PopeWatch: Pope Eternal

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From the only reliable source of Catholic news on the net, Eye of the Tiber:

 

Pope Francis announced Sunday that he has no plans to retire from his position as the leader of the Catholic Church, or to die.

The pontiff responded to a question from a young man at the Vatican, assuring Catholics and supporters that the thought of retirement or death has not even occurred to him.

“I never thought of quitting being pope, or of leaving because of the many responsibilities,” Pope Francis told reporters. “And to those who earnestly pray that God calls me home soon, I say, neither have I thought of dying, not only because of the many responsibilities, but, more importantly, to annoy you.”

The Pontiff joked in 2014 that his papacy would only last two or three more years until he goes “off to the Father’s house,” but later told the press he was only joking, and that he planned to remain pope for the next two to three centuries.

 

Pope Francis went on to add that, although he had no intentions of “being dead” anytime in the foreseeable future, he planned to use the plenty of time he had left on this earth excommunicating one randomly selected person a day until he finally got his lifelong wish of seeing flying cars and hover boards “like you see in the movies” on the streets.

He also told the press that he planned to use some of the abundant amount of time he had left accomplishing some of the things on his bucket list.

“I would like to end world hunger, of course, but mainly, I will be working on designing a Hover Pope Mobile so that once the whole flying car thing gets going, I won’t have to wait long. They promised us that there would be flying cars in the year 2000, but they are still not here. What is the hold up? I also plan on setting a record in the Guinness Book of World Records for longest stretch of ad-lib monologue with reporters. I will be shooting for thirty-six straight hours of unscripted and uninterrupted verbal bedlam. I have been practicing for this for some time, and I’m confident I can do it.”

Continue reading

Fortnight For Freedom: Cynical About Cynicism

 

 

 

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My favorite scene from Frank Capra’s classic Mr. Smith Goes to Washington.  It is easy to give way to weary cynicism when one contemplates all the evil in the world.  However, history is replete with examples of men and women who fought the good fight and won.  Even those who fought and were defeated ennobled all of us by their stand.  Let us ever be cynical about cynicism and let us ever be ready to pick up the gauntlet, no matter the odds, so that, in the ringing phrase of Lincoln, truth, and justice, and mercy, and all the humane and Christian virtues might not be extinguished from the land.

Summertime

 

Something for the weekend.  Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong team up to give an unforgettable rendition of Summertime.  Composed as an aria in 1934 by George Gershwin for the play Porgy and Bess, it always conveys to me memories of the various hot summers of my boyhood when home air conditioning was rare and a luxury.

Laura Secord

 

Completely unknown to the public at large in the US, Laura Secord, ironically a daughter of a man who fought on the patriot side in the Revolution, is a national heroine in Canada. In 1813 during the War of 1812, American troops were quartered in Secord’s home.  Learning of a plan to attack the British installation at Beaver Dams, she walked from Queenstown twenty miles to warn the British.

Forewarned, the British with 400 Indians and 50 regulars surrounded the American force of some 600 regulars as it advanced on Beavers Dam on June 24, 1813.  After some fighting the British commander, Lieutenant James FitzGibbon,  convinced the American commander, Colonel Charles Boerstler, that he was vastly outnumbered and that unless he immediately surrendered, FitzGibbon would not be able to control the Indians.  The gullible Boerstler surrendered.

Secord’s role in all this remained virtually unknown until she sought a pension for her poverty stricken family after the War.  The Canadian public did not pay much attention until the visiting Prince of Wales in 1860 heard of her long ago heroics, and sent the 85 year old Secord one hundred pounds.

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Bear Growls: Game of Popes

 

OK, this is simply too brilliant.  From our bruin friend at Saint Corbinian’s Bear:

 

King John Paul Arryn, Second of His Name
The death of the Mad King occurred some time after the Council, and a war for the possession of the Iron Throne ensued. The fearless and noble Benedict Stark led a large army from the far north, and fought House Lannister in the final battle for King’s Landing. The Lannisters were defeated by the unexpected arrival of a large cavalry force led by John Paul Arryn, Lord of the Vale, a province to the east.

