Two items have recently renewed my interest in the importance of resurrecting the “common good” as a central value in the social teaching of Catholicism.
The Catholic blogosphere has been abuzz this week over the possibility that Pope Benedict may have changed his coat of arms to include the papal tiara, a symbol of the pope's temporal and spiritual authority that harks back to days before the Second Vatican Council.
[img_assist|nid=20704|desc=The coat of arms used by the pope Oct. 10|link=none|align=left|width=130|height=200]Our own Jerry Filteau weighed in on Tuesday, reporting on the distinct differences between the coat of arms the pope has used since his election and the one he used Oct. 10 at the weekly Angelus prayer in St. Peter's Square.
Now, it seems, the Vatican is acknowledging some of the reactions the new crest has spurred.
In an interview with Catholic News Service this morning, Jesuit Fr. Federico Lombardi, Vatican spokesman, said the new tapestry with the changed coat of arms was a gift to the pope, and was used "without any intention of changing the crest" or adopting the tiara.
From the report:
By JOHN L. ALLEN JR.
tDiversity in the Muslim world was on display in Rome on Thursday, as an Iranian Ayatollah said that he sees “no problems, no difficulties” in Christian/Muslim relations in the Middle East, while a Lebanese counselor to his country’s Grand Mufti said that there are indeed problems which must be faced “bravely and objectively.”
tThe Iranian ayatollah also asserted that problems of religious fundamentalism in the Middle East originate with Israel, and that fundamentalist currents in the Islamic world are a “reflex” of perceived Israeli attitudes.
tMohammed al-Sammak, a Sunni, and Ayatollah Sayed Mostafa Mohaghegh Ahmadabadi, a Shi’ite, met the press this afternoon ahead of their speeches to the Oct. 10-24 Synod of Bishops for the Middle East.
The mesmerizing saga in the Atacama Desert, Chile, was biblical in many respects. In such challenging times, the success in retrieving the 33 miners and rescuers provided a worldwide spiritual uplift of substantial proportions.
Not surprisingly, the New York Post reports that some of the miners got closer to God:
Ricardo Villaroel -- the 28th miner to be pulled to safety on Wednesday night -- said he was in the first part of the area where the Aug 5. mine collapse took place.
Despite the tough living conditions, Villaroel credited his fellow miners and God for giving him the strength to survive.
"We had a boss and every day he would tell us we had to be strong and they ask us and we didn't have hope," he said. "Strength comes from internal energy and prayer and I never use to pray, here I learned to pray. I got closer to God.
German university opens first Islamic studies courses, “When a religion his given the chance to develop a theology, it does the religion good.”
ROME -- Ferment around defending the heritage and prerogatives of the Eastern Catholic churches continues to swirl at the Oct. 10-24 Synod of Bishops for the Middle East, as yesterday a Lebanese prelate proposed launching a Vatican commission to study ways of revitalizing the office of Patriarch.
If we understand liturgy as how every culture shapes and affirms its basic assumptions, values and principles, we will begin to see something so pervasive that it has become invisible to us. Fish do not know they are in water, and we human beings do not normally think about culture or our point of view or as subjective but as simply “reality.”
But, in fact, the world we know is the product of both personal and communal conjuring, reinforced by protocols, symbols, rituals, common narratives and assumptions. This is liturgy.
And if you still can’t see it, think of weekend football, the costumes, colors, behaviors and expense in both time and money that people devote to reinforcing their fan identity and loyalty.
By JOHN L. ALLEN JR.
tArchbishop Allen Vigneron of Detroit, which has a large community of Christians belonging to various Eastern churches from the Middle East, said he would not be opposed if those Eastern churches decided to ordain more married priests in North America.
tBoth Vigneron and Archbishop Thomas Collins of Toronto also said, however, that bishops from Eastern churches do not seem to have a consensus on such a move.
tThe comments came during a press conference today organized by the Catholic Near East Welfare Association and the Canadian Catholic media network “Salt and Light.”
tYesterday, Archbishop Antonios Aziz Mina, a Coptic prelate from Egypt, argued in favor of extending the practice of married priests in the Eastern churches during the Oct. 10-24 Synod of Bishops for the Middle East.
On Oct. 2, fourteen anti-torture activists picketed outside the Justice Department in Washington, D.C. to call attention to -- among other things -- the Obama administration’s use of the state secrets defense to dismiss lawsuits brought by men kidnapped and tortured by the U.S. government.
Instituted in 1953 during the Cold War case of Reynolds vs. the United States, the state secrets privilege allows the executive branch to refuse to produce evidence for a court case on the grounds that the evidence is secret and would jeopardize national security interests and foreign relations if disclosed.
The “privilege,” which was invoked only four times between 1953 and 1976, is fast becoming the Justice Department’s standard response to cases calling for investigation into government abuses of terrorism suspects.
Formerly used to exclude specific evidence from a trial, “state secrets” is now invoked to shut down cases altogether.
Perhaps it was only a matter of time.
The Archdiocese of Detroit has warned Catholics to stay away from a national conference of liberal Catholics to be held in Detroit next year. Archbishop of Detroit Allen Vigneron, meanwhile, has call upon organizers of the conference to cancel their plans, saying they are in opposition to the Catholic faith.
Vigneron has his sights set on limiting the impact of the American Catholic Council, a movement aimed “to bring together a network of individuals, organizations, and communities to consider the state and future of our Church, according to the council’s web site.