Sunday, June 29, 2008

Peter and Paul, Unity and Pallia

On this feast of Rome's Christian founders -- the 57th anniversary of Joseph Ratzinger's ordination to the priesthood -- Uncle Bart remained at Papa Ratzi's side as 40 new metropolitans from across the globe received the symbol of their office, the pallium.

Among the prelates who came forward to receive the traditional lambswool band were the recently-named archbishops of Nairobi, Moscow, Jerusalem, Taipei, Lille, Minsk, Mobile, Halifax, Baltimore and St Paul and Minneapolis.

With the statue of St Peter in the nave of the Vatican basilica decked out in its usual finery for the day, the morning liturgy also saw two evolutions in papal worship from last year's feast: a new (fiddleback-friendly) "papal pallium," and the continuation of the restored custom of the pontiff's distribution the Eucharist on the tongue to kneeling communicants.

From AsiaNews:
Unity and collegiality, "romanità" and universality, ecumenism and mission were woven together in the words of Bartholomew I and in those of the pope, while the assembly applauded both. No risk of ritualism or of abstract theology: all of the emphases, the search for theological and pastoral unity, the symbol of the pallium, the very commemoration of the martyred apostles are a function of the mission to the world, for "peace" - as Bartholomew I said - or in order to bring about, as the pope said, "a new kind of city that must be formed continually anew in the midst of the old human city, which remains under threat from the opposing forces of sin and human egoism".
After the proclamation of the Gospel, Benedict XVI introduced the address by Bartholomew I, which emphasised the profound unity and friendship that binds Constantinople ("the new Rome") and the "old Rome". He affirmed that theological dialogue "continues forward, beyond the considerable difficulties that remain and the well-known problems", and expressed his hope that soon, "as soon as possible", full unity may be reached. The visit of the delegation from the patriarchate to Rome for the feast of the holy apostles - which has become a tradition - is itself an expression of this desire, and of a form of unity already present. This year, Bartholomew I himself wanted to be present in order to repay the pope's visit to Constantinople last November, but above all to inaugurate together the Pauline Year, at the 2000th anniversary of the birth of Saint Paul. Bartholomew I said that for them as well, this is "the Year of the apostle Paul", in which the Church of the East has planned pilgrimages to Rome and to the places of the apostle's activity in Turkey (Ephesus, Miletus, etc.) and to Greece, Rhodes, and Crete.

In his homily, the pontiff emphasised above all the value of Rome, as the place of the martyrdom of the two apostles: "Through their martyrdom, they became brothers; together they were the founders of the new Christian Rome". And he added: "The blood of the martyrs does not call for vengeance, but rather reconciles. It does not present itself as an accusation, but as 'luce aurea' . . . as the power of love that overcomes hatred and violence, thus founding a new city, a new community. Because of their martyrdom, they - Peter and Paul - are now part of Rome: through martyrdom, Peter as well became a Roman citizen forever. Through martyrdom, through their faith and love, the two apostles show where real hope lies, and are the founders of a new kind of city that must be formed continually anew in the midst of the old human city, which remains under threat from the opposing forces of sin and human egoism".
Benedict XVI asked "why" Peter and Paul came to Rome. "[For Paul,] going to Rome was part of the universality of his mission to all peoples. The road to Rome . . . was an integral part of his task of bringing in the Gospel to all the gentiles - of founding the catholic, universal, Church. Going to Rome was for him an expression of the catholicity of his mission. Rome must make the faith visible to all the world, it must be the place of encounter in the one faith".

For his part, the pope continued, Peter is the one who opened the doors of the pagans to the Christian faith (see the episode with the centurion Cornelius, Acts 10). "Peter", the pope explained, ". . . left the leadership of the Christian-Jewish Church to James the Less, in order to dedicate himself to his true mission: to his ministry for the unity of the one Church of God formed from Jews and pagans. St Paul's desire to go to Rome emphasises - as we have seen - among the characteristics of the Church, above all the word 'catholic'. St Peter's journey to Rome, as representative of the peoples of the world, falls above all under the word 'one': his task was that of creating the unity of the catholica, of the Church made up of Jews and pagans, of the Church of all peoples. And this is the permanent mission of Peter: to make it so that the Church never be identified with a single nation, with a single culture or a single state. That it always be the Church of all. That it unite humanity beyond all boundaries, and, in the midst of the divisions of this world, make present the peace of God, the reconciling power of his love".
The unity of the Church, guaranteed by the ministry of Peter and of his successors, is not an end in itself, but a necessity for the world, which is always divided: "Thanks to the uniformity of technology, thanks to the worldwide network of information, thanks also to the connection of common interests, there now exist in the world today new ways of unity, which are however leading to an explosion of new disagreements, and giving a new impetus to old ones. In the midst of this external unity, based on material things, we need interior unity all the more, which comes from the peace of God - the unity of all those who through Jesus Christ have become brothers and sisters. This is the permanent mission of Peter, and also the particular task entrusted to the Church of Rome"....
"When we take the pallium upon our shoulders", the pope explained, "this gesture reminds us of the Shepherd who takes upon his shoulders the lost sheep, which on its own was not able to find the way home, and brings it back to the fold". But Jesus Christ "also wants men who will 'carry' together with Him" lost humanity.

"The pallium", he added, "becomes a symbol of our love for the Shepherd, Christ, and of our loving together with Him - it becomes a symbol of the call to love men as He does, together with Him: those who are searching, those who are questioning, those who are sure of themselves and those who are humble, the simple and the great; it becomes a symbol of the call to love all with the power of Christ and in view of Christ, so that they may find Him, and in Him, themselves".
The pallium, he added finally, is a sign of collegiality, of unity among all the bishops and with the pope: "No one is a Shepherd on his own. We are successors to the Apostles thanks only to being in collegial communion, in which the college of the Apostles finds its continuation. Communion, the 'we' of the Shepherds, is part of being Shepherds, because the flock is only one, the one Church of Jesus Christ And finally, this 'with' also refers to communion with Peter and with his successor as the guarantee of unity".
PHOTOS: Reuters; AFP/Getty; AP/Pier Paolo Cito


Saturday, June 28, 2008

Freshmen and Their Facebooks

So first, many moons ago now, the Vatican got itself a website and the Pope an e.mail address...

...then, more recently, there was a blogging cardinal and a Pharaoh on the YouTube...

...and now, another E-Church barrier's fallen as the newly-installed Bishop Tony Taylor of Little Rock's set up shop on Facebook.

And, from here, only the sky's the limit... so keep pushin' it, church.

PHOTO: Bob Ocken/Arkansas Catholic


"No Response" + Reservations = Not a "Yes"

Desirable though it might've been, lest anyone thought the emergence of five conditions for reconciliation -- response due by Monday -- would've seen everyone's favorite group of separated traditionalist brethren suddenly going docile, be wise to remember the Econian theme song...

...and, according to Reuters, it looks like they're sticking to it:
A breakaway traditionalist group has told the Vatican it cannot comply with a papal ultimatum on returning to the Roman Catholic Church because it skirts key issues of their dispute, a spokesman said on Friday.

Bishop Bernard Fellay, head of the Society of Saint Pius X (SPPX) opposed to Church reforms introduced in the 1960s, said there must be an agreement on doctrinal differences before any accord could be possible, Rev. Alain Lorans said.

Fellay said last week the ultimatum, which demanded the SSPX accept Pope Benedict's authority and refrain from faulting him publicly, was unacceptable and aimed at silencing critics.

"He rejects the procedure he is being subject to," Lorans said by telephone from the SSPX seminary in Econe, Switzerland. "If we want a canonical accord that doesn't collapse in a few weeks, we must deal with the fundamental questions of doctrine."...

The ultimatum issued this month avoided mentioning the Council reforms [which the SSPX reject], but its requirement to respect the pope and the Church's doctrinal authority implied acceptance of them.

"In an ultimatum, which is an emergency procedure, these things should be explicit," Lorans said, adding that Fellay's letter to the Vatican on Thursday was confidential.

