Welcome to the Reading Room

Here are some news stories and articles which might be of interest to you. I've posted the opening section, and if you want to read more, you can click on "Read the whole article" to go to the original item. You'll find a variety of things here -- current news, political analysis, opinion pieces, articles about religion -- things I've happened to read and want to share with you. It's your Reading Room, so take your time. Browse. You're certain to find something you'll want to read.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

An Open Letter to Hans Küng

Apr 21, 2010
by George Weigel

Dr. Küng:

A decade and a half ago, a former colleague of yours among the younger progressive theologians at Vatican II told me of a friendly warning he had given you at the beginning of the Council’s second session. As this distinguished biblical scholar and proponent of Christian-Jewish reconciliation remembered those heady days, you had taken to driving around Rome in a fire-engine red Mercedes convertible, which your friend presumed had been one fruit of the commercial success of your book, The Council: Reform and Reunion.

This automotive display struck your colleague as imprudent and unnecessarily self-advertising, given that some of your more adventurous opinions, and your talent for what would later be called the sound-bite, were already raising eyebrows and hackles in the Roman Curia. So, as the story was told me, your friend called you aside one day and said, using a French term you both understood, “Hans, you are becoming too evident.”

As the man who single-handedly invented a new global personality-type—the dissident theologian as international media star—you were not, I take it, overly distressed by your friend’s warning. In 1963, you were already determined to cut a singular path for yourself, and you were media-savvy enough to know that a world press obsessed with the man-bites-dog story of the dissenting priest-theologian would give you a megaphone for your views. You were, I take it, unhappy with the late John Paul II for trying to dismantle that story-line by removing your ecclesiastical mandate to teach as a professor of Catholic theology; your subsequent, snarling put-down of Karol Wojtyla’s alleged intellectual inferiority in one volume of your memoirs ranked, until recently, as the low-point of a polemical career in which you have become most evident as a man who can concede little intelligence, decency, or good will in his opponents. Read the whole article.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

The Moral Consequences of Episcopal Sin

by Fr. Edward T. Oakes, S.J.

[Editor’s Note: The following is an adaptation of a homily delivered on Divine Mercy Sunday, 11 April 2010 at St. Alphonsus Church in Chicago.]

A preacher is often faced with the burdensome task of confronting the discrepancy between the texts from Scripture assigned for the day and the headlines that have been blaring during the past week. For example, how does one reconcile the news of God’s love with the news of the earthquake in Haiti?

Something like the same dilemma faces me today, when I must preach on this verse from today’s first reading, where we just heard: “The apostles performed many miraculous signs and wonders among the people. They used to meet in Solomon’s Portico. No one dared join them, even though they were esteemed by the people” (Acts 5: 12-13).

Such a situation hardly obtains today, where the successors of the apostles are neither feared nor esteemed. I presume you have all heard the news or read the headlines about the revelations of sexual abuse of minors by priests which have recently come to light in Ireland, Germany, and elsewhere, and which are so reminiscent of the revelations of similar crimes committed by American priests that came to light in the Long Lent of 2002.

Given how devastating must be the effect of these crimes on the victims, I cannot help but be struck—as has been the world—by the collusion of bishops in covering up these crimes, lest they cause “scandal to the Church.” Even now, explicit confessions of guilt in that sin have been remarkably muted. At least, those expressions of remorse come tinged with both embarrassment and defensiveness. All too rarely does one hear the ringing tones of, for example, Buti Tlhagale, the Archbishop of Johannesburg, South Africa, who had this to say during his homily at the Chrism Mass last week on April 6, 2010:

In our times we have betrayed the very Gospel we preach. The Good News we claim to announce sounds so hollow, so devoid of any meaning when matched with our much publicized negative moral behavior. Many who looked up to priests as their model feel betrayed, ashamed and disappointed. They feel that some priests have “slipped away from the footprints of the Apostles.” Trust has been compromised. The halo has been tilted, if not broken. What happens in Ireland or in Germany or America affects us all. It simply means that the misbehavior of priests in Africa has not been exposed to the same glare of the media as in other parts of the world. We must therefore take responsibility for the hurt, the scandals, the pain and the suffering caused by ourselves who claim to be models of good behavior. The image of the Catholic Church is virtually in ruins because of the bad behavior of its priests, wolves wearing sheep's skin, preying on unsuspecting victims, inflicting irreparable harm, and continuing to do so with impunity. We are slowly but surely bent on destroying the church of God by undermining and tearing apart the faith of lay believers. …

The upshot of this sorry state of affairs is that we weaken the authoritative voice of the church. As church leaders, we become incapable of criticizing the corrupt and immoral behavior of the members of our respective communities. We become hesitant to criticize the greed and malpractices of our civic authorities. We are paralyzed and automatically become reluctant to guide young people in the many moral dilemmas they face.

Under such circumstances, when allegations after allegations are made, when scandal after scandal is brought forth, as clergy, we probably feel much closer to Judas Iscariot and his thirty pieces of silver. “Alas for that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed” (Mk. 14.21). Or perhaps like Simon Peter, we are deeply buried in denial; we curse and swear when we hear the words: “You are one of them.” We answer: “I do not know the man you speak of.” Each time we toss our vows in the air, each time we break our fidelity, we betray Christ himself.  Read the whole article.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

The Passion of Pope Benedict. Six Accusations, One Question

Pedophilia is only the latest weapon aimed against Joseph Ratzinger. And each time, he is attacked where he most exercises his leadership role. One by one, the critical points of this pontificate

by Sandro Magister

ROME, April 7, 2010 – The attack striking pope Joseph Ratzinger with the weapon of the scandal posed by priests of his Church is a constant of this pontificate.

It is a constant because every time, on different terrain, striking Benedict XVI means striking the very man who has worked and is working, on that same terrain, with the greatest foresight, resolve, and success.

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The tempest that followed his lecture in Regensburg on September 12, 2006 was the first of the series. Benedict XVI was accused of being an enemy of Islam, and an incendiary proponent of the clash of civilizations. The very man who with singular clarity and courage had revealed where the ultimate root of violence is found, in an idea of God severed from rationality, and had then told how to overcome it.

The violence and even killings that followed his words were the sad proof that he was right. But the fact that he had hit the mark was confirmed above all by the progress in dialogue between the Catholic Church and Islam that was seen afterward – not in spite of, but because of the lecture in Regensburg – and of which the letter to the pope from the 138 Muslim intellectuals and the visit to the Blue Mosque in Istanbul were the most evident and promising signs.

With Benedict XVI, the dialogue between Christianity and Islam, as with the other religions as well, is today proceeding with clearer awareness about what makes distinctions, by virtue of faith, and what can unite, the natural law written by God in the heart of every man.

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A second wave of accusations against Pope Benedict depicts him as an enemy of modern reason, and in particular of its supreme expression, science. The peak of this hostile campaign was reached in January of 2008, when professors forced the pope to cancel a visit to the main university of his diocese, the University of Rome "La Sapienza."

And yet – as previously in Regensburg and then in Paris at the Collège des Bernardins on September 12, 2008 – the speech that the pope intended to give at the University of Rome was a formidable defense of the indissoluble connection between faith and reason, between truth and freedom: "I do not come to impose the faith, but to call for courage for the truth."

The paradox is that Benedict XVI is a great "illuminist" in an age in which the truth has so few admirers and doubt is in command, to the point of wanting to silence the truth...Read the whole article.

AtonementOnline

About Me

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Fr. Phillips is the founding pastor of Our Lady of the Atonement Catholic Church, the first Anglican Use parish, established on August 15, 1983. Not that there is any confusion, but he is on the left, shown in his younger, less gray-headed days.