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Pope Benedict farewell

With humility he came to the papacy, and with humility he left.  Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI bade farewell to the public world today.  I’m still taking it in.  The Church is pope-less for a time.  Sedes vacans.  While I was watching videos of his departure from Vatican City, I felt awe at the fact that I was witnessing such an historical moment.  I also felt a touch of sadness.  But I know Papa Benedict will be a great prayer-warrior for the Church and the world, and I am grateful for that.  I hope and pray that this gentle scholar–that is how I will always remember him most–will enjoy serenity and some refreshment for the rest of his days.  I hope he will continue to bless us with his writing as well.

At the same time, let us pray very hard for the cardinals who will be in the upcoming conclave.  As Papa Benedict himself said in his farewell address to them, the future pope is among them.  We must pray for their discernment, for their careful attention to the voice and motion of the Holy Spirit.  In addition to praying for the college of cardinals as a whole, perhaps you might want to adopt a cardinal and pray for him in particular.  I am praying for my adopted cardinal, Cardinal Peter Erdo of Hungary.

What a way to start a Monday morning.

Like many people, I could hardly believe my eyes when I read that Pope Benedict XVI had decided to resign from the papacy.  Also like many, I felt a storm of conflicting emotions: gratitude to God for having given us so good a shepherd… sadness that his papacy had to be cut short… admiration of his humility and steadfastness… worry about his health and about who would succeed him as our holy father… but above all gratitude and love!

One thing is clear: we all know what we need to pray and fast for this Lent!  For the peace and much deserved rest for Pope Benedict… and for the cardinals who will be electing his successor, that they listen carefully to the Holy Spirit.

And now, here are some of my favorite photos of dear Papa Benedict!

pope-benedict-xvi

Pope Benedict blessing babies in the Holy Land

pope-benedict-praying-while-walking

Portrait of Pope Benedict XVI

I am finally catching up on the coverage of the Holy Father’s visit to Britain.  One-word summary: Wow!

Pope Benedict’s sermons and speeches are as powerful and prophetic as ever, with their characteristic blend of incisiveness and gentleness.

But overarching everything, there is the sheer historical magnitude of the Catholic Pope speaking in places like Westminster Hall and Westminster Abbey, openly and fearlessly declaring himself the Successor of St. Peter and calling Britain back to her Christian, and indeed Catholic roots, pointing to such British Catholics as St. Edward the Confessor, St. Thomas More, St. Margaret of Scotland, and the soon-to-be-beatified Ven. John Henry Newman.

I cannot help but feel great wonder and awe at this occasion!  And while the re-conversion of Britain to Catholicism has long been a prayer intention dear to my heart, I finally feel, for the first time, that some kind of breakthrough might be in progress.  I hope and pray that the Holy Father’s presence and words may bear much good fruit in those lands.

Here are some of the British sources I’ve been following:

The Catholic Herald

Damian Thompson

The Hermeneutic of Continuity

Saint Mary Magdalene

That the Bones You Have Crushed May Thrill

Godzdogz

May our Lord and Lady continue to bless and protect our Holy Father during this momentous journey.

It always delights me when Pope Benedict talks about Dominicans.  This week, he spoke of St. Albert the Great, the Doctor Universalis.  Among other things, he was the professor of St. Thomas Aquinas, and is the Patron Saint of the natural sciences and of scientists… as well as of philosophers and theology students.

This article summarizes the speech: “Albert the Great: No Contrast Between Faith and Science”.  Here is an excerpt:

“Above all, St. Albert shows that there is no opposition between faith and science. … He reminds us that there is friendship between science and faith, and that scientists can, through their vocation to study nature, follow an authentic and absorbing path of sanctity”, said the Holy Father.

