Tag Archives: Ecumenism

Why are these Christian schoolchildren learning to pray like Muslims in this mosque in France?

FRENCH TRANSLATION: Awakening to religions, but also immerse themselves in the places of worship. From St. Peter's College in Essarts, students in fifth, curious and open, laid their eyes on the mosque. A rich exchange followed with Ali Bensaada, chaplain to the jails. Through this visit, the college will have a picture of where Islam is lived. A good way to understand the most of their curriculum, interested in early Islam.

…Because false ecumenism is a cancer on the Body of Christ, the Church, that’s why…

Saint Peregrine (Pellegrino) Laziosi (Latiosi) (1260 – 1 May 1345) is the patron saint for those suffering from cancer. After viewing the following pics, perhaps it’s time for a novena on behalf of the Church in France afflicted so terribly with spiritual cancer, whose adults (in great numbers) no longer attend mass, but apparently find no problem with introducing young baptized hearts into the spiritual phenomenon of Islam.

Fifth grade students from Saint-Pierre Dessessart visit mosque in La Roche

I make this defender of the faith statement my own concerning refuting perverted Catholicism, as it is in this case: “The One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church is and must remain the center of all Truth on earth, until He comes again. To that end, we will continue to attack falsehood wherever we see it… Seek the Truth; find the Way; live the Life. Please God, and live forever.” 

EDITOR NOTE: This story first appeared in October within the online mag Ouest France; was reported on by Rorate Caeli, as well as other sources I can’t recommend here, as they themselves are not in full communion with the Catholic Church.


Alinskyian organizing: interfaith hazard? by Stephanie Block

The Industrial Areas Foundation, an Alinskyian organization, has managed to bring together Catholics, Protestants, and others for political gain. But to what end?

The dream of organizing of religious institutions into an ecumenical political power-base is nothing new. What’s new is the widespread acceptance such organizing has gained.

As of late 1995, Albuquerque Interfaith had 28 organizational members, all of them religious communities. Eleven were Catholic, four Presbyterian, five Lutheran, and the rest from an assortment of “faith traditions.”

Albuquerque Interfaith is one of approximately 60 local affiliates around the United States. Each of these local affiliates is organized under the national umbrella of the Industrial Areas Foundation. The Industrial Areas Foundation [known simply as the IAF] sends its professional organizers to train and engage people in each of these locations. The organizer’s job is to bring these denominations into a “relationship” which will enable them to act together on civic issues.

Saul Alinsky founded the IAF in 1940. Alinsky, who died in the 70s, wrote two books: Reveille for Radicals, and Rules for Radicals. In Reveille for Radicals, Alinsky writes about the effectiveness of what he called “popular participation,” the civic actions of ordinary people through a “People’s Organization,” like Albuquerque Interfaith.

A critical study of the extent of popular participation in People’s Organizations was made, and the findings differed so radically from the prevalent assumptions that the original study was repeatedly checked. Each checkup corroborated the original findings. Conclusions showed that in the most powerful and deeply rooted People’s Organizations known in this country the degree of popular participation reached a point of between 5 and 7 per cent! This in spite of the fact that those making the study fully recognized that the organizations being evaluated were so much stronger and included so many more people who actually participate than all the other organizations proclaiming “100 per cent participation…” [p 181]

The assumption that Alinsky is debunking in this passage is that an effective organization requires most of its membership to participate. It doesn’t. A small, well-organized core of people can accomplish a lot of good – or do a lot of damage.

Consider what a small percentage Alinsky is describing: 5-7%. Five-seven percent of a congregation of 5000 is just 250-350 people. Each participating parish requires only a small, committed core of active, involved people to transform it. If Alinsky is correct then, similarly, a relatively small number of strategically situated, networked IAF locals across the country can have a strong influence on federal policy.

How does the Industrial Areas Foundation function? How does it operate and organize?

At Ascension parish in Albuquerque, the IAF-trained pastor wanted his Catholic parish to become an Interfaith member. He began “one-on-ones:” private meetings between him and various high profile people in the congregation. His goal was to identify those who would become an IAF “leadership team” for the congregation. These handpicked “leaders” were chosen for their influence in the community and for their personal openness to social activism.

The parish leadership team then began training sessions to run organizational “house-meetings” in the parish. House-meetings are designed to expand awareness about the local IAF and to establish credibility among parishioners. They encourage parishioners to be active and supportive of the IAF organization and stimulate a controlled line of questioning, asking about the social and economic needs of the community. Leaders are trained to guide the discussion along specific channels; the IAF will not, for example, directly confront the issue of abortion.

The leadership team is not only trained to run meetings, but as its support in the congregation grows, it is taught to research and plan public actions and to evaluate the success of these actions. Public actions around Albuquerque have included ritualized and tightly controlled meetings with government officials and with school administrators.

Each member congregation in the local IAF pays dues. In Albuquerque, member congregations pay 1.5% of their income to the Albuquerque Interfaith. This helps to pay the professional organizer a middle-class salary, benefits, office and travel expenses. Albuquerque Interfaith, in turn, pays the IAF $30,000 yearly. This money helps to pay the corporate-level salaries of the eight regional IAF directors who travel and network extensively.

What does the Industrial Areas Foundation do? What are the changes it is mobilizing member congregations around the country to bring about?

The goals of the IAF exist on two levels. The first is to seek the self-interest of their membership, that is, to identify issues of concern to all parties. If a street corner needs a traffic light, Catholics, Muslims, Jews, and Protestants ought to be able to work together to get one in place.

