Thursday, December 10, 2015

Pope Francis: God is merciful and steadfast in His love

The Pope speaking during Mass at the Casa Santa Marta on Thursday - OSS_ROM

The Pope speaking during Mass at the Casa Santa Marta on Thursday - OSS_ROM

10/12/2015 12:16

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Pope Francis opens St Peter’s Holy Door to launch jubilee

Pope Francis pushed opened the huge bronze Holy Door of St Peter’s Basilica in Rome to launch the Catholic Church’s “Year of Mercy”.
Tens of thousands attended a Mass in St Peter’s Square for the start of the Pope’s “revolution of tenderness”.
It took place place amid tight security with extra police and soldiers deployed, and a no-fly zone imposed.
Under the year’s theme of mercy, the Pope has said priests can absolve women who have had abortions.
During the jubilee celebrations, one of the most important events in the Roman Catholic Church, pilgrims travel to Rome and religious sites around the world.
At the end of the Mass, Francis opened the basilica’s Holy Door. He said that by passing through it, Catholics should take on the role of the Good Samaritan.
Image copyright EPA
Image caption Pope Francis, centre, has long signalled his wish for the Church to be more forgiving and understanding of its flock
Image copyright AFP/Reuters
Image caption Workers had to reveal the Holy Door of St Peter’s Basilica, which had been behind a brick wall

It is the first time the Holy Door has been opened since the Great Jubilee in the 2000 called for by St John Paul II. It has been bricked up since then.
Emeritus Pope Benedict XVI, 88, attended Tuesday’s event.

Jubilee Years:

Jubilee years are rooted in the Old Testament tradition of freeing slaves and prisoners once every 50 years, a concept that died out within Judaism but was taken up by Pope Boniface VIII for the Catholic Church in 1300.
Pilgrimages to Rome were at the heart of the original jubilee years, and attracted hundreds of thousands of pilgrims to the city, many willing to pay for “indulgences” – the eradication by the Church of the spiritual debt arising from sin.
It was a tradition that not only contributed copious cash to the Vatican’s coffers, but also contributed to the theological turmoil that led to the establishment of rival Protestant churches across much of northern Europe.
The last Jubilee was called by St John Paul II to mark the millennium, and this Holy Year of Mercy starts on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception on 8 December 2015 and will end on the Feast of Christ the King on 20 November 2016.
What is the Catholic Year of Mercy? – by Caroline Wyatt, BBC Religious affairs correspondent

Italian security forces are on high alert following recent attacks in Paris and San Bernardino, California.
Visitors to St Peter’s Square had to pass through metal detectors and under go bag and body checks.

More forgiving

Announcing the extraordinary jubilee in March, the Pope said the Holy Door was a “Door of Mercy, through which anyone who enters will experience the love of God who consoles, pardons and instils hope”.
Image copyright AFP
Image caption Emeritus Pope Benedict XVI (centre) was among those to pass through the Holy Door as Pope Francis (left) looked on
Image copyright AP
Image caption Ten of thousands of people packed into St Peter’s Square for the Mass before the Holy Door was opened
For the first time, he has instructed churches and cathedrals to take part in the tradition of the Holy Door, to help Catholics mark the jubilee at home rather than coming to Rome.Pope Francis has long signalled his wish to change the Church’s approach from condemnation of wrongdoing to a Church that is more forgiving and understanding of its flock, our correspondent says.
This extraordinary jubilee year is seen as a practical way of giving expression to that wish.
Pope Francis took many by surprise when he announced in September that, as part of the jubilee, parish priests across the world would be allowed to absolve repentant women who asked for forgiveness for having an abortion, even though Church teaching still terms abortion a grave sin.
Taken from:

Friday, November 13, 2015

Resurrection of Jesus Christ




Damien F. Mackey




At the beginning of my:


Resurrection and the Shroud: ‘a New Dimension’, ‘a New Science’.



I wrote:


Reading through, this Lent and Easter,


by Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI,

I was struck by his marvellous discussion of

the Resurrection of Jesus Christ –

“a divine action in history and nature

that changed history and nature in a radical way”.



This subject of the Lord’s Resurrection is treated in some detail by Josef Ratzinger in his controversial Chapter 9.


The Rev. Donald Sanborn, who has caustically criticised the pope’s book, has lined up this particular chapter for his main frontal attack. “The principal error, indeed heresy, of this book is [Ratzinger’s] denial of the Resurrection of Christ” (Modernism Resurrected: Benedict XVI on the Resurrection).


.... Now someone might say that I am going too far in this accusation, since Ratzinger professes belief in the Resurrection of Christ. I respond that Ratzinger believes something about the Resurrection of Christ, but that he does not believe in the Catholic dogma of the Resurrection. For in order that we qualify as Catholics, it is necessary that we accept the dogmas of the Catholic Church according to the same sense in which the Church has always understood them.


Sanborn then goes on to test whether “Ratzinger [does] profess belief in the Resurrection in the sense that the Church originally held it”, before concluding emphatically that he doesn’t.


But one always needs to read most attentively what Josef Ratzinger actually writes.


