Friday, June 30, 2006

"Bringing Home the News"

With the documents signed and the $515 million wired, late last night at the suburban printing plant where, as a boy, I jogged laps on Saturday mornings, an investor flipped the switch and, for the first time in 36 years, the Philadelphia Inquirer and Daily News (the latter being God's favorite newspaper) were published under local ownership.

The sale of the Knight-Ridder flagship, first to McClatchy and then to the hometown-based Philadelphia Media Holdings, led by the former DEFCON 1 archdiocesan media operative Brian Tierney, has attracted mass interest in these parts and in the wider media world. Given the constraints placed upon newspapering by the rise of the internet and a diversified media market, it's safe to say that not only are the eyes of the church on Philadelphia these days....

"As of now, this great news organization is locally owned," Brian Tierney, chief executive officer of Philadelphia Media, said yesterday afternoon from a dais crowded with his fellow investors, to sustained applause from a group of newspaper managers and staff.

At 10 last night, Tierney and several of the investors threw a party - sandwiches and Tastykakes - at the Schuylkill Printing Plant near West Conshohocken, where investor Patricia Imbesi threw the copper switch to start the press run. They greeted workers and managers as they came on shift.

"We're going to show the world," Tierney told a group of pressmen and paper handlers. "This is going to be the best news organization in America. You don't have to worry about the corporate thing."

"Like with all new beginnings, I'm hoping we can move on and good things will happen," said Roger DeCicco, shop steward for Teamsters Local 169, which represents 24 newsprint handling workers. "I'm looking forward to working with the local guys."

Later, there were no speeches to hear over the din as Imbesi stood with Tierney and co-owners Leslie A. Brun and William A. Graham IV. As she threw the switch to start the papers winding rapidly along the overhead track system, a delegation of Mummers from the Hegeman String Band broke into "Alabama Jubilee."

"It's great. It's new life," said Phil DeFlorio, vice president of Teamsters Local 1414, which represents 500 mailers. Secretary-treasurer Mike Bernstein said he was looking forward to contract negotiations, which begin in two weeks.

Earlier, Natoli said the $5 million commitment for print, broadcast, cable, billboard and online ads compares with just "a few hundred thousand" yearly under previous ownership. In addition, a promotional campaign, including the slogan "Bringing Home the News," will feature "street teams" dressed as old-time newsboys at public gatherings, pro sports events, Shore boardwalks and Fourth of July parades.

Given Tierney's background -- he was made a Knight of St Gregory the Great in 1998 -- and the presence of McMansion magnate Bruce Toll as lead investor, one running laugh-line in the newsroom post-sale was the hypothesized daily headline: "Housing Market Booming, Cardinal Says." But the new CEO's faith is no laughing matter -- Tierney's involvement in Catholic causes moved his longtime assistant, Hilary Vadner, to be received into the church a few years back.

For my part, it's just nice to learn that someone else out there is as discombobulated in the organization department as I am.

Tierney on himself from an interview with God's favorite daily:

"My car's a mess. My closet's a mess. My desk is a mess.

"I'm the kind of guy, when I'm picking somebody up, I'll wind up getting a trash bag and putting six old days of newspapers in a bag and throwing it in the trunk, and if somebody says can I put something in your trunk, I'll say, 'Why don't we just put it in the back seat?' "

On a recent vacation, he left his wallet in a hotel in one town, his suit jacket in another, and a third possession somewhere else.

"There's always a lot of cleanup behind Brian," he said....
Ditto for Rock. And welcome to my dad's new bosses.

AP/H. Rumph Jr.


Thursday, June 29, 2006

"It Was Not You Who Chose Me...."

What a week it's been for Donald Wuerl.

Seven days after the Installation of the Century in which he took possession of the archdiocese of Washington, Wuerl's ascent to the US hierarchy's top tier was reaffirmed this morning when he received his pallium at the hands of Benedict XVI.

The only thing missing was the red hat. Suffice it to say, it won't be missing for long.

While many of the new archbishops seemed anxious or overwhelmed when, each in their turn, they knelt before Pope Benedict to receive the band of lamb's wool which marks the "fullness of the episcopal office," Archbishop Wuerl's face bore a look of reserved exuberance. Their familiarity with each other -- the archbishop met briefly with the Pope shortly after the Washington appointment was announced -- was clear, and the two could be seen engaging in conversation as opposed to the platitudes which often mark the bestowal of the pallium.

The only prelate to get a noticeably bigger chunk of face-time before the Fluffiness was Cardinal Crescenzio Sepe, now of Naples. And it seems Sepe's ditched his glasses, to boot.

Should any of you be interested in charity -- and my inbox tells me that not too many people are these days -- in his homily this morning, Benedict yet again pulled out the line from St Ignatius of Antioch that the bishop of Rome "presides in charity." It's the third or fourth time he's used it to date.

"The charge of Peter is anchored to the prayer of Jesus," Benedict said. "It is this that gives him the sureness of perseverance across all human miseries. And the Lord entrusts this charge to him in the context of the Meal, in connection with the gift of the Most Holy Eucharist. The Church, in its innermost self, is a eucharistic community and so a communion in the Body of the Lord. The task of Peter is that of presiding over this universal communion; of keeping it present also in the world as a visible unity. He, together with all the Church of Rome, must -- as St Ignatius of Antioch put it -- preside in charity; to preside in the community of that love given by Christ which, ever anew, surpasses the limits of our lacking in order to carry the love of Christ even to the ends of the earth." (Whispers translation)

AP/Pier Paolo Cito


A Decision in Phoenix

Here's an interesting story: in 2004, an Anglican priest "concelebrated" a Catholic nuptial liturgy in the diocese of Phoenix. Fr John Cunningham, the Catholic priest who celebrated it was suspended and the case referred to the CDF, which bounced it back to Phoenix, where an investigation was had.

The result: the diocesan priest's good standing was reinstated. However, his request for early retirement was granted....
In April 2004 Bishop Olmsted received a report that Fr. Cunningham allowed an Anglican priest to concelebrate a nuptial Mass at St. Anne’s Church in Gilbert. It is possible for a non-Catholic minister to participate in a wedding. However a non-Catholic clergyman is not allowed to concelebrate the Eucharist at a wedding or Mass on any occasion.

After an initial investigation, the bishop suspended Fr. Cunningham pending referral of the case to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith at the Vatican. Bishop Angelo Amato’s response from the Congregation instructed Bishop Olmsted to initiate a process that would decide whether or not Fr. Cunningham allowed this to happen and, if so, what penalties should be imposed on him.

Bishop Olmsted appointed two priests to conduct this process: the Rev. Msgr. Brian Ferme, JCD, Dean of the School of Canon Law, The Catholic University of America, and Rev. Msgr. Ronny Jenkins, JCD, Professor of Canon Law at Catholic University and Associate General Secretary of the U.S. Catholic Conference of Bishops. They were appointed to determine whether Fr. Cunningham violated Church law, namely Canon 908.

Canon 908 reads, “It is forbidden for Catholic priests to concelebrate the Eucharist with priests or ministers of churches… which are not in full communion with the Catholic Church.”

Msgrs. Ferme and Jenkins concluded “The Anglican minister concelebrated not only formally, but also materially. This is most evident and indisputable….” They also wrote “There is absolutely no doubt that Fr. Cunningham knew the Rev. (Robert) Haux was an Anglican minister….”

From a video of this wedding Mass that they viewed, Msgrs. Ferme and Jenkins cite fifteen specific violations as evidence that Fr. Cunningham allowed the Anglican minister to concelebrate the Mass. For example, the Anglican minister was wearing a chasuble, extended his hands over the gifts of bread and wine immediately before the consecration (at the Epiclesis), extended one hand at the consecration of the bread and spoke the words of consecration, lifted one of the chalices at the consecration of the wine and at the same time spoke the words of consecration, joined in saying the eucharistic prayer, spoke alone part of the eucharistic prayer, and received communion at the altar as if a celebrant.
All's well that ends well. We hope.


"Receive the Sacred Pallium..."

Archbishop of San Francisco George Niederauer receives his pallium

On the 55th anniversary of his ordination as a priest, Joseph Ratzinger celebrated the feast which has recently taken on a new dimension in his life when he presided at Mass this morning for the Solemnity of Ss. Peter and Paul, the patrons of the church and city of Rome. The liturgy was commemorated with the annual conferral of the pallium -- the symbol of the metropolitan archbishop -- to the 27 new archbishops appointed over the past year.