To achieve this requires research: what does it take to have a traffic light installed? What are the costs involved? Is the money there? Is the need urgent? Who does one approach about it? How do we pressure them if they don’t agree with us? How do we involve the media, if necessary? How do we build public support for our issue? These are the questions that form part of the citizen education in which the IAF trains the participating individuals from its member congregations.

The goals of the IAF exist on another level, though. The IAF has not only local goals, tailored to the self-interest of local people, but its own organizational goals. Ernesto Cortes, the southwestern regional IAF director writes: “[The organizer’s] issue gets dealt with last. If you want your issue to be dealt with first, you’ll never build anything. So you lead with other people’s issues, and you teach them how to act on their issues. Then you model what is to be reciprocal, you model what it is to have a long-term vision.” [Ernesto Cortes, “Organizing the Community: The Industrial Areas Foundation organizer speaks to farmers and farm activists,” The Texas Observer – A Journal of Free Voice, July 11, 1986.]

To obtain a power-base that will support the organizer’s issues, the IAF must build a constituency that trusts it. Working through the churches, using sympathetic clergy, the IAF develops those relationships of trust within member congregations and dioceses. The IAF hands-on, citizen education that teaches people how to get a traffic light installed has the additional advantage (to the IAF) of developing a small but committed and active group of people who will support the IAF agenda.
What is that agenda? In general terms, the IAF’s “issue” can be expressed as a practical philosophy of governance called variously “third way,” “participatory democracy,” or “democratic socialism.” All these terms, and others, are an attempt to describe a brand of socialism that aims to be a middle ground between laissez-faire capitalism and right wing, totalitarian socialism (like communism). Proponents of this middle ground believe that their system of government can use democratic mechanisms to administer the state’s benefits. The mechanisms of administration for those benefits are the “mediating institutions,” which advocates believe render government control more benevolent and “just.”

The “mediating institutions” are schools, churches, unions, community centers and the like, held together by the relationships they have forged within their community organization – like Albuquerque Interfaith.

To achieve this utopian “vision,” the national IAF is engaged in “restructuring” activities of all kinds. It is operating nationally on the political level, networking with the Democratic Socialists of America, the New Democrats, and the New Party, among others. In the late 90s, the IAF made national headlines for its apparent orchestration of a massive naturalization drive. The trouble with this drive was that it included hundreds of invalid naturalizations, and people were evidently driven straight from receiving their citizenship papers to the polling booths. The situation was not rectified, however, until after the November 1996, California elections in which pro-life Congressman Robert Dornan lost to a staunch IAF-backed, pro-abortion candidate.

The national IAF is operating in the economic arena, also. It is very much a player in the Empowerment Zone and Enterprise Community packages of dozens of areas around the country.

The IAF was a supporter of Hillary Clinton’s universal health care plan, and is engaged in experiments to involve the churches in “community-based” health-care clinics. The national IAF has been a major figure behind its own version of welfare reform. In Arizona this generated tremendous opposition. A coalition of over 30 community-based human services organizations, including food banks and health care facilities (hardly “radical right” types) fought the IAF over control of public welfare funds. The human services coalition argued that the IAF was attempting to overrun “existing organizations with demonstrated track records and accountability for working with the poor…” so that it might control public money for its own organizational purposes. The human services coalition warned that “Any diversion of funds to create another layer of providers would detract from the present effort and be disastrous.”

The national IAF is deeply involved in education reform. On January 24, 1996, the Albuquerque Interfaith began the first in a series of Professional Development Seminars funded by a $450,000 grant from the Rockefeller Foundation. Involving about 60 teachers, administrators, community center directors, high school students, and parents from the city’s public school system, these all-day seminars at the Albuquerque Hilton were, according to one local school board member, designed as the educational establishment’s response to the radical right. As New Mexico, at that time, had no vocal, organized group operating in opposition to systemic school reform, the necessity of a professional development program to counter that voice was incomprehensible.

What was the purpose of this professional development seminar? What did the IAF hope to accomplish among area educators? Dr. Benjamin Barber, a political scientist out of Rutgers University, during a radio interview, gave the answer. “Practical experiments to empower people in their own lives” are being conducted by groups who “don’t simply talk about citizenship and democracy, but are engaged in working for it.” Barber identified, specifically, the Industrial Areas Foundation. The IAF-lead Albuquerque “Professional Development Seminar” for public schools graphically exemplified the IAF activity connecting public education to civic education, of which Barber spoke. This is occurring all over the United States. The scope of IAF involvement in the recent federal movement toward systemic education “reform” is vast. And it is necessary for the IAF to maintain its involvement in the movement toward systemic education reform, because this reform is extremely unpopular.

Marc Tucker’s National Center for Education and the Economy [the NCEE], is the think-tank which produced the rough draft of what became the Work Force Development Act of 1995 (HR 1617; SR 143). The NCEE was well aware that public support for the Work Force Development Act required nursing. Reaching the goals of the Work Force Development Act would “require a transformation in virtually every important aspect of the American system of education.” A NCEE proposal for the legislation stated: “It will require thoughtful and sustained communication with the citizens of these states to build the public consensus needed to support these revolutionary changes.”

Weeks-long media campaigns and town meetings were suggested to “increase public discussion” and “focus daily news coverage” on education. Parents would have to see themselves as “collaborators” in their children’s education. The proposal said: “The Industrial Areas Foundation, perhaps the most experienced agency in the United States in the arena of community organizing, will help us think through the parent engagement and organizing issues.”

