Saturday, May 10, 2008

Virginia Declaration of Rights

I That all men are by nature equally free and independent, and have certain inherent rights, of which, when they enter into a state of society, they cannot, by any compact, deprive or divest their posterity; namely, the enjoyment of life and liberty, with the means of acquiring and possessing property, and pursuing and obtaining happiness and safety.

II That all power is vested in, and consequently derived from, the people; that magistrates are their trustees and servants, and at all times amenable to them.

III That government is, or ought to be, instituted for the common benefit, protection, and security of the people, nation or community; of all the various modes and forms of government that is best, which is capable of producing the greatest degree of happiness and safety and is most effectually secured against the danger of maladministration; and that, whenever any government shall be found inadequate or contrary to these purposes, a majority of the community hath an indubitable, unalienable, and indefeasible right to reform, alter or abolish it, in such manner as shall be judged most conducive to the public weal.

IV That no man, or set of men, are entitled to exclusive or separate emoluments or privileges from the community, but in consideration of public services; which, not being descendible, neither ought the offices of magistrate, legislator, or judge be hereditary.

V That the legislative and executive powers of the state should be separate and distinct from the judicative; and, that the members of the two first may be restrained from oppression by feeling and participating the burthens of the people, they should, at fixed periods, be reduced to a private station, return into that body from which they were originally taken, and the vacancies be supplied by frequent, certain, and regular elections in which all, or any part of the former members, to be again eligible, or ineligible, as the laws shall direct.

VI That elections of members to serve as representatives of the people in assembly ought to be free; and that all men, having sufficient evidence of permanent common interest with, and attachment to, the community have the right of suffrage and cannot be taxed or deprived of their property for public uses without their own consent or that of their representatives so elected, nor bound by any law to which they have not, in like manner, assented, for the public good.

VII That all power of suspending laws, or the execution of laws, by any authority without consent of the representatives of the people is injurious to their rights and ought not to be exercised.

VIII That in all capital or criminal prosecutions a man hath a right to demand the cause and nature of his accusation to be confronted with the accusers and witnesses, to call for evidence in his favor, and to a speedy trial by an impartial jury of his vicinage, without whose unanimous consent he cannot be found guilty, nor can he be compelled to give evidence against himself; that no man be deprived of his liberty except by the law of the land or the judgement of his peers.

IX That excessive bail ought not to be required, nor excessive fines imposed; nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.

X That general warrants, whereby any officer or messenger may be commanded to search suspected places without evidence of a fact committed, or to seize any person or persons not named, or whose offense is not particularly described and supported by evidence, are grievous and oppressive and ought not to be granted.

XI That in controversies respecting property and in suits between man and man, the ancient trial by jury is preferable to any other and ought to be held sacred.

XII That the freedom of the press is one of the greatest bulwarks of liberty and can never be restrained but by despotic governments.

XIII That a well regulated militia, composed of the body of the people, trained to arms, is the proper, natural, and safe defense of a free state; that standing armies, in time of peace, should be avoided as dangerous to liberty; and that, in all cases, the military should be under strict subordination to, and be governed by, the civil power.

XIV That the people have a right to uniform government; and therefore, that no government separate from, or independent of, the government of Virginia, ought to be erected or established within the limits thereof.

XV That no free government, or the blessings of liberty, can be preserved to any people but by a firm adherence to justice, moderation, temperance, frugality, and virtue and by frequent recurrence to fundamental principles.

XVI That religion, or the duty which we owe to our Creator and the manner of discharging it, can be directed by reason and conviction, not by force or violence; and therefore, all men are equally entitled to the free exercise of religion, according to the dictates of conscience; and that it is the mutual duty of all to practice Christian forbearance, love, and charity towards each other.

Adopted unanimously June 12, 1776 Virginia Convention of Delegates drafted by Mr. George Mason

From The Avalon Project

Other links:
Virginia Declaration of Rights - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Virginia Declaration of Rights, 1776
The University of Oklahoma College of Law: A Chronology of US ...
Virginia Declaration of Rights - 1776
Virginia Declaration of Rights: Primary Documents of American ...
Bill of Rights
The Virginia Declaration of Rights - The U.S. Constitution Online ...
Gunston Hall Plantation Historic Human Rights Documents
Draft for the Virginia Declaration of Rights, May 1776
Historical Documents and Speeches - The Virginia Declaration of ...
The Virginia Declaration of Rights
The Virginia Declaration of Rights: Its Place in History

James V. Schall, Reflections on the Natural Law

Almost every mention of “natural rights” unfortunately requires careful and subtle qualification or caution to protect this very slippery notion from being taken to mean just the opposite of what it appears to affirm. The terms “rights” and “values” are modern terms originating in and solidly grounded in modern political philosophy. They do not mean what the old Latin word justum or jus (words sometimes translated as “right”) meant in their original context. . . .