“St. Albert the Great opened the door to the complete acceptance of the thought of Aristotle into the philosophy and theology of the Middle Ages, an acceptance that was later definitively elaborated by St. Thomas Aquinas. This acceptance of what we may call pagan or pre-Christian philosophy was an authentic cultural revolution for the time. Yet many Christian thinkers feared Aristotle’s philosophy”, especially as it had been interpreted in such a was as to appear “entire irreconcilable with Christian faith. Thus a dilemma arose: are faith and reason in contrast with one another or not?

“Here lies one of the great merits of St. Albert: he rigorously studied the works of Aristotle, convinced that anything that is truly reasonable is compatible with faith as revealed in Sacred Scripture”, the Pope added.

I wonder how many people realize that we have a Patron Saint of natural sciences and scientists?  Remember this the next time you hear or read somebody claim that the Church is ignorant of and/or hostile toward science.

At a recent general audience, Pope Benedict was speaking about the Church’s ability to constantly renew and reform herself and the society around her in every time and place, and he used the example of the Mendicant Orders that arose in the 13th century: the Dominicans and Franciscans.

Aside from my joy that the Holy Father spoke about Dominicans, it also gave me great joy to hear him speak about the Medieval Church and Medieval Saints.  It was a very different age, of course, and yet I always find that it resonates with me.  I don’t think it was as different as we may think today.  The word “medieval” has a connotation today that is far more negative than it deserves.

In fact, the Medieval Church was dealing with some of the same issues our modern Church faces: issues such as the role of the laity, the universal call to holiness, the relationship between faith and reason, and the necessity of the Church’s voice in the academy and in society at large.

Not a few lay faithful, who lived in greatly expanding cities, wished to practice a spiritually intense Christian life. Hence they sought to deepen their knowledge of the faith and to be guided in the arduous but exciting path of holiness. Happily, the Mendicant Orders were also able to meet this need: the proclamation of the Gospel in simplicity and in its depth and greatness was one objective, perhaps the main objective of this movement. … They dealt with themes close to the life of the people, especially the practice of the theological and moral virtues, with concrete examples, easily understood. Moreover, they taught ways to nourish the life of prayer and piety. … Hence it is not surprising that the faithful were numerous, women and men, who chose to be supported in their Christian journey by the Franciscan and Dominican Friars, sought after and appreciated spiritual directors and confessors.

Thus were born associations of lay faithful that were inspired by the spirituality of Sts. Francis and Dominic, adapted to their state of life. It was the Third Order, whether Franciscan or Dominican. In other words, the proposal of a “lay sanctity” won many people. As the Second Vatican Council recalled, the call to holiness is not reserved to some, but is universal (cf. “Lumen Gentium,” 40). In every state of life, according to the needs of each, there is the possibility of living the Gospel. Also today every Christian must tend to the “lofty measure of Christian life,” no matter what state of life he belongs to!

Ha, did you see that? He linked the 13th century with Vatican II! One of the things I love about being a Lay Dominican is that I am indeed part of a tradition that traces itself all the way back to the 13th century, and yet it remains incredibly relevant and up-to-date. I do sort of wish that the Holy Father had mentioned that these religious third orders still exist and still provide a powerful means for people to seek out the “lay sanctity” that has been talked about so much since Vatican II. We hear lots about “lay sanctity” today… but not nearly enough about the religious third orders. I think we need to work on that.

The greatest thinkers, Sts. Thomas Aquinas and Bonaventure, were mendicants, operating in fact with this dynamism of the new evangelization, which also renewed the courage of thought, of dialogue between reason and faith. Today also there is a “charity of and in truth,” an “intellectual charity” to exercise, to enlighten intelligences and combine faith with culture. The widespread commitment of the Franciscans and Dominicans in the Medieval universities is an invitation, dear faithful, to make oneself present in places of the elaboration of learning, to propose, with respect and conviction, the light of the Gospel on the fundamental questions that concern man, his dignity, and his eternal destiny. Thinking of the role of the Franciscans and Dominicans in the Middle Ages, of the spiritual renewal they aroused, of the breath of new life that they communicated in the world, a monk says: “At that time the world was growing old. Two orders arose in the Church, from which it renewed its youth, like that of an eagle” (Burchard d’Ursperg, Chronicon).

