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7/21/2012 2:05 PM
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Saturday, July 21, 15th Week in Ordinary Time

Center photo: A painting of the Christian-Ottoman battle of Szekesfehervar led by the saint.
ST. LORENZO DA BRINDISI (b Italy 1559, d Lisbon 1619)
Capuchin, Biblical Scholar, Imperial Chaplain, Field General during a battle against the Ottoman Turks, Superior General of the Capuchins, Diplomat, Doctor of the Church
Benedict XVI dedicated his Wednesday catechesis on March 23, 2011, to St. Lorenzo
Born Giulio Cesare Russo in Brindisi to a family of Venetian merchants, he took the name Lorenzo upon joining the Capuchins at age 16. Educated in Venice and Padua, he was a remarkable linguist whose mastery of Latin. Greek and Hebrew helped him to become an outstanding Biblical scholar. Assigned to Rome in 1596, he was asked by Pope Clement VII to preach to the Jews and impressed the rabbis so much they thought he was a Jew who had turned Christian. Starting in 1599, he set up Capuchin monasteries in Germany and Austria, bringing back many Protestants to the Catholic faith. In 1601, as imperial chaplain for the Holy Roman Emperor Rudolph II, he led an army during a battle to take back a key Hungarian city from the Ottoman Turks. He was elected superior general of the Capuchins in 1601 and instituted major reforms, but refused re-election 3 years later. He served as Nuncio to Bavaria and to Spain, retired to a monastery in 1618, then was recalled for a special mission to the King of Spain and died in Lisbon after completing his mission. In 1956, the Capuchins completed a 15-volume edition of his writings - 11 of the volumes contained his sermons, each based on a scriptural quotation to illustrate his teaching. He was beatified in 1783, canonized in 1881, and declared a Doctor of the Church by John XXIII in 1959.
Readings for today's Mass:


No bulletins on the Holy Father, other than some episcopal resignations and nominations.

The Vatican released a statement formally withdrawing the titles 'Pontifical' and 'Catholic'
from what used to be the Pontifical Catholic University of Peru, after years of open disobedience to
Blessed John Paul II's Apostolic Decree Ex Corda Ecclesiae defining the criteria for Catholic
universities. Recently, the university administration informed the Holy See that it could not accept
the jurisdiction of the Archdiocese of Lima over it.
The Peruvian university is a private university established in 1917, which was designated a 'pontifical' university by Pope Pius XII
in 1942. It has about 22,000 students in 10 campuses and has consistently ranked #1 academically among Peruvian universities.

[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 7/23/2012 7:35 PM]
7/21/2012 11:08 PM
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Ex-butler released to house arrest;
cardinals have submitted
their final report to the Pope

Translated from

July 21, 2012

Vatican spokesman Fr. Federico Lombardi released the following statement after making the same announcement at his media briefing on Saturday afternoon:

The investigating magistrate of the (civilian) Tribunal of Vatican City State, Prof Piero Bonnet, after today's interrogation of Paolo Gabriele, has decided that his further detention is no longer necessary, and granted him provisional freedom under house arrest after posting the required bond.

Mr. Gabriele is going back to his home in the Vatican apartment where he lives with his family, following the rules imposed by the magistrate regarding his contacts and relationships with persons outside his family.

The next steps, to be announced in the next few dyas, will be the prosecutor's summation of the findings on Gabriele's responsibility for the crime of aggravated theft, and on this basis, a decision by a Vatican judge whether to send him to trial or to absolve him.

With regard to the cardinals' commission investigating the same case for the Holy Father, they submitted in recent days the conclusive report on their work.

This entire mess seems to be coming down to a conclusion that Gabriele acted 'entirely on his own out of love for the Pope', if we aere to believe his lawyer. Sixty days in detention, and is that all the investigating magistrate was able to elicit? If we thought there was something bigger, it seems all such assumptions are completely wrong - and that Vatileaks was nothing more than the singlehanded work of a misguided and perhaps simple-minded domestic help! Here's AFP's extended report on today's developments.

Pope's [ex-]butler 'freed'
today into house arrest;
his lawyer says 'he acted alone'

by Dario Thuburn

VATICAN CITY, July 21 (AFP) - Pope Benedict XVI's butler [Shouldn't he be referred to as 'ex-butler', or more correctly, 'ex-valet'???] was released from a Vatican cell and placed under house arrest on Saturday as he awaits a ruling on whether he should stand trial for leaking confidential papers.

"His detention is no longer necessary," Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi told reporters, adding that the ruling would come by early August at the latest.

Paolo Gabriele "will reside at home with his family in the Vatican", he said.

Gabriele's lawyer meanwhile said his client believed his was "an act of love" for the Pope and a bid to make the Catholic Church "more alive". He stressed that Gabriele had acted alone and not as a part of any Vatican "plot".

Lombardi also said a committee of cardinals that has questioned 28 lay people and clergy in the the "Vatileaks" scandal had submitted a report to the pope but did not give further details, adding only that Gabriele remains the sole suspect.

Gabriele, 46, was arrested on May 23 after an Italian investigative journalist published hundreds of secret documents that revealed a series of fraud scandals in the Vatican and an atmosphere of intrigue between rival groups of cardinals.

The Vatican said after his arrest it had found documents and copying equipment in Gabriele's home in an investigation that has shocked the close-knit community of the Holy See where Gabriele was seen as a trusted aide to an ageing pope.

Gabriele, known as Paoletto, has worked for the pope since 2006 and was one of a select few with access to the pope's private chambers. He was often seen by Benedict's side on foreign visits, assisting him and riding in the "popemobile".

His home is within the Vatican walls and Gabriele will be allowed to leave his house only to attend mass, Lombardi said, adding that he would be able to receive "spiritual and medical assistance" while awaiting the judge's ruling.

He is accused of "aggravated theft" and faces up to six years in prison.

Gabriele's lawyer Carlo Fusco said that his client would "presumably" have to face trial, adding that he had acted "under pressure on various fronts" such as stress at home and at work although he did not elaborate.

Fusco said however that Gabriele had acted alone and that he believed his actions were "an act of assistance, an act of love" towards the Pope.

"There are definitely no networks, no internal or external plots in which Paolo was involved. His motivations were all internal," Fusco said.

"He wanted the Church to be more alive. He had an idea to help a situation that he thought he could improve. He acted out of idealism," he said.

Several Vatican watchers have said that Gabriele must have had at least some help and there is a suspicion that he acted sincerely but was then manipulated as part of long-standing feuds within the secretive Vatican administration.

Fusco also said Gabriele intended to ask the Pope for forgiveness but that this was a personal matter between the two. Under Vatican laws, a pardon from the Pope could come at any moment during the investigation or trial process.

The journalist who published the leaks has not named Gabriele as the source but says his source wanted to reveal Vatican corruption and highlight criticism of the powerful Vatican number two, Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone. [Here we go again! What corruption, in fact, did the book reveal? Notwithstanding Vigano's attempts to indirectly tie Bertone to 'corruption' because he has some lay proteges, none of what he says appears to involve Bertone in any 'corruption'!]

Lombardi said earlier that the Pope felt wounded by his butler's betrayal.

"It is a trial for him. He is suffering but also desires to understand, shed light on the matter and discover the truth," he said.

"He is particularly hurt with regard to one person, Paolo Gabriele, whom he was close to, whom he knew, loved and respected," he added.

So, Gabriele says he acted alone. And Nuzzi's latest claim is that most of the letters he published in his book were provided to him by the persons themselves who wrote the letters. (Can some Vaticanista with a copy of the book please make a completel list of those letter-writers? Perhaps one of the first steps of the cardinals' commission was to interrogate those letter writers.) The point is that if Nuzzi's latest claim is true, then the 'privacy' of the letter writers was not violated at all, and Nuzzi cannot be accused of using 'stolen documents' for his personal gain, at least insofar as those memos or letters supposedly provided by the letter-writers themselves. [It was the immediate consensus about Vigano's letters - and even the fact that one of them was stamped recxeived at Sec State, that does not mean Vigano could not have acquired a copy of such a stamped letter. One of his nephews is highly-placed at SecState and Vigano was head of Personnel for more than 10 years.] As for Nuzzi, he has denied that Gabriele was a source, and said earlier that he had multiple sources- all of them claiming to act 'for love of the Church'. Well, what exactly did their documents reveal that was not par for any institutional course, or was inherently devastating to anyone in any way?]

Personally, I would like nothing better than the simplest explanation possible. Gabriele acting alone could make sense because the ensemble of documents published by Nuzzi really amounts to a bucket of spit in terms of concrete (and not merely intended) bad deeds, let alone scandal. So one might conclude Gabriele merely copied what he could lay his hands on and did not deliberately pick and choose. The fact that most of the documents tended to place Bertone in a bad light could be mere coincidence, which also implies that enough was going on involving Bertone in order for him to the subject of so much negative material. till to be explained is why the documents Nuzzi published all had to do with events in the past two years and not earlier! Does it mean Gabriele or anyone else responsible for copying the documents only started doing this two years ago? Why? What set him/them off late in 2011 or early 2012? [Cpoincidentally, it goes back to the period of Vigano's major disaffection!]

Or Gabriele could have dumped a ton of assorted material on Nuzzi - who found nothing more damaging that he could use than the relatively harmless documents he published! So hallelujah, there is nothing there besides the petty infighting and rivalries found in any institution! The Moneyval inspectors have since reported they found no empirical evidence of corruption in Vatican City State. So much for Vigano and so much for the alobbering media who will be quoting him to the end of time as their 'source' and 'authority' for alleging 'widespread corruption in the Vatican' of Benedict XVI.

Which is why I so object to commentators who say that Vatileaks has damaged the Pope - nothing bad was alleged in any document about the Pope himself. Is that not a wonder in itself? Yet hardly any commentator points that out.

Sure, some of his subordinates may come out looking bad, but in the case of Cardinal Bertone, some of his own actions were misguided to begin with, and the Pope himself intervened to nip his tendency to over-reach, as the record shows.

P.S. I almost dread the final reports - the magistrates' as well as that of the cardinals - because if they do find that Gabriele appears to have acted all by himself and can show no other persons in the Vatican linked in any way to Vatileaks, the impression will certainly be that the Vatican has whitewashed it all and used a layman as the fall guy, without any blame on any clerics at all. Even if that were indeed the case, and it could be, try to sell that to the Italian media, first of al, who will lead the clamorous denunciation of whitewash; to the rest of the media and to ordinary public opinion. They might as well not have investigated anything at all.

Which leads me to further comment on Cardinal Bertone whom the Pope obviously loves as a friend, but not to the point of blindly accepting his lapses in judgment. Let me count those lapses that the publio is aware of:
- on who should succeed Cardinal Ruini as CEI president,
- on who should deal with the Italian government about the Church in Italy,
- on key episcopal nominations in Italy (including Turin, Milan and Venice),
- on buying majority control of the credit-hobbled San Raffaele complex,
- on putting his own lay protege to head the Toniolo Institute in an attempt to pre-empt the incoming Archbishop of Milan whose role it is ex-officio, and once again trying to interfere in a business that has always belonged to the CEI;
- and finally, on rewriting the FIA law in a way that defangs the new authority].

None of the above is minor, nor made up. He did try to have his say, and in each of those cases except the last, the Pope over-ruled him, plain and simple.

And what did Moneyval have to say about the defanged FIA? That it "lacks adequate powers to carry out its duties. It also lacks the ability to issue sanctions with regard to APSA, the Apostolic Patrimony of the Holy See, one of the Vatican’s two main financial entities, along with the Institute for the Works of Religion".

And yet, the original law signed by Benedict XVI on December 30, 2010, specified that "the Autorità di Informazione Finanziaria (AIF) is established, an autonomous and independent body with the specific task of preventing and countering the laundering of money and the financing of terrorism with respect to each subject, both legal and physical, entity and institution of whatever nature, of Vatican City State, of the Dicasteries of the Roman Curia and of all the other institutions and entities dependent on the Holy See." Why are APSA and IOR now excluded from that comprehensive definition?

Thanks to the annexes published by Moneyval, one can see the full text of the December 30, 2010 law, and the subsequent amendments made by the President of the Vatican Governatorate, in which:

The Secretariat of State is responsible for the definition of the policies for the prevention and countering of money laundering and the financing of terrorism...[In other words, SecState will tell the AIF what it can do.]

The Pontifical Commission for the Vatican City State is responsible for the adoption of general regulations for the implementation of this law. [A second tier of authority over AIF, which was supposed to be 'the authority' as defined in the original law.] [See p. 43 of the Moneyval annexes]

Obviously, over the well-publicized leaked objections of both Cardinal Nicora and Ettore Gotti Tedeschi at the time, Bertone and his financial clique (the President of the Governatorate, the head of APSA, and his men at IOR other than Gotti Tedeschi) substantially amended the original law in this regard. In effect, their amendments undercut the AIF before it even had a chance to get on its feet.

Of course, the Pope, being a good man, will say that he continues to trust Cardinal Bertone. For as long as he is his Secretary of State, he has to say that. And that's not to say that he would blindly take his advice or recommendation on anything and everything! The record shows, nonetheless, that the Pope did not trust Bertone's judgment enough to take it, in all the cases mentioned above, except the weakening of the AIF. I believe they convinced him that it was a matter of 'checks and balances'. Now, however, Bertone et al have to amend their amendments to fall in line with Moneyval's criteria.

Yes, I know I've gone on about Cardinal Bertone whenever the occasion presents itself, and that has been quite a few times. But never without factual basis! I am sure he is a good and honorable man, truly, even though he has been cpnsistently, conspicuously and notoriously missing in action during all the time the Pope was most under media attack). But he obviously does not seem to realize that his tendency to over-reach beyond his primary functions - when he apparently cannot even run the Secretariat of State harmoniously - is counter-productive, and bad for the Pope who chose him to run the Church administration. Thank God the various dicasteries of Benedict XVI's Curia seem to be functioning well on their own, even if the MSM always tarbrushes them all for the shortcomings of the Secretariat of State. Sandro Magister said it well years ago when he called Bertone "the man who is supposed to help the Pope, but isn't". It has turned to be the other way around - the Pope always having to step in to defend Bertone.

[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 7/22/2012 3:48 PM]
7/22/2012 1:41 AM
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Vatican orders Peruvian university
to take out 'pontifical' and
'Catholic' from its name

Translated from

July 21, 2012

Here is a translation of the Vatican bulletin:

The Holy See, by decree of the Secretary of State, based on a specific pontifical mandate, has decided, in accordance with canon law, to rescind from the Pontificia Universidad Catolica del Peru the right to use the designations 'pontifical' and 'Catholic' in its name.

Since 1967, the university, which was founded in 1917 and canonically recognized by a decree of the Holy See in 1942, has unilaterally modified its Statutes on various occasions to the grave prejudice of the Church's interests.

Since 1990, the Holy See on multiple occasions has required the University to adopt its Statutes to the Apostolic Constitution Ex Corde Ecclesiae [promulgated by John Paul II on August 16, 1990] but it never responded to this legal requirement.

