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6/13/2013 3:47 PM
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Caught by surprise again by he page change as I made allowances for posting today's 'almanac' because I wanted to post the news reports on the faith encyclical right away. I have now 'inserted' the almanac post - and the reports on the encyclcial have moved down to the next pose

Thursday, June 13, 2013 Tenth Week in Ordinary Time
MEMORIAL OF ST. ANTHONY OF PADUA, Priest and Doctor of the Church

SANT'ANTONIO DA PADOVA (b Lisbon 1195, d Padua 1231)
Franciscan, Preacher, Theologian, Doctor of the Church
This great saint was the subject of a catechesis by Benedict XVI om 2/10/2010
just a few days before the spec2010ial exposition of his remains at his Basilica in Padua on Feb. 10-15, 2010, which drew some 300,000 pilgrims.
Readings for today's Mass:


Pope Francis met with

- H.E. Madame Alenka Bratušek, Prime Minister of Slovenia, and her delegation

- Members of the XIII Ordinary Council of the Synod of Bishops' Secretariat General. Address in Italian
and informal Q&A.

One year ago...
At the General Audience in Aula Paolo VI, Benedict XVIr continued his catecheses on prayer in the Letters of St. Paul, focusing this time on the apostle's account of his own experiences in contemplative prayer. The Pope also greeted participants of the 50th International Eucharistic Congress in Dublin and asked for prayers so that the event may bring abundant spiritual fruit...The Office of Papal Liturgical Ceremonies announced the Pope's limited liturgical calendar for July-September, during which he will be spending the summer at Castel Gandolfo.

And news - at the time incomplete because we did not know exactly what the answer was = on the doctrinal discussions with the FSSPX. Now we know of course that Benedict XVI made it clear the FSSPX has to acknowledge the validity of Vatican II even if it disputes some of its main teachings (on religious freedom, collegiality and inter-religious dialog), and that the FSSPX has refused to do that.

The Pope has decided on the FSSPX
and Mons. Fellay has the answer -
now will he accept it?

June 13, 2012

So we learned today that in the late afternoon, Mons. Bernard Fellay, superior-general of the FSSPX, met with Cardinal William Levada at the CDF, who was widely expected to hand him the Holy Father's decision on whether to readmit the FSSPX to full communion with Rome.

It's too momentous a decision to speculate on, and we can only pray. A couple of points must be pointed out: Fellay himself did not think the Pope would come around to making his decision until after he has settled in Castel Gandolfo for the summer, i.e., July at the earliest. In fact, Benedict XVI made his decision less than a month since the CDF cardinals and bishops considered the most recent modifications suggested by Mons. Fellay to the doctrinal Preamble that will constitute the basis for re-integration of the FSSPX. Fellay had described his proposed amendments as 'not substantive'.

The fact that Benedict XVI did not put this issue in the back burner - despite all the distractions of Vatileaks and IORgate - perhaps indicates that he had previously thought out all the most probable permutations and combinations that could arise out of the Doctrinal Preamble, and was therefore clear in his mind about what line of action to take for each contingency.

Mons. Fellay has always acknowledged Benedict XVI's good will, good faith and great personal interest in this reconciliation. I hope he keeps that in mind. If it's a clear Yes, then he has no problem,; but if it's a 'Yes but...', I hope he goes with the Pope's judgment. Because agreement on this is just the first step... It is perhaps fitting to invoke the intercession of St. Pius X who clearly would not have wanted this wound in the body of the Church and the Conciliar Popes, Blessed John XXIII, the Servant of God Paul VI, and Blessed John Paul II...
P.S. 2013 Well, the FSSPX chose to say NO. The latest statement from Mons. Fellay is that his society remains 'open' to dialog with the Vatican.

June 13, 2012

Here is a translation of the Pope's full catechesis:

Daily encounter with the Lord and frequent participation in the Sacraments allow us to open our mind and heart to his presence, his words, his action.

Prayer is not just the breathing of the soul, but, to use an image, it is also an oasis of peace from which we can draw the water that nourishes our spiritual life and transforms our existence.

God draws us towards him, makes us ascend the mountain of holiness, so that we may ever be nearer to him, as he offers us light and comfort along our way.

This is the personal experience that St. Paul refers to in Chapter 12 of the Second Letter to the Corinthians, on which I wish to dwell today.

To those who questioned the legitimacy of his apostolate, he did not so much list the communities he had founded, the kilometers he had travelled. He did not limit himself to recalling the difficulties and the oppositions he had encountered in announcing the Gospel, but he referred to his relationship with the Lord, an intense relationship that was characterized by moments of ecstasy, by profound contemplation
(cfr 2 Cor 12,1);

Therefore, he did not boast of what he had done, of his strength, of his activities and successes, but he pointed to the action of God on him and through him. It is with great modesty, in fact, that he recounts the moment in which he lived through the particular experience of being ravished to heaven by God.

He recalls that 14 years before this letter, "he was caught up", he says, "to the third heaven"
(v 2). With the language and the ways in which he recounted that which cannot be recounted, St, Paul writes about this in the third person.

He states that a man was caught up into the 'garden' of God, into Paradise. The contemplation was so profound and intense that the Apostle does not even remember the content of the revelation he received, but was very much aware of the fact itself and the circumstances in which the Lord had caught hold of him so totally, and drawn him towards himself, as he had done on the road to Damascus at the moment of his conversion
(cfr Phil 3,12).

St. Paul continues, saying that precisely in order not to allow pride to rise in him because of the grandeur of the revelations he had received, he carries in him 'a thorn' (2Cor 12,7), a suffering, and he pleads the Risen One to be released from this messenger of the Malign One, by this painful thorn in the flesh.

Three times, he says, he prayed the Lord insistently to take away this trial. It is in this situation, in profound contemplation of God, during which he "heard ineffable things, which no one may utter"
(v 4),, that he receives an answer to his plea. The Risen One addresses him with clear and reassuring words: “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness”(v 9).

Paul's comment on these words may leave us amazed, but it reveals how he understood what it was to be truly an apostle of the Gospel. Indeed, he exclaims: "Therefore, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and constraints, for the sake of Christ; for when I am weak, then I am strong*(vv 9b-10).

That is, he does not boast of his activities, but of the action of Christ who acts precisely on his weakness. Let us dwell a bit on this fact which happened during the years in which St. Paul lived in silence and in contemplation, before he started to travel through the West to announce Christ, because this attitude of profound humility and trust in the face of God manifesting himself is also fundamental for our prayer and for our life, for our relationship to God and to our weaknesses.

First of all, what weaknesses does the Apostle speak of? What is this 'thorn' in his flesh? We do not know and he does not say, but his attitude makes us understand that every difficulty in following Christ and in testifying to his Gospel can be overcome by opening oneself up with trust to the action of the Lord.

St. Paul is aware that he is an 'unprofitable servant'
(Lk 17,10), - it is not he who has done great deeds, it is the Lord. He is an 'earthen vessel' (2Cor 4,7),, in which God pours the richness and power of his graces.

At this moment of intense contemplative prayer, St. Paul understands with clarity how to face and live every event, especially suffering, difficulty, persecution. At the moment when he experiences his own weakness, God manifests his power, he does not abandon him, he does not leave him alone, but becomes his support and strength.

Of course, Paul would have preferred being freed of this 'thorn', of this suffering, but God says: "No, this is necessary for you. You will have enough grace to endure and to do what needs to be done."

This goes for us, too. The Lord does not liberate us from evil but he helps us to mature in our sufferings, in difficulties, in persecutions. Faith tells us, then, that if we remain in God, "although our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day"
(1Cor, 16) precisely in our trials.

The Apostle communicates to the Christians of Corinth and also to us that "this momentary light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison"
(v 17).

In truth, humanly speaking, the burden of the difficulties was not light - it was extremely heavy. But in comparison with God's love, with the grandeur of being loved by God, it appeared light, knowing that the corresponding glory will be immeasurable.

