In his column today, Pat Ludwa exposes the true Scribes and Pharisees today who point their accusatory finger at the Magisterium and the Vicar of Christ in condemning the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church because they refuse to kowtow to their demands which are diametrically opposed to Church doctrine. Like the Scribes and Pharisees of Our Lord's time, groups like A Call to Action, We are church, WomenChurch, 'catholics' for a Free Choice, and the rest of today's "brood of vipers" coil in readiness to strike with venomous vituperation, sinking their farcical fangs of falliciousness into the bloodstream of the Mystical Body of Christ. Pat shows, through the Word, that there is no difference from those Scribes and Pharisees who hoodwinked the masses and masterminded Christ's death to the modern Scribes and Pharisees who follow the same slithering path. For his column today, Today's Scribes and Pharisees , see VIEW FROM THE PEW
To some, Christ was marked for death because He was a social revolutionary, upsetting the status quo. But this isn't so. "Think not that I have come to abolish the law and the prophets; I have come not to abolish them but to fulfill them" (Matthew 5:17). "Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesars, and to God the things that are God's" (Matthew 22:21).
Christ followed the law. He never taught to ignore any teacher of the faith. "Then said Jesus to the crowds and to His disciples, 'The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses' seat; so practice and observe whatever they tell you,'" (Matthew 23:1-3).
So, obviously, Christ wasn't a social revolutionary as some try to portray Him. He observed the Sabbath, He did everything the law of Moses required Him to do. He even told the people to pay their taxes to Caesar. But He also chastised the tax collectors for taking more than they should. And He also chastised the Scribes and Pharisees who thought more of themselves and their wants than of God and His wants. "They do all their deeds to be seen by men; for they make their phylacteries broad and their fringes long, and they love the place of honor at feasts and the best seats in the synagogues, and salutations in the market places, and being called rabbi by men" (Matthew 23:5-7).
They were drawing attention to themselves, looking for the praise of men rather than God. Now, today, who do we see being trotted out as 'enlightened, good' Catholics? Cardinal Ratzinger? Pope John Paul II? Cardinal O'Connor? Mother Angelica? No, we see Fr. Andrew Greeley, Charles Curran, Hans Kung, Rosemary Ruether, Archbishop Weakland, et al, being given the place of honor. "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within they are full of dead men's bones and all uncleanness. So you also outwardly appear righteous to men, but within you are full of hypocrisy and iniquity" (Matthew 23:27-28).
Giving the appearance of righteousness, they, in fact, are far from it. They were far from the light, even rejecting it since it would mean a change in their lives. "For every one who does evil hates the light, and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed" (John 3:20).
So, they had to find a way to blot out the light, to get rid of Jesus who exposed them for what they were. First, they tried to get the people to turn away from Him. They tried to make Him appear, not to be from God, but from satan. "Then a blind and dumb demoniac was brought to Him, and He healed him, so that the dumb man spoke and saw. And all the people were amazed, and said, 'Can this be the Son of David?' But when the Pharisees heard it they said, 'It is only by Beelzebub, the prince of demons, that this man casts out demons'" (Matthew 12:22-24).
Besides anti-Catholic fundamentalists who attack the Church as the church of satan, we have so called 'catholics' who say the same thing - that the Church opposes the will of God and does evil by her teaching. So, in this regard, we see that truly, the new Scribes and Pharisees seem more to be in the camp of Call To Action than anywhere else. "But the Pharisees went out and took counsel against Him, how to destroy Him" (Matthew 12:14). "we need people with chisels inside (the church) chiseling away at that institution or it is never going to fall." (Sister Maureen Fiedler at the 20th anniversary meeting of the Women's Ordination Conference in the Washington D.C., November 10-12, 1995). "Now the chief priests and the whole council sought testimony against Jesus to put Him to death; but they found none. For many bore false witness against Him, and their witness did not agree. And some stood up and bore false witness against Him, saying, 'We heard Him say, 'I will destroy this temple that is made with hands, and in three days I will build another, not made with hands.' Yet not even so did their testimony agree. And the high priest stood up in the midst, and asked Jesus, 'Have you no answer to make? What is it that these men testify against You?' But He was silent and made no answer. Again the high priest asked Him, 'Are You the Christ, the Son of the Blessed?' And Jesus said, 'I am; and you will see the Son of man seated at the right hand of Power, and coming with the clouds of Heaven.' And the high priest tore His garments, and said, 'Why do we still need witnesses? You have heard His blasphemy. What is your decision?' And they all condemned Him as deserving death" (Mark 14:55-64).
