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BENEDICT XVI: NEWS, PAPAL TEXTS, PHOTOS AND COMMENTARY

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See earlier 10/28/09 entries on the preceding page.






CALENDAR OF LITURGICAL CELEBRATIONS

PRESIDED BY THE HOLY FATHER BENEDICT XVI

November 2009 - January 2010






NOVEMBER 2009

Nov. 5, Thursday
11:30 St. Peter's Basilica, Altar of the Chair
CAPPELLA PAPALE
Mass for the Cardinals and Bishops who died in 2009


Nov. 8 - 32nd Sunday of Ordinary Time
PASTORAL VISIT TO BRESCIA AND CONCESIO


Nov. 28, Saturday
Eve of I Sunday of Advent
17:00 St. Peter's Basilica
CAPPELLA PAPALE
First Vespers




DECEMBER 2009

Dec. 8, Tuesday
Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception
16:00 Piazza di Spagna, Rome
Veneration of the Immaculate Virgin


Dec. 24, Thursday
Solemnity of the Nativity of the Lord
22:00 St. Peter's Basilica
CAPPELLA PAPALE
Midnight Mass


Dec. 25, Friday
Solemnity of the Nativity of the Lord
12:00 Central Loggia, St. Peter's Basilica
"Urbi et Orbi" Blessing


Dec. 31, Thursday
18:00 St. Peter's Basilica
First Vespers
Thanksgiving for the Past Year



JANUARY 2010

Jan. 1, Thursday
Solemnity of Mary Mother of God
XLIII World Day for Peace
10:00 St. Peter's Basilica
CAPPELLA PAPALE
Holy Mass


Jan. 6, Wednesday
Solemnity of the Epiphany
10:00 St. Peter's Basilica
CAPPELLA PAPALE
Holy Mass


Jan. 10, Sunday
Feast of the Baptism of the Lord
10:00 Sistine Chapel
Holy Mass and Baptism


Jan. 25, Monday
Feast of the Conversion of St. Paul
17:30 Basilica of St Paul outside the Walls
Vespers


[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 10/28/2009 9:02 PM]
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10/28/2009 3:08 PM
 
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GENERAL AUDIENCE TODAY

At the General Audience today in St. Peter's Square, the Holy Father described the development of theology in the 12th century, which was the peak of the Middle Ages. Here is how he synthesized it in English.


In our catechesis on the Christian thinkers of the Middle Ages, we now turn to the renewal of theology in the wake of the Gregorian Reform.

The twelfth century was a time of a spiritual, cultural and political rebirth in the West. Theology, for its part, became more conscious of its own nature and method, faced new problems and paved the way for the great theological masterpieces of the thirteenth century, the age of Saint Thomas Aquinas and Bonaventure.

Two basic "models" of theology emerged, associated respectively with the monasteries and the schools which were the forerunners of the medieval universities.

Monastic theology grew out of the prayerful contemplation of the Scriptures and the texts of the Church Fathers, stressing their interior unity and spiritual meaning, centred on the mystery of Christ.

Scholastic theology sought to clarify the understanding of the faith by study of the sources and the use of logic, and led to the great works of synthesis known as the Summae.

Even today this confidence in the harmony of faith and reason inspires us to account for the hope within us (cf. 1 Pet 3:15) and to show that faith liberates reason, enabling the human spirit to rise to the loving contemplation of that fullness of truth which is God himself.








Here is a translation of the catechesis today:




Dear brothers and sisters,

Today I will dwell on an interesting page in history relating to the flowering of Latin theology in the twelfth century, which came about through a providential series of conincidences.

In the countries of Western Europe at the time, there was relative peace which assured society of economic development and consolidation of political structures, while it favored lively cultural activity, thanks also to contacts with the East.

Within the Church, the benefits of the vast activity called the Gregorian reform were evident, because, having been promoted vigorously in the preceding century, it brought more evangelical purity to the life of the ecclesial community, especially among the clergy, and it restituted authentic freedom of action to the Church and to the Papacy.

Moreover, a vast spiritual renewal continued to spread, sustained by rigorous development of the consecrated life: new religious orders were born and were expanding, while the older ones had a promising renewal.

Theology also re-flowered, acquiring a greater consciousness of its own nature: It refined its method, faced new problems, advanced in contemplating the mysteries of God, produced fundamental works, inspired important cultural initiatives from art to literature, and paved the way for the masterpieces of the following century - the century of Thomas Aquinas and Bonaventure of Bagnoregio.

There were two places in which this fervid theological acvitity took place: the monasteries and the citizen schools or scholae, some of which would soon give rise to the university, constituting one of the typical 'inventions' of the Christian Middle Ages.

Arising from these two places precisely - the monasteries and the scholae - one can speak of two different models of theology: monastic and scholastic.

The representatives of monastic theology were the monks, usually abbots, endowed with wisdom and evangelical fervor, essentially dedicated to inspiring and nourishing a loving desire for God.

The representatives of scholastic theology were cultured men, passionate about research; magistrates who wanted to show the reasonableness and the groundedness of the Mysteries of God and men - that were believed out of faith, certainly, but also comprehended by reason.

Their different ends explain the difference in their method and their way of doing theology.

In the monasteries of the 12th century, the theological method was principally linked to explaining Sacred Scripture, to express these as their authors did. What was specially practised was Biblical theology.

The monks, then, were all devout listeners and readers of Sacred Scripture, and one of their main occupations was the lectio divina, which is the prayerful reading of the Bible.

For them, the simple reading of sacred text was not enough to perceive its profound sense, its interior unity and transcendent message. That is why it was necessary to pratice a 'spiritual reading', conducted in obedience to the Holy Spirit.

In the school of the Fathers, the Bible was interpreted allegorically, in order to discover on each page, of the Old Testament as well as the New, what it says of Christ and his work of salvation.

The Bishops' Synod assembly last year on "The Word of God in the life and mission of the Church" reiterated the importance of the spiritual approach to Sacred Scripture.

For this purpose, it is useful to vail of the treasury of monastic theology - an uninterrupted Biblical exegesis - as well as the works written by its representatives, which were precious ascetic commentaries on the books of the Bible.

Monastic theology joined literary preparation with the spiritual. It was aware that a purely theoretical and profane [not sacred] reading of Scripture was not sufficient: In order to enter the heart of Sacred Scripture, it should be read in the spirit in which it was written and created.

Literary preparation was necessary in order to recognize the exact significance of words and facilitate understanding the text by refining one's grammatical and philological sensisibility.

Thus, the 20th-century Benedictine scholar Jean Leclerq entitled his essay presenting the characteristics of monastic theology L’amour des lettres et le désir de Dieu (Love of words and the desire for God).

Indeed, the desire to know and to love God - who comes to us through his Word that must be received, meditated and practiced - leads to examining Biblical texts deeply in all their dimensions.

Another attitude insisted on by those who practiced monastic theology was an intimate prayerful attitude, which must precede, accompany and complete the study of Sacred Scripture.

Inasmuch as ultimately, monastic theology is listening to the Word of God, it is not possible not to purify the heart in order to receive it, and above all, it is not possible not to be inflamed with fervor to encounter the Lord.

Thus theology became meditation, prayer, a song of praise, urging towrds sincere conversion. Not a few representatives of monastic theology reached, through this, the highest levels of mystical experience, and constitute even for us an invitation to nourish our existence on the Word of God - for example, by more attentive listening to the readings and the Gospel at Sunday Mass.

It is also important to reserve some time everyday to a meditation on the Bible, so that the Word of God may be a lamp which illuminates our daily journey on earth.

Scholastic theology, on the other hand, was, as I said, practised in the scholae, which had arisen alongside the great cathedrals of the age, for the preparation of clergy; or around a teacher of theology and his disciples, for the formation of professionals in culture, in an age when knowledge was increasingly appreciated.

Central to the scholastic method was the quaestio, namely, the problem posed to the reader when confronting the words of Scripture or Tradition.

In the face of the problem posed by these authoritative texts, questions are raised and the debate starts between the teacher and his students. In such a debate, on the one hand, are the arguments of authority, and on the other, those of reason; and the debate develops in order to ultimately find a synthesis between authority and reason that results in a more profound understanding of the Word of God.

In this respect, St. Bonaventure says that theology is a process "through addition" (cfr Commentaria in quatuor libros sententiarum, I, proem., q. 1, concl.), namely, theology adds the dimension of reason to the Word of God and thus creates a faith that is deeper, more personal, and therefore, even more concrete in human life.

In this sense, various solutions were found and conclusions were made that were the beginnings of a system of theology. Organizing the quaestiones led to the compilation of ever more extensive syntheses, that is the various quaestiones were put together with the responses they drew to create a synthesis - the so-called summae, which were really ample theological-dogmatic tracts born from the confrontation of human reason and the Word of God.

Scholastic theology aimed to present the unity and harmony of the Christian Revelation with a method - called scholastic, i.e., from the school - which puts trust in human reason: grammar and philology are at the service of theological knowledge, but much more so is logic, that discipline which studies the functioning of human reason in a way that makes the truth of a proposition evident.

Even today, reading the scholastic summae, one is struck by the order, the clarity, the logical concatenation of arguments, as well as by the profundity of some intuitions.

Using a technical language, every word is attributed a precise significance, and a reciprocal movement of clarification is established between belief and understanding.

Dear brothers and sisters, echoing the invitation in the First Letetr of Peter, scholastic theology stimulates us to be always ready to respond to whoever asks us to give a reason for the hope that is in us (cfr 3,15). To listen to questions like ours and be able to give an answer reminds us that there is a natural friendship between faith and reason, which is based in the order of Creation itself.

The Servant of God John Paul II, in the opening line of the encyclical Fides et ratio, wrote: "Faith and reason are like two wings on which the human spirit rises to the contemplation of truth."

Faith is open to the effort of understanding on the part of reason; reason, in its turn, recognizes that faith does not mortify it, but that it pushes it towards wider and higher horizons.

And here, the perennial lesson of monastic theology finds its place. Faith and reason, in reciprocal dialog, vibrate with joy when both are inspired by the search for intimate union with God.

When love enlivens the prayerful dimension of theology, then the knowledge acquired by reason widens. Truth is sought with humility, and received with wonder and gratitude: in short, knowledge grows only if one loves the truth. Love becomes intelligence, and theology, authentic knowledge of the heart, which orients and sustains the faith and the life of believers.

Let us pray, therefore, that the journey of knowledge and deep study of the Mysteries of God may always be illuminated by divine love.






[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 10/28/2009 9:01 PM]
10/28/2009 8:51 PM
 
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New chapter in Hans Kueng's
ongoing fantasy 'If I were Pope,
what a great job I'd do!'



Hans Kueng, of course, is at it again - the only way he gets in the news these days is when he criticizes the Pope. But this time, he's doing it on behalf of that super-eminent self-certified theologian Eugenio Scalfari - to whom Joseph Ratzinger/Benedict XVI is no more than a 'modest theologian' - who, however, apparently does not trust his theological powers enough to tackle the 'modest theologian' directly on the Anglican initiative.

So Scalfari, the self-anointed pope of secularism, enlists Kueng to write it for him on his newspaper La Repubblica - as an editorial no less.

I chose to sideline this story earlier, since it is yet another one of Kueng's bitter regurgitations against his former colleague, but now the Italian agencies are reporting that L'Osservatore Romano has struck back at Kueng - tomorrow's OR isn't online yet - and meanwhile, CNS has done a story on the Kueng editorial....



Dissident theologian criticizes
Pope's opening to Anglicans

By Sarah Delaney



ROME, Oct. 28 (CNS) -- Dissident theologian Father Hans Kung criticized Pope Benedict XVI for his recent opening to discontented Anglicans, charging the pope was "fishing" for the most conservative Christians to the detriment of the larger church.

Father Kung said the invitation to traditionalist Anglicans to join the Roman Catholic Church went against years of ecumenical work on the part of both churches, calling it instead "a nonecumenical piracy of priests."

The Pope's basic message is: "Traditionalists of all churches, unite under the dome of St. Peter's!" Father Kung wrote in an editorial Oct. 28 in the Rome daily La Repubblica.

"Look: The fisherman is fishing above all on the 'right' side of the lake. But the water is muddy," he said.

The Vatican announced Oct. 20 that the Pope was establishing a new structure to welcome Anglicans who want to be in full communion with the Roman Catholic Church while maintaining some of their spiritual and liturgical traditions.

Many of the Anglicans who have asked the Vatican for such a provision are dismayed by the ordination of women and by the blessing of homosexual unions and the ordination of openly gay bishops in some provinces of the Anglican Communion.

While emphasizing the importance of celibacy for priests, the Vatican said a dispensation would be made for former Anglican priests who are married to be ordained Catholic priests. However, they will not be able to become bishops.

Father Kung, a Swiss theologian who has taught in Germany for decades, warned that married newcomers will cause resentment on the part of celibate Catholic clergy.

[Kueng under-estimates the seriousness and fidelity to their vows of the majority of the world's 400,000 Catholic priests, and insults them by attributing potential resentment to all celibate priests. Should we not honor the priests who do thankless tasks in behalf of Christ by believing, at least, that each in his own way tries to lead a holy life worthy of his priesthood 'in persona Christi', and as the Holy Father always exhorts??]

In 1979 the Vatican withdrew permission for him to teach as a Catholic theologian, although it did not restrict his ministry as a Catholic priest.

In the editorial, Father Kung also lambasted Pope Benedict's recent efforts to bring back into the fold members of the Society of St. Pius X, a group of breakaway Catholics opposed to the changes in the church following the Second Vatican Council.

"After reintegrating the anti-reformist Society of St. Pius X, now Benedict XVI wants to flesh out the thinning ranks of Roman Catholics with like-minded Anglicans," Father Kung wrote in the editorial.

He also criticized Anglican Archbishop Rowan Williams of Canterbury, head of the Anglican Communion, who "in his desire to ingratiate himself with the Vatican apparently didn't understand the consequences of the papal fishing trip in Anglican waters."



As soon as I get the OR reply, I wil translate and post. Meanwhile, let me see if I can translate one of the Italian news agency reports on it...

As it turns out, Kueng also vented his bile on the pages of that militantly anti-Church British newspaper, The Guardian, so here he is in English, and I won't attempt to fisk at all - his malice is sempiternal, infinitely inventive in its falsehoods, and will perdure [but not prevail], so why bother? - except to point out that the headline already betrays the newspaper's and the author's bias to paint the Vatican in the most menacing way:
.



The Vatican thirst for power
divides Christianity and
damages Catholicism


The astonishing efforts to lure away Anglican priests
show that Pope Benedict is set on restoring the Roman imperium


by Hans Kueng

Oct. 27, 2009


After Pope Benedict XVI's offences against the Jews and the Muslims, Protestants and reform-oriented Catholics, it is now the turn of the Anglican communion, which encompasses some 77 million members and is the third largest Christian confession after the Roman Catholic and the Orthodox churches.

Having brought back the extreme anti-reformist faction of the Pius X fraternity into the fold, Pope Benedict now hopes to fill up the dwindling ranks of the Catholic church with Anglicans sympathetic to Rome.

Their conversion to the Catholic church is supposed to be made easier: Anglican priests and bishops shall be allowed to retain their standing, even when married. Traditionalists of the churches, unite! Under the cupola of St Peter's! The Fisher of Men is angling in waters of the extreme religious right.

This Roman action is a dramatic change of course: steering away from the well-proven ecumenical strategy of eye-level dialogue and honest understanding; steering towards an un-ecumenical luring away of Anglican priests, even dispensing with medieval celibacy law to
enable them to come back to Rome under the lordship of the Pope.

Clearly, the well-meaning Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, was no match for cunning Vatican diplomacy. In his cosying up with the Vatican, he evidently did not recognise the consequences. Otherwise he would not have put his signature to the downplaying communique of the Catholic Archbishop of Westminster.

Can it be that those caught in the Roman dragnet do not see that they will never be more than second-class priests in the Roman church, that other Catholics are not meant to take part in their liturgical celebrations?

Ironically, this communique impudently invokes the truly ecumenical documents of the Anglican–Roman Catholic International Commission, which were worked out in laborious negotiations between the Roman Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity and the Anglican Lambeth conference: documents on the Eucharist (1971), on church office and ordination (1973), and on authority in the church (1976/81).

People in the know, however, recognise that these three documents, subscribed to by both sides at that time, aimed not at recruitment, but rather at reconciliation. These documents of honest reconciliation provide the basis for a recognition of Anglican orders, which Pope Leo XIII, back in 1896, with anything but convincing arguments, had declared invalid.

But from the validity of Anglican orders follows the validity of Anglican celebrations of the Eucharist. And so mutual Eucharistic hospitality would be possible; in fact, intercommunion. A slow process of growing together of Catholics and Anglicans would have been the consequence.

However, the Vatican Congregation on the Doctrine of the Faith quickly made sure that these documents of reconciliation disappeared in the dungeons of the Vatican. That's called "shelving".

At the time, a confidential press release out of the Vatican cited "too much Küng theology" in them – in other words, a theological basis for a rapprochement between the churches of Rome and Canterbury.

As I wrote in 1967, "a resumption of ecclesial community between the Catholic church and the Anglican church" would be possible, when "the Church of England, on the one side, shall be given the guarantee that its current autochthonous and autonomous church order under the Primate of Canterbury will be preserved fully" and when, "on the other side, the Church of England shall recognise the existence of a pastoral primacy of Petrine ministry as the supreme authority for mediation and arbitration between the churches."

"In this way," I expressed my hopes then, "out of the Roman imperium might emerge a Catholic commonwealth."

But Pope Benedict is set upon restoring the Roman imperium. He makes no concessions to the Anglican communion. On the contrary, he wants to preserve the medieval, centralistic Roman system for all ages – even if this makes impossible the reconciliation of the Christian churches in fundamental questions.

Evidently, the papal primacy – which Pope Paul VI admitted was the greatest stumbling block to the unity of the churches – does not function as the "rock of unity". The old-fashioned call for a "return to Rome" raises its ugly head again, this time through the conversion particularly of the priests, if possible, en masse.

In Rome, one speaks of a half-million Anglicans and 20 to 30 bishops. And what about the remaining 76 million? This is a strategy whose failure has been demonstrated in past centuries and which, at best, might lead to the founding of a "uniate" Anglican "mini-church" in the form of a personal prelature, not a territorial diocese. But what are the consequences of this strategy already today?

