From the Loggia Inbox...
For outrage value, sure beats the street buzz that's pondering whether the oldest American archdiocese can be considered a titular see....
Jamie, It was great meeting you in the hotel lobby at WYD. I really must have intimidated you. Of course, I could kill you in three seconds -- but I never would. Is a frat boy haircut a good thing?Jamie, that's what you get for saying that a bishop has gorilla shoulders. If it's a hissyfit about missing a bus, that's another thing. But let's be real here... When bishops want to talk to me, my phone rings. It makes for good business.
Officials of the nation’s most vocation-rich dioceses most frequently attribute their success to divine grace given in response to prayer. "Of course we know that it is the work of the Holy Spirit!" writes Bishop Paul Zipfel of Bismarck. Bishop Fabian Bruskewitz of Lincoln credits "first and foremost the atmosphere of prayer for vocations and the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the patroness of the diocese." Cheyenne Bishop David Ricken ascribes "most of the vocational awareness to the Eucharistic adoration that has been happening in the diocese for quite a few years. This contributes, I believe, to the awareness of the call." Tulsa vocation promotion and recruitment director Wayne Rziha credits weekly Eucharistic adoration by Serra Club members. Rapid City vocation director Father Brian Christensen recalls that Bishop Harold Dimmerling, who died in 1987, composed a prayer for vocations that has been recited weekly in every parish since the 1980s.
In these past few weeks I have received ad limina visits from the Bishops of Sri Lanka and from the southern part of Africa. Vocations there are increasing; indeed, they are so numerous that it is proving impossible to build enough seminaries to accommodate all these young men who want to be priests.
Of course, this joy also carries with it a certain sadness, since at least a part of them comes in the hope of social advancement. By becoming priests, they become like tribal chiefs, they are naturally privileged, they have a different lifestyle, etc. Therefore, weeds and wheat grow together in this beautiful crop of vocations and the Bishops must be very careful in their discernment; they must not merely be content with having many future priests but must see which really are the true vocations, discerning between the weeds and the good wheat.
I don't know about you, but even though the numbers would be less sexy, I'd rather have five solid guys than a hundred tribal chiefs. I'm not saying the latter's what we've got, and I'm not saying the bishops have been consistently less than vigiliant.... But the temptation to get good numbers is, well, very tempting. Even now. Just look around.
I don't want to put the damper on anyone's clericalist parade, but bending over backward to make substance out of the superficiality of numbers doesn't serve the enterprise well at all. We ordained a lot of guys in the 60s and 70s, didn't we? And now we're paying for that....
If numbers were so important, then shouldn't Rome just give it up, roll over and submit to the dictates of polling data?
A judge has sentenced a Catholic deacon to 20 years in prison for planning the murder of a married couple who had threatened to expose his alleged homosexual relationships.
In a decision released late Sunday, Third Penal Court judge Julio Cesar Lara convicted deacon Meregildo Diaz, 46, of paying Army Sgt Valentin Vicioso 125,000 Dominican pesos (US$4,310) to kill Joel Alexander Diaz and Yaniris Ruiz, both 21.
The judge also convicted Vicioso, 38, of murder and sentenced him to 30 years in prison. Both men claimed they were innocent.
The couple disappeared on February 5 from Santo Domingo, where Joel Alexander Diaz had previously attended a public high school where the deacon had been director.
Their bodies, shot multiple times and burned, were found a month later in large metal vats in Azua, about 121 kilometres west of Santo Domingo.....
District Attorney Acosta Suriel had argued that Diaz ordered the killings because the couple threatened to expose his alleged homosexual relationships if he didn't pay them off. The prosecution also claimed some of those relationships were with young boys.
Diaz was suspended from his post at the school last year after a few male students accused him of molesting them, though Diaz has never been charged in the alleged incidents.
That's just freaky. Horrific. All of it.
Here are some things Americans believe:Apparently, This I Believe was a big syndicated radio bit in the 50s... Edward R. Murrow propogated it because Americans were afraid to state their beliefs "for fear of being perceived as unpatriotic".... What perfect timing for its return.
It is cool to be kind to the pizza-delivery dude and important to go to funerals. Savor the halcyon times; remembering them will get you through life's nasty surprises. Justice isn't simple, truth isn't relative, and living honestly is harder than it looked when you were young.
That's a sampling from the three-minute contemporary essays, some solicited from famous people and some submitted by regular listeners, that National Public Radio has been broadcasting weekly in a series called This I Believe.
Yup, it was a damn messy time, and Wuerl -- a delegate to the October Synod on the Eucharist who's been invited to lecture at this fall's annual "New Bishop School" given in Rome by the Congregation for Bishops -- is, as ever, a genius to tackle the difficulties that technology and schismatic EWTN fans present to a cohesive ecclesial life.
