COURT OF THE GENTILES & ASSISI ENCORE - WHAT'S HAPPENING?
Serving With the Angels
Ultra" Traditionalists" such as the Lefebvrists really have it in for Pope Benedict XVI. Of course he is fundamentally unacceptable because he is not Pope Saint Pius X or even the Venerable Pope Pius XII! But, far from apologizing for these identity flaws, he continues to behave outrageously – even going so far as to announce that he will Beatify the Venerable Pope John Paul II on 1st of May!!
He has compounded these faults by arranging the “Courtyard of the Gentiles” gathering in Paris to institute a dialogue with non- believers several weeks back. And... And, he is planning another Meeting with all other religions along the lines of that arranged in the time of John Paul II, and again at Assisi. At this stage of the list of horrors your keen Lefebvrist will usually begin to foam at the mouth or faint clean away!
So, that is the rabid extremist, but even closer to the centre of balance and sanity there are those a tad concerned about the “Courtyard” and Assisi initiatives. As far as the “Courtyard” initiative goes especially, this concern is a bit odd. No-one is concerned to read in Sacred Scripture that St. Paul in pagan Athens went about talking to Pagans – “But”these faint hearts will say, “He was preaching to them, not dialoguing with them.” This is either nonsense or a semantic game! For we see in Sacred Scripture that he did have a dialogue with them – how could any rational person avoid it - and he then went on to preach to them. Now, our situation to-day is very different. Anyone in the Western World, who claims to be an unbeliever, can nevertheless not avoid having some knowledge of Christian doctrine, which they have rejected. If we begin by preaching to them directly we will lose them straight off. But by treating them with love and the respect that flows from it, we can set up a contact that gently opens their hearts and minds to the Truth. That is the purpose of the “Courtyard”- which, by the way, takes its name from the outer court of the Temple of Jerusalem –the Court of the Gentiles- which was the nearest a Gentile could approach to the sacred precincts of the Temple without punishment by death. But in that Court the Gentiles and Jews could mingle freely
The Assisi Meeting is a different kettle of fish. It will be recalled that on the occasion of the earlier meetings under Pope John Paul II, there were grave abuses that took place. Most have forgotten that one of the earliest acts of Pope Benedict XVI after his election was to sweepingly reform the Clergy administering the Franciscan Basilica there. Plainly, the Holy Father is not about to tolerate any repetition of those abuses. We all know that at some stage, in an excess of theatrical gesturing of goodwill, Pope John Paul II kissed a copy of the Koran proffered to him. Does this mean anything serious – no – only that saints and blessed can make errors of judgment in fast moving events. It is that simple. They are no less saintly for making a silly error of judgment – just human, and saints are human, not super-human. I am sure Pope Benedict XVI makes occasional errors of judgment in day to day social interaction. But he is a very different person to Pope John Paul II who was born with a strong theatrical instinct. It is clear that Pope Benedict believes it is worthwhile pursuing contacts with other religions without any risk or suggestion of promoting indifferentism. This is the author of “Dominus Iesus” after all. Clearly his intention to underline the validity of the outreach to those who walk in error and even darkness – to show forth the Light of Christ. And he will do it without any scandal provoking excesses or, for that matter, errors of judgment.
Thank God for the Venerable John Paul II (indeed The Great) and for our beloved Pope Benedict XVI!
AND a very Happy Easter Season to you all!