Friday, May 09, 2008

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

ICMS 2008 - International Congress on Medieval Studies

ICMS 2008 - International Congress on Medieval Studies


Adobe icon Thursday, May 8 [Sessions 1-184]
Adobe icon Friday, May 9 [Sessions 185-351]
Adobe icon Saturday, May 10 [Sessions 352-512]
Adobe icon Sunday, May 11 [Sessions 513-602]
Adobe icon Full Schedule

Zenit: Pontiff Praises Promoter of Faith-Reason Dialogue

Pontiff Praises Promoter of Faith-Reason Dialogue

Polish Priest Wins Templeton Prize

VATICAN CITY, MAY 7, 2008 ( Benedict XVI is congratulating a Polish priest and cosmologist who won the Templeton Prize for his contribution to the dialogue between religion and science.

In a message sent through Archbishop Fernando Filoni, "sostituto" for general affairs at the Vatican Secretariat of State, the Pope congratulated Monsignor Michael Heller, a professor of theoretical physics, cosmology and philosophy of science at the Pontifical Academy of Theology.

The message said, "The Holy Father was pleased to learn that you have been awarded the Templeton Prize in recognition of your outstanding contribution to the dialogue between science and religion, and he sends you his warmest congratulations and good wishes."

Citing the encyclical "Fides et Ratio," the note continued, "As you know, His Holiness has repeatedly underlined the importance of a fruitful encounter between faith and reason, the two wings on which the human spirit rises to contemplation of the truth, and he wishes to encourage all those who devote their lives to exploring the profound insights to be gained from scientific research in the context of religious belief."

Referring to Psalm 18, the papal message added: "He prays that your work in the fields of cosmology and philosophy will help to make known the message that "the heavens proclaim the glory of God, and the firmament shows forth the work of his hands.

"As this prestigious award is conferred upon you in London on May 7, 2008, the Holy Father will remember you particularly in his prayers. Invoking upon you and all those whose work serves to promote a deeper understanding of the relationship between religion and science, His Holiness cordially imparts his apostolic blessing."

The writings of Monsignor Heller, 72, "have evoked new and important consideration of some of humankind's most profound concepts," the Templeton Foundation said. "Heller's examination of fundamental questions such as 'does the universe need to have a cause?' engages a wide range of sources who might otherwise find little in common.

"By drawing together mathematicians, philosophers, cosmologists and theologians who pursue these topics, he also allows each to share insights that may edify the other without any violence to their respective methodologies."

The Templeton Prize honors a living person considered to have made an exceptional contribution to affirming life's spiritual dimension, whether through insight, discovery or practical works.

Monday, May 05, 2008

Zenit: Cardinal Cordes on "Deus Caritas Est"

Cardinal Cordes on "Deus Caritas Est"

"Jesus Shows God as He Who Loves"

LEEDS, England, MAY 4, 2008 ( Here is the text of the April 7 address given by Cardinal Paul Cordes, president of the Pontifical Council Cor Unum, to the spring meeting of the bishops' council of England and Wales.

* * *

President of the Vatican's Human and Christian Development council speaks to bishops of England and Wales.

At the invitation of Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor, Cardinal Paul Josef Cordes, President of the Pontifical Council Cor Unum, joined the Bishops of England and Wales at their spring meeting in Leeds to talk about Pope Benedict's first Encyclical Letter Deus Caritas Est (God is Love).

"Anyone looking at society today can only be filled with joy that Christ's commandment to love one's neighbour finds concrete expression in extensive charitable outreach. On the other hand, the global popularisation of an idea also unfortunately often leads to its dilution. Inflation goes hand-in-hand with a reduction in value. For this reason, it falls still today to Christians, and, in a special way the Church's Pastors, to be attentive." Cardinal Cordes

Paul Josef Cardinal Cordes

Bishops of England & Wales Plenary

Hinsley Hall, Leeds

President, Pontifical Council Cor Unum

7 April 2008

Deus Caritas Est


Your Eminence, Your Excellencies,

My Dear Brother Bishops,

As you well know, Cor Unum, my Dicastery at the Vatican is entrusted by the Holy Father with giving concrete signs of love and charity. It was a great joy for us then that Pope Benedict XVI chose for his first Encyclical the theme, "Deus caritas est." In this, he gave decisive direction for his Pontificate. At the same time, he describes Cor Unum as "the agency of the Holy See responsible for orienting and coordinating the organisations and charitable activities promoted by the Catholic Church" (n. 32).

The Catholic Church in Britain has a long history of charitable outreach. Secular historians refer to the "nationalisation" of charity some 400 years ago through the Charitable Uses Act of 1601, but the Church much before and still today has recognised and fostered this virtue in word and deed through a plethora of initiatives - schools, hospitals, care homes for the elderly and dying, and prison outreach, to cite just a few examples. Many of these have gained a national reputation for the excellence achieved and the modern state has sought to emulate them. Even though Britain boasts of a national welfare system, this is no safety net for the very poor. In future years, their numbers are likely to increase, given the large influx of migrants coming to these shores.

I cannot forget the plea of Mother Teresa to Margaret Thatcher to help Londoners sleeping out in the bitter cold beneath railway arches in what she chillingly described as "little cardboard coffins."

My personal presence among you provides the opportunity to express the Pope's encouragement and gratitude to those numerous witnesses of charity in this land who provide for our brothers and sisters in need: those agencies directly sponsored by the Bishops, and also religious institutes and associations, entities for human development and missionary service, groups involved in the civil sphere, and organisations for social, educational and cultural work.


