Tag Archives: Christology

Popes of Rome and Alexandria meet: Francis and Tawadros

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A rare meeting between two Popes, that is, between the Patriarch of the West and the Patriarch of Alexandria happened earlier today in Rome when Pope Francis received Pope Tawadros of Alexandria, who heads the largest Christian Church in the Middle East. The first meeting between the two churches happened 40 years ago to the day with the Servant of God Pope Paul VI and Pope Shenouda III; at that meeting a Christological agreement was signed and a hope expressed to find a path to unity. Tawadros is on his first pilgrimage outside of Egypt since becoming the head of the Coptic Church in November. He is in Italy for 5 days. 

Pope Tawadros proposed that 10 May each year should be marked as a day of celebration between the two churches. He also invited Francis to visit his Church, founded by Saint Mark the Evangelist around the middle of the First century.

Here is Pope Francis’ address:

For me it is a great joy and a truly graced moment to be able to receive all of you here, at the tomb of Saint Peter, as we recall that historic meeting forty years ago between our predecessors, Pope Paul VI and the late Pope Shenouda III, in an embrace of peace and fraternity, after centuries of mutual distrust. So it is with deep affection that I welcome Your Holiness and the distinguished members of your delegation, and I thank you for your words. Through you, I extend my cordial greetings in the Lord to the bishops, the clergy, the monks and the whole Coptic Orthodox Church.

Today’s visit strengthens the bonds of friendship and brotherhood that already exist between the See of Peter and the See of Mark, heir to an inestimable heritage of martyrs, theologians, holy monks and faithful disciples of Christ, who have borne witness to the Gospel from generation to generation, often in situations of great adversity.

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Saint Athanasius

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The Church liturgically honors Saint Athanasius, a bishop, Confessor, and Doctor of the Church. He was the bishop of Alexandria, having been the 20th Patriarch of the Church, and having died in 373. The exact biography of the saint’s life is lost, we do know this theological and pastoral activity. It is said that he was ordained to the episcopate in 328 not yet attained the canonical age of thirty years. Athanasius is famous, that is, distinguished, for being a great defender of the truth of Jesus’ full divinity as well as being fully human: our belief in the Incarnation. He was at that time, and continues to be, revered as a “Father of Orthodoxy.” Historically, he is remembered for composing two treatises, “Contra Gentes” and “De Incarnatione,” written around 318 which is before Arianism got a foothold in society.

What makes Saint Athanasius important for us in the 21st century is that despite the contentiousness of the debate of who Jesus is, it was his personal witness more than anything that led people to the truth of the Faith. The issues in the 4th century remain with us today: many “faithful” Christians don’t know how to explain what and whom they say they believe in. Saint Athanasius is still able articulate Catholic belief.

What will Benedict XVIs legacy be in the years ahead?

Português: Cerimônia de canonização do frade b...

The answer to this question will not be in its final form for a long time. The papacy only ended a few weeks ago. Historians will have to look at several things before they will be able to reflect back with greater precision that a video or a blog commentary can provide in 2013. There are several things that Pope Benedict’s 8 year reign that give good indicators as to what we engage with in the years ahead. Many more intelligent than I have thought this question through, but Father Robert Barron of the Archdiocese of Chicago has made a good first attempt when he posits that Benedict will be remembered for:

1. being able to give a more authentic interpretative key to the Second Vatican Council; that is, naming the true mission of the Church;
2. being able to present the objective truth of the faith as taught by the Church these 2 thousand years with the clear awareness that the truth is about the Divine Love lived in joy; this is often called affirmative orthodoxy: the big ‘yes’ vs. the fat ‘no’;
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In a fractured world is Pope Benedict calling for political engagement?

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Pope Benedict
gave his annual address, a “State of the Church,” if you will, to the curial officials
of the Holy See today. 

You might say the content talk is crucially relevant for the
work of the Church and the proclamation of the Gospel as he reviews key events
and focuses on some themes.  Among many things which need our attention and reflection,
the Pope spoke about nature of man, family life, and inter-religious dialogue.
Regarding man in which he gave insight into, he speaks of how evil and destructive vague and
ideological the “gender conscious crowd” is to the nature of the person and removes God from conversation. Read the full text here.

The Pope notes the crisis of the family and its effect on society, caused by the
unwillingness to make a commitment and by unwillingness to suffer.  But he
goes beyond the symptoms to diagnose the cause of the crisis. This talk is not an attack, it is an appeal to truth.

Each of Pope
Benedict’s addresses to the Roman Curia are important, certainly the 2005
address stands out, but today’s will be memorable. 

Here’s a section:

First of
all there is the question of the human capacity to make a commitment or to
avoid commitment. Can one bind oneself for a lifetime? Does this correspond to
man’s nature? Does it not contradict his freedom and the scope of his
self-realization? Does man become himself by living for himself alone and only
entering into relationships with others when he can break them off again at any
time? Is lifelong commitment antithetical to freedom? Is commitment also worth
suffering for? Man’s refusal to make any commitment – which is becoming
increasingly widespread as a result of a false understanding of freedom and
self-realization as well as the desire to escape suffering – means that man
remains closed in on himself and keeps his ‘I’ ultimately for himself, without
really rising above it. Yet only in self-giving does man find himself, and only
by opening himself to the other, to others, to children, to the family, only by
letting himself be changed through suffering, does he discover the breadth of
his humanity. When such commitment is repudiated, the key figures of human
existence likewise vanish: father, mother, child – essential elements of the
experience of being human are lost”.

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Christians lack nothing with Christ

The attribution to the following is given to Saint John Chrysostom but the citation has not been found, but the Pope quoted the saint in a recent Wednesday Audience. It’s a striking reflection for our spiritual life, it even can be used for our daily examen. The saint said,

do you lack? You have become immortal, you have become free, you have become a
son, you have become righteous, you have become a brother, you have become a
joint heir, with Christ you reign, with Christ you are glorified. Everything is
given to us, and – as it is written – ‘can we not expect that with him he will
freely give us all his gifts?'(Rom 8:32). Your first fruits (cf. 1 Cor
15:20.23) are adored by angels […]: what do you lack?

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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