Blogwatcher - The last Vatican II Pope

BY STEFAN GIGACZ   It's ten years this week since President George W. Bush launched the "shock and awe" attack on Iraq by the "Coalition of the Willing". Boston College academic Kevin Ahern looks back:   My heart is heavy today as we commemorate the 10th anniversary of the US-led invasion of Iraq—an unjust and arguably illegal preemptive action...   A decade ago I was quite active in the anti-war efforts. I marched in Washington, DC; I organized study sessions; I dressed in black in protest; I wrote to members of congress; I even fasted for a time with a group of Dominicans and peace activists in New York. But still, I feel as if I failed. The war happened.   As president of the International Movement of Catholic Students (2003-2007), I undertook a solidarity visit to Iraqi refugee youth. I had the chance to meet refugees and see their plight in Jordan and Lebanon. I was warmly welcomed into an apartment of one Iraqi refugee family in Amman who shared with me how the war destroyed their lives. I celebrated Mass with Iraqi refugee communities in the ancient rite. I communicated with Iraqi Catholic students and mobilized advocacy efforts at the United Nations. And still, I feel as if I had failed them. Despite my efforts I could not stop the suffering. Did I do enough?   * * *   Townsville priest, Fr Michael Taylor was an Australian army chaplain in Iraq and he took to Twitter to share his reflections:

Yes. I believe demons exist. Seriously. Things I found in Iraq esp in ex-torture area seethed with malice I've not forgotten.

In the midst of the gloom, however, there was still room for comradeship:

Iraq -- yep, even in Baghdad we couldnt resist doing fair-dinkum bbqs....

— Fr Michael Taylor (@FrMickTaylor) March 22, 2013

But this weekend he opened a new account to deal with a more pressing need:

This account run by Fr Mick Taylor. I have closed down my own account to focus on this one.

— Bp Michael - Prayers (@tsvHope) March 23, 2013

Daily Prayer for Bp MichaelLord, give him strength to coninue leadingus in hope.Amen…

— Bp Michael - Prayers (@tsvHope) March 23, 2013

Bishop Michael Putney's Easter Message 2013… via @vidgrids

— Bp Michael - Prayers (@tsvHope) March 23, 2013

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Forty years after the signing of the Paris Peace Accords that were meant to bring peace to Vietnam, Jesuit-published America Magazine recalls how it shifted from being pro- to anti-war:

The 1973 Paris Peace Accords, however, formally ended U.S. ground involvement in the longest war in American history. The agreement also marked the start of a long, agonizing process of national self-reflection. The Vietnam War had destroyed a presidency, divided the country and wrecked havoc on the American psyche... Throughout the country in 1973, Americans were wrestling with their complicity in what many now conceded was an objectively immoral conflict.

This magazine was no exception. America’s commentary on U.S. policy in Vietnam had gone on as long as the war itself. As the historical narrative in the present issue shows, America was loath to see the true character of the conflict. A year and a half prior to the Paris Peace Accords, though, we had dramatically shifted our editorial stance: “What we must do is ask ourselves about our complicity,” the editors wrote in April 1971; the loss of innocent human life had “mounted beyond the point of any possible proportionate gain in the name of justice.” The conclusion of that editorial was correct, but we were painfully slow to reach it; slower than most of our peers in the Catholic press, certainly slower than the antiwar activists we had casually dismissed as irrelevant.

* * *

Meanwhile, the Pontifical Council for Social Communications is concerned that Batman films are becoming more violent. They are also getting more tabloid in their outlook and even tweet their headline:

Holy switcheroo! Batman has grown bitter, more vengeful with the years

— VaticanCommunication (@PCCS_VA) March 21, 2013 Which caused others to worry that their Twitter account had been hacked!

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But prayer still trumps technology when it comes to incoming asteroids, according to NASA director Charles Bolden, who warns that if we discover one about to strike the Earth, there's only one thing to do, reports:

Rep. Bill Posey (R-Fla.) asked what NASA would do if a large asteroid headed on a collision course with Earth was discovered today with only three weeks before impact.

"The answer to you is, 'if it's coming in three weeks, pray,'" Bolden said.

