26 Quotes from Pope Francis’ Visit to Washington D.C. and New York City

Listers, Pope Francis’ visit to the United States is one marked with historic firsts. His Holiness Pope Francis was the first Roman Pontiff to address a full joint session of the U.S. Congress. Second, Pope Francis was the first Vicar of Christ to address the United Nations at the opening of a General Assembly. As expected, Pope Francis’ remarks were difficult to predict and the reactions to his words ranged from unrestrained praise to unadulterated criticism. The following graphics display how different sources highlighted different aspects of the pontiff’s speeches.

 


 

 

WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 23 (WASHINGTON, DC)
9:15 a.m. Welcome ceremony and meeting with President Obama at the White House
11:00 a.m. Papal Parade along the Ellipse and the National Mall (time approximate)
11:30 a.m. Midday Prayer with the bishops of the United States, St. Matthew’s Cathedral
4:15 p.m. Mass of Canonization of Junipero Serra, Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception

 

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THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 24 (WASHINGTON, DC, NEW YORK CITY)
9:20 a.m. Address to Joint Meeting of the United States Congress
11:15 a.m. Visit to St. Patrick in the City and Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Washington
4:00 p.m. Depart from Joint Base Andrews
5:00 p.m. Arrival at John F. Kennedy International Airport
6:45 p.m. Evening Prayer (Vespers) at St. Patrick’s Cathedral

 

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FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 25 (NEW YORK CITY)
8:30 a.m. Visit to the United Nations and Address to the United Nations General Assembly
11:30 a.m. Multi-religious service at 9/11 Memorial and Museum, World Trade Center
4:00 p.m. Visit to Our Lady Queen of Angels School, East Harlem
5:00 p.m. Procession through Central Park (time approximate)
6:00 p.m. Mass at Madison Square Garden

 

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5 Pope Francis Facebook Cover Images

SPL has created five Facebook Cover images with particularly potent quotes from His Holiness Pope Francis. Enjoy.

Listers, be proud to be Catholic and be proud of our Holy Father Pope Francis. In honor of His Holiness Pope Francis ascending to the Apostolic Throne of St. Peter, SPL proudly presents five Facebook Cover images. Please pray for our Roman Pontiff that he would be an advocate of peace, an advocate for the poor, and the Advocate of Christian Memory holding Catholicism to Sacred Tradition. St. Francis, pray for us and Pope Francis.

More Graphics, FB Covers, & Memes

 

Instructions
Click on any image below to download the full-quality version to use on your Facebook profile or download them all as a .zip archive.

 

Pope Francis Facebook Cover Image - True Power Quote

 

 

Pope Francis Facebook Cover Image - St Francis Quote

 

 

Pope Francis Facebook Cover Image - Coat of Arms and Latin

 

 

Pope Francis Facebook Cover Image - Communion Quote

 

 

Pope Francis Facebook Cover Image - Habemus Papam

Quotes from Cardinal Bergoglio, now Pope Francis, on 7 Moral Issues

In 2009, Bergoglio said that extreme poverty and the “unjust economic structures that give rise to great inequalities” are violations of human rights and that social debt is “immoral, unjust and illegitimate.”

Listers, habemus papam Franciscum. The world was stunned and the pundits proved wrong as the Argentinian Jesuit walked out on the Loggia of St. Peter’s. In a soft but strong voice, Pope Francis gave his first words as the Vicar of Christ:

 

Brothers and sisters good evening.

You all know that the duty of the Conclave was to give a bishop to Rome. It seems that my brother Cardinals have gone almost to the ends of the earth to get him… but here we are. I thank you for the welcome that has come from the diocesan community of Rome.

First of all I would like to say a prayer pray for our Bishop Emeritus Benedict XVI. Let us all pray together for him, that the Lord will bless him and that our Lady will protect him…

And now let us begin this journey, the Bishop and the people, this journey of the Church of Rome which presides in charity over all the Churches, a journey of brotherhood in love, of mutual trust. Let us always pray for one another. Let us pray for the whole world that there might be a great sense of brotherhood. My hope is that this journey of the Church that we begin today, together with the help of my Cardinal Vicar, may be fruitful for the evangelization of this beautiful city.

And now I would like to give the blessing. But first I want to ask you a favour. Before the Bishop blesses the people I ask that you would pray to the Lord to bless me – the prayer of the people for their Bishop. Let us say this prayer – your prayer for me – in silence…

I will now give my blessing to you and to the whole world, to all men and women of good will.1

 

The world waits to see how the pontificate of Pope Francis will shape the world and the Catholic Church. Below are his comments as a Prince of Church on several different moral issues.