First, a further weakening of the Anglican church. In the Vatican, opponents of ecumenism rejoice over the conservative influx. In the Anglican church, liberals rejoice over the departure of the catholicising troublemakers.

For the Anglican church, this split means further corrosion. It is already suffering from the consequences of the heedless and unnecessary election of an avowed gay priest as bishop in the US, an event that split his own diocese and the whole Anglican communion.

This friction has been enhanced by the ambivalent attitude of the church's leadership with respect to homosexual partnerships. Many Anglicans would accept a civil registration of such couples with wide-ranging legal consequences, for instance in inheritance law, and would even accept an ecclesiastical blessing for them, but they would not accept a "marriage" in the traditional sense reserved for partnerships between a man and a woman, nor would they accept a right to adoption for such couples.

Second, the widespread disturbance of the Anglican faithful. The departure of Anglican priests and their re-ordination in the Catholic church raises grave questions for many Anglicans: are Anglican priests validly ordained? Should the faithful together with their pastor convert to the Catholic church?

Third, the irritation of the Catholic clergy and laity. Discontent over the ongoing resistance to reform is spreading to even the most faithful members of the Catholic church. Since the Second Vatican Council in the 60s, many episcopal conferences, pastors and believers have been calling for the abolition of the medieval prohibition of marriage for priests, a prohibition which, in the last few decades, has deprived almost half of our parishes of their own pastor.

Time and again, the reformers have run into Ratzinger's stubborn, uncomprehending intransigence. And now these Catholic priests are expected to tolerate married, convert priests alongside themselves. When they want themselves to marry, should they first turn Anglican, and then return to the church?

Just as we have seen over many centuries – in the east-west schism of the 11th century, in the 16th century Reformation and in the First Vatican Council of the 19th century – the Roman thirst for power divides Christianity and damages its own church. It is a tragedy.



I think the Italian news agency reports have quoted the entire OR editorial, which will be on Page 1 of the 10/29/09 issue, so I will translate it here without the 'Vian wrote' or 'the editorial says' attributions. I use ellipsis points where there could be more in Vian's editorial article than what the report quotes. And I will replace it with the actual editorial as soon as OR posts it online. They're now 5-1/2 hours overdue in posting items from tomorrow's issue.

10/29/06
P.S. It turns out the editorial was in fact quoted in full by ASCA and APCOM reporting on it yesterday, as I suspected. so the translation I posted below is completely valid. But I have taken out the ellipsis points, because thenews agency reports did not omit anything.


Far from reality
Editorial
by Giovanni Maria Vian
Translated from
the 10/29/09 issue of





Once again a decision of Benedict XVI has been painted in dark, pre-constituted colors, and above all, [in terms] farthest from reality.

Doing so, unfortunately, and once again, is Hans Kueng, the Swiss theologian who was his colleague and friend, and that this Pope, in 2005, barely five months after his election, asked to meet with, in friendship, to discuss the common ethical bases of religions and the relationship between reason and faith.

This, despite the fact that in 1979, at the start of John Paul II's Pontificate, Kueng was sanctioned for some of his doctrinal positions by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith [then headed by the Croatian Cardinal Franjo Seper) which, at the end of a process started in the last years of Paul VI, declared that Kueng could no longer be considered a Catholic theologian.

From then on [after the 2005 meeting], Kueng, unfailingly taken up by influential media, has repeatedly criticized Benedict XVI with acrimony and without basis.

As he does now - published to great fanfare by The Guardian in Britain and by La Repubblica in Italy, which will certainly not remain the only newspapers in the world that will publish his article - regarding the truly historical announcement by the Holy See that canonical structures will be constituted to allow the entry into full communion with the Catholic Church of many Anglicans.

A gesture which is aimed at reconstituting the unity mandated by Christ and which comes after a long and arduous ecumenical journey undertaken for that purpose, but which is distorted and misrepresented as if it was an astute power maneuver to be read in political terms, and naturally considered to be extreme right.

It is not worthwhile to underscore the falsehoods and inexactitudes of this latest article by Kueng, whose tones once more don't do honor to his personal history, and in some ways, approach comicality, deliberately ignoring facts, and even mocking the Anglican primate, who signed a joint statement with the Archbishop of Westminster.

Unfortunately, however, the article by the Swiss theologian will be highly circulated and will contribute to a representation of the Catholic Church and Benedict XVI that is as dark as it is unfounded.

To summarize the situation to which the Catholic Church has come to under the present Pope, Kueng writes that it is a tragedy. One does not need to use equally hyperbolic terms to describe his article, even if one is left with great bitterness in the face of this nth gratuitous attack on the Church of Rome and its indisputable ecumenical commitment.


I just wish Vian were a more skilled rhetorician and more facile and effective with language! Imagine what someone like Giuliano Ferrara could write to effectively bring down Kueng's house of cards and sweep it away!


[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 10/30/2009 10:11 AM]
10/28/2009 11:48 PM
 
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As usual, it's Fr. Schall who finds the time to go back and systematically synthesize what takes place in the pressure-cooker situation of event-filled, message-filled apostolic visits, after all of us have moved on to whatver is the topic du jour.




ignatiusinsight.com/features2009/schall_benxviprague_o...
October 28, 2009


"The Presidential flag flying over Prague Castle proclaims the motto 'Pravda V’tez’'–[Veritas Vincit] the Truth wins"
-- Benedict XVI, Arrival at Prague Airport, September 26, 2009.

"Europe is more than a continent. It is a home! And freedom finds its deepest meaning in a spiritual homeland. With full respect for the distinction between the political realm and that of religion...I wish to underline the irreplaceable role of Christianity for the formation of the conscience of each generation and the promotion of a basic ethical consensus that serves every person who calls this continent, 'home...'

"I acknowledge the voice of those who today across this country and continent, seek to apply their faith respectfully yet decisively in the public arena, in the expectation that social norms and policies be informed by the desire to live by the truth that sets every man and woman free."
-- Benedict XVI, Address to Diplomatic Corps, Prague Castle, September 26, 2009.

"Man needs to be liberated from material oppression, but more profoundly, he must be saved from the evils that afflict the spirit."
-- Benedict XVI, Brno, Moravia, September 27, 2009.



I.

Gradually, Benedict XVI is covering the world in his visits — Germany, France, Angola, Australia, Brazil, Spain, Turkey, Israel, Poland, United States, Cameroons and Austria.

Prague is not so far from Munich and Regensburg in Germany. It is often called the heart of Europe, the second city of the old Holy Roman Empire. Prague is a beautiful city, somehow one that has escaped the wars of modern times.

At his arrival at the Prague airport, the Pope mentioned "the significant part played by the Czech lands in Europe's intellectual, cultural and religious history, sometimes as a battleground, more often as a bridge."

The Pope often was reminded of the experience of the Czech people under communist rule. He listed their saints — Cyril, Methodius, Wenceslaus, Adalbert, John Nepomuk, Agnes of Bohemia, and Ludmila.

He acknowledged Gregor Mendel the Augustinian monk from Moravia "whose pioneering research laid the foundations of modern genetics."

He cites Kafka. He quotes Vaclav Havel: "Dictatorship is based on falsehood, and if falsehood is overcome, if no one lies any longer and if the truth comes to light, there is also freedom." Benedict rarely talks of freedom without first and last talking of truth.

On September 26, with the Diplomatic Corps, the Pope and the Czech President, V‡clav Klaus, listened to the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra in the elegant Presidential Hall of the Castle.

The Pope often refers to the origins and unity of Europe with its roots in Christianity. "Every generation has the task of engaging anew in the arduous search for the right way to order human affairs seeking the proper use of human freedom."

The Pope even cites the first chapters of Aristotle's Ethics, that all things seek the good while the common good is itself more "divine" though not opposed to one's own good which is itself included in the common good.

"Truth...is the guiding norm for freedom, and goodness is freedom's perfection." The good seeks the perfection of the each being that is good in what it is.

An abiding theme of Benedict is "What is Europe?"

"Its Christian roots have nourished a remarkable spirit of forgiveness, reconciliation and cooperation which has enabled the people of these lands to find freedom and to usher in a new beginning, a new synthesis, a renewal of hope. Is it not precisely that spirit that contemporary Europe requires?"

We forget sometimes that forgiveness and reconciliation are themselves innovations. They are not particularly obvious as personal and public means of order. They must be learned and witnessed to. At some point, the only way to stop injustice from perpetuating itself is the route of forgiveness.

Benedict realizes that truth needs courage. "Courage to articulate the truth in fact serves all members of society by shedding light on the path of human progress, indicating its ethical and moral foundations, and ensuring that public policy draws upon the treasury of human wisdom. Sensibility to universal truth should never be eclipsed by particular interests, important though they may be...."

Often it takes more courage to speak the truth in public than to die for it. Perhaps this result is one of the effects of the modern liberal state's refusal ever to kill its Socrates. It does not kill him; it ignores him.

"The pursuit of truth makes consensus possible, keeps public debate logical, honest and accountable, and ensures the unity which vague notions of integration simply cannot achieve."

This is a strong statement. Consensus is achieved not by denying that truth exists. This is the effect of much modern tolerance theory. We can agree because nothing is true. Such a view provides no ground for logic and public accountability. Vagueness is really a cover for not knowing or wanting to know.

"The creative encounter of classical tradition and the Gospel," Benedict remarked, "gave birth to a vision of man and society attentive to God's presence among us .... Europe, in fidelity to her Christian roots, has a particular vocation to uphold this transcendent vision in her initiatives to serve the common good of individuals, communities, and nations."

Europe is an ordered fusing together of Hebrew and Christian revelation before the Greek philosophical tradition, the Roman law, and the new barbarian peoples who moved into the late Empire to become inheritors of all these traditions. But what holds them all together is what Christianity is. Without it, as we often see, Europe betrays itself.


II.

In St. Vitus Cathedral at Vespers, Benedict, reflecting on the immediate past of the country he visits, explained, "It is not easy to live and bear witness to the Gospel. Society continues to suffer from the wounds caused by atheist ideology, and it is often seduced by the modern mentality of hedonism, consumerism amid a dangerous crisis of human and religious values and a growing drift towards ethical and cultural relativism."

The pervasive influence of a disordered culture is acknowledged here. It is not easy to live the Gospel. We are drawn away easily enough if we are not sure of our grounds.

At Brno in Moravia on September 27, Benedict repeated a familiar thesis of his, namely, that nothing can be just "handed down" from one generation to another. Each person has his own autonomy, his own reason and will. He must freely accept what he understands to be handed down. He can reject it.

"Freedom has constantly to be won over to the cause of good, and the arduous search for the 'right way to order human affairs' is a task that belongs to all generations." We are free to reject the good. Our history attests to this, as does our conscience.

Yet, if there is a task for all generations, it is precisely to find "the right way to order human affairs." This is our kind's inner-worldly task, one at which it often fails.

Recalling themes from his great encyclical Spe Salvi on the nature of modern political eschatology, Benedict explained: "In fact, in the modern age both faith and hope have undergone a 'shift,' because they have been relegated to the private and other-worldly sphere, while in day to day public life confidence in scientific and economic progress has been affirmed. We all know that this progress is ambiguous: it opens up possibilities for good as well as evil."

Faith and hope in the supernatural sense have become private, but faith and hope in the political sense have replaced the Christian concept of everlasting life. There is no future for the individual. There is only future for the collectivity down the ages, which may or may not happen. Individual persons are left aside as means to some inner-worldly end down the ages.

Before the Ecumenical Council of the Czech Republic in Brno, Benedict also said that "attempts to marginalize the influence of Christianity upon public life — sometimes under the pretext that its teachings are detrimental to the well-being of society — are emerging in new forms."

Benedict is quite insistent on a public presence of Christianity in the political order. It is not another party or movement, to be sure. But demands a public presence with the freedom to state what it is before the country and the nations in fair circumstances.

Religion is not simply "private." It inspires a way of life, a way of life that is itself of value and worth to any public order. Religion "renders" to Caesar, but Caesar is not everything.

What is in American terms is usually called "the separation of church and state" is really too facile.

"Artificial separation of the Gospel from intellectual and public life" is a major problem. It is in public that individual persons need to know their final end is not politics itself.

Christ is our salvation, not the state. All the state can do is to provide an arena in which we can work out our final destiny. This "working-out" is ultimately what the civil order is for, though it is its own end and can itself be reflective of a higher order.

The Pope returns to the European question: "As Europe listens to the story of Christianity, she hears here own. Her notions of justice, freedom and social responsibility, together with the cultural and legal institutions established to preserve these ideas and hand them on to future generations, are shaped by her Christian inheritance."

The Pope speaks this way because European diplomats are busy denying such historical Christian roots. Europe wants Christian ways without Christian belief. It won't happen.

Catholicism is not an "ism." It is open in its philosophy and theology to what is there. "Precisely because the Gospel is not an ideology, it does not presume to lock evolving socio-political realities into rigid schemata. Rather, it transcends the vicissitudes of the world and casts new light on the dignity of the human person."

We do not know God's ways. As David Walsh has shown, however, modern thought has itself always become uncomfortable with its own certitudes. They were closed systems that claimed to know all of reality, but without the help of revelation.

The "new dignity of the human person" is nothing less than his eternal life, offered to each existing human person at the price of his openness to truth and good, themselves embodied in the person of the Word made flesh.

On September 27, at a meeting with Czech academics in Prague Castle, Benedict returned to that institution he made so central in his Regensburg Lecture, namely the university and its origins.

"The freedom that underlies the exercise of reason — be it in a university or in the Church — has a purpose: it is directed to the pursuit of truth, and as such gives expression to a tenet of Christianity which in fact gave rise to the university."

The university arose in the climate of the claims to truth found in both reason and Revelation, a fact alone that suggests why they belong together in the same institution.

Benedict never fails to recall the classical wing of the Christian mind. "From the time of Plato, education has been not merely the accumulation of knowledge or skills, but paideia, human formation in the treasures of an intellectual tradition directed to a virtuous life."

The Pope said in Spe Salvi that the classical philosopher was not a professor. He was a man who sought the truth as a way of life. Virtue itself enables us to be free enough to choose what is good when we encounter it. But it is not something we make for ourselves. It is something we find, something given to us.

We can speak of an "authentic humanitas." This is nothing less than the "perfection of the individual within the unity of a well-ordered society."

The well-ordered society will mean little if the souls of the citizens are not also well-ordered. It is not the state that is saved, but individuals who have lived in sundry states while they passed through this world.

Our world is full of information, with little truth. There are those "who indiscriminately give equal value to practically everything."

If everything is equal, the distinction between good and evil quickly becomes blurred. That it become so blurred is no doubt one of the purposes of modern relativism, to which subject the Pope often returns.

But this relativism is itself contradictory. It cannot be true that all is relative to time or concept. "This confidence in the human ability to seek truth, to find truth and to live by the truth led to the foundations of the great European universities."

Some universities, like Harvard, have "Veritas" itself as their motto. This motto first came from the Apostle John, who said that we shall know the truth, veritas, and that alone shall make us free. The simplification of this motto can by no means forget its real origin.

The modern Czech flag has the words Veritas Vincit. Truth is victorious. Benedict tells us from Prague that spiritual evils are far more dangerous than material temptations.

Europe is a "home" wherein our consciences can be formed in the tradition of reason and revelation speaking to each other. The truth is what sets us free.

The public not only has a need to hear such truth, but its heart will be restless until it does. This latter restlessness is not a theory about the future but a record of the same past we all share. To choose to make a better social order we first need to change our souls. There is no other way.

Plato had already told us this. We often do everything we can not to accept this basic truth. But the Pope went to Prague, in the heart of central Europe, to tell us that we have roots that stretch to eternity.

"Man must be saved from the evils that affect his spirit." Technology cannot do this. Politics cannot do this. There is a "right way to order human affairs."

We cannot be overly surprised in following Benedict in Prague to find that this "right order" begins with what we think our end as human persons is.

It is the function of the papacy to speak of ultimate things, even to the Europeans, even in, especially in the beautiful ancient capitol of the Bohemians.


10/29/2009 12:58 AM
 
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The last post on the preceding page this morning is what I called "a minor beginning (because it's a brief blog entry, more like notes for further consideration rather than a full-fledged essay) to a more informed reassessment of Benedict XVI's Pontificate and his deliberate method of reform as he approaches the five-year mark as Successor of Peter" - the blog entry was by Philip Lawler of Catholic World News/Catholic Culture.

It turns out Robert Moynihan did a more extended riff on the subject for his Letter From Rome in which he was commenting on the first session of the Ecclesia Dei-FSSPX doctrinal discussions about Vatican II.




Letter #44, from Rome

Posted by: Robert Moynihan Ph.D.
on Oct 26, 2009



Movement on all Fronts

Though 82, Benedict XVI is moving on all fronts: Lefebvrists, Anglicans, the Orthodox, Jews. The "pontificate of transition" is becoming the "pontificate of action." Will the Pope's vision succeed?

[He then reports the Vatican communique on the first session with the FSSPX.]

...If one looks at these meetings in the context of recent events, the essential point is this: Benedict XVI, though now 82, is moving on many different fronts with great energy in a completely unexpected way, given his reputation as a man of thought, not of action. (We are going to have to revise our understanding of his pontificate.)

He is clearly reaching out to reunite with many Christian groups: the Lefebvrists, as these meetings show, but also Anglicans, the Orthodox, and others as well.

He seems to be trying to make Catholic Rome a center of communion for all Christians.

This activity, occurring at an accelerating speed over recent months, looks almost like a "rallying of the troops" before some final, decisive battle.

The activity is critically important, in this sense, for our current global "culture war," especially our anthropology (can man be anything our technology can make him, or are their moral limits we should observe?), our sexuality and sexual behavior (how important is our sexual identity, how important are our gender roles?), and our traditional family structures (are these now outmoded, perhaps even to be completely discarded?).

Now, 44 years after the close of the Second Vatican Council, Benedict XVI evidently has committed some of his best men to seek unity with the most conservative wing of the Catholic Church, the Society of St. Pius X, and by extension, all so-called "Traditionalist" Catholics.