Concerned about open divisiveness, Bishop Donald Wuerl of Pittsburgh has proposed that his fellow U.S. Catholic bishops consult one another before speaking out on divisive national issues -- particularly whether prominent Catholic politicians who support legal abortion should be denied communion.
Though couched in polite, theological language, Wuerl's proposal is an attempt to muffle loose cannons in the hierarchy. The proposal appeared in the Pittsburgh Catholic and was carried nationally through Catholic News Service.
"The issue of a national politician's reception of Holy Communion and public stance on moral issues is a concern that affects not just the local church wherein the politician lives, but also considerably affects the church throughout the nation, as was evidenced in last year's election and the controversy surrounding Sen. John Kerry," Wuerl wrote.
With Benedict XVI away from the Vatican until late September, extensive renovation work is in full swing in the 16th-century papal apartments. Vatican officials have avoided giving out details of the restructuring and refurnishing which has been going on for over a month on the top floor of the grand Pontifical Palace which overlooks St Peter's .
But a few of the changes have leaked out. It is known for example that the papal study - the one with the window where popes traditionally stand to address crowds on Sundays - is now twice as big as it was during the pontificate of John Paul II. The adjacent study of Benedict's private secretary Don Georg Gaenswein has also reportedly been made more "comfortable", although it is unclear in what way....
Benedict took possession of the pope's official Vatican residence on April 30, four weeks after the death of his predecessor .
There was no time before his arrival to do anything more than repaint the bathroom and bedroom and take away the array of medical equipment and supplies which had been set up in one of the rooms as John Paul's death approached .
One of the few personal touches in the set of rooms will be a piano. A brand new one is on its way and will replace the old one that Ratzinger had in his former apartment in the nearby Borgo Pio street .
It is widely known that the pope not only likes listening to piano music, but he also loves to play the instrument - an activity which is said to soothe his nerves.
The Boston Archdiocese is still paying one of Cardinal Bernard Law's closest friends to study church law and serve as Law's secretary in Rome.
Boston Archbishop Sean P. O'Malley, who took over Law's post after he resigned in 2002 at the height of the clergy sexual abuse scandal, mentioned Monsignor Paul B. McInerny's appointment in the April 1 edition of The Pilot, the archdiocese's weekly newspaper – but not that McInerny would remain on the payroll.
Asked why the archdiocese is paying one of its priests to be secretary to the disgraced ex-archbishop, archdiocese spokesman Terrence C. Donilon said, ``I would only deduce nothing more than monsignor's desire to resume his studies in Rome and the fact he has worked with the cardinal previously.''
O'Malley is closing roughly one-quarter of the archdiocese's parishes because of a shortage of priests and a financial crisis caused by plummeting donations in the scandal's wake....
``Cardinal Law is the best thing that's ever happened to the church in Boston in terms of leadership,'' McInerny told one reporter in the heat of the scandal in 2002.
Rabbi Cynthia Culpeper, 43, believed to be the first pulpit rabbi to announce she was diagnosed with AIDS, died on Monday after a 10-year battle with the disease.
At the time of her diagnosis in 1995, she was rabbi of Agudath Israel in Montgomery, Ala.
A convert from Catholicism, she continued as the full-time rabbi there until early 1997 and then moved to Birmingham, where she was receiving cutting-edge care through the AIDS research clinic at the University of Alabama at Birmingham.
She became a rabbi at large at the school, teaching classes and, for a time, speaking to Jewish communities nationally about AIDS. In 2000, she became the first female rabbi to lead religious services in Poland, conducting High Holiday services at the liberal congregation known as Beit Warszawa....
[A rabbi] remembered how Culpeper appeared at his congregation one Shabbat evening, a Catholic high school student with a report to write about Judaism. She asked him questions after the service, returned the next week with more questions, then came back the third week with one question – how to become Jewish.
One of the nuns at Culpeper's school later met with him. Instead of telling him to stay away, she said, "I know she will not make a good Catholic, so make a good Jew out of her."
Seriously, this is a beautiful story, a love story of religion. Heartbreaking at the end, though. But you've got to love the ecumenism of it. Well, if you love ecumenism....
My doctor is confident I will make a full recovery if I take the time I need now, which is what I intend to do. Although this is a personal medical matter, I have decided to be frank with you in order to help remove some of the stigma that is often wrongly and unfortunately associated with depression. It is an illness and it is treatable.Here's hoping Roussin's candor and courage in making his struggle public will bring some needed attention and discussion about the heretofore verbeoten issue of the mental health of priests and bishops. To that end, and for his return and complete recovery, he's got my heartfelt prayers.
Los Angeles Cardinal Roger M. Mahony failed Tuesday to persuade a judge to seal sworn testimony by priests and other witnesses about allegations of decades-old child molestations by Roman Catholic clergy.
Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Haley J. Fromholz overruled arguments from Mahony's lawyers that the release might prejudice potential jurors against the church.