The charitable spirit of the British people is impressive. It is claimed that in the United Kingdom alone, there are almost 200,000 charities, diffusing over 25 billion pounds in charitable aid each year. In terms of giving as a percentage of gross domestic product, Britain ranks second only to the people of the United States. Each year, individuals generously donate billions to charitable causes - 9.5 billion pounds in 2006.

To this, we must add the extensive hours spent in voluntary service. Some 20 million citizens in England and Wales are said to volunteer either formally or informally at least once a month, equivalent to 25 billion pounds of work hours. Recent years, I am told, have seen a significant increase in charitable giving to religious causes. 16 percent of all money donated to charity in 2006-07 was given to religious groups, the highest figure after medical research (17 percent).

It is clear then, also from my experience worldwide, that the willingness of people to alleviate misery has become a "sign of our times." A few years ago, as I arrived at the airport of Saigon, one of the largest cities of the still communist country of Vietnam, I saw a huge, brightly illuminated billboard with the headline, "Charity." I was pleasantly surprised. Even in a Communist country, "charity" is trendy. In some Western nations, the Caritas confederation has grown into an impressive service industry. Caritas Germany, for example, employs an incredible 500,000 professional staff, making it the second largest employer in Germany after the State. In 2006, the annual working budget for assistance to underdeveloped nations of Catholic Relief Services - the U.S. Bishops agency for international outreach - exceeded US$400 million.

In a word: charity has expanded on virtually every level of society. Certainly, one cannot but rejoice over this development. Pope Benedict does so in Deus caritas est. But the Holy Father also cautions us: in the face of growth, "it is very important," he says, "that the Church's charitable activity maintains all of its splendour and does not become just another form of social assistance" (n. 31). It seems to me that this advice is especially significant for a nation such as yours, given its rapidly changing social and religious fabric. The Servant of God Pope John Paul II underlined precisely this challenge for you in his address at your last ad limina visit: "England and Wales, despite being steeped in a rich Christian tradition, today face the pervasive advance of secularism. At the root of this situation is the attempt to promote a vision of humanity apart from God and removed from Christ ... The faithful look to you, the Bishops, with great expectation to preach and teach the Gospel which dispels the darkness and illuminates the way of life" (23 October 2003).


Dear brothers in Christ: I give thanks to God for the opportunity today to reflect with you on the charitable mission of the Church. I am grateful to His Eminence Cardinal Cormac Murphy O'Connor for his kind invitation. For some time, I have considered it important to meet with the Pastors of England and Wales. Your bearing on the whole English-speaking world is significant. How pleased I am that the first Encyclical of Pope Benedict has made real this intention!

Our moment of communion and dialogue has been preceded by similar encounters with other Episcopal conferences, including Spain, the Ukraine, Austria, Russia and Poland, the Fourth General Assembly of the Bishops of Latin America and the Caribbean last May in Aparecida, and most recently the Catholic Bishops Conference of India. In the coming months, I shall travel to the Philippines, Australia and France. Encouraged by the Holy Father himself, my wish has been to give Deus caritas est the echo it rightly deserves as the first doctrinal letter ever written specifically on the theme of love and charity.

The Church's responsibility to fight against all kinds of misery is given to us by the Lord Himself. Jesus instituted love of neighbour as the first commandment for behaviour among His disciples, acting Himself as a witness of this love. The Acts of the Apostles spoke of Him thus: "He went about doing good and healing all those oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him" (Acts 10:38). This is His unmistakable description.

For this reason, the young Christian community made its own the mission and example of Jesus. In various places in the New Testament, we find concrete instances of help (cf. Acts 2:45; 4:32; 6:1; Rom 12:13; Jam 1:27; Mt 25:36). But not only material ones. The attentive reader of Sacred Scripture clearly sees that the charitable gestures of Jesus and the compassion of the first Christians were always intended to point to the loving-kindness of the heavenly Father. The multiplication of loaves and healing of the sick, the expelling of demons and raising the dead were always Christianity's way to move people to believe in Jesus, the Messiah and the Servant of Yahweh. The Gospel of John then, does not even speak of "miracles," but has another concept: it calls Jesus' healing deeds semeia, that is, signs, pointers to something else. This indication is
significant. The Church should never underplay the sense of good works that point to God. A double purpose of engagement must always remain impressed at least in our consciousness: the concrete action and the meaning beyond it.


As I indicated earlier, anyone looking at society today can only be filled with joy that Christ's commandment to love one's neighbour finds concrete expression in extensive charitable outreach. On the other hand, the global popularisation of an idea also unfortunately often leads to its dilution. Inflation goes hand-in-hand with a reduction in value. For this reason, it falls still today to Christians, and, in a special way the Church's Pastors, to be attentive. In other words: Catholic charitable organisations should be careful not to forget the meaning of their activity, influenced perhaps by the present climate or excessive reliance on public funds. The question is one of fostering the Christian roots of the Church's activity and so preserving the "splendour" of our identity as Catholic charitable institutions.

This is especially important for a nation where the secular national welfare system has become pervasive and predominant. For centuries, care for the poor through charitable works was seen as a complement to the primary task of winning souls for God.