The victors agreed upon the dashing and proven John Paul Arryn, Second of His Name, as King of Westeros. Benedict Stark was named Hand of the King. As Hand, Benedict had authority second only to the King. Benedict Stark had sided with the Sparrow faction at the Great Council, but repented of his error after The Red Wedding and following abuses.

During Benedict’s long term as Hand, he discovered much corruption in the capital. He carefully compiled evidence of grave misconduct by certain Lords of Westeros and their confederates, especially the powerful but sinister Lannisters. The Sparrows were up to their necks in it. King John Paul, however, believed that moving against the corruption would be a distraction from his chief business, which was to improve the political landscape, roll back the influence of the Sparrows, and restore reason to the maesters.

King Benedict Stark, First of His Name

King John Paul had a long and popular reign. It is said that he ruled Westeros without a single sword being drawn from its sheath. But some thought he did not do enough to correct the Great Council and suppress the Sparrows. Upon his death, his faithful Hand, Benedict Stark, Lord of Winterfell, was named king by acclamation, John Paul leaving no heir.

King Benedict, unlike King John Paul, was not universally loved. The Sparrows despised him, especially his “reform of the reform,” which included an option for the ancient rite of the Seven. He was mocked by many, and his efforts were largely ineffectual where they were not simply blocked outright. He never felt he had the strength to go after the corruption he had uncovered as a younger man, while King John Paul’s Hand.

When he grew very old, he was given an ultimatum by the Lannisters. He would abdicate the Iron Throne, while retaining some ambiguous royal prerogatives as “King Emeritus.” From Dorn, the uttermost south, an unknown Lannister would be installed upon the Iron Throne before anyone could do anything about it. [Dorn? You don’t remember Dorn? Neither does anyone else.]

King Francis Lannister, First of His Name

The smallfolk of King’s Landing literally woke up one day to find that Benedict Stark was no longer king, and their new king was Francis Lannister, First of His Name. He was young, and had the blond Lannister hair, just like his aunt Cersei and uncle Jaime, as well as a streak of sadism. He named Lord Kasper Frey as his Hand. Some, those not familiar with the rules of the Game of Popes, were shocked, given Frey’s connection with the Red Wedding. Others were simply confirmed in their suspicions: Francis Lannister and the Sparrows had not just blown in through the window together by chance.

Initially, nearly everyone was charmed by King Francis’ simplicity. It was said he slept naked in a pile of dung spread over iron spikes beneath the stars, no matter the season. He ate nothing but sawdust wetted with vegetable broth, while servants beat him with canes. These, at any rate, were such stories as he enjoyed hearing about himself. He did not wear shoes, famously saying, “carnival is over,” and so was rumored to be a Sparrow. Continue reading

PopeWatch: Que?

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Dave Griffey at Daffey Thoughts takes on the arduous task of attempting to make sense of the Pope’s recent remarks on marriage:

I’m somewhat confused.  People who hate Pope Francis, like people who all but worship the man even if they deny it, will be of no value.  Much of what he says is rooted in his own experiences in Latin America.  As such, they don’t apply here in my cultural context.  Some of what he seems to be saying is that people are living  in what used to be called sin, not because they are living in sin, but because they are ignorant of the Sacrament of Marriage.  As such, he continues, people live in all ways outside of the Church’s understanding of a Sacramental Marriage even if they think they aren’t.  I’ll leave others to hammer out the implication of most marriages being invalid.

Here’s the part that caught my eye, and it could be a matter of translation, but he seems to be saying something about cohabitation and civil marriages that I can’t grasp.  According to the article, he first says:

“They prefer to cohabitate, and this is a challenge, a task.  Not to ask ‘why don’t you marry?’  No, to accompany, to wait, and to help them to mature, help fidelity to mature.”

If they weren’t confused about the Sacrament of Marriage before that sentence, they could be forgiven for being confused now.  I know I am.  Is he saying that it doesn’t matter if they are married as long as we foster fidelity?  I’ll assume he means that we need to help them to mature, and their fidelity to mature, meaning that it finally turns into marriage of a Sacramental nature.

