Liên Đoàn Công Giáo Việt Nam Tại Hoa Kỳ

Wednesday
Dec 13th 2017
Text size
  • Increase font size
  • Default font size
  • Decrease font size

Others

Holy See on Millennium Development Goals

"The Causes of Underdevelopment Are Not Primarily of the Material Order"

UNITED NATIONS -- The address given on Monday 20 September  2010 in New York by Cardinal Peter Turkson, president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace and head of the Holy See delegation to the summit of heads of state and government on the Millennium Development Goals.

* * *

Mr. President,

I have the honour to convey the cordial greetings of His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI to the Heads of State and Government assembled here during these days to work together towards a world free of the plague of extreme poverty and to ensure that all children, women and men in every country of the world have the conditions necessary to live their lives in freedom and dignity.

His Holiness, as a sign of the universality of the message of the Catholic Church, desires to collaborate with men and women from all over the world, both developed and developing countries, both Christian and non-Christian cultures. So it was that Pope Benedict XVI appointed me, a son of Africa and of the Church, to be his assistant for the questions concerning justice and peace among peoples. In so doing, he affirms that Christianity forms part of the African culture, rich in fundamental human values that contribute in a specific way to a "human" management of global affairs, notwithstanding material setbacks suffered in the 20th and early 21st centuries.

In the year 2000, with the unanimous endorsement of the Millennium Declaration, all Heads of State at the United Nations acknowledged that the international struggle against poverty could not be limited to the management of the great economic variables, such as finances and foreign debts, commerce and development aid. Rather, the Family of Nations appreciated the more specifically "human" aspects of development, such as eradicating hunger, promoting education, providing health care and social services, ensuring equal opportunities for work, and advocating responsible stewardship of the environment.

Efforts to reach the Millennium Goals have involved the entire international community at global, regional and national levels, in spite of armed conflicts, financial crises, commercial differences, natural catastrophes, and a myriad of other human and social problems. Progress has been made in various ways towards halving the number of people living under the absolute poverty line, particularly in the area of primary education and equal educational opportunities for men and women. Encouraging signs are also noted in the area of access to basic sanitation and to safe drinking water.

However, achievements are mainly concentrated in the so-called "emerging" economies, which have succeeded in reaching an extraordinary degree of development in the past decade. Unfortunately, less than half of the countries suffering from child malnutrition will be able to eradicate this affliction before 2015. Despite rapid economic growth and improvement of the social indicators in many countries of Sub-Saharan Africa, this region as a whole continues to face the greatest number of problems in the struggle against poverty. As if that were not enough, even in middle and high-income countries, there are important concentrations of poverty.

Therefore, much still needs to be done to maintain and strengthen political mobilization, through continued economic and financial solidarity, in order to guarantee the availability of resources. In this regard, the Holy See emphasizes the importance of strengthening a global partnership for development which is a necessary condition for the achievement of all other goals, and supports the full and integral compliance of the Monterrey Consensus and the Doha Declaration of Financing for Development. Furthermore, in addition to providing the financial means to redress the problems associated with the international financial system, hard work is still needed to eradicate the debts of poor countries and to prevent the recurrence of certain situations of international usury that have marked the last decades of the 20th century. We need constant low-cost cash flows for the less developed countries, specifically destined to create structures for sustainable local productivity and stable high-level employment. Developed countries and emerging economies should also generously keep their markets open, without excessive demands for trade reciprocity, in order to help poor countries grow towards the economic independence necessary to promote their socio-economic development. A constant sharing of knowledge in the areas of science and technology has to be offered to poorer countries so that they can generate, on a local level, the capacities necessary to solve effectively, by themselves, their health-care problems and their need to diversify agricultural and industrial production.

Notwithstanding the international financial crisis, an essential part of a deeper and lasting solution, is the reinforcement of ODA (Official Development Assistance) pledges, so that the commitment to allocate 0.7% of the GDP to this kind of aid may be quickly applied, while ensuring that these sums do in fact reach the poorest countries. Promotion of this effort will require a renewed understanding that will enable us to expand our vision from the donor/recipient paradigm to see each other for who we are: brothers and sisters, with equal dignity, and opportunity to access the same markets and networks.

The campaign for development carried out by international agencies has revealed that success is not so much economic assistance but rather creativity and resourcefulness, commitment and countless sacrifices of "small actors." For example, there are local governments and municipal authorities, the myriad of subjects who make up civil society — large and small NGOs, international and national trade unions, cooperatives, consumer associations, advocacy groups— as well as a plethora of "Faith-based Organizations." Such local ownership constitutes a new phenomenon, which has succeeded, almost spontaneously, in combining the most modern technology with so-called "appropriate" and "intermediate technology" thus giving life to the expression "small is beautiful." Indeed, this reality was predicted many years ago by economists such as Ernest Friedrich Schumacher, and strongly inspired by the Encyclicals Rerum Novarum of Pope Leo XIII and Mater et Magister of John XXIII (cf. also Pope Benedict XVI, Encyclical Caritas in Veritate, n. 72).

The struggle for development has therefore stressed the importance of actively mobilizing all subjects of civil society; and in this way, has proven to be, beyond a doubt, the centrality of the human person, as the subject primarily responsible for development (Caritas in Veritate, no. 47). Real men and women who have formed partnership and alliances to bring the north and the south together are showing that it is possible to unite the immense possibilities of intelligence and human will in the service of integral human development. There is a vast amount of experience, from Africa and from other poor regions, to demonstrate that positive change is possible. This involvement, at the ground level, where local communities become key actors in their own development, is something indispensable for the true effectiveness of international aid and for better international financial and commercial structures, which nevertheless continue to be necessary.

Mr. President,

Although, local civil societies seem increasingly conscious of their role as actors in their own development, unfortunately, most of the obstacles encountered are imputable to bad governance and irresponsible State conduct on regional and international levels. Therefore, to overcome definitively the obstacles that impede development, the positive experiences of civil society must become values that guide political action.

Countless innocent victims, whole populations, have been left in the wake of the international financial crisis. The unethical and irresponsible conduct of large private financial operators, together with the lack of foresight and control by Governments and the international community, have all played a role. Excessive nationalism and corporate self-interest as well as old and new ideologies, fomenting wars and conflicts, are all obstacles to development. Illicit trafficking of persons, drugs and precious raw materials linked to the situation of war and extreme poverty, on the one hand, and the lack of scruples of certain economic and social contractors from more developed regions, on the other hand, continue to be serious impediments to development. The reality of tax evasion, money laundering and the so-called "tax havens" set up to drain the coffers of Governments in poor countries by diverting limited resources away from development, remains a problem. The financial crisis, which has finally given rise to protectionist trade, has become yet another obstacle to the development of poor countries.

