Saturday, September 15, 2007

Cardinal Martino on migration and ecumenism

On Migration and Ecumenism
"The Church Must Feel Concerned Regarding Immigrants"

VATICAN CITY, SEPT. 15, 2007 ( Here is the text of an address given by Cardinal Renato Martino, president of the Pontifical Council for Migrants and Travelers, at the annual meeting of European national directors for the pastoral care of migrants, held in Sibiu, Romania, from Sept. 3 to 4.

* * *

Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People

Annual Meeting of European National Directors for the Pastoral Care of Migrants
(Sibiu, Sept. 3-4, 2007)

Migration, an opportunity for the ecumene

Cardinal Renato Raffaele MARTINO
President of the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People

Recently, a book entitled “Globus. Per una teoria storico-universale dello spazio” (Globus. Toward a historical-universal theory of space), a translation from German, was published in Italy. In this volume, the author, Franz Rosenzweig, makes a rapid but well-studied, original and significant reconstruction of the whole world history. The first part of the publication is entitled “Ecumene,” seen from the point of view of relationships between earthly forces that push toward the unification of the world.

“If millennia were needed for us to acquire theoretical awareness of the spherical form of the earth,” the author affirms, “we cannot be surprised by how slow world history walks toward unity of the globe. Yet, God created only one sky and one earth. Ecumenism is the final goal of humankind’s journey,” a sign of which is migration, indeed an opportunity for the ecumene.

Today, in fact, migration is one of the most important and most complex challenges of our modern world. Consequently, social transformation, caused by welcoming immigrants, is discussed in public hearings, such that the question of “migration” appears as one of the top issues in the international agenda.

The migration phenomenon is therefore analyzed in relation to development. Migrants’ contribution to the labor market is studied, leading to the conclusion that they are important for world economy. A witness to this is the First Global Forum on Migration and Development, recently held in Brussels, last July 9-11.

In spite of this, however, many governments are adopting more restrictive measures to counter immigration, especially if irregular. Researchers on the migration phenomenon, on their part, are for the opening of frontiers, not simply to solve contingent problems, but to situate the process in a global scenario. Migration has indeed become a structural phenomenon. This does not mean, however, that a vision of a “total” and “indiscriminate” freedom to immigrate is being adopted. It is rather the task of governments to regulate the magnitude and the form of migration flows. They should, however, take common good into consideration, so that immigrants would be worthily welcomed, and the population of the receiving countries would not be put in a condition that would lead them to reject the newcomers. This would have unfavorable consequences both for immigrants and the local population, as well as for relations between peoples. Naturally national common good must be considered in the context of universal common good. This brings us back to that vision of the “ecumene” that I mentioned at the beginning of my talk.

Our task, however, is that of identifying facts and aspects of migration that would help us understand the value of the phenomenon itself. This will enable us to interpret this “sign of the times”[1] from a Christian perspective, and to offer our pastoral service to the world of human mobility in its totality, in its universality. And for you, this is true for Europe.

There has always been solicitude on the part of the Church for migration -- we have to take note of this.[2] Involvement in various forms confirms its ability to interpret this rapidly changing reality. Active ecclesial commitment, especially at a pastoral level, naturally includes socio-humanitarian action so that the foreigner would be accepted and integrated in society, through an itinerary leading to authentic communion, where there is due respect for diversity. It is however necessary to remember that rights and duties come together, also for migrants.

Regarding respect for the fundamental rights of the human person, hence also of those who are involved in human mobility, the Church is continuously dedicated to this at various levels and in different areas. Specific initiatives, messages of the Holy Father, action to build awareness among international entities and governments of migrants’ countries of origin, transit and destination, define the Church’s “strategy." This is based on the central position and “sacredness” of the human person[3], to be upheld particularly when he/she is unprotected or marginalized. This “brings to light certain important theological and pastoral findings that have been acquired. These are: […] the defense of the rights of migrants, both men and women, and their children; [the question of the migrant family]; the ecclesial and missionary dimension of migration; the reappraisal of the apostolate of the laity; the value of cultures in the work of evangelization; the protection and appreciation of minority groups in the Church; the importance of dialogue both inside and outside the Church; and the specific contribution of emigration to world peace” (EMCC No. 27). In all this, we can clearly see a basis for an ecumenical commitment.

Indeed the recent position of the Holy See regarding migration shows that attention is given to the continuous transformation of the phenomenon of human mobility and to the current exigencies of people in contemporary society. This is because it wants “to respond to the new spiritual and pastoral needs of migrants” bearing in mind “the ecumenical aspect of the phenomenon, owing to the presence among migrants of Christians not in full communion with the Catholic Church, and also the interreligious aspect, owing to the increasing number of migrants of other religions, in particular Muslims” (EMCC No. 3)[4]. We cannot ignore the fact that “recent times have witnessed a growing increase in the presence of immigrants of other religions in traditionally Christian countries” (EMCC No. 59). The great diversity of immigrants’ cultural and religious origin poses new challenges and leads toward new goals, putting dialogue at the heart of pastoral care in the world of migration. After all, it certainly is part of the mission of the Church.