He then goes on:

He said that in Argentina’s northeast countryside, couples have a child and live together. They have a civil wedding when the child goes to school, and when they become grandparents they “get married religiously.”  

OK, this is paraphrasing what Pope Francis says.  Note the only quotes are at the end.  But again, it is a strong reference steeped heavily in his own cultural context.  It doesn’t really apply to the US, or from what I know, most European Catholic countries, though I could be wrong about the latter.  But this section is important, because it sets up the most confusing part of the article:

“It’s a superstition, because marriage frightens the husband.  It’s a superstition we have to overcome,” the Pope said.  “I’ve seen a lot of fidelity in these cohabitation, and I am sure that this is a real marriage, they have the grace of a real marriage because of their fidelity, but there are local superstitions, etc.” 

OK.  First, note this is now a quote.  Translated to be sure, but quote nonetheless.  I have no clue what to do with the part about the it being a superstition because of the husband’s fear, so we’ll move on to the second part.  There are different ways to read this, if you get right down to it.  And in some ways, that is the biggest problem with Pope Francis.  While sometimes he leaves no room for debate, at other times we’re left trying to scramble for an authoritative interpretation of what he is talking about. Continue reading

Fortnight For Freedom: National Suicide

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Prophetic words of warning for us today from a young Mr. Lincoln:

 

We find ourselves in the peaceful possession, of the fairest portion of the earth, as regards extent of territory, fertility of soil, and salubrity of climate. We find ourselves under the government of a system of political institutions, conducing more essentially to the ends of civil and religious liberty, than any of which the history of former times tells us. We, when mounting the stage of existence, found ourselves the legal inheritors of these fundamental blessings. We toiled not in the acquirement or establishment of them–they are a legacy bequeathed us, by a once hardy, brave, and patriotic, but now lamented and departed race of ancestors. Their’s was the task (and nobly they performed it) to possess themselves, and through themselves, us, of this goodly land; and to uprear upon its hills and its valleys, a political edifice of liberty and equal rights; ’tis ours only, to transmit these, the former, unprofaned by the foot of an invader; the latter, undecayed by the lapse of time and untorn by usurpation, to the latest generation that fate shall permit the world to know. This task of gratitude to our fathers, justice to ourselves, duty to posterity, and love for our species in general, all imperatively require us faithfully to perform.

How then shall we perform it?–At what point shall we expect the approach of danger? By what means shall we fortify against it?– Shall we expect some transatlantic military giant, to step the Ocean, and crush us at a blow? Never!–All the armies of Europe, Asia and Africa combined, with all the treasure of the earth (our own excepted) in their military chest; with a Buonaparte for a commander, could not by force, take a drink from the Ohio, or make a track on the Blue Ridge, in a trial of a thousand years.

At what point then is the approach of danger to be expected? I answer, if it ever reach us, it must spring up amongst us. It cannot come from abroad. If destruction be our lot, we must ourselves be its author and finisher. As a nation of freemen, we must live through all time, or die by suicide.

Abraham Lincoln, January 27, 1838

 

Brexit Wins!

 

‘We have our own dream and our own task. We are with Europe, but not of it. We are linked, but not comprised. We are interested and associated, but not absorbed.’

Winston Churchill, May 9, 1938

 

 

 

 

Well, this will send shock waves around the globe.  The voters of Great Britain have voted narrowly to leave the European Union:

 

Britain has voted to leave the European Union, with the Leave campaign securing around 51.8 per cent of the vote.

David Cameron, who will address the nation shortly, is now facing calls to resign as Prime Minister.

While England voted overwhelmingly for Brexit, Scotland and Northern Ireland backed Remain. Statements are expected to be made by Sinn Fein and the SNP later today calling for a breakaway from the Union. London backed Remain but the turnout was lower than expected because of bad weather.

