ConAltriOcchi blog – 以不同的眼光看世界-博客

"C'è un solo modo di vedere le cose finché qualcuno non ci mostra come guardare con altri occhi" – "There is only one way to see things, until someone shows us how to look at them with different eyes" (Picasso) – "人观察事物的方式只有一种,除非有人让我们学会怎样以不同的眼光看世界" (毕加索)


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One died for all: the Ecumenical Path and the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity

This year marks 500 years since the Lutheran Reformation. At the end of October, Pope Francis went to Lund in Sweden to commemorate this important anniversary together with the World Lutheran Federation. In an interview with the Swedish Jesuit, Ulf Johnsson, published in the journal “CiviltàCattolica”, Pope Francis highlights the positive aspects of the Reformation, underlining in particular two words. “Scripture”,because Luther was the first to translate the Bible into the vernacular language and, said the Pope “ took a great step by putting the Word of God into the hands of the people”.  The other word is “reform”:“At the beginning, Luther’s was a gesture of reform at a difficult time for the Church”, added the Pope.  The Bishop of Rome underlined that Ecumenism must be a continuous “moving ahead, walking together! We must not stay closed in a rigid perspective because there is no possibility for reform in this”.

The Lutheran-Catholic Commission on Unity has done excellent work during these years in order to reach this commemoration together. Its report, “ From Conflict to Communion”  states that “both the traditions approach this anniversary in an ecumenical age, with the achievements of fifty years of active dialogue behind them and a renewed understanding of their history and theology”.Separating the controversial aspects, from the theological progress of the Reform, the Catholics gather the stimuli of Luther for the Church of today, recognizing him as a “witness of the Gospel” (From Conflict to Communion n. 29). For this reason, after many centuries of – even bloody – conflict, today, in 2017 for the first time in their history,  Lutheran and Catholic Christians will commemorate the inception of the Reform together.

Even with our Orthodox brothers, the path towards unity is living an historical Spring. In this new climate and with such concrete steps we are living the theme of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity chosen for this year: “The love of Christ compels us towards reconciliation” (see 2 Corinthians 5, 14-20). This verse summarizes the text of the Second Letter to the Corinthians, the reference chosen for Common Prayer. The Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity and the  Commission on Faith and Order of the World Council of Churches have reflected and prayed together on these verses in order to get ready for these days – in particular – and the entire year of common prayer. The traditional days for living the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity are customarily from the 18th to the 25th January, the week  chosen and desired, since 1980, by Reverend Paul Watson because it included the Feast of the Chair of Saint Peter the Apostle and that of the Conversion of Saint Paul. No-one missed the symbolic force of this reference to the Apostles.  Peter was the first to profess his faith and Paul spread faith to the boundaries of the world.

We entrust this important week and the entire Ecumenical Path to Peter;  hewas a weak man who betrayed the Lord at the most important time, but it was because of the sincerity, the depth, the complete selflessness of his love thatthe Risen Christentrusted him to confirm his brothers and sisters in the faith.

Let us entrust ourselves also to Paul; in the past he had been a violent persecutor of Christians but he experienced the power of Christ’s tendernessand felt himself to be loved by Him right from his mother’s breast.

To love and to feel loved is the fundamental ecumenical choice which overcomes any weakness and relativizes all historical wounds, in a path towards complete unity which surely has more future than past.

Eight days

The text of 2 Corinthians 5, 14-20, scans the Eight Days of Prayer, where some of the theological themes of the individual verses are developed, as follows:

First

Day:

  Onedied for all
Second

Day:

  No longer live for oneself
Third

Day:

  No longer evaluate anyone with the criteria of this world
Fourth

Day:

  Old things  have passed
Fifth

Day:

  Everything is new
Sixth

Day:

  God has reconciled the world with him
Seventh

Day:

  Annunciation of the reconciliation
Eighth

Day:

  Reconcile yourself with God

 

 

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Contemplate this Holy Year, by starting from the Cross

On Mount Calvary, in front of the Cross, it is better not to talk or to cry out but only to contemplate.    Let us contemplate the Cross as a synthesis of all those who give their lives for love.  Let us also contemplate this Holy Year which has ended, by starting from the Cross; let us contemplate it, not by referring to numbers, or to major events but only to the Mystery of the Cross.   I would also like to say let us contemplate the Evangelii Gaudium, Laudato Sì, Amoris Laetitia, Pope Francis’s three great documents as well, starting here, from a Pope who just like Jesus wishes to give his life for  the human family he so loves and who tells the Church “You must do this too” as he tells each and everyone of us.  We have received with joy  Pope Francis’s  Apostolic Letter  “Misericordia et Misera” in order to listen to the final words of the Bishop of Rome on the Holy Year of Mercy.