The letter was sent before the end of the month, as requested by the Vatican, but the spokesman added: "You can say he's not responding (to the ultimatum), despite answering it."

The SSPX also had reservations about a requirement to fully accept the magisterium, or doctrinal authority of the Church.

Fellay "accepts to respect the pope and not take the place of the magisterium of the Church, except if there is something in the post-Council magisterium that is opposed to the magisterium of 2,000 years," Lorans said....

In a sermon last week, Fellay said the ultimatum aimed at silencing the SSPX. "Rome is telling us, okay, we are ready to lift the excommunications, but you cannot continue this way," Fellay said at an SSPX seminary in Winona, Minnesota.

"So we have no choice... we are continuing what we've done," he said. "They just say 'shut up' ... we are not going ... to shut up."
And so, twenty years into schism, the games go on....

Take it away, John:


"Who Is Paul?"

Before a congregation that included the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople and delegations representing the Archbishop of Canterbury and other Christian leaders of East and West, B16 opened the Pauline Year tonight in St Paul's Outside the Walls with a prayer for unity: "From all our divisions, bring us back together again"....
Before entering the basilica, the pope, accompanied by representatives of other Churches, walked in procession around the four-sided portico of the basilica: next to the Pauline Door, Benedict XVI lit the first candle of the brazier that will remain lit for the entire Pauline Year, until June 29, 2009. After him, the gesture was repeated by the ecumenical patriarch and the representatives of the other Churches. In conjunction with the celebrations of the Catholic Church, the Pauline Year was inaugurated today in Damascus as well - this city of the apostle's conversion - with the participation of all the Christian communities: Catholic, Orthodox, and Protestant. The inauguration of the Year was proclaimed, in the name of all the Christian communities the city, by the Greek Orthodox patriarch of Antioch, Ignatius IV, while the Greek-Melkite Catholic patriarch of Antioch, Gregory III, was in Rome at the basilica of St Paul. In Turkey, the modern-day location of Tarsus, the city of St Paul's birth, the Year was opened a few days in advance, on the 22nd. In Tarsus, as of today, there are officially no Christians or churches. For this year, permission has been requested for the use of the old church of St Paul, officially a museum, as well as many other churches in Turkey.
"Who is Paul?" This is the question that the Pauline Year, in the words of Benedict XVI, addresses to us today. "Teacher of the gentiles, apostle and proclaimer of Jesus Christ", the pope recalled, "this is how he characterises himself in a retrospective look at the course of his life. But with this, our attention is not directed only to the past. 'Teacher of the gentiles' - this title is open to the future, to all peoples and all generations. Paul is not for us [only] a figure of the past, whom we recall with veneration. He is also a teacher, apostle and proclaimer of Jesus Christ for us as well. We have therefore gathered not to reflect on a history left behind forever. Paul wants to speak with us - today".

"In the letter to the Galatians", he continued, "he provided for us a very personal profession of faith, in which he opens his heart to the reader of all times, and reveals the deep driving force of his life. 'I live by faith in the Son of God who has loved me and given himself up for me' (Gal. 2:20). Everything that Paul does begins from this centre. His faith is the experience of being loved by Jesus Christ in a completely personal way; it is the awareness of the fact that Christ has faced death not for some anonymous person, but out of love for him - for Paul - and that, as the Risen One, he still loves him. Christ has given himself for him. His faith comes from being transfixed by the love of Jesus Christ, a love that shakes him to his core and transforms him. His faith is not a theory, an opinion about God and the world. His faith is the impact of the love of God on his heart. And thus his faith is itself love for Jesus Christ".

"This love is now the 'law' of his life, and in this very way it is the freedom of his life. He speaks and acts on the basis of the responsibility of love. Freedom and responsibility are here united in an inseparable way. Because he stands in the responsibility of love, he is free; because he is someone who loves, he lives completely in the responsibility of this love and does not take freedom as the pretext for willfulness and egoism".
In the "search for the interior physiognomy of St Paul", Benedict XVI then evoked the words that Jesus spoke to him on the road to Damascus, "Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?", in order to highlight how in these words there is an "identification" between Christ and his Church. It is "the Lord himself", then, who asks: "How could you have lacerated my body? Before the face of Christ, this word becomes at the same time an urgent request: Bring us back together again, from all our divisions. Make this a reality again today: there is only one bread, because we, although we are many, are only one body".

"We hope that the life and Letters of St Paul", echoed the ecumenical patriarch, "may continue to be for us a source of inspiration 'so that all nations may be obedient to faith in Christ' (cf. Rom. 16:27)". "The radical conversion and apostolic kerygma of Saul of Tarsus", he had said shortly before this, "'shook' history in the literal sense of the term, and moulded the very identity of Christianity". "This sacred place outside the Walls is without a doubt eminently suited for commemorating and celebrating a man who established a marriage between the Greek language and the Roman mentality of his time, stripping Christianity, once and for all, from any mental restriction, and establishing forever the catholic foundation of the ecumenical Church".
While this year's First Vespers for the dual feast of Rome's patrons was moved to St Paul's in deference to the special celebrations, in keeping with custom, the ceremonies shift in the morning to St Peter's, where the pontiff will confer the pallium on 41 new metropolitans.

Tomorrow's solemnity also marks the 57th anniversary of Joseph Ratzinger's ordination to the priesthood.

PHOTOS: AFP/Getty(1,3)


Tragedy in Maine

After being informed of his suspension from ministry on a 30 year-old allegation of abuse, a Maine priest -- pastor of four parishes -- committed suicide:
The Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland had temporarily suspended [Fr James] Robichaud on Thursday pending an investigation into an allegation he sexually abused a girl 29 years ago, in 1979.

Robichaud, who was born and raised in Augusta, became an ordained priest in April 1979 and the same year was assigned to St. Jean-Baptiste Parish in Lowell, Mass. He served at that parish until 1983.

"This is a tragic end to a story that we may never completely understand," Bishop Richard Malone said in a statement released Friday by the diocese. "It is simply our mission to bring the healing presence of Jesus to this agonizing situation."

The same statement noted there is not yet sufficient information to dismiss or substantiate the abuse charge.

"May His love work through each of us to find compassion for the woman who made the complaint, Fr. Robichaud's soul, his family, friends and parish community," Malone's statement said.

The diocese said it would release further details about the abuse complaint at a later time.

Robichaud attended the Oblate College and Seminary in Natick, Mass., from 1970 to 1971. He later earned a bachelor's in English from Framingham State College in Framingham, Mass., in 1974. He studied at the Weston School of Theology in Cambridge, Mass., and earned a master's in divinity in 1978.

The announcement of Robichaud's suicide came as a surprise to those who knew him.

"That doesn't seem possible," said Patricia Connery, a Palmyra resident who sits on the St. Agnes Parish Council. "He was a wonderful person."

"He was well-liked and he was a good chaplain," said Denise Roy, a nurse at Lowell General Hospital in Lowell, Mass., where Robichaud served as chaplain from 1983 to 1993.

Roy recalled Robichaud was studying to be an emergency medical technician and said the priest had worked with Lowell firefighters.

Harvey Paul, Maine director of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, called the suicide "tragic."

"We grieve for everyone involved in this sad situation," he said in a statement....

Robichaud died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head, said Sgt. Gary West of the Dover-Foxcroft police.

Vatican: Pope's Designer "Not Prada, But Christ"

Taking on one of the more popular -- not to mention mega-amplified -- Ratzi myths, earlier this week the Vatican daily sought to clarifiy the Pope's sense of style:
"The priest does not choose such ornaments because of an aesthetic vice -- he does it to put on the new clothes of Christ," said an article in the June 26 edition of L'Osservatore Romano.

Liturgical vestments represent "dressing oneself anew in Christ" in which the priest "transcends his identity to become someone else," to become one with Christ through a process of interior transformation and inner renewal, it said.

"The pope, in short, does not wear Prada, but Christ," it said.

