MONDAY     February 28, 2000    vol. 11, no. 41    SECTION ONE

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SECTION ONE Contents: Go immediately to the article:
  • Pat Ludwa's VIEW FROM THE PEW column
  • THE VICAR OF CHRIST SPEAKS - Pope's call for dialogue
  • Events that occurred this day in Church History
  • Medjugorje Monthly Message for February


  • Do the dissidents within the Church realize, by their "Call to Action," how they are crucifying Our Lord?

       In his column today, Pat Ludwa equates the dissident left with the frenzied crowds of the Passion who clamored for the release of Barrabas at the expense of the Son of God. Though today's crowd is more of a minority than they would like you to believe, they have been whining and complaining enough to capture the ear of the media - who personify the pass-the-buck Pontius Pilate, washing their hands of it all while immersing themselves in the middle of the controversy doing whatever they can to keep their jobs or keep the ratings or circulation up. That includes kowtowing to the modernists who, stirred up by the chief priests of malcontent within the Church, call for an agenda that would hand over Jesus and His Church to them so they can tear the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church apart and put it together the way they want, unmindful of the authority Our Lord bestowed on Simon Peter in Matthew 16: 18-19. For his column today, Secularizing the Sacred part five: Give us Barrabas!, see VIEW FROM THE PEW

    Secularizing the Sacred part five: Give us Barrabas!

          "Pilate then called together the chief priests and the rulers and the people, and said to them, 'You brought me this man as one who was perverting the people; and after examining him before you, behold, I did not find this man guilty of any of your charges against him; neither did Herod, for he sent him back to us. Behold, nothing deserving death has been done by him; I will therefore chastise him and release him.' But they all cried out together, 'Away with this Man, and release to us Barabbas'-- a man who had been thrown into prison for an insurrection started in the city, and for murder. Pilate addressed them once more, desiring to release Jesus; but they shouted out, 'Crucify, crucify Him!'" (Luke 23: 18-21).

          I think we all would like to think that, if we had been alive then, we wouldn’t have done this. But hindsight is, it’s said, 20/20. "After he had said this, he went out to the Jews again, and told them, 'I find no crime in Him. But you have a custom that I should release one man for you at the Passover; will you have me release for you the King of the Jews?' They cried out again, 'Not this man, but Barabbas!' Now Barabbas was a robber" (John 18:38-40).

          Why Barabbas? Wasn’t he just a thief? How was it the people of Jerusalem picked him over Christ? How could they choose a robber, a murderer over Christ Who, even Pilate said, was innocent of any crime. "But the chief priests stirred up the crowd to have him release for them Barabbas instead. And Pilate again said to them, 'Then what shall I do with the Man Whom you call the King of the Jews?' And they cried out again, 'Crucify Him.' And Pilate said to them, 'Why, what evil has He done?' But they shouted all the more, 'Crucify Him.' So Pilate, wishing to satisfy the crowd, released for them Barabbas; and having scourged Jesus, he delivered Him to be crucified" (Mark 15:11-15).

          The chief priests knew Barabbas well enough, it seems, to desire his life over Jesus’. Why? "Now the chief priests and the elders persuaded the people to ask for Barabbas and destroy Jesus. The governor again said to them, 'Which of the two do you want me to release for you?' And they said, 'Barabbas.' Pilate said to them, 'Then what shall I do with Jesus Who is called Christ?' They all said, "Let him be crucified." And he said, "Why, what evil has he done?" But they shouted all the more, "Let him be crucified." (Matthew 27: 20-23)

          Doesn’t this seem to be a travesty of justice? Barabbas, an insurrectionist, a terrorist, and a robber, is preferred over Jesus. We would never do that, would we? "Upon this Pilate sought to release Him, but the Jews cried out, 'If you release this man, you are not Caesar's friend; every one who makes himself a king sets himself against Caesar.' When Pilate heard these words, he brought Jesus out and sat down on the judgment seat at a place called The Pavement, and in Hebrew, Gabbatha. Now it was the day of Preparation of the Passover; it was about the sixth hour. He said to the Jews, 'Behold your King!' They cried out, 'Away with Him, away with Him, crucify Him!' Pilate said to them, 'Shall I crucify your King?' The chief priests answered, 'We have no king but Caesar.' Then he handed Him over to them to be crucified" (John 19:12-16).

