Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Andrew M. Greenwell, Esq.

9/18/2012 (1 year 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 (1 year 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 July 2014
Sports:
That sports may always be occasions of human fraternity and growth.
Lay Missionaries: That the Holy Spirit may support the work of the laity who proclaim the Gospel in the poorest countries.



Comments


More Middle East

ISLAMIC STATE PREPARES CHRISTIAN HOLOCAUST Watch

Image of Iraqi Christians are being forced to flee Mosul or be put to death. It's the start of a campaign of genocide. Leave with nothing or die.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Imagine you've been given a choice, and just days to make it. You must either change your religion, agree to pay thousands of dollars each year in punishing taxes, or you must leave your home with just the clothes on your back. No suitcases, no possessions. If you ... continue reading


Christian Monks expelled from Iraqi monastery as ISIS Islamists fighters ruthlessly sieze it Watch

Image of An image made available by the jihadist Twitter account Al-Baraka news on June 11, 2014 allegedly shows militants of the jihadist group Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) waving the Islamic Jihad flag and holding up their weapons as a vehicle drives on a newly cut road through the Syrian-Iraqi border between the Iraqi Nineveh province and the Syrian town of Al-Hasakah.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Saint Behnam, a fourth-century monastery run by the Syriac Catholic church near the predominantly Christian town of Qaraqosh in Iraq has been overrun by jihadists. Members of the Islamic State expelled the monks from the monastery this past weekend, sources ... continue reading


THINGS TO COME? ISIS stones Syrian woman to death over 'adultery charges' Watch

Image of Many fear that the recent stoning incident proves that ISIS will impose a brutal regime over the areas they seize.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Al-Qaeda-breakaway group, the Islamic State, has now stoned a woman to death for adultery in Syria. It was the first such execution carried out in the region, and depicts the stranglehold this radical group now has over the region of northern Syria. LOS ... continue reading


CRIES FOR HELP: Head of Iraq's Catholic Church issues appeal 'to all who have a living conscience' Watch

Image of ISIS had reportedly marked the doors of Christians in red last month. Patriarch Sako's letter confirms that rumor.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

In an appeal "to all who have a living conscience in Iraq and all the world," Patriarch Louis Raphael I Sako, head of Iraq's Catholic Church, has issued a plea for international support. He says that the situation for Iraq's Christians has been steadily ... continue reading


Israel authorizes another call up of 18,000 reserve troops as Gaza offensives continues Watch

Image of Israeli troops have pushed into the Gaza strip in an attempt to target and weaken Hamas militants.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The Israeli military has pushed deeper into the Gaza strip, destroying rocket launching sites and tunnels and clashing with Palestinian fighters. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Israel began this military operation on July 17, in an attempt to weaken Hamas ... continue reading


UNBELIEVABLE: 20 rockets found at United Nations agency in Gaza Watch

Image of This latest incident would confirm Israel's oft-repeated claim that Hamas and other Gazan terror groups use civilian infrastructure to hide weapons.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Some 20 rockets were found in a school in Gaza operated by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency. The weapons were found in "the course of the regular inspection of its premises," the United Nations Relief and Works Agency said in a statement. The agency ... continue reading


Ground invasion more likely, in spite of ceasefire in Gaza Watch

Image of Relatives of a 25-year-old Palestinian man who was killed in an Israeli airstrike, mourn over his body during his funeral on July 16 in Gaza City.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Israel agreed to cease fire on Gaza for five hours to allow humanitarian aid into the Palestinian territory. Israel at the same time warned that the likelihood of a ground invasion was growing, just as long as militants in Gaza kept up rocket attacks. LOS ... continue reading


What is the mysterious object found in the Sea of Galilee? Watch

Image of A strange object has been found in the Sea of Galilee, twice the size of the ancient Stonehenge monument in England.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

A mysterious structure, with a diameter greater than the length of a 747 jet has been discovered under 30 feet of water, underneath the Sea of Galilee in Israel. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The circular structure was first discovered in 2003 when they used ... continue reading


Guest Commentary: Headline: Israel Hits Gaza (Gaza hits Israel? Shhh!) Watch

Image of Ken Blackwell, a visiting professor at the Liberty University School of Law and serves on the board of the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty. Bob Morrison is a senior Fellow at Family Research Council, in Washington, D.C.

By Ken Blackwell and Bob Morrison

When Hamas rockets rain down on Israeli cities and towns-and homes, schools, and hospitals, it is not news. It happens ever day, so it becomes like a weather report. Thousands of Hamas rockets have been fired at Israeli homes. Thousands. This coverage brings to ... continue reading


KETTLE CALLING POT BLACK? Taliban warns ISIS to 'avoid extremism' Watch

Image of The Afghan Taliban has urged the Sunni faction, which has been waging a bloody insurgency against Shi'ite Muslim groups in Iraq, to avoid

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

It's an extraordinary gesture, suggesting that ISIS is overstepping the line a bit in its assault on Iraq. No less than the Taliban militants in Afghanistan are warning ISIS insurgents fighting in Iraq to "avoid extremism" in a plea for unity among jihadists. ... 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, Jeremiah 1:1, 4-10
1 The words of Jeremiah son of Hilkiah, one of the ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 71:1-2, 3-4, 5-6, 15, 17
1 In you, Yahweh, I take refuge, I shall never be put ... Read More

Gospel, Matthew 13:1-9
1 That same day, Jesus left the house and sat by the ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for July 23rd, 2014 Image

St. Bridget of Sweden
July 23: Saint Birgitta was the daughter of Upplandís Lagman, Birger ... 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