All Governments, both of developed and developing countries, must accept their responsibility to fight corruption against reckless and sometimes immoral behavior in the areas of business and finances, as well as irresponsibility and tax evasion, in order to guarantee the "rule of law" and to promote the human aspects of development such as education, job security and basic health care for all. Likewise, all countries, especially richer or more powerful ones, must act in accordance with responsible international solidarity. Today more than ever, it is difficult for national measures not to have international consequences that may at times weigh heavily on countries that are distant and unknown to the immediate beneficiaries of such measures. In addition, within their own territories, Governments —the donors as well as the recipients— should not interfere with or hinder the particular character and autonomy of religious and civil organizations involved in the areas described above. Rather, they should respectfully encourage such organizations as well as promote and financially support them as much as possible. The generosity and commitment of religious and civil organizations should inspire governments and international organizations to make proportional efforts.

For all these reasons, any attempt to use the MDGs to spread and impose egoistic lifestyles or, worse still, population policies as a cheap means to reduce the number of poor people, would be malevolent and short-sighted. I say this, not just as a religious leader, but also as an African and a man coming from a poor family. I urge the international community not to be afraid of the poor. MDGs should be used to fight poverty and not to eliminate the poor! Instead, give poor countries a friendly financial and trade mainframe and help them to promote good governance and the participation of civil society, and Africa and the other poor regions of the world will effectively contribute to the welfare of all.

The inherent and equal dignity, the individuality, and the transcendence of each human being must be the foundation of each and every policy on development. Morally responsible openness to life represents a rich social and economic resource (Caritas in Veritate, 44). Reverence for human life, from conception until natural death, and respect for the capacity of men and women to live upstanding moral lives, affirms their personal transcendence, even if they live in poverty. Controlling one's passions and overcoming hedonistic impulses, constitute the starting point for building a harmonious society. Such respect is also the necessary and essential condition for sustainable economic development and integral human development. Hence, the Holy See reaffirms its conviction that great benefits will accrue to all men and women now living in poverty, only if the MDGs are understood and pursued in harmony with objective moral standards and human nature (cf. Caritas in Veritate, nos. 44, 68- 70 and 75).

In this regard, on the much debated issue of maternal health, the Holy See, respectfully and fervently invites the Countries participating in this HLM, to provide quality resources for the health care needs of mothers and their babies, including the unborn. Moreover, repeated references in the Outcome Document to "sexual and reproductive health" and "family planning" raise deep concerns. These are controversial terms, often interpreted as including access to abortion and methods of family planning that are not in accordance with the natural law, known by right reason.

Mr. President,

In his latest Encyclical Letter Caritas in Veritate, Pope Benedict XVI explained that the vision of development as a vocation brings with it the central place of charity within that development. Indeed, the causes of underdevelopment are not primarily of the material order. In the pursuit of development, in a globalizing world, only "the deep thought and reflection of wise men in search of a new humanism...will enable modern man to find himself anew" (Populorum Progressio, 51). While reason, by itself, is capable of grasping the equality between men and women, and of creating the means to give some stability to their civic coexistence, it cannot establish fraternity; since authentic fraternity originates in a transcendent vocation from God (cf. Caritas in Veritate, no. 19).
The Family of Nations has committed itself to fighting material poverty. This is a key and noble goal to pursue; but in this effort let us never forget that material poverty has partners—relational, emotional, and spiritual poverty. The human person must be at the centre of concern in our quest for development. If everyone's political, religious and economic rights and freedoms are respected, we will shift the paradigm from merely trying to manage poverty to creating wealth; from viewing the person as a burden to seeing the person as part of the solution. The fundamental mission of the Holy See is above all spiritual, and this mission encompasses a solicitude for all people and all of creation. For this reason, the Holy See feels obliged to be present in the life of the nations and carry out its commitment, in partnership with the international community and the civil society, to promote justice and solidarity among peoples. It is with this conviction that the Holy See desires to collaborate with this Summit in the quest of an era of peace, social justice and authentic human integral development.

Thank you, Mr. President.

 

 

Address at the end of the Congress of Asian Catholic Laity

Lay Catholics, witnesses of hope, for the good of the peoples of Asia

Seoul -- Here is the address by Cardinal Stanisław Ryłko, president of the Pontifical Council for the Laity, at the end of the Congress of Asian Catholic Laity on the topic of “Proclaiming Jesus Christ in Asia today”, which took place in the South Korean capital, from 31 August to 5 September 2010.

The final report contains a summary of the activities of the congress as well as new vision of the laity’s mission. Asia is also facing post-ideological nihilism and relativism, which are watering down the announcement of the Good News. To proclaim Jesus Christ is not a contrary to dialogue. The importance of movements and cooperation with the bishops is reiterated. Gratitude is expressed for today’s martyrdom and the Korean Church.

***

1. As the Congress of Catholic Laity in Asia draws to a close, our hearts are filled with joyful gratitude for the gift that it has been for each one of us and for the Church on this continent. The days we spent together have been truly blessed by the Lord.  They have been a time of profound and unforgettable experience of ecclesial communion: bishops, priests, religious and laity gathered together—all listening attentively to what the Spirit has to say to the Church in Asia at this particular moment in history. There was an, almost tangible, atmosphere of Pentecost, confirming the words of Christ: “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you, and you will be my witnesses [...] to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1.8). Moreover, during these days of intense work, we have felt spiritually accompanied by the legions of Asian saints, martyrs and confessors, who have been raised to the honours of the high altar, as well as all those “unknown soldiers of the great cause of God” (John Paul II) in Asia, whose names are known to the Eternal Father alone. And we have also been encouraged by the shining example of the great missionaries who brought the message of Jesus Christ to this boundless land: St. Francis Xavier, the Servant of God Father Matteo Ricci . . . .