Therefore, to the degree that our union with the Lord grows and our prayer becomes more intense, we too find the essential and understand that it is not through the power of our means, of our virtues, of our abilities, that the Kingdom of God is realized, but it is God who works wonders through our weakness itself, our inadequacy for the responsibility.

We must, therefore, have the humility not to trust simply in ourselves, but to work with the help of the Lord in the vineyard of the Lord, entrusting ourselves to him as fragile 'earthen vessels'.

St. Paul refers to two particular revelations that radically changed his life. The first, we know, was the devastating question on the road to Damascus:. "Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?"
(Acts 9,4), a question which led him to discover and encounter Christ, living and present, and to hear his call to be an apostle of the Gospel.

The second are the words that the Lord addressed to him during the experience of contemplative prayer that we are reflecting on: “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness”.

Only our faith, trusting in the action of God, in the goodness of God who does not abandon us, is the guarantee that we do not labor in vain. Thus the grace of the Lord was the strength that accompanied St. Paul in the immense labor of spreading the Gospel - his heart had entered the heart of Christ and became able to lead others to him who died and resurrected for us.

Therefore, in prayer, we open our soul to the Lord so that he may come to inhabit our weakness, transforming it into strength for the Gospel. Also rich in significance is the Greek verb with which Paul describes this dwelling of the Lord in his frail humanity: an episkenos, which we can translate as 'setting up his tent'.

The Lord continues to 'set up his tent' within us, among us: it is the mystery of the Incarnation. The same divine Word, who came to dwell in our humanity, wishes to dwell in us, plant his tent in us, in order to illuminate and transform our life and the world.

The intense contemplation of God experienced by St. Paul recalls that of the disciples on Mount Tabor, when, seeing Jesus transfiguring himself and blazing with light, Peter said to him: "Rabbi, it is good that we are here! Let us make three tents: one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah”
(Mk 9,5). "He hardly knew what to say, they were so terrified", St. Mark adds (v 7).

To contemplate the Lord is at the same time fascinating and terrifying - fascinating because He draws us to him and ravishes our heart to bring it to his altitude where we experience the peace and beauty of his love; terrifying because it lays bare our human weakness, our inadequacy, the effort of defeating the Evil that undermines our life, that thorn which is digging into our own flesh.

In prayer, in daily contemplation of the Lord, we receive the strength of God's love and we feel the truth of the words of Paul to the Christians of Rome, when he wrote them: "For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor present things, nor future things, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord"
(Rm 8,38-39).

In a world where we risk trusting only in the efficiency and power of human means, in this world, we are called upon to rediscover and bear witness to the power of God which is communicated in prayer, through which we grow everyday in conforming our life to that of Christ, who, as Paul states, "was crucified out of weakness, but he lives by the power of God. So also we are weak in him, but toward you we shall live with him by the power of God" (2 Cor 13,4).

Dear friends, in the previous century, Albert Schweitzer, a Protestant theologian who received the Nobel Peace Prize, stated that "Paul is a mystic and nothing but a mystic" - namely, a man who is truly enamored of Christ and so united to him so he could say :Christ lives in me.

St. Paul's mysticism is not based only on the exceptional events experienced by him, but also on his daily and intense relationship with the Lord who always sustained him with his grace. His mysticism did not remove him from reality. On the contrary, it gave him the strength to live every day for Christ and to build the Church to the very ends of the known world in his time.

Union with God does not separate us from the world - it gives us the strength to remain in the world, to be able to do what one must do in the world. Thus, even in our life of prayer, perhaps we can have moments of particular intensity when we feel the presence of the Lord most vividly, but what counts is the constancy, the fidelity of our relationship with God, especially in situations of aridity, of difficulty, of suffering, of the apparent absence of God.

Only if we are gripped by Christ's love will we be able to face every adversity as Paul did, convinced that we can do everything in him who gives us strength
(cfr Phil 4,13). Thus, the more we make room for prayer, the more we see our life transformed and animated by the concrete strength of God's love.

Thus it was, for instance, with Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta, who in the contemplation of Jesus, and precisely in times of lengthy spiritual aridity, she found the ultimate reason and incredible strength, despite her frail figure, to recognize him in the poor and the abandoned.

As we said, the contemplation of Christin our life does not alienate us from reality, but makes us participate more in human affairs, because the Lord, drawing us to himself in prayer, allows us to be present and close to each of our brothers in his love. Thank you.

In his English greeting, the Holy Father addressed the participants of the 50th IEC in Dublin:

At this time, our thoughts and prayers are with all those taking part in the International Eucharistic Congress in Dublin, Ireland. I invite all of you to join me in praying that the Congress will bear rich spiritual fruit in a greater appreciation of our Lord’s gift of himself to us in the Eucharist and a deeper love of the mystery of the Church, which draws us into ever fuller communion with him and with one another through the daily celebration of the Eucharistic sacrifice.

How truly refreshing it is to read back Benedict XVI's catecheses and homilies - in which he does not merely provide us with pious platitudes or catchy phrases as any regular preacher might, but also a continuing education in the treasures of Scripture, calling attention not just to significant 'messages' but to episodes, such as those he cites about St. Paul, which a non-Biblereading Catholic like me might never have known about... Deo gratias for Benedict XVI, and God continue to keep him joyfully whole and well in mind, body and spirit!

[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 6/14/2013 4:05 PM]
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6/13/2013 6:34 PM
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Pope Francis confirms:
He will shortly issue encyclical
on faith begun by Benedict XVI

VATICAN CITY, June 13, 2013 (Translated from TMNews) - Pope Francis will soon release an encyclical on faith which he described as 'wtitten together with' Benedict XVI' [the Italian idiom is 'scritto a quattro mani', literally, 'written by four hands']

"He did great work [on the encyclical], and I have carried it on. It is a strong document", he added.

The Pope made the remarks extemporaneously after delivering a prepared text to the members of the Council of the Bishops' Synod this morning.

[The Pope first revealed he was completing Benedict XVI's encyclical on faith when he spoke with 11 bishops of the Puglia region of Italy who were on ad limina visit. The Pope's words today do not seem to indicate, as some Vaticanistas suggested when a Puglian bishop disclosed the above, that the draft Benedict XVI consigned to him was nothing more than the working draft prepared by researchers at the CDF! (Part 2 of Deus caritas est, dealing with the Church's work of charity, developed material from a draft on that specific topic prepared for John Paul II by the Pontifical Council Cor Unum which is in charge of papal charities.)

However, the encyclical will obviously carry only Pope Francis's name and signature because only a Pope can issue a papal encyclical, and Benedict XVI is no longer Pope. It will be curious to see if - and how - the emeritus Pope's participation will be acknowledged in the published encyclical.

In any case, we must all be grateful to Pope Francis for deciding to publish the encyclical on faith - there is no rule or precedent to say s Pope has to continue an encyclical that his predecessor has begun. But if he chooses to publish the faith encyclical, It must be because he both recognizes 1) the need for an encyclical on faith, especially in the Year of Faith, and 2) the intrinsic value of the draft begun by Benedict XVI. His decision shows common sense, wisdom and generosity. Not less commendable is his candor about the authorship of the encyclical, if only because if he retains much of what Benedict XVI has written, the style and tone would unmistakably reflect it. So thank you, Pope Francis, for this wonderful decision, which is a gift to the faithful.

Here is Vatican Radio's full account of this morning's meeting with the Synodal Council:

Post-Synodal Exhortation on New Evangelization
will be released by the close of the Year of Faith

June 13, 2013

The post-Synodal Exhortation on the new evangelization will be ready in time for the close of the Year of Faith. This was just one of the things Pope Francis said to the members of the XIII Ordinary Council of the General Secretariat of the Synod of Bishops on Thursday.

Comprised of 15 Members, 12 of whom are elected by the Synod and 3 of whom are designated by the Roman Pontiff, the Ordinary Council of the General Secretariat is formed at the end of each ordinary general synodal assembly.

After giving his prepared remarks, Pope Francis answered questions from the Council members, during the course of which he touched on a number of themes, including the post-Synodal Exhortation and the much-anticipated Encyclical letter on faith begun by Benedict XVI] the nature of ecclesial collegiality and the synodal structure in the service of the Church's universal mission and in cooperation with the Petrine ministry; the crisis of the family; care of Creation; and the recovery of a whole and wholesome understanding of human being.