          Now things become a bit more clear. How fickle, the people and chief priests weren’t friends of Caesar. In fact, with the Zealots, they worked to be a thorn in Caesar’s side. They looked for a Messiah who would bring Israel on a political/military par with Imperial Rome. Would we do that? Of course not, or would we?

          We have our own Zealots, and their high priests and scribes are busy persuading the people to give them Barabbas and destroy Jesus. All in the name of the ‘spirit’ of Vatican II. Who are these modern day Zealots and Pharisees?

      • Call to Action: The most visible dissenting group which is a movement of laity and religious seeking to reform the "sinful structure" of the "patriarchal" Church. CTA is infamous since its 1994 conference coverage on the CBS news program 60 Minutes. CTA promotes dissent against Church teachings on a broad front, including women's ordination, homosexuality, creation spirituality, married priesthood, and liturgical reforms, while incorporating new age and Wiccan spirituality. Many members belong to local groups called "small faith communities." Renew 2000 also promotes small faith communities. Membership draws heavily from former clergy, feminist nuns, and homosexuals. Members staff COR. CTA serves on the national task force for the We Are Church referendum.

      • Association for the Rights of Catholics in the Church: Promotes a so-called "democratic" church whereby the people vote for their own doctrine, and support of pluralism ("believe what you want") via a "Constitution" and a "Catholic Bill of Rights." Sample "rights" include self-determined divorce and remarriage, contraception, and homosexual relationships. Also calls for elected pastors, bishops, and pope. Part of the task force of the We Are Church referendum. Most members also are members of CTA. Membership draws heavily from ex-clergy, and disaffected nuns. Member of Catholic Organizations for Renewal. Protestant churches are "democratic."

      • Catholics for a Free Choice (CFFC): Promotes artificial contraceptive "rights," including abortion. Their focus is the "intersection of Catholic teaching and public policy."

      • Pax Christi;(cited in Renew 2000): This group may be the most widely recognized leftist organization to American Catholics. Long a proponent of nonviolence, Pax Christi promotes "action to transform structures of society." Aligned with liberation theology, "ecological justice," and the usual litany of modernist demands.

      • We are Church: Hatched from Call to Action, they are a petition group pushing for radical changes in Church teaching through political pressure ("referendums," lobbying and the like).

      • Catholic Organizations for Renewal (COR): Not an organization per se, but a forum where many dissenting organizations plot their attack on the teachings of Jesus' Church. Their proclaimed mission is:
          a coalition of Catholic groups, inspired by Vatican II, [an indicator of the modernist "spirit of Vatican II" - see one member below with that name]
        1. to further the reform and renewal of the Catholic Church, and [Martin Luther also "reformed" the church and established a church of man based on his personal beliefs - all heretics have done so in the past. Why is COR any different?]
        2. to bring about a world of justice and peace, reflecting the sacredness of all creation." [sacred creation is a pagan belief; true peace and justice result from following God's teachings, not opposing them] (From Our Lady’s Warriors Web site [www.ourladyswarriors.org])

          The list of these ‘reform’ organizations is long as are the lists of their ‘scribes’. They wanted Barabbas to be released because he was the antithesis of Christ. He was an insurrectionist, a Zealot. Political action rather than submission. Just as the people had to choose between Jesus and Barabbas, so we find ourselves having to choose between Christ’s Church and the ‘church’ of Barabbas, a new ‘FutureChurch’.

          Consider what groups connected with COR have done to gain ‘reform’. (From the Call To Action web site) (I actually get ill when I go there.)

        Examples of Public Actions Taken Under the COR "Umbrella":
        Gallup Survey of U.S. Catholics - This 1992 opinion survey was initiated by Catholics Speak Out and co-sponsored by six other organizations in COR. The findings were made public at a press conference in June, 1992 at Notre Dame University during the U.S. Bishops' meeting there.

          Truth determined by opinion polls?

