Friday, November 23, 2007

The Cardinals' "Come-to-Benedict"

In the final count, the daylong meeting of the cardinals drew 143 red-hats, and reds-to-be.

Writing on the resurrected NewsHub, CNS' John Thavis blogs the flavor from the New Synod Hall:
A pool of journalists watched as cardinals entered the Synod Hall building one by one. Some came by foot, some were chauffeured and one — 75-year-old Dutch Cardinal Adrianus Simonis — rode a bicycle to the meeting hall.

Cardinal-designate John P. Foley stepped out of his car and began chatting with reporters on the other side of the press pen. Within seconds he looked up, a bit surprised, to see a cluster of fuzzy boom mikes overhead. “I guess my every word is being recorded,” he remarked....

Near the building’s entrance, a vehicle dropped off Cardinal Bernard Law, the former archbishop of Boston, who went directly inside. Cardinal Angelo Scola of Venice, energetic as always, jumped out of his car before it even stopped moving and began conferring with fellow Italians in the parking lot.

Those who walked were sometimes intercepted. Down near St. Peter’s Square, Portuguese Cardinal Jose Saraiva Martins, head of the Vatican’s saintmaking office, was sidelined by a stamp collector who asked him to autograph a recent commemorative series.

Inside the atrium of the hall, each cardinal was handed a red folder, which presumably contained a program and the text of the day’s main address on ecumenism by Cardinal Walter Kasper.

Old friends and colleagues greeted each other: Cardinal William J. Levada, the Vatican’s doctrinal chief and the former archbishop of San Francisco, conversed with Cardinal Roger Mahony of Los Angeles. [Friends for a half-century, the two were seminary classmates.]

Polish Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz of Krakow was warmly welcomed by everyone in his path. I asked Cardinal Dziwisz how it felt to come back to the Vatican, where he had spent more than 26 years as secretary to Pope John Paul II. He paused a moment and said, “So many memories,” and then moved into the Synod Hall.
The morning's topic, of course, was a discussion on ecumenical and interreligious dialogue, with facilitating duties falling to the president of the Pontifical Council for Christian Unity, Cardinal Walter Kasper, who subsequently briefed the press:
On relations with Anglicans, Kasper said the 77-million member Anglican Communion was in "a very difficult situation" with the challenges by traditionalists -- many from the Third World -- against liberal bishops in western countries.

The Anglican Communion is in internal crisis over the ordination of women and openly homosexual bishops.

"We hope they make a decision very soon. They cannot postpone all this crisis. There must be a decision made. But it is not in our hands."

Relations with Protestant Churches were getting more difficult because of "an inner fragmentation" among them, Kasper said. "Some of them have turned to liberal (positions) and there are now new ethical problems dividing them," he said.

He said that evangelical churches were spreading quickly and noted there were now 400 million Pentecostals around the world.

These two conservative Christian movements have been spreading especially rapidly in Latin America, often wooing away the faithful from the Catholic Church there.

"We must not ask first what is wrong with the Pentecostals but ask what is wrong with our pastoral work and come to a spiritual renewal," he said.
PHOTO 1: L'Osservatore Romano
PHOTO 2: AP/Plinio Lepri