"Allegations of clergy abuse have given rise to much anguish in the community," the judge wrote. "This anguish has been exacerbated by allegations that the church concealed information relating to the abuse. Further concealment of information from the public is thus ill-advised."
DEEPLY SADDENED BY THE TRAGIC CONSEQUENCES OF THE RECENT HURRICANE IN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, HIS HOLINESS POPE BENEDICT XVI ASSURES ALL THOSE EFFECTED OF HIS CLOSENESS IN PRAYER. THE HOLY FATHER COMMENDS THE DECEASED TO THE LOVING MERCY OF ALMIGHTY GOD, AND UPON THEIR GRIEVING FAMILIES HE INVOKES DIVINE BLESSINGS OF STRENGTH AND CONSOLATION. HIS HOLINESS LIKEWISE PRAYS FOR THE RESCUE WORKERS AND ALL INVOLVED IN PROVIDING ASSISTANCE TO THE VICTIMS OF THIS DISASTER, ENCOURAGING THEM TO PERSEVERE IN THEIR EFFORTS TO BRING RELIEF AND SUPPORT.
CARDINAL ANGELO SODANO
SECRETARY OF STATE
Full communion with the Lefebvrists can only be achieved “if the SSPX submits itself to the legitimate authority of the Pope” and recognizes the validity of Vatican II decrees, the Italian cardinal said....Unsurprisingly, the Lawler people are not happy that the Conciliar subterfuge has been interrupted by truth. One commentor raves:
Cardinal Pompedda argued, however, that “the real problem is not the Latin Mass.” He said that the SPPX was founded upon “an attitude of condemnation of the Second Vatican Council.”
Although the meeting between Pope Benedict and Bishop Fellay has generated new optimism about a possible reconciliation, Cardinal Pompedda said that he did not perceive a “new climate between the two parties.” He said, instead, that there is now “hope that the SSPX will really take the steps” that are necessary to reconcile with the Vatican. The cardinal explained that “it was not the Holy See that created the division,” but the defiance of the traditionalist groups. Only an end to that defiance will heal the schism, he said.
Who is Pompedda? I've never heard of him. The only one I want to hear from is Pope Benedict and not some obscure Cardinal that's never been heard from before and probably will never be heard from again. The Vatican has bent over backwards to reconcile the Orthodox. They should do the same with the SSPX.And what about proponents of women's ordination? The Holy See should bend over backwards for them, too? Should the Holy See bend over backward for Frances Kissling? Call to Action? Dignity? John Kerry? What's fair is fair, right?
The controversial document, produced by the Congregation for Catholic Education and Seminaries, the body overseeing the church's training of the priesthood, is being scrutinised by Benedict XVI.
It been suggested Rome would publish the instruction earlier this month, but it dropped the plan out of concern that such a move might tarnish his visit to his home city of Cologne last week.
The document expresses the church's belief that gay men should no longer be allowed to enter seminaries to study for the priesthood. Currently, as all priests take a vow of celibacy, their sexual orientation has not been considered a pressing concern.
Vatican-watchers believe the Pope harbours doubts about whether the church should publish the document, which has already been the subject of three drafts.
THE INTERCESSIONS published on the Diocese of Manchester's Web site for Mass this past Sunday asked Catholics throughout New Hampshire to pray for reconciliation with those "who have been in leadership roles and have unwittingly allowed" sexual abuse to happen -- a thinly veiled reference to Bishop John McCormack and Auxiliary Bishop Francis Christian.If Bill Donohue's going to tar victims as "vultures" and urge the bishops to "start playing hardball," what about vulture-bishops who have done nothing but play hardball?
Slipped in amongst mention of those who were abused and those who were the abusers, this clever effort to exonerate our bishops of their shameful records deserves rebuttal.
"Bless me Father, for mistakes were made" is their version of confession instead of "Bless me Father, for I have lied, deceived, covered up sexual abuse, and endangered children." Bishop McCormack's habitual turn to euphemisms about "mistakes and inadequacies" cannot obscure the plain, simple truth. What they say now about what they did then reveals a clerical mindset bent more on damage control than honesty. The continuing spin, like these intercessions, is what is so wounding to the Body of Christ. Where are the bishops who speak truth from the heart and do not practice deceit?
Speaking of the title of Monsignor, before moving to eastern PA I had never encountered so many monsignors. In the 5 surrounding parishes there is at least one in each.I guess I have to return to the basics of Eastern (Pennsylvania) Spirituality 101....
"The sexual abuse scandal in the Catholic Church is no longer about the alleged victims—they have had their day in court—it is about the victimization of the Catholic Church. The time has come for the Catholic Church to put the vultures in their place."Vultures in their place, i.e. Bill Donahue in some cable TV interview chair. He makes me look peaceful... But there's more.
"Bishops would do well not to listen to those who always want to settle and start playing hardball. It’s time to countersue."Oh, God. Here we go with the Viking funeral bit -- it's one of Donahue's strengths.