The article was written by Spanish novelist Juan Manuel de Prada, who is not related to the Milanese Prada fashion company he mentions in the critique. It presents a harsh reproach against the way some media have "trivialized" Pope Benedict XVI's sartorial styles.
It said the pope has received an "unprecedented" media blitz over his decisions to bring back the "camauro" (above), a red velvet cap trimmed with ermine; a red velvet, ermine-trimmed cape, called a mozzetta; and a wide-brimmed red straw hat that Pope John XXIII often wore.

Also, "the hearsay" that the pope's red leather shoes [top] were Prada-designed footwear is "naturally false," it said.

The article said seeing Esquire magazine honor the pope's style sense last August and naming him "accessorizer of the year" caused "a certain amused perplexity" and indicated "a frivolity much characterized by an age that tends to trivialize what it doesn't understand."

The pope is a "simple and unpretentious man" as could be seen by the "modest black sweater" peeking out from under his new vestments as he greeted the faithful in St. Peter's Square moments after his 2005 election, it said.
However, the media frenzy over the pope's choice of attire paradoxically has uncovered a grain of truth, it said. He is concerned deeply over how he is dressed but for completely different reasons.

It said Pope Benedict wants to celebrate the liturgy in the most "essential way," as an "innermost demand, the search for an inner purity."

Ornate elements and liturgical vestments do not represent frivolous "accessories," but rather represent this "essential" nature and the "anticipation of the new clothes of the resurrected body of Christ," it said.
And with the new Petrine pallium still to make its formal debut, they ain't seen nothin' yet.

PHOTO: AFP/Tim Sloan(1); Getty(3)


Friday, June 27, 2008

The Year of Paul

Tomorrow afternoon, at First Vespers in Rome's Basilica of St Paul's Outside the Walls, Pope Benedict will open the Pauline Year -- a special jubilee to mark the 2,000th anniversary of the birth of the "Apostle to the Gentiles."

From indulgences to pilgrimages and explorations of Paul's writings, resources for the year -- which'll have its international climax come October as the global Synod of Bishops meets to discuss "The Word of God in the Life and Mission of the Church" -- abound, and the CNSBlog's got a solid round-up to start.

Elsewhere in the pages, the lead in today's edition of The Tablet tackles the jubilarian's inheritance...
Paul's legacy is a complex one. First, he is responsible for a large part of the New Testament. The letters ascribed to him are about a quarter of the whole, and if you add the 17 chapters of Acts that are given over to him, it is more like a third. After Jesus, you could argue, Paul is the central figure of the New Testament.

Secondly, Paul is (as far as we know) the first Christian author. Then there is the fact that the letters have been preserved, even though they are clearly written for particular purposes and addressed to Christians in one city rather than another. That means that from the very beginning Christians must have thought that there was something of general import. This would have astonished Paul.

Lastly, the Pauline letters have touched hearts down the centuries; think of his effect on St Augustine, Luther (though even Lutherans today recognise that the great reformer misread St Paul), Wesley and Karl Barth, and all the lives that have been influenced through them, including our own.

What kind of a person is it that has bequeathed this legacy to us? One of the great advantages of letters is that for the most part they are personal. Paul is writing real letters, to real people, aiming to solve the difficulties that arise in real situations. Paul is, moreover, unmistakably flesh and blood, a real person, whom we overhear threatening the Corinthians with corporal punishment, and accusing the Galatians of stupidity, and of being bewitched. There are, moreover, one or two other remarks that he makes, which cannot easily be repeated in polite society.

There is no doubt at all of Paul's humanity: he is a passionate lover, and a prickly, irritable authoritarian, both at the same time. He is a gifted theologian (one of the three unmistakably great minds in the New Testament), with a startling ability to think on his feet when faced with new and unforeseen situations.

One of Paul's strengths is that he is at ease in at least three backgrounds. He is, according to Acts, a Roman citizen. Then he clearly belongs in the Hellenistic world into which he was born at Tarsus, and to which he spent the last 30 years of his life preaching. Finally but by no means least in importance, he is a Jew who took his Law-based Pharisaic Judaism immensely seriously, and if Acts has it right he studied under the great Pharisee teacher Gamaliel.

All three of these backgrounds are important to Paul, though he has reservations about each of them. Paul was also an innovator, unafraid of change. Notably, his encounter with Jesus meant that the story of the one God, in which he had been brought up, now had to be radically adapted to include the Risen One whom he learned to call "Lord".

One of the difficulties about letters is that they represent only one part of a continuing dialogue, and, maddeningly, we do not have the other side of the conversation. Paul's readers (or rather hearers - the letters were written to be performed rather than studied) knew a great deal more than we do about the background, and in places we must simply guess at what might have been going on, where they would have not been at all puzzled.

Because Paul is addressing many different situations, it is inevitable that he is not always consistent, and although he remains unmistakably the same Paul, different problems call forth different, or at least nuanced, responses from him. It is not respectful to the Apostle always to force him into consistency. At times, too, he is frankly very difficult. I defy anybody to read carefully through the Letter to the Romans and claim that they fully understand what Paul is saying. Even in that first century people were aware of this obscurity as a problem, as we see in 2 Peter, where the author warns his audience about "our beloved brother Paul" that in all his letters ... "there are some things in them that are hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction". And it is certainly possible that when the Letter of James makes some dark remarks about the relationship between faith and works, the author is attacking either Paul or some of his more enthusiastic followers.

In more recent times, it was recalled how an illiterate old woman, freed from slavery in the United States, would say "Not that man!" when her family read the Bible to her, and suggested something from St Paul. The family remembered that she told them, "the master's minister would occasionally hold services for the slaves. Always the white minister used as his text something from Paul. ‘Slaves, be obedient to them that are your masters ... as unto Christ.' Then he would go on to show how, if we were good and happy slaves, God would bless us. I promised my Maker that if I ever learned to read and if freedom ever came, I would not read that part of the Bible."...

To get Paul right, and to assess his legacy properly, it is essential to listen for the heart of his message. What is this heart? The moment that ineradicably changed his life, and has not ceased to echo today, was when he met Jesus. Paul is quite clear that he has done so, and Luke thought it such an important encounter that he tells the story no fewer than three times. The effect on Paul was quite startling. He was in no doubt that it was Jesus, quite against the run of play, whom he had met; so there was no question of "wishful thinking", or sunstroke or an epileptic fit, such as are often peddled as explanations of what took place. From that, it followed that what these irritating Jesus people had been claiming was, after all, true - that the Crucified One had indeed been raised from the dead by God. Therefore, he was indeed God's Messiah (which Paul had thought impossible).

More radical yet, Paul realised that he had to address Jesus as "Lord", the title that hitherto Paul would have reserved for God. This was doubly subversive, for it would lead him into conflict not only with his fellow Jews, but also with Roman society, at a time when the emperors were sending out signals that they were quite happy to be so addressed, and to be regarded as divinities.

