Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Andrew M. Greenwell, Esq.

9/18/2012 (2 years ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

The Pope, of course, knows that what the Christians accept as revealed and what the Muslims accept as revealed are greatly at odds, and so it cannot be the basis of a common life

Pope Benedict XVI's apostolic journey to Lebanon is now complete.  Let us hope that it bears fruit.  Pope Benedict apostolic journey had two audiences: the people of Lebanon generally--which would include the significant Muslim population--and the Christian faithful in Lebanon.  Pope Benedict XVI's message was therefore two-pronged. 

Pope Benedict XVI shakes hands with Lebanon's President Michel Suleiman

Pope Benedict XVI shakes hands with Lebanon's President Michel Suleiman

Highlights

By Andrew M. Greenwell, Esq.

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

9/18/2012 (2 years ago)

Published in Middle East

Keywords: Lebanon, Pope Benedict XVI, peace, natural law, grammar of natural law


CORPUS CHRISTI, TX (Catholic Online) - Pope Benedict XVI's apostolic journey to Lebanon is now complete.  Let us hope that it bears fruit. 

Pope Benedict XVI's apostolic journey had two audiences: the people of Lebanon generally--which would include the significant Muslim population--and the Christian faithful in Lebanon.  Pope Benedict XVI's message was therefore two-pronged. 

The first message was aimed at the entire population of Lebanon, and it may be best summarized in the Pope's address to the assembled government and religious leaders at the Baabda Presidential Palace.  The essential message was peace.  He expressed the hope that Lebanon may become for the world "an example," a "witness" that "every man and woman has the possibility of concretely realizing his or her longing for peace and reconciliation."
 
Peace, not violence, is "part of God's eternal plan," and it is "impressed . . . deep within the human heart."

In invoking the "eternal plan" of God as found "deep within the human heart," Pope Benedict XVI is referencing the natural moral law which is found in human nature and which is nothing less than the way human beings participate in the eternal law of God.  It is something that is found within us and is something that can be accessed by reason without necessarily having to have recourse to revelation.

The Pope, of course, knows that what the Christians accept as revealed and what the Muslims accept as revealed are greatly at odds, and so it cannot be the basis of a common life.

What can be the basis of a common life is a unity based upon human nature, a "unity" which is not, however, "uniformity." 

One of those areas of "unity" is the desire to build peace, the "first school" of which is the family.  Respect for human life--the rejection of violence--is essential for peace.  "If we want peace, let us defend life!"  This, of course, necessarily means the rejection of any "assault on innocent human life," but, more broadly, also a rejection of "war and terrorism."

All human beings share in a common nature, and this is a great truth which must be recognized.  "Wherever the truth of human nature is ignored or denied," the Pope continues, "it becomes impossible to respect that grammar which is the natural law inscribed in the human heart."

It is the natural law, the "grammar" of man which is found in his human nature, which allows men and women of different faiths to speak a common language.  It allows human beings who have different world views nevertheless to "coexist," even flourish, in building a common society. Without acknowledgement of the natural law, it "is impossible to build true peace."

Human nature has an "innate yearning for beauty, goodness, and truth."  This yearning reflects the fact that we are made in the image of God and so each of us is, in a manner of speaking, "a reflection of the divine."  This yearning for beauty, goodness, and truth is "the basis for a sound and correct notion of morality, which is always centered on the person."

The natural law found within our human nature is a corrective to "widespread opinions, the fashions of the moment, or forms of political and religious ideology" which may be false.

There is a clear, if disguised rejection, of any sort of doctrine of jihad.  "Thoughts of peace, words of peace, and acts of peace," and not thoughts of jihad, words of jihad, and acts of jihad, are required if any sort of reconciliation and common life is to be expected.

The Pope, of course, encourages dialogue between Christianity and Islam, but he also recognizes that the only basis for such dialogue demands that the participants become "conscious of the existence of values which are common to all great cultures because they are rooted in the nature of the human person." 

One of the central aspects of the natural moral law involves religious freedom.  "The freedom to profess and practice one's religion without danger to life and liberty must be possible to everyone."  Certainly, compulsion in religion is to be rejected, and it follows that the Qur'anic verse of the sword, which advocates the expansion of religion by the sword, is contrary to the natural moral law.