Through the example of the great saint scholars, the Holy Father is calling us to bring our faith into the academy, to “combine faith with culture.”  I can’t help but think that this is a much taller order today than it was in the Medieval period.  I constantly struggle with it.

As a Catholic, and particularly as a Lay Dominican, I consider it my duty and also my right to carry my faith wherever I go–to carry it as a lantern that casts its light around me and before me and upon everything and everybody I come in contact with.  If I did not do so, I would risk not only losing my way, but also losing myself.  And yet there is at least a little part of me that has been manufactured by a very secularist society and a secularist educational system.  And a little voice that always tempts me to keep my faith shut up in a box… to keep my lantern hidden away, my light beneath a bushel basket.

I’m sure the Medieval scholars had their own struggles and challenges–although I can’t imagine that secularism was one of them.   No, secularism is the great challenge of our era.  The challenge for the future Saints now living among us.  Facing it will come down to heroic virtue.  To conviction and to courage.  To God’s grace transforming that little part of us that has been manufactured by our society.

Anyway, I highly recommend reading the full address.  The Dominican Province of St. Joseph (eastern U.S.) has a full translation at their blog.

Pope Benedict with monstranceI’ve been thinking about the Eucharist a lot lately, between the recent celebration of Corpus Christi and some other things that have come up.  Nothing defines Catholicism more fundamentally than our belief in, and reverence for, the Eucharist.

So, what does it mean, this “Eucharist”?  This is not a question that should be asked only by non-Catholics.  It should also be asked and meditated upon often and deeply by Catholics, because it is the “source and summit” of our lives as Catholics.

One thing I have found helpful since the time of my reversion to the faith is this definition from Father John Hardon’s Modern Catholic Dictionary:

EUCHARIST: The true Body and Blood of Jesus Christ, who is really and substantially present under the appearances of bread and wine, in order to offer himself in the sacrifice of the Mass and to be received as spiritual food in Holy Communion. It is called Eucharist, or “thanksgiving,” because at its institution at the Last Supper Christ “gave thanks,” and by this fact it is the supreme object and act of Christian gratitude to God.

Although the same name is used, the Eucharist is any one or all three aspects of one mystery, namely the Real Presence, the Sacrifice, and Communion. As Real Presence, the Eucharist is Christ in his abiding existence on earth today; as Sacrifice, it is Christ in his abiding action of High Priest, continuing now to communicate the graces he merited on Calvary; and as Communion, it is Christ coming to enlighten and strengthen the believer by nourishing his soul for eternal life. (Etym. Latin eucharistia, the virtue of thanksgiving or thankfulness; from Greek eucharistia, gratitude; from eu-, good + charizesthai, to show favor.)

See Also: SACRAMENT OF THE ALTAR

SACRAMENT OF THE ALTAR: The Eucharist viewed as the body and blood of Christ, which are offered on the altar in the Sacrifice of the Mass. Also the Eucharist as reserved on the altar for adoration by the faithful.

Pope Benedict offering MassThis definition of “Eucharist” has so much in it.  I love the way Father Hardon describes it as a three-fold mystery (much like God Himself is).  I remember reading this definition for the first time several years ago and realizing with some horror that in my whole life, I had never really understood the Eucharist.  If I had, I really don’t think I ever would have left the Church!  These years later, it still gives me plenty of food for thought.

If anything, I had always heard “Eucharist” used as a synonym for “Holy Communion.”  Nothing more.  That’s an error, and I can tell you that it’s still being made.  This conflation of Eucharist and Communion can have serious consequences.  It can lead to the abandonment of adoration and the dilution of the doctrines of the Real Presence and of the Mass as Holy Sacrifice.  Without the Real Presence and the Holy Sacrifice, Communion means nothing!  And neither does Catholicism.

