Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Fellay: "Arinze Attacked the Mass"

I've been given the audio from the Conference given by Bishop Bernard Fellay, excommunicated head of the Society of St. Pius X, in Denver eleven days ago.

As the complete feed runs quite long, I'm going through the entirety and will release a summary in due course..... Fellay does confirm much of what was reported here in the immediate aftermath of the 13 February interdicasterial meeting.

In the meantime, a notable snip on reconciliation:
So long as [Rome] continues this way, the church will be in a bad state. That's what we say. Stop it! Stop this! Go back to the normal state of the church! And don't let this spirit of the world go around....

And now, you've probably heard that last Monday [13 February] there was a meeting in Rome -- the Pope, with the cardinals, speaking about us. I dont know more about it than you, the only thing I know is that in the morning -- that very morning -- that Cardinal Castrillion phoned [the SSPX General House in] Menzingen to ask for prayers for this meeting. So that's as much as I know. I know also that Arinze, Cardinal Arinze did attack us -- attacked the [Old] Mass. That's all; I don't know more than you and I have nothing to do with it. I am not involved; it's pure reflection from the Vatican.

And, as things are, we have to count on, probably, one day Rome will come to us with a proposal. And in the package, we will have to accept the Council. And we will say "No." And we will be, should we say, back to the present state. That's the situation.

Probably, they will try to make us, again, the "bad guys," those who don't want to agree and so on, but OK -- we will make our point and our stand. Everyday, we take it as it comes.....
More as I find interesting things....


Much (Liturgical) Music....

Cari amici Romani, avrete bisogno di questa nella mattina.....

A reader in London drops a line to let us know that "Miserere Mei will be sung, as every year, by the choir of Westminster Cathedral tomorrow." So if you're in the capital, do go, take notes and report back.

How lucky you lot are. Good to know Catholic culture is alive somewhere. I want Tenebrae....

Our correspondent also wonders "Why is it that Westminster is the only cathedral church in the whole wide Catholic world that alone still has a sung daily liturgy? We kept our choir school, everyone else abandoned them like hot coals...."

Here in the States, I'm told, this place has a damn good choir school, "on a par with the greatest of Europe."

Thank God Calvinism in "Catholic" clothing hasn't yet hit Utah.


"Memento, Homo, Quia Pulvis es...."

As we look forward to tomorrow, first a look back....

And observant readers will remember that the European custom is to impose ashes on the crown of the head.


From the Holy Land

A friend in Rome says "Call Lopez Trujillo, quickly!" -- the giraffes at Jerusalem's Biblical Zoo are being put on contraceptives....

That sound you hear? Just the sky, falling.

The 5-year-old Shavit has been injected with birth control hormones, delivered by dart, after giving birth twice in four years. The hormones will prevent her from getting pregnant for at least one year.

Zoo spokeswoman Sigalit Dzir says that while the babies are cute and female giraffes make good mothers, there isn't enough room for more. Zoo keepers are also worried about inbreeding.

Shavit will be monitored while on the hormones, and the Biblical Zoo will share information learned with other zoos around the world. Dr. Nili Avnimagen, the zoo's head vet says, other zoos administer birth control, but dart delivery is unique.

The Archbishop's First Day

Settling into the role for which he's had two years to prepare, Archbishop Daniel DiNardo of Galveston-Houston made the unprecedented move of taping a video statement exclusively for the archdiocesan website.

(And his new coat of arms has been revealed as well.)

DiNardo, 56, who became head of the US' tenth largest diocese this morning upon the retirement of Archbishop Joseph Fiorenza, noted that he's no newcomer to the area."I've been around in Galveston-Houston for almost two years now," he said, "and have had the joy and privilege of visiting almost 115 of the 160 parishes which make up this great local church," while acknowledging that "there are many, many more [of the faithful] whom I have yet the privilege to meet."

Praising the archdiocese's composition of a local church "almost like the United Nations," the new chief shepherd of Galveston-Houston's 1 million-plus Catholics also sees that diversity "as a great challenge... a real challenge."

DiNardo was able to make a rare statement for an American hierarch in stating that the challenges of the archdiocese "are challenges of growth." He reassured parishioners that they "aren't going to see too many changes" at the parish level, going on to state that "in the administrative offices, you might see one or two changes."

"But in general," DiNardo continued, "I really prefer continuity.

"After all, those people who have worked with Archbishop Fiorenza in our administrative offices have are the ones who have the wisdom and have taken on the responsibility that has seen that our growth has been done so well." He expressed his hope that he would be "a really good and true shepherd," asking for prayers to that end.

As a former staffer of the Congregation for Bishops, the new head of the American South's largest local church knows the ways of Rome and can be expected to use that aecumen in his new post, both within the archdiocese and, given the influence of metropolitans in episcopal appointments, beyond it.

Archbishop DiNardo will receive his pallium from Pope Benedict XVI on 29 June in Rome, the solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul.

Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston


Just In Case You Can't Wait....

...to get your Lent on.....

First off, I want to hear about public palm-burnings today. How prevalent are they out there? I love those, and not just because I've got a bit of the pyromaniac in me and haven't yet made my pilgrimage to Burning Man.

But, yet again, I digress.

One of my favorite classical pieces -- one of the most sublime things ever written -- is Gregorio Allegri's Miserere, the text of the penitential 51st Psalm. The work goes on for, er, about 13 minutes and in centuries past, its performance in the Sistine Chapel during Holy Week was Rome's hot ticket.

Of course, to ensure the Holy See's monopoly on the spectacle, transcribing the music and attempting to perform it elsewhere was an excommunicable offense. (Indeed, there's nothing new under the sun.)

But, so it's said, Mozart remembered it all by ear and transcribed it, consequences be damned.

Given the place of the 51st as the principal penitential Psalm and its prominence in the liturgy of Ash Wednesday -- albeit with the (no pun intended) miserable responsory "Be merciful, O Lord, for we have sinned" -- some of you might want to draw yourselves into the piece as well. Think of it as a mini-retreat.

There are many solid versions out there on iTunes -- there's no such thing as the bricks-and-mortar classical music store anymore, eh? -- but here's the best one I've found (you'll have to buy an album of gloriously triumphalist English church music, but you could do much worse than that). The Tallis Scholars, who are just mind-blowingly incredible, also have a version available on their "Essentials" CD. Again, you'll have to buy the whole CD, but they're the gold standard of Renaissance sacred music. If you've never heard them, take the plunge.

And the excommunication on the piece has been lifted, so no one has to worry about that. And, no, I'm not making a penny off it -- it's just here for your liturgica-cultural enrichment.

Speaking of the Tallises, I stumbled across a Tallis Scholars show once -- and on Palm Sunday, no less. (Yes, if you're completely oblivious, you, too can stumble across a Tallis Scholars show on Palm Sunday.) Suffice it to say, it was a gift and a tremendous start to Holy Week.

A very musical and uplifting Lent to all.


Taking the Helm

Concluding the longest US coadjutor's stint in recent times, Benedict XVI has accepted the retirement of Archbishop Joseph Fiorenza of Galveston-Houston, given for reasons of age. Fiorenza, a former president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops who has led Texas' largest diocese since 1985, turned 75 on 25 January.

Archbishop Daniel DiNardo, 56, who was designated as Fiorenza's successor in January 2004, immediately assumes the reins of the archdiocese, home to over 1 million Catholics in America's fourth largest city. From 1984-90, he was a staffer at the Congregation for Bishops, also serving a stint as director of Villa Stritch.

Galveston-Houston -- the mother diocese of Texas -- was granted metropolitan status in December 2004, at which time the state was ecclesiastically subdivided and a second province carved out of it. Given that elevation, and its numerical status as the largest See in the American South, it might well come to pass that the pontiff will bypass one of the US' traditional cardinalatial posts and send a red hat to Lone Star country.

The archdiocese is currently engrossed in the construction of a $40 million Co-Cathedral at Houston, slated to be completed in late 2007.

Given that it's opening day of the legendary Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo -- the city's Holy Festival of Obligation -- whether anything can be gleaned from the announcement's timing is anyone's guess.


Gypsies, Tramps and Curialists

This morning, the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant Peoples has presented a document on Guidelines for the Pastoral Care of Gypsies.

No, I'm not kidding.