        "White House Meeting - Ten COR groups had leaders in the June 25, 1993 meeting with White House staff. The groups offered the Clinton administration a link with progressive Catholics, especially on issues where most U.S. Catholics differ with the hierarchy. Examples: Vatican blockage of any discussion of contraceptive family planning at the 1992 Rio earth summit, and Vatican complicity with the coup regime that ousted duly elected President Jean Bertrand Aristide from Haiti."

          This is almost beyond words. Besides the obvious absurdity of the notion of ‘good’ (progressive) Catholics showing dissent toward their Church, but they also fabricate notions of an evil Vatican getting involved in coups. This sounds more like anti-Catholic fundamentalism than ‘good’ Catholics. One can almost see the high priests standing with Pilate claiming Jesus subverts the people.

         

        "Alternative Events during Papal Visit to Denver - Twenty-two COR organizations supported a public forum, a news conference, and several press briefings at World Youth Day, August, 1993. The COR/Denver initiative enabled the national media not only to cover the papal events but to report responsible Catholic disagreement with the Pope on many issues, including women's ordination, gay/lesbian rights, and sexual morality."
      Of course, almost anything is preferable than giving the Pope a forum. Better to cause a distraction, another alternative, Barabbas over Christ.
           "Signature ads in major newspapers - An open letter to the Pope saying he's wrong on contraception appeared in the New York Times in September, 1994, during the U.N. Population Conference in Cairo, with 2,500 signatures. Another letter to John Paul II appeared in the Baltimore Sun in October, 1995 the week of the pontiff's visit to that city. It said U.S. Catholics are hungry for Eucharist and want the priesthood open to women and married men. Both ads were coordinated by Catholics Speak Out and co-sponsored by many COR groups."
      Again, truth via polls, editorials, etc. If they are hungry for the Eucharist, why do they have speakers, leaders and theologians who actively and openly seek to destroy it?
        "WE ARE CHURCH Catholic Referendum - This call for church reforms is similar to referenda which gathered 2.3 million signatures in Germany and Austria in 1995. Coordinated by Women's Ordination Conference and Catholics Speak Out, the drive in the U.S. for signatures is scheduled to run from Pentecost, 1996 to Pentecost, 1997. Completed referenda from many nations were brought to Rome in a joint international action in October, 1997."

          And once more, truth via the ballot. One has to wonder if enough people thought Jesus was the prophet Elijah (ref. Matthew 16:13-14) if they think He would be that? Or if the disciples in John 6 made a poll if Christ would have changed His teaching on the Eucharist to suit them so they wouldn’t leave?

          No, we may think we know better, we may think we are more enlightened than those poor people in Jerusalem 2,000 years ago. But we’re still crying: "Give us Barabbas!" And as for Christ and His Church - "Crucify Him."

      "May the most holy, most sacred, most adorable, most mysterious and unutterable Name of God be always praised, blessed, loved, adored and glorified in heaven, on earth and under the earth, by all the creatures of God, and by the Sacred Heart of our Lord Jesus Christ in the most Holy Sacrament of the Altar" (Golden Arrow).

          St. Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle; be our defense against the wickedness and snares of the Devil. May God rebuke him, we humbly pray, and do you, O Prince of the heavenly Host, by the power of God, cast into hell, satan and all his evil spirits, who prowl about the world seeking the ruin of souls.

      Pax Christi, Pat

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    Unità, Unitad, Unité, Unity!

       Today, we bring you the meaningful words from His Holiness Pope John Paul II's ecumenical discourse on his second day of his "Jubilee Journey" to Egypt. In this important address, the Holy Father reaches out to the various Orthodox leaders in reiterating what he wrote in his encyclical Ut Unum Sint - "That All May Be One." The Pope cites the common bond they all have with Theotokos - the Mother of God and Our Lady's unifying role in reuniting the Churches and the Vicar of Christ's urgency in reunifying the Church's as soon as possible. See THE VICAR OF CHRIST SPEAKS

    The Holy Father's Discourse at the Ecumenical Service in the Cairo Cathedral this past Friday, February 25, 2000

    Reliving in spirit the salient moments of Abraham's experience
        "The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all!" (2 Corinthians 13:14).

