Saturday, September 30, 2006

The Windsor-Rome Reunion

In news that'll make some of you giggidy, come November there'll be a British Royal Wedding in St Peter's Basilica, the first such ceremony in Rome in 400 years. Groom's Nicholas Windsor, son of the Duke and Duchess of Kent.

As both the groom and his mother converted to Catholicism, in deference to the UK's crown laws (which bar Tiber-swimmers, and those married to Tiber-swimmers, from acceeding the throne) both he and his father had to renounce their places in the line of succession, however distant. Hmm.

On a lighter note, all Rome's clerical princesses will be jumping on top of each other to catch a glimpse of their role model -- Camilla. But I digress.

It seems, though, that a quibble has been raised as to the pedigree of Windsor's bride, Princess Paola de Doimi de Frankopan...
Her father’s family fled to England from what is now Croatia during the Second World War. Louis Doimi di Delupis, as he was then known, married a Swedish lawyer, Ingrid Detter, and became a successful businessman. It was only after the fall of the Iron Curtain that the family began to refer to themselves as the Frankopans.
Frankopan is Croatia’s most aristocratic title and, in a country that only recently regained its independence, is a highly evocative name. Fran Krsto Frankopan led its campaign for freedom from Austria in the 17th century until he was executed by Leopold I in 1671.
The family’s assets are said to include investment companies and a Zagreb office block. Last month they announced plans to invest up to £68 million in property and equities. But documents at Companies House, in London, show that they legally adopted the title Frankopan in February 2000. Before then they were simply called Doimi de Delupis, the name on their birth certificates.

It emerged yesterday that Prince Louis had been denied membership of the Croatian Nobility Association because of the disputed use of his title. Ivo Durbesic, the association’s president, told The Times: “He took the name Frankopan, but he is not a descendant of the Frankopan family. He is aristocratic but derives from the Doimi de Lupis bloodline. We strongly disliked the fact that he was using the name Frankopan without any proof that he was related to that family.”
Then again, as you know, the Vatican doesn't do blood tests -- they just hear that royals are coming and get excited... especially in this pontificate.

SVILUPPO: It seems we've got our share of royal-watchers out there; seems I erred in my reading of the Act of Settlement. As one e.mailer notes: "the Duke of Kent is still in line to the throne since the Duchess of Kent was a Protestant when he married her. The subsequent conversion of his wife did not affect his place in the line of succession. The Act of Settlement merely bars anyone who marries a Catholic from the line of succession (i.e. Catholic at the time of the wedding). Since the Duke's eldest son married a Catholic and his younger son has become a Catholic both are out of the line of succession."

So, there you have it.


The Road to Salt Lake

I don't know about you, but the second most-popular question I get -- after "Who on earth are you?" -- comes from those dioceses experiencing vacancies at the top; in case you couldn't guess, the question is "Where's our new bishop and who is he?"

OK, that's two questions, but still.

In the US, there are currently seven sees in need of a bishop: in order of time-lapse, they are Lake Charles, Youngstown, Birmingham, Salt Lake, Little Rock, Pittsburgh and Great Falls-Billings. The first three have been open for well over a year, the Pittsburghers are resigned to the fact that, Wuerl being Wuerl, their "vacation" won't last much longer, not to mention the twelve US dioceses at present whose bishops have exceeded the retirement age of 75 and await their successors.

The latter figure increased by two in the last week alone as Archbishop Oscar Lipscomb of Mobile and Bishop Victor Balke of Crookston hit the Big Birthday, and it'll go up two more in October as Bishops John Yanta of Amarillo and William Friend of Shreveport have to send their letters in.

Bottom line: over 10% of America's 197 dioceses are in for an impending change at the top. And more than ever before, the specter of that change has yielded an intense amount of anxiety and concern in the local churches. To be candid, they're flipping out about it.

More on what you'll be seeing in due course. For now, though, you know the process is coming to a new level of attention when the Salt Lake Tribune -- i.e. not a place known for its heavy Catholic contingent -- devotes a Sunday story to it. That's due in large part to two things: the growth of the church in Utah over the last decade (a tripling in size made up largely of Latin arrivals, who now comprise 2/3 of its membership) and the figure of its prior incumbent, Archbishop George Niederauer, whose proficiency for reaching out won him a wide profile in the community, most notably the gushing love of the LDS church -- aka the Mormons -- for whom the state was conceived.

The Trib repeats anew what this readership heard in 2005: the pole position in the buzzmill belongs to Jaime Soto, the 50 year-old auxiliary bishop of Orange. Of course, the perception wasn't hurt by reports that Soto's brother just happened to drop into Salt Lake's Cathedral of the Madeleine in late spring....

Given Cardinal Levada's relative familiarity with the diocese, the natives are expecting their provision shortly.

Anyways, to the piece:
"I've heard more speculation than you can imagine," says Monsignor Terrence Fitzgerald, interim administrator of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Salt Lake City. "Some of it is outlandish."

Fitzgerald swears he knows nothing, and neither does Niederauer. They are waiting, like everyone else, to hear from the Vatican.

When asked his preference, Fitzgerald says Utah Catholics need a bishop who is ecumenical and can deal well with the LDS Church and other faiths, is physically able to travel the 85,000 square miles that encompass the diocese, and can be pastoral and present with people as Niederauer was. Given that 66 percent of Utah's 200,000 Catholics are Latinos, it also might be nice if the new man spoke Spanish.

If patterns hold - and there's no telling they will - the candidate is likely to come from the West and not be a full [i.e. diocesan] bishop already. That suggests Niederauer's replacement may be one of the church's Latino auxiliary bishops....

In the end, the decision may depend less on ethnicity or experience than on "who the kingmaker is," says another church watcher. Niederauer, Levada and the pope's ambassador (nuncio) in Washington, D.C., Archbishop Pietro Sambi, all will have input.

"Sometimes if you have a weak nuncio, then cardinals in the hierarchy hold sway and name their guy. If you have a strong nuncio, cardinals are beholden to him," the watcher says. "If you get a pope with an agenda, you could get somebody coming out of left field."
Given his predilection of this pope to do some interesting things on his end of the process, we won't know until... we know.

Oh, the piece mentions San Fran auxiliary John Wester for Salt Lake, too. But it seems he's been given dibs on Monterey.


Deal Or No Deal?

LA archdiocese "very close" to inking $60 million abuse settlement with 45 claimants:
The settlement being drafted by attorneys for the Archdiocese of Los Angeles and the alleged victims would give 45 claimants a total of $60 million, said Venus Soltan, a plaintiffs' attorney. The settlement would encompass alleged victims whose claims are not covered by the church's insurance policies, she said.

If distributed equally, each alleged victim would get $1.3 million, although how the money would be divided remained unclear.

"We are in the final stages of documentation and the settlement should be coming public within a week," said Soltan, who represents two of the people who would receive money under the agreement. "It's a very big deal because it's the first time Los Angeles has settled any of its cases."

An attorney for the priests and another plaintiffs' attorney confirmed those figures for The Associated Press in interviews this week and said a deal is likely within a week.

The 45 cases are a fraction of the more than 500 clergy abuse lawsuits filed against the archdiocese since 2003, when alleged victims were allowed to file lawsuits under a state law that peeled back the statute of limitations on sexual abuse claims for one year.

Archdiocese spokesman Tod Tamberg acknowledged Friday that both sides were working hard on a deal, but said similar negotiations with the uninsured cases fell apart last year.

"Talks are ongoing, we're trying to settle the uninsured cases, that's no secret. Last month, people were saying it was going to happen within days," Tamberg said. "I've seen so many stops and starts along the way and I wouldn't hazard a guess at all."

The potential deal would be the most significant step to date toward resolving extensive litigation against the archdiocese that has dragged on for years. It would represent the second-largest publicly known clergy abuse payout in California and the fourth-largest in the nation, according to an AP review of settlements.
In other lawsuit news, 197 of the following released have been floating around -- one for each US diocesan bishop. Plug your own bishop's name and diocese in, and you'll have it about right; source is listed, unsurprisingly, as "Jeff Anderson & Associates," the Minneapolis mega-firm which has taken the lead in a plurality of clergy abuse cases nationwide.
Bishop N., the head of the N. Catholic Diocese, has been served with and named as a defendant in an unprecedented civil child sex abuse lawsuit brought by the family of a murdered Wisconsin man. It was served on local Catholic officials this week by a county sheriff.