The plan is very ambitious: to go step by step through all of the great, controversial doctrinal issues of the post-conciliar period. This includes religious freedom, it includes ecumenism, it includes the Chruch's teaching on Judaism and the Jews, it includes the new Mass vs. the old Mass and the role of the priest of the laity in the liturgy -- all the great issues of the Council.

Benedict will be watched very closely here by progressives, who seem to be a bit off-balance, wondering what Benedict is really after.

And he will be watched by the Anglicans, some of whom are considering entering into communion with Rome, overcoming a schism which dates from the Protestant Reformation in the 1500s, 500 years ago.

And he will be watched by the Orthodox, some of whom are also thinking of overcoming the "Great Schism" which dates to 1054, as they have stated in recent days.

And he will be watched very closely here by representatives of the world Jewish community, some of whom are wondering which direction Benedict and the Church he leads will take with regard to Catholic teaching regarding Judiasm and the Jewish people.

In short, many eyes are now on Benedict, wondering what he really intends here.

The answer seems simple enough: Benedict is trying energetically to "get his house in order."

But which house?

On one level, it is the Christian Church -- a Christian Church under considerable pressure in the highly secualrized modern world.

In this "house," this "ecclesia Dei" ("church of God" or "community of God"), dogmas and doctrines, formulated into very precise verbal statements, are held as true. These verbal formulas are professed in creeds.

Benedict is seeking to overcome divisions over the content of these creeds, these doctrinal formulas, in order to bring about formal, public unity among separated Christians.

He is trying to find unity not only with the Lefebvrists (and all Traditionalists within the Church) but also, as we have seen in recent days, with the Anglicans and the Orthodox Churches.

So this dialogue with the Lefebvrists must be seen in the context of multiple dialogues, all occurring at once: Catholic Traditionalists, Protestant Anglicans, the Orthodox Churches.

One might almost say this pontificate is become one of "all dialogue, all the time."

But on a second level, considering world events and the evolution of the world's economy and culture, something else is also at stake.

Benedict is rallying his troops. He is trying to reunite all those factions and denominations and groups in the West that share common beliefs in the eternal destiny of human beings, in the sacredness of human life (since human beings are "in the image and likeness of God"), in the existence of a moral standard which is true at all times and in all places (against the relativism of the modern secular culture), in the need for justice in human affairs, for the rule of right, not might.

And so he is doing his best, in what seems perhaps to be the "twilight of the West," to build an ark, centered in Rome, to which all those who share these beliefs about human dignity may repair.

And this means that what Benedict is doing in this dialogue which got underway today is also of importance to Jews, to Muslims, and to all men and women of goodwill.

Mankind seems to be entering a new period, a period in which companies and governments may produce, even for profit, "designer humans," a period of resource wars, a period of the complete rejection of the traditional family unit.

Benedict, from his high room in the Apostolic Palace, seems to be trying to rally the West in the twilight of an age, so that what was best in the West may be preserved, and shine forth again after the struggles of our time are past.

[Thank you, Dr. Moynihan. That is a most beautiful formulation for what the Holy Father is trying to do - one that reminds us that in more ways than one, he is the new Benedict of Europe, keeping the continent's soul and substance intact, so that what is good in Western civilization may not only be preserved for posterity but nurtured to full vigor in the conservatory of faith.]

What is the real, fundamental issue of these talks?

It is this: Did the Second Vatican Council teach new doctrines not in keeping with prior Church teaching, and so lead the Church into error (as the Society of St. Pius X, and other traditional Catholics, have often argued)?

Or did the Council develop doctrines based on what the Church has always taught, and so open up new, legitimate aspects of old doctrines?

To put it another way: Did a "new Church" come into being after Vatican II, a Church which broke with the "old Church" of the pre-conciliar period?

Or is it still the same Catholic Church of all time, which has simply been passing through a confusing period as it attempts to find a way to live in and bear witness to the modern world?

Benedict has been calling for a re-interpretation of Vatican II for almost 40 years. In book-length interviews when he was Cardinal Ratzinger, in major studies of the liturgy and in addresses as Pope, he has denounced interpretations of Vatican II which claim it as a rupture with the Catholic faith of all time.

The Lefebvrists have maintained that is is difficult, if not impossible, to interpret Vatican II as being in continuity with all prior Church tradition.

But Benedict has said he believes this interpretation can be made.

And he has sent his chosen men into this dialogue to show the Lefebvrists how it can be done.

The true drama of this dialogue is whether his men will succeed.

Because if his men succeed, the Traditionalists will come back into full union with the Church -- and many conservative Anglicans and Orthodox will also feel more willing to enter into Rome's embrace.

But this very success will mean a defeat for... many progressive theologians, who have argued that Vatican II is a clean break with many "negative" teachings of the "old Church."

Therefore, if Benedict and his men succeed in this effort, the result will be to bring the Traditionalists over into a Church that rejects what they too have hitherto rejected, by defining certain teachings of Vatican II in a traditional way which will suddenly close off to progressives those avenues of interpretation that they have freely exploited for four decades now.

So what is at stake in these discussions is far more than what happens to the Lefebvrists.

What is at stake is how the Church of the future will judge and interpret Vatican II.


Does it have to be the Church of the future to do that? I thought when both sides announced earlier this week that they anticipated a year of bimestral discussions that it was a most hopeful sign this could all be resolved soon. In Vatican time, a year is virtually a fingersnap.

And at any rate, our prayer should be that the fair and proper clarification of all the ambiguities and misinterpretations of Vatican II will take place definitively in the Pontificate of Benedict XVI. It would be divine justice and poetic justice, too.
[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 10/29/2009 9:07 PM]
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This is such a welcome article for providing reliable facts - and asking the right questions - from a well-informed source on the Anglican-Catholic interface, after all the unwarranted speculation by Catholic pundits getting ahead of the Pope and coming up with doomsday forecasts...

Taylor Marshall is a former Anglican priest and the author of The Crucified Rabbi: Judaism and the Origins of Catholic Christianity. He is currently a Doctoral Student and Instructor of Philosophy at the University of Dallas.



Five myths about the Pope’s
planned Anglican Ordinariates

By Taylor Marshall

10/28/2009


DALLAS, TX (Catholic Online) - On October 20, 2009, the Holy See made an unexpected announcement: the Holy Father will be issuing an Apostolic Constitution (the highest form of papal document) through which he will erect personal ordinariates for Anglican clergy and laity wishing to enter the Catholic Church.

While rumors about this have been stirring since 2007, the recent decision came as a surprise to most Catholics and Anglicans.

Those who remember their high school history might recall that Pope Gregory the Great sent missionaries to England in the late sixth century to establish the Catholic Church in England. In A.D. 598, Pope Gregory the Great designated the township of Canterbury as the nation’s principal see.

There were hiccups along the way (Norman conquest), but England remained under the pastoral oversight of the Pope until 1534 when King Henry VIII declared himself caput ecclesiae anglicanae “Head of the English Church.”

Henry VIII never shook his devotion to the old rites. He demanded priestly celibacy, Latin Masses, and prayers for the dead. He did however have an appetite for the wealth of the monasteries. When Henry VIII died in 1547, he left his son Edward VI as king. As a Protestant, Edward approved a Protestantized English ritual which became known as the Book of Common Prayer in 1549.

The liturgies found in the Book of Common Prayer and subsequent editions reveal a careful blend of medieval Catholic piety mixed with subtle Protestantism.

Henry’s daughter Queen Elizabeth fully realized this compromise between Catholicism and Protestantism — perhaps the cleverest grab for political power in history. As England colonized the world, she spread her national Anglican church. In America, she became the Episcopal Church. The new worldwide conglomerate of national churches became known as the Anglican Communion.

Since those days, the Anglican Communion has been divided into roughly three camps: High Church (more Catholic), Low Church (more Protestant), and Broad Church (liberals who bless the political and cultural mores of society — something going all the way back to Henry’s desire for a second marriage, and then a third marriage, and then a fourth… you know the story).

In the last twenty years, the Broad Churchmen emerged as victors in the Anglican Communion as they secured the ordination of women in the 1980s and 1990s. The past decade has been embroiled in debates about homosexuality as it touches on marriage and clerical ordination. The disaffected conservatives (High Church and Low Church) are looking for options.

Clearly, the High Church movement is open to the Catholic Church and many bishops, priests, and lay people have appealed to the Pope for help. The Pope has now provided an an answer: “Come home! Rome opens its doors to you!”

The New York Times, the London Times and almost every known newspaper has printed articles about this new announcement. The blogs are ablaze. However, there is a lot of misinformation churning around out there. I have collected five common misconceptions about the Holy See’s announcement. Each myth merits an informed and measured response.


Myth #1 The Pope is sheep-stealing

The Pope’s alleged “sheep-stealing” been the most popular subject within the secular media. To them, the Holy Father has launched a media campaign to kick the Anglican Communion while it’s down. The poor Archbishop of Canterbury is struggling to keep things together and then “Bamm!” the Pope surprises everyone with a bid for Anglican souls.

However, we must remember that it was Anglicans who pursued the matter with the Holy Father — and we’re not talking about just one or two Anglicans. We are talking about thousands and thousands of Anglicans: bishops, priests, deacons, and laity.

Anglican bishops from several nations have sent private letters to the Holy See. Much of this is confidential. They want a way out. They want to become Catholic. The Pope is responding to souls looking to him for guidance. The Pope is not stealing sheep — he is holding out his pastoral staff to those sheep looking for protection.


Myth #2 Rome is preparing the world
for a general married priesthood


The media also sunk its teeth into the fact that the new Anglican ordinariates would preserve the already recognized discipline of allowing married ex-Anglican priests to be ordained as married Catholic priests.

This is nothing new. Pope John Paul II approved this measure in 1980 as the “Pastoral Provision.” The new personal ordinariate structure does not change anything. In this regard, nothing is new. I have seen with my own eyes the CDF document from the mid-1980s penned by none other than Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger himself.

The document clearly states that the Pastoral Provision is approved so long as it does not undermine the Roman discipline of clerical celibacy. Since the man who wrote that statement is now the Supreme Pontiff of the Holy Catholic Church, I doubt that he is prepping everyone for a change in clerical celibacy.

Moreover, convert clergy from Anglicanism will be re-ordained, since Rome does not accept the validity of Anglican ordination.


Myth #3 Rome has reconciled itself
to the Protestant Reformation


This myth is based on the liturgical norms accepted by Rome for use by Anglican converts. It goes like this: the Anglican Book of Common Prayer is a book of Protestant worship. Rome is now allowing use of its liturgies; therefore, Rome has capitulated to Protestantism.

This argument fails to mention that then-Cardinal Ratzinger heavily oversaw the production of the Book of Divine Worship — the approved set of liturgies for Anglican convert parishes.

Protestant elements were expunged (e.g. Thomas Cranmer’s consecration prayer), and good elements were retained. The Book of Divine Worship is a “sanitized” version of the Book of Common Prayer, and I suspect that future revisions will be even more traditional in their formulas.


Myth #4 The Anglican Personal Ordinariates
will be like Opus Dei
(or like the Eastern Catholic Churches)


In canon law, Opus Dei is constituted as a personal prelature. A personal prelature is headed by a prelate (Bishop Javier Echevarria in the case of Opus Dei) and it does not have geographic limits (unlike a local diocese which does have geographic limits), but includes persons who are associated—this is why it's called “personal.” Moreover, it envelops both clergy and laity. It's not a religious “order” because it has a lay element.

A personal ordinariate, on the other hand, is similar but different. It is headed by an ordinary (who can be either a bishop or priest). It too is “personal” meaning that it does not have geographic boundaries like a diocese does. It can also include both clergy and laity like a personal prelature.

A personal ordinariate differs from a personal prelature in that an ordinariate is reckoned as a “particular church.” This means that these Anglican ordinariates will not be ritual churches like the Eastern Catholic Churches (e.g. Maronite or Melkite). The Anglican personal ordinariates will remain under the Roman Rite as an expression of its liturgical diversity.


Myth #5 We already know everything
about the Anglican personal ordinariates


We do not know much at all about the Anglican personal ordinarates. All we have is the press release from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

Here’s really all we know at this juncture:
1) The Pope wants this to happen fast;
2) The Pope is issuing an Apostolic Constitution soon;
3) The Apostolic Constitution will establish the canonical structure of personal ordinariates;
4) The Pope wishes to continue to allow married convert-clergy to serve as priests;
5) The Pope values the “Anglican patrimony” of music, liturgy, reverence, and architecture.

This sums up about all we can know at this point.

Here is what we do not know. First, is this a permanent or temporary solution to an ecumenical problem. Will the ordinariates be a ten year, twenty year, or one hundred year project?

Related to this question is the concern for how future clergy would be educated and ordained. Would the seminarians training for the ordinariate attend a designated seminary?

Moreover, who will serve as the “ordinaries” of the ordinariates if married priests cannot be bishops? Will former Anglican bishops be the first ones considered by the Holy See? What will happen to the current Anglican Use Catholic parishes? Will they be rolled into the new arrangement?

And of particular interest to Anglicans, what will the liturgical norms look like? Can the current Book of Divine Worship be revised? The answers to these and other questions await the publication of the actual Apostolic Constitution.

This move by the Holy Father is simply a continuation of his work with Anglicans in the 1980s and 1990s. He understands them, and he is responding to them. We do not even know how many Anglicans will respond to the ordinariate proposal. It could be giant wave of world-wide conversions…or a trickle. Let us pray for the tidal wave.

As a former Anglican priest myself, I am profoundly grateful for our Holy Father’s generous proposal toward Anglicans, “that they all might be one” (Jn 17:21).

My journey form Anglicanism to Catholicism has been difficult but it was at the same time a via mirabilis — a miraculous way, as John Henry Cardinal Newman described it.

I know many Anglican friends who will take up the Holy Father on his offer. Sadly, I know others who will not. Regardless of how the cards fall, Catholics should recognize that the Holy Father’s announcement stands in full agreement with the ecumenical agenda that he articulated when he became Pope.

In conformity to the Sacred Heart of Christ, he seeks to reconcile all who call on the name of Christ. Let us continue to pray with the Holy Father and encourage those Anglicans who seek a new home.



[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 10/29/2009 1:22 AM]
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Thursday, Oct. 29

ST. NARCISSUS OF JERUSALEM (c. 99-216), Bishop
30th bishop of Jerusalem, named when he was 80.
In 195, presided at a Council which decreed
that Easter should be celebrated on a Sunday and
not with the Jewish Passover. During one Easter
Vigil, he changed water to oil for the church lamps.
He died at age 115-116 while praying on his knees.




OR today.

Illustration: Cistercian monks listening to Bernard of Clairvaux. 16th-cent. folio, Musee Conde-Chantilly.
At the General Audience, the Pope speaks of monastic theology and scholastic theology:
'A natural friendship between faith and reason'

Other Page 1 stories: An editorial against Hans Kueng's Oct. 28 essay in The Guardian and La Repubblica attacking Benedict XVI for his opening towards the Anglicans [translation posted on this page yesterday, four posts above, with the Kueng article]; a teaser about an inside-page lecture about Cardinal Newman; and terrorist massacre in Pakistan as Hillary Clinton arrives on an official visit.




THE POPE'S DAY
The Holy Father met today with

- H.E. Ali Akbar Naseri, Ambassador of the Islamic Republic of Iran, who presented his credentials. Address in French.

- Cardinal Ivan Dias, Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples

- Participants in the plenary session of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications. Address in Italian.


The Pope named members of the Administrative Council of the Holy See Agency for the Evaluation and Promotion
of the Quality of Ecclesiastical Universities and Faculties (AVEPRO, from its Italian acronym).


[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 10/29/2009 1:20 PM]
10/29/2009 2:35 PM
 
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Much as I dislike having to post anything more on Hans Kueng than I have to, there's more. Apparently the Big Ego self-syndicates his anti-Rome, anti-Benedict tirades. After La Repubblica and The Guardian yesterday [see earlier posts on this page], today, it's France's Le Monde that is running his one-size-fits-all polemic against the Pope for his opening to the Anglicans (and to the Lefebvrians, for that matter).

Patrice de Plunkett's commentary below also sees the other equally innocent victims of Kueng's meant-to-be-withering contempt - the Anglicans who may wish to convert to Catholicism.




Hans Küng: One article too many
Translated from

Oct. 29, 2009


Hans Küng, 81, signs his name to an article in Le Monde today that does him no honor.

Elliptical polemic, a melange of editorializing, and above all, contempt. Towards the 400,000 Anglicans who are rallying to the Catholic Church...

As I said the other day on Radio Notre Dame, it is obscene to denigrate these men and women. They are Anglicans who have decided they can no longer tolerate the intellectual, moral and spiritual downdrift of Anglicanism's Western leaders, and have therefore asked to return to the Church of Rome.

It is their most intimate right, which rests on their clear adherence to the Gospel. An adherence that has led these men and women - our Christian brothers and sisters - to decide that the threshold of unacceptability had been crossed by the friends of the Archbishop of Canterbury.

Hans Küng doesn't want to hear of it. He will not admit that these 4000,000 traditional Anglicans [DIM]8pt[=DIM][their leaders, in their name] spontaneously asked to become Catholic.

He would have it that Rome's welcome to them is 'papal politics', a 'poaching for priests', a 'question of papal fishing in Anglican waters'.

A rich and famous octogenarian, (fallen) idol of mainstream media, Küng nurses a profound bitterness that has impelled him to write rudenesses and, begging his pardon, nonsense. Just read his article in Le Monde!
www.lemonde.fr/opinions/article/2009/10/28/la-poli...
[It's the French translation of the Guardian article - except that the British paper omits Küng's first words preceding the first sentence: 'It's a real tragedy:...'. An editorial discretion that Le Monde does not share, because it takes the article title from those very words, to wit, 'The Pope's policy towards the Anglicans is a real tragedy', by Hans Küng.]


To cite himself in 25 lines to show that he has always been right is simply paltry. To accuse Benedict XVI of seeking to recruit 'the extreme right' is base.

But Küng has haunted the editorial rooms too long not to have acquired a series of (mental) tics. He thinks that the formulas which worked in the 1980s continue to be valid in 2009.

he does not see that the vision of Papa Ratzinger responds to the world as it is today far better than the nostalgias that accompany media star Küng along his Sunset Boulevard.