After a canonical visitation in December 2011 [by Hungarian Cardinal Peter Erdo, president of the conference of European bishops], and a February 2012 meeting at the Vatican between the University Rector and the Secretary of State, there were further attempts at dialog with a view to adapting the university Statutes to Church law.

Recently, through letters addressed to the Secretary of State, the Rector manifested the impossibility of complying with the requirements, setting the condition that modification of University statutes would be done only if the Archdiocese of Lima gave up its management control over the assets of the university.

The participation of the Archdiocese of Lima in managing the patrimony of the university has been confirmed on various occasions by the civilian courts of Peru.

In the face of this attitude by the University, which has been confirmed by other initiatives on its part, the Holy See has been obliged to take this step, ratifying in any case the duty that the University continues to have in observing canon law.

The Holy See will follow attentively the evolution of the situation in the University, hoping that in the near future, the competent academic authorities will reconsider their position towards a review of present measures.

The renewal required by the Holy See is for the University to more effectively carry out its commitment to bring the message of Christ to man, to society and to cultures, in accordance with the mission of the Church in the world.

According to earlier reports, the university has refused to give the Archbishop of Lima, Cardinal Juan Luis Cipriani Thorne, a seat on the governing council of the university, despite a court order upholding Thorne's right to sit on the board.

PUCP, as it is popularly known, was founded in 1917 by a priest, Fr. Jorge Dintilhac, of the Congregation of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary (CC.SS.) as Peru's first non-profit private institution of higher learning. Academically, PUCP ranks first in Peru, though it is only #31 in the 2012 ranking of latin American universities. At present, it has about 17,000 undergraduate students and 5,000 post-graduate and doctoral students in 10 campuses.

It has been considered a bastion of p[rogressive liberalism. Its alumni include President Ollanta Humala of Peru, as well as his immediate predecessor, Alan García, and the former Secretary General of the United Nations, Javier Pérez de Cuéllar. Fr. Gustavo Gutierrez, of liberation theology fame, taught there for many years.

In 1986, PUCP granted an honorary doctorate to then Cardinal Ratzinger. [P.S. And in 2008, to Mons. Gerhard Ludwig Mueller at a ceremony which was not attended by Cardinal Thorne, already being contested by the PUCP rector.]
[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 7/23/2012 12:19 AM]
7/22/2012 2:20 PM
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The writer, a French Catholic author and journalist (born 1978), has the right premise but puts up a thin case based only on the upcoming proclamation of two new Doctors of the Church (and gets bogged down in a discussion of them) and the appointment of Mons. Mueller, leaving the impression of a very much half-baked essay.

Benedict XVI the revolutionary
by Jacques de Guillebon
Translated from

July 21, 2012

Two saints will soon be named Doctors of the Church by the Pope: A medieval nun who, among other things, described in great detail the physiological nature of the feminine orgasm, and a preacher of the Counter-Reformation who criticized the rich Catholic anti-Semites of Spain. [But what an awful way to start off an article meant to be a tribute to the Pope - by picking out the most 'eye-catching' but by no means the best description one could make to characterize the two saints!]

This 85-year-old German Pope, a theologian with 250 books to his name, never ceases to surprise us, nor to defy those commentators who are still interested - in a world polarised by Islam and the crisis of capitalism - in Christianity, but most especially, in the Catholic Church.

Even as, with one hand, he seeks to rally the Lefebvrians, not without great effort and perhaps even tears, and seeks to convince them of his interpretation of the Second Vatican Council, on the other, he has been taking the most revolutionary perspectives.

A quiet revolution, true. But one must be able to look out for its discreet symbols. And so, without anyone expecting it, he decided that Juan de Avila and Hildegarde von Bingen are to be proclaimed the 34th and 35th Doctors of the Church this October. Two saints who are now universally acclaimed but who, in their time, were picked on and even persecuted.

Of the 12th-century Benedictine abbess, we now know her near-universal knowledge which allowed her to produce medical tracts as well as essays on music. One sometimes forgets that she also discovered - far ahead of her time - the fact of blood circulation and that she did not disdain to write in great detail about the physiological nature of the feminine orgasm though she was a nun married mystically to Jesus.

One also forgets that faced with the fury of her bishop who did not appreciate such liberty of expression coming from a woman, it was a Pope who took her under his protection and allowed her to pursue her exceptional studies.

Juan de Avila, too, three centuries later, at the height of Spain's greatness, bore witness to the possibility of quaerere Deum - seeking God - in the rational order. This great orator, who could, by the mere sound of his voice, convert the masses as well as eminent personages, the lowly as well as vain intellectuals, this western John Chrysostom (Golden Mouth) who dreamed of converting the 'Indians' discovered by Columbus and did not hide his partly Jewish ancestry at the time of the so-called 'blood cleansing' in Spain, was also prey to jealous functionaries of the local Church who tried to prosecute him for heresy.

But he emerged victorious and even greater, in his time as in history. One of his biographers uses these terms to give a measure of Juan de Avila's anti-conformism according to Christ's words: "Certainly, this preacher of the Beatitudes, profoundly evangelical, crashed headlong against the prejudices of his day or some perennial resistances, for instance, when he criticized the hatred or the contempt against Jews and Muslims confessed to him by some of his penitents...And certainly, the blessed one was a victim of machinations: rich men who were offended, jealous colleagues who tried to make him pay for his concern about the poor or his success as a preacher".

And Benedict XVI, a social Pope, has just added another precious stone to his treasure chest: the appointment of Mons. Gerhard Mueller, a disciple of the great liberation theologian Gustavo Gutierrez, to head the most powerful Vatican congregation, that for the Doctrine of the Faith.

Old liberal conservatives [???] and progressivists who were contemptuous of the Panzerkardinal, each in bad faith, have been put in their places!

And the militant Church fights on...
[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 7/23/2012 12:17 AM]
7/22/2012 3:12 PM
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July 22, 16th Sunday in Ordinary Time

From left: The Crucifixion, Raphael; The burial of Jesus, Caracci; the penitent with the perfume jar; two Greek icons; Mary Magdalene, El Greco; a detail of the Magdalene at the foot of the Cross; Noli me tangere, Fra Angelico.
Long before Dan Brown decided to exploit her figure, Mary of Magdala was a subject of great fascination in literature and art, much of it inspired by apocryphal gnostic gospels. The Bible unequivocally identifies her presence at the three great events in the final days of Christ on earth: the Crucifixion; the burial; and the Resurrection, of which she was the first human to learn the news. She is described as one of the women disciples who followed Jesus and the Twelve in their travels just before the Passion, "assisting them out of their means". Earlier, she is referred to as the woman from whom Jesus had cast out 'seven demons'. However, Bible readers have also identified her with the prostitute who, repenting her ways, threw herself at the feet of Jesus and anointed his feet with a jar of expensive perfume. She is also often confused with Mary of Bethany, the sister of Martha and Lazarus. She is not mentioned in the Acts of the Apostles, but according to tradition, she ended up in Ephesus, where John the Beloved had gone with the Blessed Mother, and that she died there. A French legend has it that she, along with Mary Cleophas and Mary Salome, travelled with their uncle Joseph of Arimathea after the Resurrection to flee anti-Christian persecution and landed on the southern coast of France near Marseilles. More unlikely legends sprung out of that, including that purveyed by Dan Brown's book. The Orthodox have always venerated her as 'the myrrh-bearer' and 'equal to the Apostles'. though none of the myriad legends associate her with any apostolic work.
Readings for today's Mass:


Sunday Angelus - The Holy Father reflected on today's Gospel depicting Jesus as the Shepherd for
the lost sheep of Israel, and went on to reflect on Mary Magdalene, whose feast day is today, as one of those
lost sheep who was saved by Jesus from total subordination to the devil. He said evil always seeks to
ruin the work of God, sowing division and conflict among men, to which 'Christ our peace' is the only
answer. He expressed his condolences and prayers for the victims and families of the midnight movie massacre
in Aurora, Colorado, early Saturday morning, in which at least 12 persons were killed, and a ferry accident
in Zanzibar in which 68 died. He also expressed his best wishes for the Summer Olympics which open in London
on July 27, saying he hoped the two-week Games would also mark a truce in current fighting in many places.

[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 7/22/2012 3:51 PM]
7/22/2012 4:41 PM
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July 22, 2012

At the midday Angelus in Castel Gandolfo today, Pope Benedict reflected on today's Gospel in which Jesus is depicted at the “The Good Shepherd”.

The Holy Father said God is the Shepherd of mankind who wants to guide us to good pastures - "the fullness of life.”

In the Gospel today, Jesus presents himself as the Shepherd of the lost sheep of Israel. One of those lost sheep saved by Jesus was Mary Magdalene, whose feast day the Church observes today.

In casting off 'seven demons' from her, the Lord liberated her from enslavement to evil, which the Pope says, is ever at work to ruin the work of God. and to which our best answer is Christ, who brings true peace.

In English, he took note of two major civilian tragedies in recent days and expressed his best wishes for the coming Olympics:

I was deeply shocked by the senseless violence which took place in Aurora, near Denver, and saddened by the loss of life in the recent ferry disaster near Zanzibar. I share the distress of the families and friends of the victims and the injured, especially the children. Assuring all of you of my closeness in prayer, I impart my blessing as a pledge of consolation and strength in the risen Lord.

In a few days from now, the Olympic Games are due to begin in Great Britain. I send greetings to the organizers, athletes and spectators alike, and I pray that, in the spirit of the Olympic Truce, the good will generated by this international sporting event may bear fruit, promoting peace and reconciliation throughout the world. Upon all those attending the London Olympic Games, I invoke the abundant blessings of Almighty God.

Here is a translation of the Pope's words today:

Dear brothers and sisters:

The Word of God this Sunday reproposes to us a fundamental and always fascinating theme in the Bible: It reminds us that God is the Shepherd of mankind.

This means that God wants us to have life, he wants to lead us to good pastures, where we can eat and rest. He does not want us to get lost and to die, but to reach the goal of our journey on earth, which is truly the fullness of life. It is waht every father and mother want for their own children: goodness, happiness, realization.

In today's Gospel, Jesus presents himself as the Shepherd of the kist sheep of Israel. He looks on his people with what we might call a pastoral eye. For example, we are told today that "When he disembarked and saw the vast crowd, his heart was moved with pity for them, for they were like sheep without a shepherd; and he began to teach them many things"
(Mk 6,34).

Jesus incarnates God the Shepherd in the way he preached, and in his works, taking care of the sick and the sinners, those who are 'liost' (cfr Lk 19,10), in order to bring them to safety, to the mercy of the Father.

Among the 'lost sheep' that Jesus saved was a woman named Mary, from the village of Magdala, along the Lake of Galilee, and therefore called the Magdalene. Today we celebrate her liturgical feast in the calendar of the Church. The evangelist Luke says that Jesus chased seven demons out of her
(cfr Lk, 8,2). that is, he saved her from total servitude to the Malignant One.

What is this profound healing that God works through Christ? It consists of a true and complete peace, the fruit of a person's reconciliation with himself, and in all his relationships: with God, with others, with the world.

Indeed, the devil always seeks to ruin the work of God, sowing division in the human heart, between body and soul, between man and God, in interpersonal, social, and international relations, and even between man and Creation.

The devil sows war - God creates peace. Or as St. Paul affirms, Christ "is our peace, he who made both one and broke down the dividing wall of enmity, through his flesh"
(Eph 2,14).

In order to fulfill this operation of radical reconciliation, Jesus, the Good Shepherd, had to become a lamb, "the Lamb of God... who takes away the sins of the world" (Jn 1,29). Only thus could he realize the stupendous promise of the Psalm, "Indeed, goodness and mercy will pursue me all the days of my life; I will dwell in the house of the LORD for endless days" (Ps 23,6).

Dear friends, these words make our hearts vibrate, because they express our most profound desire - they say what it is that we were made for: life, eternal life. They are the words of those who, like Mary Magdalene, have experienced God in their own life and know his peace.

Words which are even truer from the lips of the Virgin Mary, who already lives forever in the pastures of Heaven, to which she was led by the Shepherd Lamb. Mary, Nother of Christ our peace, pray for us!

After the prayers, and before his pluriligual greetings, he said this:
In a few days, the 30th Olympic Games will start in London. The Olympiad is the greatest sports event in the world, in which athletes from many nations take part, and therefore, the Games take on a great symbolic value.

That is why the Catholic Church looks at the Olympics with special sympathy and attention. Let us pray so that, God willing, the Games in London may be a true experience of brotherhood among the peoples of the earth.

[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 7/23/2012 1:55 AM]
7/22/2012 9:45 PM
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Benoît XVI le révolutionnaire
Chère Teresa,

Pour information:
Je ne crois pas qu'on peut qualifier Guillebon de conservateur.
En tout cas, le journal où il écrit ici, Témoignage Chrétien, est un journal d'extrême-gauche, très critique vis-à-vis du Pape, quel qu'il soit. Ce qui est écrit sur Wikipedia est en dessous de la vérité:
Témoignage Chrétien fait partie des membres fondateurs d'ATTAC. Soutenant de manière critique le mouvement altermondialiste, le journal demeure ouvert à toutes les sensibilités de gauche et met en avant sa volonté de susciter les débats.
Témoignage chrétien s'est particulièrement engagé ces dernières années dans le domaine du dialogue interreligieux. Tout en revendiquant son identité chrétienne, le journal garde vis-à-vis des institutions religieuses, et notamment de l'Église catholique romaine, un regard critique.


OOOPS! Dear Beatrice, I must admit I did not even think to check out what Temoignage Chretien is - I simply presumed it was orthodox in its views because of the name, when it apparently is extreme-leftist and particularly critical of the Popes ! A terrible oversight on my part - I usually check out both the publication and the writer. Thank you very much for the prompt correction, and I beg pardon from everyone for having described Mr. De Guillebon as conservative. (Merely on the basis that he is tagged in French Wikipedia as an 'anti-liberal' and he was said to have taken part in the demonstrations against the scatologic Castelucci play year that used the face of Christ as a backdrop for the playwright's depiction of the decadence of the human body through 40 minutes of serial defecation by the protagonist.)

Once again, many thanks to Beatrice, and all my apologies to Forum readers.


[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 7/23/2012 12:13 AM]
7/22/2012 11:24 PM
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About doctrinal preambles,
formal profession of Catholic faith,
and oaths of fidelity to the Church

So much has been said about the Doctrinal Preamble that the Vatican wants the FSSPX to sign as a condition of reconciliation with the Roman Catholic Church. But no one outside of the Vatican or the FSSPX knows exactly what's in it.

In its statement after their recent Chapter General, the FSSPX said:

...We reaffirm our faith in the Roman Catholic Church, the unique Church founded by Our Lord Jesus Christ, outside of which there is no salvation nor possibility to find the means leading to salvation; our faith in its monarchical constitution, desired by Our Lord Himself, by which the supreme power of government over the universal Church belongs only to the Pope, Vicar of Christ on earth; our faith in the universal Kingship of Our Lord Jesus Christ, Creator of both the natural and the supernatural orders, to Whom every man and every society must submit.

