The occasional, often ill-considered thoughts of a Roman Catholic permanent deacon who is ever grateful to God for his existence. Despite the strangeness we encounter in this life, all the suffering we witness and endure, being is good, so good I am sometimes unable to contain my joy. Deo gratias!

Monday, June 29, 2009

Interestng News Items

I woke up early this morning. Of course, there's nothing new about that; I wake up early every morning these days. Fortunately my aging brain tends to function a bit more effectively after sleep, so I usually spend those early hours reading or preparing my next homily. But this morning, feeling a bit lazy, I just sat here with my little netbook browsing a few favorites websites where I came across the following interesting items.

Remains likely those of St. Paul. The results of a recent and rather detailed scientific analysis of the sarcophagus which traditionally has been thought to hold the remains of St. Paul seem to confirm the authenticity of the remains. When the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls in Rome was rebuilt in the 19th century (the earlier 4th century basilica had been destroyed by fire in 1823), two ancient plaques indicating the presence of the saint's remains were discovered beneath the confessio altar. Then, just a few years ago, the sarcophagus itself was rediscovered under the altar. (I took the above photo of St. Paul's tomb in September 2008.)

To minimize damage, researchers drilled a small hole in the sarcophagus through which they inserted a probe. They discovered the presence of fine, purple linen fabric lined with gold, grains of incense, and bone fragments. Carbon dating of the bone showed that they originated in the 1st century. All of this is in keeping with the site having been the traditional shrine visited by pilgrims since the earliest days of the Church. In the words of Pope Benedict, “This seems to confirm the unanimous and uncontested tradition that they are the mortal remains of the Apostle Paul.”

It's especially interesting to me that in recent years science seems to confirm what Christians have long believed, proving that science and faith are not the natural enemies so many think them to be.

Last September Diane and I made a 10-day pilgrimage to Rome during the Year of St. Paul and included a visit to the Basilica where we too paid homage to the Apostle. That's me in the photo, standing in front of the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls. I look forward to our next visit. A few related links:

The Telegraph (London)

The Times Leader (Scranton & Wilkes-Barre, PA)

Pope Benedict signs new Encyclical. It seems that today, on the feast of Sts. Peter and Paul, Pope Benedict XVI will sign his latest encyclical, Charity and Truth (Caritas in Veritate). The long-awaited encyclical reportedly went through many drafts before it finally reached its final version, one that satisfied the Holy Father. It was also apparently delayed due to translation problems. It seems that translating the encyclical into Latin was the greatest challenge. I suspect that there are fewer Latin experts in the Church today with the linguistic skills necessary to translate modern technical terminology into Latin.

Now that the encyclical has been signed by the Holy Father, we can expect it to be published within a few days. I look forward to seeing how Pope Benedict views our responsibility as Christians with respect to society and the economy. I anticipate that it might force some Christians to reevaluate how they view economic issues. We'll see. For more info: EWTN Story.

Pope Benedict grants audience to President Obama. The Vatican confirmed that President Obama will meet Pope Benedict for the first time on July 10 when Obama is in Italy to attend the G-8 summit. Should be interesting. Wouldn't you like to be the proverbial fly on the wall during that meeting? More: EWTN Story.

No prosecutions for attacks on Indian Christians. An Indian archbishop has come out publicly questioning why there have been no prosecutions in the widespread attacks on Christians and their property that took place two years ago in Orissa. The attacks, perpetrated by Hindu fundamentalists, have led to no arrests, no charges, no detentions and lead one to believe that the authorities are simply unwilling to prosecute. In explaining why Christians were attacked Archbishop Rafael Cheenath of Cuttack-Bhubaneshwar stated that, “Christians were attacked above all because of fundamentalist Hindu ideology, which challenges the way in which a Hindu nation should be founded. So the fundamentalists looked for an opportunity to do this. The main reason for the attack on Kandhamal is because it was an area where a large number of conversions have taken place over the last ten years.” Well, Jesus never said that following His command to "make disciples of all nations" would be easy. More here: Catholic News Agency Story.

Is it really the Ark of the Covenant? Now here's an odd one right out of an Indiana Jones story. The patriarch who heads the Ethiopian Orthodox church has announced that he will reveal the actual Ark of the Covenant which he claims has been safeguarded by the Orthodox church for centuries. The patriarch stated that the Ark will be put on display in a museum in Axum. He revealed all this while in Rome for an audience with Pope Benedict. I wonder if the subject came up during their subsequent meeting. Here's the story: World Net Daily Story.

Ah, yes, an interesting morning. God's peace.

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