In the works since 1999, the guidelines were presented this morning by the Council's president, Cardinal Stephen Fumio Hamao. In his intervention, Hamao noted that
Often marked by persecution, exile, inhospitality, rejection, suffering and discrimination, Gypsy history is shaped by permanent wandering that distinguishes them from others. This has given rise to an identity with its own languages, and a culture and religiosity with their own traditions, and a strong sense of belonging, with its relative bonds. So with them humanity is enriched by a real cultural heritage. Indeed "their wisdom is not written down in books, but that does not make it any less eloquent". Their way of life is essentially a living witness to inner freedom from of the bonds of consumerism and false security based on people’s presumed self-sufficiency. Nevertheless - as it is affirmed in the Guidelines – we should not forget the popular proverb that says: "God helps those who help themselves".
And that's your decennial dose of Gypsy news.


Schism On Tape

So Bernard Fellay, the (still excommunicated) head of the Society of St. Pius X, has been doing the American tour thing these last few weeks, showing up in Denver last weekend to do the Old Mass at the Society's local outpost:
Because of its dramatic location and cathedral-like bearing, St. Isidore's has become a well-known mission-church in the society, which is based in Switzerland. The movement now has 59 priests in the U.S.
Lovely, sure. If only it were Catholic. Oremus. But I digress.

As he has shown himself wont to do, the Head Schismatic yet again called the Pope of Rome on the carpet:
[According to a spokesman] Fellay told the audience Sunday that Pope Benedict is at heart a conservative, "but his mind is modernist and liberal, and this is a big problem toward reconciliation."
Yes, Virginia, the Pope's "modernist and liberal" mind is the "big problem".... Please tell me what parallel universe you live in; the weather must always be nice.

The conference given by Fellay in Denver 11 days ago is supposed to be available here, as audio and as text. However, as it's being "reviewed for accuracy" -- i.e. excising every comment which could kibosh the Society's return to Catholicism -- it's still not up.

Given the Superior-General's penchant for making bizarro statements, we might well be waiting awhile.



Now, here's is an interesting story right in my backyard.... Well, right across the river plus an hour's drive. Despite the distance, it was still the lead story on tonight's local news here.

So a 71 year-old substitute teacher in a rural New Jersey school district got a sex-change operation. And the teacher, now known as Lily McBeth, applied under her new name to return to teaching.

The God Warriors got all flipped out about this. Don't tell me you're surprised.

"I, as a parent, am appalled to have this issue brought into my child's psychology," Steve Bond said.

Vincent Mustacchio predicted "chaos" at the school when the students learned of McBeth's surgery.

Young children will be confused by the conflicting appearance of McBeth, who has a deep voice and masculine features but otherwise looks like a woman, other parents said.

"I will not allow you to put my kids in a petri dish and hope it all turns out fine," said Mark Schnepp....

Petri dish? Good Lord. That quote alone is scarier than the whole idea of a transgendered teacher returning to the classroom..... And this is what happens when parents in a quiet suburban community don't have to fret about violence, open air drug markets, poverty, etc.; i.e. the tensions are so high because the stakes are so low.

Anyways, the local school board had a public meeting last night about the issue -- and decided to overrule the protests and accept Ms. McBeth's application.

After two hours of public debate and a private meeting with McBeth and her lawyer, the board took no action on calls by several parents to bar McBeth from returning to the school where she taught for five years before becoming a woman.

"It was magnificent," McBeth said afterward. "You saw democracy in action."

McBeth, a retired sales executive who was married for 33 years and had three children, underwent gender reassignment surgery last year and re-applied for her job under her new name.

McBeth on Monday told the school board and the crowd that she loves teaching and children, and looks forward to returning to the classroom.

"This is not something I got into just as a whim," she said.

A retired sales exec who's gone into teaching -- and still there at 71? Now that's really something you don't hear about everyday.

AP/Mary Godleski


God Love the Man -- He Looks Like a Mitred Teddy Bear

David Choby was ordained yesterday as the 11th bishop of Nashville and shepherd of middle Tennessee's 65,000 Catholics. (Bonus points for the latticework on the alb.)

Here in the Northeast, we have a name for 65,000 Catholics: "five parishes." But I digress.

Coverage is trickling in. The Tennessean claims to have an article up about the ordination, but for some mysterious reason it links to something about taxes.

May this not be an omen.

I haven't yet seen the new bishop's coat of arms, so I don't know his motto. In case he chose a Latin one, smart money says he got it right on the first go-round.

Speaking of which, here is your "Scary Smile Shot of the Day"....


CLEARING THE RECORD: I've received notes from Middle Tennessee Catholics who were upset with the tone of this post. It wasn't my intent to offend anyone -- if anything, a native-son bishop who comes into office knowing his diocese, who loves it from experience and is committed to serving it and only it is not something we see every day, and it's a very good thing.

If anyone is, indeed, offended, then I apologize completely and wholeheartedly.

We need more "teddy bear" bishops; church leadership which shows an ease with being human inspires confidence in our people, especially in these days. As this appointment was well-made for all the right reasons, I pray that a thousand Chobys bloom.

Please join me in extending nothing but the best of wishes to Bishop Choby, and supporting him with the confident prayer that the new bishop's ministry may be wonderfully effective and uplifting for his flock, and that as bishop he may "preside in charity" in a way which I might one day be so graced as to attain.

PHOTOS: George Walker/The Nashville Tennessean


"Identity Theft"

Speaking of Sean O'Malley, here's an interesting piece from the retired editor of a local paper in the diocese of Fall River, which the now cardinal-designate headed from 1992 to 2002 -- after which time, by his own admission and like the lace curtain Irish, he "wintered in Palm Beach" before being dispatched to Beantown.....
As I see it, there's been a bit of identity theft under way almost from the moment Sean O'Malley became Boston archbishop. I'm not sure exactly how that happened. But I think you'll agree with me that the Archbishop O'Malley portrayed in the news media out of Boston is a different breed of cat from the man we knew as Bishop Sean, who used to list his private telephone number in the Fall River telephone book under his real name and address.

Bishop Sean of blessed memory bears no resemblance to the Boston archbishop I've been reading and hearing about. That fellow comes across time and again as ham-handed and tone deaf. And his mind seems so made up in advance I wouldn't expect his phone to ring at all. Unless it's a wrong number. Or the pope is calling.

I get the impression from the clips out of Boston that if the pope didn't invite the archbishop to Rome every now and then, the friendless friar would be without any social life at all.

Now, I am exaggerating, of course. The archbishop's image isn't really that bad. And some Boston writers (the Globe's Michael Paulson comes to mind) actually try to present a nuanced portrait of the man. Still I'm not exaggerating when I say that something drastic has befallen the image of the Sean O'Malley whom we came to know and appreciate here on the SouthCoast.
A strong and coherent man rarely comes across as we watch or read the news from Boston. Most of the time we get a woolly concoction: two parts holy Hamlet, one part Uriah Heep with a dash of bitter Mr. Potter tossed in.

According to the news these days, the archbishop is either shutting down a beloved school days before graduation or making old women cry by snuffing out the parishes where they were baptized when he's not shutting off the heat or calling in the cops to chill a protest.

Hey, and, watch out, if you have a popular pastor. Archbishop O'Malley has a knack for plucking him right out of the bosom of his parishioners without warning, proper process or coherent explanation. And don't let the brown habit fool you. As he's been portrayed, this Franciscan would convert the Holy Name Cathedral to condominiums if the price were right. Forget the talk about the priest shortage; it's all about the bucks. Everything else is a distraction.
Our Bishop Sean was nothing like that. He had a sense of humor as dry as a good martini. This was a man who knew how to laugh. Someone up in Boston must have stolen the laughter, too. Imagine anyone seeing our Sean O'Malley worrying about what something costs or what it's worth. Material things didn't matter. He was far too spiritual.

The holy man we remember is still coming through the news filter; but the news process is all about being fair and balanced. Critics get equal time and they have the archbishop reneging on his promises, stonewalling, squelching dissent and telling lies. The effect is a wash. Holiness becomes tantamount to so much hypocrisy. And what's a prelate anyway but a politician in clerical robes. It matters not that he's playing for higher stakes, that he literally does give a damn. Imagine the nerve of a victims' lawyer like Mitchell Garabedian comparing Sean O'Malley to Bernard Law the other day, as if he had a clue about the moral gulf between them. But he gets away with it.

