Friday, October 28, 2005

The Friday Line

Don't worry, people, I'm fine. Just a little more edgy than usual, but I'm OK. It's been a barnstormer here, one of those moments when the cycle of the universe is such that I can't be all things to all people, however hard I try. Not that I should even dare try. But oh well.

There was some interesting stuff in yesterday morning's Bollettino. In a matter of an hour, the number of Americans who have had one-on-one private audiences with B16 went from one to three, as the Pope received Cardinal Keeler of Baltimore and Archbishop O'Malley of Boston in separate sessions. (The USCCB leadership and Papal Foundation don't count as those were group encounters.)

I did an interview with the Boston Globe yesterday afternoon about O'Malley's audience; didn't make it to this morning's paper, but John Allen takes precedence in limited inches, as he should; I was just happy to be called and give some background. As I told the reporter, it might just be wise to remember that the last time an American archbishop walked into a private audience with this Pope, he came out with a job offer.

The Globe piece stated that O'Malley was keen to talk with Benedict XVI about new auxiliary bishops in Boston -- there are already five. However, be wise to remember who sits on the Congregation for Bishops: someone who, thanks to his own Boston experience, can practically dictate who gets the nod from the voting sessions. That reality could well tie O'Malley's hands and cause some anguish, barring a gift from above.

It seems, however, that the Archbishop in the Shadows is starting to show some muscle
''O'Malley holds these [auxiliary bishops] in high regard," said an archdiocesan official, who requested anonymity because of the sensitivity of the situation. ''But he has a completely different management style than [former Cardinal Bernard] Law did. He needs younger people to whom he can delegate more."
Keep an eye there.

In other things salient, there's been a bit of hubbub about the Catholic high school in North Jersey -- an entity distinct from South Jersey -- which banned its students from blogging (story here).

If you ask me, it's a BAD BAD move. Stupid and short-sighted, too... As I wrote in a comment elsewhere
If this school is really keen for its students to engage that world, then they wouldn't have taken this step. That they have just shows a lack of confidence in their student body -- and banning blogging is a poor scapegoat for a problem of their own device.
Think about it. Even if it's just a personal place to vent or air boring details about your life and what you do, a blog is an outlet, one which exalts the written word, encourages self-expression (which isn't the most encouraged quality in this or any time), and might well inspire in these kids a love and appreciation for good writing, which will help them all through their lives. (Has everybody forgotten already that writing is now a major section on the SAT, and most American high schools are flipping out about the addition because their students positively suck at it?)

Could it be that the school's ashamed of the writing skills (or, rather, lack thereof) with which it has imbued its kids? Hmm-hmm. Values-based Catholic education, you say?

Whatever the case, and yet again, just another reason for me to amp up my daily thanksgiving to God and my parents that I went to 12 years of public school (where my teachers were better Catholics than many parochial school climbers) and then was blessed to attend an institution founded on the purpose that clericalism and the academy are a dangerous combination.

Thank you, Jesus.

And the last word, as it should, belongs to Robert Mickens of The Tablet, summarising the Synod
The final version of Proposition 2 described not only the “goodness” (bontà) of the Second Vatican Council [liturgical] reform, but also its “validity” – a word that was a final addition. Two hundred and thirty-six fathers voted in favour of this proposition, four abstained and only two voted against it. More strikingly, the proposition that called for an expanded use of Latin at Mass (No. 36) received the fewest favourable votes – 170. It also received the most negative votes – 56 – and 16 abstentions. The synod’s position was clear: most of the bishops do not want to return to the Old Mass and a significant number of them would even like to shelve the use of Latin....

The one-hour “open forum” was Pope Benedict XVI’s attempt to “get the bishops talking”, said one seasoned synod participant. But, for a variety of reasons it was not a great success. All participants said the Pope was “actively listening” and was careful not to dominate or impose his views on the assembly. But several theologian-experts reported that there seemed to be a low level of theological understanding among many of the bishops “and some of the cardinals”. At one point the Pope – who inherited the already-planned synod from his predecessor – intervened and offered “a very basic” lecture on the nature of the Eucharist. “It was very good and very sound,” said one theologian, “but it was Eucharist: the basics.”
That last commentary reminds me of the curial cardinal -- no progressive heresiarch, he -- who once walked out of a meeting with a visiting bishop, shaking his head. When a priest-aide asked the cardinal what was wrong, the eminent one said, "I can't help but be amazed that that man is supposed to be the teacher of his people."

B16 might well agree.



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