The Vatican and a United Europe

Pope Benedict is now coming out as a champion of religious freedom and diversity in the name of peace.
The only sin will soon be any criticism of the doctrine of any religion or of “religious” freedom itself.

When we understand that “religious freedom” means the freedom to decide for ourselves what is right or wrong, rather than relying on Almighty God and obeying HIM as the ONLY source of ultimate truth, we can know that religious freedom is a cloak for rebellion against the commandments of Almighty God! 

If that religious freedom reaches the point where any preaching of the truth of God is condemned as being intolerant; then a dark age of spiritual ignorance and rebellion against the only way to true peace and life eternal, will descend like a heavy curtain over the world.

Will the utterly evil acts against various religions and their leaders be used to make tolerance for all manner of false teachings acceptable simply because they are tolerant of others?  Will this then be used to stifle all biblical truth regarding spiritual absolutes, because the commandments of God are regarded as intolerant of being broken by other doctrines?

Today Lebanon with the Vatican’s blessing asked the UN to outlaw any criticism of Mohammad.  That would naturally have to include any criticism of any other religion or religious leader.

Will that ultimately mean that the truth of God’s word will no longer be tolerated because it is intolerant of sin and the breaking of its commandments? 

Will a man stand condemned because he quotes scripture and says :There is NO Mediator between men and God except the man, Jesus Chirst”?

This world has been in the shadows of a great spiritual darkness for millennium; now the fullness of unspeakable spiritual darkness is about to descend over the world, bringing with it; war, great evil and much death.  All because men reject the ONLY way to peace and life, which is the zealous keeping of ALL the commandments of God.

Thank God, that he will yet raise up two prophets who will be a beacon of truth and light for humanity in the darkness, preparing the way for the coming of Christ in the next few years.

The Vatican and a United Europe

2012-09-17 Vatican Radio

In the second in our series of European Editorials, senior journalist at Vatican Radio’s Polish Programme, Jesuit Fr Leszek Gesiak, examines the Pope’s recent Apostolic Exhortation for the Middle East in terms of the European context.

What does the Apostolic Exhortation “Ecclesia in Medio Oriente” say to Europe?

Among other things, Benedict XVI’s apostolic trip to Lebanon (September 14th -16th) was an opportunity to meet and interact with different cultures, traditions, faiths and religions. It was also where he handed over an important document to the local Church: the Apostolic Exhortation “Ecclesia in Medio Oriente”. The document attempts to reconcile different elements in the complex historical and religious reality of the Middle East by looking at it through something like a magnifying glass and focussing on a series of problems that concern the entire world, Europe included. All three monotheistic religions were born in the Middle East and for Christians, in particular, this is the land where Jesus lived and died. In addressing the Church in the Middle East, it’s clear the Pope is speaking to people living in Europe as well.

The Exhortation can be read and analyzed in different ways and in different contexts.

The invitation, or urgent appeal, that issues most forcefully from it, is the call for dialogue – something that takes on exceptional urgency in the Middle East. The presence and activities of the three monotheistic religions in this area intersect one another. It’s there that one hears especially clearly the prayers of a divided Christianity. It’s there that the different Oriental Catholic Churches celebrate their liturgies according to various rites, yet all united to the Successor of Peter and all maintaining their ancient traditions. There are many places and possibilities for dialogue. The problem is getting it started and keeping it going. The effects of a lack of dialogue are extremely serious, as the painful and bloody history of this area has shown. We witness these effects in our own day in the divisions within Islam, in the political exploitation of religious fundamentalism, in terrorism, the drug trade, and in the political and economic interests of various governments around the world.

Referring to the theme of interreligious dialogue in the document, the Pope stresses how, in the context of the Middle East, it is not dictated by pragmatic, political or social considerations, but rather on the theological foundations of Faith. It is Faith that comforts humanity by confirming the existence of God and His love for us. All Faith, regardless of its religious confessional nature, reveals that which is good and true. Anyone can possess goodness and truth, even if they believe in a different way.

We use the word “dialogue” a lot in Europe. We also talk a lot about “freedom”, in every sense. That’s because dialogue is always linked to freedom. Maybe the Apostolic Exhortation can stimulate people in Europe to think again about what they mean by the words “dialogue” and “freedom”. There’s been no peace and stability in the Middle East for a long time now and Christians often lack even the basics to survive. Yet they manage to communicate a strong identity, despite the fact they are a minority and often face persecution and discrimination. Again, it’s Faith that not only provides the basis for theological debate, but that gives them the strength to live a creative existence in a multicultural community. It also gives particular poignancy to their call for dialogue and freedom.

It is in this context that the Pope makes his appeal to respect religious freedom, to put an end to violence, discrimination and hatred. Recalling the teaching of the Second Vatican Council, he writes that religious freedom is the most important of all liberties. It is a sacred and inalienable right to be respected on both the personal and community level. Religious freedom means being free to respond to the voice of our conscience, to choose the religion we consider true, and to express that belief publicly. It means being able to freely confess what we believe and to display the symbols of our faith, without risking our lives and personal liberty.

Perhaps this is one of the messages Benedict XVI is trying to convey to Europe. Paradoxically, in the name of freedom, modernity and political correctness, Europe continues to promote antichristian attitudes and ideals. In so doing, it continues to move further away from the religious roots that gave it birth. Maybe Europe thinks we can build lasting dialogue, peace and affluence without Faith, or without any religious basis for that matter. Try to imagine the Old Continent with its churches turned into art galleries or gymnasiums, with crucifixes banned in public, its society stripped of all old-fashioned values that defend marriage and the family – and with a tiny handful of Christians hiding away in some modern catacomb. Will this still be the Europe where humanity is called to grow to fullness and maturity?

Will this still be Europe?
 Leszek Gesiak SJ

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