An example of the IAF’s work to generate parent involvement in OBE restructuring can be documented in a vision paper called “Community of Learners.” Albuquerque Interfaith used this vision paper as a model for its own educational statement. The “Community of Learners” version was produced by a network of nearly a dozen Texas IAF locals in 1990. It was “facilitated” into being by a very interesting woman, Sonia Hernandez, an educational consultant on the NCEE board of trustees who was, in the early 1980s, the president of the IAF San Antonio local, Communities Organized for Public Service.

Ms. Hernandez, in her capacity as an education consultant, provided “…a larger framework for people to think about their own schools and the troubling questions about whether their children were being prepared for the work of the future. Schools are about political power, Hernandez explained.” [William Greider, Who Will Tell the People, 1992, p 231.]

No wonder children are graduating from the public school system unable to read! Recall Barber’s radio interview where he describes the IAF’s “civic education” activity in the public schools. Place that next to Sonia Hernandez’s remark that “Schools are about political power.” What sort of educational system is being put together? Interfaith members, to guide them in producing their own “vision” about education have studied “A Community of Learners” in Albuquerque. The ” Community of Learners” paper recommends “shattering the paradigm of school” as it has been popularly conceived and replaces it with “communities of learners,” which are schools characterized by “collaborative relationships among all stakeholders, including parents, teachers, administrators, and community leaders.”

How did the churches come to be involved in such schemes? It’s a chicken and egg debate over which came first: do liberal religious communities embrace Alinskyian faith-based organizing or does participation in such organizing tend to liberalize the community? Perhaps both assertions are correct.

The IAF has, for example, conducted a national project called “IAF Reflects.” IAF Reflects is a series of “intense, 2-week seminars for veteran organizers.” These retreats for congregational leaders are, in the words of one enthusiastic observer, designed to put those “leaders in touch with the biblical tradition that might give deeper insight into their work together, bind them more closely, and empower them to go forward to build God’s reign. The IAF has come to realize that it is about holy work…” Faith communities, writes the Catholic Villanova religion professor, Susan Toton, “must be conversant in two languages -the language of the faith and the language of public discourse,” which Toton equates to IAF-style activism. “Both are essential for communities committed to furthering God’s reign.”

Ed Chambers, national IAF executive director, has a similar idea. He says: “I’d had a little training in philosophy. And I started forcing myself to look at what our kind of organizing meant to people. We worked with people in the churches, and their language was the language of the gospel. Their language was nothing like Alinsky’s language. His language was power talk. Tough, abrasive, confrontational, full of ridicule. And those are really all non-Christian concepts. So I started looking at it. Here are the non-Christian concepts…here are the Christian concepts. Are there any similarities? Is this just a different language for the same thing?”

What is this language of Alinsky’s? Alinsky explains it. According to him, in his Rules for Radicals, this “power talk” is Machiavellian. “What follows [Alinsky writes in the opening paragraph of the Rules] is for those who want to change the world from what it is to what they believe it should be. The Prince was written by Machiavelli for the Haves on how to hold power. Rules for Radicals is written for the Have-Nots on how to take it away.”

Machiavelli’s The Prince used to be on the Catholic Index, when the Church had an Index, as forbidden reading. This was not because the object of Machiavelli’s discussion was to protect the rich. It was because the principles Machiavelli gave the rich for holding on to power were unethical.

The “power talk” of Alinsky is also unethical. He teaches, at great length, (for instance) that the “ends justify the means.” (In fact, Alinsky devotes an entire chapter in the Rules to rationalizing why the ends justify the means.) Romans 3:8, however, says “it is not licit to do evil that good may come of it,” and Pope John Paul II, in Veritatis Splendor, insists that the Christian must accede to the truth of this moral teaching.

These two positions are not reconcilable. It is not moral to speak the language of pious ethics at worship, and then go out into the world and speak the language of opportunism and might-is-right and whatever else “ends justifies the means” ethics produces. They are not simply two different languages saying the same thing.


In conclusion, the IAF is only one of several networks of Alinsky-style, faith-based organizations operating around the country. Collectively, there are over 200 local affiliates of an Alinsky-style organizations in the United States and several of the networks are expanding into Latin America, Europe, and Africa.

Therefore, it is extremely important that people of strong religious convictions understand the funding mechanisms that support these organizations. In addition to the dues paid by member congregations, expansion efforts require “seed money.” The Catholic Campaign for Human Development annually channels millions of dollars into Alinsky-style, faith-based organizing. The Jewish Fund for Justice, the Lutheran Fund for Justice, grants disbursed through the United Methodist Global Ministries, and the Presbyterian World Services are similar sources of funding.

The dream of organizing of religious institutions into an ecumenical political power-base is nothing new – but we’d better be very watchful of what we organize. 

Stephanie Block writes for the New Mexico-based newpaper Los Pequenos.

Pope Benedict XVI: Address to Representatives of Other Religions, Pope John Paul II Cultural Center 04.17.08

My dear friends,

I am pleased to have this occasion to meet with you today. I thank Bishop Sklba for his words of welcome, and I cordially greet all those in attendance representing various religions in the United States of America. Several of you kindly accepted the invitation to compose the reflections contained in today’s program. For your thoughtful words on how each of your traditions bears witness to peace, I am particularly grateful. Thank you all.

This country has a long history of cooperation between different religions in many spheres of public life. Interreligious prayer services during the national feast of Thanksgiving, joint initiatives in charitable activities, a shared voice on important public issues: these are some ways in which members of different religions come together to enhance mutual understanding and promote the common good. I encourage all religious groups in America to persevere in their collaboration and thus enrich public life with the spiritual values that motivate your action in the world.

