Monday, December 19, 2005

Memory, Identity, and Peace

If there weren't more substantive things to write about, the reaction on the face of the Cardinal-Vicar of Rome (at B16's right) would steal the show and the title of this post would be "Why is This Neocon Smiling?"

Returning to substance, there hasn't been all that much out there on Benedict XVI's first papal message for the World Day of Peace, released earlier in the week.

Of course, I am impelled to ask which one do you lot not care about: The Pope, or Peace?


While some of you ponder that, conservatives get their red-meat ration with a papal endorsement of the "institutional and operative renewal" of the United Nations organization (i.e. UN reform) -- a policy change from the John Paul school of thought. But the Pope, curiously enough, returns yet again to and, for the first time publicly, addresses his choice of name, which he explained to the cardinal-electors in the process of announcing in conclave that he would be called Benedict:
The very name Benedict, which I chose on the day of my election to the chair of Peter, is a sign of my personal commitment to peace. In taking this name, I wanted to evoke both the patron saint of Europe, who inspired a civilization of peace on the whole continent, and Pope Benedict XV, who condemned the first world war as a “useless slaughter” and worked for a universal acknowledgment of the lofty demands of peace.
And he's not just talking about the "lofty demands" of peace in the world.

Three weeks before the public release of his first Encyclical (Deus Caritas Est, dated 8 December), surely the new Benedict has had before his mind his papal namesake's first such missive, 1914's Ad beatissimi apostolorum. One of its more stirring, prophetic -- and, after 80 years, resonant -- moments has been quoted heavily these last few months.

In light of the historical parallels between Joseph Ratzinger's ascent and that of Giacomo della Chiesa, once the aftermath of Pius X and Merry del Val's Modernist conniption had made its fruits known, the Successor of Blessed Peter explained in illumined discourse that:
As regards matters in which without harm to faith or discipline - in the absence of any authoritative intervention of the Apostolic See - there is room for divergent opinions, it is clearly the right of everyone to express and defend his own opinion. But in such discussions no expressions should be used which might constitute serious breaches of charity; let each one freely defend his own opinion, but let it be done with due moderation, so that no one should consider himself entitled to affix on those who merely do not agree with his ideas the stigma of disloyalty to faith or to discipline.

It is, moreover, Our will that Catholics should abstain from certain appellations which have recently been brought into use to distinguish one group of Catholics from another. They are to be avoided not only as "profane novelties of words," out of harmony with both truth and justice, but also because they give rise to great trouble and confusion among Catholics. Such is the nature of Catholicism that it does not admit of more or less, but must be held as a whole or as a whole rejected: "This is the Catholic faith, which unless a man believe faithfully and firmly; he cannot be saved" (Athanas. Creed). There is no need of adding any qualifying terms to the profession of Catholicism: it is quite enough for each one to proclaim "Christian is my name and Catholic my surname," only let him endeavour to be in reality what he calls himself (23-24).

PHOTO: AP/Pier Paolo Cito