Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Selected Excerpts from the Vatican Press Release 24 APR 2010 (VIS) and COMMENTS

Selected Excerpts from the Vatican Press Release 24 APR 2010 (VIS)

1. 'digital divide', which separates the included from the excluded



2. other separations which already divide nations, both from one another and within themselves



3. the dangers of conformity and control, of intellectual and moral relativism, which are already evident in the diminution of the spirit of criticism, in the truth reduced to an interplay of opinions, in the many forms of degradation and humiliation of individual intimacy. We are witnessing a 'pollution of the spirit which clouds our faces and makes them less prone to smile'



4. need to focus on promoting the dignity of persons and peoples, they need to be clearly inspired by charity and placed at the service of truth, of the good, and of natural and supernatural fraternity



5. The task of all believers who work in the media is that of 'opening the door to new forms of encounter, maintaining the quality of human interaction, and showing concern for individuals and their genuine spiritual needs



6. human life and dignity are a precious resource to be defended and promoted resolutely, especially on the basis of natural law". The Church "wishes to be a factor of harmonious coexistence among all peoples



7. the Church, as an institution, has the right to express herself in public. ... She respects the right of everyone to think differently from herself, and would like to see her own right to expression respected. ... The Church, having the common good as her objective, wants nothing other than the freedom to be able to present this message, not imposing it on anyone, and respecting people's freedom of conscience



8. without truth, without trust and love for what is true, there is no social conscience and responsibility, and social action ends up serving private interests and the logic of power, resulting in social fragmentation, especially in a globalised society at difficult times like the present





VIS 20100426 (490)

INHABITING THE DIGITAL UNIVERSE WITH A BELIEVING HEART

VATICAN CITY, 24 APR 2010 (VIS) - This morning Pope Benedict XVI addressed participants in the congress: "Digital Witnesses. Faces and languages in the multi-media age". The congress was organised by the Italian Episcopal Conference, the president of which is Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco, archbishop of Genoa.

"The time in which we are living is seeing an enormous expansion of the frontiers of communication", said the Pope. "The Internet is by nature open, tendentiously egalitarian and pluralist, but at the same time it also represents a new gulf. Indeed, we talk of the 'digital divide', which separates the included from the excluded, and this must be added to other separations which already divide nations, both from one another and within themselves".

Benedict XVI also noted "the dangers of conformity and control, of intellectual and moral relativism, which are already evident in the diminution of the spirit of criticism, in the truth reduced to an interplay of opinions, in the many forms of degradation and humiliation of individual intimacy. We are witnessing a 'pollution of the spirit which clouds our faces and makes them less prone to smile'.

"And yet", he added, "the aim of this congress is precisely to recognise faces, and therefore to overcome those collective dynamics that can lead us to lose a sense of the depths people have, to remain on the surface. When this happens those people become bodies without a soul, objects to be exchanged and consumed".

"And how is it possible to return to people's faces today?" the Pope asked. In this context, quoting from his own Encyclical "Caritas in veritate", he explained how the media can have a civilising effect "not only when, thanks to technological development, they increase the possibilities of communicating information, but above all when they are geared towards a vision of the person and the common good that reflects truly universal values.

"To achieve goals of this kind, they need to focus on promoting the dignity of persons and peoples, they need to be clearly inspired by charity and placed at the service of truth, of the good, and of natural and supernatural fraternity".

"Only in these conditions can the epoch-making change we are experiencing be rich and fruitful in new opportunities. ... More than by our technical resources, necessary though they are, we wish to identify ourselves by inhabiting the [digital] universe with a believing heart which helps to give a soul to the endless flow of communications on the Internet".

And the Holy Father concluded: "This is our mission, the indispensable mission of the Church. The task of all believers who work in the media is that of 'opening the door to new forms of encounter, maintaining the quality of human interaction, and showing concern for individuals and their genuine spiritual needs. They can thus help the men and women of our digital age to sense the Lord's presence'".



AC/ VIS 20100426 (490)



THE CHURCH HAS THE RIGHT TO PUBLIC EXPRESSION

VATICAN CITY, 24 APR 2010 (VIS) - This morning in the Vatican, the Holy Father received the Letters of Credence of Charles Ghislain, the new ambassador of Belgium to the Holy See.

