Archive for the ‘religion’ Category

Why angels can fly

16 agosto, 2006 1 commento

In a long thorough interview with German televisions ARD-Bayerischer Rundfunk, ZDF, Deutsche Welle, and Vatican Radio, broadcasted in the night of August 13, pope Joseph Ratzinger addressed issues of marriage and family, world peace, intercultural dialogue, the future of the Catholic Church, and …  the role played by humour in the life of a Pope:
“I think it’s very important to be able to see the funny side of life and its joyful dimension and not to take everything too tragically. I’d also say it’s necessary for my ministry. A writer once said that angels can fly because they don’t take themselves too seriously. Maybe we could also fly a bit if we didn’t think we were so important.”
Here the complete English transcript.


Fond of Gregorian chant? Good times are coming back again!

Are you Catholic and fond of Gregorian chant and sacred polyphony? Good news at last! Something can help
you stay in high spirits: good times are coming back again. But let’s try to be methodical.

Benedict XVI, who is highly competent in the area of sacred music, is also known as severely critical of what he considers the degradation of music following the Second Vatican Council. The Pope has written on a number of occasions that he wants to restore to the Catholic liturgy the great music that “from Gregorian chant passes through the music of the cathedrals and polyphony, the music of the Renaissance and the Baroque, to Bruckner and beyond.”

In a message to the participants at the congress of the Vatican Congregation for Worship, hold  on December 5 2005, he encouraged them “to reflect upon and evaluate the relationship between music and the liturgy, always keeping close watch over practice and experimentation.” In turn, in the same occasion, cardinal Francis Arinze, prefect of the Congregation for Worship, criticized the musical fashions found in many churches, which he characterized as “chaotic, excessively simplistic, and unsuitable for the liturgy.”
As Italian Vaticanist Sandro Magister reported, during that congress

[m]usicians and liturgists of the postconciliar “new direction” found themselves constrained to justify themselves before an audience mostly oriented toward reviving traditional liturgical music, and Gregorian chant in the first place.

One could gather this from the strong and confident applause that greeted the addresses delivered by Dom Philippe Dupont, abbot of Solesmes and a great cultivator of Gregorian chant, by Martin Baker, choirmaster of the cathedral of Westminster, and by Jean-Marie Bodo, from Cameroon, “where we sing Gregorian chant every Sunday at Mass, because it is the song of the Church.”

But one could gather this above all from the applause that punctuated and concluded the address by monsignor Valentino Miserachs Grau, president of the Pontifical Institute of Sacred Music in Rome, the liturgical-musical “conservatory” of the Holy See, which has the task of training Church musicians from all over the world.

With concise and concentrated arguments, Miserachs argued forcefully on behalf of the revival of Gregorian chant, beginning with the cathedrals and monasteries, which ought to take the lead in this rebirth.

And he called upon the Church of Rome finally to act “with authority” in the area of liturgical music, not simply with documents and exhortations, but by establishing an office with competency in this regard, as it did for example with the pontifical commission dedicated to the Church’s cultural heritage.

“This is the opportune moment, and there is no time to waste,” Miserachs concluded, clearly referring to the reigning pope.

Ok, this happened six months ago. Where are the good news? Here:
the concert conducted in the Sistine Chapel, on Saturday, June 24, by maestro monsignor Domenico Bartolucci.
With this concert, Benedict XVI has symbolically restored the Sistine Chapel to its true maestro. Because the famous chapel is not only the sacred place decorated with the frescoes of Michelangelo, it also gives the name to the choir that for centuries has accompanied the pontifical liturgies.
Maestro Bartolucci was named the “perpetual” director, the director for life, of the Sistine Chapel by Pius XII in 1959. Under this and later popes, he was an outstanding interpreter of the liturgical music founded upon Gregorian chant and sacred polyphony. But after a long period of opposition, in 1997 he was dismissed and replaced by a choirmaster thought to be more fitting for the “popular” music dear to John Paul II.
Bartolucci’s replacement was the finishing stroke of the almost complete elimination of Gregorian chant and polyphony as desired by the authors of the postconciliar liturgical reform.
At the time, the only significant figure in the Roman curia who came to Bartolucci’s defense was Ratzinger, for reasons that were both musical and liturgical, as he explained in essays and books.
His positions then were isolated. But with his election as pope, Ratzinger immediately indicated his intention to proceed, in the liturgical and musical field, with what he calls “the reform of the reform.”

