Time Magazine: When the Pope Comes to the Party

Posted by Kendall Harmon

It's hard not to notice when the Pope shows up. And you can sometimes say the same when he doesn't. Last fall, Pope Benedict XVI was a notable no-show at a September ceremony to mark 20 years since John Paul II had hosted a groundbreaking gathering of world religious leaders in Assisi, Italy. Some viewed the Pope's absence as a slap to those working for inter-faith dialogue, both inside and outside the Catholic Church,. On Sunday, however, Benedict will be center stage at the most lavish, and well-attended inter-religious ceremony of his papacy, organized by the same Sant'Egidio community that helped launch Assisi. What has changed? Why is Benedict marking 21 years since "the spirit of Assisi" was uncorked, after skipping out on the 20th anniversary?

Read it all.

Filed under: * Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther ChurchesRoman CatholicPope Benedict XVI

18 Comments
Posted October 21, 2007 at 2:07 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]



1. Nathan wrote:

... my german shepherd…

October 21, 3:32 pm | [comment link]
2. Ad Orientem wrote:

On a practical level I understand why he is doing this.  But I really do wish he wouldn’t.  Unfortunately I have read too much about the history of Islam and the way it works to entertain any serious hope for an understanding.  My feeling is that we should extend to them the same level of tolerance that they extend to Christians in predominantly Muslim countries, except for the killing them part.  I do draw the line there.  Beyond that I think they should stay in their part of the world until they learn to play and get along well with others.

With respect to discussions within Christendom, I think my feeling is what is the point?  Protestants are Protestants and are not gong to change.  The only exception might at one time have been the Anglicans but they reached a fork in the road back in the 70’s.  Their choice was go Catholic or Protestant.  They have clearly made that choice, and they are realistically way past the point of no return.  The dream of Anglican-Catholic reunion is dead (with the possible and intriguing exception of the TAC).  The sooner Rome grasps this, the better for all concerned.  Among Christians the only ones Rome really has any business holding serious talks with are the Orthodox. 

The Christian world is fast dividing into two camps, the apostolic churches on one hand and the theological flavor of the moment groups on the other.  Sorry if that offends some readers.  But from the Roman / Orthodox perspective that’s really what it comes down to.  I am perfectly OK with talking to other groups in order to promote improved understanding and mutual tolerance (which I do think is extremely important).  But ecumenism for the sake of getting that cheap warm fuzzy is not a good idea.  There has been enough dilution of truth.  My profound albeit respectful theological disagreements with the Roman Church notwithstanding I think B-16 is the best thing to hit their side of the Tiber in a LONNNGGG time.  The man calls it like he sees it.  I may not agree with him all the time.  But I have never failed to respect him.  Truth is NOT relative.

October 21, 7:42 pm | [comment link]
3. trooper wrote:

Except for the part where you don’t agree with the Holy Father all the time,  Ad Orientam is dead on.

October 22, 12:48 am | [comment link]
4. Words Matter wrote:

Actually, trooper, one doesnt have to agree with the pope “all the time” - just when he ex cathedra on matters of faith and morals. I have, however, found that on many occasions I have disagreed with the pope, only to later see he was right.

October 22, 9:08 am | [comment link]
5. Andrew717 wrote:

I have to say, B16 is a strong inducement to swim the Tiber.  Got my dad to go back, my mom (raised Southern Baptist) is in conversion classes.  I’m pretty tempted ymself, though I worry about his succesors.

October 22, 10:41 am | [comment link]
6. Words Matter wrote:

If you are going to worry about his successors, consider some of his predecessors.  The claim of the Catholic Church is not that popes will be good men (many weren’t), good theologians (many weren’t), good administrators (John Paul the Great wasn’t), nor good much-of-anything.  The Church claims only that the Holy Spirit protects us against error in essentials of Faith and Morals.  The bishop of Rome, in his office, is a crucial part of that protection.

The questions to ask are not whether B16 is a worthy successor to Peter, since Peter was worthy.  The question to ask is whether the Church can err in essentials. If the answer is “no”, what are the means by which God prevents such error?  If the answer in “yes”, then we are on our own to preserve the Church in Truth.

October 22, 11:32 am | [comment link]
7. Andrew717 wrote:

The answer to your question is, I do not know.  But I’m more in the position of “once bitten twice shy” when it comes to religion.  After being driven out of the Episcopal Church by heresy, I worry about heretics in Rome, too.

October 22, 12:50 pm | [comment link]
8. Chris Molter wrote:

#7, you’re always going to have heretics with you.  There is no church free of them, sadly; just as there is no church free of sinners (nor could I or would I want to belong to such a church!).  The question is can and does the Church teach error (heresy)?

