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post #1 of 2 (permalink) Old 11-30-2007, 07:46 PM Thread Starter
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Pope blames BWOT's posters atheism for world's worst woes...

Pope Criticizes Atheism in Encyclical

VATICAN CITY (AP) - Pope Benedict XVI strongly criticized atheism in a major document released Friday, saying it had led to some of the "greatest forms of cruelty and violations of justice" ever known.
In his second encyclical, Benedict also critically questioned modern Christianity, saying its focus on individual salvation had ignored Jesus' message that true Christian hope involves salvation for all.

The document, titled "Saved by Hope," is a deeply theological exploration of Christian hope: that in the suffering and misery of daily life, Christianity provides the faithful with a "journey of hope" to the Kingdom of God.

"We must do all we can to overcome suffering, but to banish it from the world is not in our power," Benedict wrote. "Only God is able to do this."

An encyclical is the most important papal document, addressed to all members of the 1 billion-member Roman Catholic Church.

In the 76-page document, Benedict elaborated on how the Christian understanding of hope had changed in the modern age, when man sought to relieve the suffering and injustice in the world. Benedict points to two historical upheavals: the French Revolution and the proletarian revolution instigated by Karl Marx.

Benedict sharply criticizes Marx and the 19th and 20th century atheism spawned by his revolution, although he acknowledges that both were responding to the deep injustices of the time.

"A world marked by so much injustice, innocent suffering and cynicism of power cannot be the work of a good God," he wrote. But he said the idea that mankind can do what God cannot by creating a new salvation on Earth was "both presumptuous and intrinsically false."

"It is no accident that this idea has led to the greatest forms of cruelty and violations of justice," he wrote. "A world which has to create its own justice is a world without hope."

He specifically cited Vladimir Lenin, the founder of the Soviet Union, and the "intermediate phase" of dictatorship that Marx saw as necessary in the revolution.

"This 'intermediate phase' we know all too well, and we also know how it then developed, not ushering in a perfect world, but leaving behind a trail of appalling destruction," Benedict wrote.

"The pope's concern is that you have secularizing forces that are trying to eliminate religion from public and private life," said Monsignor Robert Wister, professor of church history at Seton Hall University in the United States.

"In most countries, political Marxism is dead (but) philosophical Marxism is very much alive and it fuels the secularizing philosophy often seen in Europe and North America," Wister said.

At the same time, Benedict also looks critically at the way modern Christianity had responded to the times, saying such a "self-critique" was also necessary.

"We must acknowledge that modern Christianity, faced with the successes of science in progressively structuring the world, has to a large extent restricted its attention to the individual and his salvation," he wrote. "In doing so, it has limited the horizon of its hope and has failed to recognize sufficiently the greatness of its task."

The Christian concept of hope and salvation, he says, was not always so individual-centric.

Quoting scripture and theologians, Benedict says salvation had in the earlier church been considered "communal"—illustrating his point by using the case of monks in the Middle Ages who cloistered themselves in prayer not just for their own salvation but for that of others.

"How could the idea have developed that Jesus' message is narrowly individualistic and aimed only at each person singly? How did we arrive at this interpretation of the 'salvation of the soul' as a flight from responsibility for the whole, and how did we come to conceive the Christian project as a selfish search for salvation which rejects the idea of serving others?" he asked.

While seeking to provide answers, he also says there are ways for the faithful to learn and practice true Christian hope: in prayer, in suffering, in taking action and in looking at the Last Judgment as a symbol of hope.

Rev. Robert Gahl, professor of ethics at Rome's Santa Croce University, said the pope's message was "tremendously relevant" for today's materialistic societies "where people put hope in science and medical cures."

"Saved by Hope," which Benedict largely penned this past summer while on vacation, follows his first encyclical, "God is Love," released last year. With these two encyclicals, which are the most authoritative documents a pope can issue, Benedict has explored two of the three Christian theological virtues: faith, hope and love.

"We all ask ourselves if there will be a third encyclical on faith," said the Rev. Federico Lombardi, the Vatican spokesman. "It cannot be excluded, but it's not planned."

Pope Criticizes Atheism in Encyclical
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post #2 of 2 (permalink) Old 11-30-2007, 07:50 PM
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