The instruction "Erga Migrantes Caritas Christi" carefully proposes programs that are appropriate for the various phases in the life of the migrant. It distinguishes “between assistance in a general sense (a first, short-term welcome), true welcome in the full sense (longer-term projects) and integration (an aim to be pursued constantly over a long period and in the true sense of the word)” (No. 42). In this case, it is important to give a sensible direction to an issue of great significance. I am referring to the difficult concept of integration, and its even more difficult application, keeping in mind also its ecumenical and interreligious aspects, particularly in societies hosting migrants. This concept is being seriously analyzed. We refuse to see it as a process of assimilation, but stress the aspect of cultural meeting and legitimate exchange. We are practically insisting on a concept of intercultural societies, meaning those that are capable of interacting and producing mutual enrichment, going beyond multiculturalism, that can be contented with a mere juxtaposition of cultures[5].

This gradual itinerary -- as I was saying -- provides, first of all, for “assistance or ‘first welcome’” (EMCC No. 43), but this is not enough to express the authentic vocation to Christian agape, also because it might be confused with philanthropy.

As a result, our instruction offers a wider horizon, providing for “acts of welcome in its full sense, which aim at the progressive integration and self-sufficiency of the immigrant” (ibid.). Here, too, we cannot fail to consider the ecumenical and interreligious dimensions.

In his Message for the World Day of Migrants and Refugees this year, Benedict XVI stated that the Church, through its various institutions and associations, “has opened centers where migrants are listened to, houses where they are welcomed, offices for services offered to persons and families, with other initiatives set up to respond to the growing needs in this field”.[6]

Also through these services in the context of human mobility, the Church offers its assistance to everyone, without distinction of religion or nationality, respecting everyone’s inalienable dignity as a human person, created in the image of God and redeemed by the blood of Christ.

In assisting migrants, therefore, it is possible to deepen ecumenical dialogue since contact with those among them who belong to other Churches or ecclesial communities gives “new possibilities of living ecumenical fraternity in practical day-to-day life and of achieving greater reciprocal understanding between Churches and ecclesial communities, something far from facile irenicism or proselytism” (EMCC No. 56). In fact, when migrants arrive in a place with a Catholic majority, the first meeting point should be hospitality and solidarity, within the context of “an authentic culture of welcome (cf. EEu 101 and 103) capable of accepting the truly human values of the immigrants over and above any difficulties caused by living together with persons who are different (cf. EEu 85, 112 and PaG 65)” (EMCC No. 39).

Therefore “the entire Church in the host country must feel concerned and engaged regarding immigrants. This means that local Churches must rethink pastoral care, programming it [ … appropriately for] today’s new multicultural and plurireligious context. With the help of social and pastoral workers, the local population should be made aware of the complex problems of migration and the need to oppose baseless suspicions and offensive prejudices against foreigners” (EMCC No. 41).

However, ecumenical dialogue does not stop there. It could also take the form of a specifically ecumenical cooperation, whereby resources are pooled and a common Christian witness is given (cf. Directory for the Application of Principles and Norms on Ecumenism, No. 162). Indeed the different Churches and ecclesial communities are particularly intent on welcoming and accompanying all migrants, in the pastoral sense, especially when alongside the flow of regular migrants, there are irregular migrants who are a cause for concern and are usually and unjustly blamed for crimes. Also, there are unscrupulous evildoers, who speculate on the tragic situation of people and promote the trafficking of human beings. Their presence increases xenophobia and at times provokes manifestations of racism (cf. EMCC nos. 29 e 41). All this can make the ecumenical commitment in favor of migrants more difficult.

The Church is called upon to open a dialogue with everyone, but this “dialogue should be conducted and implemented in the conviction that the Church is the ordinary means of salvation and that she alone possesses the fullness of the means of salvation” (EMCC 59). At the same time, migrants of other religions “should be helped insofar as possible to preserve a transcendent view of life” (ibid.).

There are surely some values in common between the Christian faith and other beliefs, but it is necessary to take into consideration the fact that “beside these points of agreement there are, however, also divergences, some of which have to do with legitimate acquisitions of modern life and thought” (EMCC No. 66). On the part of the migrant, therefore, the first step to take toward the host society is to respect the laws and the values on which that society is founded, including religious ones. If this is not done, then integration would just be an empty word.

The Church is also called to live fully its own identity, without renouncing to give witness to its own faith, also in view of respectfully proclaiming it (cf. EMCC No. 9). Thus, dialogue with others “requires Catholic communities receiving immigrants to appreciate their own identity even more, prove their loyalty to Christ, know the contents of the faith well, rediscover their missionary calling and thus commit themselves to bear witness for Jesus the Lord and his gospel. This is the necessary prerequisite for the correct attitude of sincere dialogue, open and respectful of all but at the same time neither naïve nor ill-equipped” (EMCC No. 60).[7]

Finally, it is necessary to take into account the important principle of reciprocity[8], “understood not merely as an attitude for making claims but as a relationship based on mutual respect and on justice in juridical and religious matters. Reciprocity is also an attitude of heart and spirit that enables us to live together everywhere with equal rights and duties. Healthy reciprocity will urge each one to become an ‘advocate’ for the rights of minorities when his or her own religious community is in the majority. In this respect we should also recall the numerous Christian migrants in lands where the majority of the population is not Christian and where the right to religious freedom is severely restricted or repressed” (EMCC No. 64).