About the encyclical, Pope Francis said the draft pages he received from his predecessor are extremely powerful, and that the work “of four hands” is nearly complete.

[Significantly, in the report on the event posted in the Italian service of RV, the reporter did not quote the Pope at all, but simply said, "(the Pope) announced that he will be completing a new encyclical". It confirms the impression by anyone who follows RV reporting even randomly that RV staff writers and reporters are allowed to inject their personal editorial choices - of omission or commission - in their news reports, which all goes back to a seemingly utter lack of editorial supervision at all at RV - where the editorial policy seems to be "Let everyone write as he pleases", no way at all to run a media outlet. Which means they do not edit whatever the reporter says on the radio or posts online, even if the reporter feels free to 'edit' what the Pope says, as the Italian reporter did in this case.]

He also told the Council members that he would be working on the post-Synodal Exhortation during the month of August, and that the document will be ready for the closing of the Year of Faith.

The Holy Father also discussed the need to recover a sane vision of the family and a healthy anthropology, saying that the crisis of the family is a serious problem that needs to be addressed by the Church’s pastors and teachers acting in concert.

The RV English translation of the Pope's prepared address is here:

A note on the Post-Synodal Exhortation: Judging from the four that Benedict XVI issued (on the Eucharist, the Word of God, Africa, and the Middle East), these are just as laborious and significant as encyclicals. They are a theological re-statement and reinforcement of the pastoral recommendations arising from the work of a particular Synodal Assembly. It took him anywhere between 18 months and two years after the Synod to which they applied to publish the Exhortations.

One must infer that even the Exhortation on New Evangelization - which is based on the formal recommendations of the Synod which took place under Benedict XVI - will also be a completion of something Benedict XVI had already begun.

One must not forget that the first two B16 Post-Synodal Exhortations - Sacramentum caritatis on the Eucharist, and Verbum Domini on the Word of God - were major theological and pastoral documents that proved to be widely read by the public as well. I have to check back on figures for Verbum Domini, but when Sacramentum caritatis was published in 2006, it sold a million copies in Italy alone during its first two weeks of release - as unprecedented for an Apostolic Exhortation as the public reception was for Deus caritas est,

The CNS report captures more of the flavor and context of Pope Francis's announcement of the encyclical and exhortation:

Pope confirms he will publish
encyclical begun by Benedict XVI

By Cindy Wooden

VATICAN CITY, June 13, 2013 (CNS) - Pope Francis has told the Synod of Bishops that he is preparing to publish the encyclical on faith that was started by his predecessor, Benedict XVI, and finished by himself.

He told the ordinary council of the Synod of Bishops that he had received their suggested draft for a post-synodal apostolic exhortation on the new evangelisation, the theme of the Synod of Bishops in October 2012, but that he did not want its publication to overshadow the new encyclical.

“Issuing a post-synodal exhortation at this time, after the encyclical, would mean it would be hidden,” he said.

“The encyclical has to come out and it’s an encyclical written with four hands, so to speak, because Pope Benedict began writing it and he gave it to me. It’s a strong document. I will say in it that I received it and most of the work was done by him and I completed it.”

However, the Pope added that it wouldn’t be right to end the Year of Faith end in November without “a beautiful document to help us.”

“I thought of this: Write an exhortation on evangelisation in general and, within it, refer to the synod. That way we could take everything from the synod, but put it in a wider framework,” he said.

“I liked the idea and I will follow that path. I’ve written something, and in August, which will be quieter, I can move forward with it. This is the reason I didn’t respond to the draft you sent me. I thank you for your work, but we’ll move ahead this way.”

OK - that makes it clear. The Exhortation on New Evangelization will be Pope Francis's own work entirely.

[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 6/13/2013 6:54 PM]
6/13/2013 6:50 PM
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Very apropos, a new treat from Beatrice - with my great thanks, as always - this one, courtesy of her friend and ardent website follower Gloria, who has created collages of Benedict XVI for Beatrice's site on most special occasions. She was able to get more photos of the moment of prayer shared by Pope Francis and emeritus Pope Benedict XVI at the chapel of Mater Ecclesiae convent, when the Pope welcomed his predecessor on his return to the Vatican last May 2 to take up residence at Mater Ecclesiae. The images below are cropped from the 'duo' images.

Gloria notes how the pictures can help us feel joined in prayer with Benedict XVI in his new home.

6/14/2013 1:18 AM
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'Current of corruption' and 'gay lobby'
in the Vatican? Enough of innuendo!
Can someone please show us the facts?

Is anyone else bothered about all this loose talk of 'a gay lobby' in the Vatican, 'confirmed' by Pope Francis himself, and therefore, now considered nothing less than Gospel truth, even when none of it has so far been supported by a single objective fact? My training as a journalist taught me one cannot make a generic statement that cannot be supported by fact. Obviously, that is no longer the rule in today's media world!

I have been pointing this out - "Show us the facts!", not just a generic statement - again and again since Mons. Vigano's letters were first made public in January 2012 about the blanket 'evil and corruption' accusation against the Vatican and its hierarchy, and then about this so-called 'gay lobby' first referred to as such by a La Repubblica item in February that shamelessly rehashed material developed by Panorama writer Ignacio Ingrao, who postulated the existence of supposedly influential homosexuals in the Vatican and their lay gender brothers outside the Vatican said to be equally powerful and influential. But anyone can postulate that even without objective facts to back it up, if only because most seculars - and even many Catholics - simply assume that most priests are homosexual.

Ingrao claims he drew his conclusion about the 'gay lobby' from speaking to some of those who were interviewed by the three cardinals who investigated Vatileaks for Benedict XVI, and that these interviewees told him the questions they were asked by the cardinals. Specifically, he made his conclusion not because he had seen the cardinals' report at all nor been told about it by anyone who had seen it. He simply made inferences from the one avenue he was able to pursue.

Obviously, as in any organization, there would be homosexuals who work in the Vatican - some of them may be priests, bishops or even cardinals. But that is their private business, as long as they do not lead a homosexual lifestyle and its sexual activities, in which case they should quit the priesthood altogether because they are betraying the faith and the oath they swore when they became priests.

When the Repubblica article came out on February 21 - it was as sleazy as a tabloid story based on nothing but innuendo that I did not deem it fit for translation, much less for consumption - I noted the following, after Fr. Lombardi dismissed it in a press briefing as among the many speculations regarding the cardinals' report to Benedict XVI:

First, consider the source. The sleazy article cited by Fr. Lombardi, generously larded with pietistic remarks simulating sympathy for the Pope, appears in La Repubblica, arch-foe of the Church and Benedict XVI. (Of course, one of the hypothesis presented as fact by the article was that the 'revelation' about the gay lobby precipitated Benedict XVI's decision to step down from the Papacy.)

The Repubblica story takes the form of the typical Italian news report about 'indiscrezioni' (i.e, rumor and gossip purported to be from 'inside' sources), different from the yellow journalism that is the stuff of tabloids only because the newspaper happens to be a leading Italian national daily.

The writer, citing 'sources close to the three cardinals', alleges that their inquiry into Vatileaks disclosed, among other things, power struggles among internal aggrupations (Jesuits, Salesians, Opus Dei, Lombards, Ligurians, what have you) - OK already, what's new about that? or rather, What? No Bertonians and Sodanians? - and the supposed existence of a secular 'gay lobby' of 'improper influence' that has established a network across many dicasteries of the Curia through their 'profane' relations with some members of the Curia. Gimme a break!: What would they be lobbying for - recognition of same-sex 'marriage'? Or smoking out any and all latent homosexuals in the various Curial offices for purposes of blackmailing them?

