Some thoughts on the Immaculate Conception's reception by the Church occurred to me whilst meditating by my wife bedside in hospital as she slept peacefully through the afternoon ... to awaken bright and perky in time for supper and my evening visit!
Years ago the Blessed Virgin appeared to the young girl Bernadette and revealed herself as the Immaculate Conception, a phrase Bernadette could not understand. The phrase referred to a dogma owned and promulgated by the Catholic Church a few years later.
In Medjugorje the most controversial items in the series of visions of the Blessed Virgin Mary there which have been reported since 1981 have been about the relation of religions to each other.
Mary, it is said, has stated that - so far as God is concerned - it is man that has caused religious conflict and division, not He himself.
Traditional Catholics, especially those of a hardened and exclusive nature which refuses any hope of salvation to those outside their own faith, have taken great exception to this and regard it as "proof" that the apparitions are false.
Not so me! Even the Vatican doesn't take that stance preferring to wait until a proper investigation of the whole matter has taken place. In the meantime opinions differ, but are only opinions - and like the divisions are said to be, largely man-made, perhaps even largely male-dominated.
Given the present eirenic and ecumenical stance of Benedikt XVI towards other Christians as shown in the visits of the Archbishop of Canterbury - the senior man in Anglicanism - to Rome, and of the Pope himself to Turkey and Instanbul to meet the Oecumenical Patriarch, the "Primus inter Pares"of Orthodoxy, is this comment ascribed to Mary in Medjugorje, not perhaps one of the keys to the whole Medjugorje question?
I am not saying that it is so. However, let us examine the possibility that it is so. The Pope's attitude is similar to that of his predecessor - described in "Ut Unum Sint" - and builds on it. Various things point to this suggestion, so outrageous to some:
- Mary is known primarily in Medjugorje as "Queen of Peace";
- Many Medjugorje Centres throughout the world take this titel into their own as "(such and such a place) Centre for Peace";
- The provision of Peace in individuals, societies, churches and communtities, and between individuals and groups and nations in conflict is a keystone of the whole movement which stems from Medjugorje;
- Jesus promised "I if I be lifted up will draw all men to myself";
- Jesus stated that the two great commandments were to Love God and to Love our neighbour as ourselves;
- Jesus said that we should love our enemies.
Could it not be, therefore, that Jesus became incarnate to unify mankind under God's provision, and in a peaceful and loving hegemony in which those in power were the servants of all, not despots?
The British Prime Minister has laid out today his plans for the method by which our British communities and faiths can be integrated into a peaceful and harmonious whole in the United Kingdom.
Let us hope that the well-publicised Catholicism of the PM and his family, spanning both Anglican and Roman approaches may extend to consider just this!
That this has happened on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary is a pleasant co-incidence as it reminds us that the Queen of Peace may already have intervened in order to promote a new and respectful attitude between the adherents of our many faiths, just as she did so many years ago to remind the Catholic world of the importance of her own Immaculate Conception.
Labels: Integration, Medjugorje, Peace, Religious difference, United Kingdom