Wednesday, August 31, 2005

From the Loggia Inbox...

Given the recent fury in the comboxes, this is such an apt comparison.... The e.mail from a particularly astute reader says it all:

For outrage value, sure beats the street buzz that's pondering whether the oldest American archdiocese can be considered a titular see....


Colorado Shrieks?

Now this is interesting...

Some blogger met Michael Sheridan, Jesuit-educated Christologist and bishop of Colorado Springs, in Cologne, came home and wrote that Sheridan "is a hulking beast of a man, with shoulders as broad as a gorilla and a frat boy haircut, and a glance that lets you know he could kill you in less than three seconds."

WHAT?! Now, I'm sorry, but that's just weird... But it gets weirder....

Not to be outdone, Sheridan posted in this guy's combox --
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.

Now, truth be told, I once had a very enjoyable encounter with Michael Sheridan. It came at the tail end of that memorable evening we call The Exaltation of the Pharaoh, 2003 -- Sheridan, of course, was an auxiliary to Rigali in St. Louis before being sent to the place religion writers call the "Evangelical Vatican." From my buzzed state at the time -- and everyone was buzzed as red wine was flowing from the walls -- I recall a chat about home, the work, the good stuff.

For the life of me, though, I don't recall getting that "he could kill me in three seconds" gaze from Sheridan... Maybe it's because I was raised around churchmen, but I've never gotten that from any bishop who wasn't carrying a chainsaw. (And who could that be, snowflakes?)



More on Recruitment

First off, congrats to the newly-married Dom Bettinelli as he preps to take the reins from Lawler over at Catholic World Report. I can't say I've ever seen a copy of CWR, but I'm sure those who have get a lot from it.... I'm a Tablet man, myself.

Dom points out an article from this month's edition, however, that caught my eye about the numbers of vocations by diocese....

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.

Rapid City, in particular, has been blessed with good bishops -- CJ and BJ; you know who they are.

But I still don't see the value in putting too much faith in sheer empirics, especially the very alluring one of the number of seminarians. This is my experience talking: don't believe the hype.

Scream all you want, but a certain B16 agrees:

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?


Combox Update

OK, thanks to Christ-Haunted, word verification for comments has been implemented.... It's either that or the Trad Tribunal would have had to close. And we can't keep Papa Fellay's faithful from having an outlet, now, can we?

Keep the nuggets comin', snowflakes.


Crime Doesn't Pay

...especially when the criminal is a clergyman...

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.


Crazy Spam

As you've probably seen, our comboxes -- a Vatican II Validity-Free zone, by mandate of the Trads -- are getting hit with vicious spam.... I know that I do many crazy things, but hawking Cialis is not one of them.

Anyone know how I can alleviate this? Either post a comment alongside the condemnations, or feel free to drop me a line. All thanks in advance.


"This I Believe..."

A very sweet article from The Inquirer on a new-old feature of programming on San Francisco State Radio, known to the world as NPR:
Here are some things Americans believe:

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.

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.

If I could invite three people germane to this work to submit their own This I Believe essays, Richard Williamson would be #1 on the list. While listening to him hold forth, I'd hold a hand counter so I could keep track of every religious and ethnic group he insulted during his exposition.

Who else should I ask?


The New Virtual Ecclesiology

Ann Rodgers, back from Cologne, on Donald Wuerl's statement about collaboration among bishops....

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.

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.

Think about it: As a consequence of last year, we still have people around the country ignoring their proper bishops and seeking alternative episcopal oversight in St. Louis, like polygamist Mormons exiled to Utah. Some orthodoxy that is....

As I've always said, Rowan Williams (a spiritual son of Carmel) is more Catholic than many Catholics, and the Cafeteria Trads are more Episcopalian than most Episcopalians. But that's what happens when symbolism trumps substance.


The Fabulous Life

Only the best for Papa Bear...

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....

There's a lot about Georg that's unclear in what way. But I digress....

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.

Play on, Ratz....
Tip to Papabile...


Cardinal Law's Secretary

Now, while it is enshrined in canon law that the diocese of a bishop emeritus is obliged to maintain his standard of living in retirement, Bernie's current arrangement makes this development noteworthy.

From the Herald:

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.

Um, if Law made me a monsignor and elevated me to the lap of luxury, I'd say he was the best thing since sliced bread, too....