It remains true, however, that solidarity, cooperation, international interdependence and the equitable distribution of the goods of the earth show the need to operate also in ecumenical communion, or rather, with a vision of “ecumene” in the broad sense of the term. This has to be done in depth and forcefully, especially in the areas where migration flows originate, so that the inequalities that induce people, individually or collectively, to leave their own natural and cultural environment would be overcome (cf. EMCC nos. 4; 8-9; 39-43). On its part, the Church will not stop encouraging everyone, but particularly the members of Christian communities, to be authentically available and open to others, including migrants, as it affirms that “notwithstanding the repeated failures of human projects, noble as they may have been, Christians, roused by the phenomenon of mobility, [should] become aware of their call to be always and repeatedly a sign of fraternity and communion in the world, by respecting differences and practicing solidarity, in their ethics of meeting others” (EMCC No. 102).

To conclude, we have to acknowledge that migration is a process in constant evolution. It will continue to be present in the development of societies and will bring us more and more into an intercultural world, where legitimate diversity will be lived also in the context of ecumenical and interreligious dialogue.

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[1] Cf. Benedict XVI, Message for the World Day of Migrants and Refugees 2006: 18_world-migrants-day_eNo.html; A. Marchetto, "Le migrazioni: segno dei tempi", in Pontificio Consiglio della Pastorale per i Migranti e gli Itineranti (ed.), La sollecitudine della Chiesa verso i migranti, (Quaderni Universitari, Comments to the First Part of Erga Migrantes Caritas Christ -- henceforth EMCC), Libreria Editrice Vaticana, Vatican City 2005, pp. 28-40.

[2] Pius XII’s prophetic intuition regarding the pastoral care of migrants is present in the Apostolic Constitution Exsul Familia (AAS XLIV [1952] 649-704), considered the magna carta of the Church’s teaching on migration. Paul VI, in continuity with and as an application of the teaching of the Second Ecumenical Vatican Council, later issued the "motu proprio" Pastoralis migratorum cura (AAS LXI [1969] 601-603), promulgating the Instruction of the Congregation for Bishops De Pastorali migratorum cura (AAS LXI [1969] 614-643). In 1978, the Pontifical Commission for the Pastoral Care of Migration and Tourism published a Circular Letter addressed to the Episcopal Conferences, entitled Church and Human Mobility (AAS LXX [1978] 357-378): see EMCC nos. 19-33 and Pontificio Consiglio della Pastorale per i Migranti e gli Itineranti (ed.), La sollecitudine della Chiesa verso i migranti, op. cit. Cf. also A. Marchetto, "Chiesa conciliare e pastorale di accoglienza": People on the Move XXXVIII (102, 2006), pp. 131-145.

[3] See the Pontifical Message for the World Day of Peace 2007, "The human person, the heart of peace":

[4] In 2004, the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People published the Instruction Erga migrantes caritas Christi: AAS XCVI (2004), 762-822 (see also People on the Move XXXVI, 95, 2004, and website: migrants_doc_20040514_erga-migrantes-caritas-christi_eNo.html). Cf. comments on this Instruction by highly competent authors in People on the Move XXXVII (98, 2005), pp. 23-125, particularly on ecumenism and interreligious dialogue: pp. 45-63.

[5] Issues related to this important chapter of the pastoral care of human mobility were studied more in-depth and then published in Pontificio Consiglio della Pastorale per i Migranti e gli Itineranti (ed.), Migranti e pastorale d’accoglienza (Quaderni Universitari, Comments to the Second Part of EMCC), Libreria Editrice Vaticana, Vatican City 2006.

[6] Benedict XVI, Message for the World Day of Migrants and Refugees 2007: holy_father/benedict_xvi/messages/peace/documents/hf_ben-xvi_mes_20061208_xl-world-day-peace_en.html.

[7] Cf. Proceedings of the XVII Plenary Session of our Pontifical Council, held from May 15 to 17, 2006, on the theme "Migration and Itinerancy from and toward Islamic majority countries": People on the Move XXXVIII (101 Suppl., 2006). Specifically regarding interreligious dialogue, see pp. 187-224. Particularly important is No. 11 of the conclusions and recommendations: "It was also deemed vital to distinguish between what the receiving societies can and cannot tolerate in Islamic culture, what can be respected or shared with regard to followers of other religions (see EMCC 65 and 66), and to have the possibility of giving indications in this regard also to policymakers, toward a proper formulation of civil legislation, with due respect for each one’s competence": ibid., p. 74.