He has just written one article too many.


P.S. The most distressing part [of Küng's article], humanly speaking, is that about Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury. Furious about Williams's statement [with the Archbishop of Westminster] over the seceding Anglicans, Küng reads him a lecture: he should have seen the matter differently, said something else, etc. In short, throw an old man's fit.


I wonder whether OR's uncharacteristic failure to post the 10/29/09 edition [a totally regular one] online by its usual 3 pm Rome time schedule - they finally posted it several hours later - could have been due to kind-hearted misgivings by the Pope about running Vian's editorial against his former friend, who like him, is 82, soon to be 83.

The Secretariat of State could have spent hours trying to figure out how to put the genie back in the bottle, since the print edition was already out on the streets, and of course, the editorial was immediately reported by the Italian news agencies - and finally convinced the Pope there was nothing they could do.

Unfortunately, Kueng will continue to write against Benedict XVI every chance he gets. It's his only stock in trade now. He has no theological novelties to peddle, he continues to be a diligent writer of voluminous tomes, but his books obviously come nowhere near the sales figures of Benedict's thinnest tracts - and his only attraction to media editors and reporters now is anything he can say against the Pope and against the Church.

Even worse, his 'spirit of Vatican II' vision of the Church appears to be fast retreating into the mists as Benedict XVI is able to make the institutional changes that will validate and enforce what Vatican II really meant.

All this makes for a humiliating situation difficult for an egoist to accept in the final phase of a career that had a remarkable star turn in the immediate post-conciliar years. But even the brightest media star cannot hope to match, in the reckoning of history, an old friend and perceived rival who becomes Pope - and bids fair to be a memorable one (not to mention great and sainted)!

So, Father Hans, curb your ego and pray instead.


[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 10/30/2009 1:56 PM]
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This is an illuminating, realistic and well-informed article published shortly after the announcement of the Pope's decision on returning Anglicans, but I did not get to see it till just now. The author is a former Episcopal bishop who converted in 2007 and now teaches Patristics at a Catholic college in Texas. He has firsthand experience not just as a convert but as someone who started working for this welcome development in the 1990s.


Seeking the pearl of great price
by Fr. Jeffrey Steenson

Friday, 23 October 2009



For Anglicans to enter into full communion with the Catholic Church, gathered around St. Peter and his successors, is not unlike the experience of the merchant in Matthew 13:46, who, “when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had, and bought it.”

It is a demanding venture, requiring sacrifice, but this is the nature of the apostolate, and it is of such fundamental importance that all contingent arguments must ultimately fall away.

Benedict XVI’s astonishing generosity in offering a canonical home to Anglicans who desire to be in communion with him is an occasion for great rejoicing, for it will mean that we do not journey alone.

Anglicans do not come to Rome primarily because they are unhappy with their churches. There are options within the Anglican world that are far more accessible to those who object to recent decisions and developments within their own churches.

The warnings heard especially in liberal Catholic circles about the dangers of admitting the disaffected Anglicans are to be heeded of course, but most of the anger I have encountered as a Catholic comes from disaffected Catholics who object to the teachings of their own Church.

The journey to full communion is by nature a purgative process, and the souls who arrive are mostly simply happy to be there.

For me the moment of truth came in early 2007, at a meeting of the House of Bishops of the Episcopal Church, amidst colleagues whom I had come to love, whose company I truly enjoyed.

They felt the time had come for them to assert that the polity of the Episcopal Church was essentially local and democratic and that its wider associations within the Anglican Communion and the Christian world were voluntary and collaborative.

This was the straw that broke the camel’s back; I could not reconcile this position with the Catholic understanding of the Church. And as a member of a church family whose origins were Roman, it seemed obvious to me what must be done.

It was not a sudden decision. The goal of Catholic unity has been, more or less, an integral part of Anglican identity since Newman, as the agreed statements of the Anglican Roman Catholic International Commission plainly show.

The conditions for corporate reunion seemed favorable for a brief season in the years immediately following Vatican II. But powerful counter-intuitive movements within Anglicanism had pushed the goal of full communion so far over the horizon that it was no longer realistic to expect that the established ecumenical instruments could heal the schism.

And so various groups and individuals approached the Holy See, not with the intention of repudiating Anglicanism, but rather to discover a new path toward unity.

I was a part of one such effort in 1993-1994. In reviewing our submissions to the Holy See from that time, it was astonishing to find so many echoes in the Note of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) about Personal Ordinariates.

For those who are interested in following this story, William Oddie’s The Roman Option (Harper/Colllins, 1997) is essential reading.

To add one note to Dr Oddie’s fine study – the request for a canonical structure similar to the military ordinariate was initially proposed by Msgr William Stetson, for many years the secretary to the ecclesiastical delegate for the Pastoral Provision.

It is no simple exercise to define precisely what Pope Paul VI had termed the “worthy patrimony” of the Anglican tradition. We soon realized that it is not accurate to speak of this Anglican identity as primarily liturgical, because the liturgical movement has brought about a real convergence between Anglican and Catholic forms.

We wrote: “It must certainly be more than the preservation of the distinctive features of Anglican Church culture (ie, its liturgical, devotional, and musical heritage), as worthy an undertaking as this may be. We desire that our return to union with Peter will enable us to contribute to the healing of the Western Schism, by means of an apostolate uniquely dedicated to Christian unity, as a vehicle through which the Catholic Church may embrace her separated sons and daughters and augment the resources for her work of evangelization.”.

I very much appreciated the CDF’s Note that the preservation of the Anglican patrimony be balanced by the concern that the Anglican pilgrims be integrated into the Catholic Church and not merely live on as a distinct sub-culture.

This is important for many reasons, but one comes especially to mind: we Anglicans have some bad habits to unlearn, for Anglican life today is manifestly disordered. The need for our formation is not to be under-estimated; Rome was not built in a day, and neither can Catholic priesthood be put on like a coat.

I found this to be particularly challenging, requiring an effort to reach out to wise and experienced Catholic priests. I will always be grateful for those who patiently supported, encouraged, and prayed with me, especially the wonderful men of the Irish College and Msgr Francis Kelly of the Casa Santa Maria in Rome.

Those dear friends at the Irish College sometimes teased me about my “five ordinations and a wedding.” Some Anglican clergy, even as they welcome this initiative from the Holy Father, want to reopen the question of the validity of Anglican orders, because they object to the general rule of absolute ordination.

I did not find this a difficulty, for I did not think of my ordination in the Catholic Church as a repudiation of the Anglican ministry. Anglican ordinations are what they are. It may be reasonable to criticize Leo XIII's 1896 encyclical on Anglican orders, Apostolicae Curae, for speaking in the harsh idiom of a different age, but it can certainly be read in a positive light.

Friends do not eschew plain speaking, and it is likely that this text has been responsible for much of the ecumenical progress already realized, by provoking Anglicans to reflect more deeply on the theology of ministerial priesthood. I treasure the times I was able to pray near the tomb of Pope Leo XIII at St. John Lateran last year. Anglicanism’s chief antihero remains, ironically, a potent spiritual force for Christian unity.

One thing has continued to trouble me in this journey, and that is the remembrance of the people left behind. It was very difficult to step away from treasured pastoral relationships, although church polity and ministerial ethics certainly required a clean and decisive break.

Many of them of course are firmly committed Anglicans who have no interest in following this path toward Catholic unity. I wish them every blessing.

But I often think of others who hunger and thirst for something more, for whom the Catholic Church is a very intimidating but compelling presence. They must overcome misunderstandings about what the Catholic Church teaches, and fears about what it might mean to live in the Catholic Church. Patient pastoral work can resolve much of this, and I rejoice that the Holy Father has opened this door for them.

The Rev. Jeffrey Steenson, of the Archdiocese of Santa Fe, was the Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of the Rio Grande (New Mexico and west Texas) before his reception into the Catholic Church on November 30, 2007. He and his wife Debra now live in Houston, where he teaches patristics at the University of St. Thomas and St. Mary’s Seminary. They have three adult children.



Rome-based correspondent Edward Pentin saves me the trouble of translating a sidelight to the Vatican-Anglican rapprochement speculated upon about by Andrea Tornielli today:


Vatican canonists seek to clear up
celibacy issue in Apostolic Constitution
for returning Anglicans

Posted by EDWARD PENTIN

Thursday, October 29, 2009

The delay in publishing the apostolic constitution, which will allow large numbers of Anglicans to be received into the Catholic Church, is due not so much to translation problems as the more weighty issue of priestly celibacy.

According to two reliably informed Italian newspapers, Il Giornale and Il Foglio, canon lawyers are still seeking to define what has been a particularly unclear aspect of the new provision: whether married Anglicans could train as seminarians.

Andrea Tornielli of Il Giornale reports that over the last few days, the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts has been working to clarify this point.

He writes “everything suggests” seminarians in these future Anglo-Catholic communities “will have to be celibate like all their colleagues in the Latin Catholic Church.”

[Which is the logical thing. But what about those married Anglicans already in seminaries at the time their institution 'crosses over'? I observed earlier that the Apostolic Constitution will probably have to set a statute of limitations defining up to when converting Anglican married priests and seminarians will be allowed exemption from the celibacy rule and/or with respect to the date of their ordination or enrolment in a seminary.

But this is a practical matter that, once defined, ought not to affect the resolve of Anglican clergy who sincerely want to convert as a spiritual decision, and not just to make a political statement.]


Both papers also report the Holy Father would have preferred the publication of the Apostolic Constitution to have taken place at the same time as last week’s press conference, mainly to avoid any repeat of the mishandling of his decision to lift the excommunications on four bishops from the Society of St. Pius X earlier this year.

But as Cardinal William Levada had already informed the bishops of England and Wales and the Archbishop of Canterbury of the provision, and the date for their joint press conference in London had already been disclosed, it would have been impossible to keep the matter under wraps*, Tornielli writes.

The Vatican therefore decided to go ahead with the press conference, even though the precise canonical details of the constitution hadn’t yet been worked out.


*[Since the joint news conference in London was not announced until shortly after the Vatican's Monday afternoon announcement of Cardinal Levada's Tuesday briefing, It's more likely that the Pope approved informing the bishops and the subsequent joint news conference knowing full well the final document would not be ready in time.

Or that something happened between Cardinal Levada's weekend trip to London, and the Tuesday news conferences in London and at the Vatican, that prompted the Vatican to announce Cardinal Levada's briefing 'hurriedly' on Monday afternoon, rather than with at least a week's advance notice.

In any case, the element of surprise to the media was crucial in this case to avoid the communications disaster of the FSSPX excom recall. The specific question about married clergy is, after all, a temporal situation that is quite secondary relative to the overall significance of the Pope's opening to the Anglicans.]


[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 11/2/2009 12:14 PM]
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With the new ambassador from
the Islamic Republic of Iran








VATICAN CITY, 29 OCT 2009 (VIS) - This morning the Holy Father received the credential letters of the new ambassador of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Ali Akbar Naseri.

Speaking of Iran, the Pope affirmed that "it is a great nation that possesses eminent spiritual traditions and its people have a profound religious sensibility. This can be reason to hope for a greater openness and confident collaboration with the international community. For its part, the Holy See is always willing to work in harmony with those who serve the cause of peace and promote the dignity that the Creator endowed to all human beings".

"Today," he continued, "we must hope for and sustain a new phase of international cooperation, more concretely rooted in humanitarian principles and in the effective assistance of those who suffer, one less dependent on the cold calculation of exchange and technological or economic benefits".

Benedict XVI emphasized that "faith in the one God should draw all believers closer and urge them to work together to defend and promote the fundamental human values". In this context he recalled that "among universal rights, religious freedom and the freedom of conscience occupy a fundamental place because they are the origin of all other freedoms. The defence of other rights that arise from the dignity of persons and peoples, particularly the protection of life, justice, and solidarity, should also be the object of true collaboration".

"As I have already had repeated occasion to emphasize, the establishment of cordial relations between believers of different religions is an urgent need in our day, in order to build a world that is more human and that conforms more to God's plan of creation".

The Pope stressed that "Catholics have been present in Iran from the first centuries of Christianity and have always been an integral part of the nation's life and culture".

"The Holy See", he added, "trusts the Iranian authorities to strengthen and guarantee Christians the freedom of professing their faith and of assuring the Catholic community conditions essential to its existence, especially the possibility of counting on sufficient religious personnel and their ability to move within the country to ensure religious service to the faithful".

The Holy Father emphasized that "the Holy See, by its nature and its mission, is directly interested in the life of the local churches and wishes to make all the necessary efforts to help the Catholic community in Iran keep alive the signs of Christian presence in a spirit of benevolent understanding with all".

Finally, addressing the Catholics who live in Iran, the Pope assured them that he is "near to them and prays that they persevere in maintaining their own identity and remaining rooted to their land, generously working with all their compatriots in the development of the nation".





Here is a translation of the Holy Father's remarks to the new ambassador, delivered in French:




Mr. Ambassador,

I am happy to receive you today as you present the letters accrediting you as Ambassador extraordinary and plenipotentiary of the Islamic Republic of Iran to the Holy See.

I thank you for the kind words you addressed to me and for the wishes you conveyed from His Excellency Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, President of the Republic. In turn, please thank him for me and assure him of my cordial wishes for the nation.

Your presence here this morning manifests the interest of your country to develop good relations with the Holy See. As you know, Mr. Ambassador, by its presence in international councils and its bilateral relations with many countries, the Holy See aims to defend and promote the dignity of man. It also wishes to serve the good of the human family, with its particular interest in the ethical, moral and humanitarian aspects of relations among peoples.

In this perspective, the Holy See wishes to consolidate its relations with the Islamic Republic of Iran and to favor mutual understanding and collaboration for the common good.

Iran is a great nation that possesses eminent spiritual traditions and her people have a profound religious sensibility. This can be a reason for hope for growing openness and trusting collaboration with the international community.

For her part, the Holy See, will always be ready to work in harmony with those who serve the cause of peace and who promote the dignity with which the Creator has endowed each human being.

Today, we should all hope for and look towards a new phase of international cooperation, more solidly founded on humanitarian principles and effective aid to those who suffer, less dependent on cold calculations of what one gets back in return and on technical and economic benefits to be gained.

Faith in one God should bring together all believers and urge them to work together for the defense of life and the promotion of fundamental human values. Among the universal rights, religious freedom and freedom of conscience hold a fundamental place, because they are the source of all the other freedoms.

The defense of other rights that arise from the dignity of persons and peoples, particularly in promoting the protection of life, justice and solidarity, should also be the object of real collaboration.

Moreover, as I have had frequent occasion to underscore, the establishment of cordial relations among believers of different religions is an urgent necessity of our time, with the end of constructing a more human world that is more in conformity with God's plan for creation.

Therefore I am happy at meetings held regularly for several years now, organized jointly by the Pontifical Council for Inter-Religious Dialog and the Organization for Culture and Islamic Relations, to discuss subjects of common interest.

In contributing to a joint quest for what is right and true, such meetings allow everyone to progress in reciprocal knowledge of each other and to cooperate in reflecting on the great questions that touch the life of mankind.

On the other hand, Catholics have been present in Iran since the first centuries of Christianity, and they have always been an integral part of the life and culture of the nation. This community is really Iranian, and its secular experience of living together with Muslim believers is most useful in the promotion of greater understanding and cooperation.

The Holy See is confident that Iranian authorities will reinforce and guarantee for Christians the freedom to profess their faith, and assure the Catholic community of the conditions essential for their existence, especially the possibility to have enough religious personnel and the ability to move around the country to assure religious services to the faithful.

In this perspective, I hope that a trustful and sincere dialog can develop with the institutions of the country in order to ameliorate the situation of Christian communities and their activities in civilian society, as well as to grow their sense of belonging to the national life.
*

For its part, the Holy See, whose nature and mission it is to be directly interested in the life of its local churches, will do what is needed to help the Catholic community in Iran keep the signs of Christian presence alive in a spirit of well-meaning entente with everyone.

Mr. Ambassador, I would like finally to avail of this happy occasion to warmly greet the Catholic communities who live in Iran, as well as their Pastors. The Pope is close to all the faithful and prays for them so that while maintaining with perseverance their own identity and remaining attached to their land, they may collaborate generously with all their countrymen in the development of the nation.

Excellency, as you begin your mission to the Holy See, you have my best wishes for your success. I can assure you that you will always find in my collaborators understanding and support for the happy achievement of your mission.

I invoke on yourself, your family and your co-workers, as well as on all Iranians, the abundance of blessings from the Most High.





NB: The Vatican did not release any picture showing the Pope and his guest standing before the painting of the Resurrected Christ (far background in the above picture) - usually one of the standard photos released of papal audiences with VIPs. Obviously, it's a sign of deference to a non-Christian visitor, but I had not noticed it before.


*[DIM]8pt[=DIM]I wish the Vatican could have provided a sidebar to describe in concrete terms the plight of Catholics in Iran. From the Pope's words, it sounds bad! I checked ou the Vatican Radio posts but there was none.


[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 10/30/2009 10:03 PM]
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The surprise announcement on the Church's new opening to Anglicans and the wide play it is gettign universally in the media simply highlights how the Anglophone media, in particularly, has not been paying attention to the theological dialog with the Orthodox churches,
which had its biennial session in Paphos, Cyprus recently [quite a few significant posts about it posted in the CHURCH&VATICAN thread from the OR and from other sources outside the Anglophone world]... Luigi Geninazzi in Avvenire places the dialog with the Orthodox in the right perspective.



Between Catholics and Orthodox -
a dialog that is advancing

by Luigi Geninazzi
Translated from

October 28, 2009


The wind that blows impetuously from the extreme confines of Christianity in the West with the announcement that the Church is ready to welcome various Anglican confessions wishing to return en masse to the Church, stirs up old problems as well as new hopes even on the Eastern front.

From the point of view of the Orthodox Churches, it is very significant that Benedct XVI's gesture of rapprochement with the Anglicans avoided any hint of 'uniatism', i.e., returning Anglican communities will not be 'a Catholic Church of the Anglican rite' but personal ordinariates within the universal Catholic Church.

It is one of the signs that the commitment self-assumed by Benedict XVI from the first day of his Papacy "to work without sparing any effort to reconstitute the fill and visible unity of all the followers of Christ" is bearing good fruits.