In his address, the Pope highlighted how "human life and dignity are a precious resource to be defended and promoted resolutely, especially on the basis of natural law". The Church "wishes to be a factor of harmonious coexistence among all peoples.

"Nonetheless", he continued, "it is worth pointing out that the Church, as an institution, has the right to express herself in public. ... She respects the right of everyone to think differently from herself, and would like to see her own right to expression respected. ... The Church, having the common good as her objective, wants nothing other than the freedom to be able to present this message, not imposing it on anyone, and respecting people's freedom of conscience

the Pope noted how "the art of consensus cannot be reduced to purely dialectic abilities, rather it must seek truth and goodness". This, he explained quoting his own Encyclical "Caritas in veritate", is because "without truth, without trust and love for what is true, there is no social conscience and responsibility, and social action ends up serving private interests and the logic of power, resulting in social fragmentation, especially in a globalised society at difficult times like the present".


====================


COMMENTS:-

from DICK TIMM
to Bangladesh Khelafat Andolon
date Tue, Apr 27, 2010 at 11:31 AM
subject Re: Selected Excerpts from the Vatican Press Release 24 APR 2010

Dear friends,

Many thanks for your kindness in sending. I had not seen this.
Father Timm

===============

from Asher Eder
to Bangladesh Khelafat Andolon ,
info.bak@gmail.com
date Tue, Apr 27, 2010 at 7:05 PM
subject Re: Selected Excerpts from the Vatican Press Release 24 APR 2010
mailed-by netvision.net.il


Dear Sirs,

referring to the last paragraph of the below, may I bring here the following:

Christian-Jewish relationship
according to the
Parable of the Olive Tree
(Epistle to the Romans chpt. 11:16-24)

"...if the root be holy, so are the branches. And if some of the branches were broken off, and thou being a wild olive tree, were grafted in among them, and with them partakest of the root and fatness of the olive tree, boast not against the branches. But if thou boast, thou bearest not the root, but the root thee. Thou wilt say then, the branches were broken off that I may be grafted in. Well, because of unbelief they were broken off, and thou standest by faith. Be not high minded, but fear: For if God spared not the natural branches, take heed lest he also spare not thee. Behold therefore the goodness and severity of God: on them which fell, severity; but toward thee, goodness, if thou continue in goodness; otherwise thou also shalt be cut off. And they also, if they abide not still in unbelief, shall be grafted in: for God is able to graft them in again. For if thou were cut of the olive tree which is wild by nature, and were grafted contrary to nature into a goodly olive tree: how much more shall these, which be the natural ones, be grafted into their own olive tree?"

The parable brings a comparison with the practice of grafting known in horticulture and tree nursery. In order to understand the parable and its implications, we should first try to comprehend the procedure of grafting.

Let's say we want to grow sweet almonds. If we put an almond kernel into the ground, and wait several years till the growing tree brings forth fruit, we could be unpleasantly surprised in case they are bitter almonds. There is no certainty in advance what variety fruit trees grown from seeds will bring forth. But if we take a twig from a tree whose fruit we like, and want to get; and graft this twig upon an existing, preferably wild tree of the same kind (e.g. a bitter almond), we will get exactly the variety of the tree from which we took the twig (e.g. sweet almonds). There are some more advantages to the practice of grafting: usually the wild tree has a stronger, disease resisting root and stem than the goodly variety; and the grafted twig can draw more sap from the strong wild root, and thus be able to develop more branches and fruits. However, the gardener has to watch the grafted trees that their roots would not grow wild shoots besides the grafted twig, for they would take over and strangle it.

Now, our parable says that branches from a wild olive were grafted in the goodly olive tree "against nature", i.e. against the usual practice. Many say that Apostle Paul, by profession a tent maker, was not acquainted with tree growing; and made here a mistake. But by pointing out that something was done here "against nature", he tells us that he was well aware of what he was doing, and took into account that the wild twig(s) would bring forth few and small oil berries, but would grow an impressive foliage. Consequently, he warns his Gentile followers grafted against nature in the goodly olive tree, Israel, not to become proud and boast against the remaining goodly branches; for "not you (Gentiles) are carrying the root, but the root (Israel and its Torah) carries you".