The place where we are now gathered was founded specifically for promoting this type of collaboration. Indeed, the Pope John Paul II Cultural Center seeks to offer a Christian voice to the “human search for meaning and purpose in life” in a world of “varied religious, ethnic and cultural communities” (Mission Statement). This institution reminds us of this nation’s conviction that all people should be free to pursue happiness in a way consonant with their nature as creatures endowed with reason and free will.

Americans have always valued the ability to worship freely and in accordance with their conscience. Alexis de Tocqueville, the French historian and observer of American affairs, was fascinated with this aspect of the nation. He remarked that this is a country in which religion and freedom are “intimately linked” in contributing to a stable democracy that fosters social virtues and participation in the communal life of all its citizens. In urban areas, it is common for individuals from different cultural backgrounds and religions to engage with one another daily in commercial, social and educational settings. Today, in classrooms throughout the country, young Christians, Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, and indeed children of all religions sit side-by-side, learning with one another and from one another. This diversity gives rise to new challenges that spark a deeper reflection on the core principles of a democratic society. May others take heart from your experience, realizing that a united society can indeed arise from a plurality of peoples – “E pluribus unum”: “out of many, one” – provided that all recognize religious liberty as a basic civil right (cf. Dignitatis Humanae, 2).

The task of upholding religious freedom is never completed. New situations and challenges invite citizens and leaders to reflect on how their decisions respect this basic human right. Protecting religious freedom within the rule of law does not guarantee that peoples – particularly minorities – will be spared from unjust forms of discrimination and prejudice. This requires constant effort on the part of all members of society to ensure that citizens are afforded the opportunity to worship peaceably and to pass on their religious heritage to their children.

The transmission of religious traditions to succeeding generations not only helps to preserve a heritage; it also sustains and nourishes the surrounding culture in the present day. The same holds true for dialogue between religions; both the participants and society are enriched. As we grow in understanding of one another, we see that we share an esteem for ethical values, discernable to human reason, which are revered by all peoples of goodwill. The world begs for a common witness to these values. I therefore invite all religious people to view dialogue not only as a means of enhancing mutual understanding, but also as a way of serving society at large. By bearing witness to those moral truths which they hold in common with all men and women of goodwill, religious groups will exert a positive influence on the wider culture, and inspire neighbors, co-workers and fellow citizens to join in the task of strengthening the ties of solidarity. In the words of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt: “no greater thing could come to our land today than a revival of the spirit of faith”.

A concrete example of the contribution religious communities make to civil society is faith-based schools. These institutions enrich children both intellectually and spiritually. Led by their teachers to discover the divinely bestowed dignity of each human being, young people learn to respect the beliefs and practices of others, thus enhancing a nation’s civic life.

What an enormous responsibility religious leaders have: to imbue society with a profound awe and respect for human life and freedom; to ensure that human dignity is recognized and cherished; to facilitate peace and justice; to teach children what is right, good and reasonable!

There is a further point I wish to touch upon here. I have noticed a growing interest among governments to sponsor programs intended to promote interreligious and intercultural dialogue. These are praiseworthy initiatives. At the same time, religious freedom, interreligious dialogue and faith-based education aim at something more than a consensus regarding ways to implement practical strategies for advancing peace. The broader purpose of dialogue is to discover the truth. What is the origin and destiny of mankind? What are good and evil? What awaits us at the end of our earthly existence? Only by addressing these deeper questions can we build a solid basis for the peace and security of the human family, for “wherever and whenever men and women are enlightened by the splendor of truth, they naturally set out on the path of peace” (Message for the 2006 World Day of Peace, 3).

We are living in an age when these questions are too often marginalized. Yet they can never be erased from the human heart. Throughout history, men and women have striven to articulate their restlessness with this passing world. In the Judeo-Christian tradition, the Psalms are full of such expressions: “My spirit is overwhelmed within me” (Ps 143:4; cf. Ps 6:6; 31:10; 32:3; 38:8; 77:3); “why are you cast down, my soul, why groan within me?” (Ps 42:5). The response is always one of faith: “Hope in God, I will praise him still; my Savior and my God” (Ps 42:5, 11; cf. Ps 43:5; 62:5). Spiritual leaders have a special duty, and we might say competence, to place the deeper questions at the forefront of human consciousness, to reawaken mankind to the mystery of human existence, and to make space in a frenetic world for reflection and prayer.

Confronted with these deeper questions concerning the origin and destiny of mankind, Christianity proposes Jesus of Nazareth. He, we believe, is the eternal Logos who became flesh in order to reconcile man to God and reveal the underlying reason of all things. It is he whom we bring to the forum of interreligious dialogue. The ardent desire to follow in his footsteps spurs Christians to open their minds and hearts in dialogue (cf. Lk 10:25-37; Jn 4:7-26).

Dear friends, in our attempt to discover points of commonality, perhaps we have shied away from the responsibility to discuss our differences with calmness and clarity. While always uniting our hearts and minds in the call for peace, we must also listen attentively to the voice of truth. In this way, our dialogue will not stop at identifying a common set of values, but go on to probe their ultimate foundation. We have no reason to fear, for the truth unveils for us the essential relationship between the world and God. We are able to perceive that peace is a “heavenly gift” that calls us to conform human history to the divine order. Herein lies the “truth of peace” (cf. Message for the 2006 World Day of Peace).