There’s no reason to be Catholic if Communion is just a bread-and-wine party… which is what it logically must become if we lose sight of the full meaning of the Eucharist.  Catholicism is much too difficult to bear unless in Communion we are receiving the “true Body and Blood of Jesus Christ, who is really and substantially present under the appearances of bread and wine,” unless Communion “is Christ coming to enlighten and strengthen the believer by nourishing his soul for eternal life.”

Without the Real Presence, adoration really is just “cookie worship.”  And Catholics are all a bunch of lunatics sharing in one huge mass delusion.  And if Christ isn’t the one truly acting in the Mass as our High Priest, then the Mass is just a show with some guy in some fancy anachronistic get-up spouting a bunch of hocus pocus.  Oh, but those crazy Catholics think they’ll risk hellfire if they skip a single Sunday!  The ordained priest has no purpose whatsoever if he is not acting in persona Christi.  He’s just another one in a wide variety of Christian ministers–namely, the crazy one who gave up everything to gain some kind of magical powers over bread and wine.

Maybe that’s all over the top, but not by much.  When you think about it for just a little while, pretty much everything about Catholicism becomes absurd and grotesque if we don’t understand the Eucharist.  It becomes a real live Jack Chick tract.

Pope Benedict giving first CommunionCatholics must understand the Eucharist in order to understand ourselves and to be authentically Catholic.  As opposed to being heretics, protestants, and/or people who mindlessly do and believe things without knowing why.  Being Catholic doesn’t mean being mindless, and it definitely doesn’t mean not asking “Why?”.  The long and venerable tradition of Catholic meditation and contemplation has been built upon ordinary Catholics asking questions.  To some extent, I’d say all prayer is based on asking questions.  The development of our theology and doctrine has been fueled by burning questions.  Christ said, “Ask and you shall receive.”  God blessed Solomon because all Solomon desired was wisdom.  God similarly blessed St. Thomas Aquinas because all Thomas desired was God Himself.  God does answer, He does give wisdom, and He does give us His very Self, when we ask.

Let us ask often to understand the Eucharist in all of its great mystery, power, and glory.  Let us ask to understand it as our Lord and King truly with us on this earth.  Let us ask for the faith and understanding to adore Him, to bear witness to His Sacrifice, and to receive Him into our bodies and our entire lives.  And let’s do it in that order.  Let us place ourselves before Him, let us open our hearts and minds before Him, let us bend our knees before Him, before we even think of receiving Him.  He will give Himself to us.  Let us also give ourselves to Him, mind, heart, soul, and body.  He is far more deserving to receive us than we are to receive Him.

A very happy birthday to our Holy Father, Pope Benedict, who is 82 years old today!

Pope Benedict in Brazil, 2007

As always, I pray that the Lord bless him with continued long life and good health!  I am so grateful to have him as our Papa!

Also, this Sunday, 19 April, we celebrate the 4th anniversary of his election as Pope!  Appropriately enough, this year, it is also Divine Mercy Sunday.  Providing us with such a good shepherd has been an act of God’s mercy in these troubled times.

Viva il Papa!  Ad multos annos!

(Photo by Fabio Pozzebom, found at Wikipedia)

Father Z posted this pic, and is getting some rather hilarious caption comments for it:

APTOPIX POPE ANGOLA

Here is the National Review Online interview with Harvard AIDS expert, Dr. Edward C. Green (with my emphases and comments:

From Saint Peter’s Square to Harvard Square
Media coverage of papal comments on AIDS in Africa is March madness.

By Kathryn Jean Lopez

‘We have found no consistent associations between condom use and lower HIV-infection rates, which, 25 years into the pandemic, we should be seeing if this intervention was working.”

So notes Edward C. Green, director of the AIDS Prevention Research Project at the Harvard Center for Population and Development Studies, in response to papal press comments en route to Africa this week.