The parable is quite in line with fundamental sayings of the Tanakh, the Hebrew Bible. Let's have a look at some of them:

a) Noah, blessing his sons, established "God shall enlarge Japhet, and he shall dwell in the tents of Sem" (Gen. 9:27. Sem, one of Noah's three sons, is the "father of the children of 'Eber", i.e. of the Hebrews, Gen. 9:21. The word Shem [Sem, in English] means name, especially the Name of the Lord as in "hallowed be thy name", which the Cohanim (priests) were to put upon the children of Israel, Numb. 6:27; whence Semites. And "all the people of the earth shall see that thou [Israel] are called by the name [Sem] of the Lord", Deuter. 28:10).

b) The Lord, in his covenant with Abram/Abraham, decreed:
"... thou shall be a blessing; and ... in thee shall all the families of the earth be blessed" (Gen. 12:3). An ensuing specification says: "...and in thy [Isaac's} seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed" [liter. bless themselves; Gen. 26:4].

c) Gen. 49:10 speaks of Judah and his scepter that "unto him the gathering of all the peoples shall be".

d) Exod. 19:6 designates Israel as a "Kingdom of Priests", that is, her very call implies a priestly function for the nations.

e) When King Solomon inaugurated the First Temple, he prayed also for the strangers that the Lord might hear them when they pray in direction towards it (1.Kings 8:27-29, 41). In this train of thought, Prophet Isaiah speaks of it as the "house of prayer for all nations" (56:6); for, as Ps. 133:3 says, the Lord has commanded the blessing in Zion.

f) Jer. 11:16 compares Israel to a green olive tree; and Hos. 14:6,7 sees Israel as the root of that “olive tree of his majesty” [=æéú äåãå] which is “casting forth its roots like the Lebanon". ((Obviously the Prophets are tracing back to a peculiar term in Deuter. 8:8. There, the Land of Israel is described as land of the goodly olive tree, liter. “land of the oil(giving) olive tree” [àøõ-æéú ùîï], apparently in distinction from other countries with olive trees; or from (wild) olive trees which do not grow oil berries)).

g) Ezra, then. enjoined the people to bring for Succoth “branches from the olive tree and branches from the oil tree” (Nehem. 6:15)- probably understood by Paul as referring to the wild olive tree and the goodly olive tree.


h) The vision that the nations would be on top for a certain time, i.e. would play the role of the head temporarily, is part of ancient prophecies:

"...thou hast grafted [ordinary] men to our head" (Ps. 66:12).
The passage is usually rendered "thou hast caused men to ride over [äøëáú] our heads", but the Hebrew word øëá which can mean to (cause someone to) ride, is often used in the sense of putting someone or something on top, as e.g. in 2.Sam. 6:3; 2. Kings 13:16; 23:30, where it is impossible to render it as riding. In fact, as we saw, the grafted twig, is above the root, or figuratively speaking, it rides the root.

The same thought expressed in Lament. 1:5, and 2:17, reads:

"Her [=Jerusalem's] adversaries became the head";

"The Lord has done that which he has devised, he has fulfilled his word that he has commanded in the days of old: he has thrown down, and has not pitied; and he has caused the enemy to rejoice over thee [Israel], he has set up the horn of thine enemies".

At the time of the compilation of the Epistle to the Romans, Rome was indeed the head of the nations, even put over Israel. It ruled mercilessly – with the crucifixion of the Nazarene as "King of the Jews", besides many other crucifixions, as one of the demonstrations of its rule. Prof. Shalom Ben-Chorin said once to the point: Yeshua (Jesus) was born a Jew; he lived as a Jew; and he died as a Jew. The destruction of the Temple as the seal of this rule was pretold, too (e.g. Hes. 3:43; Luke 21:20-25); and Rome commemorated this fact matchlessly by minting a special coin, inscribed "Juda capta".

All this shows that the destruction of the Second Temple and the Roman exile were not at all a punishment caused by the crucifixion of the Nazarene, as often alleged.

Many argue that the natural branches were broken off because of their unbelief, and that instead of them Christianity is now grafted in. But the parable says plainly that only some of the natural branches were broken off, not all of them. Moreover, that argument contradicts plainly Apostle Paul’s assertion that “he was entrusted with the glad tidings for the Uncircumcision as Peter was for the Circumcision” (Gal. 7): the former were offered co-citizenship in the Kingdom of God (Eph. 3:6). Yet, Christianity developed from early times a novel interpretation of the term belief, in fact an interpretation which is not covered neither by the Hebrew of the Tanakh nor by the Septuagint, nor by the original Greek of the Epistles.