Two further consequences seem to have followed for Paul. The first was that he understood himself to be charged with the task of telling "Gentiles" (non-Jews, such as most people reading this article) about this lordship of Jesus. The second was that this new way of life is not a private matter - not a matter of individuals in solitary relationship with Jesus. Christianity (to give the new movement a name that it did not yet possess) is not something you do alone, but is a corporate affair, done in solidarity with others.
...and in a text that seems to be making the rounds again this week after its debut in January, an extensive pastoral letter on the celebration from Bishop Michael Saltarelli of Wilmington, featuring "10 Ways to Celebrate":
  • Pray to the Holy Spirit about your unique and intimate “Road to Damascus” conversion experience that the Spirit is calling you to in the Year of Saint Paul.
  • Live Galatians 2:20 “It is no longer I who live but Christ who lives in me” and study the lives of saints from Saint Paul to Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta who lived these words so inspirationally.
  • Read and pray The Acts of the Apostles and the letters of Saint Paul in the New Testament. Consult, too, the many helpful biblical commentaries and general studies of Paul that are presently available and will become available during the Year of Saint Paul.
  • Take Pope Benedict XVI’s challenge and engage daily in Lectio divina so that the Church will have a “new springtime” of spiritual growth and evangelization. Discover in a personal way that “the Word of God cannot be chained!” For an introduction to Lectio divina, see
  • Study the Church’s Teaching on Revelation and biblical interpretation in such Church documents and resources as:
  • The Second Vatican Council’s Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation Dei Verbum
  • The Pontifical Biblical Commission’s The Interpretation of the Bible in the Church (1993)
  • Relevant sections of the Catechism of the Catholic Church [Part One: sections 26-184, pp. 13-50] and the Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church [Questions 1-32, pp. 5-12]
  • Pope Benedict XVI’s Jesus of Nazareth
  • Study and Pray through Paul’s teaching on the power of the Cross of Christ. “Preach Christ crucified” in the way you carry the Cross and the way you help others carry their crosses.
  • Develop even more deeply a Pauline reverence for the Eucharist and the Body of Christ. Read and pray:
  • Pope John Paul II’s apostolic letter Dies Domini (1998)
  • Pope John Paul II’s encyclical Ecclesia de Eucharistia (2003)
  • Pope Benedict XVI’s post-synodal apostolic exhortation Sacramentum Caritatis (2007)
  • Participate in Parish and Diocesan Masses during the Year of Saint Paul for the Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul (Sunday, June 29, 2008 and Monday, June 29, 2009), the Feast of the Conversion of Saint Paul the Apostle (Sunday, January 25, 2009), and the Feast of Saint Stephen, First Martyr (Friday, December 26, 2008). Make a pilgrimage during the Year of Saint Paul to Saint Paul’s parish in Wilmington, Saint Paul’s Parish in Delaware City and Saint Peter and Paul’s Parish in Easton, MD. If you should be fortunate enough to visit Rome this year, make sure to visit and venerate the tomb of Saint Paul at the Basilica of Saint Paul-Outside-the-Walls. Vatican officials announced in December 2006 that several feet below the Basilica’s main altar and behind a smaller altar, they had found a roughly cut marble sarcophagus beneath an inscription that reads “Paul Apostle Martyr.” The small altar was removed and a window inserted so that pilgrims can see the sarcophagus. Also visit the new ecumenical chapel which will be located in the southeast corner of the Basilica (what had been since the 1930s a baptismal chapel). While praying there, ask the intercession of Saint Paul for ecumenical progress and full Christian unity.27
  • Seek Paul’s intercession to be a more vibrant missionary in the world. Respond to the Universal Call to Holiness and the Universal Call to Mission. Study classical Church texts on missionary spirit and evangelization that discuss the life and ministry of Saint Paul such as Vatican Council II’s 1965 Decree on the Church’s Missionary Activity, Ad Gentes Divinitus, Pope Paul VI’s 1975 apostolic exhortation Evangeli Nuntiandi, Pope John Paul II’s 1990 encyclical Redemptoris Missio and Pope John Paul II’s 1999 post-synodal apostolic exhortation Ecclesia in America.
  • Study and pray the classical paintings of Saint Paul such as Rembrandt’s Saint Paul at his Writing-Desk (1629-1630), Caravaggio’s The Conversion of Saint Paul (1600), El Greco’s Saint Paul (1606), Michelangelo’s The Conversion of Saul (1542-1545), Raphael’s Saint Paul Preaching in Athens. For an internet tour of these paintings and other art works that focus on Saint Paul, see the website: /artwork-st-paul.htm. And see the 1981 film Chariots of Fire (and other films with Pauline themes) which examines how Eric Liddell, a Scottish 1924 Olympic runner, lives and speaks about the Pauline “running the race” of faith and “feeling God’s pleasure” when he runs. This film is a moving commentary on Galatians 2:20.
On a Petrine note, having reached his 75th birthday in January, Saltarelli's retirement and the appointment of his successor at the helm of Delaware's 220,000-member diocese are expected to take place before Rome's summer recess.


Hermann Holds the Arch

The quickly-transpiring events of this historic day in the life of the church of St Louis and beyond reached their coda within the hour when, in what feels like record time, the seven consultors of the 560,000-member see elected Auxiliary Bishop Robert Hermann as archdiocesan administrator pending a permanent successor to Archbishop Raymond Burke.

One of 15 children raised on a family farm in rural Ste. Genevieve County, the gentle, "much revered" career pastor and high-school teacher, who turns 74 in August, has served as the Gateway City's lone auxiliary since then-Bishop Joseph Naumann's 2004 promotion to the archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas; as auxiliary and lead vicar-general, Naumann temporarily oversaw the St Louis church for four months between the late 2003 departure of then-Archbishop Justin Rigali for Philadelphia and Burke's January 2004 arrival.

Ordained in 1963, Rigali first named Hermann vicar-general in 2002 following the departure of another of his auxiliaries, Bishop Michael Sheridan, for Colorado Springs; in recent years, the bishop's shared the administrative burden alongside Msgr Vernon Gardin, the former rector of the city's "New Cathedral" who had been widely expected to be named an auxiliary to Burke given the needs of the archdiocese.

As an elected administrator, Hermann is prohibited from making any innovations in the governance of the archdiocese. He may make personnel moves, but cannot name stable pastors until a year has passed from today's date of vacancy; any parish heads named by an (arch)diocesan administrator before that point can only be parochial administrators themselves.

The party chiefly responsible for preparing a detailed report on the vacant see for the apostolic nuncio -- the first major part of a succession process -- the administrator's mandate ceases on the installation of a new ordinary.

SVILUPPO: Fullvideo of this morning's Burke presser can be found here.

St Louis Review


More Burke

Keeping with the day's top story, a video message from Archbishop Raymond Burke has been posted on the St Louis archdiocesan site...

Today, at noon in Rome (5 a.m. CDT), it was announced that His Holiness, Pope Benedict XVI, has named me prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura, effective immediately. With the announcement, I ceased to be the Archbishop of St. Louis.

I am deeply humbled by the trust which His Holiness has placed in me, and, in priestly obedience, I have pledged to serve our Holy Father to the best of my abilities. Although you will no longer pray for me as your archbishop, especially during the celebration of the Holy Mass, I ask your prayers for me, that I may faithfully and generously cooperate with God's grace in fulfilling my new responsibilities.

Leaving the service of the Church in the Archdiocese of St. Louis is most sad for me. It has been an honor and gift for me to serve the archdiocese over the past four years and five months. It had been my hope to serve here for a long time, but, as the bishop who called me to priestly ordination often remarked, "Man proposes, but God disposes." I trust that doing what our Holy Father has asked me to do will bring blessings to the Archdiocese of St. Louis and to me. St. Louis is a great archdiocese which will always have a treasured place in my heart.

In a particular way, I am saddened to leave my fellow priests, whom I have so much grown to esteem and love. Often, I have spoken about the remarkable unity and loyalty of our presbyterate. For me, it has been a special grace to work with them in the service of God's flock in the archdiocese. I thank them for the priestly fraternity which they have always shown me, and for the generous obedience with which they have responded to my pastoral care and governance of our beloved archdiocese.

With regard to the governance of the archdiocese, the College of Consultors will meet to elect an archdiocesan administrator who, with the help of the consultors, will govern the archdiocese, until the new archbishop is appointed and installed. Please pray for the College of Consultors and for the archdiocesan administrator whom they will elect.

Again, I ask your prayers. You can count upon my daily prayers for the Archdiocese of St. Louis, always.
...and from on the ground, the first line from The Beacon's Pat Rice:
The Signatura is the court of last resort within the church, its Supreme Court. Its prefect is its administrator and something like a chief justice who has one vote along with the 20 other judges. Appointing an American to that post seems like common sense. Since 2002, many of the cases being appealed are brought by priests from the U.S., Ireland and Australia. They are men whose bishops want to laicize them -- take away their rights of ministry -- because of sexual abuse of minors. An English speaker who has seen how the scandal has ravaged the church and dispirited both the clergy and laity would have an advantage.

The post is an important Vatican desk job, although the leader is not much in the public eye -- barring a rare hullabaloo over a case. Until 2002, this tribunal mostly handled appeals of marriage annulments.