Meanwhile let us contemplate the Cross. ”Ecce Homo”.  Whoever sees this man on the cross sees God, our faith tells us.  It is Jesus on the Cross not Caifa . This point is very important.   We have to be careful of the Politics which wants to defend religion.   How often do we hear that such and such a politician or party defends  Catholic values? We must be careful because there is the risk of turning God’s house into a market or a cavern of thieves;  indeed, it is not a risk but almost a certainty. We must rather ask  Politics, the kingdoms of this world that is,  with force to defend the dignity and freedom of men and women, of all men and women and especially, today, migrants and all minorities.  Let us therefore ask Trump and Putin and other world leaders, to make peace but real peace. Not only do we have to fear when the Mighty make war but also when they make peace.  Jesus was nailed to the Cross when Pilate and Herod made peace over Him, on His suffering.

Let us pray for a peace which will never again be shouldered by the poor.   For example, a peace made  when brandishing arms is not true peace.    Nor can peace between people who in private are immoral or amoral  be called peace.

Let us pray then to Jesus with his two biblical titles.  Let us pray today to Christ the King of Peace.  A kingdom which is freeing itself of all the cloaks and crowns of Constantine as a result of the enormous missionary efforts made by Pope Francis; the kingdom of Christ  is Peace and Mercy.   Let us pray to Christ the King of Peace and Mercy. Let us then pray to the Son of Man who, even though he was the son learned obedience from the things he suffered: Jesus King of Peace and Mercy suffered the violence of Power which rebelled against him;  power, also causes the Pope to suffer, but just like Jesus, he doesn’t answer. 

It might appear that by dying on the Cross, Jesus lost;  it might appear that the Church of Mercy is destined to lose;  so mighty is Power. Instead, Christ has already won, the Pope of Mercy has already won, because mercy is not only in the hands of certain holy people whom we meet throughout history but also in the hands of Our Father who is in Heaven.

That cross, that Son of Man, was resurrected by the Father who made him the Lord!  Where? On which throne? Not on any throne. This King’s throne is the conscience of those men and women who believe in mercy, peace, dialogue, ecumenism and universal brotherhood and are prepared to give their life for this faith.   This is why the Church of Mercy has already won.   For the other worldly things, we may have many teachers but when we enter the sphere of pain and death, there is no teacher;  all voices fall silent.  Only from this Pulpit which is the Cross, can the suffering experienced by so many poor people teach us to listen and to contemplate a love  which is even greater than death.   Only a Church of Mercy is the Church of Christ.


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Escape from wolves. Pope Francis Good Shepherd

«I now realize how true it is that God shows no partiality, rather in every nation whoever fears him and acts uprightly is acceptable to him. .»(Acts 10,34). In this text of the Acts, Peter uses the verb αγαπάω which means to welcome with affection, love with tenderness; it is repeated many times in the Gospels and the Acts. In John’s letter, the same word is repeated ten times. “He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love”(1Jn 4,8).
To transmit faith means to show the same love for our brothers, indeed for all mankind. When Peter met the pagan, Cornelius the centurion and his family, he was conquered by a revelation of the Spirit, not by his own reasoning. It was revealed to Peter that the love of God does not let itself be limited by the laws or traditions of any doctrine whatsoever and does not, because of this, become do-goodism or relativism.

