Catholic church must listen to beat of this age, Pope Francis tells bishops
Pontiff opens fortnight-long extraordinary session of the synod of bishops with call to avoid intellectual one-upmanship
Pope Francis at the opening mass of the synod of bishops. Photograph: Franco Origlia/Getty Images
Pope Francis urged Catholic bishops gathered in Rome to listen hard to the “beat of this age” as he opened a landmark assembly that liberals hope will spark reform of some of the church’s entrenched stances on marriage, sex and divorce.
Almost 200 bishops from five continents have descended on the Vatican for a fortnight-long extraordinary session of the synod of bishops – the first in nearly 30 years – which Francis has devoted to tackling the church’s attitude towards the modern family.
In a homily before the bishops in St Peter’s Basilica on Sunday, Francis called on the prelates to avoid intellectual one-upmanship at the synod and instead work creatively to establish how the church can take into consideration the realities of Catholics’ lives.
“Synod gatherings are not meant to discuss beautiful and clever ideas, or to see who is more intelligent,” he said, in remarks interpreted by some as a criticism of cardinals who have been publicly sparring with each other in recent weeks over whether remarried divorcees should be allowed Holy Communion.
At a prayer vigil on Saturday evening, Francis said that only by paying close attention and understanding real people’s lives would the church earn credibility on issues which he did not name but which are thought to include cohabitation, second marriages and gay relationships.
“We must lend our ears to the beat of this era and detect the scent of people today, so as to be permeated by their joys and hopes, by their sadness and distress, at which time we will know how to propose the good news of the family with credibility,” he said in his address, heard by tens of thousands of people in St Peter’s Square.
The scope of the synod’s likely consequences is limited: the church is not, for instance, going to endorse gay marriage or abortion. But since his election last March, the reform-minded Argentinian pope has repeatedly made clear his irritation with priests and prelates who focus on “small-minded rules” at the expense of human beings grappling with real-life dilemmas. He has even warned that unless the church finds a new balance between adherence to doctrine and pastoral care, “the moral edifice of the church is likely to fall like a house of cards”.
The popular belief that religion is the cause of the world’s bloodiest conflicts is central to our modern conviction that faith and politics should never mix. But the messy history of their separation suggests it was never so simple
Illustration by Sam Hofman and Kyle Bean
As we watch the fighters of the Islamic State (Isis) rampaging through the Middle East, tearing apart the modern nation-states of Syria and Iraq created by departing European colonialists, it may be difficult to believe we are living in the 21st century. The sight of throngs of terrified refugees and the savage and indiscriminate violence is all too reminiscent of barbarian tribes sweeping away the Roman empire, or the Mongol hordes of Genghis Khan cutting a swath through China, Anatolia, Russia and eastern Europe, devastating entire cities and massacring their inhabitants. Only the wearily familiar pictures of bombs falling yet again on Middle Eastern cities and towns – this time dropped by the United States and a few Arab allies – and the gloomy predictions that this may become another Vietnam, remind us that this is indeed a very modern war.
The ferocious cruelty of these jihadist fighters, quoting the Qur’an as they behead their hapless victims, raises another distinctly modern concern: the connection between religion and violence. The atrocities of Isis would seem to prove that Sam Harris, one of the loudest voices of the “New Atheism”, was right to claim that “most Muslims are utterly deranged by their religious faith”, and to conclude that “religion itself produces a perverse solidarity that we must find some way to undercut”. Many will agree with Richard Dawkins, who wrote in The God Delusion that “only religious faith is a strong enough force to motivate such utter madness in otherwise sane and decent people”. Even those who find these statements too extreme may still believe, instinctively, that there is a violent essence inherent in religion, which inevitably radicalises any conflict – because once combatants are convinced that God is on their side, compromise becomes impossible and cruelty knows no bounds.
Despite the valiant attempts by Barack Obama and David Cameron to insist that the lawless violence of Isis has nothing to do with Islam, many will disagree. They may also feel exasperated. In the west, we learned from bitter experience that the fanatical bigotry which religion seems always to unleash can only be contained by the creation of a liberal state that separates politics and religion. Never again, we believed, would these intolerant passions be allowed to intrude on political life. But why, oh why, have Muslims found it impossible to arrive at this logical solution to their current problems? Why do they cling with perverse obstinacy to the obviously bad idea of theocracy? Why, in short, have they been unable to enter the modern world? The answer must surely lie in their primitive and atavistic religion.
His name is Joshua Feuerstein. Joshua must believe he’s an absolute genius because it took just three minutes for him to destroy hundreds of years of work by biological scientists.
That three minutes of assumed genius is contained in this video posted on his Facebook page.
The reality off course is that Joshua is a monumental ass. He preaches a very dangerous ideology that will wreck the future lives of potentially tens of thousands of children by tainting their education with pure unadulterated bullshit. Joshua wants science to be kept out of our classrooms….
Source: Lenny Says Read more & check out that video.
This guy belongs in a psychiatric hospital, oh wait, psychiatry is a science… he won’t believe he’s there.
His drivel about the word universe, for example, suits his needs; he made it up. In fact universe comes from the Latin universum – un, uni (the combining form of unus, or “one”) with vorsum, versum (a noun made from the perfect passive participle of vertere, meaning “something rotated, rolled, changed”