[8] Also Benedict XVI mentioned this in his address to the participants in the aforementioned XVII Plenary Session: loc. cit., p. 5.

[Text adapted]

I wouldn't be surprised if someone at Vox Nova blogged about this.

Friday, September 14, 2007

On Fox's "House," Bioethics Meets Television

On Fox's "House," Bioethics Meets Television
Life Academy Member Offers Critique of Series

ROME, SEPT. 13, 2007 ( The Fox Broadcasting Company's series titled "House" reflects the existence of good and evil and the need to choose between the two, says a member of the Pontifical Academy for Life.

Dr. Carlo Valerio Bellieni is director of the Department of Newborn Intensive Therapy of the University Polyclinic Le Scotte in Siena, Italy. He told ZENIT that the series "shows something interesting."

He explained: "The show seems to be an apology for separation and absence: It tells the story of a misanthrope and harsh doctor, Gregory House, who doesn't want any contact with patients.

"This separation, however, caused by his existential and physical suffering, is only apparent. While remaining surly and anti-social, each time he insistently tries to understand the depths of the person he is caring for.

"He is able to recognize suffering in others because of his own suffering and it is because of this that he can see things that may escape others.

"It is even more strange, and interesting, that the 'non-politically correct' actions and judgments, with some exceptions, come from a character who is in constant struggle with the world."

A doctor's role

The series debuted in November 2004 and stars British actor Hugh Laurie.

House "doesn't follow the crowd when it comes to ethical relativism in medicine -- the autonomy of the patient, the doctor as a 'provider of a service' that has lost the ability to give moral judgments on the practice of medicine," Bellieni continued.

The pontifical academy member explained: "He speaks harshly with his patients to persuade them to accept a cure, not to give in to their wishes. He knows that there exists a good medical practice and a mistaken one and he wants his patients to choose the good one. But also because in the patient's answer he is trying to find an answer for himself."

Bellieni said this "is much better than those who leave the patient alone in the face of a diagnosis of words and numbers, only 'free' to choose to live or die."

He explained: "To put it another way, the writers of the series paradoxically seem to tell us that often words, and certain sweet and pious expressions that are fashionable, serve to cover up distance between persons.

"This is wonderfully underlined by the soundtrack, full of music with a religious tone or that shows the dissatisfaction of a life without meaning, like 'Desire' by Ryan Adams or 'Hallelujah' by Jeff Buckley."

"We observe two clear points by the creators of the series," continued Bellieni. "First, that the doctor is not a 'provider of a service' to whom every request is equal, but he knows how to recognize a good answer from an evil answer and how to find the strength to not give them the latter.

"Second, the doctor-patient relationship is never a one-way street: There is not only the one who gives, the doctor, and one who receives, the patient, but the doctor either finds himself in the position to learn strength from the patient, his way of communicating and his hidden signals … or he gives an ineffective treatment."

"House," Bellieni explained, "goes to the depressed manager who is waiting to be placed on the heart transplant list and screams at him saying 'Do you want to live? Tell me, because I don't know if I do!' and he doesn't do this so he will write a 'living will,' but to reawaken in him, and in himself, a love for life.

"House is certainly not a saint and he sometimes makes bad moral choices. But if he were a saint, would it be so surprising to hear him cry out, as sometimes happens, against drugs or incestuous sex or in vitro fertilization?"

Finding humanity

The fourth season of the series is set to begin in the United States on Sept. 25. Laurie was nominated for an Emmy Award for outstanding lead actor in a drama series in 2005 and this year.

Bellieni said: "House knows how to astonish: He makes mistakes, grinds his teeth, but he knows how to recognize what is human when he sees it."

"This is the important point, often overlooked in medical practice: amazement at the mysterious humanity of the patient."

"House," Bellieni remarked, "lets the little girl with a tumor hug him, whose life he prolonged by one year, and impressed with the moral strength of the little girl he begins to change his way of life."

"In the same way," he continued, "he is amazed by the little hand of the fetus as it comes out of the womb during surgery and grasps his finger. For the rest of the day he continued to look at his finger, asking himself who is that life that no one considers human, maybe not even himself, but that touched him.

"His amazement is the foundation of his curative ability."

"House never seems to be there for his patients," concluded Bellieni. "He is not a good doctor, he is full of pain; but he is rich with a meaningful question, which does not lead him to despair.

"For this reason he is impressive, in an age in which nothing seems to have value except one's own whims, especially in medicine."

Unlocking the Mystery of Life

Mr. Gerald Hiestand talks about Unlocking the Mystery of Life.

Center for Science and Culture page for the video. Official page. The video is available at Google Video.

Gabriel Richardson Lear, Happy Lives and the Human Good

Princeton University Press (softcover available)

NDPR review
Bryn Mawr Classical Review 2004.06.46

faculty page
her review of Eugene Garver's Confronting Aristotle's Ethics

Thursday, September 13, 2007

The impact of ius commune on European society

Learned Law, Droit Savant, Gelehrtes Recht: The Tyranny of a Concept

Define your terms!