It's sad to see how little the archbishop seems to be doing to defend himself.

Again and again, he turns the other cheek.
One of the Boston priests told me some weeks ago that, as he saw it, Sean was "starting to take the diocese back, little by little."

Here's hoping the reds accelerate that, more than just a bit.


The Big Political Confab

You know, I'm surprised that a conference which took place earlier tonight at Boston College didn't get more coverage in the blogging circles.

Then again, it's Boston College... Should we be surprised?

I completely forgot about it until I was trolling for video of Cardinal-designate Sean O'Malley's first post-announcement public appearance -- a confirmation at a Boston-area parish on Sunday -- but BC's continuing program on "The Church in the 21st Century" had a panel discussion on "Catholic Politicians in the US: Their faith and public policy."

As a politico at heart who's done his share of campaign work, you'll have to forgive me, but this is downright drool-worthy.

Moderated by uber-Catholic Tim Russert of NBC's Meet the Press, the table was comprised of two Dems and two Republicans: former RNC chairman Ed Gillespie, Brookings Institution scholar and former NYTimes Rome correspondent E.J. Dionne (who once forgot the name of "that priests' clothing shop" in my presence -- and was promptly reproved for it), James Carville (no introduction needed), and noted Vatican analyst Peggy Noonan (who confused the Book of the Gospels with the Bible in an interview with EWTN).

Such was the demand for seats that the event was held in the BC arena.

Anyways, apparently a live webcast was run (how I wish I was reminded!) and an archived feed will be available here starting tomorrow, Wednesday 1 March.


Monday, February 27, 2006

Coming Attractions

Forgive the slow posting today.

As many of you know, Monday and Tuesday are always taken up with compiling my contributions to the coming weekend's edition of The Tablet. That's been especially true in this go-round as I was putting to bed a feature-length piece recounting an interview I was privileged to have last week with Cardinal Lubomyr Husar of Kiev, head of the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church.

"The Tablet Interview" with Cardinal Husar lasted over an hour, and it was a wonderfully refreshing and impressive experience. Those of you who are subscribers can read all about it on Friday, but to do the session justice I may have to transcribe a bit more of it.

Also, and this has been in the hopper for some time but will shortly be coming to light, subscribers to Liguorian magazine can look forward to a reflection on the legacy of John Paul II in the Redemptorist journal's April issue (very good article there this month about depression).

When I penned that piece and sent it in, I couldn't help but think there was so much else to say about one of the most prolific eras in the history of the church.... Such is the nature of the beast.


Levada, Hard-Core

Yesterday, Msgr. Jimmy Checchio was installed -- some said "crowned" -- as rector of the Pontifical North American College in what one visitor to the Gianicolo called "A very uneventful occasion with a long drawn out liturgy."

All the bells and whistles were out, and dear old Cardinal Baum (avec the famous Msgr. Gillen) made a hero's effort to be there. Even though the senior American prelate, created a cardinal 30 years ago (he was archbishop of Washington then), held up pranzo for 20 minutes, everyone was still quite happy to see the Wakefield make his entrance.

The installation was presided over by Cardinal-designate Levada, with several other prelates of note in attendance.

I got an e.mail this morning from a witness to all of this who wrote that Levada's 22-minute homily was something I should try to get my hands on, because "it was just W E I R D."

Well, thanks to Cindy Wooden, we now know why....
Cardinal-designate William J. Levada said a priest who publicly announces he is homosexual makes it difficult for people to see the priest as representing Christ, the bridegroom of his bride, the church.

A public declaration of homosexuality places a priest "at odds with the spousal character of love as revealed by God and imaged in humanity," said the U.S. cardinal-designate, who is prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

Cardinal-designate Levada made his remarks during a Feb. 26 homily as he presided over a Mass for the installation of the new rector of Rome's Pontifical North American College....

"One of the more immediate challenges facing seminaries," he said, is the implementation of the Congregation for Catholic Education's November instruction that men with "deep-seated homosexual tendencies" should not be admitted to the seminary or ordained to the priesthood.

The instruction, however, made clear that the church was not questioning the validity of the ordinations of gay men who already are priests.

The cardinal-designate said the instruction "is not directly related to the U.S. sexual abuse crisis, but it is not without relevance for it," insofar as a study commissioned by the U.S. bishops identified homosexual behavior as a component in many clerical sex abuse cases.

Beyond the issue of psychosexual maturity, Cardinal-designate Levada said, "the question also needs to be viewed from its theological perspective," particularly in light of the biblical images of God's spousal relationship with his people and Gospel passages in which Jesus refers to himself as the bridegroom.

The doctrinal chief said he wanted to look specifically at "the situation of the gay priest who announces his homosexuality publicly, a few examples of which we have recently heard reported" in reaction to the Vatican document.

"I think we must ask, 'Does such a priest recognize how this act places an obstacle to his ability to represent Christ the bridegroom to his bride, the people of God? Does he not see how his declaration places him at odds with the spousal character of love as revealed by God and imaged in humanity?'" he said.

"Sadly, this provides a good example of the wisdom of the new Vatican instruction," he said.

The cardinal-designate also told the seminarians: "It is important for our people to hear us priests preach and teach about the fundamental character of God's love imprinted upon humanity in the original act of creation: 'God created man in his image; in the divine image he created him; male and female he created them.'"
OK, so Levada -- you know, the man whose job is to guard the teachings of the church -- has long been accused by the "true guardians of orthodoxy" (better known as the "Rightward Fringe") of being a wholly-owned subsidiary of the gays, the liberals and Cardinal Mahony....

I'm keen to hear their judgment on where these comments put him.


The "Outsider" Folds

After but two months, Alejandro Bermudez has shuttered Catholic News Agency's blog, Catholic Outsider.

Admittedly, given that Bermudez burnt out so quickly, I'm led to examine my conscience, pondering whether I'm either: 1. insane or 2. a glutton for punishment to have kept these pages going for 15 months now, always trying to scope out what's going on, breaking stories as opposed to just regurgitating the reportage of others and seeking to add a layer of analysis and more detailed coverage which, given the subject matter and the usual constraints, isn't easily available out there.

I can only hope it's been beneficial for the wider audience, and I pray that the quality of it has gotten better with time. The numbers do show a constant, significant uptick -- February's readership is, so far, on a 50% increase over January's (on track for a record 100,000 for this month) -- and that reaffirms my desire to think that all of this hasn't been engaged in vain, and that the coverage has been of the calibre worthy of the rich, multifaceted beat which, when it's done right, Catholicism is.

So, all that said, I do need to ask again for your assistance. I hate doing this, but to paraphrase Chink, you can't run an office on Hail Marys.....

Unlike the other news-blogs running, remember that these pages are not owned by a larger outlet, so your humble scribe is a news outlet of one working on a budget which makes a shoestring seem downright lush in comparison. Sure, the hosting's free, but not the phone time (just had to increase the minutes on my cellphone plan), the office expenses, the research materials, and everything that's necessary to keep all this as comprehensive as possible.

I do all this because I love it, but I also have to pay the bills.... Whispers keeps purring solely through the support of its readers. I put out a request a couple weeks back for help, and it was somewhat received, but not enough to keep me a paid-up camper.

Yes, it would be easier to just slink away and become the bland desk jockey I was always supposed to be. But I'm too stubborn for that, and too committed to this.... I love hearing and knowing that so many of you enjoy the dispatches as you tell me you do. That's just downright heartwarming and means the world, not to mention it keeps me encouraged that, someday, things will be a bit easier.

In the meantime, however and as always, keeping this outlet going remains in your hands. You can find the guitar case down the right sidebar, below the archives, so please do what you can.

All thanks for the kindnesses so many of you have show me everyday. And many thanks in advance for helping things along.


GG Meets Mantilla.... and Pope

Michaëlle Jean, the Governor-General of Canada, was received by the Pope this morning in private audience with her husband, the documentarian Jean-Daniel Lafond, and her six year-old daughter Marie-Eden.

I'm trying to recall the last time a dignitary brought a young child to a Vatican audience....

As it was a private visit, no public speeches were given, the Order of Canada was not worn, and Benedict XVI left his mozzetta and official bling behind.

But they still had the exchange of gifts.