Today, images of the moving liturgical celebrations, that marked the rhythm of our reflections, come to mind.  The testimonies, the many personal interventions, conferences and round tables discussions we heard echo within us. This Congress has helped us to discover unsuspected aspects of the life and mission of the Church in Asia.  It has revealed a variety and richness of content, which begs the question; what is the common denominator of experiences that have emerged? What has its leitmotif been? Well, I think the answer is contained in one word: “hope”. I think for everyone – pastors, religious and lay faithful – this Congress has been above all else, a school of hope, that hope of which Pope Benedict XVI masterfully speaks in his encyclical Spe Salvi. We live in a world that, despite its outstanding and celebrated scientific and technological progress, is permeated by a painful inability to hope. Postmodern humanity has forgotten God and burned by the failure of false paradises promised by the ideology of a not too distant past, it shows the signs of a profound loss of direction. All too often, it falls victim to a practical nihilism that renders its very existence meaningless. Because man cannot live without hope! The Pope writes: “anyone who does not know God, even though he may entertain all kinds of hopes, is ultimately without hope, without the great hope that sustains the whole of life (cf. Eph 2.12). Man’s great, true hope which holds firm in spite of all disappointments can only be God–God who has loved us and who continues to love us ‘to the end,’ until all ‘is accomplished’ (cf. Jn 13.1-19.30)”.1 The Holy Father tells us that this hope that comes from Christ is not only a hope for me, the individual, but for the entire community, because it “is linked to a lived union with a ‘people’, and for each individual it can only be attained within this ‘we’ ”.2 This is the hope that the Church and every Christian is called to witness to the world, making it an important service to humanity in our time. This is how St. Peter encourages the recipients of his first letter and indeed, all of us: “But even if you should suffer because of righteousness, blessed are you! Do not be afraid or terrified with fear of them, but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts. Always be ready to give an explanation to anyone who asks you for a reason for your hope” (1 Pt 3.13-15). This is the great mission that is looming before the Christians in Asia: they must account for the hope that is in them... This is the mandate that Christ gives us at the end of our Congress: announce hope to this continent. “Each Christian’s words and life must make this proclamation resound: God loves you, Christ came for you, Christ is for you ‘the Way, the Truth and the Life!’ (Jn 14:6)”,3  wrote the Servant of God John Paul II in Christifideles Laici. And this is always possible, even when we are denied religious freedom. But, let us consider together – and precisely in light of this word, hope – some of the key issues discussed during the Congress.

2. “The Church today ought to take a giant step forward in her evangelization effort, and enter into a new stage of history in her missionary dynamism”.4 This statement contained in Christifideles Laici is still very relevant today, and the role of lay Catholics in this process remains irreplaceable. For this reason during the Congress Christ’s invitation: “You too go into my vineyard” (Mt 20.3-4) resounded as a leitmotif, so that lay faithful – men and women – come to understand in increasing numbers that this is a clear call to them to take on their part of responsibility in the life and mission of the Church, namely in the life and mission of all Christian communities (dioceses and parishes) scattered throughout this vast continent and of which they are part. The commitment of the laity to the work of evangelization is in reality changing ecclesial life,5 and this is a great sign of hope for the Church in Asia.

The scale of the evangelical harvest on this continent gives great urgency to the missionary mandate of the Divine Master: “Go into the whole world and proclaim the gospel to every creature” (Mk 16.15). But today, unfortunately, even among Christians a relativistic mind-set that creates no small amount of confusion about mission has taken root and is spreading. Some examples: the propensity to replace mission with a dialogue in which all positions are equal, the tendency to reduce evangelization to the simple task of human development, believing that it is enough to help people to become more human or more faithful to their own religion, a false concept of respecting the freedom of others, which leads to a relinquishing of the call to conversion. The response to these and other doctrinal errors are contained firstly in the encyclical Redemptoris Missio and then the declaration Dominus Iesus, as well as the Doctrinal Note on Some Aspects of Evangelization of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith – all documents that deserve to be subjected to detailed study. Evangelization is an explicit mandate of Our Lord. Therefore, evangelization is not an ancillary activity of the Church, rather the very reason for being of the Church, the Sacrament of salvation. Evangelization, Redemptoris Missio states, is an issue of faith, “an accurate indicator of our faith in Christ and his love for us”.6 As Paul says, “love of Christ impels us” (2 Cor 5.14). Therefore it is not inappropriate to say that “There can be no true evangelization without the explicit proclamation of Jesus as  Lord”7 by word and witness of life, since “people today put more trust in witnesses than in teachers, in experience than in teaching, and in life and action than in theories”.8 In addition – and again I quote Redemptoris Missio  – “the Church sees no conflict between proclaiming Christ and engaging in interreligious dialogue. Instead, she feels the need to link the two in the context of her mission ad gentes. These two elements must maintain both their intimate connection and their distinctiveness; therefore they should not be confused, manipulated or regarded as identical, as though they were interchangeable”.9

3. The three fundamental laws of evangelization as set out by the future Benedict XVI in a lecture in 2000 are a helpful guide to our missionary commitment and worth remembering here. The first is what the then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger called the law of expropriation. We Christians are not masters, but humble servants of the great cause of God in the world. St. Paul writes: “For we do not preach ourselves but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your slaves for the sake of Jesus” (2 Cor 4.5). Thus, Cardinal Ratzinger pointed out forcefully that “evangelizing is not merely a way of speaking, but a form of living: living in the listening and giving voice to the Father. ‘He will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak,’ says the Lord about the Holy Spirit (Jn 16.13). Our Lord and the Holy Spirit build the Church, they communicate through the Church. Christ’s proclamation, the proclamation of the Kingdom of God supposes the listening to his voice in the voice of the Church. ‘He will not speak in his own name’ means: to speak in the mission of the Church”.10 Thus evangelization is never a private matter, because God is always behind it and there is the Church. Joseph Ratzinger said: “We ourselves cannot gather men. We must acquire them by God for God. All methods are empty without the foundation of prayer. The words of proclamation must always be bathed in an intense life of prayer”.11 This certainty is a great support for us and gives us the strength and courage needed to meet the challenges that the world places in the path of the mission of the Church.