One would certainly welcome an explanation from Mons. Fellay as to how they can profess faith in the Roman Catholic Church and its 'monarchical constitution' and the Pope's 'supreme power of government', but refuse to take his word that the Vatican-II concepts they disagree with are not incompatible with the Tradition of the Church.

These concepts are religious freedom, ecumenism, inter-religious dialog and collegiality, which they call 'novelties tainted with error'. They were novelties in pastoral terms - big concepts to be carried out concretely by way of learning as one proceeds, by trial and error, one might say - but not novelties as ideas within the Church.

1. Religious freedom - Christ said, "Go and preach to all nations', which, meant first of all, announcing Christ to pagans or people of other religions. And if they refused Christianity, that was no reason to make enemies of them. The parable of the good Samaritan was not just a lesson in charity but also in openness and good will to those who do not share your faith, doing unto them as you would want them to do unto you, as the good Samaritan did with the Jew in need, defying age-old enmities between their races. And that is the concept of religious freedom: Each person chooses the faith he wants to profess (or no faith at all). The Church can only propose the Christian faith - it cannot impose it.

2. Ecumenism - When Christ established his Church, he certainly did not intend the 'one Church' to splinter as it has over the centuries. "Ut unum sint", he said at the Last Supper. What Christian can possibly object to the ideal of all Christian churches and communities coming back together and able to share the Sacraments?

3. Inter-religious dialog is a concept that goes along with religious freedom. Being friendly to other religions or those who have no faith also means willingness to dialog with them - not about trying to convert them to Catholicism (which can be done one on one, behind the scenes, and not in a way that blatantly offends the other religions) - but about human and spiritual values that are common to men of good will, with a view to establishing a strong common front in the promotion and defense of those values in the world.

4. Collegiality - A tricky concept because progressivists have interpreted it to mean that every bishop is as authoritative as the Pope himself, ignoring the fact that Vatican-II hardly ever mentions collegiality without at the same time stressing that bishops must also be in communion with the Successor of Peter. That seems to be the least problematic of the FSSPX objections. [As a personal prelature, they will not have to deal with any diocesan bishops, only with the Pope directly.] It does impose a greater burden on whoever is Pope to make sure all his bishops are in communion with him. Perhaps as the post-Vatican II generation of progressivist bishops die out, it will be less of a problem.

So what might it be about that Doctrinal Preamble - which would reaffirm their faith in the Church and its teachings - that the FSSPX object to? It obviously has to do with a specific statement about the Magisterium of Vatican II.

It is useful to first take a look at the Church's most recent formulation of a Profession of Faith, and a corollary Oath of Fidelity required of persons who are to exercise specific functions in the Church.

Conforming to Pope John Paul II's Apostolic Letter Motu Proprio Ad Tuendam Fidem in 1998, the Profession of Faith and Oath of Fidelity cited here supersede the 1989 version of the Profession and Oath. (All prepared by the CDF, so in both versions, under the supervision of Cardinal Ratzinger.]

The Profession of Faith is made by new Catholics upon their conversion - e.g., the Anglicans who have converted under Anglicanorum coetibus, or by reverts to the Church (including persons who have written heretical teachings and who have admitted to their error, after abjuring such errors, and committing not to perpetrate such errors).


I, N., with firm faith believe and profess everything that is contained in the Symbol of faith: namely: [The person recites the Apostles' Creed as it is recited in Sunday Mass.]

With firm faith, I also believe everything contained in the Word of God, whether written or handed down in Tradition, which the Church, either by a solemn judgement or by the ordinary and universal Magisterium, sets forth to be believed as divinely revealed.

I also firmly accept and hold each and everything definitively proposed by the Church regarding teaching on faith and morals.

Moreover, I adhere with religious submission of will and intellect to the teachings which either the Roman Pontiff or the College of Bishops enunciate when they exercise their authentic Magisterium, even if they do not intend to proclaim these teachings by a definitive act.

The above Profession of Faith corresponds to the three levels of the Church Magisterium, without specifying particular teachings. However, based on information said to have come from Mons. Fellay's first assistant himself, Fr. Pfluger, leaked through the blogosphere (in France and in Latin America), it seems the following paragraph, or a variation thereof, would be part of the FSSPX profession of faith (i.e., the 'Doctrinal Preamble') and applies specifically to Vatican-II (my translation from the French):

The entire Tradition of the Catholic faith must be the criterion and guide to understanding the teachings of the Second Vatican Council, which clarifies certain aspects of the life and doctrine of the Church that are implicitly present in her but not yet formulated. The affirmations of the Second Vatican Council and subsequent Pontifical Magisterium concerning the relationship between the Catholic Church and the non-Catholic Christian confessions must be understood in the light of the entire Tradition...

Fr. Pfluger reportedly said on June 9, before the last FSSPX response was submitted to the Vatican, that this was the paragraph Mons. Fellay was prepared to accept and sign. [I must say I am very surprised that Fellay finds the almost generic statement acceptable - and if the leak is credible, it indicates that the FSSPX are far less exigent and far more amenable than their public rhetoric would indicate.]Even if we are still in the realm of speculation here, the obvious question raised by the above citation is "What do the CDF cardinals and bishops find unacceptable in that statement?"

It is equally instructive to look at the 'Doctrinal Declaration' by the late Mons. Lefebvre in the Protocol of Understanding he signed with Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger in May 1988 but which Lefebvre unilaterally revoked less than a month later, in order to ordain four bishops, expressly violating John Paul II's orders. (This, of course, led to the automatic excommunication of Mons. Lefebvre, the other bishop who was co-consecrator, and the four illegally-ordained bishops whose excommunication was lifted by Benedict XVI in January 2009.)

I. Text of the Doctrinal Declaration

I, Marcel Lefebvre, Archbishop-Bishop emeritus of Tulle, as well as the members of the Priestly Fraternity of St. Pius X founded by me:

1. Promise to be always faithful to the Catholic Church and the Roman Pontiff, her Supreme Pastor, Vicar of Christ, Successor of Blessed Peter in his primacy as Head of the Body of Bishops.

2. We declare our acceptance of the doctrine contained in number 25 of the Dogmatic Constitution Lumen Gentium of the Second Vatican Council on the ecclesial Magisterium and the adherence which is due to that Magisterium.

3. With regard to certain points taught by the Second Vatican Council or concerning later reforms of the liturgy and law, and which seem to us able to be reconciled with the Tradition only with difficulty, we commit ourselves to have a positive attitude of study and of communication with the Holy See, avoiding all polemics.

4. We declare in addition to recognize the validity of the Sacrifice of the Mass and of the Sacraments celebrated with the intention of doing that which the Church does and according to the rites indicated in the typical editions of the Roman Missal and the Rituals of the Sacraments promulgated by Popes Paul VI and John Paul II.

5. Finally, we promise to respect the common discipline of the Church and ecclesiastical laws, especially those contained in the Code of Canon Law promulgated by Pope John Paul II, without prejudice to the special discipline granted to the Society by particular law.

Now, we come to the corollary to the Profession of Faith -

Canon 833, Nos. 5-8, obliges the following to make both the profession of faith and the Oath of Fidelity: a) vicars general, episcopal vicars and judicial vicars; b) "at the beginning of their term of office, pastors, the rector of a seminary and the professors of theology and philosophy in seminaries; those to be promoted to the diaconate"; c) "the rectors of an ecclesiastical or Catholic university at the beginning of the rector's term of office"; ) "at the beginning of their term of office, teachers in any universities whatsoever who teach disciplines which deal with faith or morals"; and e) "superiors in clerical religious institutes and societies of apostolic life in accord with the norm of the constitutions."
[Note that c) and d) would have applied to to the rector and theology teachers at the now ex-Pontifical, ex-Catholic University of Peru! And presumably, the bishops, priests, rectors and seminary teachers of the FSSPX would be required to take the oath in the event of reconciliation.]

I, N., in assuming the office of __________, promise that in my words and in my actions I shall always preserve communion with the Catholic Church.

With great care and fidelity I shall carry out the duties incumbent on me toward the Church, both universal and particular, in which, according to the provisions of the law, I have been called to exercise my service.

In fulfilling the charge entrusted to me in the name of the Church, I shall hold fast to the deposit of faith in its entirety; I shall faithfully hand it on and explain it, and I shall avoid any teachings contrary to it.

I shall follow and foster the common discipline of the entire Church and I shall maintain the observance of all ecclesiastical laws, especially those contained in the Code of Canon Law.

With Christian obedience I shall follow what the Bishops, as authentic doctors and teachers of the faith, declare, or what they, as those who govern the Church, establish.

I shall also faithfully assist the diocesan Bishops, so that the apostolic activity, exercised in the name and by mandate of the Church, may be carried out in communion with the Church.

So help me God, and God's Holy Gospels on which I place my hand.

Variations in the fourth and fifth paragraphs of the formulary, for use by those members of the Christian faithful indicated in can. 833, n. 8 (Superiors in clerical religious institutes and societies of apostolic life, according to the norm of their respective constitutions):

I shall foster the common discipline of the entire Church and I shall insist on the observance of all ecclesiastical laws, especially those contained in the Code of Canon Law.

With Christian obedience I shall follow what the Bishops, as authentic doctors and teachers of the faith, declare, or what they, as those who govern the Church, establish. I shall also — with due regard for the character and purpose of my institute — faithfully assist the diocesan Bishops, so that the apostolic activity, exercised in the name and by mandate of the Church, may be carried out in communion with the Church.

The Profession of Faith was in the news earlier this month in the United States for a different reason, which is made clear in the following commentary by Prof. Beckwith, a famous Catholic 'revert' - he grew up Catholic to the age of 15, and then went over to evangelical Protestantism to the point of being elected president of the Evangelical Theological Society of the United States in November 2006, at a time when he was already thinking of going back to Catholicism, which he did in April 2007. In this commentary he coins two expressions - 'egopapism' which, as he uses it, seems to mean being your own Pope, and 'the Arlington 5' for the five catechists of Virginia who refused to sign a profession of faith.

Egopapism and the Arlington Five
by Francis J. Beckwith

July 22, 2012

The Catholic Diocese of Arlington, Virginia has recently drawn national attention because it has asked its catechists to sign a profession of faith that asserts that they believe the catechism that the Church has commissioned them to teach and are committed to the Church as the guardian and custodian of that faith.

In short, they are being asked to admit that they are Catholics and that they believe in Catholicism. This, apparently, is so controversial that five out of the 5,000 diocesan catechists (including parochial school teachers) have resigned over this request. Five, by the way, is the number of Popes that have served the Church over my lifetime.

At least one of the five catechists, Kathleen Riley, who is 52, is, like me, a Catholic child of the 1970s (I am 51), which means that we were part of the first generation of Catholics who were spiritually and intellectually formed “in the spirit of Vatican II.”

There was, of course, nothing wrong with Vatican II; its deliverances were a natural development of prior Church teachings. The problem was with how these changes were implemented and understood by clergy and religious who had a different agenda in mind.

As I noted in my 2009 memoir, Return to Rome, the lack of theological seriousness that flowed from this agenda is what pushed me and many others into the arms of Evangelical Protestantism.

When I was in Catholic high school, to provide but one example, I took a mandatory religion class in which Jonathan Livingston Seagull by Richard Bach was one of the required texts. This was fairly typical of the catechetical infidelity that dominated the era in many parishes and schools in the United States.

Instead of introducing us to great Catholic literature, we were given this sort of tripe (from Bach’s book): “We can lift ourselves out of ignorance, we can find ourselves as creatures of excellence and intelligence and skill. We can be free! We can learn to fly!”

That’s quite a descent from “for You have formed us for Yourself, and our hearts are restless till they find rest in You,” or even, more contemporaneously, “the modern critics of religious authority are like men who should attack the police without ever having heard of burglars.”

Ms. Riley is a computer scientist. Because she is trained in computer science, and is a professional in the field, she can speak authoritatively on matters concerning computer science. This is because computer science, like numerous other fields of study, is a knowledge tradition.

Over time that tradition, like all others, develops standard practices, ways of assimilating new discoveries and insights into already established understandings, and a hierarchy of expertise that grounds the authority of those in the profession.

If, for example, a non-expert such as myself were to tell a computer science authority, such as Ms. Riley, that I feel in my heart of hearts that the operating system of the iMac on which I am writing this essay is “no different” than the most recent version of Microsoft Windows because it seems to me that they “do the same things,” I would suffer no injustice if she were to correct me.

If I were to complain that her correction violates my autonomy or “right to dissent,” she would, I hope, gently tell me that in fact she had contributed to my intellectual flourishing by imparting the truth to me.

She would insist that if I continue to harbor any doubts about the deliverances of computer science that there are established means by which I may voice my dissent and perhaps change the trajectory of the discipline.

I can, for example, submit articles to peer-reviewed publications and deliver papers at professional conferences. If the leading lights in the profession, its authorities so to speak, do not find my arguments compelling or too inconsistent with the body of knowledge that the profession considers nearly indisputable, then perhaps I should reconsider my dissent and begin to reflect on the possibility that the flaw lies with me rather than with the profession.

All that the Church is asking the Arlington Five is that they treat the Church’s theology and its development with as much respect and deference as Ms. Riley expects others to treat the knowledge tradition about which she is an expert.

Just as she and her peers correctly require those who dissent from the dominant understandings in computer science to offer their case within the confines of practices, an established body of knowledge, and methodological constraints that have developed over time for the good of the profession, the Church requires those who dissent to offer their case within the confines of practices, an established body of knowledge, and methodological constraints that have developed over time for the good of the Church.

So what are the Arlington Five’s arguments? How do they ground their dissent, and how is it consistent with, and a natural development of, the deliverances of the Church’s theological tradition?

To simply say – without any regard to argument, precedent, or established norms of theological engagement – that “the Holy Spirit gives us the responsibility to look into our own consciences,” as Ms. Riley asserts, is in fact to embrace an anti-intellectual and fundamentally irrational position.

The Arlington Five, like many American Catholics and Protestants, have assimilated a contemporary understanding of theology that is intrinsically hostile to the faith they claim to embrace. It is an understanding that sees theological beliefs as irreducibly personal, private, preference driven, and non-cognitive.

This is not intellectual freedom. It is solitary confinement in an egopapist prison.