The Church teaches that Christ is the Son of God, yet we read how that claim is challenged with 'enlightened' catholics. Christ vs. Sophia goddess. Rosemary Ruether once spoke of Jesus as a 'symbol' some might want to retain. ("Women and Spirituality; Mankato State Univ., Minnesota) A symbol? In fact, one of the hallmarks of the 'liberal consensus' (their own term) is that Jesus was not, and never claimed to be divine. We hear them rush to the defense of those like Fr. De Mello who "considers Jesus as a master alongside others. The only difference from other men is that Jesus is "awake" and fully free, while others are not. Jesus is not recognized as the Son of God, but simply as the one who teaches us that all people are children of God." (NOTIFICATION CONCERNING THE WRITINGS OF FR. ANTHONY DE MELLO, SJ June 24, 1998; Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith) This isn't Christianity, but a New Age notion of ascended 'masters'. Again, who truly sounds like the Scribes and Pharisees?
"Then the whole company of them arose, and brought Him before Pilate. And they began to accuse Him, saying, 'We found this man perverting our nation, and forbidding us to give tribute to Caesar, and saying that He Himself is Christ a king.' And Pilate asked Him, 'Are you the King of the Jews?' And He answered him, 'You have said so.' And Pilate said to the chief priests and the multitudes, 'I find no crime in this man' "(Luke 23:1-4). Here we see Christ's enemies working to get the governing authority to condemn Christ. They claimed that He opposed paying the taxes to Caesar and placing Himself over Caesar (which would be treason and punishable by death). Yet the charges are false and trumped up. We hear the same today.
Frances Kissling of "'catholics' for a Free Choice" with other pro-abortion groups, have worked long and hard to portray the Church as un-American, and recently have renewed their efforts to have the Vatican removed from the United Nations. "March 24 1999 New York, NY - Distraught by the Catholic Church's efforts to offer a pro-life perspective within the United Nations, Catholics for a Free Choice launched an effort to revoke the Vatican's non-member state permanent observer UN status. The group's leader, Frances Kissling-whose organization has no membership, no standing within the Church, and is funded primarily by the Ford Foundation-questioned the legitimacy of the Vatican state. 'Why should a few acres of office space and tourist attractions in the center of Rome have a voice in making United Nations policy?' she asked." Again, who sounds like the real Pharisees? "But they were urgent, saying, 'He stirs up the people, teaching throughout all Judea, from Galilee even to this place'" (Luke 23:5).
"The anti-choice cause did not win in the nation's courts. They did not win in the court of public opinion. They did not win in the nation's elections. And its advocates will not prevail by trampling our traditions or trafficking in terror. These appalling attacks are assaults not merely against a single building or a single gender but against America's deepest principles. In nations with different traditions, they believe that power comes out of the barrel of a gun. But in this nation we know that true power comes out of disparate voices of a free people." (Transcript of Vice President Gore's Remarks Before NARAL; January 21, 1997) Is this a veiled attack on the Church? A strong anti-choice (pro-life) advocate. Is he implying that the Church implicitly or explicitly advocates violence? Among militant gays and their supporters, they claim that Church teaching condemning homosexual sex is a hate crime advocating violence toward gays. 'Stirring up the people.'