It never ceases to amaze me how people (especially geometers) can say that non-Euclidean geometry has "proven" that Euclidean geometry is false--evidently they don't know the basic rules of logic, especially the fallacy of using equivocal terms. A prime example: the definition of a line, as it applies to the so-called "parallel lines" postulate. I will be getting a copy of Dr. Augros' dissertation, and I recommend it, despite the price UMI charges.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Is God in hell?

a murky answer from CAI Q&A for September:

Question 9 - Is God Present in Hell?

R. Sungenis: God is everywhere, even in Hell, in his omnipresence. But he is only there in his divine being, not his divine care. When we speak about the "absence" of God we are speaking about the absence of his divine care. God does not care any longer for the souls in hell.

Care is ambiguous--if we use the word "love" instead, we can say that God still loves the damned, because if He did not love them, they would not continue to exist, and so on.

Bizarre Parasitic Star Found

Bizarre Parasitic Star Found

Ker Than
Staff Writer
Wed Sep 12, 12:15 PM ET

A dead, spinning star has been found feeding on its stellar companion, whittling it down to an object smaller than some planets.

"This object is merely the skeleton of a star," says study team member Craig Markwardt of NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland. "The pulsar has eaten away the star's outer envelope, and all that remains is its helium-rich core."

Pulsars are the cores of burnt out "neutron" stars that spin hundreds of times per second, faster than a kitchen blender.

The system was discovered in early June when NASA's Swift and Rossi X-ray Timing Explorer (RXTE) satellites picked up an outburst of X-rays and gamma rays in the direction of the Milky Way galactic center in the constellation Sagittarius.

Not a planet

The smaller companion orbits its parasitic companion from a distance of only about 230,000 miles--slightly less than the distance between the Earth and moon. It has an estimated minimum mass of only 7 times that of Jupiter, but it could be much larger. Unlike three Earth-sized objects found around a pulsar in 1992, scientists do not consider the new object to be a planet because of how it formed.

"It's essentially a white dwarf that has been whittled down to a planetary mass," said study team member Christopher Deloye of Northwestern University.

Scientists think that several billion years ago, the system consisted of a very massive star and a smaller star about 1 to 3 times the mass of our sun. The bigger star evolved quickly and exploded as a supernova, leaving behind a spinning stellar corpse known as a neutron star. Meanwhile, the smaller star began to evolve as well, eventually puffing up into a red giant whose outer envelope encapsulated the neutron star.

This caused the two stars to draw closer together, while simultaneously ejecting the red giant's envelope into space.

Survival unclear

After billions of years, little remains of the companion star, and it's uncertain whether it will survive. "It's been taking a beating, but that's part of nature," said study team member Hans Krimm, also of NASA Goddard.

Today, the two objects are so close to each other that the neutron star's powerful gravity siphons gas from its companion to form a spinning disk around itself. The disk occasionally dumps large quantities of gas onto the neutron star, creating an outburst like the one detected in June.

The system will be detailed in two studies authored by Krimm's team and a team led by Deepto Chakrabarty of MIT, which reached the same conclusions, to be published in an upcoming issue of Astrophysical Journal Letters.

The system is only the eighth pulsar with a period of about one millisecond that is known to be accreting mass from its companion. Only one other such system has a pulsar companion with such a low mass. The companion in that system, XTE J1807-294, also has a minimum mass of about 7 Jupiters.

"Given that we don't know the exact mass of either companion, ours could be the smallest," Krimm said.

Cardinal Dulles, God and Evolution

In the latest issue of First Things.

He first discusses theistic evolutionists and Intelligent Design advocates, then moves on to a third group.

Darwinism is criticized by yet a third school of critics, one which includes philosophers such as Michael Polanyi, who build on the work of Henri Bergson and Teilhard de Chardin. Philosophers of this orientation, notwithstanding their mutual differences, agree that biological organisms cannot be understood by the laws of mechanics alone. The laws of biology, without in any way contradicting those of physics and chemistry, are more complex. The behavior of living organisms cannot be explained without taking into account their striving for life and growth. Plants, by reaching out for sunlight and nourishment, betray an intrinsic aspiration to live and grow. This internal finality makes them capable of success and failure in ways that stones and minerals are not. Because of the ontological gap that separates the living from the nonliving, the emergence of life cannot be accounted for on the basis of purely mechanical principles.

In tune with this school of thought, the English mathematical physicist John Polkinghorne holds that Darwinism is incapable of explaining why multicellular plants and animals arise when single cellular organisms seem to cope with the environment quite successfully. There must be in the universe a thrust toward higher and more-complex forms. The Georgetown professor John F. Haught, in a recent defense of the same point of view, notes that natural science achieves exact results by restricting itself to measurable phenomena, ignoring deeper questions about meaning and purpose. By its method, it filters out subjectivity, feeling, and striving, all of which are essential to a full theory of cognition. Materialistic Darwinism is incapable of explaining why the universe gives rise to subjectivity, feeling, and striving.