In a rarity, this year's "pallium class" included two cardinals: Jorge Liberato Urosa Savino of Caracas, who Benedict elevated to the College of Cardinals in March; and Crescenzio Sepe, the former prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples who was named last month as archbishop of Naples.

Given the day's place as the major Petrine celebration of the liturgical calendar, a delegation from the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople showed up. (While the Vatican normally reciprocates by sending a delegation to the Patriarchate for its patronal feast of St Andrew at the end of November, this year Benedict himself will be in Istanbul to mark the feast alongside Patriarch Bartholomew I.)

Archbishop of Galveston-Houston Daniel Dinardo with the Pope

From the homily, in which the Pope lamented that the church -- and the Petrine primacy -- is "forever being buffeted by the wind of ideologies":
A man sharing in the infirm weakness of the Cross, but also in the strength of God, he whose faith Jesus himself prayed for and to whom the Risen Lord entrusted his flock. This is the Petrine Primacy as Benedict XVI described it today, by his own admission leaving aside the juridical, so to speak, aspect of sentences in the Gospels that indicate the “power” of the primacy, a traditional subject of disagreement between Christians. Instead he underlined the aspect of service to the faith and charity of the entire Church. A Church that “suffers” today, “shaken by the wind of ideologies” tending to sideline it, but that finds its defence in the prayer of Jesus for the faith of Peter....

During the mass, explaining the logic of the three Gospel passages, he said they “tackle the same task, but the diversity of situations and imagery used makes it clear for us what interested and interests the Lord.” The first was the passage from Matthew in which “his specific task is conferred upon him through three images: that of the rock that becomes the foundation or cornerstone; that of the keys and of loosening and binding”. At this time, continued the pope, “I do not intend to interpret once again these three images, which the Church, throughout the centuries, has constantly explained anew; rather, I would like to draw attention to the geographical and chronological context of these words. The promise was made near the source of the Jordan, at the border of Jewish land, on edge of the Pagan world. The moment in which the promise was made marks a decisive turning point in the journey of Jesus: now the Lord is walking toward Jerusalem, and for the first time, he tells his disciples that this journey towards the Holy City is a journey to the Cross.” “Both things go together and determine the inner place of the Primacy, in fact, of the church in general: the Lord is continually on a journey towards the Cross, towards the lowliness of the suffering and killed servant of God, but at the same time, he is also headed for the vastness of the world, in which He goes before us as the Risen Lord, so that the light of his word and the presence of his love may shine in the world.”

“The Church – and Christ in it – still suffers today. In the Church, Christ is relentlessly mocked and stricken over and again; there are always efforts to push it out of the world. The small boat of the Church is forever being buffeted by the wind of ideologies that penetrate it with their waters, seemingly condemning it to sink. And yet, right in the suffering Church, Christ is victorious. Notwithstanding everything, faith in Him is renewed in strength again and again. Still today, the Lord commands the waters and reveals himself as the Lord of the elements. He stays on his boat, the ship of the Church. Thus even in the ministry of Peter is revealed on the one hand the weakness of what comes from man, but together with the strength of God.”
The second passage recalled by Benedict XVI was that from the Gospel of Luke which is about the Last Supper, when “Jesus, straight after the institution of the Sacrament, talked about the meaning of being disciples, the ‘ministry’, in the new community: he said it was a commitment of service, the same as He himself, who was among them as one who served. And then he turned to Peter. He said Satan had demanded to sift the disciples like wheat.” Akin to the biblical narrative of Job, “this is what happens to the disciples of Jesus – in all times.” However, “Jesus continues: ‘I have prayed for you that your own faith may not fail’ (Lk 22:32). The prayer of Jesus is the limit posed on the power of evil. The prayers of Jesus are the protection of the Church. We can seek refuge under this protection, cling to it and be sure of it. But, as the Gospel tells us, Jesus prayed especially for Peter: ‘that your faith may not fail’. There it is: don’t ever allow this faith to become dumb, always reinvigorate it again, even in the face of the cross and all the contradictions of the world – this is the task of Peter. This is precisely why the Lord does not only pray for the personal faith of Peter but for his faith in the service of others. This is what He means when He says: ‘and you, when once you have turned back, strengthen your brothers’ (Lk22:32).”

“The Lord entrusts to Peter the responsibility for his brothers through the promise of his prayer.”

PHOTOS 1-2: Reuters/Max Rossi
PHOTO 3: AP/Pier Paolo Cito


Photo of the Day

As you know, the American Cardinals love showing up in Rome. Love, love, love it.

This time of year, a good number of dicasteries aid and abet this a bit by holding their final major meetings before the summer exodus, which adds an extra "oomph" to the Peter and Paul celebrations.

Well, they're back again. Here are Cardinals William Keeler of Baltimore and Edward Egan of New York at yesterday's General Audience. Also on the dais were Cardinals Roger Mahony of Los Angeles and the archbishop-emeritus of Washington, Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, in town to see his successor get his pallium before leaving for Moscow and the delegation to the Orthodox Patriarchate.

Reuters/Max Rossi


Wednesday, June 28, 2006


Via The Anchoress, a great story about a Milwaukee convert and former teacher who recently made her final profession as a Benedictine Sister of Perpetual Adoration.

And some great feed about the portion of the profession rite shown here....
When a Benedictine monastic of either sex makes solemn vows, one of the most moving parts of the ritual is when he or she stands before the altar of the Lord, arms upraised, and makes the triple “suscipe,” proclaiming three times, “Accept me, Lord, as you have promised, and I shall truly live…”
I know more than a few Benedictines but never heard a thing about this -- sounds (and looks) absolutely beautiful.

Maryville Daily Forum


The Feast of Rome

As you all know, tomorrow is the Solemnity of Ss. Peter and Paul. In keeping with the practice established by John Paul II in 1984, Benedict XVI will celebrate Rome's patronal feast by imposing the pallium on most of the new metropolitan archbishops appointed within the past year.

Tonight, at the close of First Vespers in the Basilica, the bands of lambs' wool blessed by the Pope and conferred as the sign of "the fulness of the episcopal office" will be placed in a niche above the tomb of St Peter, where they will remain until the morning liturgy.

In those years when there isn't a conclave or consistory to create new cardinals, this buzz-filled week is always the time when ecclesiastical Rome receives its largest influx of bishops and pilgrims on ceremonial business and for the reception circuit. In other words, in a city where life is one big festival, this is the big party week.

It doesn't hurt that the annual embassy parties for the Queen's Birthday (UK), Canada Day and the 4th of July (US, of course) are held around this time, and everyone's feeling all happy and light in advance of the estate exodus. And keeping with this, of course, are some incredible scenes and stories. So to everyone on the ground over there -- and how I wish I could be there -- keep us all looped-in on the feel of things.... Have a great time.

For the rest of us, tomorrow morning's "Pallium Mass" in St Peter's Basilica begins at 9.30 Rome time (0730 GMT, 3.30am Eastern).... The (karlon- and commentary-free) CTV feed will be available.


Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Installation Day in Joliet

In the midst of everything going on, we've been remiss in keeping Bishop J. Peter Sartain's arrival in the diocese of Joliet in mind....

The installation of the Memphis-born, Sant'Anselmo-trained sacramentalist, who had served six years as bishop of Little Rock, as head of the 625,000-member suburban Chicago diocese took place earlier today. Succeeding the retiring Bishop Joseph Imesch, Sartain was appointed 16 May, a provision overshadowed by Donald Wuerl's unveiling as archbishop of Washington.

The Chitown Tribune ran an interview with Bishop Sartain at the weekend.
"These kind of transitions are challenging because you really come to love the people you serve no matter where they are," Sartain said in an interview last weekend at the St. Charles Borromeo Pastoral Center in Romeoville. "It's also an exciting time because I enjoy meeting people and new circumstances. "Then I have those moments of anxiety, and what I have to do is take some deep breaths and ask God to guide me."

Last month Pope Benedict XVI named Sartain, 54, as the fourth bishop of Joliet and the successor to retired Bishop Joseph Imesch, whose legacy has been tainted by the way he handled sexual abuse allegations against diocese priests. Sartain will be installed Tuesday afternoon in a ceremony in the Cathedral of St. Raymond Nonnatus in Joliet. The Joliet diocese serves seven counties: DuPage, Will, Kendall, Kankakee, Grundy, Ford and Iroquois.

