Robert George on Politics and Conscience
"Freedom Is a Two Way Street""
VATICAN CITY, APRIL 21, 2007 (Zenit.org).- Here is the text of an address by Robert George on political obligations and moral conscience.
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XIII General Assembly
Program of the Preparatory Meeting of September 29-30, 2006
Casa Bonus Pastor
Political Obligations, Moral Conscience, and Human Life
Robert P. George
McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence
The Catholic Church proclaims the principle that every human being -- without regard to race, sex, or ethnicity, and equally without regard to age, size, stage of development, or condition of dependency -- is entitled to the full protection of the laws.
The Church teaches that human beings at every stage of development -- including those at the embryonic and fetal stages -- and those in every condition -- including those who are mentally retarded or physically disabled, and those who are suffering from severe dementias or other memory and mind-impairing afflictions -- possess fundamental human rights. Above all, each of us possesses the right to life.
Now this teaching is disputed by some. There are those, including some Catholics, who deny that human embryos are human beings. They assert that and human embryo is merely "potential" human life, not nascent human life.
The trouble with this position is not theological but scientific. It flies in the face of the established facts of human embryology and developmental biology. A human embryo is not something distinct in kind from a human being -- like a rock or potato or alligator.
A human embryo is a human being at a particular, very early, stage of development. An embryo, even prior to implantation, is a whole, distinct, living member of the species Homo sapiens. The embryonic human being requires only what any human being at any stage of development requires for his or her survival, namely, adequate nutrition and an environment sufficiently hospitable to sustain life.
From the beginning, each human being possesses -- actually and not merely potentially -- the genetic constitution and epigenetic primordia for self-directed development from the embryonic into and through the fetal, infant, child, and adolescent stages and into adulthood with his or her unity, determinateness, and identity intact. In this crucial respect, the embryo is quite unlike the gametes -- that is, the sperm and ovum -- whose union brought a new human being into existence. You and I were never sperm or ova; those were genetically and functionally parts of other human beings.
But each of us was once an embryo, just as each of us was once an adolescent, and before that a child, an infant, a fetus. Of course, in the embryonic, fetal, and infant stages we were highly vulnerable and dependent creatures, but we were nevertheless complete, distinct human beings.
As the leading textbooks in human embryology and developmental biology unanimously attest, we were not mere "clumps of cells," like moles or tumors. So the basic rights people possess simply by virtue of their humanity -- including above all the right to life -- we possessed even then.
Another school of thought concedes that human embryos are human beings; however, it denies that all human beings are persons. There are, according to this school of thought, pre-personal and post-personal human beings, as well as severely retarded or damaged human beings who are not, never will be, and never were, persons.
Proponents of this view insist that human beings in the embryonic and fetal stages are not yet persons. Indeed, logically consistent and unsentimental proponents say that even human infants are not yet persons, and therefore do not possess a right to life; hence, the willingness of Peter Singer, Michael Tooley, and others to countenance infanticide as well as abortion.
Permanently comatose or severely retarded or demented human beings are also denied the status of persons. So euthanasia is said to be justified for human beings in these conditions. Although some who think along these lines will allow that human individuals whom they regard as "not yet persons" deserve a certain limited respect by virtue of the purely biological fact that they are living members of the human species, they nevertheless insist that "pre-personal" humans do not possess a right to life that precludes them from being killed to benefit others or to advance the interests of society at large.
Only those human beings who have achieved and retain what are regarded as the defining attributes of personhood -- whether those are considered to be detectable brain function, self-awareness, or immediately exercisable capacities for characteristically human mental functioning -- possess a right to life.
The trouble with this position is that it makes nonsense of our political, philosophical, and, for many of us, theological commitment to the principle that all human beings are equal in fundamental worth and dignity.
It generates puzzles that simply cannot be resolved, such as the puzzle as to why this or that accidental quality which most human beings eventually acquire in the course of normal development but others do not, and which some retain and others lose, and which some have to a greater degree than others, should count as the criterion of "personhood."
The superior position, surely, is that human beings possess equally an intrinsic dignity that is the moral ground of the equal right to life of all. This is a right possessed by every human being simply by virtue of his or her humanity. It does not depend on an individual's age, or size, or stage of development; nor can it be erased by an individual's physical or mental infirmity or condition of dependency.
It is what makes the life of even a severely retarded child equal in fundamental worth to the life of a Nobel prize-winning scientist. It explains why we may not licitly extract transplantable organs from such a child even to save the life of a brilliant physicist who is afflicted with a life-threatening heart, liver, or kidney ailment.
In any event, the position that all human beings equally possess fundamental human rights, including the right to life, is the definitively settled teaching of the Catholic Church. It is on this basis that the Church proclaims that the taking of human life in abortion, infanticide, embryo-destructive research, euthanasia, and terrorism are always and everywhere gravely wrong.
And there is more. For the Church also teaches that it is the solemn obligation of legislators and other public officials, as servants of the common good, to honor and protect the rights of all. The principle of equality demands as a matter of strict justice that protection against lethal violence be extended by every political community to all who are within its jurisdiction.
Those to whom the care of the community is entrusted -- above all those who participate in making the community's laws -- have primary responsibility for ensuring that the right to life is embodied in the laws and effectively protected in practice. Notice, by the way, that the obligation of the public official is not to "enforce the teaching of the Catholic Church," it is, rather, to fulfill the demands of justice and the common good in light of the principle of the inherent and equal dignity of every member of the human family.
Yet, today many Catholic politicians, including the Democratic leaders of both houses of the United States Congress and the Republican governor of New York and the former Republican governor of Pennsylvania, are staunch supporters of what they describe as a "woman's right to abortion."
Most of these politicians also support the creation and government funding of an industry that would produce tens of thousands of human embryos by cloning for use in biomedical research in which these embryonic human beings would be destroyed.
Catholic politicians in the United States and in other nations who support abortion and embryo-destructive research typically claim to be "personally opposed" to these practices but respectful of the rights of others who disagree to act on their own judgments of conscience without legal interference.
Former New York Governor Mario Cuomo famously articulated and defended this view in a speech at the University of Notre Dame in 1984. Recently, Cuomo revisited the issue, speaking in Washington at a Forum on Politics and Faith in America. He offered an argument which, if successful, not only justifies Catholic politicians in supporting legal abortion and embryo-destructive research, but requires them to respect a right of people to engage in these practices despite their admitted moral wrongfulness.
Cuomo asserted that holders of public office -- including Catholic office-holders -- have a responsibility "to create conditions under which all citizens are reasonably free to act according to their own religious beliefs, even when those acts conflict with Roman Catholic dogma regarding divorce, birth control, abortion, stem cell research, and even the existence of God."