The Hebrew word emunah, (from which Amen derives), as well as its Greek translation pistis, mostly rendered belief, convey the idea of trust, faithfulness (as in Ps. 33:4; 89:25,34; 119:86). That means to say both the Hebrew and the Greek word describe an attitude or behavior which result from one's certainty or conviction. The list of witnesses of faith in the Epistle to the Hebrews, chpt. 11, gives a clear picture of what is meant also in the NT as belief, or faith.

Be it mentioned in this context that most of the modern translations of Hebr. 11:6, which brings a definition of faith, say improperly "... for he who cometh to God must believe that he is...", while the Greek text states that one has to believe (liter. be living it, be faithful) because God is. In Hebrew thinking, God's existence is the cause of belief, or faithfulness. He is not the object of philosophical or theological speculations, nor of considerations whether the Torah and its commandments can be altered or done away with through a resurrection or ascension. The list of witnesses of faith in Hebr. 11:17-32 may give an idea about the Apostles’ understanding of faith.

The Jews, of course, had to reject these novel interpretations of belief. In turn, they were accused of unbelief, stubbornly sticking to the commandments of the "Old Testament"; and many Christians developed that kind of haughtiness with boasting against the root and its natural branches of which Romans 11:18,29 warns so severely.

Paul, “entrusted with the glad tidings to the uncircumcised” (i.e. the Gentiles; Gal.2:7), felt the task to graft them as branches from the wild olive into the goodly tree. In that, he offers co-fellowshipx) with the goodly branches to those who even during the "Times of the Gentiles" stay in faith; and do not boast nor become haughty; do not change the rules of the housexx); and do not missionizexxx) goodly branches to novel concepts. “Nostra Aetate” of the Catholic Church, and similar declarations of some Protestant Churches after WWII, may well be seen as opening the way of return to the original scriptures, coming in line with the "glad tidings to Abraham" referred to in Gal. 3:8:

"I will bless them that bless thee... and in thee all the nations shall be blessed". Eventually, the nations will “bless themselves” (=åäúáøëå) in Abraham (Gen. 22:18) and in his seed (Gen. 26:4). By using here the reflexive form “will bless themselves”, the Torah tells us that the nations, once they realize that all their crafts are of no avail, shall come unto Israel (cf Jer. 16:19), urging “Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob…” (Is. 2:3-4; also Zech. 8:20-23, 14:16,17; et al).

Notes:
X) cf. Eph. 2:19; 3:6 where the Greek text addressing the believers from the Gentiles speaks of them as co-citizens; co-heirs; co-body; co-partakers; that is, it depicts them as joint to Israel (not as superseding her!) through “the mediator Jesus, the man” (1.Tim.2:5). This joining to Israel is perfectly in line with Noah’s dictum quoted above: “Blessed be the Lord God of Shem; and he [=Japheth] shall live in the tents of Shem” (Gen. 9:26,27 – echoed in the Lord’s Prayer: “Our Father in Heaven, Hallowed be Thy name, Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as in heaven..…”).

xx) Indeed, the Gentile believers are enjoined "to abstain from blood" (Acts 15:20); not to touch anything unclean (2.Cor. 6:17); “not to eat flesh … by which thy brother stumbles, or is ensnared…” (Rom. 8:21; 1.Cor. 8:13); not to teach differently (1.Tim. 1:3); to herald the Kingdom of God (Jerem. 30:9; 1. Chron. 285; 29:11; Acts 28:31; et al).

xxx) The "Great Commission" in Matth. 28:19, translated literally from the original Greek, reads: "Going, you will teach all the nations...". These words, addressed to Jewish disciples, say that by their they going will teach the nations; i.e. their way of life (äìëä, halakhah), as well as the exile and the return to the country will be a teaching to the nations (cf. Ps. 98:2-4; 117; Ezek. 36:23,24, et al). al)

xxxxxxxxxxxxx
Ask for Jerusalem-Peace

Jerusalem was known to the Jebusites as Salem but King David confirmed its present name.1

. Salem (Hebrew: Shalem) means whole, wholeness; and thus also peace; while the term Jerusalem (Hebrew: Yerushalayim) means “They will establish peace”.