This was a natural progression from the early Church, where both the preaching of the Word and caritas remained tied together. In this country, the Catholic Church guaranteed this essentially through religious men and women; other denominations through the establishment of a specific charitable organization such as Barnardo's, born from the Church of Ireland, with its provision of education for the very poorest, or the Salvation Army, whose determining factor for charitable outreach was signified in its very name.

But with the growing view since the start of the 20th century that government needed to supplant the charitable efforts of organisations through the provision of welfare, even among Christian groups concern for earthly improvement of the poor began to take first place over the previously primary task of proclaiming the Gospel. When the Welfare State was created after the Second World War, the role of charity was thrown into crisis, further deepened by the decline of the religious orders. The philosophy of organisations such as Greenpeace and Oxfam, born in the 1960's with politically driven mandates, sometimes infiltrated Church-sponsored agencies. Today, there is yet another challenge.

In order to remain "competitive" in the provision of services, the Church's charitable organisations have become more and more dependent upon government funding. While, as you well know, their good works are usually welcomed - and almost always needed - often their faith and beliefs are rejected by the authorities.

As Bishops of England and Wales, you are certainly aware of this question. You have faced challenges to the faith-identity of our agencies from government legislation that impinges on the provision of services, such as adoption or education. Even in the case of some so-called "Catholic" institutions, primarily in healthcare, that do not uphold moral teaching, you have been called to speak out courageously and decisively as prophets in the desert of secularism.

This, in part, is linked to the question of funding. In Britain, the largest source of income for charities in general comes from the public sector (37 percent). For Church run organisations, this is a sea change from the support of charitable works largely through religious congregations in previous centuries. Reliance on public funding invariably means external supervision and regulations, and necessitates bureaucratic procedures that can give charitable organisations a certain modus operandi in such areas as the employment of personnel, work contracts and the type of projects that can be funded.

This movement can have consequences on the motivation for charitable helpers: if what counts is the efficiency of the action, one can easily forget that for Christians the action should carry a deeper meaning as a sign not only of human compassion but also of God's goodness. Where the bishops do not exercise oversight, Catholic agencies, little by little, can become indistinguishable from secular organisations, such as the Red Cross or Oxfam.

This rooting of the Church's engagement in God was undoubtedly one of the deepest motivations that led Benedict XVI to write as his first official doctrinal work the Encyclical Deus caritas est. I do not need to repeat the surprising commentaries all over the world that accompanied the text - the fact that the "Panzer Cardinal" would choose "love" as the subject of his first major teaching. Perhaps the history of the text's writing is less familiar to you. It shows clearly what was of most importance to the Pope.

Since Cor Unum is directly concerned with the praxis of the Church's love for our fellow human beings, Pope John Paul II had asked that I prepare for him a preliminary draft of a papal writing on charity. My intention was to begin with an inductive presentation: reflections on the general willingness of people to provide help today, followed by a description of Christian initiatives that exist, moving in the end to the rooting of love of neighbour in God. The former Cardinal Ratzinger was aware of my writings. When he was elected Pope, he decided to publish an Encyclical on charity, but he totally reversed my intended order. His starting point is Revelation's central message:

"God is love." He initiates the Encyclical with a drumbeat, proclaiming the absolute precedence of Him "Who has first loved us" (1Jn 4:10), both in the order of time and in the scale of values.


In my conversations on Deus caritas est with other Episcopal Conferences, the Pastors and those responsible for Caritas have been predominantly or exclusively interested in the second part of the Encyclical, "The Practice of Love by the Church as a ‘Community of Love'." This section is important for offering structural and practical guidelines for the Church's charitable engagement, which are based on global experience and call for an observance of the papal teaching. When one delves into the details of this section, however, one discovers an important change of perspective. Namely, the Encyclical seems to present in this section a new message. Until now, the Church's teaching on the struggle against misery - like the social encyclicals - dealt with public defects, goals and programs; they addressed factual problems and they insisted on concrete changes outside of oneself. Besides all this, Deus caritas est turns now decisively to committed persons: the Pope wishes to shape the life of the actors through a "formation of the heart" (n. 31a). So, for the first time, he formulates basic guidelines for a "spirituality" of those working in help-agencies.

Clearly the first preoccupation of Caritas cannot intend to change society and unjust structures. It is the human heart that makes the structures. Therefore, the essential requirement for action - as the Pope says - is to "be persons moved by Christ's love, persons whose hearts Christ has conquered with his love, awakening them with a love of neighbour" (n. 33). This is the new "standard" that Jesus proclaims in the Sermon on the Mount (cf. Mt 5-7). It is the justice of love that surpasses the political and social dimensions without negating them. We cannot then reduce or collapse charity into "social justice"; to do so would be to rob charity of its specificity and splendour. God certainly requires the actualisation of justice in societal relationships, as the Old Testament prophets repeatedly remind us: "Make justice your aim," Isaiah affirms, "redress the
wronged, hear the orphan's plea, defend the widow" (Is 1:16ff). But ultimately this comes through conversion in the heart of the human person, whose self-giving example and source is the charity of Christ. As St. Paul affirms: Caritas Christi urget nos (2 Cor 5:14)!