October 22, 1:19 pm | [comment link]
9. Andrew717 wrote:

What I meant was heretics in power.  If I recall correctly, many were surprised/disappointed when the Cardinals elected such an orthodox Pope.  I make no theological/philosophical statement, I’m just nervous about the spread of the ungodly, unholy teachings which are more and more common wherever you look.  While the RCC leadership seems to be holding out, I don’t know enough about the state of their seminaries to make an educated guess on which way they’ll go in the next generation.  God willing if I have children, I don’t want them to have to flee the church they grew up in like I did.

October 22, 1:53 pm | [comment link]
10. Words Matter wrote:

Andrew, thank you for not pointing out my most grievous error, which was to say that Peter was “worthy”. He was not, of course, as none of us are worthy of our vocations.  And, of course, with Chris Molter, I can assure you that we have our share of heretics on this side of the Tiber, some of them highly placed.  They are a problem, but they have a greater problem, which is Peter, the rock on whom Christ has founded his Church.  It is Christ, not John Paul or Benedict, who saves us, though he uses fallen vessels. 

You are wise to be careful in your considerations. I was fortunate to convert at a time of relative quietness in Anglicanism: the women’s ordination issue was past it’s peak and the gay thing was not yet acute.  So I could work through the issues without a lot of political noise around me.  I will pray for you and all who must make these sorts of decisions at a time like them.

October 22, 2:29 pm | [comment link]
11. Ad Orientem wrote:

Andrew, why settle for orthodox when you can have Orthodox?  grin

October 22, 3:02 pm | [comment link]
12. Andrew717 wrote:

That’s my main debate, Rome or Constantinople.

October 22, 3:59 pm | [comment link]
13. Ad Orientem wrote:

That’s my main debate, Rome or Constantinople.

Thats a good debate to be having.  This is not the appropriate forum for it though.  Obviously I have preferences, but either is a better than TEC or any of the other flavor of the moment groups.  Once you get a grasp of church history (especially the Fathers) it almost always comes down to Rome of Orthodoxy.  I suggest visiting both Roman and Orthodox parishes several times to get the flavor.  Talk to the respective clergy and READ everything you can about both.  I will let someone else suggest a good RC reading list, but for an Orthodox one I think a few good starters are…
1.  Anything by Bp. +Kallistos (Timothy) Ware.  His book The Orthodox Church is widely regarded as one of the best one volume primers ever written.
2.  Fr. Hopko’s 4 volume series The Orthodox Faith  They are easy reading and available online in their entirety at http://www.oca.org/OCorthfaith.asp?SID=2
3.  Anything written by Frederika M. Greene.  She just wrote an incredible book that is based on the Canon of St. Andrew which we chant during Lent.  It’s really powerful stuff.
4.  A national directory of Orthodox parishes can be found here.  http://orthodoxyinamerica.org/

Finally fasting and prayer are indispensable.  Feel free to email me privately if you have any questions.  .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

October 22, 7:14 pm | [comment link]
14. Andrew717 wrote:

Thanks, much appreciated

October 22, 9:58 pm | [comment link]
15. Chris Molter wrote:

As a Latin Rite Catholic who’s gone through the same process Andrew finds himself embroiled in now, I second Ad Orientem’s suggestions and reading list on Orthodoxy.  I’d also recommend Fr Stephen Freeman’s blog as a great example of Orthodox preaching and thought. 

For the Catholic side of things, I’d highly recommend anything written by Pope Benedict, especially his Jesus of Nazareth and the recently published collection of homilies on the Apostles.  For reading on the Petrine office, Upon This Rock by Stephen Ray and By What Authority by Mark Shea are pretty good starters.

October 23, 7:44 am | [comment link]
16. Andrew717 wrote:

Thanks Chris.  I see a visit to Border’s in my future.  smile

October 23, 8:02 am | [comment link]
17. Words Matter wrote:

I would add to the above suggestions that visiting Catholic parishes should be undertaken after consulting with Catholics you know to be solid in their faith.  There really are some bad situations. A fellow I used to know was leaving TEC here in Fort Worth and ended up in an RCIA more Episcopalian than the parish he had left; he ended up in the Orthodox Church in America and I might well have ended up the same, given the same situation.  We are blessed now to have a straight-on Catholic bishop, but the Catholic Church is huge, and you can find about every dysfunction you find anywhere. 

One more suggestion: go to Daily Mass.  I contend that’s where you find the spiritual heart of the Catholic Church.  Besides, you don’t have to deal with bad music and if the sermon is bad, at least it’s short.  grin

October 23, 9:38 am | [comment link]
18. Andrew717 wrote:

My thanks to all of you as I try to find a new home.

October 23, 11:07 am | [comment link]
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