The pound crashed to the lowest level since 1985 as sterling fell below $1.35. Complacency about a Brexit outcome will come clear this morning, as out of hours trading suggests that the FTSE 100 will drop by 8.8pc, or by some 560 points. The fall would be the third worst in history if stocks ended the day down as sharply.

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PopeWatch: Electing a New Laity

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Canon Lawyer Edward Peters at his blog In The Light of the Law explains how Pope Francis views marriage:

 

And what direction is that?

This one: Pope Francis really—and I think, sincerely—believes:

(A) most marriages (at least, most Christian marriages) really aren’t, deep-down, marriages (and so the annulment process has to be sped up to dispatch of what are, after all, probably null marriages anyway, and the consequences of post-divorce marriages need to be softened because most people in those second marriages probably weren’t in true marriages the first time, and so on); and,

(B) lots of things that aren’t marriages (like cohabitation and civil-only weddings between Catholics) really are, deep-down, marriages (so we need to affirm them and assure them that they enjoy the same graces as married people, and so on).

That this is pope’s view can, I suggest, be directly determined from his own words (expunged and otherwise) and, if I am right, would explain many things, from his favoring Cdl. Kasper and side-lining Cdl. Burke, rolling out several problematic tribunal “reforms” in Mitis Iudex, and leaving ambiguous several crucial points that sorely needed clarity in Amoris laetitia. The irreducibly objective, ‘either/or’, nature of marriage would not sit well with someone who prefers subjective, flexible approaches that allow for ‘this and that’ responses, but, whatever problems the principle of non-contradiction poses here, a conviction that most marriages are not marriage but lots of non-marriages are marriage, would explain a lot. Continue reading

Fortnight For Freedom: Major Andrew McClary

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I occasionally encounter people who claim that freedom is an abstraction, and that they would never die for an abstraction.  That has never been the case in my family.  McClareys have fought in all the nation’s wars down to the present, and we have attempted to remember them beginning with the first, Andrew McClary, a man who has fascinated me since my father told me about him so long ago.

He is memorialized in the  above section of a painting  by John Trumbull and depicting, with artistic license, “The Death of General John Warren.”  The Major is shown raising his musket to brain a British soldier attempting to bayonet the dying Warren, a warlike action quite in character for him, and one which warms the cockles of my heart.  My wife has noted over the years how much I resemble Major Andrew, and it is intriguing how his facial features have been passed down through the generations of my family.

Born  in 1730 in Ireland, at an early age he emigrated to New Hampshire with his family.  He grew to six feet, a giant of a man for his time, jovial in disposition but always ready to fight if need be to defend his rights or the rights of those he loved.    The colonies were fortunate that quite a few men, like George Washington, who had served in the French and Indian War, were still in the prime of life and constituted a potential officer corps with, in many cases, combat experience, at the time when the Revolution began.  Major Andrew McClary was typical of these men.  After serving as an officer in Rogers’ Rangers during the French and Indian War, and singlehandedly throwing six British officers out of a tavern window during a loud “discussion” on a memorable evening, he had settled down as a farmer outside of Epsom, serving as a selectman of that town,  a member of the New Hampshire legislature, and, always, as an officer of the New Hampshire militia.  When news of Lexington and Concord reached him, he abandoned his plow, told his young family he was off to fight the British, and immediately marched off with a company of 80 militiamen to the siege lines around Boston. There he met up with his old friend from Rogers’ Rangers Colonel John Stark, who made McClary a major in his regiment of New Hampshire militia.

At the battle of Bunker Hill, Major McClary led the regiment onto Breed’s Hill, where the battle was fought on June 17, 1775.  The advance of the regiment was momentarily blocked by a gaggle of Massachusetts militia standing about on the road doing nothing.  That obstruction was removed when McClary yelled out that New Hampshire would like to borrow the road, if Massachusetts was not using it. Continue reading

Donald Trump: The Speech

 