A new ecumenical era is flourishing in the East. Earlier this week, in a message to Karekin II, Catholicos of All Armenians, Benedict XVI expressed the wish that "the good relations between our churches may continue to be further reinforced in the coming years".

But even among Catholics and Orthodox, "dialog has become a consolidated reality on the basis of equality and reciprocal trust", in the words of Metropolitan Ioannis of Pergamon, one of the greatest contemporary theologians in Orthodoxy and prominent supporter of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople.

In an interview with Avvenire, Ioannis gladly explains his point. He starts with a date, June 29, 2006, when it was his turn to lead the Orthodox delegation to visit the Pope for the annual celebration of the Feast of Saints Peter and Paul.

It was a gesture that had become traditional since 1965, when Paul VI and Patriarch Athenagoras jointly revoked the mutual excommunication by the Roman and Byzantine Churches in the Great Schism of 1054.

But Ioannis still treasures reliving the emotion of that day when he heard his old friend Joseph Ratzinger speak to him more as a fellow theologian than as the Bishop of Rome.

And to teh Orthodox delegation, Benedict XVI said: "We should work in order to advance more expeditiously on the road to full unity". Two weeks earlier, speaking in his weekly catechesis about the Apostle Andrew - considered the founder of the Orthodox Church - the Pope said "the Church of Rome and the Church of Constantinople are truly sisters" in udnerscoring the special relationship that links the two Sees.

Papa Ratzinger's 'ardent desire' to reach reunification with the Church's separated Oriental brothers echoes the 'all-consuming nostalgia' expressed by his predecessor John Paul II in his encyclical Ut unum sint in 1995.

But John Paul II had to face a 'Cold War' with the Orthodox Churches, particularly the Patriarchate of Moscow, who saw in the rebirth of Catholic communities in Russia and the Ukraine, a threat to the canonical satus and the prestige of the 'Third Rome'.

Russian Orthodoxy, the sleeping giant, was waking up. And as it is with someone who has slept badly and too long, in this case, also narcotized by Communism, the awakening was marked by mumbling, grumbling and accusations.

Even Benedict XVI at the beginning was seen with suspicion.

"Doing away with the title Patriarch of the West, one of the titles that the Heads of the Church of Rome had embellixshed themselves with, stirred up a lot of ill will," recalls Gennadios, Metropolitan of Sassima and close collaborator of Bartholomew I. [But the Patriarch himself did not express any misgivings at the time, as I recall. The more thin-skinned POthodox prelates maintained that by rejecting the title 'Patriarch of the West', Benedict XVI was thereby proclaiming himself Patriarch of both the East and the West!]

"But the most important fact," Gennadios underscored, "was the start of a well-defined theological dialog which is now confronting the crucial issue of the primacy of the Pope".

For the first time since the schism of 1054, the entire Orthodox world has agreed to discuss this main obstacle to reunification.

And it is the task that has been taken on by the Mixed International Commission for Theological Dialog which held its 11th plenary session in Cypurs recently and will meet again in Vienna next year. [Previously, the meetings were biennial].

"Its objective is the re-establishment of full communion between our Churches," says the Joint Statement signed by Benedict XVI and Bartholomew I in November 2006 in Istanbul, when the Pope visited Turkey.

The two have established a deep personal friendship which has been fortuitous for the ecumenical dialog.

"To tell the truth, there is very little that divides us today from the Catholics," says Prof. Nikolai Losskij, professor of Church history at the St. Sergius Institute in Paris, a famous theological center founded by intellectual Russian emigres in 1924.

The Orthodox share with Catholics virtually identical contents of the faith, sacramental doctrine and their vision of man.

What separates them is the role of the Bishop of Rome, whose historical primacy was recognized in the Ravenna Document of 2007 (statement from the 10th assembly of the Mixed Commission), but agreement must be sought on the prerogatives that go with this primacy.

Even the dificulties that marked the relationship between Rome and Moscow during the Pontificate of John Paul II had to do with history and psychology [historical Russian mistrust of Poles, aggravated when the Polish Pope sent Polish missionaries into Russia after the collapse of the Soviet regime] rather than with theology and doctrine.

But calm has been restored on that front. And that is confirmed by Archbishop HIlarion, right arm of Patriarch Kirill and head of the Moscow Patriarchate's department of foreign relations.

"We have an excellent relationship with the local Catholic community led by Mons. Pezzi. But other problems remain, starting with the Ukraine. Only when these problems are resolved can there be a meeting between the Patriarch of Moscow and the Bishop of Rome". [I've always thought this hard line is a very un-Christian attitude, by which Moscow is transforming ecumenical relations into a political power play.]

Actually, Kirill needs time to convince ultra-conservatives in his Church who oppose ecumenism in general. Also, he needs to re-establish a less confrontational relationship with the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople and the other national Orthodox churches that emerged after the break-up of the Soviet Union.

To his credit, one of his first acts after being elected to succeed the late Alexei-II was to go to Istanbul [on the occasion of a pan-Orthodox meeting of Patriarchs], which was much appreciated by the rest of the Orthodox world.


[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 10/29/2009 8:19 PM]
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Benedict XVI on the new media:
The Church must establish
a diaconate of culture
in the digital continent





VATICAN CITY, 29 OCT 2009 (VIS) - The Pontifical Council for Social Communications "has, for some time now, been following the surprising and rapid evolution of the means of communication growing in the involvement of the magisterium of the Church".



With these words, Benedict XVI received participants in the plenary assembly of that dicastery, presided over by Archbishop Claudio Maria Celli, which is examining the role of new technologies in the media during these days.

The Holy Father cited Paul VI's pastoral instruction Communio et Progressio and John Paul II's Aetatis Nova, "two important documents that have favoured and promoted greater awareness on the themes tied to communication in the Church".

He also recalled John Paul II's encyclical Redemptoris Missio that affirms:

"Involvement in the mass media, however, is not meant merely to strengthen the preaching of the Gospel. There is a deeper reality involved here: since the very evangelization of modern culture depends to a great extent on the influence of the media, it is not enough to use the media simply to spread the Christian message and the Church's authentic teaching. It is also necessary to integrate that message into the 'new culture' created by modern communications".

"Effectively," Benedict XVI said, "modern culture is established, even before its content, in the very fact of the existence of new forms of communication that use new languages; they use new technologies and create new psychological attitudes. All of which supposes a challenge for the Church, which is called to announce the Gospel to persons in the third millennium, maintaining its content unaltered but making it understandable, thanks also to the instruments and methods in tune with today's mentality and culture".

At the same time, the Pope referred to his last message for the World Communications Day in which he encouraged "those responsible for communication in all areas, to promote a culture of respect for the dignity and worth of the human being, a dialogue rooted in the sincere search for truth and friendship (.) capable of developing the gifts and talents of each and of putting them at the service of the human community".

"In this way the Church exercises that which can be defined as a "deaconate of culture" in today's "digital continent", using its means to announce the Gospel, the only Word that can save the human being. The task of enriching the elements of the new culture of the media, beginning with their ethical aspects, falls to the Pontifical Council for Social Communications as well as serving as orientation and guide in helping the particular churches understand the importance of communication, which represents a key point that cannot be overlooked in any pastoral plan".

Concluding, the Pontiff recalled the 50th anniversary of the Vatican Film Archive founded by Blessed John XXIII, which possesses a "rich cultural patrimony pertaining to all humanity" and he encouraged to continuing collection and cataloguing of images "that document the path of Christianity through the suggestive witness of the image".




Here is a translation of the Holy Father's remarks:



Eminent Cardinals,
Venerated brothers in the Episcopate and Priesthood,
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ:

With great joy, I extend to you a cordial welcome on the occasion of the Plenary Assembly of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications. I wish to express my gratitude first of all to Mons. Claudio Maria Celli, president of your council, for the kind words he addressed to me in your behalf.

I extend my greetings to his co-workers and to you who are present, thanking you for your contribution to the work of the plenary, and for the service that you render to the Church in the field of social communications.

These days, you have reflected on the new communications technologies. Even an inattentive observer can easily note that in our time, thanks to the most modern technologies, a true and proper revolution is taking place in the field of social communications, of which the Church is increasingly acquiring a more responsible awareness.

These technologies, in fact, make possible fast and pervasive communications, with ample sharing of ideas and opinions. They facilitate the acquisition of information and news in a way that is capillary and accessible to all.

The Pontifical Council for Social Communications has been following this surprising and rapid evolution of the media, in treasuring the interventions of the Church's Magisterium.

I wish to recall here two Pastoral Instructions, in particular: Communio et Progressio of Pope Paul VI, and Aetatis Novae of John Paul II. Two authoritative documents by my venerated predecessors who favored and promoted in the Church a widespread sensibility to this subject. Moreover, the great social changes that have taken place in the last 20 years have required and will continue to require a careful analysis of the presence and activity of the Church in this field.

The Servant of God John Paul II, in the encyclical Redemptoris missio (1990) reminded us that "our task in the mass media is not only to multiply the [Gospel] announcement: it is more profound, because evangelization itself in modern culture depends in great part on their influence".

He added: "It is not enough, then, to use them to spread the Christian message and the Magisterium of the Church, but the message itself must be integrated into this 'new culture' created by modern communications" (No. 37c).

In effect, modern culture derives from the existence itself of the new means of communication - even before the contet itself of the communications - that use new languages and new techniques while creating new psychological attitudes.

All this constitutes a challenge for the Church, which is called on to announce the Gospel to men of the third millennium while keeping its content unchanged, but making it comprehensible with the tools and modalities consonant to today's mentality and cultures.

The means of social communications, so-called already in the Conciliar decree Inter Mirifica, have assumed today a pontential and function that were perhaps hardly imaginable at the time.

The multimedia character and structural inter-activity of the new media have, in some way, diminished the specificity of each of these media, gradually generating a global system of communications for which, even as each means maintains its own particular character, constant evolution in the communications world obliges us to speak increasingly of one single communications form, which synthesizes the different voices or places them in close reciprocal linkage.

Many among you, dear friends, are experts in the field and can analyze the various dimensions of this phenomenon with greater professionalism, including the anthropological, above all.

I wish to take this occasion to invite all in the Church who work in communications and who have pastoral responsibilities to respond to the challenges that these new technologies pose to evangelization.

In the Message for World Communications Day this year, underscoring the importance that these new technologies have, I encouraged those responsible for communicative processes at every level to promote a culture of respect for the dignity and value of the human being, a dialog rooted in the sincere search for the truth, and friendship which is not the end in itself but which can develop the gifts of every person to be in the service of the human community.

In that way, the Church exercises that which we might define as a 'diaconate of culture' in today's 'digital continent', going forth through its roads to announce the Gospel, the only Word that can save man.

It is the task of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications
to learn in depth every element of this new culture of the media, starting from the ethical aspects, and to exercise a service of orientation and guidance to help the local Churches to grasp the importance of the new communications, which mow represents a firm and irrenunciable point of every pastoral plan.

The very characteristics of the new media, moreover, make possible, even on a large scale and the globalized dimension they have assumed, the actions of consultation, sharing and coordination, which, besides increasing the efficient dissemination of the evangelical message, can also avoid useless dispersion of strengths asnd resources.

For believers, the necessary valuation of the new media technologies must always be sustained by a constant vision of the faith, knowing that beyond the means that are being used, the efficacy of announcing the Gospel depends in the first place on the action of the Holy Spirit, who guides the Church and mankind's journey.

Dear brothers and sisters, this year is the 50th anniversary of the founding of the Filmoteca Vaticana (Vatican film archives) started by my venerated predecessor, Blessed John XXIII, which has collected and catalogued filmed materials from 1896 to the present to be able to present a history of the Church.

The Filmoteca Vaticana thus possesses a rich cultural patrimony which belongs to all mankind. As I express my sincere gratitude for what has already been achieved, I encourage a continued pursuit of this interesting work of collection to document the stages of Christianity's journey, through the suggestive witness of images, so that its good work may be preserved and known.

To you who are present, thank you once again for the contribution that you offer the Church in a field that is as important as social communications, and I assure you of my prayers that the activities of your Pontifical Council may continue to bear much fruit.

I invoke on each one the intercession of our Lady and I impart to all the Apostolio Blessing.



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In recent days, Catholic media reported on a recent interview given by Cardinal Antonio Canizares Llovera, prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship, to a Catholic newspaper in Barcelona, in which the cardinal essentially confirmed reports that his office is working on proposals for a "reform of the reform," bringing a greater sense of reverence to the Novus Ordo liturgy.

He said the "proposals have been reached which the Holy Father approved and which constitute the plan of our work', and that the congregation is now working "in a very quiet manner" to organize these projects.



provided an English translation of the part of the interview that had to do with liturgy
www.newliturgicalmovement.org/2009/10/prefect-of-congregation-for-div...
but I have translated the entire transcript, not only because it gives us a better sense of who the cardinal is,
but also for what he says about the Holy Father.




Cardinal Canizares:
Inappropriate liturgy eliminates
mystery from the life of man

by Samuel Gutiérrez

Translated from

Oct. 26, 2009

Cardinal Canizares was in Barcelona recently to give a lecture on the importance of liturgy.

"The value of the sacred in the Church".

With this suggestive title, Cardinal Antonio Cañizares Llovera, Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship, opened on Oct. 14 the 2009-2010 course series of the association Fe y Cultura (Faith and Culture).

The cardinal's presence in Barcelona also coincided with the 30th anniversary of that association, currently headed by Mons. Rafael Mendez, parish priest of the Virgin of Angels Church.




Soon it will be one year since you were named by the Pope as Prefect of the CDW. How do you assess your initial experience in the Curia?
It is not for me to evaluate my own performance. All I can say is that it is a very important time for everyone - we are working intensely, we had a plenary assembly of the congregation, we have arrived at some proposals that the Holy Father approved and which constitute our work plan. The major objective is to revive the spirit of liturgy in the whole world.

What were the most urgent matters you had to deal with?
There are urgent matters every day having to do with excesses and errors that are committed in the liturgy, but above all, the most urgent, which is pressing in all the world, is to recover the true sense of liturgy.

It is not simply a matter of changing rubrics or introducing new things, but simply, that one must live the liturgy so that it is in the center of Church life.

There can be no Church without liturgy, because Church is for liturgy, namely, for the worship of God, to thank him, to offer the Sacrifice of the Lord, for adoration... This is fundamental, and without it, there is no Church. More than that, man is not truly human. Therefore, the task is supremely urgent and pressing.

And how does one recover the sense of liturgy?
Right now, we are working very silently on a series of projects that have to do with programs of formation. It is the priority need: good and authentic liturgical formation - because we really do not have adequate formation now.

People think that liturgy is merely a question of form or external realities, when what we really need is a sense of adoration - which is to say, the sense of God as God. And this is a sense one can recover only through the liturgy.

That is why the Pope has such great interest in emphasizing the priority of liturgy in the life of the Church.

When one lives the spirit of liturgy, one enters the spirit of adoration, one enters into a recognition of God, into communion with him - and this is what transform man and converts him to a new person.

Liturgy is always directed to God, not to the community. It is not the community that makes the liturgy - God does it. It is he who comes to meet us, and offers us participation in his sacrifice, in his mercy, in his forgiveness... And when one truly lives the liturgy, and God is truly at its center, then everything changes.

Are we so far then from the true sense of mystery?
Yes, because there is at present a great degree of secularization - the sense of mystery and the sacred has been lost, which means the loss of the spirit of worshipping God, of rendering to God what is due to him as God.

People seem to think that things must constantly change in the liturgy, that there must always be innovations, more creativity. That's not what liturgy needs - but worship, adoration, an acknowledgment of He who transcends us and offers us salvation.

The mystery of God, which is the unfathomable mystery of his love, is not nebulous, because He is someone who comes to meet us. We must recover the man who can adore God. We must recover the sense of mystery. We must recover what we should naver have lost.

The worst wrong one can do to man is to eliminate transcendence and the dimension of mystery from his life. We are experiencing its consequences today in all spheres of human life.

There is the tendency to replace the truth with opinion, trust with uneasiness, the end with the means... That is why man must be defended from all the ideologies that weaken his relationship with the world, with others and with God. Never has freedom been spoken about so much, but never have there been so many slaveries.

After so many years as university professor and then the episcopal ministry, what is it like to be one of the Pope's ministers in the Roman Curia?
I took on the assignment with great joy because I am doing the will of God. And doing that brings great happiness, even if I must confess I did not expect such an assignment.

At the same time, the fact of working alongside the Pope allows me to live the mystery of communion vividly. I feel very much united to him, happy to help in everything that he asks. And as everyone knows, one of his major concerns has always been the liturgy.

Do you miss pastoral activity?
It's always very much missed, because one carries the ministry within, especially after having carried out the episcopal ministry in Avila, Granada and Toledo.

But what I am doing now is very important for the Church, and it is important to serve the Church wherever one is.

Just out of curiosity - do they continue to call you the 'little Ratzinger'?
Well, yes, some still use it, but it is something I do not deserve. If only I were a theologian like the Pope!

From your privileged viewpoint in Rome, what are the main reasons for hope that you can see in a Europe that is increasingly secular and farther from God?
The major reason for hope is the Pope himself and what he constantly exhorts. This Pope is carrying out the ministry of Peter as Jesus asked Peter to do. His principal mission is to confirm his brothers in the faith, and he does it every day.

Every day, he tells us of something that is key to the faith, to the foundation and to the future of everyone, as is the acknowledgment and adoration of God.


If God is not at the center of man's life, then there is no future for mankind. That is what the Pope described to the youth in Cologne as 'the revolution of God': Let us undertake the revolution of God!

That is why I consider the Pope and his Magisterium as the great sign of hope.

At the Vatican, do you follow the news especially what's happening in Spain?
Even in Rome, I cannot be away from Spain! I follow the news daily - it makes me feel very connected to my country. I cannot forget my country, nor my own circumstances and concerns which are also those of my compatriots.

I suppose you followed with attention the demonstration last October 17 against the reform of the abortion law...
When there is a public demonstration with the multitudes that were present, it means things are not going well - and nothing is good about it at all when there is no respect for life.

Life is not respected and it is not defended - and yet, life is the first right, the fundamental right on which all other rights depend.
Life constitutes the dignity of the human person, and when that dignity is not respected, nothing else is.

