FaithWorld

Vatican-SSPX talks due in second half of October

St Peter's Basilica, Vatican City, 24 Dec. 2007/Max RossiDoctrinal discussions between the Vatican and the traditionalist Society of Saint Pius X (SSPX) will begin in the second half of October, Vatican spokesman Rev. Federico Lombardi has said. He also confirmed the Vatican delegation will be made up of the Swiss Dominican Rev. Charles Morerod, the German Jesuit Rev. Karl Josef Becker and the Spanish vicar general of Opus Dei, Rev. Fernando Ocariz Brana. The Vatican Radio report gave no further details. (Photo: St Peter’s Basilica, Vatican City, 24 Dec. 2007/Max Rossi)

This shoots down one part of Vienna Cardinal Christoph Schönborn’s interview last weekend in the Passauer Neue Presse, where he said the first meeting would take place “in the next few days.”

It says nothing about his other point, that the Vatican will insist the SSPX accepts “such fundamental conclusions of the Second Vatican Council as its positions on Judaism, other non-Christian religions, other Christian churches and on religious freedom as a basic human right.” That point is far more important than the date, which is why our news item on Sunday led off with that angle, and it remains the main issue at these talks.

The Vatican Radio report in Italian spoke of “conversations” (colloqui) between the Vatican and the SSPX, but I still think Schönborn’s use of the term “negotiations” (Verhandlungen) is more appropriate. The SSPX wants full reintegration into the Roman Catholic Church and the Vatican has the power to decide if and how this happens. Sounds like a negotiation to me, no matter which language they use to describe it.

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Vatican-SSPX talks to start “in next few days” – Schönborn

schoenbornDoctrinal negotiations between the Vatican and the ultra-traditionalist Society of Saint Pius X (SSPX) are due to start “in the next few days,” according to Vienna Cardinal Christoph Schönborn, and Rome will not let the Lefebvrists off easy for everything.”

In particular, he told the Passauer Neue Presse newspaper in Bavaria over the weekend, “the SSPX will be told very clearly what is not negotiable for the Holy See. This includes such fundamental conclusions of the Second Vatican Council as its positions on Judaism, other non-Christian religions, other Christian churches and on religious freedom as a basic human right.” Here is our news story. (Photo: Cardinal Schönborn, 16 March 2008/Herwig Prammer)

This is going to be interesting. The SSPX has been insisting for decades that it represents the true Roman Catholic faith while the Vatican and the vast majority of the Church took a wrong turn at Vatican II. By allowing wider use of the traditional Latin Mass and revoking the excommunication of the four SSPX bishops, Pope Benedict has taken two of the group’s main rallying points off the table. Now it comes down to the core issue of accepting the fundamental reforms of the 1962-1965 Council concerning Catholicism’s relations with other religions.

H1N1 flu stops Italians kissing saint’s blood

san-gennaroFear of H1N1 flu will stop devout Neapolitan Catholics from performing the time-honoured ritual of kissing the blood of their patron Saint Gennaro when the city’s annual festival begins later this month.

The decision to forbid kissing of the glass phial containing the saint’s blood was taken reluctantly by ecclesiastical and city authorities on Monday, and has brought protests from local politicians. In one of Italy’s best-known festivals, Saint Gennaro’s dried blood is said to liquefy twice a year, 17 centuries after his death. Some Neapolitans fear disaster may strike the city if the “miracle” does not occur.

The phial will be put on display in the city’s cathedral for a week from Sept. 19 and the faithful will be allowed to touch it only with their foreheads. Last week, a 51-year-old man became Italy’s first fatal victim of the H1N1 flu virus, popularly known as swine flu, when he died in a Naples hospital.

World Council of Churches says Pakistani Christians “live in fear”

pakistani-christians-1Christians and other religious minorities in Pakistan live in fear of persecution and even execution or murder on false charges of blasphemy against Islam, the World Council of Churches (WCC) has said. The Council, the Geneva- based global body linking Protestant and Orthodox churches in 110 countries, has called on the Pakistani government to change a law promulgated by military ruler General Zia-ul-Haq that allows for the death penalty for blaspheming Islam. (Photo: Christians in destroyed home in Gojra, 2 Aug 2009/Mohsin Raza)

Since the law was adopted in 1986 religious minorities in the country have been “living in a state of fear and terror … and many innocent people have lost their lives,” the WCC said in a statement.

