March 28, 2000
volume 11, no. 62
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CATHOLIC PewPOINT editorial for Tuesday, March 28, 2000

The Sojourn of a Saint on Sacred Soil!

        What a week it was! While it had to be grueling and exhausting for John Paul II, under two months shy of turning 80 years-old, this editor must admit he's still a bit bleary-eyed from the Holy Father's week-long "Jubilee Journey" to the Holy Land. We say that because we burned the midnight oil from Monday on, staying up late to catch live coverage of the Papal Pilgrimage first in Jordan, then Jerusalem, then Bethlehem, back to Jerusalem, up to Galilee, back to Jerusalem, back up to Nazareth and back to Jerusalem for the final day. The only network covering the Holy Father live was Mother Angelica's faithful and excellent EWTN. MSNBC at times covered the Pope live but that was mostly when it involved politicians, not spiritual journeys or Masses. Under the expert baton of Raymond Arroyo, News Director for EWTN, the network provided introspective commentary by the Franciscan priest who is the Pilgrimage Director for the Province of the Custody of the Holy Land out of Washington D.C. Father Kevin Treston, OFM and Father Mary Francis Stone, MFVA who hails from Mother's Order as one of the charter members of the Franciscan Missionaries of the Eternal Word. Key insight also came from lay men Colin Donovan, Vice President of Theology for EWTN, Patrick Madrid, editor of Envoy Magazine, and Jeff Cavins, host of "Life on the Rock" on EWTN. The latter,with Arroyo, had made a pilgrimage to the sites the Holy Father was visiting and the pictures and their comments proved quite interesting and revealing. This especially held true at the Church of the Primacy of Peter in Tabgha where it was early evening when the Pope visited this site as well as Simon Peter's own house in Capernaum. Their video showed the twelve stone tables leading from the church directly into the Sea of Galilee and is where, after the Resurrection as Chapter 21 of John records, Our Lord was cooking fish while waiting for Peter and some of his fellow Apostles to return from their fishing expedition. It was here He told Peter, "Feed My Sheep" (John 21: 17). That, and the coverage of the Basilica of the Annunciation and Basilica of the Holy Sepulchre were outstanding, giving us history and nuances about these edifices and artifacts that you won't find anywhere else.

        EWTN provided full live coverage and then repeated it during the day and for those blessed to be able to receive the network they got the full flavor of this historic "Jubilee Journey" which major media missed. So why would we stay up into the wee hours of the morning to watch it live instead of catching the reruns a few hours later during the normal business hours of the day? Simply because we can only get EWTN between the hours of 2 a.m. and 6 a.m. That's it! We live in a county where over 25% of the population of San Diego is Catholic and where we readily have cable companies that carry over 100 stations, departmentalizing to include minorities with as few as ten thousand people getting their own channel 24 hours a day and countless other channels devoted to specific interests. But for Catholics they cannot get EWTN 24 hours a day on either Cox Cable, the biggest supplier of cable in San Diego, or Southwest, the second largest, or Daniels Cable in North County. Why is this? We have sent numerous requests and been met with no replies. We also blame the dioceses where EWTN cannot be accessed 24 hours for they have clout and can convince cable companies to carry Mother's programming. But few do. What are they afraid of? Are they fearful Catholics will see how reverent the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass can be compared to the circus atmosphere in many parishes in many sees across the country? Are they fearful that Catholics might start comparing notes? Are they afraid that what Catholics hear on EWTN, which is solid Roman Catholic doctrine the way it should be taught, is quite a bit different from some of the pablum and heresy they're hearing in their pulpits in their own parishes? Are they afraid Catholics will cut back tithing to their parish and earmark some of that to Mother because there they are getting solid doctrine? It goes hand in hand with the axiom, "No doctrine, no dollars!" Those can be the only summations if the bishops don't promote the only full-time Roman Catholic network available. In San Diego it's doubly frustrating because the new Catholic Radio Network cannot be accessed either, which is compounded even moreso by the fact headquarters for the network are in La Jolla!