Benedict XVI said, in response to a French reporter’s question asking him to defend the Church’s position on fighting the spread of AIDS, characterized by the reporter as “frequently considered unrealistic and ineffective”:

I would say that this problem of AIDS cannot be overcome with advertising slogans. If the soul is lacking, if Africans do not help one another, the scourge cannot be resolved by distributing condoms; quite the contrary, we risk worsening the problem. The solution can only come through a twofold commitment: firstly, the humanization of sexuality, in other words a spiritual and human renewal bringing a new way of behaving towards one another; and secondly, true friendship, above all with those who are suffering, a readiness — even through personal sacrifice — to be present with those who suffer. And these are the factors that help and bring visible progress.  [NOTE:  I don’t believe this is the accurate, official version of what the pope said.  That can be found in this article.]

“The pope is correct,” Green told National Review Online Wednesday, “or put it a better way, the best evidence [evidence!] we have supports the pope’s comments. He stresses that “condoms have been proven to not be effective at the ‘level of population.’”
“There is,” Green adds, “a consistent association shown by our best studies, [studies!] including the U.S.-funded ‘Demographic Health Surveys,’ between greater availability and use of condoms and higher (not lower) HIV-infection rates. This may be due in part to a phenomenon known as risk compensation, meaning that when one uses a risk-reduction ‘technology’ such as condoms, one often loses the benefit (reduction in risk) by ‘compensating’ or taking greater chances than one would take without the risk-reduction technology.”

Green added: “I also noticed that the pope said ‘monogamy’ was the best single answer to African AIDS, rather than ‘abstinence.’ [A very important distinction.  Lots of people are attacking the pope’s position because of the old claim that abstinence is impossible, unreasonable, barbaric!  Well, it’s really none of those things, of course, but that’s beside the point.] The best and latest empirical evidence [more evidence!] indeed shows that reduction in multiple and concurrent sexual partners is the most important single behavior change associated with reduction in HIV-infection rates (the other major factor is male circumcision).”

And while, as Travis Kavulla writes from Kenya today, the international media will ignore all sorts of fascinating new stories about church and civilizational growth in favor of a sexier, albeit way-too-familiar storyline, Green has some encouraging news: The pope is not alone. “More and more AIDS experts are coming to accept the above. [So, all the people who are singling out the pope and Catholic moral teaching for their criticisms are either uninformed or dishonest.] The two countries with the worst HIV epidemics, Swaziland and Botswana, have both launched campaigns to discourage multiple and concurrent partners, and to encourage fidelity.[Again: monogamy, not abstinence.]

The pope added during that Q&A, “I would say that our double effort is to renew the human person internally, to give spiritual and human strength to a way of behaving that is just towards our own body and the other person’s body; and this capacity of suffering with those who suffer, to remain present in trying situations.”

We need to, in other words, treat people as people. [Which necessarily includes not treating people as expendable sexual objects.] Reason with them and show them there is a better way to live, respectful of themselves and others. It’s a common-sense message that isn’t madness [Boy is that a counter-cultural statement!] whether you’re in Africa or dealing with hormonal American teenagers. It’s a hard message to hear over the same-old silly debates, parodies, and dismissals. [Which is mostly what one finds in the secular media and society, because God forbid anybody should engage the issue with the objectivity, gravitas, and intellectual rigor it deserves.] But it’s one that is based on real life—and acknowledged not just in Saint Peter’s Square but in Harvard Square.

Wow–all that talk about evidence and studies!  Could it be that our brilliant Holy Father has done his homework?  Or could it simply be that science and Catholic teaching are on the same page, part of the same truth?  I’d say both are the case.

