October 16, 2012

Vatican Information Service Bulletin

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

Summary

- BELLS OF EUROPE: REASONS FOR THE HOLY FATHER'S HOPE

- THE CATHOLIC CHURCH SUPPORTS AGRICULTURAL COOPERATIVES

- MESSAGE OF THE INTERNATIONAL THEOLOGICAL COMMISSION FOR THE YEAR OF FAITH

- NOTE OF CLARIFICATION FROM THE SECRETARIAT OF STATE

 

BELLS OF EUROPE: REASONS FOR THE HOLY FATHER'S HOPE

Vatican City, 16 October 2012 (VIS) - At the end of yesterday afternoon's session of the Synod of Bishops, a film entitled "Bells of Euorpe - Campane d'Europa" was shown in a special screening for the Synod Fathers. The film, which deals with the relationship between Christianity, European culture and the future of the continent, includes extracts from a series of interviews with important religious leaders from the main Christian confessions: Pope Benedict XVI, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I, Patriarch Kirill I of Moscow, Archbishop Rowan Williams of Canterbury and Lutheran Bishop Huber; and with leading figures from the world of politics and culture.

The thread binding their reflections together is the sound of bells ringing out from various parts of the continent, the casting of a bell in the ancient foundry of Agnone, and the music of the Estonian composer Arvo Part.

The film, based on an idea by Fr. Germano Marani, has been produced by the Vatican Television Centre with the support of a number of different institutions including the Gregorian Foundation. The distribution rights, both as a television transmission and as a home video, belong to RAI Cinema.

The full text of the interview with Benedict XVI is given below.

Question – Your Holiness, your Encyclicals present a compelling view of man: a man inhabited by God's charity, a man whose reason is broadened by the experience of faith, a man who possesses social responsibility thanks to the dynamism of charity received and given in truth. Holiness, it is from this anthropological standpoint - in which the evangelical message exalts all the laudable aspects of humankind, purifying the grime that covers the authentic countenance of man created in the image and likeness of God - that you have repeatedly stated that this rediscovery of the human countenance, of evangelical values, of the deepest roots of Europe, is a cause of great hope for the European continent and not only for the European continent. Can you explain to us the reasons for your hope?

Answer – The first reason for my hope consists in the fact that the desire for God, the search for God, is profoundly inscribed into each human soul and cannot disappear. Certainly we can forget God for a time, lay Him aside and concern ourselves with other things, but God never disappears. St. Augustine's words are true: we men are restless until we have found God. This restlessness also exists today, and is an expression of the hope that man may, ever and anew, even today, start to journey towards this God.

The second reason for my hope lies in the fact that the Gospel of Jesus Christ, faith in Jesus Christ, is quite simply true; and the truth never ages. It too may be forgotten for a time, it may be laid aside and attention may turn to other things, but the truth as such does not disappear. Ideologies have their days numbered. They appear powerful and irresistible but, after a certain period, they wear out and lose their energy because they lack profound truth. They are particles of truth, but in the end they are consumed. The Gospel, on the other hand, is true and can therefore never wear out. In each period of history it reveals new dimensions, it emerges in all its novelty as it responds to the needs of the heart and mind of human beings, who can walk in this truth and so discover themselves. It is for this reason, therefore, that I am convinced there will also be a new springtime for Christianity.

A third reason, an empirical reason, is evident in the fact that this sense of restlessness today exists among the young. Young people have seen much - the proposals of the various ideologies and of consumerism - and they have become aware of the emptiness and insufficiency of those things. Man was created for the infinite, the finite is too little. Thus, among the new generations we are seeing the reawakening of this restlessness, and they too begin their journey making new discoveries of the beauty of Christianity; not a cut-price or watered-down version, but Christianity in all its radicalism and profundity. Thus I believe that anthropology, as such, is showing us that there will always be a new reawakening of Christianity. The facts confirm this in a single phrase: Deep foundations. That is Christianity; it is true and the truth always has a future.

Q. – Your Holiness, you have repeatedly said that Europe has had, and continues to have, a cultural influence on the entire human race, and it cannot but feel a particular sense of responsibility, not only for its own future, but also for that of humankind as a whole. Looking ahead, is it possible to discern the contours of the visible witness Catholics, Orthodox and Protestants in Europe from the Atlantic to the Urals must show as, living the Gospel values in which they believe, they contribute to the building of a Europe faithful to Christ, more welcoming and united, not merely safeguarding their cultural and spiritual heritage but also committed to finding new ways to face the great challenges that characterise the post-modern and multicultural age?