For the first time in the history of the St. Louis archdiocese, its archbishop has been assigned to a job in the Vatican leadership, its curia in Rome, removing him from pastoral work with the laity. Burke was installed as the St. Louis archbishop in January 2004, coming here from his home diocese of Lacrosse, Wisc. There he had studied as a seminarian, been ordained a priest and after more studies to become a canon lawyer in Rome became its bishop. He was named to St. Louis after its former archbishop Justin F. Rigali, now a cardinal, was transferred to Philadelphia.

Burke is warmly regarded by seminarians, by cloistered nuns and some St. Louis priests; he is wildly popular nationally with traditional Catholic grateful that he has promoted the Mass in Latin. However, he has not been popular with some priests and nuns here.

"Oh, my gosh, that is marvelous news," said one parish priest on hearing the news Friday morning. He declined to allow his name to be used. "The priest morale here has been so low."

Though warm and charming one-on-one with the laity and on pilgrimages he led, his official communications and actions with church members has often left them stunned because his efforts to help them understand his actions failed....

Burke has been the most outspoken American bishop on not giving Holy Communion to public figures -- politicians -- who support abortion rights and public financing of embryonic stem cell research. In January 2004, shortly before the Missouri presidential primary, within a week of becoming St. Louis' archbishop, he told this reporter on KMOV-TV that he would refuse Holy Communion to Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry, a Catholic, because Kerry did not uphold the church's position on abortion. Last year, he said the same thing about then-Republican presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani.

"The appointment is going to make every pro-choice Catholic politician very worried,” said the Rev. Thomas Reese, author of “Inside the Vatican” and a Jesuit priest. “After all, he made his name as a canon lawyer denying communion to pro-choice politicians."

Now that Burke has been promoted to Rome, it will make some American bishops “much more sympathetic” to Burke’s efforts, Reese said. "Burke now will become a voice in Rome for cracking down on pro-choice Catholics."

“The appointment shows Pope Benedict has reached deep into the American church to find people to help run the Vatican," Reese said.

Until Pope Benedict XVI names a new archbishop for St. Louis, the archdiocese's college of consultors, a group of about 12 parish priests, likely will elect an administrator. This is what the body did when Archbishop John L. May was ill and after Rigali left St. Louis for Philadelphia. Bishop Robert J. Hermann, a Weingarten, Mo., native and now St. Louis' only auxiliary bishop, or another vicar general, Monsignor Vernon Gardin, will likely be named to the temporary post. No administrator can make permanent assignments during his tenure.

In a rarer move, the Vatican could name an apostolic administrator who would have full powers of an archbishop.

The much revered Hermann would not be considered for the permanent post of archbishop since he turns 74 in August. Bishops must offer the pope their resignations when they reach 75.

As a member of the Congregation for Bishops, Rigali will influence who is the next St. Louis Archbishop. No one would be more popular than native son, Milwaukee Archbishop Timothy Dolan, but Benedict likely has the leadership of larger dioceses planned for him....

[Leading the Signatura] is not a joyful post, but it is in Rome, a place where Burke enjoys living. He speaks excellent Italian and studied to be a canon lawyer there as a young priest. Beginning in 1989, he worked in another of the Vatican's three courts, the Roman Rota. Pope John Paul II named him Defender of the Bond, the lawyer who must defend the validity of the marriage in annulment cases. He left that post only when John Paul named him LaCrosse's bishop in 1994.

The assignment also returns him to a mostly clerical world where he will have scant interaction with lay people except when he says public Masses.
On a note of historic context, Burke becomes the tenth American prelate named to lead a Roman dicastery, and the first called from a Midwestern post since 1958, when an ailing Pope Pius XII named Cardinal Samuel Stritch of Chicago prefect of the Propaganda Fide. The first Stateside cleric chosen to lead a curial office, Stritch died shortly after taking up his duties in the Eternal City. It's also noteworthy that, of the ten, seven were heads of dioceses on these shores at the time of their respective appointments to the church's central government.

While this morning's appointment brings the number of US curial chiefs to three, with 75 year-old Cardinal James Francis Stafford's retirement as head of the Apostolic Penitentiary (i.e. the Vatican's Mercy Czar) likely around the corner, as previously forecast on these pages (...and not without reason), the Holy See has now ensured that the figure wouldn't drop below two, thus maintaining a custom that's been in place for nearly a quarter-century.

SVILUPPO: At this morning's press conference, the appointee let the tears flow (video):
At a news conference packed with supporters at the Cardinal Rigali Center in Shrewsbury, Burke became emotional while talking about what he called "a major change in the life of the archdiocese and of my own life."...

Burke called the news of his departure "bittersweet," and said he would miss his priests and seminarians most of all. "I really love this archdiocese, and it’s sad for me to leave," he said, before pausing, and breaking down. "I will never lose the deep affection I have for the archdiocese of St. Louis."
Contrary to usual practice (which would see Burke serving as administrator until his departure for Rome), indications are that the St Louis archdiocesan consultors will sit sometime this afternoon to elect an administrator to serve for the duration of the sede vacante.

All preliminary signals expect that, if not by year's end, the ninth archbishop of St Louis will be in place by Easter... and already, the field of possibles grows by the second.


The "Chief Justice": A St Louis Cardinal

So... the foreseen "other shoe" has dropped.

This morning, Pope Benedict named Archbishop Raymond Burke of St Louis as prefect of the Apostolic Signatura -- in effect, the church's "chief justice" as head of its top court. The Wisconsin-born prelate, who turns 60 on Monday, succeeds Cardinal Agostino Vallini, whose long-expected appointment as papal vicar for Rome was also announced in today's moves.

The first non-European named to head the historic tribunal, which dates from the 15th century, the archbishop's appointment to the prestigious post -- which, in keeping with tradition, will see Burke receive the cardinal's red hat at the next consistory -- is recognition of the top-shelf canonist's legal chops, but also serves to reflect the dominance of Signatura's docket by cases from the English-speaking world. On the more practical side, the return to the Vatican's top tribunal of the first US cleric to hold a senior post within its ranks -- the second consecutive instance of an archbishop of the onetime "Rome of the West" being called out of town to a cardinalatial post -- removes the American bishop most affiliated with the so-called "Communion Wars" from the domestic fray in advance of another presidential election season.

Born in Wisconsin's rural diocese of LaCrosse, Burke was ordained a priest by Pope Paul VI on 29 June 1975 -- one of 359 clerics ordained together in commemoration of the Holy Year. Distinguished from early on by his canonical aecumen, after serving at home and studies in Washington and Rome, the onetime Basselin scholar -- whose legal studies specialized in ecclesiastical jurisprudence -- was called to the Curia as defender of the bond at the Signatura in 1989. Five years later, at 46, he was named bishop of his native diocese, where he served until his appointment to St Louis in late 2003.

As a diocesan bishop, Burke's record has mixed solid conservative credentials and significant success in recruiting seminarians with a penchant for stoking controversies that've made ripple effects far beyond the boundaries of his charge.

In early 2004, the newly-arrived archbishop -- who had exhorted pro-choice politicians to refrain from receiving Communion in LaCrosse -- rocked the Stateside church by replying that he would "give a blessing" to the then-Democratic nominee, Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry, opening the door to a national firefight that polarized church circles and continues into the present. In April 2006, after Missouri voters narrowly defeated a constitutional amendment forbidding the use of state funds to support embryonic stem-cell research -- a result which, he said, "shows how deeply the culture of death is rooted in our society" -- Burke resigned the chairmanship of the city's Catholic children's hospital in protest over the booking of the singer Sheryl Crow for its major annual fundraiser, citing Crow's public stances in support of abortion and ESCR.

Beyond these, the dominant showdown looming over Burke's St Louis tenure has been the archdiocese's collision with the independent board of St Stanislaus Kostka parish, as the church sought to regularize the Polish parish's status and end its long-standing arrangement of lay governance. In 2005, the archbishop invoked the canons to announce the board's automatic excommunication (and that of the priest it hired) on grounds of schism; after the parish -- which continues to function independently -- appealed to Rome, last month the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith upheld the decision. Along the way, Burke revoked the local faculties of Dominican Fr Thomas Doyle after the cleric -- a prominent, longtime advocate for survivors of clergy sex abuse -- provided canonical counsel to the board.

