Continuing Campaign of Solidarity and Prayer for Pope Benedict XVI
By Deacon Keith A. Fournier
1/18/2008 Catholic Online
As a response to the Protests of the students and Professors at La Sapienza University who prevented the Holy Father from speaking on faith and reason, Catholic Online invites readers and viewers throughout the world to add their name to a pledge of fidelity, solidarity and prayer which will be delivered to Rome as a sign of global support for Pope Benedict XVI.LOS ANGELES (Catholic Online) - It is with great concern that we at Catholic Online, like millions of Catholics, other Christians, other people of faith and all people of good will, express our outrage and disappointment with the behavior of the few students and faculty members at La Sapienza University in Rome whose threats of violent protests prompted the Holy Father to postpone his visit.
The threats of a few precluded the delivery of an important address concerning the relationship between faith and reason in the pursuit of truth.
A visit from the successor of Peter should be welcomed by any University, anywhere in the world. That is the case even if that University tries to maintain its secular character as somehow distinct from the touch of any perceived “religious” influence. The behavior of these few students and Professors at La Sapienza University was an act of intolerance. It resulted in censorship.
Ironically, it came disguised as a concern for ‘science’ and ‘academic freedom’.
In response, His Holiness, in his usual kind and solicitous manner, released his prepared remarks so that those of that academic community who had been impoverished by the behavior of the few who prevented him from speaking could consider them.
In those remarks Pope Benedict XVI asked some insightful questions concerning the nature of a University and the nature of truth:
"What is the university? What is its task? The true, intimate, origin of the university lies in the longing for knowledge which is inherent to mankind. Humans want to know what it is that surrounds them. They want truth… Truth is never just theoretical. ... Truth means more than knowing.
Knowledge of truth has as its goal knowledge of good. ... What is the good that makes us true? The truth makes us good, and goodness is truth. This is the optimism that lives in Christian faith, because [that faith] has been granted the vision of the 'Logos', creative Reason which in the incarnation of God was revealed as Good, as Goodness itself".
In this address the Pope sought to promote the kind of dialogue which is so desperately needed in an age when peace is being threatened on all sides. Yet intolerance, all too often appearing under the guise of what claims to be “enlightenment”, continues to impede our progress together as a human community.
Catholic Online is deeply concerned over the growing intolerance directed toward faithful Christians. It is spreading in the European community, in America and throughout the world. As an international news source we report on its effects increasingly.
This trend of intolerance toward Christians was the impetus for the creation of a new word “Christianophobia”. Use of the word is gaining acceptance even within official Church circles. The word refers to an irrational fear or hatred of Christians. We believe that the behavior of those few students and Professors at La Sapienza University in Rome who prevented the Pope’s visit is an example of “Christianophobia”.
In response, Cardinal Camillo Ruini invited all Christians in Rome to gather in St. Peter's Square on Sunday, January 20, 2008 to show their solidarity and support for the Holy Father at the midday Angelus. The good Cardinal referred to this gathering as a “…gesture of affection and serenity, a joyful expression we feel in having Benedict XVI as our Bishop and our Pope."
He continued, "In this circumstance which so painfully struck our entire city… the Church of Rome expresses its filial and total closeness to its bishop, the Pope, and expresses love, trust, admiration and gratitude to Benedict XVI, who is in the heart of the Roman people."
Sources in Rome also indicate that the Cardinal Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone S.D.B. sent a letter to the rector of Rome's "La Sapienza" University stating in part:
"As, unfortunately, the prerequisites for a dignified and tranquil welcome were not present, because of an initiative by a decidedly minority group of professors and students, it was judged opportune to postpone the scheduled visit in order to remove any pretext for demonstrations which would have been unfortunate for everyone concerned".
Included within the address which was not allowed to be delivered were these words from Pope Benedict XVI:
“The Pope is first and foremost the Bishop of Rome and as such, by virtue of his succession from the Apostle Peter, has an episcopal responsibility towards the entire Catholic Church", writes the Pope. "But the community which the bishop has in his care, be it large or small, lives in the world; its conditions, its progress, its example and its word inevitably influence all the rest of the human community".
"The Pope speaks as the representative of a community of believers ... as a representative of a community that contains within itself a wealth of ethical knowledge and experiences which are important for all humankind. In this way he speaks as a representative of ethical reason".
In closing his discourse Pope Benedict XVI asked a poignant question:
"What does the Pope have to do or to say to the university?" And he answers: "Certainly he must not seek to impose on others, in an authoritarian way, a faith which can only be given in freedom.
"Over and above his ministry as a pastor in the Church and on the basis of the intrinsic nature of such pastoral ministry", the Pope concludes, "it his job to maintain high the awareness of truth, inviting reason ever and anew to seek truth, goodness, God and, on this journey, encouraging it to notice the valuable lights that have arisen during the history of the Christian faith".
We call on all Catholics, other Christians, other people of faith and all people of good will, to join together to express their solidarity with the Holy Father by using the extraordinary gift of the World Wide Web to extend this outpouring of support and prayer beyond the Sunday Angelus on January 20,2008.
"Catholic Online” (COL) serves the global Catholic community, other Christians, other people of faith and all people of good will by providing “fact driven/faith informed” ™ news, views, and content over its integrated media network.
We utilize the resources of the new technologies and convergent media by placing them at the service of our global mission. In so doing we seek to participate in the mission of the whole Catholic Church to infuse the culture with the values informed by Catholic faith.
We reach over 220 Nations and upwards of 18 million viewers and readers monthly. We want to extend what begins on Sunday throughout the world and we will use our resources to do just that.
That is why we are undertaking this Continuing Campaign of Solidarity for Pope Benedict XVI.
We invite all who visit, read or view our network to join us by:
1) Signing our statement of solidarity below; and
2) Offering continual prayer for the Holy Father in what has been called in the tradition a “Spiritual Bouquet”
We then URGE you to PROMOTE this Continuing Campaign of Solidarity for Pope Benedict XVI by unleashing the extraordinary viral power of the internet to spread the word to your family, friends and neighbors.
This is done by pledging your own prayer and solidarity and then sending this invitation to them. It is also advanced by your reposting this invitation in the growing “blogosphere” and by using this new technology for the promotion of what is truly Good.
It is time to stand together in Solidarity and show our support for the voice of the Vicar of Christ and his efforts to promote authentic dialogue directed toward the truth.
Together we can expose and stem the harmful advance of “Christianophobia” and, more importantly, together we can promote the spreading of the Truth.
In the words of the Lord Jesus Christ "If you remain in my word, you will truly be my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free." (St. John 8:32)