24 June 2016

A splendid day for PARRHESIA

Here is a post I published in April last year, just after the Holy Father had hosted an 'Armenian' Liturgy in Rome and had referred to the Armenian Genocide. I reproduce it here because, according to Chiesa, the Pope has just decided to stop using the word Genocide, out of fear of the Turkish authorities. Is the Chiesa report accurate? If not, justice towards the Roman Pontiff demands that this be known. UPDATE I gather that the Holy father has spoken with his previous Parrhesia.

The Holy Father's decision to validate with his authority the memory of the Armenian Church and People, despite knowing the rage this would stir up, is heroic. Perhaps it is a new kind of Papal Parrhesia. Pius XII has been unfairly criticised because, although he very clearly condemned the murder of people by reason of their race, and did what he could in Rome to save large numbers of Jews, he did not speak with undiplomatic clarity about who exactly was doing exactly what to precisely whom. Francis has. His action may have repercussions on Catholics in Turkey; I think I recall that S Edith Stein was arrested by the Germans when they decided to collect and exterminate the Dutch baptised Jews after the Dutch episcopate had issued an unambiguous Pastoral Letter condemning the rounding up and deportation of the Dutch unbaptised Jews. And so now, it may be some time before the Holy See, or Turkish Catholics, are in a position to ask a favour of the Turkish government. But if Francis has decided that Parrhesia is more important than Diplomacy, I think his judgement is to be respected. It certainly fits my own feelings.

And his action negates the spirit of the Ostpolitik of an earlier pontificate: delicate and deferential treatment of unfriendly regimes in the hope of securing concessions. Not that modern Turkey is an enemy to Christianity in anything remotely like the way that the Stalinist puppet regimes in Europe were; but it remains true that there is something seedy about refraining from speaking the truth out of prudence. What advantage did we ever gain from being so careful in what we said about the Katyn massacre?

This is a time when atrocities very much like the Armenian Genocide are again happening in the Middle East. It is a time when Western 'Enlightenment' governments are shy with regard to talking about the extermination of Christians, even when it is Christian who are being exterminated. The mobs who roamed through Paris chanting Je suis Charlie have not been moved by the most horrendous videos to march with the cry Je suis Chretien or Je suis Copte. There was a time when the Yazidis were being destroyed ... and journalists very properly reported those horrors with explicit naming of names. The shameful and cowardly mass murder by jihadis of Shia prisoners of war is properly reported. Those same journalists, however, having spent their professional lives deriding and attacking Christianity, feel very reticent about headlining with equal explicitness the fate of the Middle Eastern Christian communities. The Holy Father's frankness is a splendid rebuff to this whole, sick, 'liberal' mentality of airbrushing the Christ word out of the News. It gives a new meaning to the phrase 'Pope Frank'!

Moreover, it shows the Pope as the Father of the entire Christian world, and his Church of Rome as the Mother Church of all the Particular Churches. As well as the hierarchies of the Armenian Christian Communions, the President of Armenia was there. The proclamation of S Gregory of Narek as Universalis Ecclesiae Doctor highlights, in a particular way, the solidarity between the whole Catholic world of Particular Churches in Communion with S Peter, and those other bodies which, having preserved Hierarchy and Sacraments, are true, but wounded, Particular Churches in which the Universal Church is herself manifested (Communionis notio 17).

I think, for the first time in this pontificate, I felt my spirits rise and had a real sense of pride in the present Pope!

Viva il Papa!

RITUAL FOOTNOTE: I thought the liturgy was appropriate. The use of the Third Eucharistic Prayer, with its Orientalising elements, reminded me of Aidan Nichols' valuable suggestion that the Novus Ordo should be renamed as the Ritus Communis. It is not, indeed, authentically the Roman Rite but, as Fr Aidan suggests, could function as a common rite for use among Christians of different rites and traditions. On Sunday, it very fittingly had Armenian elements, particularly musical, worked into it; the Gospel Procession, with two clerics walking backwards in front of the Gospel Book so as continually to cense it, was very memorable (did I hear one of the deacons chant Proskhomen before the Gospel?). On such an occasion as last Sunday, this Ritus Communis might even, surely, include an actual Eucharistic Prayer from an Eastern Rite. The formal proclamation of the status of S Gregory was in Latin, reminding us that enactments which bind all Catholics need to be shown as such by being in the Language of the Church.


Seamus said...

It gives a new meaning to the phrase 'Pope Frank'!

Both in the sense of "speaking frankly" and in the sense that the Turks at the times of the Crusades referred to Western Christians generally as "Franks."

Pontiacprince said...

Indeed Winston Churchill is a fine example of a parrhesiases in politics.Perhaps the only one?

Hermianensis said...

"..did I hear one of the deacons chant Proskhomen before the Gospel?"

Yes indeed, Father, in its Armenian form, "Broskhoume".

