Wednesday, July 05, 2006

The papal prayer intentions

Perhaps the most neglected aspect of the Petrine ministry is the monthly prayer requests that the Holy Father has. In April, Pope Benedict requested prayers for the Church in China, a request that I don't think went over too well in Beijing. Notice that he put out the request and relations turned sour pretty quickly. Now that could have been a result of demonic influence in response to the prayer (nothing too unusual there), but it could also have been the result of Chinese officials feeling like Benedict had one-upped them. (The prayers seem to have been effective, though, if recent reports that a couple of Vatican representatives are in China are true.)

In May, he prayed that laws in the mission countries would protect human life from conception to its natural end.

Last month (the quote below is from Vatican Information Service) was another doozie:
The Holy Father's general prayer intention for June is: "That Christian families may lovingly welcome every child who comes into existence and surround the sick and the aged, who need care and assistance, with affection."

His mission intention is: "That pastors and the Christian faithful may consider inter-religious dialogue and the work of acculturation of the Gospel as a daily service to promote the cause of the evangelization of peoples."
It's the second one that's important to note. Acculturation and inter-religious dialogue are not ends unto themselves. Rather, they have to serve the cause of evangelization, the cause of bringing Jesus Christ to the world. This is a slap to those who think that inter-religious dialogue is simply a matter of getting to know one another for the sake of getting to know one another.

In other words, Dominus Iesus was not a fluke, a kind of abberation on Pope Ratzinger's stellar flight to the papacy, one that he now repudiates as having been stupid and going overboard as some have said. No, it was a document on the truth of the God-Man who changed the course of human history and who still does that today. If acculturation and inter-religious dialogue do not serve the purpose of bringing the truth of the Gospel to those with whom we dialogue, then there is no reason to engage in it.

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