Jean, a CBC journalist who began her tenure in the post representing Queen Elizabeth II as Canada's head of state last September, seemed to have (for today, at least) laid aside her known predilection for pantsuits, adhering to the traditional Vatican protocol which calls for women in skirts and mantillas, arms covered, etc.

Not that Benedict makes faces when dignitaries breach the longstanding rules -- he doesn't seem to care much about the customs, really -- but still....

SVILUPPO (10.40am): More from the wire:
Jean spoke French as well as Italian to the Pope during their 25-minute private meeting in Benedict's private library. Jean studied Italian in Montreal as well as in Italy.

As they sat down, the Governor General told the Pope she had heard he spoke 10 languages.

"Maybe three," he replied somewhat sheepishly.

PHOTOS: Alberto Pizzoli/POOL


THE CONSISTORY: Back to the Nervi

The Office for Papal Liturgical Celebrations announced this morning that the 24 March public consistory at which Benedict XVI will create 15 new cardinals will return to the Paul VI Audience Hall. It begins at 10.30am Rome time and takes place in the context of the Liturgy of the Word.

The last consistory to be held in the cavernous space, which seats 6,000, was in 1994. Those of 1998, 2001 and 2003 were held in St. Peter's Square.

On the following morning, the solemnity of the Annunciation, the Mass of the Rings will be held in the Vatican Basilica. The new cardinals will be the sole concelebrants alongside the Pope.

The continuance of one of the most charming consistory traditions was also announced this morning. On the evening of consistory day, the new cardinals, wearing the red choir cassock, take up places in the salons of the Apostolic Palace to receive any visitors who wish to offer their congratulations. It has the feel of one big party as well-wishers move from room to room for photos, blessings -- and, for some, comparing notes. The visitations will take place from 4.30 to 6.30 on the afternoon of the 24th.


Sunday, February 26, 2006

Remember, Man.....

OK, so Ash Wednesday's coming up and I still have to tell you my Ash Wednesday story. As I find the time between now and then, I promise that I'll jot it down if able....

In the meantime, there is a question I have for everyone.

I don't usually do the spirituality kaffeeklatsch because these are external forum pages. However, I'm always intrigued by the things people do for Lent. Some of us take on the same rituals every year, because they're tried, true and present a real opportunity for purification and penitence. Others among us change things up, because a new challenge is always exhilarating. Regardless, it's always something inspiring.

So I ask you, my dear Loggiaheads: What are you doing this Lent? There might be some among us who don't exactly know what they're giving up or, better still, what they're trying to do more of to engage the spirit of these days so that we may better celebrate the Easter mysteries in all their joy, so this'd be a nice exchange to get all of us prepped for Ash Wednesday and the coming weeks of the desert experience, or at least as much of that as we're able to partake in.

Now, it's been a month since I've opened a combox -- it was jarring to witness a thread on reactions to Deus caritas est turn into a brawl -- so I do this reluctantly. But this is something important for all of us as Catholics, and maybe the ideas and plans we see here might help some of us out.

Ground rules: in keeping with the spirit of Lent -- which is, for those who have forgotten, dying to self -- no one-upsmanship, please. And absolutely no fighting or judging of what others have to say.

And they're off......


Introibo ad Altare Dei....

You know, every so often I check eBay, not that I'd ever buy anything on it, but still.

And there seems to be a cottage industry of church-goods sellers on it, vending everything from zucchetti to cards on which are written every Wojtyla Daughter's favorite prayer, The Beautiful Hands of a Priest. (Blech.)

It's the closest thing we'll likely ever get to a virtual Gammarelli, just without Signor Roberto's gregariousness and good humor.

Anyways, I came across something which'd be of interest to both liturgy nuts and history buffs -- both of which I have some trace of, deep down inside....

It's an old Roman Missal, an American-made one specifically manufactured for military chaplains during World War II. Pretty sweet explanation there of the history behind its manufacture, and good shots of something which, in many ways, is a relic. The above is the Canon page of it....

So if you have an interest in these things, do check it out. And good luck to the bidders.


Now From the Canonry Descending

Building on the exclusive report published here two weeks ago, Msgr. Canon Paul McInerny was spotted this morning vested in rochet, mantelletta and the biretta with red tuft -- the vestural symbols of his new post -- in the precincts of St. Mary Major.

A source tells me that, in accord with the time-honored custom of the Patriarchal Liberian Basilica, the formal investiture of McInerny, secretary to Cardinal Bernard Law, as a Canon of the Basilica took place in the Maggiore's Sforzi chapel last Sunday morning. He is now entitled to all the lifetime privileges of the appointment, including a monthly salary and ample lodging in the Canonry adjacent to the oldest church in the world placed under the patronage of the Mother of Jesus.

No, that isn't Macca at left with Prince Albert; that shot's there just in case you wanted to see what the canon's new clothes look like. Grazie to Don Jim's Dappled Photos, from which this photo was shamelessly pilfered.


Purple Sneak Preview

Zucchetto, fine.... But simar-and-all -- before ordination?

On Tuesday, the travelling circuit (including newly-arrived apostolic nuncio Archbishop Pietro Sambi) will converge on Nashville for the ordination and installation of native son David Choby as its bishop.

And, yes, the ordination will take place in the diocesan Cathedral of the Incarnation, so if you're looking to start a crusade over the choice of venue, you're out of luck on this one. Sorry.

The bishop-elect received the tribute of the parish he's led for 17 years the other night:

Hundreds of his parishioners flooded into the St. John Vianney Elementary School [Friday] night for a bittersweet celebration.

"He's my friend, confessor and guidance counselor," said Byrna Highlander, 66, who commutes daily from Gallatin to cook for the Fathers of Mercy in South Union, Ky.

"I can't think of a better person to be bishop of Nashville."

When Choby entered the building in a magenta cap and sash, which is the Bishop's House Cassock garb, applause filled the gymnasium and people stood.

With a broad smile, he took time with each as a long line queued up to touch his shoulder, shake his hand, talk.

"I like reading the Bible and seeing and saying hi to him," said Patricia Vasquez, 10, who stood later with eyes shyly averted for a photo with the church leader.

Young and old left notes on a large sheet of paper, talking of their love for Choby, congratulating him and saying they would miss him.

Letters from children at the school plastered another board, extolling him as "awesome," "nice," "an inspiration," and "the best."

"I have enjoyed you being our priest and now our Bishop," wrote Anna Kendrick. "I hope you make very good decisions and some day be pope. I think you would be a great pope some day."

Cute, eh?

Billy Kingsley/The Nashville Tenesseean


The Awning Casts a Shadow

At this morning's Angelus, B16 delivered a talk which focused both on this morning's Gospel, and placed it in the context of the coming Lenten observance.

Translation to come, but if you can't wait for the "gist," then you can find that here.

AP/Plinio Lepri


Saturday, February 25, 2006

The Lenten Retreat

Well, I took my own advice and bought a copy of To Follow You, Light of Life, the Lenten retreat given to John Paul II and household in 2004 by then-Mons. Bruno Forte, now archbishop of the Abruzzese see of Chieti-Vasto. It just arrived.

Just in case you're curious, the annual Lenten retreat for the Pope and the dicastery heads of the Roman Curia is a weeklong event (Sunday to Saturday), undertaken in early March and held at the Vatican's Redemptoris Mater Chapel. The selection of its preacher is always a buzzed-about topic in Roman circles, as it usually gives a glimpse of the pontiff's mind -- and, if the preacher is in the right disposition, starts papabile buzz around him.

Karol Wojtyla's legendary 1976 retreat to Paul VI raised eyebrows among attendees, and it played a role in increasing the visibility which, two years following, saw him elected to the chair of Peter. Its title is a good nutshell synthesis of everything that followed: A Sign of Contradiction. This year, Benedict XVI confounded everyone -- as he's used to doing -- by picking Cardinal Marco Ce', the retired patriarch of Venice who was one of John Paul's first cardinal-creations in 1979, to give the talks.

As it gave the chattering classes nothing to talk about, they weren't happy with the choice. But who asked them, anyways? It is, after all, the Pope's retreat. Go figure.

I have a collection of papal Lenten spiritual exercises, which I've used during the penitential season over the years -- Schonborn's Loving the Church, Hickey's Mary at the Foot of the Cross, Van Thuan's Testimony of Hope.... I don't know if the retreats given by Cardinals George (2001) and Ratzinger (2003) are available in print... But, regardless, the 2006 slot is taken.