Let us firstly, though, refresh our minds on what the Catechism of the Catholic Church has to say on the matter of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ:


  1. The Historical and Transcendent Event


639       The mystery of Christ's resurrection is a real event, wit­h manifestations that were historically verified, as the New Testa­ment bears witness. In about a.d. 56, St. Paul could already write ­to the Corinthians: "I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures, and that he was buried, that he was raised on the third ­day in accordance with the scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas [Peter], then to the Twelve …" [I Cor 15:3-4]. The Apostle speaks here of the living tradition of the Resurrection which he had learned after his ­conversion at the gates of Damascus. … [Cf. Acts 9:3-18].


The empty tomb


640      "Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not ­here, but has risen." …. [Lk 24:5-6]. The first element we encounter in the framework of the Easter events is the empty tomb. In itself it is not ­a direct proof of Resurrection; the absence of Christ's body from ­the tomb could be explained otherwise. … [Cf. Jn 20:13; Mt 28:11-15]. Nonetheless the empty tomb was still an essential sign for all. Its discovery by the disciples ­was the first step toward recognizing the very fact of the Resurrec­tion. This was the case, first with the holy women, and then with Peter. … [Cf. Lk 24:3, 12, 22-23]. The disciple "whom Jesus loved" affirmed that when he entered the empty tomb and discovered "the linen cloths lying there," "he saw and believed." … [Jn 20:2, 6, 8].

This suggests that he realized from the empty tomb's condition that the absence of Jesus' body could not have been of human doing and that Jesus had not simply returned to earthly life as had been the case with Lazarus. … [Cf. Jn 11:44; 20:5-7].


The appearances of the Risen One

641       Mary Magdalene and the holy women who came to finish anointing the body of Jesus, which had been buried in haste because th­e Sabbath began on the evening of Good Friday, were the first to encounter the Risen One. … [Mk 16:1; Lk 24:1; Jn 19:31, 42]. Thus the women were the first messengers of Christ's Resurrection for the apostles themselves… [Cf. Lk 24:9-10; Mt 28:9-10; Jn 20:11-18]. They were the next to whom Jesus appears: first Peter, then the Twelve. Peter had been called to strengthen the faith of his brothers … [Cf. I Cor 15:5; Lk 22:31-32], and so sees the Risen One before them; it is on the basis of his testimony that the community exclaims: "The Lord has risen indeed, and has appeared to Simon!" … [Lk 24:34, 36].

    642    Everything that happened during those Paschal days involves each of the apostles - and Peter in particular - in the building of the new era begun on Easter morning. As witnesses of the Risen One, they remain the foundation stones of his Church. The faith of the first community of believers is based on the witness of concrete men known to the Christians and for the most part still living among them. Peter and the Twelve are the primary "witnesses to his Resurrection," but they are not the only ones - Paul speaks clearly of more than five hundred persons to whom Jesus appeared on a single occasion and also of James and of all the apostles…. [I Cor 15:4-8; cf. Acts 1:22].

     643   Given all these testimonies, Christ's Resurrection cannot be inter­preted as something outside the physical order, and it is impossible not to acknowledge it as an historical fact. It is clear from the facts that the disciples' faith was drastically put to the test by their master's Passion and death on the cross, which he had foretold. … [Cf. Lk 22:31-32]. The shock provoked by the Passion was so great that at least some of the disciples did not at once believe in the news of the Resurrection. Far from showing us a community seized by a mystical exaltation, the Gospels present us with disciples demoralized ("looking sad"… [Lk 24:17; cf. Jn 20:19]) and frightened. For they had not believed the holy women returning from the tomb and had regarded their words as an "idle tale." … [Lk 24:11; cf. Mk 16:11, 13]. When Jesus reveals himself to the Eleven on Easter evening, "he upbraided them for their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they had not believed those who saw him after he had risen." … [Mk 16:14].

644    Even when faced with the reality of the risen Jesus the disciples ­are still doubtful, so impossible did the thing seem: they thought they were ­seeing a ghost. "In their joy they were still disbelieving and still wondering" … [Lk 24:38-41]. Thomas will also experience the test of doubt and St. Matthew relates that during the risen Lord's last appearance in Galilee "some doubted" ….[Cf. Jn 20:24-27; Mt 28:17]. Therefore the hypothesis that the Resurrection was produced by the apostles' faith (or credulity) will not hold up. On the contrary ­their faith in the Resurrection was born, under the action of divine grace, ­from their direct experience of the reality of the risen Jesus.

The condition of Christ's risen humanity

645    By means of touch and the sharing of a meal, the risen Jesus establishes direct contact with his disciples. He invites them in this ­way to recognize that he is not a ghost and above all to verify that the risen body in which he appears to them is the same body that had been tortured and crucified, for it still bears the traces of his passion. … [Cf. Lk 24:30, 39-40, 41-43; Jn 20:20, 27; 21:9, 13-15]. Yet at the same time this authentic, real body possesses the new properties of a glorious body: not limited by space and time but able to be present how and when he wills; for Christ’s humanity can no longer be confined to earth and belongs hence­forth only to the Father's divine realm. … [Cf. Mt 28:9, 16-17; Lk 24:15, 36; Jn 20:14, 17, 19, 26; 21:4]. For this reason too the risen Jesus enjoys the sovereign freedom of appearing as he wishes: in the guise of a gardener or in other forms familiar to his disciples, precisely to awaken their faith. …. [Cf. Mk 16:12; Jn 20:14-16; 21:4, 7].