The Thomist philosopher Etienne Gilson vigorously contended in his 1971 book From Aristotle to Darwin and Back Again that Francis Bacon and others perpetrated a philosophical error when they eliminated two of Aristotle’s four causes from the purview of science. They sought to explain everything in mechanistic terms, referring only to material and efficient causes and discarding formal and final causality.

Without the form, or the formal cause, it would be impossible to account for the unity and specific identity of any substance. In the human composite the form is the spiritual soul, which makes the organism a single entity and gives it its human character. Once the form is lost, the material elements decompose, and the body ceases to be human. It would be futile, therefore, to try to define human beings in terms of their bodily components alone.

Final causality is particularly important in the realm of living organisms. The organs of the animal or human body are not intelligible except in terms of their purpose or finality. The brain is not intelligible without reference to the faculty of thinking that is its purpose, nor is the eye intelligible without reference to the function of seeing.

These three schools of thought are all sustainable in a Christian philosophy of nature. Although I incline toward the third, I recognize that some well-qualified experts profess theistic Darwinism and Intelligent Design. All three of these Christian perspectives on evolution affirm that God plays an essential role in the process, but they conceive of God’s role in different ways. According to theistic Darwinism, God initiates the process by producing from the first instant of creation (the Big Bang) the matter and energies that will gradually develop into vegetable, animal, and eventually human life on this earth and perhaps elsewhere. According to Intelligent Design, the development does not occur without divine intervention at certain stages, producing irreducibly complex organs. According to the teleological view, the forward thrust of evolution and its breakthroughs into higher grades of being depend upon the dynamic presence of God to his creation. Many adherents of this school would say that the transition from physicochemical existence to biological life, and the further transitions to animal and human life, require an additional input of divine creative energy.

It's not clear to me why Cardinal Dulles is able to criticize the Deists and a mechanistic view of the universe, without seeing how theistic evolutionists fall into the same errors.

What role does God play in synthesis? What are the potencies for the development of new parts and of new forms of life? And how do we know that such potencies are limited?

Dr. Laurence Paul Hemming on Summorum Pontificum

On the occasion of the publication of the motu proprio of the Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI Summorum Pontificum, July 7th 2007

Rev’d. Dr. Laurence Paul Hemming

If a motu proprio is a ‘personal motion’ of the pope, it is important to understand that Benedict XVI has in the expanations around the motu proprio conceded a point long argued by those who love the traditional rites and that was rumoured (but never confirmed) to have been decided by the special commission of cardinals appointed to consider the matter in some secrecy by Pope John Paul II (of which the present pope was a member). The matter in question was the exact status of the traditional liturgical books. Benedict XVI’s explanatory letter tells us ‘as for the use of the 1962 Missal . . . I would like to draw attention to the fact that this Missal was never juridically abrogated and, consequently, in principle, was always permitted’. In this sense the motu proprio has not freed up the liturgical books at all, it has simply defined and clarified a freedom they already possessed in their own right. The importance of this cannot be understated: a future motu proprio could not therefore revoke the freedom of the traditional liturgical books – or put another way, strictly speaking the motu proprio has only defined the character of the freedom of the former liturgical books, it has not been the act whereby there are freed.

He explains how "rupture" is to be understood:
When the Pope speaks in the supporting letter of there being ‘no rupture’ between the two forms of the Roman Rite he asserts a truth which the whole Church has yet to discover – that when the 1970 missal and the other reformed rites are understood in the context of the former rites, then their orthodox interpretation is assured, and all ambiguity is removed. What the motu proprio does is make possible in the ordinary life of the Church that the ‘rupture’ proposed by adherents of the ‘spirit of the council’ can only be healed through the Church’s sacred activity of prayer and administration of the sacraments. What he announces as a ‘fact’ – that there is no rupture between the two forms of the rite will then become an actual truth, one which will have effects in every aspect of the Church’s life. In fact what he proposes is that the living presence of the former rites – as themselves active vehicles of the Holy Spirit and of divine grace – will ensure the freedom and health of the future Church. What he announces as a fact is really a task to be carried out over the next decades of the Church's life – in prayer (the liturgical life that is the life of the Church), in charity, and through the Church’s sacred actions.

The downside to ecclesial movements?

The Seven Capital Vices of the Movements, According to "La Civiltà Cattolica"

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Resources on Pascendi Dominici Gregis

Rorate Caeli has links

Crux et Cithara

From Jeffrey Tucker at NLM:

Crux et Cithara is a 1983 book, completely unavailable, edited by Robert Skeris in honor of the 70th birthday of Johannes Overath. It contains many important pieces that I look forward to reading now that the technical side of things is done. It is right here.

Among the pieces is J. Ratzinger's Theological Problems of Church Music, which has also been completely unavailable (to my knowledge). So it is extracted as a separate file. If anyone wants to extract the text and send it to me in HTML, please do, and we can put it up at

Message of European Ecumenical Assembly

Message of European Ecumenical Assembly
"The Light of Christ Shines Upon All!"

