A Catholic tendency towards extremism?

Now that the election results are as good as in, I find what seems like a disturbing link between Catholicism and extremist views. I wonder what the reason behind that could be? Are Catholics more prone to vote right wing? Are they more susceptible to populist sloganeering? Are they just not very good thinkers? I’m generalising, of course, but the ‘evidence’ is striking.

Geert Wilders’ populist one-issue party PVV has gained a great victory nationwide (they’re the third part now, with 24 seats), but in municipalities in Limburg, the most Catholic part of the Netherlands, they are easily the largest. Maybe the fact that Wilders is from Limburg himself has something to do with that, but I wonder…

I’ve also come across other instances of Catholic intolerance and extremism, especially towards Muslims. The recent discussions about the murder of Bishop Padovese of Anatolia, which looks more and more to have been a sacrificial killing, brings out people with degrees in generalising. Examples are in the replies to this post in Father Z’s blog, and this post at Rorate Caeli.

The two situations outlined above are different, the one political, the other religious. But intolerance lies at the root of both. Maybe Catholics still feel oppressed (and in certain cases they are right to feel like that) and that they must violently oppose society’s general trends? Certain social trend deserve opposition, but surely openness  and ethical treatment of people of other faiths surely do not? We may disagree, fine, but here we see a division of “we are good and they are evil”.

It’s simplistic, dangerous and quite disconcerting.

Papal Soundbytes, part 2

Part two of my collection of interesting snippets from the addresses and homilies  given by Pope Benedict XVI in Cyprus. Again, you may read the full texts here.

On the Cross:

“The Cross is not just a private symbol of devotion, it is not just a badge of membership of a certain group within society, and in its deepest meaning it has nothing to do with the imposition of a creed or a philosophy by force. It speaks of hope, it speaks of love, it speaks of the victory of non-violence over oppression, it speaks of God raising up the lowly, empowering the weak, conquering division, and overcoming hatred with love. A world without the Cross would be a world without hope, a world in which torture and brutality would go unchecked, the weak would be exploited and greed would have the final word. Man’s inhumanity to man would be manifested in ever more horrific ways, and there would be no end to the vicious cycle of violence. Only the Cross puts an end to it. While no earthly power can save us from the consequences of our sins, and no earthly power can defeat injustice at its source, nevertheless the saving intervention of our loving God has transformed the reality of sin and death into its opposite. That is what we celebrate when we glory in the Cross of our Redeemer.” (Holy Mass attended by priests, religious, deacons, catechists and representatives of Cyprian ecclesial movements in Nicosia)

Sheik Nazim Sufi, spiritual leader of the Muslims in the north of Cyprus, came to meet with the pope before Mass at the Church of the Holy Cross. He apologised for not getting up. "I am an old man," he said, to which the pope replied with a simple "I am old too." The two conversed briefly and the pope assured the sheik of his prayers.

On proclaiming Christ:

“When we proclaim Christ crucified we are proclaiming not ourselves, but him. We are not offering our own wisdom to the world, nor are we claiming any merit of our own, but we are acting as channels for his wisdom, his love, his saving merits. We know that we are merely earthenware vessels, and yet, astonishingly, we have been chosen to be heralds of the saving truth that the world needs to hear. Let us never cease to marvel at the extraordinary grace that has been given to us, let us never cease to acknowledge our unworthiness, but at the same time let us always strive to become less unworthy of our noble calling, lest through our faults and failings we weaken the credibility of our witness.” (Idem)

A baby seemingly transfixed by the shiny mitre on the pope's head

On the three meanings of Corpus Christi:

Corpus Christi, the name given to this feast in the West, is used in the Church’s tradition to designate three distinct realities: the physical body of Jesus, born of the Virgin Mary, his eucharistic body, the bread of heaven which nourishes us in this great sacrament, and his ecclesial body, the Church. By reflecting on these different aspects of the Corpus Christi, we come to a deeper understanding of the mystery of communion which binds together those who belong to the Church. All who feed on the body and blood of Christ in the Eucharist are “brought together in unity by the Holy Spirit” (Eucharistic Prayer II) to form God’s one holy people.” (Holy Mass on the occasion of the publication of the Instrumentum laboris of the Special Assembly for the Middle East of the Synod of Bishops in Nicosia)

On the murder of Bishop Luigi Padovese:

“Before I begin, it is only fitting that I recall the late Bishop Luigi Padovese who, as President of the Turkish Catholic Bishops, contributed to the preparation of the Instrumentum Laboris that I am consigning to you today. News of his unforeseen and tragic death on Thursday surprised and shocked all of us. I entrust his soul to the mercy of almighty God, mindful of how committed he was, especially as a bishop, to interreligious and cultural understanding, and to dialogue between the Churches. His death is a sobering reminder of the vocation that all Christians share, to be courageous witnesses in every circumstance to what is good, noble and just.” (Consignment of the Instrumentum laboris of the Special Assembly for the Middle East of the Synod of Bishops in Nicosia)

On the hope of Mary that caused her to say ‘yes’ to God:

“Some thirty years later, as Mary stood weeping at the foot of the cross, it must have been hard to keep that hope alive. The forces of darkness seemed to have gained the upper hand. And yet, deep down, she would have remembered the angel’s words. Even amid the desolation of Holy Saturday the certitude of hope carried her forward into the joy of Easter morning. And so we, her children, live in the same confident hope that the Word made flesh in Mary’s womb will never abandon us. He, the Son of God and Son of Mary, strengthens the communion that binds us together, so that we can bear witness to him and to the power of his healing and reconciling love.” (Angelus in Nicosia)

On ecumenism with the Orthodox Church:

“I hope that my visit here will be seen as another step along the path that was opened up before us by the embrace in Jerusalem of the late Patriarch Athenagoras and my venerable predecessor Pope Paul the Sixth. Their first prophetic steps together show us the road that we too must tread. We have a divine call to be brothers, walking side by side in the faith, humble before almighty God, and with unbreakable bonds of affection for one another.” (Farewell ceremony at Larnaca International Airport)

Italian undersecretary Gianna Letta welcomes Pope Benedict XVI upon his return to Rome

Vicar Apostolic of Anatolia murdered

Just after finishing up my blog post about the upcoming papal visit to Cyprus, I read the news of the murder of Bishop Luigi Padovese, Vicar Apostolic of Anatolia in Turkey. He was stabbed to death in his house in the south of Turkey, by his chauffeur. The murderer is said to have had psychological problems for some time and was in therapy. Turkish authorities say he was arrested soon after the murder.

Msgr. Padovese was to take part in the events of the papal visit to Cyprus. Born in 1947 in Milan, Italy, and a member of the Order of Friars Minor Capuchin, he was ordained a priest in 1973. In 2004 he was appointed to the vicariate of Anatolia. As such he was the chairman of the Turkish conference of bishops. Bishop Padovese was 57.

Eternal rest grant unto him, O Lord