Thursday, 29 November 2012

Same-Sex Unions

Sappho: fresco from Pompeii
The latest issue of Humanum is dedicated to the theme of Same-Sex Unions and the question of gay "marriage." Humanum is the online journal of the Center for Pastoral and Cultural Research, at the John Paul II Institute in Washington. It contains articles and book reviews on a different theme every few months, intended to be useful to people working in the field of marriage, health care, bioethics, and moral theology. In the case of Same-Sex Unions, of course, we are dealing with a hot topic that needs careful thought and has wide political and cultural implications.

Marriage is a particular kind of bond, partly supernatural in origin, between a man and a woman open to a child (or children), its nature being to create a family that will serve as a solid foundation of civil society. In order to achieve the right degree of unity, marriage must be indissoluble, exclusive, and open to procreation (even if children never come). Each of these elements has been under concerted attack for some time. The final stage

Friday, 16 November 2012

Cardinal Scola in London: REPORT

One of the leading Communio bishops in the Catholic Church, H.E. Cardinal Angelo Scola the Archbishop of Milan, was visiting London on a rare visit this November to present the experience of his "Oasis" Foundation on the topic of Religion, Plurality and the Common Good. At a time of great tension between Christians and Muslims, especially in the Middle East, the Oasis Foundation is exploring ways that the interaction between them can become more peaceful and fruitful.

The first meeting was in the morning of Thursday 15 November at the House of Lords, at the invitation Lord Alton, for an invited group of religious policymakers, scholars, and representatives of civil society. The second was a public lecture and discussion, cosponsored by Heythrop College and the Catholic Union, in the afternoon of the same day, in the Loyola Hall of Heythrop College, Kensington Square.

Oasis is an International Foundation created in 2004 to encourage mutual understanding and opportunities for encounter between Christians and Muslims in contemporary societies. To this aim Oasis publishes a journal in several languages (including English, Arabic and Urdu), a newsletter and two series of books. The events in London follow the presentation at the UNESCO in Paris (2005), the dialogue with the rector and professors of Al-Azhar University of Cairo (2006) and the conference at the UN Headquarters in New York (2007). Oasis believes that interreligious dialogue involves intercultural dialogue, because religious experience is always lived and expressed through the medium of culture: not merely on the theological and spiritual level, but also on the political, economic, and social levels.

Further information about Oasis is available here: The talks are available on the Oasis website. For health reasons, I was unable to travel to London, but I have been receiving reports and copies of papers. What follows is mainly my summary of the Cardinal's two papers, followed by an extracts from responses.

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

The Catholic Social Teaching Moment

As many observers have noted, as the economic crisis of our century continues to unfold, and political parties flounder to define their own identity (Big Society? One Nation?), there is a growing interest in Catholic social teaching (CST) even among non-Catholics.

A recent analysis by Matthew Taylor for BBC Radio 4 traced this teaching back to the 19th century and the encyclical Rerum Novarum, which, he said, “called on the one hand for compassion for the poor and respect for the dignity of labour and, on the other hand, for respect for property and the family – all held together by the core idea of the common good.”

The encyclical enabled the Church to align herself with the urban working class, yet without encouraging revolutionary violence. In the century that followed, it enabled her to steer a course between the clashing rocks of Communism and Fascism. In the

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

Distributism in Italy

Marco Sermarini reports from Italy:

On Saturday 20 and Sunday 21 October 2012 we were in Norcia in Umbria for a two-day meeting that had two main purposes. (1) It marked the beginning of our "Opera [Works] G. K. Chesterton" (the union of all cooperatives, school, sporting association, etc... under the umbrella of the local Catholic movement “Compagnia dei Tipi Loschi del beato Pier Giorgio Frassati”). (2) It was a meeting of all the cooperatives that have been developing as part of our national network, the “Associazione Santa Caterina da Siena”.

It has become a tradition with us to come together like this in significant places. Norcia is one of our favourites, not just because of the beauty of nature but because of the presence of the Benedictine monks and the magnitude of what was born from St. Benedict’s inspiration. We met with Fr. Benedict Nivakoff OSB, the vice-prior of the monastery of Norcia (the prior is Fr. Cassian Folsom OSB). As men, women, children, pupils, and workers, we who form part of these movements are dedicated to mutual help and the construction of the Catholic Church through our everyday life, making us less reliant on the banks, the government, and the large commercial institutions.

Our organization is named after Gilbert Keith Chesterton because of his clarity in describing these objectives and in providing solid, practical solutions (we believe that Distributism is one such practical solution, even only a few have seriously tried to make it happen). It started almost nineteen years ago with an after-school service to help the families of our Catholic movement to face the challenges of education, and now it includes in its activities a middle school (for 11- to 13-year-old pupils), a high school (for 14-19 year old pupils), a cooperative for the disadvantaged, a management cooperative, a sports club, a service of mutual support among families, and many other things.

“Opera G.K. Chesterton” is a founder member of a nationwide network of similar institutions, whose name is “Santa Caterina da Siena”. (St. Catherine of Siena said: “if you are what you should be, you will set fire to all of Italy” – a challenging but fascinating motto). This network has found interest and support among the monks of Norcia. This year we gathered around 350 people from all over Italy. The Italian Chesterton Society is an active member of this network.

Fr. Benedict Nivakoff lectured in the Civic Theater about the link between education and work, starting from the Rule of St. Benedict and their everyday work in the monastery, including a newborn brewery (producing Birra Nursia).