Service to our neighbours, therefore, has not only its universally recognized technical and practical side; it also makes demands of the heart, not primarily in the emotional sense, but in the very rational decision to desire the best for the other person, even at the price of self-abnegation. Whoever dedicates himself to diakonia thus takes on the opposite of reputation, power, and rank that leaders and political entities claim for themselves. Benedict encourages us: "My deep personal sharing in the needs and sufferings of others becomes a sharing of my very self with them: if my gift is not to prove a source of humiliation, I must give to others not only something that is not my own, but my very self; I must be personally present in my gift" (n. 34). In the gift, the giver provides his material contribution; in loving service, his self-dedication. Diakonia is the antithesis of the egocentric society; Jesus with his self-oblation for the "ransom of
many" is its model and prototype.

The source for this "spirituality of diakonia" is prayer. It is telling that, in this relatively short Encyclical, two quite detailed paragraphs are dedicated to prayer as the motor for charitable action. In a culture as frenetic as Britain or Germany, the Pope points to the need for prayer, not action alone: "People who pray are not wasting their time even though the situation seems desperate and calls for action alone." And he offers concrete advice for those countries and people with an excessively "economic" mindset: "It is time to reaffirm the importance of prayer in the face of activism and the growing secularism of many Christians engaged in charitable work" (n. 37).

You have a wonderful example of what Pope Benedict describes in Saint Thomas More. Allow me to quote from the famous biography written on him, "The King's Good Servant but God's First" (James Monti, p. 77):

More's love of God found expression not only in his prayer life but also in his fulfilment of Christ's command, "Love one another; even as I have loved you" (Jn 13:34). The poor were regularly welcome guests at his table; he would also go to them himself, visiting indigent families and bring them financial support as needed ... The infirm and the elderly were particularly singled out for his favours; for these he provided a special home in his own parish of Chelsea where they could be lodged and cared for at his expense. To widows and orphans he provided his legal services gratis; a widow named Paula who had exhausted all her savings in the courts he took into his family and sustained as if she were his kinswoman.


There is no doubt that Deus caritas est directs itself to various groups in the Church. Nevertheless, the main burden of responsibility for its implementation in dioceses and parishes is placed squarely on the shoulders of the Bishops. It is not only the pastoral realism of the Pope, but also theological reasons that make the ordained Pastors the principle target group for the Encyclical.

Ever since her foundation, a threefold mission has been entrusted to the Church: she must proclaim Redemption through Christ; she must bear witness to this in her good deeds toward humanity; and she must celebrate the salvation offered through Christ in the Liturgy. Martyria, Diakonia and Leitourgia are therefore the three basic functions of the Church that express her deepest nature. In Deus caritas est, the Pope declares strongly:

"The Church cannot neglect the service of charity any more than she can neglect the sacraments and the word" (n. 22). Indeed, the three are inextricably linked. Good deeds as the expression of the evangelical love proclaimed in the Word and celebrated in the sacraments, most especially the Eucharist, occupy a central place in the evangelising mission of the Church. This connection may well warrant further reflection, given the declining numbers of indigenous Catholics in our pews. As numerous saints have shown us, most recently Mother Teresa, in the witness of love a seed of belief can be sown in the fallen away, non-Christians and even the most sceptical.

In terms of the mission of diakonia, Benedict speaks emphatically in the Encyclical of the Bishop's overriding responsibility. He reminds these of the Rite of the Sacrament of Episcopal Ordination, in which the Bishop receives, through the imposition of hands, the full authority of the Spirit for the government of the Church. Prior to the act of Consecration itself, the candidate must respond to a series of questions posed by the presiding Bishop, which, as the Pope writes, "express the essential elements of his office and recall the duties of his future ministry." So the candidate is asked to pledge his special responsibility for individual services. He is called to promise "expressly to be, in the Lord's name, welcoming and merciful to the poor and to all those in need of consolation and assistance." Of course, this obligation incumbent on the Bishop does not prevent him from seeking assistance from others in his charitable mission, but he cannot set aside his ultimate responsibility for this essential service, placing it simply on others' shoulders. Neither can those who practice the service of charity, either individually or institutionally, disregard the Bishop's burden of leadership and this ultimate responsibility that belongs to him. Some Catholic aid agencies actively avoid acknowledging this fact and sometimes Bishops themselves fail to exercise their legitimate and necessary oversight, leading to approaches that are predominantly political or economic to the neglect of revealing through love of neighbour the love of the God of Jesus Christ.

The importance that Pope Benedict attaches to this responsibility of the Bishops may be further gauged by the gentle criticism he makes in Deus caritas est of the Code of Canon Law. The Encyclical remarks that in the canons on the ministry of the Bishop, the Code "does not expressly mention charity as a specific sector of Episcopal activity" (n. 32), implying that it lacks precision on this point. Indeed, we should remain surprised - as does the Pope - that Canon Law devotes many paragraphs to the Bishop's role in martyria and leitourgia, but nothing regarding diakonia. Clearly, Deus caritas est envisages a need for clarification in this important area.