Screenshot from the Vatican Site shortly after the election of Pope Francis.

1. Abortion

Abortion is without a doubt one of the greatest moral evils within modernity. As the “Advocate of Christian Memory,” a pope must take up the mantle of defending the culture of life – a defense the Early Church held against the pagans of Rome.

 

He once called abortion a “death sentence” for unborn children, during a 2007 speech and likening opposition to abortion to opposition to the death penalty.

In an October 2, 2007 speech Bergoglio said that “we aren’t in agreement with the death penalty,” but “in Argentina we have the death penalty. A child conceived by the rape of a mentally ill or retarded woman can be condemned to death.”2

 

Notice he does not flench on abortion being a “death penalty” for those conceived in rape. Though a child may be conceived by horrid means, that individual child’s life is still innocent and untouched by that evil. God help America if we believe the worth of a child is articulated by the means of its conception.

 

2. On Receiving the Eucharist

The Cardinal speaks on the worthiness to receive communion regarding those who support grave evils.

 

The new Pope referred to abortion and communion, saying “we should commit ourselves to ‘eucharistic coherence’, that is, we should be conscious that people cannot receive holy communion and at the same time act or speak against the commandments, in particular when abortion, euthanasia, and other serious crimes against life and family are facilitated. This responsibility applies particularly to legislators, governors, and health professionals.”3

 

Pope Francis’ predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI, also wrote on the worthiness of a Catholic to receive communion when he was a Cardinal in the CDF.

 

The Cardinal washing the feet at a maternity hospital in 2005.

3. Euthanasia

Notice the Cardinal’s distinction between the apparent and institutionalized euthanasia and the “clandestine euthanasia.”

 

The new pontiff also denounced euthanasia and assisted suicide, calling it a “culture of discarding” the elderly.

“In Argentina there is clandestine euthanasia. Social services pay up to a certain point; if you pass it, ‘die, you are very old’. Today, elderly people are discarded when, in reality, they are the seat of wisdom of the society,” he said “The right to life means allowing people to live and not killing, allowing them to grow, to eat, to be educated, to be healed, and to be permitted to die with dignity.”4

 

More may be read on euthanasia at the National Catholic Bioethics Center and for a theological and natural law argument against suicide SPL provides a list from St. Thomas Aquinas.

 

4. Homosexuality

Hopefully the acute language and highly quotable phrases the Cardinal used to denounce homosexuality will appear in his pontificate as well. He refers to the bill legalizing homosexual marriage as a “machination of the Father of Lies” and that homosexual marriage was a “dire anthropological throwback.”

 

He has affirmed church teaching on homosexuality, including that men and women who have deep-seated homosexual tendencies must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity and that every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided. Though equating the pursuit of their equal rights as the devil’s work . He strongly opposed legislation introduced in 2010 by the Argentine Government to allow same-sex marriage, calling it a “real and dire anthropological throwback”. In a letter to the monasteries of Buenos Aires, he wrote:

“Let’s not be naïve, we’re not talking about a simple political battle; it is a destructive pretension against the plan of God. We are not talking about a mere bill, but rather a machination of the Father of Lies that seeks to confuse and deceive the children of God.”

He has also insisted that adoption by homosexuals is a form of discrimination against children. This position received a rebuke from Argentine president Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, who said the church’s tone was reminiscent of “medieval times and the Inquisition”.5

 

Rorate Caeli has been kind enough to publish the letter Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, Archbishop of Buenos Aires, wrote to the Carmelite Nuns of the Archdiocese of Buenos Aires regarding the bill to legalize homosexual marriage in its full text.

 

The Vatican News header on the day of the election of Pope Francis.

5. On Poverty

The Pope’s proclivity towards austerity and his work with the downtrodden and sick will most likely translate to poverty being a central pillar of this Jesuit papacy. Just prior to being raised to the Office of St. Peter, the Cardinal wrote a tremendous lenten letter that threaded social ills, the spirituality of lent, and the hope of Christ together in a powerful manner. His comments on poverty and the social injustices that create it are a constant theme of his writings.

 

In 2009, Bergoglio said that extreme poverty and the “unjust economic structures that give rise to great inequalities” are violations of human rights and that social debt is “immoral, unjust and illegitimate.” During a 48-hour public servant strike in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Bergoglio observed the differences between, “poor people who are persecuted for demanding work, and rich people who are applauded for fleeing from justice.”6

 

The Cardinal has also commented on how extreme poverty is a violation of human rights.

 

Social debt is “immoral, unjust and illegitimate,” the cardinal said, emphasizing that this is especially true when it occurs “in a nation that has the objective conditions for avoiding or correcting such harm.” “Unfortunately,” he noted, it seems that those same countries “opt for exacerbating inequalities even more.”

