Vatican City, Mar 10, 2010 / 11:14 am (CNA/EWTN News).- The Holy Father returned to St. Bonaventure for the subject of his catechesis at the General Audience on Wednesday morning. This saint, he said, not only kept the Franciscan order together with his theology that accepted "newness" into the Church but also teaches modern Christians how to be open to new charisms in the Church.
St. Bonaventure, from his place as general minister of the Franciscan Minors, refuted the idea present within the order in the 13th century that St. Francis had ushered in a “totally new phase in history.” Within this perspective promoted by so-called “spiritual” Franciscans, the Holy Spirit had come to replace Christ and the Church in a new and final age, Pope Benedict recalled.
Following of the ideas of Joachim of Fiore, these brothers believed that an “eternal Gospel” had replaced the New Testament and that history was divided into three phases, one for each person of the Trinity.
This new age was said to have been brought into being by St. Francis, who they believed had inaugurated a time when Church hierarchy was no longer necessary. The Holy Spirit, they thought, was at the base of a new age in which Christian brotherhood would bring peace and reconciliation.
But this perspective contained a “grave misunderstanding” which brought them to an erroneous vision of Christianity, the Pope said.
St. Bonaventure dealt with this question in his last work, "Hexaemeron," in which he explained that "God is one throughout history. ... History is one, even if it is a journey, a journey of progression” and that “Jesus is the last word of God." St. Bonaventure also taught that "there is no other Gospel, no other Church to be awaited. Thus the Order of St. Francis must also insert itself into this Church, into her faith and her hierarchical order.”
He also proposed that the Church always moves forward, is not immobile and experiences newness within it. In this statement, said the Pope, he adds to the theology of the Church Fathers in saying that in the Church there is room for newness, guaranteed through the uniqueness of Christ, and that "utopian spiritualism" cannot be constructed within it.
St. Bonaventure, said the Pope, "teaches us of the necessary discernment... of sober realism and of openness to new charisms given by Christ, through the Holy Spirit, to his Church."
The ideas of decline and "spiritualistic utopianism" continue to repeat themselves, Benedict XVI pointed out.
He explained, "We know how after the Second Vatican Council some were convinced that everything was new, that there was another Church, that the pre-conciliar Church was finished and that we would have another, completely other."
This, said the Holy Father was "an anarchic utopianism, and thanks to God the wise helmsmen of the boat of Peter - Pope Paul VI, Pope John Paul II - defended the newness of the Council on one hand and, at the same time, the uniqueness and the continuity of the Church," which, he said "is always the Church of sinners and always the place of grace."
In this sense, said the Holy Father, St. Bonaventure provided a clear line of government for the order in which, guided by healthy realism and spiritual courage, members had to bring themselves "as close as possible to the realization of the sermon on the mount, that for St. Francis was a rule."
Following his catechesis on the Franciscan saint, the Holy Father made an appeal for the victims of the earthquake in Turkey on March 8 and called for an end to violence and reconciliation in Nigeria.
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Update 1, via Sky News:
Child sex abuse scandals rocking the Catholic Church are evidence of the Devil's presence in the Vatican, the Pope's chief exorcist has said.
Father Gabriel Amorth who has carried out more than 70,000 exorcisms in a career spanning 50 years, said Pope Benedict XVI "fully agreed" with him in "casting out evil".
During the past few months the Catholic Church has been rocked by a series of sex scandals in Ireland and the Netherlands.
Most recently in Germany, the Pope's brother, Father Georg Ratzinger, has even admitted to hitting choir boys.
In an interview with the La Repubblica newspaper, 84-year-old Father Amorth said: "The Devil lives in the Vatican.
"He has won over the confidences of people, but naturally it's difficult to find proof, but the consequences are visible."We have cardinals who don't believe in Christ, bishops connected with demons. Then we have these stories of paedophilia. You can see the rot when we speak of Satan's smoke in the holy rooms (of the Vatican)." Father Gabriel Amorth
"We have cardinals who don't believe in Christ, bishops connected with demons.
"Then we have these stories of paedophilia. You can see the rot when we speak of Satan's smoke in the holy rooms (of the Vatican)."
Father Amorth gave the interview as part of the book launch for Memoirs Of An Exorcist, which was written by Italian religious affairs journalist Marco Tosatti.
The religious official - who is said to be the inspiration for the priest in the hit horror film The Exorcist - added: "The Devil is invisible, he is a pure spirit.
"But in the people he possesses he can be seen through pain and blasphemies, but he can also remain hidden.
"Sometimes he makes fun of me, but I have to say I enjoy my work."
He described how he had "six or seven assistants" to help him hold down a possessed person when he carried out an exorcism and he kept "nails and glass that they spit out in a little bag".
''From the mouths of the possessed people all sorts of things come out, bits of metal as long as a finger [and] rose petals," he said.
"I have to have help holding them down and wiping up the saliva but seeing these people vomit doesn't upset me."
Father Amorth went on to claim that the attempt on the life of the late Pope John Paul II in May 1981 and the recent attack on Pope Benedict during Christmas Eve Mass last year were all work of the Devil.
In 2006 the priest gave an interview to Vatican Radio in which he said that Nazi leader Adolf Hitler and Soviet dictator Josef Stalin had both been possessed.
According to secret Vatican documents recently released, wartime Pope Pius XII attempted a "long distance" exorcism of Hitler which failed to have any effect.
In the past the Italian has also spoken out against Harry Potter, claiming the teen wizard novels opened children's minds to dabbling with the occult and black magic.
Father Amorth, was ordained in 1954 and who is president of the International Association of Exorcists, said of the JK Rowling books: "Behind Harry Potter hides the signature of the king of the darkness, the Devil."