The lawsuit, which seeks no monetary damages, was filed in August in St. Croix County Circuit Court, Wisconsin (Court File No.06CV581). It asks a state judge to force America's 194 Catholic bishops to disclose the names of roughly 5,000 proven, admitted and credibly accused abusive priests in the US. The suit is being brought by the family of Dan O'Connell of Wisconsin, who, along with a co-worker, was shot and killed in February 2002 by a suspected pedophile priest who also owned guns and pornography.

After a two year police investigation a judicial hearing determined that the crimes were committed by Father Ryan Erickson of the Diocese of Superior (WI). O'Connell had uncovered information about the priest molesting children. After police interrogated him about the murders, Erickson committed suicide in December 2004. Further investigation revealed that Superior church officials had been aware of Erickson's erratic and questionable behavior and ordained him anyway.

The O'Connell family vowed to "make something good" come from the double murders and push for a five point reform plan to prevent future abuse. But in numerous attempts to work with the Catholic leaders the O'Connells have found little support or response, and they reluctantly filed this suit.

After considerable research and meeting with experts and victims across the country, the family believes church officials have made only minimal reforms and aren't abiding by their own policies on abuse.

They have also created a website,, to further educate the public about the clergy sexual abuse crisis.
Hard to believe, but come January it'll mark five years since the first revelations from Boston appeared in the Globe. Expect a growing tide of stories and talk as the date approaches, and a churchwide conversation is due on 1. what's been learned, 2. what remains to be learned and 3. what's been learned and faultily applied... and that's just for starters.


Friday, September 29, 2006

Back On the Soapbox

Well, it's that fortnightly Friday again, and some of you know what that means....

Ever the beautiful (or not-so-beautiful) mess, my draft was almost 36 hours past deadline. Hope the product was worth the delay; thanks to my editor for his fountain of patience.


The Grateful Housecleaning, CEI Style

So Cardinals Bertone and Ruini had a little chat yesterday. And this morning, each went back to work -- Bertone to make his first address to the diplomatic corps accredited to the Holy See, Ruini to take care of yet another ally as he enters his last days in office as the papal vicar of Rome and all-powerful president of the CEI, the Italian episcopal conference.

This morning, Benedict XVI named Msgr Sergio Pintor as bishop of the Italian diocese of Ozieri. What makes the appointment notable are two things: the bishop-elect has served until now as director of the CEI's office for the pastoral outreach in health care and he'll be 69 in November, which is not the typical age for someone getting his first episcopal assignment.

Of course, with the 75 year-old Ruini's departure from the top of his empire foreseen to take place not long after the 4th Nationl Convocation of the Italian Church in mid-October, it's time to take care of the widows, and Pintor's the second so cared for in exactly a month; the first was Archbishop Angelo Bagnasco, previously Italy's military ordinary and head of the governing body of the CEI's daily paper, Avvenire, who was named to succeed Bertone as archbishop of Genoa. Now in line for a red hat thanks to his new post, Bagnasco was installed on San Siro's Chair on Tuesday.

Intriguingly enough, both Pintor and today's other appointee, Giacomo Lanzetti, an auxiliary of Torino now promoted to the diocese of Alghero-Bosa, have ties to Catholic Action. The AC, Ruini's long-favored movement, has become aligned over the years with the Italian Right, now politically comprised of a gaggle of parties formed from the rib of the colussus which was once Christian Democracy.

There will likely be more -- given Ruini's close ties with this Pope, he'll get what he wishes -- so stay tuned.

AP/Pier Paolo Cito


Thursday, September 28, 2006

Red (Mass) Alert

As the judicial term opens around the country, it's indeed the season for a plethora of Red Masses -- the annual rite at which Catholic lawyers, judges and other officeholders gather to pray for the inspiration of the Holy Spirit in their decision-making.

Here, in this place which is all politics, all the time, as you'd expect the Red Mass takes on a life of its own: the uber-event. Always scheduled for the day before the Supreme Court's annual opening on the first Monday of October, last year's liturgy in Washington became an even bigger-than-usual showcase, as President Bush showed up (Laura and Condi in tow) to celebrate the confirmation of John Roberts, the first Catholic chief justice of the United States since Roger Taney, author of the infamous Dred Scott decision, which greased the skids toward civil war. Of course, the elevated exposure made Cardinal McCarrick a very happy camper in his final turn as the Mass' celebrant.

Keeping with the tradition, this year's Red Mass will take place Sunday morning in the restored splendor of St Matthew's Cathedral with Washington's new archbishop, Donald Wuerl, at the helm. Given Wuerl's elevation to the DC post and his well-known preference for exercising the munus of his office vis a vis things political through teaching as opposed to sanctions -- not to mention the looming Congressional midterm elections which, as things look, could swing either way -- his homily will be worth watching.

(A quick personal word: I was honored to share a table last night with, among others, Msgr Peter Vaghi, the well-known "lawyer's priest" and chaplain of the John Carroll Society, which sponsors the Red Mass. The JCS -- much of whose membership I've come to know, both through my trips here and among the readership -- are a truly great bunch who provide a great example in their service both to the church here in the capital and beyond.)

Word around town is that Ted won't be in attendance at the Red. However, the still-globetrotting cardinal gave his first big hometown talk last week since Wuerl's June arrival, delivering the previously-mentioned keynote at the CUA Conference on the "State of the US Church 2006."

There's no fulltext floating around, but here's a report:
“Faith is the biggest problem facing our church today,” said McCarrick. He then emphasized his point by stating that the Church today is divided into four groups. He defined these as the uneducated, the cafeteria Catholics and the inactive. The fourth group, he said were Catholics who were practicing and “happy” in the Church.

“I think it’s the ethos of the sixties,” said McCarrick in reference to the cause of the present state of the Church. He said that with the Second Vatican Council, the Church said, “We must open up to the world” while the world said, “We must open up to everything.”

“We became a contraceptive society,” said McCarrick. “Now forty years later we see what is happening in family life. We see what is happening in abortion. We see what is happening in marriage,” he continued. “Sex has become another thing you do like going to the movies,” said McCarrick.

McCarrick described the majority of modern society as one “without depth, without feeling and without responsibility.”

Cardinal McCarrick touched upon a variety of other issues including the “decline in the excellence of Catholic education.” McCarrick stated that Catholic education “fell into the cracks of the sixties.” McCarrick said that the result of this was that today’s Catholic education “becomes touch feely rather than doctrine, matter and form.” ...

McCarrick turned his address towards the future of the Church and discussed the call of the laity to holiness. “The Church has to listen to that call,” he said. He then spoke on the importance of the increasing Hispanic population in the country. “The Hispanic presence in our society is a new sign of hope. Their presence among us is a gift,” he said.
Remember, these are the insights of someone who's been derided in turns as a "satanist pinko 50-yard-line socialist communist Episcopalian syncretist libbbberrriilll."

Then again, the delusional you will always have with you.

Speaking of the universal call to holiness, one of my favorite blogs -- Todd's Catholic Sensibility -- has been serialising Lumen Gentium in recent weeks, piece by piece, day by day; here's one great snip, and another. Definitely check it out.

The White House


What DC Does in Secret, Rome Does in Public...

Not the usual concept of things, right?

Anyways, the lead on this morning's Drudge contains a leak from Bob Woodward's threequel tome on Bush at War, summarized thus: "Kissinger is secret, regular visitor to President Bush. The president likes to receive visits from Nixon's former and most famous aide..."

Seems that Benedict XVI, too, likes visits from Nixon's former and most famous aide -- today's audience list includes a session between the Pope and "il Dott. Henry A. Kissinger."

Could something be at work here?


Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Greetings from Milingo Central

Hey and hi there from the Nation's Capital, on a brief break from my search through these damn circuitous streets for Imani Temple....

Just kidding; I actually am in Washington, but not really looking for Milingo. After having spent a good part of my weekend exile from cyberspace watching Wedding Crashers in a loop, I wouldn't mind crashing into Rachel McAdams at some point, though.

With prayer all things are possible, right? (She's actually Canadian, so chances are slim in any case.)

Anyways, a new publication has popped up out there. It's not really a new publication, per se, but the resurrection of The Catholic World -- the famed and storied journal of the Paulist Fathers, which folded a decade ago and has now reincarnated itself online. (As many of you know, the Paulists also are the community behind Busted Halo, for which I write a fortnightly column, the next of which runs Friday.)