The second law of evangelization is the one that emerges from the parable of the mustard seed “that, when it is sown in the ground, is the smallest of all the seeds on the earth. But once it is sown, it springs up and becomes the largest of plants” (Mk 4.31-32). “Great realities often have humble beginnings”,12  stressed the then Cardinal Ratzinger. Indeed, God has a particular predilection for the small “the small remnant of Israel”, bearer of hope for all the chosen people, the “little flock” of disciples that the Lord urges not be afraid, because it is to them the Father gifts his kingdom (cf. Lk 12.32). The parable of the mustard seed says those who proclaim the gospel must be humble; they should not expect immediate results – either qualitative or quantitative. Because the law of large numbers is not the law of the Church. And because the Lord of the harvest is God and he alone decides the pace, timing and mode of growth of the seed. Therefore, this law protects us from discouragement in our missionary commitment, without lessening our desire to give our all, because as St. Paul reminds us, “whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully” (2 Cor 9.6).

The third law of evangelization is, finally, the law of the grain of wheat that dies in order to bear fruit (cf. Jn 12, 24). Evangelization is always the logic of the Cross. Cardinal Ratzinger said: “Jesus did not redeem the world with beautiful words but with his suffering and his death. His Passion is the inexhaustible source of life for the world; the Passion gives power to his words”.13 Hence the weight of the martyrs witness to faith in the work of evangelization. The very reason for which Tertullian writes: “The more numerous we become, whenever we are cast down [...] the blood of Christians is seed”,14 a sentence more familiarly known in the version: “The blood of martyrs is seed of confessors”. The testimony of faith sealed with the blood of her many martyrs is the great spiritual patrimony of the Church in Asia and a bright sign of hope for its future. Together with the Apostle Paul, Christians in Asia may say, “We are afflicted in every way, but not constrained; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed” (2 Cor 4.8-10).

4. The correct approach to the relationship between faith and culture is of capital importance for the Church’s evangelizing mission. And this is especially true for Asia, the cradle of ancient cultures and religions. Great missionary figures understood this very well, such as Matteo Ricci, whose work Pope Benedict XVI has called “a unique case of a happy synthesis between the proclamation of the Gospel and dialogue with the culture of the people to whom he brought it; he is an example of balance between doctrinal clarity and prudent pastoral action”.15 This presents a vast and delicate field of mission for the laity and one that requires a sound and thorough theological training. The inculturation of the Christian proclamation is a very complex question, of strong doctrinal value, and not the result of mere logic of efficiency. It has been dealt with in the utmost clarity by the recent Popes. “What matters is to evangelize man’s culture and cultures (not in a purely decorative way, as it were, by applying a thin veneer, but in a vital way, in depth and right to their very roots)”,16 Paul VI wrote in the historic apostolic exhortation Evangelii Nuntiandi. Because, he added, “the split between the Gospel and culture is without a doubt the drama of our time, just as it was of other times”. Again the Venerable Servant of God John Paul II devoted great attention to the issue, about which he stated, among other things, that “if [...] it is true that faith is not identified with any one culture and is independent of all cultures, then it is no less true that, for this very reason, faith is called upon to inspire, to impregnate every culture. Man in his entirety, in the reality of his daily existence, is saved by Christ and, therefore, it is man in his entirety who must realize himself in Christ. A faith that does not become culture is a faith that is not fully accepted, not entirely thought out, not faithfully lived”.18 And in Redemptoris Missio, a fundamental text for this issue, following on from Evangelii Nuntiandi he defined inculturation as “the intimate transformation of authentic cultural values through their integration in Christianity and the insertion of Christianity in the various human cultures”.19 Therefore, he added, “the process is thus a profound and all-embracing one, which involves the Christian message and also the Church’s reflection and practice. But at the same time it is a difficult process, for it must in no way compromise the distinctiveness and integrity of the Christian faith”.20 In fact the risk of a lurking syncretism and of a dangerous irenicism is ever present, as the2 International Theological Commission observes in the document Faith and Inculturation, where it states: “However great the respect should be for what is true and holy in the cultural heritage of a people, this attitude does not demand that one should lend an absolute character to this cultural heritage.  No one can forget that from the beginning, the Gospel was a ‘scandal for the Jews and foolishness for the pagans’”.21 Even Joseph Ratzinger, as Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, devoted memorable pages to the issue of inculturation. At a conference held in Hong Kong, addressing bishops of the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences (FABC), he stated that “we should no longer speak of inculturation but of the meeting of cultures or [...] ‘inter-culturality’. For ‘inculturation’ presupposes that, as it were, a culturally naked faith is transferred into a culture that is indifferent [...] But this description is first of all artificial and unreal, because there is no such thing as a culture-free faith and – outside modern technical civilisation – there is no such thing as religion-free culture”.22 He then went on to explain that “the first thing we must say [is] that faith itself is culture. It does not exist in a naked state, as sheer religion. Simply by telling man who he is and how he should go about being human, faith is creating culture, it is culture [...] It would accordingly be nonsense to offer a Christianity that was, so to speak, precultural or deculturalized, as such a Christianity would be deprived of its own historical power and reduced to an empty collection of ideas”.23 He then drew the important conclusion that “anyone entering the Church has to be aware that he is entering a separate, active cultural entity with her own many-layered intercultural character that has grown up in the course of history. Without a certain exodus, a breaking off with one’s life in all its aspects, one cannot become a Christian”.24 This statement is important and reminds us that our “being Christian” is born from our personal encounter with Christ and that it must always be accompanied by a profound wonder at the incredible newness of life the Master gifts his disciples in Baptism. In the Christian’s life of  faith – as in the life of Abraham, our “father in faith” – everything starts from an exodus: “Go forth from the land of your kinsfolk...”. So when we speak of inculturation of the Gospel, we must never forget that faith is not identified with any one culture, but is capable of permeating all cultures.

5. The question of the formation of a mature laity, conscious of their vocation and mission in the Church and the world was a central part of discussions during the Congress. The Fathers of the Synod on the laity have recommended that “the formation of the lay faithful must be placed among the priorities of a diocese. It ought to be so placed within the plan of pastoral action that the efforts of the whole community (clergy, lay faithful and religious) converge on this goal”.25 Formation is in fact a duty, and at the same time a right of the laity,26 and has as its aim to lead them to a constant review of their Christian commitment, active participation in the life of the Church and constant deepening of their shared responsibility for the Church’s mission in the world. Therefore, pastors must promote this process within the parish, entrusting to the laity those tasks, services and offices to which they are called in virtue of their Baptism. They must also aim to exploit the growing presence and contribution of women, as stated in Christifideles Laici, where we can read: “The acknowledgment in theory of the active and responsible presence of woman in the Church must be realized in practice”.27 In this collaboration of the laity we should nevertheless bear in mind the inter-dicasterial Instruction which refers to the need for “particular care to safeguard the nature and mission of sacred ministry and the vocation and secular character of the lay faithful. [Because] ‘collaboration with’ does not [...] mean ‘substitution for’”.28 It is also true that we must contrast a “clerical mentality” that at times renders priests unable to really collaborate with the laity. Nor is it less important to avoid a withdrawal of the Catholic laity within the Christian community. According to the opportunities guaranteed by the civil laws of respective countries, the lay faithful – because of their secular state – are in fact called upon to contribute in society, guided by the principles of the Church’s social doctrine, conveniently summarized in the renowned Compendium,29 and which are part of the process of evangelisation.30 Formation concerns everyone: lay people and clergy. Therefore, it is advisable that every new generation of priests and lay faithful take in hand the council documents that concern them and the lay faithful, in particular, the apostolic exhortation Christifideles Laici, which is their real Magna Charta.

