Thursday, September 20, 2007

Georges Lemaître, a modernist?

From Priest of the Cosmos, a review of The Day Without Yesterday: Lemaître, Einstein, and the Birth of Modern Cosmology by John Farrell:

Farrell quotes from a telling 1933 interview of Lemaître on this topic:

The writers of the Bible were illuminated more or less—some more than others—on the question of salvation. On other questions they were as wise or as ignorant as their generation. Hence it is utterly unimportant that errors of historic or scientific fact should be found in the Bible, especially if errors relate to events that were not directly observed by those who wrote about them.

“The idea,” he concluded, “that because they were right in their doctrine of immortality and salvation they must also be right on all other subjects is simply the fallacy of people who have an incomplete understanding of why the Bible was given to us at all.”

So Lemaître maintained that God preserved those truths in Scripture related to salvation. But Scripture had nothing to say on specific scientific questions, and might even be full of scientific errors.

What Catholics looking for scientist-heroes don't know about them...

Georges-Henri Lemaitre Biography - Father of the Big Bang Theory
'A Day Without Yesterday': Georges Lemaitre & the Big Bang

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

John Farrell takes on IDers

at his blog

Note to self: check out the following pieces of "evidence"

common ancestry in plants

chromosomeo 2 in man

via Rod Dreher

Response from James Kushiner at Mere Comments.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Pope's Message for Catholic-Orthodox Symposium

Pope's Message for Catholic-Orthodox Symposium
"We All Look With Hope" Toward Full Communion

CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy, SEPT. 17, 2007 ( Here is a translation of the Sept. 12 message Benedict XVI sent to Cardinal Walter Kasper, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, on the occasion of the 10th Inter-Christian Symposium, dedicated to dialogue between Catholics and Orthodox.

* * *

With great joy I learned that the Tenth Inter-Christian Symposium, promoted by the Franciscan Institute of Spirituality of the Pontifical Antonianum University and by the Department of Theology of the Theological Faculty of the Aristotle University of Thessalonica, will take place on the Island of Tinos, where Catholics and Orthodox live together in brotherly love.

The ecumenical cooperation in the academic field contributes to maintaining an impetus toward the longed for communion among all Christians. To this regard, the Second Vatican Council had glimpsed in this field a possible opportunity to involve all of God's people in the search for full unity. "This importance is the greater because the instruction and spiritual formation of the faithful and of religious depends so largely on the formation which their priests have received" ("Unitatis Redintegratio," 10).

The theme of the symposium: "St. John Chrysostom: Bridge Between East and West," coinciding with the 1,600th anniversary of his death on Sept. 14, 497, will offer the occasion to commemorate an illustrious Father of the Church venerated in the East as in the West -- a valiant, illuminated and faithful preacher of the Word of God, upon which he founded his pastoral action; such an extraordinary hermeneutist and speaker that, from the fifth century, he was given the title of Chrysostom, which means golden-mouthed. A man whose contribution to the formation of the Byzantine liturgy is known to everyone.

For the courage and faithfulness of his evangelical witness he was able to suffer persecution and exile. After complex historical events, from May 1, 1626, his body reposed in St. Peter's Basilica, and on Nov. 27, 2004, my venerated predecessor John Paul II gave part of the relics to His Holiness the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I and, thus, this great Father of the Church is now venerated in the Vatican basilica as well as in the Church of St. George in Fanar.

The reflection of your symposium, which will deal with a theme related to John Chrysostom and communion with the Church of the West while analyzing some problems that exist today, will contribute to upholding and corroborating the real -- though imperfect -- communion that exists between Catholics and Orthodox, so that we may reach that fullness which will one day enable us to concelebrate the one Eucharist. And it is to that blessed day that we all look with hope, organizing practical initiatives such as this one.

With these sentiments, I invoke God's abundant blessing upon your meeting and all of the participants: May the Holy Spirit illuminate the minds, warm the hearts and fill each one with the joy and peace of the Lord.

I would like to take this opportunity to send a brotherly greeting to the Orthodox and Catholic faithful in Greece, and in a truly special way, to the archbishop of Athens and all Greece, His Beatitude Chrystodoulos, wishing him a full recovery in health, so that he may return to his pastoral service as soon as possible, and I assure my prayers for this intention. May the "Theotokos," loved and venerated with special devotion on the island of Tinos, offer her motherly intercession so that our shared intentions will be crowned by the much wished for spiritual successes.

From Castel Gandolfo, Sept. 12, 2007


[Translation by ZENIT]

Chun-Fang Yu, Some Ming Buddhist Responses to Neo-Confucianism


Chun-Fang Yu



The Maurits Sabbe Library at the Catholic University Leuven houses a vast number of historic volumes that once belonged to one of the regional Jesuit houses and centres of education. This collection is momentarily in the process of being catalogued so it can be accessed by researchers and scholars worldwide. Uncatalogued holdings remain accessible in situ.

The site hopes to help scholars trace that very volume they've always had an eye on.
Come again regularly and witness the collection grow.

Monday, September 17, 2007

John Flynn, Divine Diplomacy

Divine Diplomacy
Religion's Role in International Society

By Father John Flynn, L.C.

ROME, SEPT. 16, 2007 ( Amid the clatter of popular books attacking religion, one of the more frequent accusations made is that faith is guilty of fomenting political conflict. Clearly, it can't be denied that religion is sometimes a factor in provoking dissension. On the other hand, it can also be powerful force for good both in national and international politics.

A study published in July by the Washington, D.C.-based Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), provides an interesting overview of the interplay between faith-related factors and the foreign policy of the United States.

