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 October 2014
Peace:
That the Lord may grant peace to those parts of the world most battered by war and violence.
World Mission Day: That World Mission Day may rekindle in every believer zeal for carrying the Gospel into all the world.



Comments


More Middle East

Sectarian violence spreads in Yemen, where Shi'ite militia square off against al-Qaeda Watch

Image of A member of the Shi'ite military Houthi organization.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

A Yemeni city was taken by al Qaeda fighters, and 33 people were killed by a suicide bombing and gun fighting during the group's challenge to the Yemeni government. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - This is just the latest bout of violence that has erupted in ... continue reading


Al Qaeda launches 'magazine war' with Islamic State in effort to attract new recruits Watch

Image of Resurgence, the new magazine for Al Qaeda.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Al Qaeda is attempting to make a comeback in the public eye following the stunning rise of the competing Islamic State. In an online publication, aimed at a global audience, the terror group is encouraging attacks at economic infrastructure. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic ... continue reading


Pope Francis - Petitions UN, Muslims and Christians to address 'ongoing genocide' in Iraq Watch

Image of An Iraqi man flees with children on a donkey amid hundreds of other refugees. Christians and other ethnic minorities have been driven from their ancient homelands and into camps.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Pope Francis has once again spoken out about the atrocities being committed in the Middle East by the Islamic State, labeling them "terrorism of previously unimaginable proportions." LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Pope Francis lamented, "it seems that the ... continue reading


Islamic State takes mounting death count in Syria Watch

Image of Both Kurdish and Iraqi forces have been battling ISIS on the ground.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Islamic State has taken heavy casualties over the past several days. At least 70 fighters for the terror group have been dropped off over the past several days at a hospital in the Syrian town of Tal Abyad. The town is on the Turkey-Syrian border about 50 miles ... continue reading


Christians, Yazidis and Turkmen face genocide in Iraq Watch

Image of At least half a million people have been forced to flee their villages in Ninewa province, home to minority communities for thousands of years, according to the report, From Crisis to Catastrophe: the situation of minorities in Iraq.

By Kieran Guilbert, Thomson Reuters Foundation

More than 12,000 civilians have been killed in Iraq so far this year, mainly by Islamic State (IS), and minorities facing ethnic cleansing are the principal victims, according to a report published on Thursday. LONDON (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Minority Rights ... continue reading


Deadly Sarin bombs now in hands of Islamic State Watch

Image of Officials warned that they had witnessed equipment there being looted on CCTV whereupon the militants shut the surveillance cameras down.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

An even more alarming fact has risen to the fore in the war in the Middle East, ISIS controls a vast compound in Iraq containing 2,500 rusting chemical weapons rockets, according to the Iraqi government. While the site was bombed by the U.S. during the 1991 ... continue reading


Do you still think Islam is a 'religion of peace?' These 10 verses from the Koran will show you the truth Watch

Image of Islam is the religion of peace. Care to disagree?

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

From Christian apologist and blogger David Wood, comes more evidence, ripped directly from the pages of the Koran, that Islam is not a religion of peace. Wood located ten verses which will help readers understand the Islamic State's religious motivation for their ... continue reading


180,000 people flee Iraqi city of Hit after ISIS claims town Watch

Image of ISIS has been on the offensive in the desert province of Anbar, bordering Syria, in recent weeks. The town of Hit fell on October 2 and nearby Kubaisa on October 4.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The Iraqi city of Hit fell to Islamic State earlier this month. The bloodshed in Iraq's western Anbar province has forced up to 180,000 people to flee, according to the United Nations. ISIS has been on the offensive in the desert province of Anbar, bordering ... continue reading


ISIS justifies enslavement of women as 'the revival of slavery before the Hour' Watch

Image of ISIS forced tens of thousands of Yazidis to flee their homes in August when troops stormed many of the community's towns and cities in Iraqi Kurdistan.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The kidnapping, enslavement and trafficking of women would not be condoned by any true religion - Islamic State, according to an online publications justifies their practice as "the revival (of) slavery before the Hour," referring to Judgment Day. While that ... continue reading


ISIS continues push for control of Kobani Watch

Image of Monday was among the most violent days in Kobani since ISIS launched its assault. Sounds of fierce fighting, including gunfire and explosions, have been heard along the Syria-Turkey border.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Kobani, a key Syrian city on the border Turkey remains under attack as Islamic State troops push for control. If it retains control of the town, Islamic State will also score a major victory in neighboring Iraq, taking a strategically important military base in ... 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, Ephesians 2:12-22
12 do not forget, I say, that you were at that time ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 85:9-10, 11-12, 13-14
9 His saving help is near for those who fear him, his ... Read More

Gospel, Luke 12:35-38
35 'See that you have your belts done up and your ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for October 21st, 2014 Image

St. Hilarion
October 21: Abbot and disciple of St. Anthony the Great, companion of St. ... 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