Argentineans have the duty “to work to change the structural causes and personal or corporate attitudes that give rise to this situation (of poverty), and through dialogue reach agreements that allow us to transform this painful reality we refer to when we speak about social debt,” the prelate said.

Cardinal Bergoglio said the challenge to eradicate poverty could not be truthfully met as long as the poor continue to be dependents of the State. The government and other organizations should instead work to create the social conditions that will promote and protect the rights of the poor and enable them to be the builders of their own future, he explained.7

 

It is impossible to mention Jesuit from South America and not inquire where this Cardinal turned Pope stands on Liberation Theology. His official biographer comments:

 

“Is Bergoglio a progressive — a liberation theologist even? No. He’s no third-world priest. Does he criticize the International Monetary Fund, and neoliberalism? Yes. Does he spend a great deal of time in the slums? Yes,” [Bergoglio’s authorized biographer, Sergio Rubin] said.

Bergoglio has stood out for his austerity. Even after he became Argentina’s top church official in 2001, he never lived in the ornate church mansion where Pope John Paul II stayed when visiting the country, preferring a simple bed in a downtown building, heated by a small stove on frigid weekends. For years, he took public transportation around the city, and cooked his own meals.8

 

As the first pope from Latin America and the first non-European pope since one from Syria almost 1200 years ago, it is expected that this Holy Roman Pontiff will speak out against poverty and speak for the downtrodden in a way not seen in some time.

 

6. On Children

The Cardinal speaks candidly about some of the more vulgar and to outsiders largely  unknown abuses of children in South America.

 

Bergoglio noted that “the most mentioned word in the Aparecida Document is ‘life’, because the Church is very conscious of the fact that the cheapest thing in Latin America, the thing with the lowest price, is life.”

The cardinal called the abuse of children “demographic terrorism,” and blasted Argentine society for tolerating their exploitation. “Children are mistreated, and are not educated or fed. Many are made into prostitutes and exploited,” he said. “And this happens here in Buenos Aires, in the great city of the south. Child prostitution is offered in some five star hotels: it is included in the entertainment menu, under the heading ‘Other’.”9

 

On a similar note, the Cardinal has addressed sex trafficking – a grave crime that normally targets the young and vulnerable.

 

“In our city there are people committing human sacrifice, killing the dignity of these men and these women, these girls and boys that are submitted to this treatment, to slavery. We cannot remain calm.” …. The cardinal urged his fellow citizens to report “breeding grounds for submission, for slavery,” “altars where human sacrifices are offered and which break the will of the people,” asking that “everyone do what they can, but without washing their hands of it, because otherwise we are complicit in this slavery.”10

 

Shifting to a more positive story, the Cardinal is recorded explaining to children the Gospel and its call to serve the poor.

 

During his homily, he encouraged children to “seek after Jesus” and to find Him by “opening your hearts,” participating in the Sacrament of Holy Communion and seeing Him in those in need.

“Who told us that we can find Jesus in those most in need?” the cardinal asked. “Mother Teresa,” the children shouted in response.

“And what did Mother Teresa have in her arms? A crucifix? No. A child in need. So, we can find Jesus in each person who is in need,” he said.

After noting that very few children raised their hands when asked if they read the Gospel, Cardinal Bergoglio encouraged the children to say to their priests, “Father, teach me the Gospel.”

He also reminded them that the strength for encountering Jesus “is in the family, in mom and dad.” The cardinal then invited the children to stand up and give “a big round of applause to the Virgin Mary.”11

 

Regarding children, the Cardinal from Argentina has presided over so-called “Children’s Masses.” The subject of children will be a theme of Pope Francis’ pontificate as he seeks to heal Holy Mother Church and restore her credibility in the wake of the global sex abuse scandal.

Pope Francis, then Cardinal, riding public transport.

 

7. On Politics

According to St. Thomas Aquinas, politics is the “noble science,” the highest practical science constituted by human reason, and a moral science. Pope Francis spent a good deal of time in Argentina fighting against the modernist reforms of the government. Moreover, within the Church the spectre of liberation theologies that conflate Christ’s justice with Marxist principles was (and still is) a constant presence in Latin America. The Cardinal is reported to have rejected these views, as aforementioned in the On Poverty section.

 

“To those who are now promising to fix all your problems, I say, ‘Go and fix yourself.’ . . . Have a change of heart. Get to confession, before you need it even more! The current crisis will not be improved by magicians from outside the country and nor will [improvement] come from the golden mouth of our politicians, so accustomed to making incredible promises.”12

 

Listers, pray for Pope Francis and that he will hear God’s call to rebuild Christ’s Church.