E l'Uomo non c'era ad Auschwitz

31 maggio, 2006 6 commenti

Norman Geras propone una “risposta” interessante al discorso di Benedetto XVI, quella di una lettrice del Times che, nella rubrica Letters to the Editor, argomenta in questo modo il suo garbato “dissenso” (uso le virgolette perché in realtà non è tale, come dirò più avanti):
Sir, The late Metropolitan Anthony — a monk and later head of the Russian Orthodox Church in Europe, a member of the French Resistance, a surgeon who also worked with survivors of concentration camps — was in a better position than Oliver Kamm to pinpoint the true question which must be asked of those camps, their perpetrators and their sufferers (Comment, May 30). The question was not, he said, “Where was God?” in all this. God, as always, was there suffering with the victims. The question was, and will be for all time, “Where was Man? Man as he is meant to be, in fullness as God intended and as Jesus made clear in the Beatitudes.”
It is Man who failed at Auschwitz, and the absence of what he really is meant to be, in communion with his Creator, explains such man-made horrors.
Katherine Barlow
Dicevo che non si tratta di un vero dissenso, e il motivo è che il Papa sa benissimo dove stava Dio quando succedeva quel che succedeva nei campi di sterminio nazisti: come scrive la lettrice, era là, accanto ai sofferenti, come sempre. Ma per esprimere l’inesprimibile il Pontefice ha proposto una parafrasi della formula biblica già adoperata da Gesù stesso sulla croce: quella del Salmo 21 (“Dio mio, Dio mio, perché mi hai abbandonato?”), che poi è tutto meno che un salmo “disperato,” come si può evincere facilmente leggendolo per intero.
Ma, a parte questo, penso che Katherine Barlow abbia ragione: non era Dio, era l’Uomo che mancava ad Auschwitz. E questo, davvero, penso che possa mettere d’accordo tutti (vabbè,  quasi), laici e credenti, ebrei e cristiani … Sentite cosa dice Norman Geras:
I don’t subscribe to the theology here, unless in a secularized version – such that God is a name for the best aspirations of humankind, for a world in which people are by and large secure and protected against the worst forms of injustice. But Katherine Barlow speaks the truth. The failure is humanity’s – at Auschwitz then, in Darfur now.

The most remarkable comment

30 maggio, 2006 6 commenti


 English Pope Benedict’s prayer at the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp on May 28th, 2006 (full text).

 Italiano Il miglior commento alle parole del Papa al campo di Birkenau, Auschwitz, il 28 maggio 2006. Qui il testo integrale.

 Una regia sapiente ha dato una mano anche da lassu'

 English UPDATE (May 30, 2006, 2:20 pm)

From Sandro Magister’s WWW.CHIESA website:
According to his critics’ expectations, Benedict XVI should have asked for forgiveness for the faults of the German nation – to which he belongs – and denounced the anti-Semitism of yesterday and today, especially that of many Christians.

But it didn’t happen. Benedict XVI didn’t talk speak of these two matters.

Nor did he repeat the usual interpretations of the Holocaust.

On the contrary, he made an interpretation of the slaughter of the Jewish people that no pope had ever made before him.

By annihilating that people – Benedict XVI asserted – the architects of the slaughter “wanted to kill God.” The God of Abraham, and of Jesus Christ. The God of the Jews and of the Christians, but also of all humanity, for whose sake “on Sinai he laid down principles to serve as a guide, principles that are eternally valid.” By destroying Israel, the authors of this extermination “ultimately wanted to tear up the taproot of the Christian faith and to replace it with a faith of their own invention: faith in the rule of man, the rule of the powerful.”

See also the attached full text of the speech and an anthology of the salient passages from Benedict XVI’s other speeches and homilies delivered during his visit to Poland.