According to Cuomo, Catholics should support legalized abortion and embryo-destructive research, as he himself does, because in guaranteeing these rights to others, they guarantee their own right "to reject abortions, and to refuse to participate in or contribute to removing stem cells from embryos."
But Cuomo's idea that the right "to reject" abortion and embryo-destructive experimentation entails a right of others, as a matter of religious liberty, to engage in these practices is simply, if spectacularly, fallacious. The fallacy comes into focus immediately if one considers whether the right of a Catholic (or Baptist, or Jew, or member of any other faith) to reject infanticide, slavery, and the exploitation of labor entails a right of others who happen not to share these "religious" convictions to kill, enslave, and exploit.
By the expedient of classifying pro-life convictions about abortion and embryo-destructive experimentation as "Roman Catholic dogmas," Cuomo smuggles into the premises of his argument the controversial conclusion he is trying to prove. If pro-life principles were indeed merely dogmatic teachings -- such as the teaching that Jesus of Nazareth is the only begotten Son of God -- then according to the Church herself (not to mention American constitutional law and the law of many other republics) they could not legitimately be enforced by the coercive power of the state.
The trouble for Cuomo is that pro-life principles are not mere matters of "dogma," nor are they understood as such by the Catholic Church, whose beliefs Cuomo claims to affirm, or by pro-life citizens, whether they happen to be Catholics, Protestants, Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, agnostics or atheists. Rather, pro-life citizens understand these principles and propose them to their fellow citizens as fundamental norms of justice and human rights that can be understood and affirmed even apart from claims of revelation and religious authority.
It will not do to suggest, as Cuomo seems to suggest, that the sheer fact that the Catholic Church (or some other religious body) has a teaching against these practices, and that some or even many people reject this teaching, means that laws prohibiting the killing of human beings in the embryonic and fetal stages violate the right to freedom of religion of those who do not accept the teaching.
If that were anything other than a fallacy, then laws against killing infants, owning slaves, exploiting workers, and many other grave forms of injustice really would be violations of religious freedom. Surely Cuomo would not wish to endorse that conclusion.
Yet he provides no reason to distinguish those acts and practices putatively falling within the category of religious freedom from those falling outside it. So we must ask: If abortion is immunized against legal restriction on the ground that it is a matter of religious belief, how can it be that slavery is not similarly immunized?
If today abortion cannot be prohibited without violating the right to religious freedom of people whose religions do not object to abortion, how can Cuomo say that the prohibition of slavery by the Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution in 1866 did not violate the right to religious freedom of those in the 19th century whose religions did not condemn slaveholding?
Cuomo says that the Catholic Church "understands that our public morality depends on a consensus view of right and wrong," but it would be scandalous to argue that Catholics should have opposed a constitutional amendment abolishing slavery in the 19th century, or legislation protecting the civil rights of the oppressed descendants of slaves in the mid-20th century, on the ground that "prudence" or "realism" requires respect for "moral pluralism" where there is no "consensus" on questions of right and wrong.
At one point at the forum on Politics and Faith, Cuomo suggested that laws against abortion and embryo-destructive research would force people who do not object to such things to practice the religion of people who do. But this is another fallacy. No one imagines that the constitutional prohibition of slavery forced those who believed in slaveholding to practice the religion of those who did not.
Would Cuomo have us suppose that laws protecting workers against what he, in line with the solemn teaching of every Pope from Leo XIII to Benedict XVI, considers to be exploitation and abuse have the effect of forcing non-Catholic factory owners to practice Catholicism?
At another point, in denying that there was any inconsistency between his willingness as governor to act on his anti-death penalty views but not on his anti-abortion views, Cuomo denied ever having spoken against the death penalty as "a moral issue." He claimed, in fact, that he "seldom talk[s] in terms of moral issues" and that, when he speaks of the death penalty, he never suggests that he considers it a moral issue.
Then, in the very next sentence, he condemned the death penalty in the most explicitly, indeed flamboyantly, moralistic terms: "I am against the death penalty because I think it is bad and unfair. It is debasing. It is degenerate. It kills innocent people." He did not pause to consider that these are precisely the claims made by pro-life citizens against the policy of legal abortion and its public funding -- a policy that Cuomo defends in the name of religious liberty.
The fact is that Catholics and others who oppose abortion and embryo-destructive research oppose these practices for the same reason we oppose postnatal homicide. Pro-life citizens of every faith oppose these practices because they involve the deliberate killing of innocent human beings.
Our ground for supporting the legal prohibition of abortion and embryo-destructive research is the same ground on which we support the legal prohibition of infanticide, for example, or the principle of noncombatant immunity even in justified wars. We subscribe to the proposition that all human beings are equal in worth and dignity and cannot be denied the right to protection against killing on the basis of age, size, stage of development, or condition of dependency.
One cannot with moral integrity be "personally opposed" to abortion or embryo-destructive research yet support the legal permission of these practices and even, their public funding as so many Catholic politicians do, including most Catholic Democrats and some Catholic Republicans in the United States. For by supporting abortion and embryo-destructive research they unavoidably implicate themselves in the grave injustice of these practices.
Of course, it is possible for a person wielding public power to use that power to establish or preserve a legal right to abortion, for example, while at the same time hoping that no one will exercise the right. But this does not get such a person off the moral hook. For someone who acts to protect legal abortion necessarily wills that abortion's unborn victims be denied the elementary legal protections against deliberate homicide that one favors for oneself and those whom one considers to be worthy of the law's protection.
Thus one violates the most basic precept of normative social and political theory, the Golden Rule. One divides humanity into two classes: those whom one is willing to admit to the community of the commonly protected and those whom one wills to be excluded from it.
By exposing members of the disfavored class to lethal violence, one deeply implicates oneself in the injustice of killing them -- even if one sincerely hopes that no woman will act on her right to choose abortion. The goodness of what one hopes for does not redeem the evil -- the grave injustice -- of what one wills. To suppose otherwise is to commit yet another fallacy.
If my analysis so far is correct, the question arises: What should the leaders of the Church do about people like Cuomo and his successor as New York's Governor, Republican George Pataki who evidently takes the same position? What should they do about those who claim to be in full communion with the Church yet promote gravely unjust and scandalous policies that expose the unborn to the violence and injustice of abortion?
In the run up to the last election, St. Louis Archbishop Raymond Burke offered an answer. He declared that public officials who support abortion and other unjust attacks against innocent human life may not be admitted to Holy Communion, the preeminent sacrament of unity.