Pakistan is an overwhelmingly Muslim country where religious minorities account for roughly 4 percent — three quarters of whom are Christians — of its 170 million people.

Catholic editor who rapped Berlusconi resigns, but Church may have last laugh

giornaleIn the latest — but most likely not final — round in an incredible case of Italian journalistic pugilism, the editor of a Catholic newspaper sparring publicly for a week with the daily owned by the family of Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi has resigned.  Dino Boffo’s resignation as head of Avvenire, the daily of the Italian Bishops’ Conference, ended an Italian telenovela that had riveted the media for seven consecutive days and even saw indirect involvement by Pope Benedict. (Photo: Il Giornale fronts charges against Boffo, 3 Sept 2009/Stefano Rellandini)

In his three-and-a half page letter of resignation (here in Italian), which he said was irrevocable, Boffo  said the tussle with the editor Vittorio Feltri of the Milan daily Il Giornale had made his life unbearable. For his good, that of his family and that of the Church, he could not longer stay “at the centre of a storm of gigantic proportions that has invaded newspapers, television, radio, the internet and shows no signs of ending.”

Boffo said his only mistake was not taking his initial judicial problem seriously enough. As noted in my blog post here last Tuesday, Il Giornale editor Vittorio Feltri wrote last week that Boffo accepted a plea bargain in 2002 over a case in which a woman accused him of harassment. Il Giornale claimed that Boffo was having a homosexual relationship with her husband. It said Boffo should not have written editorials criticising Berlusconi’s sexual escapades when he was not exactly an an innocent altar boy himself.

Wine and faith link shows on new Reuters wine page

kosher-wine1

Reuters.com now has a new page called World of Wine dedicated to our articles about the fruit of the vine. Although the page has no link to religion, wine does to some faiths — and it shows here.

Among the first few articles listed on the page is a recent feature on wine and Judaism — “Kosher wines pouring out of the religious niche.” The photo with the feature (seen above) shows Rabbi Yair Didi, who supervises production of kosher wines at the ‘Cantina di Pitigliano’ winery, sampling a glass in the Italian town of Pitigliano in Tuscany (26 March 2007/Daniele La Monaca).

And the top picture on the page shows Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd presenting a six-bottle case of white wine from Down Under to Pope Benedict. Wine plays a central part in the Catholic Mass, but Rudd suggested the pontiff might drink this dessert wine “here in the Vatican on a warm summer’s night.” The photo is copied below (9 July 2009/Pier Paolo Cito).

U.S. Catholic CEO responds to Benedict’s economic encyclical

charity-in-truthPope Benedict’s encyclical “Charity in Truth” proposed a sweeping reform of the world economic system from one based on the profit motive to one based on solidarity and concern for the common good. Like other such documents in the Roman Catholic Church’s social teaching tradition, the encyclical delivers a strong critique of unbridled capitalism. This can be uncomfortable for Catholics who champion free enterprise and some conservative Catholic writers reacted quickly and critically. One of them, George Weigel, wrote the encyclical “resembles a duck-billed platypus.” (Image: Charity in Truth/Ignatius Press)

We wanted to hear the views of a Catholic executive, one who’s involved in business rather than reacting from the sidelines. So I called Frank Keating, president and chief executive officer of the American Council of Life Insurers (ACLI). The former Republican governor of Oklahoma (1995-2003) is a former chairman of the National Catholic Review Board, which he said “sought to identify and correct the horror of sexual abuse on the part of the clergy.” He is a Knight of Malta and a Knight of the Holy Sepulchre.

DB: What’s your overall reaction to the encyclical?

keatingFK:“I haven’t read the 30,000 words but I think what the pope is proposing is not inconsistent with other papal messages. The common denominator to all of them is the worth of the individual, the dignity of every human person. So Benedict XVI focuses on the right to life, he speaks against euthanasia, he speaks against the evil of abortion, he speaks against cloning. But at the same time he talks about duties and responsibilities to the vulnerable because the vulnerable are dignified human beings as well as those who are rich and powerful.