[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 7/23/2012 1:54 AM]
7/23/2012 3:52 PM
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Monday, July 23, 16th Week in Ordinary Time

ST. BIRGITTA (BRIDGET) OF SWEDEN (b Sweden 1303, d Rome 1373), Widow, Mystic, Franciscan Tertiary, Founder of the Bridgettines, Co-Patron of Europe
Born to descendants of the Swedish royal family, Birgitta's father was one of the wealthiest landowners in the country. The girl started having visions of the Lord, particularly
the Crucifixion, when she was 7. At age 13, she entered an arranged marriage to a local prince, with whom she had four sons and four daughters (the oldest, Catherine, would
become a saint herself). She was a friend and counselor to many priests and theologians of her day, as well as adviser to King Magnus II. Her husband died in 1344 shortly after
they came back from a pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela. She joined the Franciscan lay order and lived as a penitent. In 1346, she founded the Order of the Most Holy Savior
(Bridgettines) which was confirmed by Pope Urban V in 1370 and survives today with a few houses. In 1360, she left for Rome on pilgrimage and never returned to Sweden.
She counseled Popes Clement Vi, Gregory XI and Urban VI, urging them all to return to Rome from Avignon. Meanwhile, she wrote down the revelations given to her in her continuing
visions and her spiritual reflections; the books became hugely popular in the Middle Ages. She encouraged everyone to meditate on the Passion of Christ and on the Crucified
Christ. She died in Rome after a pilgrimage to the Holy Land which was marked by shipwreck and the death of a son. She was canonized in 1391, and in 1436, the Council of Basel
confirmed the orthodoxy of her writings. In 1999, she was named by John Paul II as a co-patron of Europe, along with Benedict of Norcia, Cyril and Methodius, Catherine of Siena,
and Teresa Benedicta (Edith Stein). Benedict XVI dedicated a catechesis to her on Oct. 27, 2010
Readings for today's Mass:


First bulletins today were about

- The appointment of Mons. Pier Luigi Celata, until recently secretary of the Pontifical Council
for Inter-Religious Dialog, to be the Vice-Chamberlain of the Holy Roman Church. Cardinal Bertone
is the Chamberlain.

- The Holy Father's message to the participants of the XI International Meeting of the Equipes
Notre Dame, an organization promoting Catholic marriage and family values, gathered this year in
Brasilia from July 21-26.

In the early afternoon, however, Vatican spokesman Fr. Federico Lombardi, in behalf of the Secretariat of State.
issued a bulletin )not 2 separate, as I posted earlier) categorically denouncing the article in today's La Repubblica
reprising a Die Welt online article eight days ago that accused Cardinal Paolo Sardi, Mons. Josef Clemens, who had
been the Pope's private secretary for 19 years and has been secretary of the Pontifical Council for the Laity since 2003; and
Ingrid Stampa, the Pope's housekeeper from 2000 until he became Pope, and currently employed at the Secretariat of State -
of being Paolo Gabriele's 'accomplices' in Vatileaks. Repubblica, which is notoriously anti-Church, claimed that
the three are now being investigated for this.
Very notably, in a media atmosphere that is a giant continuing echo chamber of rumors, no one in the media up to now
had picked up Paul Badde's lengthy riff in Die Welt two Sundays ago
claiming that the three were the likely masterminds behind
Gabriele's theft of private documents because they were moved by envy and jealousy of those who are now the Pope's closest associates.
Badde offered no objective argument at all for this conclusion other than far-fetched circumstances. Probably why no one else touched it -
except Repubblica now.

About the succession to
Vice Chamberlain of the Holy Roman Church

VATICAN CITY, July 23 (Translated from AGI) - Benedict XVI has named Mons. Pier Luigi Celata, until recently secretary of the Pontifical Council for Inter-Religious Dialog, to be the Vice-Chamberlain of the Holy Roman Church.

He succeeds Cardinal Santos Abril Castillo, now Arch-Priest of Santa Maria Maggiore, who held the post for a year, after in his turn succeeding Cardinal Paolo Sardi, who also held the post for a year.

The rapid turnover in the position is explained by the fact that it is not a cardinalatial office, and both Sardi and Abril Castillo were made cardinals while serving as Vice Chamberlain.

A diplomat of great experience, Mons. Celata, 76, was Apostolic Nuncio to San Marino, Turkey, Slovenia, Belgium and Luxembourg, before being named to the CIRD in November 2002.

The Vice Chamberlain would assist the current chamberelain, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, in administering the Holy See during a 'sede vacante' - the interim between the death of a Pope and the election of his successor.

A Norwegian gunman, Andre Brevik, disguised as a police officer, shot and killed 77 persons - 8 in Oslo, the capital, and 69
at a youth camp on a nearby island - to call attention to his far-right extremist agenda that was, among others, fiercely
anti-Islam. His trial took place earlier this year and a verdict is expected in late August.

[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 7/24/2012 12:20 AM]
7/23/2012 5:41 PM
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Vatican rejects implication
of Sardi, Clemens and Stampa
in the Vatileaks mess

July 23, 2011

The following statement was released by the Vatican today:

Concerning what has been published these days in news articles that have appeared in Italy and Germany on the investigations into the dissemination of private documents [from the Pope's desk] - articles which insinuate serious suspicions of complicity on the part of some persons close to the Holy Father - the Secretariat of State expresses its firm and total reproof for such articles that are not founded on objective arguments and that are seriously injurious to the honor of the persons concerned, who have been in the faithful service of the Holy Father for many years.

The fact that the results of investigations by Vatican authorities designated for this purpose does not legitimize in any way the dissemination of interpretations and hypotheses that are unfounded and false. This is not the kind of information that the public has a right to have.

Father Lombardi further elaborated on this statement in his briefing to the media.

Fr. Lombardi says Sardi, Clemens and Stampa
are all 'worthy of esteem and respect'

by Salvatore Izzo

VATICAN CITY, July 23 (Translated from AGI) - Three people closely associated with Joseph Ratzinger in the past, who have been named in two newspaper articles eight days apart as the presumed accomplices of Paolo Gabriele in the Vatileaks episode - Cardinal Paolo Sardi, Patron of the Sovereign Order of Malta; Mons. Josef Clemens, secretary of the Pontifical Council for the Laity; and Ingrid Stampa, the Pope's former housekeeper - are "three persons worthy of all esteem and respect".

So said Vatican spokesman Fr. Federico Lombardi who said that the Italian newspaper (La Repubblica) "which intentionally named them as Gabriele's accomplices" had written a falsehood and had committed a serious impropriety following on several other false 'scoops' earlier headlined in the Italian media, for which this latest [by La Repubblica] "has gone beyond bounds".

Fr. Lombardi also categorically denied the circumstance reported in Repubblica that the three persons had been 'relieved of their responsibilities".

"Cardinal Sardi," he said, "retired from the Secretariat of State [where he headed the section in charge of editing and translating papal texts for publication] when he turned 75; Ms. Stampa continues to work at the Secretariat of State [in the section that was headed by Sardi], and Mons. Clemens continues to be secretary of the Pontifical Council for the Laity as he has been for several years. It is equally false that he received a letter from the Pope as described in the article that appeared in Die Welt online on June 15... although Repubblica only refers to it indirectly". [The Vaticanista Paul Badde claimed - quite implausibly - that the Pope had written Clemens to tell him he would no longer come to Clemens's apartment for dinner as he has been doing about three times a year since he became Pope.]

Fr. Lombardi says it was not enough that the Repubblica article dutifully states "It is obvious that the presumption of innocence is valid for all concerned".

"In the light of the article itself and its presentation, that appears at the very least hypocritical".

Lombardi went on to note: "The article in Die Welt had not been taken up even by the German media in general, apparently recognizing its apparent partisanship and the grave responsibility of naming the three persons as co-responsible for Vatileaks without any objective arguments. Because of this [lack of objective facts presented], I did not consider it necessary to react to it".

The Vatican spokesman reiterated that he has "repeated many times that the fact of having been heard by the cardinals' commission in the course of its investigation does not in any way indicate suspicion of complicity".

"Therefore, the three persons mentioned many have been listened to but this does not mean that they are suspected of co-responsibility or complicity as Repubblica affirms - a matter of extreme gravity as indicated by the fact that it was a Page 1 article".

Asked about the statement made by Cardinal Julian Herranz, head of the 3-man cardinals' commission that investigated Vatileaks, that there would be 'surprises' soon, Lombardi said "His statement about 'surprises' meant the opposite of what the media interpreted it to be. In fact he meant the surprise would be on the part of journalists who had imagined all kinds of unfounded explanations for Vatileaks". [In which case, Cardinal Herranz momentarily lost his long-reputed discreetness, by speaking so loosely, as it were, especially since it was a statement he did not need to make at all! He should have known it was bound to create unnecessary expectations!]

"My own prudence in speaking about the investigations and of persons," Lombardi added, "was always motivated by one reason: respect for the secrecy of the investigations until they are concluded, to be communicated by the responsible authorities themselves at the right time and in the right way. I am not in favor of partial uncontrolled disclosures whose deleterious results are always obvious".

He concluded: "Of course, one cannot link my prudence in any way with what the Repubblica article alleges, about which the least OI can say is that I consider it very serious indeed to cast such suspicions on persons worthy of respect who have carried out years of service totally dedicated to the person of the Holy Father".

NB: I made reference to the DIE WELT article by Badde, stating the brunt of his arguments - after the report on Paolo Gabriele being released to house arrest two days ago in the first post on the previous page of this thread. It was obviously so dubious - even from one who has been till now highly respected as a German Vaticanista who is openly sympathetic to Benedict XVI - that I did not think it worth bothering to translate... I believe it is incumbent on Mr. Badde, if only out of elementary decency and to maintain his reputation as a good journalist, to apologize to his readers, to the persons concerned and to the Holy Father for his audacious and patently unfounded accusation.***

His circumstantial presentation has serious flaws, not the least being that, from the beginning, when Stampa was assigned to the section Sardi headed in the Secretariat of State, there were continuing reports of conflict between the two of them, among other things because Stampa felt the section was deliberately slowing down the translation of the Holy Father's texts - starting with the first encyclical. Other than Sardi's official function at SecState, I don't believe there was any history of any close association between him and Joseph Ratzinger, although Benedict XVI did appoint him pro-Patron of the Knights of Malta after his retirement from the Curia, and subsequently made him cardinal (and full Patron) in line with that designation. Unless he were basically a petty soul, why would he then turn against Benedict XVI?

The second is that the only circumstance Badde names that could in any way be construed as supportive of his hypothesis on Mons. Clemens's involvement in Vatileaks is the supposed letter from the Pope. Assuming there was such a letter - which Badde claims he was told by 'another bishop' - would Clemens have ever divulged it to anyone? But one cannot even assume the Pope would write such a gratuitous letter, least of all to someone he openly considered 'like a son' - he would simply say No the next time Clemens invited him.

Badde names no other circumstance for Stampa than that she lives in the same building as Gabriele and is friends with him and his family.

PPS - One imagines that the decision of Repubblica to run with Badde's story eight days late and elaborate on it by claiming that the three persons named have been relieved of their duties is just the first consequence = and won't be the last - of the Vatican statements in recent days that Paolo Gabriele remains the only suspect in Vatileaks. A declaration that would seem to imply he named absolutely no other names - after continuing interrogation for 60 days, and despite the fact that Vatican police were reported to have found in his home a list of recipients for the documents he pilfered (if this list exists, were the names therein called in for questioning?).

After the Vatican statements following Gabriele's rel;ease into house arrest, Repubblica, consistently anti-clerical, finally decided, after eight days, to run with Badde's dubious account because in one fell swoop, it brings down suspicion on some big fish - a cardinal, a Curial bishop and a far-from-minor employee in the Secretariat of State - while casting doubt and a high level of suspicion on any possible conclusion by the Vatican that layman Gabriele is the only person who can be accused of anything in Vatileaks!

Even if it were objectively true that Gabriele was acting without a 'mastermind', the Vatican certainly cannot expect the media - or the public for that matter - to consider that conclusion as something other than a whitewash so as not to involve any clerics in the mess and leave a layman to take the fall. It would fit into the previous mindset in the Catholic hierarchy that had kept a lid on the sex abuses committed by some priests, and would seem to counteract Benedict XVI's desire for transparency at the Vatican.

But while Gabriele may not have had a mastermind pulling his strings, what about the people he gave the documents to? Surely he did not just copy the documents to keep in his apartment to be discovered by the police - he must have sent some of them to a person or persons who ought to have names! Also, the Vatican police know exactly what documents they found in Gabriele's apartment.

Greg Burke has a gigantic task ahead on how best to present the conclusions by the Vatican magistrates and by the cardinals' commission if all they will say is that Gabriele alone was responsible for pilfering the Pope's private documents and will not even name the persons to whom he provided these documents!

If I were a journalist working in the Vatican, I would simply draw up a complete list of all the documents published in Nuzzi's book and crosscheck each of them according to who wrote it originally, who it was sent to, whether it was a document simply for Joseph Ratzinger's own files [such as the account for the royalties he receives for his books] or something that should go into the official archives of the Secretariat of State, and whether the documents were among those found by the police in Gabriele's apartment - and then narrow down the possibilities of how they could have been leaked. (Nuzzi recently claimed that many of the documents came from the persons thesmelves who wrpte them.) In fact, just such a checklist alone would constitute a legitimate news story, instead of all the airy-fairy speculations that the Italian media tend to indulge in. I can't imagine why no one has thought of doing it - by all accounts, there are only some 200 documents involved. How hard could it be to make that checklist?

Meanwhile, I suspect and very much fear that the more unscrupulous of the Italian media will now seek to get on the Badde-Repubblica bandwagon.

***Badde has now apparently written a note of explanation in DIE WELT online saying, "I wrote the article after having consulted numerous Vatican sources, and after days of careful inquiry. I confirm that the three persons suspected were heard by both investigating bodies: the cardinals' commission and those looking into the criminal accusation".

Sorry, Mr. Badde, but that doesn't quite cut it. The only fact you have now established - which you did not mention in the original article - is that the three persons you named, and whom you insist on calling 'the suspects', appeared before the two investigating panels. So?? Does that mean that the 25 other persons interrogated by the cardinals' commission would also be considered 'suspects'?

Despite all those 'numerous Vatican sources' you claim to have consulted, and the 'days of careful inquiry', there was no new information in your article, and nothing that would imply, much less directly show, the involvement of the three persons in Vatileaks other than that 1) Sardi was the original employer of Gabriele before he recommended him to Mons. Harvey of the Pontifical Household (which was before Gabriele was then accepted as assistant valet to John Paul II's principal valet Angelo Gugel); 2) Stampa lives in the same building as Gabriele and is friends with him and his family. And nothing whatsoever that would tie Mons. Clemens to Gabriele (other than that one presume the Pope's valet may have been present during the times the Pope came to Clemens's apartment). If you had mentioned one objective verifiable fact - plausible or not - to tie those three persons to Vatileaks, don't you think the entire world media would have jumped instantaneously to publicize, disseminate and embroider upon your article?

For the author of the leading book about the Holy Face of Manoppello, this is quite an inexplicable, abject and demeaning journalistic descent!

[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 7/24/2012 12:02 AM]
7/23/2012 11:45 PM
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Lefebvrians set 'irrenunciable'
conditions for accepting
the Vatican's doctrinal preamble

by Andrea Tornielli
Adapted and translated from the Italian service of

July 23, 2012

VATICAN CITY - The Lefebvrians' General Chapter meeting ended a few days ago, in the wake of the Holy See’s request for a response from the Fraternity regarding the doctrinal preamble. By accepting and signing the preamble, the Fraternal Society of St. Pius X would have received canonical recognition and returned to full communion with Rome.

But the road ahead still looks rough and rocky. In a letter to District Superiors dated July 18, the Fraternity’s Secretary General, Fr. Christian Thouvenot, provided a summary of the current situation in the relations between the Society and the Vatican.

