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Giving the trumpet a certain sound

May 2005

The Pope's Funeral

The death of Pope John Paul II on April 2, 2005 led to the most significant funeral in modern times.

VATICAN CITY, APRIL 12, 2005 (Zenit.org).- Three million people came to Rome to attend John Paul II's funeral rites, an event covered by 6,000 media personnel, the Holy See announced.

The Mass was concelebrated by 157 cardinals. Seven hundred archbishops and bishops and 3,000 prelates and priests were present. Three hundred priests distributed Communion.

There were 169 foreign delegations present, as well as 10 monarchs, 59 heads of state, 3 heirs to the throne, 17 heads of government, 3 spouses of heads of state, 8 vice heads of state, 6 deputy prime ministers, 4 presidents of parliaments, 12 foreign-affairs ministers, 13 other governmental ministers, 24 ambassadors, and 10 presidents, directors-general and secretaries-general of international organizations. (Xenit.org, Apr. 12, 2005)

As of the day of the Pope's funeral, there had been 12 million Internet citations, and 100,000 stories around the world in the media. In comparison, for the entire preceding year there were only 28,000 news stories and 1.5 million Internet citations about John Paul II.

The coverage, noted Global Language Monitor, far exceeded attention given to other events such as the South Asian tsunami, the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, and the deaths of Ronald Reagan and Princess Diana. Within the first 72 hours of the Pope's death there were about 10 times more news stores on John Paul II than were published in the same period on U.S. President George Bush following his re-election last November. (Xenit.org Apr. 16, 2005)

The overwhelming pageantry of the funeral, did not however completely obscure the theological differences between evangelical Christianity and Catholicism:

"We should be unembarrassed and unhesitant to declare our admiration for John Paul II's courageous stand against communism, his bold defense of human dignity and human life, and his robust and substantial defense of truth in the face of postmodernism," says Southern Baptist Theological Seminary president Al Mohler. "In many of the great battles of our day, evangelicals found John Paul II to be a key ally. "Evangelicals should be thankful for the personal virtues Pope John Paul II demonstrated, and for his advocacy on behalf of life, liberty, and human dignity, Yet we cannot ignore the institution of the papacy itself, nor the complex of doctrines, truth claims and false doctrines that John Paul II taught, defended, and promulgated."

Mohler says those doctrines include "the most troubling aspects of Roman Catholicism. He defended and continued the theological directions set loose at the Second Vatican Council." ("Weblog: 'Antichrist' No More: Evangelicals Praise Pope," Christianity Today.com, Apr. 5, 2005)

Inspired Commentary

Inspiration mentions a certain global recognition:

And I saw one of his heads as it were wounded to death; and his deadly wound was healed: and all the world wondered after the beast. (Rev 13:3)

Joseph Ratzinger becomes Benedict XVI

Roman Catholic Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger has been elected as Pope. He has taken the name Benedict XVI.

VATICAN CITY, April 24 -- Pope Benedict XVI, employing ancient symbols of power and humility, ceremonially assumed leadership of the Roman Catholic Church on Sunday and unveiled a broad manifesto of moral and social themes he expects to pursue as head of a billion-member congregation.

The Mass and sermon capped a six-day period in which Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, the Vatican's chief defender of dogma for almost 25 years, was transformed into Pope Benedict XVI, Catholicism's 265th pontiff.

When he was a cardinal in charge of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Benedict referred to other faiths as deficient. Sunday, he greeted "all those who have been reborn in the sacrament of Baptism but are not yet in full communion with us" as well as "brothers and sisters of the Jewish people, to whom we are joined by a great shared spiritual heritage." ("Mass Held to Install Pope Benedict XVI," washingtonpost.com, Apr. 24, 2005)

The tune seems to have changed a little, as noted in the following:

TRAUNSTEIN, Germany - Two images of Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger stood in sharp relief during the mourning period for the pope he would eventually succeed.

With his wispy silver hair blowing in the wind, the German prelate stood before the world's political and spiritual leaders at John Paul II's funeral April 8 and offered an eloquent, sensitive farewell that moved some to tears.

Ten days later - just before Ratzinger and 114 other cardinals entered the conclave to select the 265th pontiff - he delivered a sharp-edged homily on strict obedience to church teachings that left liberal Catholics wincing.

"He could be a wedge rather than a unifier for the church," said the Rev. Thomas Reese, editor of the Jesuit weekly magazine America. ("Pope Benedict XVI a wedge or a unifier?," msnbc.com, Apr. 19, 2005)

Inspired Commentary

Inspiration provides some guidance to thinking about the papacy:

The Roman Church now presents a fair front to the world, covering with apologies her record of horrible cruelties. She has clothed herself in Christlike garments; but she is unchanged. Every principle of the papacy that existed in past ages exists today. The doctrines devised in the darkest ages are still held. Let none deceive themselves. The papacy that Protestants are now so ready to honor is the same that ruled the world in the days of the Reformation, when men of God stood up, at the peril of their lives, to expose her iniquity. She possesses the same pride and arrogant assumption that lorded it over kings and princes, and claimed the prerogatives of God. Her spirit is no less cruel and despotic now than when she crushed out human liberty and slew the saints of the Most High. (The Great Controversy, p. 571)

Killing Hail in China

A dramatic natural disaster has been reported from China:

A hailstorm in Sichuan Province and Chongqing Municipality has left 18 dead, one person missing and 25 injured, the People's Daily reported yesterday.

The biggest hailstorm, which fell in Chongqing, reached 13 centimetres [5.1"] in diameter, according to local reports. ("Hailstones 'as big as eggs' kill 18," Di Fang (ChinaDaily.com), Apr. 11, 2005)

Inspired Commentary

God suffers with His creation and many times suffering has a redemptive purpose:

It is God who holds in His hands the destiny of souls. He will not always be mocked; He will not always be trifled with. Already His judgments are in the land. Fierce and awful tempests leave destruction and death in their wake. The devouring fire lays low the desolate forest and the crowded city. Storm and shipwreck await those who journey upon the deep. Accident and calamity threaten all who travel upon the land. Hurricanes, earthquakes, sword and famine, follow in quick succession. Yet the hearts of men are hardened. They recognize not the warning voice of God. They will not flee to the only refuge from the gathering storm. (Testimonies, vol. 5, p. 234)

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