Today, Bishop Bernard Fellay, Superior General of the Priestly Society of Saint Pius X met with the Holy Father Benedict XVI at his residence of Castelgandolfo. At the conclusion of the audience, he [Bishop Fellay] made the following declaration:
The meeting lasted about thirty-five minutes; it took place in an atmosphere of calm.
The audiences was an opportunity for the Society to manifest that it has always been attached —and always will be —to the Holy See, Eternal Rome.
We broached the serious difficulties, already known, in a spirit of great love for the Church.
We reached a consensus as to proceeding by stages in the resolution of problems.
The Society of Saint Pius X prays that the Holy Father might find the strength to put an end to the crisis in the Church by "restoring all things in Christ."
+ Bernard Fellay
The Rev. Thomas Reese, former editor of the Jesuit magazine America, said the Vatican had "bent over backwards" in the past to try to reach out to the society, and that Benedict was likely to continue the policy since he helped form it as a cardinal.That's right, but we digress....
"The problem is that these concessions have not been enough for the schismatics," Reese said in an e-mail. "They want the rest of the church to follow them in rejecting Vatican II, which they consider illegitimate."
From an astute reader in Rio, we get this from O Globo:I was actually tipped to this earlier in the week and have discussed it at length with some Brazilian operatives; the reports on-the-ground in Latin America are said to be of the same intensity which preceded the appointment of Lucas Neves as prefect of Bishops in 1998 -- a flurry of advance buzz not seen before or since.
"Cardinal in Rome. It is considered as certain in the Vatican. Eusébio Oscar Scheid [...] will be transferred to Rome."
Not only the young people, but the community and its pastors must always be extremely conscious of a fundamental fact of evangelization: that where God does not take the first place, where he is not recognized and adored as the supreme good, the dignity of man is jeopardized.And speaking of his encounter with the German bishops, he made his own what he felt was the youth's request: "Help us to be disciples and witnesses of Christ."
In early July, the Cardinal did submit his letter of resignation. It's now in the Pope's hands. Please write to His Holiness and urge him to accept that retirement - and pray, pray, pray!!!!Remember that these are the people who love telling you that the church is not a democracy and the cafeteria is closed -- except, of course, when their agenda dictates otherwise. The Pope's doing a fine job, and he really doesn't need angry self-anointeds doing the whole Lord-impersonator thing and threatening to take the Keys away from him.
TOPEKA, KS—As the debate over the teaching of evolution in public schools continues, a new controversy over the science curriculum arose Monday in this embattled Midwestern state. Scientists from the Evangelical Center For Faith-Based Reasoning are now asserting that the long-held "theory of gravity" is flawed, and they have responded to it with a new theory of Intelligent Falling.Coming soon to a White House near you....
"Things fall not because they are acted upon by some gravitational force, but because a higher intelligence, 'God' if you will, is pushing them down," said Gabriel Burdett, who holds degrees in education, applied Scripture, and physics from Oral Roberts University.
Burdett added: "Gravity—which is taught to our children as a law—is founded on great gaps in understanding. The laws predict the mutual force between all bodies of mass, but they cannot explain that force. Isaac Newton himself said, 'I suspect that my theories may all depend upon a force for which philosophers have searched all of nature in vain.' Of course, he is alluding to a higher power."
Dziwisz and Poland's primate, Cardinal Jozef Glemp, blessed golden crowns from John Paul, who died April 2, on the head of the icon's image of the Virgin Mary and on the image of the baby Jesus.The priests of Jasna Gora estimated the crowd present at 100,000. And there was another great crowd in Tower Square, Krakow, for today's installation mass, which was held outdoors.
The crowns were "the last gift of his life to Mary, the queen of Poland," said Dziwisz, who will be installed as the archbishop of Krakow on Saturday.
Church leaders also placed a 20-pound panel of amber decorated with nearly 1,000 diamonds on the painting. The covering — commonly called a "dress" — leaves only the faces of Mary and Jesus and their crowns visible beneath the screen.
By placing the crowns on the icon, we were able "in a way to fulfill the last will, the testament of Pope John Paul the Great," Dziwisz said.
Pope Benedict XVI... described him as "the best person to hold this position" in a papal bull read out by Rev. Jan Zajac during a ceremony in Wawel Castle cathedral.And, guess what, he's got the people in the palm of his hand:
"By now, the faithful have come to know your responsibility and dedication and I am sure they will be obedient to you," the bull said.
Dziwisz blessed the crowds as he walked through the city, smiling as he repeatedly made the sign of the cross. Tens of thousands of people who lined the streets under the scorching sun responded with applause and shouts of "Bravo!"Because Krakow is the ancient seat of the kings of Poland -- its Cathedral is at Wawel Castle, the old royal headquarters -- the investiture of its archbishops is an occasion of added ritual over what we usually see. In these photos, you can see under the pallium, Dziwisz is wearing another around-the-shoulder wrap. It's the pendant, the ancient collar of the archbishops of Krakow, which the holders of the office have worn in a continuous line since the 1500s.
