November 30, 2007

Vatican Information Service Bulletin

The following, in it's entirety, is a copyrighted transcript of the Vatican Information Service.

SUMMARY:


FIRM HOPE IS NECESSARY FOR FACING DIFFICULTIES

 VATICAN CITY, NOV 30, 2007 (VIS) - In the Holy See Press Office this morning, Cardinals Georges Marie Martin Cottier O.P., pro-theologian emeritus of the Pontifical Household, and Albert Vanhoye S.J., professor emeritus of New Testament exegesis at the Pontifical Biblical Institute, presented the Encyclical of Benedict XVI, "Spe salvi," on the theme of Christian hope.

   In his talk, Cardinal Cottier explained how "Christian hope has been subject to ever-harsher criticisms" to the effect that "it is pure individualism: by abandoning the world to its misery, Christians allegedly take refuge in an eternal salvation which is exclusive and private."

   "A question remains," said the cardinal, "a question that cannot be eluded: how did the idea arise that, with Christianity, the quest for salvation became a selfish quest that refuses service to others?"

   New problems "have a vital impact on the modern crisis of Christian faith and hope," and there emerges "a new form of hope which is called 'faith in progress' oriented towards a new world, the world of the 'kingdom of man'."

   "Faith in progress," the cardinal explained "has become the ever more dominant conviction of modernity, and two categories are becoming increasingly central to the idea of progress: reason and freedom." Thus, he went on, "reason is considered as a power of good and for good," and progress, having "overcome all forms of dependency," is "moving towards perfect freedom. In this perspective freedom appears as a promise for the full realization of man."

   After highlighting the "crisis of Christian hope in modern culture, and its replacement with faith in progress," Cardinal Cottier identified a "question that returns insistently: what may we hope?" In this context he indicated that "sections 22 and 23 of the document are of vital importance. They explain to us the essential objective of the Encyclical from both a pastoral and a cultural standpoint."

   For his part, Cardinal Vanhoye indicated how the introduction to the Encyclical "immediately makes clear the decisive importance of hope, which is later reiterated on a number of occasions. In order to be able to face the present with all its problems and difficulties, we have an absolute need for hope and for a truly valid and firm hope."

   In sections 10 to 12, on the theme of eternal life, "the Holy Father uses vivid realism to explain the current mentality of many people," said the cardinal. "Eternal life is the subject of hope, but many people today 'do not find the prospect of eternal life attractive. What they desire is not eternal life at all, but this present life. ... Death, admittedly, one would wish to postpone for as long as possible. But to live always, without end - this, all things considered, can only be monotonous and ultimately unbearable."

   Cardinal Vanhoye explained how the second part of the Encyclical describes the "settings for learning and practising hope," and thus has a direct and tangible link to Christian life. Three "settings" are identified: "Prayer as a school of hope. Action and suffering as settings for learning hope. Judgement as a setting for learning and practicing hope."

   The Encyclical also presents "the Final Judgement of God as one of the 'settings for learning and practising hope'," said Cardinal Vanhoye, but "with a significance evidently different from that of the other 'settings' because the Final Judgement is not a present reality like prayer or suffering. Nonetheless, the Judgement gives rise to hope because it will eliminate evil. Here the Encyclical presents profound reflections on the terrible problem of evil and justice."

 

SPE SALVI, THE POPE'S ENCYCLICAL ON CHRISTIAN HOPE

 VATICAN CITY, NOV 30, 2007 (VIS) - Benedict XVI's second Encyclical, "Spe Salvi" which is dedicated to the theme of Christian hope, was published today. The document - which has an introduction and eight chapters - begins with a quote from the Letter of St. Paul to the Romans: "spe salvi facti sumus" (in hope we are saved).

   The chapter titles are as follows: "1. Faith is Hope; 2. The concept of faith-based hope in the New Testament and the early Church; 3. Eternal life - what is it?; 4. Is Christian hope individualistic?; 5. The transformation of Christian faith-hope in the modern age; 6. The true shape of Christian hope; 7. 'Settings' for learning and practicing hope: i) Prayer as a school of hope, ii) Action and suffering as settings for learning hope, iii) Judgement as a setting for learning and practicing hope; 8. Mary, Star of Hope."