Pro-life citizens of every religious persuasion applauded the archbishop's stand. Critics, however, were quick to condemn Archbishop Burke. They denounced him for "crossing the line" separating church and state.
But this is silly. In acting on his authority as a bishop to discipline members of his flock, who commit what the Church teaches are grave injustices against innocent human beings, Archbishop Burke is exercising his own constitutional right to the free exercise of religion; he is not depriving others of their rights.
Freedom is a two way street. No one is compelled by law to accept ecclesiastical authority. But Archbishop Burke -- and anyone else in the United States of America or other freedom-respecting nations -- has every right to exercise spiritual authority over anyone who chooses to accept it. There is a name for people who do accept the authority of Catholic bishops. They are called "Catholics."
In many cases, the charge that Archbishop Burke and other bishops who adopt the policy of excluding pro-abortion politicians from Communion "are crossing the line separating church and state" is also hypocritical. A good example of this hypocrisy comes from the Bergen Record, a prominent newspaper in my home state of New Jersey.
Bishop John Smith of Trenton did not go as far as Raymond Burke had gone in forbidding pro-abortion Catholic politicians from receiving communion. Bishop Smith did, however, in the words of the Bergen Record, "publicly lash" Governor James McGreevey, a pro-abortion Catholic, for his support of abortion and embryo-destructive research.
For criticizing the governor on these grounds, the Record lashed the bishop in an April 25th editorial. The paper accused him of jeopardizing the delicate "balance" of our constitutional structure, contrasting Bishop Smith's position unfavorably with President John F. Kennedy's assurance to a group of Protestant ministers in Houston in 1960 that he, as a Catholic, would not govern the nation by appeal to his Catholic religious beliefs.
Since the Record had seen fit to take us back to 1960 for guidance, I thought I would invite its editors to consider a case that had arisen only a few years earlier than that. In a letter to the editor, I proposed a question that would enable readers to determine immediately whether the editors of the Bergen Record were persons of strict principle or mere hypocrites.
I reminded readers that in the 1950s, in the midst of the political conflict over segregation, Archbishop Joseph Rummel of New Orleans publicly informed Catholics that support for racial segregation was incompatible with Catholic teaching on the inherent dignity and equal rights of all human beings.
Archbishop Rummel said that "racial segregation is morally wrong and sinful because it is a denial of the unity and solidarity of the human race as conceived by God in the creation of Adam and Eve." He warned Catholic public officials that support for segregation placed their souls in peril. Indeed, Rummel took the step of publicly excommunicating Leander Perez, one of the most powerful political bosses in Louisiana, and two others who promoted legislation designed to impede desegregation of diocesan schools.
So I asked the editors of the Bergen Record: Was Archbishop Rummel wrong? Or do Catholic bishops "cross the line" and jeopardize the delicate constitutional balance, only when their rebukes to politicians contradict the views of the editors of the Record? To their credit, the editors published my letter -- but I am still waiting for them to reply to my question.
Now, some good and sincere people have expressed concern that Archbishop Burke and bishops of similar mind are guilty of a double standard when it comes to demanding of politicians fidelity to Catholic teaching on justice and the common good.
They point out that the bishops who would deny communion to those who publicly support abortion and embryo-destructive research do not take the same stand against politicians who support the death penalty, which Pope John Paul II condemned in all but the rarest of circumstances, and the U.S. invasions of Iraq, of which the Pope and many other Vatican officials were sharply critical.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church indeed teaches that the death penalty should not be used, except in circumstances so rare these days as to be, in words of the late Pope, "practically non-existent." However, two points must be borne in mind in considering the obligations of Catholics and the question whether Catholic politicians who support the death penalty have in fact broken faith and communion with the Church.
First, neither the Pope nor the Catechism places the death penalty on a par with abortion and other forms of direct killing of the innocent. (Indeed, the Church will probably never equate the death penalty with these forms of homicide, even if it eventually issues a definitive condemnation of the practice.)
Second, the status of the teaching differs from the status of the teaching on abortion. As John Paul II made clear in the great encyclical "Evangelium Vitae," the teaching on abortion (as well as on euthanasia and all forms of direct killing of the innocent) is infallibly proposed by the ordinary and universal magisterium of the Church pursuant to the criteria of "Lumen Gentium," No. 25.
The same is plainly not true of the developing teaching on the death penalty. Moreover, Cardinal Avery Dulles and others have interpreted the teaching against the death penalty as essentially a prudential judgment about its advisability, not a moral prohibition following from the application of a strict principle.
As it happens, I don't agree with their analysis, but no one will be able to say with confidence from a Catholic point of view which side in this debate is right until the magisterium clarifies the teaching. So, it cannot be said that supporters of the death penalty are "obstinately persisting in manifest grave sin," and may or should be denied Holy Communion pursuant to Canon 915 of the Code of Canon Law.
No one can legitimately claim for opposition to the death penalty the status of a definitively settled moral teaching of the Church. (Nor can one claim that the Church teaches or will ever teach that the death penalty -- except in cases where it is applied unjustly -- involves the grave intrinsic injustice attaching to any act involving the direct killing of the innocent.)
Regarding the question of the U.S. invasions of Iraq, it is important to understand the precise terms of Catholic teaching on just and unjust warfare. These terms are set forth with clarity and precision in the Catechism.
In line with the Church's historic teaching on the subject, neither Pope John Paul II nor Pope Benedict XVI has asserted that opposition to the war is binding on the consciences of Catholics. John Paul II's statements opposing the use of force in the run up to both invasions plainly questioned the prudential judgments of political leaders who, in the end, had and have the right and responsibility (according to the Catechism and the entire tradition of Catholic teaching on war and peace) to make judgments as to whether force is in fact necessary.
That is why the Pope and the bishops have not said, and will not say, that Catholic soldiers may not participate in the war. This contrasts with their clear teaching that Catholics may not participate in abortions or other forms of embryo-killing or support the use of taxpayer monies for activities involving the deliberate killing of innocent human beings.
I wish to close with a word to those in politics and the media -- Catholics and non-Catholics alike -- who have expressed anger, even outrage, at the world's Catholic bishops for teaching that the faithful must never implicate themselves in unjust killing by supporting legal abortion and embryo-destructive research.
In scolding the bishops, the editors of the New York Times , for example, have insisted that "separation of church and state" means that no religious leader may presume to tell public officials what their positions may and may not be on matters of public policy.
But if we shift the focus from abortion to, say, genocide, slavery, the exploitation of labor, or racial segregation we see how implausible such a view is. When Archbishop Rummel excommunicated the segregationist politicians in the 1950s, far from condemning the archbishop, the editors of the New York Times praised him.