Over the years, Dziwisz grew into an important figure at the Vatican, where he was known simply as Don Stanislaw. His role as John Paul's gatekeeper developed as the pontiff's health worsened in the last years.
But to John Paul, he was simply "Stasiu," an affectionate nickname that revealed the closeness of the two men.
And the word's already going 'round that Stasiu wants to bring Wujek home.
PHOTOS: AP/Alik Keplicz
As he lay dying, Pope John Paul II was aware of the presence of the crowd in St. Peter's Square below his apartment window and calmly viewed death as a "passage from one room to another," his longtime secretary said in an interview broadcast Friday night.
"He heard everything. He heard the square, he heard the prayer, the presence of the young people. The Holy Father heard, because he was conscious right to the end, almost to the end, even the last day," Archbishop Stanislaw Dziwisz told private Italian Canale 5's TG5 news in an interview....
It seems that Stan's at great peace as well... knowing that he's OK makes me a happy camper. The long-standing reports of "Amen" as last word are formally debunked. The former papal secretary said the last words he heard the pope utter were "Totus tuus," the pontiff's Latin motto for "Completely yours," dedicating himself to Mary. A nun who was nearby John Paul in the pontiff's final hours told him that she heard the pope say: "Let me go to the Lord." "We were at his side in these last moments," Dziwisz said. "For him, death was really a passage from one room to another, from one life to another." "In the last hours of his life there was a great tranquility and peace. He knew that he was going to his destination, to the Lord," the archbishop said. "He had not one bit of fear," but was in "great peace the last day," Dziwisz said.
The long-standing reports of "Amen" as last word are formally debunked.
The former papal secretary said the last words he heard the pope utter were "Totus tuus," the pontiff's Latin motto for "Completely yours," dedicating himself to Mary.
A nun who was nearby John Paul in the pontiff's final hours told him that she heard the pope say: "Let me go to the Lord."
"We were at his side in these last moments," Dziwisz said. "For him, death was really a passage from one room to another, from one life to another."
"In the last hours of his life there was a great tranquility and peace. He knew that he was going to his destination, to the Lord," the archbishop said. "He had not one bit of fear," but was in "great peace the last day," Dziwisz said.
Last February, John Allen reported on a 50-page booklet released by the SSPX entitled “From Ecumenism to Silent Apostasy.” I don't really know that much about the SSPX's theology, so I'll give you Allen's analysis:
"'As attractive as he seems at first sight,' the booklet concludes about John Paul, 'as spectacular as his ceremonies appear on TV, and however large the crowds that follow him, the realty is extremely sad: ecumenism has transformed the holy city that is the church into a city in ruins.'
"Other than the pope, the villain of the story as told by the Lefebvrites is Cardinal Walter Kasper, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, who is accused of heresy three times in the 50-page document....
"Interestingly, there isn’t one word on what has long been the signature issue for the Lefebvrites: the pre-Vatican II Latin Mass. This confirms what experts have always understood, that the Latin Mass is the tip of the iceberg. The real theological issues, such as ecumenism and inter-faith relations, run much deeper. This is why, Vatican experts on traditionalism say, it was futile to believe that allowing permission for wider celebration of the pre-conciliar Mass, as John Paul did in 1988, would solve the problem."
OK, my query is, if Fellay & Co. want the 1988 excommunications lifted, will they retract their tarring of Kasper as a heretic?
Rich Leonardi says:
[T]he examples of anti-semitism I found among SSPX adherents via a simple Google search was surprising.If you're surprised, you haven't been paying attention.
Jeffrey Hopper, a former Episcopal priest who converted to Catholicism in 2003, is a newly ordained Catholic deacon who is on track to be ordained a priest next May under a little-used church provision....Now, I've seen this in more than one diocese -- that a married priest ordained under the pastoral provision is barred from attaining a parish of his own, per the decision of his ordinary.... A little unfair, no?
More than 70 former Episcopal priests to date have become priests under the provision throughout the United States -- just a fraction of the nation's 42,528 Catholic priests.
If Hopper, 47, completes training to become a Catholic priest, he cannot be a senior pastor of a church, but he will be able to teach, perform sacraments and do other ministry.
They cannot be taken for granted in Catholic circles. Benedict XVI deliberately accentuated his statement of the real presence, of the change (in German, it is "Wandlung," which signifies transubstantiation) that takes place in the Eucharistic species, and of the transformations ("Verwandlungen") that these, as a gift, bring about within man. The word that transforms is powerful. And the transformation of the man who nourishes himself on the Eucharist is utterly real. This reality has historical breadth and weight; it transmits itself and is active: "a series of transformations leading ultimately to the transformation of the world" (homily on Sunday, August 21).As you can see, it makes for luscious reading.