These simple quotations from the Scriptures seem to us sufficient to dismantle the basis of those objections from some parts which see the Catholic Church during the Pontificate of Francis on the brink of descending into relativism, delivered into the arms of a world, depicted, who knows why, in a prejudiced manner as being totally hostile to the Church.
We will try to answer some of these concerns:
1) The Pope has been accused of speaking little and badly about our Christian roots as a foundation of our freedom, as opposed to his predecessors.
The answer that can be given is twofold; first and foremost the “foundations of our freedom”, are not, strictly speaking, our Christian roots, but Christ himself and this makes the difference. The foundations are Christ himself who also respected other roots, first and foremost Judaic roots, and who, if he claimed any primacy, let us say, of foundation, it was only the primacy of love and service; Christians are the salt of the earth and the yeast in the dough and do not claim any dominant or exclusive position which would even be contrary to the Gospel.
In fact, the real problem, especially in some national churches, is that they talked, on the contrary, about Christian roots too much and badly, particularly the so-called devout atheists and conservative Catholics, who defended hanging the crucifix on walls and in their writings but whose lifestyle often contradicted the message of the crucifix in a blatant manner or theorized separation between public and private morality. To forget this is unacceptable. This certainly does not mean putting the so-called European roots before all else.
“Jesus of Nazareth, Him ye have taken and nailed to the cross “(Acts 2,23) says Peter; the devout atheists and conservative Catholics have seen fit to take him down from the wooden cross, that is to say from the humility and simplicity and from the suffering of so many poor people who carry the cross every day, in order to hang him on the walls of cheap politics and even on the shields of armies, thus depriving the crucifix of its profound meaning. Pope Francis talks about Christian roots when it is necessary and in an appropriate manner, not in an ideological way or by making sterile assertions but asks us to rediscover and truly live those roots today. In this regard, we wish to recall the long speech he made during his pontificate to the European Parliament in Strasbourg on 25th November 2014, in which he quoted many passages from John Paul II and made them his own.
2) The contribution of Christianity to any culture is that of Christ with the Washing of Feet, said Pope Francis to La Croix during an interview. According to some, the Pope had forgotten to evoke the Sermon on the Mount and The Beatitudes, the basis for the Washing of Feet.
Here, we will be very brief since it is obvious that such objections are prejudiced. It is clear that the Pope places the foundations of the Gospel on Love without any ambiguousness in his actions and speeches. One of many is when he reminds us that the church is not a NGO and emphasizes the primacy of Charity in his mandate – incidentally, totally in line with Pope Benedict XVI. Moreover, we cannot, naturally, read the Gospels only with the before-and-after principle. It is clear for all to see that Pope Francis is the Pope of the Beatitudes, since he talks and writes so much about them and above all tries to live them.
3) The Pope sustains that there is no fear of Islam as such but of ISIS and its war of conquest and, the Pope continues:” it is true that the idea of conquest is inherent in the soul of Islam but it is also possible to interpret the objective in Matthew’s Gospel where Jesus sends his disciples forth to all nations, in terms of the same idea of conquest”. It would appear that some people have interpreted this “provocation” of Pope Francis literally, as in so many old and new fundamentalisms, as if the Pope was putting the Gospel’s message on the same level as fundamentalist violence. This is clearly another striking attempt to twist the facts. They are attributing to the Pope – and not in a particularly efficient way, expressions and convictions which clearly do not belong to him. These prophets of doom refer to Benedict XVI’s Regensburg speech in 2006 in which he sustained that Islam had a problem with violence of a religious origin and state that today instead Francis is affirming that Christianity and Islam reflect each other on the problem of religious violence. In support of this bizarre theory, they have not quoted any words used by Pope Francis other than those already mentioned. They haven’t quoted them because they simply don’t exist.
To accuse Pope Francis of putting religious violence in Christianity and Islamic fundamentalism on the same level is misleading and incorrect. The true problem in our opinion concerns those who do not wish to dialogue with Islam, those who are incapable of seeking the common ground for confrontation and who are not even able to recognize the great cultural tradition of the Arab World (let it suffice to think just of Avicenna and Averroes). To wind back the clock of history to a climate of war among religions is very dangerous and counterproductive. All the popes knew this very well and have always been careful never to refer to a scenario or a risk of this kind.
On the other hand, referring back to his previous teaching, Benedict XVI had affirmed in his Apostolic Exhortation “The Church in the Middle East”, signed in The Lebanon during his apostolic journey in 2012, that fundamentalism: “afflicts all religious communities and denies their long-standing tradition of co-existence”. He then exhorted the Lebanese young people to be:“servants of peace and reconciliation is an urgent need to make a commitment for building together a free and humane society ” (Address to the Young People of The Lebanon 2012). We know today, just how dangerous a slide there is in several Christian groups towards forms of fundamentalism in expressing their faith, above all in the more recent ones.
Let us also recall the famous words of Imam Mohammad Mehdi Chamseddine, Head of the Sciite Islamic Council in The Lebanon from 1994 to 2001 ; he declared that “ the Christians of The Lebanon are the responsibility of the Muslims”, meaning their right to exist and express themselves.
We feel that instead of exploiting the pontificates by comparing one to the other and attributing them with the presumed licence of Defenders of the Faith or of relativists, or fomenting religious fears and divisions, it would be better and more evangelical to contribute to dialogue and better knowledge between Islam and Christianity. We can take an example, in fact, from the great testimony to this proposal of the Maronite Church in the Lebanon, by sustaining also the greatest strengths existing in Islam. And we should look at ourselves and strive to be better Christians , individually and as nations and societies which profess to be coherent Christians, without merely using a facade of banner waving and revendications. Let us look at the problem of the migrants, for example. What are so many Nations in “Christian Europe” replying?
