EG 251: Other Religions

Vasnetsov_Maria_MagdalenePope Francis counsels we keep in mind the difference between and the relationship of the proclamation of the Gospel (kerygma) and the personal communication each of us has with other people. He draws on the previous two popes, cautioning against the dangers of extreme positions:

251. In this dialogue, ever friendly and sincere, attention must always be paid to the essential bond between dialogue and proclamation, which leads the Church to maintain and intensify her relationship with non-Christians.[Cf. Propositio 53] A facile syncretism would ultimately be a totalitarian gesture on the part of those who would ignore greater values of which they are not the masters. True openness involves remaining steadfast in one’s deepest convictions, clear and joyful in one’s own identity, while at the same time being “open to understanding those of the other party” and “knowing that dialogue can enrich each side”.[Redemptoris Missio 56] What is not helpful is a diplomatic openness which says “yes” to everything in order to avoid problems, for this would be a way of deceiving others and denying them the good which we have been given to share generously with others. Evangelization and interreligious dialogue, far from being opposed, mutually support and nourish one another.[Cf. Benedict XVI, Address to the Roman Curia (21 December 2012): AAS 105 (2006), 51; Ad Gentes, 9; CCC 856]

This distinction isn’t terribly difficult, but many believers do find this basic discernment problematic.

Evangelii Gaudium is online here.

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Minnesota Saturday

chico flores, swansea city afcDid I mention blogging would be light yesterday?

My wife and I had an enjoyable day trip to the Twin Cities, capped off by watching my first English Premier League team in live action.

I might have chosen a more competitive venue instead–the young miss would have been excited, perhaps, to see her favorite stateside player. If I had known in advance, I might have booked tickets for that match instead.

As it was, I saw what was a preseason tilt for my favorite overseas team, and they didn’t look like they were clicking at all. Minnesota is considered “second division” in the US. But they took advantage of a miscue in the 8th minute for their first goal. And they put together a pretty passing play off a free kick just before halftime to widen that margin to a final 2-0 score.

Image above: after the game, my wife asked what I was doing walking in the opposite direction from the way in. Swansea defender Chico Flores was signing things, participating in selfies, and chatting with fans like a few of his teammates. “Are you getting an autograph,” my wife asked as she rummaged in her purse for a pen.

“No,” I said. “Let the little kids do that.” We kept walking.

Manager Garry Monk on the result:

Without taking anything away from Minnesota because they deserved the victory. Our energy levels just weren’t there tonight. But while we always want to win because winning breeds confidence, we can’t let the result detract from a very successful two weeks for the boys. They have worked extremely hard and the level we are at is very good because of that training. But perhaps the 90 minutes tonight was a bit too much because of the work we’ve been doing.

I’ve been very hard on them and enjoyed seeing them sweat. The boys know that if they hurt now and they get through the tough periods then they’ll be fitter for it and in a better place to go into the season.


I saw a lot of work from Jonjo Shelvey in midfield, but not much result. The local press thought the Swans had much better of it in terms of possession. Maybe true. But the home side pulled everybody back to defend, and didn’t hassle the Swans on the ball on the other side of the center line. And they didn’t need to. It was a great lockdown from the home team, and they took full advantage of their two best chances.

Swansea kept targeting Nathan Dyer on the right side in the first forty-five minutes with very little to show for it except throw-ins and goal kicks. I did think they had nine corner kicks to maybe none for Minnesota. But there was nothing like the threats I’ve seen on Premier League set pieces from tv this past year. In the second half, there were a few more combination passing sequences to watch. But the home team held and I recall only one save all game for the Minnesota keeper. And he didn’t have to move for it.

Hopefully for my team, they were tired, and that was all. I didn’t see their new player, Bafetimbi Gomis as a capable replacement for Wilfried Bony, last season’s top scorer. Last year, Bony got a lot of balls and a lot of attention in the penalty area, and helped create some havoc. Gomis had very few touches, comparatively. He did talk with fans after the game, not far from Mr Flores.

Got home by 2AM. Construction on the interstate. Stopped at a fast food place that shall go unnamed. Thought I would pick up a quick coffee for the road. They had run out and needed to brew a new pot. Nice.



