the expression of a new direction in life, but one which we do not give ourselves but receive as a gift. This new direction to our life also implies that we emerge from our ego and selfishness and enter that community of the faithful which is called the Church. The focal point of the baptismal formula is the recognition of the Trinitarian God. All subsequent dogmas are no more than explications of this profession and ensure that its fundamental orientation, the gift of self to the living God, remains unaltered. Only when dogma is interpreted in this way can it be properly understood.

Does this mean that from this spiritual perspective one can no longer arrive at the content of faith?

No, the certitude of the Christian faith has its own content. It is not an immersion in an inexpressible mystical dimension in which one never comes to the content. The God in whom Christians believe has shown us his face and heart in Jesus Christ: he has revealed himself to us. As St Paul said, this concreteness of God was a scandal to the Greeks in the past and, of course, still is today. This is inevitable.

One is struck by the ease with which precisely in Church circles people tend to appear "injured" or "full of suffering" regarding definitions of the faith which emphasize content rather than form. How do you explain this moralization of the intellectual clash, which now seems a constant for theologians?

It is not only a moralization but also a politicization: the Magisterium is considered to be a power that should be countered with another power. In the last century Ignaz Döllinger had already expressed the idea that the Church's Magisterium should be opposed by public opinion and that theologians should play a decisive role in this. However, believers at the time rejected Döllinger's positions en masse and supported the First Vatican Council. I maintain that the harshness of certain reactions is also explained by the fact that theologians may feel that their academic freedom is threatened and wish to intervene in defence of their intellectual mission. Naturally, a decisive role is also played by the climate fostered by secular culture, which is more compatible with Protestantism than with the Catholic Church.

I detect a certain irony when you speak of the intellectual mission of theologians. And so what about the academic freedom of Catholic theologians? Might not insistence on the ecclesial nature of theology that is faithful to doctrine be a kind of conditioning? And often is there not a lack of transparency in granting the permission to teach Church doctrine (the nihil obstat)?
For theology, conformity with the Church's faith does not mean submitting to conditions that are foreign to theology. By its nature, theology seeks to understand the Church's faith, which is the presupposition of its existence. In certain cases, moreover, Evangelical Church leaders have had to deprive academics of their mission to teach, because they had abandoned the foundations of this mission. As for us and the nihil obstat, we must first remember that no one has a right to a teaching post. Faculties of theology are not obliged to communicate to individual candidates the reason why they were not chosen or what prompted their decision. We communicate to our Bishops the reason why, in our opinion, the nihil obstat cannot be granted to a certain candidate. How to inform him of this is then up to the Bishop. In a certain number of cases a correspondence was begun with the candidates, whose explanations often made it possible to change the decision from negative to positive.

Peter Hünermann's criticism centres on the following: by reinforcing the obligation to take an oath of fidelity, theologians and clergy are also required to hold as valid teachings that are only indirectly connected with the truth of revealed faith but not explicitly revealed.

I have already addressed in detail the false information on this in my two articles in Stimmen der Zeit in 1999 and in my contribution to Wolfgang Beinert's book, published that same year, Gott - ratlos vor dem Bösen?, so I will be brief. Hünermann directs his criticism at the so-called second level of the profession of faith, which distinguishes teaching that is valid and indissolubly linked to Revelation from true and proper Revelation. It is utterly false to say that the Fathers of the First and Second Vatican Councils expressly rejected this distinction. On the contrary, precisely the opposite is true. The concept of Revelation was re-elaborated at the beginning of the modern era with the development of historical thought. A distinction began to be made between what had been actually revealed and what was derived from Revelation, without being separate from it or directly contained in it. This historicization of the concept of Revelation had never existed in the Middle Ages. The separation of the two levels took conceptual form at the First Vatican Council through the distinction made between "credenda" (to be believed) and "tenenda" (to be held). Archbishop Pilarczyk of Cincinnati recently explained this concept in the document Papers from the Vallombrosa Meeting (2000). Moreover, it is enough to leaf through any theology book from the pre-conciliar period to see that this is what was precisely written, even if details in elaborating the second level were debated and still are today. The Second Vatican Council naturally accepted the distinction formulated by the First Vatican Council and strengthened it. I fail to understand how one can assert the contrary.

The greatest criticism does not concern these distinctions so much as the claim of the highest magisterial authority for teachings which have only the status of "theologically well-founded", in which, despite their good foundations, objections are still raised that have never been completely eliminated.

Of course, with teachings to be held ("tenenda") something more than "theologically well-founded" is meant; the latter are changeable. The literature includes among these "tenenda" important moral teachings of the Church (e.g., the rejection of euthanasia and assisted suicide), so-called dogmatic facts (e.g., that the Bishops of Rome are the Successors of St Peter, the legitimacy of Ecumenical Councils, etc.).

Let us return again to your Congregation's disputed document. Rather than being blamed for failing to emphasize content rather than form, the Declaration Dominus Iesus is often accused of a somewhat tactless approach that irritates the spokesmen of other religions and denominations. Cardinal Sterzinsky of Berlin said that in theological formation it is necessary not to forget in sermons the "when, where and how". In Roman documents, however, it seems that this has been forgotten. And Bishop Lehmann of Mainz said that he would have liked "a text written in the style of the great conciliar texts", and wonders to what extent the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith collaborated with other curial authorities in preparing the document. In this connection, he mentions the Council for Interreligious Dialogue and the Council for Promoting Christian Unity.

As for collaboration with the other curial authorities, the President and Secretary of the Council for Promoting Christian Unity, Cardinal Cassidy and Bishop Kasper, are members of our Congregation, as is the President of the Council for Interreligious Dialogue, Cardinal Arinze. They all have a say in the matter, as I do. The Prefect, in fact, is only the first among equals and is responsible for the orderly conduct of the work. The three members of the Congregation I have just mentioned took an active part in drafting the document, which was presented several times at the ordinary meeting of the Cardinals and once at the plenary meeting in which all our foreign members take part. Unfortunately, Cardinal Cassidy and Bishop Kasper were prevented by concurrent engagements from taking part in some of the sessions, although they had been informed of the dates of these meetings well in advance. Nevertheless, they received all the documentation and their detailed written vota were communicated to the participants and thoroughly discussed.