646       Christ's Resurrection was not a return to earthly life, as was ­the case with the raisings from the dead that he had performed before Easter: Jairus' daughter, the young man of Naim, Lazarus. These actions were miraculous events, but the persons miraculously raised returned by Jesus' power to ordinary earthly life. At some particular moment they would die again. Christ's Resurrection is essentially ­different. In his risen body he passes from the state of death to another ­life beyond time and space. At Jesus' Resurrection his body is filled with the power of the Holy Spirit: he shares the divine life in his glorious state, so that St. Paul can say that Christ is "the man of heaven" … [Cf. I Cor 15:35-50].

[End of quotes]




Whilst in the controversial case of the Last Supper we may be missing the body of a real lamb, with the Resurrection we are not, despite criticisms, missing the real body of the Lamb.




Actually, I think, Josef Ratzinger’s case for the Resurrection harmonises with all of this and fully accords with its sense. He takes up this last point (# 646), for instance, when he writes on page 243, differentiating the raising of Lazarus and the daughter of Jairus from Christ’s Resurrection:


Now it must be acknowledged that if in Jesus’ Resurrection we were dealing simply with the miracle of a resuscitated corpse, it would ultimately be of no concern to us. For it would be no more important than the resuscitation of a clinically dead person through the art of doctors. The miracle of a resuscitated corpse would indicate that Jesus’ Resurrection was equivalent to the raising of the son of the widow of Nain (Lk 7: 11-17), the daughter of Jairus (Mk 5: 22-24, 35-43 and parallel passages), and Lazarus (Jn 11: 1-44). After a more or less short period, these individuals returned to their former lives, and then at a later point they died definitively.


And, in the case of the Pope’s p. 269: “… the Resurrection. … Luke ends up contradicting his own narrative …”, this appears to be only the “view”, as he says, “Most exegetes take …”, not necessarily the Pope’s own view.

Sanborn, commenting on this very section, wrongly concludes: “So despite his assurance that Christ is “embodied” (page 268), [Ratzinger] again shows his revulsion for the Catholic dogma by reacting to St. Luke’s account of our risen Lord’s eating a fish (Luke XXIV: 42)”.

But it is apparent from various references by the Pope to the risen Jesus’s eating with his disciples (eating grilled fish; breaking bread with the disciples of Emmaus, p. 269; sharing meals, p. 271) that the author has no such reactive issue to these phenomena.

It is also quite clear from a close reading of the book, too, that it is the same Jesus who was crucified (“he is the same embodied man”, p. 266, “complete with his body”, p. 274), who rose, and who appeared to his disciples, but “not a ghost (spirit)”, “he does not belong to the realm of the dead [Hades], but is somehow able to reveal himself in the realm of the living” (p. 273). This whole transcendental paradigm presents an immense challenge to our narrow human thinking (pp. 274-275):


Essential, then, is the fact that Jesus' Resurrection was not just about some deceased individual coming back to life at a certain point, but that an ontological leap occurred, one that touches being as such, opening up a dimension that affects us all, creating for all of us a new space of life, a new space of being in union with God.

It is in these terms that the question of the historicity of the Resurrection should be addressed. On the one hand, we must acknowledge that it is of the essence of the Res­urrection precisely to burst open history and usher in a new dimension commonly described as eschatological. The Resurrection opens up the new space that transcends history and creates the definitive. In this sense, it follows that Resurrection is not the same kind of historical event as the birth or crucifixion of Jesus. It is something new, a new type of event.

Yet at the same time it must be understood that the Resurrection does not simply stand outside or above his­tory. As something that breaks out of history and tran­scends it, the Resurrection nevertheless has its origin within history and up to a certain point still belongs there. Perhaps we could put it this way: Jesus' Resurrec­tion points beyond history but has left a footprint within history. Therefore it can be attested by witnesses as an event of an entirely new kind.

Indeed, the apostolic preaching with all its boldness and passion would be unthinkable unless the witnesses had experienced a real encounter, coming to them from out­side, with something entirely new and unforeseen, namely, the self-revelation and verbal communication of the risen Christ. Only a real event of a radically new quality could possibly have given rise to the apostolic preaching, which cannot be explained on the basis of speculations or inner, mystical experiences. In all its boldness and originality, it draws life from the impact of an event that no one had invented, an event that surpassed all that could be imagined.


[End of quote]


To sum up the two hotly debated topics of Josef Ratzinger’s book:


Whilst in the controversial case of the Last Supper we may be missing the body of a real lamb, see:


‘Western Logic’ and the ‘Logos’. Part Two: Did Jesus Eat the Passover Lamb?



with the Resurrection we are not, despite criticisms, missing the real body of the Lamb.