  1. Full Text of Pope Francis’ first words as the Vicar of Christ. []
  2. Lifenews.com []
  3. Lifenews.com []
  4. Lifenews.com []
  5. Wikipedia: Pope Francis . Catechism of the Catholic Church Paragraph 2358 ^ InfoBae.com ^ Padgett, Tim (18 July 2010). “The Vatican and Women: Casting the First Stone”. TIME. Retrieved 13 March 2013. ^ Goñi, Uki (July 15, 2010). “Defying Church, Argentina Legalizes Gay Marriage”. Retrieved March 13, 2013. ^ Allen, Jr., John L. (March 3, 2013). “Papabile of the Day: The Men Who Could Be Pope”. National Catholic Reporter. Retrieved March 13, 2013. []
  6. Wikipedia: Pope Francis ^ “Extreme poverty is also a violation of human rights, says Argentinean cardinal”. Catholic News Agency. 1 October 2009. Retrieved 13 March 2013. ^ “Argentines protest against pay cuts”. August 8, 2001. Retrieved March 13, 2013. []
  7. CNA: Extreme poverty is also a violation of human rights, says Argentinean cardinal []
  8. Washington Times []
  9. LifeSiteNews.com []
  10. Sex Trafficking Quote – Source []
  11. CNA: Cardinal’s teaches to Children []
  12. First Things: Politics Quotes []

24 Points from His Beatitude Patriarch Gregory III on the Crisis in Syria (2012)

The crisis in Syria has escalated to a civil war standards and has claimed the lives of thousands. Amongst those most marginalized by the conflict are our Eastern Catholic brothers and sisters.

Listers, the crisis in Syria has escalated to a civil war standards and has claimed the lives of thousands. Amongst those most marginalized by the conflict are our Eastern Catholic brothers and sisters. The spiritual leader for many of those Catholics is His Beatitude Patriarch Gregory III (Laham), Patriarch Of Antioch and All the East, Of Alexandria and of Jerusalem of the Melkite Greek Catholic Church. He has released a 24 point statement which SPL now presents in full.1 Those unfamiliar with the other churches and rites within the Catholic Church can find more information at 5 Questions About the Eastern Catholic Churches.

A demonstration against Assad in Homs, Syria. Edited from Wikipedia entry on the Syrian Conflict (2011-Present)

His Beatitude Patriarch Gregory III (Laham), of the Melkite Greek Catholic Church in Syria, has imparted these reflections and observations as a vademecum to throw light on the attitudes of the local Church towards the dramatic events in Syria and on certain moral contortions in relation to these events.

Dear friends,

1. The greatest danger in Syria at present is anarchy, lack of security and the massive influx of weapons from all sides. Violence is, alas, the dominant language today and violence begets violence. In Syria, this danger is ensnaring and affecting all citizens, regardless of race, religion or political persuasion.

2. Christians, too, are exposed to this same danger, but they are the weak link. Defenceless, they are the group most liable to exploitation, extortion, kidnapping, torture and even elimination. But they are also the peace-making, unarmed group, calling for dialogue, reconciliation, peace and unity among all the sons and daughters of the same homeland. This is the rarest kind of talk that many do not wish to hear. We Christians, to whom was entrusted the Gospel of Peace, feel ourselves called to further it.

3. Nevertheless, there is no Muslim-Christian conflict. Christians are not targeted as such, but can be reckoned among the victims of chaos and lack of security.

4. The greatest danger is interference from Arab or Western foreign elements. This interference takes the form of weapons, money and one-sided, programmed, subversive means of communication.

5. Such interference is harmful even to what is called the opposition. It is injurious to the just claims that are expressed more or less everywhere. This interference harms national unity at home by mixing up the cards.

6. This interference also weakens the specifically Christian voice of moderation and more particularly, the voice of the Assembly of Catholic Hierarchs in Syria. Local Churches have made their voices heard on several occasions and the declarations of the heads of the Christian Churches are characterised by moderation and the call for reform, freedom and democracy and for fighting corruption, supporting development and freedom of speech and the promotion of dialogue.

7. Nowhere in these declarations is there any allusion to the persecution of Christians, who, as we have seen, are not targeted as such. Neither is there any allusion to concepts of “Muslims,” “Salafists,” “fundamentalists,” “opponents,” “fear,” “regime” or “Party.” The declarations called for more dialogue and more reforms and participation in parliamentary parties and elections.