Did they get a hearing?
Almost all the proposals of the two persons in question were accepted, because the opinion of the Council for Unity was naturally very important for us in dealing with this matter. Moreover, I can easily understand that the German Bishops are particularly sensitive to difficulties arising from the situation in our country. But there is also another side to the coin. Just recently, for example, on my way home I met two men in their prime who came up to me and said: "We're missionaries in Africa. How long we've waited for those words! We're constantly meeting difficulties, and missionaries are becoming fewer and fewer". I was deeply touched by the gratitude of these two people, who are in the front lines of preaching the Gospel. And this is only one of the many reactions of this kind. The truth is always disturbing and never easy. Jesus' words are often terribly hard and expressed without much diplomatic subtlety. Walter Kasper rightly said that the sensation caused by the document betrays a communications problem, because classical doctrinal language, as used in our document in continuity with the texts of the Second Vatican Council, is entirely different from that of newspapers and the media. But then the text should be interpreted and not held in contempt.
In the discussion of your Congregation's document, the question of the possibilities and limits of ecumenism was raised once again. The problems connected with the ecumenical project do not only concern the existence of a tendency on both sides to tone down what divides and no longer to take seriously the indispensable demand to prevail. In an article 15 years ago in Theologische Quartalschrift, you had already warned against considering "ecumenism as a diplomatic task of a political kind", and in this sense you criticized the "ecumenism of negotiation" of the immediate post-conciliar period. What did you mean?
First of all, I would distinguish between theological dialogue and political or business negotiations. Theological dialogue is not concerned with finding what is acceptable and eventually suitable to both parties, but with discovering profound convergences behind the different linguistic forms and with learning to distinguish what is connected to a specific historical period from what instead is fundamental. This is possible particularly when the context of the experience of God and Self has changed, when the language can thus be confronted with a certain detachment and fundamental insights can flow from passions that divide.

Can you give an example of this?
It is obvious in the doctrine of justification: Luther's religious experience was essentially conditioned by the difficult aspect of God's wrath and a desire for the certainty of forgiveness and salvation. However, the experience of God's wrath has been completely lost in our era, and the idea that God cannot damn anyone has become widespread among Christians. In a now very different context, they were able to seek points that the two sides have in common, starting from the Bible, which is the foundation we share. I can find no contradiction, then, between Dominus Iesus, which only repeats the central ideas of the Council, and the consensus on justification. It is important that dialogue be conducted with great patience, with great respect and, especially, with total honesty. The challenge posed to us all by agnosticism consists in abandoning historical preconceptions and going to the heart of the matter. For example, to go back to a previous point in our conversation, honesty means not applying the same concept of Church to the Catholic Church and to one of the Churches formed according to the borders of former principalities.

So then, after the publication of your document is the ecumenical formula of "reconciled diversity" still valid?
I accept the concept of a "reconciled diversity", if it does not mean equality of content and the elimination of the question of truth so that we could consider ourselves one, even if we believe and teach different things. To my mind this concept is used well, if it says that, despite our differences, which do not allow us to regard ourselves as mere fragments of a Church of Jesus Christ that does not exist in reality, we meet in the peace of Christ and are reconciled to one another, that is, we recognize our division as contradicting the Lord's will and this sorrow spurs us to seek unity and to pray to him in the knowledge that we all need his love.

Occasionally one reads passages from the Pope and his collaborators which relativize the division of Christianity in a dialectical treatment of salvation history. The Pope then speaks of "a metahistorical reason" for the division and, in his book Crossing the Threshold of Hope, he wonders: "Could it not be that these divisions have also been a path continually leading the Church to discover the untold wealth contained in Christ's Gospel and in the redemption accomplished by Christ? Perhaps all this wealth would not have come to light otherwise". Thus the division of Christians seems a pedagogical work of the Holy Spirit, since, as the Pope says, for human knowledge and human action a "certain dialectic" is also significant. You yourself wrote: "Even if the divisions are human works and human sins, a dimension proper to the divine framework exists in them". If this is so, one wonders by what right can the divine pedagogy be opposed by identifying the Church of Christ with the Roman Catholic Church. Are not the conceptual imprecisions deplored in the ecumenical dialogue also found in the speculations of salvation history on God's pedagogy?

This is a difficult subject which concerns human freedom and divine governance. There are no valid answers in an absolute form because we cannot go beyond our human horizon, and therefore we cannot unveil the mystery that links these two elements. What you have quoted from the Holy Father and from me could be roughly applied to the well-known saying that God writes straight with crooked lines. The lines remain crooked and this means that the divisions have to deal with human sin. Sin does not become something positive because it can lead to a growth process when it is understood as something to be overcome by conversion and to be removed by forgiveness.

Paul already had to explain to the Romans the ambiguity stemming from his teaching on grace, according to which, since sin leads to grace, then one could be at ease with sin (Rom 6:19). God's ability to turn even our sins into something good certainly does not mean that sin is good. And the fact that God can make division yield positive fruits does not make it positive in itself. The conceptual imprecisions which do in fact exist are due to the disturbing unfathomableness of the relationship between the freedom to sin and the freedom of grace. The freedom of grace is also shown by the fact that, on the one hand, the Church does not sink and break up into antithetical ecclesial fragments in an unrealizable dream. By God's grace the Church as subject really exists and subsists in the Catholic Church; Christ's promise is the guarantee that this subject will never be destroyed. But on the other hand, it is true that this subject is wounded, inasmuch as ecclesial realities exist and function outside it. In that fact the tragedy of sin and the paradoxical breadth of God's promise most clearly emerge. If this tension is removed to reach clear formulas, and it is said that all ecclesial communities are the Church, and that all, despite their disagreements, are that one and holy Church, then no ecumenism exists, because there is no longer any reason for seeking authentic unity,
The same question can be asked again from another angle: whether the question of religious profession is related to that of personal salvation. Why mission, why the disagreement over "truth" and Vatican documents if, in the end, man can reach God by all paths?
The document is far from repeating the subjectivist and relativist thesis that everyone can become holy in his own way. This is a cynical interpretation, in which I sense a contempt for the question of truth and right ethics. The document affirms, with the Council, that God gives light to everyone. Those who seek the truth find themselves objectively on the path that leads to Christ, and thus also on the path to the community in which he remains present in history, that is, to the Church. To seek the truth, to listen to one's conscience, to purify one's interior hearing, these are the conditions of salvation for all. They have a profound, objective connection with Christ and the Church. In this sense we say that other religions have rites and prayers which can play a role of preparing for the Gospel, of occasions or pedagogical helps in which the human heart is prompted to open itself to God's action. But we also say that this does not apply to all rites. For there are some (anyone who knows something of the history of religions can only agree) which turn man away from the light. Thus vigilance and inner purification are achieved by a life that follows conscience and helps to identify differences, an openness which, in the end, means belonging inwardly to Christ.