Parishes are the primary site of lay formation. Parishes are the true schools of Christian life, major points of reference, of communion and witness of faith. In them, the Church is embodied as a significant social fact. Faced with the challenges that the world launches at the Church today, in Asia too the parish must be supported and assisted in its mission to educate in the faith by small communities, such as the greatly appreciated “base ecclesial communities”. But not only. Here I would like to mention the new and flourishing era of group endeavours of the lay faithful, which are cause for great hopes for the Church.31 John Paul II wrote in Redemptoris Missio: “I call to mind, as a new development occurring in many churches in recent times, the rapid growth of ‘ecclesial movements’ filled with missionary dynamism. When these movements humbly seek to become part of the life of local churches and are welcomed by bishops and priests within diocesan and parish structures, they represent a true gift of God both for new evangelization and for missionary activity properly so-called. I therefore recommend – added the Venerable Servant of God – that they be spread, and that they be used to give fresh energy, especially among young people, to the Christian life and to evangelization, within a pluralistic view of the ways in which Christians can associate and express themselves”.32 How many people, adults and young people with these new gifts bestowed generously by the Holy Spirit upon the Church, have discovered the beauty of being Christians! How many baptized have found renewed missionary zeal and courage! Pope Benedict XVI sees in these new associations and communities, the renewing flame of the Holy Spirit in the life of the Church and encourages pastors to be ever more open to this great gift: “After the Council – he said – the Holy Spirit has given us the “movements” [...] places of faith where young people and adults try out a model of life in faith as an opportunity for life today. I therefore ask you to approach movements very lovingly. Here and there, they must be corrected or integrated into the overall context of the parish or Diocese. Yet, we must respect the specific character of their charism and rejoice in the birth of communitarian forms of faith in which the Word of God becomes life”.33 Therefore, my heartfelt thanks go to the representatives of ecclesial movements and new communities working on this continent. Thank you for the priceless testimony that you brought to our Congress and thank you for everything that you do to serve the Church in Asia, which can only benefit from these new charisms, from an ever greater openness, in pastoral charity, to this gift of the Holy Spirit that is a precious sign of the hope which does not deceive.

The end goal of every itinerary of authentically Christian formation is holiness. It is important to speak about this at the end of this Congress, which saw the participation of a significant representation of the Catholic laity of Asia. As I said at the beginning, during these days we have felt supported by the saints, martyrs and confessors of the faith in Asia. And we felt their strong spiritual closeness, especially during the celebration in memory of the Korean Martyrs in the beautiful sanctuary dedicated to them. The saints are the great masters of Christian life.  They speak of the centrality of God – the God who revealed himself in the face of Jesus Christ – in human life. They instil in us the courage to wager our entire existence on God and, by their example, confirm that it’s worth it, that it gives happiness. And in this way they challenge us to leave the prison of our human certainties, from a mediocrity that sees us put up with the spirit of this world, willing to compromise with the secular culture that now dominates the scene here in Asia too – a mediocrity which sees us become insignificant and invisible. The saints remind us that salt should give flavour and the lantern spread light. That following the Master involves radical choices, it means going against the trend, being a “sign of contradiction” there, where the Lord calls us to be. Not least, the saints – especially the martyrs – are extraordinary builders of unity. John Paul II spoke of the “ecumenism of the martyrs”: Catholics, Protestants, Orthodox, united beyond confessions by the same love for Christ: “Amor Dei usque ad contemptum sui” (love of God even to contempt of self), as St. Augustine wrote in the City of God. Let us listen to the voices of saints, allow them to convince us that holiness is not a utopia, but the fascinating goal which Christ promises to all the baptized. Here, one more reason for hope that comes from this Congress.

6. The scope of the tasks facing the Church in Asia at the dawn of the third millennium of the Christian era leaves us feeling inadequate and powerless. The great cause of God and the Gospel in the world is constantly hampered and opposed by hostile forces of various natures. But the words of hope of Benedict XVI help us to take heart. He said in a homily on the “failures of God” during mass with the Swiss bishops on their ad Limina visit: “Initially God always fails, he lets human freedom exist and this freedom constantly says ‘no’; but God’s imagination, the creative power of his love, is greater than the human ‘no’ [...] What does all of this mean for us? First of all, it means one certainty: God does not fail. He ‘fails’ continuously, but it is because of this that he does not fail, because from this he creates new opportunities for ever greater mercy, and his imagination is inexhaustible. He does not fail because he always finds new ways to reach mankind and to open wide the doors of his great home to him”.34 This is why we should never be without hope. The Successor of Peter assures us that God “today too, [...] will find new ways to call men, and he wants to have us with him as his messengers and servants”.35

Dear brothers and sisters, I conclude by making my own the exhortation of the Apostle to the Gentiles: “So, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, walk in him, rooted in him and built upon him and established in the faith as you were taught” (Col 2. 6).

---------------------------- 

1 Benedict XVI, Encyclical letter Spe Salvi, n. 27.

2 Ibid, n. 14.

3 John Paul II, Apostolic exhortation Christifideles Laici, n. 34.

4 Ibid, n. 35.

5 Cf. John Paul II, Encyclical letter Redemptoris Missio, n. 2.

6 Ibid, n. 11.

7 John Paul II, Apostolic exhortation Ecclesia in Asia, n. 19.

8 John Paul II, Encyclical letter Redemptoris Missio, n. 42.

9 Ibid, n. 55.

10 J. Ratzinger, La nuova evangelizzazione, “L’Osservatore Romano”, 11-12 dicembre 2000,  11.

11 Ibid.

12 Ibid.

13 Ibid.

14 Tertullian, Liber apologeticus 50, 13.

15 Benedict XVI, Discorso durante l’udienza alle diocesi marchigiane per il quarto centenario della morte di Matteo Ricci, “L’Osservatore Romano”, 30 maggio 2010,  8.

