The Road from Regensburg

FAITH Magazine March – April 2011

From Pope Benedict's Epiphany Homily 6th Jan 2011

"[The Magi] were people certain that something we might describe as the 'signature' of God exists in creation, a signature that man can and must endeavour to discover and decipher... We cannot but perceive in the beauty of the world, its mystery, its greatness and its rationality, we cannot fail to read the eternal rationality; and we cannot help but be guided by this to the one God, Creator of Heaven and of earth.

"If we acquire this perception we shall see that the One who created the world and the One who was born in a grotto in Bethlehem and who continues to dwell among us in the Eucharist, is the same living God who calls us, who loves us and who wants to lead us to eternal life."

From Pope Benedict's preface to the new youth version of the Catechism (for 14-20 year olds).

In "the 1980s ... many people no longer knew correctly what Christians should really believe, what the Church taught, if it could teach anything tout court, and how all this could be adapted to the new cultural climate. Isn't Christianity as such outdated? Can one still reasonably be a believer today? These are questions that many Christians still ask themselves today. So Pope John Paul II ... decided that the bishops of the whole world should write a book responding to these questions ... and ... be something absolutely stimulating and new

... Since then, at the World Youth Days (Rome, Toronto, Cologne, Sydney), young people from all over the world have met who want to believe, who are seeking God, who love Christ and desire common paths. In this context, we asked ourselves if we must not seek to translate the "Catechism of the Catholic Church" into the language of the young, and make its words penetrate into their world.

... Some people tell me that today's young people are not interested in the catechism; but I do not believe in this statement, and I am sure that I am right. They are not as superficial as they are accused of being; young people want to know what life is really about. ...

You must know what you believe; you must know your faith with the same precision with which a programming specialist knows the operating system of a computer; you must know it like a musician knows his piece. Yes, you must be much more deeply rooted in the faith than the generation of your parents, in order to be able to resist forcefully and decisively against the temptations of this time ... if you do not want to succumb to the temptations of consumerism, if you do not want your love to drown in pornography, if you do not want to betray the weak and the victims of abuse and violence."

Pope's Initiative Sees Light Of Day

"On 24 and 25 March, the Pontifical Council for Culture ... will launch ... the 'Courtyard of the Gentiles', the aim of which is to promote dialogue and encounter between believers and non-believers. ... the launch will involve three colloquia on the themes of 'religion, enlightenment and common reason'. They will be held on 24 March at the Paris headquarters of UNESCO, on the morning of 25 March at the Sorbonne University and on the afternoon of the same day at the 'Institut de France'. The colloquia will be followed by a round table discussion at the 'College des Bernardins'. On the evening of 25 March there will be a celebration ... open to everyone, especially young people, and will involve artistic creations, music, drama, lights, meeting and reflection. Exceptionally, the cathedralwill remain open for those who wish to participate in a prayer vigil and shared meditation."

From the Vatican Information service: 27 Jan 2011

Prominent Call For Papally Encouraged Islamic Reform

During the recent 17-day revolution in Egypt there was an extraordinary call for Islamic reform by 23 prominent Egyptian academics. Sandro Magister suggests that this charter "marks a small step in the very direction hoped for by the Pope" as expressed "in the same year as the lecture in Regensburg and the voyage to Turkey".

In his Christmas talk to his curia the Pope had argued that Islam needs to respond constructively to the Enlightenment, as Catholicism did at the Second Vatican Council. That means opposing the self-contradictory "dictatorship of positivist reasoning that excludes God from the life of the community and from the public order, as well as acknowledging ... human rights, and especially the freedom of faith and its exercise".

The charter which has been widely discussed and largely rejected in Islamic cyber-space, contains the following recommendations:

"Purify [the Hadith]; ... Find a new practice of the concept of interaction between the sexes; ... Separate religion from the state; ... Give guidelines on Western customs, and eliminate incorrect behaviours; ... Invite the people to go to God through gratitude and wisdom, and not with threats; ... Recognise the right of Christians to occupy important positions [including] the presidency of the republic; ... Separate religious discourse from power, and re-establish its connection with the needs of society."

This document also challenged aspects of the status quo at Cairo's al-Azhar mosque and university, a key representative of Shi'ite Islam. The university has been caught in the battle between President Mubarak and the Muslim Brotherhood. Whereas the leader of al-Azhar felt the need recently to break off dialogue with the Vatican following Pope Benedict's highlighting of the persecution of Coptic Christians, this latest charter unequivocally condemns the recent bombings of Coptic churches.

Faith Magazine

March - April 2011