For this reason the document can affirm that mission remains important, since it offers the light that men and women need in their search for truth and goodness.
But the question remains: since, as you have said, salvation can be achieved through every path, provided that one lives according to one's conscience, does mission then not lose its theological urgency? For what else can be meant by the thesis of the "Intimate and objective connection" between non-Catholic paths of salvation and Christ, if not that Christ himself makes superfluous the distinction between a "full" and "deficient" truth of salvation, since, if he is present as the instrument of salvation, he is always and logically "fully" present.
I did not say that salvation can be achieved by every path. The way of conscience, the keeping of one's gaze focused on truth and the objective good, is one single way, although it can take many forms because of the great number of individuals and situations. The good is one, however, and truth does not contradict itself. The fact that man does not attain one or the other does not relativize the requirement of truth and goodness. For this reason it is not enough to continue in the religion one has inherited, but one must remain attentive to the true good and thus be able to transcend the limits of one's own religion. This has meaning only if truth and goodness really exist. It would be impossible to walk the way of Christ if he did not exist. Living with the eyes of the heart open, purifying oneself inwardly and seeking the light are indispensable conditions of human salvation. Proclaiming the truth, that is, making the light shine (not putting it "under a bushel, but on a stand"), is absolutely necessary.

It is not the concept of Church that irritates Protestants, but the biblical interpretation of Dominus Iesus, which says that it is necessary to oppose "the tendency to read and to interpret Sacred Scripture outside the Tradition of the Church's Magisterium" and "presuppositions ... which hinder the understanding and acceptance of the revealed truth". Jüngel says: "The inappropriate revaluation of the authority of the Church's Magisterium corresponds to an equally inappropriate devaluation of the authority of Sacred Scripture".

Fortified by 500 years of experience, modern exegesis has clearly recognized, along with modern literature and the philosophy of language, that mere self-interpretation of the Scriptures and the clarity resulting from it do not exist. In 1928 Adolf von Harnack said, with typical bluntness, in his correspondence with Erik Peterson that "the so-called 'formal principle' of old Lutheranism is a critical impossibility; on the contrary, the Catholic one is better". Ernst Käsemann has shown that the canon of Sacred Scripture as such does not ground the Church's unity, but the multiplicity of confessions. Recently, one of the most important Evangelical exegetes, Ulrich Luz, has shown that "Scripture alone" opens the way to every possible interpretation. Lastly, the first generation of the Reformation also had to seek "the centre of Scripture", to obtain an interpretive key which could not be extrapolated from the text as such. Another practical example: in the clash with Gerd Lüdemann, a professor who denied the resurrection and divinity of Christ, etc., it has been pointed out that the Evangelical Church cannot do without a sort of Magisterium. When the contours of the faith are blurred in a chorus of opposing exegetical efforts (materialist, feminist, liberationist exegeses, etc.), it seems evident that it is precisely the relationship with the professions of faith, and thus with the Church's living tradition, that guarantees the literal interpretation of Sacred Scripture, protecting it from subjectivism and preserving its originality and authenticity. Therefore the Magisterium does not diminish the authority of Sacred Scripture but safeguards it by taking an inferior position to it and allowing the faith flowing from it to emerge.

The Declaration of your Congregation indicates the acceptance of "apostolic succession" as a decisive criterion for the definition of a "Sister Church" by the Roman Catholic Church. A Protestant like Jüngel rejects this principle as non-biblical. For him, the successor of the Apostles is not the Bishop but the biblical canon. In his opinion, any person who lives according to the Scriptures is a successor of the Apostles.

The assertion that the canon is the successor of the Apostles is an exaggeration and mixes up things that are too different. The canon of Scripture was arrived at by the Church in a process that continued into the fifth century. The canon, then, does not exist without the ministry of the successors of the Apostles and, at the same time, establishes the criterion of their service. The written word is not a substitute for living witnesses, just as the latter cannot replace the written word. Living witnesses and the written word refer to one another. We share the episcopal structure of the Church as the way to be in communion with the Apostles, with the whole ancient Church and with the Orthodox Churches; this should give cause for reflection. When it is asserted that someone who lives according to the Scriptures is a successor of the Apostles, the following question is left unanswered: who decides what it means to live according to the Scriptures and who judges whether someone is really doing so? The thesis that the successor of the Apostles is not the Bishop but the biblical canon is a clear rejection of the Catholic Church's concept. At the same time, however, we are expected to use this same concept to define the Churches of the Reformation. It is a logic that I frankly do not understand.

My hijacked Blog: Part II

A good friend of mine, Mr. John Ansley (a Catholic educator), wrote the owner/webmaster of a website to express his concerns over the fact that my former Blog (The Ultramontane) had been hijacked and that he believed this to be the work of a certain individual. He also reminded the webmaster of this site that the "Ultramontane" Blog was still listed at this website. In other words, the link was still active.

Mr. Ansley shared his email correspondence with myself (since it was my Blog which was hijacked) and with another individual who is very active at another Catholic website forum which seems to be related to recent events in some way since I have received emails from an individual referring specifically to this particular website.

The person Mr. Ansley referred to in his email has posted his very email at yet another Blog and has referred to Mr. Ansley as a "local lunatic" because of his very real concerns. This person writes:

"Do you think he's completely insane and believes it or did he deliberately make it all up in an act of vengeance?"


"Is he affiliated still with Holy Cross? Somebody ought to drop a dime there and clue them in - I wouldn't want him on campus...and that's the truth. It's diabolical and who knows where he'd take things if they didn't go along with his accusations."

