New Insights on the Gospels

March for Life 2012

Evil triumphs when good men do nothing - Edmund Burke

Friday, September 3, 2010

Pope St. Gregory the Great (Gregory I) - 3 September 2010

Today is the feast of the Great Pope Gregory.

Pope Saint Gregory the Great not only saved the Church, in times so frightful that the men who lived in them were sure that the end of the world was come, but he founded the great civilization which has lasted down to our day and of which we are part, Western Civilization. All alone, in the midst of famine and pestilence, floods and earthquakes, endangered by Greeks and barbarians alike, and abandoned by the Emperor, Pope Gregory, frail and ailing in body but strong and undaunted in spirit, succored and saved his people, his city, his country, and the whole of Christendom.

The great Roman Empire which for three hundred years had persecuted the Christians and driven them underground to the catacombs, had for all of that time been in the process of decay. In 476, the thing was completed. The Empire in the West fell. It fell to the barbarian invaders not as the outcome of a great battle, but as the inglorious petering out of something that had been worse than dead for a long, long time.

There came to replace the soft and decadent, overrefined and grossly weak civilization of Rome, the rude and uncouth, unmannerly and brutal, but also strong and virile and young and convertible German nations, which for two centuries had been on the march, mysteriously moving as without purpose, on the one hand, and as if in response to a divine summons on the other. History calls it the “migration of nations.” In wave after wave, invasion after invasion, they streamed across Europe. They thundered down from the North, came up from the South, across from the East, and one by one they stormed the gates of Rome.

They were a strange mixture, these nations, of good and bad, gentle and rapacious, but their lives were distinguished by a purity more vigorous than the Romans’ and their respect and treatment of women, despite their rude manners and coarse living, far exceeded the Romans’. It is true of them that:

. . .The stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner. By the Lord this has been done; and it is wonderful in our eyes.

Therefore I say to you, that the kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and shall be given to a nation yielding the fruits thereof. (Matt. 21: 42, 43.)

The Graeco-Romans had had their chance and, like the Jews, the first chosen people, they had failed. Centuries of patient labor on the part of the Church would pass before the wild tribes who replaced the “stone of the corner” could be taught and tamed and civilized, but once the long work was accomplished, Christ the King and His Queen Mother would be given the generous, glorious, unselfish ages of chivalry, the Crusades, and — the Thirteenth Century. The world would have known Gregory the Great, Leo III, Gregory VII, Innocent III, Boniface VIII, Bede, John Damascene, Peter Damian, Anselm, Bonaventure, Thomas Aquinas, Albert the Great, Gertrude, and a thousand others.

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Wednesday, September 1, 2010

The Bishop of Rome, the Successor of Peter - Pope John Paul II

The Bishop of Rome, the Successor of Peter

The Church is also Catholic in the sense that all of Christ's followers have to share in her world-wide mission of salvation by means of each individual apostolate. But the pastoral activity of all, and in particular the collegiate activity of the entire episcopate, attains unity through the ministerium Petrinum of the Bishop of Rome. 'The bishops,' says the Council, 'while loyally respecting the primacy and pre-eminence of their head, exercise their own proper authority
for the good of their faithful, indeed for the good of the whole Church (Lumen Gentium 22). And we should add, again quoting the Council, that if the collegiate authority over the whole Church attains its particular expression in an ecumenical council, it is 'the prerogative of the Roman Pontiff to convoke such Councils, to preside over them and to confirm them' (Lumen gentium 22). Thus the Pope, the Bishop of Rome, is the head of all, as the principle of unity and communion.

For the Successor of Peter, it is not a matter of claiming powers such as those wielded by the earthly 'rulers' of whom Jesus speaks (cf. Matthew 20:25-28), but of being faithful to the will of the Church's Founder, who instituted this type of society and this mode of government to promote communion in faith and charity.

To respond to Christ's will, the Successor of Peter must in a spirit of humble service and with the aim of assuring unity, assume and exercise the authority conferred on him. Even in the historically diverse ways of exercising it, he must imitate Christ in serving and reuniting those who are called to be part of the one fold. He will never subordinate to personal ends what he has received for Christ and for Christ's Church. He may never forget that the universal pastoral mission cannot but entail the deepest association with the Redeemer's sacrifice, with the
mystery of the Cross.'

Monday, August 30, 2010

The Popes on Socialism

The following is a list of quotes what the Popes have to say about Socialism.