A. – This is an important question. It is clear that Europe has great weight in today’s world, in terms of economic, cultural and intellectual importance; as a consequence of this it also has great responsibility. But Europe, as you said, still has to find its true identity in order to be able to speak and act in keeping with her responsibility. In my opinion, the problem today does not consist in national differences which, thank God, are differences not divisions. In their cultural, human and temperamental differences, nations are a rich asset which together give rise to a great symphony of cultures. Basically, they are a shared culture. The problem Europe has in finding its own identity consists, I believe, in the fact that in Europe today we see two souls: one is abstract anti-historical reason, which seeks to dominate all else because it considers itself above all cultures; it is like a reason which has finally discovered itself and intends to liberate itself from all traditions and cultural values in favour of an abstract rationality. Strasburg’s first verdict on the crucifix was an example of such abstract reason which seeks emancipation from all traditions, even from history itself. Yet we cannot live like that and, moreover, even "pure reason" is conditioned by a certain historical context, and only in that context can it exist. We could call Europe's other soul the Christian one. It is a soul open to all that is reasonable, a soul which itself created the audaciousness of reason and the freedom of critical reasoning, but which remains anchored to the roots from which this Europe was born, the roots which created the continent's fundamental values and great institutions, in the vision of the Christian faith. As you said, this soul has to find a shared expression in ecumenical dialogue between the Catholic, Orthodox and Protestant Churches. It must then encounter this abstract reason; in other words, it must accept and maintain the freedom of reason to criticise everything it can do and has done, but to practise this and give it concrete form on the foundations and in the context of the great values that Christianity has given us. Only by blending these elements can Europe have weight in the intercultural dialogue of mankind today and tomorrow. Only when reason has a historical and moral identity can it speak to others, search for an "interculturality" in which everyone can enter and find a fundamental unity in the values that open the way to the future, to a new humanism. This must be our aim. For us this humanism arises directly from the view of man created in the image and likeness of God.

 

THE CATHOLIC CHURCH SUPPORTS AGRICULTURAL COOPERATIVES

Vatican City, 16 October 2012 (VIS) - The Holy Father has sent a Message to Jose Graziano da Silva, director general of the United Nation's Rome-based Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO), for the occasion of World Food Day 2012.

"This year World Food Day is being celebrated while the effects of the economic crisis are increasingly affecting primary needs, including the fundamental right of every person to sufficient and healthy nutrition. In particular, the position of people who live in situations of poverty and underdevelopment is worsening. The current state of affairs is similar to that which led to the establishment of FAO, and it calls on national and international institutions to work to free humankind from hunger through agricultural development and the growth of rural communities. Malnutrition is, in fact, being worsened by gradual disengagement and excessive competitiveness, factors which could make us forget that only shared solutions can adequately respond to the expectations of individuals and peoples".

In this context, the Holy Father expresses his satisfaction at the decision to dedicate this year's World Food Day to the theme "Agricultural cooperatives - key to feeding the world". This, he writes, "does not only mean supporting cooperatives as a different form of economic and social organisation, but also seeing them as a real tool for international action. The experience of many countries shows, in fact, that cooperatives, apart from stimulating agricultural activities, are a way to enable farmers and rural populations to participate in decision making, and an efficient means to achieve an integral development which has human beings as its foundation and goal".

"As is well known, the Catholic Church considers work and cooperative enterprises as ways to enjoy an experience of unity and solidarity capable of overcoming differences and even social conflicts between people from different groups. For this reason, with her teaching and actions the Church has always supported cooperatives, in the conviction that their activity is not limited only to the economic sphere, but contributes to the human, social, cultural and moral development of those who belong to them, and of the community of which they are part".

Benedict XVI goes on to recall that, when conflicts or natural disasters impede agricultural work, consideration must always be given "to the vital role played by women, who are often called to administer the activity of cooperatives, to maintain family ties and to safeguard the precious heritage of rural knowledge and techniques".

