Monday, July 16, 2007

Pope Benedict Issues a New Statement: What is The Meaning?

I just heard -- via CBN -- that Pope Benedict has issued a new statement to the effect that the Catholic Church is the "one true church" and that other religions (i.e., protestants) are "not guaranteed salvation" -- according to CBN reporter.

If this is , in fact, true: I have to say, I am greatly disappointed! At a time when religions around the world should be working together to find common ground and peace, in a chaotic and often violent world, to have the leader of the Catholic Church issue such a statement seems prime to cause further division and serves no useful purpose.

I know for a fact that there are many, many Catholics who do not feel, or believe, this way. And in fact, Benedict was an author of the current "Catholic Catechism", in which it states that there are many religions and many paths to God and salvation. So why is Benedict changing his view now that he is Pope? Were the statements in question misinterpreted?

Any insights? Am I missing something?

Okay, here is the link to the official Vatican website. You will have to cut and paste it into your browser window -- as the Vatican website does not allow links from blog pages:

I am going to read this for myself and see if this alleged statement by the Pope is, in fact, true and being interpreted properly. See what you think.

7/17/07 I have now read the statement which was authored by another individual and "authorized for publication" by the Pope.

It seems as if the document, set up as a series of questions and answers, is stating that the Catholic Church is the "one" true, or original, church as created by Jesus before his death -- when He made Peter "the rock" upon which His church would be built and His apostles the first priest of the church.

The document allows that other religions -- particularly those that celebrate the mystery of the Holy Eucharist -- are "sister" churches that can share in the salvation promised by Jesus. But it seems as if there is a hope that all disperse religions, will at some point in the future, reunite as "one" and in doing so work more fully toward salvation for all.

I personally don't think that Jesus would want various religions fighting over which religion is the "one" true religion. What a distraction and waste of our time and energy, when together we could unite and pray and work for peace and an end to violence. But there are many written works that speak of the "end times", and in these there are numerous prophecies of "all world religions uniting as one". What a force to be reckoned with: if total unity of Christian -- and other religions of the one true God -- could actually become a reality.

The Pope is said to be inspired by God himself, and so perhaps Pope Benedict is acting on the will of God. Perhaps this statement is supposed to begin to get people thinking about: 1) the unification of religions and 2) the enormous power that we would represent to make God's will done "here on earth as is in heaven" as "one" unified church. The logistics to that end may be a bit more complicated. But perhaps, we can pray and reflect on this statement and its true intent before taking offense. Then in prayer, perhaps God will open our hearts to His will and plan for us here on earth.

I will also pray that Pope Benedict may improve his skills of empathy, compassion, and diplomacy. Perhaps he can revisit some of the works of his predecessor, Pope John Paul II, for guidance and insight.

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