In recent months, a separate flare-up over the attempt of two local women to be ordained to the priesthood was joined with equal force. After claiming orders, Burke summoned the women to defend themselves before him; when they didn't, they were excommunicated. And just yesterday, a Sister of Charity found to have encouraged and participated in the rites was declared guilty of three canonical crimes, placed under interdict and forbidden from exercising "any mission" in the archdiocese.

While the canonical reasoning behind his decisions has been roundly affirmed as unassailable, most observers concluded that the new prefect's reputation as a "lightning rod" steered the US bishops to choose Auxiliary Bishop Thomas Paprocki of Chicago over the St Louis prelate for the chairmanship of the bench's Committee on Canonical Affairs and Church Governance at last November's plenary in Baltimore. Also a respected canonist, the junior prelate bested Burke with 138 votes to the archbishop's 95. Given today's news, however, it could be said that, where it counted, Burke still won out.

Speculation tipping the archbishop's Romecoming began in earnest early last month after Burke -- already one of the Signatura's 18 prelate-judges -- was named to two influential Roman dicasteries: the Congregation for the Clergy and the Pontifical Council for the Interpretation of Legislative Texts. An international leader in the church of the restoration of the 1962 Missal and the growing vocation to lifelong consecrated virginity lived in the world, late July will see the completion of the LaCrosse project he championed during his tenure as its bishop: the Romanesque Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe, its cost believed to hover in the $30 million range.

In accord with the norms of canon law, the 560,000-member St Louis see fell vacant with the publication of this morning's appointment; until his departure for Rome in August, the prefect-designate will serve as archdiocesan administrator. Then, the archdiocesan consultors will be charged with the choice of another administrator from within pending the appointment of the Gateway City's ninth archbishop.

A press conference has been called for 11am local time.


Thursday, June 26, 2008

Lapsed Catholic, Lifelong Hayesman

Destined to be forever known as the man of "Seven Dirty Words," as the comedy world continues to mourn George Carlin -- who died Sunday at 71 -- a quieter angle of the legendary, controversial comic's personality has come to light.

A cradle Catholic who became, arguably, the country's best-known unabashed atheist -- among the un-bleepables, he once called organized religion "the mother of all fairy-tales" (and was cast, with intentional irony, as a cardinal in Kevin Smith's 1999 film Dogma) -- the Washington Heights-born commentator on matters as diverse as using credit cards to buy Goobers, radio and the famous bit on "stuff" kept a soft place in his heart for his almost-alma mater: Cardinal Hayes High School in the Bronx... from which he got the boot in the early '50s.

Dubbing him "the most famous Hayesman who never graduated" -- as opposed to Regis Philbin and Marty Scorcese, who did -- the story was taken up by another alum in the pages of the Times:
25 years ago, the acerbic comic and well-known atheist took part in a fund-raising dinner to honor the priest who actually suggested to young Mr. Carlin that he might want to go to another school. As he himself noted in his 10-minute riff on the school, you always knew trouble awaited when the priests started calling you “Mister.”

Mr. Carlin arrived at Hayes in the early 1950s, part of the class of 1955. But after three semesters, he left the school and enrolled — briefly, too — at Bishop Dubois High School in Harlem. Over the years, he would drop references to Hayes, whose colors are the cardinal and gold (in one talk show appearance he went on about how the colors looked suspiciously like red and yellow).

Such references made alumni (including this writer, class of 1975) shout, “He’s talking about Hayes!” as any weary spouse can attest to. A tape of his 1983 appearance at the fund-raiser was shared among classmates like underground comedy, and it was introduced to a new generation last year when the school used it for a fund-raising video. In it he talks about how Hayes was “the coolest school” around.

The 1983 fund-raiser was the school’s first Hall of Fame dinner-dance, and it was to honor Msgr. Stanislaus P. Jablonski, a legendary dean of discipline who was better known as Jabbo, the Mean Dean and the Sinister Minister. That Carlin would be chosen to honor the man who kicked him out of a school that preaches a religion he no longer believed in did not go off without problems. Some members of the alumni association feared it would send the wrong message, said Neil Sullivan, a member of the association at the time.

“Some of us said Jesus hung out with sinners,” Mr. Sullivan recalled. “That won out. Maybe this was a road back for him.”

But the comic jumped at the chance to honor Monsignor Jablonski, who had remained close to the Carlin family, Mr. Sullivan said. And unlike some other past honorees, Mr. Carlin paid his own way and asked for only one thing — a Hayes baseball jacket.

The 1983 dinner was held not at Hayes’s then-dicey South Bronx location, but at archrival Mount St. Michael Academy in the northern Bronx.

“What are we doing at the Mount without the football team?” he started, and off he went. The rest of the routine had spot-on impersonations of teachers and deans of his era, and wry takes on how Irish-Catholic teenagers coped with life at the button-down, disciplined school on the Grand Concourse. He captured the hilarity of teenage wise guys dreaming up outlandish hypotheticals in religion class as they tried to stump the priest about what is or isn’t a sin. Short version: When they trust you enough, sometimes, in some cases, it’s not a sin.

“Anybody who went to Catholic school at that time knew somebody like Jabbo,” Mr. Sullivan said. “And for Carlin to do that routine, a one-shot routine, he had to have spent countless hours preparing.”

The routine was clean, much to the relief of nervous administrators at the time. He knew he had made his fame with the Seven Words, and though his old classmates tried to get him to utter them, he refused. “Hey Carlin, you gonna do the seven words?” he mimicked them in his routine. “It’s O.K. The priests are liberal!”

His reply was the only vulgarity of the night. It was, as we used to describe it in this paper, a barnyard epithet.

Monsignor Jablonksi, by the way, seemed to have enjoyed the tribute. At one point he read from what he said were old detention slips he had issued to a young George Carlin. One of them seemed prescient: “He thinks he’s a comedian.”

Juror #9

Since his return home to the Steel City last fall, the local line on Bishop David Zubik has been simple and consistent: "He's everywhere." And from random, low-key diners to Masses of all sorts, and even a recent surprise call-in to a talk-radio show when the diocese came up, the finding's pretty well verified.

Not that the locals mind, of course -- they don't. If anything, aside from the oft-expressed concerns over whether he's taking care of himself, they rather enjoy it... and the results are already beginning to spring up.

But this week's seen "everywhere" extended even further. Usually known as "No. 12" given the lineage of his predecessors, The Dave's been empaneled as Juror #9 for a home invasion and sex-assault trial that began this morning:
Zubik reported in the morning to the jury room in the County Courthouse in a typical priest's white collar with a black suit, but defense attorney John Knorr said he recognized him right away.

"After Zubik left the interview table, one of the other attorneys asked me what I thought," Knorr said. "I said, 'Well, we're looking for fairness, not forgiveness.' I think he's fine."...

Zubik's case involves two men, Steve Ashby, 19, and Ryan Whittington, 20, and a woman, Taneesha Middleton, 22, charged with breaking into a Duquesne home.

Middleton is accused of knocking on the door and asking to use the phone. Authorities say that when a man answered the door, Ashby and Whittington forced their way in and pistol-whipped him before robbing him. Ashby is accused of forcing the man's girlfriend to perform oral sex on him.

Defense attorney James Sheets said the attorneys asked Zubik the same general questions they ask all jurors. A juror questionnaire asks, for example, if any religious, moral or ethical beliefs would prevent the prospective juror from sitting on a criminal case and reaching a fair verdict.

"The bishop answered no to that question," Sheets said. "What someone does for a living factors in, but as a whole we want fairness. The bishop is a citizen of Allegheny County like anyone else."

Mike Manko, spokesman for District Attorney Stephen A. Zappala Jr., said that prosecutors aren't opposed to priests serving on juries and that Zubik's jury service "is a great example to the community."