Also, granted that it's one of the two most commonly-used settings of the Armenian Divine Liturgy (along with that of Makar Yekmalian), but the use for the processional (the Vesting Hymn "O Mystery Deep") and the Sanctus (Sourp, Sourp) of the beautiful setting by Komitas Vartapet - priest, musicologist and victim of the Mets Yeghern - was a nice touch.

ChrisB said...

I shared your same feeling of being very proud of Pope Francis when he gave witness to the Armenian genocide. It was great to be able to feel proud of him...the natural thing we want to feel for our Pope.

Pastor in Monte said...

I endorse all the above, and was also interested to see Holy Communion still being given only on the tongue.

Peter said...

Father, Your readers might find this interesting from a Turkish newspaper:


Dear Holy Father, You probably are getting some heated reactions these days from my compatriots, the Turks. The reason is obvious: You used the word “genocide” when referring to the “Great Catastrophe” that the Ottoman Armenians went through a century ago. Many Turks, including members of the Turkish government, were furious, reacting with cries of “how dare you!” They consider the “G-word” an insult, and thus lash out everyone who dares to use it. I should perhaps begin by saying that as a Turk myself, I do not approve of these knee-jerk reactions. You have the right to interpret history in the way you see it, and no one can blame you for that. The world’s temporal governments, whose ambitions for power almost always curtail their devotions to Truth, especially should have little to say about your views on the Truth.
Yet as a Truth-seeker myself, allow me to share a few thoughts with you. Let me begin by introducing myself. I am a “Turkish” writer-journalist, but like many people from this part of the world, my identity gets bit more complicated if you go a few generations back. My father, who also identifies as a Turk, was born in Yozgat, a small, Central Anatolian town. But things change when you go back to his grandfather, because this grand-grandfather was not a Turk in the ethnic and linguistic sense. He was a “Circassian,” a term defining the various Muslim tribes of the Northern Caucasus.

You might wonder what people from the Northern Caucasus were doing in Central Anatolia in the late 19th century (when my forefathers came to the region where I was born). Well, they came because of an unpleasant reason: The Russian Empire, always eager for conquest as it still is today, invaded the Caucasus in the late 19th century, and carried out an ethnic cleansing on its Muslim peoples.

A simple search on Wikipedia will give you the details. Allow me to quote this passage:

“The Conquest of the Caucasus by the Russian Empire in the 19th century during the Russian-Circassian War led to the destruction and killing of many Adyghe … towards the end of the conflict, the Russian General Yevdokimov was tasked with driving the remaining Circassian inhabitants out of the region, primarily into the Ottoman Empire. This policy was enforced by mobile columns of Russian riflemen and Cossack cavalry. In a series of sweeping military campaigns lasting from 1860 to 1864, the northwest Caucasus and the Black Sea coast were virtually emptied of Muslim villagers ... One after another, entire Circassian tribal groups were dispersed, resettled, or killed en masse.”

As you can see, what happened to my Muslim ancestors in the 1860s is very similar to what happened to the Christian Armenians in the final decade of the Ottoman Empire. Similar campaigns of ethnic cleansing were also exercised in the Balkans, again targeting Muslims, this time not directly by the Russian Empire but by its allies, the newly formed and militantly nationalist Balkan states of the time, such as Serbia, Bulgaria and Greece.

All of these horrors happened as this part of the world went through a dark era marked by a painfully crumbling empire and vicious struggles over dominance of its pieces. We Muslims suffered terribly, and also made others, such as Armenians, suffer terribly.

What makes so many Turks so reactionary to statements on “Armenian Genocide” is really this mutually painful history. Their perception is that Armenians are singled out as its only victims. To overcome this conundrum, we in Turkey must work to raise awareness about the tragedy of Ottoman Armenians. In return, the world can help us by remembering the tragedy of Ottoman Muslims as well. I hope you will understand.

With my deepest regards,

A fellow believer in God--and in the sanctity of human life.



Mick Jagger Gathers No Mosque said...

Pius XII has been unfairly criticised because, although he very clearly condemned the murder of people by reason of their race, and did what he could in Rome to save large numbers of Jews, he did not speak with undiplomatic clarity about who exactly was doing exactly what to precisely whom.

He spoke with far more clarity than did the United States or any other Western Country or, for that matter, any international group, such as the Red Cross, and he spoke more clearly than did any international Jewish organisation and, besides all of that, just where in Tradition, Scripture or Ecclesiastical Praxis is it assumed that the Pope has the duty to protect Jews?

O, and America's capital was not surrounded by German Tanks at the time.

He is the Vicar of Christ and accepting a duty not genuinely or rationally belonging to him has been a profound mistake that has kept the Church from speaking frankly about the Jews whose racial supremacism demands that they and their concerns are always to be paramount in the policies of the Universal Church they repudiate.

Only liberals can embrace such weirdness.

Where were the Jews when Christians were being slaughtered by the Nazis, and the Commies in Europe and Asia by the scores of millions?

They were silent, weren't they.