Mr. Ansley is not associated in any way with Holy Cross College or the website of the Holy Cross Cardinal Newman Society. Nor is there anything "diabolical" about this fine Catholic gentleman. It should also be noted that Mr. Ansley has absolutely no reason to seek "vengeance" against the person we believe may have hijacked my former Blog. In fact, he has taken pains to defend this same individual from unjust accusations levelled by someone at the Holy Cross Cardinal Newman Society website.

Why would this person actually take the time to write an entire post - including the full text of Mr. Ansley's email - when his observations were never made "public" in this way but only sent via a personal email to two individuals? The answer is simple. In William Shakespeare's play Hamlet (Act III, Scene II), Queen Gertrude says to her son, Prince Hamlet, "The lady doth protest too much, methinks."

An innocent person would never have taken such great pains to make such a spirited and public defense. The lady indeed "doth protest too much." Not only does this person "protest too much," but in a personal act of "vengeance" (funny how we are sometimes guilty of the very thing we accuse others of), this person accuses Mr. Ansley of being a "lunatic" who may be "completely insane" as well as dangerous to children and engaged in the "diabolical."

You'll notice that I refrain from using this person's name. Sadly, this person has not only turned this into a public affair but has levelled harsh accusations against Mr. Ansley simply because he expressed his concerns over my old Blog being hijacked as well as his personal opinion as to who did it. The person who we believe hijacked my former Blog has accused me of offering "Kool-Aid" (in other words, false teaching) in the past and has been the subject of much discussion at other Blogs. For example, one prominent and well-respected Blog described this deeply troubled person as an "extreme zealot" who is "pretty much ignored by Catholic bloggers and has made a habit of attacking other Catholic bloggers." (Source: http://www.splendoroftruth.com/curtjester/archives/006353.php) .

Other well-known and respected Bloggers and online journalists such as Domenico Bettinelli and Amy Welborn have expressed their concerns over this individual as well. And, after asking this person not to email me anymore (after two angry emails in one day), this person wrote me three more the same afternoon! This even though I indicated I might contact law enforcement officials if the emails continued!

There is a prayer need here. Wherever we encounter such abiding hatred and lack of peace, we can be sure we are really in the presence of the diabolical.

Paul Anthony Melanson

US prepares military blitz against Iran's nuclear sites

The Catechism: All sinners were the authors of Christ's Passion

Readers will recall how an anti-Semite left a comment at this website in which he referred to the Jewish People as the "enemy of all humanity" and suggested that they are responsible collectively for Jesus' death. Here is what the Catechism of the Catholic Church has to say on this subject:

"The historical complexity of Jesus' trial is apparent in the Gospel accounts. The personal sin of the participants (Judas, the Sanhedrin, Pilate) is known to God alone. Hence we cannot lay responsibility for the trial on the Jews in Jerusalem as a whole, despite the outcry of a manipulated crowd and the global reproaches contained in the apostles' calls to conversion after Pentecost. Jesus himself, in forgiving them on the cross, and Peter in following suit, both accept 'the ignorance' of the Jews of Jerusalem and even of their leaders. Still less can we extend responsibility to other Jews of different times and places, based merely on the crowd's cry: 'His blood be on us and on our children!' a formula for ratifying a judicial sentence." (CCC, 597).

No. 598 of this same Catechism tells us that, "In her Magisterial teaching of the faith and in the witness of her saints, the Church has never forgotten that 'sinners were the authors and the ministers of all the sufferings that the divine Redeemer endured.' Taking into account the fact that our sins affect Christ himself, the Church does not hesitate to impute to Christians the gravest responsibility for the torments inflicted upon Jesus, a responsibility with which they have all too often burdened the Jews alone:

We must regard as guilty all those who continue to relapse into their sins. Since our sins made the Lord Christ suffer the torment of the cross, those who plunge themselves into disorders and crimes crucify the Son of God anew in their hearts (for he is in them) and hold him up to contempt. And it can be seen that our crime in this case is GREATER in us than in the Jews. As for them, according to the witness of the Apostle, 'None of the rulers of this age understood this; for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.' We, however, profess to know him. And when we deny him by our deeds, we in some way seem to lay violent hands on him. Nor did demons crucify him; IT IS YOU WHO HAVE CRUCIFIED HIM, AND CRUCIFY HIM STILL, WHEN YOU DELIGHT IN YOUR VICES AND SINS."

This is the teaching of Holy Mother Church. Anyone who persists in blaming the Jewish People collectively for Christ's death on the Cross is simply wrong. And any attempt to rationalize hatred toward the Jewish people by blaming them for Christ's Passion is just plain evil. Referring to the Jewish People as the "enemy of humanity" is demonic.


Thursday, February 09, 2006

A chilling comment....

An individual identifying himself as Tobias Petrus left a comment at this Blog in which he wrote:

"Dear Mr. Melanson,

The Jews, who both killed the Lord Jesus and the prophets and have persecuted us, do not please God, and are enemies to all men; prohibiting us from speaking to the Gentiles so that they might be saved; to fill up their sin always: for the wrath of God has come upon them to the end."

He then cited 1 Thess 2:14-16 and wrote, "So St. Paul says that the Jews are the enemy of all humanity."

I think it's safe to assume that Mr. "Petrus" hasn't familiarized himself with Nostra Aetate of Vatican II, which said that: "...God holds the Jews most dear for the sake of their Fathers; he does not repent of the gifts he makes or of the calls he issues - such is the witness of the Apostle" (NA, No. 4 referring to the Apostle Paul in Romans 11:28-29).

Nostra Aetate, No. 4 continues: "True, the Jewish authorities and those who followed thei lead pressed for the death of Christ (cf. Jn 19:6); still, what happened in his passion cannot be charged against all the Jews without distinction then alive, nor against the Jews of today. Although the Church is the new People of God, the Jews should not be presented as rejected or accursed by God, as if this followed from the Holy Scriptures.."

Mr. "Petrus" should reflect upon these words of then Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, now our beloved Pontiff Pope Benedict XVI:

"The history of the relationship between Israel and Christendom is drenched with blood and tears. It is a history of mistrust and hostility, but also — thank God — a history marked again and again by attempts at forgiveness, understanding and mutual acceptance. After Auschwitz, the mission of reconciliation and acceptance permits no deferral.

Even if we know that Auschwitz is the gruesome expression of an ideology that not only wanted to destroy Judaism but also hated and sought to eradicate from Christianity its Jewish heritage, the question remains, What could be the reason for so much historical hostility between those who actually must belong together because of their faith in the one God and commitment to his will?

