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Persecution from Without and Within

In his homily this morning at Santa Marta, Pope Francis spoke of persecution faced by Christians. He said:

All the people whom the Holy Spirit chooses to tell the truth to the People of God suffer persecution." Jesus “is precisely the model, the icon.” The Lord took upon Himself “all the persecutions of His people.” The Holy Father went on to note that Christians continue to suffer persecution even today. “I dare say,” he added, “that perhaps there are as many or more martyrs now than in the early days, because they tell the truth and proclaim Christ Jesus to a worldly society in love with ease and desirous of avoiding problems.”

“There is the death penalty or imprisonment for having the Gospel at home, for teaching the Catechism, today, in some parts of the world. A Catholic from one of these countries told me that they cannot pray together. It is forbidden. People can only pray alone and in secret – but they want to celebrate the Eucharist and how do they do so? They throw a birthday party, they pretend to celebrate the birthday there and [have Mass] before the ‘party’. It has happened. When they see the police arrive, they just hide everything and [continue with the birthday party-cover]. Then, when [authorities] leave, they finish the [Mass]. They have to do so, because it is forbidden to pray together: in this very day.”

But he also commented on those who suffer from opposition within the Church:

"Many thinkers in the Church were persecuted, as well. I think of one, now, at this moment, not so far from us: a man of good will, a prophet indeed, who, in his writings reproached the Church for having lost the way of the Lord. He was summoned in short order, his books were placed on the index, they took away his teaching positions – and thus, this man’s life ended – and it was not so long ago. [Now] time has passed, and today he is Blessed. How is it, though, that he, who yesterday was a heretic, is today a Blessed of the Church? It is because yesterday, those who had power wanted to silence him because they did not like what he was saying. Today the Church, who, thanks be to God knows how to repent, says, ‘No, this man is good!’ Moreover, he is on the way to sainthood: He is a Blessed.”

I suspect that the Pope is speaking of the 19th century Italian priest and philosopher, Antonio Rosmini, whose book, The Five Wounds of Holy Church, had been placed on the Index for a time. Rosmini was praised in John Paul II's encyclical, Fides et Ratio, and beatified under Benedict XVI.

About the Author

Rev. Robert P. Imbelli, a priest of the Archdiocese of New York, is Associate Professor of Theology Emeritus at Boston College.



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This is why I like this pope so much. He is honest. He doesn't speak in platitudes, he gives the average person credit for the ability to think. The Church makes mistakes,DUH!

There are persecuted people on our planet. We need to be aware of them, to pray for them and to do what we can to help them. He speaks the way Jesus spoke. 

"I suspect that the Pope is speaking of the 19th century Italian priest and philosopher, Antonio Rosmini"

Thank you!

I've been wondering about this mysterious thinker in the Church whom the pope spoke of all morning!

But now, thanks be to God and to you, the mystery is solved, and my day can continue in peace.



"Persecution from within" - come to mind immediately the problems related to the sex abuse crisis: the victims who have been discredited or pressured to stay silent and turn the page, the priests who have spoken up and been shunned and demoted.

Let us hope that the Vatican will now get out of the business of silencing and "persecuting" theologians who think outside the box called "the catechism", as was far too frequently done during the 35 years of Ratzinger/John Paul II/Benedict.  Ruling through fear does not lead to Truth.

Hopefully further acknowledgments will follow. Bernard Haring and Oscar Romero come to mind right away. Then there is Schillebeeckx. Those still alive; Kung, Curran, Balasurry, E Johnson, Thomas Doyle and others. 

He has met with Guttierez privately. 



Rosmini was admired by many popes, notably John Paul I who had studied him in depth. His propositions were condemned long after his death, by Leo XIII. Benedict XVI has a subtle hermeneutics of this:

Very good article posted by Joseph and thanks for finding and posting it. Baum himself is not stranger to ecclesiastical controversy. I think there was some run ins with the Canadian bishops at some time.


Ratzinger made some sense of these notas; interpreting them as pastoral in nature. But what is the time frame for reversal? In this instance, a lot occurred in 100 years but in others there is less time. I know that many Catholics were surprised to learn that Teilhard and Demello each had nota's published against their work. Pope Benedict quoted from Teilhard and I recall his books being favourably devoured from my very traditional Catholic father back in the day! Demello was a psychologist and not a a theologian nor was he writing theology; he was writing psychology or psychospirituality so I can see some overlap but still seemed a bit reactionary and defensive.

It is because yesterday, those who had power wanted to silence him because they did not like what he was saying.

Shocking! Unexampled in the history of power! Those who exercise it, whether in the religious or the secular realm, are invariably mild and humble and ready—no, eager—to hear all views, espcially those that differ from their own. There must be some mistake here.

But never mind. Let us get back to our untrammeled and full-throated discussion of women's ordination.

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