And for those who would wonder why a middle-aged priest is suddenly taking up canonical studies in Rome, it might just be that his mentor (a member of the Congregation for Bishops) is shopping him around for bigger and better things.

You just never know.


Mourning a Rabbi

This is an incredible story: Catholic woman becomes star rabbi in conservative Judaism, inspires many....

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....


A Courageous Shepherd

From the CWNews tracker, Archbishop Raymond Roussin of Vancouver has announced that he has clinical depression and is taking an extended leave.

This is not the first time it's happened (it happens more often that you'd think), but it is the first time such a leave has been publicly disclosed. As he wrote in his announcement,
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.


When the Levee Breaks

Bad connotation right now, I know. But it fits this story from today's LA Times:

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."


While on the topic, rebuttals are due today for the impending grand jury report here in Philadelphia....

It's coming....


B16 on Katrina

Today's Bollettino has just dropped with this telegram from the Pope, addressed "to the civil and ecclesiastical authorities of the United States of America":





Tuesday, August 30, 2005

He's a Cardinal, And You're Not

Well, one cardinal isn't prostrating himself before schismatics, and he's getting hell for it.

Mario Francesco Pompedda, a top-shelf canonist and former prefect of the Apostolic Signatura -- the church's supreme tribunal -- put some rational skids on the restoration parade in the Italian press today.... As CWNews reports
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....

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.
Unsurprisingly, the Lawler people are not happy that the Conciliar subterfuge has been interrupted by truth. One commentor raves:
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?

I love it how the rightward fringe -- while castigating Mahony, Levada, and anyone else who gets in their way but remains in valid communion -- sees Fellay as a valid bishop who's just tragically misunderstood. He's not.

These same people can't accept that Mahony has licit authority over the archdiocese of Los Angeles -- and he actually got that from a Pope. Can't say the same about Fellay & Co. now, can we? Did the Trads raid the cafeteria while the Catholics slept?

It's like those stories about the women who were to be "ordained Catholic priests" on the St. Laurence River. The same people who talk about "Bishop Fellay" were all hopped up screaming for corrections about the festival on the boat, that "it's not an ordination."

But if it's the illicit ordination of someone who, though on a par with an ordained woman Catholic priest, can advance their political agenda -- even if the act was done in the face of the explicit stipulations of canon law and the emphatic pleas of their beloved John Paul the Great -- hism-schism... it's all good and holy. In the process, they imply that JP didn't know what he was talking about and didn't sufficiently bend enough.

So much for the right's claim that everything Wojtyla touched turned to orthodoxy... Apparently, he didn't touch them.


The Document That Cried "Wolf"

It's long been a guessing game as to which much-awaited work would be completed first -- the Guns 'N Roses "Chinese Democracy" album (13 years in the making) or the Holy See's instruction on the admission of celibate homosexuals in seminary formation.

It seems the Italians might actually beat Axl....

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.

And you thought August was a busy month on the beat?


Revisionist Hardball

From the Union-Leader in Manchester, the John McCormack self-exoneration tour continues:
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.

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?
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?

What's fair is fair, right?


Diplomatic Channels

For all the talk of the impending upending of the Roman Curia, it's been easy to lose sight of the fact that B16 has already started to tinker with his Diplomatic Corps.

Last week, I reported the appointment of an American religious, Michael Blume, S.V.D., as nuncio to Benin and Togo. What made the appointment unique (and caused even more tumult in an already-antsy San Damaso) is that Blume is not a graduate of the Pontifical Ecclesiastical Academy, the de rigeur training ground of papal diplomats since before the time of Jesus.

At the weekend, Archbishop Giuseppe DeAndrea -- a naturalized American incardinated into the diocese of Greensburg, in Western Pennsylvania -- retired as nuncio in the Arabian Peninsula four months after his 75th birthday. To succeed him, the Pope named Bishop Mounged El-Hachem, a Maronite diocesan bishop stationed in Lebanon who was the Secretariat of State's resident point-man on the Arab world for 17 years.

Talk about respecting the delicacies of the local situation.

As with the Blume appointment, we can see the roots of a new trend: diplomatic postings being given to prelates with first-hand experience in the places to which they're sent. This turns on its head the previous State convention that the nuncio should be an unblemished arbiter free from prior connections with the place which would affect his objectivity.