Here is an article that nicely summarizes responses–both negative and positive–to Pope Benedict’s recent statement that condoms will not combat the AIDS epidemic in Africa, and in fact could exacerbate it (with my emphases and comments):

World Leaders, Condom-Promoting Forces Attack Pope Over Condom AIDS Remarks

By Hilary White

ROME, March 19, 2009 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Two days after Pope Benedict XVI warned that more condoms would facilitate the spread of HIV/AIDS in Africa, the world’s condom-promoters and their political allies are leading an all-out attack on the pope and on the Catholic Church. However, at the same time, Catholic and other conservative leaders are defending the pope, pointing out that not only is science on his side, but also that in his remarks the pope was showing a welcome deference to the pro-family culture of Africa, which is opposed to the population control agenda promoted in the continent by many Western “aid” agencies.

The day after the Pope made his comments, the heavily anti-Catholic government of Spain announced it would be sending over a million condoms to African countries.  The Spanish health ministry said in a statement Wednesday, “Condoms have been demonstrated to be a necessary element in prevention policies and an efficient barrier against the virus.”

The French foreign ministry called the comments a “threat to public health policies and the duty to protect human life,” while the Dutch development minister said it was “extremely harmful” and that “the pope is making matters worse.” Former French Prime Minister Alain Juppé, interviewed Wednesday by France Culture, said, “This pope is becoming a real problem.”  [As a Catholic, I consider that a good sign.]

“To go say in Africa that condoms increase the danger of AIDS is, first of all an untruth and it is unacceptable for the African people and for everyone else,” Juppé said.

Aurelio Mancuso of the Italian group Arcigay said, “While across the world and especially in Africa thousands are dying of Aids, Ratzinger [Benedict] can think of nothing better to say than repeat the Vatican’s position on condoms.  [The way this is said makes the pope sound like a brainless idiot who does nothing but parrot sayings.  Give me a break–we’re talking about one of the most brilliant, articulate, and eloquent people on earth!  But as for the position he holds and supports–what on earth do they expect from the pope?]

“We are now beyond the paradox, this view simply contributes to the spread of the disease and especially in Africa where there are not enough medical resources to treat patients.”

The Telegraph also quoted Lisa Power of Britain’s homosexualist activist group, the Terrence Higgins Trust, who said, “We deeply regret the continued misinformation around condoms, which remain the most effective way of preventing the spread of HIV.

“Both abstinence and condoms are valid weapons in the fight against HIV, but unfortunately abstinence has a far higher failure rate.”

Rebecca Hodes, of the Treatment Action Campaign in South Africa, told the Guardian that the Pope’s “opposition to condoms conveys that religious dogma is more important to him than the lives of Africans.”  [Or could it be that religious dogma is important because it saves and improves the lives of human beings?  But only a stupid, unenlightened Catholic could believe that.]

However, while Pope Benedict in his remarks was merely reiterating Catholic teaching, backed up by research showing that the failure rate of condoms and the promiscuity they encourage significantly contribute to the spread of AIDS, defenders of the pope have observed that the Holy Father’s remarks had a further inspiration, beyond the science of the matter.  [Given what a thorough thinker Pope Benedict is, I’m sure this is true.]

Franciscan Father Maurizio Faggioni has suggested that the pope was in part responding to a grave cultural threat to Africa posed by the condom philosophy and the international population control movement that promotes it. Faggioni, who has advised the Vatican on sexual morality issues, told Catholic News Service that the pope sees condom campaigns as a question of “cultural violence,” especially in Africa, where there has never been a “contraceptive mentality.”  [The contraceptive movement is just the latest form of Western imperialism.   I’m  sure that this is something the Holy Father has in mind.]

This opinion is supported by local African AIDS activists who regularly complain that AIDS sufferers in their countries are being used in a massive international campaign both to reduce African populations and undermine traditional African family values. [“Being used” is the operative phrase here.  Whenever human beings are used as means to an end, when human beings are treated like objects, we’re talking grave, intrinsic evil.  The fact that these particular human beings are already gravely ill and suffering just makes it more monstrous.]