The letter contained the absolute (“sine qua non”) conditions presented by the Fraternity to the Vatican before they can accept the doctrinal preamble:

1. “The freedom to preserve, share and teach the sound doctrine of the constant Magisterium of the Church and the unchanging truth of the divine tradition, and the freedom to accuse and even to correct the promoters of the errors or the innovations of modernism, liberalism, and Vatican II and its aftermath.”

[The above condition certainly sounds arrogantly offensive - the itsy-bitsy tail FSSPX seeking to wag the universal Church to its bidding! - compared to the condition about Vatican II that Mons. Lefebvre signed in 1988! While it might be an acceptable implied condition - sure, they can dissent about this as do all the other dissenters on the things they dissent about within the Church - but it is not one that can ever be put in writing!]

2. The exclusive use of the Liturgy of 1962 and retention of the sacramental practice that we currently maintain (including holy orders, confirmation, and marriage).

The letter also includes other conditions which are considered desirable but not essential: the possibility of having a separate ecclesiastical court of first instance; the exemption of FSSPX houses from the jurisdiction of the diocesan bishops [they would be exempt, in any case, if they were a personal prelature like the Opus Dei]; and a Pontifical Commission for the Roman Tradition, directly answerable to the Pope, in which the President and majority of the members are pro-Tradition.

In terms of the first two conditions considered 'irrenunciable', it is obvious that the first condition represents what continues to be the main stumbling block to any reconciliation.

Since Benedict XVI's motu proprio Summorum Pontificum in July 2007, there is no longer any impediment to celebrating the traditional Mass as the Lefebvrians have always done. [But the condition implies that the FSSPX will not accept the validity of the Novus Ordo, even if they never have to use it - once again contrary to Mons. Lefebvre's concessions in 1988!]

Both this letter which was sent out to the district superiors but not intended for publication. and the concluding communiqué published at the end of the Society’s General Chapter, refer to the errors of modernism and Vatican II.

In the latest version of the disputed Doctrinal Preamble which the then Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Cardinal William Levada, delivered on June 13 to FSSPX Superior-General Bernard Fellay, the FSSPX was asked not to criticise the new Mass and to recognise its validity and lawfulness [as Lefebvre agreed to in 1988.] The Society was also asked to accept the Catechism of the Catholic Church, which incorporates the teachings of Vatican II in the light of Tradition.

Fellay made it clear that he could not sign the Preamble as it was, in his two-hour meeting with Cardinal Levada on June 13. At their recent General Chapter meeting at FSSPX headquarters in Econe, Switzerland (to which negationist Mons. Richard Williamson was not invited), the FSSPX reviewed and discussed the content of the entire discussions with the Vatican which began in October 2009.

The FSSPX statement afterwards indicated that there was now full agreement within the society, after the objections formally presented by Fellay's three bishop colleagues to any agreement with Rome.

It appears from that statement that the Lefebvrians do not intend to close the door on dialogue. But it is hard to imagine that the text they reject - which was debated and closely examined by the cardinal members of the CDF then approved by Benedict XVI - could be subject to any substantial change.

“The Second Vatican Council is binding,” said the new Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Gerhard Müller in an interview. “The declaration on relations with the media (???) we can talk about, but the statements on Jews, freedom of religion. and human rights have dogmatic implications. If these are rejected, they jeopardise the Catholic faith.” [It would be nice if Tornielli had mentioned the occasion when Mueller said this.]

In his open letter to all the Catholic bishops of the world in March 2009, after the Williamson case became a media flash point, Benedict XVI wrote:

The Church’s teaching authority cannot be frozen in the year 1962 – this must be quite clear to the Society. But some of those who put themselves forward as great defenders of the Council also need to be reminded that Vatican II embraces the entire doctrinal history of the Church. Anyone who wishes to be obedient to the Council has to accept the faith professed over the centuries, and cannot sever the roots from which the tree draws its life.

This is the hermeneutic of reform in continuity with Tradition that must be used with respect to Vatican II, as Benedict XVI has sought to stress since he became Pope. But it seems to have fallen on deaf ears in the FSSPX.

I hate to be repetitive, but how can Fellay and company today be more Lefebvrian than their founder himself, who in May 1988, signed his agreement to the following 'doctrinal conditions' - which were framed, ity must be said, with Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger?

2. We declare our acceptance of the doctrine contained in number 25 of the Dogmatic Constitution Lumen Gentium of the Second Vatican Council on the ecclesial Magisterium and the adherence which is due to that Magisterium.

3. With regard to certain points taught by the Second Vatican Council or concerning later reforms of the liturgy and [Church] law, and which seem to us able to be reconciled with the Tradition only with difficulty, we commit ourselves to have a positive attitude of study and of communication with the Holy See, avoiding all polemics.

4. We declare in addition to recognize the validity of the Sacrifice of the Mass and of the Sacraments celebrated with the intention of doing that which the Church does and according to the rites indicated in the typical editions of the Roman Missal and the Rituals of the Sacraments promulgated by Popes Paul VI and John Paul II.

From the FSSPX point of view, things have only changed for the better since Mons. Lefebvre signed that statement. Why should they now be more demanding than he was?

They now have a Pope who has unequivocally and repeatedly affirmed that Vatican II teachings must be interpreted in the light of the Church's whole Tradition, who has revalidated the traditional Mass (which was, for decades, the FSSPX's battle standard against Rome), who has lifted the excommunication of the four bishops illegally consecrated by Mons. Lefebvre, who agreed to 'doctrinal discussions' as a sign of good faith but obviously without implying that he would in any way reject Vatican II. Why have they now become more exigent than Lefebvre himself was?

And obviously, the paragraph of the proposed Doctrinal Preamble leaked from Fr. Pfluger does not quite tell the whole story, because the first of the irrenunciable conditions set by the FSSPX is clearly unacceptable if they expect it to be set in writing!

With the best will in the world, it's hard to justify the FSSPX's arrogant intransigence on this matter. They continually cite their founder and yet they are clearly demanding things beyond what even Marcel Lefebvre himself sought and agreed to!

[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 7/24/2012 12:01 AM]
7/24/2012 1:17 AM
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Peruvian university rector says
the institution has the legal right
to retain the name
'Pontifical Catholic University of Peru'

Translated from the online service of

July 22, 2012

Marcial Rubio, rector of the 'Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú' (PUCP), says that the university is officially registered with that name, and that "we have the right to continue using it for as long as we think it is convenient".

The Vatican announced this weekend that it was stripping the university of the designations 'pontifical' and 'Catholic' for having acted against the interests of the Church since 1990.

"This is our official name by which we are known nationally and internationally," Rubio said in an interview given to the PUCP portal 'puntoedu'. "Any decision regarding a change in that name is the power of the governing authorities of the university itself".

Rubio said "the university is a Peruvian institution, constituted in Peru, registered as a civilian organization domiciled in Peru, and is therefore governed by our national laws and not by canon law".

"At the same time, the assets of the university are its property, protected by the Constitution and by Peruvian laws. This is clear even to the Archbishop of Lima who has been litigating against us in the Peruvian courts claiming that he has the right to administer our properties which belong to us and not to the Holy See".

He claimed that the university has been 'respectful of those Catholic values that have guided it for the 95 years of its existence. and the whole nation is witness to all the efforts we have made to find, through dialog, an integral solution to our differences with the Church".

He said the recent Vatican decree will "oblige us to review our statutory relationship with the Church" and that "It falls on us as university authorities to defend the legitimate rights of the university community in the face of any external attempt against such rights".

[The university council was scheduled to meet today to consider an official response to the Vatican.]

It seems tawdry to reduce this dispute, as Rubio seems to be doing, to a property dispute, when it seems that the immediate problem was the refusal of the university to give the Archbishop of Lima, a seat in its governing council. Also, did the Secretariat of State consider the legal repercussions, in terms of Peruvian law, of the recent decree? It would be a dreadfully embarassing oversight if they did not, and Rubio were right about his university's legal right to the name!

In any case, there is much more to this story. VATICAN INSIDER has a report in its Spanish service saying that along with the Vatican decree and letter informing Rubio of the decision to withdraw the words 'Pontifical' and 'Catholic' from the name of the university, a letter was also sent to all the bishops of Peru reproving them for having sided with the university in the ongoing dispute. Here is a translation of that report.

An exclusive report:
Vatican letter to Peruvian bishops calls on them
not to be used as a tool by the 'rebel university'

by Andrés Beltramo Álvarez
Translated from the Spanish service of

VATICAN CITY, July 22 - The bishops' conference of Peru (CEP, Conferencia Episcopal Peruano) should not be used as a tool by the 'rebel university', but on the contrary, it is obliged to lend its 'decisive and clear' support to the decisions of the Holy See in the dispute over the legitimate ownership of the institution [Is this, in fact, the root of the dispute?] which was, until yesterday, the Pontifical Catholic University of Peru.

This was the core of a letter sent by the Vatican to the president of the CEP, Mons. Salvador Piñeiro, which was a harsh call intended to put an end to ambiguities and foul play in the Church's dispute with the university.

VATICAN INSIDER was able to see the text of the letter, which has not been published, and was delivered Friday, July 20, by the Apostolic Nuncio in Lima, to the secretary-general of the CEP, Lino Panizza Richero, in the presence of the second vice-president, Archbishop Javier del Rio of Arequipa, and Cardinal Juan Luis Cipriani Thorne, Archbishop of Lima.

Papal Nuncio Mons. James Green also gave them a copy of the decree by which the Holy See withdrew the adjectives 'pontifical' and 'catholic' from the name of the leading university in Peru, as well as a copy of the letter from Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone to university rector Marcial Rubio informing him of the decision.

Green requested that copies of the three documents should be sent to all the bishops of Peru. Afterwards, he received university officials at the Nunciature to formally hand to them the decree and the letter to the rector.

The message of the Vatican left little room for doubt: "For the good of the University and because of the responsibility of the Church in the field of education, this bishops' conference should support the position of the Holy See and the Archbishop of Lima, by disauthorizing vigorously any contrary intervention and calling on the nation's bishops to collegial loyal action. In case of eventual doubts, you and the other bishops are requested to consult the Nuncio in Lima".

It adds: "The Holy Father hopes that in the future, the bishops' conference may show decisive and clear support for the decisions taken by the Holy See regarding the situation of the PUCP in order to avoid new misunderstandings and divisions".

The severity of the words made it clear that instead of keeping to the institutional position of the Church during the Lima Archbishop's dispute with the university, the bishops had aligned themselves with the university, even after the defiance of the university officials became open and manifest.

On April 17, the bishops' conference issued a public note, purportedly from its five bishops who sit on the PUCP university council. The note was disconcerting, not just because its contents reflected the stand of the university rectorate, but because it was disseminated without the consent of the five bishops who said they were not even consulted.

This episode was called 'lamentable' by Cardinal Bertone's letter to Pineiro, which said incisively: "I ask you to take care that the bishops' conference is not used as a tool by the rectorate of the University".

It is yet another proof of the seriousness with which the Holy See is dealing with the controversy over the once-Pontifical, once-Catholic university. Although its well-known progressive alumni claim that withdrawing the adjectives from the name of the university 'does not mean anything', the reality is something else. It has to do with a dispute that has lasted more than 40 years and which has reached 'insupportable' levels.

A session of the University Assembly on Monday, July 23, was called to analyze the decision from Rome which is not considered irreversible, as the decree itself says. The way out is simple: if the university modifies its Statutes to reflect Catholic values and thus recover its Catholic identity.

It's too bad Alvarez Beltramo fails to provide a background for the whole dispute. I have to look for a story that does, or failing that, research it myself. I am sorry I did not pay attention to this story in the previous months.

From the facts disclosed in the news reports since the weekend, all I can gather is that the Vatican and the Archbishop of Lima claim the right to administer the 'patrimony' of the PUCP. Since the university was founded privately in 1917, and was only granted the title 'Pontifical' in 1942, did that mean that the university assets become the property of the Church because of that, or at least give the Church the right to administer the property? (I am curious because the University of Santo Tomas in Manila, founded by the Dominican order in 1611 - earlier than Harvard - and soon thereafter declared a 'Pontifical and Royal University', has remained the property of the order, and I am not aware that the Archdiocese of Manila or the Vatican has ever laid claim to it!) Must research the PUCP story...

P.S. There's a rather lengthy article in Catholic Online by a US lawyer about the PUCP story,
which says that "In 1942, the university was given canonical status under the Code of Canon Law, thereby subjecting itself to the jurisdiction of the Roman curia". (I am unable to check this out right now).

However, it's quite vexing that the article does not deal at all with the property/administration dispute, only with the university's persistent defiance of the guidelines set down by John Paul II in the 1990 Apostolic Constitution Ex Corde Ecclesiae for Catholic institutions of higher learning. But that was pretty clear from the decree. And apparently, the PUCP rector does not think that's important at all. since he does not even mention it! What isn't clear is the property/administration issue, which the rector finds to be the crux of the dispute, and about which our Catholic lawyer says nothing at all other that single line, which at the very least, deserved a citation, chapter and verse, of the applicable canon law provisi0n(s).

PPS I have now found the actual decree regarding the PUCP in an English translation online, which does give chapter and verse of the provision regarding the canonical status of PUCP and what it means:

N. 3168/12/RS


The Secretary of State, fulfilling the mandate of His Holiness Benedict XVI, sent a letter to the Honorable Rector of the Pontifical Catholic University of Peru on February 21, 2012, reiterating the demand of adapting the Statutes of said University to the prescriptions of the Apostolic Constitution Ex Corde Ecclesiae, of August 15, 1990 (AAS 82, [1990] 1481-1490), also establishing April 8, 2012, as the final date for the fulfillment of such obligation. This petition was in addition to several others made to the same University in the same sense for the past twenty years.

The deadline initially established was extended repeatedly by petition of the Rectorate of the University up to April 18, 2012, with no fulfillment of the order of the Holy See.

Afterwards, by way of two letters of the Honorable Rector addressed to the Emin. Cardinal Secretary of State, one dated April 13, 2012, the other being an "open letter" dated May 9, 2012, and published by the same Rectorate as a "Warning" [Aviso] in the Lima daily "La República" on May 11, 2012, the notice was delivered of not being able to accede to the required fulfillment of the law.

For all this:
- considering that the aforementioned University was founded on March 1, 1917, with ecclesiastical approval of the Archbishop of Lima, Abp. Pedro Manuel García y Naranjo; recognized by the Peruvian State on the 24th of the same month and year as the Catholic University; erected by Pope Pius XII on September 30, 1942, as a canonical juridical person, subjected as such to the canonical legislation in matters of centers of Higher Education and whose property thus holds the nature of ecclesiastical assets, in the manner established of the can. 1257 § 1, in force;

-considering that art. 1 § 3, of the Apostolic Constitution Ex Corde Ecclesiae, of August 15, 1990, establishes that all Universities subjected to the canonical legislation must adapt its Statutes to the aforementioned Constitution, which was not done up to this moment by the Pontifical Catholic University of Peru, despite repeated requests;

-considering that the fulfillment of the canonical legislation is compatible with the applicable Peruvian legislation, in the manner established in articles I and XIX of the Agreement celebrated between the Holy See and the Republic of Peru on July 19, 1980 (AAS 72, [1980] 807-812);

-considering that the aforementioned University persists in guiding its institutional initiatives according to criteria that are incompatible with the discipline and morals of the Church;

-considering that no University, even if effectively Catholic and framed according to the Church legislation, may use in its name the title "Catholic" if not with the consent of the corresponding ecclesiastical authority, as established by can. 808 (cf. Canons 803, 216 of the Code of Canon Law);

-considering that the express consent of the Holy See is similarly necessary for the use the name of "Pontifical" ["Ponticio" o "Pontificia"], (Declaratio ad Summi Pontificis dignitatem tuendam, in AAS 102 [2010] 59);

Consequently, in virtue of the mandate
received from His Holiness, Benedict XVI
by the present Decree

1. It is forbidden to the aforementioned University the use of the title of "Pontifical" in its name, suppressing the concession that had been previously granted to it.

