Tag Archives: Blessed John Paul II

Blessed John Paul II

Pope John Paul II with Monstrance.jpg

“The absolute, and yet sweet and gentle, power of the Lord responds to the whole depths of the human person, to his loftiest aspirations of intellect, will and heart. It does not speak the language of force, but expresses itself in charity and truth.

The new Successor of Peter in the See of Rome today makes a fervent, humble and trusting prayer: Christ, make me become and remain the servant of your unique power, the servant of your sweet power, the servant of your power that knows no dusk. Make me a servant: indeed, the servant of your servants….

Do not be afraid. Open, I say open wide the doors for Christ. To his saving power open the boundaries of states, economic and political systems, the vast fields of culture, civilization and development.

Do not be afraid. Christ knows “that which is in man”. He alone knows it.

So often today, man does not know that which is in him, in the depths of his mind and heart. So often he is uncertain about the meaning of his life on this earth. He is assailed by doubt, a doubt which turns into despair.

We ask you, therefore, we beg you with humility and with trust: let Christ speak to man. He alone has words of life, yes, of life eternal.”

Pope John Paul II

Homily at the Beginning of the Pontificat

22 October 1978

Office of Readings for the Liturgical Memorial

Was John Paul II euthanized?

john_paul_2_0921.jpgWell, that’s a question. Provocative or not, I am quiet sure that it is germane 6 years later with little evidence. But Time magazine’s Jeff Israel brings to our attention the hypothesis of Dr Lina Pavanelli who, in an article, “The Sweet Death of Karol Wojtyla” (Micromega), claims Blessed John Paul II was euthanized. The first thing I think of is: someone is trying to make a book deal with conspiracy theory accusing the Vatican of hiding something. But I am wondering, as Israel pointed out, that if the issue is actually the doctor’s reception of Church teaching on life –or not–, especially on issues like euthanasia. Many in the medical community want to dismiss the Church’s teaching on life in order to liberalize medicine enough to reduce the dignity of the human person to absurdity. There’s a vibrancy in questioning Magisterial teaching on life in Europe because of proposed legislation.

Remember all the questions about the death of Pope John Paul I?

John Paul II’s Laborem exercens makes 30 years

John Paul II’s Laborem exercens (On Human Work; September 14, 1981), celebrates 30 years next week. Itself was a document written on the 90th anniversary of Pope Leo XIII’s landmark work Rerum Novarum. I think we ought to give more attention to the meaning of work and its connection with the work of the Creator. Too often we disparage work and its place in the daily experience of men and women. This morning at Lauds, by Providence, I read from the Apostle’s work that a person who doesn’t work, doesn’t eat. I could help thinking about the implication of this teaching. THence, today, is an appropriate to think about work and it’s meaning. 

Some paragraphs from LE:

workers in the field.jpeg

Through work man
must earn his daily bread and contribute to the continual advance of science
and technology and, above all, to elevating unceasingly the cultural and moral
level of the society within which he lives in community with those who belong
to the same family. And work means any activity by man, whether manual or
intellectual, whatever its nature or circumstances; it means any human activity
that can and must be recognized as work, in the midst of all the many
activities of which man is capable and to which he is predisposed by his very
nature, by virtue of humanity itself.
Man is made to be in the visible universe
an image and likeness of God himself
, and he is placed in it in order to subdue
the earth. From the beginning therefore he is called to work. Work is one of
the characteristics that distinguish man from the rest of creatures, whose
activity for sustaining their lives cannot be called work. Only man is capable
of work, and only man works, at the same time by work occupying his existence
on earth. Thus
work bears a particular mark of man and of humanity, the mark of
a person operating within a community of persons. And this mark decides its
interior characteristics; in a sense it constitutes its very nature.

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A bold abbot, Communion and Liberation, the BVM and Saint Benedict

CL logo.jpgToday is the 31st anniversary of the foundation of Fraternity of Communion and Liberation. The narrative of the Fraternity’s founding is told in “The Greatest Grace in the History of the Movement” by Giorgio Feliciani (Traces, February 2007). Here’s the story.

A priest in the direct service of the Holy See, Monsignor Mariano De Nicolò, currently Bishop of Rimini [he retired 3 July 2007], happened to review, as part of his official duties, a file that illustrated and documented the Movement’s desiderata. Feeling that these aspirations deserved attention and further study, he suggested to Father Francesco Ricci, who at the time was sharing responsibility for the Movement with Father Giussani [for more about this priest, who died in 1991, see Francesco Ricci. Una passione, cento passioni,
San Martino in Strada
, Lit. Citienne,  1996], that he consult with Monsignor Giuseppe Lobina, an expert in Canon Law who, along with a solid formal training, had an unusual amount of experience with ecclesiastical praxis.

This advice was promptly taken and, only a few months later, Monsignor Lobina, after acquiring all the necessary information in various meetings with CL figures and Father Giussani himself, was drawing up what would soon be the Statute of the Fraternity, which has remained largely unchanged up to now.

Monsignor Lobina also undertook to find the ecclesiastical authority willing to approve the Movement, and found him in Abbot Martino Matronola, who, as provost [abbot] of the monastery of Montecassino, had the same powers over the surrounding territory as the bishop of a diocese. This acceptance was even more welcome because Father Giussani felt that the concept of his Movement was very close to that of the Benedictines (see Giussani, op.cit., pp. 74-75).