This topic demands urgent catechesis among Catholics. Is this spoken of within our churches? And is attention given to uniting the theology of the real presence with adoration, and adoration with the recognition of the Savior and how his kingly nature is expressed in his love? This means the recognition of the impact of this royal nature, not only on the soul and the person, but on history and the cosmos (an indispensable recognition, this one, in order that the first be a profession of faith), as is stated in the doxology of the Our Father: "your kingdom come, your will be done in heaven and on earth." And is the recognition of "adoratio" as a dwelling upon the other's lips until the moment of the kiss (as the catechist pope recalled) united with its recognition as "proskynesis," prostrating oneself before the majesty of God?
For some of the 300 Philadelphia teens and young adults who traveled to World Youth Day in Cologne, Germany, the best experience of the pilgrimage was spending time with Cardinal Justin Rigali.Call me contrarian, but couldn't that have been done at home, here in Philadelphia? Look, I love my Pharaoh just as much as the next minion, but this is honestly like saying that I went to Germany and loved the cheesesteaks I brought with me.
[H]is closeness to his predecessor – undoubtedly one of the reasons he was elected – has not tempted him into imitation. Indeed, Benedict’s modest and understated public style might almost be seen as a deliberate repudiation of the personality cult that was increasingly associated with Pope John Paul II. But he has not repudiated the inter-religious agenda of the previous papacy: if anything, his historic visit to a synagogue and sympathetic if forthright address to Muslim leaders, as well as his openness and optimism when speaking to leaders of other Churches, belie many of the fears that were expressed at the time of his election. On the contrary, he could more easily be accused of raising false hopes. Nor has he launched his pontificate into a crusade against sexual immorality, as some might have hoped or feared.
He has grasped one essential truth about his Polish predecessor: that under the intense media spotlight, the personal spirituality of the occupant of the See of Rome is crucial. It becomes a public demonstration of how to be a Christian. And that model is not served if the office is immersed in endless controversy and confrontation, for that is not the essence of Christ’s example. Pope Benedict has given the Church a valuable lesson in how to talk to – or more accurately, with – Jews and Muslims. He did so as their equal, without a hint of papal triumphalism. He has also signalled something fresh about how to talk to, and with, the next generation. The occasion of his visit was the latest in the series of World Youth Days inaugurated by John Paul II, which saw the emergence of a direct relationship of mutual affection and respect between the head of the Catholic Church and some of its youngest members. What he has injected into that relationship is a new pastoral tone. He wanted to tell them that the Catholic faith could, if they let it, answer their deepest needs.
[A]s for the banner waved by one enthusiastic youngster in the City on the Rhine, which read, “Joseph like Karol”, well, not exactly. In fact, the 78-year-old Papa Ratzinger confessed that he would never have dared to make his native country the venue for his very first papal journey if he had not inherited the pre-scheduled appointment. He came to Germany for an event that was carefully scripted, as it were, for another man. World Youth Day (WYD) was a tailor-made “invention” of the Herculean John Paul II and now the bookish and shy Benedict XVI was suddenly – by Providence, he said – thrust, as understudy, into his predecessor’s limelight....
The Pope did not do or say anything “wrong”. And in spite of his lament that “the influence of Catholic ethics and morals is in constant decline” and that “many people abandon the Church or … accept only a part of Catholic teaching”, he never once mentioned abortion, birth control, or sex – all burning issues for the so-called “theo-cons” and hard-line dogmatists who were elated by his election to the papacy. And in a homily for seminarians he never even whispered the word “celibacy”. Was this really Pope Benedict? Or did he lose those pages?
Catholic lay people in Boston are responding to church leaders in these matters of accountability and management in a way unprecedented in the modern Catholic church in the United States. Where once “pray, pay and obey” Catholics would have grudgingly gone along with the hierarchy or left the church disgruntled, today they are saying, in effect: “You created the problem. You can’t take our parishes to fix the problem.”
That, of course, is too simple a reading of the situation. Even without the enormous pastoral blunders and gross mismanagement by previous archbishops in their handling of the clergy sex abuse scandal, things would have to change in Boston. Demographic shifts and the priest shortage alone continue to dictate changes in the urban Catholic landscape.
Above all, this touches on a crucial point that flies over the heads of many laypeople, even now: the ecclesiastical culture of a diocese is not equivalent to Revelation; issues of management (and, for that matter, communications policy) do not supersede, nor even stand alongside, the Gospel. And to tweak or see errors of ecclesiology in a diocesan culture which has gone off the rails -- especially those which have submitted to the clericalist beast -- isn't subversive, sinful or anti-Catholic, as the Bosses would have it. It's actually more solid Catholicism than a lot of the laziness and abuses which have crept in to these stagnant old warhorses.
It will take considerable courage, however, to buck the culture that Fr. Donald Cozzens, in his book Faith that Dares to Speak, characterizes as the last feudal system in the West.
