"Today the concept of truth is viewed with suspicion, because truth is identified with violence. Over history there have, unfortunately, been episodes when people sought to defend the truth with violence. But they are two contrasting realities. Truth cannot be imposed with means other than itself! Truth can only come with its own light. Yet, we need truth. ... Without truth we are blind in the world, we have no path to follow. The great gift of Christ was that He enabled us to see the face of God".Pope Benedict xvi, February 24th, 2012

The Church is ecumenical, catholic, God-human, ageless, and it is therefore a blasphemy—an unpardonable blasphemy against Christ and against the Holy Ghost—to turn the Church into a national institution, to narrow her down to petty, transient, time-bound aspirations and ways of doing things. Her purpose is beyond nationality, ecumenical, all-embracing: to unite all men in Christ, all without exception to nation or race or social strata. - St Justin Popovitch

Monday 11 February 2013


Pope Benedict XVI has announced his resignation. Here is the full text of his statement from the Vatican:

Dear Brothers,

I have convoked you to this Consistory, not only for the three canonisations, but also to communicate to you a decision of great importance for the life of the Church.

After having repeatedly examined my conscience before God, I have come to the certainty that my strengths, due to an advanced age, are no longer suited to an adequate exercise of the Petrine ministry.

I am well aware that this ministry, due to its essential spiritual nature, must be carried out not only with words and deeds, but no less with prayer and suffering.

However, in today's world, subject to so many rapid changes and shaken by questions of deep relevance for the life of faith, in order to steer the boat of Saint Peter and proclaim the Gospel, both strength of mind and body are necessary, strength which in the last few months, has deteriorated in me to the extent that I have had to recognise my incapacity to adequately fulfil the ministry entrusted to me.

For this reason, and well aware of the seriousness of this act, with full freedom I declare that I renounce the ministry of Bishop of Rome, Successor of Saint Peter, entrusted to me by the Cardinals on 19 April 2005, in such a way, that as from 28 February 2013, at 20:00 hours, the See of Rome, the See of Saint Peter, will be vacant and a Conclave to elect the new Supreme Pontiff will have to be convoked by those whose competence it is.

Dear Brothers, I thank you most sincerely for all the love and work with which you have supported me in my ministry and I ask pardon for all my defects.

And now, let us entrust the Holy Church to the care of Our Supreme Pastor, Our Lord Jesus Christ, and implore his holy Mother Mary, so that she may assist the Cardinal Fathers with her maternal solicitude, in electing a new Supreme Pontiff.

With regard to myself, I wish to also devotedly serve the Holy Church of God in the future through a life dedicated to prayer.

 The Pope's Two "No's". To the Prophets of Disaster and to the False Optimists 

The "lectio divina" of Benedict XVI to the aspiring priests of Rome. "If here and there the Church is dying because of the sins of men, at the same time it is being born anew and bears within itself eternity. The future is ours" 

 – As in other years at the feast of Our Lady of Confidence, this time as well Benedict XVI went to the major Roman seminary to hold for the aspiring priests a "lectio divina." Pope Joseph Ratzinger spoke off the cuff, with just a page of notes in front of him, in addition to the biblical text he had chosen. And when he speaks off the cuff, he unveils his thoughts in the most transparent and clear manner, as demonstrated by the literal transcription of his words, usually released one or two days later, revised and authorized by the author. 

 This time Benedict XVI decided to comment on the first letter of Peter - which he calls “almost a first encyclical, with which the first apostle, the vicar of Christ, speaks to the Church of all times” - and specifically on verses 3-5 of chapter 1: 
 "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who in his great mercy gave us a new birth to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you who by the power of God are safeguarded through faith, to a salvation that is ready to be revealed in the final time. "
 But first of all the pope dwelt upon the sender of the letter, upon its place of origin, and upon its recipients. - The sender, meaning the apostle Peter, but not as an individual - he explained - but rather as one who speaks “ex persona Ecclesiae" and with the help of friends, not only his own, but also those of Paul: "And so the worlds of Saint Peter and of Saint Paul go together: it is not an exclusively Petrine theology against a Pauline theology, but it is a theology of the Church, of the faith of the Church, in which there is diversity - of course - of temperament, of thought, of style in speaking between Paul and Peter. It is good that there should be this diversity, even today, of different charisms, of different temperaments, but nonetheless they are not conflicting and unite in the common faith.” 

 - The place of origin, meaning Rome, called in the letter by the name of Babylon, the capital of the empire to which the apostle had gone at the end of his life and in which he was crucified: "I think that, in going to Rome, Saint Peter [. . .] had recalled also the last words that Jesus had addressed to him, related by Saint John: 'In the end, you will go where you do not wish to go. They will gird you, they will extend your hands' (cf. Jn 21:18). It is a prophecy of crucifixion. The philologists demonstrate to us that it is a precise, technical expression, this 'extending the hands,' for crucifixion. Saint Peter knew that his end would be martyrdom, it would be the cross. And so will it be in the complete following of Christ. Therefore, in going to Rome, he certainly also went to martyrdom: in Babylon martyrdom was waiting for him.

