Tag Archives: roman catholic faith

Pope Benedict XVI reiterates support for traditional family in Croatia

Pope Benedict XVI said recently on his visit to Croatia that secularization is breaking down the concept of the traditional family in Europe.

The pontiff, on his second day in Croatia, also said that there is a need to introduce new laws that will help families to support and educate their children, Reuters reported

The pope issued this statement during an open air mass that he held in the Balkans which has long been viewed as a stronghold of the Roman Catholic faith. Hundreds of thousands attended to see the pope, Reuters said.

The pope told the crowd, “Unfortunately, we are forced to acknowledge the spread of a secularization which leads to the exclusion of God from life and the increasing disintegration of the family, especially in Europe,” Reuters reported.

Benedict, 84, spoke on the day that this nation of 4.4 million (90 percent Catholic) proclaims Family Day. He also spoke against artificial birth control, cohabitation without marriage and abortion. The pope urged Catholics not to succumb to a “secularized mentality,” according to Reuters.

From the start of the pontiff’s visit to Croatia he immediately cited the role it can play in preserving Europe’s identity saying, “From its earliest days your nation has formed part of Europe, and has contributed, in its unique way, to the spiritual and moral values that for centuries have shaped the daily lives and the personal and national identity of Europe’s sons and daughters,” according to Catholic Culture.

The pope also met with the country’s cultural and civic leaders, and strongly stated that the attempt for absolute separation of political and religious affairs will endanger the future of Europe, Catholic Culture said.

The pope said, “If, in keeping with the prevailing modern idea, conscience is reduced to the subjective field to which religion and morality have been banished, then the crisis of the West has no remedy and Europe is destined to collapse in on itself,” Catholic Culture reported.

The Pontiff said he hopes Croatia will “help to steer the European Union toward a fuller appreciation of those spiritual and cultural treasures” that have sprung from the Christian heritage of Europe, Catholic Culture said.

The pope visited Zagreb to lend encouragement to the local church. He also prayed before the tomb of Cardinal Alojzije Stepinac, who was charged with collaborating with Nazi-allied rulers and jailed by the communists for 16 years, Reuters said.

Benedict said Stepinac “knew how to resist every form of totalitarianism, becoming, in a time of Nazi and Fascist dictatorship, a defender of the Jews, the Orthodox and of all the persecuted, and then, in the age of communism, an advocate for his own faithful, especially for the many persecuted and murdered priests,” Reuters reported.

A number of Jews did not think it was right for Benedict to praise Stepinac. Elan Steinberg, vice president of the American Gathering of Holocaust Survivors and their Descendants told Reuters, “Holocaust survivors join all victims of the Nazi-aligned Ustasha regime in wartime Croatia in expressing disappointment that Pope Benedict would honor Cardinal Stepinac.”

Steinberg told Reuters, “Stepinac was an avid supporter of the Ustasha whose cruelties were so extreme that they even shocked some of their Nazi masters. Pope Benedict was right in condemning the evil Ustasha regime; he was wrong in paying homage to one of its foremost advocates.”

In 1998 the late pope John Paul II beatified Stepinac, which left him one step from sainthood. John Paul II, in turn, was recently beatified by Benedict, who succeeded him.

Book says MacArthur encouraged widespread Catholicism in Japan in postwar era

A new book says that in the post-war era, Gen. Douglas MacArthur perceived a “spiritual vacuum” in Japan and tried to fill it with spiritual beliefs, including Christianity and  Freemasonry.

In the book, 1945 Under the Shadow of the Occupation: The Ashlar and The Cross, authored by Eiichiro Tokumoto, the Japanese investigative journalist said that MacArthur, who then held absolute authority over Japan, believed that faith would help to offset communism, which in the early days of the cold war was gaining popularity, ENI News said.

Tokumoto based his contention on documents that were recently released to the public, that indicate that MacArthur tried to convince missionaries to intensify efforts in Japan, and even suggested mass conversions of the Japanese people to the Roman Catholic faith, according to ENI News.

General loss of faith

At that period, MacArthur observed that the Japanese people were experiencing a general lack of faith in many things. The Japanese military lost its nationalistic image of invincibility, the emperor had surrendered, and the state Shinto belief, which had been adhered to for several millennia, was being blamed for their defeat in 1945, ENI News said.

“MacArthur was very interested in the relationship between politics and religion in Japan, and he wanted both to reform the ideas and the ideology of the Japanese people as well as [make] sure that communism did not fill the gap in people’s minds and hearts,” Tokumoto wrote, according to ENI News.

Documents

Among the documents that Tokumoto referred to in his book is the report of a meeting that MacArthur held in 1946 with American Catholic bishops John F. O’Hara and Michael J. Ready.

The bishops toured Japan for three weeks and met with political, religious leaders and members of the imperial family. Afterwards, the bishops said in a report to the Vatican that MacArthur was suggesting that the Catholic Church try to convert the Japanese people en masse.