Since his appointment, Sartain said, his emotions have been in overdrive. A farewell mass last week in Little Rock, Ark., where he served as bishop since 2000, was filled with his favorite Southern foods, some laughter and many tears. He arrived in Joliet quietly Friday afternoon and spent much of the weekend privately in prayer.

In the interview Saturday morning, Sartain exuded the humor, warmth and honesty that have become legendary among the parishioners of Memphis and Little Rock where he has served.

When asked about how he would handle the lingering sexual abuse scandal in Joliet, Sartain said matter-of-factly that he would need time.

"The first thing that I have to do is come to understand the situation here ... to understand the concerns of everyone, so that I have a handle on things. But it's going to be a process for me, because I'm not familiar with the circumstances here.

"All I can do is approach it as I think God asks me to," he said.

Brother Chris Englert, headmaster at Christian Brothers High School in Memphis, said he envied the people in the Joliet diocese for getting Sartain as their leader.

"They are so lucky," said Englert, who was traveling from Memphis for the installation. "He is so good with people and such a wonderful homilist. They loved him so much that people cried when he left Memphis. And people cried again when he left Little Rock.

"Bishop Sartain is the real deal, and I hope you take care of him," Englert said.

AP/Nam Y. Huh


And With Your (Great White Northern) Spirit

Early wishes for a Happy Canada Day to all our friends north of the border.

(Note to Americans: Canada Day, marked annually on 1 July, commemorates the unification of the provinces of British North America into what we now know as Canada. That happened in 1867.)

If the rest of you don't mind my taking a second to say this, there's a special place in my heart for the Canadian crowd who keep me amused, encouraged and well-informed.... This began as a bipolar work, focusing on the US and Rome, but to paraphrase a certain PM, the Canadians wanted in, the Canadians are in, and (hopefully) Whispers will work for all of us. God love you guys, let's all meet up soon, eh?

To business, the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops has followed suit in granting its approval to the new rendering of the English Order of Mass.
On June 15, the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops' liturgical commission was in Ottawa counting the results of a mail-in ballot the same day U.S. bishops voted at their plenary to approve a new translation that is closer to the original Latin than the version that has been in use for more than 30 years.

According to the Episcopal commission's secretary, Fr. Camille Jacques, OSM, a majority of Canadian bishops have approved through their mail-in vote....

"I think people will see that it is a very beautiful translation," said St. George's and Labrador City-Schefferville Bishop Douglas Crosby in a telephone interview from his Corner Brook, Nfld., office June 19.

Crosby has served for the past six years as the Canadian representative on the International Commission on English in the Liturgy (ICEL), which is charged by the Catholic Church with the task of developing English translations of liturgical texts.

Crosby said the new translation is more accurate and has included the input of linguistic experts, poets and musicians to get the "best and most beautiful words" for the translation.

Every word of the translation has been prayed over, he said.
Apparently, they like their "Christ has died" up there as well....
The American bishops also voted on specific adaptations that are not included in the Latin, but the Canadian bishops are still working on their adaptations in conjunction with the French-sector of the CCCB.

One Canadian adaptation is the acclamation "Christ has died, Christ has risen, Christ has come again." This does not appear in the Latin, but may end up being one of the adaptations the Canadian Church will retain, Jacques said.

Australia, for example, has asked to change the word "supper" to "banquet of the Lamb" because for Australians, supper is a snack, Crosby said.

To "Reflect the Light"

Kudos and thanks to Tom in DC for transcribing Archbishop Wuerl's installation homily. It's about time, not to mention a great service.

In case you haven't yet checked the 27 minutes of wonderfulness -- its place as a national message cannot be underestimated -- some snips:
The words of St. Paul seem as appropriate for the Church of Washington as they did nineteen centuries ago when he addressed them to the Corinthians, so I appropriate them in this greeting to you, I give thanks, "I give thanks to my God always on your account, for the grace of God bestowed on you in Christ Jesus, that in Him you are enriched in every good way."

Aware of my own personal limitations, I nonetheless embrace this call joyfully, with faith in God's providential plan, a plan that includes each and every one of us, and I give thanks to God as well, that we are to begin today the next step in our faith journey together.

In all of my priestly and episcopal ministry, I have tried to do the very best I can with the collaboration and the help of all of those around me, and with reliance on God's grace. I count on your help and prayers in our faith journey together that begins a new chapter today.

Just three weeks ago, as I prepared to leave Pittsburgh, I met with a group of youngsters who are residents in one of our diocesan homes for at-risk youngsters. And a thirteen year old spoke to me of Washington. His words, while lacking the complexity of St. Paul, were every bit as sincere. He said to me, assuring me as only a thirteen-year-old could, "Bishop, I've been to Washington. You'll love it. It's a great place."....

The work of a bishop is the same for every shepherd. For every shepherd of a diocese, the work is identical. All of the bishops who honor this archdiocese with their presence here today share the same apostolic mission. We may approach our ministry out of our own particular gifts, but what we do is already determined by a mandate that finds its origin and definition in Jesus' love for His flock. It is by His rule that the office and responsibilities of the Apostles continues in this manner in our age.

In his October 2003 apostolic exhortation Pastores Gregis, the Servant of God Pope John Paul II tells us a bishop is a teacher of the faith and herald of the word. He's a minister of the grace of the High Priesthood, and he's charged with the pastoral care of the flock entrusted to his charge. The Apostles, and their successors, like Peter in today's Gospel, have been sent out to be witnesses to the mystery of God continuing to be with us today in and through His Church. And they're sent to nurture that flock. Bishops are the link, the link of continuity, to the Apostles, who ensure our connectedness -- the connectedness of everyone in this basilica -- our connectedness, twenty centuries later, with the person of Christ, His revelation, His Resurrection, and His Eucharist.

Just a little over three weeks ago, immediately after arriving in Rome for some meetings that were already scheduled, I invited the seminarians from the Archdiocese of Washington and those from the diocese of Pittsburgh studying at the North American College in Rome to join me for the celebration of Mass in the crypt of the great basilica of St. Peter, a tradition we have had for many, many years. And we gathered just a few paces from the tomb of the head of the Apostles, Peter, and nearby the burial place of John Paul II. We stood, we prayed in this sacred space, which is a reminder to all of us, everyone in ministry, that we share the wondrous task of linking the person of Christ, His Gospel, and His love, with our world, our now....

Just one block from here is the Office of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, which among other things has the responsibility to present and reflect the voice and the positions of the bishops in this country on pastoral and public policy matters. To each of us, however, individually falls the weighty charge to proclaim the Faith, to apply its challenge to our day, and to unfold the implications of that Gospel to the issues and circumstances of our moment. The bishop's first task, so we are told in the Second Vatican Council, is to teach.

As our beloved Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI so beautifully said in his encyclical letter, God is Love, the essential mission of the Church is expressed in the charge, "Proclaim the Gospel, celebrate the sacraments, and exercise the ministries of charity." [See Deus Caritas Est, n. 25a] And I look forward to working with all of the clergy, the religious, the lay women and men of this diocese in manifesting, to the best of our abilities, the Kingdom of God here in this portion of God's vineyard. Because the bishop is also called to offer leadership. No one, no one bishop, no one carries on this mandate alone....

In an age that so desperately needs to hear the Gospel of Life and witness the splendor of truth and live the challenge of faith and reason, the Church, you and I, gathered around the successors to the Apostles, always one with Peter, must lovingly, persuasively, and fearlessly, reflect the light of Christ.

Among the saints commemorated today in the liturgical calendar, June 22, is St. Paulinus of Nola. In a letter to a bishop in Dacia, sixteen hundred years ago, Paulinus wrote words that are as relevant now as then. He taught that the task of the bishop is to instruct others so that they too might be able, in everything that they say and do, simply to echo Christ....

It's also the role of the Church to see that the light of the Gospel shines on all of the discussions, all of the debates that help to mold our culture and our society. The voice of the most cherished values, the voice of the great teaching tradition rooted in God's word and God's wisdom, simply has to impact on our culture and our society. The wisdom of God is the thread that needs to be woven into that fabric that will create a truly good and just society. This aspect of ministry will bring the Church into relationships with many, many in the cultural, educational, social service, and political world. The voice of the Gospel must be heard in any discussion that involves human dignity, human solidarity, development, and ultimately holiness....