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EG 250: Interreligious Dialogue

Vasnetsov_Maria_MagdalenePope Francis takes a look at interreligious dialogue in sections 250-253. Obviously, he has separated out concerns about ecumenism (244-246). And Christian relationship with Jews (247-249). Relationships with people of other religious backgrounds have their challenges, some significant ones no doubt, but the effort is worth it:

250. An attitude of openness in truth and in love must characterize the dialogue with the followers of non-Christian religions, in spite of various obstacles and difficulties, especially forms of fundamentalism on both sides. Interreligious dialogue is a necessary condition for peace in the world, and so it is a duty for Christians as well as other religious communities. This dialogue is in first place a conversation about human existence or simply, as the bishops of India have put it, a matter of “being open to them, sharing their joys and sorrows”.[Indian Bishops’ Conference, Final Declaration of the XXX Assembly: The Role of the Church for a Better India (8 March 2013), 8.9.] In this way we learn to accept others and their different ways of living, thinking and speaking. We can then join one another in taking up the duty of serving justice and peace, which should become a basic principle of all our exchanges. A dialogue which seeks social peace and justice is in itself, beyond all merely practical considerations, an ethical commitment which brings about a new social situation. Efforts made in dealing with a specific theme can become a process in which, by mutual listening, both parts can be purified and enriched. These efforts, therefore, can also express love for truth.

Sound advice here: look at ethics, serve in charity and justice, explore single themes in order to compare and contrast. Maybe learn something from a non-Christian.

Evangelii Gaudium in its entirety online here.

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Aparecida 59 – New Immigrants to Latin America

The Spanish, the French, and the English were the earliest but not the only groups to come to Latin America and the Caribbean.

Paragraph 59 seems to be referring to other groups that have come and brought their cultures to the mix that can be found in the region.

There are also communities of migrants who have contributed the cultures and traditions brought from the lands of origin, whether Christian or of other religions.

Both Christian and non-Christian cultures have come  – most notably with the arrival of slaves from Africa, many of whom brought their religions and cultures which, though sometimes hidden from view, have influenced the region.

Though Hispanic Catholicism arrived with the Spaniards and Portuguese, other religious communities have come and influenced the culture.

This diversity furthermore includes communities that have been formed by the arrival of different Christian denominations and other religious groups.

North American missionaries arrived in Latin America beginning, for the most part, in the nineteenth century. The British brought the Anglican Church, as well as several other churches to their possessions before 1800. But other mainline groups came to evangelize in the 19th century. At times, with the help of US mission societies, the countries were often divided up among various denominations. For this reason you will find Presbyterians in Guatemala with little representation in Honduras or El Salvador. You will also find Lutherans and Baptists (of the Northern US Baptists) in El Salvador. The presence of Pentecostals begins for the most part in the mid-twentieth century; more conservative evangelicals arrived a bit later. Some of these groups had a significant effect on the culture of the peoples who joined their churches.

But the bishops are concerned that, though it is important to accept cultural diversity, an overwhelming challenge to evangelization of cultures is a uniform culture which some forms of globalization promote.

 Accepting cultural diversity, which is now imperative, entails overcoming approaches that seek to create a uniform culture with approaches based on their own unique models.

It is interesting that the bishops see this uniform culture of individualism and consumerism as a major challenge and seem rather open to the other religions and cultures that have come from the outside.

A question that is not treated here is the relation to this “uniform culture” is related to certain forms of religion that come from the United States – especially the advocates of the “gospel of prosperity.”

Here is the USCCB translation of the 2007 document from the Aparecida Conference.

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Squid Nebula, Big Numbers

Interesting new discovery posted on Astronomy Picture of the Day. A faint nebula, maybe 14 quadrillion miles away, and maybe fifty light years long. That’s so big that if the sun were on one end and we were on the other, we couldn’t even see our own star without a telescope. If those three bright stars caused it, then the distance estimate would be about right. I suppose it could be closer and the three stars just happen to be behind it.

Someday our sun will produce a similar outgassing. These nebulae only last a few tens of thousands of years. Compare that to the expected ten-billion year lifespan of our home star.

Long ages and vast distances await human beings out there.