PIUS IX (1846-1878):
“Overthrow [of] the entire order of human affairs”
“You are aware indeed, that the goal of this most iniquitous plot is to drive people to overthrow the entire order of human affairs and to draw them over to the wicked theories of this Socialism and Communism, by confusing them with perverted teachings.” (Encyclical Nostis et Nobiscum, December 8, 1849)

LEO XIII (1878-1903):
Hideous monster
“...communism, socialism, nihilism, hideous deformities of the civil society of men and almost its ruin.” (Encyclical Diuturnum, June 29, 1881)

Ruin of all institutions
“... For, the fear of God and reverence for divine laws being taken away, the authority of rulers despised, sedition permitted and approved, and the popular passions urged on to lawlessness, with no restraint save that of punishment, a change and overthrow of all things will necessarily follow. Yea, this change and overthrow is deliberately planned and put forward by many associations of communists and socialists” (Encyclical Humanum Genus, April 20, 1884, n. 27).

A sect “that threatens civil society with destruction”

Leo XIII (1877-1903):
Socialists assail the right of property sanctioned by natural law.

“…We speak of that sect of men who, under various and almost barbarous names, are called socialists, communists, or nihilists, and who, spread over all the world, and bound together by the closest ties in a wicked confederacy, no longer seek the shelter of secret meetings, but, openly and boldly marching forth in the light of day, strive to bring to a head what they have long been planning - the overthrow of all civil society whatsoever. Surely, these are they who, as the sacred Scriptures testify, ‘Defile the flesh, despise dominion and blaspheme majesty.’ (Jud. 8).” (Encyclical Quod Apostolici Muneris, December 28, 1878, n. 1)

Socialists debase the natural union of man and woman and assail the right of property
“They [socialists, communists, or nihilists] debase the natural union of man and woman, which is held sacred even among barbarous peoples; and its bond, by which the family is chiefly held together, they weaken, or even deliver up to lust. Lured, in fine, by the greed of present goods, which is ‘the root of all evils, which some coveting have erred from the faith’ (1 Tim. 6:10.3), they assail the right of property sanctioned by natural law; and by a scheme of horrible wickedness, while they seem desirous of caring for the needs and satisfying the desires of all men, they strive to seize and hold in common whatever has been acquired either by title of lawful inheritance, or by labor of brain and hands, or by thrift in one's mode of life.” (Encyclical Quod Apostolici Muneris, December 28, 1878, n. 1)

Destructive sect
“...socialists and members of other seditious societies, who labor unceasingly to destroy the State even to its foundations.” (Encyclical Libertas Praestantissimum, June 20, 1888)

Enemy of society and of Religion
“...there is need for a union of brave minds with all the resources they can command. The harvest of misery is before our eyes, and the dreadful projects of the most disastrous national upheavals are threatening us from the growing power of the socialistic movement. They have insidiously worked their way into the very heart of the community, and in the darkness of their secret gatherings, and in the open light of day, in their writings and their harangues, they are urging the masses onward to sedition; they fling aside religious discipline; they scorn duties; they clamor only for rights; they are working incessantly on the multitudes of the needy which daily grow greater, and which, because of their poverty are easily deluded and led into error. It is equally the concern of the State and of religion, and all good men

Saint Pius X (1903-1914) :

should deem it a sacred duty to preserve and guard both in the honor which is their due.” (Encyclical Graves de Communi Re, January 18, 1901, n. 21)

The dream of re-shaping society will bring socialism
“But stranger still, alarming and saddening at the same time, are the audacity and frivolity of men who call themselves Catholics and dream of re-shaping society under such conditions, and of establishing on earth, over and beyond the pale of the Catholic Church, ‘the reign of love and justice’ ... What are they going to produce? ... A mere verbal and chimerical construction in which we shall see, glowing in a jumble, and in seductive confusion, the words Liberty, Justice, Fraternity, Love, Equality, and human exultation, all resting upon an ill-understood human dignity. It will be a tumultuous agitation, sterile for the end proposed, but which will benefit the less Utopian exploiters of the people. Yes, we can truly say that the Sillon, its eyes fixed on a chimera, brings Socialism in its train.” (Apostolic Letter Notre Charge Apostolique ["Our Apostolic Mandate"] to the French Bishops, August 15, 1910, condemning the movement Le Sillon)

BENEDICT XV (1914-1922):
The condemnation of socialism should never be forgotten
“It is not our intention here to repeat the arguments which clearly expose the errors of Socialism and of similar doctrines. Our predecessor, Leo XIII, most wisely did so in truly memorable Encyclicals; and you, Venerable Brethren, will take the greatest care that those grave precepts are never forgotten, but that whenever circumstances call for it, they should be clearly expounded and inculcated in Catholic associations and congresses, in sermons and in the Catholic press.” (Encyclical Ad Beatissimi Apostolorum, November 1, 1914, n. 13)

PIUS XI (1922-1939):
"No one can be at the same time a good Catholic and a true socialist."