8. The language of the declarations was always positive, peaceable, calling for love and dialogue and rejecting resorting to arms. It advocated protecting defenceless citizens and not involving civilians in fighting. In short, the declarations are very remote from extremism of any kind. Though civic, they are in no way against such and such a group, either at home or abroad.

9. I don’t know what the reason is for the campaign against the leaders of the Churches in Syria and against their standpoints. I wonder from where come the labels that are stuck on them of compromise, exploitation and collusion with the regime, of time-serving, servitude or laziness?

10. It should be known that the State and its leaders have never addressed to Church leaders any directive or inducement to make a statement or adopt a particular position. The freedom of Church leaders was everywhere assured and still is to this day, whether in their behaviour or their private or public statements. In March 2012, I made a personal tour of European capitals. I asked no permission or guidance from anybody and no-one asked me to adopt any particular stance. I outlined that in a paper that summarised most of my convictions with regard to the situation prevailing in Syria.

11. It is possible for everyone to see the papers I’ve published with successive calls for fasting, prayer, dialogue, reconciliation, rejection of violence and avoiding resorting to arms…There are also the statements of the Assembly of Catholic Hierarchs in Syria and the declarations of the three Patriarchs whose patriarchal headquarters are in Syria: namely the Greek Orthodox, the Syriac Orthodox and the Greek Catholic Patriarchs (cf. http://www.pgc-lb.org/eng/news_and_events/Nouvelles-de-Syrie).

12. These leaders and the communiqués that they have published are the official voice of the Churches in Syria. Further, as Patriarch and President of the Assembly of Catholic Hierarchs in Syria, I call upon everyone to consider this voice as the authoritative stance of the Church in Syria. We allow no-one to speak in our name or in the name of Syria’s Christians, mar our statements or label us with charges of any kind whatever.

13. Similarly, it is subversive to doubt the credibility of the Church’s leaders or their transparency, fidelity and objectivity, the veracity of their sources of information or the news that they broadcast. The Church leaders don’t rely on the media, but they are in continual contact with their priests, monks and nuns and lay-people and all other citizens. They are leaders who look after the concerns of the Christian faithful and are also in contact with citizens of all denominations and with well-known leading members of the country. In all these situations they are free in their behaviour, movements and statements. They always call for mutual edification, dialogue and solidarity among all.

14. On the other hand, we think that the attitudes of certain persons and particular institutions, and the press campaign, are harming Christians in Syria and exposing them to danger, kidnapping, exploitation and even death. These attitudes heap false accusations on Christians, sowing doubt in their hearts and spreading fear and isolation. As a result, they help their exodus both inside the country and abroad…

15. These very attitudes claiming inopportunely to be interested in Christians can increase the radicalism of certain armed factions against Christians. They exacerbate relations between citizens, especially between Christian and Muslim citizens, as was the case in Homs, Qusayr, Yabrud and Dmeineh Sharqieh, etc…

16. That is why we are inviting these institutions and persons to concern themselves rather with civil peace in Syria. Let them support the call for dialogue and reconciliation, and the rejection of violence. Let them work to preserve the security of defenceless civilians in the current conflict, so as not to expose them to danger, lest they become the target of attacks of one faction or another…and so succumb, as victims of anarchy, insecurity, terrorism, exploitation, kidnapping and liquidation, as we mentioned above.

17. These reflections and observations spring from our Christian faith and patriotic convictions together with our knowledge of our Christian history and Syrian heritage, particularly with regard to living together, openness and mutual respect, despite the difficult period which our country is going through, during which relations between civilians have been abused, whether they are Christian, Muslim or other.

18. Our positions and reflections spring from our conviction that, despite the abundant bloodshed and hatred that have been shown, with feelings of enmity and rancour, Syrians, because of their long history, remain experts in living together and can resolve this dangerous crisis, unique in their history, helping one another, loving each other and forgiving and working together for the common future.

19. We also put a lot of hope in the initiatives of civil society to strengthen love and links among Syrians whom the conflict threatens to destroy. We pray for the success of the Mussalaha (reconciliation) movement in which delegates from all Churches are active alongside members of other denominations. This represents a foundation for effective resolution of the tragic events.

20. Similarly, we believe, hope and expect the Ministry of Reconciliation, created especially for the Mussalaha movement, to succeed in its mission of bringing back unity and love to the hearts of all: it prepares the way to resolve the conflict. We place a lot of hope in the creation of the new Ministry of Reconciliation.

21. Naturally, we are still calling once more for the rejection of violence and for stopping the cycle of killings and destruction, especially of destitute civilians, who are really defenceless victims, whether they are Christian or Muslim.

