Dedicate yourselves to thankfulness. Colossians 3:15

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Lifelong Catholic responds concerning faith

Published in Cumberland Times-News Letters on April 16, 2008

"(Mr Tunney) could return to the Catholic Church any time he is ready to make it his home. "

To the Editor:

I wish to respond to Bill Tunney’s letter (“Thomas destroys those who disagree with him,” April 11). I am a well-educated cradle Catholic: Grades one through seven at St. Patrick in Mount Savage; eight through 12 at Mount Savage public school; bachelors and maters degrees from Frostburg State University. I deeply love and appreciate my faith; and I enjoy a continuing interest in maturing in it. I draw here upon my knowledge and public information from the Vatican and Fox News web sites.

1) Regarding baptism of the moderate Muslim: My understanding is that the “dramatic fashion,” as Mr. Tunney puts it, of the baptism illustrates a growing alliance of Vatican and moderate Islam in efforts to influence radical Islam to seek peaceful relations around the world. On April 25, 2005, six days after his election, Pope Benedict met with Christian, Buddhist and Muslim leaders. On November 6, 2007, he met with King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia to discuss unrest in the Middle East. My understanding is that these types of meetings continue and that Pope Benedict is generating progress in calling radical Muslims back to their basic faith. These successes, I’ve understood from news reports, concern radical Islam because the numbers of radicals are shrinking, effectively reducing the Islam-Christian conflict at its source and prompting bin Laden last month to accuse Pope Benedict of helping to organize a "new Crusade" against Islam.

.2) Regarding Pope Benedict’s quote from the medieval text: In a September 12, 2006, speech exploring the relationship between faith and reason delivered at Regensburg University, Pope Benedict illustrates his point that reasoned discussion of faith ideas promotes understanding by quoting from a translation of a Medieval text titled “Dialogue with a Muslim.” The text was written, the Pope notes in his speech–which is available for anyone the world over to read on the Vatican website –between 1394 and 1402 by Byzantine emperor Manuel II to record his 26 conversations with “an educated Persian on the subject of Christianity and Islam, and the truth of both.” The Pope writes: “The dialogue ranges widely over the structures of faith contained in the Bible and in the Qur'an, and deals especially with the image of God and of man…. In the seventh conversation..., the emperor touches on the theme of the holy war. … [H]e addresses his interlocutor with…a brusqueness that we find unacceptable, on the central question about the relationship between religion and violence in general….” The Pope continues: “The emperor, after having expressed himself so forcefully, goes on to explain in detail the reasons why spreading the faith through violence is something unreasonable...." The Pope notes in his footnote: “I intended solely to draw out the essential relationship between faith and reason. On this point I am in agreement with Manuel II, but without endorsing his (approach).”

3) Regarding Pope John XXIII’s (1959-63) Vatican Council: While Vatican II advanced opportunities for laity and promoted ecumenism, it resulted in Catholics losing touch with the depth and beauty and daily applications of their Catholic tradition and with many tenets that have been cast aside by people who claim to be too busy or distracted by their daily pursuits. Pope Benedict, a world-renowned scholar and long-time enforcer of the faith, seems to address this spiraling loss of knowledge in taking a step recently to open the opportunity for priests and the faithful to experience again the traditional Tridentine Mass of our memory.

4) Regarding Mr. Tunney’s assertion that Pope Benedict said “only Catholic churches are real churches”: During a visit to Turkey in late November 2006, Pope Benedict, in a gesture of respect to Muslims around the world, prayed in the Blue Mosque at Istanbul.

5) Regarding the argument that Mr. Tunney cites between his parents: If Mr. Tunnuey’s mother was a Catholic convert, then her obligation for Sunday Mass attendance was to the Catholic Church. Episcopal priests are ordained through a succession begun by King Henry VIII. Catholic priests are ordained through a succession begun by Christ and continued through the Pope directly from the apostle Peter, the first Pope designated by Christ to feed His sheep.

6) Regarding the inappropriateness of the Episcopal priest proclaiming the Gospel in a Catholic Mass: Proclamation of the inspired Word of God in a Catholic Mass is the sole privilege of the Catholic priest or deacon ordained through apostolic succession.

7) Regarding Mr. Tunney’s statement that Lutherans and Catholics “put to death millions of Jews”: Countless Catholics, including Pope Pius XII, protected and saved countless Jews under the noses of the Nazis (who also killed Catholics).

8) Regarding Mr. Tunney’s having separated himself from his Catholic faith: He could return to the Catholic Church any time he is ready to make it his home.

Nancy E. Thoerig, Mount Savage