NEWS:  October 15, 2001

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Bird’s Eye View of the News

Atila Sinke Guimarães

AND SODANO SPOKE OUT – Cardinal Angelo Sodano, the Vatican Secretary of State, counseled U.S. President George W. Bush that the Muslims’ attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon did not signal a “religious war.” He refrained from categorizing the September 11 attacks. “It is not up to me to say if it was an act of war,” he said. “Sometimes, however, there are tragedies that are greater than war,” he added. “I want to underline the tragedy of this unimaginable apocalyptic scene.” In such events, the Cardinal stated, there is “ethnic and cultural valence, but not religious …. Certainly in madness, a man can appeal to religious principles, but this a grave deformation.”

These statements were made by Sodano September 14 at a meeting of spiritual leaders of an Italian agricultural organization (Zenith Dispatch, Sept. 16, 2001).

Let me analyze Sodano’s words in this press release. First, it seems nonsense to deny that an attack like that of September 11, equal to or greater in magnitude than Pearl Harbor, was an act of war. Also it seems nonsense to try to disguise the fact that this attack against two symbols of American military and economic power, along with the monstrous killing of thousands of Americans, was an act of religious war. No one but Cardinal Sodano denied the fact that the terrorists who hijacked the planes September 11 were motivated by religious convictions and had religious goals. All the evidence points in this direction, and even the Taliban, the Muslim government of Afghanistan, was already calling for a religious war (September 14) on the same day that Sodano was making his bizarre statement (see next news item).

Second, after this emphatic counsel, Sodano mysteriously refrained from defining what he understood as an act of war. It seems contradictory to be so emphatic in his advice on what does not constitute a religious war, and then so evasive in explaining what in fact it is.

Third, then Sodano pulled out of the blue another rationale for the attack, until then unknown to the public, i.e., the attack of September 11 would have been motivated by “ethnic and cultural reasons, but not religious.” Curiously, the Cardinal did not offer any proof of what he affirmed. Certainly some evidence was in order since his statement challenged all the known facts until then. But he gave none. His completely gratuitous affirmation stood on the merit of having been spoken by him, and that is all.

Fourth, in opposition to his first statement, at the end of his interview he admitted that the terrorists could have “appealed to religious principles.”

Finally, fifth, he said that the terrorists’ attitude would be “madness” and “deformation.” Regarding “madness,” certainly Sodano’s opinion was not objective, since the Arabs who piloted the suicide jets gave a surprising example of cold level-headed thinking and a sense of organization that had nothing to do with insanity. Regarding “deformation,” Sodano forgot to explain what was his point of reference. Deformation in comparison to what? To the Islamic principles? To common sense? To natural law? Once again, the words of the Vatican Secretary of State were not clear.

In the end, one has to admit that it would be very difficult in a short interview like this to be more incoherent and empty than Cardinal Sodano was. This kind of incongruous declaration might be excusable on the lips of a young seminarian or a newly ordained priest. I do not understand how His Eminence could have reached the elevated position of Vatican Secretary of State and remain there making this kind of public statement.

TALIBAN CALLS FOR HOLY WAR – On September 14, three days after the attack on the Pentagon and World Trade Center, the leader of Afghanistan’s Taliban regime warned Muslims all over the world to be ready for a holy war to defend the Islamic confession. Mullah Mohammad Omar called on all Muslims to defend Afghanistan and be ready to sacrifice everything for Islam. The Taliban vowed to take revenge against any country that attacked it. Mr. Omar also stated: “Be ready for jihad (holy war). Each Muslim should be ready for a jihad (Inside the Vatican News Service, September 15, 2001). This news item certainly proves the opposite of what Sodano stated above. To save the reader time, I will not transcribe more reports confirming the religious motives of the terrorists who attacked the World Trade Center and Pentagon. The newspapers are full of them.

HEAVEN, A MATTER OF INTERPRETATION – In an article in America magazine (September 17, 2001, pp. 13-14), Cardinal Walter Kasper, President of the Pontifical Council for the Unity of Christians, explains the new position of the Conciliar Church with regard to the Jewish confession. “As you know,” he wrote, “the old theory of substitution is gone since the Second Vatican Council.” What Kasper calls the “theory of substitution” is the New Testament’s teaching that the old covenant between God and the Jewish people was broken by the crime of Deicide and the apostasy of the synagogue. The Gentiles were called and replaced the Jews, forming a new covenant with God, which St. Paul called the law of grace that took the place of the law of blood.

Kasper continues: “For us Christians today the covenant with the Jewish people is a living heritage, a living reality. There cannot be a mere coexistence between the two covenants. Jews and Christians, by their respective identities, are intimately related to each other.” Kasper, without explaining how these identities are linked, thinks it is enough for the moment to say that they are “intimately related to each other.” He suggests the matter be discussed in further dialogue.

The new German Cardinal continues with an air of authority: “I wish to say that the document Dominus Jesus does not state that everybody needs to become a Catholic in order to be saved by God. On the contrary, it declares that God’s grace, which is the grace of Jesus Christ according to our faith, is available to all. Therefore, the Church believes that Judaism … is salvific for them [the Jewish people], because God is faithful to his promises.” It is curious to note the spin that Kasper gives to the principles defended in Dominus Jesus. In the document Ratzinger maintained that there would be a “Church of Christ” different from and larger than the Catholic Church. The members of that “church,” which would include Protestants and Schismatics, would normally be able to achieve eternal salvation.

Now, we have Kasper’s interpretation of the same document that goes even further. The President of the Pontifical Council for the Unity of Christians claims that it says that even the Jewish religion would be able to open the doors of Heaven to its followers. My reader knows that Kasper is purposely forgetting a “small detail,” i.e., that this assertion is absolutely opposed to all the Catholic teaching prior to Vatican II.

But, for a moment, let me follow along with Kasper’s dream that the religious Jews and rabbis who adhere to that false religion would be saved. What would they find in Heaven? The first person they would meet there would be Our Lord Jesus Christ, Who taught us that He would be our reward exceedingly great. Now then, this same Jesus Christ Whom the Jewish religion so vehemently denies, hates, and would crucify again if He were among us would stand before the “saved” Jews to share with them His eternal happiness.

Would this be the paradise they desire? I doubt it. In the real paradise, these “saved” Jews would be extremely unhappy. To be consistent with what they believed and preached in their false religion, they would choose to be far removed from Our Lord Jesus Christ, far removed from the Holy Trinity Whom they also deny, and far removed from Our Lady and all the Catholic Saints. They would choose to be as far distant from all this as possible, and eternally so, otherwise they would not be “happy.” So what would a “paradise” pleasing to them be? Is it the Heaven taught by Catholic doctrine? Or would it be another far distant place, as far removed from it as possible?

We see that Kasper’s “heaven” is a bit different from the real Heaven. A matter of interpretation...


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