       We would hope and pray that it is merely an oversight on the part of our shepherd Bishop Robert Brom and not adherence to an unspoken policy promoted by some bishops to silence Mother. The Bishop of San Diego's proximity to Cardinal Roger Mahony, who had his tete a tete with Mother, is a concern. In that respect, if you'll notice, all's been quiet on the western front. The threats the Los Angeles cardinal fired at Mother have died down to a whisper because the Hollywood-born prelate realizes Mother is in total obedience and accord with Rome and he can't fight city hall...in this case - the Holy See. And it is Mother who is the only one giving Catholics full television coverage of what is happening at the Vatican on a regular basis. Sadly the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops could add so much by endorsing EWTN and complementing it with even more and making it available to every Catholic home in America as well as non-Catholic home. After all, that is how conversions begin, by being exposed to the Faith. Yet, stubbornly they resist. Led by Cardinal Mahony and Archbishop Rembert Weakland, OSB of Milwaukee, there is a contingent of prelates who coil at the mention of this feisty, Franciscan Italian-descent nun who has built a broadcasting empire on prayer and faith. The conference, which used to be called NCCB, has its number of staunch supporters for what Mother is doing; men like Cardinal John J. O'Connor, Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, OFM Cap, Bishop Fabian Bruskewitz, Bishop John J. Myers, and Archbishop Theodore McCarrick to name a few better known prelates among a growing list of converts to the wisdom of providing EWTN to their flocks. But there are still those who stubbornly persist in opposing this logical union of two great sources - the Diocese and EWTN.

        Why? It's called control! Why is that they insist on controlling what is programmed when everything that can be found on EWTN is in full compliance with the Dogmas, Doctrines, and Traditions of Holy Mother Church? Again, the syllogism comes down to: Ergo, they must be teaching a different doctrine! If not, why would they oppose such an excellent vehicle that complements the Faith and Vatican-approved Diocesan programs? Could it also be because Mother and her well-qualified board of theological advisers do not promote the RCIA program as it is today? Could that be because the true Faith gets so watered down in many Diocesan-sponsored RCIA programs and sentiments of tolerance are translated into acceptance of dissidents like Call to Action or We are church or even 'catholics' for a free choice through the infiltration of such agendas as Renew 2000? Could it be that dioceses have rubberstamped workbooks for CCD and Confirmation classes that add to the confusion and accept political correctness to the detriment of what it truly means to be Catholic? No wonder so many Catholics are confused.

        Catholics can be more confused if they watch or read the secular Scribes and Pharisees' account of the Pope's trip to the Holy Land. They couch everything with negatives and constantly harp on the Pope's frailty. Wouldn't you like to see the spoiled media try stay in step with this "slow-moving" Pontiff considering his rugged, demanding itinerary? Wouldn't it be nice if the bishops and pastors informed their flocks more of what this "Jubilee Journey" really means? A Spiritual Search of Salvation History.

        Considering what he accomplished in the Holy Land in just one week, maybe the Holy Father needs to plan a "Jubilee Journey" to the U.S. to reeducate many bishops that they need to be responsive to the needs of the people as God wills it, not as extraneous fractured groups demand. He's echoed these things in his ad limina addresses to every American bishop. Have some of his words fallen on deaf ears? Maybe he needs to remind many that they cannot administer to their flocks if they persist in remaining in their ivory towers and continue to procrastinate in cleaning up problems with dissidents. Maybe he needs to be more forceful in convincing the bishops to be more acceptable to those who advocate a return to a more traditional Post-Vatican II mentality in the liturgy and strict translation of the Council Fathers' directives. Notice we didn't say "Pre-Vatican II" which the Pope has promoted for those who desire it through his document Ecclesia Dei. While we would love to see a return to the Tridentine Mass, we strongly support the next best thing: a return to the "old New Mass" - the Novus Ordo as the Council Fathers directed, with both Latin and English incorporated into the body of the Mass - the readings and various prayers in English - Psalms, Our Father, etc.; the important prayers such as responses, Sanctus, Agnus Dei, etc. in Latin along with the Greek Kyrie Eleison. Oh, and bring back the wonderful bells, too! If anyone can sway the bishops of America, it is the Bishop of Rome who all the world admires and trusts.