However, the article reports no new concrete facts at all , but rehashes - while claiming the episodes are part of the cardinals' report - previously well-reported stories in the past like that of now ex-Curial priest Tommaso Stenico who was filmed by a hidden camera during an appointment with a male prostitute sent by an Italian TV channel; the homosexual activities with boys of Italian businessman Angelo Balducci who was made a Gentleman of the Papal Household under John Paul II (and was promptly dropped by the Vatican under Benedict XVI when his scandalous activities came to light 2 or 3 years ago); or linking a Bertone protege, layman Marco Simeon, who is an RAI executive, to the gay lobby (Simeon was earlier accused by Mons. Carlo Vigano to have been the author of anonymous letters to an Italian daily seeking to discredit Vigano). [NB: While there are objective facts about Stenico and Balducci, I am not aware that anything was brought out against Simeon.

Should we then extrapolate from the known misdeeds of Stenico and Balducci - both of whom were immediately dismissed presumably from any responsibilities at the Vatican - to assume that most priests in the Vatican are active homosexuals who are also promoting the 'gender' cause opposed to the Church Magisterium?

In fact, some 'reports' in the Italian media today, commenting on Pope Francis's reported statement on the 'gay lobby', claim that this lobby has been seeking to promote a change in the Church's teaching about homosexual sex as sinful. Really? Or is this speculation just a logical projection of the secular notion that Church teaching can - or in any case, should - be modifiable by consensus? And who did they think would make the change? The Pope? The CDF? They could not have thought this was even remotely possible under Benedict XVI, no matter how much they lobbied, or how 'powerful' their lobby was/is! If 'they' stopped to think about it, it could not be possible under any Pope at all - who is dutybound to preserve the deposit of faith that has been handed to him for custody, defense and active practice.

And through it all - almost four months by now since the Repubblica hatchet job - not a single fact to support the existence of this lobby, or any specific episode a la Stenico or Balducci, has been uncovered by any of the eager=beaver muckraking journslists exploiting the headline-making phrase 'gay lobby'.!] [John Allen, where are you when we need you? You could well win a Pulitzer Prize or its equivalent in Italy if you did have a substantial story about this! What's stopping the media? My conclusion is that if there really were a story to tell, it would have been told by now. If anyone has uncovered anything new at all, he would have shouted it from the rooftops by now.

Even the traditionalist blogsite Rorate caeli, which first posted an English translation of Pope Francis's remarks to CLAR, is crowing today about the 'storm' that the remarks have created in the Vatican, without once raising the question of what exactly do we know about the 'gay lobby' other than the allegation - as plausible as it might be - that it exists?

Posted by New Catholic

June 13, 2013

While some dismiss the words of Pope Francis to his dear and close friends of the CLAR on June 6, as reported by those present, as "nothing", no subject has been more explosive than this within the Vatican walls since the beginning of the Bergoglian pontificate.

Carlo Marroni, the religious correspondent for Il Sole-24Ore, the main national business newspaper and most sober daily in the country, owned by the Italian industrial confederation Confindustria, reports on how the revelation of the Pope's words was received by some in the Vatican.

Storm in the Sacred Palaces
after the words on the "gay lobby"
attributed to the Pope

Analysis by Carlo Marroni
June 12, 2013

The words attributed to the Pope on the 'gay lobby' in the Vatican and on the 'stream of corruption' - not denied neither by the Holy See not by Bergoglio's interlocutors, the South American religious welcomed a few days ago - generated an underground storm in the Sacred Palaces, that is coming out shily [???] at the moment. ...[Pope Francis], however, does not seem to be disturbed by the incident. Quite the opposite.

...The doubt remains if he wished in some way that the words expressed in private on the "lobby" (a theme that would have been treated, as far as it is said, also in the voluminous dossier on Vatileaks) come out in the open - even if perhaps not in this way - in order to signal clearly within the Curia that it is a theme that he wants to tackle. [Wasn't he expected to tackle, in any case, all themes that have too do with 'reforming the Curia?]

"Bergoglio certainly does not have behind him a career as a Curia prelate dedicated solely to the management of political matters - a monsignore from beyond the Tiber affirms - but he remains always a Jesuit, and as all his confreres used to administer skillfully delicate matters." Francis's upcoming moves will have to be studied with great attention.

And from Matteo Mattuzzi in Il Foglio today:

But, if Bergoglio's words have raised some embarrassment beyond the Tiber - the "no comment" of Father Lombardi indicated it -, in the episcopate there are also those who applaud the papal remark: "Finally, he has said it," says an Italian bishop who prefers to remain anonymous. [Has said what? The 'gay' word? There is something to be said for Benedict XVI's precision (and that of the other Popes before him) in calling things by name properly. But the point I have been making is that it was imprudent, to say the least, for a Pope to casually say "It is true there is a current of corruption in the Vatican" and "It is true there is a gay lobby' as Pope Francis did, without at least saying, "I will not go into details but I have documents to show that this is so", so at least, he is not just echoing the media line that has already created such a public perception of evil in the Curia without anyone seeing the need for demonstrating it with verifiable facts. ]

And then, there's Robert Moynihan, who, in his current newsletter (thanks to Aqua who passes it on to me), seeks to rationalize and justify what the Pope said. If the remarks had been all that innocuous, no one would need to rationalize and justify it at all:

The Pope uses this phrase because he knows it is familiar to his listeners as a sort of "catch-all" phrase summing up corruption in the Roman Curia and the leadership of the Church, especially because the phrase drew such press attention in February and March. [But Cardinal Bergoglio himself knew very well there was no substantiation whatsoever that was made public of that "catch all phrase". If he and the other cardinals - and now, more than ever, he as Pope - found such substantiation in the three cardinals' report on Vatileaks, then he ought to have qualified what he said , as I suggested above: "I will not go into details but I have documents to show that this is so" Not to have done so was irresponsible - obviously, not because the Pope intended to be irresponsible at all - but because to speak of such serious matters in a casual statement made off the cuff demonstrates why Popes have generally chosen not to be too chatty.[

He uses this term less as a reference to a certain sexual inclination or behavior -- as some articles are now proclaiming -- than as an example of bureaucratic behavior in the Curia, of "currents" and "lobbies" more interested in the mutual reinforcement of their own authority and influence than in supporting the Pope, or Catholic faith and tradition.

What the Pope is fundamentally focused on is the need for all "currents" and "lobbies" in the Church, and especially in the Curia, to abandon a "lobby" mentality and to defend perennial, authentic, Catholic faith and practice

IMHO, not that anyone cares, it was wrong and counter-productive to have flatly confirmed the existence of a 'current of corruption' and 'the gay lobby' in the Vatican - without a statement to say there are known facts to support the accusations! Especially since the Pope himself, and his deputy Secretary of State, have made it clear they have 'no timetable' for reforming the Curia.

Which implies, as I remarked yesterday, that somehow, the Vatican can afford to have these evils, so vehemently, variously and copiously denounced earlier when Benedict was Pope, to linger and fester until the Committee of Eight gets around to tackling them! Something is not right here, and someone in the media ought to be brave enough to at least ask, "Is the Emperor wearing any clothes at all!

P.S. It turns out John Allen has commented on the new 'gay lobby' kerfuffle. But no, he has no new facts to back its existence, or at least, to indicate more than what every reader is free to imagine wildly when he learns from no less than the Pope himself that "it is true there is a current of corruption" and "It is true there is a gay lobby" in the Vatican.

The Vatican's 'gay lobby,' round two
by John L. Allen Jr.

Jun. 12, 2013

Reports that Pope Francis allegedly referred to a "gay lobby" in the Vatican during a private session with Latin American religious have revived interest in a storyline that first erupted in February, following the surprise resignation announcement by Pope Benedict XVI and at the peak of the furor over the Vatican leaks affair.

Back then, Italian news outlets created a sensation by claiming that a commission of three cardinals empaneled by Benedict to investigate the leaks scandal identified a "gay lobby" potentially involved in airing the Vatican's dirty laundry. The reports also hinted that this lobby may have been behind Benedict's decision to step down.

Although the Vatican insisted the Pope quit for his stated reasons, meaning age and exhaustion, the Italian contretemps nevertheless turbo-charged frustration about how the Vatican was being run and probably contributed to the election of a complete outsider to the papacy with a track record of good governance in just five ballots.