There's a bunch of good stuff in the World's inaugural issue, with a special note of a contribution from this town's resident cardinale laico, Michael Sean Winters, who returns to the Weigel-Ted brawl some of you may remember from the hot-as-all-get-out end of July.

Looking forward to a fun time here in Sambiville (peace be upon him) these next few days. It's been a chaotic couple weeks, so please forgive all the many e.mails and various other kindnesses to which I haven't yet replied, and hope to as best I can. To everyone who's been so good as to keep me looped in, paid up, and richly blessed by your gifts of patience, support and encouragement, all thanks. If I knew I'd be this insufficient to the task, I would've had second thoughts. But thanks for helping me along in the feeble attempt.

And now, off to the ra -- er, sources.


Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Who Wants Pictures?

Just in case you can't figure it out, here's a shot of Sunday's ordination in Washington released to the AP.

As you can see, the principal consecrator has kept up his use of the pallium, and the presence of the caped cleric behind Stallings means that -- in a triumph of Roman etiquette which'll likely inspire some of you to: 1. cry with gladness and 2. run to Imani Temple -- the new movement even has archpriests.

One can't help but wonder -- can purple rain, Milingo-style be far behind?

The wise advice is that the statement announcing the excommunication of Milingo and the four so-called "presumed bishops" released this morning in Rome is to be read carefully, and no assumptions should be made regarding anything it doesn't say.

As you know -- and likely see everyday -- said discretion is not the most widespread quality in this business. Then again, it's never too late to change that.

PHOTO: AP/MJT Television


Conan O'Brien, Rectory Crasher

The late-night host helped kick off a suburban Boston meal center run by a Harvard classmate who went to the sem while Conan toiled at Wilson's Suede & Leather.

The Globe's Michael Paulson got the story, an interview and, with them, quite the scoop.
``As you can imagine, you do a TV show like mine, and you live in New York City, and you talk to the kind of celebrity guests that I talk to, and your job is to make people laugh, it can be easy to lose perspective occasionally on what's really happening," O'Brien said in a brief interview, standing in the unused kitchen of the new Cor Unum meal center, under the still-gleaming pots and pans.

``I probably shouldn't even admit this, but it's still hard for me to believe -- I find it a little shocking that there are people in the 21st century living in the United States who are hungry," said the comedian, who is host of ``Late Night with Conan O'Brien" on NBC-TV. ``But obviously it's true."

The meal center -- the name Cor Unum is Latin for one heart -- is scheduled to serve its first meal this Saturday. Run by Father O'Brien's St. Patrick's Parish with one paid staffer and multiple volunteers, the center is planning to begin by serving dinner Saturdays, Sundays, and Mondays, then gradually expand to dinner seven nights a week, and then add breakfast, and then lunch. The Greater Boston Food Bank has agreed to supply much of the food for the center at a deep discount.

The building, a 5,600-square-foot structure on land owned by the parish, cost about $1.8 million to build, and supporters have raised another $500,000 toward the first two years of operation. The endeavor has been funded in large part through an innovative marketing campaign, called ``labels are for jars," in which supporters have sold black T-shirts featuring derogatory labels such as ``addict" and ``mentally ill," and then have used discussions about the T-shirts to raise funds.
O'Brien may say that his "parents are very Catholic" but, as with Colbert, it's been observed that the trait doesn't end with mom and pop....

Stay cool, my babies.


Living the Eucharist

A friend from Pittsburgh says that this is the "most Catholic story the Post-Gazette has run all year" -- a nun attacked and robbed while carrying the host forgives her attacker, official tears attacker to shreds.
It took police just two hours to track down the robber and a few more for the security chief at the Beaver County Jail, who happened to be Catholic, to deliver a spiritual guilt trip powerful enough to bring the inmate to tears.

Chief George David asked Toby Duran if he was Catholic. The suspect said "yes."

Did he know he'd robbed a nun who just returned from delivering communion to the sick and convalescent?

Mr. Duran did not.

Did he know that Catholics believe the wafers do not represent God, but are thought to be the actual embodiment of Jesus Christ?

"He [Jesus] is out there in the dark, in the cold, in the mud," Chief David said.

Mr. Duran, a 37-year-old transient who had been squatting in a trailer down the street from the St. Titus convent, immediately told the jail official where to find the nun's handbag.

He pleaded no contest yesterday to robbery for the April 4 purse snatching. The assistant district attorney dropped simple assault and harassment charges.

Senior Beaver County Judge Robert C. Reed sentenced him to six months -- effectively one additional month -- in prison to be followed by six months' probation. He also ordered Mr. Duran to pay $50 in restitution, even though Sister Mary Morgan told the district attorney she did not want the money back....

When Mr. Duran shuffled into court yesterday in shackles and a green-and-white striped uniform, he nodded at the nun and she smiled at him.

"To Toby's credit, he really jeopardized the case by admitting where the purse was. I could tell he was repentant," she said. "I'm going to ask permission to visit him."

Well, It's Up... Sorta

The original programming might be delayed a bit, and its new homepage may have a huge "Coming Soon" banner stretched across it, but the requisite dial change has taken place and Channel 159 on my Sirius does indeed say "The Catholic Channel."

And guess what? Not that it's the optimal scenario or anything, but the wait's suddenly being made a bit more than palatable. Until the launch, it seems the programmers have culled the library for the great liturgical pieces of the classical canon.... A Haydn Mass, now the uncut Verdi Requiem, and not an interrupting announcer nor commercial to be found. If they went through everything once, it's six months worth of material, easy.

Here's hoping everything's not going to be held up that long, but still.

Though forged by necessity, the concept at play isn't a bad one: exhibiting the best of the past as prelude, the solid foundation of the same culture soon to manifest itself on the same air in a decidedly modern way. Kudos on the audible, whoever called it.

As if you didn't want to before, or were looking to wait, you might just want to get a Sirius to hear this musical run-up and get even more pumped. Between Howard, the music, news, traffic and weather, and now this, I've found that I can't live without it. And once Lino & Co. get up and running, it'll be better yet.


Monday, September 25, 2006

Confabs All Around

I'll always remember this as the night one of my icons came to town... and I was there.

Having taken the long way to Philadelphia (Dublin to Frankfurt to here), Archbishop Diarmuid Martin -- he of "Holy Father, this is Mr Bono, he is a rock singer" fame -- regaled a Villanova University crowd with a lecture on "Catholic Social Teaching and Human Work." The occasion was twofold: the 25th anniversary of John Paul II's first encyclical on work, Laborem exercens, and the inauguration of the Augustinian university's new president, Fr Peter Donahue, OSA.

It's just one example of the recent uptick in the intellectual life of the Catholic scene here, which had long lain dormant when compared with the vibrance present in the other hotspots of the East Coast. Slowly, however, and gratefully, it's changing for the better... not that these pages are any justifiable sign of that, but still.

Anyways, Martin's talk drew heavily from the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church -- a text of great import which, for some strange reason, isn't mentioned all that often in American Catholic chattering circles. Hmm. The archbishop, who served for many years at the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, ending up as its bishop-secretary before being sent to Geneva as the Holy See's permanent observer to the UN there, recalled that while in his time at the dicastery, "Religious thought it would make me happy to tell me that, 'We used to do education, but now our community focuses on social justice,'" there is no better service to realizing and making manifest Catholic thought and practice than education.

To commemorate Donahue's installation as its 32nd president, 'Nova (home of the 1985 NCAA champion Wildcats) has played host to an impressive series of talks and symposia in recent weeks, kicked off by a talk on "The Responsibilities of the Catholic University in the 21st Century" given by Fr J. Bryan Hehir, currently director of Catholic Charities in Boston and followed quickly thereafter by a daylong conference on "Continuing the New Evangelization of Law, Politics, and Culture," sponsored by the Law School and keynoted by Cardinal Avery Dulles, SJ.

(While I wasn't able to make the latter conference in real time -- blame it on Lecturegate (i.e. Regensburg and its fallout) -- I'd be remiss if I didn't belatedly thank Patrick Brennan, holder of Nova Law's Scarpa Chair in Catholic Legal Studies and one of the Mirror of Justice crew, for sending an invitation my way to the post-conference party. A great time was had by all; featured cameos by Rick Garnett of Notre Dame Law and the predictable gaggle of clerics.... The evening served as rare proof that in this, the undisputed world capital of clericalism, the supposedly unwashed/ontologically deficient layfolk really do have something going on. Hah.)