Several priests from the Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh have served on juries, but Zubik is the first bishop in recent memory to be seated, said the Rev. Ron Lengwin, the diocesan spokesman.

Zubik's predecessor, Washington Archbishop Donald Wuerl, was called for jury duty during his 18 years in Pittsburgh but not selected, Lengwin said.

Other diocesan heads haven't been as cooperative with the courts.

Cardinal John Joseph O'Connor, who headed the Archdiocese of New York from 1984 to 2000, used to forbid priests from serving on juries, said the Rev. Thomas Reese, a senior fellow at the Woodstock Theological Center at Georgetown University.

"His argument was that being on a jury was participating in an act of government and the clergy were not supposed to be involved in government," said Reese.

O'Connor would send a letter to the courts and the priest would be excused from serving.

Zubik asked for no such dispensation, said Ray Billotte, county court administrator.
Saying he's "excited" about the task, the 'Burgh's KD runs an interview with the juror.

Oh, and at a recent mens' gathering out in the Alleghenies, Zubik preached about his experience as a "spiritual orphan":

Go Steelers.

PHOTO: Eric Felack/Valley News-Times


Petrine Pallium, v.3.0

The new metropolitans won't be the only ones donning a new pallium come Sunday -- on the initiative of his "new Marini," B16'll be getting one of his own.


At the formal inaugural of his Petrine ministry five days after his election, Papa Ratzi was invested with a distinctively-crafted band more reminiscent of the vestment's earliest, more function-based forms than its ceremonially-inspired contemporary look. As the then-MC Archbishop Piero Marini explained it at the time, the break from modernity was intended as a sign to further ground the office's visual character in its pastoral roots; in his first public homily on Peter's chair, the Pope himself added that the garment was "a symbol of the shepherd’s mission.

"This ancient sign, which the Bishops of Rome have worn since the fourth century, may be considered an image of the yoke of Christ," Benedict said, "which the Bishop of this City, the Servant of the Servants of God, takes upon his shoulders. God’s yoke is God’s will, which we accept. And this will does not weigh down on us, oppressing us and taking away our freedom."

Unveiled by Guido Marini in the pages of yesterday's L'Osservatore Romano, the latest re-design (above) hews closer to the form currently in use, albeit slightly longer, wider, and bearing red crosses as opposed to black.

In his interview with the Vatican daily, the new MC said that the change was motivated both to "underscore the continuing development" of the vestment from after the demise of its longer form in 1219, and "the practical," in that, according to "Marini II," his predecessor's design had caused "many troublesome problems."

In other words, it couldn't be worn with fiddle-backs.

"The different form of the papal pallium relative to that of metropolitans," he added, "puts in perspective the difference of jurisdiction [universal vs. local] that is signified by it."

To say nothing of the fact that the 2005 rehash couldn't be worn with fiddle-backs.

In other news from the chat, the regnant MC -- whose most recent fine-tune to papal worship was the introduction of pre-dieus f0r the distribution of the Eucharist to kneeling communicants -- said that the change was foreseen as a permanent one.

"The form adopted by Benedict XVI is extended to underscore the normative manner valid for all the church," Marini explained, noting that "from the juridical point of view" the reception of communion in the hand "remains even now... an indult to the universal law, conceded by the Holy See."

While taking communion on the tongue has long been Vatican protocol when receiving from the Pope's hand, Marini added that the restored form "shines a better light on the truth of the real presence in the Eucharist, helps the devotion of the faithful, introduces with better ease the sense of mystery."

All these, he said, "pastorally speaking, are urgent to emphasize and recover in our own time."

PHOTO: L'Osservatore Romano


"Leaving 'Little Rome'"

Beantown's annual celebration of "Evacuation Day" might fall on what the rest of us know as Paddymas, but in the most powerful sign yet of the shedding of its trappings (and, ergo, its renewal as a church), the administration of the archdiocese of Boston departed yesterday from the Brighton Chancery -- the idyllic estate of institutional facilities and Cardinal's Residence (above) that stood for nearly a century as the defining symbol of its temporal status and power -- to set up shop today into its new, lower-profile digs in a nondescript Braintree office park, adjacent to a big-box shopping mecca.

(...and all of a sudden -- at least, in this case -- the term "pastoral center" has become much less of a euphemism.)

In three separate purchases, the 65-acre plot -- the whole shebang, minus St John's Seminary -- was acquired by Boston College for a total of $172 million.

While the Globe was in attendance, the sound of William Henry O'Connell spinning in his also-to-be-evicted bronze coffin didn't make it into print:
Eighty years ago, O'Connell could look across the rural area at the western edge of the city, home to Boston College, St. John's Seminary, and St. Elizabeth's Hospital, and declare "every hilltop now for miles around gleams the sacred sign of our redemption." [ he owned it.] He saw the area as the capital of Catholic Boston, a mini-Vatican of sorts, and hence the nickname, "Little Rome."

"I suppose we'll get accustomed to Braintree, but in the meantime, there's a sadness to it, you know?" said Monsignor Paul L. Moritz, who at 97 is the oldest and longest-serving priest in the archdiocese; he still celebrates Mass weekly at a parish in Peabody.

"It's like losing your grandfather," he said. "This was our diocese, the heart of it, and you look around and it's not yours anymore. It's sad."

The move is largely the result of the clergy sexual abuse crisis, which threw the archdiocese into financial turmoil from which it has not recovered. Cardinal Sean P. O'Malley, seeking to pay settlements to victims and to end years of deficit spending, decided to sell the 65-acre Brighton property to Boston College for $172 million in three transactions over four years.

"The primary reason why we're doing this is because of the need for us as an archdiocese to meet our fiscal responsibilities - we have been dealing with debt payments and with debts - and by selling our Brighton property we are able to tackle a large part of our debt obligation," said the Rev. Richard M. Erikson, the archdiocesan vicar general.

The archdiocese's headquarters building has long been called the "chancery," a word used by the Catholic Church to describe diocesan offices. But in Braintree, the building will be called the pastoral center, which Erikson said is intended as a reminder that the purpose of the church administration is to serve Catholics.

"Most people have very mixed emotions about leaving Brighton," Erikson said. "I have a lot of wonderful memories of this property, and I wish we didn't have to move, but we do. And I have a great deal of hope for what the pastoral center will bring to the archdiocese. And I find it very affirming to see a Catholic college such as BC thrive."

Boston College needs city approval before developing the land, but has proposed housing, a fine arts museum, and a baseball field. It plans to use the existing buildings for offices and classrooms. The university is looking to use the cardinals' residence - where Pope John Paul II slept in 1979 - as a conference center and the most recent chancery building for administrative offices.

Brighton is so closely associated in the public imagination with the archdiocese that many longtime Bostonians refer to the archdiocesan headquarters simply as "Lake Street," referring to the street that runs alongside the property. The first chancery in Brighton, called Diocesan House, was constructed in 1929; that building was converted to the archdiocesan tribunal when the current chancery was constructed on the same property in 1962. The buildings are the administrative center of the archdiocese, with offices such as human resources and finance, as well as a variety of ministries that assist parishes and schools.

But Brighton represents only an 80-year block of the 200-year history of the Archdiocese of Boston. The archdiocese had had offices in several locations in the city, including in the South End, by the cathedral, and in the Back Bay, on Granby Street, before moving to Brighton. In Braintree, the archdiocese will be consolidating the employees from five buildings - three on the Brighton campus, as well as the Catholic Schools Office, currently in Dorchester, and the archdiocesan tribunal, currently in West Roxbury.

The archdiocese has kept only one building on the Brighton campus: St. John's Seminary. O'Connell's tomb also stays while his heirs, the archdiocese, and BC debate the future of his remains.

"Any move is emotional, especially when people get used to something, but it happens," remarked Thomas H. O'Connor, the university historian at Boston College. "Obviously, this will be a major dislocation, but I think it's one the church can live with. And in the long run, I think it will be a very good move because the new facility is very large, and it will amplify the operations of the chancery by putting it in another part of the archdiocese."...

