Tag Archives: humanity

The Role of the Catholic Biblical Scholar: An Ongoing Consideration

by Patrick Angiolillo

As one semester comes to a close and another opens its doors, students and teachers alike are gearing up for their continued quest for knowledge. With all the buzz of applications, papers, and conferences, it is not difficult for me, a Masters student, to lose opportunities to reflect on what exactly it is I and my fellow students—especially we students of religion or theology or divinity—are doing when we engage new semester with new texts and new questions.

I have come to no deep conclusions, no profound realizations about this process, this career, even. On one level—quite superficially, perhaps—we are engaging in historical investigations. Myself, especially, as a student of biblical studies, or the even more obscure Second Temple Judaism, am easily claimed as one chiefly concerned with the production, reception, and interpretation of ancient texts. As are my closest colleagues, although some perhaps prefer the dirtier side of things, digging through archaeological remains in order to answer sometimes the same but often quite different questions of our shared historical investigation.

But on a deeper level, I often wonder what it is we are doing, for ourselves or for our churches, or our communities. Perhaps some of my friends in ethics have more practical answers, as ethics—or at least my impression of it—is principally concerned with, well, generating an ethic, a code, an understanding of things such that we can prescribe and proscribe with the effect of bringing about the good (or The Good). Maybe that is a simplistic or stuffy, dated impression of ethics, but it nonetheless implies the fundamental practicality of the discipline. Those friends engaged in studies of divinity, too, have a practical edge over me. Training for CPE or learning the essentials of pastoral care, as well as engaging in broad theological study, have wide ranging applicability and very practical use. Helping a parishioner struggle through the death of a loved one, or helping a student understand an explanation of the Trinity are, for instance, beautiful expressions of the practical dimension of these disciplines.

But then there is the biblical scholar. Continue reading The Role of the Catholic Biblical Scholar: An Ongoing Consideration

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Je Suis Catholique: A Catholic Response to the Charlie Hebdo Attacks

by Patrick Angiolillo

In the wake of the horrifying attacks in Paris that occurred at the Charlie Hebdo headquarters on January 7, as well as those others in the ensuing days, we have seen the swift response from the world, not least of all from the people of France themselves.

Immediately following the tremendous events of that day, leaders the world over spoke out against the form of radicalized, fundamentalist religion that led the Muslim gunmen to commit their heinous act of violence. Pope Francis, along with French bishops, as well as French Imams, and hosts of political leaders from different countries have voiced their sorrow and rage in reaction to the terror attack. The hacktivist group known as Anonymous even released a video in which a speaker, hidden by a Guy Fawkes mask, declared war on radical terror organizations like Al-Qaeda. The group claims to already have shut down a French terrorist website.1

While these reactions all share a deep opposition to the acts of violence witnessed, the particular response from different figures is, understandably, quite different. The hacktivist group has already begun their campaign to shut down terror websites, just as political leaders and government agencies have already mobilized their respective responses to the attack.

Religious leaders, however, have a different kind of role in the matter. Fr. Federico Lombardi of the Vatican Press Office expressed, in a matter of hours after the attack, the pope’s—and the Church’s—opposition to this example of the radical use of religion: “Whatever may be the motivation, homicidal violence is abominable. It is never justified: the life and dignity of all must be firmly guaranteed and guarded; any instigation to hate refuted; and respect for the other cultivated.” Indeed, he added that the pope said he “joins the prayers of the suffering and wounded, and of the families of the dead.”2

A religious leader or a religious group has a different responsibility in the aftermath of crises like the Charlie Hebdo attacks. Religion itself, and, as we see today, Islam in particular, has been abused by the ideologizing forces of terror organizations like Al-Qaeda and ISIS (or ISIL). The leaders of these religio-poltical groups use religion—use God—in order to justify their twisted agendas. Pope Francis summarized the phenomenon this way: “Religious fundamentalism, even before it eliminates human beings by perpetrating horrendous killings, eliminates God himself, turning him into a mere ideological pretext.”3

What, then, is the responsibility of the world’s religions, and of world religious leaders in the wake of such attacks? How does our Catholic faith play into this puzzle? Continue reading Je Suis Catholique: A Catholic Response to the Charlie Hebdo Attacks

Does Anyone Else Feel Depressed About the State of the World Today?

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By Brian Niemiec

Over Thanksgiving weekend, I had far too much time on my hand, so I started to read the New York Times at my parents’ house. Bad idea. I ended up feeling rather depressed about the state of the world. War in the Middle East, Ferguson, MO, corruption in Iraq (and everywhere else), domestic violence, and the depressing articles went on and on.

As I was reading this bleak picture of humanity, I realized how easily this explains the indifferent and gloomy selfishness that pervades our society. There is an overwhelming amount of pain and suffering going on in the world today, and we are exposed to all of it thanks to instantaneous and comprehensive media and social networks. No wonder apathy reigns in American society, and events and issues that should move us to compassion often make us shrug our shoulders and bury our heads in our own little worlds.

Yet, my new-found interest in newspaper reading was in stark contrast to the Thanksgiving season and the readings from the first Sunday of Advent. We have heard for a number of weeks now about the coming again of Jesus Christ and the fulfillment of all creation. These readings which are filled with hope for the future will continue to dominate the Sunday readings until we seamlessly transition from the second coming of Christ to the infancy narratives later on in the Advent season.

Continue reading Does Anyone Else Feel Depressed About the State of the World Today?