The Donahue celebration series wraps with a triple-barrel blast: a conference on Augustine this weekend, followed immediately by one on "Discipleship and the City" (headlined by the venerable James Alison), and ending in late October with something on religion and postmodernism (Roger Haight'll be at that one).

And Nova isn't alone. The Catholic Intellectual Series at Jesuit-run St Joe's kicks off its second year -- the whole of which'll be based around the premise of "Catholics in the Public Square" -- tomorrow night with Peter Steinfels. Other featureds are Ron Modras of St Louis U in October, Harvard's Mary Jo Bane (with Tom Reese and my onetime prof John DiIulio in tow) in February and George Coyne, SJ, the recently-retired director of the Vatican Observatory, in April 07. (Coyne was recently profiled in the local paper of his temporary base, Raleigh, where he's taking a year before returning to astronomical work in Arizona.... I'm reminded of the time when I wrote the lyrics to "Across the Universe" on my Astro1 final in college and received no extra credit, which I could've used, but I digress.)

There is, however, one more. Fans of the blogs would be advised to book your calendars for next 20 March, when the fair Amy Welborn and the just-as-fair Grant Gallicho of dotCommonweal will headline the evening... yours truly will also be onstage. And moderating it all will be Bill McGarvey, local boy/rockstar/editor of Busted Halo.

Get ready, and plan your pilgrimages... we might have to move it to the Fieldhouse or something. The Linc, even.

Elsewhere in the Wide World of Church, Catholic U in Washington held a conference on the state of the US branch last week, keynoted by everyone's favorite uncle and new grandpa, Cardinal McCarrick. (Webstreams available here.) And there are others here, there and everywhere....

As for my night, the (um, really) cute co-ed next to me seemed impressed by the Diarmuid-Wojtyla-Bono story... English major, she was attending for a class, didn't realize the guest speaker was a rock star in his own right. And, should you be curious, I didn't get her e.mail address or phone number because, as those of you who read a certain recent blurb in Philadelphia magazine know, when push comes to shove, your narrator has the tendency to be absolute chickenshit.

(Pardon the Latin; my inner Tridentine can't help it.)

As you also know, however, that's precisely not the case when bishops are around (nothing to lose, there).... I didn't know what to expect on going up to pay my respects to Martin, except that I'd been looking forward to the moment for a very long time; I don't hold many people in this business in unqualified awe, but Diarmuid just happens to be one of 'em.

The authorship of these pages was momentarily pushed to the background as, keeping with my usual practice, I introduced myself as nothing more than "Rocco Palmo from The Tablet."

The archbishop skipped a beat, beamed and exclaimed, "Oh, Whispers! I thought you were an old man!"

I try hard not to be the boastful type but, just this once, forgive me for enjoying it.


Stay Tuned....

At the request of Cardinal Edward Egan, tomorrow's anticipated launch of The Catholic Channel on Sirius Satellite Radio "has been put on hold for the next few weeks."

Recuperating from knee-replacement surgery earlier this month, the archbishop of New York called a delay on the channel's debut "so that he can be more actively involved than he can be right now," archdiocesan spokesman Joe Zwilling said in an e.mail. The cardinal had "thought he would be more able to participate in the run-up and the launch" than the post-op period has made possible.

As the archdiocese is responsible for putting together the channel's content, Zwilling -- who has served as the chief liaison for the project since its May announcement -- said Egan's request was "very reasonable."

The change of time-frame will allow the 74 year-old prelate to take a full part in the launch, the revised date of which was not disclosed.


The "Misery Tour"

You might remember the big party that took place down in New Orleans some weeks back.

Well, as it was the first gathering of the US hierarchy in the Crescent City since Hurricane Katrina hit, many of the bishops in attendance had the eye-opening experience of witnessing not just the celebrations, but also of the continued peril of the city in the storm's wake.

CNS reports:
Although Archbishop Pietro Sambi said he was aware of New Orleans' plight when he was appointed by Pope Benedict XVI to be papal nuncio to the United States in early 2006, it was not until he took what is locally called a "misery tour" Sept. 14 that he realized the extent of the damage.

"You cannot measure the extent of it until you come on the spot," he said near the end of a tour that took a dozen bishops through some of the worst damage wreaked by Hurricane Katrina Aug. 29, 2005, and the subsequent flooding caused by the failure of the levees....

Sixteen bishops who had not been to New Orleans since Katrina took tours that were offered on Sept. 13 and 14, Archbishop Hughes said.

Archbishop Sambi said it was only when he was on the tour that he could "measure and see the extent of the damage." He was also struck by the "quantity of suffering, for persons, for houses, for the city."...

When he first visited his native city in October, Miami Archbishop John C. Favalora said, "I couldn't even talk. I couldn't believe the utter destruction."

Bishop Gregory M. Aymond of Austin, Texas, also a New Orleans native, has a sister who still lives in the city, and he said she was lucky that her house took in only a few inches of water. But for himself, he said, seeing the suffering and disjointedness of families was hard, and he called the disruption "extraordinary."...

On a July visit to the city, Archbishop Favalora said he crisscrossed one area and was dismayed by the pattern of recovery. "Every now and then you would see a house back or being brought back, but overall there was just no life," he said.

"It has just taken so long," Bishop Aymond said. "It points up the ineffectiveness of government -- on the city, state and federal levels -- in bringing the city back."
In Louisiana, Mississippi, and in the many places where the hurricane's survivors have ended up, there are more people than you'd think still assisting daily in the relief and humanitarian efforts. We'd do well to keep them, and the many, many displaced, ever-closer in our thoughts and prayers.


Confirmed: It's A Split

The world may have heard about it here first, but four months later, the "mega-schism" has come to pass.

Whispers has received definitive confirmation that, at yesterday's ceremony at Washington's Imani Temple (home of the breakaway African-American Catholic Congregation), Archbishop Emmanuel Milingo ordained four prelates of the Old Catholic church to the indisputably valid Roman episcopate, passing to them his lineage and, with it, the episcopal lineage of Pope Paul VI, who ordained Milingo as archbishop of Lusaka in 1969. An Associated Press story yesterday had caused confusion by referring to the ceremony as an "installation," particularly as the ordinands had previously claimed episcopal orders through other channels.

While the Holy See last week raised the specter of "canonical suspension" on the renegade Zambian prelate with a deadline of 15 October, yesterday's action places Milingo under an automatic latae sententiae excommunication reserved to the Holy See under the provisions of canon 1382. In the west, the break is comparable only to the events of June 1988, when the traditionalist Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre ordained four bishops of his own, incurring the excommunication of all involved and creating the great schism of the 20th century.

Milingo and his four prelates -- the "Council of Bishops" of the "Married Priests Now!" movement -- are meeting today in Washington to discuss the division of their responsibilities.

Expect a statement from the Holy See quickly.


Cardinals of the Holy Wired Church

Enough lace for you? ... Happy Monday.

The now-blogging cardinal-archbishop of Boston is wending his way around Italy after a hectic weekend, all of which was chronicled for the sight of the world.

Cardinal Sean O'Malley, OFM Cap presided at a weekend liturgy marking the feast of St Pio of Pietrelcina, the 20th century Capuchin mystic, and his new page is brimming with photos of O'Malley walking around Rome with his secretary, Fr Brian Bachand... who'll probably be hearing from some more people he hasn't heard from in 20 years.

While Cardinal Sean's blog is the most prominent of its kind, it isn't the first from an American bishop, nor cardinal. Cardinal Roger Mahony of Los Angeles blogged during his archdiocese's synod in 2003, and Bishop Gerald Kicanas of Tuscon keeps a weekly online column, the "Monday Memo," to address various diocesan news and whatever else he feels is of interest. Others -- Bishop Cupich of Rapid City comes to mind -- have blogged ad limina visits or momentarily dabbled in the technology at various points, but nothing of the scale and seeming success which the Cardinal Sean blog has had since its Thursday rollout.

Readers of the Boston prelate's blog can leave public comments, but one component it lacks is an e.mail address. This occurred to me over the weekend while flipping through a newly-arrived copy of the Annuario Pontificio 2006. (Didn't want to buy it, but had to -- the hefty cost is an occupational hazard.... As a friend said of the $35 shipping charge, "Well, that's how much it costs to ship a brick.")

As it's the book most of the global hierarchy uses as its reference, the Annuario -- the yearly snapshot of church stats you never thought you'd be curious about but might find yourself in need of -- contains the best collection of contact information around. And while the substantial uptick of e.mail addresses listed for individual bishops since 2001 is significant, even more notable is the number of cardinals who have published their e.mail information -- 66 of the 179 cardinals as of January 1, and the March crop of 15 new red-hats increased the easy-access crowd by three. Considering that practically all the published addresses belong to cardinals under 80 and, therefore, eligible to enter the conclave, over half of the papacy's electoral college can now be reached with one click.

