Brian R Corbin's Reflections on Religion and Life

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How can Religion be a force for Peace…Assisi 2011



VATICAN CITY, 27 OCT 2011 (VIS) – Today marks the twenty-fifth anniversary of the historic meeting for peace in the Italian town of Assisi, called by Blessed John Paul II. For the occasion, Benedict XVI has made a pilgrimage to the city of St. Francis, accompanied by representatives of other religions and by non-believers, for a Day of reflection, dialogue and prayer for peace and justice in the world under the theme: “Pilgrims of Truth, Pilgrims of Peace”.


  The Pontiff and the members of the various delegations left the Vatican by train at8 a.m. today, reaching Assisi at 9.45 a.m. where they were greeted by the civil and religious authorities in front of the Basilica of Santa Maria degli Angeli. As the ceremony unfolded inside the basilica, the large numbers of faithful present were able to follow events on giant screens set up in the square outside.


  Following a greeting from Cardinal Peter Kodwo Turkson, president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, a video was screened in commemoration of the 1986 meeting. Then, one after the other, the representatives of the various religions rose to speak: His Holiness Bartholomew I, Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople; Anglican Archbishop Rowan Williams of Canterbury, Primate of the Anglican Communion; Archbishop Norvan Zakarian, Primate of the Armenian Diocese of France; Rev. Olav Fyske Tveit, secretary general of the World Council of Churches; Rabbi David Rosen, representative of the Chief Rabbinate of Israel; Wande Abimbola, spokesperson for the Yoruba faith; Acharya Shri Shrivatsa Goswami, representative for Hinduism; Ja-Seung, president of the Jogye Order of Korean Buddhism; Kyai Haji Hasyom Muzadi, secretary general of the International Conference of Islamic Schools, and Julia Kristeva, representing non-believers.


  The Holy Father then rose to make his address, extracts of which are given below:


  “Twenty-five years have passed since Blessed Pope John Paul II first invited representatives of the world’s religions to Assisi to pray for peace. What has happened in the meantime? What is the state of play with regard to peace today?


  “At that time the great threat to world peace came from the division of the earth into two mutually opposed blocs. A conspicuous symbol of this division was the Berlin Wall. … In 1989, three years after Assisi, the wall came down, without bloodshed. … In addition to economic and political factors, the deepest reason for the event is a spiritual one: behind material might there were no longer any spiritual convictions. … For this victory of freedom, which was also, above all, a victory of peace, we give thanks. What is more, this was not merely, nor even primarily, about the freedom to believe, although it did include this. To that extent we may in some way link all this to our prayer for peace.


  “But what happened next? Unfortunately, we cannot say that freedom and peace have characterised the situation ever since. … Violence as such is potentially ever present and it is a characteristic feature of our world. Freedom is a great good. But the world of freedom has proved to be largely directionless, and not a few have misinterpreted freedom as somehow including freedom for violence. Discord has taken on new and frightening guises, and the struggle for freedom must engage us all in a new way”.


  “In broad strokes, we may distinguish two types of the new forms of violence, which are the very antithesis of each other in terms of their motivation and manifest a number of differences in detail. Firstly there is terrorism, for which in place of a great war there are targeted attacks intended to strike the opponent destructively at key points, with no regard for the lives of innocent human beings, who are cruelly killed or wounded in the process. In the eyes of the perpetrators, the overriding goal of damage to the enemy justifies any form of cruelty. Everything that had been commonly recognised and sanctioned in international law as the limit of violence is overruled. We know that terrorism is often religiously motivated and that the specifically religious character of the attacks is proposed as a justification for the reckless cruelty. … In this case, religion does not serve peace, but is used as justification for violence”.


  “The fact that, in the case we are considering here, religion really does motivate violence should be profoundly disturbing to us as religious persons. In a way that is more subtle but no less cruel, we also see religion as the cause of violence when force is used by the defenders of one religion against others. The religious delegates who were assembled in Assisi in 1986 wanted to say, and we now repeat it emphatically and firmly: this is not the true nature of religion. It is the antithesis of religion and contributes to its destruction”.


  “As a Christian I want to say at this point: yes, it is true, in the course of history, force has also been used in the name of the Christian faith. We acknowledge it with great shame. But it is utterly clear that this was an abuse of the Christian faith, one that evidently contradicts its true nature. The God in whom we Christians believe is the Creator and Father of all, and from Him all people are brothers and sisters and form one single family. For us the Cross of Christ is the sign of the God Who put ‘suffering-with’ (compassion) and ‘loving-with’ in place of force. … It is the task of all who bear responsibility for the Christian faith to purify the religion of Christians again and again from its very heart, so that it truly serves as an instrument of God’s peace in the world, despite the fallibility of humans.