It should be stressed that the reports in the air today are based on leaked notes from the meeting with Francis, and the Vatican has refused to confirm or deny their content, so we don't actually know what the Pope said. [That's disingenuous. The 'synthesis' sounds very much Francis, especially in Spanish, and when one compares it to his equally off-the-cuff remarks to Caritas Itnernationalis at which he said "If need be, sell the churches to feed the poor". If it had been Benedict 'quoted' in some 'indiscretion' (to use the Italian term) when addressing a traditionalist group, I doubt that Allen would have said "We do not know exactly what the Pope said", but would have treated the 'synthesis' as the equivalent of a faithful transcript.]

Nonetheless, because the "gay lobby" business is back in the headlines, I'll repeat here what I said in February.

Bottom line: It's no secret there are gays in the Vatican, and it's reasonable to think officials would be concerned that insiders with a secret to keep might be vulnerable to various kinds of pressure. The issue, in other words, isn't so much their sexuality, but rather the potential for manipulation anytime someone serving the pope is leading a double life. That said, there's also no evidence this was the "real" reason Benedict quit just as there's no reason to believe now that Francis is on the cusp of launching an anti-gay witch hunt.

The following material comes from a blog I posted Feb. 22 about the "gay lobby" rumors.

As a rule of thumb, one should usually take unsourced speculation with a grain of salt, especially in the Italian papers. As I'm fond of saying, God love 'em, Italians have never seen a conspiracy theory they're not prepared to believe.

In terms of specifics, I don't know whether it's accurate that a commission of three cardinals created by Benedict XVI to investigate the Vatican leaks affair, composed of Cardinals Julian Herranz Casado, Jozef Tomko and Salvatore De Giorgi, actually considered possible networks inside the Vatican based on sexual preference, but frankly, it would be a little surprising if they hadn't.

Here's why. In 2007, Msgr. Thomas Stenico in the Congregation for Clergy was suspended after being caught on hidden camera making contact with a young man posing as a potential "date" in gay-oriented chat rooms, then taking him back to his Vatican apartment. In 2010, a "Gentlemen of the Pope" named Angelo Balducci was caught in a wiretap trying to arrange sexual hookups through a Nigerian member of a Vatican choir. Both episodes were highly public and caused massive embarrassment.

In that context, it would seem odd if the cardinals didn't at least consider the possibility that somebody with a big secret to hide might be vulnerable to pressure to leak documents or spill the beans in other ways.

It also doesn't stretch credulity to believe there are still people in the system leading a double life, not just in terms of their sexual preference and activities, but possibly in other ways as well -- in terms of their financial interests, for example. Whether they form self-conscious cabals is open to question, but they may well naturally identify with each other, and it's not out of the realm of possibility that trying to chart such networks was part of what the three cardinals tried to do.

Among many cardinals around the world, it's become a fixed point of faith that the Vatican is long overdue for a serious housecleaning, [On what basis, exactly, and how can they see the mote of inefficiency and wrongdoing in the Roman Curia as though they didn't have a beam of the same problems in their own diocesan curias????] and certainly the furor unleashed by the La Repubblica piece is likely to strengthen that conviction.

However, it's probably a stretch to draw a straight line between all of this and Benedict's resignation. For the most part, one has to take the Pope at his word: He's stepping aside because he's old and tired, not because of any particular crisis.

That said, I don't believe you can completely discount the cumulative impact of the various meltdowns over the last eight years on Benedict's state of mind. [That's Allen's pet view all this time about B16's Pontificate, except that now what he once called 'gaffes' or 'major blunders' at worse, have turned to 'meltdowns'!. To follow his 'idiomatic' logic, there would have been nothing left of the Pontificate but a dribble of detritus from so many meltdowns!]

Read Benedict's anguished letter to the bishops of the world back in 2009, at the peak of the frenzy over the lifting of the excommunication of a Holocaust-denying bishop, and it's crystal clear he was both pained by the criticism and frustrated the Vatican hadn't handled the whole thing more effectively. [No, Allen may see that letter merely as an expression of Benedict's personal pique - if it was, he would not be Benedict at all! But that letter was above all, an admonition against the most un-Christian attitude that many bishops took, illustrating so well what St. Paul had warned against in his letter to the Galatians, about misunderstanding 'freedom' to mean 'biting and devouring each other' and forgetting love, the supreme priority.]

If you want to understand why Benedict is tired, in other words, part of it is because he knows that putting things right inside the Vatican will take a tremendous investment of administrative energy, which he doesn't feel he can supply, and which probably isn't in his skill set in any event.

No, Benedict didn't quit under the pressure of a "gay lobby." But apparent disarray in the Vatican, which may well be one part perception and one part reality, probably made resignation look even better.

Apropos, do you think Cardinal Bertone feels any twinge of conscience at all that the reason for the 'disarray', perceived and real (even if this may not be as terrible as the perception) was his inability to administer the Curia as his function of secretary of State required him to do, and as Benedict XVI had every right to expect him, having named him to that position? But let me not get started about Bertone, who not once was anywhere to be found during the opening salvos of the many media barrages against Benedict XVI!....
[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 6/16/2013 1:56 AM]
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Apropos Curial reform...Sandro Magister suggests that Pope Francis is not waiting for his cardinal advisers to advise him, but that he has already asked a management guru to do so, on the recommendation of one of the eight cardinals, Reinhard Marx, Archbishop of Munich-Freising. In his remarks to CLAR, the Pope referred to Marx but only as the Cardinal from Munich, not by name, but it was Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga of Honduras whom he singled out as the 'organization man' who would wield the baton on Curial reform...

Also, before posting his site's English version of the article, may I respectfully point out to Mr, Magister how utterly gratuitous his subtitle is about a Pope who "listens but decides on his own". Doesn't every Pope worth the name? Surely, he is not implying that Benedict XVI, say, never listened to anyone and simply decided everything on his own - the absolute autocrat!; or, alternatively, that he listened to everyone and allowed himself to be guided by them in his decisions - an indecisive wimp!

I am almost sure Magister must have used the same line he now uses for Francis about Benedict XVI when he reported on the decision to issue Summorum Pontificum in 1977, or about Paul VI issuing Humanae Vitae in 1968 against the recommendation of a commission he had appointed to study artificial contraception - in both cases, the Pope concerned consulted with everyone he could and then decided his way despite stiff opposition from many of those he consulted!

I must say I find it perplexing, regrettable and most annoying that even the 'best' of the Vaticanistas like Magister and Andrea Tornielli have chosen the expedient but inherently dishonest line of being so fawning to the reigning Pope that they seem to have completely forgotten all the superlatives - in many cases, identical to those they use now - they once had for Benedict XVI. To the point that even the most normal and self-evident actions and words by Pope Francis are greeted as unprecedented, one-of-a-kind, and historical!

The McKinsey reference in the subtitle is to a global management consulting firm that the Vatican used to streamline the Vatican Governatorate before Mons. Vigano came in, and to whose work the Governatorate owes its improvement as much as it did to Vigano's self-vaunted rectitude. He himself acknowledged the McKinsey firm's work in one of his infamous 'kvetching' letters.

Bergoglio, the 'Black Pope' Dressed in White
He governs the Church like a superior general of the Jesuits.

He listens, but decides on his own.
A McKinsey man has been called in to study the reform of the curia.
Which Francis wants to purify from corruption and from the "gay lobby"

[Which implies that Benedict XVI did not want that at all?!?!]

by Sandro Magister

ROME, June 13, 2013 - All that was lacking was a guru from McKinsey to design that reform of the curia which everyone expects from Pope Francis. [Really? Says who?] And here he comes.

His name is Thomas von Mitschke-Collande, he is German and was the manager of the Munich branch of the most famous and mysterious company of managerial consulting in the world.

In matters of the Church, he knows his stuff. Last year he published a book with a title that was hardly reassuring: “Does the Church want to destroy itself? Facts and analyses presented by a business consultant.” The diocese of Berlin turned to him to get its accounts back in order, and the German episcopal conference asked him to draw up a plan to save on costs and personnel.