To be honest, I would love to see the talks given at last year's retreat by the Italian Renato Corti, bishop of Novara. The Holy See changed up its usual plans last year, given that it was the year of the Eucharist, and held the closing liturgy in public, in St. Peter's. Given John Paul's ill health, Sodano celebrated, and I distinctly recall Corvi giving a stellar, engaging, very moving homily.

John Paul's message to Forte at the end of the retreat is used as the foreword of the book. In it, the late Pope says "The Lord, for his part, will know to reward you for all this...."

Translation: "I will make you a bishop."


"Pure Invention"

Before celebrating the centennial Mass for a community of Poor Clares in Dublin, Archbishop Diarmuid Martin spoke to the Irish state broadcaster RTE, rubbishing reports of his potential return to Rome and the service of the Roman Curia as "pure invention" and "upsetting and damaging."

Best part of the video clip: footage of Martin's 1999 episcopal ordination.... The ordaining prelate: John Paul II, known to many as "the Great."


This Could Get Ugly

So I've been sent an article from La Nazione in Florence.... Headline says it all: "Priest invokes Mohammed; Vatican investigates."

Last weekend in Florence, the report says, a parish priest at the church of "Madonna delle Tosse" prayed the following during the closing prayer of the Mass (Whispers translation): "Lord, infuse in us the firmness of the Muslim believers in confessing our ideas before the world without caring about derision or of the disrespect of others. Teach us that the real war, as the Prophet [Muhammad] said, is that which happens within ourselves, on the inside, without hate nor the shedding of blood."

Suffice it to say, some parishioners really got hopped up -- the report says that they were "scandalized." The text of the prayer was, inexplicably, published in the parish bulletin.

The incident has been referred to the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, an official of which has, on background, already called it "a very serious case" of liturgical abuse. The dicastery has opened a case.


Friday, February 24, 2006

"Admire All You Like -- But You Can't Have It"

The Pope greets President Alfred Mosiu of Albania, who he received in audience earlier today.... As the reigning Vatican fashionisto du jour, I must report that Benedict XVI has culled a new pectoral cross from the bling box.

Next up: on Monday morning, B16 will receive the Canadian Governor-General Michaelle Jean. Because she's hot.

Reuters/Darrin Zammit Lupi


The Word From Auckland

Interviewing the now-retired Cardinal Thomas Stafford Williams of Wellington, NCR's John Allen notes that the porporato "sported an open-collar shirt and casual slacks" for their interview.

Yes, coming from a cardinal, it is impressive when that happens.... And Allen's not alone in having experienced it.

Williams has already caused some titters with some words he gave on the state of the liturgy, and the value of inculturation:
You've been passionate about the need for inculturation. Why?

To take a negative example, the evangelization of the Maori [New Zealand's indigenous people] has been largely ineffective because of the lack of inculturation. The missionaries were French, and they brought the Roman rite celebrated in Latin. For the Maori, once something becomes a tradition, it is very difficult to change. … Many are now trapped in a 19th century mold. Among the Maori, there isn't the degree of religious practice, as well as theological and liturgical sophistication, that we would want. …On the other hand, the Samoans give us a very positive example. The late Samoan Cardinal Pio Taofinu'u related a Samoan ceremony called the kava to the Eucharist. The kava is the root of a pepper tree, which is ceremonially pounded and strained to make a drink. It's an elaborate ceremony, with a special cloth used to strain the kava. Those preparing the drink are guarded by warriors while they perform the rites. Taofinu'u said the Eucharist is the kava par excellence, and so he had it guarded by the chiefs themselves. There are also parallels with the symbolism of the Eucharist. The kava is always served only from one cup, and it's taken to the people as a sign of unity. Taofinu'u's book was called Kava as Prophecy. … The Samoans have brought that kind of liturgy here. I was there when we did this for the first time, and an old man came up to me and said, "This is the first time I've ever been to Mass that I felt like I was Samoan."

You've also been outspoken in defense of the International Commission on English in the Liturgy, and the need for flexibility in liturgical translation. Do you see this as an issue of inculturation?

It has to be. There is no one English language. If anyone believes that English is a homogenous language, then why does the Oxford University Press print a separate Australian and a New Zealand English dictionary in addition to its standard editions? In New Zealand, it's estimated that we use 300 Maori words. How can anyone think our English is the same as everyone else's? …. It's a matter of competence and trust. Translations should be within the competence of episcopal conferences working singly or collegially. The role of the Holy See is to assist in the area of doctrinal integrity. To say that we know your language better than you do is to betray a distrust that goes beyond the competence of the Holy See.
Coming but a month after ICEL held its "Winter" Meeting on Williams' turf, the cardinal's message seems clear: "Don't let the plane door hit you on the flight out."


Tough Talk from Stato and Rino

Speaking of our friends in San Damaso, they've been coming out strong on the cartoon question.... Much stronger than the Pope....

Whether they're doing this with the blessing of the Apartment remains to be seen.
Vatican prelates have been concerned by recent killings of two Catholic priests in Turkey and Nigeria. Turkish media linked the death there to the cartoons row. At least 146 Christians and Muslims have died in five days of religious riots in Nigeria.

"If we tell our people they have no right to offend, we have to tell the others they have no right to destroy us," Cardinal Angelo Sodano, the Vatican's Secretary of State (prime minister), told journalists in Rome.

"We must always stress our demand for reciprocity in political contacts with authorities in Islamic countries and, even more, in cultural contacts," Foreign Minister Archbishop Giovanni Lajolo told the daily Corriere della Sera.

Reciprocity -- allowing Christian minorities the same rights as Muslims generally have in Western countries, such as building houses of worship or practicing religion freely -- is at the heart of Vatican diplomacy toward Muslim states.

Vatican diplomats argue that limits on Christians in some Islamic countries are far harsher than restrictions in the West that Muslims decry, such as France's ban on headscarves in state schools....

Pope Benedict signaled his concern on Monday when he told the new Moroccan ambassador to the Vatican that peace can only be assured by "respect for the religious convictions and practices of others, in a reciprocal way in all societies."

He mentioned no countries by name. Morocco is tolerant of other religions, but like all Muslim countries frowns on conversion from Islam to another faith.

Iraqi Christians say they were well treated under Saddam Hussein's secular policies, but believers have been killed, churches burned and women forced to wear Muslim garb since Islamic groups gained sway after the U.S.-led invasion in 2003....

"Enough now with this turning the other cheek! It's our duty to protect ourselves," Monsignor Velasio De Paolis, secretary of the Vatican's supreme court [the Apostolic Signatura], thundered in the daily La Stampa. Jesus told his followers to "turn the other cheek" when struck.

"The West has had relations with the Arab countries for half a century, mostly for oil, and has not been able to get the slightest concession on human rights," he said.

Bishop Rino Fisichella, head of one of the Roman universities that train young priests from around the world, told Corriere della Sera the Vatican should speak out more.

"Let's drop this diplomatic silence," said the rector of the Pontifical Lateran University. "We should put pressure on international organizations to make the societies and states in majority Muslim countries face up to their responsibilities."
So is this a case of "Boss sends the underlings out to voice the message he can't say" or "Underlings speak out, pressuring Boss to do so"?

We will see.... Remember, after all, that the Pope is going to Turkey in November.


Stato Subito

Not Bono, not Magnificenzo, the other one -- see him? Yeah, that one. Well, it seems, yet again, that rumours of his demise are greatly exaggerated....

(And how do you say "Thank God" in Gaelic?)

From the Irish Independent:
Archbishop Diarmuid Martin will return to Rome to take up a senior position in the Curia within six months.

Informed sources in the Vatican say he will be replaced as Archbishop of Dublin by his deputy Bishop Eamonn Walsh.

Archbishop Martin's departure will constitute part of Pope Benedict XVI's far-ranging reform of the Curia, the Catholic Church's central administration, which is due to take place later this year.

Contrary to a widespread impression that Dr Martin was snubbed by the Vatican earlier this week when he was passed over for a Red Hat, he has been marked out by Rome to take up a significant role in a revamped Curia.