Man himself is at stake here. If there are laws that violate dignity and a mentality that is anti-human, then it means thet we should reconsider what is happening, as this demonstration intended to show.

We have to bet everything on man and for man. That is why I think that more than being a demonstration against something, it was a commitment in favor of man, a wager for life and the dignity of man, for true freedom and the authentic value of women and motherhood.

My message for all is that we must say Yes to man, Yes to life, and for that, we have the supreme Yes to man and life in the love of God, who loves man with such passion that in Jesus, he gave his life for all of us. This is our great hope and the great future for man.


In Il Foglio, Prof. Roberto De Mattei has a recent article that is relevant to the above.


What Benedict XVI means
by a revolution in liturgy:
It is happening...

by Roberto De Mattei
Translated from

Oct. 27, 2009


The new impulse to the Roman liturgy provided by Benedict XVI's Motu proprio Summorum Pontificum is expressed not only in the growing number of traditional Masses celebrated around the world, but also by the unexpected flowering of writings and articles explaining and disseminating the whys and wherefores of that rite.

[Is anyone writing anything similar about the Novus Ordo? The only book I can recall about it is Mons. Piero Marini's defense of the 1969-1970 liturgical reform, and indirectly, his book on the liturgical celebrtations by John Paul II.]

Among the texts that have appeared in Italy in recent weeks, first mention goes to the book Davanti al protagonista. Alle radici della liturgia (In front of the protagonist: The roots of liturgy) by Joseph Ratzinger/Benedict XVI, published by Cantagalli - a collection of writings published between 1977 and 2005, which allows us to have a unified framework for the Pope's thinking on the liturgy.



Some of the texts are taken from his famous books, such as the Introduzione allo spirito della liturgia (2001), but others are just as precious because they were not easily accessible, such as Cardinal Ratzinger's Preface to a 1992 book by Mons. Klaus Gamber,
La réforme liturgique en question (1992), as well as the lecture he gave at Fontgombault Abbey in France during a conference on liturgy held in July 22-24, 2001.

This international conference, in which Cardinal Ratzinger was present throughout, opening and closing it, constitutes a key episode in the 'liturgical turning point' of recent years.

An active and well-cultured Roman parish priest, Don Roberto de Odorico, has announced the imminent publication in Italy of all the acts of that conference, previously published in French and English.

But there are more initiatives.



The first is the publication of the texts in the first conference on the Motu proprio Summorum Pontificum held in Rome on Sept. 16-18, 2008, to mark the first anniversary of the SP going into effect. It will be entitled Una ricchezza spirituale per tutta la chiesa [A spiritual treasure for the whole Church), edited by the Dominican Fr. Vincenzo M. Nuara.

The book, which will have contributions by participants like Nicola Bux, Manfred Hauke, Michel Lang, Camille Perl and Massimiliano Zangheratti, is prefaced with a letter from Mons. Guido Pozzo, secretary of the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei, and an essay by Fr. Giovanni Cavalcoli, also Dominican.

It will be published by Fede e Cultura, which has just issued the book Liturgia fonte di vita (Liturgy: Source of life) by Don Mauro Gagliardi, with a Preface by Archbishop Mauro Piacenza, secretary of teh Congregation for the Clergy.

On the occasion of the first anniversary last year of SP, the Franciscan Sisters of the Immaculate Conception, based in Citta di Castello, have reprinted the classic booklet on the Holy Mass by Dom Prosper Gueranger, the abbot of Solesmes who revitalized the Roman rite in the 19th century.

This year, the same meritorious cloistered nuns are offering a similar historical booklet on the same topic, Questo e la Messa (This is the Mass) by Henri Daniel Rops, the famous historian and French academician. The text had been translated in English in the United States in 1958, with a preface by Archbishop Fulton Sheen.

The work is even more significant in that Rops - who was cited by Benedict XVI in JESUS OF NAZARETH - cannot be considered as a 'traditionalist'. A very successful Catholic writer, with 'moderate' political and religious positions, he gave voice in this booklet of theological reflections and spiritual inspiration, to that which, until the liturgical reform of 1969, was the 'unum sentire' ['single sense'] of the Catholic Church.

This old 'unum sentire' seems to be reflowering and taking form in a movement that is not just liturgical but also theological, because of the close linkage between faith and liturgy, according to the maxim 'lex orandi, lex credendi'.

In Fontgombault, Cardinal Ratzinger touched on this, when he underscored how the theological idea of the Mass as sacrifice was becoming extraneous to modern liturgy, making it similar to Lutheran belief.

For Luther, in fact, to speak of the Mass as sacrifice was 'the greatest and most frightening abomination' if not 'cursed impiety'. And today, according to the cardinal, a not insignificant faction of liturgists, in rejecting the Council of Trent on the liturgy, had practically arrived at declaring that Luther was right.

"But this new Illuminism goes beyond Luther by far... Let us get back to the fundamental question: Is it right to describe the Eucharist as a divine sacrifice or is it just a cursed impiety?... Scripture and Tradition form an inseparable whole, and this is what Luther could not see".

All the books which I have cited re-propose the same truth: the Sacrifice of the Mass is not just a commemoration, nor a simple oblation, as the Protestants choose to see it. It is a true sacrifice offered by Christ [with the priest 'in persona Christi'], who is both priest and victim.

Today, the Mass is often described as a communal 'banquet' or 'supper'. The traditional Roman rite does not allow that sort of equivocation. In the best celebrations of the traditional Mass, it truly expresses what the Mass is in essence: a Holy Sacrifice.

The priest who celebrates Mass in the traditional way cannot delude himself about this. The traditional Roman liturgy expresses, without equivocation, the faith of the Catholic Church in the Sacrament of the Eucharist.

The new liturgical movement [or 'the reform of the reform') that Joseph Ratzinger/Benedict XVI has wished for in countless ways is not just the recovery of the esthetic dimension of liturgy, which has been disfigured by guitars and inappropriate applause, among other things.

If liturgy expresses faith as language expresses thought, then a liturgical rebirth will necessarily be accompanied by a doctrinal rebirth.

And so the traditional liturgy offers itself to the faithful today with a power that comes from its theological framework, its sacredness and its well-ordered beauty.

In this sense, the richness of the Latin-Gregorian liturgy is truly the hope of the Church.

The second conference to celebrate Summorum Pontificum promoted by Fr. Nuara and his Amicizia Sacerdotale Summorum Pontificum and the Roman association Giovani e Tradizione [reported in Page 9 of the CHURCH&VATICAN thread] took place two weeks ago, and marked another important stage in this movement for Church renewal.



In the light of the preliminary assessments by Phil Lawler and Robert Moynihan of the first almost-five years of the Benedictine Pontificate, and the two articles above on the liturgy, I am trying to think back which initiative this Pope has 'failed' at so far - and all I can think of is his relations with the Jews, through no fault of his.

No person can have done more - even long before he became Pope - to make clear to Catholics our indissoluble link to Judaism, through the Old Testament and its prefiguring of Christ, and through Jesus himself, his parents, and his disciples - all of them observant Jews.

And yet, somehow, militant Jews - by grabbing at every trivial pretext they can to find fault with Benedict XVI - have decided to take out on him their totally unfounded resentment against Pius XII and their own centuries-old scorn for Christians for considering Jesus the Messiah spoken of in the Old Testament.

Perhaps what is most unfair is that they totally ignore or forget the role Cardinal Ratzinger played in John Paul II's rapprochement with the Jews - how he provided the theological underpinnings for the 'mea culpas' that so gratified every Jew (some of them probably motivated by Schadenfreude) and earned the late Pope their universal praise.


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Benedict XVI: The object of envy by vain men and fellow octogenarians like Hans Kueng, Scalfari and Cardinal Martini perhaps!


I translated this piece the other night to post with the articles by Bruno Mastroianni ('Why the Pope draws people...') and Roberto Pepe denouncing Scalfari's throwaway insult of the Pope last week ("The devil fearful of the Pope..." in the preceding page, when to my utter chagrin, my PC froze just as I had finished the translation but before I could copy it or save it! Of course, it was gone when the computer rebooted, and at 2:30 in the morning, I was not about to do it all over. However, I cannot not translate it, so let me try again!


The arrogant Scalfari
and the 'modest theologian'

by Antonio Socci
Translated from

Oct. 25, 2009


It would seem Eugenio Scalfari likes Popes - as long as they are dead and buried, and therefore exploitable against the living Pope whom he detests.

For example, La Repubblica, which was founded and edited by him for some time, had for almost three decades - there is more than ample documentation of it - 'bombarded' John Paul II as reactionary, fundamentalist, regressive, and even for being anti-Communist! In short, Papa Wojtyla was Catholic - an unpardonable sin for Scalfari.

He was always being compared to his dead predecessors, John XXIII and Paul VI, and accused of rejecting and betraying Vatican II. [Hmmm.,doesn't it all sound familiar? And yet people think that John Paul II's Pontificate was nothing but roses and incense from the media. Not so, though they all tried to make it sound that way, after he died!]

But now that John Paul is dead, Scalfari has appropriated him to try and denigrate the living Pope who is now the figure in his gunsight.

In Scalfari's column this week in L'Espresso, he writes that in the course of history, there have been terrible Popes of all kinds, but also some who were 'exemplary', the last exemplary Popes being John XXIII, Paul VI and Papa Wojtyla.

In comparison, the present Pope [the way Scalfari says it in Italian, 'Quello attuale', by itself already sounds contemptuously dismissive!] is "a modest theologian who makes us lament his successors".

Yes, you read right: 'a modest theologian'. Surprising news missed by most of the newspapers. This line would make it seem that the Supreme Pontiff was subjected to a painstaking examination in theology and failed, with a stinging verdict, by one Scalfari who implicitly presents himself as a luminary in the theologic galaxy.

Now, the founder of Repubblica is certainly a competent journalist with a long career but, as far as I know, he has never been known for encyclopedic culture, nor for being a giant of philosophical thought (in fact, when he has tried to indulge in philosophical reflections, he has only aroused some hilarity, and the more malicious have described some of his philosophical argumentations as dilettantish, as of someone 'playing by ear').

But no one suspected or imagined that he has now become an exceptional theologian qualified to pass judgment on someone with the caliber of Joseph Ratzinger! How, when and where did this metamorphosis take place?

Unfortunately, Scalfari's theological competence is purely self-certified. No one can verify it. However, it would have been Scalfari's chance to document - at least in a few lines - the reasons for his ferocious dismissal of the theologian Pope. At the very least, he might have let us know if he had read a single book by Ratzinger, and if so which one. (As everyone knows, the Ratzinger bibliography is endless, with hundreds of titles).

But perhaps, in order to formulate his unappealable verdict, Scalfari did not need to read a single book by the 'examinand'. Maybe he is endowed with that rare charism called innate wisdom. Still, he could have cited at least one statement by Ratzinger (just one, no more) that shows theological incompetence - but he did not do so.

So, his readers at L'Espresso must take his judgment as undiscussable and indisputable dogma, without being able to examine it freely as modern secular mentality would require.

Scalfari owed it to his readers to explain the credentials and preparation that qualify him to pass judgment on a man like Joseph Ratzinger, whose 'modest' curriculum vitae reads thus: professor of theology in important German universities; as a young man, theological expert and consultant to Cardinal Frings and the other German bishops attending Vatican II; author of hundreds of books and essays; bishop, cardinal, and for more than 20 years, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith - handpicked by the exemplary John Paul II to be the guardian of orthodoxy in the universal Church - and finally, Pope.

Of course, in contrast to Scalfari who walks with hieratic gait and, according to his friends, carries his head as if it were an ostensorium borne in procession - the most evident characteristics of Joseph Ratzinger are simplicity, humility and sincere friendliness.

He was always that way as cardinal, and I can testify to that personally. His gentleness always gave me the impression of evangelical innocence that is truly rare to see in great intellectuals, which he is.

In his private behavior as well as public actions, in his years at university, in his books and lectures, he has never shown the least trace of intellectual arrogance typical of academics, nor of haughtiness or intolerance.

On the contrary, Joseph Ratzinger is extremely welcoming, a good man - always ready to extend a fraternal or paternal hand, even towards antagonists who have attacked him harshly (e.g., Hans Kueng).

His distinguishing characteristic has been the defense of truth in charity, and it was no accident that he prepared the draft of Cardinal Frings's address to Vatican II denouncing the methods of the former Holy Office.

He has never once used harsh words against anyone, although he never hesitates to defend the Catholic faith - with gentleness, to profess the truth, and to inspire it. Because he has always had unshakeable faith in 'logos', in the reason that all human beings are endowed with, whatever creed they belong to, and therefor, in the possibility of mutual comprehension and dialog, if not obstructed by prejudice or ideology.

That is why he likes to listen to others and look deeply into their arguments and objections, with profound respect for them and love of the search for truth.

He is, quite simply, a rarity in the intellectual world. Perhaps because he is profoundly Christian and feels solidarity with all men. In his books, he has never expressed scorn for anyone. Nor does he make judgments, as we journalists love to do, in shovels.

Scalfari and his newspaper seem to be the king anf the temple of such Universal Judgment, which is, in this, case, a universal pre-judgment (prejudice). Which easily becomes self-penalizing (for scoring in one'd own goal).

For example, in the column in question, Scalfari praises Cardinal Carlo Martini and contrasts him with the rest of the Catholic hierarchy: "He thinks in a way that is radically different from that of the Church."

With which words, Scalfari unwittingly makes the worst possible compliment to his prelate friend: to oppose him to the rest of the Church only confirms the old song and dance of secular media who have elected Martini their 'anti-Pope'. Which is the worst disgrace that can happen to a successor to the apostles.

Indeed, Jesus warned his disciples that if they were his authentic friends, they would be scorned and persecuted by the world as he was. He warns them against the flatteries and applause of the world as a sign that if they earned these, they were off course.

Perhaps it would be good for Cardinal Martini to recall what Don Lorenzo Milani [an Italian priest who was known for educating poor children with unorthodox methods that 'equipped them for real life']. In the 1960s, he too was held up by L'Espresso as a model against the rest of the Church.

But don Milani responded firmly to the magazine: "And in what way do you think I am like you? How exactly?...This Church possesses the sacraments. It is not L'Espresso that gives me the power to absolve sins. Do you give me the Mass and Communion? You journalists should realize you are in no position to judge the Church. You are not qualified to do so. I spent 22 years of my life trying to escape the company of those who read L'Espresso and Le Monde or write for them. You should snob me, say I am naive and a demagogue, but do not honor me as one of you. Because I am not... Only God matters, and man's only task is to adore God - everything else is filth".

And yet don Milani himself endured injustice from the Church bureaucracy. it would be so nice to hear similar words from Cardinal Martini who had been part of the Church hierarchy, from whom he received only power and glory. Better yet, how nice it would be if he himself defended the Pope from people like Scalfari....

[Dream on, Socci! But like Hans Kueng, Martini is the same age as the Pope, so one wants to be 'kind' out of respect for their age. Indeed, there was one other article earlier this week that claimed the cardinal appeared to be echoing Scalfari in his new weekly column for Corriere della Sera... I'll check it out.]

[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 10/30/2009 10:06 AM]
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Friday, Oct. 30

Painting, Franscisco Zurbaran, Vision of St. Alfonso, 1603.
ST. ALFONSO RODRIGUEZ (Spain, 1533-1617)
Jesuit lay brother and Mystic
Entered religious life after his wife and 3 children died.
Not educated enough to become a Jesuit priest, he served
as humble doorkeeper of the Jesuit college in Majorca till
his death. His spirituality influenced many colleagues,
including St. Pedro Claver, later Apostle to the Slaves in
Latin America. They were canonized together in 1888.




OR today.

Benedict XVI's hope at audience with the new ambassador from Iran:
A new phase of international cooperation
Other Page 1 stories: The Pope tells Pontifical Council for Social Communications that new media should now be part of every pastoral
plan; Tehran claims it is ready to cooperate with IAEA in shipping out uranium for enrichment, in an almost daily pendulum swing
between agreeing and not; and an essay by the Italian foreign minister on Italy's dealings with the Eastern European countries,
particularly those who are not yet members of the European Union.




THE POPE'S DAY

The Holy Father today met with

- H.E. Madame Delia Cárdenas Christie, Ambassador from Panama, who
presented her credentials. Address in Spanish.

- Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco, Archbishop of Genoa and President of the Italian bishops conference

- Prof. Angelo Caloia, immediate past president of the Vatican bank IOR.

- Participants of the conference sponsored by the Vatican Observatory to mark International Astronomy Year.
Address in English.

And this afternoon with

- Cardinal William Joseph Levada, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (weekly meeting).


[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 10/30/2009 8:27 PM]
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As usual, Bruno Mastroianni manages to say so much in a few sentences!


For Benedict VI,
dialog is not a tea party
for courteous pleasantries


10/29/09


The opening for Anglicans to return to full communion with the Catholic Church and the doctrinal discussions recently started with the Lefebvrians are not simply a phenomenon of inter-Christian dialog.

They are events that speak to us of an extraordinary, though often ignored, attitude to dialog of Benedict XVI.

The very Pope whom some 'educated' forecasts had considered to be most deficient for dialog, has been dealing out one coup after the other in this field.

Some had interpreted his doctrinal precision and unshakeable faith as lack of charism, but these very traits that were thought to presage disaster [for purposes of dialog] are proving to be Benedict XVI's strong points.

One sees it with the Orthodox, the Jews, the Muslims, and even in confrontation with the [exponents of] the secularization that has taken over the West.

With these interlocutors, Benedict XVI has not contented himself with complacent handshakes - he has made clear he wants dialog to lead to something concrete.

The fact that there have been reactions, sometimes rather harsh, only confirms that the Pope expresses ideas that aim to be valid for everyone.

The dominant culture has accustomed us to the idea that dialog ought to be like a courteous tea party, with plenty of smiles around the table - only to leave it without any substantial ideas.

It is the contrary for Benedict XVI: dialog should serve to speak about concrete truths.

In a world where the most that dialog aims for seems to be some vague pacifistic conformity, there is still someone - Benedict XVI - who trusts in truth and shows that he takes dialog and his dialog partners seriously.