Does this hostility result from something in the very faith of Christians? Is it something in the "essence of Christianity," such that one would have to prescind from Christianity's core, deny Christianity its heart, in order to come to real reconciliation? This is an assumption that some Christian thinkers have in fact made in the last few decades in reaction to the horrors of history. Do confession of Jesus of Nazareth as the Son of the living God and faith in the cross as the redemption of mankind contain an implicit condemnation of the Jews as stubborn and blind, as guilty of the death of the Son of God? Could it be that the core of the faith of Christians themselves compels them to intolerance, even to hostility toward the Jews, and conversely, that the self-esteem of Jews and the defense of their historic dignity and deepest convictions oblige them to demand that Christians abandon the heart of their faith and so require Jews similarly to forsake tolerance? Is the conflict programmed in the heart of religion and only to be overcome through its repudiation?

In this heightened framing of the question, the problem confronting us today reaches far beyond an academic interreligious dialogue into the fundamental decisions of this historic hour. One sees more frequent attempts to mollify the issue by representing Jesus as a Jewish teacher who in principle did not go beyond what was possible in Jewish tradition. His execution is understood to result from the political tensions between Jews and Romans. In point of fact, he was executed by the Roman authority in the way political rebels were punished. His elevation to Son of God is accordingly understood to have occurred after the fact, in a Hellenistic climate; at the same time, in view of the given political circumstances, the blame for the crucifixion is transferred from the Romans to the Jews. As a challenge to exegesis, such interpretations can further an acute listening to the text and perhaps produce something useful. However, they do not speak of the Jesus of the historic sources, but instead construct a new and different Jesus, relegating the historical faith in the Christ of the church to mythology. Christ appears as a product of Greek religiosity and political opportunism in the Roman Empire. One does not do justice to the gravity of the question with such a view; indeed one retreats from it.

Thus the question remains: Can Christian faith, left in its inner power and dignity, not only tolerate Judaism but accept it in its historic mission? Or can it not? Can there be true reconciliation without abandoning the faith, or is reconciliation tied to such abandonment? In reply to this question which concerns us most deeply, I shall not present simply my own views. Rather, I wish to show what the Catechism of the Catholic Church released in 1992 has to say. This work has been published by the magisterium of the Catholic Church as an authentic expression of her faith. In recognition of the significance of Auschwitz and from the mission of the Second Vatican Council, the matter of reconciliation has been inscribed in the catechism as an object of faith. Let us see then how the catechism sounds in relation to our question in terms of its definition of its own mission.

I begin with the text of the catechism explaining the significance of the account of the journey of the Magi from the East. It sees in the Magi the origin of the church formed out of the pagans; the Magi afford an enduring reflection on the way of the pagans. The catechism says the following:

The Magi's coming to Jerusalem in order to pay homage to the king of the Jews shows that they seek in Israel, in the messianic light of the star of David, the one who will be king of the nations. Their coming means that the pagans can discover Jesus and worship him as Son of God and savior of the world only by turning toward the Jews and receiving from them the messianic promise as contained in the Old Testament. The Epiphany shows that the "full number of the nations" now takes its "place in the family of the patriarchs," and acquires "Israelitica dignitas" (are made "worthy of the heritage of Israel").(CCC 528)

In this text we can see how the catechism views the relationship between Jews and the nations as communicated by Jesus; in addition, it offers at the same time a first presentation of the mission of Jesus. Accordingly, we say that the mission of Jesus is to unite Jews and pagans into a single people of God in which the universalist promises of the Scripture are fulfilled which speak again and again of the nations worshiping the God of Israel — to the point where in Trito-Isaiah we no longer read merely of the pilgrimage of the nations to Zion but of the proclamation of the mission of ambassadors to the nations "that have not heard my fame or seen my glory.... And some of them also I will take for priests and for Levites, says the Lord" (Is. 66:19, 21).

In order to present this unification of Israel and the nations, the brief text — still interpreting Matthew 2 —gives a lesson on the relationship of the world religions, the faith of Israel and the mission of Jesus: The world religions can become the star which enlightens men's path, which leads them in search of the kingdom of God. The star of the religions points to Jerusalem, it becomes extinguished and lights up anew in the word of God, in the sacred Scripture of Israel. The word of God preserved herein shows itself to be the true star without which or bypassing which one cannot find the goal. When the catechism designates the star as the "star of David," it links the account of the Magi furthermore with the Balaam prophecy of the star which shall come forth out of Jacob (Nm. 24:17), seeing this prophecy for its part connected to Jacob's blessing of Judah, which promised the ruler's staff and scepter to him who is owed "the obedience of the peoples" (Gn. 49:10). The catechism sees Jesus as the promised shoot of Judah who unites Israel and the nations in the kingdom of God.

What does all this mean? The mission of Jesus consists in leading the histories of the nations in the community of the history of Abraham, in the history of Israel. His mission is unification, reconciliation, as the Letter to the Ephesians (2:18-22) will then present it. The history of Israel should become the history of all, Abraham's sonship become extended to the 'many.' This course of events has two aspects to it: The nations can enter into the community of the promises of Israel in entering into the community of the one God who now becomes and must become the way of all because there is only one God and because his will is therefore truth for all. Conversely, this means that all nations, without the abolishment of the special mission of Israel, become brothers and receivers of the promises of the chosen people; they become people of God with Israel through adherence to the will of God and through acceptance of the Davidic kingdom.

Yet another observation can be important here. If the account of the Magi, as the catechism interprets it, presents the answer of the sacred books of Israel as the decisive and indispensable guide for the nations, in doing so the account of the Magi varies the same theme we encounter in John's Gospel in the formula: "Salvation comes from the Jews" (4:22). This heritage remains abidingly vital and contemporary in the sense that there is no access to Jesus, and thereby there can be no entrance of the nations into the people of God without the acceptance in faith of the revelation of God, who speaks in the sacred Scripture which Christians term the Old Testament.

By way of summary we can say: Old and New Testaments, Jesus and the sacred Scripture of Israel, appear here as indivisible. The new thrust of his mission to unify Israel and the nations corresponds to the prophetic thrust of the Old Testament itself. Reconciliation in the common recognition of the kingdom of God, recognition of his will as the way, is the nucleus of the mission of Jesus in which person and message are indivisible. This mission is efficacious already at the moment when he lies silent in the crib. One understands nothing about him if one does not enter with him into the dynamic of reconciliation.

