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The President, The Inquisition and The Crusades

Sunday homilies are constrained by length and by the understanding there are children of all ages present at most liturgies. They are never “speeches” or “talks” and even those that convey new information are not to be lessons or lectures. One of my pastor mentors in seminary used to say that a homily should always end with something we can do.  With that understanding, here is last Sunday’s homily.

 

Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Mark 1:29-39

Jesus heals Peter’s Mother-in-Law

 

Any week the President of the United States

Uses Christ’s name twice in one speech

In the same context with the

Inquisition and Crusades

Serious Catholics have some

Praying to do

 

My responsibility isn’t to criticize

The president

But his speech has left some sickened

 

My responsibility is to lift us up

With the gospel truth

Of Jesus Christ

Just as Christ raised up

Peter’s mother-in-law

From her sickbed

To full health

 

Don’t let anyone keep you

In a sickbed about your faith!

Read, study, know the truth

A few moments on the two issues

The president raised in his prayer breakfast speech:

 

In 1998 John Paul II made these concluding remarks in a speech about the Inquisition

       Yet the consideration of mitigating factors does not exonerate the Church from the obligation to express profound regret for the weaknesses of so many of her sons and daughters who sullied her face, preventing her from fully mirroring the image of her crucified Lord, the supreme witness of patient love and of humble meekness. From these painful moments of the past a lesson can be drawn for the future, leading all Christians to adhere fully to the sublime principle stated by the Council: The truth cannot impose itself except by virtue of its own truth, as it wins over the mind with both gentleness and power.

 

The modern synthesis of the Crusades in many academic and political institutions is that the soldiers of the First Crusade appeared without any warning to pillage and plunder the Holy Land and slaughter non-Christians.

  In truth, well before 1095 the year of the first Crusade which came to the aid of the Byzantine emperor in the West who feared Constantinople would fall to the Muslims, wars of Islamic aggression had already seized control of the formerly Christian territories of Egypt, Palestine, Syria, North Africa, Spain, most of Asia Minor and Southern France. Italy was under assault, Sicily was eventually taken. Muslim invasions would be led into Europe.

3 of 5 Christianity’s primatial sees had already been captured: Jerusalem, Antioch, Alexandria. Constantinople would eventually fall. Only Rome escaped…narrowly.

Any war, primitive or modern, is gruesome and brutal.

 Here is John Paul II’s prayer during a celebration of the Great Jubilee in 2000:

 Let us forgive and ask forgiveness! While we praise God who, in his merciful love, has produced in the Church a wonderful harvest of holiness, missionary zeal, total dedication to Christ and neighbour, we cannot fail to recognize the infidelities to the Gospel committed by some of our brethren, especially during the second millennium. Let us ask pardon for the divisions which have occurred among Christians, for the violence some have used in the service of the truth and for the distrustful and hostile attitudes sometimes taken towards the followers of other religions.

 

The silence of Islamic religious leaders

       Asking forgiveness for wars of aggression

       or disavowal of the acts committed by some

       in the name of their prophet

       is deafening

 

Our Christian baptism

does not put us on a “high horse" as the president said...

Far from it

We are touched by Christ

For service and to be his disciples

 

After today’s gospel miracle

       He set out on a preaching mission

       Throughout the whole region

 

We are empowered to

       Preach about Christ’s church

       His gospel message

And to condemn

       The abuse of human rights

       And religious freedom

       Wherever they occur

 Not because the church

       Can claim its members

       Are sinless saints

       But because

       Christ and his church

       Are the world’s best hope

       Not its greatest threat

       As some media pundits

       And militant atheists

       Would have us believe.

 

 We must be careful

       Not to let criticism of religious extremism

       turn to religious indifferentism

       Or hostility to

       Persons of any religious faith

 

But this is not a time for Christianity

       To be in bed with the flu

       Or to be weakened

       By medicinal doses of guilt

       Whether served up to us

       By the media or our president

 

Out of an abudance

       Of political correctness

 

Should our voices for an end to

       Senseless violence against civilians

              Men, women and children

              And graphic, public executions

              Be silenced?

 

Can we at least agree to condemn

       Beheadings, crucifixions

And slave markets

       Of Christians?

  

Can we condemn

Cowardly acts of terrorism

       Defend against them

       And try to make the world

       A safer place?

 

We must.

 

Lent is almost upon us.

A perfect opportunity

       To express our grief in ashes

       And our hope in Jesus Christ

       To pray, fast and do penance

       And work

       For peace.

 

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