The four-story, 140,000-square-foot building opens for business Monday, and is expected to house about 225 employees, reduced through buyouts from 250. Yesterday, workers were still putting finishing touches on the building - the chapel, which will be decorated with stained-glass windows from closed parishes, won't be done until fall - but there is a 10-foot cross on the brick façade, and the flags of the Vatican and the archdiocese fly out front alongside the flag of the United States. Inside, visitors will step onto a large rug emblazoned with the azure crest of the archdiocese and see portraits of O'Malley and Pope Benedict XVI. The halls are decorated with 600 photos of local parishes, schools, and other Catholic institutions.

The building, which is located in North Braintree, near South Shore Plaza, is a contemporary office space, with deep purple and light blue walls, cubicles, a cafeteria, and multiple conference rooms wired for technology. The archdiocese says it intends for this building to be used much more than the Brighton campus was for meetings of priests, parish staff, and lay people.
...and there's video:


Last Runs Before Rome

On Sunday morning, the last year's new intake of 41 metropolitan archbishops from around the world will receive the symbol of their office -- the pallium -- from Pope Benedict.

In keeping with the tradition established by John Paul II in 1984, the conferral of the lambswool band will take place at the pontiff's Mass for the Solemnity of Ss. Peter and Paul, at which B16'll be joined by B1 -- Bartholomew I, the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople -- who'll sit alongside the Pope during the Liturgy of the Word and team up with him again for the blessing.

After spending the night in the silver coffin atop the tomb of Peter beneath the basilica's main altar, the pallia -- woven by Benedictine nuns from the wool of lambs blessed on January's feast of St Agnes -- are blessed by the Pope and given to the new archbishops with the words:
To the glory of Almighty God and the praise of the Blessed Virgin Mary and of the apostles Peter and Paul, and of the Holy Roman Church, for the honor of the Churches, which have been placed in your care, and as a symbol of your authority as metropolitan archbishop: We confer on you the pallium taken from the tomb of Peter to wear within the limits of your ecclesiastical province.

May this pallium be a symbol of unity
and a sign of your communion with the Apostolic See,
a bond of love, and an incentive to courage.
On the day of the coming and manifestation
of our great God and chief shepherd, Jesus Christ,
may you and the flock entrusted to you
be clothed with immortality and glory.
In the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.
Two of the year's new archbishops will be unable to make it, so their presents will be sent to their dioceses, where a papal legate will confer them in the cathedral. Dating from the third century AD and only restricted to metropolitans in 1978, the pallium doesn't automatically come with a residential archbishopric, but must be formally petitioned from the Pope.

* * *
While the group's global headliners include Cardinal John Njue of Nairobi, the freshly-installed Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem Fouad Twal, Archbishops Reinhard Marx of Munich and Freising and Pavel (Paolo) Pezzi of Moscow, two Canadians -- Archbishops Tony Mancini of Halifax and Martin Currie of St John's, Newfoundland -- and three Statesiders will be among the group: Archbishops Edwin O'Brien of Baltimore, John Nienstedt of St Paul and Minneapolis and Thomas Rodi of Mobile (the Alabama prelate to get his day in Rome).

Before leaving for their respective pilgrimages, though, two of the latter three have been tying up loose ends at home.

Following his widely-noted decision to place the Legionaries of Christ under more stringent oversight in the Premier See -- and a highly-candid chat with the National Catholic Reporter in its wake -- O'Brien met with members of the Legion's lay arm Regnum Christi last weekend to explain himself.

A Charm City priest in attendance provides a brief:
Recognizing that they probably had already heard much of what was the impetus for the meeting, the archbishop told the roomful of 150 people, “It is out of pastoral concern that I speak to you. … I want you to hear [these things] directly from me.” He began the meeting by restating the content of his letter that went to Fr. Alvaro Corcuera, the head of the Legion of Christ in Rome. In restating these concerns raised in the letter, O’Brien emphasized again the three areas of concern he had with regard to the operations of the Legion and Regnum Christi in the Archdiocese:
First was the lack of pastoral transparency in the sharing of information about programs and participants. Second was the nature of youth programs and activities that seem to show a lack of respect for parental rights and duties, and a call to cease ongoing spiritual direction with children under 18. And finally was a need to respect the parental role in encouraging and fostering vocations to the priesthood and consecrated life.

After his brief words of explanation, the archbishop opened the discussion up to the concerns and comments of the assembly. Most of the comments reflected the very positive role that involvement in Regnum Christi has had in the lives of the families who participate. They said that they are closer to their Church and Jesus, and that they have been active and integral participants in their parishes as well. They didn’t feel the “coercion” to follow the LCs vocational promotion or the “flaws endemic” to them that the archbishop’s letter had referred to.

Some who spoke acknowledged their skepticism about RC and their schools and programs but did not deny the positive effects that they saw with their families as a result of this ministry. One man asked O’Brien, “Are you open to this dialogue?” noting that his comments – especially those in the interview with John Allen – seemed “offensive” and “not very open” to a process of healing (referring to the comment that priests applauded the archbishop's decision with regard to the LC). Others pointed out that there could have been a tendency on the part of ex-members to “misinterpret” the problems of RC and that their input represented only one, biased side of the issue.

Many things were said in defense of RC and LC, and O’Brien listened attentively. Some folks mentioned that there was an orthodoxy in teaching by the LC that was not encountered from diocesan clergy. This was the attraction of the Legion’s activities. There was a question as to whether or not the Archbishop was conducting the meeting simply to appease members. O’Brien assured them that “I’d be wasting my time if this was for PR.” For him, it is a real issue that must be addressed openly and candidly....

The people spoke, and O’Brien “got what they were saying.” “I love you and what you are doing,” he told them. Now, he says, it is up to them to be open and honest in approaching their pastors – parish priests – and share the best of who they are – something the LC have already taught them to do for God. In a letter sent to Baltimore priests as a follow-up, O’Brien tells us “In my opinion, many members of Regnum Christi are exemplary in doing fine work in this Archdiocese. However, unique among many apostolic groups, LC and RC suffer a strong negative image among many of our clergy in Baltimore and beyond. Until this factor is addressed candidly, tensions will remain. I suggested that members of Regnum Christi speak with their parish priests, relating their account of Saturday’s meeting and seeking ways to collaborate more closely with parish life.”
Meanwhile, in the Twin Cities -- where Nienstedt's first month in office after a year in wait as coadjutor has seen the term "consecrated blizzard" return to contemporary parlance -- the archbishop put the kibosh on a long-running LGBT prayer service held by a city parish to coincide with the region's Pride Week:
This is "yet another volley of dehumanizing spiritual violence directed at GLBT persons and their families under Archbishop Nienstedt's reign of homophobic hatred," David McCaffrey, a board member of the Catholic Pastoral Committee on Sexual Minorities (CPCSM), said in an e-mail Monday to members.

"The archdiocese is now dictating to people who they can and cannot pray for, and that deeply concerns me," said Bayly, executive director of the CPCSM. "This certainly does not celebrate the presence of God in the lives of gay people. They are dictating to gay people how to have a good life."

The Rev. Jim Cassidy, acting pastor at St. Joan's, said he respects the wishes of the archdiocese and is just happy that the service was not canceled.

"The archdiocese, for all parishes, is the front office and we need to respect that," Cassidy said Tuesday. "There is no welcome mat being pulled here."

Also Tuesday, [archdiocesan spokesman Dennis] McGrath defended the archdiocese and Nienstedt, saying that gay and lesbian relationships, especially if they are consummated, are contrary to church doctrine.

McGrath said Nienstedt decided to act after he was notified by callers about the GLBT service at St. Joan, which has a large homosexual contingent.

McGrath said Nienstedt simply did what any archbishop in the country would do in a similar situation. He said the decision does not signal that the archdiocese is taking a conservative turn in the Twin Cities.
A lay-led rite went forward last night outside St Joan's. To avoid ruffling further feathers, it was characterized as a "peace service."

On another note, in the largest gift in its history, the Twin Cities church last week received an anonymous donation of $10 million, earmarked to ensure the survival of 15 inner-city parochial schools.