"March, 1999 Los Angeles, CA - Former talk show host Phil Donahue ( a graduate of St. Edwards Catholic High School in Cleveland, Ohio) spoke to a gay and lesbian bash in Los Angeles and 'railed against the Catholic Church's 'promotion of homophobia.'" Again, who really sounds like modern day Pharisees?
The Scribes and Pharisees of Jesus; day pretty much forced Pilate to choose. The truth, by which he would release Christ since he found nothing that He was guilty of...or political survival? "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'" (John 19:12).
Pilate turned Christ over, not because it was just, or because He was guilty of any crime, but because it was politically expedient to do so. Turning the people against Christ, and peppering the crowd with their supporters, the Scribes and Pharisees managed to coerce the governing body of Jerusalem, to act against Christ. Like wise, we see the same thing today. "In closing let me say, especially today, thank you, NARAL, for pushing through the important legislation that must be a bulwark against this violence--legislation like the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act "(Transcript of Vice President Gore's Remarks Before NARAL; January 21, 1997) That Act, of course, had nothing to do with protecting those who work in abortion clinics or going into them, but simply to silence pro-life protests and demonstrations. Just as they reworded laws protecting people from racketeering to include those people and organizations which demonstrate against abortion. And just like they'll use so-called 'hate crime' legislation to silence the Church in regards to abortion and homosexual acts.
As Al Gore pointed out in his speech to NARAL; "And on this anniversary of Rove vs. Wade when some will try and tug us backward to a time before that historic moment, we must commit ourselves to moving forward beyond a debate about just abortion. We are not and we never have been pro-abortion obviously. We are pro-choice, pro-reproductive health, pro-education, pro-strong families, pro-women, pro-Constitutional rights, pro the spirit of the United States of American which will forever stand." Since the pro-abortion faction is "pro-choice, pro-reproductive health, pro-education, pro-strong families, pro-women, pro-Constitutional rights, pro the spirit of the United States of American which will forever stand.", then obviously, the Church is (supposedly) 'anti-choice, anti-reproductive health, anti-education, anti-strong family, anti-woman, anti-Constitution, and anti-spirit of the United States.' Just as the Scribes and Pharisees portrayed Christ as such for His day.
Where may we find the true Scribes and Pharisees of today? Not in the Magisterium, but in the ranks of Call To Action, Dignity, WomenChurch, FutureChurch, etc.
Where will we find the true followers of Christ? "If the world hates you, know that it has hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you, 'A servant is not greater than his master.' If they persecuted Me, they will persecute you; if they kept My word, they will keep yours also. But all this they will do to you on My account, because they do not know Him Who sent Me" (John 15: 18-21).
Contrast that with Call to Action, et al, who preach that the Church has to change to suit the world. If you still need a sign to see where the followers of Christ are? "Blessed are you when men hate you, and when they exclude you and revile you, and cast out your name as evil, on account of the Son of man! Rejoice in that day, and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is great in Heaven; for so their fathers did to the prophets" (Luke 6:22-23).
And of the Pharisees of today? "Woe to you, when all men speak well of you, for so their fathers did to the false prophets" (Luke 6:26).
Hate and intolerance are not found in the Church within the halls of the Vatican. You won't find it in the Pope and the Magisterium. The Holy Father proved that emphatically during his inspiring Papal pilgrimage last week. The real hatred and intolerance lies in those organizations and people who are the Scribes and Pharisees of today. Those who call themselves the 'liberal consensus'. Like the 'whitewashed tombs' Christ spoke of, they 'appear' pure and bright, but are in fact, full of dead men's bones and corruption.