If Donald Trump becomes President of these United States, the speech he gave yesterday, flaying Hillary Clinton, I predict will be remembered as The Speech, much as Ronald Reagan’s speech for Barry Goldwater in 1964, which launched Reagan’s political career, is recalled in Reagan lore as The Speech.  We saw a new Trump yesterday, one on message, disciplined, using a teleprompter and oh so effective as he depicted Hillary Clinton as the transparent crook she truly is, and as the personification of the status quo.  This is not partisan analysis.  Here is a quote from Michele Goldberg at uber liberal Slate:

 

Donald Trump’s Wednesday morning speech about Hillary Clinton’s record is probably the most unnervingly effective one he has ever given. In a momentary display of discipline, he read from a teleprompter with virtually no ad-libbing, avoiding digs at Bill Clinton’s infidelity or conspiracy theories about Vince Foster’s suicide. Standing in a low-ceilinged conference room bedecked with square chandeliers in the Trump SoHo, a lawsuit-plagued hotel and condo development, Trump spoke for 40 minutes without saying anything overtly sexist. Instead, he aimed straight at Clinton’s most-serious weaknesses, describing her as a venal tool of the establishment. “Hillary Clinton gave China millions of our best jobs and effectively let China completely rebuild itself,” he said. “In return, Hillary Clinton got rich!” He added, “She gets rich making you poor,” and called her possibly “the most corrupt person ever to seek the presidency.” Continue reading

Heard About the Attempt to Assassinate Trump?

If a similar attempt had been made to assassinate Hillary Clinton, you would be hearing about little else:

 

Did the left-wing “climate of hate,” which has been plaguing Donald Trump and his supporters for many months, incite an autistic British man to take extreme measures to “stop” him?  If Sarah Palin and the tea party could be blamed for the assassination attempt on Gabrielle Giffords in 2011, then it’s fair to question if Donald Trump’s critics can be blamed for the attempt on his life.

A few days ago, 20-year-old Michael Steven Sandford attempted to kill the Republican presumptive nominee at a rally at the Treasure Island Casino. Sandford tried to take a gun from a Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department officer in order to assassinate Trump but failed in his attempt, according to court documents filed in U.S. District Court in Nevada.

The British national, who was living in the United States illegally on an expired visa, now faces up to ten years in prison after apparently making a confession to a Secret Service agent. Media coverage of what should be a major story has been somewhat less than wall-to-wall. Would the media be this curiously disinterested if the assassination attempt had been on Hillary Clinton? Continue reading

PopeWatch: Crisis of Faith

 

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Well, this explains a lot:

 

Pope Francis admits he often faces crises of faith

Pope Francis has admitted he often faces crises of faith, in which he has ”questioned Jesus and even doubted”.

In an impromptu question and answer session with an audience of students in Rome on Saturday, widely reported on Catholic news sites in Europe, the Pope said he often wondered: “Is this really the truth? Is it a dream?’’

This happened, he said, when he was “a boy, a seminarian, a religious, a priest, a bishop and even now (as Pope)’’. Christians had had not experienced a crisis of faith he said, were “missing something”.

Continue reading

Fortnight For Freedom: Saint Thomas More and Saint John Fisher

 

A spot of blood and grease on the pages of English history.

Charles Dickens, referring to King Henry VIII

For English speaking Catholics, June 22 is a bright day on the calendar of the Saints.  It is appropriate that in the northern hemisphere it is also one of the longest days, when it is not the longest day, of the year, since no amount of sunshine is too much to celebrate the merits of Saint Thomas More and Saint John Fisher.  On this day we remember the two saints who stood against King Henry VIII, for the great principal that the State must never be allowed to control the Church.  Much that we Americans celebrate as freedom was born out of Church-State struggles down through the ages.  Sometimes those who stood against the State fell in the struggle, but the concept that the State is not absolute, that there are limits to its authority, is one of the great gifts of the Catholic Middle Ages to all of mankind.  It is only in modern times, since 1500, that the heresy that the State may exercise absolute authority has been a constant source of misery and strife in the history of the West.

