NEWS:  June 26, 2006

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Bird’s Eye View of the News

Atila Sinke Guimarães

A NEW RED POPE   –   Until Vatican II, the Prefect of the Propaganda Fidei – Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith – today’s Congregation for the Evangelization of the Peoples, was called the Red Pope. This was how Church tradition emphasized the great power that this Cardinal dressed in red had over the entire Church.

Indeed, at that time when the main concern of the Holy See was to convert as many persons as possible to the Catholic Faith, every material means was provided to the Propaganda Fidei to send missionaries and establish religious institutions – churches, hospitals, schools, convents and monasteries – in pagan countries and to expand their works of conversion. The Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith also commonly counter-attacked Protestants and Schismatics in countries where they had contaminated the people with their bad doctrine. The life and martyrdom of St. Fidelis of Sigmarinen fighting against Swiss Calvinism on the express order of the Propaganda Fidei gives us a good example of how this Congregation developed its apostolate.

After Vatican II and according to its spirit, Paul VI changed the name and the mission of the Propaganda Fidei. For Progressivism, it is not exclusively the Catholic Church but all religions that have true faiths. Therefore, there is no longer a need to convert anyone from his beliefs. Each one may spread his “truth” freely without harming the others’ respective “truths.”

Echoing these false principles, Paul VI changed the affirmative name Propaganda Fidei which implied that only the Catholic Faith is the right one. Another less militant name replaced it: Congregation for the Evangelization of the Peoples. It implies that Catholics may spread their Gospel just as Muslims may spread their Koran, and Jews their Talmud.

With the name, the mission also changed: No more conversions, no more doctrinal disputes and polemics, and consequently no more martyrs confessing the Catholic Faith against false religions. The mission of this new Vatican Congregation turned toward “inculturation,” which means that Catholic truths and rites should adapt themselves to local “cultures” and religious “traditions.”

So, among the animist tribes of Africa, for example, the Catholic missionary should no longer preach the pure and eternal Catholic Faith. He should look for “the seeds of truths” in those fetishist rituals and beliefs, and then adapt the Catholic message to them. In India, Catholics should adapt themselves to Buddhism and Hinduism, merging Christ with those pantheist doctrines. In other cultures and religions, the path is similar. Frankly speaking, today this Congregation spreads religious syncretism without using the name.

Cardinal Dias at a Hindu Shrine

Card. Dias pays homage to a Hindu deity - For more, click here

Therefore, the present day Evangelization of the Peoples in many senses is the opposite of the old and blessed Propaganda Fidei. But it is still a very important Vatican Congregation. Recently Benedict XVI named its new prefect. It is Cardinal Ivan Dias, the Archbishop of Munbai, India, who is completely aligned with the “inculturation” process. You may see him pictured at right paying homage to the Hindu deity Ganesha. This gesture expresses a whole mentality.

Naming Card. Dias for the Evangelization of the Peoples, Pope Benedict has made his second major change in the Vatican staff he inherited from John Paul II. The first was to name Archbishop William Levada for the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith. Levada was known for his complacent handling of pedophile priests, when he was Bishop of Portland, Oregon, and for his friendly approach to homosexuals when he became Archbishop of San Francisco. The posts now held by Levada and Dias are the two most important positions in the Church after the Pope.

These two choices are clear signs of what Benedict XVI thinks on these matters.

FAILED OSTPOLITIK WITH CHINA – The “thaw” of diplomatic relations with communist China seems to be one of the priorities of Pope Ratzinger. As soon as he was elected, he started to take steps toward a full agreement between the Catholic Church of the Catacombs in China and the so-called Patriotic Catholic Association, named and controlled by the Chinese Communist Party. Benedict accepted some bishops chosen by the regime as legitimate with the aim that, in a reciprocal action, some Bishops of the Catacombs would be permitted to attend a Synod in Rome. It was a vain hope. The regime did not allow them to travel – click here for details.

One of the Vatican’s presuppositions in achieving this supposed thaw is that future bishops – either the legitimate ones from the Catacombs or the usurpers made by the government – would be named in common accord, after due consultation. Well, even this has not worked out. On May 14, the Patriotic Association installed another bishop without any consultation with Rome, and therefore, without Benedict’s blessing (The Tablet, May 20, 2006, p. 33). This decision – another slap in Benedict’s face – appears to send a clear message: If Rome wants to have relations with Beijing, the one in charge is the Communist Party.

Vatican commentators are issuing elaborate explanations of the violent Chinese action in order to save Benedict’s “honor” in this affair.

HISPANIC CATHOLICS REJECT ECUMENISM WITH PROTESTANTS – In a meeting of the National Association of Diocesan Ecumenical Directors held May 8-11 in San José, California, Fr. Thomas Rausch, S.J., addressed the assembly expressing regrets that ecumenism with Protestant is not going forward among Hispanic Catholics. “Among Hispanic Catholics and Hispanic Protestants,” he said, “in spite of some recent initiatives, the old hostilities are still strong” (America, May 29, p. 7).

Rausch mourned this lack of openness to dialogue and conveyed his deep concern about the situation since the number of Hispanics is rapidly growing in the United States and they have a high index of practicing religion.

I do not think that this rejection is regrettable. I think that it is a sign of the seriousness of Hispanic Catholics. They do not consider the Catholic Church and Protestantism like two different clubs in which one can think whatever he wants on religious matters, as ecumenism encourages us to do. Hispanic Catholics in the United States care about Holy Mother Church and her dogmas. It is an important matter that must be taken seriously. Therefore, their position should not be regretted, but rather praised.

I hope this is an indication that the spell of ecumenism is breaking.


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