That system -- dependent on an ignorant populace as well as absolute loyalty and the issuance from on high of benefices -- is crumbling. The serfs have been educated; unquestioning loyalty has been shown to be a dangerous idol; Boston as benefice has lost its luster.
Last feudal system in the West? Ummm... I guess Cozzens has never been to my hometown, where church and state both still operate along pretty medieval lines. And both aren't looking so great right now because of it: major federal corruption trials against city officials and mayoral confidantes, and a grand jury report coming next month which won't portray the archdiocese in its preferred best light.
Does that mean things will change? Probably not -- Lincoln Steffens' analysis of a "corrupt and contented" Philadelphia still rings true a century on. But it'd be nice to think that history, for once, has no sway on the future.
Over the past four months, the Italian press has also swooned over the 49-year-old German priest, who is known in Italy as Don Georgio. In the grey and elderly world of the Vatican, it is hardly surprising that Gänswein - a keen tennis player and excellent skier who even has a pilot's licence - has become the centre of attention. Last month, the Italian edition of Vanity Fair compared Gänswein to the actor George Clooney, while the magazine Chi opened that he was "as fascinating as Hugh Grant".The model secretary gives the impression of being of one mind -- and one being -- with his boss.
"I think he is very dangerous," Daniel Deckers, the author of a biography of Germany's leading liberal cardinal, Karl Lehmann, said. "He's part of a small but very powerful group within the Catholic church. He will use his power to push Ratzinger in a certain direction."I wonder if he'd count Josef Clemens as "us." Prob'ly not.
Deckers recalls travelling to Rome to meet Gänswein. "He's a good guy. He's very eloquent and can be very charming. But he came right up to me and said: 'Oh, you don't like us.' He referred to himself and Ratzinger as 'us', as if the two of them were an institution."
In the Vatican, Gänswein and Ratzinger dine together, recently entertaining Princess Gloria von Thurn und Taxis, the German socialite, according to reports in the Italian press.The Romans absolutely love Gloria. Just ask them. Word 'round the campfire -- well, word Gloria was furiously spreading 'round the campfire in Cologne -- has the Pope (and Georg, of course) staying at the TNT compound in Regensburg on the great homecoming tour scheduled to take place in Fall, 2006. If that goes forward, it will bring back some memories for Ratzi: he and Ingrid met at a concert hosted by the TNTs in the summer of 1991....
Gänswein's critics even accuse him of turning the Pope into a fashion victim. This summer, Ratzinger and his secretary went on holiday to the papal residence at Castel Gandolfo, near Rome, as well as to the Italian Alps at Valle D'Aosta. While both men were hiking in the hills, the Pope appeared in public wearing a Nike hat, designer Serengeti sunglasses and a Cartier watch. "This is Gänswein's style. It's his handwriting," one religious affairs writer said. "This is something I don't understand."Hmmmm... and, for good measure, some Meisner-lieben:
In Germany, the Catholic church is divided more or less between two figures - the liberal-conservative Cardinal Lehmann, the head of the German archbishop's conference, and the ultra-conservative Cardinal Joachim Meisner, the Archbishop of Cologne. Both men were with the Pope last week. But it is no secret as to which Bishop the Vatican favours. "Gänswein is an opponent of Lehmann," one source in the German Catholic church said. "One of Ratzinger's great weaknesses is that his judgment of people isn't always sufficient. He has a small out-reach."What a piece!
1. The Pope seeking particular briefings on local situations, maybe even his first in-depth explorations of those placesThe whole bishop-making operation is in for a Benedictine rejiggering. And along those lines came this morning's announcement that the prefect of the CDF (now on the ground in Rome) has been appointed a member of the Congregation for Bishops.
2. Possible consultation among his diplomatic corps on the appointment of a new Secretary of State -- coming soon to a San Damaso near you
3. Making known to the nuncios -- the first and most influential players in the appointments of bishops -- what he expects from them in their vetting and recommendations
Often Brother Roger repeated these words: “God is united to every human being without exception.” This confidence carried and will carry the ecumenical vocation of our little community. With the whole Church we want to believe this reality and to do everything to express it with our life. Brother Roger had all human beings in his heart, from every nation, in particular young people and children. We want to continue in his steps.
And the other conviction: Brother Roger constantly returned to that Gospel value which is kind-heartedness. It is not an empty word, but a force able to transform the world, because, through it, God is at work. In the face of evil, kind-heartedness is a vulnerable reality. But the life which Brother Roger gave is a pledge that God’s peace will have the last word for each person on our earth.
Since Brother Roger did not want many words to be spoken in churches, I would like to conclude by praying:
God of goodness, we entrust to your forgiveness Luminita Solcan who, in an act of sickness, put an end to the life of Brother Roger. With Christ on the cross we say to you: Father, forgive her, she does not know what she did.
Holy Spirit, we pray for the people of Romania and for the young Romanians whom we love so much in Taizé.