In the second reading of our liturgy, from the Acts of the Apostles, we are reminded that the Church, the enduring presence of Christ in the world, doesn't hover formlessly over the earth. It's structured, visible, made up of the faithful gathered around their bishop and priests. In the second chapter of that ancient book describing the Church, we find what I like to think of as the description of the first Catholic parish. They came together to pray, to listen to the teaching of the Apostles, to support one another as a community, and to celebrate the Eucharist.
Mhmm. Mhmm. And mhmm.

Oh, and when, on the morning after, I saw Tom's response to the Thursday blog-venting, a certain ecclesiastical residence in the capital rollicked with laughter....

Reuters/Joshua Roberts


More on the Twin-Fathers

So it seems many of you enjoyed the story about the identical twins who were ordained the other night at the opposite corner of Pennsylvania from this City of Brotherly Love....

Good. If there's a story to be enjoyed out there, it's this one.

In truth, I loved it so much that it'll be appearing in this week's release of The Tablet -- it is our annual US Edition, after all -- and in the process of research, I found this longer story from the Erie Times-News. The new brother-priests are apparently the 12th and 13th children born to their parents, which is simply... wow.
Their parents never had to force them to go to daily Mass at 6:30 a.m.

"It wasn't an obligation for us, but rather something we saw as cool," Joseph Campbell said.

So it's no surprise that the 26-year-old Erie twins are being ordained priests tonight, together, at St. Peter Cathedral.

"It's the work of God," Dolores Campbell, their mother, said.

She and her husband, John Campbell, named their 12th and 13th children for Monsignor James Joseph Gannon. The late priest was the family's pastor at St. Andrew Catholic Church, just two blocks from the home where James, who is older by 15 minutes, and Joseph grew up.

Priests were always part of their lives.

James Campbell remembers not only the men who "offered the sacraments that we valued so much," but also the priests who showed their human side when sitting in his parents' living room....

Joseph Campbell admired the selfless care of the men who helped in times of sickness and financial need.

Over the years, the twins were inspired by too many priests to name. But the boys knew at an early age that it was a group of men they wanted to join.
Oh, this is such a great story. And you can all thank Bishop Trautman for it.

Janet B Campbell/Erie Times-News


Rome Goes To Beijing

A delegation of two clerics from the Secretariat of State are in the Chinese capital for negotiations.... A one-sentence statement released this morning from Joaquin Navarro-Valls at the Vatican Press Office began "I have no comment."
AsiaNews, a missionary news service close to the Vatican, said Monsignor Claudio Celli, a veteran Vatican diplomat, and Monsignor Gianfranco Rota Graziosi of the Secretariat of State have been in Beijing since Sunday.

Such a visit could mean a deal for the Holy See to switch diplomatic recognition to Beijing from Taiwan was in sight.

The communist mainland claims Taiwan as part of its territory and refuses to have relations with any nation that recognizes the self-ruled island's popularly elected government.

The deputy chairman of the government-backed Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association, Liu Bainian, said he couldn't confirm whether a Vatican delegation was in Beijing.

Hong Kong Cardinal Joseph Zen, viewed as a key figure in Sino-Vatican relations, said he was aware of a planned visit by Vatican envoys to China.

"I don't have any detailed information," he said "The Vatican hasn't told me anything. I just know people from the Vatican were planning on going to China."

China forced Catholics to cut ties with the Vatican in 1951 after the communists took power. The government allows worship only in state-monitored churches, but millions of Catholics remain loyal to the Vatican and worship in secret.

A major stumbling block for the resumption of Sino-Vatican ties is a dispute over who has the power to appoint bishops.

The Holy See has said it wants final say on appointments but is willing to listen to China's opinion. Beijing doesn't appear ready to give up control of the issue.
Stay tuned.


Monday, June 26, 2006

Meet the Interim Boss....

Earlier today, the college of consultors of the diocese of Pittsburgh elected Auxiliary Bishop Paul Bradley as its administrator until the appointment of the Steel City's 12th bishop.

Bishop Bradley, 60, has served as auxiliary bishop of Pittsburgh since February 2005 and was named the diocese's general secretary and vicar-general in November 2003.

As Donald Wuerl's native city awaits his successor, its local church will be watched over by a cleric who's seen as one of their own and enjoys the respect of the clergy for his deep pastoral experience as a parish priest -- the one quality then-Bishop Wuerl lacked. When Bradley's appointment as auxiliary was announced, one priest was overheard rejoicing, noting as he did that the pastoral cred of the diocesan episcopate "just went up 60%." The report from KDKA (with video) trafficked heavily in speculation that Bradley could well find himself named to the cathedra.

Whoever the 12th bishop will be, given Pittsburgh's size, the new archbishop's standing with the Holy See and the reality that the DC appointment was known for months, don't be surprised if the succession came sooner rather than later.


Heavenly Billboards

Hopefully it won't startle anyone driving down Chicago's Kennedy Expressway into an accident, but none less than St Jude begins his run today as the Windy City's newest traffic service.

A billboard blaring the message "St Jude Knows an Alternate Route" has been posted on the wall of St Stanislaus' church along the Kennedy to further plug Jim Martin SJ's My Life With the Saints (Loyola), which is about to go into its fourth printing after only three months of release.

Over the course of summer, other messages -- including "St. Joseph Says Construction Takes Patience" and "St. Joan of Arc Says 'Keep Cool'" -- will appear to ease drivers' traffic frustrations and, if their curiosity is piqued, point them to the Loyola Press website, which will contain excerpts from the book on the life of the highlighted saint. Motorists are being encouraged to "use their common saints," not to mention the light counsel to be somewhat serene in the considerable gridlock of the US' third largest city.

Drive safe, Chicago. The saints are watching....


The Big Day in Big D....

I'm starting to get reminders that the Day of Reckoning is at hand in the diocese of Dallas.

We're less than three weeks from the 75th birthday of Bishop Charles Grahmann. When Grahmann's letter goes over on 15 July, Rome gets (at long last) its free hand in choosing the new leader of the almost 1 million-member local church.

All indicators are that this'll be quite the notable transition. Stay tuned.


Place Your Bets, Place Your Bickering....

From the Great White North, there brews a battle royal over Catholic school money-raising in Calgary:
In a letter sent this week to each of the 97 schools in the Calgary Catholic School District, Bishop Fred Henry threatened "blacklisting" of schools that engage in "immoral fundraising, as well as stripping them of their Catholic designation, and announced that he won't preside at the liturgy to open the school year.

"It is morally wrong for a Catholic institution to formally co-operate in an industry that exploits the weak and the vulnerable," he wrote. "The end does not justify the means."

The letter does not spell out what blacklisting entails. However, it is believed that it would include local pastors withdrawing their services from the schools, said Jeremy Simms, chief superintendent of the school district.

Yesterday, school principals were called to an emergency meeting to discuss the threats, but the board of trustees announced that it will not -- and cannot -- bend to the will of their spiritual leader.

"We would prefer that no school would have to do fundraising," Cathie Williams, chairwoman of the board, told reporters.

But the board, which serves 44,000 students in the region, relies on about $2-million in revenue generated from casinos and bingo to pay for programs such as drama, band, athletics and field trips, and to subsidize low-income families. "The board has chosen to light a candle rather than curse the darkness," Ms. Williams said.

More From the Wuerlpool

I've been tipped off that some readers were looking for the video of Thursday's installation down in DC, but couldn't find it.

Gratefully -- and especially as, for some mysterious reason, the fulltext of Archbishop Donald Wuerl's homily has yet to materialize -- KDKA in Pittsburgh has kept both the video of the 27-minute masterpiece of Wuerl's precise and resonant preaching and a "clean" (i.e. uncut, commentary-free) feed of the liturgy posted on its website.

Note to KDKA: many thanks -- and please keep the video up as long as is humanly possible.

To all of you who haven't yet seen the Mass, and as I keep hashing away at my own reflections on the historic and beautiful day, click over and enjoy. If you like beautiful liturgy, or even if you don't, it's a real treat to watch.

(It was even more of a treat to actually be there, of course, but you'll be hearing more about that in due course....)

In more recent developments, Archbishop Wuerl took his cathedra for the first time yesterday morning during a liturgy of welcome at St Matthew's Cathedral. Cardinals McCarrick and Baum attended in coro.