They were right then; they are wrong now.
Saturday, April 21, 2007
Friday, April 20, 2007
Beauty and Liturgy: On the Apostolic Exhortation
By William Mahrt
n February 22, the Feast of the Chair of Peter, Pope Benedict issued an apostolic exhortation, Sacramentum Caritatis, a document resulting from the Synod of Bishops on the Eucharist, meeting in Rome last Autumn. In it the Holy Father summarizes salient points of discussion from the synod with recommendations for teaching and practice.
At first the document seems a bit of a potpourri, because it ranges widely through a great diversity of topics discussed by the synod. Some have already criticized it for having no teeth, no regulations, without which its discussions will remain in the realm of theory. Some have excused its lack of regulations as being an act of collegial reportage from the synod. Some have complained that it did not include their own desiderata; we musicians, for example, would have liked to have found more authoritative statements on the implementation of a greater return to Gregorian chant and polyphony.
But that is not his method. Benedict is no longer in charge of overseeing issues of doctrinal orthodoxy. He is now universal shepherd, and his method seems to be to establish first the fundamental principles as a basis for practical applications. Already we have seen it in Deus Caritas Est. Here he had the wish of Pope John Paul II that charitable works throughout the world be encouraged, which formed the second part of the encyclical. The first part, however, established a strong theoretical basis for the second by a quite original discussion of caritas. The traditional discussion of the two types of love had mainly drawn distinctions between caritas (agape in Greek) and amor (eros in Greek), but Pope Benedict explored the interrelation and the mutual interaction between these two kinds of love in an exemplary and inspiring exposition of fundamental principles which formed the foundation for the more practical discussion which followed.
The same is true for the apostolic exhortation. If one were to try to discern the most fundamental issue behind the present practice of the Mass in the parishes, one might say that it all too often focuses upon the congregation and too infrequently upon God. Indeed, it was one of my principal criticisms of Music in Catholic Worship that this document was almost exclusively anthropocentric and not sufficiently theocentric (see my “Toward a Revision of Music in Catholic Worship“). From this any number of difficulties flow, including a general de-emphasis upon the sacred and a corresponding incorporation of popular secular musical styles into the liturgy with a resulting loss of much of the tradition of sacred music.
Pope Benedict in Sacramentum Caritatis meets such a situation head-on by dealing with the most fundamental reality: the Eucharistic liturgy must be Christocentric. This places the apostolic exhortation along-side Deus Caritas Est, where the Eucharist is the most profound expression of Christ’s love for us. There follows a rich exposition of the Old Testament precedents of the Eucharist and their fulfillment in the sacrifice of Christ, in the relation of the Eucharist to the other sacraments, to the last things, and finally to the Virgin Mary.
On the ground that there is a binding relation between belief and practice, between lex orandi and lex credendi, he develops this relation by discussing the role of beauty in liturgy:The liturgy is inherently linked to beauty: it is veritatis splendor. . . . In Jesus we contemplate beauty and splendor at their source. This is no mere aestheticism, but the concrete way in which the truth of God’s love in Christ encounters us, attracts us and delights us, enabling us to emerge from ourselves and drawing us towards our true vocation, which is love. . . . Beauty, then, is not mere decoration, but rather an essential element of the liturgical action, since it is an attribute of God himself and his revelation. (¶35)
Pope Benedict addresses the question of popular participation. He understands that it must be more than externally active participation:The active participation called for by the Council must be understood in more substantial terms, on the basis of a greater awareness of the mystery being celebrated and its relationship to daily life. (¶52)
Preparation for this more substantive participation ought to include a cultivation of inner dispositions, aided by recollection and silence, by fasting, even by confession. Moreover, “the primary way to foster the participation of the People of God in the sacred rite is the proper celebration of the rite itself.” (¶38)
If all of this were understood well, our everyday liturgical problems would admit of much easier solution. If beauty is a compelling need in the liturgy, then we must choose the most beautiful music possible. If the focus upon Christ is the all-encompassing theme, we should comprehend more easily the reasons that the pax should be given with reserve immediately before we are to receive him in the sacrament. Pope Benedict draws such practical applications, including some quite specific recommendations for the use of chant and Latin (included in the section of documents, below).
Actually, we cannot expect everything from one document. It is, after all, an apostolic exhortation following upon the synod of bishops. It responds to the discussions of the synod, and it is true that collegiality calls for a kind of reportage from the wishes of the bishops. This does not mean that Pope Benedict does not express his own wishes, for on numerous occasions he turns to the first person and says “I ask,” “I reaffirm,” “I wish.” But he is also clear what the fathers of the synod wanted, and so when it comes to Gregorian chant,I desire that, in accordance with the request advanced by the synod fathers, that Gregorian chant be suitably esteemed and employed as the chant proper to the Roman liturgy.(¶42)
This we had already heard from the preparatory documents for the synod; it is still good that it comes to us now with his authority and with his desire. But we have not heard the last from Pope Benedict concerning liturgy and music. What we have heard, though, is a continuing commitment to Gregorian chant as the proper music of the Roman Rite, now in the context of a Eucharist ecstatically focused upon the love of Christ and this as the source of beauty in the liturgy and thus of music. It behooves us to read the whole document carefully for this central vision and not just the paragraphs on music, for it expresses the deep foundations of our liturgy and music.
William Mahrt is associate professor of music at Stanford University, and editor of Sacred Music. This article appears as an editorial in the Summer 2007 issue.
Thursday, April 19, 2007
By Robert Coles
Robert Coles is Professor of Psychiatry and Medical Humanities at Harvard Medical School, a Pulitzer Prize-winning author, and a Contributing Editor of the NOR.
These days in the privileged precincts of America, gluttony is an all too evident aspect of our existence -- the overweight ones as victims, the determinedly thin ones as prideful winners in a constant war against temptation. I doubt Adam Smith and other early apologists for capitalism ever imagined how central to its survival a hyped-up consumerism would one day become -- the endlessly clever and manipulative messages that tell us to want more and more, hence by implication to live, always, on the very edge of dissatisfaction. Every day, in countless shopping malls across the land, millions of us assemble in an almost desperate effort to acquire things, as if our very worth as human beings is at stake. Young people in droves use those same malls as hang-outs, places to pass the time of day, places where they can gawk and themselves be regarded, and trysting places too -- in movies and restaurants and in the nearby armies of cars, themselves a memorial to a progression of sorts: from a helpful convenience to an economic and social necessity, not to mention a psychological instrument that lends itself to all sorts of symbolic expressions, all sorts of idiosyncratic needs, aspirations.