SIBIU, Romania, SEPT. 9, 2007, ( Here is the final message of the 3rd European Ecumenical Assembly, which ended today in Sibiu.

* * *

We, Christian pilgrims from all over Europe and beyond, witness to the transforming power of this light, which is stronger than darkness, and we proclaim it as all-embracing hope for our Churches, for all of Europe and for the entire world.

In the name of our Triune God, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, we have assembled in the city of Sibiu, Romania (Sept. 4-9, 2007). This third European Ecumenical Assembly was marked especially by the richness of Orthodox spirituality and tradition. We recall and renew the serious commitments we already made in Basel and Graz and we regret that, up to now, we have failed to fulfil some of them. However, our confidence in the transforming energy of the light of Christ is stronger than the darkness of resignation, fatalism, fear and indifference.

Our third European Ecumenical Assembly began in 2006 in Rome and continued in 2007 in Wittenberg. This ecumenical pilgrimage involved many regional meetings and those of Orthodox Churches in Rhodes and young people in St. Maurice. We welcome with joy the young people's commitment and the contribution they made to the Assembly. Assisted and motivated by the "Charta Oecumenica," our Assembly pursued the work started in earlier assemblies and has been an occasion for an exchange of gifts and of mutual enrichment.

We are not alone on this pilgrimage. Christ is with us and within the cloud of witnesses (Hebrews 12:1), the contemporary martyrs accompany us: the witness of their life and death inspires us individually and corporately. In communion with them, we commit ourselves to let the light of the transfigured Christ shine through our own witness deeply rooted in prayer and love. This is our humble response to the sacrifice of their lives.

The light of Christ in the Church

The light of Christ leads us to live for others and in communion with one another. Our witness to hope and unity for Europe and for the world will be credible only if we continue our journey toward visible unity. Unity is not uniformity. There is enormous value in experiencing afresh that "koinonia" and exchanging those spiritual gifts that energised the ecumenical movement from its beginning.

In Sibiu we again felt the painful wound of division between our Churches. This even concerns our understanding of the Church and its unity. The distinct historical and cultural developments in Eastern and Western Christianity have contributed to these differences, and understanding them requires our urgent attention and ongoing dialogue.

We are convinced that the wider Christian family has to deal with doctrinal questions, and it must also seek a broad consensus about moral values derived from the Gospel and a credible Christian lifestyle that joyfully witnesses to the light of Christ in our challenging modern secular world, in private as well as in public life.

Our Christian spirituality is a precious treasure: once opened, it reveals the variety of its riches and opens our hearts to the beauty of the face of Jesus and to the strength of prayer. Only if we are closer to our Lord Jesus Christ, can we become closer to one another and experience true "koinonia." We cannot but share these riches with all men and women who are seeking light in this continent. Spiritual men and women begin with their own conversion and this leads to the transformation of the world. Our witness to the light of Christ is a faithful commitment to listen, live and share our stories of life and hope, which have shaped us as followers of Christ.

Recommendation One: We recommend renewing our mission as individual believers and as Churches to proclaim Christ as the Light and the Saviour of the world;

Recommendation Two: We recommend continuing the discussion on mutual recognition of baptism, taking into account the important achievements on this topic in several countries and being aware that the question is deeply linked to an understanding of Eucharist, ministry and ecclesiology in general;

Recommendation Three: We recommend finding ways of experiencing the activities which can unite us: prayer for each other and for unity, ecumenical pilgrimages, theological formation and study in common, social and diaconal initiatives, cultural projects, supporting society life based on Christian values;

Recommendation Four: We recommend the full participation of the whole people of God and, at this Assembly in particular, note the appeal of young people, the elderly, ethnic minorities, and disabled people.

The light of Christ for Europe

We consider that every human being is created in the image and likeness of God (Genesis 1:27) and deserves the same degree of respect and love, despite differences of belief, culture, age, gender, or ethnic origin, from the beginning of life to natural death. Being aware that our common roots lie much deeper than our divisions, while looking for renewal and unity and the role of the Churches in today's European society, we focussed on our encounter with people of other religions.

Aware in particular of our unique relationship with the Jewish peoples as people of the Covenant, we reject all forms of contemporary anti-Semitism and, with them, will foster Europe as a continent free of every form of violence. There have been periods in our European history of harsh conflicts but there have also been periods of peaceful coexistence among people of all religions. In our day there is no alternative to dialogue: not compromise, but a dialogue of life where we can speak the truth in love.

We all need to learn more about all religions, and the recommendations of "Charta Oecumenica" should be developed further. We appeal to our fellow Christians and all who believe in God to respect other people's right to religious freedom, and express our solidarity with Christian communities who live in the Middle East, Iraq, and elsewhere in the world as religious minorities and feel that their very existence is under threat.

