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 August 2014
Refugees:
That refugees, forced by violence to abandon their homes, may find a generous welcome and the protection of their rights.
Oceania: That Christians in Oceania may joyfully announce the faith to all the people of that region.



Comments


More Middle East

Evaluating the enemy: U.S. military officials declare ISIS 'incredible fighters' Watch

Image of One unnamed official says that ISIS probably learned its sophisticated military methods from the Chechens.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

When doing battle, it is never wise to underestimate your enemy. As monstrous and inhumane as Islamic State is, military experts are conceding that they are formidable opponents. Described as "incredible fighters," IS forces are merely "tactically withdrawing" ... continue reading


Watch as Iron Dome intercepts a dozen Hamas rockets simultaneously (VIDEO) Watch

Image of The Iron Dome system has intercepted hundreds of terror rockets in the most recent clash with Hamas.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

A dramatic video shows what appears to be the interception of multiple rockets, allegedly fired by Hamas into Israel, intercepted en masse by the Iron Dome defense system. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The wail of air raid sirens is frightening in itself, and the ... continue reading


ATROCITY ACCUSATIONS: U.N. accuses Islamic State of mass killings Watch

Image of U.N. Human Rights Chief Navi Pillay condemned

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The United Nations condemned the "appalling, widespread" crimes committed by Islamic State forces in Iraq. Officials say that the mass executions of prisoners that could amount to war crimes. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - U.N. Human Rights Chief Navi Pillay ... continue reading


U.S. officials admit that the Islamic State is a greater threat than previous terrorist groups Watch

Image of President Obama has authorized aerial reconnaissance over Islamic State fighters in Syria, a move which has led some to predict that the president will soon use airstrikes in that country to stop the spread of the Islamic State.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

According to a report done by ABC news, U.S. military officials have said that fighters from the Islamic State are "incredible fighters" who are merely "tactically withdrawing" in the face of new U.S. airstrikes. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The Islamic ... continue reading


After three years of fighting, Syria may be ready for some help Watch

Image of Since the Syrian civil war began in 2011, the U.S. has been opposed to the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, usually funding pro-Western rebel groups like the Free Syrian Army.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The Syrian government has stated that it is now ready to accept support from the United States and the United Nations to fight the Islamic State, which government forces have been so far unable to defeat. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Syria's Foreign Minister ... continue reading


NOT INVULNERABLE: Islamic State's thriving bootleg oil operations may not be unsustainable Watch

Image of Analysts say ISIS' fledgling petro-state is already running into problems.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Declared by U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel on Thursday called the group "as sophisticated and well-funded as any group that we've seen" and "beyond just a terrorist group," the Islamic State is using a vast network of stolen petrochemical goods to keep ... continue reading


Could this tiny object reveal a undiscovered ancient civilization? Watch

Image of This copper awl, discovered in Israel near the Jordan River suggests that metal use occurred earlier than previously thought.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

A copper awl unearthed in the Middle East suggests that metals were exchanged across hundreds of miles in the region more than 6,000 years ago, centuries earlier than previously thought. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - This artifact was unearthed in Tel Tsaf, ... continue reading


Syria's north is now under the control of the Islamic State Watch

Image of Residents of Raqqa, the capital of the Islamic State, celebrate the capture of a Syrian airbase.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Officials in Syria are reporting the fighters from the Islamic State have taken control of the Tabqa airbase in Raqqa province, the last stronghold of Bashar al-Assad's government in that area. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Syrian State TV confirmed that ... continue reading


Did this man just find the spot of the Islamic State's latest gruesome murder? Watch

Image of American journalist James Foley scene in a video by the Islamic State, moments before he was beheaded.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

A British expert on images of Syria believes he may have identified the exact location where James Foley, the kidnapped American journalist, was beheaded by a terrorist from the Islamic State. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Eliot Higgins, a video and photo ... continue reading


ISIS terrorists back down before elderly Christians who mock them and refuse to convert! Watch

Image of One of the eleven elderly Iraqi Christians who refused to convert to Islam, even after threats of beheading, now safe inside a refugee camp in Kurdish controlled territory.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Eleven sick and disabled, elderly Iraqi Christians said they preferred death to giving up their faith, defying militants from the Islamic State who demanded that they convert to Islam or be beheaded. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The show of Christian ... 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, Second Thessalonians 3:6-10, 16-18
6 In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, we urge you, ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 128:1-2, 4-5
1 [Song of Ascents] How blessed are all who fear ... Read More

Gospel, Matthew 23:27-32
27 'Alas for you, scribes and Pharisees, you ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for August 27th, 2014 Image

St. Monica
August 27: St. Monica was married by arrangement to a pagan official in ... 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