16 Paul VI, Apostolic exhortation Evangelii Nuntiandi, n. 20.

17 Ibid.

18 John Paul II, Ai partecipanti al Congresso nazionale del Movimento Ecclesiale di Impegno Culturale “Insegnamenti” V, 1 (1982), 131.

19 John Paul II, Encyclical letter Redemptoris Missio, n. 52.

20 Ibid.

21 International Theological Commission, Vol 1 Texts and Documents 1969-1985, Ignatius Press San Francisco 2009,  17.

22 J. Ratzinger, Truth and Toleration. Christian belief and world religions, Ignatius Press San Francisco 2004, 66.

23 Ibid, 70 and 72.

24 Ibid, 73.

25 John Paul II, Apostolic exhortation Christifideles Laici, n. 57.

26 Cf. Ibid, n. 63.

27 Ibid, n. 51.

28 Instruction on Certain Questions regarding the Collaboration of Non-Ordained Faithful in the Sacred Ministry of Priest, Libreria Editrice Vaticana 1997, 7.

29 Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, Libreria Editrice Vaticana 2004.

30 Cf. John Paul II, Encyclical letter Centesimus Annus, n. 5.

31 Cf. John Paul II, Apostolic exhortation Christifideles Laici, n. 29.

32 John Paul II, Encyclical letter Redemptoris Missio, n. 72.

33 Benedict XVI, Discorso ai presuli della Conferenza episcopale della Repubblica Federale di Germania in visita “ad limina”, “Insegnamenti” II, 2 (2006), 637.

34 Benedict XVI, Omelia durante la concelebrazione eucaristica con  vescovi della Svizzera, “Insegnamenti” II, 2 (2006), 570 and 573.

35 Ibid.

 

Pope Benedict XVI’s Message for World Youth Day

"Planted and built up in Jesus Christ, firm in the faith" (cf. Col 2:7)

Dear Friends,

I often think back on the World Youth Day held in Sydney in 2008. There we had an experience of a great festival of faith in which the Spirit of God was actively at work, building deep communion among the participants who had come from all over the world. That gathering, like those on previous occasions, bore rich fruit in the lives of many young people and in the life of the whole Church. Now we are looking forward to the next World Youth Day, to be held in Madrid in August 2011. Back in 1989, several months before the historic fall of the Berlin Wall, this pilgrimage of young people halted in Spain, in Santiago de Compostela. Now, at a time when Europe greatly needs to rediscover its Christian roots, our meeting will take place in Madrid with the theme: "Planted and built up in Jesus Christ, firm in the faith" (cf. Col 2:7). I encourage you to take part in this event, which is so important for the Church in Europe and for the universal Church. I would like all young people - those who share our faith in Jesus Christ, but also those who are wavering or uncertain, or who do not believe in him - to share this experience, which can prove decisive for their lives. It is an experience of the Lord Jesus, risen and alive, and of his love for each of us.

1. At the source of your deepest aspirations

In every period of history, including our own, many young people experience a deep desire for personal relationships marked by truth and solidarity. Many of them yearn to build authentic friendships, to know true love, to start a family that will remain united, to achieve personal fulfilment and real security, all of which are the guarantee of a serene and happy future. In thinking of my own youth, I realize that stability and security are not the questions that most occupy the minds of young people. True enough, it is important to have a job and thus to have firm ground beneath our feet, yet the years of our youth are also a time when we are seeking to get the most out of life. When I think back on that time, I remember above all that we were not willing to settle for a conventional middle-class life. We wanted something great, something new. We wanted to discover life itself, in all its grandeur and beauty. Naturally, part of that was due to the times we lived in. During the Nazi dictatorship and the war, we were, so to speak, "hemmed in" by the dominant power structure. So we wanted to break out into the open, to experience the whole range of human possibilities. I think that, to some extent, this urge to break out of the ordinary is present in every generation. Part of being young is desiring something beyond everyday life and a secure job, a yearning for something really truly greater. Is this simply an empty dream that fades away as we become older? No! Men and women were created for something great, for infinity. Nothing else will ever be enough. Saint Augustine was right when he said "our hearts are restless till they find their rest in you". The desire for a more meaningful life is a sign that God created us and that we bear his "imprint". God is life, and that is why every creature reaches out towards life. Because human beings are made in the image of God, we do this in a unique and special way. We reach out for love, joy and peace. So we can see how absurd it is to think that we can truly live by removing God from the picture! God is the source of life. To set God aside is to separate ourselves from that source and, inevitably, to deprive ourselves of fulfilment and joy: "without the Creator, the creature fades into nothingness" (Second Vatican Council, Gaudium et Spes, 36). In some parts of the world, particularly in the West, today's culture tends to exclude God, and to consider faith a purely private issue with no relevance for the life of society. Even though the set of values underpinning society comes from the Gospel - values like the sense of the dignity of the person, of solidarity, of work and of the family -, we see a certain "eclipse of God" taking place, a kind of amnesia which, albeit not an outright rejection of Christianity, is nonetheless a denial of the treasure of our faith, a denial that could lead to the loss of our deepest identity.

For this reason, dear friends, I encourage you to strengthen your faith in God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. You are the future of society and of the Church! As the Apostle Paul wrote to the Christians of Colossae, it is vital to have roots, a solid foundation! This is particularly true today. Many people have no stable points of reference on which to build their lives, and so they end up deeply insecure. There is a growing mentality of relativism, which holds that everything is equally valid, that truth and absolute points of reference do not exist. But this way of thinking does not lead to true freedom, but rather to instability, confusion and blind conformity to the fads of the moment. As young people, you are entitled to receive from previous generations solid points of reference to help you to make choices and on which to build your lives: like a young plant which needs solid support until it can sink deep roots and become a sturdy tree capable of bearing fruit.