Since John XXIII, a consistent thread of a new Pope's efforts to remake the Corps (and, ergo, the local churches) in his own image has been the quick dispatch of a person of his own tastes to head the mission to the United States... I don't think anyone here needs reminding of Archbishop Jadot's rapid ouster by JP....

This precedent is a well-timed one for the outset of the Ratzinger pontificate. Last January, the current nuncio to Washington, Archbishop Gabriel Montalvo, reached the retirement age of 75. After arriving from the friendly confines of the Academy, where he was president (in succession to Justin Rigali, himself), it became Montalvo's lot to preside over the fallout of the abuse scandals -- and the resulting exponential increase in background checks which led to a severe thinning of the pool of potential future American bishops. Between the selection vetting and the simultaneous increase in the number of appeals on matters of abuse-related administration going over to Rome via diplomatic pouch from his office, by no means has it been easy work. The nuncio's passage was eased with the promotion of one of his cherished staffers, Sal Matano, to the bishopric of Burlington earlier in the year.

More than any appointment to any American see, who gets the nice house on Massachussetts Avenue is the crucial question for the post-scandal US church, because he's the guy who picks those magic three names that get winnowed down to the one who becomes the bishop of (place name here). The nuncio runs the first half of the selection process, and the way his report sways is the way the Congregation for Bishops votes. Simple as that.

From 1893, when the apostolic delegation was established, every representative of the Holy See to the US was Italian, until Jean Jadot. Every one eventually became a cardinal... until Jean Jadot. Montalvo has done more than enough hard work, remaking the mould of the American bishop in the process, that he doesn't deserve to be left in the cold of history, alone... with Jadot.

But as Nuntius Washington enters the transition phase, it's an open question as to whether, for the first time, a native son of America will return to these shores bearing presentation credentials not from Pennsylvania Avenue, but from S. Pietro.


Monday, August 29, 2005

Theology 101

From the "Too Good to Resist" file, from a commentor over at Amy's:
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....

Any patristic scholar worth his salt could tell you that monsignors are God's way of telling the church "I love you and am with you always." Right? As we all know, this comes from apostolic times. The first bishops would only don the finest amaranth-red silk tunics -- and St. Peter would never be caught dead fishing without a stunning filigreed pectoral cross (suspended on the cord).

For the life of me, I'm still baffled as to how "good" Catholics can't intrinsically understand this. Then again, I guess it's just my luck of having had the best of hyper-clericalist catechetics.


On With the (Really Big) Show

I got a call the other day from one of the Three Queens of San Francisco -- for the curious, they're not of the drag variety.

Ever the Ace, the Fair Kate asked if I was, indeed, gonna make good on the talk and show up for the installation of San Fran's next archbishop. At this point, I'd love to, but no decision will be made until after the appointment is made and the date is set. And it's anyone's guess when we'll have that....

That said, I want my tickertape parade in the Castro.

Even though his identity isn't public knowledge yet, Levada's successor is already being colorfully referred to in some quarters as "Son of Darth." Barring the unforeseen, his unveiling will be the first major American move of B16's papacy, in a city where the Catholic community has been able to accomplish more by being an instrument of solidarity and civic cooperation than a hard-lined hunter of heresy.

One front-runner has shown his hand on the pastoral approach question. Bishop George Niederauer of Salt Lake City, a native Angeleno and classmate of Levada's said to be the CDF head's preferred successor in San Francisco, has been spotted relaxing in residence at a Southern California parish known for its prominent and extremely committed LGBT parishioner-base, celebrating masses and doing vacation ministry.

If he is, indeed, Son of Darth, it seems a sign that Niederauer would continue his predecessors' tradition of pastoral outreach and engagement by the Bay... Good, good news for San Fran.


Niente foto!

In another sign of the unusual nature of this morning's B16 Outreach to the Dark Side, Arturo Mari (the papal photographer extraordinaire) was nowhere to be found. No photogs, no pool, no photos whatsoever. I got an early report that Fellay was "hustled" through a back door of Castel Gandolfo, but apparently it was at his own request so he wouldn't pull a Williamson and make some kind of uncouth statement. (Tip: Papabile.)

But for those who like their daily helping of lace and fiddle-backs, the ever-comprehensive Catholic Press Photo comes to the rescue with an SSPX montage, even posting shots of Lefevbre, "the ultra-traditionalist rebel."



