The bravest among us!
For this Lent we are inviting our readers to devote a special prayer for Pope Benedict XVI. The idea came to us from a number of Muslim converts to Christianity who wrote to AsiaNews launching a novena for the Pontiff. They see in Benedict XVI as a “defender of the weak” and “a sign of Jesus’ love” in a world that is trying to attack him every which way. As new converts they too are among the weak, forced to hide their conversion even from their family. Moreover, the Pope himself had asked for a special prayer.
On the day the Church celebrated the Chair of Peter (22 February), Benedict XVI spoke to pilgrims in St Peter’s Square during the Angelus, asking them to “accompany me with your prayers so that I may faithfully accomplish the high task Divine Providence has placed upon me as Successor to the Apostle Peter” and bishop of Rome. Indeed, the Church is “called to fulfil a special service for the People of God as a whole.”
We all know how difficult ecumenism, the struggle for Christian unity, can be. Every step the Pope takes is met by coldness, indifference and prevarication from other Churches. Here is one example among many. Despite Benedict XVI’s many prayers and attention, the new Orthodox patriarch of Moscow said, a day after his election, that a trip by the Pontiff to Moscow was not possible for the foreseeable future.The Pope’s search for unity also suffers from trying to hold together various Catholic strands, still too much divided (perhaps confused) between “progressive” and “traditionalists”, “North” and “South”, “rich” and “poor”, each missing the chance of respecting one another other, and acting as one in bearing witness to the faith in a world that is increasingly becoming atheistic.
The lifting of the excommunication on Lefebvrist Bishop Williamson gave many politicians, big and small, an opportunity to accuse the Pope of anti-Semitism, without getting their facts straight or realising that Benedict XVI is the one who build a strong relationship with the Jewish world over the years. It is almost as if everyone got together to cast stones against the scapegoat of the week. In fact Benedict XVI is one of the few voices saying that humans cannot be bought by politics or that the state must serve the public good.
In a continent like Europe where plans are underway to introduce euthanasia and eugenics, the Pope has insisted that “Man will always be greater than all that which makes up his body.” He has slammed the mindset that views life and personal dignity as “based [only] on one's own desire and individual freedom,” giving precedence to the “active faculties, to proficiency, to physical perfection and beauty.”
In all these “incidents” there may have been some errors or clumsiness by the Roman Curia, but in the “war” against Benedict XVI there is above all an attempt to stifle those who tell everyone that there is an absolute value in human beings.
As crises overtake ideologies and economies, overwhelming the world, this is the latest attempt to get rid of God as if he was a final burden.