February 29, 2000
volume 11, no. 42
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CATHOLIC PewPOINT editorial for Tuesday, February 29, 2000

The Pope may be slumped over, but he's in no slump!

        The Pope took a great leap of faith over the weekend and, on this leap day, we can give great thanks to the Almighty for the Holy Father's safe trip to Egypt to fulfill the Pentateuch part of his historic "Jubilee Journey." We must admit we prayed overtime for his safety for we had grave concerns for His Holiness' welfare considering the fate of others in this land of the pharaohs. Anwar Sadat, a great Egyptian leader who did so much to patch up relations between Arab and Jew, is the first that comes to mind. And now Pope John Paul II has an even greater task ahead of him as he ventures into the heart of controversy next month as he continues his papal pilgrimage in retracing Salvation History when he becomes only the second Roman Pontiff to set foot on the sacred soil of the Holy Land.

        The clay, sand and rock surface of this land that encompasses Israel, Palestine, Jordan and the southern part of Lebanon has a long, storied and troubled history that the bible and history books clearly account. Since 1948, when the State of Israel was reinstituted after nearly nineteen hundred years from the fall of Jerusalem, there has been a tenuous on-and-off truce that is very brittle between Arab and Jew. Bad feelings, resentments, and a clash of cultures has pervaded this region. Despite the attempts by the United States, most notably President Jimmy Carter, to bring peace to this region through the Camp David Accord in 1979 between Sadat and Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin - two men who so desperately wanted peace and whose time has now passed - other factions and cultural differences have greatly deteriorated that accord. Add to this tension the looming Islam shadow in Egypt to the south, Jordan to the east and Syria and Iraq to the north and Israel finds itself as the underdog David against the Muslim Goliath.

       Yet, too often this "David" is flinging stones at shadows of the past and conjuring up in their collective minds ghosts of the past they can't let go. We're not just talking about ancient times or the time of Our Lord but as recently as World War II and the Holocaust. Yes, we all know the Jews in Germany suffered terribly and were annihilated in shocking numbers that epitomized the disregard for humanity. But, damnit, it's time they placed the blame where it belonged: with a crazed leader who had alienated all: Adolf Hitler not Pope Pius XII! Yet Jewish factions continue to point the finger at this good, holy Roman Pontiff who did all he could and more, as so many Jewish organizations and rabbis have attested to - people who were there at the time of this devasting and tragic period in history. If, as these present day rabble rousers claim, Pius XII was so silent and did nothing, then why did not the first prime minister of the State of Israel David Ben Gurion, or Israel's first president Chaim Weizmann. or Golda Meir or Begin, or Head of State Ezer Weizman, or Yitshak Rabin or the current leader Ehud Barak and countless other Israeli leaders speak out against the beleaguered Italian Pope? That is because they didn't believe it then and no one should now. It is all part of the pass-the-buck blame game and anti-Catholic sentiment within certain Jewish radical factions.

        Notice, this is not prevalent with most Jews, but only certain radical ones. And it is those ultranationalists in Jerusalem we must worry about as they continue making noise and grabbing immense media coverage for their protests of the Pope's visit towards the end of March. Some Ultra-Orthodox Jews have joined the ultranationalistss in criticizing Israel's chief rabbis for their plans to meet with the Holy Father, claiming such rubbish that it "might spur Christian missionary activity." Please, give us a break! Let's face the facts: Christianity has always been in the vast minority in the Holy Land region - from the time of the early Apostles to present day. The Christian population of Israel is only 2% while the Jewish faith claims 82% and Muslim 14%. Yet, Jerusalem is split three ways with each of these monotheistic faiths sharing a section of the Holy City. Christianity is stronger in Palestine, Jordan, Lebanon and even Syria and Iraq. Yet the Church realizes the need to minister to those Catholics who do reside in Israel. There is not a growing trend to convert the Jews as much as to dialogue in finding mutual understanding between these two great faiths - both intrinsically linked to Salvation History which the Holy Father has stressed in his spiritual pilgrimage for this Jubilee Year. A special symposium with both Catholics and Jews scheduled at the Vatican in two weeks will address many issues the Pope faces in the month ahead. One thing is for sure: the Vicar of Christ has also stressed that he will avoid all politics in his "Jubilee Journey" which is to be considered by him, the Church and all the world as strictly spiritual. After all, he is the most recognized and respected spiritual leader of the world!

        That recognition and respect needs to be acknowledged by Catholics as well - specifically the liberal Catholics who seem to diss the Pope as too frail and out of touch. The media loves to latch onto this, playing up his age and his hunched-over posture as a man whose time has passed. Sorry, but his mind is as sharp as ever and that is all that counts! He could be flat on his back and we will listen and obey for he is the authorized successor of Saint Peter whom Jesus charged with the authorization of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. The Pope is the only one who can "loose on earth" and the only one who can "bind on earth" (cf. Matthew 16: 19). And speaking of binding, the Pope, upon his return from Egypt turned his attention to within and reiterated emphatically Sunday the need to adhere to what the Vatican II Council decreed. He's talking about getting rid of the 'spirit of Vatican II' and replacing it with the 'Holy Spirit of Vatican II' as he stated in his closing address at the Symposium which wrapped up on Sunday. In his concluding talk he said, "it is necessary not to lose the genuine intention of the Council Fathers; on the contrary, it must be recovered, overcoming cautious and partial interpretations that impede expressing to the maximum the novelty of the Council Magisterium." He also asserted, "to read the Council assuming that it supposes a rupture with the past, when in reality it is aligned with the everlasting faith, is clearly erroneous."

        What does the Pope mean by all this? Clearly that the pendulum is swinging back to the right and he is informing the bishops to begin to properly police the runaway liberal agenda in the liturgy so rampant in so many dioceses and parishes throughout the world, especially in the United States. It's sad how many bishops don't realize that, by allowing these abominations in the liturgy to continue and which have no semblance to what the Vatican II Council Fathers intended, they are responsible for countless souls who have either left the Church completely or stayed away from their parishes because they are so disillusioned and lost, seeking so desperately to recover that reverence and sacredness inherent in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass which too often today resembles a Protestant service. It just solidifies our call last month to bring back the "Old New Mass."

        And so, as the Pope reaches out to those of the Islam, Orthodox and Jewish faiths in a sincere and urgent effort to unify and coexist in peace, all for the honor and glory of God, he is not as out of touch as the media and modernists want you to believe. He very much has his finger on the pulse of the world and Holy Mother Church and realizes the harvest is coming soon and it will be time to separate the wheat from the chaff. By his many encyclicals and addresses during his "Jubilee Journey" he is revealing the immediacy of the harvest and by his latest statements Sunday on Vatican II misinterpretations, smart observers can see the scythe is being sharpened as the Holy Father looks forward to fulfilling the words of his encyclical - "that all may be one." Just a few months short of turning 80, the Pope may be slumped over, but he's in no slump!

Michael Cain, editor

For previous editorials this year, go to PAST CATHOLIC PewPOINTS

February 29, 2000
volume 11, no. 42

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