The idea of putting him to work for the reform of the Roman Curia as well came from Reinhard Marx, the archbishop of Munich, one of the eight cardinals called by Pope Jorge Mario Bergoglio to act as his advisor.

The proposal, which he welcomed enthusiastically, was made to him by Fr. Hans Langerdörfer, the powerful secretary of the German episcopal conference, a Jesuit.

Bergoglio is also a Jesuit, and by now his actions have made it clear that he intends to apply to the papacy the methods of governance typical of the Society of Jesus, where the superior general, nicknamed the “black pope,” has practically absolute power.

His reticence in attributing to himself the name of Pope and his preference for calling himself as bishop of Rome have made champions of the democratization of the Church rejoice. [The Pope told CLAR, none of these notions come from him - it is all from the Other who dwells in him. the Holy Spirit does not want the Pope to be called Pope? Does this not deserve a motu proprio to the effect that, from now on, the Bishop of Rome must never be called Pope? It's a word that derives from the Italian word for father, 'Papa'. Should he not be called 'Holy Father' either? Ummm... too much tinkering with things that are right and have always been considered right!]

But theirs is a blunder. When Francis, on April 13, appointed eight cardinals “to advise him in the governance of the universal Church and to study a project for the revision of the Roman curia,” he selected them according to his own judgment. -[He had every right to do so - it would have been strange to have somebody else choose his advisers for him!] P.S. to Pope Francis - George Weigel must be so disappointed you did not even think of referring publicly to his book Evangelical Catholicism, which is supposed to have all the answers for the Church you now lead at this moment in history. After all, you were one of the big names he interviewed for the book.]

If he had followed the suggestions of the pre-Conclave,he would have found the “council of the crown” nice and ready. All he had to do was to call around himself the twelve cardinals, three for each continent, elected at the end of each synod and therefore of the last as well, in October of 2012. Elected by a secret vote and representative of the elite of the worldwide episcopate, containing almost all of the influential names of the last conclave: cardinals Timothy Dolan of New York, Odilo Scherer of São Paulo, Brazil, Christoph Schönborn of Vienna, Peter Erdö of Budapest, Luis Antonio Gokim Tagle of Manila.

But no. Pope Francis wanted his eight advisors to be chosen by himself alone, not by others. Called to answer only to him, not to an elective assembly as well.

He wanted one for each geographical area: Reinhard Marx for Europe, Sean Patrick O'Malley for North America, Andrés Rodríguez Maradiaga for Central America, Francisco Javier Errázuriz Ossa for South America, Laurent Monsengwo Pasinya for Africa, Oswald Gracias for Asia, George Pell for Oceania, plus one from Rome, not of the Curia strictly speaking but of Vatican City-State, the president of its governorate, Giuseppe Bertello [long tagged by the Italian media as a 'Bertone protege' as if that were a defect, so his presence in the Council of Eight is at least an acknowledgment by Pope Francis that, apart from the Bertone connection, Bertello deserved his nomination to the Governatorate by Benedict XVI and being made a cardinal afterwards!]

Almost all of those chosen hold or have held executive positions in continental ecclesiastical institutions.

But this is exactly what happens in the Society of Jesus. Bergoglio was one of its provincial superiors and assimilated its style. In the leadership of the Society the assistants who surround the superior general, appointed by him, represent their respective geographical areas. The decisions are not made collegially. Only the superior general decides, with direct and immediate powers. [Isn't this the rule for any Chief Executive worth his salt? 'The buck stops here', as Harry Truman famously said![ The assistants do not need to agree with one another and with him; they advise the superior general one by one, in the greatest freedom.

One effect of this system upon the reform of the Roman curia announced by Pope Francis is that no commission of experts has been installed with the task of elaborating a unified and complete project.[I thought that was what the McKibsey guru has done!]

The eight cardinals are asking separately for the contribution of persons they trust, of the most disparate profiles. In addition to the McKinsey man recruited by Cardinal Marx, at least a dozen of them have been consulted, from various countries.

Others have come forward of their own initiative, as for example Cardinal Francesco Coccoalmerio, president of the pontifical council for legislative texts, the designer of a project of reform centered upon a “moderator curiae" who would take care of the functioning of the machine.

In early October the eight will be gathered around the pope. They will deliver to him a sheaf of proposals. He will be the one to decide. Alone. [Of course! Who else? The buck stops with him!]

[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 6/14/2013 3:12 PM]
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i earlier posted in this box the interview with Peter Seewald from June 2012, but I have belatedly come upon an interview with Vittorio Messori from yesterday, June 13, 2013, which is almost a parallel in that it speaks about the current Pontificate and its treatment by the media. As it is current, I am posting it ahead of Seewald's 2012 interview.

Pope Francis should guard against
blackmail and against demagoguery

Interview with Vittorio Messori
by Carlo Tecce

June 13, 2013

He is not surprised by Pope Francis's remarks on corruption and a gay lobby in the Vatican: "It was said in confidence to a group of friends, it was not meant for the whole planet to know. and we can even say he could have dared say more".

Vittorio Messori, writer and historian, editorial writer for Corriere della Sera, and one who has known Joseph Ratzinger for two decades, replies with some irony [Tecce uses the phrase 'scherza con un paradosso', meaning 'jokes with a paradox', which I think I have translated more idiomatically: "(As if) no one has ever heard of a Pope who complains about corruption! And yet, the danger is far greater".

What danger?

Do you mean beyond Pope Francis's concern?
No, I would never deign to advise the Pope - that would be ridiculous - and please write that down!

What is it that you fear for the Church?
The danger is not just from any gay organization - I wouldn't make any distinctions based on sexual orientation. The problem arises from the blackmail risked by functionaries o0r prelates who live a double life, whether they do so with a truck driver or a woman.

Who could possibly threaten this?
The Vatican is not Paradise. It has a multitude of enemies from the outside, but above all, from within, and it is not news that the battle continues between conservatives and progressivists.

Does corruption not bother you?
The Vatican is a tiny special state, but in any bureaucracy, there is always some distribution of contracts, favors, money, etc. that takes place, and is inevitable ['non puo farse a meno'].

Francis cited the Curia - and many have depicted it as suffering from incurable disease...
The Vatican cannot be without a structure of government that must also be functional for spreading the Gospel. Let us be serious here...

What do you think of Cardinal Bertone who has been reported several times - at least in supposed behind-the scenes accounts and gossip - to have been under pressure to resign or to be replaced?
The problem did not start with Bertone nor will it stop if he goes.

The Pope sings the praises of the poor and humble, and inveighs against careerism and malfeasance. Does this remedy work? [What kind of a question is that?As if anyone in his right mind could inveigh against the poor and humble, or sing praises to careerism and malfeasance! But then, this is the newspaper that formally broke Vatileaks with the oublication of the Vigano letters.]
I never wanted to live in Rome to avoid getting into such interpretations. It could not be Pope Francis's intention, but his statements are portrayed with demagoguery so that he himself seems like a demagogue. For instance, it is not right to say, "St. Peter did not have a bank account", as he said recently. The Church has never disdained money [If only because she needs money to function].. And have you read the urban legends about the Pope's shoes?

That Papa Bergoglio does not use red shoes as Papa Ratzinger did...
Certainly. But there is a physoological reason: he has sciatica, in fact, he limps a little, and he requires firm support [in his shoes]. {But shoes can be any color and have that special support built into them! Cardinal Bergoglio has used black shoes and black pants all his life as a priest and did not want to change that. Period.]... But the thing about 'a poor Church' is goofy. Jesus did not die of hunger. [Thank You, Mr. Messori, for being the first I have read to express something I have remarked on before in different terms about this point! Nowhere in the New Testament are we told that Jesus and his apostles were destitute and lacked the basic necessities. In fact, there are ample stories recounting the assistance and hospitality generously given to them by friends and supporters.]

