ROME (AsiaNews) – For this Lent we are inviting our readers to devote a special prayer for Pope Benedict XVI. The idea came to us from a number of Muslim converts to Christianity who wrote to AsiaNews launching a novena for the Pontiff. [Hope those nut cases at the National Catholic Reporter get some sense into their coconut!]
They see in Benedict XVI as a “defender of the weak” and “a sign of Jesus’ love” in a world that is trying to attack him every which way. ["NOT FOR US" - Hans Kung and friends] As new converts they too are among the weak, forced to hide their conversion even from their family. Moreover, the Pope himself had asked for a special prayer.
On the day the Church celebrated the Chair of Peter (22 February), Benedict XVI spoke to pilgrims in St Peter’s Square during the Angelus, asking them to “accompany me with your prayers so that I may faithfully accomplish the high task Divine Providence has placed upon me as Successor to the Apostle Peter” and bishop of Rome. Indeed, the Church is “called to fulfill a special service for the People of God as a whole.”
We all know how difficult ecumenism, the struggle for Christian unity, can be. Every step the Pope takes is met by coldness, indifference and prevarication from other Churches. [and more often from within!] Here is one example among many. Despite Benedict XVI’s many prayers and attention, the new Orthodox patriarch of Moscow said, a day after his election, that a trip by the Pontiff to Moscow was not possible for the foreseeable future. [I have more choice words for the Russian Orthodox Church and most of it came from someone who came back home to the Catholic Church FROM Moscow. But I think, I'll reserve them.]
The Pope’s search for unity also suffers from trying to hold together various Catholic strands, still too much divided (perhaps confused) between “progressive” and “traditionalists”, “North” and “South”, “rich” and “poor”, each missing the chance of respecting one another other, and acting as one in bearing witness to the faith in a world that is increasingly becoming atheistic.
The lifting of the excommunication on Lefebvrist Bishop Williamson gave many politicians, big and small, an opportunity to accuse the Pope of anti-Semitism, [stupid lot!] without getting their facts straight or realising that Benedict XVI is the one who build a strong relationship with the Jewish world over the years. [true!] It is almost as if everyone got together to cast stones against the scapegoat of the week. [of the millenium! The Catholic Church has been the favorite ever since the Masons spread!] In fact Benedict XVI is one of the few voices saying that humans cannot be bought by politics or that the state must serve the public good. [Hah! The capitalists say otherwise.]
In a continent like Europe where plans are underway to introduce euthanasia and eugenics, the Pope has insisted that “Man will always be greater than all that which makes up his body.” He has slammed the mindset that views life and personal dignity as “based [only] on one's own desire and individual freedom,” giving precedence to the “active faculties, to proficiency, to physical perfection and beauty.” [DIY morality. DIY Church. DIY society!]
In all these “incidents” there may have been some errors or clumsiness by the Roman Curia, but in the “war” against Benedict XVI there is above all an attempt to stifle those who tell everyone that there is an absolute value in human beings.
As crises overtake ideologies and economies, overwhelming the world, this is the latest attempt to get rid of God as if he was a final burden. [In a anthropocentric society, this is it!]
Here is the actual news report about the converts praying for the Pope
After a group of Muslims from North Africa and the Middle East, young converts from Kashmir join in the prayers for the pope launched by AsiaNews for this Lent. The three converts are offering their suffering and marginalization, together with the sacrifice of their father Bashir, murdered by Muslim extremists because he had converted to Christianity. There is also participation from Italy, where the humiliations suffered by John Paul II are also being remembered.
Mumbai (AsiaNews) - Some young former Muslims who converted to Catholicism are joining in the prayers for the Pope this Lent. Shabnam (21), Saira (17), and Adil (16), together with their mother Ameena, who still lives in Kashmir, want Benedict XVI to know that they are praying for him and offering their sufferings and humiliations for his mission. "We pray that he may be strong," Shabnam he says, "and may continue to be the beacon of truth and love for the whole world." [I hope the Holy Father gets this message. I better tweet this.]
The three young people and their mother are participating in the proposal made by AsiaNews yesterday, that during Lent Christians should pray for the pontiff, who is at the center of a media "war" against his ministry. The proposal originated from a suggestion sent to AsiaNews by a group of several hundred former Muslims in North Africa and the Middle East, who have launched prayer novenas for the pope, whom they see as a "sign of Jesus' love and a defender of the weak." [The suggestion came from former Muslims who came from the Middle East and Africa! We Catholics at birth should be ashamed!]
Adil, the youngest son, who this year will take his final year school exams, sees a profound unity between the sufferings and humiliations of converts from Islam, and the humiliations suffered by the pope: "I was baptized when I was very young, and it has always been very difficult: criticism, sarcasm, threats, discrimination, and social ostracism have caused us great suffering. But every suffering teaches us something, and our faith is strengthened, we rely on Christ and it is he who guides us in difficult times." [All courtesy of the Religion of Peace!"]
"Holy and beloved Father, never lose sight of your mission, do not forget the reason why God chose you, guide the generations to truth, and may God always be with you."
Bashir Ahmad Tantray, the father of Shabnam, Saira, and Adil, was killed by Islamic militants in November of 2006, in broad daylight. He had converted to Christianity in 1995, and had fled from his village after being threatened by Islamic extremist groups. [We may use all kinds of euphemisms here but that religions REALLY teaches that death must come upon those who converted! They are just following orders from their book!] Years later, he had gone back there to care for his dying father, and was killed. [A Martyr for our Faith! Pray for us and the Holy Father!]
Bashir was an engineer for the J&K Power Development Dept, and regional coordinator of the Global Council of Indian Christians in Kashmir. "Ever since the death of our father," Shabnam recounts, "it has been horrible. Few can understand our suffering and sense of abandonment. We fled to Mumbai, but our mother is still in Kashmir. We see her only during vacations. For her, every day is a constant struggle and a constant suffering."
Among the expressions of support for the proposal to pray for Benedict XVI sent to AsiaNews is one from an Italian woman, Paola.
"I join the initiative without reservation," Paola writes, "I will pray for the pope, as I have always done since 1978."
And she recalls that John Paul II was also frequently attacked (and still is today, even after his death): "In order to proclaim to humanity that it is only in Christ that man rediscovers himself, in order to seek unity among Christians, Pope Wojtyla did not hesitate, even at the last limits of his strength, to confront exhausting journeys, almost impossible encounters, even criticisms on the part of those who were close to him. Did we ever ask ourselves how much pain he felt in the face of the accusations from Küng, or from the Lefebvrists? And what can be said about the radical attacks and his isolation amid his countless appeals against war, against abortion, against the dangers of a humanity without God?"
"Yes," she concludes, "I will pray for Pope Benedict XVI; even more than this, I will entrust him the intercession of his 'little-great predecessor', but I also urge more fervent prayers that the appeal of 'Santo subito' [the immediate canonization of John Paul II] may come to fruition."
Even the man who occupies the holiest office on earth still needs our prayers and salvation.
Do it now!