22. We should like to state truly and frankly that our position as Christians stems from the fact that we are Christian citizens in a secular society. The so-called prerogatives supposedly enjoyed by Christians in Syria are only the universal rights of all Syrian citizens regardless of the denomination or faith to which they belong. There is an historical basis for that in the confessional “millet” system dating back to the time of Ottoman rule. The Patriarch was then head of his Church in both the religious and secular sense. The business of private Church jurisprudence developed during the French protectorate, then under successive Syrian governments up to the present one, so the assertion that the status of Christians is the fruit of their adherence to the regime and will fall with it is absolutely false!

23. The Islamic world needs the Christian presence alongside it, with it and for it, in liaison and interaction, as was the case historically. This presence will and must continue. I say that Islam needs Christianity and that Muslims need Christians and we shall stay with them and for them as we have done in the past and throughout 1433 (Islamic) years of common history.1

APPEAL

24. To conclude: As Christians we address our big appeal to the Arab world to call it to unity: the division of the Arab world has always been the major target at home and abroad. This division is the reason for the dangers that are lying in wait for the region and is the cause of the absence of a just and comprehensive solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. This conflict is the basis and primordial cause of the majority of misfortunes, crises and wars in the Arab world. This conflict, according to the testimony of His Holiness the Pope, of many churchmen, Apostolic Nuncios, and even of Jewish Israeli politicians, is the primordial cause of the Christian exodus. Yes, the division of the Arab world, according to the testimony of the persons cited above, has been hindering a solution to this conflict for sixty-four years! (cf. the opinion of Tzipi Livni2 in The Financial Times 13/07/2012).

Peace lies in the unity of the Arab world and the safety of Christians can only be assured by the unity of the Arab world, from which flow the circumstances favourable to living together and Muslim-Christian and inter-Muslim dialogue. The greatest danger in this field affects Islam itself when it is divided along the fracture lines of the Arab world, evidence for that being the Sunni-Shi’ite conflict. This phenomenon is more dangerous than the danger that Christians or other denominations are incurring in Syria and the region.

Crises and wars are the cause of the exodus of Christians and the cause of the deterioration of Muslim-Christian relations.

Europeans, take an interest in the unity of the Arab world, if you want to help Christians.

Europeans, solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, if you want to help Christians.

Europeans, work for peace in the Middle East, if you want to help Christians.

Our common destiny for us all, Arab Christians and Muslims…is the same. Don’t cut us off from our Arab community environment, nor from our Muslim community environment.

Help us to play our role and fulfil our mission in the Arab world so that we can be present in it, with it and for it…and there be as light, salt and leaven.

Take an interest in us in and because of our community environment. In your analyses don’t make us out to be intruders in our Arab Muslim-Christian world, nor agents in it, dhimmis protected by you or others than you.

Help us to be Christians of the Church of the Arabs and Church of Islam.

Europeans: don’t hide your interests behind your zeal for Christians!

We invite our brothers and sisters in the Arab East and in Europe and everywhere else, states, religious or humanitarian institutions to help us in this unity undertaking and we say: “One united Arab voice and one united Western voice can return security and safety to Syria and all the Middle East, as we walk together towards a better future.” Thank you in advance to all who will respond to this call.

We need the unique role of the Pope and the Vatican and hope that the visit of the Pope to Lebanon next September will be a support for these reflections that I’ve drafted on the situation in the Arab world and more precisely in Syria.

May the Lord of history grant us his Holy Spirit to guide us on the paths of good! Amen.

+Gregorios III (Laham)
Melkite Greek Catholic
Patriarch Of Antioch and All the East,
Of Alexandria and of Jerusalem

  1. Source: The document was brought to our attention by Rorate Caeli and originally taken from the eparchy website. []

7 Concerns About Democracy and Its Modern Existence

“[The ancient’s] implicit prophecy that the emancipation of technology, of the arts, from moral and political control would lead to a disaster or to the dehumanization of man has not yet been refuted.”

Listers, the current modern regimes of the West tout democracy as an end all to tyranny and political strife. While democracy is arguably one of the most practical and successful regimes, it is not a magical balm that automatically assuages injustice. Democracy must be  understood according to its internal guiding principles – principles that have been observed and questioned since the ancient Greeks.

An SPL Introduction:
Democracy is only as good as its citizens, and the quality of those citizens demands certain constant factors. In 2011, the globe saw a major push for democracy in the Middle East. It is not uncommon for wartorn nations to turn to democracy after surviving years of tyranny, but the global jubilation over the Middle Eastern embrace of democracy has been severely tempered by watching those same counties democratically select oppressive religious laws that subjugate minorities and women.