The report is titled, "Mixed Blessings: U.S. Government Engagement With Religion in Conflict-Prone Settings." It starts by observing that faith-based groups have played a major role in determining U.S. foreign policy in countries such as Sudan and China. In addition, religiously motivated terrorists have threatened security, and the United States is also involved in countries such as Iraq and Afghanistan, where religion is a critical factor.

In spite of religion's importance, in general there has been a failure to understand its role -- a failing that has hampered U.S. policy, the CSIS comments -- even to the point of harming the country's national security.

These inadequacies stem from a variety of causes, according to the report.

-- Government officials are often reluctant to address the issue of religion. Many in the government see religion as a dangerous or divisive issue best left out of analysis.

-- Official frameworks for approaching religion are narrow, often approaching religions as problematic or monolithic forces, overemphasizing a terrorism-focused analysis of Islam and sometimes marginalizing religion as a peripheral humanitarian or cultural issue.

-- Institutional capacity to understand and approach religion is limited due to legal limitations, lack of religious expertise or training, and a lack of structures able to deal with religious groups and leaders.

Peace and conflict

The bulk of the report is dedicated to analyzing how the U.S. government deals with religion in its foreign relations. Nevertheless, it also deals with questions related to religion as a source of, or a solution to, strife.

Religion, the report points out, can be an aggravating factor in conflicts in a number of ways. These include provoking strife between different faith communities, repressing minority religious groups, and conflict between the government and religious groups over control of the state.

On the positive side, the CSIS argues that religious groups and leaders can often be effective diplomats due to their credibility with local communities. This can give them what the report terms a "unique leverage for promoting reconciliation among conflicting parties." A case in point cited by the study is the faith-based Community of Sant'Egidio, which played an effective part in resolving conflict in Mozambique.

In addition, religion can help to heal persons and communities after conflicts are over and provide a place where both grievances and discussions on how to achieve greater tolerance can be held.

Another way in which religion contributes to communities is through helping the poor. The charitable works carried out by many faith communities often play a vital role in developing nations. The report noted, for example that more than half of the hospitals operating in Africa are run by faith-based organizations.

In some countries U.S. government agencies provide aid in partnership with religious groups. A further example of working together comes from Burundi, where a U.S. agency worked with Catholic Relief Services to encourage the establishment of a peace and reconciliation commission comprising members of various ethnic and religious orientations.

So far almost all the government aid has been channeled through Christian groups. Of the $1.7 billion identified going to faith-based organizations from 2001 to 2005, 98% went to Christian organizations.

Spiritual perspective

Another look at the relationship between religion and U.S. foreign policy came in an article published in the May 14 issue of the Weekly Standard magazine. John J. Dilulio Jr., who for a period in 2001 was the first director of the White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives, titled his essay "Spiritualpolitique."

From Brazil to Belize and Beirut to Boston, he commented, "religion in over a hundred forms and in a thousand different ways has outlived 'modernity' and 'postmodernity.'"

Dilulio explained that by the term "spiritualpolitique," he means a view of religion that takes into account its significant power to shape politics within and among nations. It also means understanding religion not as something portrayed as being in conflict with modernity, but as something preached and practiced by many people.

Even in stable democracies we need to realize, Dilulio commented, that religious differences play an important role. In countries where democracy and constitutional rule are still in the process of formation, religion can be a complicating factor in achieving national unity.

Therefore, he recommended that government officials should wake up and pay a lot more attention to the role of religion and its impact on global politics.

Religion in action

A broader consideration of religion's impact on conflicts came in a book published earlier this year titled: "Peacemakers in Action: Profiles of Religion in Conflict Resolution." The book, a series of essays edited by David Little, is dedicated to a number of case studies of religious figures who have helped to promote peace.

A useful concluding chapter by Little draws together some conclusions that can be deduced from the book's profiles. He urges readers to avoid two oversimplifications. The first is that religion can best be seen as violence, or clashes of civilization. The second is that "good" religion always brings peace.

A number of the testimonies in the book give eloquent testimony that contradicts the first oversimplification, Little points out. Moreover, religion is only one among a whole series of factors that are present in causing violent conflicts.

The second affirmation is also unsustainable, Little adds. The experience in situations such as the warfare following the break-up of Yugoslavia demonstrate that religion, and even the clergy themselves, can inflame hostilities.

Little then lists a series of lessons that can be drawn from the book's case studies, some of which are:

-- Religion neither causes violence by itself, nor, by contrast, is it without influence, particularly in its extremist form, on the course and character of violence.

-- Religion is not just a source of violent conflict, but also a source of peace.

-- Proper religion exhibits a preference for pursuing peace by non-violent means and for combining the promotion of peace with the promotion of justice.

-- Religion dedicated to promoting justice and peace by peaceful means often prompts a hostile and violent response, at least in the short run.

Faith and peace

Looking at the religious figures presented in the book, Little comments that their beliefs provided an important foundation for the task they took on of promoting peace. They drew vision, motivation and perseverance from the theological traditions of their faith.

Religion can also play a part in helping build institutions that will increase and sustain social harmony and civil unity. As well, nongovernmental groups and individuals can foment an environment conducive to peace and to negotiations for resolving conflicts.

Benedict XVI addressed the relationship between religious belief and peace in his message for this year's World Day of Peace, celebrated by the Church in Jan. 1. He termed as "unacceptable" those conceptions of God that encourage intolerance and violence (No. 10). War in God's name is never acceptable, the Pontiff warned.

"Let every Christian be committed to tireless peace-making and strenuous defense of the dignity of the human person and his inalienable rights," he urged in the conclusion of his message. An appeal that should find an answer in the hearts of all believers.