As we have seen then, the higher goal of interreligious dialogue requires a clear exposition of our respective religious tenets. In this regard, colleges, universities and study centers are important forums for a candid exchange of religious ideas. The Holy See, for its part, seeks to carry forward this important work through the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, the Pontifical Institute for Arabic and Islamic Studies, and various Pontifical Universities.

Dear friends, let our sincere dialogue and cooperation inspire all people to ponder the deeper questions of their origin and destiny. May the followers of all religions stand together in defending and promoting life and religious freedom everywhere. By giving ourselves generously to this sacred task – through dialogue and countless small acts of love, understanding and compassion – we can be instruments of peace for the whole human family.

Peace upon you all!



VATICAN CITY, 21 FEB 2008 (VIS) – Today in the Vatican , Benedict XVI received the credential letters of Vladeta Jankovic , Serbia ’s new ambassador to the Holy See.

  In his speech to the diplomat, the Pope affirmed that the Holy See “greatly values its diplomatic links with Serbia , and hopes thereby to offer encouragement to the continuing efforts to build a future of peace, prosperity, reconciliation, and peaceful coexistence throughout the region, as Serbia and its neighbors seek to take their proper place within Europe ”.

  Few countries in the continent of Europe escaped the ravages of war in the last century”, said the Holy Father, “and all can learn from the lessons of the recent past.  As you work towards a more secure future, it is vital to remember that the identity and the rich cultural tradition of your nation, as of all European nations, is deeply rooted in the heritage of Christian faith and the Gospel of love”.

  “If we choose to live by the values drawn from our Christian roots”, Benedict XVI observed, “we discover the courage to forgive and to accept forgiveness, to be reconciled with our neighbors, and to build together a civilization of love in which all are accepted and respected.  I know how deeply the Serb people have suffered in the course of recent conflicts and I wish to express my heartfelt concern for them and for the other Balkan nations affected by the sad events of the last decade”.

  “The Holy See”, he added, “shares your earnest desire that the peace which has been achieved will bring lasting stability to the region.  In particular, with regard to the current crisis in Kosovo, I call upon all interested parties to act with prudence and moderation, and to seek solutions that favor mutual respect and reconciliation”.

  “Not least among the various divisions between the peoples of Europe are those resulting from the tragic loss of Christian unity over the past thousand years”, the Pope recalled. He then expressed joy for the progress in relations between the Catholic and Orthodox Christians in Serbia in recent years and for the beneficial collaboration made in various areas. “I earnestly hope that these positive developments will continue to bear fruit”, he said, “in particular through joint exploration of Christian social doctrine”.

  The Holy Father next spoke of the Serbia’s geographical situation on the border between Eastern and Western Christianity that offers “a unique opportunity to promote ecumenical dialogue, while its familiarity with Islam, both through its encounter with the Ottoman Empire and through the presence of many Muslims in the region today, opens up rich possibilities for progress in inter-religious dialogue.  Both of these processes are of the utmost importance in establishing greater mutual understanding and respect between peoples and nations in the modern world”.

  “Freedom of religion is an indispensable element in building the kind of society in which such harmony can develop, and the steps taken by Serbia in recent years to guarantee this fundamental human right are greatly appreciated”, Benedict XVI said.

  “The plan to restore to churches and religious communities property which had been nationalized by the Yugoslav Federation and the introduction of religious teaching in schools have contributed to the spiritual renewal of your country, and in this regard an important example has been given from which other governments can learn”.

  “I pray that this openness to religious values in society,” he concluded, “will continue to grow, so that public debate may be truly nourished by the principles derived from faith”.

Petition For Fifth Marian Dogma: Press Release


Cardinals Initiate Worldwide Cardinal-Bishop Petition
to Pope Benedict XVI for the Proclamation of a Marian Dogma

Five cardinals have invited every cardinal and bishop in the world to join them in petitioning Pope Benedict XVI to solemnly proclaim the Mother of Jesus as the “Spiritual Mother of humanity” as an ecumenical service of clarification to other religious traditions and to proclaim the full Christian truth about Mary.img_4637.jpg

An English copy of the letter which the five cardinals sent to all the world’s cardinals and bishops in various languages on January 1, 2008, as well as a Latin “votum” or petition and its English translation has been released by His Eminence, Luis Cardinal Aponte Martínez, Fatima Symposium cardinal co-patron, with permission for publication (see below).

This initiative also intends to start an in-depth worldwide dialogue on Mary’s role in salvation for our time and builds upon the endorsement of over 500 Catholic cardinals and bishops for the petition for the definition of this potential fifth Marian dogma over the course of the past 15 years. Renowned contemporary Catholic leaders have also voiced their support, such as Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta and Mother Angelica, foundress of the worldwide Eternal Word Television Network, along with approximately 7 million petitions from Catholics worldwide.Should this effort prove successful, a proclamation would constitute a historical event for the Church as only the fifth Marian dogma defined in its 2,000-year history.


The five cardinals, Their Eminences Telesphore Cardinal Toppo, Archbishop of Ranchi, India, President of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India; Luis Cardinal Aponte Martínez, Archbishop Emeritus of San Juan, Puerto Rico; Varkey Cardinal Vithayathil, Major Archbishop of Ernakulam-Angamaly, India; Riccardo Cardinal Vidal, Archbishop Emeritus of Cebu, Philippines; and Ernesto Cardinal Corrippio Ahumada, Cardinal Primate Emeritus of Mexico City, have jointly invited their fellow cardinals and bishops throughout the world to add their names to their own petition to the Holy Father, which has already been formally presented to Benedict XVI in private audience by Cardinal Toppo on June 3, 2006.