Nevertheless, the great vision of this text gives rise to a question. How will that which is foreshadowed here in the image of the star and those who follow it be historically realized? Does the historic image of Jesus, do his message and his work correspond to this vision, or do they contradict it? Now there is nothing more contested than the question of the historical Jesus. The catechism as a book of faith proceeds from the conviction that the Jesus of the Gospels is also the only true historical Jesus. Starting here, it presents the message of Jesus first under the all encompassing motto "kingdom of God," in which the various aspects of the good news of Jesus coalesce, so that they receive from here their direction and their concrete content (541-560). Then the catechism goes on to show the relation Jesus-Israel from three vantage points: Jesus and the law (577-582), Jesus and the temple (583-586), Jesus and the faith of Israel in the one God and savior (587-591). At this juncture our book comes finally to the decisive fate of Jesus, to his death and resurrection, in which Christians see the Passover mystery of Israel fulfilled and brought to its final theological depth.

The central chapter on Jesus and Israel interests us here particularly. It is also fundamental for the interpretation of the concept of kingdom of God and for the understanding of the Easter mystery. Now, to be sure, the very themes of law, temple and the oneness of God are the volatile ones supplying the material for Jewish-Christian disputes. Is it even possible to view these things simultaneously in fidelity to history, according to faith, and under the primacy of reconciliation? It is not only earlier interpretations of the history of Jesus which have given generally negative images to Pharisees, priests and Jews. Indeed, crass contrasts have become a cliché in modern and liberal descriptions where Pharisees and priests are portrayed as the representatives of a hardened legalism, as representatives of the eternal law of the establishment presided over by religious and political authorities who hinder freedom and live from the oppression of others. In light of these interpretations one sides with Jesus, fights his fight, by coming out against the power of priests in the church and against law and order in the state. The images of the enemy in contemporary liberation struggles fuse with those of Jesus' history, which is reduced to a struggle against religiously veiled domination of man by man, the inauguration of that revolution in which Jesus is to be sure the underdog but precisely by his defeat establishes a first step which will necessarily lead to definitive victory. If Jesus is seen thus, if his death must be conceived in terms of this constellation of antitheses, his message cannot be one of reconciliation.

It goes without saying that the catechism does not share this outlook. Rather it holds principally to the portrayal of Jesus in the Gospel of Matthew, seeing in Jesus the Messiah, the greatest in the kingdom of heaven; as such he knew he was "to fulfill the law by keeping it in its all embracing detail ... down to 'the least of these commandments'" (578). The catechism thus connects the special mission of Jesus to his fidelity to the law; it sees in him the servant of God who truly brings justice (Is. 42:3) and thereby becomes "a covenant to the people" (Is. 42:6; Catechism, 580). Our text is far removed here from any superficial smoothing over of Jesus' conflict laden history, however. Instead of interpreting his way superficially in the sense of an ostensibly prophetic attack on hardened legalism, it strives to fathom its real theological depth. This is seen clearly in the following passage: The "principle of integral observance of the law not only in letter but in spirit was dear to the Pharisees. By giving Israel this principle they had led many Jews of Jesus' time to an extreme religious zeal. This zeal, were it not to lapse into 'hypocritical' casuistry, could only prepare the people for the unprecedented intervention of God through the perfect fulfillment of the law by the only righteous one in place of all sinners" (579). This perfect fulfillment includes Jesus taking upon himself the "'curse of the law' incurred by those who do not 'abide by the things written in the book of the law, and do them (Gal. 3: 10)'" (580).

The death on the cross is thus theologically explained by its innermost solidarity with the law and with Israel; the catechism in this regard presents a link to the Day of Atonement and understands the death of Christ itself as the great event of atonement, as the perfect realization of what the signs of the Day of Atonement signify (433; 578).

With these statements we find ourselves at the center of the Christian-Jewish dialogue, we reach the juncture where we are faced with the decisive choice between reconciliation and alienation. Before we pursue further the interpretation of the figure of Jesus as it emerges here, we must, however, first ask what this view of the historic figure of Jesus means for the existence of those who know themselves to be grafted through him onto the "olive tree of Israel," the children of Abraham. Where the conflict between Jesus and the Judaism of his time is presented in a superficial, polemical way, a concept of liberation is derived which can understand the Torah only as a slavery to external rites and observances.

The view of the catechism derived essentially from St. Matthew's Gospel and finally from the entirety of the tradition of the Gospels, leads logically to quite a different perception, which I would like to cite in detail:

The law of the Gospel fulfills the commandments of the law (= the Torah). The Lord's Sermon on the Mount, far from abolishing or devaluing the moral prescriptions of the old law, releases their hidden potential and has new demands arise from them: It reveals their entire divine and human truth. It does not add new external precepts but proceeds to renew the heart, the root of human acts, where man chooses between the pure and impure, where faith, hope and charity are found, and with them the other virtues. The Gospel thus brings the law to its fullness through imitation of the perfection of the heavenly Father. (1968)

This view of a deep unity between the good news of Jesus and the message of Sinai is again summarized in the reference to a statement of the New Testament which is not only common to the synoptic tradition but also has a central character in the Johannine and Pauline writings: The whole law, including the prophets, depends on the twofold yet one commandment of love of God and love of neighbor (Catechism, 1970; Mt. 7:20; 22:34-40; Mk. 12:38-43; Lk. 10:25-28; Jn. 13:34; Rom. 13:8-10). For the nations, being assumed into the children of Abraham is concretely realized in entering into the will of God, in which moral commandment and profession of the oneness of God are indivisible, as this becomes clear especially in St. Mark's version of this tradition in which the double commandment is expressly linked to the "Sch'ma Israel," to the yes to the one and only God. Man's way is prescribed for him he is to measure himself according to the standard of God and according to his own human perfection. At the same time, the ontological depth of these statements comes to the fore. By saying yes to the double commandment man lives up to the call of his nature to be the image of God that was willed by the Creator and is realized as such in loving with the love of God.