  “If one basic type of violence today is religiously motivated and thus confronts religions with the question as to their true nature and obliges all of us to undergo purification, a second complex type of violence is motivated in precisely the opposite way: as a result of God’s absence, His denial and the loss of humanity which goes hand in hand with it. The enemies of religion – as we said earlier – see in religion one of the principal sources of violence in the history of humanity and thus they demand that it disappear. But the denial of God has led to much cruelty and to a degree of violence that knows no bounds, which only becomes possible when man no longer recognises any criterion or any judge above himself, now having only himself to take as a criterion. The horrors of the concentration camps reveal with utter clarity the consequences of God’s absence.


  “Yet I do not intend to speak further here about State-imposed atheism, but rather about the decline of man, which is accompanied by a change in the spiritual climate that occurs imperceptibly and hence is all the more dangerous. The worship of mammon, possessions and power is proving to be a counter-religion, in which it is no longer man who counts but only personal advantage. The desire for happiness degenerates, for example, into an unbridled, inhuman craving, such as appears in the different forms of drug dependency. … Force comes to be taken for granted and in parts of the world it threatens to destroy our young people. Because force is taken for granted, peace is destroyed and man destroys himself in this peace vacuum”.


  “In addition to the two phenomena of religion and anti-religion, a further basic orientation is found in the growing world of agnosticism: people to whom the gift of faith has not been given, but who are nevertheless on the lookout for truth, searching for God. Such people do not simply assert: ‘There is no God’. They suffer from His absence and yet are inwardly making their way towards Him, inasmuch as they seek truth and goodness. They are ‘pilgrims of truth, pilgrims of peace’. They ask questions of both sides. They take away from militant atheists the false certainty. … But they also challenge the followers of religions not to consider God as their own property, as if He belonged to them, in such a way that they feel vindicated in using force against others.


  “These people are seeking the truth, they are seeking the true God, Whose image is frequently concealed in the religions because of the ways in which they are often practised. Their inability to find God is partly the responsibility of believers with a limited or even falsified image of God. So all their struggling and questioning is in part an appeal to believers to purify their faith, so that God, the true God, becomes accessible. Therefore I have consciously invited delegates of this third group to our meeting in Assisi, which does not simply bring together representatives of religious institutions. Rather it is a case of being together on a journey towards truth, a case of taking a decisive stand for human dignity and a case of common engagement for peace against every form of destructive force. Finally I would like to assure you that the Catholic Church will not let up in her fight against violence, in her commitment for peace in the world. We are animated by the common desire to be ‘pilgrims of truth, pilgrims of peace'”.


  Following the meeting in the basilica, Benedict XVI and the delegations made their way to the convent of Porziuncola. A frugal lunch was followed by a period of silence for individual refection and prayer before the participants moved on to the Basilica of St. Francis for the concluding ceremonies of the Day.

PV-ITALY/                                                                                        VIS 20111027 (1610)

Filed under: Culture, morals, Social Justice, Spirituality

Oct 16 is World Food Day

There are many ways for you and your family to be in solidarity with those who live with food insecurity.

Consider donating to Catholic Relief Services or Catholic Charities of Diocese of Youngstown or St Vincent de Paul or the Dorothy Day House.

Consider volunteering at one or some or all of those locations as well as with Beatitude House or Emmanuel Community Care Center.

Consider contacting your congressional representative to plead for federal assistance for domestic and international assistance for food security. Visit Catholic Charities for me information


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Pastor reflects on Catholic Education and respect for life

The word “evangelization” means telling the Good News. What is the Good News? Last Sunday I used the example of the GPS – Global Positioning System to say that we are in need of a “way” to position ourselves
in the world that will bring new life. The “way” has to be life giving, establishing new relationships that will create a world of peace and justice. I heard a parent say that our children will never know a world where one could walk onto a plane without taking off your shoes, going through a scanner, and limiting the number
of ounces of mouthwash carried on-board. What will it take to enable our children to be able to live in a world that is safe and secure?
We have sought world security through economic, military and political power. At times that allows a stand-down or a period of quasi-peaceful co-existence; but we just never seem to be able to position ourselves for long-lasting peace. Our hope still remains, reflecting on the prophets Isaiah and Micah, for a time when, “Nation will not take up sword against nation and no one will train for war anymore.”
As we celebrate Respect Life Month, we look toward the day when there will be no more war and “nations will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks.” True evangelization is allowing the Gospel to touch the “way” we live in this world. I have heard tele-evangelist speaking of the
“rapture” – as the day Christ’s returns. There is nothing biblical about the concept of the “rapture.” God will not destroy the world – we may – but God will not. And that message was embedded in the truth surrounding the story of Noah, as well as the creation stories in Genesis. God looked around and saw it was good. Jesus the Christ says, “I have come to bring life and bring it to the fullest.” That is not a word or message of doom and gloom but a word of peace and promise. The reality of Christ – the visible image of the invisible God – is one of peace and justice, love and righteousness, forgiveness and reconciliation. When the reality of Christ comes – that is the reality we will experience – peace and justice, love and righteousness, forgiveness and reconciliation.
This truth is the principle that grounds one of the primary reasons for the existence of our Catholic Schools; grounding them in the Social Teaching of the Catholic Church. When our children are enabled to use their education and formation – from pre-school though the university- for the global re-positioning of our world
toward peace and justice for all – then we will know Good News. Can we demonstrate in our parish life that Christ the Servant is the “way”, the “truth” and the “life” for the future generations?
Msgr Lew Gaetano
Canton OH