4) In Amoris Laetitia, according to some people, the logic of the et et is being replaced by that of the non solum sed etiam. In short there is a bit of everything and also its opposite in order to keep everybody happy. Let us quote as an example number 308 of the document: “the Church’s Pastors, in proposing to the faithful the full idea of the Gospel and the Church’s teaching, must also help them to treat the weak with compassion, avoiding aggravations or unduly harsh and hasty judgements”. Must we therefore deduce, comments one famous journalist that:“ the most efficient way to be compassionate is not exactly that of proposing the full ideal of the Gospel?”.
First of all, let us ask ourselves what is meant by the Gospel. In our opinion, this question does not take into account Francis’ logic of inclusion which is, naturally, fully evangelical and in the Tradition of the Church. John Paul II, when addressing the Italian bishops after the Convention of Palermo in 1995, already affirmed that:”Jesus Christ is the Truth of God which is Love and the truth of men and women who are called upon to live, together with God, in charity”. Amoris Laetitia  is a great contribution to the Church which Pope Francis made on St. Joseph’s Day on 19th March last. At the heart of the document is the Pope’s desire to :”bring help and encouragement to families in their daily commitments and challenges (AL 4). Furthermore, we must not forget that we are in the midst of the Holy Year of Mercy and we are all called upon in a special way to be the sign and instrument of Grace. It is not the weaknesses of men and women, or their inability to carry out their mission perfectly which are at the centre of Christianity , nor is it the past with its load of good and evil done. What counts is our profession of faith, to profess like Peter in front of Jesus: you are the son of the living God. As soon as we do so, that is by saying with conviction to Jesus: you are Christ, the Saviour, we discover, like Peter, the greatness of God’s project with each one of us. Whoever is used to relating to situations, happenings and people, on the basis of traditions and laws, cannot understand the face of a God who is Love.
In our parishes, we can touch the fruits of mercy with our hands, in particular for the many Zaccheos we meet. Zaccheo felt himself to be loved, like Peter and Paul felt it, as the adulteress and the man blind from birth felt it and many others as told in the Bible and in our daily life. To feel loved by God is the true beginning of any conversion which has a foundation in Christ. The “conversions” founded on rules or on moral principles result in fanaticism, inflexibility and elitist forms of pseudo Christianity.
5 ) During a visit to the Lutheran Church in Rome, in answer to a question about the possibility of taking holy communion together with a Catholic, a journalist said that the Pope assumed an ambiguous position, moreover on a crucial issue.
Rereading the Pope’s reply, we can easily see that Francis is starting from Baptism which is common to the faith of both Catholics and Lutherans, and was only and simply auguring that we continue to march at the head of which is the Holy Spirit who will guide us towards the complete truth. No-one’s conscience may be left out of this truth. The Pope doesn’t want to create divisions, nor does he want to place barriers against the Holy Spirit. There isn’t perhaps a definitive word now to define why we are marching. But we trust in the Spirit and how Christians, Catholics and Lutherans, march together, questioning each other and trying to understand the will of God for us. Anyone who knows and frequents our Lutheran brothers knows from direct experience that in dialogue we have more future than past and that the Sensus fidei of God’s People is not a marginal accessory. In this regard, we suggest reading the document issued by the International Theological Commission entitled “ il Sensus Fidei in the Life of the Church” published in 2014. And the ecumenical celebration on 31 October – 1 November last in Lund is already history overcoming by far any hysteria and misleading interpretations.
To conclude, some people are recounting that our parishes are being besieged by people who expect to be godfathers and godmothers, to take Holy Communion or to enrol their children in summer camps without having the necessary requisites. All this is happening, they say, because of the confusion into which Pope Francis has thrown us. In the past, no-one has ever berated situations where we have seen VIP’s without the basic requisites get married in church, even with “top level” celebrants, or the very bad habit, also widespread in our Church of Rome, of getting married in a “beautiful church” with exorbitant costs for flowers and decorations, far removed from a serious and coherent path towards faith.
We know many parishes, including our own, and we can affirm that today it is not the People of God who are confused, they only ask to be respected and valued, but rather the remaining devout atheists and Catholics who sit in the front pews of the Church and still, after many years, do not want to accept a Church that has made a strong 360 degree return to the Gospel and which is seeking to implement the Council (always praised at first but then often forgotten in reality, walking alongside today’s men and women, guiding them in the trustworthy company of the Church).
It is these defenders of an old church which no longer exists who are in confusion today, who have given it exclusive space for too many years, ignoring sensitivity and different voices. Many pseudo lay Catholics and clerics who behind the backs of John Paul II and Benedict XVI, reduced the Church to a cavern of thieves during their pontificates, taking care of their own interests with the current powers-that-be, selling the Gospel for a handful of coins, scheming in both the gay and financial lobbies, putting any evangelizing activities in the hands of ecclesiastic movements, humiliating parishes and the people of God; pseudo Catholics defending principles they do not follow and and making judgements on the tragedies of people to whom they don’t listen.
Worn out by an exhausting battle, Pope Benedict XVI resigned, performing an extraordinary evangelic action. Many lay and clerical lobbyists are still in their places and this is why the People of God no longer believe them and follow the good shepherds and the Gospel: : “a stranger will they not follow but will flee from him”(Gv10,5).
Thank you, Pope Francis, Good Shepherd following in Christ’s footsteps. We will always continue to pray for you.


