“My beloved friends, with an upright, magnanimous heart that is also compassionate, you can transform this continent, freeing the people from the whip of greed, violence disorder and guiding it through the path of those principles that are indispensible to any modern democracy. Those principles…include respect, transparent governance, freedom of the press, health care and adequate schooling as well as the promotion of human rights. Never be silent in the face of corruption and abuses of power.” – Pope Benedict XVI, Tour of Africa, 2009
His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI is the 265th and current Pope, by virtue of his office of Bishop of Rome, the Sovereign of the Vatican City State and the head of the Roman Catholic Christian Church. In the words of His Holiness, Christianity is “…the truth that resonates with the law written on the human heart.”
Pope in Latin and Greek means papa or Father. The Pope is the direct successor of St Peter; in that he is head of the bishops as St Peter was head of the apostles. The Pope is the father leader of the world’s 1.2 billion Roman Catholics; translating to slightly more than 17% of the world’s population of approximately 7 billion. However, as more appropriately termed by St Augustine, the Pope is the Servant of the Servants of God.
“Benedict” translates to “The Blessed: in Latin. The name was chosen probably to depict the Holy Father's mission in pursuit of reconciliation, peace and harmony in a turbulent, warring and chaotic world…to echo the reassuring voice of Jesus Christ, to build bridges and remind the citizens of the world to put Christ, first in our lives, in all our thoughts and deeds…to open the hearts of the world to this intimate friendship with God.
“Man is not a lost atom in a random universe: he is God's creature, whom God chose to endow with an immortal soul and whom he has always loved.” – Pope Benedict XVI, Caritas in Veritate (Charity in Truth), 2009
The Pope’s role is especially important especially when His Holiness receives powerful and influential political audience from around the world; many of the latter merely looking for ‘headlines’ or even the ‘implicit endorsement from the Holy Father”, the Vatican is that much aware.
The Pope's number two, Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, has this much to add, “The Church invites everyone - above all those who hold public responsibility in any administrative, political and judicial area - to be committed to a more robust morality, a sense of justice and lawfulness…(as) the Vatican was worried about the effects that reports of such behavior was having on families, young people and future generations.”
Such commitment to justice, morality, lawfulness, freedom of religious worship and notably free and clean elections seems to be greatly lacking in many countries today. Un-mandated “leaders” (not fairly elected by the people) stained with the crimes of corruption, injustice, lawlessness, murder, conspiracy and character assassination continues to hang on to power. The cries of the people for freedom, transparency, justice and fair rule of power have been suppressed by threats from the powers that be.
By the grace of God, it is these visits from these political “leaders” that His Holiness must aim to touch and evangelize, bringing healing, repentance and conversion.
In the apostolic letter “Ecclesia in Asia”, the Pope said, “…by 'speaking the truth in love' you can help your fellow citizens to distinguish the wheat of the Gospel from the chaff of materialism and relativism. …While resisting the ‘dictatorship of positivist reason’ that tries to exclude God from public discourse, we should…stress on human rights and the freedom of religion and its practice.”
Following my previous blogs with regards to the endless cries from the fellow pilgrims in Malaysia, South East Asia, for free, fair and clean elections…justice, an end to corruption, there is talk in the international media that the, non-people-elected, scandalized ‘Prime Minister of ‘Muslim-majority’ Malaysia’ will be meeting the Holy Father on July 18, 2011
Apparently, this meeting with the Prime Minister of Malaysia will not take place at the Vatican, where the Holy Father usually has his audiences, but has been tentatively scheduled at the Papal summer Apostolic Palace in Castel Gandolfo, south of Rome, 25km from the Vatican - a holy place where the Holy Spirit moves...where many encyclicals have been written.
In this case, it seems quite unusual for the Holy Father on retreat to even entertain any private or special audiences, what more for a self-professed leader such as this. Well, God works in mysterious ways...perhaps the Holy Father, an instrument of God, sees great urgency to radiate the healing and penetrating Light of Christ upon certain people....perhaps the Lord have heard the cries of the people of Malaysia for justice...
This ‘perceived election ploy’ meeting with the direct successor of St Peter comes following peaking tensions between Malaysian Muslims and religious minorities over complaints of religious discrimination and subtle religious persecution. Malaysia is one of about 16 or 17 countries together with China, Afghanistan, Myanmar, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Somalia and Vietnam — that currently have absolutely no diplomatic relations with the Holy See.
The Pope has previously preached at a mosque in Jordan that, “Religion can be corrupted...when pressed into the service of ignorance or prejudice, contempt, violence and abuse. ...Often it is the ideological manipulation of religion, sometimes for political ends, that is the real catalyst for tension and division and at times even violence in society.”
To the Christians in Malaysia, one of Pope Benedict XVI’s message echoes very clearly, “Do not become disheartened, but continue to proclaim with conviction the 'unsearchable riches of Christ,' so that all may come to hear of the love of God made manifest in Jesus.”
“Let love be without dissimulation. Hating that which is evil, cleaving to that which is good” (Romans 12:9, Douay Rheims).
We continue to pray fervently , by the grace of God and the intercession of Blessed Mother Mary and all the heavenly saints, that the Holy Father’s continued encounters with political ‘un-holies’ from around this chaotic secular world will continue to bring about inner-awareness, self-repentance, conversion and transformation…so that there will be change and reformation...bringing back justice, freedom, integrity, inter-religious dialogue, peace, dignity and harmony across the land. May these political “un-holies” come to personally encounter the miraculous healing presence of Our Lord, Jesus Christ and repent...may the words of the psalmist come true...