Especially among the first-world prelates, most of the listed addresses are either official (i.e. on a diocesan domain) or directed to the cardinal's secretary. Yet the lion's share of the rest are hosted by private domains, with a sizable sprinkling of princes of the church making use Yahoo or Hotmail accounts.


In the Vatican, only three curial cardinals (Ignace Moussa I Daoud at Oriental Churches, Lozano at Health Care and Nicora of APSA) have made their 'net availability public, and much of the Holy See remains on a learning curve with regard to the technology; post-its may be a Ratzinger office-supply staple, but a computer is not. Some dicastery heads still have their e.mails printed out by staffers, and the only published addresses for most offices are the catch-all accounts assigned to each. (Having seen some of what these receive, it's an understandable privacy.) And not all that long ago, one newly-arrived prefect had to get up to speed quickly. He'd never had his own e.mail account, which was a requisite of his new job given the sensitivity of much of his correspondence.

Suffice it to say, he's gotten the hang of it.


Gathering the (Muslim) Nations

Earlier this morning, Benedict XVI received Cardinal Paul Poupard in his capacity as president of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, accompanied by the "Ambassadors of nations with Muslim majorities accredited to the Holy See and some members of the Muslim community in Italy," as the Vatican release put it.

Delivered by the Pope in French, official translations of the remarks were prepared for immediate publication in Italian, English and -- in a sign that Rome is quickly getting wise to the exigencies of the situation -- Arabic.

Here's the English fulltext:

* * * * * * * *

Dear Cardinal Poupard,
Your Excellencies,
Dear Muslim Friends,

I am pleased to welcome you to this gathering that I wanted to arrange in order to strengthen the bonds of friendship and solidarity between the Holy See and Muslim communities throughout the world. I thank Cardinal Poupard, President of the Pontifical Council for Inter-Religious Dialogue, for the words that he has just addressed to me, and I thank all of you for responding to my invitation.

The circumstances which have given rise to our gathering are well known. I have already had occasion to dwell upon them in the course of the past week. In this particular context, I should like to reiterate today all the esteem and the profound respect that I have for Muslim believers, calling to mind the words of the Second Vatican Council which for the Catholic Church are the Magna Carta of Muslim-Christian dialogue: "The Church looks upon Muslims with respect. They worship the one God living and subsistent, merciful and almighty, Creator of heaven and earth, who has spoken to humanity and to whose decrees, even the hidden ones, they seek to submit themselves whole-heartedly, just as Abraham, to whom the Islamic faith readily relates itself, submitted to God" (Declaration Nostra Aetate, 3). Placing myself firmly within this perspective, I have had occasion, since the very beginning of my pontificate, to express my wish to continue establishing bridges of friendship with the adherents of all religions, showing particular appreciation for the growth of dialogue between Muslims and Christians (cf. Address to the Delegates of Other Churches and Ecclesial Communities and of Other Religious Traditions, 25 April 2005). As I underlined at Cologne last year, "Inter-religious and inter-cultural dialogue between Christians and Muslims cannot be reduced to an optional extra. It is, in fact, a vital necessity, on which in large measure our future depends" (Meeting with Representatives of Some Muslim Communities, Cologne, 20 August 2005). In a world marked by relativism and too often excluding the transcendence and universality of reason, we are in great need of an authentic dialogue between religions and between cultures, capable of assisting us, in a spirit of fruitful co-operation, to overcome all the tensions together. Continuing, then, the work undertaken by my predecessor, Pope John Paul II, I sincerely pray that the relations of trust which have developed between Christians and Muslims over several years, will not only continue, but will develop further in a spirit of sincere and respectful dialogue, based on ever more authentic reciprocal knowledge which, with joy, recognizes the religious values that we have in common and, with loyalty, respects the differences.

Inter-religious and inter-cultural dialogue is a necessity for building together this world of peace and fraternity ardently desired by all people of good will. In this area, our contemporaries expect from us an eloquent witness to show all people the value of the religious dimension of life. Likewise, faithful to the teachings of their own religious traditions, Christians and Muslims must learn to work together, as indeed they already do in many common undertakings, in order to guard against all forms of intolerance and to oppose all manifestations of violence; as for us, religious authorities and political leaders, we must guide and encourage them in this direction. Indeed, "although considerable dissensions and enmities between Christians and Muslims may have arisen in the course of the centuries, the Council urges all parties that, forgetting past things, they train themselves towards sincere mutual understanding and together maintain and promote social justice and moral values as well as peace and freedom for all people" (Declaration, Nostra Aetate, 3). The lessons of the past must therefore help us to seek paths of reconciliation, in order to live with respect for the identity and freedom of each individual, with a view to fruitful co-operation in the service of all humanity. As Pope John Paul II said in his memorable speech to young people at Casablanca in Morocco, "Respect and dialogue require reciprocity in all spheres, especially in that which concerns basic freedoms, more particularly religious freedom. They favour peace and agreement between peoples" (no. 5).

Dear friends, I am profoundly convinced that in the current world situation it is imperative that Christians and Muslims engage with one another in order to address the numerous challenges that present themselves to humanity, especially those concerning the defence and promotion of the dignity of the human person and of the rights ensuing from that dignity. When threats mount up against people and against peace, by recognizing the central character of the human person and by working with perseverance to see that human life is always respected, Christians and Muslims manifest their obedience to the Creator, who wishes all people to live in the dignity that he has bestowed upon them.

Dear friends, I pray with my whole heart that the merciful God will guide our steps along the paths of an ever more authentic mutual understanding. At this time when for Muslims the spiritual journey of the month of Ramadan is beginning, I address to all of them my cordial good wishes, praying that the Almighty may grant them serene and peaceful lives. May the God of peace fill you with the abundance of his Blessings, together with the communities that you represent!

CTV via Reuters


If It's Monday, It's Milingo

After ratcheting it up a bit last week, renegade Zambian prelate "installs" four bishops over the weekend. As the four were already bishops in the Old Catholic line, what this means is somewhat vague from the text.....
Archbishop Emmanuel Milingo — whose marriage to a woman chosen by the Rev. Sun Myung Moon scandalized the Roman Catholic Church — performed the ceremonies at a Capitol Hill church.

Installed were the Rev. George Augustus Stallings, Jr., of Washington, Peter Paul Brennan, of New York, Patrick Trujillo, of Newark, N.J., and Joseph Gouthro, of Las Vegas.

The four men claim affiliation to the breakaway Synod of Old Catholic Churches.

"We are not only validly ordained Catholic bishops, but we are ordained Roman Catholic bishops," Stallings said.

Milingo has said that the head of the Vatican's Congregation for Bishops has demanded he send a letter of repentance by Oct. 15 to Pope Benedict XVI or face "canonical suspension."

Hiatus Finitus Est

After committing the unpardonable sin of placing Sioux Falls in the wrong Dakota last week, it seemed the unmistakable sign that, indeed, things were getting a little too hectic 'round these parts and a rest was needed.

Of course, not heeding this sign, Providence took matters into its own hands. Thursday night, while plugging away at the machine, the screen flickered and, just like that, the backlight on the display went dark.

As if the backlog of e.mails, stories, etc. wasn't large enough already.

It took three days, three states and a couple hundred miles on the Rockmobile, but greetings from yet another new machine, which now becomes the third victim of my intense workload in 2006 alone.... Here's hoping the third time's the charm; and now, back to business.


Thursday, September 21, 2006

Bloggin' Eminence

In a watershed development, beginning today the first blogging American bishop will be Cardinal Sean O'Malley of Boston.

The Capuchin prelate'll be posting on an ad experimentum basis as he makes his first trip back to Rome as a cardinal; the initiative is his own, a result of the interest he's had in the blogosphere for quite some time....
Following the lead of numerous political, entertainment, and sports figures who are flirting with new communication media in an effort to reach the public, O'Malley is planning to file items at least once a day during a 10-day trip to Rome that begins today and will consider making the blog permanent, depending on how the experiment goes.