      Your Holiness Pope Shenouda,

      Your Beatitude Patriarch Stephanos,

      Distinguished Representative of His Holiness Petros,

      Bishops and Dignitaries of the Churches and Ecclesial Communities of Egypt,

      1. With the blessing of Saint Paul, which leads us directly to the heart of the mystery of Trinitarian communion, I greet all of you with deep affection and in the bonds of love which unite us in the Lord.

          It is for me a great joy to be a pilgrim in the country which gave hospitality and protection to our Lord Jesus Christ and the Holy Family; as it is written in the Gospel of Saint Matthew: "Joseph rose and took the child and His mother by night, and departed to Egypt, and remained there until the death of Herod. This was to fulfil what the Lord had spoken by the prophet, 'Out of Egypt have I called my son'" (Matthew 2:14-15).

          Egypt has been home to the Church from the beginning. Founded upon the apostolic preaching and authority of Saint Mark, the Church of Alexandria soon became one of the leading communities in the early Christian world. Venerable bishops like Saint Athanasius and Saint Cyril bore witness to faith in the Triune God and in Jesus Christ, true God and true man, as defined by the first Ecumenical Councils. It was in the desert of Egypt that monastic life originated, in both its solitary and communal forms, under the spiritual fatherhood of Saint Anthony and Saint Pachomius. Thanks to them and to the great impact of their spiritual writings, monastic life became part of our common heritage. During recent decades that same monastic charism has flourished anew, and it irradiates a vital spiritual message far beyond the borders of Egypt.

      2. Today we give thanks to God that we are ever more aware of our common heritage, in faith and in the richness of sacramental life. We also have in common that filial veneration of the Virgin Mary, Mother of God, for which the Coptic and all the Eastern Churches are renowned. And "when we speak about a common heritage, we must acknowledge as part of it, not only the institutions, rites, means of salvation and the traditions which all the communities have preserved and by which they have been shaped, but first and foremost this reality of holiness" (Encyclical Letter Ut Unum Sint, 84). For faithfully guarding and preaching this heritage, the Church in Egypt has undergone heavy sacrifices and continues to do so. How many martyrs appear in the venerable Martyrology of the Coptic Church, which dates back to the terrible persecutions of the years 283-284! They gave glory to God in Egypt, through their unfaltering witness unto death!

      3. From the beginning, this common apostolic tradition and heritage has been transmitted and explained in various forms which take account of the specific cultural character of peoples. As far back as the fifth century however, theological and non-theological factors, combined with a lack of fraternal love and understanding, led to painful divisions in the one Church of Christ. Mistrust and hostility arose between Christians, in contradiction with the fervent desire of our Lord Jesus Christ who prayed "that they may all be one" (John 17:21).

          Now, in the course of the twentieth century, the Holy Spirit has brought the Christian Churches and communities closer together in a movement of reconciliation. I recall with gratitude the meeting between Pope Paul VI and His Holiness Pope Shenouda III in 1973, and the Common Christological Declaration which they signed on that occasion. I give thanks for all those who contributed to that important achievement, especially the Pro Oriente Foundation in Vienna and the International Joint Commission between the Roman Catholic and the Coptic Orthodox Church. Please God, this International Joint Commission, and the Joint International Commission for the Theological Dialogue between the Roman Catholic and the Orthodox Church will soon function normally once more, especially in view of certain fundamental ecclesiological questions needing clarification.

      4. I repeat what I wrote in my Encyclical Letter Ut Unum Sint, that whatever relates to the unity of all Christian communities clearly forms part of the concerns of the primacy of the Bishop of Rome (cf. No. 95). I therefore wish to renew the invitation to all "Church leaders and their theologians to engage with me in a patient and fraternal dialogue on this subject, a dialogue in which, leaving useless controversies behind, we could listen to one another, keeping before us only the will of Christ for his Church" (No. 96). With regard to the ministry of the Bishop of Rome, I ask the Holy Spirit to shine His light upon us, enlightening all the Pastors and theologians of our Churches, that we may seek together the forms in which this ministry may accomplish a service of love recognized by all concerned (cf. Homily, 6 December 1987, 3; Ut Unum Sint, 95). Dear Brothers, there is no time to lose in this regard!