Bill Donohue's hopping mad... again. In a release this afternoon, he went on a tear:
"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.

I've gotta say -- one of the smartest things Ed Egan ever did was to kick the Catholic League out of the New York chancery. Did it spare the rest of us headaches? Well, no... but at least it stripped those headaches of the appearance of coming from competent authority.

Next on deck in the "vultures in their place" department: The Cardinal Newman Society....


SSPX Statement

Just saw this myself, and Gyrovagus posted it in the combox:
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
Superior General


The Big Meeting

First off, Tom Reese (who, contrary to popular belief, is not an excommunicated schismatic) speaks from exile to the AP:
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.

"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."
That's right, but we digress....

Today's Bollettino of the Press Office of the Holy See did not list an audience with Bernard Fellay, even though Joaquin Navarro-Valls issued a statement about it at its close. This emphasizes the personal nature of the meeting and it wasn't one of the official engagements of the Pope's day with bishops, heads of state and others. And Fellay was strictly referred to as "Mons. Bernard Fellay" -- Eccellenza and/or Vescovo were nowhere to be found.

For more, check Papabile -- this is his story.


C-SPAN Alert

You all might want to be by a cable TV later in the afternoon.... No, I won't be appearing again -- not yet.

Michael Steele, the lieutenant governor of Maryland, a black Republican and the all-but-declared GOP nominee for an open Senate seat in '06, will be giving the annual John XXIII Lecture at CUA Law School. A very newsworthy speech -- on "Lawyers in Service to Society" -- and some interesting follow-up questions are foreseen... and it marks Steele's "coming out" in anticipation of the Senate run.

Everything runs live at 4.30 (ET) on C-SPAN. Worst-case scenario, you can catch the video here.

More soon. Pray for New Orleans.


Sunday, August 28, 2005

Guess the Anti-Semite

As B16 prepares to receive Bernard Fellay in the morning, some of my weekend research impels me to introduce a thought-provoking communal activity. Reflecting the subject matter, it will be called, "Guess the Anti-Semite: SSPX or Al Qaeda?"

Exercise goes like this: A player (or team, for large groups) will be presented with a quote. Player/team must decide if the incendiary hate-quote derives from an official of Al Qaeda or the Society of St. Pius X.

Sample round:

1. "Arab terrorists... are in turn mere instruments of God who uses them for the salvation of souls."

2. "In the Catholic Middle Ages the Jews were relatively impotent to harm Christendom, but as Catholics have grown over the centuries since then weaker and weaker in the faith, especially since Vatican II, so the Jews have come closer and closer to fulfilling their substitute-Messianic drive towards world dominion."

3."Jews believe that all humans are created for their use, and they found that the Americans are the best-created beings for that use."

4. "[T]here was not one Jew killed in the gas chambers. It was all lies, lies, lies. The Jews created the Holocaust so we would prostrate ourselves on our knees before them and approve of their new State of Israel...."

5. "[T]he Jews are the most active artisans for the coming of antichrist."

6. "Just as the chief priests and ancients hated Jesus unto death... so we may blame Jews and Freemasons and others like them for engineering the destruction of the Church...."

Answers (no cheating!):

-- Richard Williamson, SSPX bishop, October 2001
2. SSPX -- Williamson, October 2001
3. Al Qaeda -- Osama bin Laden, undated
4. SSPX -- Williamson, 1989
5. SSPX -- Tissier de Mallaraise, SSPX bishop, May 1997
6. SSPX -- Williamson, May 2000


Shake-Up, Part XVI

Papabile -- who's all over tomorrow's SSPX meeting like white on rice -- comes in with more New Curia spec:
From an astute reader in Rio, we get this from O Globo:


"Cardinal in Rome. It is considered as certain in the Vatican. Eusébio Oscar Scheid [...] will be transferred to Rome."
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.

Scheid taught dogmatic theology and liturgy before his appointment as a bishop, which would make him a prime candidate for either Divine Worship or Catholic Education. But, considering the conjoined role of the prefect of Bishops with the presidency of the Commission for Latin America, this too is a distinct possibility.

Then again, who said the two functions would stay united once the curial reform is complete?