``I am . . . looking forward to a new opportunity to communicate directly with Catholics of the archdiocese through my own blog," O'Malley, the Roman Catholic archbishop of Boston, said in a statement yesterday. ``While this is a new venture for me and for the archdiocese, I am eager to take advantage of the latest technology and mode of communication to share with Catholics of the archdiocese my experiences as I return to Rome and, more importantly, to share with everyone a sense of what it is that Boston's archbishop does on business in Rome representing the people of the archdiocese."

O'Malley is traveling to Rome primarily for a ceremony associated with his new status as a cardinal: On Oct. 1, he will formally take possession of his titular church, Santa Maria della Vittoria in Rome. O'Malley will have nominal administrative and financial oversight of the church, which is famous as the home of a provocative Bernini statue and as the setting for a particularly gruesome scene in the Dan Brown novel, ``Angels and Demons."

O'Malley will also be presiding at a Mass on Sept. 23 in San Giovanni Rotondo, in southeastern Italy, honoring Padre Pio, an Italian saint who, like O'Malley, was a Capuchin Franciscan friar.

O'Malley's spokesman said the cardinal, who has a computer on his desk and who uses e-mail for regular communication, would write his own blog items, but that a staff member would post them and upload photographs. The spokesman said the archdiocese has not decided whether to allow readers to comment or interact with the cardinal through his blog.
Congrats and welcome to the newest among us.


Catholic Channel, Released

Five days before its satellite launch, all the details are now in open view.

Some snips:
"Together with the Archdiocese, we have assembled an exceptional cast of hosts whose talent and experience will produce some of the most compelling Catholic programming on the air," said Mel Karmazin, CEO of SIRIUS. "The Catholic Channel will be an important component in a SIRIUS lineup that offers listeners the best radio on radio."

Programming highlights: (All times ET)

* The Catholic Guy, hosted by Lino Rulli (weekdays, 5-8pm). The 34-year-old Rulli is the Emmy award-winning host and executive producer of the popular TV show Generation Cross and a former TV reporter for the CBS affiliate in Minneapolis. With a master's degree in theology and a sometimes off-beat and humorous approach, Rulli has emerged a fan-favorite for younger generations of Catholics.

* Speak Now with Dave and Sue Konig, hosted by Susan and David Konig (weekdays, 12-2pm). She is a former newspaper columnist. He is an award-winning actor and stand-up comedian. They are married with four children and together will focus on married life, parenting and the
issues facing today's families.

* Sleepless With SIRIUS, hosted by Father Paul Keenan (weekdays, 11pm-3am). Fr. Keenan, an experienced author and radio broadcaster, will help those who are seeking to add more meaning and purpose to their lives, and will be a comforting and understanding companion to those who are facing life's daily struggles and concerns.

* Live daily Mass from St. Patrick's Cathedral (weekdays, 8-8:30am). Re-broadcast daily from 11-11:30am ET.

* Notre Dame Athletics. SIRIUS is the Official Satellite Radio Partner of the University of Notre Dame and will air all Fighting Irish football and basketball broadcasts on The Catholic Channel // 159.

Other on-air talent will include: Gus Lloyd, a former host on Spirit FM in Tampa, FL, whose morning show on SIRIUS will set the tone for the day with an overview of news and current events with scripture reflection and compelling interviews; Father Edward Beck, a Passionist priest, native New Yorker and noted author; and Bob Dunning, a veteran broadcaster, journalist and attorney from Sacramento, CA, who will engage his listeners by zeroing in on the issues facing today's Catholics. These hosts will interact with leading figures in the Catholic Church, prominent people from the world of news, entertainment and the arts, as well as with their audience to provide high quality, dynamic Catholic programming.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Calendar Alert

Word's come via Madison that the nation's longest diocesan vacancy will reach its close on October 26, when Bishop-elect Paul Swain is ordained and installed in Sioux Falls. The liturgy will be held in the South Dakota diocese's St Joseph's Cathedral, the second such rite said edifice has hosted in as many years. (Local boy done good Thomas Gullickson was ordained an archbishop there in November, 2004; he currently serves as the papal nuncio in Trinidad and Tobago.)

The time-lapse of less than two months between Swain's 31 August appointment and the ordination date is notable for its brevity. While canon law stipulates a period of no more than two months between appointment and installation for an appointee who's already a bishop, the law allows a four-month preparatory period between nomination and possession-taking for a bishop-elect who has not yet been ordained. The lengthy interregnum -- which'll be just under the 22 month mark by the time Swain takes his chair -- has clearly expedited the plans.

With the Vatican slowly returning to life after the August exodus, there'll be more to come on the appointment front in short order.... As always, stay tuned.

SVILUPPO: In a new low, the first published version of this post had misplaced Sioux Falls in "North" Dakota -- which is, of course, egregiously not the case. All apologies to South Dakotans, and anyone else offended.... It's already been a long week.


San Gennaro in Naples, San Damaso in Exile

Some of our Roman readers will appreciate seeing this picture -- not so much for the liquified blood of St Gennaro on this, his feast, but for who's holding the vial: the new archbishop of Naples, Cardinal Crescenzio Sepe... a scenario foreseen on these pages a year ago today.

A former Assessore of the Secretariat of State, Sepe's June move to Naples from the prefect's post at the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples made him the first cardinal-head of a Roman dicastery in decades to be dispatched to a diocese -- and, in the eyes of some, the first casualty of Benedict XVI's purge of the church's central administration, which will be picking up speed following the installation of Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, SDB as Secretary of State.

Now that, through Bertone, the sitting pontiff has taken the reins of his Curia's top office, the phrase "an appointment a day" has been used to describe the anticipated reshuffle of senior offices, originally slated to begin at month's end. In recent days, however, it's been foreseen that in light of the recent controversy involving the Pope's lecture at Regensburg and the necessary attention of the Holy See to handle it properly, ad intra announcements might be delayed for a brief period.

For the moment, though, one notable question of Vatican representation looms on this side of the Pond. It's UN Week in New York -- something many of you know due to the insane clogging and closures in the streets of Manhattan. And for 15 years, the international gathering was Cardinal Angelo Sodano's time to shine, as the now-retired top lieutenant held court from a table at his beloved Big Apple commissary, Le Cirque.

One drawback to the timing of the Stato shake-up is a slight to the UN plenary -- which, as many of you know, was the lure for the first papal trip to the American continent (Paul VI in 1965) and the marquee event for two US visits of John Paul II (1979 and 1995). Friday's installation of Bertone and the appointment of Archbishop Dominique Mamberti as his "foreign minister" creates the unusual scenario -- an intended signal? -- that neither the Vatican Secretary of State, nor his top deputy, is in attendance at the General Assembly.

Given the absence of the top two papal diplomats, the Holy See -- which enjoys state-observer status at the UN's dual hubs of New York and Geneva -- will ostensibly be represented this week by its Permanent Observer, Archbishop Celestino Migliore. Yesterday, the Pope received Cardinal Bertone in private audience, accompanied by the members of his family.

AP/Salvatore Laporta


Monday, September 18, 2006

Pope to Turkey: It's On

As mentioned here earlier, the country's bishops met this morning -- Marini in Istanbul to plan the liturgies:
The bishops of Turkey today followed Ankara’s Foreign Affairs Minister, Abdullah Gul, in confirming that the visit of Benedict XVI will take place as planned, from 28 November to 1 December, according to the set itinerary.

Turkish dailies are debating whether the pope’s words yesterday at Castel Gandolfo – carried by all newspapers – could pass for a public apology. There are those who claim to be satisfied, seeing the pope’s statement as a sign that he withdrew what he said, but others are still not happy. Also reported was the unequivocal declaration by Foreign Minister Gul yesterday: “Certainly the pope’s comments were really unfortunate, not only for Muslims but for the whole world, including Christians. But they do not interfere with the trip of Benedict XVI, which has been already organized for the end of November. A change in programme is out of the question for us right now. Much has been said about the matter but I hope all this will not impact on his visit to Turkey.”

And this morning, the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Turkey, as planned, met in Istanbul to discuss details of the trip’s itinerary. They were joined by Mgr Piero Marini, head of the Office of Papal Liturgical Celebrations. They share the view that at this point, there is no reason to call off the visit and in fact, after reading together the statement of clarification by the Secretary of State, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the bishops turned their attention to details of the trip set to take place as scheduled from 28 November to 1 December.

There are three stages in the visit: Ankara, Ephesus and Istanbul, where the pope will meet Turkish civil authorities as well as Christian religious representatives – first and foremost the Greek Orthodox Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I and the Armenian Patriarch Mesrob II – and the small Catholic community in Turkey.