But everything comes down to this, Messori...
Let us not tell canards... Jesus had financial means at his disposal, that is why he had a treasurer who then betrayed him, Judas Iscariot. When he was crucified, the Roman guards noted that he had a garment that was fashioned from a single piece of fabric, a rare luxury in those days, and that is why they toosed dice to see who would get it, because it was costly. [One might say that] Jesus dressed in Armani. [Oh, Messori, wait till you get the fanatics hounding you for this statement. It's worse than their side of the coin, the canard they still use that Benedict XVI wore shoes by Prada! (A total lie, but mythified in cast iron by the media, playing on the popular association from the novel and movie 'The devil wears Prada', i.e., Ratzinger=the devil!)]

In that same conversation [with Latin American religious leaders], Pope Francis admitted that he himself could not promise the reforms that so many have invoked...
Obviously. The Curia is the Pontiff's governing arm, and it requires complicated checks and balances, which cannot simply be a matter of sweeping up, or that can be modified in haste.

Benedict XVI failed to reform the Curia, to convert its sinners - did he resign out of a sense of powerlessness?
I have known him for years, I remember his modesty, but he is not a fearful man. He is 10 years older than Bergoglio, he has become physically debilitated, and he realized he could no longer carry out the tasks he is called upon as Pope. Of course, the Curia troubled him, but many other things did.

As tactfully as he could, trying to be light about it, but more up front than any other 'name' commentator so far about Pope Francis, employing irony as best he can, and also quite obviously, choosing to be sparse with his answers, Messori has made quite a few points that are obvious to any objective observer (but never to the fawners and fanatics), and has even used the words 'demagoguery' and 'demagogue'... The case rests.

This time last year, Peter Seewald was interviewed about Vatileaks - and what he says offers a useful perspective that is very much missing from the run-of-the-mill views that most MSM reports and commentaries have.

Sixteen answers and questions
regarding Vatileaks
An analysis by Peter Seewald

Translated from

June 11, 2012

Who and what are behind the disclosures of Vatileaks?
Betrayal is not a pretty thing, although it is all too human. That it happens in the Church was already shown by the example of the apostle Judas. As for the facts behind the Vatican episode, which has similar features, only the investigations will tell us. Everything else is speculation.

From what I have learned, Vatileaks is a process that was prepared carefully in detail, systematically executed and professionally covered. Not to call attention to some ugly things as much as with the purpose of doing massive damage to the governance of Benedict XVI.

Why has Mons. Georg Gaenswein become involved in all this?
That the closest confidante around the Pope would be discredited does not speak against him but for him. It is not possible to be a shield and not get hit by arrows. And if like Georg Gaenswein, you helped unmask the traitor, it makes you twice the target.

How does the media machinery function?
The media are not responsible for Vatileaks, but through absurd speculation, misrepresentation and opinion-making, some have blown it up into something monstrous. Swaggering blather has replaced diligent research, and a herd mentality has replaced individual opinion. When it has to do with the Catholic Church, the media seem interested only in stirring up indignation. Too many cooks spoil the broth, but where the Church is concerned, the broth cannot be spoiled enough.

Why are previously known things being rehashed into a new mix?
First, because the 'disclosures' have really very little that is new. Second, because the free riders on the 'scandal' have been using it in their ideological war - eternally babbling and blathering as in the most simply plotted videogame, amped up about 'the secrets of the church state', the 'dark powers' with their 'evil machinations' that 'makes even pious Christians doubt the leadership of their Church', etc. The current headline in Der Stern completes the circle, with a so-called "tales of disclosure' that do not contain a single new bit of information.

Why then? Because the formula is tried and tested: cook up something, spice it up, and rehash it over and over - and there you are, dinner is served. Stern's editor has even managed to make it appear that the Pope is tired of his office because he has spoken lately about Paradise!

Is the significance of Vatileaks over-estimated?
Clearly. Many observers had expected something entirely different, and they find that in these papers that have been published so far, the Vatican is more exonerated rather than afflicted. The Rome correspondent of Sueddeutsche Zeitung, Andrea Bachstein, said it very well: "All this was for the most part known", that what many would consider to be "an explosive mixture' can altogether be considered normal. Even the 'discloser' Gianluigi Nuzzi has said that what is extraordinary about the documents published in his book Sua Santita lies simply in the fact that for the first time, "we have here previously unpublished documents belonging to a Pope who is still in office". [I think Nuzzi is intelligent enough to have identified his opus for what it is - nothing more than a 'Roman curio', to coin a term.][

But can these disclosures be trivialized?
No. It is not just that the betrayal of private documents and the inner conflicts in the Vatican bank that are shocking, but especially, the far from brotherly dealings of many bishops and monsignors with each other. One cannot under-estimate a bureaucracy whose members have been too long in position and who seem to be oriented by Machiavelli not by Jesus - notorious puppetstring pullers who weave politics from faith, intrigues from politics, and infighting for power out of these intrigues. Moreover, they do this out of sheer habit arising from a mentality in which such things are simply how the game is played.

How was it possible for this cesspool to spread?
It is no secret that Benedict's predecessor was more concerned about the global structure of the Church than in the inner workings of the Vatican, if only because of the priorities in his time, when the world was split by an Iron Curtain. But one must not lose sight of reality. A great thinker once said about a monastery something that can be said for the Vatican as well: "I have never seen more sinful persons than I have seen here, but I have never seen anyone holier anywhere else".

Moreover, it is naive to think that only saints are to be found in a place that is about holiness. Judas's betrayal of Jesus already showed the two temptations for the Church: first, the temptation of Mammon - since Judas was apparently helping himself out of the apostles' common coffers which he held as treasurer; and the ultimate spiritual betrayal, in which he opposed the Messiah himself because he was not at all what he expected the Messiah to be.

But did not Vatileaks also call the Pope's attention to things that he should know? [That's a dumb question! The published documents were either letters addressed to him or other documents that went through his desk, so he already knows! Unless one believes that this most intellectual of men never reads letters written to him or ignores papers placed on his desk for him to review!]
That assumes that Benedict XVI is isolated and uninformed or misinformed. But even as a cardinal, Joseph Ratzinger always showed himself not just abreast of the times but also very well informed. But it is true that office politics and power plays never interested him. He said it himself - that the greatest danger for the Church comes from within herself.

Is the Pope no longer able to act?
That at least is what all this is meant to show. The Pope's sovereignty and his leadership of the Church have been placed into question. The goal seems to be to influence the way he governs and through some kind of blackmail, to be able to operate behind the scenes. That is why persons like the Pope's secretary have been brought into the picture. [I'm not so sure that the evil minds behind all this would be so vain and naive as to think they could influence this Pope that way! The real explanation is often the simplest - in this case, the 'plotters' want Bertone out more than anything else. And if their intentions go beyond this to the next Conclave, then taking Bertone out is a fundamental step in that strategy. They are anti-Benedict primarily in that they are heartless enough to act now as if he was not going to be around much longer anyway, so it does not really matter what all their machinations can do to him!] P.S. 2013 At the time, I assumed, as many did, that there were some Vatican officials behind Paolo Gabriele's treachery, but it now appears - although many anti-Benedict elements in the Curia probably rejoiced that someone else had committed an act they would have gladly done if they could have done so - that Gabriele did act primarily on his own megalomaniacal delusion that he was thereby 'saving the Church' from 'widespread evil and corruption in the Vatican' and the inaction of a Pope whom he believed, absurdly, was not informed at all of what is happening in the Church!

Is Benedict a weak Pope?
"When I am weak, then I am strong", St. Paul once said. In that way, the Pope is weak. But the paradox can be understood only by those who have learned, with the intelligence of faith, how to think according to Christ's teaching. Power is not necessarily able to change the world for the better. And it is not just 'management' that holds the Church together or that can 'rescue' it.

But it is because of his unshakeable confidence in the power of the Spirit that the Pope is able to write straight on crooked lines, and, like Jesus, to make do with the co-workers who are available to him.

Is he then a strong Pope?
Physically, Benedict is no giant, but he is heavy enough to be able to step on some people's feet. The result is well known. He has always been against the idea of bishops who allow everything just to 'keep the peace]. [And doesn't the Archbishop of Vienna fit that description to a T?]

