Thank you, Pope Bene­dict

The Washington Times Weekly - - Commentary -

Dur­ing his re­cent visit to the United States, Pope Bene­dict XVI not only con­ducted mass and met with the Catholic faith­ful, but he made a se­ries of pub­lic state­ments about the role that our JudeoChris­tian faith can play dur­ing th­ese chal­leng­ing times. As an evan­gel­i­cal Protes­tant I hap­pen to dis­agree with Pope Bene­dict on many is­sues of Chris­tian doc­trine and rit­ual. But when it comes to his moral vi­sion for Amer­ica and the world I have one thing to say in re­sponse to the Pope’s visit: Amen.

I and many other evan­gel­i­cal lead­ers be­lieve that our faith must not be con­fined to our churches on Sun­day morn­ings. We main­tain that our Chris­tian val­ues and com­pas­sion can be pow­er­ful tools for help­ing build a more just and hu­mane na­tion. Pope Bene­dict thus spoke for all of us when he said that “Any ten­dency to treat re­li­gion as a private mat­ter must be re­sisted” and called for Chris­tian par­tic­i­pa­tion “in the ex­change of ideas in the pub­lic square.”

The pope was re­call­ing the his­tory we all cher­ish when he cited Ge­orge Wash­ing­ton’s Farewell Ad­dress to note that, “re­li­gion and moral­ity rep­re­sent ‘in­dis­pens­able sup­ports’ of po­lit­i­cal pros­per­ity.” The pope like­wise voiced all of our con­cerns when he rec­og­nized the threats posed by sec­u­lar­ism and ma­te­ri­al­ism not only to our moral­ity but to our hap­pi­ness.

As peo­ple of faith, our con­cerns go well be­yond the borders of our coun­try. Af­ter the hor­rors of the Nazi Holo­caust, we joined our Jewish brothers in say­ing “Never Again!” For me, this com­mit­ment means never again al­low­ing the Jewish peo­ple to be mas­sa­cred or per­se­cuted and thus helps to mo­ti­vate my strong sup­port for the State of Is­rael. But we also take from the Holo­caust a uni­ver­sal “Never Again,” which means that we must never again al­low geno­cide to be per­pe­trated against any of God’s chil­dren any­where in the world.

Thus all of our hearts cheered when Pope Bene­dict stood be­fore the United Na­tions and stated so force­fully that when states fail to pro­tect the ba­sic hu­man rights of their cit­i­zens, “the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity must in­ter­vene.” Like­wise, all peo­ple of faith ap­plauded his com­ment in the same speech that it is re­li­gion’s “recog- ni­tion of the tran­scen­dent value of ev­ery man and wo­man” which pro­vides the pow­er­ful source of our com­mit­ment to re­sist geno­cide and ter­ror­ism.

My re­ac­tion to Pope Bene­dict”s visit may sur­prise some who have come to ac­cept cer­tain car­i­ca­tures of my views of the Catholic Church. But as I have noted from the start, my crit­ics have ig­nored the real point and strong em­pha­sis of my words. I have in­deed been quite zeal­ous about con­demn­ing the past anti-Semitism of the Catholic Church. But I have been equally zeal­ous in con­demn­ing Protes­tant anti-Semitism. Fur­ther- more, as I noted in my 2006 book “Jerusalem Count­down,” I have long viewed Pope John Paul II and now Pope Bene­dict XVI as part­ners in this “righ­teous work” of over­com­ing our shared legacy of Chris­tian anti-Semitism.

For decades I have taught that we Chris­tians need to rec­og­nize that our roots are Jewish. As Chris­tians we can only un­der­stand our­selves if we un­der­stand the Ju­daism from which we sprang. Pope Bene­dict made this very im­por­tant point when he vis­ited the Park East Syn­a­gogue in New York and shared that: “I find it mov­ing to re­call that Je­sus, as a young boy, heard the words of Scrip­ture and prayed in a place such as this.” With vis­its and words such as th­ese, Pope Bene­dict is con­tin­u­ing the im­por­tant work of rec­og­niz­ing our enor­mous Chris­tian debt of grat­i­tude to the Jewish peo­ple.

The world in which we live faces many dif­fi­cult chal­lenges. In re­cent days, we read in our pa­per of in­creased star­va­tion due to higher food prices; of alien­ated youth plan­ning to bomb their fel­low stu­dents; of Is­lamic mil­i­tants ac­tu­ally bomb­ing in­no­cents in Iraq and Is­rael; and about peo­ple so de­void of hope that they end their own lives.

I be­lieve that the mes­sage of the Bi­ble and of Judeo-Chris­tian faith of­fers us timely an­swers to th­ese prob­lems. We were all in­spired by Pope Bene­dict’s visit. It is my prayer that we will now fol­low his ex­am­ple and look be­yond our dif­fer­ences to see that when it comes to the great chal­lenges of our times, peo­ple of faith have much in com­mon.

Pas­tor John Hagee is founder and se­nior pas­tor of Cor­ner­stone Church in San An­to­nio, Tex.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.