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The first time that a pope meets the Orthodox patriarch of all Russia

Another surprise from Pope Francis has come these days. After the news of the visit to Sweden at the end of the year on the occasion of the anniversary of Luther’s reform and the first ever interview made by a pope fully on China to AsiaTime online and published in the past few days, here comes the joint announcement of the meeting between Francis and Kirill on February 12. A meeting that was discussed, desired and prepared for a long time, but its realization still comes with surprise and emotion.

The Risen Lord says: “you must go and tell his disciples and Peter, ‘He is going ahead of you to Galilee’” (Mk 16.7). The Risen Lord goes before us everywhere, as he did at the upper room and at Emmaus, wherever men build their cities, everywhere they love. Today the Risen Lord precedes us in the land of Cuba, where through the encounter between the Bishop of Rome and the Patriarch of Moscow the Christian people becomes even more and more visibly one flock in the footsteps of the one shepherd. In the land of Cuba, land traditionally atheist, which a few months ago had rejoiced for the “reconciliation” with the United States thanks to the mediation of the Pope.  Cuba today seems almost “return” the favor in an evolving history where faith exceeds doubt and human logics. Furthermore, it should not be overlooked that Francis and Kirill will meet at an airport, that is a meeting place, a place of passage, a crossroad between people in an increasingly interconnected and globalized world. 

A history of division and excommunications is the one between the Catholics and Orthodox, which has not only hurt the Church and the Christian community as a whole, but also offended the faith of the simple and questioned the credibility and the “feasibility” of Christian love and brotherhood.  As Christians, how can we announce the brotherly love and peace if we are separated? Here is the scandal that it is now time to stop, overcoming old divisions and claims, while looking with pragmatism and mutual respect to the history and tradition of each side. 

Today Pope Francis builds on Paul VI’s legacy. In his well-known trip to the Holy Land, in fact, Paul VI embraced the Patriarch of Constantinople Athenagoras and together they cancelled their mutual excommunications. Pope Francis collects the seeds sown by the Second Vatican Council, of which he even further confirms the centrality in the life of the Church – not only in words, but with concrete, objective, field choices that leave no room for doubt or ambiguous interpretations, unless there are improbable manipulations

Kirill makes this gesture of reconciliation in a time when the bishops of the Orthodox churches agreed to convene this year a pan-Orthodox Synod. Since the second Council of Nicea (787 a.C.) it has been for more than twelve centuries that the various Eastern Churches do not meet together on the occasion of a council.  This is also a sign of the times, a hope for reconciliation and unity.  

The next February 12 in Cuba Francis and Kirill will show that the Christian way to overcome the “hostility” and break down the “barriert” is reconciliation. Revived strongly through the extraordinary Jubilee of mercy, reconciliation becomes the ordinary way to follow for each of us, a via sacra that exceeds the boundaries of individual churches to reunite ideally in the one Church of Christ. Francis and Kirill are well aware that reconciliation and unity must be pursued with all means not only as basic conditions of the Christian community, image of Christ’s body. In fact, how to deal with the challenges and evils of the modern world by proclaiming and bringing the Gospel if first we the Christians are not united? Poverty, which still affects a large part of humanity; international migration and in particular the growing number of refugees fleeing from wars and totalitarian regimes; the  side effects of globalisation, which affects the weakest and contribute to consolidate an economic system based on profit and social inequalities; the crisis of values because of rampant materialism and consumerism, which invade even emerging countries and the Western world of Christian tradition; the plight of Christians living in the Middle East and in many parts of the world where they are a persecuted minority; the difficulties of the Christian churches – the decline of vocations, the difficulties of clergy and religious, the new pastoral problems.  

We hope and pray that this meeting will be a fruitful seed that bears much fruit – ut unum sint