Preaching a homily which was described as "simple, but demonstrative" of the his comfort as and expressed preference for being the teacher, Wuerl recounted the story of a letter he received during his tenure as bishop of Pittsburgh. In advance of his visit to a parochial school in the diocese, a 4th grader wrote the bishop saying, "I am excited to know that you know someone who knew someone who knew someone who knew someone who knew... someone who knew someone who knew Jesus."

The archbishop noted that the students were likely told to fill a whole page.

However, "When I read that," he said, "I immediately wanted to appoint young Dominic to the Diocesan Theological Commission," using the boy's observation as a link between the import of the passing on of tradition and the role he would exercise from the archbishop's chair in the here and now.

His predecessor in tow, Archbishop Wuerl leaves today for Rome, where he'll receive his pallium on Thursday alongside his fellow Pittsburgher, Archbishop Daniel DiNardo of Houston, and Archbishop George Niederauer of San Francisco.

From Rome, Cardinal McCarrick will leave next week for Moscow as part of a Vatican delegation of six cardinals sent to meet with Alexei II, the Patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church.


Next Stop On the Liturgy Train....

With the successful first vote on the Missale Romanum behind, the US bishops are girding to tackle the directives of Liturgiam authenticam with regards to liturgical music.

In its most recent Newsletter, the USCCB Committee for the Liturgy announced that a 9 October consultation is to be held in Chicago to seek "the advice of organizations and groups dealing with questions of music and the liturgy." LA, the 2001 Vatican instruction on vernacular liturgical texts, said that such pieces "are particularly important because they convey to the faithful a sense of the solemnity of the celebration, and manifest unity in faith and charity by means of a union of voices."

Within five years of Liturgiam authenticam, the document stipulated that each episcopal conference was to prepare an official Directory "or repertory of texts intended for liturgical singing" within its jurisdiction. The USCCB will likely be the first conference to vote on a proposed Directory at its November meeting, to be held this year in Baltimore.

As with the vote on the Order of Mass taken in Los Angeles eleven days ago, a US music directory must receive a 2/3 vote of active Latin-rite bishops and be forwarded to the Holy See for its recognitio.

The Chicago consultation will be held with an eye toward "discuss[ing] the revision" of Music and Catholic Worship and Liturgical Music Today, which are viewed as the "two foundational documents on the subject of the music and the sacred liturgy."

And so it goes....


Sunday, June 25, 2006


Buona domenica a tutti!

Word from Rome: expect stringent, universal guidelines on the handling of sex-abuse cases in the mid-term future. From on high.

I'm just sayin'.


Saturday, June 24, 2006

Whisperer Goes Electric

With all apologies for the day's delay, the first Almost Holy column for Busted Halo has been rolled out... case you forgot, it's written by your unworthy scribe....

...and not since the 1965 Newport Folk Festival has an artist made such a dramatic shift.


On the Liturgy

In an interview with the Catholic Standard & Times here in Philadelphia, Cardinal Justin Rigali speaks at length on The Vote and what happens next.

As you liturgy junkies know, the insights are especially worth looking at as the cardinal is a member of Vox Clara commission, which will advise the Congregation for Divine Worship on the recognitio for the USCCB's approved texts. Vox Clara meets again in mid-July.
“The job [of the immediate post-Conciliar translation] had to be done in a short period of time,” Cardinal Rigali said. “The difficulty was that not every translation is pleasing to everybody. They did the best they could. Little by little, these texts were approved by the bishops of the individual nations.”

And so it was that the first edition of the Roman Missal in English was produced, and Americans began to worship in English for the first time in the history of the Church.

But the translation wasn’t perfect. Twenty-five years later, Pope John Paul II issued a document called, “The Twenty-fifth Year” ["Venticesimus Quintus Annus"]. In it, the pope recounted how Vatican II had authorized the translation of the Mass and sacraments, and how grateful the Church was for the work that had been done in this area.

“However, no one ever claimed the translations were perfect or as good as they should be, because they were done under great pressure,” Cardinal Rigali said. “It could have taken decades [to do this work] because of the amount of text [but it did not].”

Now, said Pope John Paul II, the time had come for the Church to look at those translations and try to improve them, to make them more faithful to the original, dignified texts — texts that can be proclaimed effectively.

“He never suggested these texts had to be translated slavishly,” the Cardinal said. “But they had to be more than just a paraphrase. They had to be faithful, pleasing, artistic.”....

“[The new translation] was to be faithful, taking into account all the words, not just the ideas,” Cardinal Rigali said. “It was not to be a slavish translation, but it had to account for all the words — not a ‘dynamic equivalent.’ In many cases, we are translating the Word of God so we have to do more than paraphrase.”

Todavía Está....

Plans are in their final stages for the Pope's trip to the World Meeting of Families in Valencia on 7-8 July. A bunch of American hierarchs are going over, and one I spoke with the other night was particularly excited about the journey, which'll culminate at a Mass where somewhere around 1 million are expected.

Well, the altar has already gone up:
A giant crane yesterday manoeuvered into place the huge 38 ton central cross that will form the main part of the altar from which Pope Benedict XVI will preside the main meetings of the World Family Forum that will take place on the 8th and 9th July.

The final piece has a cross on all its sides that will be easily visible by day and back-lit by night, according to architect Juan Pablo Mas. The cross has three fluorescent tubes inside it, whilst at the base of the tower there will be eight projectors throwing up lights that will harmonise with the red of the cross.

The monument will be visible to the east and west by a distance of one kilometre, and the metallic structure of the cross as well as its installation was a donation from the Ros Casares Group.

And a certain someone is, well, still there....
[A]rriving in Valencia yesterday was [Archbishop] Piero Marini, the Vatican Master of Ceremonies for Papal Activities. He is expected to fine-tune the arrangements for the formal religious ceremonies during the visit of Benedict XVI.
Mhmm. Don't shoot the messenger....


From Red Sox Nation

So I was getting text messages last night from Fenway Park as the Sox beat the bejesus out of my Phillies, 10-2.

No grudges, of course. The Sox are my favorite AL team. Along with the Yanks....

Don't dare call me unprincipled. But let's cut to the real ballgame.

Back from his Spanish-immersion course en la America Latina, and awaiting the mitre which is a perk of his former job, Bill Fay is becoming a Boston pastor -- of a newly-merged parish... one near the chancery, to boot:

Archdiocesan spokesman Kevin Shea would not specify a date for the closing of St. Gabriel, saying the archdiocese needed to talk first with the parishioners, but said, ``it is well known that the Passionists are moving out of Massachusetts to consolidate their ministry." Parishioners said they expect the doors to be closed tomorrow. The Passionists have staffed the small parish since it was established in 1934.

Shea said the parish's programs, including a Spanish-language Mass, will be transferred to the last surviving Catholic church in Brighton, St. Columbkille. Cardinal Sean P. O'Malley is naming as a new pastor of that parish Monsignor William P. Fay, who had been the general secretary of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops in Washington.

And, to mark the feast of St Josemaria, Cardinal Sean -- who looked resplendent in his new get-up the other day in DC -- is saying a Monday evening liturgy for The Work:

A Boston leader of Opus Dei, Joseph Billmeier, said there are 300 to 400 Opus Dei members in Massachusetts, Maine, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont. He said the movement has houses of men in Chestnut Hill and Cambridge and houses of women in the Back Bay and Newton, as well as a retreat center in Pembroke.

Billmeier said that O'Malley's predecessor, Cardinal Bernard F. Law, had said Masses to mark the anniversary of the death of Escriva, but that this was the first year the movement had asked O'Malley to do the same. Billmeier said the invitation was not provoked by the movie, but that ``we are trying to get the word out and to help people understand us."


Flynn To Ideologues: Sorry To Rain On Your Parade...

As his critics get outlandishly hopped up about the selection of his successor-in-waiting, Archbishop Harry Flynn of St Paul and Minneapolis set the record straight in an interview with his archdiocesan newspaper, The Catholic Spirit.

The former Master of the Mount, who marks his 20th anniversary as a bishop today, made it clear that rumours of his imminent retirement are greatly exaggerated ... at least, for the next two years. Or thereabout. Or something like that.

For those who actually know what a coadjutor is, none of this is news. But just in case....
“Here’s the scoop,” Archbishop Flynn said. “When a bishop is over 70 and he needs an auxiliary, Rome is not inclined to give him an auxiliary, but rather a coadjutor. I’m over 70. I’ve lost an auxiliary. We need another one. I wrote for an auxiliary. Rome said, ‘No, you have to have a coadjutor.’ So I wrote for a coadjutor.