 Therefore primacy has this content of universality, but also a martyrological content. From the beginning, Rome is also a place of martyrdom. In going to Rome, Peter accepts once again this word of the Lord: he goes to the Cross, and he invites us to accept as well the martyrological aspect of Christianity, which can have very different forms. The cross can have very different forms, but no one can be Christian without following the Crucified One, without accepting as well the martyrological moment.” - The recipients, meaning “the elect who are dispersed foreigners”: "Elect: this was the title of glory of Israel: we are the elect, God has elected this tiny people not because we are great - Deuteronomy says - but because he loves us (cf. 7:7-8). We are elect: this, Saint Peter now transfers to all of the baptized, and the content proper to the first chapters of his first letter is that the baptized enter into the privileges of Israel, they are the new Israel. [. . .] 

Perhaps today we are tempted to say: we do not wish to be joyful about being chosen, that would be triumphalism. It would be triumphalism if we thought that God has chosen me because I am so great. This would really be mistaken triumphalism. But to be joyful because God has wanted me is not triumphalism, but is gratitude, and I think that we must relearn this joy: [. . .] To be joyful because he has chosen me to be Catholic, to be in this Church of his, where 'subsistit Ecclesia unica'. […] 

 "But 'elect' is accompanied by 'parapidemois,' dispersed, foreigners. As Christians we are dispersed and we are foreigners: we see that today in the world Christians are the most persecuted group because we do not conform, because we are a spur, against the tendencies of egoism, materialism, all these things. [. . .] 

In the workplace Christians are a minority, they find themselves in the condition of outsiders; it is a wonder that someone today can still believe and live this way. This too belongs to our life: it is the form of being with Christ crucified; this being foreigners, not living according to the way in which everyone lives, but living - or at least seeking to live - according to his word, in a great diversity with respect to what everyone says. And precisely this is characteristic of Christians. Everyone says: 'But everyone is doing this, why not me?' No, not me, because I want to live according to God. 

St. Augustine once said: 'Christians are those who do not have their roots below like trees, but have their roots above and live this gravitation, not the natural downward gravitation.' Let us pray to the Lord that he may help us to accept this mission of living as dispersed, as a minority, in a certain sense; to live as foreigners and nonetheless to be responsible for others and, precisely in this way, strengthening the good in our world.” 

 After this extensive introduction, having arrived “finally” at the passage selected, Benedict XVI dwelt upon three key words: regenerated, inheritance, safeguarded through faith. And on the second he said: "Inheritance is a very important word in the Old Testament, where it is said to Abraham that his seed will be the heir of the land, and this has always been the promise for his people: you will have the land, you will be heirs of the land. In the New Testament this word becomes a word for us: we are heirs, not of a certain country, but of the land of God, of the future of God. Inheritance is a thing of the future, and thus this word says above all that as Christians we have the future: the future is ours, the future belongs to God. And thus, being Christians, we know that ours is the future and the tree of the Church is not a dying tree, but the tree that grows ever anew. We therefore have a reason not to allow ourselves to be disturbed - as Pope John said - by the prophets of disaster who say: the Church is a tree come from the mustard seed, grown over two millennia, now it has time behind it, now is the time in which it is dying. No. The Church is always renewed, is always reborn. The future is ours. 

 "Naturally, there is a false optimism and a false pessimism. A false pessimism that says: the time of Christianity is finished. No: it is beginning again! The false optimism was that after the Council, when the convents were closing, the seminaries were closing, and they were saying: but it's nothing, everything's fine . . . No! Everything is not fine. There are also grave, dangerous downfalls, and we must recognize with healthy realism that this is not all right, it is not all right when wrongful things are done. But also to be sure, at the same time, that if here and there the Church is dying because of the sins of men, because of their unbelief, at the same time it is being born anew. 

The future really does belong to God: this is the great certainty of our life, the great, true optimism that we know. The Church is the tree of God that lives forever and bears within itself eternity and the true inheritance: eternal life.”

Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk comments on reports about Pope
Benedict XVI’s retirement
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Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk comments on reports about Pope
Benedict XVI’s retirement
Print This Post

11.02.2013 • Inter-Christian relations, DECR Chairman

On February 11, 2013, the chairman of the Moscow Patriarchate’s department for external church relations, Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk, made comments to ITAR-TASS news agency concerning thatcoming reports about the retirement of the head of the Roman Catholic Church, Pope Benedict XVI.