MacArthur wanted Catholic missionaries to work on this immediately and told the bishops that he estimated that they had one year window to accomplish this.

Absolution appeal

MacArthur felt that Catholicism would appeal to the Japanese. He based this belief on his experience when he was working in the Philippines. He also believed that the Catholic tradition of absolution would appeal to Japanese culture, which has a tradition of accepting responsibility for one’s misdeeds and seeking to make amends (the samurai warriors did this through ritual suicide).

MacArthur also spoke to Cardinal Norman Gilroy of Australia the following year in December 1946. A report to the Vatican from Gilroy stated that MacArthur believed it was imperative that the church act immediately, or “Communist agents will obtain the converts who should be gained by the church,” according to ENI News.

MacArthur’s interest in bringing Christianity to Japan lasted even up to 1955 when the International Christian University was established in Tokyo. MacArthur served as chairman of fundraising. Garett Washington of Oberlin College in Ohio said, “It was another place that could legally teach and protect Christianity,” ENI News reported.

MacArthur’s efforts did reap results. The number of Catholics in Japan went up by 19 percent from 1948 to 1950, and in some bookstores the bible was a bestseller. However, the success did not last because most of the missionaries who came to Japan couldn’t speak the language.

In the 1960s, students in Japan came to consider Christians as “elitist,” as they were leading a number of universities and businesses. Overall the Japanese felt disillusioned with all faiths. Shintoism, they believed, led to their defeat in 1945. Christians were viewed as “hypocritical.”

However, Freemasonry met with more success, attracting members from the Japanese Diet or parliament, journals and members of the royal family.

Sources:

http://www.christiancentury.org/article/2011-06/book-details-macarthurs-efforts-fill-japanese-spiritual-vacuum-after-world-war-ii

http://blog.beliefnet.com/news/2011/06/book-says-macarthur-flooded-japan-with-post-war-religion.php#ixzz1OIhgwHVI

New study says Chicago Catholics’ faith remains steadfast

An unprecedented study by a renowned Catholic author and scholar says that the faith of Roman Catholics in Chicago remains strong, and is even deeper among younger adult Catholics.

Distinguished sociologist and author Fr. Andrew Greeley said in his latest book, “Chicago Catholics and the Struggles Within Their Church,” that churchgoers are not fazed by issues of sexual abuse, or disagreements regarding abortion and birth control, the Chicago Tribune said.

Instead, the faith of young people in their 20s to 30s is steadfast, and even more devout than older generations. Greeley said that younger Catholics are very comfortable “being Catholic on their own terms,” according to the Chicago Tribune.

Other findings in the study are:

  • Chicago parishioners, like most American Catholics, have a higher approval of their parish priest than they do for Pope Benedict XVI, and Cardinal Francis George was given an approval rating of 86 percent, the Chicago Tribune said.
  • A large majority, or some 78 percent of the respondents consider their Roman Catholic faith to be either “extremely important” or “very important” to them, the Chicago Tribune said.
  • Almost half of all respondents said their five closest friends are Catholic, reinforcing Greeley’s sentiment that Catholicism is a communal religion, according to the Chicago Tribune.
  • Forty percent of Catholics who either strayed from or left the church said they are open to possibly going back one day, the Chicago Tribune reported.

From the findings, Greely said in his book that there seem to be two types of Catholics–one which is imaginative, and another which identifies by rules. The latter are also called “Cafeteria Catholics” who make their own decisions where religion, morals and politics is concerned, the Chicago Tribune said.

Greely however concludes that so-called “Cafeteria Catholics” are actually “Smorgasbord Catholics,” who he describes as diverse and rich in how they uphold Catholicism, according to the Chicago Tribune.

The Chicago Tribune said this is the first–and likely, will be the last comprehensive study of Catholics in Chicago by Fr. Greeley, who is still suffering from the after-effects of a near fatal injury to his brain that he incurred in 2008, when he fell down while getting off a cab.

Greely suffered considerable damage to his frontal lobe. He has stabilized of late, but there are still occasional gaps in his faculty to reason and communicate. The seed for the study was planted 50 years before, and the survey was started a year before his accident. He decided to finish the project while he still could, the Chicago Tribune said.

The study is based on a survey of 524 Catholic respondents who hail from Lake and Cook counties. They were polled by the Survey Lab of the University of Chicago in 2007, the Chicago Tribune reported.

This will be Greeley’s 105th book. Tom Smith, director of the Center for the Study of Politics and Society from the U. of C. told Chicago Tribune, “It’s 98 percent verbatim Andy…the way he would phrase certain things and blend his own anecdotal accounts with the data,” according to the Chicago Tribune.

Smith said the study serves a practical need of the church. He told the Chicago Tribune, “[Leaders] have to be aware that the church is [perceived as] too authoritative, makes too many rules. Its sermons tend to be uninspiring. There are a lot of areas the survey points to, that the church might want to try to strengthen.”