For many years I never did understand why such a desire to get, to have, to buy and buy, to eat up, to wear then set aside in favor of tomorrow's garb, to drive this car -- why all that hungry inclination to possess, to own (and show to others) amounts to a serious sin. Gluttony and greed struck me as serious, present-day vices, but not especially evil in a spiritual sense. But during my Catholic Worker days (when I had the opportunity to help out at a "hospitality house," and talk at some considerable length with Dorothy Day), I began to learn otherwise -- learn from her, and others close to her, not the virtues of asceticism (a misconception in the minds of some: that she and Peter Maurin were committed ideologically to a kind of Catholic Puritanism), but the distinct danger of a materialism that gets out of hand, becomes outright gluttony, hence sin. Here is Dorothy Day to help us, me, in 1968, to understand the progression I have just mentioned -- a response, on her part, to my inquiry as to her attitude toward possessions: "I'm not the one to judge others -- I have enough to do trying to keep myself in line [with respect to moral matters]. But I know -- from personal experience, that's how I know -- that anything, just about anything can turn into a trap for us: we want it, we get it, we want more, and more, and more -- and we're not [thereby] only greedy, we're ‘sinful.'"
She paused long enough for me to tell her that I didn't quite follow her move (for me, then, a leap) from greed to sin, unless we were embracing a kind of self-denial or self-abrogation that itself, so I was intent on arguing, could become quite sinful -- a manifestation of pride. Soon enough, I heard this: "I've never been interested in saying no to people -- to myself: no to good food, and no to nice clothes, and no to travel. I've loved all that in the past, and I still do, even if I live differently now [than was the case during her 20s, when she was, by her own description, a Greenwich Village bohemian of sorts]. I happen to enjoy myself here [at the Catholic Worker hospitality house on the lower east side of New York City]. I mean, these days fill me up -- I like talking with our guests [the poor whom she served a daily lunch], and I like being part of a community. You may think I'm an advocate of austerity, but that's because I conceal my gluttony!"
Her gluttony! I laughed -- and looked for her wry, ironic smile, so familiar to me by then. But I soon realized she was dead serious. I didn't have to speak in order to elicit the following disquisition of sorts: "You think I'm fooling! You haven't seen me in a book store! You haven't seen me when someone wants to borrow one of the books I love and tell people to read. When push comes to shove, when someone takes my words to heart, and asks me for a novel of Dickens or Tolstoy or Dostoevsky -- right there on my shelf, and not being read by me now and in the foreseeable future -- I'm likely to freeze. Oh, I don't say what's on my mind; I try to be nice, and often I'll lend the book, but I'm sure to ask that it be returned soon, and to tell you the truth, I'm almost counting the days, the hours, until that book is safely back here!
"You may consider all this trivia, but I don't -- because I see in myself not only the wish for more and more books, and the wish to hold onto them for dear life, but the meaning of this: I get so taken up with something, I lose all sense of [moral, spiritual] perspective -- and that's what gluttony meant, I think, to the Church Fathers -- you behave as if your life depends on eating this or getting that, rather than on God's judgment of how you're living this life He's given you!"
There was much more explanatory and self-critical comment; and I began to understand what she was getting at. Gluttony for her was not a matter of being challenged secularly: appetite control in the interest of longevity. Nor was gluttony a violation of a Puritan ethic -- the notion that less is better, by virtue of John Calvin or some environmental guru. Gluttony, for her, was a universal possibility, something that can arise in the poor (or those like her who essentially choose poverty) as well as the well-to-do: a hunger for something, a possessiveness about something, that becomes distracting, indeed -- a means by which one loses sight of God, amidst one's frantic eyeing of one or another object or option. Even the vernacular expression of being a "glutton for punishment" has an interesting implication to it that Dorothy Day would surely recognize: We can take on so very much hardship in this world, prove ourselves (proudly) virtual martyrs, and all the while overlook the why, the supposed purpose of such a sacrificial effort. A lived series of burdens become, themselves, a collective acquisition of a kind.
Gluttony, in a sense, is one of the more devious sins -- it is meant to be a diversion, and it readily succeeds to the point that we may recognize the nature of the deed (the eating, the collecting, the amassing, the buying and buying, spending and spending), but we overlook the larger significance of the particular preoccupation as it gets lived out. Put differently, gluttony shows us materially or emotionally driven, but we are all too apt to overlook the spiritual consequences -- and maybe, as well, the spiritual cause. "I don't have the time to go to church," I heard once from a patient -- and then, an explanation: "I could make the time, I know, but I don't see eye to eye with the Pope these days." Not a rare comment, and one I did not at the time choose to challenge. Instead, I listened as he moved directly on to what he did have the time to do -- go to auctions in search of stamp collections and a certain kind of "country antique": chairs, tables, lamps, all of which (save the stamps) he stored, ostensibly for his children, grandchildren. I had no interest in judging, even interpreting his actions and interests -- we had other things, pressing hard on him, to discuss. But I thought I'd heard something important, had been unselfconsciously taught something, yet again, by this person, a thoughtful and sensitive man who had a way of dropping provocative asides as he told of his life, its vicissitudes as well as its relative good fortune.
Unwilling to immerse himself in religious issues which vexed him, and which maybe threatened a comfortable adjustment to a contemporary, late 20th-century American set of values, he chose another road: that of catalogs, then shops, then bidding wars. He and his wife would chide themselves occasionally, laugh derisively at their "greedy ways," but were not at all inclined to understand them -- and by that last observation, I don't fault them in the psychiatric sense. It is tempting, of course, for all of us to do just that -- look for the covert emotional sources of just about anything we do. But there, too, we can become gluttons -- anxious to accumulate ideas, interpretations, theories, explanations. The issue is essentially ethical, if not spiritual -- in the words of David Riesman, not a theologian, but a shrewd, knowing observer of our end of the century (end of the millennium!) habits, preferences: "affluence for what?" That "what" is rhetorical of course, meant to turn our heads, to prompt a moment's pause -- so that we might wonder what it is that we want out of life -- what it is that we truly believe, what our purpose is in this time we're given here. In three carefully chosen words, a social essayist was suggesting that affluence (and the gluttony that can so inspire us to get money, then use it to satisfy dozens of tastes, if not sate ourselves) can go thoroughly unexamined by us, to our collective and personal detriment, both. No longer hungry in our bellies, we are hungry in our souls -- and sometimes mistake that hunger for a "psychological problem," when it is a larger, more "existential" one, of the kind that both Dorothy Day and David Riesman had in mind, I think, when they took a look at all of us as we take on the moral perils that go with life in this rich country of ours.