Peace is -unfortunately- not an established fact; rather it is the hope of all, above all, of the people of Israel. Eternally linked to that city, its capital, the people of Israel finds itself more often than not in the middle of the storms raging over Jerusalem.

King David, in one of his Psalms, tells us how to establish peace:

Ask for Jerusalem-Peace ùàìå ùìåí éøåùìéí (Ps. 122:6)

This is usually understood as an encouragement to bring peace to Jerusalem. The Hebrew text, however, tells us to ask for the peace represented by Yerushalayim.

The pronunciation of that word indicates a dual form2 , that is, it comprises-- so-to-say-- two Jerusalems, the earthly and the heavenly: they form one unit3 . Without its heavenly aspect, Jerusalem would be like any other city, or capital, in the world. King David gave this dual aspect expression in the term Zion:
áùìí ñåëå åîòåðúå áöéåï

“His tabernacle is in Salem and His residence in Zion” (Ps. 76:3)

It is from and/or through Jerusalem/Zion that the Name of the Lord is to be blessed, and that mankind will find blessing and peace there:
áøåê éé îöéåï ùåëï éøåùìéí äììåéä
“Blessed be the Lord out of Zion, even He that resideth at Jerusalem. Hallelujah”
(Ps. 135:21)
éáøëê ä' îöéåï òùä ùîéí åàøõ

“The Lord that made heavens and earth, bless thee out of Zion” (Ps. 134:3)
òì äøøé-öéåï ëé ùí öåä ä' àú-äáøëä çééí òã-òåìí …
“… for there [=Zion] the Lord commanded the blessing, even life for evermore” (Ps. 133:3)

Prophet Isaiah, expounding on our subject “Ask for Jerusalem-Peace”, lined out the pre-condition for peace, namely the peoples’ “going up to the mountain of the Lord, to the House of the God of Jacob, that He will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths; for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem” … and then “they shall beat their swords into plough shares, and their spears into pruning hooks; and nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more”4 (Is. 2:2-4).

This shows us that human beings – neither liberals nor Jihadists - cannot impose their respective concepts of Jerusalem and of peace upon that city; neither can. Jerusalem and what it stands for be subjected merely to political devices.

Peace can, and should, be attained on the basis of the words of the Prophets. Prophets do not contradict one another. Misconceived theologies do. NT and Koran5 are perfectly in line with the Prophets of the Tanakh (Hebrew Bible). A return to their original words would pave the way to peace, a way upon which politicians, economists, etc, could safely walk, for the benefit of all

Notes:
1) Originally, Jerusalem was called Salem (Shalem):
And Melchizedek king of Salem brought forth…” (Gen. 14:18);
In Judah God is known, his name is great in Israel and in Salem is his tabernacle…” (Ps. 76:2,3)

In the time of the Jebusites the city was apparently simply known to them as Jebus:

“… and [he] came over against Jebus which is Jerusalem” (Jud. 19:10).

Apparently the town was called by this name during that Canaanite tribe’s rule (cf Jud. 1:7,21; and many others) until King David and the tribes of all Israel went up there:

“And David and all Israel went to Jerusalem which is Jebus” (1.Chron. 11:4)
“… and in Jerusalem he [David] reigned thirty and three years over all Israel and Judah” (2.Sam. 5:5).

2) Hebrew grammar has, in addition to singular and plural forms, also a dual form, as e.g. éãééí,

yadayim, a pair of hands; øçééí, rehayim, a pair of the two mill stones; also îéí, mayim,

water[s], (i.e. the “waters under the firmament” and the “waters above the firmament”, Gen. 1:6).

3) The idea is expressed even in Jerusalem’s topography: the lower “City of David” and the higher Mount Moriah, or Temple Mount, are geologically and topographically one unit.

4)Applying the term “God of Jacob”, the Prophet forestalls novel concepts of God and of a “new Israel of the spirit” which would supercede “the old Israel of the flesh – Jacob”

4) See my essays:
a) Christian-Jewish Relations according to the PARABLE OF THE OLIVE TREE
b) PEACE IS POSSILE BETWEEN ISHMAEL AND ISRAEL ACCORDING TO THE KORAN


Dr. Asher Eder e-mail: avrason@netvision.net.il