POPE EMERITUS BENEDICT: DIALOGUE WITH THE JEWS, NOT MISSION – VATICAN TO HOST CONFERENCE ON ADDICTIONS

In the OOPS column: The Vatican news site today announced the Pope’s appointment of a new bishop for Monterey, California, stating: “Bishop Daniel Garcia, Auxiliary Bishop of Austin, Texas since 1915, has been appointed by Pope Francis as the Bishop of Monterey in California. Bishop Garcia was born in Cameron, Texas in 1960.” I’m sure you saw the error: apparently he has been a bishop long before his own birth and before the Pope who named him was born!

In the GOOD NEWS column: I’m delighted to bring you the first story below – some words from Pope emeritus Benedict XVI. It is always great to hear from this wonderful, gentlemanly, erudite, holy man!

POPE EMERITUS BENEDICT: DIALOGUE WITH THE JEWS, NOT MISSION

The Pope emeritus “corrects” an article by theologian Michael Böhnke and rejects as “absolutely false” the insinuation that Benedict has called into question the foundations of Jewish-Christian dialogue.
By Vatican News

In a “correction” sent to the German monthly Herder Korrespondenz, Joseph Ratzinger/Benedict XVI affirmed that Christians are called to a “dialogue” with the Jews, rather than a “mission.” The Pope emeritus was responding to an article by theologian Michael Böhnke of Wuppertal. In the September issue of the journal, Böhnke had commented disapprovingly on statements made by Benedict concerning the relationship between Jews and Christians.

A completely false insinuation
Judaism and Christianity, said Benedict, are “two ways of interpreting the Scriptures.” For Christians, the promises made to Israel are the hope of the Church, and “those who abide by it are in no way questioning the foundations of the Jewish-Christian dialogue.” The accusation contained in the article, he continued, is “grotesque nonsense and has nothing to do with what I said about it. I therefore reject his article as a completely false insinuation.”

Böhnke had argued that Benedict XVI, in an article for the theological journal Communio, had demonstrated a problematic understanding of Judaism, and had ignored the suffering Christians had inflicted upon Jews.

Not “mission,” but “dialogue”
In his “correction,” Benedict also addressed – among other theological issues – the delicate question of the “mission” to the Jews; that is, the question of whether the Church should proclaim the Good News of Christ to the Jews. Benedict wrote: “A mission to the Jews is not foreseen and not necessary.” At the same time, it is true that Christ gave His disciples a mission to all peoples and all cultures. For this reason, Benedict affirms, “the missionary mandate is universal – with one exception: a mission to the Jews was not foreseen and not necessary because they alone, among all peoples, knew the ‘unknown God’.”

For Israel, then, it was not a mission, but a dialogue about whether Jesus of Nazareth was “the Son of God, the Logos,” for whom, according to the promises made to His people, Israel, and the whole world without knowing it, was waiting. Taking up this dialogue anew, Benedict said, is “the duty given us at this time.”

Benedict’s “correction” appeared in the December issue of Herder Korrespondenz, and was signed “Joseph Ratzinger-Benedict XVI.”

Reflecting on Relations with the Jews
The original article in Communio, critiqued by Böhnke, was intended as an in-depth study of a document published in 2015 by the Holy See’s Commission for Religious Relations with the Jews, entitled, “The Gifts and the Calling of God Are Irrevocable (Rom 11:29): A Reflection on Theological Questions Pertaining to Catholic– Jewish Relations on the Occasion of the 50th Anniversary of ‘Nostra aetate’ (no.4).”

The sixth heading of that document, “The Church’s mandate to evangelize in relation to Judaism” deals precisely with the questions raised by Böhnke:

“It is easy to understand that the so–called ‘mission to the Jews’ is a very delicate and sensitive matter for Jews because, in their eyes, it involves the very existence of the Jewish people. This question also proves to be awkward for Christians, because for them the universal salvific significance of Jesus Christ and consequently the universal mission of the Church are of fundamental importance. The Church is therefore obliged to view evangelisation to Jews, who believe in the one God, in a different manner from that to people of other religions and world views. In concrete terms this means that the Catholic Church neither conducts nor supports any specific institutional mission work directed towards Jews. While there is a principled rejection of an institutional Jewish mission, Christians are nonetheless called to bear witness to their faith in Jesus Christ also to Jews, although they should do so in a humble and sensitive manner, acknowledging that Jews are bearers of God’s Word, and particularly in view of the great tragedy of the Shoah.”