These five cardinals and their petition, in the form of a Latin votum, included the names and petitions of a number of cardinals and bishops who met at the renowned Marian Shrine in Fatima, Portugal, in May 2005 for a theological symposium on the role of the Virgin Mary as the “Unique Cooperator in the Redemption” (an expression of Pope John Paul II). The symposium ended with a commonly accepted and signed votum to Pope Benedict, which respectfully asks him to prayerfully consider declaring the existing Church doctrine on Mary as the spiritual mother of all peoples as a solemn definition or “dogma,” which represents the highest level of recognition of a particular Christian doctrine as a Catholic truth.

This definition of Mary as spiritual mother would include her three maternal roles as the human “Co-redemptrix” (which literally means “a woman with the Redeemer” but never on a level of equality with her divine son), “Mediatrix” or distributor of the graces of the redemption, and “Advocate” or principal intercessor to her Jesus Christ.

The votum emphasizes the rich ecumenical benefits that would come from a solemn definition of this role of Mary as humanity’s spiritual mother, as the “ultimate expression of doctrinal clarity at the service of our Christian and non-Christian brothers and sisters who are not in communion with Rome, and as well as for the greater understanding and appreciation of this revealed doctrine concerning the Mother of the Redeemer by the People of God at the outset of this third millennium of Christianity.”

The first major petition drive to the popes for the solemn definition of Mary’s universal mediation of grace (a long-standing Catholic doctrine taught by the Roman pontiffs) came from Belgian Cardinal Mercier in 1915, at which time he received the positive support of hundreds of Catholic bishops. In the early 1920s, the petition was also strongly endorsed by Fr. Maximilian Kolbe (who was later canonized by Pope John Paul II), founder of the international Marian movement, Militia Immaculatae (Army of the Immaculate), and who offered his life in martyrdom in Auschwitz in 1941.

Cardinal Toppo, President of India’s Conference of Catholic Bishops and cardinal co-patron of the 2005 Fatima symposium stated in his address, “The title ‘co’ clarifies it all. She is in no way the Redemptrix of humanity, and yet by the will of God and her humble human co-operation, she truly is, and deserves to be called/designated/honoured as ‘Co-redemptrix.’”Cardinal Aponte Martínez, also cardinal co-patron at the Fatima conference, offers the following comment in support of the present timeliness of this potential dogma by Benedict XVI:

“I believe the time is now for the papal definition of the relationship of the Mother of Jesus to the each one of us, her earthly children, in her roles as Co-redemptrix, Mediatrix of all graces, and Advocate. To solemnly proclaim Mary as the spiritual mother of all peoples is to fully and officially recognize her titles, and consequently to activate, to bring to new life the spiritual, intercessory functions they offer the Church for the New Evangelization, and for humanity in our serious present world situation.” 

English Copy of Letter
Sent to the World’s Cardinals and Bishops

January 1, 2008–Solemnity of the Mother of God

Dear Brother Eminences and Excellencies:

In May 2005, we, as cardinal co-patrons, sponsored a Mariological symposium convened on the subject of the cooperation of the Blessed Virgin Mary in the work of human Redemption at the favored Fatima shrine in Portugal. After extensive theological presentations delivered by a significant number of cardinals, bishops, and theologians, we concluded the symposium by enacting a votum to His Holiness, Pope Benedict XVI. The votum reads as follows:

Your Holiness, Benedict XVI,

In an effort to enhance the ecumenical mission of the Church, and to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ in all its fullness, we, the undersigned cardinals and bishops who have convened in the favored Marian Shrine of Fatima (May 3-7, 2005), wish to express to you, Most Holy Father, our united hope and desire for the solemn papal definition of the doctrine of the Church regarding Mary Most Holy as the Spiritual Mother of all humanity, the Co-redemptrix with Jesus the Redeemer, Mediatrix of all graces with Jesus the one Mediator, and Advocate with Jesus Christ on behalf of the human race. In a time of significant confusion amidst the many diverse ecclesial bodies of Christianity, and as well among non-Christian peoples concerning this Marian doctrine, we believe the time opportune for a solemn definition of clarification regarding the constant teaching of the Church concerning the Mother of the Redeemer and her unique cooperation (cf. Lumen Gentium, n. 61) in the work of Redemption, as well as her subsequent roles in the distribution of grace and intercession for the human family.

It is of great importance, Holy Father, that peoples of other religious traditions receive the clarification on the highest level of authentic doctrinal certainty that we can provide, that the Catholic Church essentially distinguishes between the sole role of Jesus Christ, divine and human Redeemer of the world, and the unique though secondary and dependent human participation of the Mother of Christ in the great work of Redemption.

Therefore, Your Holiness, with filial obedience and respect, we wish to present you with this votum of our solidarity of hope for the papal definition of the Immaculate Virgin Mother of God as the spiritual Mother of all peoples in her three maternal roles as Co-redemptrix, Mediatrix of all graces and Advocate, as the ultimate expression of doctrinal clarity at the service of our Christian and non-Christian brothers and sisters who are not in communion with Rome, and as well as for the greater understanding and appreciation of this revealed doctrine concerning the Mother of the Redeemer by the People of God at the outset of this third millennium of Christianity.

We thereby submit this votum accompanied by one possible formulation of the Marian doctrine which we, please God, pray may be solemnly defined by your Holiness:

Jesus Christ, the Redeemer of man, gave to humanity from the Cross his mother Mary to be the spiritual Mother of all peoples, the Co-redemptrix, who under and with her Son cooperated in the Redemption of all people; the Mediatrix of all graces, who as Mother brings us the gifts of eternal life; and the Advocate, who presents our prayers to her Son.