Wednesday, April 18, 2007
Papal Address to Youth Forum
"The Attention of the Church Has Been on the Social Question"
VATICAN CITY, APRIL 17, 2007 (Zenit.org).- Here is a Vatican translation of Benedict XVI's March 28 address to participants in an international youth forum.
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MESSAGE OF HIS HOLINESS BENEDICT XVI TO THE PARTICIPANTS IN THE 9th INTERNATIONAL YOUTH FORUM
(Rocca di Papa, 28-31 March 2007)
To Archbishop STANISLAW RYLKO
President of the Pontifical Council for the Laity
It gives me great pleasure to send my cordial greeting to you, Venerable Brother, to the Secretary, to those working with the Pontifical Council for the Laity, and to all those who are taking part in the 9th International Youth Forum on the theme "Witnessing to Christ in the world of work" that is taking place this week in Rocca di Papa. It is with particular affection that I direct my thoughts to the young delegates from the bishops' conferences and the international movements, associations and communities that have come from the five continents and who work in very different fields. I extend my respectful greetings to the distinguished speakers who have agreed to contribute to the meeting with their expertise and experience.
The theme is very much a topical issue and takes into account the transformations that have taken place in recent years in the fields of economics, technology and communications, changes that have radically changed the appearance and conditions of the labour market. The progress achieved has, on the one hand, given new hope to young people, but on the other it has created disturbing forms of marginalisation and exploitation with more and more situations of personal hardship. Because of the noticeable difference between the education and training received and the world of work, it is now more difficult for them to find employment that meets with their personal skills and studies, and there is no certainty that they will be able to maintain even unstable employment for any length of time. The process of globalisation taking place in the world entails a need for mobility that obliges numerous young people to emigrate and live far from their home countries and their families. This brings about an unsettling feeling of insecurity that undoubtedly has repercussions on their ability to not only dream and build up a project for the future, but even to commit themselves to matrimony and start a family. These are complex and delicate questions that must be faced in due course, keeping in mind the reality of our times while referring to the social doctrine of the Church. This is duly presented in the Catechism of the Catholic Church and especially in the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church.
The attention of the Church in recent years has been constantly directed on the social question, and in particular on that of work. We remember the encyclical Laborem exercens published a little over twenty-five years ago, on 14 September 1981, by my well loved predecessor John Paul II. This reaffirmed and updated the great intuitions developed by Pope Leo XIII and Pius XI in the encyclicals Rerum novarum (1891) and Quadragesimo anno (1931), both written during the period of the industrialisation of Europe. In a context of economic liberalism conditioned by market forces, of competition and competitiveness, these pontifical documents forcefully call on the need to evaluate the human dimension of work and to protect the dignity of the person. In fact, the ultimate reference of every human activity can only be the human person, created in the image and likeness of God. A close analysis of the situation, in fact, shows that work is part of God's plan for humankind and that it is participation in his work of creation and redemption. Every human activity should be an occasion and place for the growth of individuals and society, the development of personal "talents" that should be appreciated and placed at the ordered service of the common good, in a spirit of justice and solidarity. For believers, moreover, the ultimate aim of work is the building up of the Kingdom of God.
While I invite you to treasure the conversations and reflections that take place over the next few days, I hope that this important assembly of young people may be a profitable occasion of spiritual and ecclesial growth for the participants, through the sharing of experiences and personal accounts, and common prayer and liturgies celebrated together. Today, more than ever, it is necessary and urgent to proclaim "the Gospel of Work", to live as Christians in the world of work and become apostles among workers. In order to fulfil this mission it is necessary to remain united to Christ through prayer and a deep sacramental life, and for this purpose, to hold Sunday in special high regard, for it is the day dedicated to the Lord. While I encourage young people not to lose heart when faced with these difficulties, I invite them to participate next Sunday in Saint Peter's Square in the solemn celebration of Palm Sunday and the 22nd World Youth Day, the final stage of preparation for the World Youth Day that will take place in Sydney Australia next year.
The theme for reflection this year is: "Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another" (Jn 13:34). Here I repeat what I wrote to young Christians all over the world, that there may be awakened in young Christians, "trust in a love that is true, faithful and strong; a love that generates peace and joy; a love that binds people together and allows them to feel free in respect for one another", and allows them to develop their abilities to the full. It is not simply a question of becoming more "competitive" and "productive", but it is necessary to be "witnesses of charity". It is only in this way that young people -- with the support of their respective parishes, movements and communities, in which it is possible to experience the greatness and vitality of the Church -- will be able to experience work as a vocation and true mission. To this end, Venerable Brother, I assure you of my prayers, with the heavenly protection of Mary and Saint Joseph, patron of workers, I send you and all those participating in the International Forum and all young Christian workers, a special Apostolic Blessing.
From the Vatican, 28 March 2007
Benedictus PP XVI
© Copyright 2007 -- Libreria Editrice Vaticana
On Clement of Alexandria
"One of the Great Promoters of Dialogue Between Faith and Reason"
VATICAN CITY, APRIL 18, 2007 (Zenit.org).- Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI delivered today at the general audience in St. Peter's Square. The reflection focused on St. Clement of Alexandria.
* * *
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
After a time of holidays, we return to our normal catechesis, despite the fact that the square is still visibly decorated for the feasts. With these catecheses, we return, as I said, to the theme previously begun. We have spoken about the Twelve Apostles, then the disciples of the apostles, and now we turn to the great personalities of the nascent Church, of the ancient Church.
Last time, we had spoken about St. Irenaeus of Lyons and today we will speak of Clement of Alexandria, a great theologian who was probably born in Athens, sometime around the turn of the second century. In Athens, he picked up a keen interest in philosophy that would make him one of the great promoters of dialogue between faith and reason in the Christian tradition.
While still a youth, he moved to Alexandria, the "symbolic city" of this fruitful nexus between cultures which characterized the Hellenistic age. He was a disciple of Pantaenus and even succeeded him in directing the catechetical school. Numerous sources say he was ordained a priest. During the persecution from 202-203, he fled Alexandria and took refuge in Caesarea, in Cappadocia, where he died in the year 215.
The most important of his works which still exist are the "Exhortation," the "Instructor" and the "Stromata." Although it seems that it was not the author's original intention, these works make for a real trilogy, adequate for efficiently accompanying the spiritual maturation of a Christian.
"The Exhortation," as the title itself implies, exhorts one who is beginning and searching for the path of faith. Moreover, "The Exhortation" coincides with a person: the Son of God, Jesus Christ, who is an "exhorter" of those who decidedly begin the journey toward Truth.
