Conversion/CovenantMembers of the Jewish community have made known their concern that the Good Friday liturgy of the Latin 1962 Missal, whose use Pope Benedict has recently encouraged in his apostolic letter Summum Pontificum, will retain an objectionable intercessory prayer for conversion of the Jews. The indult, very much concerned to reconcile traditionalists and especially the schismatic followers of Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, had no words to assuage the injury felt by many Jews at the apparent reinstatement of the older, offending prayer. It would have been a simple matter to replace the petition of the 1962 rite with that from the reformed 1970 Missal, which prays instead for the Jewish people, the first to hear the Word of God, that they may continue to grow in the love of his name and in faithfulness to his covenant. Furthermore, if the motto lex orandi, lex credendi (the churchs prayer sets the pattern for its belief) holds true, the church now appears to have two quite different beliefs about the Jews. The faithful may rightly ask, Are the Jewish people the bearers of a covenant God has never revoked, as Pope John Paul II taught, or does their salvation depend on their formal conversion to Christianity? The 1970 Missal underscores the distinction between salvation and conversion in the case of the Jews. The second part of the petition prays that the people you first made your own may arrive at the fullness of redemption, omitting any reference to conversion. Supplanting the conversion text with the more affirmative and recent formulation would seem to be fitting, therefore, not only for the sake of Catholic-Jewish relations, but also for the integrity of our Catholic faith.
Chads Child Soldiers
Child soldiers continue to form part of the armed forces of a dozen African countries. Worldwide, an estimated 250,000 children are exploited in state-run armies, paramilitary groups and opposition forces. Human Rights Watch, in a report released last month on child soldiers in Chad titled Early to War, states that besides the national army and a rebel group, village self-defense forces have also made use of children. Children as young as 8 serve not only as fighters, but also as guards, lookouts and cooks. The sheer insecurity of life in the affected regions has also been a factor in leading many of them to seek what they see as a tenuous safety among military forces.
Since May the government of Chad has been cooperating with Unicef to demobilize the child soldiers. But the report questions the extent to which the governments commitment in this area has been put into practice, citing high-ranking military officers who said that the Chadian military may attempt to exclude children from the demobilization process. Chads minister of defense has promised Unicef access to its military installations, but only one visit has taken place since May. A hopeful initiative that could make a difference is a bipartisan bill introduced in Congress in April, the Child Soldier Prevention Act of 2007. Chad is one of several countries receiving U.S. military aid. The bill would limit certain categories of military assistance to Chad unless it demonstrates a stronger political will to end the use of child soldiers. Congress should pass this legislation without delay.
The biggest event to take place in the world in the last two weeks was not the latest bout of violence in Iraq or the latest reports on global warming. It was not the Tour de France or Barry Bondss efforts to break the home run record (while probably breaking a lot of rules).
No, the biggest event in the last two weeks was the publication of the final episode in the story of a kid in England and his nerdy friends, who together fought to save their world from those who would destroy it. Released at 12:01 a.m. on Saturday, July 21, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows was immediately snatched up by literally millions of people worldwide. For the next few months, in subways, airports, parks and restaurants, children and adults everywhere will be found lugging that huge tome around, poring adoringly over its every page, waiting to see how the story of the Boy Who Lived ends.
A number of Christian groups, including the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and the Vaticans chief exorcist, have condemned the Harry Potter books as a seductive appeal to witchcraftmuch to the chagrin of parents who are trying to persuade their children that the Catholic Church really is more than an out-of-touch wagging finger that finds fault with every pleasure. One does feel one is on the other side of the looking glass, when our societys children appreciate the difference between make-believe and reality better than some adults.
Suffused with a childlike wonder, the Potter tales have extolled the importance of friendship and decried the judging of others, even those whose actions seem to merit condemnation. Moreover, they have proposed again and again that the most powerful magic in the universe, one capable of saving the whole world, is a self-sacrificing love.
Only a real Muggle would condemn that.