When he ascended to the throne of England Henry VIII was popularly known as the Golden Hope of England.  His father Henry VII had never been loved by the people of England:  a miser and a distinctly unheroic figure no matter what Shakespeare would write in Richard III.  He had brought the end of the War of the Roses and peace to England, but that was about as much credit as his subjects would give the grasping, unlovable Henry Tudor.  His son by contrast looked like an Adonis when young, strong and athletic.  He had a sharp mind and had been well-educated, intended, ironically, for a career in the Church before the death of his elder brother Arthur.  He was reputed, correctly, to be pious.  He had considerable charisma in his youth and knew how to make himself loved with a well timed laugh or smile, and loved he was, by the nobles, commons, his wife Katherine, and the Church.  Few reigns started more auspiciously than that of Henry, eighth of that name.

By the end of his reign he was widely despised by most his subjects.  Called a crowned monster behind his back, his reign had brought religious turmoil to England and domestic strife.  The best known symbols of his reign were the headman’s axe, the stake and the boiling pot in which he had some of the luckless individuals who roused his fury boiled to death.

It of course is small wonder for a Catholic to have little love for Henry VIII and his reign, but the distaste for Henry extends well beyond members of the Church.  Winston Churchill, the great English statesman and historian, in his magisterial History of the English Speaking Peoples, has this to say about the executions of Saint Thomas More and Saint John Fisher:

The resistance of More and Fisher to the royal supremacy in Church government was a heroic stand.  They realised the defects of the existing Catholic system, but they hated and feared the aggressive nationalism which was destroying the unity of Christendom.  They saw that the break with Rome carried with it the risk of a despotism freed from every fetter.  More stood forth as the defender of all that was finest in the medieval outlook.  He represents to history its universality, its belief in spiritual values, and its instinctive sense of otherworldliness.  Henry VIII with cruel axe decapitated not only a wise and gifted counselor, but a system which, though it had failed to live up to its ideals in practice, had for long furnished mankind with its brightest dreams.”

 

Churchill himself was not noted for being a churchgoer.  When asked if he was a pillar of the Church of England, he quipped that perhaps he could be considered to be a flying butress of the Church, supporting it from outside.  Perhaps this helped give him a certain objectivity regarding Henry VIII.  Here is part of his summing up of Henry’s reign:

“Henry’s rule saw many advances in the growth and the character of the English state, but it is a hideous blot upon his record that the reign should be widely remembered for its executions.  Two Queens, two of the King’s chief Ministers, a saintly bishop, numerous abbots, monks and many ordinary folk who dared to resist the royal will were put to death.  Almost every member of the nobility in whom royal blood ran perished on the scaffold at Henry’s command.  Roman Catholic and Calvinist alike were burnt for heresy and religious treason.  These persecutions, inflicted in solemn manner by officers of the law, perhaps in the presence of the Council or even the King himself, form a brutal seqeul to the bright promise of the Renaissance.  The sufferings of devout men and women among the faggots, the use of torture, and the savage penalties imposed for even paltry crimes, stand in repellant contrast to the enlightened principles of humanism.” 

Continue reading

Hath Melted Like Snow in the Glance of the Lord

 

“Therefore, thus says the LORD concerning the king of Assyria:
‘He shall not reach this city, nor shoot an arrow at it,
nor come before it with a shield,
nor cast up siege-works against it.
He shall return by the same way he came,
without entering the city, says the LORD.
I will shield and save this city for my own sake,
and for the sake of my servant David.’”

That night the angel of the LORD went forth and struck down
one hundred and eighty-five thousand men in the Assyrian camp.
So Sennacherib, the king of Assyria, broke camp,
and went back home to Nineveh.

Old Testament Reading-June 21, 2016

The Assyrian came down like the wolf on the fold,
And his cohorts were gleaming in purple and gold;
And the sheen of their spears was like stars on the sea,
When the blue wave rolls nightly on deep Galilee.

Like the leaves of the forest when Summer is green,
That host with their banners at sunset were seen:
Like the leaves of the forest when Autumn hath blown,
That host on the morrow lay withered and strown.

For the Angel of Death spread his wings on the blast,
And breathed in the face of the foe as he passed;
And the eyes of the sleepers waxed deadly and chill,
And their hearts but once heaved, and for ever grew still!