Religious compulsion by civil authority is therefore immoral.  But even secular "tolerance" is insufficient.  There has to be on the part of civil and political society an "openness to transcendence," an openness which "makes it possible to find answers to their deepest questions about the meaning of life and morally upright conduct," including an openness to the "Truth which is in God."

As distinguished from his message to all peoples of Lebanon, the Pope's message to the Christian faithful does not contradict the "grammar which is the natural law inscribed in the human heart," but infuses it and uplifts it with grace, the grace of the "folly" of the cross.

Pope Benedict XVI's message to Christians is best gleaned from his homily at the Sunday Mass on September 16, held at the Beirut City Center Waterfront.

In his homily, Pope Benedict XVI focused on Christ's question to his disciples as he was going to Jerusalem, where "the central events of our salvation would take place: his crucifixion and resurrection."  It was before these pivotal events that Christ asked the question, "Who do you say that I am?"  And it received a variety of answers from those who were not his followers.

This question is asked by Jesus of all of us.  Of course, Peter gave the right answer.  "You are the Christ."  (Mark 8:29)  But the Pope knows that not everyone who says, "Lord, Lord" will enter the kingdom of heaven (Matt. 7:21).  And similarly, not everyone who says "Christ, Christ."

In response to Peter's confession of faith, Jesus makes it clear that he will suffer, and will die, though he will emerge victorious and rise again.  He is not to be understood as a political Messiah.  And here, after St. Peter's confession of faith, St. Peter has the temerity to scold Jesus.

It is not only exclaiming "Lord, Lord," or "Christ, Christ," that makes us followers of Jesus.  "Following Jesus," the Pope tells his flock, "means taking up one's cross and walking in his footsteps."  It is a life of "self-abandonment," a life that is willing to lose itself "for Christ and the Gospel" so as to save it.  Only through suffering and death to self are we to enjoy the fruits of the resurrection.  This is something beyond the natural law.  It is a call to a supernatural way of living.

Here, the Pope's message is also one of peace.  The natural law--present in all humans as part of their grammar--yearns for peace.  And just as grace builds upon nature, so the faith of Christians builds upon this natural yearning for peace.  It is through their imitation of Jesus, that peace has its best chance, especially in a land of religious violence.

"The vocation of the Church and of each Christian is to serve others, as the Lord himself did, freely and impartially.  Consequently, in a world where violence constantly leaves behind its grim trail of death and destruction, to serve justice and peace is urgently necessary for building a fraternal society, for building fellowship!"

The homily confirms what Pope Benedict XVI had told the faithful on Friday, September 14, at the Basilica of St. Paul, Harissa:

"It is here and now that we are called to celebrate the victory of love over hate, forgiveness over revenge, service over domination, humility over pride, and unity over division. . . . This is the language of the cross, exalted and glorious! This is the 'folly' of the cross: a folly capable of changing our sufferings into a declaration of love for God and mercy for our neighbor; a folly capable of transforming those who suffer because of their faith and identity into vessels of clay ready to be filled to overflowing by divine gifts more precious than gold (cf. 2 Cor 4:7-18)."

-----

Andrew M. Greenwell is an attorney licensed to practice law in Texas, practicing in Corpus Christi, Texas.  He is married with three children.  He maintains a blog entirely devoted to the natural law called Lex Christianorum.  You can contact Andrew at agreenwell@harris-greenwell.com.

---


Pope Francis: end world hunger through 'Prayer and Action'


2014 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for November 2014
Lonely people:
That all who suffer loneliness may experience the closeness of God and the support of others.
Mentors of seminarians and religious: That young seminarians and religious may have wise and well-formed mentors.



Comments


More Middle East

Jordan's Queen Rania denounces ISIS for plunging Arab world 'back to the Dark Ages' Watch

Image of Queen Raina of Jordan says that education and job creation as being the key to thwarting the extremists.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Known for her poise and beauty, Queen Rania didn't hold back in denouncing the repugnant activities of Islamic State during a powerful address to the Abu Dhabi Media Summit in the United Arab Emirates. The 44-year-old monarch spoke against the disgusting videos ... continue reading


Defense officials warn that airstrikes are not stopping Islamic State's conquest of Iraq and Syria Watch

Image of Members of the Islamic State ride a captured tank through an Iraqi city displaying their black flags.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