2. It is forbidden likewise that the aforementioned University use in its name the title of "Catholic", with the removal of the consent that had been previously granted to it in such sense, in the sense of the current can. 808 of the Code of Canon Law.

3. It is declared at the same time that the aforementioned University, as a public juridical person of the Church, remains subjected to the canonical legislation in the matters to which it is currently bound, even if, for the aforementioned reasons, it has been deprived of the right to use in its name the titles of "Pontifical" and "Catholic", and that the Holy See will continue to insist in the full respect of the canonical discipline.

Notice is to be given of the present Decree to the Congregation for Catholic Education for its effective fulfillment.

Given in Vatican City, July 11, 2012

Tarcisio Cardinal Bertone

[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 7/24/2012 3:09 PM]
7/24/2012 1:35 PM
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Pope greets 11th international meeting
of France-based movement for Catholic couples

July 23, 2012

Equipes Notre Dame (literally, Teams of Our Lady) is a movement started in 1939 by Fr. Henri Caffarel in Paris, with a few couples who were concerned that the concerns of daily life and family had kept them from progressing in their relationship and in their faith.

It has since then grown into an international movement with about 170,000 members which is recognized by the Pontifical Council for the Laity. From the original concept of couples working together in teams of 6, meeting once a month and promoting spiritual practices and prayer together, it now includes teams for singles from 17 to 27, singles older than 27, and couples who have come back together after separation or divorce.

The following is Vatican Radio's English translation of the papal message in Portuguese sent to the movement at its current XIth international meeting in Brasilia from July 21-26/ It is signed by Cardinal Secretary of State, Tarcisio Bertone.

The Supreme Pontiff, advised of the event in Brasilia of the XIth International Gathering of the Equipes Notre-Dame, has asked me to convey to you this message of paternal greeting to the participants and to all couples from the Movement, which was born of the farsighted pastoral intuition of the servant of God, Henri Caffarel, priest, whose mission has continued to grow over time, through its relevance and urgency.

On the other hand, in some ways, it has increasingly confronted the problems and difficulties that marriage and the family are experiencing today in an atmosphere of increasing secularisation.

In this context, couples of the Equipes Notre-Dame proclaim, not only in words, but also through their lives, the fundamental truths about human love and its deeper significance.

"A man and a woman in love, a child's smile, peace in the home: this is a sermon without words, but extraordinarily persuasive, in which each person can already sense, transparently, the reflection of another love and its infinite appeal." (Paul VI, to the couples of the Equipes Notre-Dame, May 4, 1970)

Of course, this ideal may seem rather high. This is why the movement encourages its members to constantly drink from the fountains of grace of the sacrament of marriage, and participation at Sunday Mass. Beyond the resource of grace from the sacraments, it provides them with great wisdom, a "method" rich in commitments and simple and practical ideas to daily live an embodied spirituality for Christian spouses.

Among these, we can highlight "the sitdown{, that is to say, a commitment to maintain a regular time for personal dialogue between the spouses, in which each presents to the other, with all sincerity and in a climate of mutual listening, the issues and topics most important to life as a couple.

In our world, so marked by individualism, activism, eagerness and distraction, sincere and constant dialogue between the spouses is essential to avoid the emergence of misunderstandings that grow and harden and that, unfortunately, often end up with insoluble fractures that no one can help to repair.

So, cultivate this precious habit of sitting down one beside the other to talk and listen so that you understand each other, constantly, coping with the surprises and difficulties along the way.

In three months, we will commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council, that in many of its documents offered the Church of our time a renewed face of the value of human love, of married and family life.

On this occasion we will begin the Year of Faith, to rediscover all the strength and joy to proclaim the faith in our world and in our time.

His Holiness Benedict XVI invites Christian couples to be "the gentle and smiling face of the Church", the best and most convincing heralds of the beauty of love sustained and nourished by faith, a gift of God offered with generosity and magnanimity to all, so that every day, they can discover the meaning of their lives.

As a sign of ecclesiastic gratitude and an incentive for the new challenges that we face and as a guarantee of graces and light from the Most High for the work of the XIth World Gathering of the Equipes Notre-Dame, the Holy Father grants to all participants and their respective families, his much awaited Apostolic Blessing.

I take advantage of this opportunity, to testify to Your Most Reverend Eminence all my sentiments of my fraternal esteem in Christ.

The Vatican, 5 July 2012

Tarcisio Cardinal Bertone
Secretary of State for His Holiness

[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 7/24/2012 1:38 PM]
7/24/2012 2:07 PM
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Tuesday, July 24, 16th Week in Ordinary Time

ST. CHARBEL MAKHLOUF (Lebanon, 1828-1898), Maronite Monk and Hermit
Born Youssef Makhlouf to a mule driver and his wife, the future saint joined the monastery of St. Maron at age 23, taking his monastic name from a second-century Lebanese saint. He was ordained a priest in 1859 and quickly gained fame for his spirituality and example. He was particularly devoted to the Blessed Sacrament, often spending hours in adoration. He ministered the sacraments to the surrounding villages despite the difficult terrain and climate of the area (more than 4500 feet above sea level). In 1875, he decided to be a hermit, following the example of St. Maron (who lived in the 5th century) and remained a hermit for 23 years until his death. Miraculously, he survived the severe winters without warm clothing or heating for his habitation. There was heavy snowfall on the day he died, Christmas Eve, but the following day, as his fellow monks prepared to bury him at the monastery, the storm stopped, enabling the villagers to attend his funeral. His tomb quickly became a place for pilgrimage and miraculous cures. These intensified after his body was exhumed in 1950 preparatory to his beatification and found to be intact. Pius XI had proposed his beatification in 1935. Paul VI beatified him in 1966 at the closing of the Second Vatican Council, and canonized him 10 years later.
Readings for today's Mass:


No bulletins on the Holy Father.

The following nominations were announced:

- Mons. Philip Tartaglia, till now Bishop of Paisley (Scotland), as the new Archbishop of Glasgow, succeeding
Mons. Mario Joseph Conti who has retired upon reaching canonical retirement age.

- Fr. Tadeusz Wojda, S.A.C., as Under-Secretary of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples,
who was previously a department chief in the same dicastery.

The Vatican also released a communique from the Pontifical Council Cor Unum which is holding the Administrative
Council meeting of the Populorum Progressio Foundation in Bogota, Colombia, from July 24-27. Cor Unum president
Cardinal Robert Sarah is presiding.

- An article, strangely without a byline ('by ***]), on Sandro Magister's www.chiesa yesterday makes a big deal out of the fact that Italians have been 'losing' the tally in terms of numbers against other nationalities appointed by Benedict XVI to be secretary and under-secretary (#2 and #2, respectively), in the various Vatican dicasteries. [Who really cares about these figures and percentages other than Curia-obsessed Italian journalists? What is important is whether the men, whatever their nationality, are qualified, competent and loyal.] The article does contain informative reminders on reductions in the number of cardinal electors as more cardinals turn 80 - ten this year, and another 10 before November of next year. This raises the possibility of another consistory for new cardinals in November this year (to name 10 new cardinals) or next year (to name 20), in order to keep the number of cardinal electors at or around 120. In any case, the writer claims there will be no preponderance of Italians this time.

[In the last consistory, everyone made much of the fact that there happened to be around 10 new Italian cardinals, as though it was by deliberate intention of the Pope to favor Italians over other nationalities - it so happened that most of them had been named to head financial and administrative, rather than ecclesial, organs of the Curia, and for such functions, which means dealing mainly with the Italian government, Italians hold a home advantage because of their familiarity with Italian law and bureaucracy.]

- Oswaldo Paya, probably Cuba's best-known anti-Castro Catholic dissident, died in a car crash on Sundya. He was 60. His family claims it was no accident, that his car was deliberately driven off the road. Another activist riding with Paya was killed in the crash. An official inquiry has been ordered.

- Keeping track of whether and how the international media is picking up on the Sardi-Clemens-Stampa story: SO FAR - The only Anglophone stories that have come out )all yesterday) are on CNA and Vatican INSIDER, both of which duly reported Fr. Lombardi's statements almost in full; Bloomberg (which had a five-sentence story referring to the Repubblica article but not even giving the names of the three persons concerned), and UPI with an even shorter story of four sentences reporting Fr. Lombardi's statement, but also without mentioning names. None of the Italian newspapers appears to be following Repubblica's lead. and AP, AFP and Reuters did not devote a line to it, for reasons I cannot begin to guess. (Perhaps they tried to investigate on their own following Badde's July 15 article and found nothing newsworthy?) Ditto for the usually 'scandal-guzzling' British papers. At least one German newspaper - you guessed it, BILD - did pick it up, with minor embellishments, i.e., the headline, "Is the Pope being betrayed by his German associates?" referring to Clemens and Stampa, but no new information. Will the other media outlets continue to hold off on this, or will they all be on the bandwagon if and when the Vatican investigations report that Gabriele is the sole culprit of Vatileaks, ignoring all those to whom he fed the pilfered documents? If only to have more names to blame - because they certainly are not going to 'indict' fellow journalists! As none of them has reproached Nuzzi in any way. (The general attitude seems to be: 'As a journalist, if I am given information, it is my duty to publish it'. Even if it is a crime in most states, and certainly in Italy, to violate the privacy of correspondence and to make use of stolen 'goods' for personal gain - as Nuzzi did, to sell a book. And now we know that such laws are more honored in the breach!]

Even the Vatican has not once referred to these crimes again since its first statement about Nuzzi's book, when its only concern was to denounce the crimes, about which it appears not to have done anything. In hindsight, it ought to have underscored at the time and led with the fact that however grave the betrayal of the Pope had been, it must not be forgotten that the book says nothing that is negative about the Pope himself. Can anyone cite any 'scandal' book about a VIP that has nothing negative about its subject? The fact is Nuzzi sold everyone a pig in a poke by titillating the public with the subtitle "the Private Papers of Benedict XVI'.

[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 7/25/2012 12:18 AM]
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Frankly, this case now gives me the yawns. Yes, I am willing to suspend my disbelief, seeing where this is all headed for. But how many will be willing to do that at all? One's only guarantee is that Benedict XVI would never knowingly participate in a bogus conclusion... Meanwhile, Paolo Gabriele's lawyer has spoken to Corriere della Sera - and said... nothing new.

The ex-valet's regrets:
He has sent a letter to the Pope
through the cardinals' commission

by Maria Antonietta Calabro
Translated from

July 24, 2012

ROME – The valet has asked for forgiveness. Paolo Gabriele – the ‘Vatican mole’ - has written Benedict XVI to express his sorrow and his repentance for what he did.

The confidential letter was given to the three-man cardinals' commission investigating Vatileaks under Cardinal Julian Herranz, with Cardinals Josef Tomko and Salvatore Di Giorgi, Corriere della Sera was told by Carlo Fusco, personal defense lawyer for Gabriele who was arrested on May 23 for having pilfered private documents from the Pope’s desk.

After 60 days of interrogation by Vatican magistrates (he was also questioned by the cardinals’ commission), a decision from the Vatican tribunal is expected in the next few days. Based on conclusions reached from the investigation, Gabriele will either be sent to trial or absolved. [He is only accused of ‘aggravated theft’ – and since Vatican police reportedly found a ‘mass’ of documents at his home that would tend to show he had access to the originals and copied them, it’s difficult to see how he can be absolved of the crime of theft!]

Meanwhile, the Holy See has reacted severely, and in an unprecedented way, to accusations published in two newspapers (one German and one Italian, eight days apart) that it branded ‘false’ against three other persons said to have been complicit with Gabriele – namely, Prof. Ingrid Stampa (who was Joseph Ratzinger’s housekeeper and confidante from 1990-2005), Mons. Josef Clemens (Cardinal Ratzinger’s private secretary for 19 years until he was named secretary of the Pontifical Council for the Laity in 2003); and Cardinal Paolo Sardi [the writer qualifies Sardi as ‘the Pope’s ghostwriter’ as have other Italian newspapers, but it is a false tag, because he was in charge of the section that edited and translated papal texts for publication, and was so, even during John Paul II’s Pontificate. It’s hard to imagine Benedict XVI having someone he hardly knew as a ‘ghostwriter, even if only for minor papal texts; Sandro Magister has claimed that theologian Inos Biffi, who writes regularly for L’Osservatore Romano, prepares the first draft of some of the Pope’s Wednesday catecheses and Angelus mini-homilies, and that is far more likely. I imagine the first draft of the multiple messages the Pope has to issue for various occasions and to various organizations is prepared by the Vatican office most concerned with a particular event or organization.]NB: Note that Corriere does not seek to exploit the Sardi-Clemens-Stampa canard but simnly cites it.

The Secretariat of State called the accusations "gravely injurious to the honor of the persons concerned who have been in the faithful service of the Holy Father for many years”.

:Lawyer Fusco had announced earlier his client’s intention to ask for a papal pardon. So we asked, when will this happen? He said: “It has happened. Paolo wrote the Pope a confidential letter which has been given to the cardinals’ commission”.

Fusco claims he did not read the letter: “No one else has read it except the three cardinals, because it was a personal decision by Paolo that has nothing to do with the judicial proceedings against him”. He says his client told him that in the letter, he confesses to his errors and begs the Pope’s forgiveness but also states he had no accomplices.

The lawyer said: “There is nothing to show that Paolo had accomplices – not from the questioning made by the interrogators, not from any act or fact that has come to light. Of course, the record will be laid out once the magistrates make a decision.”

Does it mean that Paolo was never part of a plan conceived with persons who were once close to the Pope? [Strange leading question to ask, as if the only possible accomplices could have been ‘persons once close to the Pope'!]

“Absolutely. Moreover, I did not think the three persons named were ever investigated. I repeat – the only one who has been accused and investigated, as far as I know, is Paolo”.

Very likely, the three were heard as witnesses by the cardinals’ commission and even by the investigating magistrates, Fusco says. and of course, witnesses could have been made to confront Gabriele directly, but “I assure you this did not take place”.

So, according to Paolo, there was no plot at all? “No, none at all, neither inside the Vatican or outside it – none that he was part of. I have no knowledge of how the documents came to be published”.