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Eat A Cookie

GS cookiesAnti-abortion Catholics generally ignore or dismiss criticism of their support for China and Chinese products. “Impossible” is how one concerned Catholic responded to one of my boycott inquiries. But remember: that’s a nation that actually utilizes law and punishment to enforce a one-child policy. The worst you can say about the US is that there is no official inducement one way or the other–the level of influence is largely personal. And a family, a boyfriend, or a set of peers seems as likely to urge a continued pregnancy as a termination.

I notice that NCReg continues to hammer away at the Girl Scout this week. Don’t buy and eat those luscious cookies, we are told, because one million Girl Scout dollars go to the international governing organization. While we know we don’t like them, we’re not entirely sure about the answers the GSA gave the bishops.  In other words, they’re not backing down.

My take is that boycotting is a nearly useless activity. Karl Rove has somehow corrupted it into a political strategy, proudly borne by conservatives these days, especially if they can get someone fired or stop up the money flow. And redirect the flow to their own coffers. We are left with angry Catholics intimidating little girls who just want to wear brown and green and sew badges on sashes. And sell some cookies for a camping trip or something.

And let’s face it, like Catholic females, a Girl Scout grown up who judges her pregnancy unwanted may be as likely as anyone else to get an abortion if pressured by a boyfriend, a family, or swayed by the general acceptance of the procedure.

So what is the NCReg and “CookieCott” trying to accomplish? If it’s about remote cooperation with evil, I think they’d better check the “Made in …” labels on their consumer purchases. But if this is about scoring political points because China is too big, what’s so upright about that? Even pagans can boycott people they don’t like. Even pagans can bully little girls.

I recommend dropping a box of Thin Mints into the freezer–I’ve done this since my parents bought my sister’s cookies. Nothing like a cool chocolate mint cookie washed down with a glass of milk on a warm summer day. Those shortbread ones are good with milk, too. Room temperature for those.

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EG 247-249: Relations With Judaism

Vasnetsov_Maria_MagdaleneThree brief sections in Evangelii Gaudium examine the Christian approach to Judaism. Note that Pope Francis does not discuss “Catholic” issues, but ones that touch upon the larger body of Christian believers. Let’s read:

247. We hold the Jewish people in special regard because their covenant with God has never been revoked, for “the gifts and the call of God are irrevocable” (Rom 11:29). The Church, which shares with Jews an important part of the sacred Scriptures, looks upon the people of the covenant and their faith as one of the sacred roots of her own Christian identity (cf. Rom 11:16-18). As Christians, we cannot consider Judaism as a foreign religion; nor do we include the Jews among those called to turn from idols and to serve the true God (cf. 1 Thes 1:9). With them, we believe in the one God who acts in history, and with them we accept his revealed word.

EG 247 merely affirms what we read in Scripture. It is illustrative that the Holy Father turns to one of Saint Paul’s most passionate writings–chapters 9 through 11 constitute a personal reverence for the tradition that formed him and an anguish that so many of that tradition did not join him in embracing Jesus Christ.

Speaking of recent developments, not just the historical reality:

248. Dialogue and friendship with the children of Israel are part of the life of Jesus’ disciples. The friendship which has grown between us makes us bitterly and sincerely regret the terrible persecutions which they have endured, and continue to endure, especially those that have involved Christians.

Christians and Jews share an “encounter” with God through a large portion of the Bible. When one considers liturgy, by far the bulk of prayer material in the Hours comes from this source.

249. God continues to work among the people of the Old Covenant and to bring forth treasures of wisdom which flow from their encounter with his word. For this reason, the Church also is enriched when she receives the values of Judaism. While it is true that certain Christian beliefs are unacceptable to Judaism, and that the Church cannot refrain from proclaiming Jesus as Lord and Messiah, there exists as well a rich complementarity which allows us to read the texts of the Hebrew Scriptures together and to help one another to mine the riches of God’s word. We can also share many ethical convictions and a common concern for justice and the development of peoples.

So the questions for us, especially the skeptics among believers: Can we acknowledge God continues to work through Judaism? Can we explore not just the commonality of what we call the Old Testament, but also the complementariness of our common witness to the One God? Can we look to ethics and morality as a common ground?

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