So unless events to the contrary take over, the trip will be held as planned.
Good thing Marini's still there -- when it comes to creating peace, love and reconciliation in the worship, nobody does it better.


The Bishop Takes a Spill

Requests for prayer have come in from Oakland where, according to a release from the diocese, Bishop Allen Vigneron "tripped and fell" outside his residence on Friday afternoon.

Taken to a local hospital by ambulance, "it was determined that he had suffered a compound fracture of his left arm (forearm and elbow) and a fracture of his right wrist," the diocese said. The bishop underwent orthopedic surgery on the affected areas yesterday morning, and for the time being, "privacy and rest are prescribed by his physicians so that he may begin the road to complete recovery.

A native of Detroit, Vigneron -- who's carved out a rep for springing into gear on the floor of the USCCB whenever liturgy's at issue -- turns 58 next month.

In other recuperating-bishop bytes, Cardinal Francis George of Chicago is still expected to return to a limited schedule on 1 October. Last week, the Chicago Tribune reported that by mid-month, the American hierarchy's de facto head -- whose cancerous bladder and right ureter were removed in late July -- is planning to step it up a notch with a trip to Rome.


A Tale of Two Archbishops

In response to Archbishop Emmanuel Milingo's controversial presence and highly contagious brutta figura on his turf, Archbishop John Myers of Newark has released a statement.

It is important to remember what the Church has long taught and practiced concerning celibacy: that those of us who answer the call to Holy Orders in the Latin Rite Church give ourselves entirely to God. Chaste celibacy – or to put it into more practical terms, the active agreement of a priest to forego the bonds and obligations that marriage entails – permits the priest to dedicate himself completely to a new life of service. It is a gift to God, the Church and her people, freely given.

I can only pray that Archbishop Milingo will soon rediscover the core of his own priestly promise of celibacy, and work then to undo the confusion and sorrow he is causing with his current actions.

The Monday Mix

Some of you liked it, some of you didn't, so here's another stab at the quick-blast morning news feed.

Of course, the breaking news, usual buzz and self-sourced reports will always be aired through the day as they come in, but this seems an efficient way to start the day -- a humble contribution to your productivity toward bigger and better things than reading these pages.

Here's the news:
  • The Quote (and Apology) Heard 'Round the World continue to generate ink, talk, screaming, etc. For our purposes, though, you know it's gotten bad when the respected Rome-based agency AsiaNews reports that Benedict XVI's scheduled late-November trip to Turkey is "at risk" of not going foreward. A third day was added to the travel plan "at the last minute," and while the country's bishops were scheduled to meet this morning to finalize plans, "they will now have to decide whether the Pope’s visit to Turkey’s can go ahead in such a hostile climate," the agency reports. One boost, however, has come from an unexpected corner -- the former Iranian President Mohammad Khatami, a moderate cleric. Returning to Tehran from his speaking tour of the US, Khatami said that he believed the Pope "was rather an educated and patient man" and urged the wider audience to ensure that the quote cited at last week's lecture at the University of Regensburg was not reacted to on the basis of "misinterpreted" reports. The AP has compiled a list of the apologies issued during the last pontificate and, earlier this morning, the archbishop of Canterbury jumped into the fray. "The Pope has already issued an apology and I think his views on this need to be judged against his entire record, where he has spoken very positively about dialogue," Rowan Williams told the BBC, noting that "There are elements in Islam that can be used to justify violence, just as there are in Christianity and Judaism."

  • In nicer Islamo-Catholic news, Reuters reports that a Minnesota lawyer will likely end up as the first Muslim elected to Congress at the November midterms. Democrat Keith Ellison, 43, was born Catholic and converted to Islam in college. "He says his 'strength and moral courage' come from both religions," the wire wrote. "I am inspired by the Koran's message of an encompassing divine love and a deep faith life every day," Ellison said in an interview.
  • It's gotten play elsewhere, but as St Francis Day approaches a story's come up on what are probably the church's most-blessed animals: Pasqualina and Noelle, the Mass-attending dogs of Fr Louis Scurti, the Catholic chaplain at William Paterson University in New Jersey. "A third dog, Advent, died last year," a local paper reports. The canines are a hit with parishioners, and apparently have become acclimated to truly Catholic behavior: "If a parishioner walks in late to Mass, Pasqualina has been known to growl," the North Jersey Herald-News said.
  • In genuine "true believer" news, the 1998 rape and murder of Wharton grad student Shannon Schieber sent shockwaves of grief and fear through the Philly area, not to mention the Penn community. Today's Inky features the story of Schieber's mother, Vicki, who's on tour speaking about how she pled for her daughter's killer -- the infamous "Center City Rapist," who'd been charged in five other assaults -- to be spared the death penalty, citing its conflict with the Magisterium. "I could not, and my husband could not, become complicit in the choice of that sentence. The ultimate form of hatred is the deliberate taking of another person's life," Schieber told a parish yesterday.
  • My radio-loving heart has been searching far and wide for the big rollout announcement of The Catholic Channel, the archdiocese of New York-backed venture which launches on Sirius Satellite Radio in but eight days' time.... Alas, what should be a building crescendo bears the air of a secret project -- few publicized plans, no released names of signed air-talent of yet, etc. It's a bit of a curious silence, but here's hoping they get up to speed quickly and launch strong. No pressure, of course, but more than you'd think rides on its success.
  • And, lastly, those who remember a late '90s song called "Blue on Black" might be surprised to learn that, of all people, Kenny Wayne Shepherd had a schism-lisicous wedding over the weekend. Then again, when your new father-in-law effectively operates as his own ordinary, these things happen. The married prelate in question is -- who else? -- Mel Gibson, who "hosted the ceremony at his ultra-conservative Holy Family church on his £2million [$3.75 million] estate in Malibu, California." Issues of communion, teaching and liceity aside, many happy wishes to Shepherd and his bride, Hannah, Gibson's 25 year-old daughter.
Happy Monday... and that's the word.


Sunday, September 17, 2006


Ladies and gentlemen, for the first time in public (in five years), Archbishop and Mrs Emmanuel Milingo.

According to the wires, Maria Sung is now using her husband's surname. As previously mentioned here, Milingo appeared earlier today at a convocation for illicitly married priests which runs through Tuesday in New Jersey.

In an interview with the Italian journal 30 giorni serialised by Zenit earlier this week, new Secretary of State Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, SDB spoke about his role in quelling the Moonie wedding brouhaha of 2001 and the controversial Zambian prelate's latest exploits:
Another personal commission [Bertone received from] John Paul II was to assist the former Archbishop Emmanuel Milingo of Lusaka, Zambia, in August 2001, when he decided to return to the Catholic Church after his civil marriage within the Moon sect.

"I only wish to say that his return after his first elopement filled me with joy and that I am very sad today by this second fall. I hope and pray that he will finally take up his post again in the Catholic Church. I have entrusted this to the intercession of the servant of God, Pope John Paul II," said the cardinal.
Given the delicacy of the situation, it might be time for another Wojtyla apparition -- this time to advise Bertone on a manner of proceeding.

SVILUPPO: Fresh off the wires, Milingo has been formally notified of impending ecclesiastical sanction -- and he's retorted:
Milingo said that Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, head of the Vatican's Congregation for Bishops, has demanded that Milingo send a letter of repentance by Oct. 15 to Pope Benedict XVI or face "canonical suspension."

"Your behavior, activities and public statements during these past few months are completely contrary to the obligation of every bishop," Re wrote in the letter, a copy of which was shown to The Associated Press. "In the name of Jesus Christ, I beg you to reflect seriously on your behavior and all its consequences."

Milingo, the retired archbishop of Zambia, was in New Jersey with is wife, Maria, for a conference of priests and their wives organized by his new advocacy group, Married Priests Now!. Asked how he would respond to the Vatican, he said, "I will stay with them" - meaning married priests.
Well, there you have it.

PHOTO: AP/Tim Larsen


Eagles, Patriots and Bishops, Oh My!

"Fly, Eagles, Fly, on the road to victory...."

Happy Home Opener to one and all from the heart of Birds' Nation. Another autumn, another season, 46 years since the last NFL Championship, two Super Bowl appearances... and still no trace of the definitive, long-coveted sign of God's love for Philadelphia: The Vince Lombardi Trophy.

Elsewhere, though, in the trenches of Patsland, the patron prelate in exile of the Terrible Toweling masses has yet again done up the house -- sans eight-foot blow-up doll, at least for now.