The West is certainly not free from popular uprisings either, and the downturn of the economy in 2008 has since precipitated much frustration. However, whether democracy is trying to be imported or survive, there are guiding principles and ancient chains of causality that determine its success. Classical political philosophy held certain reservations about democratic regimes, and those hesitations are still valid today.

The following is certainly not anti-democracy, but rather it is displaying certain principles that must be acknowledge and adhered to if the modern democratic regimes are going to endure.

1. Freedom Is an Ambiguous Goal

Classical political philosophy – as demonstrated by such thinkers as Aristotle – held virtue to be the guiding goal of the state. Men are political animals, the state or polis is a natural institution, and they are both guided by “good habits” or the natural virtues. While perfecting natural law by the light of the Incarnate God, the Catholic Church still holds to natural law as the basis of human societies.

Regardless of what the Church or the ancients advocate, modern democracy’s obsession with freedom is fragile in its own right. The most obvious critique is that unlike virtue or any other objective goal, freedom is a means, not an end.

Freedom as a goal is ambiguous, because it is freedom for evil as well as for good.

Due to the focus on freedom, democratic regimes are inherently concerned with the quality of their citizens.1

2. The Link: Education, Leisure, & Wealth

The virtues are nothing more than “good habits,” but those acts that habituate individuals to the good are not subjective nor are they completely innate. Consequently, the formation of a citizen’s character requires education, and education requires leisure. If survival requires children to work the land or tend the animals, the lack of leisure equates to a lack of time for proper education.

If education is tied to leisure, then leisure is tied to one’s standard of living or general wealth. Philosophy was not born of humanity until the race had reached an age where society’s survival had become sufficient enough to allow for some leisure. However, for the children not to be able to work the land or tend the animals – and thus have the leisure to study – a certain amount of wealth is required.

3. The Problem of the Poor

The direct link between virtue, education, and wealth imports an immediate problem when considering the poor. Those who are unable to secure leisure in their life due to a lack of wealth are left primarily uneducated. There will always be “a minority of well-to-do people and a majority of the poor, and this strange coincidence will last forever because there is a kind of natural scarcity.” In this vein of thought, Aristotle states:

For the poor shall never cease out of the land.

Christ makes a similar claim in the New Testament:2

You will always have the poor among you, but you will not always have me.

The link between education, leisure and wealth will always have to contend with the poor.

4. Democracy: The Rule of the Uneducated

The problem with democracy is immediately apparent: a democracy becomes a rule of the uneducated. Since democracy as it is currently known is the favored child of modernity, many modernist have attempted to solve this dilemma.

Jean-Jacque Rousseau addressed the issue by stating that all men needed to “live virtuously” was “supplied by their conscience.” While it is true that the conscience is supplied with certain natural dispositions toward the good, the conscience must be formed by virtue; thus, undergo education. Rousseau’s argument never found mainstream belief.

The most logical answer and the most attempted method is universal education. If a democracy is to function, it must be a government of the educated.

5. The Link Between the Economy & Universal Education

Universal education cannot escape the basic relationship between the formation of citizens, education, leisure, and wealth. In fact, the universal education project only complicates the causality. Individual citizens require leisure which requires wealth. Universal Education requires an “economy of plenty” in order to supply the necessary universal leisure for education.

6. The Cost of Universal Education

An economy of plenty is necessary for a successful democracy, and without it, a scarcity of leisure leads to a dip in education and quality which degrades the overall democracy; thus, this causality within democratic regimes has led to an intense drive to boost and sustain economic growth and success. The modern engine behind an economy of plenty is technology.

And economy of plenty presupposes the emancipation of technology from moral and political control.

The focus on technology imports a primary difference in ancient and modern political thought: “a different estimate of the virtues of technology.” It is important to remember that this discussion over democracy and technology is one issue amongst the entire ancient and modern’s dialogue. However, democracy’s innate need to sustain a strong economy has led to a strong economic devotion and the mitigation of other concerns.

[The ancient’s] implicit prophecy that the emancipation of technology, of the arts, from moral and political control would lead to a disaster or to the dehumanization of man has not yet been refuted.

It would be difficult to deny that the ancient’s tacit concerns of dehumanization in the elevation of technology has not been observed in the historical struggles between workers and the industry – or any number of rising anthropic economic tensions. The need to have a strong economy within a democracy has lend to an emancipation of technology from most external factors, which in turn presents a democracy constantly flirting with and overlooking dehumanization.

7. A Final Concern Over Modern Education

Modernity has offered universal education as the solution to the implicit chain of cause and effect within democratic regimes. And while there are legitimate concerns over the unhindered rise of technology within these regimes, there are also red flags raised over the type of universal education widely submitted.