Japan’s rare Catholic PM Taro Aso meets Pope Benedict

aso-popeJapanese Prime Minister Taro Aso, a member of Japan’s tiny Roman Catholic minority, had a chance toenjoy some time away from political trouble at home when he met with Pope Benedict on Tuesday.

As his first stop during a trip to attend July 8-10 summit of G8 leaders in Italy, Aso went to the Vatican, gave the pope a Sony digital video camera and discussed the global economic crisis with him. (Photo: Prime Minister Aso presents video camera to Pope Benedict, 7 July 2009/Danilo Schiavella)

His visit was timely in that respect — Benedict published an encyclical on economic and social issues today, calling for a bold reform of the world economic order to overcome the financial crisis and redirect the focus of business to the welfare of all people.

Pope urges bold world economic reform before G8 summit

popePope Benedict issued an ambitious call to reform the way the world works on Tuesday shortly before its most powerful leaders meet at the G8 summit in Italy. His latest encyclical, entitled “Charity in Truth,” presents a long list of steps he thinks are needed to overcome the financial crisis and shift economic activity from the profit motive to a goal of solidarity of all people.

Following are some of his proposals. The italics are from the original text. Do you think they are realistic food for thought or idealistic notions with no hope of being put into practice?

    “There is urgent need of a true world political authority. .. to manage the global economy; to revive economies hit by the crisis; to avoid any deterioration of the present crisis and the greater imbalances that would result; to bring about integral and timely disarmament, food security and peace; to guarantee the protection of the environment and to regulate migration… such an authority would need to be universally recognized and to be vested with the effective power to ensure security for all, regard for justice, and respect for rights.” The economy needs ethics in order to function correctly – not any ethics whatsoever, but an ethics which is people-centred…” “Financiers must rediscover the genuinely ethical foundation of their activity, so as not to abuse the sophisticated instruments which can serve to betray the interests of savers. Right intention, transparency, and the search for positive results are mutually compatible and must never be detached from one another.” “Without doubt, one of the greatest risks for businesses is that they are almost exclusively answerable to their investors, thereby limiting their social value… there is nevertheless a growing conviction that business management cannot concern itself only with the interests of the proprietors, but must also assume responsibility for all the other stakeholders who contribute to the life of the business: the workers, the clients, the suppliers of various elements of production, the community of reference… What should be avoided is a speculative use of financial resources that yields to the temptation of seeking only short-term profit, without regard for the long-term sustainability of the enterprise, its benefit to the real economy and attention to the advancement, in suitable and appropriate ways, of further economic initiatives in countries in need of development.” “One possible approach to development aid would be to apply effectively what is known as fiscal subsidiarity, allowing citizens to decide how to allocate a portion of the taxes they pay to the State.”
(Photo: Pope Bendict, 1 July 2009/Tony Gentile)

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Catholic regular at Shinto shrines to visit pope at the Vatican

yasukuniPope Benedict has been criticised for his handling of relationships with the world’s other religions. On Monday Tuesday, he is due to receive at the Vatican Japan’s Prime Minister Taro Aso, who has little difficulty with mixing and matching various faiths.

Though an avowed member of Japan’s tiny Roman Catholic minority, Aso regularly pays respects and offers gifts at Shinto shrines. Japan’s indigenous religion of Shinto is polytheistic — its doctrine says the world is crowded with divinities, mostly in natural phenomena such as the sun, moon, wind and mountains. Combining this with Christianity’s monotheism may sound like a contradiction, but it is something many Japanese Catholics take in their stride. (Photo: Yasukuni Shrine in Tokyo, 31 May 2007/Kim Kyung-Hoon)

Aso’s visits have in the past included trips to Tokyo’s Yasukuni shrine, which is dedicated to war dead and to 14 people judged by an Allied tribunal to be Class A war criminals. Many in Asia see it as a symbol of Japan’s past militarism. But Aso has stayed away since becoming prime minister last year, probably more to avoid offending China than for religious reasons. For more on Aso and his faith, see our post about him when he took office.