The formal establishment of the Fraternity came shortly thereafter in a very discreet, unassuming way. On July 11, 1980-the solemnity of Saint Benedict, Patron of Europe, on the fifteenth centenary of his birth-a small group of twelve stood together with Father Giussani in front of the Abbot to be constituted as a canonical association. On that same day, Monsignor Matronola,* by a specific formal decree, granted juridical status in the Church to the ecclesial movement called “Fraternity of Communion and Liberation” and approved its statutes and “works of apostolate and individual and social formation,” placing it under the “protection of the Immaculate Virgin and our Patron Saint Benedict” (see the Bollettino Diocesano di Montecassino, no. 3, 1980, pp. 223-224).

Thus, the Fraternity was born as a reality in the Church, recognized to all effects by the ecclesiastical authority and by virtue of this formal empowerment to act, in communion with its respective bishops, not only in Montecassino but also in the other dioceses. Indeed, in the same decree, the Abbot expressed his “fervent wish that wherever the Association exercises its apostolic activity, it may be benevolently welcomed, aided, and encouraged by their Excellencies the Ordinaries.”…

Despite the lack of any kind of organized promotion, adherence to the Fraternity was growing rapidly, to the point that within a year the number of members went from the original 12 to almost 2,000. …

The Abbot of Montecassino was certainly aware that his decree would provoke harsh criticism from those bishops who did not view CL with a favorable eye. One of the leading figures in the Italian Bishops Conference went so far as to state that the decree had been illegally extorted from him. And, realistically, an attentive Canon lawyer noted, “The Abbot of Montecassino was brave (some would say bold) to approve an association that is not diocesan, but evidently multi-diocesan.” In this situation, the recognition generously and courageously granted by the Abbot of Montecassino was no longer sufficient to give the association a juridical form that corresponded with its actual reality. By now, the approval of a higher authority was needed, which could only be the Holy See, and more specifically the Pontifical Council for the Laity, the dicastery set up by Pope Paul VI to handle matters concerning the participation of the laity in the life and mission of the Church.

Consequently, as early as April 7, 1981, less than a year after the decree issued by the Abbot of Montecassino, Father Giussani, with the continued encouragement and advice of Monsignor Lobina, sent the President of the Council, at that time Cardinal Opilio Rossi, a formal application for pontifical recognition of the Fraternity. …

In the end, the Holy Father, John Paul II himself, intervened: after being fully informed about the question, he encouraged the Pontifical Council to proceed to grant the desired approval without further delay (according to the Decree of the Pontifical Council for the Laity, p. 235).

Thus, we come to the Decree, issued on February 11, 1982, the liturgical feast of Our Lady of Lourdes, which “establishes and confirms as a juridical entity for the universal Church” the Fraternity, “declaring it to all effects an Association of Pontifical Right and decreeing that it be recognized as such by all.”

As is known, February 11, 1982, the Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes,  is recognized as the establishment of the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation. It is this date that CL prays the Mass for the good of the Fraternity. Historically, as noted above, the Archabbot of Monte Cassino, on Saint Benedict’s 1500th birthday, recognized the CL as an ecclesial movement, an act that caused much criticism for being perceived as taking authority not his own. Two years later Pope John Paul II addressed the criticism, and on the feast of Our Lady of Lourdes had the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation recognized by the Pontifical Council for the Laity under the leadership of Opilio Cardinal Rossi. Hence, Our Lady of Lourdes and Saint Benedict are patrons of the Fraternity Communion and Liberation.

Martino Matronola.jpg

*Martino Matronola (1903-1994) was born in Cassino, Italy, the city below the great Benedictine abbey of Monte Cassino where he was elected the archabbot in 1971 and appointed bishop in 1977. The Abbey of Monte Cassino is known as the archcoenobium because it is the one of the monasteries founded Saint Benedict; the abbey is also distinguished for being an abbey-nulius (a territorial abbey, meaning the abbey is responsible for a number of parishes). Therefore, the man elected the archabbot of Monte Cassino is also the Diocesan Ordinary of the Diocese of Cassino which has 53 parishes, 68 priests and 79,000 faithful to care for (according to 2004 stats). He retired from the position of abbot-bishop of Monte Cassino in 1983.

Adult Stem Cells: Science and the Future of Man and Culture: a deeper dialogue between science and faith

The Pontifical Council for Culture has been doing some good work in promoting serious dialogue among those who work in science, the humanities and theology. You may be familiar with the Council’s “Science, Theology and the Ontological  Quest” (STOQ Project). The most recent collaboration has been with NeoStem in organizing a forthcoming conference dealing with the theme of “Adult Stem Cells: Science and the Future of Man and Culture.” Regenerative medicine is now on the front burner for dialogue and research among scientists, theologians and pastors. This field of study has wide applications for work in culture, law, theology, pastoral practice, scientific research and practical application for all peoples on the planet.

The Council for Culture is working also with the Pontifical Academy for Life and the Pontifical Council for Health Care Workers to give a united front and clear witness to the importance of this topic to all interested parties.

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About the author

Paul A. Zalonski is from New Haven, CT. He is a member of the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation, a Catholic ecclesial movement, and an Oblate of Saint Benedict. Contact Paul at paulzalonski[at]yahoo.com.
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