President Obama's multi-month campaign of airstrikes against Islamic State forces in Iraq and Syria, while a major moral booster for Iraqi forces and a token gesture of support from the United States, may not actually be nearly as effective as the White House has ... continue reading


Religious extremism driving majority of world acts of terror Watch

Image of Groups with a religious agenda are attributed to the majority of incidents over the past few years, according to the author's report.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Instead of making humanity more respectful of their fellow man, religion is one of the factors fueling violence and chaos in the world. Religious extremism, which disallows interpretation and those of other faiths, is the force behind the majority of the acts ... continue reading


ISIS ammo: Deadly terror group can keep fighting for two years, United Nations warns Watch

Image of One anonymous member state has provided information about

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

It's both a dire warning and lesson to the West when it comes to terrorist organizations.  According to the United Nations, the dreaded Islamic State, or ISIS has enough weapons now to continue fighting for two years unabated. The ironic twist? Most of ... continue reading


The long and painful war against terrorism: 2013-14 the worst years to date Watch

Image of Operating in Afghanistan and Pakistan, the Taliban is one of the militant groups responsible for the most deaths around the world.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

A new report has revealed that the number of people who have been killed by militants across the globe has jumped up more than 60% from 2013, reaching a record high of nearly 18,000. This death toll could continue to rise in 2014 because of the escalating ... continue reading


The United Arab Emirates just named these two American organizations as terrorists! Watch

Image of Al-Qaeda and its affiliates throughout the Middle East and North Africa have been designated a terrorist organization by the United Arab Emirates.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

It came as somewhat of a shock to two Islamic groups in the United States when they found that they were recently included in a list of terrorist organizations by the United Arab Emirates. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The Council on American-Islamic ... continue reading


Two U.S. Islamic groups branded as terrorists Watch

Image of Both CAIR and MAS were among more than 80 groups whose designation was approved by the UAE cabinet and announced this past weekend.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Two moderate, mainstream Islamic groups in the United States feel as though they've been tarred and feathered with the same brush. The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), which describes itself as "America's largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy ... continue reading


Did Army Ranger Peter Kassig resist Jihadi John during his beheading? Speculation abounds why he made no statement. FULL VIDEO available here Watch

Image of Army Ranger and American citizen, Peter Kassig was kidnapped by the Islamic State after serving in Syria as a humanitarian aid worker.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

American hostage Peter Kassig, who was allegedly beheaded by Islamic State terrorists did not make any statement to the camera as previous victims did. This has fueled speculation that Kassig may have been killed in another fashion, such as in an airstrike or while ... continue reading


'Jihadi John' reported wounded in U.S. airstrike that killed 10 top ISIS commanders Watch

Image of According to reports received by the Foreign Office, the masked executioner is believed to have narrowly escaped death as he attended a summit of the group's leaders in an Iraqi town close to the Syrian border last Saturday.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The British-accented terrorist known as "Jihadi John," who beheaded two British and two American hostages held by Islamic State terrorists, has been injured in a U.S.-led air strike. Jihadi John has recently been seen in the beheading video of U.S. aid worker ... continue reading


PURE EVIL: U.S. hostage Peter Kassig beheaded by Islamic State Watch

Image of A 16-minute video has been uploaded to various social networking sites by Islamist State depicting the beheading of U.S. hostage Peter Kassig. The video shows a black-clad, masked militant waving Kassig's head.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

U.S. President Barack Obama called it "pure evil." A 16-minute video has been uploaded to various social networking sites by Islamist State depicting the beheading of U.S. hostage Peter Kassig. The video shows a black-clad, masked militant waving Kassig's head. ... continue reading


All Middle East News

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Revelation 10:8-11
8 Then I heard the voice I had heard from heaven ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 119:14, 24, 72, 103, 111, 131
14 In the way of your instructions lies my joy, a joy ... Read More

Gospel, Luke 19:45-48
45 Then he went into the Temple and began driving out ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for November 21st, 2014 Image

St. Gelasius
November 21: St. Gelasius I, Pope (Feast day - November 21) Gelasius was born ... Read More

Inform, Inspire & Ignite Logo

Find Catholic Online on Facebook and get updates right in your live feed.

Become a fan of Catholic Online on Facebook


Follow Catholic Online on Twitter and get News and Product updates.

Follow us on Twitter