2. Planted and built up in Jesus Christ

In order to highlight the importance of faith in the lives of believers, I would like to reflect with you on each of the three terms used by Saint Paul in the expression: "Planted and built up in Jesus Christ, firm in the faith" (cf. Col 2:7). We can distinguish three images: "planted" calls to mind a tree and the roots that feed it; "built up" refers to the construction of a house; "firm" indicates growth in physical or moral strength. These images are very eloquent. Before commenting on them, I would like to point out that grammatically all three terms in the original text are in the passive voice. This means that it is Christ himself who takes the initiative to plant, build up and confirm the faithful.

The first image is that of a tree which is firmly planted thanks to its roots, which keep it upright and give it nourishment. Without those roots, it would be blown away by the wind and would die. What are our roots? Naturally our parents, our families and the culture of our country are very important elements of our personal identity. But the Bible reveals a further element. The prophet Jeremiah wrote: "Blessed are those who trust in the Lord, whose trust is the Lord. They shall be like a tree planted by water, sending out its roots by the stream. It shall not fear when heat comes, and its leaves shall stay green; in the year of drought it is not anxious, and it does not cease to bear fruit" (Jer 17:7-8). For the prophet, to send out roots means to put one's trust in God. From him we draw our life. Without him, we cannot truly live. "God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son" (1 Jn 5:11). Jesus himself tells us that he is our life (cf. Jn 14:6). Consequently, Christian faith is not only a matter of believing that certain things are true, but above all a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. It is an encounter with the Son of God that gives new energy to the whole of our existence. When we enter into a personal relationship with him, Christ reveals our true identity and, in friendship with him, our life grows towards complete fulfilment. There is a moment, when we are young, when each of us wonders: what meaning does my life have? What purpose and direction should I give to it? This is a very important moment, and it can worry us, perhaps for some time. We start wondering about the kind of work we should take up, the kind of relationships we should establish, the friendships we should cultivate... Here, once more, I think of my own youth. I was somehow aware quite early on that the Lord wanted me to be a priest. Then later, after the war, when I was in the seminary and at university on the way towards that goal, I had to recapture that certainty. I had to ask myself: is this really the path I was meant to take? Is this really God's will for me? Will I be able to remain faithful to him and completely at his service? A decision like this demands a certain struggle. It cannot be otherwise. But then came the certainty: this is the right thing! Yes, the Lord wants me, and he will give me strength. If I listen to him and walk with him, I become truly myself. What counts is not the fulfilment of my desires, but of his will. In this way life becomes authentic.

Just as the roots of a tree keep it firmly planted in the soil, so the foundations of a house give it long-lasting stability. Through faith, we have been built up in Jesus Christ (cfr Col 2:7), even as a house is built on its foundations. Sacred history provides many examples of saints who built their lives on the word of God. The first is Abraham, our father in faith, who obeyed God when he was asked to leave his ancestral home and to set out for an unknown land. "Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness, and he was called the friend of God" (Jas 2:23). Being built up in Jesus Christ means responding positively to God's call, trusting in him and putting his word into practice. Jesus himself reprimanded his disciples: "Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord', and do not do what I tell you?" (Lk 6:46). He went on to use the image of building a house: "I will show you what someone is like who comes to me, listens to my words, and acts on them. That one is like a person building a house, who dug deeply and laid the foundation on rock; when the flood came, the river burst against that house but could not shake it because it had been well built" (Lk 6:47-48).

Dear friends, build your own house on rock, just like the person who "dug deeply". Try each day to follow Christ's word. Listen to him as a true friend with whom you can share your path in life. With him at your side, you will find courage and hope to face difficulties and problems, and even to overcome disappointments and set-backs. You are constantly being offered easier choices, but you yourselves know that these are ultimately deceptive and cannot bring you serenity and joy. Only the word of God can show us the authentic way, and only the faith we have received is the light which shines on our path. Gratefully accept this spiritual gift which you have received from your families; strive to respond responsibly to God's call, and to grow in your faith. Do not believe those who tell you that you don't need others to build up your life! Find support in the faith of those who are dear to you, in the faith of the Church, and thank the Lord that you have received it and have made it your own!

3. Firm in the faith

You are "planted and built up in Jesus Christ, firm in the faith" (cf. Col 2:7). The Letter from which these words are taken was written by Saint Paul in order to respond to a specific need of the Christians in the city of Colossae. That community was threatened by the influence of certain cultural trends that were turning the faithful away from the Gospel. Our own cultural context, dear young people, is not unlike that of the ancient Colossians. Indeed, there is a strong current of secularist thought that aims to make God marginal in the lives of people and society by proposing and attempting to create a "paradise" without him. Yet experience tells us that a world without God becomes a "hell": filled with selfishness, broken families, hatred between individuals and nations, and a great deficit of love, joy and hope. On the other hand, wherever individuals and nations accept God's presence, worship him in truth and listen to his voice, then the civilization of love is being built, a civilization in which the dignity of all is respected, and communion increases, with all its benefits. Yet some Christians allow themselves to be seduced by secularism or attracted by religious currents that draw them away from faith in Jesus Christ. There are others who, while not yielding to these enticements, have simply allowed their faith to grow cold, with inevitable negative effects on their moral lives.

To those Christians influenced by ideas alien to the Gospel the Apostle Paul spoke of the power of Christ's death and resurrection. This mystery is the foundation of our lives and the centre of Christian faith. All philosophies that disregard it and consider it "foolishness" (1 Cor 1:23) reveal their limitations with respect to the great questions deep in the hearts of human beings. As the Successor of the Apostle Peter, I too want to confirm you in the faith (cf. Lk 22:32). We firmly believe that Jesus Christ offered himself on the Cross in order to give us his love. In his passion, he bore our sufferings, took upon himself our sins, obtained forgiveness for us and reconciled us with God the Father, opening for us the way to eternal life. Thus we were freed from the thing that most encumbers our lives: the slavery of sin. We can love everyone, even our enemies, and we can share this love with the poorest of our brothers and sisters and all those in difficulty.

Dear friends, the Cross often frightens us because it seems to be a denial of life. In fact, the opposite is true! It is God's "yes" to mankind, the supreme expression of his love and the source from which eternal life flows. Indeed, it is from Jesus' heart, pierced on the Cross, that this divine life streamed forth, ever accessible to those who raise their eyes towards the Crucified One. I can only urge you, then, to embrace the Cross of Jesus, the sign of God's love, as the source of new life. Apart from Jesus Christ risen from the dead, there can be no salvation! He alone can free the world from evil and bring about the growth of the Kingdom of justice, peace and love to which we all aspire.