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Pope tells astronomers
faith and science are complementary





VATICAN CITY, Oct. 30 (AP) - Pope Benedict XVI said Friday that faith and science are both necessary for the full understanding of mankind and its place in the universe.

The Pope met with astronomers from around the world as part of events marking the U.N.-designated International Year of Astronomy and celebrating the 400th anniversary of Galileo’s first celestial observations by telescope.



The Catholic Church has long battled accusations that it was hostile to science, a contention fueled by the Church’s denunciation of Galileo’s theory as dangerous to the faith.

In 1992, Pope John Paul II declared that the Church’s ruling against Galileo was an error resulting from "tragic mutual incomprehension." Since then, the Church has worked to rehabilitate Galileo.

Benedict praised the "ongoing dialogue and reflection on the complementarity of faith and reason in the service of an integral understanding of man and his place in the universe." The theme is central to his thought.

The Pope said that our age, with its potential for great scientific discoveries, demands "the careful observation, critical judgment, patience and discipline which are essential to the modern scientific method."

At the same time, he said, true knowledge is more than just "calculation and experiment," and "invites us to lift our gaze to the higher realm of the spirit."

Galileo was tried as a heretic in 1633 and forced to recant. He was sentenced to life imprisonment, later changed to house arrest.



The Vatican Museums are hosting an exhibit that features rudimentary telescopes, celestial globes and original manuscripts by Galileo, part of the church’s rehabilitating efforts.




Here is the text of the address delivered by the Holy Father in English to the conference participants:


Your Eminence,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am pleased to greet this assembly of distinguished astronomers from throughout the world meeting in the Vatican for the celebration of the International Year of Astronomy, and I thank Cardinal Giovanni Lajolo for his kind words of introduction.

This celebration, which marks the four hundredth anniversary of Galileo Galilei’s first observations of the heavens by telescope, invites us to consider the immense progress of scientific knowledge in the modern age and, in a particular way, to turn our gaze anew to the heavens in a spirit of wonder, contemplation and commitment to the pursuit of truth, wherever it is to be found.

Your meeting also coincides with the inauguration of the new facilities of the Vatican Observatory in Castel Gandolfo.

As you know, the history of the Observatory is in a very real way linked to the figure of Galileo, the controversies which surrounded his research, and the Church’s attempt to attain a correct and fruitful understanding of the relationship between science and religion.

I take this occasion to express my gratitude not only for the careful studies which have clarified the precise historical context of Galileo’s condemnation, but also for the efforts of all those committed to ongoing dialogue and reflection on the complementarity of faith and reason in the service of an integral understanding of man and his place in the universe.

I am particularly grateful to the staff of the Observatory, and to the friends and benefactors of the Vatican Observatory Foundation, for their efforts to promote research, educational opportunities and dialogue between the Church and the world of science.

The International Year of Astronomy is meant not least to recapture for people throughout our world the extraordinary wonder and amazement which characterized the great age of discovery in the sixteenth century.

I think, for example, of the exultation felt by the scientists of the Roman College who just a few steps from here carried out the observations and calculations which led to the worldwide adoption of the Gregorian calendar.

Our own age, poised at the edge of perhaps even greater and more far-ranging scientific discoveries, would benefit from that same sense of awe and the desire to attain a truly humanistic synthesis of knowledge which inspired the fathers of modern science.

Who can deny that responsibility for the future of humanity, and indeed respect for nature and the world around us, demand – today as much as ever – the careful observation, critical judgement, patience and discipline which are essential to the modern scientific method?

At the same time, the great scientists of the age of discovery remind us also that true knowledge is always directed to wisdom, and, rather than restricting the eyes of the mind, it invites us to lift our gaze to the higher realm of the spirit.

Knowledge, in a word, must be understood and pursued in all its liberating breadth. It can certainly be reduced to calculation and experiment, yet if it aspires to be wisdom, capable of directing man in the light of his first beginnings and his final ends, it must be committed to the pursuit of that ultimate truth which, while ever beyond our complete grasp, is nonetheless the key to our authentic happiness and freedom (cf. Jn 8:32), the measure of our true humanity, and the criterion for a just relationship with the physical world and with our brothers and sisters in the great human family.

Dear friends, modern cosmology has shown us that neither we, nor the earth we stand on, is the centre of our universe, composed of billions of galaxies, each of them with myriads of stars and planets.

Yet, as we seek to respond to the challenge of this Year – to lift up our eyes to the heavens in order to rediscover our place in the universe – how can we not be caught up in the marvel expressed by the Psalmist so long ago?

Contemplating the starry sky, he cried out with wonder to the Lord: "When I see your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars which you set in place, what is man that you should be mindful of him, or the son of man, that you should care for him?" (Ps 8:4-5).

It is my hope that the wonder and exaltation which are meant to be the fruits of this International Year of Astronomy will lead beyond the contemplation of the marvels of creation to the contemplation of the Creator, and of that Love which is the underlying motive of his creation – the Love which, in the words of Dante Alighieri, "moves the sun and the other stars" (Paradiso XXXIII, 145).

Revelation tells us that, in the fullness of time, the Word through whom all things were made came to dwell among us. In Christ, the new Adam, we acknowledge the true centre of the universe and all history, and in him, the incarnate Logos, we see the fullest measure of our grandeur as human beings, endowed with reason and called to an eternal destiny.

With these reflections, dear friends, I greet all of you with respect and esteem, and I offer prayerful good wishes for your research and teaching. Upon you, your families and dear ones I cordially invoke Almighty God’s blessings of wisdom, joy, and peace.



Benedict XVI examines a moon fragment during a visit to the new offices of the Vatican Observatory in Castel Gandolfo on 9/16/09.






[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 10/31/2009 12:44 AM]
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Pope's Anglican provision a response
to those ‘knocking at the door,’
former Westminster archbishop says





Cardial Murphy-O'Connor and the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams.


Westminster, England, Oct 30, 2009 (CNA) - The Archbishop Emeritus of Westminster Cormac Murphy-O’Connor has issued an extended commentary on Pope Benedict XVI’s new provision for Anglicans who wish to become Catholic.

He reported that a similar proposal had been rejected under Pope John Paul II, but was revived after the “repeated requests” from Anglicans worldwide who have been “knocking at the door for a long time.”

He emphasized that Pope Benedict’s response to those Anglicans who wanted to become Catholic was not a reflection on the Anglican Communion as a whole or of Catholics’ ongoing ecumenical relationship with them.

Cardinal Murphy-O’Connor’s comments came during the Richard Stewart Memorial Lecture, delivered at Worth Abbey on Oct. 29. The cardinal was joined at the lecture by the Bishop Kieran Conry of Arundel and Brighton and the Abbot of Worth, Christopher Jamison.

The cardinal, who was the Catholic Co-Chairman of the Anglican/Roman Catholic International Commission (ARCIC), titled his lecture “ARCIC: Dead in the Water or Money in the Bank.” He recounted his own work in ecumenism from an autobiographical point of view while discussing theological dialogue, the search for communion, and “spiritual ecumenism.”

He also discussed the recent Anglican provision, reporting that a special provision for Anglicans might have been “helpful” in 1993 and 1994 when other groups of Anglicans joined the Catholic Church.

However, this proposal was rejected as inappropriate because the bishops of England and Wales were dealing solely with clergy of the Church of England and a provision would have to be provided to all the churches of the Anglican Communion.

“If the Holy See had offered such Personal Ordinariates then, and in particular here in England, it might well have been seen as an un-ecumenical approach by the Holy See, as if wanting to put out the net as far as one could,” Cardinal Murphy-O’Connor opined.

He said that both Pope John Paul II and then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger would have been against such a proposal, as were the leading Catholic prelates of Britain.

“Matters have moved on since then, and the repeated requests by many Anglicans, not only from England but from other Provinces of the Anglican Communion, have necessitated a new approach, which is why I think that the Personal Ordinariates offered by the Holy Father can be seen not in any way un-ecumenical but rather as a generous response to people who have been knocking at the door for a long time.”

His other lecture remarks discussed his early interaction with Anglicans, Congregationalists and Methodists. Cardinal Murphy-O’Connor told how he became “imbued” with what the Second Vatican Council said about the “important work” of ecumenism in its document on the topic, Unitatis Redintegratio.

“While it stated quite clearly that the unity of the Church subsists in the Catholic Church as something she can never lose, it insisted that the Church must also pray and work to maintain, reinforce and protect the unity that Christ wills for her,” he explained.

Prayer in common with other Christians was “crucially important” because a change of heart and holiness of life should be regarded as the “soul” of the ecumenical movement,

Turning to the “fruitful yet so inconclusive” aspects of ARCIC, he said: “In more than 40 years of official ecumenical dialogue with the Anglican Communion, it may be asked, ‘Where are we?’”

Some of the classic disputes at the root of divisions between Anglicans and Catholics, the cardinal stated, had been “basically resolved” through a new consensus on fundamental doctrine. While there is a “renewed understanding,” he said work remains on the relationship of Scripture and Tradition and the teaching authority which interprets it.

Cardinal Murphy-O'Connor also touched on the subject of the Anglican Communion’s decision to ordain women to the priesthood and the episcopate, a action that he said created a “Very difficult obstacle.” However, in his view the ARCIC documents are still “money in the bank” because they are an achieved consensus and a study and reflection on a “renewed vision” of Christ’s Church.

The Second Vatican Council’s teaching that the Church of Jesus Christ “subsists in” the Roman Catholic Church takes seriously that there are individual Christians, ecclesial elements, and in the case of the Orthodox even “genuinely particular churches” outside the “visible confines” of the Catholic Church

This teaching means that full communion, as the goal of ecumenism, “has not to be understood as simply a return of separated brothers and sisters and churches to the bosom of Catholic mother church.”

“This full communion, unity, does not of course mean uniformity but unity within diversity and diversity within unity,” he added.

The new Anglican provision must be understood in the context of the papacy’s mission to preserve Church unity and freedom from “one-sided ties,” the cardinal asserted.



It's a good sign that Cardinal Murphy O'Connor has come out on his own, and so soon, relatively, in support of Pope Benedict's initiative. Because of his overwhelmingly liberal record and persuasion, he has always been seen as a leader of the 'dissident bishops of England and Wales' who, for instance, cannot find it in their Christian hearts to find anything good about the traditional Mass! But now he has spoken unequivocally in favor of the Pope's move - and that can only be good.

Meanwhile, Damian Thompson brings up some practical considerations, the nitty-gritty as it were, that come with the Anglican opening:



The Anglo-Catholic move to Rome
will take time – and cost a lot of money
But it's going to happen



Oct. 30, 2009


When Pope Benedict XVI unveiled his scheme to create an entirely new structure for ex-Anglicans last week, over-excited commentators talked about the end of the Church of England. That’s nonsense: conservative Anglo-Catholics have been so marginalised since 1992 that their departure will hardly be noticed.

It’s not true, either, that the traditionalist movement will march straight into the Ordinariate as soon as the Pope unlocks the gates. There is no possible scheme which could effect the mass transfer of most conservative Anglo-Catholics, clergy and laity, in a matter of months.

I can’t see more than a handful of parishes voting overwhelmingly to accept the scheme in the short term – and, if they do, they will probably only be able to keep their parish buildings by borrowing them from the Church of England. Other Anglicans will take years to make up their minds. Many will never come.

Forward in Faith held its annual conference last weekend, and the confused signals it sent out (unsurprisingly, given the short notice) have allowed opponents of the Personal Ordinariate to predict that this will be only a small-scale experiment. But that is to err in the other direction.

The grumpiness of some traditionalists was predictable: they’re not called “disaffected Anglicans” just because they’re disillusioned with their Church, but because that’s their natural disposition.

Others, however, are genuinely excited by the Pope’s scheme, and their anxieties have more to do with how to maximise a historic opportunity than with doubt about its essential rightness.

The Apostolic Constitution has yet to be published. Until it is, there’s not much point in detailed speculation. [An obvious point I've been pointing out all along, in common-sense annoyance at supposedly intelligent people like Fr. Thomas Reese indulging in free-wheeling speculation on the unknown!]

My guess is that the biggest problem will be future married priests: I can’t see the Ordinariate providing for the ordination of married laymen in other than exceptional circumstances.


But presumably the traditionalist bishops who asked Rome for this pastoral provision do not see this as an insurmountable obstacle; otherwise they would not be making such positive noises about the plan now. [Exactly! They've had more than ten years to think this aspect over - and it didn't stop them from pressing the CDF for an opening.]

Like it nor not, the Ordinariate is coming to England (and presumably to several other countries as well). We do not yet know what it will look like, who will be appointed to run it, or how many people it will attract.

Crucially, Rome will not judge the success of the enterprise by how many people sign up: Pope Benedict is not interested in attracting reluctant converts sailing under a papal flag of convenience.

But he will judge by other criteria: the intelligence with which the scheme is implemented, anticipating problems over buildings and diverse liturgical demands; and by the quality of the pastoral care provided for these new members of the Catholic Church.

All this depends on leaders who can tread the fine line between imagination and recklessness – and also on finding resources in a hurry.

The Catholic dioceses of England and Wales have no money to spare (some are nearly bankrupt), though they do have church buildings – including beautiful ones – that they cannot afford to maintain, or cannot be bothered to.

Just this week, we learned that St Augustine’s, Ramsgate, a Pugin masterpiece, will be saved from closure by setting it aside for celebration of the Extraordinary Form; could something similiar happen with redundant RC churches and Ordinariate congregations?

But these provisions will cost a shedload of money. So, Catholic philanthropists, this is your chance. For decades, all over the world, bishops’ conferences and dioceses have been accepting cheques from businessmen who might as well have written them out to Bernie Madoff, for all the good it did the Catholic faith.

Now is the time for these benefactors (especially conservative-minded ones) to start thinking about donations that will pay spiritual and liturgical dividends, provided that the Personal Ordinariate scheme is meticulously thought through, not cobbled together by an Italian Curia that knows nothing about Anglicans or hijacked by mean-minded bureaucrats in local Catholic bishops’ conferences.

We’ll have a clearer picture once the Pope’s text is released. Fingers crossed.

[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 10/30/2009 8:25 PM]
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I am glad someone has replied to David Gibson's reflex and therefore mindless analysis of Benedict XVI - in the same forum where his article appeared several days ago. But even happier that other thoughtful commentators are picking up on the very obvious drumbeat and clarion call at once of this Pontificate and this Pope, whose greatness is increasingly being acknowledged:


Benedict the Radical
By Patrick J. Deneen

Oct. 29, 2009


Recent commentary on Pope Benedict XVI's invitation to Anglicans to enter the Catholic fold has predictably fallen into the well-worn rut of seeing his action through liberal/conservative lens.

Our domestic battle lines have been so firmly drawn, with daily sorties probing for the opposition's weaknesses while heavy arms stand at ready for attack, that we are largely incapable of putting our heads above the ramparts to discern whether something else entirely might be going on.

One need only consult David Gibson's weekend article from the pages of the very host of this site, which asked the question: "Is Pope Benedict A Closet Liberal?" (to which "On Faith's" own Thomas Reese has here responded, "not enough").

Gibson finds evidence of the Pope's "liberalism" in his extraordinary activism. "Thus far, Benedict's papacy has been one of constant movement and change, the sort of dynamic that liberal Catholics -- or Protestants -- are usually criticized for pursuing."

Gibson regards any form of "constant movement and change" to be a form of liberalism. While he acknowledges that this "liberalism" has been exerted by Benedict XVI toward a "conservative agenda," he concludes that the embrace of change opens the Church to orienting these "liberal means," eventually toward liberal ends.

Gibson is thus working with the following definitions of liberalism and conservatism: liberals seek change while conservatives defend the status quo. Maybe. But a more supple grasp would recognize that it depends entirely on the status of the status quo.

Whether one embraces "change" or defends the "status quo" will depend on whether the current status quo more or less reflects a set of substantive commitments. Thus, in liberal times, conservatives are likely to seek change, while liberals are likely to defend the status quo.

We have seen this oddity most recently during recent Senate hearings considering nominations for the Supreme Court. In that context, liberal Senators have sought to find out if nominees will be suitably respectful of precedent - namely and especially Roe v. Wade; conservatives, meanwhile, have called for more "activism" in seeking to have that ruling overturned.

Are those seeking change therefore "liberal" and those defending the status quo therefore "conservative"? According to Gibson, yes. Reality suggests otherwise.

One's respective view on the relative need for, and direction of, change will depend finally upon one's assessment of where one is now. Gibson goes seriously awry when he confuses the Pope's "constant movement and change" as a form of "liberalism."

Nor would it even be proper to call him a "conservative," given that he sees little worth "conserving" in a secularizing, materialist modern age with decreasing respect for human dignity in all of its forms.

The word that better captures this Pope is that of radical: he is seeking to get to the root of matters - in particular, the two millennium tradition of Catholicism - and on that basis to re-orient the Roman Church for a future that he regards with some foreboding and grimness.

He chose his Papal name with care and deliberateness: in many respects, he foresees a new Dark Age approaching, and is seeking to build a Church that will resemble the monastic order originally established by St. Benedict - a monastic order governed by an austere rule that can weather the dark times ahead.


Few have better captured the radical aims of this Pope than Robert Moynihan in a recent "Letter from Rome" [sntire text of that essay posted in this Forum two days ago on this page]:

If one looks at ... the context of recent events, the essential point is this: Benedict XVI, though now 82, is moving on many different fronts with great energy in a completely unexpected way, given his reputation as a man of thought, not of action. (We are going to have to revise our understanding of his pontificate.)

He is clearly reaching out to reunite with many Christian groups: the Lefebvrists, as these meetings show, but also Anglicans, the Orthodox, and others as well. He seems to be trying to make Catholic Rome a center of communion for all Christians. This activity, occurring at an accelerating speed over recent months, looks almost like a "rallying of the troops" before some final, decisive battle.[...]

In short, many eyes are now on Benedict, wondering what he really intends here. The answer seems simple enough: Benedict is trying energetically to "get his house in order."

But which house? On one level, it is the Christian Church -- a Christian Church under considerable pressure in the highly secularized modern world. In this "house," this "ecclesia Dei" ("church of God" or "community of God"), dogmas and doctrines, formulated into very precise verbal statements, are held as true.