It was specifically pointed out to me that Scheid is particularly appealing due to his background, both as a religious (he's a priest of the Sacred Heart Fathers) and his ethnic upbringing. He, along with Hummes, continues the long-standing tradition of Brazilian cardinals of German heritage -- both speak fluent German and are well-accustomed to the ways of the Pope's native country. Given that context, experience with both the institutional present and future of global Catholicism can be found, which is a rare and priceless commodity these days considering the exigencies of a rapidly changing international situation. Not to mention the shared cultural milieu providing a base for a solid relationship with the Boss....

Even closer to home, the word's been floating that another American prelate has gotten happy words and been asked to board the Mothership..... More on that as the secrets allow.


Quaerite Faciem Eius Semper

B16 paid tribute to his favorite saint on his feast day at this morning's Angelus. As a delegation from the North American College was present in the Castel Gandolfo courtyard, it was often difficult hearing the Pope over the hysterics coming from down below. "Beware of screaming American seminarians" is the prevailing Roman wisdom of these days... and those Gianicolo boys sure like being the head cheerleaders.

But today is the memorial of St. Augustine. And Joseph Ratzinger is nothing if not a committed Augustinian. Noting the commentary of the "Son of Tears" on Psalm 104's exhortation to "Seek always his face," Benedict said, "The discovery of the 'face of God' is inexhaustible. The more we enter into the splendor of divine love, the more beautiful it is to continue forward in seeking it out."

He sounds like the new Tracy Chapman single. I kid you not. But I digress....

The context of this meditation is extremely important. Even though he's been back for a week, the Pope again spoke about the experience of World Youth Day, focusing particularly on his take as to two things: what the young people gathered in Cologne were seeking, and what they need to know.
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."

As if he didn't before, it seems this Pope is focusing in more and more on that magic "A" word -- authenticity. Authenticity of witness, authenticity of message, authenticity of life. It provided the whole context of this morning's meditation. He's not looking for young people (and, for that matter, seminarians) who are going to scream, sing and dance under his window to go home and be unable to remember, let alone embrace, a single substantive thing he said.

We saw the evolution of this from the start of the pontificate, with the emphasis on Petrine ministry as servant of communion, not temporal behemoth. And what a point -- it seems Ratzi's never known anyone who truly found God in a tiara, either.

He knows that what draws people -- draws them substantively as opposed to superficially (big difference there) -- is not trappings, titles and torches, but tangible commitment, joy, human warmth and integrity. Those who sacrifice the latter qualities for the former, so the theory goes, basically hand a double victory to those who seek to discredit the face of the entire enterprise.

By their fruits, not their decibel levels, shall you judge them.

PHOTO: AP/Andrew Medichini


What You Wish For

The other day, in response to Diogenes' weekly McCarrick heresy trial, one of Lawler's people wrote:
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.

But the mill is churning, and the word's been circulating that, indeed, the DC transition might well be coming soon -- sooner than expected. At this point, I'm hearing that the forecast for Washington can be summed up in one word: Wilton.

Talk about an answer to prayers!


Saturday, August 27, 2005

Schonborn's Next NYTimes Foray

This was just too good to resist, with thanks to Jimmy at the News Desk:
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.

"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."

Coming soon to a White House near you....


Widows and Orphans

As he marked his coming full-circle, Stasiu's supporters were out in full force. The Poles have actually made a weekend of it.

Yesterday, the Krakow prelate participated in the blessing of a new "screen" for the Black Madonna of Jasna Gora.
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 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.

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 canonical possession, itself -- i.e. the presentation of the bull of appointment to the chapter of canons of the Krakow cathedral, followed by the enthronement rite -- took place at the Wawel, followed by a procession through the streets to the Mariacki, where the mass itself took place. As it wended its way through swelling crowds, the successor of Stanislaw was preceded by a small gold coffin containing the relics of the martyr-bishop. The reliquary was kept on the altar for the liturgy.

Dziwisz was attended by an all-star international cast of prelates. Law, Ruini, Marini, Meisner, Sepe, Re and, not to be outdone, the Most High Pharaoh all turned out to witness the event. So it wasn't just a Homecoming, it was a Romecoming.

And now, with the Romans heading homeward, the work begins....

PHOTO 1: AP/Jacek Stroda
PHOTO 2: AP/Alik Keplicz



On the throne of the martyr-bishop Stanislaw, the throne of Sapieha, and of Wojtyla....
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.