On June 7, 2006, our brother, Telesphore Cardinal Toppo, presented the above votum in Latin to His Holiness on behalf of all the cardinal and bishop participants at the 2005 Fatima Symposium, together with the published acta from the symposium. The Holy Father received the votum and the acta with an accentuated gratitude and his expressed intention to study carefully the acta.

We now write to you, brother cardinals and bishops, to inform you of this votum for the solemn definition of Our Lady as the Spiritual Mother of humanity and its essential roles, and respectfully request your own prayerful consideration regarding the possibility of adding your own esteemed assent to this votum to Our Holy Father.

We have enclosed a copy of the original Latin votum for your examination and, if you felt so inspired by Our Lady, you would be free to sign and to forward it on to His Holiness.Certainly, if it so pleased the Holy Father to proceed with this request, any final formation of the definition would in no manner be bound to the formulation of the enclosed votum, but rather left entirely to his unique charism as the Successor of Peter.

It is also noteworthy that over the course of the past fifteen years, over 500 bishops have sent their request for this solemn definition to the Holy See, along with approximately 7 million petitions from the Catholic faithful worldwide.

We thank you for your prayerful consideration of this request on behalf of Our Lady, Mother of the Church and Queen of the Apostles. May she guide you in your discernment of this matter to the wisdom of Jesus Christ, our divine Redeemer, through the counsel of the Holy Spirit, all leading to the fulfillment of the perfect will of our Heavenly Father. 

With cordial best wishes in Jesus and Mary,

Telesphore Cardinal Toppo, Archbishop of Ranchi, India; President of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India
Luis Cardinal Aponte Martínez, Archbishop Emeritus of San Juan, Puerto Rico
Varkey Cardinal Vithayathil, Major Archbishop of Ernakulam-Angamaly, India
Riccardo Cardinal Vidal, Archbishop of Cebu, Philippines
Ernesto Cardinal Corrippio Ahumada, Primate Emeritus of Mexico
Cardinal Co-sponsors of the Fatima Symposium on Marian Coredemption 


Pope Benedict XVI: Christian Unity ‘so that the world might believe’

Vatican Information Service

“So that the world may believe!…The world is suffering from the absence of God, … it wishes to know the face of God. But how can men and women today know the face of God in the face of Christ if we Christians are divided? Only in unity can we truly show the face of God, the face of Christ, to a world which has such need to see it”. Pope Benedict XVI

VATICAN CITY (VIS) – Benedict XVI dedicated his catechesis during today’s general audience to the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity which began on 18 January and will come to an end on Friday, 25 January, Feast of the Conversion of St. Paul.

Addressing the thousands of faithful gathered in the Paul VI Hall, the Pope explained that during the Week “Christians from various Churches and ecclesial communities will come together … in a choral entreaty to ask the Lord Jesus to re-establish full unity among all His disciples, … undertaking to work so that all humanity accepts and recognises Him as their only Pastor and Lord”.

The Holy Father gave his listeners a broad historical overview of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, the theme of which this year is “pray without ceasing”: More than 100 years ago Fr. Paul Wattson, an Anglican priest from the U.S.A. who later entered into the communion of the Catholic Church, launched “the prophetic idea of an Octave of prayer for the unity of Christians”.

In 1916 Pope Benedict XV extended the invitation to pray for unity to the entire Catholic Church and later, during Vatican Council II, “the need for unity was felt with even greater urgency”.

Vatican Council II promulgated the Decree on Ecumenism “Unitatis Redintegratio” which, the Pope said, “lays great emphasis on the role and the importance of prayer for unity. Prayer”, he added, “is at the very heart of the ecumenical journey”.

“It is thanks to this spiritual ecumenism, founded on prayer and sincere conversion, … that the joint search for unity has undergone considerable development over the last few decades, diversifying into many different initiatives: from mutual knowledge to fraternal contact between members of different Churches and ecclesial communities, from ever more friendly dialogue to collaboration in various fields, from theological dialogue to the search for tangible forms of communion”.

Vatican Council II “also highlighted prayer in common”, said Pope Benedict, “because in joint prayer Christian communities come together before the Lord and, aware of the contradictions caused by their divisions, manifest their desire to obey His will”. … Joint prayer is not, then a form of volunteer work or sociology, but an expression of the faith that unites all Christ’s disciples”.

“It is the awareness of our human limitations that encourages us to abandon ourselves faithfully in the hands of the Lord. … The profound significance of the Week of Prayer lies precisely in the fact that it is firmly founded on the prayer of Christ … ‘that they may all be one, … so that the world may believe'”.

“So that the world may believe!” the Pope concluded. “We particularly feel the realism of those words today. The world is suffering from the absence of God, … it wishes to know the face of God. But how can men and women today know the face of God in the face of Christ if we Christians are divided? Only in unity can we truly show the face of God, the face of Christ, to a world which has such need to see it”.

The Universal Spiritual Motherhood of Mary: Mary has universal spiritual motherhood by Pope John Paul II, General Audience 9.24.97

Mary has universal spiritual motherhood

1. Mary is mother of humanity in the order of grace. The Second Vatican Council highlightspentecost-duccio.jpg this role of Mary, linking it to her co-operation in Christ’s Redemption. “In the designs of divine Providence, she was the gracious mother of the divine Redeemer here on earth, and above all others and in a singular way the generous associate and humble handmaid of the Lord” (Lumen gentium, n. 61).

