First it was phone calls, then it was letters and interviews. And now il Papa just might e-mail you like he did Menachem Rosensaft.
Rosensaft is an American professor who specializes in genocide and war crimes trial law at Cornell and Columbia universities. He wrote Pope Francis to share a sermon he had delivered that centered around keeping faith in God throughout the dark days of the Holocaust.
In her article at the Washington Post, Elizabeth Tenety says the Vatican confirms that Pope Francis e-mailed Rosensaft, and she supplied the following excerpt from it.
“When you, with humility, are telling us where God was in that moment, I felt within me that you had transcended all possible explanations and that, after a long pilgrimage — sometimes sad, tedious or dull – you came to discover a certain logic and it is from there that you were speaking to us; the logic of First Kings 19:12, the logic of that “gentle breeze” (I know that it is a very poor translation of the rich Hebrew expression) that constitutes the only possible hermeneutic interpretation.
“Thank you from my heart. And, please, do not forget to pray for me. May the Lord bless you.”
I like that Tenety references, and provides a link to, Nostra Aetate, the Church’s Declaration On the Relation Of The Church To Non-Christian Religions.
In our time, when day by day mankind is being drawn closer together, and the ties between different peoples are becoming stronger, the Church examines more closely her relationship to non-Christian religions. In her task of promoting unity and love among men, indeed among nations, she considers above all in this declaration what men have in common and what draws them to fellowship.
One is the community of all peoples, one their origin, for God made the whole human race to live over the face of the earth. One also is their final goal, God. His providence, His manifestations of goodness, His saving design extend to all men,(Wis. 8:1; Acts 14:17; Rom. 2:6-7; 1 Tim. 2:4) until that time when the elect will be united in the Holy City, the city ablaze with the glory of God, where the nations will walk in His light.(Rev. 21:23)
Men expect from the various religions answers to the unsolved riddles of the human condition, which today, even as in former times, deeply stir the hearts of men: What is man? What is the meaning, the aim of our life? What is moral good, what is sin? Whence suffering and what purpose does it serve? Which is the road to true happiness? What are death, judgment and retribution after death? What, finally, is that ultimate inexpressible mystery which encompasses our existence: whence do we come, and where are we going?
Perhaps you think you know the answers to all of these questions. Perhaps, like me, you believe the answers to these mysteries are found in the teachings of the Catholic Church. Perhaps you don’t. What cannot be denied is that the Church has thought long and hard on these issues, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. So when she says,
We cannot truly call on God, the Father of all, if we refuse to treat in a brotherly way any man, created as he is in the image of God. Man’s relation to God the Father and his relation to men his brothers are so linked together that Scripture says: “He who does not love does not know God” (1 John 4:8).
No foundation therefore remains for any theory or practice that leads to discrimination between man and man or people and people, so far as their human dignity and the rights flowing from it are concerned.
The Church reproves, as foreign to the mind of Christ, any discrimination against men or harassment of them because of their race, color, condition of life, or religion. On the contrary, following in the footsteps of the holy Apostles Peter and Paul, this sacred synod ardently implores the Christian faithful to “maintain good fellowship among the nations” (1 Peter 2:12), and, if possible, to live for their part in peace with all men,(Rom. 12:18) so that they may truly be sons of the Father who is in heaven.(Matt. 5:45)
and you feel like running away because you have to change in order to conform to the mind of Christ (and his Church), think before you leap.
Remember the words of the first Captain of the Barque,
Be sober and vigilant. Your opponent the devil is prowling around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, steadfast in faith, knowing that your fellow believers throughout the world undergo the same sufferings.
The God of all grace who called you to his eternal glory through Christ Jesus will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you after you have suffered a little.
To him be dominion forever. Amen.
In the wise words of Chef from Apocalypse Now, “never get off the boat.”
And if you ever write to Pope Francis, and you don’t want to give him your phone number, make sure you give him your e-mail address. He loves using every possible method to keep in touch with God’s children. Because he puts the “new” in New Evangelization.