In speaking about the Encyclical, it is not seldom that the administrative concern leads many responsibles of charitable agencies to focus principally or even perhaps exclusively on the second part. Such a focus would be to grossly ignore the fundamental vision of the author. It is not by accident that Pope Benedict, through this fantastic text about God as the source, lays down the foundation for the incontestable criteria of all charitable love. What is more: clearly, in the cultural context, he would like to establish the strongly felt love of neighbour as a way to bring contemporary man closer again to the love of God. In his preaching, hardly an occasion goes by that he does not attempt to reach his listeners through proclaiming this love for God, the Father of Jesus Christ. Just a few weeks ago on Palm Sunday, I was in St. Peter's Square when the Pope
made exactly this point in his homily. He spoke of how Jesus entered Jerusalem and cleansed the Temple atrium, where the pagans gathered, of the animal vendors and moneychangers who had occupied the place of prayer with their own business. From this episode, Pope Benedict draws a parallel with the atria of faith today where non-Christians look for an answer to the deepest longings of their hearts. "Is our faith pure and open enough," he asks, "so that on this basis even the ‘pagans,' the people who today are seeking and questioning, can glimpse the light of the one God, join in our prayer in the atria of faith, and through their questioning, perhaps, become worshipers themselves? Are we aware of how greed and idolatry affect even our own hearts and way of life?" And then the Pope turns yet again to Jesus' saving deeds, good works that infallibly point to God even when everything else seems hopeless. "Immediately after Jesus' words about
the house of prayer for all peoples, the evangelist [Matthew] continues in this way: ‘The blind and the lame approached him in the temple area, and he cured them.' To the selling of animals and the business of the moneychangers, Jesus opposes his own healing goodness. This is the true purification of the temple ... Jesus comes with the gift of healing. He dedicates himself to those who because of their infirmity are driven to the extremes of their life and to the margin of society. Jesus shows God as He who loves, and His power as the power of love."

Thank you very much.

Zenit: Cardinal Toppo on a Proposed Marian Dogma

Cardinal Toppo on a Proposed Marian Dogma

A Look at What It Could Mean for Dialogue

RANCHI, India, MAY 5, 2008 ( Proclaiming Mary as the Spiritual Mother of All Humanity would benefit ecumenical and interreligious dialogue because it would help non-Catholics to understand many things about the Mother of God, says Cardinal Telesphore Toppo.

The archbishop of Ranchi and former president of the episcopal conference of India is one of the five cardinal co-sponsors of the 2005 International Symposium on Marian Co-redemption, held in Fatima, who are asking Benedict XVI to declare a fifth Marian dogma.

The petition urges the Pope to proclaim Mary "the Spiritual Mother of All Humanity, the co-redemptrix with Jesus the redeemer, mediatrix of all graces with Jesus the one mediator, and advocate with Jesus Christ on behalf of the human race."

In this interview with ZENIT, Cardinal Toppo discusses his views in favor of the proposed dogma.

Q: Previously this year, you and four other cardinals sent out a letter to the world's cardinals and bishops, inviting them to join in your petition for a new dogma of the spiritual motherhood of Mary. How did they respond?

Cardinal Toppo: Although the majority of cardinals and bishops sent their letters of support for the fifth Marian dogma directly to the Holy Father, we also received numerous copies of enthusiastic letters of support for this dogma from cardinals and bishops from all five continents. Many of the letters spoke of the need for the dogma and Our Lady's greatest possible intercession for the troubled situation for the world today, including the rampant war and terrorism, religious persecution, moral depravity, family breakdown and even natural disasters.

The general consensus of the letters from my brother cardinals and bishops is that now is the time for this fifth Marian dogma as a remedy for the unique difficulties facing the world. As she did in the Upper Room and in the early Church, Our Lady can intercede like no one else for a new release of the Holy Spirit to bring new grace, peace and protection for the Church and for the world.

Q: Have you spoken directly to Benedict XVI regarding the petition for the fifth Marian dogma?

Cardinal Toppo: On June 3, 2006, on the eve of Pentecost, I was privileged to have a private audience with His Holiness, during which I presented the Holy Father the "acta" of theological presentations from the 2005 Fatima symposium on Mary as the co-redemptrix. I also presented him with the Latin "votum" -- or petition -- for the solemn papal definition of Our Lady as the spiritual mother of all peoples, co-redemptrix, mediatrix of all graces and advocate, which already at that time was signed by a significant number of cardinals, archbishops and bishops.

During our 15-minute audience, the Holy Father received the acta and votum with keen interest. He was surprised that so many cardinals and bishops had already signed the votum. He then stated that he would read the acta of theological presentations on the co-redemptrix. In the last few months, he has received still many more petitions for this Marian dogma from the present College of Cardinals and bishops.

Q: A principal objection posed against the proclamation of a new Marian dogma is that it would be counterproductive to the Church's mission of ecumenism and interreligious dialogue. And yet, in the presentations submitted to Benedict XVI, your own presentation was titled "Mary Co-redemptrix as a Help in the Pursuit of Interreligious Dialogue." Can you explain why you believe this dogma could actually help ecumenism and dialogue with other faiths?

Cardinal Toppo: In interreligious dialogue, it is of the utmost importance that both sides come to know each other's faith position as accurately as possible. Now it is my contention that a Catholic's presentation and explanation of Mary's title as co-redemptrix would greatly help his or her dialogue partner to understand correctly some basics of the Church's teaching.