Socialism, fundamentally contrary to Christian truth
“... For Socialism, which could then be termed almost a single system and which maintained definite teachings reduced into one body of doctrine, has since then split chiefly into two sections, often opposing each other and even bitterly hostile, without either one however abandoning a position fundamentally contrary to Christian truth that was characteristic of Socialism.” (Encyclical Quadragesimo Anno, May 15, 1931, n. 111)

Socialism cannot be reconciled with Catholic Doctrine
“But what if Socialism has really been so tempered and modified as to the class struggle and private ownership that there is in it no longer anything to be censured on these points? Has it thereby renounced its contradictory nature to the Christian religion? This is the question that holds many minds in suspense. And numerous are the Catholics who, although they clearly understand that Christian principles can never be abandoned or diminished seem to turn their eyes to the Holy See and earnestly beseech Us to decide whether this form of Socialism has so far recovered from false doctrines that it can be accepted without the sacrifice of any Christian principle and in a certain sense be baptized. That We, in keeping with Our fatherly solicitude, may answer their petitions, We make this pronouncement: Whether considered as a doctrine, or an historical fact, or a movement, Socialism, if it remains truly Socialism, even after it has yielded to truth and justice on the points which we have mentioned, cannot be reconciled with the teachings of the Catholic Church because its concept of society itself is utterly foreign to Christian truth.” (Ibid. n. 117)

Catholic Socialism, a contradiction
“[Socialism] is based nevertheless on a theory of human society peculiar to itself and irreconcilable with true Christianity. Religious socialism, Christian socialism, are contradictory terms; no one can be at the same time a good Catholic and a true socialist.” (Ibid. n. 120)

PIUS XII (1939-1958):
The Church will fight to the end, in defense of supreme values threatened by socialism
“[The Church undertook] the protection of the individual and the family against a current threatening to bring about a total socialization which in the end would make the specter of the 'Leviathan' become a shocking reality. The Church will fight this battle to the end, for it is a question of supreme values: the dignity of man and the salvation of souls." (“Radio message to the Katholikentag of Vienna,” September 14, 1952 in Discorsi e Radiomessaggi, vol. XIV, p. 314)

The state can not be regarded as being above all
"To consider the State as something ultimate to which everything else should be subordinated and directed, cannot fail to harm the true and lasting prosperity of nations." (Encyclical Summi Pontificatus, October 20, 1939, n. 60)

JOHN XXIII (1958-1963):
“No Catholic could subscribe even to moderate socialism”
“Pope Pius XI further emphasized the fundamental opposition between Communism and Christianity, and made it clear that no Catholic could subscribe even to moderate Socialism. The reason is that Socialism is founded on a doctrine of human society which is bounded by time and takes no account of any objective other than that of material well-being. Since, therefore, it proposes a form of social organization which aims solely at production, it places too severe a restraint on human liberty, at the same time flouting the true notion of social authority.” (Encyclical Mater et Magistra, May 15, 1961, n. 34)

PAUL VI (1963-1978):
Too often Christians tend to idealize socialism
“Too often Christians attracted by socialism tend to idealize it in terms which, apart from anything else, are very general: a will for justice, solidarity and equality. They refuse to recognize the limitations of the historical socialist movements, which remain conditioned by the ideologies from which they originated.” (Apostolic Letter Octogesima Adveniens, May 14, 1971, n. 31)

JOHN PAUL II (1978-2005):
Socialism: Danger of a “simple and radical solution”
“It may seem surprising that ‘socialism’ appeared at the beginning of the Pope's critique of solutions to the ‘question of the working class’ at a time when ‘socialism’ was not yet in the form of a strong and powerful State, with all the resources which that implies, as was later to happen. However, he correctly judged the danger posed to the masses by the attractive presentation of this simple and radical solution to the ‘question of the working class.’" (Encyclical Centesimus Annus − On the 100th anniversary of Pope Leo XIII's Rerum Novarum, May 1, 1991, n. 12)