With these statements, the Constituion Lumen gentium wishes to give proper emphasis to the fact that the Blessed Virgin was intimately associated with Christ’s redemptive work, becoming the Saviour’s “generous associate”, “in a singular way”.

With the actions of any mother, from the most ordinary to the most demanding, Mary freely co-operated in the work of humanity’s salvation in profound and constant harmony with her divine Son.

2. The Council also points out that Mary’s co-operation was inspired by the Gospel virtues of obedience, faith, hope and charity, and was accomplished under the influence of the Holy Spirit. It also recalls that the gift of her universal spiritual motherhood stems precisely from this co-operation: associated with Christ in the work of Redemption, which includes the spiritual regeneration of humanity, she becomes mother of those reborn to new life.

In saying that Mary is “a mother to us in the order of grace” (cf. ibid.), the Council stresses that her spiritual motherhood is not limited to the disciples alone, as though the words spoken by Jesus on Calvary: “Woman, behold your son” (Jn 19:26), required a restrictive interpretation. Indeed, with these words the Crucified One established an intimate relationship between Mary and his beloved disciple, a typological figure of universal scope, intending to offer his Mother as Mother to all mankind.

On the other hand, the universal efficacy of the redeeming sacrifice and Mary’s conscious co-operation with Christ’s sacrificial offering does not allow any limitation of her motherly love.

Mary’s universal mission is exercised in the context of her unique relationship with the Church. With her concern for every Christian, and indeed for every human creature, she guides the faith of the Church towards an ever deeper acceptance of God’s Word, sustains her hope, enlivens her charity and fraternal communion and encourages her apostolic dynamism.

3. During her earthly life, Mary showed her spiritual motherhood to the Church for a very short time. Nonetheless, the full value of her role appeared after the Assumption and is destined to extend down the centuries to the end of the world. The Council expressly states: “This motherhood of Mary in the order of grace continues uninterruptedly from the consent which she gave in faith at the Annunciation and which she sustained without wavering beneath the Cross, until the eternal fulfilment of all the elect” (Lumen gentium, n. 62).

Having entered the Father’s eternal kingdom, closer to her divine Son and thus closer to us all, she can more effectively exercise in the Spirit the role of maternal intercession entrusted to her by divine Providence.

4. The heavenly Father wanted to place Mary close to Christ and in communion with him who can “save those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them” (Heb 7:25): he wanted to unite to the Redeemer’s intercession as a priest that of the Blessed Virgin as a mother. It is a role she carries out for the sake of those who are in danger and who need temporal favours and, especially, eternal salvation: “By her maternal charity, she cares for the brethren of her Son, who still journey on earth surrounded by dangers and difficulties, until they are led into their blessed home. Therefore the Blessed Virgin is invoked in the Church under the titles of Advocate, Helper, Benefactress and Mediatrix” (Lumen gentium, n. 62).

These titles, suggested by the faith of the Christian people, help us better to understand the nature of the Mother of the Lord’s intervention in the life of the Church and of the individual believer.

5. The title “Advocate” goes back to St Irenaeus. With regard to Eve’s disobedience and Mary’s obedience, he says that at the moment of the Annunciation “the Virgin Mary became the Advocate” of Eve (Haer. 5, 19, 1; PG 7, 1175-1176). In fact, with her “yes” she defended our first mother and freed her from the consequences of her disobedience, becoming the cause of salvation for her and the whole human race.

Mary exercises her role as “Advocate” by co-operating both with the Spirit the Paraclete and with the One who interceded on the Cross for his persecutors (cf. Lk 23:34), whom John calls our “advocate with the Father” (1 Jn 2:1). As a mother, she defends her children and protects them from the harm caused by their own sins.

Christians call upon Mary as “Helper”, recognizing her motherly love which sees her children’s needs and is ready to come to their aid, especially when their eternal salvation is at stake.

The conviction that Mary is close to those who are suffering or in situations of serious danger has prompted the faithful to invoke her as “Benefactress”. The same trusting certainty is expressed in the most ancient Marian prayer with the words: “We fly to thy patronage, O holy Mother of God; despise not our petitions in our necessities but deliver us always from all dangers, O glorious and blessed Virgin” (from the Roman Breviary).

As maternal Mediatrix, Mary presents our desires and petitions to Christ, and transmits the divine gifts to us, interceding continually on our behalf.

To the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors the Holy Father said:

I greet the new students of the Venerable English College and pray that the Lord will bless them abundantly as they begin their studies.

I extend a cordial welcome to the various ecumenical groups present, especially to the Executive Committee of the World Methodist Council. Thankful to God for the progress made so far in our official dialogue, I pray that the Holy Spirit will guide the Joint Commission in its current work. I send a special greeting to the General Secretary Dr Hale, who could not be here due to his wife’s recent accident, and I pray for her prompt recovery.

I am so pleased to welcome the Delegation of the Disciples of Christ on the 20th anniversary of the dialogue between us. May the International Commission’s continuing work on the theme of the Church’s mission lead us steadily along the path towards ever greater unity.

I warmly greet the representatives of the Center of Christian-Jewish Understanding. I hope that your visit will further strengthen our mutual understanding and co-operation in the face of so many shared concerns.

Upon all the English-speaking visitors and pilgrims, especially those from England, Wales, Ireland, Nigeria, Australia, Indonesia, the Philippines, Japan and the United States, I invoke an abundance of divine grace and peace.