The role of education within a regime should be the formation of character or virtue, and this is especially true of democratic regimes that offer political power to all citizens and citizenship to all peoples. Citizens are asked to vote and sit on juries and participate in a political manner that presupposes a certain level of education.

In the first place, what is today called education very frequently does not mean education proper, i.e., the formation of character, but rather instructions and training.

The inflated power of technology is economically drive, and economics has similarly reformed the very education on which it relies. Primarily, education – as the formation of character – has been reduced to occupational training. Educational systems within modern democracies train individuals to excel in certain fields, but then also ask them to participate in the politics. Overall, modern democracies are training people to work, but then neglecting the very principles that form their character into quality citizens.3

Similar SPL Lists
Vatican (CDF) on Democracy: 10 Statements
Vatican (CDF) on Democracy: 10 More Statements
Best Regime: 5 Thoughts of Classical Political Philosophy
Political Animals: 7 Thoughts from Book One of Aristotle’s Politics

  1. The Polis & Virtue: A Theocracy?
    The term virtue should not disturb non-Catholics or non-Christians. While the natural virtues are set standards and the theological virtues are certainly founded in God’s self-revelation, the following critique of democracy can take virtue at its most reduced basic level of “character formation.” Even the atheist politician must admit that a certain level of “character formation” is necessary for a citizen to properly participate in duties of citizenship, e.g., the wisdom and prudence necessary for jury duty, the power of electing representatives, and the basic right to vote. When the ancients spoke of virtue – especially the pre-Christian Greek philosophers – they were speaking proper education, especially in relation to political life. []
  2. St John 12:8 []
  3. All Quotes save Scripture Verses: An Introduction to Political Philosophy, Leo Strauss. 35-36. []

5 Things to Know about the Story of Juan Diego and Our Lady of Guadalupe

St. Juan Diego is the patron of Mexico, and Our Lady of Guadalupe is the patron of the Americas and the pro-life movement.

Listers, the 9th of December is the optional memorial of Juan Diego, and it paves the way for the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe on December 12th. The following is the story of when Our Lady of Guadalupe appeared to Juan Diego, and it is more catechetical in nature than apologetic.1

1. Our Lady Appears

“Oral and written, Indian and Spanish, the account is unwavering. To a neophyte, fifty five years old, named Juan Diego, who was hurrying down Tepeyac hill to hear Mass in Mexico City, on Saturday, 9 December, 1531, the Blessed Virgin appeared and sent him to Bishop Zumárraga to have a temple built where she stood.”

 

2. The Chary Catholic Bishop

“She was at the same place that evening and Sunday evening to get the bishop’s answer. He had not immediately believed the messenger; having cross-questioned him and had him watched, he finally bade him ask a sign of the lady who said she was the mother of the true God. The neophyte agreed so readily to ask any sign desired, that the bishop was impressed and left the sign to the apparition. Juan was occupied all Monday with Bernardino, an uncle, who seemed dying of fever.”

 

3. The Healing of Juan Diego’s Uncle

“Indian specifics [dated medicine] failed; so at daybreak on Tuesday, 12 December, the grieved nephew was running to the St. James’s convent for a priest. To avoid the apparition and untimely message to the bishop, he slipped round where the well chapel now stands. But the Blessed Virgin crossed down to meet him and said: “What road is this thou takest son?” A tender dialogue ensued. Reassuring Juan about his uncle whom at that instant she cured, appearing to him also and calling herself Holy Mary of Guadalupe she bade him go again to the bishop.”

 

4. The Request for a Sign

“Without hesitating he joyously asked the sign. She told him to go up to the rocks and gather roses. He knew it was neither the time nor the place for roses, but he went and found them. Gathering many into the lap of his tilma a long cloak or wrapper used by Mexican Indians he came back. The Holy Mother, rearranging the roses, bade him keep them untouched and unseen till he reached the bishop.”

 

5. The Miracle of Our Lady of Guadalupe

“Having got to the presence of Zumárraga, Juan offered the sign. As he unfolded his cloak the roses fell out, and he was startled to see the bishop and his attendants kneeling before him: the life size figure of the Virgin Mother, just as he had described her, was glowing on the poor tilma. A great mural decoration in the renovated basilica commemorates the scene. The picture was venerated, guarded in the bishop’s chapel, and soon after carried processionally to the preliminary shrine.”

Patronage: St. Juan Diego is the patron of Mexico, and Our Lady of Guadalupe is the patron of the Americas and the pro-life movement.

  1. Catholic Encyclopedia: the story of Juan Diego is taken verbatim as it is reiterated in the encyclopedic article. []