Christ of compassion, you enable us to be in communion with those who went before us, and who can remain so close to us. We entrust into your hands our brother Roger. Already he is contemplating the invisible. In his steps, you prepare us to welcome a ray of your brightness.
Kasper himself, in words which carried the authority of the Pope's personal representative not just for reasons of protocol but toto corde as well, referred to Roger as "one of the great... spiritual fathers of our time."
The first split that hurt Brother Roger concerned the division between Christians. From his youth he united himself to Christ’s prayer “that all may be one, as you, Father, are in me, and I in you” (John 17:21). He wanted to live the faith of the undivided Church, without breaking with anybody, in a great brotherhood. He believed above all in the ecumenism of holiness, that holiness which changes the depths of the soul and which alone leads towards full communion. Yes, the springtime of ecumenism has flowered on the hill of Taizé, in this Church of Reconciliation, where members of different Christian traditions meet in respect and dialogue, in prayer and fraternal sharing, inspired by the presence and the example of Brother Roger.
The second split that hurt Brother Roger concerned the division between peoples and nations, between rich and poor countries. Every form of injustice or neglect made him very sad. He wanted some Brothers of the community to go and live in several countries with the poorest of the poor, in small groups, as a simple sign of love and communion. This simple witness was very dear to him, like a prophecy in miniature of the Kingdom of God, like a seed of friendship and reconciliation in a world plagued by indifference. For Brother Roger, there was complete continuity between the love of God and the love of human beings, between prayer and commitment, between action and contemplation.
Brother Roger was a contemplative, a man of prayer, whom the Lord had called to the silence and solitude of the monastic life. And yet he wanted to open his monk’s heart and the Taizé Community to young people from throughout the world, to their searching and their hope, to their joy and their suffering, to their faith- and life-journeys. Here are the final lines of his last book, published one month ago: “For my part, I would go to the ends of the earth, if I could, to tell again and again of my trust in the younger generations.” More than a guide or a spiritual master, Brother Roger was for many a kind of father, a reflection of the eternal Father and of the universality of his love.
All in all, the words exude more love than I've seen from anything in a good while. No condemnation, no judgment, but wholehearted affection, fraternity, and forgiveness.
Like nearby Cluny, there's something at Taize that sure needs spreading.... To read these meditations is a good way to start.
PHOTOS: REUTERS/Robert Pratta
Pope Benedict XVI (bio - news) will meet with Bishop Bernard Fellay, the superior-general of the traditionalist Society of St. Pius X (SSPX), on August 29, to discuss the prospects for reconciliation between the Vatican and the schismatic group.Castrillion is taking the part he is thanks to his presidency of the Ecclesia Dei commission -- they're the cats who supervise the application of the indult for the 1962 Missal and, ergo, relations with Econe. He ordained the former SSPXer in Campos -- the sole Tridentine-only jurisdiction anywhere -- a couple years back after JP named him a bishop and apostolic administrator there. And he performed the other great recent gesture of Trid love, the pontifical high 1962 liturgy at St. Mary Major during a Trad pilgrimage to Rome. This was in '02, if memory serves.
Although the Vatican has not yet confirmed plans for the meeting, officials of the Roman Curia have unofficially acknowledged the accuracy of reports within the SSPX about the coming meeting.
According to those reports, Bishop Fellay will meet with the Pontiff and with Cardinal Dario Castrillon Hoyos (bio - news), the prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy. Cardinal Castrillon Hoyos was charged by Pope John Paul II (bio - news) with the task of seeking to restore unity with the traditionalists. Bishop Fellay will be accompanied to the meeting by Abbot Arnaud Sélégny, the secretary-general of the SSPX. The talks will take place at the Pope's summer residence in Castel Gandolfo.
Bishop Fellay said that when he met with Pope Benedict, he would ask the Pontiff to authorize the universal use of the Tridentine mass. He also said that he would ask the Pope to retract the decrees of excommunication against Archbishop Lefebvre and the bishops he consecrated. Bishop Fellay added that these two requests would be the starting point for discussions with the Holy See.Um, it's more than a little cocky for Fellay to think he's the one who can dictate "the starting point," no? But, then again, should we be surprised?
The Fraternity of St. John Marie Vianney [Campos] was not established by the SSPX, nor was it ever administered by them. It was the former Bishop of Campos who took many Priests with him when the new Bishop directed the Pauline Rite be offered. In some ways, it was administered much like a diocese.With thanks, cheers and a tip, I stand corrected and am enjoying a hearty dose of crow.
When they were reconciled, they were made an Apostolic Administration and put under Congregation for the Clergy. They were not put under Ecclesia Dei. This is critical. They do not exercize the Ecclesia Dei indult. They offer the Mass proper to their Apostolic Administration, the Pian Rite.
Now, why do so many people think they are former SSPX'ers? They think this because when Lefebvre conducted the June 88 consecrations, the Bishop of Campos was a co-consecrator and thus putatively incurred the same penalty.