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Aboard the papal plane, Nov 25, 2014 / 10:02 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Speaking to journalists in-flight on his way back from Strasbourg, Pope Francis touched on dialogue with extremist terrorists – saying that although it's difficult, the door is never completely closed.

“Never give up anything for lost, never. Possibly you can't have dialogue but never close a door,” the Pope said in response to a question posed by international reporters on the papal plane Nov. 25.

Although dialogue might be challenging – “you could say almost impossible” – the “door is always open, no?”

Pope Francis responded to six questions posed to him in Italian during a brief press conference held on his return flight from Strasbourg, France, where he addressed the local seat of European Parliament as well as that of the European Council.

In his response to the question on terrorism, posed by Andreas Englisch from Random House, the Pope noted how the journalist twice used the word threat when asking about “the terroristic threat and the threat of slavery,” particularly the slavery of human trafficking.

“It's true. Terrorism is a reality and also a threat. But, slavery is a reality inserted in the social fabric of today (and has been) for a long time,” the Bishop of Rome observed, saying that the phenomenon of human trafficking is “a drama” that often involves the sale of children.

He encouraged the handful of journalists present not to “close our eyes” to the daily reality of slavery, which exploits people.

Terrorism, on the other hand, has another aspect besides the terrorists we are familiar with, and that is “the terrorism of states,” the pontiff said.

“When things increase more and more and every state, for its part, feels the right to massacre terrorists and with the terrorists there are so many innocent people who fall. This is a high-level anarchy which is very dangerous.”

He explained that terrorism needs to be fought, and repeated what he said during the in-flight press conference on his way back from South Korea: “When you need to stop the unjust aggressor, you have to do it with international consensus. No nation has the right to stop an unjust aggressor on its own.”

Pope Francis had spoken about the presence of terrorism in both of his speeches for the day, first telling members of the European Parliament that by holding true to their religious roots, they would become “more immune to the many forms of extremism spreading in the world today.”

The Pope said that this extremism is due in large part to “the great vacuum of ideals” that are currently being espoused in the West, and warned that it is primarily because of “man’s forgetfulness of God and his failure to give him glory” that such violence arises.

In his speech to the European Council, the Pope said that peace is often “put to the test” by various forms of conflict, including religious conflicts and international terrorism which claims the lives of innocent victims.

This terrorism is “unfortunately bankrolled by a frequently unchecked traffic in weapons,” he noted, and condemned the ongoing phenomenon of the arms trade, as well as that of human trafficking.

During his return trip from Strasbourg Pope Francis also responded to a question from Spanish-speaking journalists regarding the current situation unfolding in Granada, Spain, in which three priests have been accused of abusing a youth over a decade ago.

The alleged victim, now a 24-year-old man, wrote a letter to the Vatican speaking of his abuse. He eventually received a call from Pope Francis, who encouraged him to go to local authorities, and has already filed a lawsuit against the 3 priests, who have been removed from their ministry.

In addition to the Pope’s words, the young man has also spoken to Granada’s Archbishop Javier Martinez Fernandez, who has been in contact with Vatican officials since mid-August.

When asked how he received the news of the alleged abuse, Pope Francis said that he took it with “great sorrow. Really deep sorrow. But, the truth is the truth and we shouldn't hide it.”

The Pope said that he called the young man and told him “you go to the bishop tomorrow,” and also wrote the bishop telling him to “begin the work, to make an investigation and move forward.”

In addition to these topics, Pope Francis also discussed his devotion to St. Joseph, his return to France for a longer pastoral trip next year, and how the social doctrine of the Church aligns with the Gospel rather than a political party.

Before retiring for the rest of the flight, the Pope thanked journalists for their work on a “truly busy day,” and asked again for continued prayers.

Andrea Gagliarducci contributed to this report.

Vatican City, Nov 25, 2014 / 05:39 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Pope Francis’ address to the European Parliament touched on a variety of issues, all of which, he said, ought to promote the “centrality” of the human person so that a true cultural renewal can be attained.