"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.
And, guess what, he's got the people in the palm of his hand:
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


Friday, August 26, 2005

Dziwisz Comes Full Circle

Tomorrow, The Legend -- he who will forever define discretion in the role of personal secretary to the Pope -- will be installed in Krakow... God love him, he's still doing interviews:

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....

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.

It seems that Stan's at great peace as well... knowing that he's OK makes me a happy camper.

Tip to a Trad seeking alternative episcopal oversight. And, as we all know, that's so Catholic.


More from the MadTrad Desk

This might just be the funniest thing I've ever seen..... For those who think that B16 is a heretic liberal, this is your guy. This is the guy who was elected by his mom and then-girlfriend. Then again, as many of our commentors like to play Pope, I'm sure this resonates in some quarters.

And that's the amazing thing about everyone who's panting to roll out the red carpet for anti-Semitic schismatics. For all the daily screaming about MahonyChurch, the radical American bishops, heretic liberals, blah, blah, blah, isn't it ironic that the great church-splitting excommunicati of the last century were not post-Conciliar American progressives, not Piero Marini, not Bugnini nor Cardinals Martini or Daneels but Lefevbre, Fellay, Williamson and the "traditional" Society of St. Pius X?

Given the DPT (Decibel Per Trad) Index of these forums, it's a valid question.


More Schismatic Pre-Game

I can see how much you're all enjoying this.... I ask questions, I get character assassination in return. Defending Pope Fellay a little too heartily now, snowflakes?

But regardless, Neil Dhingra of Notre Dame reminds me of something over at Amy's:

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.

Check this point-counterpoint on the Shoah:

"[T]here was not one Jew killed in the gas chambers. It was all lies, lies, lies. The Jews created the Holocaust so we would prostrate ourselves on our knees before them and approve of their new State of Israel.... Jews made up the Holocaust, Protestants get their orders from the devil, and the Vatican has sold its soul to liberalism." -- Richard Williamson, SSPX bishop, 1989

"This year marks the sixtieth anniversary of the liberation of the Nazi concentration camps, in which millions of Jews – men, women and children – were put to death in the gas chambers and ovens. I make my own the words written by my venerable Predecessor on the occasion of the sixtieth anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz and I too say: “I bow my head before all those who experienced this manifestation of the mysterium iniquitatis.” The terrible events of that time must “never cease to rouse consciences, to resolve conflicts, to inspire the building of peace”." -- Benedict XVI, Cologne, August 2005

Papa Fellay or Papa Ratzi, Trads? Day of reckoning's here.

More soon.


Pre-Gaming for the Schismatics

Well, it seems everyone's pretty pumped-up about the big B16-Fellay meeting on Monday.

But, to be honest with you, I'm puzzled. For some reason, the prevailing thread of thought out there is that the return of the SSPX is a fait accompli and all anyone's waiting for is to find out what titular see Fellay gets.

Not so fast.

A couple things on my mind:
  • Why is it being overlooked that there are substantive areas of dispute here? For example, SSPX rejects the validity of the Council. Period. Then again, the same could be said of many in the comboxes here, but the latter aren't going into high-profile reconciliation talks with the Pope.
  • Why is it being greeted with little unease that Fellay thinks he has the right to dictate the terms of the discussions and a proposed accord? It's almost as if he thinks he can hold the Holy See hostage or something.... Surely, that sentiment will win him points.
  • It's funny -- there's been none of the screed-y "They're heretics" venom from the people who've made Catholic fatwa a daily way of life. Of course, it's an old tenet of politics that you don't tar your ideological allies just as they're arriving at the tent....
  • And, of particular note, I have seen next to nothing of a reminder that a universal indult would be a whack to the face of particular churches. There are American bishops (Burke, That Fabe, Vasa, et al.) who gripe all the time about the imposition of things from outside that compromises their singular authority over their dioceses -- Fabe even told the sex abuse auditors to shove it.... Well, would this not be the mother of all subterfuge or do we have a double standard at work here? A universal indult in and of itself accomplishes a political end: the disintegration of the Novus Ordo, not by majority vote, but by the aggressive, agitprop tactics of a furiously committed minority that's more AmChurch than AmChurch. And they say Catholicism is not a democracy. We've got schismatics riding in as white knights, snowflakes.... As if we needed it, further proof that, in this business, truth is, indeed, stranger than fiction.