And there lay the steed with his nostril all wide,
But through it there rolled not the breath of his pride;
And the foam of his gasping lay white on the turf,
And cold as the spray of the rock-beating surf.

And there lay the rider distorted and pale,
With the dew on his brow, and the rust on his mail:
And the tents were all silent, the banners alone,
The lances unlifted, the trumpet unblown.

And the widows of Ashur are loud in their wail,
And the idols are broke in the temple of Baal;
And the might of the Gentile, unsmote by the sword,
Hath melted like snow in the glance of the Lord.

Lord Byron, The Destruction of Sennacherib (1815)

Gag

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Please read this letter and then in the comboxes give me a guesstimate  of the percentage of people at the Vatican who actually believe that Catholicism is the True Faith:

 

Christians and Muslims: 

Beneficiaries and Instruments of Divine Mercy

Dear Muslim brothers and sisters,

1. The month of Ramadan and ‘Id al-Fitr is an important religious event for Muslims around the world, focused on fasting, prayer and good deeds, and is esteemed by Christians, your friends and neighbours. On behalf of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue and Christians all over the world, we extend best wishes for a spiritually rewarding fast, supported by good deeds, and for a joyful feast.

As is our cherished custom, we wish to share with you on this occasion some reflections in the hope of strengthening the spiritual bonds we share.

2. A theme that is close to the hearts of Muslims and Christians alike is mercy.

We know that Christianity and Islam both believe in a merciful God, who shows his mercy and compassion towards all his creatures, in particular the human family. He created us out of an immense love. He is merciful in caring for each of us, bestowing upon us the gifts we need for our daily life, such as food, shelter and security. God’s mercy is manifested in a particular way, however, through the pardon of our faults; hence he is the one who pardons (al-Ghâfir), but the one who pardons much and always (al-Ghafour).

3. To underscore the importance of mercy, His Holiness Pope Francis declared a Jubilee Year of Mercy to be celebrated from 8 December 2015 to 20 November 2016. In this regard he said: “Here… is the reason for the Jubilee: because this is the time for mercy. It is the favorable time to heal wounds, a time not to be weary of meeting all those who are waiting to see and to touch with their hands the signs of the closeness of God, a time to offer everyone, everyone, the way of forgiveness and reconciliation” (“Homily”, 11 April 2015).

Your pilgrimage (hajj) to the Holy places, mainly Mecca and Medina, is surely a special time for you to experience God’s mercy. In fact, among the well-known aspirations addressed to Muslim pilgrims is: “I wish you a blessed pilgrimage, praiseworthy efforts and the pardon of your sins”. Making a pilgrimage to obtain God’s pardon for sins, both for the living and dead, is truly a salient custom practice among believers.

4. We, Christians and Muslims, are called to do our best to imitate God. He, the Merciful, asks us to be merciful and compassionate towards others, especially those who are in any kind of need. So too he calls us to be forgiving of one another.

When we gaze upon humanity today, we are saddened to see so many victims of conflicts and violence – here we think in particular of the elderly, and children and women, especially those who fall prey to human trafficking and the many people who suffer from poverty, illness, natural disasters and unemployment.

5. We cannot close our eyes to these realities, or turn away from these sufferings. It is true that situation are often very complex and that their solution exceeds our capacities. It is vital, therefore, that all work together in assisting those in need. It is a source of great hope when we experience or hear of Muslims and Christians joining hands to help the needy. When we do join hands, we heed an important command in our respective religions and show forth God’s mercy, thus offering a more credible witness, individually and communally, to our beliefs.

May the Merciful and Almighty God help us to walk always along the path of goodness and compassion!

6. We join our prayerful good wishes to those of Pope Francis for abundant blessings during Ramadan and for a lasting joy of ‘Id al-Fitr.

Happy Feast to you all!

From the Vatican, 10 June 2016

Jean-Louis Cardinal Tauran

President

Bishop Miguel Ángel Ayuso Guixot, M.C.C.I.

Secretary

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