Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Birthplace of the New Evangelization

For John Paul II, the faith and struggle of his countrymen in Nowa Huta heralded a new springtime for Christianity
by Krzysztof Mazur

When Blessed John Paul II is declared a saint April 27, the date will be meaningful for several reasons. First of all, it is the Second Sunday of Easter, which has been recognized as Divine Mercy Sunday since the Jubilee Year 2000. 

Cardinal Wojtyła lays a stone from the tomb of St. Peter
in the new Church at Nowa Huta in 1969.
In his homily for the Mass for the canonization of St. Faustina Kowalska, apostle of the message of Divine Mercy and the first saint of the new millennium, Pope John Paul II encouraged his listeners to make St. Faustina’s prayer their own:“Jezu ufam tobie!” (“Jesus, I trust in you!”).

When Blessed John Paul II is declared a saint April 27, the date will be meaningful for several reasons. First of all, it is the Second Sunday of Easter, which has been recognized as Divine Mercy Sunday since the Jubilee Year 2000. 

In his homily for the Mass for the canonization of St. Faustina Kowalska, apostle of the message of Divine Mercy and the first saint of the new millennium, Pope John Paul II encouraged his listeners to make St. Faustina’s prayer their own:“Jezu ufam tobie!” (“Jesus, I trust in you!”).

When, after a long period of suffering, the Holy Father finally entrusted his soul to the Lord in 2005, it was the eve of Divine Mercy Sunday. The significance of this feast for John Paul II is no doubt part of the reason why Pope Benedict XVI celebrated his beatification on Divine Mercy Sunday in 2011.

In 1982, on the first anniversary of the assassination attempt against him, John Paul II famously said, “In the designs of providence there are no mere coincidences.” The same could easily be said about the date of his canonization, for April 27 was also a date of great importance for John Paul II and the Church in Poland. On this date in 1960, a pivotal incident took place in the city of Nowa Huta as Karol Wojtyła, then a young auxiliary bishop, served in nearby Kraków. For the future pope, the events of this day and those that followed would come to symbolize the beginning of the new evangelization.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Retaining Young People in the Orthodox Church

Greek Orthodox youth playing "Retrieve the Cross" at the beach

A recent article on the challenge of interfaith marriage in Greek Orthodoxy has been circulating widely on Facebook.[1] One reason for the article’s popularity is its startling claim that 90% of Americans with Greek roots are no longer in communion with the Orthodox Church.
Similarly dismal statistics are likely true for most Orthodox jurisdictions in the United States, but the article in question concerns only the Greek Archdiocese.

The article assumes (but does not show) that the reason for this mass apostasy is two-fold: (1) the inevitable rise of interfaith marriages in America’s multicultural, religiously pluralistic, and secular society; and (2) the Greek Orthodox Church’s failure to respond to the “critical and immediate need for a broad religious outreach; to make room for interfaith families,” and thereby follow St. Paul’s example in extending “Christianity’s outreach to all nations.”

The article is vague when it comes to solutions for the obvious crisis of mass apostasy, so I may have misunderstood its argument, but it appears to suggest that if the Church were more sensitive, accepting of religious difference, and in tune with modern sensibilities, she would have a shot at retaining interfaith families in a secular age—and thereby find a means to stem the tide of apostasy.[2]

Such a conclusion is contrary to all evidence I am aware of, both from the sociology of American religion and from the Orthodox Church’s own experience throughout the ages.

Friday, March 14, 2014

The Fragile Promise of the Pan-Orthodox Council

by Fr Cyril Hovorun

March 9 summit of Eastern Orthodox patriarchs in Istanbul.
(www.catholicworldreport.com) An Assembly (Synaxis) of the Primates of the local Orthodox Churches, meeting March 6-9, 2014 in Istanbul, has agreed to convene a Pan-Orthodox council. 

A “Communiqué of the Primates of the Orthodox Churches” released on March 9th stated that “the Holy and Great Synod of the Orthodox Church … will be convened and presided by the Ecumenical Patriarch in Constantinople in 2016.” This decision brings to the homestretch a long process of preparation that goes back as far as the 1920s, had an active phase in 1960s and 1970s, and then was rather quiet until very recently…

That the Pan-Orthodox council has been scheduled for 2016 is of great significance. The question remains, however, as to how effective it will be in addressing the issues that really matter for the Orthodox Church…

Implications for Catholic-Orthodox relations

The ecumenical relations of the Orthodox Church are among the most important articles on the agenda of the council. It will probably encourage the Orthodox Churches regarding engagements with other Churches, including the Catholic Church. However, it is unlikely that the council will touch on the issues at the core of the Orthodox-Catholic dialogue, especially the issue of primacy.