 Italiano AGGIORNAMENTO (ore 12:00 del 30 maggio 2006-05-30)
Come scrive Sandro Magister,  molti si aspettavano che il Papa chiedesse perdono per le colpe della “sua” Germania e che non perdesse l’occasione per denunciare l’antisemitismo di ieri e di oggi, ivi compreso quello di tanti cristiani. Ma Benedetto XVI si è regolato diversamente, e “neppure ha ripetuto della Shoah le interpretazioni usuali.”  Al contrario: ha finito per dare dello sterminio del popolo ebraico “un’interpretazione che nessun papa prima di lui aveva dato.”
Annientando quel popolo – ha affermato Benedetto XVI – gli autori dello sterminio “intendevano uccidere Dio”. Il Dio di Abramo e di Gesù Cristo. Il Dio degli ebrei e dei cristiani ma anche di tutta l’umanità alla quale “parlando sul Sinai egli stabilì i criteri orientativi che restano validi in eterno”. Cancellando Israele, gli autori dello sterminio “volevano strappare anche la radice su cui si basa la fede cristiana, sostituendola definitivamente con la fede fatta da sé, la fede nel dominio dell’uomo, del forte”.

È questo il passaggio chiave del discorso pronunciato da Benedetto XVI domenica 28 maggio ad Auschwitz e Birkenau.

Il vaticanista dell’Espresso ha sottolineato anche “altri passaggi innovativi, rispetto ai canoni politicamente corretti” del discorso del Papa:
La solidarietà di ebrei e cristiani, ad esempio, non è stata evocata da papa Ratzinger come richiesta di perdono dei secondi ai primi, ma come comune sorte di vittime, come comune volontà di resistenza al male, come prossimità nella preghiera. Facendo ciò, il papa non ha avuto paura di toccare questioni controverse. Ha ricordato tra le “luci in una notte buia” l’ebrea e cristiana Edith Stein, anch’essa uccisa nella Shoah ma invisa a molti ebrei perchè convertita e beatificata. Ha apprezzato il convento delle carmelitane sorto presso Auschwitz, criticato da molti ebrei come appropriazione indebita della memoria del luogo.

Segnalo, infine, che Sandro Magister riporta nel sito WWW.CHIESA il testo integrale del discorso di Birkenau e un’antologia di brani particolarmente significativi tratti dagli altri discorsi e omelie pronunciati da Benedetto XVI durante il suo viaggio in Polonia.

How Joseph Ratzinger Sees Islam

Benedict XVI is probably one of the few figures to have profoundly understood the ambiguity in which contemporary Islam is being debated and its struggle to find a place in modern society. At the same time, he is proposing a way for Islam to work toward coexistence globally and with religions, based not on religious dialogue, but on dialogue between cultures and civilizations based on rationality and on a vision of man and human nature which comes before any ideology or religion. This choice to wager on cultural dialogue explains his decision to absorb the Pontifical Council for Inter-religious Dialogue into the larger Pontifical Council for Culture.

While the pope is asking Islam for dialogue based on culture, human rights, the refusal of violence, he is asking the West, at the same time, to go back to a vision of human nature and rationality in which the religious dimension is not excluded. In this way – and perhaps only in this way – a clash of civilizations can be avoided, transforming it instead into a dialogue between civilizations.

Egyptian Jesuit Samir Khalil Samir, who is very familiar with both the pope and the Muslim religion, has written for Asia News an essay titled “When Civilizations Meet: How Joseph Ratzinger Sees Islam.” You can read it in entirety on Sandro Magister’s website.  

Benedict XVI: fifteen questions, and as many responses

7 marzo, 2006 2 commenti

Benedict XVI on the Bible and the Qur’an, on Pius XII, on women in the Church, on Africa, on ecumenism, on the interpretation of the Council. A spontaneous dialogue with the Roman priests.

In this place of horror

15 febbraio, 2006 Lascia un commento

The European Jewish Press reports that a Muslim cultural institute in Germany, the Zentralinstitut Islam-Archiv-Deutschland, has dared Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to visit the Auschwitz concentration camp.  