Martin Ssempa, a key player in Uganda’s highly successful abstinence and faithfulness anti-AIDS programmes, [Hello!  This can’t be ignored!] told LifeSiteNews.com that the hostility towards the Catholic Church of the international AIDS organisations is matched only by their hatred of traditional Christian sexual morality.  [Their alleged concern for AIDS and AIDS patients is their means of trying to bring down the entire body of Christian sexual morality.  By pressuring the Church to give up its stance on condoms, they expect that they can get the Church to give up its stance on everything else as well.  And they’d probably be right–but they aren’t going to succeed.]

Ssempa, a Protestant minister, said in October 2007, during a previous media-sponsored wave of furor over the Catholic Church’s opposition to condoms, “Condoms have not reduced HIV-AIDS anywhere in the world … Higher condoms [rates] across Africa have resulted in higher HIV.”

Condom promoting international organisations such as UNAIDS, he said, are “demonizing the Catholic Church unfairly.”  [Again, I take that as a good sign.  If the Church were no longer demonized unfairly, I think we’d need to seriously examine ourselves.]

“In fact,” he said, “in countries where the Catholic Church is strong, there is lower HIV than places where the Catholic Church is not.”

In 2008, Sam L. Ruteikara, the co-chair of Uganda’s AIDS-prevention Committee wrote in the Washington Post that in the fight against AIDS, “profiteering has trumped prevention.”

“AIDS is no longer simply a disease,” he said, “it has become a multibillion-dollar industry … [And of course, those who cash in on it aren’t really interested in destroying it.] Meanwhile, effective HIV prevention methods, such as urging Africans to stick to one partner, don’t qualify for lucrative universal-access status.”

Rutkara said, “Our wisdom about our own culture is ignored. [Because the West knows best, dontcha know?!] Telling men and women to keep sex sacred – to save sex for marriage and then remain faithful – is telling them to love one another deeply with their whole hearts. Most HIV infections in Africa are spread by sex outside of marriage: casual sex and infidelity. The solution is faithful love.”

In a meeting with the press on board the plane taking him to Yaounde, the capital of Cameroon, on Tuesday, the pope set off a firestorm after responding to the assertion that the Catholic Church’s position on combating AIDS is considered “unrealistic and ineffective.”

“I would say the opposite,” Benedict said. [I love how he begins his response this way!  It is bold in its contradiction.  As I’ve said before, the Holy Father has an exquisite manner of calmness, gentleness, and charity–but he’s no push-over.  He doesn’t hesitate to draw sharp lines when it comes to ideas and beliefs and what’s wrong and what’s right.  God bless him for it!] “I think that the reality that is most effective, the most present and the strongest in the fight against AIDS, is precisely that of the Catholic Church, with its programs and its diversity.”

“I would say that one cannot overcome this problem of AIDS only with money — which is important, but if there is no soul, no people who know how to use it, (money) doesn’t help,” he said.

“One cannot overcome the problem with the distribution of condoms. On the contrary, they increase the problem.”

Benedict said that combating the spread of AIDS requires “first, a humanization of sexuality, that is, a spiritual human renewal that brings with it a new way of behaving with one another.  [Sexuality must involve relating with another human being–not using them.] Second, a true friendship even and especially with those who suffer, and a willingness to make personal sacrifices and to be with the suffering.” [True compassion–something the secular world just doesn’t understand any more.  ” ‘Make personal sacrifices’?  Sounds hard and painful–why on earth would we do that?”]

I definitely understand why his statements are making some people angry.  But I love that he’s willing to say things that make people angry.  If the pope can’t or won’t do so, then what hope is there for the rest of the Catholic world?  I’m so grateful that we have a Holy Father who is able to lead by example and inspire courage and reassurance in his flock.  May God bless him with continued long life!

And just in case we need further evidence that the pope was right in his statement, here’s another article to look at:  Harvard AIDS Expert Says Pope is Correct on Condom Distribution Making AIDS Worse

Related Post:

Harvard AIDS Expert: “The pope is correct”

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