VATICAN TO HOST CONFERENCE ON ADDICTIONS

A two-day conference in the Vatican will examine different aspects of addictions as well as possible treatments and prevention techniques.
By John Waters (vaticannews)

The Vatican’s Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human development will host a conference entitled “Drugs and Addictions, an obstacle to Integral Human development” from 29 November to 1 December in the Vatican’s Synod Hall.

Presentations will be given on a number of subjects and areas of concern, especially addictions to drugs, gambling, sex and pornography as well as best practices for treatment and prevention

When announcing the conference, the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human development quoted Pope Francis’ address to drug enforcement officers in 2015. The Pope described the spread of drugs as being driven by a “shameful market that crosses national and international borders.” The Dicastery went on to detail the alarming statistic that almost 5% of the world’s population have, at some point, taken drugs. Of those 5%, “29.6 million of those users suffer from drug disorders. This means that their drug taking is harmful to the point that they experience drug dependence and require treatment.”

Another cause for alarm is the fact that many drugs are now perceived by society as a form of leisure, recreational activity or even as a sign of wealth and status.
During the discussions and presentations the spotlight will also be on the implications of legalizing various substances. Noting that a number of countries have recently legalized cannabis use, the conference organisers point out that this solution may, ultimately, cause further problems.

“Internet addiction, pornography and sex addiction, as well as pathological gambling, or ludopathy, have for some time been a rampant scourge that further diversify addictions. The legalization of gambling, even when it is supported by the intention of unmasking its criminal management, exponentially increases the number of pathological players.”

Speakers at the conference will include Cardinal Peter Turkson, president of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development and Italian Health Minister Giulia Grillo. There will also be representatives from the World Federation against Drugs, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime and the carabinieri, one of Italy’s police forces.

On Friday 30 November, conference participants will take part in an evening Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica. On 1 December the conference will conclude with an audience with Pope Francis.

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POPE RECEIVES TORAH FROM JEWISH LEADERS – POST SCRIPTUMS FROM WEDNESDAY – CATHOLIC MEDIA CALLED TO COUNTER FAKE NEWS ABOUT THE CHURCH

Pope Francis tweeted today: Do not underestimate the value of example, for it is more powerful than a thousand words, a thousand “likes”, retweets or YouTube videos.

POPE RECEIVES TORAH FROM JEWISH LEADERS

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis received his long-time friend from his native Argentina, Rabbi Abraham Skorka, on Thursday, along with a delegation of Jewish leaders involved in the preparation of a new edition of the Torah.

The annotated, illustrated edition is already being hailed as an achievement in both the literary and visual arts. (photo: news.va)

pope-rabbis

Pope Francis told his guests, “The extensive introduction to the text and the editor’s note emphasize this dialogical approach and communicate a cultural vision of openness, mutual respect and peace that accords with the spiritual message of the Torah.”

The Holy Father went on to say, “The important religious figures who have worked on this new edition have paid special attention both to the literary aspect of the text and to the full-colour illustrations that add further value to the publication.”

Also in his remarks, Pope Francis spoke of the Torah as a building-block of community – the worldwide Jewish community and the Christian community. “The Torah,” said the Holy Father, “manifests the paternal and visceral love of God, a love shown in words and concrete gestures, a love that becomes covenant.”

“The very word covenant is resonant with associations that bring us together. … This publication is itself the fruit of a ‘covenant’ between persons of different nationalities, ages and religious confessions, who joined in this common effort.”

The Pope went on to say, “God desires a world in which men and women are bound to him and as a result live in harmony among themselves and with creation. In the midst of so many human words that lead to tragic division and rivalry, these divine words of covenant open before all of us paths of goodness to walk together.”

POST SCRIPTUMS FROM WEDNESDAY

BEFORE THE GENERAL AUDIENCE WEDNESDAY, in a small room adjacent to the Paul VI Hall, the Pope received thirty relatives of the victims of the attack that took place in Dhaka, Bangladesh on July 1, 2016 accompanied by Bishop Valentino di Cerbo of Alife-Caiazzo, Italy.

POPE FRANCIS ON WEDNESDAY RECEIVED A SOCCER JERSEY embossed with the words (in Italian) “Let’s give a kick to bullying” on the front and “Papa Francesco” on the back. He was given the jersey by Stefano Roma, director of the San Cesareo Sporting Club in Rome. The campaign aims to shine the spotlight on the phenomenon of bullying in the world of sports and teach young people about its effects. The club initiative, supported by the region of Lazio, hopes to get its message across through a series of events, in which psychologists and experts speak to young sports aficionados about bullying and how to prevent it.