Fundamental error of socialism: A mistaken conception of the person
“Continuing our reflections, ... we have to add that the fundamental error of socialism is anthropological in nature. Socialism considers the individual person simply as an element, a molecule within the social organism, so that the good of the individual is completely subordinated to the functioning of the socio-economic mechanism. Socialism likewise maintains that the good of the individual can be realized without reference to his free choice, to the unique and exclusive responsibility which he exercises in the face of good or evil. Man is thus reduced to a series of social relationships, and the concept of the person as the autonomous subject of moral decision disappears, the very subject whose decisions build the social order. From this mistaken conception of the person there arise both a distortion of law, which defines the sphere of the exercise of freedom, and an opposition to private property.” (Ibid, n. 13)

BENEDICT XVI (2005 - present):
“We do not need a State which regulates and controls everything”

“The State which would provide everything, absorbing everything into itself, would ultimately become a mere bureaucracy incapable of guaranteeing the very thing which the suffering person − every person − needs: namely, loving personal concern. We do not need a State which regulates and controls everything, but a State which, in accordance with the principle of subsidiarity, generously acknowledges and supports initiatives arising from the different social forces and combines spontaneity with closeness to those in need. … In the end, the claim that just social structures would make works of charity superfluous masks a materialist conception of man: the mistaken notion that man can live ‘by bread alone’ (Mt 4:4; cf. Dt 8:3) − a conviction that demeans man and ultimately disregards all that is specifically human.” (Encyclical Deus Caritas Est, December 25, 2005, n. 28)

The choice and mission of Peter - Pope John Paul II

The choice and mission of Peter

Jesus stated: 'On this rock I shall build my Church and the gates of hell will never prevail against her' (Matthew 16:18). The words attest Jesus' wish to build his Church with essential reference to the specific mission and power which he in his lifetime would confer on Simon.

Jesus described Simon Peter as the foundation stone on which the church was going to be built. The relationship between Christ and Peter is thus reflected in the relationship between Peter and the Church. The former relationship charges the latter with importance and discloses its theological and spiritual significance which, objectively and ecclesially, is the basis of that jurisdiction.

Matthew is the only evangelist to record these words for us, but in this connection we should remember that Matthew is also the only one to have assembled material of particular interest about Peter (Matthew 14:28-31), perhaps with those communities in mind for whom he was writing his Gospel and on whom he was keen to impress the new concept of 'the assembly summoned' in the name of Christ, present in Peter.

On the other hand, 'Peter', the new name which Jesus gives to Simon is confirmed by the other evangelists without any disagreement over the name's significance as explained by Matthew. Nor, for that matter, can one see what other meaning it could have.We should also make clear that the 'Rock' of which Jesus is speaking is actually the person, Peter. Jesus says to him: 'Thou art Kephas.' The context in which this is said allows us an even firmer grasp of the sense of that 'Thou' person. After Simon has said who Jesus is Jesus says who Simon is, in his plan for building the Church. True, Simon gets called "Rock" after making his profession of faith, and this implies a relationship between his faith and the role of rock conferred on him. But the quality of rock is attributed to Simon's person, not to one of his actions, even though it was very noble and pleasing to Jesus. The word 'rock' suggests something permanent and sound hence it is applied to the person, rather than to an action of his, since by its nature an action would be transitory. Jesus' subsequent words confirm this, when he says that the gates of hell - that is, the powers of death - will never prevail'against her'. The expression could refer to the Church or to the rock.

Be that as it may, according to the logic of Christ's words, the Church founded on the rock can never be destroyed. The permanence of the Church is bound up with the rock. The relationship between Peter and the Church in itself duplicates the bond between the Church and Christ. For Jesus says 'my Church'. Which means that the Church will always be Christ's Church, the Church belonging to Christ. She doesn't become Peter's Church. But, as Christ's Church, she is built on Peter, who is Kephas, in the name of and by the authority of Christ.

To Peter, Jesus says: 'Whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven' (Matthew 16:19). This is another metaphor used by Jesus to show that he wishes to invest Simon Peter with a complete and universal power guaranteed and ratified by heavenly approval. This is not only the power to enunciate points of doctrine or general directives to be acted upon; according to Jesus, it is the power 'to loose and to bind' - that is, to take all measures required for the life and development of the Church. The conjunction of the opposites 'to bind' and 'to loose' serves to show how total this power is.

We must, however, add at once that the purpose of this power is to give access to the Kingdom, not to close it: 'to open', to make it possible to enter the Kingdom of Heaven, and not to put obstacles in the way, which would be the same as I closing' it. Such is the purpose of the Petrine ministry, rooted in the redemptive sacrifice of Christ, who came to save and to be the Door and Shepherd of all within the communion of the one sheepfold.'