The title co-redemptrix would naturally provide the occasion to present our doctrine concerning the redeemer and the mystery of redemption, the primacy of God's initiative, and the absolutely uncontestable role of the uniqueness of Jesus as the divine redeemer.

That being the true position, the question will surely be raised as to how then we can speak of Mary as co-redemptrix. This truth concerning Redemption is to be complemented with the indispensable need for the cooperation of the human beneficiary. Humans can sin by themselves, but they cannot save by themselves.

In other words, cooperation is required, for each one according to the freely designed and chosen plan of God. This being the case, we can help our partners in dialogue understand many things about Mary: her cooperation with and submission to the plan of God, leading her to become the Mother of Jesus; her closeness to Jesus at the crucifixion as co-redemptrix; her intercessory advocacy and influence with Jesus on our behalf; her being Mother of the Church, Queen of Heaven and Mediatrix of All Graces.

Mary's cooperation helps all Christians and even non-Christians to understand our own required cooperation with Jesus and with his grace for our salvation.

Q: How do you think non-Catholic Christians would respond to a dogma of Mary's spiritual motherhood of all peoples, and what do you think would be the response of the large Hindu population within your region?

Cardinal Toppo: I have no doubt that non-Catholic Christians participating in ecumenical dialogue, either will find this position acceptable or at least will have no valid or convincing argument against it.

For example, this is what happened in the past to a Lutheran tribal girl of Ranchi in 1890 when she discovered that Catholics actually do not worship Mary as a goddess, though they honor her because of her being the mother of Jesus. She -- Ruth Kispotta -- joined the Catholic Church and founded our first indigenous congregation: the Daughters of St. Anne, Ranchi.

Adherents and followers of non-Christian faiths readily understand our position in this matter. This would also explain how it is that so many non-Christians flock to shrines of Our Lady all over the world, including within the vast continent of Asia. They felt drawn to Mary because of her proximity to Jesus.

There is an Indian shrine in honor of "Dhori Ma," also known as the Lady of the Mines, based on a statue discovered by Hindu coal miners at Dhori. Today this statue of Our Lady is venerated by tens of thousands: Christians, Hindus, Muslims. All appreciate the Mother who takes care of her children and who is entirely at their service.

Q: How do you think a new Marian dogma would affect our present relationship with the Muslim community and our dialogue with them?

Cardinal Toppo: A presentation of Mary as co-redemptrix would be especially appreciated in dialogue with Muslims, for the simple reason that Mary is already well known to them from the Quran itself. Muslims revere Mary as the "greatest of women," sinless and ever virgin. She is a woman of great dignity and her role and significance is acknowledged in the Quran, in the Hadith and in the piety of daily Muslim life.

One can say, without hesitation, that Mary has been, is and remains a true role model for both Muslims and Christians. She is a wonderful help in our interreligious dialogue. The correct presentation of Mary co-redemptrix provides a smooth path to the discovery of Catholic truth and encourages all sincere persons to cooperate with the initiatives of the loving and attractive God whose mercy is from age to age.

Zenit: Papal Address to Social Sciences Academy

Papal Address to Social Sciences Academy

"The Heavenly and Earthly Cities Interpenetrate"

VATICAN CITY, MAY 4, 2008 ( Here is the text of the address Benedict XVI gave Saturday to the participants in the plenary session of the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences. The meeting is focused on "Pursuing the Common Good: How Solidarity and Subsidiarity Can Work Together." It began Friday and continues through Tuesday.

* * *

Dear Brothers in the Episcopate and the Priesthood,
Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am pleased to have this occasion to meet with you as you gather for the fourteenth Plenary Session of the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences. Over the last two decades, the Academy has offered a valuable contribution to the deepening and development of the Church's social doctrine and its application in the areas of law, economics, politics and the various other social sciences. I thank Professor Margaret Archer for her kind words of greeting, and I express my sincere appreciation to all of you for your commitment to research, dialogue and teaching, so that the Gospel of Jesus Christ may continue to shed light on the complex situations arising in a rapidly changing world.

In choosing the theme Pursuing the Common Good: How Solidarity and Subsidiarity Can Work Together, you have decided to examine the interrelationships between four fundamental principles of Catholic social teaching: the dignity of the human person, the common good, subsidiarity and solidarity (cf. Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, 160-163). These key realities, which emerge from the living contact between the Gospel and concrete social circumstances, offer a framework for viewing and addressing the imperatives facing mankind at the dawn of the twenty-first century, such as reducing inequalities in the distribution of goods, expanding opportunities for education, fostering sustainable growth and development, and protecting the environment.

How can solidarity and subsidiarity work together in the pursuit of the common good in a way that not only respects human dignity, but allows it to flourish? This is the heart of the matter which concerns you. As your preliminary discussions have already revealed, a satisfactory answer can only surface after careful examination of the meaning of the terms (cf. Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, Chapter 4). Human dignity is the intrinsic value of a person created in the image and likeness of God and redeemed by Christ. The totality of social conditions allowing persons to achieve their communal and individual fulfilment is known as the common good. Solidarity refers to the virtue enabling the human family to share fully the treasure of material and spiritual goods, and subsidiarity is the coordination of society's activities in a way that supports the internal life of the local communities.