   The Holy Father explains in his Introduction that "according to the Christian faith, 'redemption' - salvation - is not simply a given. Redemption is offered to us in the sense that we have been given hope, trustworthy hope, by virtue of which we can face our present: the present, even if it is arduous, can be lived and accepted if it leads towards a goal, if we can be sure of this goal, and if this goal is great enough to justify the effort of the journey."

   Hence, "a distinguishing mark of Christians" is "the fact that they have a future: ... they know ... that their life will not end in emptiness. ... The Gospel is not merely a communication of things that can be known - it is one that makes things happen and is life-changing. The dark door of time, of the future, has been thrown open. The one who has hope lives differently; the one who hopes has been granted the gift of a new life."

   "To come to know God - the true God - means to receive hope." This was well understood by the early Christians, such as the Ephesians who before encountering Christ had many gods but "were without hope." The problem faced by Christians of long standing, the Holy Father says, is that they "have grown accustomed to, ... have almost ceased to notice that we possess the hope that ensues from a real encounter with this God."

   The Pope recalls that Jesus "did not bring a message of social revolution" like Spartacus, and that "he was not engaged in a fight for political liberation like Barabbas of Bar-Kochba." He brought "something totally different: ... an encounter with the living God, ... an encounter with a hope stronger than the sufferings of slavery, a hope which therefore transformed life and the world from within, ... even if external structures remained unaltered."

   Christ makes us truly free. "We are not slaves of the universe" or of "the laws of matter and of evolution." We are free because "heaven is not empty," because the Lord of the universe is God "Who in Jesus has revealed Himself as Love."

   Christ is the "true philosopher" Who "tells us who man truly is and what a man must do in order to be truly human." He shows us "the way beyond death; only someone able to do this is a true teacher of life." He offers us a hope that is, at one and the same time, expectation and presence because "the fact that this future exists changes the present."

   The Pope remarks that "perhaps many people reject the faith today simply because they do not find the prospect of eternal life attractive. ... The present-day crisis of faith," he continues, "is essentially a crisis of Christian hope. ... The restoration of the lost Paradise is no longer expected from faith," but from technical and scientific progress whence, it its believed, the "kingdom of man" will emerge. Hope thus becomes "faith in progress" founded on two pillars: reason and freedom which "seem to guarantee by themselves, by virtue of their intrinsic goodness, a new and perfect human community."

   The Pope mentions "two essential stages in the political realization of this hope:" the French and the Marxist Revolutions. Faced with the French Revolution, "the Europe of the Enlightenment ... had cause to reflect anew on reason and freedom," while the proletarian revolution left behind "a trail of appalling destruction." Marx's fundamental error was that "he forgot man and he forgot man's freedom. ... He thought that once the economy had been put right, everything would automatically be put right. His real error is materialism. ... Let us put it very simply: man needs God, otherwise he remains without hope. ... Man can never be redeemed simply" by an external structure, "man is redeemed by love," an unconditional, absolute love: "Man's great, true hope which holds firm in spite of all disappointments can only be God - God Who has loved us and continues to love us to the end."

   The Pope then identifies four "settings" for learning and practicing hope. The first of these is prayer. "When no one listens to me any more, God still listens to me. ... When there is no longer anyone to help me, ... He can help me."

   Alongside prayer is action: "Hope in a Christian sense is always hope for others as well. It is an active hope, in which we struggle ... towards a brighter and more humane world." Yet only if I know that "my own life and history in general ... are held firm by the indestructible power of Love" can "I always continue to hope."

   Suffering is another of the "settings" for learning hope. "Certainly we must do whatever we can to reduce suffering," however "it is not by sidestepping or fleeing from suffering that we are healed, but rather by our capacity for accepting it, maturing through it and finding meaning through union with Christ, Who suffered with infinite love." Another fundamental aspect is to suffer with others and for others. "A society unable to accept its suffering members ... is a cruel and inhuman society," he writes.

