Friday, September 08, 2006

Ad Limina Comments - Ontario Edition

Currently the bishops from Ontario are in Rome for their visit with the Pope. I've commented previously on the Atlantic bishops' visit, and as well on the Canadian Religious Conference's insidious recommendations on what to ask to the Pope for.

While some reports stated that Papa Ratzi was going to crack the whip at the Ontario bishops, his actual address was very tender and encouraging. Not that he didn't have anything "negative" to say - but his message was overall a positive one. Sample:

...the fundamental task of the evangelization of culture is the challenge to make God visible in the human face of Jesus. In helping individuals to recognize and experience the love of Christ, you will awaken in them the desire to dwell in the house of the Lord, embracing the life of the Church. This is our mission. It expresses our ecclesial nature and ensures that every initiative of evangelization concurrently strengthens Christian identity. In this regard, we must acknowledge that any reduction of the core message of Jesus, that is, the '‘Kingdom of God’,' to indefinite talk of 'kingdom values'’ weakens Christian identity and debilitates the Church'’s contribution to the regeneration of society. When believing is replaced by '‘doing'’ and witness by talk of '‘issues'’, there is an urgent need to recapture the profound joy and awe of the first disciples whose hearts, in the Lord'’s presence, "burned within them" impelling them to "tell their story"

Like any good pastor, he is recognizing first the primary fault underlying the problems the Church has today. He's saying we've become too political, too much of a grand-stander, instead of actually living the truth of the Faith. The Pope recognizes the hollow shell we call Canadian Catholicism, and exhorts us to fill it with the love of Christ, much like a child snuggling into her daddy's arms. More:

Christian civic leaders sacrifice the unity of faith and sanction the disintegration of reason and the principles of natural ethics, by yielding to ephemeral social trends and the spurious demands of opinion polls. Democracy succeeds only to the extent that it is based on truth and a correct understanding of the human person.

Any time somebody says that those celibate old men in Rome have no idea what's going on the real world, I will henceforth show them that quote. The Pope knows that our "Catholic" politicians have abandoned the faith when they perceive its message wouldn't be popular. The message our politicians are giving is, "What I believe is good enough for me, but it isn't good enough for you." The pope denounces this false dichotomy.

Of course, one can't be Catholic without recognizing this error:

...certain values detached from their moral roots and full significance found in Christ have evolved in the most disturbing of ways. In the name of '‘tolerance'’ your country has had to endure the folly of the redefinition of spouse, and in the name of '‘freedom of choice'’ it is confronted with the daily destruction of unborn children. When the Creator'’s divine plan is ignored the truth of human nature is lost.

I love how he connects the virtuous ideals of "tolerance" and "freedom of choice" to these great errors; most, if not all, of our society's problems result from a counterfeited Gospel value. When we take a virtue and divorce it from its connection to absolute truth, we end up with a fraud, which can be applied willy-nilly to any situation it would previously have rejected application to.

A particularly insidious obstacle to education today, which your own reports attest, is the marked presence in society of that relativism which, recognizing nothing as definitive, leaves as the ultimate criterion only the self with its desires. Within such a relativistic horizon an eclipse of the sublime goals of life occurs with a lowering of the standards of excellence, a timidity before the category of the good, and a relentless but senseless pursuit of novelty parading as the realization of freedom. [...] Introduced to a love of truth, I am confident that young Canadians will relish exploring the house of the Lord who "enlightens every person who comes into the world (Jn 1:9) and satisfies every desire of humanity."

The Pope here proclaims what I've seen to be true over and over again: young people will respond when you challenge them to a life of true Gospel living.

The Western bishops (which includes my own) will make their Ad Limina pilgrimage October 2 - 14.

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