Monday, 27 September 2010

Osservatore: the Kindly Light

This week's English-language edition of the Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano carries an editorial by Gian Maria Van on the success of the papal visit. Snip:

It was thanks to the broadmindedness of the media in this great country marked by what, today, has become a multi-ethnic society in relaying his gestures and words on a perfectly organized Journey, that multitudes were able see Pope Benedict speaking to elderly people and conversing with them, "as a brother above all". They saw him gently caressing children just as on his last day, on leaving the Nunciature, he caressed a blind child in the arms of his mother who, moved to tears, could not stop thanking him and adoring the Blessed Sacrament in the impressive silence of the 80,000 young people who had gathered for the Vigil a few hours before Cardinal Newman's beatification.

Indeed the tenderness Benedict XVI shows to the little and the weak explains his powerful words renewed and repeated in the face of the crimes of the abuse of minors by members of the clergy and his meeting with some of the victims and with a group that works for the protection of children.

The British Episcopate, which collaborates with the civil authorities, is exemplary in this regard, in line with the age-old tradition of the care and education of young people which, in the past, was undeniably to the credit of the Catholic Church and her many institutions in every part of the world.

In brief, this was a historic journey. It was marked by the official and cordial Visit to Elizabeth II, a universally esteemed Sovereign, by the solemn meeting with the civil authorities in Westminster Hall (where the Pope paid tribute to the institution of the British Parliament), and by conversations with several political leaders and with Prime Minister David Cameron, who in his farewell address emphasized the positive contribution of religion to the public debate.

At the end of a State Visit which also because of the friendship with Archbishop Rowan Williams proved very important for the development of relations with the Anglicans, with representatives of other Christian denominations and with other religions. And above all Benedict XVI made the Visit shine with the kindly light that leads every human person, just as it led Newman.

How many Catholics are there?

Andrew Brown wonders.

CV debates Protestant Truth Society

CV Peter Williams debated Duncan Boyd of the Protestant Truth Society on Revelation TV on 9 September. Here is the clip -- on the subject: "We believe the Papal Visit will be good for this country".

Chief Rabbi to Pope: what faith offers Britain

From the speech of Dr Jonathan Sacks to Pope Benedict at the meeting with faith leaders at Twickenham.

Britain has been so enriched by its minorities, by every group represented here today and the intricate harmonies of our several voices. And one of our commonalities is that we surely all believe that faith has a major role in strengthening civil society.

In the face of a deeply individualistic culture, we offer community. Against consumerism, we talk about the things that have value but not a price. Against cynicism we dare to admire and respect. In the face of fragmenting families, we believe in consecrating relationships. We believe in marriage as a commitment, parenthood as a responsibility, and the poetry of everyday life when it is etched, in homes and schools, with the charisma of holinessand grace.

In our communities we value people not for what they earn or what they buy or how they vote but for what they are, every one of them a fragment of the Divine presence. We hold life holy. And each of us is lifted by the knowledge that we are part of something greater than all of us, that created us in forgiveness and love, and asks us to create in forgiveness and love. Each of us in our own way is a guardian of values that are in danger of being lost, in our short-attention-span, hyperactive, information-saturated, wisdom-starved age.

And though our faiths are profoundly different, yet we recognize in one another the presence of faith itself, that habit of the heart that listens to the music beneath the noise, and knows that God is the point at which soul touches soul and is enlarged by the presence of otherness.

Labour must learn again to 'do God'

CV coordinator Austen Ivereigh in the Guardian's 'Comment is Free' argues that Labour under Ed Miliband (photo) now needs to recover some of Tony Blair's ability to tune into the concerns of  churches, lost under Gordon Brown.
Most people are not in churches and mosques. But millions are. And in political terms those millions are dynamite. Fired by strong values, believers in a better world, members of organisations built on strong bonds of trust, and willing to turn out to demonstrate and build power – churches were, and for Labour can be again, potent sources of political renewal. True, there are plenty of secular people with ideals, but they are less organised; or, if they are organised, they tend to know better what they oppose than what they stand for. Contrast the 10,000 who protested Pope Benedict with the 200,000 lining Whitehall to welcome him.

Ed-led Labour needs to know that you can't have the fruits without the roots. If what the party must now do is galvanise people where they gather – and especially where those who gather are hardest hit by joblessness and cuts – it must first remove the single biggest obstacle in the way of the party reconnecting with communities: its dogmatic, sneering secularism.

Pope on UK visit: 'all just wonderful'

Richard Owen, The Times's shortly-to-retire Rome correspondent, was granted a brief audience with Pope Benedict on the flight back from his UK visit. 
I was curious to know how he really felt his tour of England and Scotland had gone; not just the official communiques, but his personal reaction. I asked him what had been the highlight of his trip. Meeting the Queen, perhaps? The service at Westminster Abbey? The turnout of crowds, despite the protests over birth control and child abuse?

Benedict shook his head. "Everything," he said in Italian. "Everything."

Then he added in English: "It was all wonderful."

He looked out of the aircraft window at the coast of England sliding beneath us as we headed across the Channel. "It was all just wonderful," he repeated.