It seems, therefore, that to describe what happened, one need not refer to Dan Brown, not even to Dostoevsky or Shakespeare. Perhaps Graham Greene. Maurice Castel, the protagonist of Greene’s The human factor, passed on documents to the enemy – one would call it a leak today – purely out of gratitude [the Communists had helped his wife in a past life.] [High points to Calabro for citing this literary analog! Too bad she isn't skillful enough to make her sarcasm count!]

[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 7/24/2012 6:02 PM]
7/25/2012 1:54 AM
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At the CDF, new Prefect says
the dogmatic content of Vatican II
cannot be 'negotiated' with the FSSPX

by David Kerr

Rome, Italy, July 24, 2012 (CNA/EWTN News) - Although the new head of the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith is optimistic about reconciliation with the Society of St. Pius X, he says that the teachings of the Church – including the dogmatic content of the Second Vatican Council – will never be up for re-negotiation.

“The purpose of dialogue is to overcome difficulties in the interpretation of the Second Vatican Council,” Archbishop Gerhard Ludwig Muller told CNA July 20, “but we cannot negotiate on revealed faith, that is impossible. An Ecumenical Council, according to the Catholic faith, is always the supreme teaching authority of the Church.”

[Except that what the FSSPX are disputing is not exactly 'revealed faith' per se - religious freedom, inter-religious dialog, ecumenism and collegiality are all modern cencepts, even if they can be derived from and supported by Biblical passages. Obviously, I have no theological grounding at all for raising the question, so I have been meaning to research if Cardinal Ratzinger had ever said or written anything about a hierarchy of dogmatic value that would compare the aforementioned 'novelties' of Vatican II with the more basic values about respect for life that are commonly and habitually ignored by contemporary Catholics who consider contraception and abortion on demand as 'basic human rights' - the way he once contrasted the death penalty or just war, though both involve killing, as less clearcut in the moral sense as abortion.

From a commonsense point of view, for an ordinary Catholic like me who am theologically illiterate, how does one compare the offense committed by a Lefebvrian who refuses to preach ecumenism (and who may even preach against it), to a woman, say, who habitually undergboes abortion because she can't be bothered to raise a child? Catholic practitioners of contraception and abortion knowingly defy the teaching of the Church - from both Revelation and Tradition, and not just from a recent ecumenical council - and openly flaunt their defiance because they consider the teaching obsolete. Without in any way approving the arrogantly offensive formulation of the 'irrenunciable' conditions now set by the FSSPX for reconciliation, why nonetheless is the FSSPX being held to a more rigorous standard that is not demanded at all of the millions of contemporary Catholid dissidents who claim to follow their 'conscience' and not what the Church says? Why can't the formulation Cardinal Ratzinfer worked out with and accepted by Mons. Lefebvre not be used as the standard today?]

As prefect of the Congregation, Archbishop Muller is also the President of the Pontifical Commission “Ecclesia Dei,” the Vatican body responsible for dialogue with the Society of St. Pius X.

The commission is currently awaiting an official reply from the society to an offer of reconciliation that would give the traditionalist group Personal Prelature status within the Church. In return the society would have to accept a “Doctrinal Preamble” proposed to it by the Congregation, including full adherence to the dogmatic content of the Second Vatican Council.

In a July 19 statement, the society said it had “determined and approved the necessary conditions for an eventual canonical normalization” at its recent General Chapter, but added that it still rejected “all the novelties of the Second Vatican Council which remain tainted with errors” as well as “the reforms issued from it.”

“The assertion that the authentic teachings of Vatican II formally contradict the tradition of the Church is false,” Archbishop Muller stated.

He added, however, that between various texts of the council there are “gradations” of teaching authority. By way of an example, Archbishop Muller drew a comparison between the council’s document on social communications, “Inter Mirifica,” which carries “less weight” than “dogmatic declarations” like the Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, “Lumen Gentium.” [In the agreement with Cardinal Raztinger, Mons. Lefebvre explicitly accepted the critical Section 25 of LG on due respect for the Magisterium of the Church.]

“Whatever is dogmatic can never be negotiated,” he said, while still expressing hope that the members of the Society of Pius X “can overcome their difficulties, their ideological restrictions so that we can work together to proclaim Christ as the Light of the World.”

Although the 64-year-old German is new to his current post at the Vatican, Archbishop Muller has had extensive dealings with the Society of St. Pius X in the past. As Archbishop of Regensburg in the Bavaria region of Germany for the past decade, his diocesan territory included a seminary operated by the traditionalists group. [Kerr does not mention that the relationship was consistently contentious. Mueller went through a lot of gratuitous mediatic huffing and puffing every year when the FSSPX ordained new priests in their seminary near Regensburg (always more priests thah the diocese itself ordained!). Even after Benedict XVI's 2009 letter to the bishops of the world when he wrote:

Can we be totally indifferent about a community which has 491 priests, 215 seminarians, 6 seminaries, 88 schools, 2 university-level institutes, 117 religious brothers, 164 religious sisters and thousands of lay faithful? Should we casually let them drift farther from the Church? I think for example of the 491 priests. We cannot know how mixed their motives may be. All the same, I do not think that they would have chosen the priesthood if, alongside various distorted and unhealthy elements, they did not have a love for Christ and a desire to proclaim him and, with him, the living God. Can we simply exclude them, as representatives of a radical fringe, from our pursuit of reconciliation and unity? What would then become of them?

Benedict's pastoral solicitude is almost palpable in those lines. And yet, my first reservation at the time months ago when Mueller's nomination to be CDF Prefect appeared inevitable was the chilling effect it would have on the rapprochement with the FSSPX. No love lost between them at all! But then the Pope named Mons. Di Noia to Ecclesia Dei, and I thought he was deliberately giving a signal to the FSSPX that they would have a friendly interlocutor at CDF. Now, if only Mons. Di Noia can get Fellay to revert to his mid-June 2012 state of mind, in his rather impressive reply to his three dissident bishop colleagues who oppose any reconciliation with Rome!]

A key problem for Rome in recent discussions seems to be the perception that the Society of St. Pius X often speaks about errors in the conciliar texts themselves.

Instead, the Vatican believes a distinction should be made between what the Second Vatican Council actually said and the sometimes problematic interpretations and applications of its teaching.

“We can all come together and avoid ideological positions if we accept the Word of God present in the doctrine of the Catholic Church,” he said.

The Vatican’s willingness to continue dialogue was indicated last month with the deployment of a high-ranking American archbishop to the commission responsible for the discussions.

On June 26, Pope Benedict switched Rome-based Archbishop Augustine Di Noia from his post as secretary of the Congregation for Divine Worship to vice president of the Pontifical Commission “Ecclesia Dei.”

Archbishop Muller, who took up office in Rome earlier this month, said he is fully committed to working for the reconciliation of all separated Christians.

“Our aim and our task is clear – to promote the unity of all the disciples of Christ in the one Church under the leadership of Jesus Christ and in communion with his vicar, the successor of St. Peter.”

Right now, we must pray that among the graces of the Holy Spirit, the gift of humility may particularly enlighten both the FSSPX leadership and Mons. Mueller.
[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 7/25/2012 2:12 AM]
7/25/2012 6:09 AM
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Islam absolutely prohibits the depiction of any sentient being in images, and this is most absolute in the case of Allah and Muhammad, who is instead represented by his name in Arabic calligraphy. Even in the non-Muslim world, images of Mohammed are rare. Extreme right, a contemporary representational icon not intended to depict the prophet's features at all; and extreme left, an illustration from a 13th century history of Islam shows Muhammad receiving his first revelation from the Angel Gabriel.

Muhammad: Man or Myth?
A review of Robert Spencer’s
'Did Muhammad Exiat?
An Inquiry into Islam’s Obscure Origins
by J. Mark Nicovich, Ph.D.

July 23, 2012

In recent decades it has become common in certain circles—often academic, sometimes popular—to challenge the historicity of famous figures and seminal events. The most well-known expression of this trend can be seen in those circles, skeptical and sometimes openly atheistic, that have taken the “search for the historical Jesus” to an extreme, calling into question whether a historical Jesus existed at all.

The “Jesus Seminar” is a perfect example of this skeptical and even sensationalist approach. The general argumentation of this sort is centered on attacking the early Christian sources, citing the temporal distance of the Gospels and other writings from the early first century and the heavily biased nature of these texts as reasons to doubt the very existence of Jesus and to suspect he was merely a character invented to justify a particular theology, rather than the actual progenitor of it.

The skeptical cacophony has reached enough of a crescendo that Bart Ehrman, a leading New Testament scholar at UNC-Chapel Hill, recently published Did Jesus Exist? The Historical Argument for Jesus of Nazareth (HarperOne, 2012), a defense of the historical existence of Jesus.

Ehrman is certainly no fundamentalist — in fact, he has publicly identified himself as an agnostic — and in this new work he is fully aware of the biases and pitfalls inherent in the early Christian sources. Yet despite these obvious issues he still demonstrates the overwhelming evidence for the historicity of Jesus, even if he does portray a rather different figure than the one depicted in the Gospels.

A similar series of works have appeared that attempt to work the same kind of radical historical revisionism on the early history of Islam, focusing on the person of Muhammad and the text of the Qur’an, including Karl-Heinz Ohlig and Gerd R. Puin’s The Hidden Origins of Islam, Hans Jensen’s Mohammed: Eine Biographie, and an entire body of work by Ibn Warraq.

The present work under consideration, Robert Spencer’s Did Muhammad Exist? An Inquiry into Islam’s Obscure Origins (ISI, 2012) is the latest and perhaps most provocative of these books.

Spencer is a controversial figure, being the founder of Jihad Watch and author of a number of works deeply critical of Islam, including The Truth about Muhammad, The Complete Infidel’s Guide to the Koran, and The Idiot’s Guide to Islam (and the Crusades).

In many ways, this new book is a continuation of his early forays against Islam, and is also a direct outgrowth of many of the similar works listed above. The very title of the work is quite provocative given the stature Muhammad has as a historical figure, much less his critical religious importance to global Islamic communities. Yet this is in keeping with the tenor of Spencer’s previous forays into Islamic studies; he has been bold, brash, and unafraid to make unpopular assertions before, and this work does not deviate from that mold.

Spencer justifies the need for his book by claiming that the history of Islam’s origins has not been subject to “historical criticism on any significant scale” (p. 3). This claim is somewhat bewildering. It is true that the Qur’an and the other early Islamic sources have not been subject to the voluminous historical-critical studies that have examined the Old and New Testaments over the past three centuries, but the body of Western scholarly literature on the Islamic sources is still extensive and ever-expanding.

Critical treatments of the Qur’an and other early Islamic sources began to appear in Germany and Belgium in the mid-19th century, a trend that continues through our own day. A number of excellent scholarly works have appeared recently, including ones by such scholars as Fred Donner, Robert Hoyland, Walter Kaegi, and Chase Robinson, among many others.

Spencer’s list of works for further reading (pp. 239-40) provides only a tiny fraction of the scholarly work currently in print. So his charge that his book’s critical approach is something new is unfounded. Critical studies of Islamic sources have long existed; what is new is Spencer’s particular conclusion about those sources.

Much like those skeptical and atheist critiques of the historicity of Jesus, Spencer’s arguments about Muhammad hinge upon a serious re-evaluation of the earliest sources of Islam. (I do not mean to imply that Mr. Spencer is an atheist or agnostic; from what I understand, he is an avowed Catholic. I only intend to note that his methodology is quite similar to those used by those atheist and agnostic critics of early Christianity.)

His coverage of those sources is, laudably, quite comprehensive, making use of relevant textual, archaeological, epigraphic, and numismatic evidence. Yet the problem with Spencer’s approach is not the sources that he uses, but how he goes about using them. This work is fatally flawed by numerous logical fallacies and poor source criticism.

One of the basic problems of historical studies is epistemological; what can we know about the past? Leopold von Ranke, the 19th-century German scholar and founder of modern historical studies, posited that the goal of history is to determine “what actually happened,” and with his contemporaries believed that historical investigation could objectively determine all manner of historical fact to a degree of scientific precision. This search for an absolute, objective knowledge of the past has proven elusive, largely due to the nature of the evidence.

Historical sources are unlike evidence produced by scientific experimentation, since we cannot control the nature of the sources we possess as one can control certain aspects of a physical experiment. Historians must contend with a number of potential problems with their sources, especially those related to the most ancient past. We only possess a tiny fraction of written works produced in the ancient world, and in many cases what we have is fragmentary and has been changed and varied during the course of transmission.

Often these materials reflect various aspects of human fallibility; the authors possess conscious or unconscious biases, have limited knowledge or perspective, or simply make mistakes. Sometimes the sources give us a wide view of contemporary events, but in many cases they provide only a small, fleeting glimpse of a historical episode, and these episodes must be integrated into a larger historical framework.

In short, the job of a historian is not an easy one, and requires very careful treatment of the surviving evidence. But this task is not impossible. Despite whatever distortions may exist within the source material, there is real historical data that may be gleaned. Bias does not equal fabrication, and imperfections do not negate an entire text.

Such limitations are particularly acute in the period Islam developed. The seventh century saw a procession of cataclysms throughout the Mediterranean world, a “world-crisis,” as historian James Howard-Johnston has rightly named it.

The century began with a titanic war between the Byzantine and Persian Empires (602-628), with the Islamic Invasions immediately subsequent. The Persian Empire, itself highly cultured and a worthy rival to the Byzantines, disappeared under the deluge of Arab armies, and the Byzantine Empire only barely survived, losing 60 percent of its territory and undergoing a major social, political, and military transformation in the process. [That summation conflates the Persian-Byantine wars into the Persian-Arab wars, rather confusedly.]

It was truly a Dark Age in every sense, so it is little wonder that we possess only a small amount of evidence, and what evidence we have reflects the confusion and chaos inherent in the period.

Spencer takes many of these limited sources and uses them in an illogical manner. In the first several chapters of the book, Spencer’s favored methodology is the “argument from silence”: if Muhammad, Islam, and the Qur’an are not specifically mentioned in the contemporary sources, then they must not have existed in any recognizable form. Yet, as the old cliché goes, absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.

A prominent example of his poor source criticism involves the Doctrina Jacobi, a Christian anti-Semitic work dateable from the mid to late 630s, the exact period that Arab armies were conquering Palestine. It contains a brief reference to violence done by the Arab marauders, and most significantly, to an unnamed prophet who had riled up the Arabs into their assault into Christian territory.

Most scholars regard this as a direct reference to Muhammad, but Spencer notes that the name “Muhammad” does not appear in the text, and that there are a number of other details that do not match up with the traditional story and theology of early Islam.

For example, the Doctrina implies that this prophet was still alive, though Muhammad reportedly died in 632, before the Doctrina’s composition. The text also states that the unnamed prophet possessed “the keys of paradise,” a doctrine not present in Islamic theology (pp. 21-22).

Spencer uses these issues to call into question the traditional Islamic story, when it is more logical to question the Doctrina! In the context of the sudden and surprising Arab invasions, can we really expect a Christian writer to know the full details of contemporary Arabian affairs, or accurately relate the theology of some prophet appearing out the deepest deserts of Arabia?