      5. Our communion in the one Lord Jesus Christ, in the one Holy Spirit and in one baptism already represents a deep and fundamental reality. This communion enables us to bear common witness to our faith in a whole range of ways, and indeed it demands that we cooperate in bringing the light of Christ to a world in need of salvation. This common witness is all the more important at the beginning of a new century and a new millennium which present enormous challenges to the human family. For this reason too, there is no time to lose!

      As a basic condition for this common witness, we must avoid anything which might lead, once again, to distrust and discord. We have agreed to avoid any form of proselytism, or methods and attitudes opposed to the exigencies of Christian love and what should characterize the relationship between Churches (cf. Common Declaration of Pope Paul VI and Pope Shenouda III, 1973). And we recall that true charity, rooted in total fidelity to the one Lord Jesus Christ and in mutual respect for each one's ecclesial traditions and sacramental practices, is an essential element of this search for perfect communion (ibid.).

          We do not know each other sufficiently: let us therefore find ways to meet! Let us seek viable forms of spiritual communion, such as joint prayer and fasting, or mutual exchanges and hospitality between monasteries. Let us find forms of practical cooperation, especially in response to the spiritual thirst of so many people today, for the relief of their distress, in the education of the young, in securing humane conditions of life, in promoting mutual respect, justice and peace, and in advancing religious freedom as a fundamental human right.

      6. At the beginning of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, on 18th January, I opened the Holy Door of the Basilica of St. Paul-outside-the-Walls and crossed its threshold together with representatives of many Churches and Ecclesial Communities. Together with me, His Excellency Amba Bishoi of the Coptic Church, and representatives of the Orthodox Church and of the Lutheran Church raised the Book of the Gospels to the four cardinal points. This was a deeply symbolic expression of our common mission in the new millennium: together we have to bear witness to the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the saving message of life, love and hope for the world. During that same liturgy, the Apostles Creed was proclaimed by three representatives of different Churches and Ecclesial Communities ­ the first part was proclaimed by the representative of the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Alexandria. Afterwards, we offered one another the sign of peace, and for me that joyful moment was a foreshadowing and a foretaste of the full communion which we are striving to achieve among all Christ's followers. May the Spirit of God soon grant us the complete and visible unity for which we yearn!

      7. I entrust this hope to the powerful intercession of the Theotokos, the Archetype of the Church. She is the all pure, all beautiful, all holy creature, able to "be the Church" as no other creature can ever be. Sustained by her maternal presence, we shall have the courage to admit our faults and hesitations, and seek the reconciliation which will enable us to "walk in love, as Christ loved us" (cf. Eph 5:2). Venerable Brothers, may the third Christian millennium be the millennium of our full unity in the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen.

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    Events that happened today in Church History

      On this date 1,131 years ago in 869 Pope Hadrian II officially closed the landmark Eighth Ecumenical Council, also called the Fourth Council of Constantinople, which deposed the heretic Photius and effectively ended the Greek schism where the East and West were reunited for a few more centuries before the terrible split in 1154. Pope John Paul II is hoping he, too, can accomplish what Hadrian was able to do in reuniting the East and West as he emphasized in calling for more dialogue between the Churches while in Egypt this weekend. For other time capsule events that happened in Church history on this date, see MILLENNIUM MILESTONES AND MEMORIES

    Historical Events in Church Annals for February 28:

    • 869 A.D.
    • The Eighth Ecumenical Council closes at Constantinople in which the Eastern Patriarch Photius was deposed and the Greek schism ended during the pontificate of Pope Adrian II, the 106th successor of Peter.

    • 1759 A.D.
    • Pope Clement XIII allows the Bible to be translated into more languages for the benefit of evangelizing to all peoples.

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    February 25th Medjugorje Monthly Message

    NOTE: We respectfully recognize and accept the final authority regarding apparitions, locutions and prophecies presently being reported around the world rests with the Holy See of Rome and the Magisterium of Holy Mother Church to whose judjment we humbly and obediently submit.

      "Dear children! Wake up from the sleep of unbelief and sin, because this is a time of grace which God gives you. Use this time and seek the grace of healing of your heart from God, so that you may see God and man with the heart. Pray in a special way for those who have not come to know God's love, and witness with your life so that they also can come to know God and His immeasurable love. Thank you for having responded to my call."

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    February 28, 2000     volume 11, no. 41
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