4. Believing in Jesus Christ without having seen him

In the Gospel we find a description of the Apostle Thomas's experience of faith when he accepted the mystery of the Cross and resurrection of Christ. Thomas was one of the twelve Apostles. He followed Jesus and was an eyewitness of his healings and miracles. He listened to his words, and he experienced dismay at Jesus' death. That Easter evening when the Lord appeared to the disciples, Thomas was not present. When he was told that Jesus was alive and had shown himself, Thomas stated: "Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands, and put my finger in the mark of the nails and my hand in his side, I will not believe" (Jn 20:25).

We too want to be able to see Jesus, to speak with him and to feel his presence even more powerfully. For many people today, it has become difficult to approach Jesus. There are so many images of Jesus in circulation which, while claiming to be scientific, detract from his greatness and the uniqueness of his person. That is why, after many years of study and reflection, I thought of sharing something of my own personal encounter with Jesus by writing a book. It was a way to help others see, hear and touch the Lord in whom God came to us in order to make himself known. Jesus himself, when he appeared again to his disciples a week later, said to Thomas: "Put your finger here and see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it in my side. Do not doubt but believe" (Jn 20:27). We too can have tangible contact with Jesus and put our hand, so to speak, upon the signs of his Passion, the signs of his love. It is in the sacraments that he draws particularly near to us and gives himself to us. Dear young people, learn to "see" and to "meet" Jesus in the Eucharist, where he is present and close to us, and even becomes food for our journey. In the sacrament of Penance the Lord reveals his mercy and always grants us his forgiveness. Recognize and serve Jesus in the poor, the sick, and in our brothers and sisters who are in difficulty and in need of help.

Enter into a personal dialogue with Jesus Christ and cultivate it in faith. Get to know him better by reading the Gospels and the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Converse with him in prayer, and place your trust in him. He will never betray that trust! "Faith is first of all a personal adherence of man to God. At the same time, and inseparably, it is a free assent to the whole truth that God has revealed" (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 150). Thus you will acquire a mature and solid faith, one which will not be based simply on religious sentiment or on a vague memory of the catechism you studied as a child. You will come to know God and to live authentically in union with him, like the Apostle Thomas who showed his firm faith in Jesus in the words: "My Lord and my God!".

5. Sustained by the faith of the Church, in order to be witnesses

Jesus said to Thomas: "Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe" (Jn 20:29). He was thinking of the path the Church was to follow, based on the faith of eyewitnesses: the Apostles. Thus we come to see that our personal faith in Christ, which comes into being through dialogue with him, is bound to the faith of the Church. We do not believe as isolated individuals, but rather, through Baptism, we are members of this great family; it is the faith professed by the Church which reinforces our personal faith. The Creed that we proclaim at Sunday Mass protects us from the danger of believing in a God other than the one revealed by Christ: "Each believer is thus a link in the great chain of believers. I cannot believe without being carried by the faith of others, and by my faith I help support others in the faith" (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 166). Let us always thank the Lord for the gift of the Church, for the Church helps us to advance securely in the faith that gives us true life (cf. Jn 20:31).

In the history of the Church, the saints and the martyrs have always drawn from the glorious Cross of Christ the strength to be faithful to God even to the point of offering their own lives. In faith they found the strength to overcome their weaknesses and to prevail over every adversity. Indeed, as the Apostle John says, "Who is it that conquers the world but the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?" (1 Jn 5:5). The victory born of faith is that of love. There have been, and still are, many Christians who are living witnesses of the power of faith that is expressed in charity. They have been peacemakers, promoters of justice and workers for a more humane world, a world in accordance with God's plan. With competence and professionalism, they have been committed in different sectors of the life of society, contributing effectively to the welfare of all. The charity that comes from faith led them to offer concrete witness by their actions and words. Christ is not a treasure meant for us alone; he is the most precious treasure we have, one that is meant to be shared with others. In our age of globalization, be witnesses of Christian hope all over the world. How many people long to receive this hope! Standing before the tomb of his friend Lazarus, who had died four days earlier, as he was about to call the dead man back to life, Jesus said to Lazarus' sister Martha: "If you believe, you will see the glory of God" (cf. Jn 11:40). In the same way, if you believe, and if you are able to live out your faith and bear witness to it every day, you will become a means of helping other young people like yourselves to find the meaning and joy of life, which is born of an encounter with Christ!

6. On the way to World Youth Day in Madrid

Dear friends, once again I invite you to attend World Youth Day in Madrid. I await each of you with great joy. Jesus Christ wishes to make you firm in faith through the Church. The decision to believe in Jesus Christ and to follow him is not an easy one. It is hindered by our personal failures and by the many voices that point us towards easier paths. Do not be discouraged. Rather, look for the support of the Christian community, the support of the Church! Throughout this year, carefully prepare for the meeting in Madrid with the bishops, priests and youth leaders in your dioceses, parish communities, associations and movements. The quality of our meeting will depend above all on our spiritual preparation, our prayer, our common hearing of the word of God and our mutual support.

Dear young people, the Church depends on you! She needs your lively faith, your creative charity and the energy of your hope. Your presence renews, rejuvenates and gives new energy to the Church. That is why World Youth Days are a grace, not only for you, but for the entire People of God. The Church in Spain is actively preparing to welcome you and to share this joyful experience of faith with you. I thank the dioceses, parishes, shrines, religious communities, ecclesial associations and movements, and all who are hard at work in preparing for this event. The Lord will not fail to grant them his blessings. May the Virgin Mary accompany you along this path of preparation. At the message of the angel, she received God's word with faith. It was in faith that she consented to what God was accomplishing in her. By proclaiming her "fiat", her "yes", she received the gift of immense charity which led her to give herself entirely to God. May she intercede for each one of you so that, in the coming World Youth Day you may grow in faith and love. I assure you of a paternal remembrance in my prayers and I give you my heartfelt blessing.

From the Vatican, 6 August 2010, Feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord.

 

Peter C. Phan receives John Courtney Murray award

Peter C. Phan receives John Courtney Murray award

The award is the highest honor bestowed by the Catholic Theological Society of America — Georgetown professor of theology, Peter C. Phan, is the recipient of the 2010 Catholic Theology Society of America’s John Courtney Murray Award, which is the highest honor bestowed by the society on a theologian. It is named after John Courtney Murray, the great American theologian known for his work on religious liberty.

Read more...
Page 2 of 7