Wednesday, October 11, 2006

The Hump-Day Mix

It's Wednesday morning, and here's the buzz:
  • First off, the (seven) hills are alive with the sound of... indult. Or, if you prefer, the boys who cried "indult" are at it again. Whatever your analogy, could there be something to it this time? If The Times is to be believed, then the answer is yes. And as some of the rumor-mongering has been traced back to your friendly neighborhood Indult People -- i.e. the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei -- where there's smoke, there's... a burning charcoal with some grains on it. In this business, at least. Now, before anyone starts queueing up in a panic for Reggie Foster's office hours, it seems that the speculation is tied into the impending publication of the Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation of last year's Synod of Bishops on the Eucharist, a document a year in the making which is slated for release by month's end. Remember, too, that the trend of this pontificate has been one subtle yet firm clarifications as opposed to the prior practice of the sweeping, Wojtylan Feats of (Papal) Strength which became tough to keep up with over time. So whether the anticipated "indult" actually turns out to be a stand-alone motu proprio (a legislative document backed by the force of the Pope's "own initiative") or simply a concise, emphasized expounding on an existing reality tucked into the Apostolic Exhortation remains an open question. Bottom line: indult or not, the coming document will be, after the encyclical, the most important message of Benedict's papacy to date. However, given the Ratzingerian affinity for things liturgical, even if the status quo remains untouched, it could still be said that the Exhortation will serve as the new Reference Point #1 on who Benedict is and the direction in which he intends to lead.
  • The clamor is building toward Friday's limited release (NY, LA and Boston) of Deliver Us From Evil, the docufilm built around the story of the serial predator Oliver O'Grady, now laicized, and the lengthy trail of tears and damage he left behind in the lives of his victims and their families. Last night, ABC's Nightline -- the show that gave the first Boston revelations their national "legs" -- devoted the lion's share of the program to the movie, which features some of the most intimate and wrenching survivor footage I've seen and (even more disturbingly) a hefty amount of interview and walk-around time with O'Grady; after seven years in a California jail for molesting two brothers, he was deported to his native Ireland and now roams free.... After five years, doesn't get any easier to stomach, does it, gang?
  • In case you haven't been paying attention, a new media approach has been taking hold at 3339 Massachusetts Ave., NW in the nation's capital: reporters who want to talk to the apostolic nuncio to the United States... get to talk to the apostolic nuncio to the United States. Bishops -- not to mention aspiring bishops -- let this be a sign unto you. A big one. With flashing lights and sirens. Since his arrival in the spring, Archbishop Pietro Sambi has been dazzling large audiences and one-on-one meet-ups from New Orleans to the DC circuit with his mix of personality, intensity, genuine interest, keen, candid observations couched in vivid stories and imagery -- and, most importantly, those big Benedictine buzzwords: "positive idea." (Contrary to popular belief, Catholics are supposed to possess the latter. Even American Catholics.) Sure, some observers are lamenting the absence of the giggles that would come to them when Sambi's predecessors would attempt to say "shepherd," but those traditionally accustomed to being bored to tears during nuncio's speeches are now being moved to them. In his latest foray into the media waters, the nuncio -- once the papal pointman in such Islamic hotspots as Cyprus, Indonesia, and Palestine (and Israel, to boot) -- sat for an extended interview with EWTN's The World Over on Regensburgate (audio here, starts about eight minutes in). It may be his highest-profile appearance to date, but you can bet it won't be his last.
  • Speaking at Pittsburgh's Duquesne University the other night, Cardinal Walter Kasper had some notable advice for the audience: don't knock what our southern neighbors call "the sects," learn from 'em. According to Ann Rodgers, "Rather than criticize Pentecostals, [Kasper said] "We should ask ourselves, 'Why do some of our Catholics leave?'"... and one wonders how much time he's got to hear the answer. Confluence of the day: the president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity "noted that in 1967 Duquesne University was the birthplace of the Catholic charismatic movement, which has brought Pentecostal practices into the Catholic church." Everybody in tongues in three... two... one.
  • Cardinal Keeler and Msgr Smith were both released from the Terni hospital yesterday and are currently resting comfortably at the premier prelate's customary Roman stomping grounds. As for return plans, everything's still up in the air.
  • And, lastly, following quickly on the heels of the Canadians, the bishops of Zambia are on deck this week for their ad limina. Given the recent exploits of that national church's favorite son, that just makes it a ton more interesting.... Clerical celibacy on the agenda for the Pope's speech, dici? These days, and with this Pope, you just never know.