A number of senior Vatican figures, including the Secretary of State Cardinal Angelo Sodano and Cardinal Walter Kasper are due to retire from their high-level posts in the near future.

And Pope Benedict has earmarked Dr Martin as one of a younger generation to take over the upper echelons of the Curia....

Indications of these significant moves have been signalled by Jim Cantwell, a highly respected Vatican-watcher and a former press secretary to the Irish Episcopal Conference.

The double move is also understood to have the support of the Apostolic Nuncio to Ireland, Archbishop Giuseppe Lazzarotto, whose advice is given a high priority by the Pope and the Vatican.

"Far from being sidelined, Dr Martin is in line for high office this summer or autumn," a high-placed church source said.

But the Pope wants him to complete his work before coming back to Rome.
And in the Curia, there was great rejoicing....

SVILUPPO (6.10pm): Go raibh maith agat to a reader from Donegal who wrote in to say that "thank God" in Gaelic is, "buíochas le Dia."

I will keep that phrase in mind over the next ten weeks.


Something To Think About

You'll have to forgive me -- I'm being a bit of a clericalist today. It's out of character, I know, but still....

One of the major problems I've seen in the American Catholic landscape of the present is the crisis of priestly morale. It's not the sexiest thing to write about so, ergo, it doesn't get much coverage. But it should really concern us all.

We're so used to the almost-superhuman work ethic of so many of our priests that we expect them to do it, everyday, and be fine. Too much in these days, that isn't the case, and the strains of ministry are greater in so many places than they've ever been before.

And, thing is, the ones suffering the most aren't asking for much. I called a friend in a diocese where the clergy are just dropping like flies a couple weeks back, priests asking for and thinking of taking leaves of absence left and right as they're just overwhelmed, burnt out, and need to recharge in order to give even more of themselves -- and they're already going over and above the call of ministry.

I asked what it would take for that presbyterate to start feeling better. The answer was simple: "If only [the bishop] would bring us together and ask us, simply, 'How is your life?' And if he would just listen to what we had to say -- and if he would do something about it."

Regrettably, "How is your life?" isn't a question many of our priests are hearing these days. And the consequences of not thinking about it can be devastating. I was just reading last week's bulletin from the National Federation of Priests Councils (NFPC) and found this letter in it....
Dear Friends,

August 11, 1992,
December 30, 1996,
February 5, 2002,
April 4, 2005 and
July 3, 2005.

Do these dates mean anything to you? No, they probably don’t at first glance. These are dates on which some of our priests died by suicide. And there are others. No words of distress can adequately express our dismay and sorrow over such horrendous deeds. Suicides among clergy and religious men are rare and oftentimes unexplainable. It is true that some of these fathers and brothers were accused, and possibly guilty of serious misdeeds, but not all of them.

These men sometimes suffered from depression, mental illness, or loneliness. The burdens of priesthood and religious life are much heavier today than in the past when your numbers were greater and your burdens were shared with coworkers.

Today, many of you are often responsible for multiple parishes. You not only say Mass and administer the Sacraments; you must also catechize, visit parishioners, fund-raise, and be the “all around caretaker” of the properties, most of which you were not prepared for in the seminary or novitiate. Our Religious who live in Community need support and strength from their brothers, but are often sent to missions where the numbers are few, unrealistic demands are made, and the sources of personal fulfillment are drying up.

Many of us know that you, our religious ministers, our priests and brothers, are in crisis. To whom do you turn when you need help in keeping yourself together? Your natural support system, your Bishop or Religious Superiors, are themselves being attacked on every side and often cannot give full attention or time to the needs of every individual in their care. Certainly they mean well when they claim to be always available to those priests and brothers under their care. But it is naïve and unrealistic to think they can be available to you 24/7. They can’t work all day and be available all night. To go to a therapist is not feasible for several reasons and to confide in another close friend is not always possible or appropriate.

To whom, then, can you go? If your response is, “Well, surely we can find some one in whom to trust,” then why do we still have our men depressed, confused, and disillusioned with their life and ministry?
Apparently, there's a hotline which priests who find themselves overburdened or down can call to either unload or, if necessary, find help. This is a service in these difficult times. And it's so good to know that something's being done about it.

Please keep our good guys in your prayers.


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


A Notable Caller in the Apartment

B16 is at it again....

The Bollettino of the Holy See Press Office has just been updated. This is interesting.

In the update, it notes that the Pope received Enzo Bianchi, the prior of the Ecumenical Community of Bose and a noted progressive, in audience this afternoon.

Bianchi -- who bears the most uncanny resemblance to Ira Einhorn, the 60's guru-turned-"Unicorn Killer" -- has said some controversial things in the past. Sandro Magister noted in a 2005 piece that:
In his latest “Letter to our friends,” issued for the end of Lent, Bianchi denies that there is an attack underway in Europe against the Church and Christians. There has been no such attack in the past – “for centuries Christians have lived freely and been respected” – and much less is there one today. In his opinion, it is rather the Church that stubbornly insists upon retaining its privileges and its close ties with the dominant powers.

Enzo Bianchi does not carry any particular official authority. The monastic community that he founded – a mixed group of monks and nuns that includes Protestants and Orthodox – is far from receiving canonical approval.

But he is a leading representative of a tendency widespread throughout all levels of the Church, generally identified as “conciliar” and “ecumenical.”

His activity is highly varied and intense. He is an acclaimed writer. He has published dozens of books, some of them translated into various languages. He writes for the newspaper owned by the Turin-based FIAT automotive company, “La Stampa,” in spite of the fact that he is an implacable enemy of capitalism. He also writes for the newspaper of the Italian bishops’ conference, even though he is the greatest critic of both it and its president, Cardinal Camillo Ruini. Dozens of bishops and hundreds of priests have attended his retreats.

A constant stream of illustrious visitors passes through Bose. The patriarch of Constantinople, Bartholomew I, has been there. Rowan Williams, archbishop of Canterbury and one of Bianchi’s close friends, spent several weeks there prior to his installation as the new primate of the Anglican Church, and has returned a number of times since then. Regular visitors from the Vatican include Archbishop Michael Fitzgerald, president of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, Piero Marini, the pope’s master of ceremonies, and Renato Boccardo, the new secretary of the administrative center of Vatican City. When he was archbishop of Milan, Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini also demonstrated a certain predilection for Bianchi and the monastery of Bose. After September 11, 2001, Martini made a stir with a homily in which, quoting Bianchi, he defined the destruction of the Twin Towers as an “apocalypse in the etymological sense of ‘lifting a veil’,” a “revelation of the evil in which we are immersed, of the absurdity of a society whose god is money, whose law is success, and whose time is marked by the opening of the worldwide stock exchanges.”
Most notable of all is this portion, which deals with the concept of the papacy and the church's wider role:
In 1982, Bianchi became the successor of Fr. Giuseppe Dossetti as president of the Institute of Religious Studies in Bologna, the most influential center of study in the world of “conciliar” tendency. In a book released at the end of 2004, the center made public its plan for reforming the papacy which it delivered in August of 1978 to the cardinals who took part in the two conclaves of that year. In the minds of its authors, this plan should be valid just as it is for the next conclave.

Bianchi is a radical critic of what he calls the “Constantinian era” of the Church, which lasted from the 4th century until the second half of the 20th century, and which he believes is perpetuated today in the new historical sin of “civil religion” in support of the modern “emperors.”
Very interesting, indeed.


Indult Day

DISCLAIMER: This post has nothing to do with the SSPX nor the Pian rite, so hopefully no one's been caught off-guard by the title.

Four weeks from today comes one of my favorite feasts of the calendar: St. Patrick's Day. Of course, there are a lot of extra-liturgical celebrations that come with it..... And I love those oh so much. The festival (known in the vernacular as the "pub crawl") starts next weekend.

For a full-blooded southern Italian, my affinity for the feast of the patron of Ireland -- who, so it's said, cast the snakes out of it -- is somewhat counterintuitive.

But, I'm sorry, Columbus Day just isn't as fun; there is no joy in chugging red wine. You're not supposed to chug red wine. And while Italians see St. Joseph as one of their own, and everything closes in Italy on his feast, he wasn't Italian. But indulging in the cream-filled zeppole on his feast is always a joy. (As 19 March falls on Sunday this year, St. Joseph's Day will be transferred to Monday, the 20th.)

