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Monsignor Harry J. Byrne, JCD * * * Comment/contact:larchstar@aol.com

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April 19, 2008

BENEDICT XVI VISITS NEW YORK

I Benedict's first comment in the US dealt with the sex abuse crisis in his Church in response to a reporter's question on his airplane just before arrival in Washington. Please see my Post of 4/16 for this item.

II With President Bush, he warmly greeted the American people, noting the religious freedom that reigns here: "Historically, not only Catholics, but all believers have found here the freedom to worship God in accordance with the dictates of their conscience, while at the same time being accepted as part of a commonwealth in which each individual group can make its voice heard." COMMENT: A FAR CRY FROM PIUS IX's DENUNCIATION OF SUCH FREEDOM, A LONG EMBARRASSMENT TO THE FAITHFUL.

III At the UN,Benedict expressed his esteem for the UN praising its goal of "harmonizing the actions of nations in the attainment of the common ends" of peace and development. The principle of subsidiarity is to be respected in resolving conflicting tensions. With no explicit reference to the Iraq war, he speaks of the "paradox of a multilateral consensus that continues to be in crisis because it is still subordinated to the decisions of a small number...".

Some quotations from this speech demonstrate Benedict's understanding of the basic principles that must undergird the relationships among nations:
There is never required "a choice to be made between science and ethics: rather it is a question of adopting a scientic method that is truly respectful of ethical imperatives".
"If states are unable to guarantee such protection (of its citizens from denial of human rights), the international community must intervene with the juridical means provided in the UN Charter and in other international instruments."
"What is needed is a deeper search for ways of pre-empting and managing conflicts by exploring every possible diplomatic avenue, and giving ...encouragement to even the faintest sign of dialogue or desire for reconciliation."
"Human rights must be respected as an expression of justice, and not merely because they are enforceable through the will of legislators."
"Dialogue should be recognized as the means by which the various components of society can articulate their points of view and build consensus around the truth concerning particular values or goals."

COMMENT: BENEDICT ARTICULATES A CLEAR-RINGING INTELLECTUAL AFFIRMATION OF BASIC PRINCIPLES REGARDING HUMAN RIGHTS. BUT IN LIGHT OF THE IMPORTANCE OF THESE PRINCIPLES AMONG NATIONS WOULD THEY NOT BE OF SIMILAR VALUE WITHIN THE CHURCH?

IV Homily at St. Patrick's Cathedral:
Benedict uses the cathedral itself as a framework for his reflections. The stained glass windows appear dark from the outside but allow light to enter and transform the interior into a place expressive of love and faith.

"The unity of a Gothic cathedral, is not the static unity of a classic temple, but a unity born of the dynamic tension of diverse forces, which impel the architecture upward, pointing it to heaven." He speaks of the variety of gifts and graces to be coordinated into a unity of the Church's mission. He laments the conflicts in the years after Vatican II. The horrible experience of the abuse crisis is acknowledged with his assurance of being close to his hearers as they "strive to respond...to the continuing challenges that this situation presents". He urges that there be a time of purification for all and that his hearers will "cooperate with your bishops, who continue to work effectively to resolve this issue". He turns to the thought of the spires of St. Patrick's, set amid the busy city's skyscrapers, as a "vivid reminder of the constant yearning of the human spirit to rise to God". COMMENT: A REALLY SPECTACULAR HOMILY, THE CATHEDRAL IMAGERY SO CREATIVE, HIS IDEAS SO EFFECTIVELY LINKED. QUESTIONS: DO ALL NEED PURIFICATION? HAVE THE BISHOPS REALLY WORKED EFFECTIVELY IN THIS MATTER? THEIR OWN NATIONAL REVIEW BOARD DOES NOT THINK SO BECAUSE OF SECRET REASSIGNMENTS OF MISCREANT CLERGY BY MANY BISHOPS. (NRB report of Feb. 2004)

V At St. Joseph's of Yorkville, established in 1873 for German-speaking people, he spoke of the importance of friendly relationships among Christian churches.
At his historic visit to Park East Synagogue, headed by Rabbi Arthur Schneier, a holocaust survivor, Benedict spoke of "his esteem for the Jewish community of New York City" and extolled the virtues of "building bridges of friendship between people of all faiths".

COMMENT: BENEDICT HAS BEEN RECEIVED IN NEW YORK WITH GREAT ENTHUSIASM AND EXCITEMENT. HE HAS BEEN PRAISED FOR HIS CANDOR IN ADDRESSING THE ABUSE CRISIS, FOR HIS INTELLECTUAL AND SPIRITUAL ARTICULATION FOR HUMAN RIGHTS AND FOR HIS WELL SAID AFFIRMATIONS OF INTERRELIGIOUS AND INTERFAITH AMITY.

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