Trip To Great Britain Confirmed
The Vatican today gave the official announcement regarding the Pope’s upcoming September 16-19 trip to Great Britain. Yesterday, the Pope visited Sulmona and venerated the relics of Pope St. Celestine V. Plus more on the events of recent days… A “tipping point”?
By Robert Moynihan
Benedict XVI’s September 16-19 Trip to Great Britain Confirmed
Despite much opposition, Benedict will go to Great Britain in September.
“Accepting the invitation of Her Majesty Elizabeth II, Queen of the United Kingdom, and of the bishops’ conferences of England and Wales, and of Scotland, His Holiness Benedict XVI will make an apostolic trip to the United Kingdom from 16 to 19 September,” the Pope Benedict’s spokesman, Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, said today in Rome.
The Pope will start the trip by visiting the Queen “at the Palace of Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh,” in Scotland, Lombardi said in a statement.
The pontiff will also “preside at the celebration of the Eucharist in Bellahouston Park in Glasgow.”
“In London, he will meet representatives from the worlds of politics, culture and business in Westminster Hall,” the statement continued. The Holy Father will “participate at an ecumenical
celebration in Westminster Abbey, and preside at a Eucharist celebration in Westminster Cathedral and at a prayer vigil in Hyde Park.
“Finally, he will preside at the celebration of the rite of beatification of Venerable Cardinal John Henry Newman at Cofton Park, Birmingham.”
“Cor ad cor loquitur”
The theme chosen for the papal visit to England is “Heart Speaks Unto Heart,” Cardinal Newman’s motto. The choice reflects the hope that the hearts of many will be touched by Pope’s heart, his words and actions, during this trip.
The Scottish bishops’ conference has announced the choice of a logo for the Pope’s daylong visit to their country: “The Hope Which Never Disappoints Is Jesus Christ.”
Following his arrival at Edinburgh airport on September 16, the Pope will be driven to Holyrood Palace where he will be welcomed by Her Majesty the Queen. The Pope will then travel through the center of Edinburgh in the “Popemobile,” and the Scottish bishops are encouraging “as many people as possible” to attend and line the Pope’s route and to attend the public Mass in Glasgow’s Bellahouston Park.
Anger and Outrage
As the trip goes nearer, we will be reporting in greater detail on what the Pope is likely to say, and on the opposition he is likely to face.
What is certain already is that many in Great Britain are already preparing to mock and jeer the Pope, not to welcome him, in part due to the sexual abuse scandals which have so tarnished the image of the Church, and in part due to opposition to the Church’s traditional teachings on morality, especially regarding homosexuality, abortion, divorce and euthanasia, now widely rejected by secular society.
Inside the Vatican will be producing a “special issue” previewing the Pope’s trip, our August-September issue, which we are now preparing. We would like to invite readers, inside and outside of Great Britain, to consider showing their support for the Holy Father by taking out one-page ads in this upcoming issue. The issue will circulate prior to the Pope’s visit, and it may even reach his desk.
We invite any and all to take out a one-page ad saying something to this effect: “Holy Father Benedict XVI, Welcome to Great Britain. May your trip be safe and may your words and actions remind all of us of the saving message of Jesus Christ, who came that we might have life, and have it more abundantly. God bless your journey!”
If you, your school, parish, or group would like to take out such an ad, please contact me by return email. I will answer all emails as soon as possible.
Benedict and Celestine V
On Sunday, July 4, Pope Benedict visited Sulmona, Italy, a little town about 100 miles from Rome.
His trip marked the 800th anniversary of the birth of Celestine V, the only Pope in history to abdicate the papal throne.
During his homily, the Pope invited all of us to accept interior and exterior silence in order to be better able to hear God’s voice, and the voices of our neighbors.
During a sunny, extremely hot open-air Mass attended by some 25,000 faithful, the Holy Father reflected on the life of his 13th-century predecessor, not focusing on his five months of papacy in 1294, but rather on the holiness of his life.
It is his holiness that makes Celestine V relevant some 800 years after his birth, Benedict XVI said.
“Holiness, in fact, never loses its own power of attraction, it is not forgotten, it never goes out of fashion, indeed with the passage of time, it shines with ever greater luminosity expressing man’s perennial longing for God,” Benedict said.
“[Celestine] went in search of truth and happiness, he went in search of God and, to hear his voice, decided to separate himself from the world and to live as a hermit,” he said. “Silence thus became the element that characterized his daily life. And it is precisely in external silence, but above all in internal silence, that he succeeded in perceiving God’s voice, a voice that was able to guide his life…
“We live in a society in which it seems that every space, every moment must be ‘filled’ with initiatives, activity, sound; often there is not even time to listen and dialogue. Dear brothers and sisters! Let us not be afraid to be silent outside and inside ourselves, so that we are able not only to perceive God’s voice, but also the voice of the person next to us, the voices of others.”
Grace Is All
Benedict also pointed to the importance of grace in St. Peter’s life.
“Even if our life is very different from his, the same thing is also true for us: the entirety of what is essential in our existence was bestowed upon us without our intervention,” he said.
“The fact that I live does not depend on me; the fact that there were people who introduced me to life, that taught me what it means to live and be loved, who handed down the faith to me and opened my eyes to God: all of that is grace and not ‘done by me.'”
Benedict said we can do nothing for ourselves if it is not given to us: “God always anticipates us and in every individual life there is beauty and goodness that we can easily recognize as his grace, as a ray of the light of his goodness. Because of this we must be attentive, always keep our ‘interior eyes’ open, the eyes of our heart. And if we learn how to know God in his infinite goodness, then we will be able to see, with wonder, in our lives — as the saints did — the signs of that God, who is always near to us, who is always good to us, who says: ‘Have faith in me!'”