However, here's a prediction which will be vindicated: As this is one of those years in which St. Paddy's falls on a Lenten Friday, you will see -- especially in the papers of the large Catholic cities (Philadelphia, New York, St. Louis, Boston, et al.) -- articles in the press about "What to do about your corned-beef sandwich?"

Now, here in the States, most dioceses are smart enough to grant an indult, so that the children of Ireland (and those who love them) may eat the proper food with impunity.

This fascinates non-Catholics. The last time Paddymas fell on a Friday, I found myself in the daily editorial meeting of a large metropolitan newspaper as the topic of "What to do about your corned-beef sandwich?" came up. Judging by how it had to be explained, and the reaction, you would've thought the theory of relativity was being taught to third-graders or something. But they just (no pun intended) ate it up.

What's always most interesting in this context is those dioceses that don't grant the indult from Friday abstinence for the day, and its subjects who get wind of it and go into another ecclesiastical jurisdiction so that, at least technically, they're not sinning.

We used to have a form of this here. I've just been reminded that next week marks a decade since the death of the legendary John Cardinal Krol of Philadelphia -- just as it is with the Cush in Boston, Krol is still seen by many here as "The Cardinal" given his larger-than-life presence and monumental 27-year tenure.

Until it was mandated by the 1983 revision of the Code of Canon Law, Krol forbade the Saturday evening celebration of Sunday vigil Masses, and many then-twentysomething Philadelphians of the 1970s will tell you about going to the weekly 12am (i.e. midnight) Sunday Mass at Assumption Church on Spring Garden Street, which catered to the young people's desire to fulfill their obligation, after which they could go out into the night and sleep it off the following morning.

Others just took the loophole of crossing the bridges into New Jersey, and rush-hour-esque traffic jams would form over the Delaware River at 3pm on Saturday afternoons to make the Saturday vigils. This would be repeated, of course, for the trip home. And the commuters would have to pay a toll.

Further proof that, where there's a will, there's always an ecclesiastical way.



The Pope got to see one of his red hats-to-be this morning, receiving Cardinal-designate William Levada for the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith's standing Friday audience.

Of course, however, no reference was made to Levada's impending status by the Vatican, he was called "S.E. Mons. William Joseph Levada" as if nothing had happened.... Somebody told you about this the other day: the Vatican rule is no "Eminenza," no "cardinal-designate," no give-aways whatsoever until the Consistory.

As the first-ranking designee on the list -- thanks to the seniority of the dicastery he heads -- Levada will render the "indirizzo d'omaggio," or the customary address of homage and gratitude to the Pope in the name of the class of new cardinals, at the public consistory.

While the homage has been given by non-Italians before -- the Frenchman Jean-Louis Tauran in 2003, the Chilean Jorge Arturo Medina Estevez in 1998, the Spaniard Eduardo Martinez Somalo in 1988 -- 24 March will mark the first time that the address has been given by an American.

Also received today by the Pope: Archbishop Gabriel Montalvo, the former nuncio to the United States, now settling into his Roman retirement.


"Buono Quaresimo, Sant'Anselmo"

This morning, the formal notice for Ash Wednesday and its liturgical program were released from the Vatican. Of course, Ash Wednesday is 1 March, five days from today. Those who haven't yet read the Pope's message for Lent can find that here.

On the day itself, the traditional papal beginning of Lent -- curtailed due to the illness of John Paul II -- will return.

At 16.30 Rome time, Benedict XVI will arrive for prayers at the Benedictine mother-church of Sant'Anselmo on the Aventine Hill, from which the penitential procession (which, in days past, the Popes used to walk barefoot, wearing the sackcloth, etc.) to the Basilica of Santa Sabina, the mother-church of the Dominicans, where the Ash Wednesday liturgy will take place.

Note that, as opposed to here in the States where the ashes are worn on the forehead, in Italy (and much of Europe) the remnants of the burnt palm are actually imposed on the crown of the head....

I'll have to tell my Ash Wednesday story -- well, one of 'em -- as it draws near.


Thursday, February 23, 2006

THE CONSISTORY: Pars Corporis Nostri

An enthusiast of newly- named Cardinal- designate Albert Vanhoye, S.J. has been kind enough to send along this photo of the eminent biblical scholar with the then-Grand Inquisitor Ratzinger.

In the late 80s, when Vanhoye -- a former secretary of the Pontifical Biblical Commission -- taught scripture at the Gregorian, a source wrote in to say that he was "revered by his students (which is quite unusual)." Robert Mickens -- whose analysis you'll all get to see on the morrow in the pages of The Tablet -- noted that, when revealing the Jesuit's name as the last of his new cardinal-creations, the Pope did ad-lib a little, calling Vanhoye "grande esegeta" -- "a great exegete."

None of the others got similar effusiveness.

Whether the 82 year-old Vanhoye, a simple priest of French birth, will receive episcopal ordination in light of his new honor is an open question, but he probably won't.

Of course, John XXIII's rule from 1962 technically stands -- that cardinals who lack the episcopal character at the announcement of their elevation must receive it before they receive the red hat. However, all of the Jesuit priests since then who, as opposed to the heads of dioceses, were given membership in the College as a personal honorific for their service to some aspect or another of church life (Henri de Lubac, Hans Urs von Balthazar, Paolo Dezza, Alois Grillmeier, Roberto Tucci, Avery Dulles and Thomas Spidlik) have asked not to be ordained bishops in light of their elevations. And, of course, the Popes have had to sign off on that.

However, as you all well know, even though they lack the episcopal character, non-bishop cardinals are still entitled to the mitre, ring, pectoral cross, rochet, crozier, etc.

And, as the church queens will tell you, those are the things that count above all else.


They're Baaaaack....

You know them -- many of you hate them.... The St Louis Jesuits have reunited.

"It's like we were whole again," one of them told CNS.

Link and pic shamelessly pilfered from Catholic Sensibility, which is also keeping on the Bruno Forte beat.



From Chicago:
Investigators told NBC5 on Wednesday that there are more allegations of sexual abuse against a Roman Catholic priest.

The Rev. Dan McCormack is already facing criminal charges in connection with three young victims. He was removed last month from St. Agatha Church on the West Side.

Investigators said they are looking at complaints of abuse from at least five other young people who said that McCormack sexually abused them as well. It will take two to three weeks for investigators to interview all of the people involved before any additional charges are filed.
Will it ever end?


Vespers, Restored

From our friends down in the antipodes, we have this good news: the practice of regular Vespers is returning to Sydney Cathedral.
[Auxiliary] Bishop Julian Porteous is encouraging people to attend the prayer, to be conducted every third Sunday of the month during the seminary year. The students will chant in choir during the solemn celebration led by Cardinal George Pell, who will then celebrate the 6:00 pm Mass.

"A bishop, deacon, priests and lay people will also participate in the half-hour of Vespers which will take place from 5.30–6:00 pm," Bishop Porteous said.

"The whole thing is fully sung and we have a little book of musical annotations available so people can follow the music."

Vespers are held every week at the seminary, but Bishop Porteous said having the liturgy at the cathedral was "a chance for people to witness the Vespers and also see our new seminarians".
The divine office is a wonderful thing.... I wonder how many laypeople (especially of our readership) use it? How about in the parishes? At least during Lent? Weekly in the cathedral?

If I could sketch up a wish-list of things I'd love to see, the wide-scale return of the office in common -- beyond seminaries and religious communities, that is -- would be #1 on it.

But my head's in the clouds anyways, so....


THE CONSISTORY: Rigali Rejoices

My archbishop (creato e pubblicato nel consistoro del 21 ottobre 2003, nel titolo di S. Prisca) has released his statement congratulating the designates, particularly his longtime friend the Grand Inquisitor, who was ordained out of Camarillo the year before Rigali:
Archbishop Levada, whom I have known for over fifty years, brings deep theological expertise and pastoral experience to his position at the Vatican congregation. The Catholic faithful in Portland, Oregon, and in San Francisco whom he led as bishop no doubt remember him fondly in their prayers. I am certain the faithful of Boston are also gratified by the designation of Archbishop O'Malley, who is a prayerful model of spirituality for the people of God.
I first met Cardinal-designate Sean at Rigali's installation and remain grateful for the assist.


Pietà, Signore....