Pax Christi, Pat
Today we bring you the Holy Father's regular public Papal Audience from this past Wednesday afternoon, his first since his return from his historic "Jubilee Journey" last week. Addressing the crowd in St. Peter's Square, he enthusiastically recounted his past week in the Holy Land as the highlight of his twenty-one and a half year pontificate. In his short discourse, His Holiness expressed gratitude to God and shared with all his constant prayer to the Almighty to be with him and, in the words of Saint Francis "make me an instrument of Your Peace." Those in attendance heard first hand the depth of meaning that each step held for the Holy Father and for all of us who walked in spirit with him in the footsteps of Christ Himself. See THE VICAR OF CHRIST SPEAKS
1. After the commemoration of Abraham and the brief but intense visit to Egypt and Mount Sinai, my Jubilee pilgrimage to the holy places led me to the Land that saw the birth, life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, and the first steps of the Church. The joy and gratitude that I carry in my heart for this gift from the Lord, which I longed for so much, are inexpressible. After having been in the Holy Land during the Second Vatican Council, I have now had the grace to go back there, together with some of my colleagues, in this Great Jubilee Year, bimillennial of the origins, the roots of the faith and of the Church.
I thank the Latin Patriarch and Bishops of the various Eastern Catholic Churches present in the Holy Land, together with the Franciscan Custodians, for the warm welcome and great work accomplished. I send heartfelt thanks to the Jordanian, Israeli and Palestinian authorities, who welcomed me and supported my religious itinerary. I appreciate the responsibility that they bore for the success of the trip, and I reassure them of the concern of the Holy See for a just peace among all people of the region. I am grateful to the people of these countries for the great cordiality which they showed to me.
2. The first stop, on Mount Nebo, was in continuity with Sinai. From high atop this mountain Moses contemplated the Promised Land, after having accomplished the mission God entrusted to him, and before offering his soul up to God. I began my itinerary, in a certain sense, from this very glance of Moses, taking note of the intimate suggestion, that crosses the centuries and millenniums.
This glance turned toward the valley of the Jordan and the desert of Judah, where, in the fullness of time, the voice of John the Baptist, sent by God as the new Elijah to prepare the way for the Messiah, would resound. Jesus wanted to be baptized by him, revealing Himself as the Lamb of God Who took upon Himself the sin of the world. The figure of John the Baptist started me in the footsteps of Christ. With joy I celebrated a solemn Mass in the Amman stadium for the Christian community living there. I found this community rich in religious fervor and fitting well into the social milieu of the country.
3. Leaving Amman, I stayed overnight at the Apostolic Delegation in Jerusalem. From there, the first stop was Bethlehem, that city which was the birthplace of King David three thousand years ago. A thousand years later, according to the Scriptures, the Messiah was born there. In this year 2000, Bethlehem is at the center of the Christian world's attention. In fact, it is from there that the Light of the people, Christ the Lord, emanates; from there ushers the announcement of peace for all who love God.
Together with my colleagues, the Catholic Ordinaries, some Cardinals and numerous other Bishops, I celebrated the Holy Mass in the central square of the city, which is attached to the grotto in which Mary gave birth to the Jesus and laid Him in a manger. In this mystery the joy of Christmas and of the Great Jubilee was renewed. The prophesy of Isaiah seemed to be heard again: "A child is born for us, a son has been given to us" (Is 9:5), together with the angelic message: "I am bringing you news of great joy for all the people: to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, Who is the Messiah, the Lord" (Lk 2:10-11).
That afternoon I knelt with emotion in the grotto of the Nativity, where I felt the entire Church was spiritually present; all the poor of the world, among whom God chose to make His camp. This is a God Who made Himself an exile and refugee to bring us back to His house. This thought accompanied me while, before leaving the Autonomous Palestinian Territory, I visited in Bethlehem one of the many camps, where for too long more than three million Palestinian refugees have lived. May everyone's efforts finally lead to a solution to this sorrowful problem.
4. The memory of Jerusalem is indelibly written on my heart. Great is the mystery of this city, in which the fullness of time was made, so to say, "fullness of space". Jerusalem, in fact, hosted the central and culminating event of salvation history: the paschal mystery of Christ. In Jerusalem, the purpose for which the Word took flesh was revealed and realized: in His death on the cross and in His resurrection "all was accomplished" (cf Jn 19:30). On Calvary the Incarnation was made manifest as Redemption, according to the eternal design of God.