Reports about the retirement of Pope Benedict XVI have proved to be unexpected even for his closest associates. Cardinal Sodano described it as ‘a thunder out of a clear sky’. Really, there have been no precedents of this kind in the modern history of the Roman Catholic Church. Pope John Paul II remained in office to the end despite his
serious health problems.

Meanwhile, the office of the Roman Pontiff, just as that of any head of a Church, presupposes active work. It is not a ceremonial office. If one’s age and health prove to be an obstacle for effective work, the head of a Church may decide to retire. In recent years, the Catholic Church has come to face very serious challenges which require new incentives to come from the See of Rome. Perhaps, precisely this has made the pope to give way to a younger and more dynamic prelate to be elected by the conclave of cardinals. The Pope Benedict XVI’s decision to leave his office in the present situation may be seen as an act of personal courage and humbleness.

We are grateful to Pope Benedict XVI for his understanding of the problems which impede the full normalization of Orthodox-Catholic relations, especially in such regions as western Ukraine. Only yesterday I spoke about Pope Benedict XVI in my talk on Russia-24 TV
network with the new Russian ambassador to the Holy See, A. A. Avdeyev. I pointed out that relations between the Russian Orthodox Church and the Roman Catholic Church have acquired positive dynamic after his ascension to the See of Rome. He enjoys great respect in the Christian world. He is a prominent theologian, who is well versed in the tradition of the Orthodox Church while having the sensitivity that makes it possible for him to build relations with Orthodox Church on due level.

My personal meetings and talks with Pope Benedict XVI remain memorable for me. There have been three meetings since I was appointed chairman of the DECR. In my talks with the pontiff I was always amazed by his calm and thoughtful reaction, his sensitivity to issues we raised, his desire to solve together the problems arising in our relations. Specifically, I set forth in detail to the pope my vision of the problems we have encountered in pan-Orthodox – Catholic dialogue (I made a report about these problems to the recent Bishops’ Council, and it made appropriate decisions). My attitude to the progress of this dialogue is very critical, which I frankly stated to the pope and he always showed understanding.

Even before his ascension to the See of Rome, Cardinal Ratzinger declared war on ‘the dictatorship of relativism’ so typical for the Western society today. It immediately made him unpopular in the eyes of secular politicians and journalists. Pope Benedict XVI is not a media star. He is a man of the Church. In the mass media, he is continuously criticized for traditionalism and conservatism, but precisely these merits of his are of credit for millions of
Christians, both Catholic and non-Catholic, those who seek to  preserve traditional Christian spiritual and moral values.

It remains only to hope that his successor will continue walking along the same path and that Orthodox-Catholic relations will continue developing progressively for the common good of the whole Christendom.

DECR Communication Service

February 11, 2013 12:45 EST
By Catherine Harmon
Cardinal Angelo Sodano, dean of the College of Cardinals, has said that he and his fellow cardinals have received the news of Pope Benedict’s resignation “with a sense of loss and almost disbelief,” and he assured the Holy Father that the cardinals “are closer than ever to you.” 

[Irenikon] The Luminous Pontificate

(thanks to Mary Lanser)
We have heard you with a sense of loss and almost disbelief. In your words we see the great affection that you have always had for God's Holy Church, for this Church that you have loved so much. Now, let me say, on behalf of this apostolic cenacle―the College of Cardinals―on behalf of your beloved collaborators, allow me to say that we are closer than ever to you, as we have been during these almost eight luminous years of your pontificate. On 19 April 2005, if I remember correctly, at the end of the conclave I asked … 'Do you accept your canonical election as Supreme Pontiff?' And you did not hesitate, although moved with emotion, to answer that you accepted, trusting in the Lord's grace and the maternal intercession of Mary, Mother of the Church. Like Mary on that day she gave her 'yes', and your luminous pontificate began, following in the wake of continuity, in that continuity with your 265 predecessors in the Chair of Peter, over two thousand years of history from the Apostle Peter, the humble Galilean fisherman, to the great popes of the last century from St. Pius X to Blessed John Paul II.

Holy Father, before 28 February, the day that, as you have said, you wish to place the word 'end' to your pontifical service, conducted with so much love and so humbly, before 28 February, we will be able to better express our feelings. So too will the many pastors and faithful throughout the world, so too all those of good will together with the authorities of many countries. … Also, still this month, we will have the joy of listening to your voice as pastor: Ash Wednesday, Thursday with the clergy of Rome, in the Sunday Angelus, and the Wednesday general audiences, we will still have many occasions to hear your paternal voice. … Your mission, however, will continue. You have said that you will always be near us with your witness and your prayer. Of course, the stars always continue to shine and so will the star of your pontificate always shine among us. We are near to you, Holy Father, and we ask you to bless us.


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