Luckily for Tobin, there'll be no Steelers-Patriots showdown this year. Given the current state of things ecclesiastical in the 'Burgh, however, whether the decorations are meant to speak to something beyond the NFL's on-field moves is grounds for some curiosity....

Speaking of which, after a wait of almost 18 months, Youngstown can expect its new bishop shortly.



From Albano, In Person: "Deeply Sorry"

The look on the face of Benedict XVI's secretary tells you the kind of week it's been -- at least, the tail end of it.

Before this morning's Angelus, the Pope read out a one-paragraph statement in Italian, which the Holy See has issued five languages worth of official translations to.

Here's the one in English:
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
The Pastoral Visit which I recently made to Bavaria was a deep spiritual experience, bringing together personal memories linked to places well known to me and pastoral initiatives towards an effective proclamation of the Gospel for today. I thank God for the interior joy which he made possible, and I am also grateful to all those who worked hard for the success of this Pastoral Visit. As is the custom, I will speak more of this during next Wednesday’s General Audience. At this time, I wish also to add that I am deeply sorry for the reactions in some countries to a few passages of my address at the University of Regensburg, which were considered offensive to the sensibility of Muslims. These in fact were a quotation from a medieval text, which do not in any way express my personal thought. Yesterday, the Cardinal Secretary of State published a statement in this regard in which he explained the true meaning of my words. I hope that this serves to appease hearts and to clarify the true meaning of my address, which in its totality was and is an invitation to frank and sincere dialogue, with great mutual respect.

Reuters/Dario Pignatelli


Saturday, September 16, 2006

Official Text: The Pope "Sincerely Regrets"

The Holy See has released its own English translation of this morning's Bertone statement (see below for analysis and preliminary trans.):



Given the reaction in Muslim quarters to certain passages of the Holy Father's address at the University of Regensburg, and the clarifications and explanations already presented through the Director of the Holy See Press Office, I would like to add the following:

- The position of the Pope concerning Islam is unequivocally that expressed by the conciliar document Nostra Aetate: "The Church regards with esteem also the Muslims. They adore the one God, living and subsisting in Himself; merciful and all-powerful, the Creator of heaven and earth, Who has spoken to men; they take pains to submit wholeheartedly to even His inscrutable decrees, just as Abraham, with whom the faith of Islam takes pleasure in linking itself, submitted to God. Though they do not acknowledge Jesus as God, they revere Him as a prophet. They also honor Mary, His virgin Mother; at times they even call on her with devotion. In addition, they await the day of judgment when God will render their deserts to all those who have been raised up from the dead. Finally, they value the moral life and worship God especially through prayer, almsgiving and fasting" (no. 3).

- The Pope's option in favor of inter-religious and inter-cultural dialogue is equally unequivocal. In his meeting with representatives of Muslim communities in Cologne, Germany, on 20 August 2005, he said that such dialogue between Christians and Muslims "cannot be reduced to an optional extra," adding: "The lessons of the past must help us to avoid repeating the same mistakes. We must seek paths of reconciliation and learn to live with respect for each other's identity".

- As for the opinion of the Byzantine emperor Manuel II Paleologus which he quoted during his Regensburg talk, the Holy Father did not mean, nor does he mean, to make that opinion his own in any way. He simply used it as a means to undertake - in an academic context, and as is evident from a complete and attentive reading of the text - certain reflections on the theme of the relationship between religion and violence in general, and to conclude with a clear and radical rejection of the religious motivation for violence, from whatever side it may come. On this point, it is worth recalling what Benedict XVI himself recently affirmed in his commemorative Message for the 20th anniversary of the Inter-religious Meeting of Prayer for Peace, initiated by his predecessor John Paul II at Assisi in October 1986: " ... demonstrations of violence cannot be attributed to religion as such but to the cultural limitations with which it is lived and develops in time. ... In fact, attestations of the close bond that exists between the relationship with God and the ethics of love are recorded in all great religious traditions".

- The Holy Father thus sincerely regrets that certain passages of his address could have sounded offensive to the sensitivities of the Muslim faithful, and should have been interpreted in a manner that in no way corresponds to his intentions. Indeed it was he who, before the religious fervor of Muslim believers, warned secularized Western culture to guard against "the contempt for God and the cynicism that considers mockery of the sacred to be an exercise of freedom".

- In reiterating his respect and esteem for those who profess Islam, he hopes they will be helped to understand the correct meaning of his words so that, quickly surmounting this present uneasy moment, witness to the "Creator of heaven and earth, Who has spoken to men" may be reinforced, and collaboration may intensify "to promote together for the benefit of all mankind social justice and moral welfare, as well as peace and freedom" (Nostra Aetate no. 3).


Bertone, the Papal Fireman

Some first day on the job for the new Secretary of State. He's already apologizing for the Boss.

This morning, Holy See released a lengthy statement under the signature of Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, "adding" some points to the already-released comments of Jesuit Fr Federico Lombardi, the director of the Vatican Press Office.

The hope is, of course, that by putting the heft of Bertone's new role behind the words, it will extinguish the recent unpleasantness once and for all; the Pope was said to be "extremely sorry" that his words at the Tuesday lecture in Regensburg had been taken out of context and caused offence to the Muslim community.

Don't be mistaken, however: the headline may bear Bertone's name, but text appears to be straight from the pen of the man who installed him in San Damaso.

The following is the Whispers translation of the message from its original Italian, maintaining all its emphases of text.



In light of the reactions on the part of Muslims to some parts of the discourse of the Holy Father Benedict XVI at the University of Regensburg, and the clarification and precisions already offered by means of the Director of the Press Office of the Holy See, I wish to add the following:

-- The position of the Pope on Islam is unequivocally that expressed in the conciliar document Nostra Aetate: “The Church regards with esteem also the Moslems. They adore the one God, living and subsisting in Himself; merciful and all- powerful, the Creator of heaven and earth, who has spoken to men; they take pains to submit wholeheartedly to even His inscrutable decrees, just as Abraham, with whom the faith of Islam takes pleasure in linking itself, submitted to God. Though they do not acknowledge Jesus as God, they revere Him as a prophet. They also honor Mary, His virgin Mother; at times they even call on her with devotion. In addition, they await the day of judgment when God will render their deserts to all those who have been raised up from the dead. Finally, they value the moral life and worship God especially through prayer, almsgiving and fasting” (n. 3).

-- The option of the Pope in favor of interreligious and intercultural dialogue is likewise unequivocal. In the encounter with the representatives of some Muslim communities in Cologne on 20 August 2005, he said that this dialogue between Christians and Muslims “cannot be reduced to an optional extra,” adding that: “The lessons of the past must help us to avoid repeating the same mistakes. We must seek paths of reconciliation and learn to live with respect for each other's identity.”

-- As for the judgment of the Byzantine Emperor Manuel II Paleologus, reported by him in the Regensburg discourse, the Holy Father absolutely did not intend nor does he intend still to make it his own, but only to utilize it as an occasion to develop, in an academic context and allowing for that which happens from a complete and attentive reading of the text, some reflections on the theme of the relationship between religion and violence in general and concluding with a clear and radical rejection of the religious motivation to violence, from whichever side it may come. It bears repeating in this regard what Benedict XVI himself recently affirmed in the commemorative message of the 20th anniversary of the interreligious encounter of prayer for peace called by his beloved predecessor John Paul II at Assisi in October 1986: “demonstrations of violence cannot be attributed to religion as such but to the cultural limitations with which it is lived and develops in time… In fact, attestations of the close bond that exists between the relationship with God and the ethics of love are recorded in all great religious traditions.”

-- The Holy Father is therefore greatly sorry [vivamente dispiacuto] that some parts of his speech have been made to sound offensive to the sensibility of Muslim believers and have been interpreted in a way not at all correspondent to his intentions. Besides, he, in light of the fervent religiosity of Muslim believers, admonished Western secular culture to avoid “the contempt for God and the cynicism that considers mockery of the sacred to be an exercise of freedom” [homily at Munich, 10 Sept 2006].

-- In confirming his respect and esteem for those who profess Islam, it is his wish that they may be aided to understand his words in their right sense, that, however surpassed by this difficult moment, they may reinforce the witness to the the one God, living and subsisting in Himself; merciful and all- powerful, the Creator of heaven and earth, who has spoken to men; and the collaboration to “to preserve as well as to promote together for the benefit of all mankind social justice and moral welfare, as well as peace and freedom” (Nostra Aetate, n. 3).