THE HOLY FATHER BLESSED THE “BENEDICTINE TORCH OF PEACE” which, since 1964 – the year St. Benedict was named a patron of Europe – has been sponsored by the city of Norcia to promote unity and peace in Europe. This year, the Torch is helping to mark the 60th anniversary of the Treaty of Rome which established what is now the European Union. The Pope greeted a delegation that included Archbishop Renato Boccardo of Spoleto-Norcia, Father Donato Ogliari, abbot of Montecassino, and Father Mauro Meacci, abbot of Subiaco,.

FRANCIS MET WITH MEMBERS OF THE EUROPEAN UNION NAVAL FORCE MEDITERRANEAN (EUNAVFOR Med)  –  known as Operation Sophia – which has been tasked to stop people being smuggled across the Mediterranean Sea. The officers gave Pope Francis a commemorative plate reading “Operation Sophia – a message of hope in the central Mediterranean.” The Pope has often called for more action to save migrants attempting the dangerous crossing over the Mediterranean.

POPE FRANCIS GREETED MEMBERS OF THE RONY ROLLER CIRCUS which presented a short performance at the end of the general audience. Acrobats, fire-breathers, dancers, and other performers entertained the Holy Father and all those present in St. Peter’s Square. Speaking of the cuff, the Holy Father thanked them, saying “You make something beautiful! Beauty carries us to God. It is a path that arrives at God. Continue to make beautiful things! Continue to make good things for all of us! Thank you!”

According to the Washington Examiner, Senator Tim Kaine, former Democratic nominee for vice president, on Wednesday met with Pope Francis in Vatican City to discuss the millions of refugees from countries in the Middle East and North Africa who have fled their countries as a result of unrest in the region. “I had a chance to visit with Pope Francis to discuss the global crisis of refugees and migrants which is relevant around the world and to my work in the Senate.” (JFL: They met in St. Peter’s Square after the audience. The article also mentioned that Kaine  “met with Paul Gallagher, the Vatican’s foreign minister.” His title is Archbishop Paul Gallagher, Secretary for Relations with States.

CATHOLIC MEDIA CALLED TO COUNTER FAKE NEWS ABOUT THE CHURCH

This is an interesting story done by the English language staff for Africa at Vatican Radio about Bishop Godfrey Onah of Nsukka diocese in Nigeria. His words should echo well beyond Nigeria – and we see that “fake news” is not limited to politics or to the United States.

bishop-onah

Catholic media professionals and practitioners have been called upon to brace themselves for the challenges brought about by social media and stand ready to counter false publications about the Church.

The call was made by the Catholic Bishop of Nsukka Diocese and the Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria (CBCN)’s Episcopal Chairman of the Directorate of Social Communications, Godfrey Onah. Bishop Onah made the remarks when he addressed staff of the Directorate during their first statutory meeting for the year 2017, in Abuja, recently.

According to Bishop Onah, “Today in social media there is anonymity, and with the anonymity of the Internet people do a lot of harm: A lot of harm by spreading falsehoods, not just half-truths but falsehoods. And what makes it more dangerous is that young people now depend on this form of information than on (information from) the classroom or the Church,” he said.

Bishop Onah noted that social media had weakened the authority of traditional systems of education saying, “parents no longer know what their children know; teachers no longer know what their students know in the sense that it is not what you taught (because) the person is picking up information from everywhere.” Describing this situation as a great challenge, Bishop Onah contended: “We are to ask ourselves how we rise to meet this problem with regard to Christian faith, and the Catholic faith. It’s a big problem,” he emphasised.

The Church should stand ready to address untruths.

“I think the challenge we have to face constantly is how to respond to this provocation, if I may call it that, and use the media available in a way that is suitable to our own mission and apostolate. It’s not an easy assignment. It requires continuously reinventing ourselves and having the courage of departing from the way we have always done things. There are risks involved, but they are necessary risks that we must take.”

Bishop Onah noted that members of the Catholic Media Practitioners (CAMP), which is to be re-inaugurated nationally in Port Harcourt later this year, would be expected to champion the cause of the Church in countering false publications in the social media against the Church and the Catholic faith.