“And then at 75,” he added, “whoever that coadjutor might be, he would succeed me.”

Archbishop Flynn then joked: “If I didn’t [request a coadjutor], Bishop Pates and I would be worn down, and I wouldn’t see 75. He wouldn’t either.”

Asked if he would wait until 75 to retire, Archbishop Flynn said he would keep that “in pectore,” Latin for “in the heart.” He said he would continue to live in Minnesota after his retirement.
Meanwhile, behind-the-scenes, the name of Bishop Dennis Schnurr of Duluth -- a former general secretary of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops who also served as chief organizer of the 1993 World Youth Day in Denver -- has entered the fray as a contender in anticipation of the announcement of a St Paul-Minneapolis coadjutor.

Also prominently mentioned are Bishops Samuel Aquila of Fargo, a Denver native and product of the Stafford school, and Blase Cupich of Rapid City, a former rector of the Pontifical College Josephinum.

The Catholic Spirit



In an event that gives new meaning to the term "vocations exacta,"identical twins were ordained last night for the service of the diocese of Erie:
The 26-year-olds [James and Joseph Campbell] said they always wanted to be priests. They used to play at saying Mass at home, using communion wafers they made from bread.

Their parents, Dolores and John Campbell, named the boys after their late pastor at St. Andrew Church, Monsignor James Joseph Gannon.
So much for the prophecies of ecclesiastical doom in Erie. After all, not even Fabian Bruskewitz has ordained a set of identical twins.

But the real question is whether James Joseph Gannon was related to the late, great John Mark.... Some of you remember the latter well, no?

Many congratulations to the new Fathers Campbell.

SVILUPPO: The following dispatch has arrived from on-the-ground, by the Lake:
St. Peter Cathedral was filled to standing room for the ordination of the three new priests in Erie last evening.

The pastor for whom the Campbell twins were named, Msgr. James Joseph Gannon was a nephew to Archbishop John Mark Gannon (Bishop 1918-1968; Erie Ordinard 1921-1966; Archbishop 'ad personam'). Msgr. James Gannon also had a brother (not a twin), Msgr. John Mark Gannon, who was Chancellor for his uncle.

When he was a chaplain in World War II, Msgr. James Gannon's altar server was the late "Moose Krause" of Notre Dame fame. Moose Krause's son, Fr. Ed Krause helped to vest the new Fathers Campbell last evening.

They along with their classmate, Fr. Marc Solomon, are Bishop Trautman's 33rd, 34th and 35th ordainands to the priesthood in his 16 years as Bishop of Erie.

Friday, June 23, 2006

The Gang's All Here

As you can see, when the program for Donald Wuerl's installation read that the new archbishop of Washington was being installed "In the presence of the Hierarchy of the Catholic Church," they weren't lying.

I'm plugging away at putting together a chronicle of what became a very memorable 48 hours in the nation's capital. A million things happened and were overheard, so it'll take a little time.

But get ready and, in the meantime, know that each of you were present with me through it all.

Martha Rial/Pittsburgh Post-Gazette


"Dear People of Genoa..."

It just gets more interesting every day on the Roman scene.... Then again, what's new about that?

First, yesterday morning Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, SDB, of Genoa was named Secretary of State. (The Secretary-designate is shown here at a Genoa press conference yesterday to mark the announcement.)

Until the moment of the appointment, even top officials believed it wasn't going to happen. Many people in San Damaso hoped it wasn't going to happen.

But, well, here we are.

Anyways, to apologize to the people of the archdiocese of Genoa for taking their archbishop back unto himself, Benedict XVI has written a letter to the local church Bertone leaves behind. Dated yesterday, it was released by the Holy See Press Office this morning. And here's the Whispers translation in English.
Dearest faithful of Genoa,
peace and apostolic blessing!

I write you on the occasion when the appointment of your Archbishop as the new Secretary of State has been made public.

In these three years, in which he has led the Church in Genoa, you've learned to respect the gifts and qualities which make him a faithful shepherd, particularly capable of melding pastoral attention and doctrinal preparation.

It is exactly these characteristics, united with a reciprocal knowledge and trust, matured by years of shared service at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which have led me to choose him for the high and delicate charge of the service of the universal Church, at the Holy See.

I know I have asked a great sacrifice of Cardinal Bertone; I know that it's not a lesser one for the faithful entrusted to his care in Genoa. But I'm sure that his affection and his prayer for your community will be brought with him ad Petri sedem [to the see of Peter]. The story of your Diocese is one of a generous fidelity to the Vicar of Christ, to which I also appeal in virtue of the name which I chose for my Petrine ministry: it is the name of the last Genovese Pope [Benedict XV], so devoted to the Madonna della Guardia, to whom I entrust all in this moment of passage which is delicate but rich in grace, because always "all things work together for the good of those who love God" (Rom 8:28).

In light of your fidelity and obedient generosity toward the Holy See I am preparing to provide in short order for the appointment of the new successor to the Chair of St Cyrus [of Genoa].

I ask you to join with me in prayer to the Spirit that I may be aided in this discernment and finally I assure you of my own remembrance and my apostolic blessing in prayer for all the parts of the Church in Genoa: its pastors, consecrated men and women, families, young people, the afflicted.

Vatican City
22 June 2006


PHOTO: AP/Andrea Leoni


The Press Tour Continues

Good morning again from Washington.... Suffice it to say, this place is beginning to grow on me. Even though it's muggier than hell. Being from where I'm from, though, I'm used to that.

The other day, while sitting by the bay at the Jersey Shore (working at procrastinating my departure), I got a call from the Raleigh News & Observer's Yonat Shimron.

Apparently, the Southern Baptists elected a new president last week largely on the influence of a blog which implored delegates to ditch the endorsed candidate. In light of that -- the Southern Baptists are, of course, huge in Raleigh -- the paper ran a story on the rising tide of religion blogs across denominations....

The Rev. Wade Burleson of Enid, Okla., led the blogging charge. He has found in blogs an effective tool for grassroots organizing. Increasingly, he is being joined by others.

"In the past, if you disagreed they squashed you," Burleson said, speaking of the Southern Baptist leadership. "They can't do that anymore."

There are at least 45 million bloggers, according to the San Francisco-based blog search engine It's unknown how many of those write about religion, but over the past 30 days, an average of 5,000 posts a day contained the word "religion."

Many of those blogs that routinely write about faith are giving religious leaders heartburn.

"The old ways of ordering church life are breaking down," said Bill Leonard, the dean of the divinity school at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem. Few people read denominational newspapers, Leonard said, and church leaders are no longer able to shape the message the way they did in the past. one who gets flack immeasurable for the latter point, I know that all too well.


The Wuerly-Bird Gets the Staff

Tell me, friends: Who else could bring John Kerry, Ted Kennedy and Benedict Groeschel together under one roof?

What a day.

Yes, I was there. Yes, it was marvelous. And, of course, yes, I have weeks worth of stories to tell you -- and those are just the on-record ones.

Should you be curious, however: no, there is no full-text of Washington Archbishop Donald Wuerl's 27-minute installation homily just yet. Until it materializes, just know that it was engaging and rich in material.

As I recover, Ann Rodgers tells the story:
Three thousand people filled the largest Catholic church in the Western Hemisphere to welcome him. They ranged from U.S. senators to recent immigrants. Metropolitan Maximos of the Greek Orthodox Diocese of Pittsburgh accompanied Archbishop Demetrios of North America as representatives of the Orthodox tradition.

"In an age that so desperately needs to hear the gospel of life, to witness the splendor of truth, and to live the challenge of faith and reason, the church -- you and I -- gathered around the successors to the apostles, one with Peter, must lovingly, persuasively and fearlessly reflect the light of Christ," Archbishop Wuerl said.

Music commissioned for his 1988 installation in Pittsburgh made the transfer with him to Washington. The ceremony, in the grandeur beneath the great domes of the basilica, nevertheless felt familiar to those who had witnessed his major diocesan Masses in Pittsburgh.

Hundreds of Pittsburghers appeared to have made the trip, including 50 priests. Helen Cindrich, president of People Concerned for the Unborn Child, was present, as was Rabbi Alvin Berkun of Tree of Life Congregation in Squirrel Hill. Mayor Bob O'Connor, the father of a priest, had a seat of honor in front of two U.S. senators, John F. Kerry and Edward M. Kennedy.

