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Faith/Spirituality Forum: Assisi

by Catherine Frakas 12 Sep 2001

Assisi QUESTION from Philip Bartlett on July 2, 2002 Bro Ignatius,
I am curious on your views relating to Assisi 2002. There are many within the church objecting to this on the grounds that it was a celebration that mixed the worship of God with the worship of idols, and therefore was sinful.
Would it be right for Catholics to dissent and speak out against this, or would it be unfaithful to the magisterium?
ANSWER by John-Paul Ignatius, OLSM on July 10, 2002 Dear Mr. Bartlett:
The Catechism quote my namesake, St. Ignatius Loyola:

Every good Christian ought to be more ready to give a favorable interpretation to another's statement than to condemn it. But if he cannot do so, let him ask how the other understands it. And if the latter understands it badly, let the former correct him with love. If that does not suffice, let the Christian try all suitable ways to bring the other to a correct interpretation so that he may be saved.
This advice from St. Ignatius applies to all situations but even moreso when we are referring to our Holy Father who has been appointed by the Holy Spirit to be our Supreme Pastor.
On that point, one might say that it is possible for a Pope to be elected without the appointment of the Holy Spirit, but through corruption. The fruits of this Holy Father, however, have without ANY doubt of ANYONE, except perhaps in the view of a mentally ill person, been a confirmation that the Holy Spirit has indeed anointed him and is strong with him.
This leads us to apply the Ignatian advice even more intensely.
Another reason to apply the Ignatian advice with greater intensity is that not only is the extraordinary charism of the Holy Spirit with this Pontif, but in the ordinary sense, we were NOT THERE in Assisi and are gathering negative opinions about the event through the colored glasses of those with agendas.
This circumspect philosophy is also echoed in Canon Law:
Canon 212 tells us we are bound to obey our sacred pastors when they represent Christ when they teach the faith or establish something in accord with the authority given them.
The meeting in Assisi was a ecumencial call for peace. It was not a co-operative Mass/service/worship of many religions. It was reaching out to the peoples and religions of the world in an appeal to peace. How is this wrong? Only Satan could call this wrong for it is Satan who does not want peace.
Jesus tells us to reach out to ALL PEOPLES. One of the best ways to reach out to them and to show them the love of Christ is to met them on common ground. What better common ground than an appeal to world peace in the midst of wars and rumors of wars?
Pope John-Paul II is the living embodiment of Christ's commission. How dare anyway call this into question!
Canon 212 goes on to say that we have the right to make know our needs to our pastors and to offer out opinions on matters which pertain to the Church.
BUT.... that must be done without prejudice to the integrity of the faith and morals, with REVERENCE toward their pastors, and attentive to the common advantage and the dignity of persons.
The Canon Law Society of American makes this comment on Canon 212:

The faithful may disagree with pastors in a particular situation over a specific issue; provided that the faithful maintain communion with and foster the common good of the Church...
The judgments we make in asserting a disagreement must also be considered, reasoned, respectful, and deferential toward and positively presumptive toward our Supreme Pastor.
This is what is meant by the quote from St. Ingatius, the Canon Law in the statue referred to above and in other canons, and in the official teaching of the Church concerning judgments toward others. The Catechism states:

2464 The eighth commandment forbids misrepresenting the truth in our relations with others. This moral prescription flows from the vocation of the holy people to bear witness to their God who is the truth and wills the truth. Offenses against the truth express by word or deed a refusal to commit oneself to moral uprightness: they are fundamental infidelities to God and, in this sense, they undermine the foundations of the covenant. 2475 Christ's disciples have put on the new man, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.[273] By putting away falsehood, they are to put away all malice and all guile and insincerity and envy and all slander.
2477 Respect for the reputation of persons forbids every attitude and word likely to cause them unjust injury.[277] He becomes guilty:
- of rash judgment who, even tacitly, assumes as true, without sufficient foundation, the moral fault of a neighbor;

Special attention needs to be made of para. 2477.
Those people who have disparaged the meeting at Assisi are committing the sin of rash judgement. They have assumed as true things that are not true and have done so without ANY real foundation or evidence. Their allegations come solely from their improper and arrogant negative presumptions of what the Pope does, their scrupulous and errant interpretation of Church teachings and practice, and from pride.
When a good Catholic sees something that he does not understand or look suspicious to him the ONLY proper response is to reflect upon oneself with these questions and thoughts.
1) I saw the Pope do something that looks improper. Is he doing what I think he is doing?
2) The Pope has proven himself a holy man of God and the Spirit is obviously with him, thus if it appears he is doing something that I think is improper, I MUST BE misunderstanding or misinterpreting the situation.
3) What is it that I am misunderstanding? How can I posit a positive slant on what he is doing?
4) I believe that I cannot be a backseat driver and that the Pope has his reasons for doing what he is doing. I shall then question my judgment unless DEMONSTRABLE and OBJECTIVE evidence indicates otherwise.
5) I will seek to understand what the Pope is doing FIRST by listening to what he says he is doing rather than listening to those who are quick to assume the worse.
6) Checking objective sources that are not tainted by negative bias and poresumption, and checking the horse's mouth as to what the Pope says he is doing, and checking official sources of information rather than secular media, biased Catholic sources, rumors, and urban legends, I will re-evaluate my judgments and come to a knowledge of the truth with God's help.
7) In any event I will be supportive of this holy Pope, as is my duty under canon law and God's law and will not cause sandal or divisiveness because of my misunderstandings of his actions or words.
For what the HORSE has to say about the purpose of the Assisi meeting see:
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