Has a”Tipping Point” Been Reached?
On the events of the past few days
While Pope Benedict is preaching that we should open the “interior eyes” of our heart and soul to “recognize God’s grace,” our world is increasingly marked by the absence of God.
Many days pass by without any hint in our public discourse that there is a God, that we are spiritual beings with an eternal destiny, that we are mortal beings doomed to die, that we are fallen beings who need to be saved.
Many days pass by with public discussions focused solely on the stock market, and interest rates, and sporting events, and “Dancing with the Stars,” and so forth, until there is seemingly no moment of silence left to contemplate the true circumstances of our existence.
And this is what the Pope wishes to preach to the world, as he did on Sunday in Sulmona.
But the world seems little inclined to listen.
In fact, as American Vaticanist John Allen notes in a recent essay, modern society may actually have just reached a “tipping point” when the respect once given to the Church and her preachers is no longer present, but is turned into disrespect.
We will see how true or false this is, perhaps, during the Pope’s visit to Great Britain.
In his essay, posted July 2 on the National Catholic Reporter website, Allen offers a thoughtful assessment of the Church news events of the past few weeks, from the police raid on the Catholic Church in Belgium to the US Supreme Court decision to allow a sex abuse case from Oregon against the Holy See to proceed. (See: http://ncronline.org/print/19003).
“Taken together, the police raids in Belgium, the refusal by the Supreme Court in the United States to block a sex abuse lawsuit against the Vatican, and the European Court of Human Rights challenge to display of Catholic symbols in Italy all suggest that the final pillars of deference by civil authorities to the Catholic Church are crumbling…
“Of course, some observers — and not just religion’s cultured despisers, but many Catholics themselves — welcome all this, seeing it as a long-overdue dose of humility and accountability.
“On the other hand, a growing band of Catholic opinion, certainly reflected in the Vatican, believes that a ‘tipping point’ has been reached in the West, in which secular neutrality toward the Church, especially in Europe, has shaded off into hostility and, sometimes, outright persecution.
“Some blame a rising tide of neo-paganism in the West for the Church’s woes, while others say Church leaders, and especially the Vatican, have no one to blame but themselves.
“Whichever view one adopts, the empirical result is the same: Catholicism no longer calls the cultural tune. Benedict’s decision to launch an entire department in the Vatican dedicated to treating the West as ‘mission territory’ amounts to a clear acknowledgment of the point.
“Facing that reality, Catholicism, both at the leadership level and in important circles at the grass roots, is reacting as social theorists would likely predict… emphasizing its unique markers of identity, in order to defend itself against assimilation to the majority.
“To be sure, Benedict XVI’s ambition is not merely that the Church in the West will be a minority, but a ‘creative minority,’ a term he borrows from Arnold Toynbee.
“The idea is that when great civilizations enter a crisis, they either decay or are renewed from within by ‘creative minorities’ who offer a compelling vision of the future.
“The $64,000 question, therefore, is whether Benedict’s version of a ‘politics of identity’ is the right way to unleash the creativity in Catholicism that will allow it to play a transformative role in the cultural movements of the future. One thing’s for sure: projecting a robust sense of Catholic identity seems poised to be the guiding principle in Rome for some time to come.”
A Mass Where People Smoke and Drink Beer
And then there is this item. The Rorate Coeli web blog has imbedded a video from Austrian television of a recent Mass celebrated in Vienna, allegedly “with the blessing of Cardinal Christoph Schoenborn,” in which the priest preaches and celebrates Mass in front of a crowd of people seated at tables, drinking beer, eating sausages, and smoking cigarettes.
Here is the link to the video: http://rorate-caeli.blogspot.com/
The woman announcer, speaking in German, describes the Mass, and the filmed footage shows what took place.
A “Creative Minority”
There may still be a place for Catholics in the “brave new world” we are living in.
Or perhaps the “tipping point” is past, and the world we once knew, a world where the Church was respected, as the priest in On the Waterfront, who fought for the downtrodden workers, was respected, is no more.
But if we are to win back the place of respect that the Church once had, or even if we ar simply to remain faithful as a “creative minority,” disrespected and perhaps persecuted, we certainly need to do at least three things:
(1) We must study
(2) We must work
(3) We must pray
And a fourth:
(4) We must love, and first of all, love our children. While exercising great caution against false accusations — for false accusations are always a possibility — we must see to it that the sexual abuse of children by priests simply does not occur, and, if it ever should occur, that it not be covered up, ever again.
By studying, we will keep alive our tradition; by working, we will follow the example of Jesus, who worked while the light lasted; by praying, we will avoid pride, and keep that humility which is the source of true happiness; and by loving our children, we will begin to create a civilization of love, and holiness, which will help prepare God’s reign.
And for this reason, I am going to make an effort, this summer, to return to the root of the question, to the person and work of Jesus, who announced that God’s reign had begun to be present here on earth with him, in his words, and in his life. I will do this by reading and entering into dialogue with Pope Benedict’s book, Jesus of Nazareth.
“He that takes truth for his guide, and duty for his end, may safely trust to God’s providence to lead him aright.” —Blaise Pascal (French mathematician, philosopher, physicist and writer, 1623-1662)Note: Pilgrimage with special meetings inside the Vatican. We are now beginning to take preliminary requests for our Fall 2010 and Spring 2011 pilgrimages, which will include visits to Assisi, Norcia, Rome and the Vatican. If you would like information about these trips, email us at: [email protected]
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