Yet definitions are only the beginning. What is more, these definitions are adequately grasped only when linked organically to one another and seen as mutually supportive of one another. We can initially sketch the interconnections between these four principles by placing the dignity of the person at the intersection of two axes: one horizontal, representing "solidarity" and "subsidiarity", and one vertical, representing the "common good". This creates a field upon which we can plot the various points of Catholic social teaching that give shape to the common good.

Though this graphic analogy gives us a rudimentary picture of how these fundamental principles imply one another and are necessarily interwoven, we know that the reality is much more complex. Indeed, the unfathomable depths of the human person and mankind's marvellous capacity for spiritual communion - realities which are fully disclosed only through divine revelation - far exceed the capacity of schematic representation. The solidarity that binds the human family, and the subsidiary levels reinforcing it from within, must however always be placed within the horizon of the mysterious life of the Triune God (cf. Jn 5:26; 6:57), in whom we perceive an ineffable love shared by equal, though nonetheless distinct, persons (cf. Summa Theologiae, I, q. 42).

My friends, I invite you to allow this fundamental truth to permeate your reflections: not only in the sense that the principles of solidarity and subsidiarity are undoubtedly enriched by our belief in the Trinity, but particularly in the sense that these principles have the potential to place men and women on the path to discovering their definitive, supernatural destiny. The natural human inclination to live in community is confirmed and transformed by the "oneness of Spirit" which God has bestowed upon his adopted sons and daughters (cf. Eph 4:3; 1 Pet 3:8). Consequently, the responsibility of Christians to work for peace and justice, their irrevocable commitment to build up the common good, is inseparable from their mission to proclaim the gift of eternal life to which God has called every man and woman. In this regard, the tranquillitas ordinis of which Saint Augustine speaks refers to "all things": that is to say both "civil peace", which is a "concord among citizens", and the "peace of the heavenly city", which is the "perfectly ordered and harmonious enjoyment of God, and of one another in God" (De Civitate Dei, XIX, 13).

The eyes of faith permit us to see that the heavenly and earthly cities interpenetrate and are intrinsically ordered to one another, inasmuch as they both belong to God the Father, who is "above all and through all and in all" (Eph 4:6). At the same time, faith places into sharper focus the due autonomy of earthly affairs, insofar as they are "endowed with their own stability, truth, goodness, proper laws and order" (Gaudium et Spes, 36). Hence, you can be assured that your discussions will be of service to all people of good will, while simultaneously inspiring Christians to embrace more readily their obligation to enhance solidarity with and among their fellow citizens, and to act upon the principle of subsidiarity by promoting family life, voluntary associations, private initiative, and a public order that facilitates the healthy functioning of society's most basic communities (cf. Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, 187).

When we examine the principles of solidarity and subsidiarity in the light of the Gospel, we realize that they are not simply "horizontal": they both have an essentially vertical dimension. Jesus commands us to do unto others as we would have them do unto us (cf. Lk 6:31); to love our neighbour as ourselves (cf. Mat 22:35). These laws are inscribed by the Creator in man's very nature (cf. Deus Caritas Est, 31). Jesus teaches that this love calls us to lay down our lives for the good of others (cf. Jn 15:12-13). In this sense, true solidarity - though it begins with an acknowledgment of the equal worth of the other - comes to fulfilment only when I willingly place my life at the service of the other (cf. Eph 6:21). Herein lies the "vertical" dimension of solidarity: I am moved to make myself less than the other so as to minister to his or her needs (cf. Jn 13:14-15), just as Jesus "humbled himself" so as to give men and women a share in his divine life with the Father and the Spirit (cf. Phil 2:8; Mat 23:12).

Similarly, subsidiarity - insofar as it encourages men and women to enter freely into life-giving relationships with those to whom they are most closely connected and upon whom they most immediately depend, and demands of higher authorities respect for these relationships - manifests a "vertical" dimension pointing towards the Creator of the social order (cf. Rom 12:16, 18). A society that honours the principle of subsidiarity liberates people from a sense of despondency and hopelessness, granting them the freedom to engage with one another in the spheres of commerce, politics and culture (cf. Quadragesimo Anno, 80). When those responsible for the public good attune themselves to the natural human desire for self-governance based on subsidiarity, they leave space for individual responsibility and initiative, but most importantly, they leave space for love (cf. Rom 13:8; Deus Caritas Est, 28), which always remains "the most excellent way" (cf. 1 Cor 12:31).

In revealing the Father's love, Jesus has taught us not only how to live as brothers and sisters here on earth; he has shown us that he himself is the way to perfect communion with one another and with God in the world to come, since it is through him that "we have access in one Spirit to the Father" (cf. Eph 2:18). As you strive to articulate the ways in which men and women can best promote the common good, I encourage you to survey both the "vertical" and "horizontal" dimensions of solidarity and subsidiarity. In this way, you will be able to propose more effective ways of resolving the manifold problems besetting mankind at the threshold of the third millennium, while also bearing witness to the primacy of love, which transcends and fulfils justice as it draws mankind into the very life of God (cf. Message for the 2004 World Day of Peace).

With these sentiments, I assure you of my prayers, and I cordially extend my Apostolic Blessing to you and your loved ones as a pledge of peace and joy in the Risen Lord.

© Copyright 2008 - Libreria Editrice Vaticana