In his homily, Archbishop Wuerl addressed questions that many had raised about his role in the nation's capital. The first task of every bishop, everywhere, is to teach, he said. But to teach means to apply the faith to all of the issues and circumstances of the present day.

"It is also the role of the church to see that the light of the gospel shines on all of the discussions and all of the debates that help to mold our culture and society. The voice of our most cherished values, the voice of the great teaching tradition rooted in God's word and God's wisdom, simply has to impact on our culture, our society," he said.
Oh, and more from the hometown Post....

What a day.

AP/Evan Vucci


Thursday, June 22, 2006

From Carlson Country

I'm told to "prepare for the gnashing and wailing of teeth beginning tomorrow in Saginaw...."

A friend briefs that, in the Michigan diocese, Bishop Robert Carlson is "publishing a pastoral letter (being sent to all homes in the diocese) about his directives for implementation" of the General Instruction on the Roman Missal.

Word is that some highlights are:

- A clarified, standard recipe for Eucharistic bread
- Firm directives on who can and cannot preach [as many of you know, this has been an issue in the diocese]
- All parishes must have kneelers by 2009

Nothing too odd, no? At least, not to these ears.


"The Slap Heard 'Round the World"

So the appointment has been made public. And the diplomatic frenzy continues....

In case you're just joining us, the Vatican announced this morning that Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone of Genoa will become the Holy See's Secretary of State on 15 September.


Your Servant's Voice

As some of you have been asking after it, you might enjoy knowing that the Busted Halocast including part of an interview with a certain unworthy scribe has been posted. (The link's on the right side of the homepage.)

It's nothing you haven't already heard from the profiles, but a couple of you might get a kick out of it.

And, yes, I've agreed to do a regular column for BH. To be called "Almost Holy," it debuts tomorrow -- if I can get my copy done in time....

More as it comes.


Installation Day

Good morning from Washington.

Yes, I'm here. And if you don't know why I'm here, you haven't been paying attention.

The ecclesiastical world has converged on the nation's capital for what's shaping up to be the Installation of the Century. The 80 bishops present will sit down to lunch at midmorning at the John Paul II Center -- which, I'm told, is in need of a new executive director.

Following the noshfest, well, it was rehearsed yesterday, and Ann Rodgers was there:
[Archbishop-elect Donald Wuerl] took his place alongside retiring Cardinal Theodore McCarrick and, with the basilica's chief liturgist acting as a stand-in for papal nuncio Archbishop Pietro Sambi, the three men bowed before the altar. The other two escorted the former bishop of Pittsburgh to the archbishop's throne, where he pantomimed receiving the crozier, or shepherd's staff, from the papal nuncio.

Yesterday's rehearsal was brief, while today's 2 p.m. Mass will last about two hours. The procession will include nine cardinals, 70 bishops, 250 priests -- about 50 of them from Pittsburgh -- 63 deacons and seven Eastern Orthodox Bishops and priests. The installation, like other large archdiocesan events, is being held in the 3,000-seat basilica because the 1,000-seat cathedral is too small for the expected crowd.

The incoming archbishop seemed relaxed, joking with the small cluster of media who showed up to case the rehearsal.

"The emotion is twofold," he said. "First, there is the excitement of assuming this responsibility. Then there is the realization that this is a very big responsibility. I keep saying to myself that being a bishop is the same, no matter where you are."

Those who've seen him since his Monday arrival here have described the archbishop-elect as being "on cloud nine." 'Twill make for an exciting day; stay tuned for updates.

Martha Rial/Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Below is the translation of this morning's announcement from the Holy See Press Office, made minutes ago:
The Holy Father has accepted, according to Canon 354 of the Code of Canon Law, the resignation of Cardinal Angelo Sodano, Secretary of State, asking him, however, to remain in office until 15 September 2006, with all the faculties belonging to that office.

On the same date -- next 15 September -- the Holy Father will appoint Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, Archbishop of Genoa, as the new Secretary of State.

On that occasion, His Holiness will receive in audience the Superiors and Officials of the Secretariat of State, to publicly thank Cardinal Angelo Sodano for his long and generous service to the Holy See and to present to them the new Secretary of State.
And there's more:
The Holy Father has accepted, according to Canon 354 of the Code of Canon Law, the resignation of His Eminence Cardinal Edmund Casimir Szoka, President of the Pontifical Commission for the State of the Vatican City and President of the Governatorato of the same State, asking him, however, to remain in office until 15 September 2006, with all the faculties belonging to that office.

On the said same date -- next 15 September -- the Holy Father will appoint H.E. Mons. Giovanni Lajolo, Titular Archbishop of Cesariana and Secretary of the Section for the Rapport with States of the Secretariat of State, as the new President of the Pontifical Commission for the State of the Vatican City and President of the Governatorato of the same State.



Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Tales of the Crypts

Dead Oakland bishop to be moved to new cathedral:

Since 1962, a bronze-and-marble alcove at Holy Sepulchre Cemetery's impressive Mausoleum of the Apostles has been set aside for the spiritual leaders of a flock that now numbers about 560,000 Catholics in Alameda and Contra Costa counties.

The Rev. Floyd L. Begin, the diocese's first bishop, is the only occupant of the 10-space niche off the mausoleum's chapel, resting in solitary splendor since his death in April 1977.

Now, plans are under way to disinter Begin's body and entomb it in a crypt for him and his successors at the Cathedral of Christ the Light — now under construction — in Oakland.

The Rev. Mark Wiesner, diocesan spokesman, said an underground mausoleum will be part of the cathedral at Grand Avenue and Harrison Street in downtown Oakland. It is across Lake Merritt from the current diocesan office on Lakeshore Avenue.

Transparent glass around the new cathedral's altar will allow light from the heavens to shine into the mausoleum below. Drawings and design plans on the cathedral Web site show the light symbolically uniting saints above, saints among us, and saints buried below.

Begin was one of the "Hoban boys" of Cleveland -- the many proteges of Archbishop-Bishop Edward Hoban who became a veritable farm-team of episcopal leadership.

In other body-moving news, I'm hearing that the exhumation of the remains of Cardinal William O'Connell -- Boston's first prince of the church -- is almost at hand. In the years since the archdiocese sold the Brighton property on which O'Connell's grand mausoleum is located, the cardinal's family and the Boston archdiocese have been in, um, "discussions" as to where the tomb of the second archbishop, who served from 1907-44, would end up.

In planning his mausoleum, shown in the photo above, O'Connell picked a site on a hill which had been the burial ground of the Sulplicians who taught at St John's Seminary, which is on the chancery campus. The legendary story in Boston was that, to get his plot, the cardinal ordered the Sulplicians to dig up their own and cart them away.

What goes around, comes around.

And word is that another episcopal corpse was moved back to Hartford last week. Always happens in threes, eh?

Brighton Allston Historical Society


"'Dew' Is Done"

As in "gone." As in "Don't expect to hear it at your liturgy come Implementation Day."

That's the word from a canvassing of good folks who've been keeping an eye on things liturgical in the wake of last Thursday's vote on the new translation of the Order of Mass.

The American "White Book" -- the text of the translation with its 62 amendments approved by the USCCB -- is headed to Rome, where it'll come up at the meeting of the Vox Clara committee of the Congregation for Divine Worship in mid-July. The committee, an advisory body specifically on English translations, will review ICEL's progress on the Proper of Seasons and most likely be asked for its input on the USCCB's approved changes to the original text presented them in Los Angeles.

Given the campaign to gain the affirmative vote of the American bishops, odds are that the US amendments will remain "substantially intact" in the text granted Rome's recognitio are quite high. And the approval might just be coming sooner than expected.

However, questions remains on the timetable for its implementation. VC will likely be drawn on the question of whether the Ordo Missae should be implemented while the 1970 calendar prayers remain, or if it should all be bound in one completed volume, with the new Proper, to be introduced to the liturgical celebration in one fell swoop at some later date.

Once the text is approved by Rome -- with whatever changes CDW decides to make, if any -- it will be publicly released in full for the first time. Having received questions about why the "Gray Book" presented to the USCCB was not made available for public consumption in the run-up to the LA meeting, the Holy See has apparently requested that the text not be made public before its final confirmation to avoid the appearance that the various drafts were definitive liturgical texts. As you all know, no Vatican document is ever presented before its finished form, so the same rule applies here.

Oh, and keep an eye on "consubstantial." I'm just sayin'....