The Pastoral Provision Spreads... Again

Now in Louisville....
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....

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.

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?


Still More from Cologne

Pietro DeMarco, Magister's cohort over at L'Espresso, bats cleanup with a rich theological and ecclesiological analysis of last weekend's message
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).

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?
As you can see, it makes for luscious reading.


Word to the Cielini

Allen takes a lengthy look at Communione in this week's Word, already posted.

Intriguing timing -- Fr. Julian Carron, the new head of the CL fraternity, was received by the Pope in private audience this morning.


Thursday, August 25, 2005

We Have Come to Worship Him

The exemplars of journalism at the Catholic Standard & Times want to know: from what element of World Youth Day did the Philadelphia delegation in Cologne get the most enrichment?

Was it the camaraderie of upwards of a million of their fellow young people from around the world? Was it the presence of Pope Benedict XVI, continuing the work of the beloved, the great John Paul II? Was it the realization of experiencing in the flesh before one's eyes that, indeed, "the church is alive, the church is young"?

If you guessed any of these, think again.
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.

When you make that the lede of the story, you're asking for it.

And for those who keep record of these things, John Paul clocked in on the ninth graf, B16 didn't appear until paragraph 11. Then again, he's only the bishop of Rome.

Welcome to Philadelphia.


London Speaks... A Day Early

Not to be outdone, the beloved Tablet reveals its WYD coverage, with great happiness.

[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.

On the news side, the eminent Robert Mickens and Michael Hirst offer this sterling take:

[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?

Do yourself a favor and read these in full. It's the World's Best Catholic Paper at its Ichiban finest.


When Vanity Trumps Charity

For the life of me, I still cannot understand why people hate this man as they do....
Popule meus, quid feci tibi?
Aut in quo contristavi te? Responde mihi!
Quid ultra debui facere tibi, et non feci?
Ego eduxi te de Virgilio Noe,
et tu me tradidisti bloggeribus traditionalibus.


The Gift of Tears

You know, there's something in me that likes to see bishops cry -- it makes them seem more human. And, as if we didn't need them before, crying bishops are like oil right now -- demand has never been higher.

At the outset of WYD, Meisner said in an interview that he almost lost it a few times. "I had to pull myself together as a bishop," he concluded.

He should've just went with it.

In that spirit, I couldn't resist being touched by this photo of the newly-ordained auxiliary of Miami, John Noonan, at his ordination yesterday afternoon. There's some great coverage out there from the Herald again and a slide show of photos on the archdiocesan site (from whence the shot on the right comes).

Not many people remember this, but so lacking in emotion were the scandal-scarred American bishops that the Dallas meeting in 2002 concluded with a Friday evening celebration of a "Mass for the Gift of Tears." None were shed that night because, well, God really wasn't on speaking terms with the USCCB at the time.

Only now, it seems their prayers are being answered. And it's definitely been worth the wait.


The Shame of the Dioceses

NCR has a really good editorial and cover piece this week on the continuing struggle in Boston -- where no one's come out unscathed.
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.


Chanel, Gucci, Prada, Ganswein

If this man has his way, the revolution will be sartorially fabulous. The Guardian takes a good look at Georg -- a piece memorably entitled "Thou Shalt Not Drool":
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."

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."
I wonder if he'd count Josef Clemens as "us." Prob'ly not.

Not to be outdone, something is revealed which has been ringing in my ears for several months:
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....

And best of all is this catty leak:
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!



Wednesday, August 24, 2005

State Appreciation Day, Part Deux

Thanks to a Good Father for reminding me about this, because I almost forgot!

In addition to receiving all those nuncios this morning, Papa Bear named a new one as well -- and an American at that. The South Bend-born Fr. Michael Blume, 59, until now undersecretary of the Pontifical Council for Migrants and Itinerant People, was elevated to the dignity of archbishop and appointed apostolic nuncio in Togo and Benin.

Blume's rise brings to five the number of American nuncios serving around the world -- archbishops all: Ambrose DePaoli in Australia, Philadelphia's own Ed Adams in Zimbabwe, the Clevelander Tim Broglio in the Dominican Republic, and the South Dakotan Tom Gullickson in the West Indies (Trinidad and Tobago, et. al.). There will soon be a sixth....