"In this place of horror he can again deny the Holocaust, if he has the courage," a spokesman for the institute told the German Catholic press agency KNA.  “By denying the Holocaust,” he also said,  

“Ahmadinejad not only denigrated the Jewish victims of the genocide but also the 200,000 Roms and Arabs murdered in the "gypsy camp" of Auschwitz-Birkenau and other camps.”

Repeating Nazi anti-Semitism, he added, was harmful to the image of Islam and "a disgrace for all the world’s Muslims." 

The Berlin-based institute—aimed to preserving the community’s archives since the 18th century and fostering relations between Muslims and other religions—is the oldest Muslim body in Germany, having been founded in 1927.

[Via Gene]

Categorie:esteri, religion

Good news for Tibet? (2)

15 febbraio, 2006 Lascia un commento

Reuters reports that, according to Tibet’s government-in-exile, envoys of the Dalai Lama arrived in China a few hours ago
for secretive talks on allowing more autonomy for the Buddhist region[…]. It was the fifth round of talks since contacts between China and the Dalai Lama’s representatives resumed in 2002.
From Dharamsala, the Indian hill station where the Dalai Lama is based, spokesman for the government-in-exile Thubten Samphel said by telephone that Dalai Lama’s “ultimate hope” is
“to resolve the issue of Tibet on the basis of negotiated settlement with the Chinese leadership so that Tibet people will have the freedom to preserve what is important to us, which is our cultural identity."
Reuters also reports that
analysts say China is committed to the dialogue in part because it fears that if the Dalai Lama, who is now 70, dies in exile, it could create a rallying point for Tibetans unhappy with Chinese rule and leave a destabilizing leadership vacuum.
That could also strengthen support among Tibetans for full independence, especially among youth frustrated with the Dalai Lama’s "middle way" approach that advocates autonomy for Tibet as a part of China.

Good news for Tibet?

11 febbraio, 2006 4 commenti

Good news from the front of Chinese-Tibetan relationship. Or, at least, hopes for warmer relations between China and the Dalai Lama. This is what we are led to think after reading in the Telegraph today that:
200 Chinese nationals attended a prayer meeting in India with the exiled Tibetan ruler.
Tibet’s government-in-exile, based in the Indian hilltown of Dharamsala, confirmed yesterday that China had issued a growing number of visas to ethnic Chinese and Tibetans over the last two to three years. Since 2002 representatives from Beijing and the Dalai Lama have held four meetings as part of a slow-moving process of rapprochement. A fifth meeting is expected later this year.
Officials in Dharamsala stopped short of describing the numbers of Chinese visitors as a breakthrough but agreed it was encouraging.

Categorie:anglosphere, religion

In Memoriam of Fr. Andrea Santoro

7 febbraio, 2006 Lascia un commento

Fr. Andrea SantoroThe life and martyrdom of Fr. Andrea Santoro, a Roman priest on mission in Turkey, by Sandro Magister, and a testimony—previously published by Asia News—of an Italian volunteer who knew him well.
[…] I saw him two months ago in Iskenderun, at the see of the apostolic vicariate of Anatolia. It was our monthly retreat and we talked about the cross. He told us: “Often I ask myself: What am I doing here? And the words of John the Baptist would come to mind. ‘And the Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us’. I live among these people so that Jesus can live among them through me. In the Middle East, Satan continues to destroy, remembering and loyal to the past. As it was at the time of Jesus, silence, humility, the simple life, acts of faith, miracles of charity, clear and defenceless witness, and the conscious offering of one’s life can rehabilitate the Middle East.”

After a long pause, he took off his glasses letting them hang around his neck and spoke again, calmly, as if talking to himself: “I am convinced that in the end there are no two ways, only one way that leads to light through darkness, to life through the bitterness of death. Only by offering one’s flesh is salvation possible. The evil that stalks the world must be borne and pain must be shared till the end in one’s own flesh as Jesus did.” Not one word more, not one less.

After he spoke silence fell on the room. Then he looked at his watch and got up quickly, apologised, picked up his small suitcase and left the room almost running. He didn’t want to miss the plane that would take him back to his Trabzon.

There he was kneeling yesterday, praying in his church. There a bullet pierced his heart.

Categorie:italians, religion