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Tuesday, 29 April 2014

What You Oughta Know, according to the Pope Emeritus

I am probably the last one who would be interested in this to learn of it, but John Allen wrote a gem of a... well, it is hardly a book, more of a pamphlet,  back in 2007, that is well worth any Catholic's time, 10 Things Pope Benedict Wants You To Know

The ten things are, or perhaps should be, obvious to any inquiring Catholic, but they are profound, nonetheless, (Well done, as almost always, Mr Allen!) and a good synthesis, as far as I can tell with my limited knowledge, of the enormous outpouring of works of theological (and pedagogical!)  genius produced by this future Doctor of the Church.

They are that God is Love, that Jesus is Lord, that Truth and Freedom as well as Faith and Reason are complementary, that the Eucharist is the heart of the of our Christian lives, that Christianity is a positive message, (No! You mean that contrary to everything we've heard from the secular media that idea wasn't just  invented in the past year???? next you're going to try to convince me that Benedict has occasionally kissed a baby, or even smiled!!!!)that the Church should stay out of politics but MUST inform consciences, including those of politicians, that so-called "Catholic identity" does matter whatever the Winking Catholics might say,that Christ and His Church cannot be looked at as anything but inseparable, and that we must be patient. As the Father has always been. Anyway, good, good stuff.

One of the most striking aspects of Benedict XVI's papacy has been how determined he is to phrase his message in a positive key. To take one example, when the Holy Father visited Spain in July 2006, many expected a dramatic showdown with the Socialist government of Prime Minister Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, whose left-wing government has done battle with the Church on a variety of fronts: gay marriage, abortion, divorce, euthanasia, and public funding for Catholic schools. Many Catholics expected fire and brimstone from the pope. Instead, he was doggedly positive, concentrating on the Christian fundamentals, never directly engaging any of the issues that have divided Church and state.
Later, some German TV reporters asked Benedict what had happened. It's worth listening to his reply in full:
Christianity, Catholicism, isn't a collection of prohibitions: it's a positive option. It's very important that we look at it again because this idea has almost completely disappeared today. We've heard so much about what is not allowed that now it's time to say: we have a positive idea to offer, [emphasis added] that man and woman are made for each other, that the scale of sexuality, eros, agape, indicates the level of love and it's in this way that marriage develops, first of all, as a joyful and blessing-filled counter between a man and a woman, and then the family, that guarantees continuity among generations and through which generations are reconciled to each other and even cultures can meet. So, firstly it's important to stress what we want. Secondly, we can also see why we don't want something. I believe we need to see and reflect on the fact that it's not a Catholic invention that man and woman are made for each other, so that humanity can go on living: all cultures know this.
I have been trying to explain to my CCD kids that hurdles and sections of guard rail look pretty much the same...

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