Friday, February 24, 2006

Going Home With a Gong

Finishing up an 18-month stint at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith -- to which he was on loan in light of its efforts to work through the massive (18-month) backlog of sex abuse cases -- Pope Benedict has honored a Long Island canonist for his distinguished service.

Msgr. Charles Guarino, a priest of the diocese of Rockville Centre, was named a Protonotary Apostolic -- the highest grade of the monsignorial classes -- earlier this week. (Here at Loggia House, PA = Purple Deluge.) He had already been a monsignor but, as the Protonotary distinction is rare outside of Rome, the elevation is notable.

Called "a delightful and humble priest," Guarino "was one of the two canonists assigned by the USSCB to the CDF to help clear up the backlog of misconduct cases submitted to Rome." The other, Msgr. Bob Deeley of Boston, "has been assumed indefinitely into the service of the CDF."

Guarino praised B16 -- his former boss -- in an April interview with the Rockville Centre diocesan newspaper, The Long Island Catholic:
“Whenever we got together as a staff he would always address us as ‘carrissimi amici,’ (Italian for ‘dearest friends’),” Msgr. Guarino said. “That day he said to us: ‘You are my family.’”

That was only the latest example for Msgr. Guarino of the kindness, gentleness, and thoughtfulness that he described as characteristic of the new Pope.

“Every week we met together. At first I was nervous because of his reputation for formidable intellect,” Msgr. Guarino said. That reputation proved an understatement. “Had I known how formidable, I would have been even more nervous.” Despite that, “from the beginning, I always found him to be a very generous, welcoming man, very appreciative of the work we were doing.

“He always spoke to me in Italian, which I think (he did) to force me to use my Italian,” Msgr. Guarino explained. When Msgr. Guarino gave his reports in English, the cardinal always understood the reports without difficulty, demonstrating his facility in different languages. “He always grasped everything.”

Msgr. Guarino said that Pope Benedict is a humble man, a good listener, and shows “a very good sense of humor. First and foremost, he is a priest, a pastor, with concern for people.

“He asked me last Christmas if I were going home for Christmas,” Msgr. Guarino explained. “I told him that all my family had gone to God so I was staying in Rome. He replied: ‘We’re your family now.’”
Sweet, eh? Congrats to Mons. Guarino, PA.

The LI Catholic