"Moral Re-awakening"

Cormac goes to bat on abortion:
The head of the Catholic Church in England and Wales will today meet Patricia Hewitt, the Health Secretary, to make a direct appeal for a cut in the upper limit for abortions from 24 to 20 weeks.

Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor believes that the public has undergone a "moral re-awakening" over the issue in the 16 years since Parliament last reviewed the law.

He will also cite medical advances which have led to a 39 per cent survival rate for premature babies born after 24 weeks' gestation.

The Government has said that it has "no plans" to change the law. Mrs Hewitt has publicly stated her opposition to any attempt to lower the time limit.

In Westminster, however, pressure is mounting for the abortion debate to be re-opened, with 31 MPs having signed a motion for a fresh review. Tony Blair has said that he is "troubled" by the existing legislation.

There are some concerns that the Catholic Church, which is wholly opposed to abortion, should be taking a leading role in the debate on such an emotive moral issue.

Peter Smith, the Archbishop of Cardiff, told the BBC today: "It's a question of step-by-step."

"Before jumping up and down, demanding they ban the whole thing altogether - which I would of course prefer - let's have a reasoned and public debate."

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

More Sambi-Dancing

This has been making the rounds, but we finally have a summary of the remarks of Archbishop Pietro Sambi, the apostolic nuncio in the US, as he addressed the nation's hierarchy for the first time last week in LA.

The recap, by CNS' Jerry Filteau, echoes what several bishops have been saying in the months since the 67 year-old prelate's arrival back in March -- that the good feeling Sambi exudes is unlike that of any nuncio since Pio Laghi two decades ago.
Archbishop Sambi's brief remarks June 15, on the first day of the bishops' three-day spring meeting in Los Angeles, displayed flashes of self-deprecating humor, insight and a focus on current issues in the U.S. church rarely seen in similar addresses by the previous two nuncios to the United States.

The Vatican representative to Israel and the Palestinian territories before taking up his U.S. post in February, Archbishop Sambi described the U.S. bishops as "a people of great experience, great holiness and also great suffering."

He said he was "not used to speaking" to so many bishops -- nearly 250 gathered for the spring meeting of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops -- but he felt like the donkey who carried Jesus into Jerusalem. "The donkey remained a donkey, but the message was from God," he said.

In all his previous diplomatic posts from the Vatican, he said, he found that what is essential is faith in Jesus and the Gospel message of his resurrection.

"As Christians we have to transform any Way of the Cross, any Calvary, into a moment of resurrection," he said. "This is specific for us as a Christian to make any difficulty a moment of resurrection."
More recently, some familiar with the nuncio's thinking have briefed that, ostensibly in accord with the mandate of Benedict XVI, he is committed to ensuring that the church's point of departure from the culture must be a positive one full of uplift.

His address at the USCCB seems to reflect that.


Off to Rome

You'd think these days that, with all the American clerics coming home from the service of the Holy See, none are going over to take their places.

And in that, you'd be mistaken. Effective tomorrow, the diocese of Manchester is releasing one of its own to serve at the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace.

Msgr Anthony Frontiero, who's taking up residence at Villa Stritch -- Whispers' Roman clubhouse -- has served as a pastor in New Hampshire over the last three and a half years.

Prior to that, however, he earned his spot on the Renato Martino Farm Team as an attache at the Holy See Mission to the UN under the then-Observer, currently the cardinal-president of Iustitia et Pax.

AP ran a piece back in April when the appointment was made public:
"I'm a little fearful because I don't know what I'll be doing really," Frontiero said. "I love being a pastor."...

Frontiero is known as an energetic pastor who is willing to experiment. He has been involved in special Masses held monthly to try to attract young people to the church. In October, he spoke at the Strange Brew Tavern about sexuality.

Patrick McGee, spokesman for the Diocese of Manchester, called Frontiero "a talented man and a very good pastor."

"With every transition there are good parts and parts that leave you very sad," he said.

If only Carl Marucci stuck around....


More Countdown

In advance of his Thursday installation in Washington, Donald Wuerl formally arrived in his new see yesterday and was greeted by his predecessor at Reagan National as the archbishop-elect stepped off a flight from Pittsburgh.

DC being DC, a press conference was immediately held in one of the concourses.

Wuerl will dine tonight with the priests of the archdiocese of Washington and spend tomorrow evening with his family and personal guests. The installation liturgy, which begins at 2pm local time (1800 GMT) on Thursday, will be televised in the District and Pittsburgh, and streamed on the web to the rest of the world.


Wielding the Axe

25 Boston chancery staffers laid off:

The 25 people laid off are among about 270 who work at the church's headquarters overseeing a variety of educational and administrative services to parishes and other church facilities.

A spokesman, Kevin Shea, said the archdiocese has reduced its staff by 30 percent since 2002.

Cardinal Sean P. O'Malley had pledged to cut 50 positions from the chancery staff.

He is accomplishing about half of the reduction by not filling open positions and by transferring employees to jobs in parishes and other parts of the church.

Shea said a handful of those affected by the cutbacks are diocesan priests, who are being reassigned by the archdiocese, and religious-order priests, nuns, and brothers, who are being reassigned by their orders.

The archdiocese has been struggling financially since the explosion of the abuse crisis in 2002, which caused a dramatic reduction in contributions.

``The archdiocese can no longer continue to operate the way that it has," Shea said.

``The reduction in workforce is one way we are working towards fiscal recovery," Shea added.

Shea said that the archdiocese will not eliminate any ministries as a result of the cutback, but that some will be consolidated.

He also said the archdiocese is working on a planned reduction in the number of people serving on the cardinal's cabinet.

It seems O'Malleyization is back on track.... But where are the new auxiliaries?


Monday, June 19, 2006


That sound you hear? San Damaso, quaking....


More Liturgy

By the by, greetings to you all from the Jersey Shore.... I've been poaching a connection from some good soul since getting here yesterday. The weather is beautiful, the much-needed recharge is better still and everything's flowing. I don't know how I live the rest of the time without this....

To business: after beating the drum for weeks, the USCCB vote on the liturgy has finally become a major story in the mainstream press -- albeit after the fact. They can't say they weren't told, but oh well.

Anyways, NPR did a piece on the new renderings yesterday morning. It was all explained in a phone interview with Jesuit Fr Thomas Reese, the former editor of America.


Down in Oz....

The long-expected appointment of Melbourne auxiliary Mark Coleridge as archbishop of Canberra and Goulburn has come to pass. Coleridge succeeds Archbishop Frank Carroll, who turned 75 last September.

The 57 year-old archbishop-elect -- a former staffer at the Secretariat of State -- is a scripture scholar by training. He's already a member of the Pontifical Council for Culture and chair of the Australian Bishops' Committee on the Liturgy.


Sunday, June 18, 2006

The Cardinal Got Lei'd: The Ted Bids Farewell

It was all smiles today at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception as Cardinal Theodore McCarrick celebrated his farewell liturgy as archbishop of Washington.

The event was billed not so much as a farewell, but a Mass of Thanksgiving, and the cardinal stuck to the script, telling the crowd that, "This is a Mass of Thanksgiving, because I want to say thanks to you and to thank God for the gift of all of you."

In his second liturgy of this Corpus Christi Sunday -- McCarrick shocked the parish by surfacing as celebrant of the 10am Mass at St Matthew's Cathedral -- the departing DC prelate preached not about the accomplishments of his stewardship, but of the Eucharist, as he invited the capacity congregation to "'Come join me, let me take you to the upper room'" according to a source present.

"His final admonition was to pray without ceasing."

At the cathedral's midmorning Mass, parishioners were seen weeping as McCarrick wistfully noted the end of his last Eucharist from the chair he has held since the beginning of 2001.

In a foretaste of the Thursday installation of Archbishop-elect Donald Wuerl, a contingent of hierarchy were present to pay tribute to the retiring cardinal: Bishops John Smith of Trenton, Michael Saltarelli of Wilmington and Paul Loverde of Arlington served as concelebrants alongside Cardinal William Wakefield Baum, the second archbishop of Washington and retired Major Penitentiary of the Roman church. (Smith and Saltarelli both served as auxiliary bishops of Newark under then-Archbishop McCarrick before heading to their own dioceses.) "Loads of nuns" and DC Mayor Anthony Williams were also in attendance, and a throng of media showed up.

And, yes, the cardinal was stopped in the recessional by a religious woman who draped a lei over his mitre and shoulders.