Beyond all historic and strictly theological discussions, we find ourselves placed in the middle of the question of the present responsibility of Jews and Christians before the modern world. This responsibility consists precisely in representing the truth of the one will of God before the world and thus placing man before his inner truth, which is at the same time his way. Jews and Christians must bear witness to the one God, to the Creator of heaven and earth, and do this in that entirety which Psalm 19 formulates in an exemplary way: The light of the physical creation, the sun, and the spiritual light, the commandment of God, belong inextricably together. In the radiance of the word of God, the same God speaks to the world who attests to himself in the sun, moon and stars, in the beauty and fullness of creation. In the words of the German hymn, "Die sonne ist des himmels ehr, doch dein gesetz, Herr, noch viel mehr."

The inevitable question follows. Does such a view of the relationship between the law and the Gospel not come down to an unacceptable attempt at harmonization? How does one explain then the conflict which led to Jesus' cross? Does all of this not stand in contradiction to St. Paul's interpretation of the figure of Jesus? Are we not denying here the entire Pauline doctrine of grace in favor of a new moralism, thereby abolishing the "articulus stantis et cadentis ecclesiae," the essential innovation of Christianity? With respect to this point, the moral section of the catechism from which we took the discussion of the Christian way corresponds closely to the depiction of Christ taken from the dogmatic section. If we attend carefully we see two essential aspects of the issue in which the answer to our questions lies.

a) In its presentation of the inner continuity and coherence of the law and the Gospel which we have just discussed, the catechism stands squarely within the Catholic tradition, especially as it was formulated by St. Augustine and St. Thomas Aquinas. In this tradition the relationship between the Torah and the proclamation of Jesus is never seen dialectically: God in the law does not appear "sub contrario," as it were, in opposition to himself. In tradition, it was never a case of dialectics, but rather of analogy, development in inner correspondence following the felicitous phrase of St. Augustine: "The New Testament lies hidden in the Old; the Old is made explicit in the New." In regard to the interrelation of both testaments, the catechism cites a significant text of St. Thomas: "There were ..., under the regimen of the Old Covenant, people who possessed the charity and grace of the Holy Spirit and longed above all for the spiritual and eternal promises by which they were associated in the new law. Conversely, there exist carnal men under the New Covenant" (Catechism 1964; Sum. Theol. I-II 107, 1, ad 2).
b) The above also means that the law is read prophetically, in the inner tension of the promise. What such a dynamic-prophetic reading means appears in the catechism first in twofold form: The law is led to its fullness through the renewal of the heart (1968); externally this results in the ritual and juridical observances being suspended (1972). But here, needless to say, a new question arises. How could this happen? How is this compatible with fulfillment of the law to the last iota? For, to be sure, one cannot simply separate out universally valid moral principles and transitory ritual and legal norms without destroying the Torah itself, which is something integral, which owes its existence to God's address to Israel. The idea that, on the one hand, there are pure morals which are reasonable and universal, and on the other that there are rites that are conditioned by time and ultimately dispensable mistakes entirely the inner structure of the five books of Moses. "The Decalogue" as the core of the work of the law shows clearly enough that the worship of God is completely indivisible from morals, cult and ethos.

"In Jesus' exchange with the Jewish authorities of his time, we are not dealing with a confrontation between a liberal reformer and an ossified traditionalist hierarchy. Such a view, though common, fundamentally misunderstands the conflict of the New Testament and does justice neither to Jesus nor to Israel."

However, we stand here before a paradox. The faith of Israel was directed to universality. Since it is devoted to the one God of all men, it also bore within itself the promise to become the faith of all nations. But the law, in which it was expressed, was particular, quite concretely directed to Israel and its history; it could not be universalized in this form. In the intersection of these paradoxes stands Jesus of Nazareth, who himself as a Jew lived under the law of Israel but knew himself to be at the same time the mediator of the universality of God. This mediation could not take place through political calculation or philosophical interpretation. In both of these cases man would have put himself over God's word and reformed it according to his own standards.

Jesus did not act as a liberal reformer recommending and himself presenting a more understanding interpretation of the law. In Jesus' exchange with the Jewish authorities of his time, we are not dealing with a confrontation between a liberal reformer and an ossified traditionalist hierarchy. Such a view, though common, fundamentally misunderstands the conflict of the New Testament and does justice neither to Jesus nor to Israel. Rather Jesus opened up the law quite theologically conscious of, and claiming to be, acting as Son, with the authority of God himself, in innermost unity with God, the Father. Only God himself could fundamentally reinterpret the law and manifest that its broadening transformation and conservation is its actually intended meaning. Jesus' interpretation of the law makes sense only if it is interpretation with divine authority, if God interprets himself. The quarrel between Jesus and the Jewish authorities of his time is finally not a matter of this or that particular infringement of the law but rather of Jesus' claim to act "ex auctoritate divina," indeed, to be this "auctoritas" himself. "I and the Father are one" (Jn. 10:30).

Only when one penetrates to this point can he also see the tragic depth of the conflict. On the one hand, Jesus broadened the law, wanted to open it up, not as a liberal reformer, not out of a lesser loyalty to the law, but in strictest obedience to its fulfillment, out of his being one with the Father in whom alone law and promise are one and in whom Israel could become blessing and salvation for the nations. On the other hand, Israel "had to" see here something much more serious than a violation of this or that commandment, namely, the injuring of that basic obedience, of the actual core of its revelation and faith: Hear, O Israel, your God is one God. Here obedience and obedience clash, leading to the conflict which had to end on the cross. Reconciliation and separation appear thus to be tied up in a virtually insolvable paradox.
In the catechism's theology of the New Testament the cross cannot simply be viewed as an accident which actually could have been avoided nor as the sin of Israel with which Israel becomes eternally stained in contrast to the pagans for whom the cross signifies redemption. In the New Testament there are not two effects of the cross: a damning one and a saving one, but only a single effect, which is saving and reconciling. In this regard, there is an important text of the catechism which Christian hope interprets as the continuation of the hope of Abraham and links to the sacrifice of Israel: Christian hope has its origin and model in the hope of Abraham, who was blessed abundantly by the promise of God fulfilled in Isaac, and who was purified by the test of the sacrifice" (1819). Through his readiness to sacrifice his son, Abraham becomes the father of many, a blessing for all nations of the earth (cf. Gn. 22).
The New Testament sees the death of Christ in this perspective, in analogy to Abraham. That means then that all cultic ordinances of the Old Testament are seen to be taken up into his death and brought to their deepest meaning. All sacrifices are acts of representation, which in this great act of real representation from symbols become reality so that the symbols can be foregone without one iota being lost. The universalizing of the Torah by Jesus, as the New Testament understands it, is not the extraction of some universal moral prescriptions from the living whole of God's revelation. It preserves the unity of cult and ethos. The ethos remains grounded and anchored in the cult, in the worship of God, in such a way that the entire cult is bound together in the cross, indeed, for the first time has become fully real. According to Christian faith, on the cross Jesus opens up and fulfills the wholeness of the law and gives it thus to the pagans, who can now accept it as their own in this its wholeness, thereby becoming children of Abraham.