You know, I keep kicking myself that I didn't write Whispers under a pseudonym. I really do. But then, never did I delude myself into thinking that, in 14 months' time, the daily readership would go from three (as in 2 + 1) to 8,000. An ideal readership of, say, twelve (as in 10 + 2) was always what I had happily in mind. Not this. Just know that.

That said, I received an e.mail yesterday from this city's all-news station, the legendary KYW1060, asking for an interview about my least favorite topic -- i.e. myself -- and my favorite topic -- i.e. my work. I've written about KYW and its place in our community here in the past, and as the piece has been running through the morning, the calls and e.mails have been flooding in.

Yeah, that NYTimes piece really did make a dent. And, no, I am not worthy. And, yes, the words "Woe to you when all speak well of you" do remain ever before me, so know that I'm grateful for those who don't.

There is still a big part of your humble scribe, however, that wouldn't mind slinking away and becoming the bland desk jockey I was supposed to be all along.... Well, as bland as I could muster, of course, but you get the idea.


THE CONSISTORY: The Telegraph Approves

In its Leader, the Daily Telegraph in London showers glowing praise upon Benedict XVI's elevation of Hong Kong Bishop Joseph Zen to the College of Cardinals, and the Pope himself:
Joseph Ratzinger surprised us by the receptive, pastoral face he presented to the world once he had moved from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith to the papal throne. He disarmed his liberal critics by the publication in January of Deus Caritas Est, his first encyclical as Benedict XVI. And yesterday he fired a shot across China's bows by naming Bishop Joseph Zen of Hong Kong, a Salesian, among the first batch of cardinals he will create next month.

This Pope started slowly. But he is rapidly gaining momentum and emerging from the immense shadow thrown by his predecessor....

In the four years since he succeeded Cardinal John Baptist Wu, who was appointed before the transfer of sovereignty, [Zen] has become Hong Kong's conscience.

The new pontiff has put at risk the thaw in relations with Beijing by announcing the forthcoming elevation of this outstanding priest to the cardinalate....

The choice will hardly please Beijing but the Pope has rightly decided that the Church's mission should not be sacrificed to a dialogue whose successful conclusion is far from sure, particularly as far as a Vatican say in the appointment of Chinese bishops is concerned. Hong Kong can take renewed pride in its courageous pastor. And Benedict's stature has been enhanced.

Vatican Bioethics

There'll be a very interesting press conference tomorrow in the John Paul II Hall of the Sala Stampa, the Holy See Press Office. On the topic of "The human embryo before implanting. Scientific aspects and bioethical considerations," it's a look-forward to next week's General Assembly of the Pontifical Academy for Life, and will feature Bishop Elio Sgreccia, the Academy's president, and Kevin FitzGerald, an associate professor of genetics in the Oncology Department at Georgetown University Medical Center, among others.

Should make for some good copy.... If I hear anything, will pass it along.


If True, It's Frightening....

...especially if you spend your days living off of a wireless connection:
A Canadian university has limited Wi-Fi networks on campus, not out of information security concerns, but because the long-term safety of the technology is "unproven".

Fred Gilbert, president of Canada's Lakehead University, made the order on the basis of possible health risk from the technology, especially to young people. Inconclusive studies into possible links between radio transmissions and leukemia and brain tumors from, among others, scientists for the California Public Utilities Commission, led Gilbert to make the "precautionary ban".

Robert Bradley, director of consumer and clinical radiation protection at Health Canada, said documents due to be published this year should establish that WiFi networks operating at below current regulatory limits poses no risk to humans. But if the controversy about the possible health risks of mobile phones are anything to go by that's unlikely to reassure everyone.

Jorg-Rudiger Sack, a computer science professor at Carleton University, said that while wireless is useful in environments where people are not likely to be working in fixed locations (such as airport departure lounges) its benefits in campus environments are far more tenuous.
Um, should I go wired again?


THE CONSISTORY: Reese Crunches the Numbers

For some reason, I'm still not on Fr Tom Reese's vaunted e.mail list. Here's hoping that changes, as his books were the best manuals I could ask for in learning the business side of things in my salad days.

Anyways, Tom's cooked up his analysis of the new class and how it breaks down numerically -- I'm not this good with figures, so God love him for doing it.

Some snips:
The U.S. gains big time; Europe regains half the electors; Asia eases forward; Italy and Latin America loose slightly; Africa left in the dust.

Benedict XVI appointed two more Americans to be cardinals, bringing the U.S. total to 13 under 80 years of age, the highest number ever to have the right to vote in a papal conclave.

After each of the last three consistories (1998, 2001 and 2003), the U.S. total was 11 cardinals under 80. Considering the fact that Benedict, unlike his predecessor, has kept the voting college to 120 cardinals, this increase for the U.S. is even more significant. It raises the American bloc to 10.8 percent of the cardinal electors when normally it has been 8 or 9 percent.
This percentage will only grow as cardinals within the voring age superannuate -- nine more do this year, eight next year (among them Cardinal Edmund Szoka, formerly of Detroit, now running the Governatorato).
The choices Benedict made could have an impact on the next conclave. For example, after the 2003 consistory, Europe had 48 percent of the vote and the Third World had 40 percent. After the March consistory the Europeans will have 50 percent of the vote and the Third World only 35 percent. Benedict has increased the voice of the First World (Europe and the U.S.) in the college of cardinals and reduced the voice of the Third World.

The biggest surprise is that no African was made a cardinal except for Archbishop Dery who is over 80 years of age and therefore cannot vote. Africa has had as many as 13 cardinal electors and 9.6 percent of the vote, but after the March consistory, it will have only 9 electors and 7.5 percent of the vote. Granted the way many people, including Vatican officials, have said that the future of the church is in Africa because of the large number of conversions and vocations, the absence of an African on the list is surprising.
Note too that, on the first consistory list of the first German Pope since before the Reformation, there were no Germans, either..... Hmmmmmm.
Also taking a slight hit was Italy, which is down to only 20 cardinal electors, less than after the 1998 (22), 2001 (24) and 2003 (23) consistories. This continues a trend started by John Paul of reducing the size of the Italian bloc in the college of cardinals. This is the same number of cardinals Italy had after the 1994 consistory.

Latin America also took a slight hit. With one new cardinal, it will have 20 cardinals or 16.7 percent of the electors. After the 1998 consistory it had 23 (18.9%), after 2001 it had 27 (20%), and after 2003 it had 24 (17.8%).

THE CONSISTORY: Responding in Rasp

Welcome to Day Two.

Cardinal-designate Gaudencio Rosales of Manila gave remarks last night at Manila Cathedral despite having laryngitis. He gave a very gentle response to the news of his elevation at the end of a liturgy celebrating the 40th anniversary of the presence of the Focolare movement in the Philippines:

I have no voice.

First of all I have to apologize, I literally broke into your celebration, I am a gatecrasher. It was the Apostolic Nuncio who told me to come to the cathedral…nonetheless I am truly appreciative of the presence of the (members of the) Focolare Movement in the Philippines; your spirituality is one of unity and communion; unity embedded in the prayer of Jesus to his father, begging the father just a few hours before he entered his passion, “Father make me one as you are in me and I am in you. That they be one among themselves, that the world may believe you sent me.” That is the heart of the Focolare spirituality. Unity even among so many differences. And sharing in communion, cutting through their various status, socio-economic and cultural strata. Is this not what our country needs? Unity. I ask you as you celebrate your 40 th year of grace and presence in the Philippines, is this not exactly what our country is looking for? And if you think along that line, then I would say there is absolutely no unity and communion unless everyone makes a sacrifice of surrendering self, ambition, selfish interests no matter how good they think they are. Is it called sharing without giving yourself totally to the other in Jesus?

Pray for our country still looking for unity and yet is not willing to make sacrifice. It is a prayer, like the sacrifice Jesus was looking for in that prayer. Pray much. I’m sure we will find it (unity) one day, not through the barrel of the gun, not through selfish ambition, not through plots, power or powerlessness, but to only in the prayer and spirit of Jesus. I also want to thank you for praying to God for me. I need not tell you I do not deserve this. I’m completely unworthy. Woe to you that this added task or responsibility or work will not be honor but would mean greater service to the many poor around us, so neglected by the powerful, may be attended to, recognized, loved and served. Thank you so much for allowing me to concelebrate or celebrate with you. God bless.