"It is indispensable", the Pope concludes his message, "that national and international authorities provide the necessary legislation and financing to ensure that, in rural areas, cooperatives may become effective instruments of agricultural production, food security, social change and a wider improvement in living conditions. In this new context it is to be hoped that the young may look to their future with renewed confidence, while maintaining their link with agricultural work, the rural world and its traditional values".

 

MESSAGE OF THE INTERNATIONAL THEOLOGICAL COMMISSION FOR THE YEAR OF FAITH

Vatican City, 16 October 2012 (VIS) - The International Theological Commission has issued a message for the Year of Faith. Extracts from the English-language version are given below.

"As a community of faith, the International Theological Commission wishes to heed the message of conversion which is central to the Year of Faith and to renew its commitment to the service of the Church. In order to do so, on 6 December the International Theological Commission, led by its president Archbishop Gerhard Muller, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, will make a pilgrimage to the Papal Basilica of St. Mary Major during its annual plenary meeting, and will entrust there its activities and those of all Catholic theologians to the intercession of the faithful Virgin Mary, model for believers, bulwark of the true faith, who is proclaimed 'blessed' because she believed.

"In connection with the Year of Faith, the International Theological Commission is committed to providing - 'in medio Ecclesiae' - its own specific contribution to the new evangelisation promoted by the Apostolic See, by plumbing the revealed mystery for the benefit of believers, using all the resources of reason enlightened by faith, so as to promote the reception of that faith in the world of today".

"The recent document of the International Theological Commission, entitled 'Theology Today: Perspectives, Principles and Criteria', develops the understanding that theology is entirely derived from faith, and that it is practised in constant dependence on the faith that is lived by the people of God under the guidance of its pastors. In fact, only faith allows the theologian to reach really the object of theological enquiry: the truth of God that bathes the whole of reality in the light of a new day - 'sub ratione Dei'".

"The theologian works to 'inculturate' in human intelligence, in the form of an authentic science, the intelligible content of 'the faith that was once and for all entrusted to the saints'. But the theologian also pays particular attention to the act of faith itself. ... 'In fact, there exists a profound unity between the act by which we believe and the content to which we give our assent'. The theologian highlights the great human significance of that act, investigating how God’s prevenient grace draws out from the very heart of human freedom the 'yes' of faith, and showing how faith is the 'foundation of the entire spiritual edifice', in that it informs all the various dimensions of Christian life, personal, familial and communitarian.

"Not only is the work of the theologian dependant on the living faith of the Christian people, attentive to 'what the Spirit is saying to the churches', but its whole purpose is to foster the growth in faith of the people of God and the evangelising mission of the Church. ... Indeed, the vocation of the theologian, in responsible collaboration with the Magisterium, is to serve the faith of God’s people.

"In the same way, the theologian is the servant of Christian joy which is 'the joy of truth'. ... In this sense, faith - and theology as the science of faith and wisdom - offers to all 'lovers of spiritual beauty' a full-flavoured foretaste of eternal joy.

 

NOTE OF CLARIFICATION FROM THE SECRETARIAT OF STATE

Vatican City, 16 October 2012 (VIS) - In response to frequent requests for information concerning the recognition by the Holy See of Equestrian Orders dedicated to the saints or to holy places, the Secretariat of State considers it opportune to reiterate what has already been published, namely that, other than its own Equestrian Orders (the Supreme Order of Christ, the Order of the Golden Spur, the Pian Order, the Order of Saint Gregory the Great, and the Order of Pope Saint Sylvester), the Holy See recognises and supports only the Sovereign Military Order of Malta - also known as the Sovereign Military Hospitaller Order of Saint John of Jerusalem of Rhodes and of Malta - and the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem. The Holy See foresees no additions or innovations in this regard.

All other orders, whether of recent origin or mediaeval foundation, are not recognised by the Holy See. Furthermore, the Holy See does not guarantee their historical or juridical legitimacy, their ends or organisational structures.

To avoid any possible doubts, even owing to illicit issuing of documents or the inappropriate use of sacred places, and to prevent the continuation of abuses which may result in harm to people of good faith, the Holy See confirms that it attributes absolutely no value whatsoever to certificates of membership or insignia issued by these groups, and it considers inappropriate the use of churches or chapels for their so-called "ceremonies of investiture".

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