However, there are two unique markers about the Blume appointment; three, actually. The first is that Blume is a religious, a member of the Society of the Divine Word, and it's almost unheard of for a religious to reach the rank of nuncio. (The only other one I can think of is Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, a Missionary of St. Charles who also came out of Migrants and Itinerati and, after a stint as nuncio in Eritrea, is now the permanent observer to the UN at Geneva.)

Second, as opposed to most diplomatic postings, Blume already knows the lay of the land where he's going -- he was provincial of the Verbites in Ghana, Togo and Benin for seven years before becoming the order's secretary-general in Rome.

Third, and this is the big Benedictine surprise, BLUME IS NOT A DIPLOMAT! For a non-graduate of the Pontifical Ecclesiastical Academy to get a nunciature is virtually unprecedented. As if it wasn't before, the Secretariat of State is officially in tumult at this news....

As I've been saying all along, prepare to be surprised. And send some Xanax down to San Damaso -- they could really use it right now.


Back to the Middle East?

No link to his source yet, but Drudge has a photo of B16 in top position with this huge, screaming headline:


And you thought it was interesting before?


State Appreciation Day

In his first major spree of audiences for the vacation period, B16 received a deluge of diplomats this morning. Among those brought in were his representatives to Canada, Ethiopia, Nigeria and El Salvador, and Archbishop Celestino Migliore, the permanent observer of the Holy See to the United Nations at New York.

While Migliore was summoned to prep strategy for the upcoming UN General Assembly, the rounds of visiting nuncios is a usual rite of Vatican summer. But this year, with a new pope, there is the difference of three unique exigencies....
1. The Pope seeking particular briefings on local situations, maybe even his first in-depth explorations of those places
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
The 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.

This is no surprise as the Grand Inquisitor is virtually an ex officio member of Bishops. But now, the twice-monthly meetings of those members in Rome (the meetings that decide which name for a given opening will be sent upstairs to the Pope) will include a record five Americans: Cardinals Baum, Law, Szoka, Stafford and, now, the soon-to-be Cardinal Levada.

Will such a high-octane national presence mean that the process of filling vacancies will be quicker than it's been of late? As Sioux City enters its 20th month of vacancy, it's a pertinent question.


Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Roger at Rest

Lest we forget, Frere Roger's funeral was held earlier today. A crowd estimated by the community at Taize of between 10 and 12,000 people attended, with the overflow standing outside the Church of the Reconciliation and following the liturgy via jumbotron.

In the name of Benedict XVI, Kasper presided, and the four other Taize members who are priests concelebrated with him. Another cardinal, the impressive Philippe Barbarin of Lyon, was present, as were several prelates of every denomination, the French Interior Minister Nicholas Sarkozy and the German President Horst Kohler, who greeted the Pope in memorably moving words last week.

Frere Alois, the German Catholic who is the new superior at Taize, gave a succinct, moving introduction to the liturgy.

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.



More Shake-Up

Discussing the changes earlier with one of the Stormtroopers, he had a very relevant thing to say.... We were going into a breakdown of ethnic and language groups working from names mentioned and wondering how B16 would attain a balance, say, between Anglophones, Italians and Portugese-speakers.

After holding forth at length, he responded by asking, simply, "Do you really think he gives a shit about that?"

And, you know what, in a nutshell, that's the point to keep in mind. If adherence to rules were the big thing, the cardinals would've never elected a 78 year-old with a controversial record and some pretty serious health problems. All those drawbacks -- and the "what ifs" -- become irrelevant when a man's qualities render him to be the best for the job; I've spoken about the Ratzinger tendency toward "healthy risk" before. It's looking like what we'll see at play here. Prepare to be surprised.

As April ended, who would've thought that the Grand Inquisitor unpacking boxes in Rome right now would be Bill Levada? Papa Bear's too smart to be pigeonholed.... As he starts to rock 'n roll, keep that in mind.


What's "Let's Get it On!" in Latin?

CWNews confirms old news....
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.

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.
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.
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?

Don't be surprised, however, if the universal indult comes up high on the discussion list from both sides. It's in the winds for discussion at the Synod....

SVILUPPO: Papabile, our resident expert on issues of the old rite and the SSPX, clarifies this report. Here's a snip:
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.

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.
With thanks, cheers and a tip, I stand corrected and am enjoying a hearty dose of crow.