* * *

Rejection of Darwin's theory of evolution is often associated with fundamentalist Christians but David Gallagher at Mercatornet points to an atheist philosopher who has questions of his own:
Last fall, Philosophy Professor Thomas Nagel of New York University published a small book entitled Mind and Cosmos: Why the Materialist Neo-Darwinian Conception of Nature is Almost Certainly False (Oxford University Press). The book is important for more than its contents. Nagel is one of the most respected Anglo-American philosophers and also a self-declared atheist (“I lack the sensus divinitatis that enables—indeed compels—so many people to see in the world the expression of divine purpose”). Consequently his criticisms of neo-Darwinian evolutionary theory cannot be written off as one more attempt to defend religion, but rather need to be dealt with on their own terms, as attacks on the adequacy of the theory itself.   Gallagher continues:
Nagel points to three things that we encounter in the world which cannot be adequately explained within this materialist-reductionist framework: consciousness, reason or mind, and moral values. We should not try to explain these things away—as often happens—just because they do not square with the reductionist view of nature. Rather, he argues, it is the reductionist view itself that needs to be questioned.
* * *   Here's a point about Pope Benedict that seems to have been largely overlooked: he was the last of five popes who actually participated at Vatican II.

Pope John XIII called the Council and took part in the First Session.

Pope Paul VI took part in the First Session as Cardinal Giovanni Montini of Milan and in the last three sessions as pontiff.

Pope John Paul I participated in all four sessions as Bishop Albino Luciani of Vittoria Veneto, Italy.

Pope John Paul II was active at all four sessions as auxiliary bishop and archbishop of Cracow, Poland.

Pope Benedict XVI played a role in all four sessions as theological adviser to Cardinal Josef Frings of Cologne, Germany.   That makes Pope Francis the first genuinely post-Vatican II pope. And as we continue to get to know Pope Francis, here's an interesting interview with him recorded six months before his election:     Importantly, fellow Argentinian Jesuit Fr Francisco Jalics has confirmed that he is now convinced that his then superior Fr Bergoglio did not denounce him to the military during the 1970s.   Brazilian liberation theologian Leonardo Boff has also come out on the side of Pope Francis, saying that "Bergoglio took the side of those victims and demanded social justice".   More mundanely, the Irish Examiner reports that a mystery woman entered an Irish pub hours before the election of Pope Francis and advised drinkers to put their money on Cardinal Bergoglio, which a number of them did with happy results.   And in case anyone is still wondering what we should call Pope Francis, The Carmelite Library has all the answers here.   * * *   On the inter-religious front, Michelle Haas from the University of Califonia at Santa Barbara has this story of ten women Buddhist leaders:   While iconic archetypes of feminine enlightenment (dakinis in the ancient language of Sanskrit) were erected on shrines, few women in Asia were actually emboldened to follow in their footsteps. That women participate equally is probably the single biggest change with Buddhism being established in the West. Here are ten extraordinary female teachers of Tibetan Buddhism, who have transformed the way Buddhism is viewed in America (more information in the new book "Dakini Power: Twelve Extraordinary Women Shaping the Transmission of Tibetan Buddhism in the West").   1. Jetsun Khandro Rinpoche   "If being a woman is an inspiration, use it. If it is an obstacle, try not to be bothered by it."   Her Eminence Jetsun Khandro Rinpoche's position in the Buddhist world is entirely unique. She is one of the very few fully trained female Rinpoches ("precious masters") in the Tibetan tradition. Born in 1967 as the daughter of the late Kyabjé Mindrolling Trichen, she, her younger sister and her mother were the only women growing up among 400 monks at her father's monastery in India. The Mindrolling lineage is one of the rare Tibetan traditions that do not distinguish between male and female heirs.   * * * Finally, in a recent talk to CatholicCare Sydney, Sandie Cornish reminds us that Easter is finally coming:   I get a bit grumpy about Easter eggs appearing in the shops straight after Christmas. That’s how the retail cycle works, but the Christian calendar doesn’t jump straight from the joy of the birth of the Jesus to the hope of the Resurrection. I don’t think our personal or organizational lives are really like that either.   During Holy Week, we accompany Jesus as he is tried, tortured and executed by an occupying power with the collusion of the religious authorities of his own people. We continue to see Jesus being crucified today in the suffering of the people whom we seek to serve. To skip straight from Christmas to Easter is to look away from, or gloss over, suffering and injustice. It is easier to look at the baby-in-a-manger Jesus than the crucified Jesus.   But the tomb is empty! Jesus is alive and active in a new way. Perhaps you see this in the transformations that people who participate in your programs make in their lives? This is what it means for CatholicCare to be an instrument of Christ’s liberating presence in the world.   Celebrating new life with Easter eggs has its place, and the time is nearly here! Choose organic fair trade Easter eggs for a stronger symbol of the fullness of life.  

Michael MullinsStefan Gigacz is preparing a PhD. at MCD University of Divinity, Melbourne, on the role of Joseph Cardijn at Vatican II.

Disclaimer: CathBlog is an extension of CathNews story feedback. It is intended to promote discussion and debate among the subscribers to CathNews and the readers of the website. The opinions expressed in CathBlog are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of the members of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference or of Church Resources.


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