Filed under: Uncategorized,

Church groups responding to Pope’s call

Church groups responding to Pope’s call for aid to East Africa

Filed under: Uncategorized

2011 Edition/Introductory Note: US Catholic Bishops’ Forming Conscience for Political Responsibility

The Catholic Bishops of the United States are pleased to re-propose to 
our people Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship, our teaching 
document on the political responsibility of Catholics. This statement, 
overwhelmingly adopted by the body of bishops in 2007, represents the 
continuing teaching of our Bishops’ Conference and our guidance for Catholics 
in the exercise of their rights and duties as participants in our democracy. We 
urge our Catholic pastors and people to continue to use this important statement 
to help them form their consciences, to contribute to civil and respectful public 
dialogue, and to shape their choices in the coming election in the light of 
Catholic teaching.

The statement lifts up our dual heritage as both faithful Catholics and 
American citizens. We are members of a community of faith with a long tradition 
of teaching and action on human life, and dignity, marriage and family, justice 
and peace, care for creation, and the common good. As Americans, we are also 
blessed with religious liberty which safeguards our right to bring our principles 
and moral convictions into the public arena. These Constitutional freedoms need 
to be both exercised and protected, as some seek to mute the voices or limit the 
freedoms of religious believers and religious institutions. Catholics have the same 
rights and duties as others to participate fully in public life. The Church through its 
institutions must be free to carry out its mission and contribute to the common good 
without being pressured to sacrifice fundamental teachings and moral principles.
Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship is widely used to share Catholic 
teaching on the role of faith and conscience in political life. Although it has at
times been misused to present an incomplete or distorted view of the demands 
of faith in politics, this statement remains a faithful and challenging call to 
discipleship in the world of politics. It does not offer a voters guide, scorecard of 
issues, or direction on how to vote. It applies Catholic moral principles to a range 
of important issues and warns against misguided appeals to “conscience” to ignore 
fundamental moral claims, to reduce Catholic moral concerns to one or two 
matters, or to justify choices simply to advance partisan, ideological, or personal 
interests. It does not offer a quantitative listing of issues for equal consideration, 
but outlines and makes important distinctions among moral issues acknowledging vi
faithful citizenship that some involve the clear obligation to oppose intrinsic evils which can never 
be justified and that others require action to pursue justice and promote the 
common good. In short, it calls Catholics to form their consciences in the light of 
their Catholic faith and to bring our moral principles to the debate and decisions 
about candidates and issues.

The moral and human challenges outlined in the second half of Forming 
Consciences for Faithful Citizenship remain pressing national issues. In particular, 
our Conference is focused on several current and fundamental problems, some 
involving opposition to intrinsic evils and others raising serious moral questions:

• Continuing destruction of unborn children through abortion and other 
threats to the lives and dignity of others who are vulnerable, sick, or 
• Renewed efforts to force Catholic ministries—in health care, education, and 
social services—to violate their consciences or stop serving those in need;
• Intensifying efforts to redefine marriage and enact measures which undermine 
marriage as the permanent, faithful, and fruitful union of one man and one 
woman and a fundamental moral and social institution essential to the 
common good;
• An economic crisis which has devastated lives and livelihoods, increasing 
national and global unemployment, poverty, and hunger; increasing deficits 
and debt and the duty to respond in ways which protect those who are poor 
and vulnerable as well as future generations;
• The failure to repair a broken immigration system with comprehensive 
measures that promote true respect for law, protect the human rights and 
dignity of immigrants and refugees, recognize their contributions to our 
nation, keep families together, and advance the common good;
• Wars, terror, and violence which raise serious moral questions on the use of 
force and its human and moral costs in a dangerous world, particularly the 
absence of justice, security, and peace in the Holy Land and throughout the 
Middle East.

In this coming election and beyond, we urge leaders and all Catholics to share 
the message of faithful citizenship and to use this document in forming their own vii
faithful citizenship consciences, so we can act together to promote and protect human life and dignity, 
marriage and family, justice and peace in service to the common good. This kind of 
political responsibility is a requirement of our faith and our duty as citizens.

Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan
President, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops
Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo                                                                    
Chairman, Committee on  
Pro-Life Activities
Cardinal Donald W. Wuerl
Chairman, Committee on Doctrine
Archbishop José H. Gomez
Chairman, Committee  
on Migration
 Bishop Thomas J. Curry
Chairman, Committee on  
Catholic Education
Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades
Chairman, Committee on Laity, 
Marriage, Family Life, and Youth
Bishop Gabino Zavala
Chairman, Committee  
on Communications
Bishop Stephen E. Blaire
Chairman, Committee on Domestic 
Justice and Human Development
Bishop Howard Hubbard
Chairman, Committee on International 
Justice and Peace
Bishop Jaime Soto
Chairman, Committee on Cultu

Filed under: Official Statements, Politics, Social Doctrine