Christ himself later becomes the "educator," that is, the "instructor" of those who, by virtue of baptism, have become sons and daughters of God. Christ himself, finally, is also "Didascalo," that is, the "Teacher," who proposes the deepest teachings. These are collected in Clement's third work, "The Stromata," a Greek word meaning "miscellanies." It is a composition that is not systematic, but rather deals with various arguments, and is the direct fruit of the ordinary teaching of Clement.
Taken together, Clement's catecheses accompany the catechumen and the baptized step by step, because, with the two "wings" of faith and reason, they lead to knowing the Truth, which is Christ, the Word of God. "Authentic gnosis" -- the Greek expression which means "knowledge" or "intelligence" -- can only be found in knowing the person of the truth. This is the edifice built by reason under the impulse of the supernatural principle. Therefore, the authentic "gnosis" is a development of the faith, drawn forth by Christ in the souls of those united to him. Clement later defines two levels of Christian life.
The first level: believing Christians who live the faith in an ordinary way, although with their horizons always open toward sanctity. The second level: the "gnostics," that is, those who lead a life of spiritual perfection. In any case, the Christian has to begin with the common base of the faith and by way of a path of searching, he should allow himself to be led by Christ and thus arrive to the knowledge of the Truth and the truths that make up the content of the faith.
This knowledge, Clement tells us, becomes for the soul a lived reality: It is not just a theory. Rather, it is a life force, a union with a transforming love. The knowledge of Christ is not just a thought, but a love that opens the eyes, transforms the person and creates communion with the "Logos," the divine Word that is truth and life. In this communion, which is the perfect knowledge and is love, the perfect Christian reaches contemplation and union with God.
Clement finally takes up doctrine, according to which the final end of the person consists in being like God. We have been created in the image and likeness of God, but this is also a challenge, a journey; in fact, the objective of life, the final destiny of the person consists in making himself like God. This is possible thanks to a connaturality with him, which the person has received at the moment of his creation, by which he is already the image of God. This connaturality enables him to know divine realities to which the person adheres above all by faith, and through the living of the faith, the practice of the virtues, can grow until he reaches the contemplation of God.
In this way, on the journey to perfection, Clement gives the same importance to moral requirements as to the intellectual ones. The two go together because it is not possible to know the truth without living it, nor to live the truth without knowing it. It is not possible to make oneself like God and contemplate him simply with a rational knowledge: In order to achieve this objective, it is necessary to live according to the "Logos," a life according to truth. And, therefore, good works have to accompany intellectual knowledge, as the shadow accompanies the body.
There are two virtues which particularly adorn the soul of the "authentic gnostic." The first is freedom from passions ("apátheia"); the second is love, the true passion, which ensures intimate union with God. Love gives perfect peace, and enables the "authentic gnostic" to confront the greatest sacrifices, including the supreme sacrifice in the following of Christ, and brings him to rise to the level of living virtue. In this way, the ethical ideal of ancient philosophy, that is, the freedom from passions, is redefined by Clement and complemented by love, in the unending process which leads to being like God.
In this way, the thinker from Alexandria fosters the second great opportunity for dialogue between the Christian message and Greek philosophy. We know that St. Paul, in the Areopagus in Athens, where Clement was born, had made the first attempt at dialogue with Greek philosophy and for the most part, had failed, given that his listeners said, "We will listen to you at another time." Now Clement, takes up again this dialogue, and supremely ennobles it in the tradition of Greek philosophy.
As my venerable predecessor, John Paul II, wrote in his encyclical "Fides et Ratio," Clement of Alexandria arrived to an interpretation of philosophy as "instruction which prepared for Christian faith" (No. 38). And, in fact, Clement even affirmed that God had given philosophy to the Greeks "as their own Testament" ("Stromata," 6, 8, 67, 1).
For him, the tradition of Greek philosophy, almost like the Law for the Jews, is the context for "revelation." They are two currents that definitively direct toward the very "Logos." Clement decisively continues along the path of those who want to "give reason" for their faith in Jesus Christ.
He can serve as an example for Christians, for catechists and theologians of our time, who John Paul II exhorted in that same encyclical to "recover and express to the full the metaphysical dimension of truth in order to enter into a demanding critical dialogue with […] contemporary philosophical thought."
We conclude with one of the expressions from the famous "Prayer to Christ, 'Logos'" with which Clement concludes the "Instructor." His prayer reads: "Show favor to your children … grant us to live in peace, to arrive to your city, pass through the currents of sin without sinking into them, be transported with serenity by the Holy Spirit, by ineffable Wisdom: we, who by day and by night, until the last day, raise to you a hymn of thanksgiving to the one Father … the Son, Instructor and Teacher, together with the Holy Spirit, Amen!" ("Instructor," 3, 12, 101).
[Translation by ZENIT]
[At the end of the audience, the Holy Father greeted the people in several languages. In English, he said:]
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
In our catechesis on the Fathers and teachers of the early Church, we now turn to Saint Clement of Alexandria. As head of the catechetical school of Alexandria, Clement promoted a fruitful encounter between the Gospel and the Greek philosophical tradition. For Clement, faith in Christ grants the true knowledge which the ancient philosophers had sought through the use of reason. Faith and reason thus appear as two necessary and complementary "wings" by which the human spirit comes to the knowledge of Christ, the Word of God. Faith itself, as a divine gift, inspires a search for a deeper understanding of God’s revelation. As creatures made in God’s image, we are called to become ever more like him not only through the perfection of our intellect, but also through our growth in the virtues. Freed from our passions, we are drawn to contemplate in love the God who has revealed himself in Christ. By his life and teaching, Clement can serve as a model for all Christians who seek to give an account of their hope (cf. 1 Pet 3:15), and especially for catechists and theologians as they strive to articulate the Christian faith in a disciplined dialogue with the great philosophical tradition.
I greet all the English-speaking visitors and pilgrims present at today’s Audience, including groups from Britain and Ireland, Gibraltar, Scandinavia, Asia and North America. I extend a special welcome to the ecumenical visitors from Finland and to the many students and teachers present. Upon all of you I invoke the abundant blessings of this Easter season, and I pray that your visit to Rome will bring you closer to Christ our Risen Lord. May God bless you all!
© Copyright 2007 -- Libreria Editrice Vaticana
Tuesday, April 17, 2007
Vatican spokesman says fathers of the Church, centrality of the liturgy essential elements of Benedict XVI’s pontificate
Vatican spokesman says fathers of the Church, centrality of the liturgy essential elements of Benedict XVI’s pontificate
Vatican City, Apr 17, 2007 / 10:58 am (CNA).- On the occasion of Pope Benedict XVI’s 80th birthday, the director of the Holy See’s Press Office, Father Federico Lombardi, said this week there are two issues of profound concern to Pope Benedict XVI: the continual reference to the fathers of the Church and the constant explication and living of the Sacred Liturgy.
“Two particular aspects call come to mind. First of all, the richness and the nature of the references to the Fathers of the Church. There hasn’t been a break in the two thousand years since the Scriptures until today. One can see the continuity in the reflections and in the deepening of the faith throughout time from Jesus to today. The Fathers were somewhat eclipsed in the common culture of the believer, and now they have become more familiar,” Father Lombardi said.
In speaking about the second aspect, the Vatican spokesman underscored the profundity of the Pontiff when he refers to the liturgy and “the celebration of our faith: the significance of the rites, the expression of the relationship between believers and God, which grows through the history of our faith. They are understood now in a living context, in which memory becomes actuality, and we more fully understand that come into contact with the mystery of God.”
Likewise, the Vatican spokesman underscored that the life of the Pope has been “characterized by a vocation that has developed in different successive phases and modalities of increasing responsibility, with a great coherence of unity of inspiration and strength. Priest and theologian, man of faith, of culture and ecclesial service. Culture and faith do not remain restricted to the realm of pursuit and to private life, but rather they become treasures shared always in the widest of atmospheres, to the ends of the Church and to today’s humanity.”
Father Lombardi described the Pope’s “charism” as the ability to speak with clarity, profundity about the center of the faith by helping to understand the need and the beauty of the continual and daily relationship between faith and reason, study and spirituality. “The encyclical ‘Deus Caritas est’ and the book ‘Jesus of Nazareth’ are two reference points for entering into this perspective and for remaining involved and, we might even say, fascinated,” he added.
“We wish the Pope many more years,” Father Lombardi said.
Monday, April 16, 2007
Pontiff's Birthday Takes on Ecumenical Tone
He Receives Patriarch of Constantinople's Delegate
VATICAN CITY, APRIL 16, 2007 (Zenit.org).- On his 80th birthday, Benedict XVI received in audience Metropolitan Ioannis Zizioulas of Pergamum, who delivered a letter from Orthodox Patriarch Bartholomew I of Constantinople.
According to statements made to the press today by Metropolitan Zizioulas, the letter from the patriarch proposes that the Pope support the meeting in the Italian city of Ravenna to inaugurate the working sessions of the Catholic-Orthodox Commission for theological dialogue that will take place Oct. 7-15.
The metropolitan added that representatives from all the Orthodox Churches will be present at the meeting.
"Among ourselves we have the same faith and the same tradition. The more important theme that we have to face is the primacy of the bishop of Rome, that is to say, the role of the Pope," he told the Italian newspaper La Repubblica.
"For some it is a problem without solution," the metropolitan added. "I, however, believe that a solution can be found."
Metropolitan Zizioulas continued: "The issue is to define well the place of the bishop of Rome in the structure of the universal Church. The Orthodox are prepared to accept the idea of a universal primate and, according to the cannons of the ancient Church, the bishop of Rome is the 'primus.'"
"According to the Orthodox vision," he clarified, "it is a universal primate that always acts in communion with the synod" of the various Churches.
The Orthodox patriarch of Moscow and All Russia, Alexy II, also sent birthday greetings to the Pope, wishing him in a letter good health, a long life and the help of God in his spiritual ministry.
>>>Stuart, this is off topic but I have been wondering what your reaction is to the changes in the DL of the ByzCath churches in the Pittsburgh diocese recently? Adopting "inclusive language" in the Nicene Creed, etc.?<<<>and
It sucks. My wife (professional translator who speaks Slavonic, Russian, Slovak, Ukrainian, Bulgarian and half a dozen other Slavic languages) and I are preparing an article on the subject for Eastern Churches Journal. In the interim, you can perhaps get a copy of Fr. Serge Kelleher's scathing review "Studies on the Byzantine Liturgy-The Draft Translation: A response to the proposed recasting of the Byzantine-Ruthenian Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom". This can be ordered from:
PO Box 14096
Pittsburgh, PA 15237-9998
The price is $20.00 + $4.00 per book shipping and handling ($24.00 total per book).
Fr. Serge was elevated to the dignity of Mitred Archmandrite by Bishop Basil (Losten) of Stamford at the request of Patriarch Lyubomir (Husar) of Kyiv for his work in reestablishing the Lviv Theological Academy (now the Lviv Theological University). He is presently de facto Ethnarch for the Ukrainian Greek Catholic community in Ireland. He celebrates the Divine Liturgy in St. Kevin's Oratory underneath St. Mary's Pro-Cathedral in Dublin. When I was there a couple of years ago, the little chapel was packed to the gills, a temporary iconostasis having been erected across the sanctuary. His flock encompassed Slavs from all over Eastern Europe, both Catholic AND Orthodox, mainly working class, mostly young, with children (I remember one blond little boy who kept crawling under the Royal Doors. Father Serge would bend down, turn him around and let him crawl back out). A surprising number were actually Irish, some Roman Catholics, some Protestants, a few unchurched. The Divine Liturgy was an interesting blend of modern Ukrainian, Irish Gaelic, and Slavonic--but no English, which made it fun trying to follow along. Fortunately, having served for Father Serge on a number of occasions, I knew his style.
He's supposed to be setting up a couple of missions in Belfast and Londonderry, a sign that this new St. Patrick is reconverting the Irish.
Sunday, April 15, 2007
The ISN is having its first Summer Institute (June 11th) and Conference (June 15th).
ISN Summer Conference 2007:“The Nature of Nature”
At the end of the four days of study at the Summer Institute, the ISN will hold a small academic conference called “The Nature of Nature” for the benefit of the students and interested scholars.
What: A one and one-half day academic conference with one or two keynote addresses, and the presentation of 10-15 academic papers. Papers are encouraged on topics ranging from anti-reductionism/holism in science to self-organization, systems theory, and complexity, to papers in natural philosophy in the neo-Aristotelian or phenomenological traditions. See the ISN “articles, essays, and books” page to get a sense of the range or relevant topics.
Who: The invited keynote speaker (not confirmed) is Dr. Leon Kass. Scholars interested in giving papers are welcome to submit their proposals by May 11th; those whose papers are selected will have their travel expenses reimbursed, and may receive a small stipend (to be determined). Any interested scholar may attend. Also, we hope and expect the students from the preceding Summer Institute will remain to participate, since this conference is for their benefit as well.
Thanks to Mark Shea.
Altered Nuclear Transfer website