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Luke Coppen's Catholic Herald Blog

Archive for December 11th, 2009

What’s in The Catholic Herald this week

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In this week’s paper we report on the clash between Harriet Harman and the bishops of England and Wales over the Equality Bill, the installation of the popular new Archbishop of Birmingham and Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor’s decision to reject a seat in the House of Lords.

We also interview the son of St Gianna Beretta Molla, publish a robust defence of Anglo-Catholic “patrimony” and present a forceful appeal for a sharper divide between the roles of clergy and lay people.

This is just a hint of what’s in the paper. To get the whole story, you may like to pick up a copy (at the back of churches in Britain and Ireland) or subscribe.

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Benedict XVI to write pastoral letter to Irish Catholics

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The Catholic News Service reports on the Irish Church leaders’ meeting with Pope Benedict XVI today:

Pope Benedict XVI shares ‘the outrage, betrayal and shame’ felt by Irish Catholics over cases of clerical sexual abuse and the way abuse claims were handled by church leaders, and he plans to write a special pastoral letter to the Catholics of Ireland, the Vatican said.

The letter ‘will clearly indicate the initiatives that are to be taken in response to the situation’, said a statement issued by the Vatican on December 11. The statement was released after the pope and top Vatican officials spent 90 minutes meeting with Cardinal Sean Brady of Armagh, Northern Ireland, president of the Irish bishops’ conference, and Archbishop Diarmuid Martin of Dublin.

Jesuit Fr Federico Lombardi, the Vatican spokesman, said Pope Benedict approved the statement, which “obviously reflects his style and tone” in discussing revelations about clerical sex abuse.

The spokesman said he was not sure when the letter would be ready, but he expected it fairly soon since the pope wanted to respond to the sense of outrage and hurt Irish Catholics currently are experiencing.

Written by Luke Coppen

December 11, 2009 at 3:35 pm

Benedict XVI: the great consolidator?

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Jeremy Lott has a long essay in the American Spectator, asking whether Pope Benedict XVI will be remembered as the “great consolidator” of Christianity.

He writes:

Benedict thinks that his Church has got the basics all right and that it is well positioned to hold out against current trends and decide, in the fullness of time, whether innovations are wise. He’s willing to extend that protection to Christians of other communions, to consolidate the faithful under a rule of faith that is both flexible and at the same time unyielding.

That makes him a conservative but a radical one. The easiest way to change a church is to drastically change her membership, and that is exactly what the pope is calling for with his impatient prodding to bring whole communions into the flock. Yesterday the traditionalists, today the Anglicans, tomorrow the Orthodox, and the day after, oh, let’s say the Lutherans. After all, this pope is from Germany, there has been centuries of ecumenical spadework, and Lutherans are sacramentally inclined Christians who are currently experiencing tremors over issues of sexuality.

If he succeeds, the moniker that future generations should use for him – the only really accurate one – is the Great Consolidator.

Written by Luke Coppen

December 11, 2009 at 2:58 pm

Obama, John Paul II and the duty of humanitarian intervention

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President Barack Obama listens to remarks during the Nobel Peace Prize ceremony in the Main Hall of Oslo City Hall in Oslo (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

Many people have already commented on the theological content of Barack Obama’s Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech.

I was struck by this section, which seems to echo an idea of John Paul II (who was given a nod elsewhere in the speech):

I believe that force can be justified on humanitarian grounds, as it was in the Balkans, or in other places that have been scarred by war. Inaction tears at our conscience and can lead to more costly intervention later. That is why all responsible nations must embrace the role that militaries with a clear mandate can play to keep the peace.

In the 1990s John Paul II argued that the international community had a “duty” of “humanitarian intervention”.

In an address to the International Nutrition Conference in 1992 he said:

[T]he idea is maturing within the international community that humanitarian action, far from being the right of the strongest, must be inspired by the conviction that intervention, or even interference when objective situations require it, is a response to a moral obligation to come to the aid of individuals, peoples or ethnic groups whose fundamental right to nutrition has been denied to the point of threatening their existence.

He returned to this point in his World Day of Peace message in the year 2000 he said:

In every case, in the face of such tragic and complex situations and contrary to all alleged ‘reasons’ of war, there is a need to affirm the preeminent value of humanitarian law and the consequent duty to guarantee the right to humanitarian aid to suffering civilians and refugees.

The recognition of these rights and their effective implementation must not be allowed to depend on the interests of any of the parties in conflict. On the contrary, there is a duty to identify all the means, institutional or otherwise, which can best serve in a practical way to meet humanitarian objectives. The moral and political legitimacy of these rights is in fact based on the principle that the good of the human person comes before all else and stands above all human institutions.

Written by Luke Coppen

December 11, 2009 at 1:49 pm

This morning’s Catholic must-reads

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Here are a few interesting news reports and comment pieces to start the day:

Mgr Andrew Faley says incoming Anglicans must not become a “sect” within the Catholic Church.

Senior Irish Church leaders prepare to discuss child abuse with Pope Benedict XVI later today.

The head of the Holy See’s delegation in Copenhagen explains what he hopes the summit will achieve.

The Vatican confirms the programme of Pope Benedict XVI’s May trip to Fatima.

Talks between Israel and the Holy See have reportedly hit another dead end.

Archbishop Chaput explains why he signed the Manhattan Declaration.

Matthew Milliner names the theological book of the decade.

Rod Dreher discovers what St Nicholas really looked like.

And Zenit wonders if cuddly toys might be the solution to the priestly vocations crisis.