   Finally, another setting for learning hope is the Judgement of God. "There is a resurrection of the flesh. There is justice. There is an 'undoing' of past suffering, a reparation that sets things aright." The Pope writes of his conviction "that the question of justice constitutes the essential argument, or in any case the strongest argument, in favor of faith in eternal life." It is, indeed, impossible "that the injustice of history should be the final word. ... God is justice and creates justice. ... And in His justice there is also grace. ... Grace does not cancel out justice. ... Evildoers, in the end, do not sit at table at the eternal banquet beside their victims without distinction, as though nothing had happened."

 

AUDIENCES

 VATICAN CITY, NOV 30, 2007 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in separate audiences nine prelates from the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Korea, on their "ad limina" visit:

     - Bishop Lazzaro You Heung-sik of Daejeon.

     - Bishop Boniface Choi Ki-san of Incheon, accompanied by Bishop emeritus William John McNaughton M.M.

     - Bishop Paul Choi Deok-ki of Suwon, accompanied by Auxiliary Bishop Matthias Ri Iong-hoon.

     - Bishop Joseph Lee Han-taek S.J. of Uijongbu.

     - Bishop Jacobus Kim Ji-Seok of Wonju.

     - Archbishop John Choi Young-soo of Daegu, accompanied by Auxiliary Bishop Thaddeus Cho Hwan-kil.

   This evening, he received in audience Cardinal William Joseph Levada, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

 

OTHER PONTIFICAL ACTS

 VATICAN CITY, NOV 30, 2007 (VIS) - The Holy Father:

  - Appointed Bishop Reinhard Marx of Trier, Germany as metropolitan archbishop of Munich and Freising (area 12,081, population 3,473,600, Catholics 1,819,941, priests 1,336, permanent deacons 203, religious 3,219), Germany. The archbishop-elect was born in Geseke, Germany in 1953, he was ordained a priest in 1979 and consecrated a bishop in 1996.

  - Appointed Bishop Oscar Urbina Ortega of Cucuta, Colombia, as metropolitan archbishop of Villavicencio (area 50,000, population 550,000, Catholics 502,000, priests 154, permanent deacons 13, religious 59), Colombia. The archbishop-elect was born in Arboledas, Colombia in 1947, he was ordained a priest in 1973 and consecrated a bishop in 1998.

  - Appointed Fr. Alfonso Carrasco Rouco of the clergy of the diocese of Mondonedo-Ferrol, professor of dogmatic theology at the "San Damaso" theological faculty of Madrid, Spain, as bishop of Lugo (area 7,703, population 289,080, Catholics 282,125, priests 398, religious 330), Spain. The bishop-elect was born in Villalba, Spain in 1956 and ordained a priest in 1985. He succeeds Bishop Jose Higinio Gomez Gonzalez O.F.M., whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same diocese the Holy Father accepted, upon having reached the age limit.

  - Appointed Fr. John Corriveau O.F.M. Cap., former minister general of the Franciscan order of Friars Minor Capuchins, as bishop of Nelson (area 78,400, population 370,000, Catholics 75,000, priests 38, religious 25), Canada. The bishop-elect was born in Zurich, Canada in 1941 and ordained a priest in 1965. He succeeds Bishop Eugene Jerome Cooney, whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same diocese the Holy Father accepted, upon having reached the age limit.

  - Appointed Msgr. Vittorio Lupi of the clergy of the diocese of Ventimiglia-Sanremo, Italy, vicar general, as bishop of Savona-Noli (area 400, population 148,808, Catholics 146,410, priests 134, permanent deacons 8, religious 458), Italy. The bishop-elect was born in Ceriana, Italy in 1941 and ordained a priest in 1964.

  - Appointed Msgr. Paul Tighe of the clergy of the archdiocese of Dublin, Ireland, director of the Diocesan Office for Public Affairs, as secretary of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications.

  - Appointed Msgr. Giuseppe Antonio Scotti, official at the Section for General Affairs of the Secretariat of State, as adjunct secretary of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications.

Local site Links: