NEWS: September 19, 2003

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Bird’s Eye View of the News

Atila Sinke Guimarães

AN EGOTIST PAPAL STAR -  As we approach the 25th anniversary of John Paul II as Pope (elected October 16; instated October 22), assessments of his role are already appearing here and there. I am reading one by Enzo Manzi, an Italian journalist favorable to JPII on many issues, but also an honest critic on others. His analysis was published in Adista, a well-informed progressivist Rome bulletin. Manzi states:

“The geniality of Pope Wojtyla, his master-work, his express specialty, is, in my opinion, his conquest of the media. With this, he imagines he has achieved his program expressed at the beginning of his pontificate with the phrase: ‘Do not be afraid to open your hearts to Christ.’ The intention is the noblest, but the method seems to have gone amiss, in my opinion. In fact, Christ was excluded from it: everywhere one can see the great papal media star replacing Christ. This is the gravest thing Wojtyla has to answer for in his pontificate.

John Paull II takes the spotlight

The constant concern of JPII to project his own person before the media cameras places Our Lord and the Catholic Church in a secondary plane
“In order to conquer the media, the Pope often transformed himself into a media celebrity, a gigantic star able to dominate the media, reach record audiences, and seduce the multitudes. To do this, he unhesitatingly utilized the resources of this world instead of relying on the intrinsic strength of the prophetic announcement and the Faith.

“Furthermore, transformed into a media phenomenon, the person of the Pope in effect annulled the autonomy of any other ecclesiastical reality, and offered the world an image that identifies the Catholic Church with this Pontiff. …. John Paul II set himself up as the sign of the times, he obscured anything else with the emphasis he placed on his own person. He ‘is’ the word of God, and it is in him that one should find the truth about man and the world. He himself said that his trips are ‘pilgrimages to the living sanctuary of the People of God.’ In fact, however, he does not go through the world in order to listen to it …. but principally to promote his own image” (Adista, May 24, pp. 11-2).

I think that it must be particularly hard for John Paul II to acknowledge this kind of critique coming from his own grass-roots. Not from the subservient and venal grass-roots, which always praises everything he does, but the authentic ones, who have the honesty to present this type of straightforward judgment. I believe that such criticisms must be very hard for him since it is not just an opinion. It is a well-deserved criticism that fits perfectly with the reality. I don’t think that my reader will find a similar honest analysis so easily in the many subservient eulogies that will probably begin to fill newspapers and magazines.

WOMEN HEARING CONFESSIONS – An English Bishop has suggested that Catholic lay women should be allowed to administer the Sacrament of Confession. Auxiliary Bishop Vincent Malone of Liverpool said there might be circumstances in which it was more appropriate for a woman to give absolution than a man. In a new book – Healing Priesthood: Women’s Voices Worldwide – the Bishop compared the confessional to a medical practice, where patients are routinely given the choice between a male and a female doctor, and he asked whether the time had come to offer Catholic women a similar choice for confessor. The Bishop also questioned whether the Church should continue to prohibit lay men and women from administering the Sacrament of Extreme Unction (America, September 15, 2003, pp. 4-5).

This is a trial balloon that is being floated. Most probably, unless an indignant reaction grounds it, we will see its application after a while. Why do I think that? Simply because, since Vatican II, the crisis of vocations in the priesthood has increased and now it is reaching its climax. With the small number of entrances into the seminaries, and the few ordinations being made, the medium age for the existing priests is rising and drawing closer to the retirement age of 75. In parallel, the number of Catholic faithful continues to grow. Even with the Charismatic movement drawing a proportionately larger number of seminarians, and also the countless gays being admitted to the priesthood, the figures far from meet the needs. Therefore, a solution is urgently needed.

What should be done? In my opinion, the solution is simple: do away with Vatican II and its bitter consequences, and shortly the seminaries and the priesthood will be filled with good people. The progressivist solution is different: to start to admit lay people – men and women – to fill the holes left by the lacking priests so that the ministry of the sacraments can continue.

The priesthood is evaporating. It is another tragic consequence of Vatican II. What about the “new springtime” in vocations that was lauded by the Vatican and a certain conservative press some time ago? If this were true, the “springtime” resulted in a catastrophically barren harvest.

A BIZARRE NEW GOD – Last week a three-day inter-religious conference promoted by the Community of St. Egidio took place in Aachen, Germany. Some 10,000 people attended the encounter. At the opening session, the Catholic Bishop of Aachen, Heinrich Mussinghoff, set the tone of the meetings by declaring: “God is not Catholic, nor Orthodox, nor Protestant; neither is God Christian, Jewish, Muslim or Buddhist. God is God for all” (National Catholic Reporter, "Word from Rome," by John Allen, Online edition, September 12, 2003).

It is common knowledge that the pagans admitted many gods; hence they built the Pantheon of Rome in order to honor all of them. It was a relativistic but tactful way to keep everyone content. Now, we have the Bishop of Aachen who comes out with exactly the opposite: he affirms, first, that no religion can claim to have the true God; and, second, that there would be only one god for all.

With the first part of his assertion, Mussinghoff disgruntled everyone, doing the very opposite of the diplomatic Romans. A record lack of tact.

With the second part, more than a heresy, he affirmed an absurdity. Buddhism holds that god is essentially immanent in every created thing. Therefore Buddhists adore a cow, a tree or a rock as divine. Catholicism, to the contrary, professes that God is a unique Person, an Individual, with no communicable essence. All creatures are different from Him. Catholics adore only such a Person. For anyone who is mentally fit, it is impossible to admit this and the opposite thinking at the same time. I am not stressing that Mussingoff made a heretical statement, because this is obvious. I am saying something deeper, that he insulted the very rationality of mankind. With his bizarre god, Mussinghoff reached a record high of inanity.




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