NEWS: March 31, 2001
Bird’s Eye View of the News
Atila Sinke Guimarães
"TWO-HORNED MONSTER" – I don't know how the Vatican is going to paint this picture, but the reality is very clear: ecumenism with the Greek Schismatics is a complete failure. It is known that the "hard core" Schismatics are the Greeks, and among them, the center of radicalism is the Abbey of Mount Athos. One sore point for John Paul II is never to have received their permission to visit Greece, since the Schismatics have not considered his presence desirable on their peninsula.
Now, at the sunset of his pontificate, the trip is being sought for John Paul II as a kind of consolation prize. Someone is pushing hard for the trip to take place. Ceding to this pressure, the religious authorities seem to be preparing a "Phyrric victory" for the Pope. In fact, it was actually released that he will be very poorly received. Here is the notice from the Los Angeles Times (March 8, 2001): "Greek Orthodox leaders paved the way for a visit by Pope John Paul II with a decision that could help mend centuries of friction between the two Christian branches. Despite its approval, the Holy Synod acknowledges opposition and said any papal trip must be only a pilgrimage to biblical sites. The conservative clerical union predicted massive protests describing John Paul II as 'the two-horned grotesque monster of Rome.'" It is curious that the Greek monks suddenly seem to have received the gift of prophecy, enabling them to foresee the future action of the multitudes during the Pope's visit. Or another less sublime hypothesis: they themselves are inciting the population against the Pope. The practical conclusion: with or without the trip, ecumenism has failed completely with the Greek Schismatics.
ADAM'S POSE - At his sea-side parish of Salthill in Galway (Ireland), Father Olan Rynn was photographed sitting in an armchair with his legs crossed, naked except for a Roman collar and a prayer book in his hands. The "Bare Shakers" charity calendar also featured a range of other Galway celebrities including a leading gynecologist, a football player, an Olympic oarsman, and a teacher. Proceeds from its sale were to be used to fight cancer and cerebral palsy. The black-and-white calendar is based on the English "Alternative WI Calendar" which features middle-aged members of the Rylstone Women's Institute going about their domestic duties naked (The Catholic World Report, February 2001, pp. 12-13). Pressed by the Bishop, the priest has apologized to his congregation, and the picture has been withdrawn. Was this enough to prevent scandal?
"TOO LITTLE APPRECIATED"- Since 1962, the year of the first session of Vatican Council II, we have been hearing about ecumenism incessantly. Until now, many of the Catholic faithful have not swallowed the progressivist version of this so-called love for our separated brethren. There are large circles of Catholics, broader than the traditionalist and conservative milieus, that do not accept this desired union with Protestants and Schismatics. This conclusion, which I state with satisfaction, has also been expressed - but with regret - by the head of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, Cardinal Edward Cassidy. Addressing the U.S. Catholic Bishops on November 12, he stated: "The Church cannot be true to herself unless she is ecumenical." And he added: "This is a truth too little appreciated by many Catholics" (Tidings, November 17, 2000, p. 2). I take advantage of this admission by the well-informed Cardinal Cassidy to encourage my traditionalist brothers to carry on firmly in our correct position, which is a rallying point for a great number of Catholics all around the world. Holding to our convictions fortifies the Faith of many people and helps to prevent them from being overwhelmed by progressivism. Also, from a strategic point of view, our position helps to slow down the march of progressivism, and thereby hasten its inevitable deterioration.
PIZZA-MAKER - Mr. Thomas C. Fox, columnist of National Catholic Reporter, reminded his readers that John XXIII was "a rotund man described as looking more like a pizza-maker than a Pope" (November 17, 2000, p. 28). I agree with this amusing but objective commentary of Mr. Fox. And, I would add, he also did not look like a saint.
THE MERIT OF CLARITY - Archbishop Walter Kasper, who already holds an office in the Roman Curia, recently was raised to the Cardinalate and named to replace Cardinal Cassidy as president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity. A few facts from his past: Kasper has lectured at the University of Tübingen as an assistant professor of Fr. Hans Küng; in 1989 he was named Bishop of Rottenburg-Stuttgart; from there he went to the Vatican. Last January 22, one day after he was named a Cardinal, he gave an interview on the topic of ecumenism to the Austrian weekly Die Furche. The following is one of the questions and Kasper's response, where he openly and clearly said what most of the progressivists avoid saying even though they act upon it daily.
Die Furche - "How do you understand ecumenism? Does it mean integrating the other churches into the Catholic Church? The more recent documents seem to be walking in this direction…."
Walter Kasper - "The decision of Vatican II, to which the Pope adheres and spreads, is absolutely clear: Today we no longer understand ecumenism in the sense of the ecumenism of a return, by which the others should 'be converted' and return to being 'catholics.' This was expressly abandoned by Vatican II. Today ecumenism is considered as the common road: all should be converted to the following of Christ, and it is in Christ that we will find ourselves in the end. …. Even the Pope, among other things, describes ecumenism in Ut unum sint as an exchange of gifts. I think this is very well said: each church has its own riches and gifts of the Spirit, and it is this exchange that is trying to be achieved and not the fact that we should become 'protestants' or that the others should become 'catholics' in the sense of accepting the confessional form of Catholicism" (Adista, Rome, February 26, 2001, p. 9).
I have studied the progressivist theologians a little. Until now, it was normal for representatives of the "official Vatican line" to keep up the appearances that the Church's missionary past had not been abandoned by Vatican II. This type of statement that Kasper recently made would normally be found only in the books of the "hotheads." The members of the Curia took care to keep at their sides all the centrists and conservatives who could be scandalized by such a radical statement. But now, with this declaration by a disciple of Hans Küng, who is president of one of the most important Vatican Dicasteries, the Vatican begins to remove the mask from its face. It is becoming clear that the "moderates" think the same as the more radical progressivists.
Here let me direct a question to the blindly-obedient-conservatives, to those whose principal concern seems to be that of justifying everything that comes from the Vatican: How do you explain the statement of Cardinal Kasper where he clearly attributes to Vatican Council II the abandonment of all the Catholic missionary aims of the past? Is he right or wrong? If he is wrong, why don't you criticize him? If he is right, do you agree with him? If yes, you are also denying the past missionary aims of the Church. If no, why don't you criticize John Paul II for choosing him to represent his personal policy and his own ecumenical effort? If you say nothing, you run the risk that the "conservative" mask that you wear will slip and cease to convince. I am curious to see if some blindly-obedient-conservative will offer a reply to my inquiry.
Notwithstanding my total disagreement with the words of Cardinal Kasper, I am pleased that he used such absolutely unequivocal language. I acknowledge to him the merit of clarity.
"SAME FAITH" - On December 29, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, wrote an article on the first page in L'Osservatore Romano dealing with Catholic and Jewish relations. He said that Catholic dialogue with the Jews belongs to a unique category because the Jewish faith "for us is not another religion, but the foundation of our own Faith" (The Tidings, January 5, 2001, p. 2). It is extraordinary that the Cardinal chosen by Pope John Paul II to defend the "doctrine of Faith" is affirming that the Jewish creed, with its innumerable heresies and multiple blasphemies relative to Our Lord Jesus Christ and Our Lady, does not differ from the tenets of Catholic Doctrine.
In his document Dominus Jesu, Ratzinger affirmed that Catholics make up a single "Church of Christ" with Protestants and Schismatics. Here he goes further and affirms that Catholics constitute one same religion with the Jews; he is setting the foundation for something vaster than the "Church of Christ." He seems to be pointing to a strange ecclesiastic reality on the horizon that would bring together all those who believe in one single God. We should prepare ourselves next for the announcement of the "Church of God." Undoubtedly we are living in times of confusion - including an increasing linguistic confusion, spread by those whose duty is to clearly teach the truth. No more clarity, no more truth.
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