“Today the promotion of human rights is central to the commitment of the European Union to advance the dignity of the person, both within the Union and in its relations with other countries,” the pontiff told members of the European Parliament during his Nov. 25 trip to Strasbourg, France.

The commitment to human rights, he said, is “important since there are still too many situations in which human beings are treated as objects whose conception, configuration and utility can be programmed, and who can then be discarded when no longer useful due to weakness, illness or old age.”

Pope Francis traveled to Strasbourg Nov. 25, where he first addressed the local seat of European Parliament before going to speak to the Council of Europe.

The European Parliament includes members of parliament from the 28 states of the European Union, while the Council of Europe is the organization for the defense of human rights in Europe, and has 47 members.

In his opening remarks, the Roman Pontiff noted that although much has changed since the visit of St. John Paul II in 1988, including the fall of barriers dividing the continent, globalization and an increasing ability to interconnect has made the European Union less “Eurocentric.”

Despite becoming stronger and larger, the European Union often gives the impression “of being somewhat elderly and haggard, feeling less and less a protagonist in a world which frequently regards it with aloofness, mistrust and even suspicion,” he said.

In light of this situation, the Bishop of Rome expressed his desire to offer a pastoral message of hope and encouragement, saying that all political projects ought to have at their heart a confidence in men and women as being endowed with transcendent dignity.

Marked by numerous conflicts in its recent past, Europe’s recognition of human rights came after a long process with much suffering, the Pope said, noting that these rights still need to be promoted in a society where the weak are often discarded.

“What kind of dignity is there without the possibility of freely expressing one’s thought or professing one’s religious faith? What dignity can there be without a clear judicial framework which limits the rule of force and enables the rule of law to prevail over the power of tyranny?” he asked.

“What dignity can men and women ever enjoy if they are subjected to all types of discrimination? What dignity can a person ever hope to find when he or she lacks food and bare essentials for survival,” including work?

Pope Francis also cautioned that while the promotion of human rights is necessary, their promotion can be misused, particularly with the claim to individual rights.

An underlying factor in the push for individual rights is the concept that the human being is detached from all social and anthropological roots, thus making the person a “monad” who promotes the individual but not the human person, the Pope observed.

He encouraged all to work for the common good, in which the rights of the individual are “harmoniously” linked and geared toward the greater good of all.

“One of the most common diseases in Europe today is the loneliness typical of those who have no connection with others,” the pontiff noted, saying that the E.U. is now often perceived as “a ‘grandmother,’ no longer fertile and vibrant.”

As a result the ideas that once inspired Europe are no longer attractive, the Pope explained, pointing out that these ideas are overridden with selfish habits and indifference, especially to the poor.

With technology and economics running political debate, human beings are in danger of “being reduced to mere cogs in a machine that treats them as items of consumption to be exploited,” he said, noting how often times the terminally ill, the elderly and children in the womb are disregarded, abandoned and killed as a result.

Pope Francis questioned how there can be hope in the face of such a desperate situation. He said that that it lies in a constant interaction between heaven and earth, which is illustrated in Raphael’s famous “School of Athens” painting, in which Plato points toward the sky, and Aristotle gestures toward the ground.

A Europe which remains closed to the transcendent aspect of human life “risks slowly losing its own soul,” the Pope explained, and re-affirmed the importance of keeping the human person as the central point of a society that would otherwise be subject to the “whims and powers of the moment.”

He assured parliament members of the Holy See’s readiness and willingness to have a “transparent” dialogue, and encouraged them to remember Europe’s religious roots. He also warned against the violent extremism raging throughout the world, caused in large by man’s “forgetfulness” of God.

The Roman Pontiff pointed to the E.U.’s motto “Unity in Diversity,” and urged parliament to work for the unity of persons by avoiding the many “manipulations and phobias” present in the culture. Also contained in this work, he said, is the responsibility to keep democracy alive.

Democracies today, he observed, are weakened by “the pressure of multinational interests which are not universal” and which often turn them into economic power systems.

