February 16, 2012
Lent Message 2012
I greet you at the beginning of Lent.
In this year I'm going to invite you to think about the ancient traditions of preparing in solidarity with candidates for baptism, to think about the old disciplines of prayer and fasting and alms-giving and study, through the focus on those beyond our communities, in the developing world, who live in abject poverty.
I invite you to use the Millennium Development Goals as your focus for Lenten study and discipline and prayer and fasting this year. I'm going to remind you that the Millennium Development Goals are about healing the worst of the world's hunger. They're about seeing that all children get access to primary education. They're about empowering women. They're about attending to issues of maternal health and child mortality. They're about attending to issues of communicable disease like AIDS and malaria and tuberculosis. They're about environmentally sustainable development, seeing that people have access to clean water and sanitation and that the conditions in slums are alleviated. And finally, they are about aid, foreign aid. They're about trade relationships, and they're about building partnerships for sustainable development in this world. . .
Read the entire message here.
AAC EDITOR'S NOTE: In light of the Presiding Bishop's message for Lent and its focus on the United Nation's Millennium Development Goals, I would like to highlight this insightful booklet by Marguerite Peeters. Specifically, Peeters suggests that Christians should be wary of the practice of substituting the Millennium Development Goals and other inventions of the post-modern world view - the new "global ethic" - for the actual Gospel and the Christian world view.
With Ms. Peeters' permission, an excerpt from her booklet "The new global ethic: challenges for the Church" is below. You may find the full text here. Also, consider purchasing a more in-depth analysis from her website here.
. . . We are, as Jesus says it, in the world but not of the world. Yet the reality is that all over the world, Christians are tempted, often out of ignorance, to mistake the paradigms and values of the global ethic for the social doctrine of the Church, "culturally sensitive approaches" for the respect of culture, the "equity principle" of the new ethic for the Judeo-Christian concept of justice, "awareness-raising" and "sensitization" for the moral and theological education of conscience, "gender mainstreaming" and "women's empowerment" for the Judeo-Christian teaching on the equal dignity of man and woman, "positive living" for living with theological hope, the arbitrary "freedom to choose" for freedom in Christ, human dignity for the eternal law written in the heart of man, "reproductive health" for healthy procreation, "safe motherhood" for healthy mothers and children (whether born or unborn), "behavior change" campaigns (that are geared towards the use of contraception and condoms) for education to abstinence and fidelity, "human rights", "entitlements" and "nondiscrimination" for the good tidings of God's merciful love, the agenda of UN conferences and of the Millennium Development Goals for an integral development respectful of people's values and cultures - and so on.
Christians sometimes fail to distinguish the new, constructed, allegedly "holistic" ethical system from God's holistic and eternal design of salvation, not realizing that the two logics lead in different directions. They are implied in countless partnerships, the drivers of which are agents of the global ethic. The Church must have self-respect and keep her independence from the radical agenda. A vital line separates the post-Christian humanism of the global ethic from a genuine and complete Christian humanism driven by salvation in Christ and promoted by the Church. In practice, this line no longer clearly appears. To recover Christian identity, disentangle it from ambivalent agendas is an urgent task for the Church.
Confusing the Christian kerygma and the global ethic carries a double danger. First, the new concepts tend to occupy the space that should be occupied by evangelization. Christians preach human rights, sustainability and the Millennium Development Goals instead of preaching the gospel. Little by little, they are seduced by secular values and lose their Christian identity. Didn't John Paul II, in Redemptoris Missio, speak about the "gradual secularization of salvation"?
Secondly, if Christian leaders use the concepts of the new ethic without explicitly clarifying what distinguishes them from the social doctrine of the Church and from the gospel, as is often the case, the faithful will be at a loss and will tend not to discern the difference. The resulting confusion may lead the Christian flock to a gradual erosion of the faith. . .
Read more here.