        As we all know, he has just completed a historic Papal Pilgrimage in a land torn with strife where mistrust, fear and resentments run deep. Into this atmosphere the Vicar of Christ ventured fearlessly and soothed the savage beast, being available for kings and paupers and everyone in between. He didn't flinch when speaking forthrightly on behalf of establishing a homeland for the displaced Palestinians; he didn't back down when confronting the stark memories echoing hauntingly in the stark Yad Veshem Memorial to the Holocaust in Jerusalem; he didn't mince words when calling for Israel to honor the human dignity of Palestinians and Lebonese; he was not afraid to meet with ultra-right Orthodox rabbis - most notably Israel Meir Lau who has been one of the Pope's and Pius XII's strongest critics - and win them over; he didn't hesitate in meeting with the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, Islam's highest ranking religious leader in the Holy Land; he boldly offered the olive branch to the Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem His Beatitude Diodoros I. While the modern Scribes and Pharisees tried to equate his trip as political, much as the Scribes and Pharisees attempted with Christ, so also this holy Pontiff avoided the traps laid and emerged unscathed from the political quagmire he encountered, winning over all sides...even the most skeptic secular media, who, as soon as he was on the plane back to Rome, chalked it off as old news and turned their attention to the Oscars, Russian president Putin and Clinton's return from his junket to India and Pakistan where, in true analysis, he met with failure. But the secular Scribes and Pharisees won't tell you that.

        And your news programs, newspapers and cablecasts will tell you little of the impact this man of God had in the holiest of lands where, despite the naysayers, John Paul II truly did make it a spiritual journey. Who could not feel his joy, his ecstasy as he knelt in silent prayer at the spot where the Archangel Gabriel first appeared to the Blessed Virgin Mary at the Annunciation, where Christ was born in Bethlehem, where He was baptized by John the Baptist? Here the Holy Father again avoided controversy and criticism by honoring both claimed sites on both sides of the Jordan - assuring there would be no animosity from Jordan or Palestine. Who could not wonder in awe as he spoke of the Beatitudes to over 100,000 on the same spot above the Sea of Galilee where nearly 2,000 years earlier a much smaller multitude gathered to hear Jesus' words? Who could not experience the trauma of this aging Pontiff humbly climbing the stairs to the spot within the Basilica of the Holy Sepulchre where the stone of Golgotha could be found and venerating this sacred spot? Then there was the sight of him ducking his stooped-over shoulders even lower to navigate the narrow, low overhead tomb where Our Lord's sacred body was lain on the slab. This was a piece of rock that the Supreme Pontiff seemingly could not take his palms off for he was so engulfed in meditation and one with the Savior. Who will ever forget His Holiness stoking the embers of the furnace-like modern memorial to the Holocaust in the Yad Veshem Memorial, then shuttling slowly across the stone black floor, embedded with the names of victims and concentration camps, to humbly meet survivors on the other side of the room representing each Nazi death camp? Protocol would have called for the survivors to walk over to him, but in humility, as the servant of servants, no matter the physical pain, he waved that off and made the slow journey across the cold floor on his own. Who will forget the emotions that gushed forth when he embraced long-lost Jewish friends from his days as a young teen in Poland, or his encounter with the Jewish woman whom he saved from certain death while he was a young priest? And finally, think of the sentiments he must have felt as he stood alone before the huge, rough-hewn "Wailing Wall" in Western Jerusalem. Dwarfed by these stones that can be traced back to the time of Solomon, he took the weight of the world on his shoulders and placed the apology he had first uttered on March 12th into a crevice in the wall. Truly a promise in stone! And through it all, a time to truly celebrate our Faith and be even more proud to be Catholic! That is, if you had EWTN!

        Wherever the Sovereign Pontiff went, he exemplified Christ in every way and the Pope's meek and prudent New Testament theme of faith, hope, love and reconciliation contrasted greatly with the Old Covenant manner of many rabbis and the get-tough eye-for-an-eye attitude of many Jews and Muslims. But, unless you have EWTN full time, no doubt you didn't have those chance-of-a-lifetime experiences to share with the Holy Father in this special "Jubilee Journey." It was an excellent chance to show the authenticity of the Church, to portray the spiritual roots of our Faith, to mine the depths of tradition. Representing tens of thousands of loyal, Orthodox Catholics we call on the bishops of America to comply with Our Lord's command in John 21, "Feed My sheep."...please! It's a shame more of God's lambs didn't have EWTN for it was truly the only opportunity to be nourished and see first hand the sojourn of a saint on sacred soil!

Michael Cain, editor

For previous editorials this year, go to PAST CATHOLIC PewPOINTS

March 28, 2000
volume 11, no. 62

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