As we meet Christ in our needy sisters and brothers (Matthew 25:44-45), together enlightened by the Light of Christ, we Christians, according to biblical injunctions to the unity of humanity (Genesis 1:26-27), commit ourselves to repent for the sin of exclusion; deepen our understanding of 'otherness'; defend the dignity and rights of every human being, and ensure protection to those in need of it; share the light of Christ which others bring to Europe; call upon European states to stop unjustifiable administrative detention of migrants, make every effort to ensure regular immigration, the integration of migrants, refugees and asylum-seekers, uphold the value of family unity and combat trafficking in human beings and exploitation of trafficked persons. We call on Churches to increase their pastoral care of vulnerable immigrants.

Recommendation Five: We recommend that our Churches should recognise that Christian immigrants are not just the recipients of religious care but that they can play a full and active role in the life of the Church and of society; offer better pastoral care for migrants, asylum seekers and refugees; and promote the rights of ethnic minorities in Europe, particularly the Roma people.

* * *

Many of us are thankful that we have experienced profound changes in Europe in recent decades. Europe is more than the European Union. As Christians we share the responsibility for shaping Europe as a continent of peace, solidarity, participation and sustainability. We appreciate the commitment of the European Institutions, including the E.U., Council of Europe, and the OSCE, to an open, transparent and regular dialogue with the Churches of Europe. Europe's highest political representatives honoured us with their presence and thus expressed strong interest in our work. We have to face the challenge to bring spiritual strengths into this dialogue. Europe was initially a political project to secure peace and it now needs to become a Europe of the peoples, more than an economic space.

Recommendation Six: We recommend developing the "Charta Oecumenica" as a stimulating guideline for our ecumenical journey in Europe.

The light of Christ for the whole world

The Word of God disquiets us and our European culture: those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again! Christians must be free from fear and insatiable avarice that make us live for ourselves, powerless, narrow-minded and closed. The Word of God invites us to avoid squandering the precious heritage of those who for the last sixty years have worked for peace and unity in Europe. Peace is an extraordinary and precious gift. Entire countries aspire to peace. Entire peoples are waiting to be delivered from violence and terror. We urgently commit ourselves to renewed efforts toward these ends. We reject war as a tool for resolving conflict, promote nonviolent means for conflict resolution, and are concerned about military re-armament. Violence and terrorism in the name of religion are a denial of religion.

The Light of Christ shines on the term "justice," linking it to divine mercy. Thus enlightened it escapes any ambiguous pretence. Throughout the world and even in Europe the current process of radical market globalisation is deepening the division of human society between winners and losers, harms the value of countless people, has catastrophic ecological implications and precisely in view of climate change is not compatible with sustaining the future of our planet.

Recommendation Seven: We urge all European Christians to give strong support to the Millennium Development Goals of the United Nations as an urgent practical step toward the alleviation of poverty.

Recommendation Eight: We recommend that a consultative process, addressing European responsibility for ecological justice, facing the threat of climate change; European responsibility for the just shaping of globalisation; the rights of Roma people and other European ethnic minorities, be initiated by CCEE and CEC, with the Churches in Europe and with Churches of other continents.

Today more than ever, we acknowledge that Africa, a continent already intertwined with our own history and future, experiences levels of poverty about which we cannot remain indifferent and inactive. The wounds of Africa touched the heart of our Assembly.

Recommendation Nine: We recommend backing initiatives for debt cancellation and the promotion of fair trade.

Through sincere and objective dialogue, we contribute to and promote the creation of a renewed Europe, where unchangeable Christian principles and moral values, derived directly from the Gospel, serve as a witness and promote active engagement in European society. Our task is to promote these principles and values, not only in private but also in public life. We will cooperate with people of other religions who share our concern for creating a Europe of values that also prospers politically and economically.

Concerned about God's creation, we pray for a greater sensitivity and respect for its wonderful diversity. We work against its shameless exploitation, from which the "whole creation awaits its redemption," (Romans 8:22) and commit ourselves to working for reconciliation between humanity and nature.

Recommendation Ten: We recommend that the period from Sept. 1 to Oct. 4 be dedicated to prayer for the protection of Creation and the promotion of sustainable lifestyles that reverse our contribution to climate change.

* * *

Paying tribute to all who contributed to this journey, particularly the young "oikumene," who urged this assembly to be courageous in living the Gospel, we unite in prayer: O Christ, the True Light, which illumines and sanctifies every human being coming into this world, shine on us the light of your presence, that in it we may behold the unapproachable light, and guide our paths for the work of your commandments. Save us and lead us into your eternal kingdom. For you are our Creator, Provider and Giver of all that is good. Our hope is in you and to you we give glory, now and forever. Amen.

Neo-Patristic Exegesis

Its Approach and Method, Part 1, Part 2

Aquinas translation project

at Niagara University

On the Principles of Nature

Congresso Tomista Internazionale 2003


Sunday, September 09, 2007

Nicholas Rescher

homepage; U. Pitt. Dept. of Philosophy page; wiki; MIT Press

A lot of his articles are published in The Review of Metaphysics. I downloaded some of them--I suppose I will read them some time and see what the fuss is about.