This same kind of problem manifests itself in all of the other seventh-century Christian sources that Spencer uses, from Sophronius of Jerusalem, to the Armenian History of Pseudo-Sebeos, to John of Nikiu. They are all near-contemporary to Muhammad, but none of them mention Muhammad, Islam, or the Qur’an by name. What references to Islam they include are oblique and do not seem to match up with the traditional Islamic story.

But again, it is it reasonable to expect Christian writers to have an accurate knowledge of contemporary Islamic history and thought? Or to expect they would be objective and accurate if they did possess such knowledge? Given the chaotic nature of the age, it seems not.

Spencer’s use of inscriptions is likewise flawed. If an early Islamic inscription does not mention Muhammad, then in Spencer’s mind he must not have existed. But these inscriptions are extremely episodic in nature, and are designed to bring praise to a particular Islamic ruler, so why would we expect Muhammad to be mentioned in this setting? So our sources for the seventh century are few and imperfect, but they do not give us any immediate reason to doubt the existence of Muhammad.

The earliest full accounts of Muhammad’s life do not appear until well into the eighth century, over a century after the death of the Prophet. The most important of these is Ibn Ishaq’s Sirat rasul Allah, which, in its ninth-century redaction, became the standard source for information about the life of Muhammad. Spencer is deeply skeptical of any source that is not contemporary or near-contemporary to the events described, such as Ibn Ishaq, or al-Tabari, the author of an important 10th-century chronicle.

Spencer makes the mistake of assuming that temporal distance equals historical distortion within the text. This is a standard polemical trope, one often used as an atheist critique of the Christian Gospels. However, there are numerous cases in the ancient world where our only sources were written decades and centuries after the fact, but still contain a great deal of accurate material.

This is due to the fact that many ancient authors had access to sources that have not otherwise survived. Al-Tabari had access to a number of very good sources regarding pre-Islamic and early Islamic history that no longer exist. The same seems true for Ibn Ishaq, who relied upon a number of earlier biographic works on Muhammad.

This is not to say there are not serious difficulties regarding these sources. Both al-Tabari and Ibn Ishaq rely heavily on hadith, traditional sayings and actions attributed to the Prophet and largely passed down via oral transmission. Spencer rightly notes that hadith were often distorted for partisan purposes, and the accuracy of oral tradition can legitimately be questioned.

The incorporation of legendary tales, such as miracle stories, is also troubling for Spencer, and he determines that the inclusion of such tall-tales means these sources are not “straight-forward historical records” (p. 121) and are “folk tales” (p. 122). He also makes the obvious point that such stories are told to set apart Muhammad as an “exceptional human being” (p. 123), an indication of a clear bias towards Muhammad and his divinely appointed mission. This much is certainly true.

But Spencer would take these natural difficulties and use them to mark such sources as “unreliable,” and throw them out completely. If this were a reasonable historical standard then all the ancient sources we possess are suspect, and we can know nothing about the past. Being critical of these sources is perfectly appropriate, but casting them aside completely is not reasonable.

Having disposed of the traditional Islamic sources, and Muhammad with them, Spencer then turns toward creating a revisionist history of early Islam. He first explains the Qur’anic text away as an Arabic redaction of a Syriac Christian lectionary, not a wholly original work composed in Arabic. Here he is, quite admittedly, following the philological work of Christoph Luxenberg. However, Luxenberg’s work has been widely panned by the larger scholarly community as being methodologically faulty.

Spencer then attempts to re-date the codification of the Qur’an from the caliphate of Uthman (644-656) to that of the Umayyad caliph Abd al-Malik (685-705), based upon several minority hadiths. All of this is with an ultimate view to placing the emergence of an identifiable Islamic theology and history well into the mid-eighth century, over a century after the Prophet’s death.

Spencer argues that Islam (and Muhammad) as we know it only appeared as a means of providing a theological explanation for the political and military successes of the Arabs in the preceding century, a kind of theology-after-the-fact (p. 214).

But none of this answers a fundamental question: what exactly happened to transform the Arab peoples from a series of disparate, un-advanced tribes into the unified juggernaut that laid low the Byzantine and Persian Empires in the seventh century? The traditional Islamic narrative provides an explanation, albeit a problematic one. Spencer’s revision, other than some notion of a vague “Abrahamic monotheism” does not provide an adequate answer. But that is not his purpose here; rather, he seeks to tear down a historical figure and his story, not build one up.

The issues mentioned here are only a few of the more glaring shortcomings in this work. In short, Spencer explains away the canonical story of Muhammad, the Qur’an, and early Islam, and the very figure of Muhammad himself, by throwing out the large number of supporting sources based upon poor source criticism, while offering a thinly supported revisionist picture in return.

There should be no doubt there is much in the traditional story of Muhammad and the formation of Islam that is questionable. The sources we possess are few, chaotic in nature, heavily redacted, and often have an unquestionable bias, so there is much room for real source criticism, scholarly debate, and historical revisionism.

But this work goes to an extreme in its disregard for proper source criticism, and its arguments have more in common with those skeptical and atheist critics of early Christianity than with the best of modern historical scholarship.

The book review assumes the reader is familiar with the life of Muhammad, at least in its general outlines. In any case, it is useful to look at how Wikipedia presents his life in brief:

MUHAMMAD (570-632), also transliterated as Mohammad, Mohammed, or Muhammed, was a leader from Mecca who unified Arabia into a single religious polity under Islam. He is believed by Muslims and Bahá'ís to be a messenger and prophet of God, and by most Muslims as the last prophet sent by God for mankind.[

Muhammad is generally considered to be the founder of Islam, although this is a view not shared by Muslims,, who consider him to be the restorer of an uncorrupted original monotheistic faith of Adam through Noah, Abraham, Moses, Jesus and other prophets.

Born in about 570 CE in the Arabian city of Mecca, he was orphaned at an early age and brought up under the care of his uncle Abu Talib. He later worked mostly as a merchant, as well as a shepherd, and was first married by age 25 to a 40-year-old woman, which by all accounts, was a happy marriage.

Being in the habit of periodically retreating to a cave in the surrounding mountains for several nights of seclusion and prayer, he later reported that it was there, at age 40, that he received his first revelation from God.

Three years after this event Muhammad started preaching these revelations publicly, proclaiming that "God is One", that complete "surrender" to Him (the literal meaning of islām) is the only way acceptable to God, and that he himself was a prophet and messenger of God, in the same vein as other Islamic prophets

Muhammad gained few followers early on, and was met with hostility from some Meccan tribes; he and his followers were treated harshly. To escape persecution, Muhammad sent some of his followers to Abyssinia before he and his followers in Mecca migrated to Medina (then known as Yathrib) in the year 622.

This event, the Hijra, marks the beginning of the Islamic calendar, which is also known as the Hijri Calendar. In Medina, Muhammad united the tribes under the Constitution of Medina. After eight years of fighting with the Meccan tribes, his followers, who by then had grown to 10,000, conquered Mecca.

Muhammad destroyed the pagan idols in Mecca and then sent his followers out to destroy all of the remaining pagan temples throughout Eastern Arabia. In 632, a few months after returning to Medina from The Farewell Pilgrimage, Muhammad fell ill and died. By the time of his death, most of the Arabian Peninsula had converted to Islam, and he had united Arabia into a single Muslim religious polity.

The revelations — which Muhammad reported receiving until his death —form the verses of the Quran, regarded by Muslims as the “Word of God” and around which the religion is based. Besides the Quran, Muhammad’s life (sira) and traditions (sunnah) are also upheld by Muslims. They discuss Muhammad and other prophets of Islam with reverence, adding the phrase peace be upon him whenever their names are mentioned. While conceptions of Muhammad in medieval Christendom and premodern times were largely negative, appraisals in modern history have been far less so.

[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 7/25/2012 6:18 AM]
7/25/2012 7:36 AM
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Benedict XVI names retired bishops
to temporarily administer problem dioceses:
Cardinal Tettamanzi will help out Vigevano

by Salvatore Izzo

VATICAN CITY, July 24 (Translated from AGI) - After the sudden departure from the scene of Mons. Vincenzo di Mauro as Bishop of Vigevano, Benedict XVI has named Cardinal Dionigi Tettamani, emeritus Archbishop of Milan, to act as apostolic administrator until a new bishop is named.

Last Saturday, July 21, the Holy Father accepted the unexpected resignation of Archbishop Vincenzo Di Mauro, who was assigned to Vigevano three years ago after a lightning career in the Vatican where he had risen to be secretary of the Prefecture for Economic Affairs. He served first as coadjutor bishop and became full bishop in March 2011.

A note from the curia of Vigevano said: "The Holy Father has named His Eminence Cardinal Dionigi Tettamanzi, emeritus Archbishop of Milan, to be the apostolic administrator with the task of governing the diocese anti a new bishop can take possession".

In the next few days, the note says, "the cardinal will be meeting with consultors of the diocese to be oriented on the diocesan situation and to determine the modality of his presence in the diocese. The Church of Vigevano thanks the Holy Father and greets Cardinal Tettamanzi with special deference in his new role as apostolic administrator".

Twice in recent months, Pope Benedict has turned to major emeritus archbishops to resolve serious problems in local church administration.

Last year, after relieving the Bishop of Orvieto of his episcopal assignment, he named the former Military Ordinary of Italy and emeritus Archbishop of Messina, Giovanni Marra, to take over as apostolic administrator.

Two months ago, after relieving the Bishop of Trapani of his duties because of involvement in questionable financial activities, he named Mons. Alessandro Plotti, emeritus Archbishop of Pisa as administrator.

Mons. Di Mauro, who is only 62, surprised everyone by his resignation, citing serious health reasons, and saying he was going back to his hometown near Milan to undergo treatment.

[Other major emeritus bishops whom Benedict XVI has given important functions are Cardinal Camillo Ruini, 81, who heads the international commission on Medjugorje (while continuing to head the Cultural Project of the Italian bishops' conference), and the three emeritus cardinals he named to the commission to investigate Vatileaks - Julian Herranz, Josef Tomko, and Salvatore Di Giorgi. He has also asked retired cardinals to preach the Lenten spiritual exercises for the Roman Curia - in the case of Cardinals Marco Ce, former Patriarch of Venice; Giacomo Biffi, emeritus Archbishop of Bologna; and Albert Van Hoye, distinguished Jesuit theologian. ]

I continue to find it amazing that the Catholic Church is the only institution in the world where men in their 80s and even 90s continue to be active in actual office or special assignments, but also intellectually. In a society like Japan, they would each be named National Treasures.
7/25/2012 2:17 PM
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Castel Gandolfo: Country estate
with an agribusiness that also provides
the Pope with food and flowers yearlong

Translated from the Italian service of

July 24, 2012

The need to save on household expenses as well as the desirability of organic foods for the table are complementary practices in the Pope's summer residence at Castel Gandolfo.

As Italy and the rest of Europe are cowering at the persistent and worsening financial crisis, Benedict XVI is obviously not oblivious to the widespread public concern while he is at his 'beautiful retreat' at the pontifical villas where he spends the summer. The crisis is bound to affect his summer, occupied this time with working on his third volume on JESUS OF NAZARETH, the texts for his trip to Lebanon in September, and those for the coming Synodal Assembly of the New Evangelization and the opening of the Year of Faith in October.

Sources at Castel Gandolfo say that during the Pope's long afternoon walks through the gardens of the Villa del Moro, Villa Cybo and Villa Barberini - one of his indulgences while in Castel Gandolfo - he often ends up at the pontifical 'farm' which Pius XI set up around 1929, once the Lateran Pacts had regularised the political status of the Vatican.

Since then, this thriving enterprise has provided the papal household with homegrown organic produce as well as meat, dairy products and eggs. In recent days, he has watched with interest the harvesting of plums from the extensive orchard. Agricultural production is ample here, and the crops are numerous.

He has also been visiting the area that houses the cows and chickens all raised 'free range', and the center of the agribusiness that provides the papal household, as well as the Vatican supermarket, with milk, eggs, honey, fruits and vegetables throughout the year, allowing the Pope the benefit of fresh organic nourishment, using entirely 'in-house' resources. Consider that the papal farm produces 200 eggs a day and 50 liters of milk.

Castel Gandolfo has greenhouses, a huge arboreal patrimony, farms, plantations, farm animals, and even beehives. The director of the Pontifical Villas, Saverio Petrillo, supervises the work and harvesting of the papal villas' floral, agricultural and animal products.

All this must be pleasing to the Pope who has always advocated the sustainable utilization of natural resources. And a self-sufficiency that is, in itself, a message in this time of crisis.

[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 7/25/2012 2:18 PM]
7/25/2012 3:53 PM
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The Pope sends condolences
read at the funeral of Cuban
human rights activist Oswaldo Paya

Translated from the Italian service of

July 24, 2012

Informed of the 'tragic event' which took the life of Catholic human rights activists Osvaldo Paya Sardinas and Harold Cepero Escalanta on Sunday in Cuba - with two more wounded - Deputy Secretary of State Angelo Becciu, former apostolic nuncio to Cuba, sent a telegram of condolence in the name of the Pope to the Archbishop of Havana, Cardinal Jaime Ortega.

The cardinal read the message at the funeral Mass and services that he officiated earlier today. The full text follows (translated from Spanish):


After being informed of the tragic episode in which Messieurs OSVALDO PAYÁ SARDIÑAS and HAROLD CEPERO ESCALANTE lost their lives and other persons were injured, Pope Benedict XVI asks that you extend to their families of the deceased his condolence and his spiritual nearness, even as he prays to the Almighty for the total recovery of those who were injured.

Likewise, the Holy Father offers his fervent prayer to God for the eternal repose of the deceased and that he may grant comfort and strength to those who in this time of sorrow mourn such an irreparable loss.

As he invokes the protection of Our Lady of Charity of El Cobre, and as a token of abundant divine favors during a time of pain, His Holiness affectionately imparts his Apostolic Blessing as a sign of faith and hope in Jesus Christ, Redeemer of mankind.

I sincerely join in the sentiments of the Supreme Pontiff and I express to you, Eminence, my consideration and esteem, in the name of the Risen Christ.

Deputy Secretary of State

A few hundred dissidents attended the funeral services and the procession from the church of the Salvador del Mundo parish to the Havana neighborhood of Cerro, where the Paya family live, and the cemetery of Colon, Havana's largest.

Meanwhile, the regime is reported to have arrested a few more dissidents after Paya's death, claimed by his family and other activists to have been caused by someone in pursuit who forced him to drive off the road and into a tree.

Dissident blogs claim the arrests were made at the funeral after some activists started to chant «Libertad!» and «Democracia!» . Among those arrested was Guillermo Farina, who won the Sakharov Prize in 2010. [Named for the Soviet nuclear physicist and human rights activist Andrei Sakharov, the Prize has been awarded yearly since 1999 by the European Parliament. The first winner was South Africa's Nelson Mandela. In 1990, it was given to Burmese leader Aung San Suu Kyi, and in 2002, to Paya himself.]

[NB: Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger was elected by the prestigious Academie Francaise in 1992 to fill the seat vacated by the death of Sakharov in the Academy of Moral and Political Sciences

[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 7/25/2012 8:59 PM]
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