So to give Europe hope means to keep the human person at the center and implies the nurturing of each individual so that their gifts and talents are able to flourish, particularly in terms of education and family life, which is “the fundamental cell and most precious element of any society.”

“The family, united, fruitful and indissoluble, possesses the elements fundamental for fostering hope in the future. Without this solid basis, the future ends up being built on sand, with dire social consequences,” the pontiff explained.

In addition to promoting the family and education programs that go beyond mere technological expertise, there is a need to advance efforts in promoting ecology, he said, noting how Europe has always been a pioneer in this area.

“Each of us has a personal responsibility to care for creation, this precious gift which God has entrusted to us. This means on the one hand that nature is at our disposal, to enjoy and use properly. Yet it also means that we are not its masters. Stewards, but not masters,” the Bishop of Rome continued.

He also spoke of work and the need to strive to create employment opportunities, and encouraged Europe’s leaders to give a stronger response to the increase in migration to the continent.

“We cannot allow the Mediterranean to become a vast cemetery! The boats landing daily on the shores of Europe are filled with men and women who need acceptance and assistance.”

The lack of mutual support within the E.U. puts the finding of workable solutions to migration at risk, the Pope noted, saying that in failing to adequately address the problem, the E.U. risks promoting “pluralistic solutions” that disregard human dignity and therefore “contribute to slave labor and continuing social tensions.”

Pope Francis concluded his speech by encouraging parliament members to keep their own identity in mind as they work together in helping Europe to “rediscover the best of itself.”

“The time has come for us to abandon the idea of a Europe which is fearful and self-absorbed, in order to revive and encourage a Europe of leadership, a repository of science, art, music, human values and faith as well,” the pontiff said.

He called for the continent to care for, defend and protect each man and woman, therefore becoming a Europe “which bestrides the earth surely and securely, a precious point of reference for all humanity!”

Vatican City, Nov 25, 2014 / 02:49 am (CNA/EWTN News).- A new volume of Benedict XVI's collected works includes an updated version of a 1972 essay in which he had suggested that the divorced and remarried could receive Communion – but the Pope had long since abandoned that position, scholars noted.

“In his book The Gospel of the Family, Cardinal Walter Kasper cites a 1972 essay by Joseph Ratzinger … it is unfortunate that Cardinal Kasper failed to mention that Ratzinger retracted the proposal or 'Vorschlag' outlined in his 1972 essay,” Dr. Nicholas Healy, an assistant professor at the John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and Family in Washington, D.C., told CNA Nov. 24.

As a priest of the Archdiocese of Munich and Freising, Joseph Ratzinger – who would later become Pope Benedict XVI – published an essay in 1972 which argued for access, under certain limited conditions, to Communion for the divorced and remarried. While affirming the indissolubility of marriage, Ratzinger and similar authors “appealed to certain passages in the Church Fathers that seem to allow leniency in emergency situations,” Healy wrote in a recent issue of Communio.

This line of argument was taken up in a 1977 book by Walter Kasper, who was then a priest of the Diocese of Rottenburg.

That year, Ratzinger was appointed Archbishop of Munich and Freising, and in that capacity he participated in the 1980 Synod on the Family, where he stated that “it will be up to the synod to show the correct approach to pastors” in the matter of Communion for the divorced and remarried.

The concluding document of that synod, 1981's Familiaris consortio, found that “reconciliation in the sacrament of Penance which would open the way to the Eucharist, can only be granted to those who, repenting of having broken the sign of the Covenant and of fidelity to Christ, are sincerely ready to undertake a way of life that is no longer in contradiction to the indissolubility of marriage. This means, in practice, that when, for serious reasons, such as for example the children's upbringing, a man and a woman cannot satisfy the obligation to separate, they 'take on themselves the duty to live in complete continence, that is, by abstinence from the acts proper to married couples.'”

Days after that document was issued, Cardinal Ratzinger was appointed prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

Then, in 1991, a canon lawyer, Fr. Theodore Davey, suggested that Confession and spiritual direction could open up the way for the divorced and remarried to receive Communion, and cited Ratzinger's 1972 essay in support of his position.