The stones of Jerusalem bear silent and eloquent witness to this mystery. I began at the Upper Room, where I celebrated the Holy Eucharist in the same place that Jesus instituted it. There, where the Christian priesthood was born, I remembered all priests, and I signed my letter to them for this coming Holy Thursday.
The olives and rock of Gethsemani testify to the mystery where Christ, seized by mortal anguish, prayed to the Father before His Passion. In an entirely particular way, Calvary and the empty tomb, the Holy Sepulcher, bear witness to those dramatic hours. Last Sunday, the Lord's Day, I renewed there the proclamation of salvation that crosses the centuries and millenniums: Christ is risen! It was this moment in which my pilgrimage reached its culmination. For this I felt the need to stop again in prayer in the evening on Calvary, where Christ shed His blood for humanity.
5. In Jerusalem, holy city for Jews, Christians, and Muslims, I met the two Chief Rabbis of Israel and the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem and the Holy Land. I then met with representatives of these two other monotheistic religions, Judaism and Islam. In spite of its many difficulties, Jerusalem is called to become the symbol of peace among those believers in the God of Abraham and put themselves under His law. May we be able to hasten the accomplishment of this plan!
At Yad Vashem, the Memorial of the Shoah, I paid my respects to the millions of Jews who were victims of Nazism. Once more I expressed my profound sorrow for this terrifying tragedy, and I confirmed that "we want to remember" to take the responsibility together -- Jews, Christians, and all men and women of good will -- to defeat evil with good, to walk the path of peace.
Today numerous Churches live their faith in the Holy Land, as heirs of ancient traditions. This diversity is a great richness, provided that it is accompanied by a spirit of communion in full adherence to the faith of the Fathers. The ecumenical meeting, which took place in the Greek-Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem with intense participation on the part of all, signaled an important step on the path toward full unity among Christians. It gave me great joy to be able to talk with His Beatitude Diodoros, Greek-Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem, and with His Beatitude Torkom Monoogian, Armenian Patriarch of Jerusalem. I invite everyone to pray that the process of understanding and collaboration among Christians of various Churches will develop and come together.
6. A special blessing of this pilgrimage was celebrating Mass on the Mount of the Beatitudes, near the Sea of Galilee, with crowds of youth coming both from the Holy Land and from all over the world. What a hope-filled moment! As I proclaimed and delivered to the young people God's Commandments and the Beatitudes, I saw in them the future of the Church and of the world.
Still on the banks of the Sea, I visited with great emotion Tabgha, where Christ multiplied the loaves, the "place of primacy", where He entrusted to Peter the pastoral guidance of the Church, and finally, in Capernaum, the ruins of Peter's house and of the synagogue, in which Jesus revealed Himself as the Bread come down from Heaven to give life to the world (Jn 6:28-58).
Galilee! Homeland of Mary and of the first disciples; homeland of the missionary Church among the peoples! I think that Peter always had it in his heart; and the same is true for his successor!
7. On the liturgical feast of the Annunciation, as if returning to the source of the mystery of faith, I went and knelt in the grotto of the Annunciation in Nazareth. Here, in the womb of Mary, "the Word was made flesh and came to live among us" (Jn 1:14). Reflecting on the Virgin's "fiat", it is possible to hear, in adoring silence, the "yes" full of love of God and men, the "amen" of the eternal Son, that opened to every man the way of salvation. There, in the reciprocal self-giving of Christ and Mary, are the hinges of every "holy door." There, where God was made man, humanity found again its dignity and highest vocation.
I thank those in the various dioceses, in the religious houses, and in the contemplative communities, who followed spiritually the steps of my pilgrimage, and I give my assurance that I brought the whole Church with me in prayer to the places I visited. While I once more express my gratitude to the Lord for this unforgettable experience, I ask Him with humble faith that He bring forth from it abundant fruit for the good of the Church and and humanity.