These verbal formulas are professed in creeds. Benedict is seeking to overcome divisions over the content of these creeds, these doctrinal formulas, in order to bring about formal, public unity among separated Christians. He is trying to find unity not only with the Lefebvrists (and all Traditionalists within the Church) but also, as we have seen in recent days, with the Anglicans and the Orthodox Churches.

So this dialogue with the Lefebvrists must be seen in the context of multiple dialogues, all occurring at once: Catholic Traditionalists, Protestant Anglicans, the Orthodox Churches. One might almost say this pontificate is become one of "all dialogue, all the time."

But on a second level, considering world events and the evolution of the world's economy and culture, something else is also at stake. Benedict is rallying his troops.

He is trying to reunite all those factions and denominations and groups in the West that share common beliefs in the eternal destiny of human beings, in the sacredness of human life (since human beings are "in the image and likeness of God"), in the existence of a moral standard which is true at all times and in all places (against the relativism of the modern secular culture), in the need for justice in human affairs, for the rule of right, not might.

And so he is doing his best, in what seems perhaps to be the "twilight of the West," to build an ark, centered in Rome, to which all those who share these beliefs about human dignity may repair. And this means that what Benedict is doing in this dialogue which got underway today is also of importance to Jews, to Muslims, and to all men and women of goodwill.

Mankind seems to be entering a new period, a period in which companies and governments may produce, even for profit, "designer humans," a period of resource wars, a period of the complete rejection of the traditional family unit.

Benedict, from his high room in the Apostolic Palace, seems to be trying to rally the West in the twilight of an age, so that what was best in the West may be preserved, and shine forth again after the struggles of our time are past.


This "ordering of the house" of Christianity goes beyond any simple - and frankly, almost laughably irrelevant - invocation of "liberal" and "conservative" position reflected in today's American politics.

If one reads Benedict/Ratzinger's writings as a whole, one sees that he has consistently argued that Christianity is entering a period in which it will, as a whole, need to strengthen itself by shrinking to a core of the faithful. His is not an electoral strategy, but a gambit to preserve Western civilization.

In the book Without Roots, then Cardinal Ratzinger (in a conversation with then Italian Senate President Marcello Pera) articulated his view that the future of Christianity (and specifically, the Church) will lie in "creative minorities."

He wrote there that he viewed such "creative minorities" (comparing them explicitly to the monastic communities of the Middle ages) as a "yeast [Matthew 13:33] - a persuasive force that acts beyond the more closed sphere until it reaches everybody.... The minorities renew the vitality of this great community at the same time as they draw on its hidden life force, which forever generates new life" (122-3).

What's important to note about Benedict XVI's "radicalism" is that it does not rest upon success in the political sphere; his vision for the Church fundamentally eschews much of what actually is shared in common between contemporary "liberals" and "conservatives."

In the American context, "liberals" and "conservatives" alike are too much and too often in the throes of the modern orthodoxies, particularly a near-fanatic embrace of science and technology, devotion to "progress," "choice," and "growth," and a fealty to "the Market." Both are essentially earth-oriented, power-hungry and materialist.

We make a grave mistake if we interpret and understand the actions and activities of Pope Benedict XVI through the narrowly political lens that we all tend to wear in these times. He's engaged in a project far greater, and with world-historical significance.

He is a radical traditionalist, and in a most untraditional age, such devotions call for radical creativity. Just don't call him "liberal" or "conservative"; both labels are too narrow for his capacious ambitions.

He is endeavoring to save Christendom - from those outside it who would wish its demise - but even more, from those within, regardless of their political label.





Carl Olson in Ignatius Insight praises Deenan's WaPo article and develops the theme farther:


Home run!
Posted by Carl Olson

Oct. 29, 2009

No, this has nothing to do with the World Series (as interesting as last night's game was), but a very fine column by Patrick J. Deenan titled, "Benedict the Radical," posted on the WaPost blog, "On Faith."

Deenan, who teaches government studies at Georgetown and is Founding Director of "The Tocqueville Forum on the Roots of American Democrac, first dismantles David Gibson's ridiculously myopic column, "Is Pope Benedict a Closet Liberal?" (Oct. 23, 2009; see my post about Gibson's column) and then writes:... [Olson quotes from the Deenan article.]

Deenan makes several excellent points, three of which I highlight here for anyone who is really serious about understanding the thought and actions of Ratzinger/Benedict:

1. Read his works and engage with his actual thinking. It sounds rather obvious. But ask yourself this question: Following the announcement last week about the personal ordinariate, how many pundits and reporters, in making their assessments of Benedict XVI's approach to ecumenism, actually quoted from any of Ratzinger/Benedict's writings about ecumenism?

2. Politics are not the source and summit of the Catholic Faith. Even if you think that politics are the most important thing in the world, don't foist that mentality onto the Pope. It isn't fair, and it leads to a Gibsonian perspective.

3. Get over, past, and beyond vacuous political labeling. Terms such as "liberal" and "conservative" have limited value in certain situations, when there is a basic understanding of their meaning. They don't bring anything helpful to the table in talking about Catholic doctrine or the thought of the Pope.

Deenan mentions Without Roots: The West, Relativism, Christianity, Islam. I would also suggest reading, for starters,
- Truth and Tolerance: Christian Belief and World Religions,
- Values In A Time of Upheaval
- Europe: Today and Tomorrow
- Church, Ecumenism and Politics: New Endeavors in Ecclesiology, and
- God and the World, as well as
- Pope Benedict XVI: The Conscience of Our Age (A Theological Portrait)
There are numerous other good choices.

Finally, Deenan's remarks echo to a large degree what Peter Seewald (who has interviewed Ratzinger many times) wrote in the Preface to Benedict XVI: An Intimate Portrait:


The man from Bavaria - contrary to all the projections dumped onto his shoulders - is a revolutionary of the Christian type. Seeking out what was lost and saving it is the constant element in his life.

An inconvenient man who can seize on the spirit of the times, who warns people against the aberrations of modern life.

Anyone who really wants change, he cries out, needs a change in his consciousness and his personal behavior--anything else is insufficient.

Now, as Benedict XVI, the most powerful German at the beginning of the new millennium may offer a new opportunity for Europe and, especially, for his homeland.

And Peter's successor has given his own people an exciting motto for this: "We are not working to defend a position of power", he says. "In truth we are working so that the streets of the world may be open for Christ."

That would mean, then, something like a "Benedictinizing" of the Catholic Church, a healthy revitalization of mercy, of the origin of the mystery.

This is an approach based, not on activism or considerations of feasibility, but on faith. And the Pontifex in Rome could find himself helped not only by a reawakened longing for meaning and a new consciousness that truth is indispensable, but also by a new generation of young Christians, whose desire is to live out their faith in all its vitality and fullness once more, piously and without inhibitions.

"The Church is certainly not old and immobile", declared the new Pope enthusiastically; "No--she is young." [Homily, Inaugural Mass, April 24, 2005).

And it was also untrue, he said, that youth is merely "materialistic and egotistic: young people want an end to be put to injustice. They want inequality to be overcome and for everyone to be given his share of the good things of the world. They want the oppressed to be given their freedom. They want greatness. They desire goodness. And that is why the young ... are once again wide open for Christ."

And then he added, just like a rebel of earlier times. "Anyone who has come to Christ seeking what is comfortable has indeed come to the wrong address." And, quite certainly, anyone who seeks that with Pope Benedict, too.



[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 10/30/2009 7:08 PM]
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Benedict will meet Abp. Williams
at the Vatican next month

By FRANCES D'EMILIO



VATICAN CITY, Oct. 20 (AP) – Pope Benedict XVI will meet with the Archbishop of Canterbury next month in the leaders' first encounter since the Catholic Church moved to make it easier for disenchanted Anglicans to convert to Catholicism, a Vatican spokesman said Friday.

Archbishop Rowan Williams, the Anglican leader, was already due to visit Rome in November for ceremonies at a pontifical university to honor a late cardinal who worked for Christian unity, said the spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi.

Taking advantage of the archbishop's presence in Rome, Benedict will receive Williams on Nov. 21 at the Vatican, Lombardi said in a telephone interview.

The Vatican's move, announced last week, to ease Anglican conversions to Catholicism is designed to entice traditionalists opposed to women bishops, openly gay clergy and the blessing of same-sex unions in the church headed by Williams.

Given the surprise overture to potential converts, the talks between Benedict and Williams "take on a particularly important significance," said Lombardi.

But he stressed that Williams has met with the Pontiff during past trips to Rome and indicated that the two would have likely met even without the recent developments.

The Anglican church is grappling with deep doctrinal divisions that threaten to cause a permanent schism among its faithful.

The Vatican move means conservative Anglicans worldwide can become Catholics while maintaining aspects of Anglican liturgy and identify, including married priests.

Before the announcement, disaffected Anglicans had come over to Catholicism on a case-by-case basis, but the Vatican decision set up a formal structure to make it easier for Anglicans to convert.

The Vatican says it is responding to many requests over the years from Anglicans disillusioned with the progressive turn of the Anglican Communion.

Anglicans split with Rome win 1534 when English King Henry VIII was denied a marriage annulment by the Vatican. The Anglican Communion includes the Episcopalian Church in the United States.

For decades, the Anglican church has been divided over how to interpret the Bible on many issues, including ordination of women, and the rift was widened with the consecration in 2003 of V. Gene Robinson of New Hampshire as the Episcopal Church's first openly gay bishop.

Benedict has made efforts aimed at Christian unity a priority of his pontificate.

When the Pope and Williams held private talks at the Vatican in November 2006, they acknowledged there were "serious obstacles" to closer ties between their churches, a blunt reference to Vatican disapproval of gay bishops, women priests and blessings of same-sex unions in the Anglican church.



Anglican leader to meet
Pope Benedict on Nov. 21





VATICAN CITY, Oct. 30 (AFP) – Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, spiritual leader of the world's Anglicans, will meet Pope Benedict XVI on November 21, Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi confirmed Friday.

Lombardi told AFP that Rowan's visit to the Vatican was "already planned" before the Vatican's October 20 announcement of a structure for welcoming Anglican converts into the Roman Catholic Church.

Williams will be on hand for celebrations marking the 100th anniversary of the birth of Johannes Willebrands, a Dutch cardinal who was a pioneer in Catholic ecumenism and who died in 2006.

The Vatican announced last week that Pope Benedict XVI has approved a new structure to ease the way for Anglicans -- including married priests -- to join the Roman Catholic Church.

The Holy See said the move was a response to "numerous requests to the Holy See from groups of Anglican clergy and faithful in various parts of the world who want to enter into full and visible communion."

The Anglican church has been confronted by a growing split over the ordination of women and gay marriage.

Several conservative Anglican priests have defected to Catholicism since the ordination of women was adopted from 1984 in various branches of the Anglican Communion and by the Church of England as a whole in 1992.

Most vocal on the issue has been an Australia-based group, the Traditional Anglican Communion, whose leader Bishop John Hepworth made a formal request to the pope in 2007 for its members to be allowed into the Catholic fold.

The TAC, which split from the Anglican Communion in 1991, claims a membership of some 400,000 -- of whom several hundred are thought to want to convert to Catholicism.

The Church of England is the mother church of the worldwide Anglican Communion, which has about 77 million followers. The Catholic Church counts some 1.1 billion faithful.



Meanwhile, this week's Catholic Herald provides a useful overview of what has happened so far, on the Anglican side:


Anglicans ponder
Pope’s ‘generous’ offer

by Anna Arco

30 October 2009




Anglican Benediction at the end of the Solemn Mass of Corpus Christi at St Stephen's House, Oxford, June 2009.


Traditionalists in the Church of England have welcomed the news of a papal decree offering a new legal structure for Anglicans wishing to be in communion with Rome.

Members of Forward in Faith - a group of conservative Anglo-Catholics within the Church of England - met for their annual National Assembly last weekend, only days after the news broke that the Holy See was welcoming Anglicans into communion with the Catholic Church with a new canonical structure.

During the assembly members of the group, including some of its bishops, welcomed Pope Benedict XVI's gesture with "gratitude", calling it "mind-blowingly different", "generous" and the "answer to our prayers".

But it was far from clear that a majority of its 1,000 clergy will accept the offer in the short term. They will wait to find out more about the "Personal Ordinariates" set out by the Apostolic Constitution, which is yet to be published.

It is expected to provide details of a new structure similar to that of military dioceses. This would accommodate Anglicans who wished to be in full communion with Rome but to retain aspects of their liturgical and spiritual heritage.

Most members of Forward in Faith are Anglo-Catholic and cannot in good conscience accept ordained women either as priests or bishops. The group was founded in 1992 after the General Synod of the Church of England voted to ordain women priests.

The Rt Rev John Hind, Bishop of Chichester, said that it looked as though traditionalist Anglicans were on the brink of being offered two solutions to their problems, one coming from Rome in the shape of the Apostolic Constitution, and the other possibly coming from the Church of England.

During his address to the assembled members of Forward in Faith, Bishop Hind warned them against seeing Pope Benedict's offer as a "refuge for those opposed to the ordination to the episcopate".

He said: "This is not a single issue. What is being offered is an identifiable entity for Anglicans wishing to enter into full communion with the Catholic Church while maintaining what Pope Paul VI described as the legitimate patrimony of the Anglican inheritance."

Bishop Hind added that the "recognition by the Holy See that Anglicans have something to give to as well as to receive from the Catholic Church must be regarded as remarkable".

The Sunday Telegraph reported that Bishop Hind had said he would accept the Vatican's offer. He later issued a carefully worded denial, reassuring his flock that he was not "about to become a Roman Catholic".

He explained: "I stated that, in the event of union with the Roman Catholic Church, I would be willing to receive re-ordination into the Roman Catholic priesthood but that I would not be willing to deny the priesthood I have exercised hitherto."

The so-called "flying bishops", Provincial Episcopal Visitors who minister to members of the Church of England who cannot accept women priests, also addressed the assembly. They are already in close touch with Rome.

The Rt Rev Andrew Burnham, the Bishop of Ebbsfleet, who last year announced his willingness to become a Catholic, said that the Pope's provision answered prayers.

He said that most of the clergy members of Forward in Faith had indicated after last year's General Synod vote on women bishops that they wanted a corporate solution for their objections and that many of them would become "Roman Catholics".

Bishop Burnham added: "The message was clear. We are Western Christians, Catholics of the Latin rite separated from the Holy See. We are invited together in a kenotic, self-emptying way, without denying who we are, and what we have been, to re-enter the fullness of unity severed by act of state 500 years ago.

"The irony is that the response from the Holy See provides far more than we asked for and hoped for. We were looking for a lifeboat to take us to the mother ship. We are being offered a galleon to sail proudly as part of the admiral's fleet, with some of our fixtures and furnishings, our customs and our traditions."

Other speakers included Bishop John Broadhurst of Fulham, who said that the Vatican offer was "mind-blowingly different, though not without its questions".

But he added: "I am staying to see whether we can sort this mess out once and for all together because the one thing I've always been committed to is that we are in this together."

The former Bishop of Rochester, Dr Michael Nazir-Ali - who is more in line with conservative evangelicals in the Anglican Communion - also addressed the assembly. He did not rule out the possibility of taking advantage of Benedict XVI's offer.

In other Church of England circles, the reactions were mixed. The former Archbishop of Canterbury, Lord Carey of Clifton, said he was "appalled" by the Church's failure to give proper notice of the move to Dr Rowan Williams, the current Archbishop of Canterbury. Lord Carey said Dr Williams should complain to the Pope.

Dr Williams was informed of the details of the Apostolic Constitution only days before he held a joint press conference announcing it with Archbishop Vincent Nichols of Westminster.

He made his displeasure clear in a letter to fellow Anglican bishops, saying that he only found out what was happening "at a very late stage".

But Lord Carey also said: "I give it [the Pope's offer] a very cautious welcome. It is worth considering because there are a number of deeply worried, anxious Anglo-Catholics who do not believe they have a constructive future in the Church of England with the ordination of women as bishops. I was pastorally concerned for them when I was Archbishop of Canterbury. I know Rowan is as well. So this could go a long way to helping."

The conservative Anglican bishops in the Global South group - which includes Nigeria, Kenya, Rwanda and Uganda - issued a statement welcoming the Pope's Apostolic Constitution.

They made it clear, however, that most of them were unlikely to take advantage of it. Instead, they are backing an international "covenant" of mostly evangelical churches that reject theological liberalism, and especially the ordination of homosexuals.

They said: "We believe that the proposed Anglican Covenant sets the necessary parameters in safeguarding the Catholic and apostolic faith and order of the Communion.

"It gives Anglican churches worldwide a clear and principled way forward in pursuing God's divine purposes together in the one, holy, Catholic and apostolic church of Jesus Christ."



The ff. item does not really belong to the grouping, except that it concerns the projected papal trip to the United Kingdom. One of the syndicated GA pictures last Wednesday shows a Scottish politician greeting the Pope after the catechesis. And now, he has provided a story to go with the picture.


Scottish politician talks up
possible papal visit to Scotland

By DAVID MADDOX

Oct. 29, 2009


A papal visit to Scotland next year is now "probable", Scottish Secretary Jim Murphy said yesterday.



Mr Murphy, a prominent Catholic, met Pope Benedict XVI in Rome on a visit with the head of the Scottish church Cardinal Keith O'Brien and discussed next year's proposed visit. [There could not have been time to 'discuss' anything in the post-catechesis audience line, although the Pope could well have responded to a direct question about going to Scotland.

With an estimated 850,000 Catholics in Scotland, the meeting will provide Mr Murphy and Labour with a much-needed boost after attempts by the SNP to woo the religious vote away.

First Minister Alex Salmond has identified the Catholic vote as crucial for an SNP breakthrough in the west of Scotland.

Mr Murphy said: "I met the Pope in a packed St Peter's Square. We talked about international development, climate change and the proposed visit to Britain, including Scotland.

"It is, of course, for the Vatican to confirm but after (the] discussions, the prospects of the Pope visiting Scotland next year have gone from possible to probable.

"It is something I know that people throughout Britain, including Scots of all faiths, will welcome."

The prospect of a visit to Britain by the Pope emerged last month but there has been no formal confirmation yet.

It would be the first papal visit to the UK since John Paul II's tour in 1982.

[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 10/30/2009 10:47 PM]
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