The historic and theological judgment about the responsibility of Jews and pagans for the cross derives in the catechism from this understanding of Jesus, his claim and fate.
a) There is first the historic question of the course of the trial and execution. The headings to the four sections in the catechism which treat this matter already show the direction: "Divisions among the Jewish authorities concerning Jesus," "Jews are not collectively responsible for Jesus' death." The catechism recalls that esteemed Jewish personages were followers of Jesus according to the witness of the Gospels, that according to St. John, shortly before Jesus' death, "many even of the authorities believed in him" (Jn. 12:42). The catechism also refers to the fact that on the day after Pentecost, according to the report of the Acts of the Apostles, "a great many of the priests were obedient to the faith" (Acts 6:7). St. James is also mentioned, who commented, "How many thousands there are among the Jews of those who have believed; they are all zealous for the law" (Acts 21:20). Thus it is elucidated that the report of Jesus' trial cannot substantiate a charge of collective Jewish guilt. The Second Vatican Council is expressly cited: "Neither all Jews indiscriminately at that time, nor Jews today, can be charged with the crimes committed during his passion.... The Jews should not be spoken of as rejected or accursed as if this followed from holy Scripture" (597; "Nostra Aetate," 4).
b) It is clear from what we have just now considered that such historical analyses — as important as they are — still do not touch the actual core of the question, since indeed the death of Jesus according to the faith of the New Testament is not merely a fact of external history but is rather a theological event. The first heading in the theological analysis of the cross is accordingly: "Jesus handed over according to the definite plan of God;" the text itself begins with the sentence: "Jesus' violent death was not the result of chance in an unfortunate coincidence of circumstances, but is part of the mystery of God's plan" (599). Corresponding to this, the part of the catechism which explores the question of responsibility for Christ's death closes with a section titled: "All sinners were the authors of Christ's passion." The catechism was able here to refer back to the Roman Catechism of 1566. There it states:
If one asks why the son of god accepted the most bitter suffering, he will find that besides the inherited guilt of the first parents it was particularly the vices and sins which men have committed from the beginning of the world up until this day and will commit from this day on till the end of time.... This guilt applies above all to those who continue to relapse into sin. Since our sins made the Lord Christ suffer the torment of the cross, those who plunge themselves into disorders and crimes 'crucify the Son of God on their own account and hold him up to contempt' (Heb. 6:6).

The Roman Catechism of 1566, which the new catechism quotes, then adds that the Jews according to the testimony of the apostle Paul "would never have crucified the Lord of glory had they recognized him" (1 Cor. 2:8). It continues: "We, however, profess to know. And when we deny him by our deeds, we in some way seem to lay violent hands on him" (Roman Catechism, 5,11; Catechism of the Catholic Church, 598).

For the believing Christian who sees in the cross not a historical accident but a real theological occurrence, these statements are not mere edifying commonplaces in terms of which one must refer to the historical realities. Rather these affirmations penetrate into the core of the matter. This core consists in the drama of human sin and divine love; human sin leads to God's love for man assuming the figure of the cross. Thus on the one hand sin is responsible for the cross, but on the other, the cross is the overcoming of sin through God's more powerful love. For this reason, beyond all questions of responsibility, the passage of the "Letter to the Hebrews" (12:24) has the last and most important word to say on this subject, namely, that the blood of Jesus speaks another — a better and stronger — language than the blood of Abel, than the blood of all those killed unjustly in the world. It does not cry for punishment but is itself atonement, reconciliation. Already as a child — even though I naturally knew nothing of all things the catechism summarizes — I could not understand how some people wanted to derive a condemnation of Jews from the death of Jesus because the following thought had penetrated my soul as something profoundly consoling: Jesus' blood raises no calls for retaliation but calls all to reconciliation. It has become, as the "Letter to the Hebrews" shows, itself a permanent Day of Atonement of God.

The presentation of the teaching of the catechism, which for its part intends to be an interpretation of Scripture, has taken a long time, longer than I foresaw. Thus I cannot draw any detailed conclusions for the mission of Jews and Christians in the modern secularized world. But I think the basic task has nevertheless become clearer without my having to do this.
Jews and Christians should accept each other in profound inner reconciliation, neither in disregard of their faith nor in its denial, but out of the depth of faith itself. In their mutual reconciliation they should become a force for peace in and for the world. Through their witness to the one God, who cannot be adored apart from the unity of love of God and neighbor, they should open the door into the world for this God so that his will be done and so that it become on earth "as it is in heaven;" "so that his kingdom come.""

Mr. "Petrus" should also reflect on what the Catechism of the Catholic Church, Nos 674 and 840 have to say regarding the Jewish People.

Mr. "Petrus," what I say to you I say to all: One of my best friends as I was growing up was of German-Jewish extraction. In my adult life, one of my best spiritual advisors - a truly brilliant man - was a Jew who converted to Roman Catholicism and who had to hide from his parents because they disapproved of his conversion. I have never had a kinder and wiser spiritual advisor. My father, a career soldier who served throughout Europe, personally saw the death camps and the hell on earth which they represented. For generations, our family has been committed to both promoting and defending the Church's Magisterial teaching and to cultivating dialogue and collaboration with our Elder Brothers in the Faith. We say, along with Pius XI, that "spiritually we are Semites." No attempt to convince me that the Jewish People are "the enemy of all humanity" will bear any fruit.

It is my hope that you will read and meditate upon Pope Benedict XVI's Encyclical Letter Deus Caritas Est. You are in my prayers.

Paul Anthony Melanson
Site Meter