Cardinal Ratzinger quickly retracted the “suggestions” of his 1972 essay as no longer tenable, because they were made “as a theologian in 1972. Their implementation in pastoral practice would of course necessarily depend on their corroboration by an official act of the magisterium to whose judgment I would submit … Now the Magisterium subsequently spoke decisively on this question in the person of (St. John Paul II) in Familiaris consortio.”

The issue re-emerged in 1993, when Kasper, then Bishop of Rottenburg-Stuttgart, as well as two other German bishops, wrote a letter referring, according to Healy, to the teaching of Familiaris consortio as “a general norm that, while true, cannot regulate all of the very complex individual cases.”

The following year, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith published a letter to bishops, reminding them that “if the divorced are remarried civilly, they find themselves in a situation that objectively contravenes God's law. Consequently, they cannot receive Holy Communion as long as this situation persists.”

The letter, written by Cardinal Ratzinger and approved by St. John Paul II, moreover stated that “members of the faithful who live together as husband and wife with persons other than their legitimate spouses may not receive Holy Communion … pastors in their teaching must also remind the faithful entrusted to their care of this doctrine.”

Cardinal Ratzinger and his congregation followed up on that letter, which “was met with a very lively response,” by studying several of the more significant objections to it.

The cardinal's follow-up letter, published in 1998, noting that while varying from the “oikonomia” practice of the Eastern Orthodox and the opinions of a few among the Church Fathers, the practice of the Catholic Church “recovered … the original concept of the Church Fathers,” which prohibits a “more varied praxis” regarding Communion for the divorced and remarried.

Finally, after his election as Pope Benedict XVI, Ratzinger wrote Sacramentum caritatis, the concluding document of the 2005 Synod on the Eucharist, which noted that “where the nullity of the marriage bond is not declared and objective circumstances make it impossible to cease cohabitation, the Church encourages these members of the faithful to commit themselves to living their relationship in fidelity to the demands of God's law, as friends, as brother and sister; in this way they will be able to return to the table of the Eucharist, taking care to observe the Church's established and approved practice in this regard.”

Healy described each of these final three writings of Ratzinger – from 1994, 1998, and 2007 – saying that “on each occasion he reaffirmed the 'constant and universal' practice of the Church of not admitting to Eucharistic Communion divorced persons who have remarried.”

“In short, Joseph Ratzinger/Benedict XVI is adamantly opposed to the proposal of Cardinal Kasper and suggests that the teaching office of the Church already has resolved this question with a certain definitiveness.”

Despite this, Ratzinger's 1972 essay has been cited by Cardinal Kasper in support of his desire to admit the divorced and remarried, under certain conditions, to the Eucharist.

Yet in a newly-published edition of his collected works, available in German at the end of November, Ratzinger has amended the text of his 1972 essay. The emendation was first noted by Matthias Drobinski, of the German daily 'Suddeutsche Zeitung'.

“The new version excludes the crucial final paragraphs quoted by Cardinal Kasper,” according to The Irish Times. “Now Benedict stops short of his earlier call, arguing instead for the Church to rethink existing marriage annulment procedures to allow greater leeway on dealing with remarried couples.”

“Church watchers suggest the redacted essay should be seen as a warning by Benedict to his little-loved German rival in the Vatican, Cardinal Kasper, who has been liberally quoting the essay to justify a more liberal church teaching on remarriage.”

Fr. Vincent Twomey, who studied under Ratzinger, told The Irish Times that the omission of those paragraphs “was a 'significant' attempt by the former pope to prevent his earlier words – written in a different context, time and role – being used against him now.”

Healy told CNA that the development in Ratzinger's thought since his 1972 essay reflects a willingness to think with the Church in the light of the Magisterium.

“Joseph Ratzinger’s writings will remain a source and guide for future generations not only because of the breadth and depth of his wisdom, but, above all, because he shows us what it means to think with the Church. Sentire cum ecclesia means allowing one’s partial perspectives to be integrated into the greater whole of the Church’s faith and occasionally corrected by the teaching office of the Church.”

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