This Pope has, unlike any other, addressed the irregularities in his own ranks. The inner renewal that he asks of everyone is mostly spiritual, but that has not stopped him from tackling the apparatus itself.

His call for 'demondization' [Entweltlichung] - that is, for men of the Church to detach themselves from power and institution-building in order to be free for the demands of the faith - has upset so many by the very use of the word, who have chosen instead to dispute that instead of utilizing the message.
[2013 P.S. Yet consider how every word Pope Francis says against worldliness and careerism has been greeted as if Benedict XVI never had exhorted against these poisons to the ecckesial life over and over!]

Is the Pope suffering because of these recent episodes?
I think he must suffer above all for those around him who are stewing in the hell of their own consciences. Whoever raises the dust as he does, who is inconvenient to others and remains unflinching, who holds to Tradition and can cite good reasons for doing so, also knows that he will have to deal with powerful opposition and will have to bear a lot of suffering.

Won't these problems simply resolve themselves anyway?
It may sound paradoxical but some good can come out of the bad. It brings out fundamental questions - what is falsehood and what is truth? What is wrong and what is right? And finally, who is for and who is against this key figure who is there, as the Gospel says, so that the forces of hell shall not prevail over the Church of Christ.

The temptations of the world are great, and only those with deep faith can be strong enough to resist. But resistance is possible, when one has firm convictions. And the priority of this Pontificate is to provide the tools for that purpose through persuasive teaching and his personal example.

Is Vatileaks a turning point?
It is important that this entire episode be accurately clarified, that the results of investigations will be transparently known, in order to regain trust by the openness in which the results are handled. And out of the betrayal of Peter's Successor, to make a fresh start and develop new solidarity. Not among everyone of course, but among most.

At the same time, the genre of the disloyal disobedient servant, now personified as a contemporary lesson by the Pope's ex-valet, is not found only in the Vatican. The reality about this betrayal is much less about any 'secrets' that have been revealed, but rather the betrayal of a mystery par excellence, the charism of the Pope. That is how Vatileaks is generally seen, or at least, among those who simply toss off the Pope's admonitions and instruction to the wind; who are asleep like the foolish virgins in Jesus's parable instead of remaining awake.

What does Vatileaks mean for the future?
The end of the modern age is marked by an atmosphere of confusion and insecurity. The question is: What are the real reasons behind the crisis? Can a society succeed in which man thinks he is self-sufficient and the only standard there is? What do I want? What do I believe? What do I stand for?

There's an increasingly more aggressive confrontation between a neo-pagan culture and one based on the Judeo=Christian tradition - one might even say, between the religious and the non-religious worlds.

Because of her loyalty to tradition, the Catholic Church especially must prepare for ever sharper confrontation. If the bishops of the world fail to react appropriately to this gigantic challenge, then the decline of Christianity, which was the basis for the construction of Western civilian society, will dramatically accelerate.

Can the Church still be saved?
It is not about to disappear! But the world as we have known it till now, our way of thinking, of believing and of living, are being judged, we judge ourselves. For lack of attention, for mismanagement of our environment, of money, of persons, and for having grown away from the original facts of creation.

But the new emerges from the decay of the old. Dead branches fall off, and we see the new green. The task of the Pope who is, presumably the last one between the old and the new, is to bring new vigor to the faith with the strength of her own origins. And perhaps we can soon be able to say that after so many centuries of going astray, the faith of the Catholic Church is once more nearer to Christ as it has not been even at the beginning.

[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 6/16/2013 2:06 AM]
6/14/2013 7:13 PM
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Further context to Benedict's Pontificate, in addition to the topical issues dealt with by Peter Seewald in the above interview...

June 14, 2012
Listening to the Holy Father's catechesis early Wednesday morning, I was struck by the synchronicity of two Biblical expressions he cited with recent references to him by Mons. Gaenswein and Peter Seewald, respectively. In an introduction to a book about the lectures that presented JESUS OF NAZARETH to university audiences in 2011, the Pope's private secretary said that even as a cardinal, Benedict XVI was already 'a thorn in the side of the post-modern world', and in his lengthy interview with KATHNET about the current media furor over the Vatican, Peter Seewald cired precisely Paul's assertion that "When I am weak, then I am strong' that the Holy Father cited in the June 13 catechesis... Jose Luis Restan used Mons. Gaenswein's words for his most recent reflection on Benedict XVI:

Benedict XVI:
A thorn in the side
of the post-modern world

Translated from

June 12, 2012

It doesn't pay to sit and wail, because the attacks suffered by the Church throughout the course of time, the weaknesses and sins of her members, these windstorms and surging waves - all this was foreseen in her foundational act.

The Lord allows them - or better, he sees them - as decisive factors in his constant call on the Church to be faithful to her nature and her mission. This does not mean that we must retreat to a seraphic vantage point while destruction is wrought. Of course, we must investigate, protect, denounce, punish. Improve the machinery and keep it well-oiled, promote transparency, cut down the mastodon to size... all this has to be done and is being done, for better or for worse. But the heart of the matter is something else.

In the midst of the tempest, the newspaper Avvenire published an article with some extracts from the Preface written by Mons. Georg Gaenswein for a book on the impact of Joseph Ratzinger's JESUS OF NAZARETH books in Italian universities, and I don't consider this mere chance. [2013 P.S. I re-posted this in the previous page.]

The Pope's secretary entitles his Introduction "The Pope's program? Nothing but the Gospel'. It is a text to be read between the lines.

For example, when he writes that Benedict XVI has succeeded - following through on the legacy of his predecessor - at something which to many seemed impossible: "revitalizing the Church during a dark and difficult time". He adds: "He has given new lifeblood to old forms in the Curia, and at the same time, he has cut off the dried branches..."

Don Georg also notes that already during his time as Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Joseph Ratzinger "had become a thorn in the side of a post-modern world in which the question of truth was considered nonsense, of a society of opulence and greed which more and more turned its back to God."

Even then, he was already 'an inconvenient man', unclassifiable - imagine what it is now that he wears the shoes of the Fisherman.

There is food for thought in this. On the one hand, there is a culture of nihilism, with its quite precise networks and terminals of power, which is not disposed to acknowledge that the Church is not resigned to just being a venerable relic or spiritual comforter amid the misfortunes of the current global crises.

For this culture, this gentle and serene Pope who uses reason as a surgeon wields his scalpel, is a real and unexpected thorn, a scourge. That he confronted secular thinking head-on at the Bundestag and at Westminster Hall must be insupportable.

But within the Church there are those who oppose the Pope and the correction and pruning that he has set into motion, to his knotting together of faith and reason, to his Newmanian idea of the Church's course as a renewal in continuity.

I do not wish to contribute to new 'fantasies', but a de facto coalition among these disparate interests does not seem unlikely to me as a backdrop to what has been happening for months.

In any case, these days of pain do not give us a way out. It does not help to perorate against the powers of the world (who have persecuted the Church since her beginnings and will do so to the very end) nor to waste our bile on traitors (who since the days of Judas to our day grow like bad weeds in the Lord's field, and will do so to the very end).

What is important is that the Church - and each of her members, communities and institutions - is able to listen to the Lord's word at a time like this. Because in the life of those whom he calls, God does not allow anything - absolutely nothing - to occur which does not serve to mature the faith.

Moreover, situations of particular difficulty bring to light that which is hidden in the hearts of everyone. That is why it is so necessary to listen to Benedict XVI these days, and that is why it is 'curious' to follow what others say and comment, within the Church and outside it. Because in situations like this, no one can hide. [Some can - the traitors at the Vatican, precisely.]

There is a first question that for me emerges obviously from the news headlines and the reckless fictions coming out these days - time presses. The twaddle is excessive, the 'topical' commentaries likewise, and everything, absolutely everything, in the life of the Church must be re-ordered so that men and women of our time are able to experience a simple friendship with that Mystery whose face is Jesus.

Only faith in Christ can give men the joy, the hope and the freedom to stand on firm ground, and if despite what we know and experience, we persist in doing other things, then we face a final judgment that will be harsh. And so, all hands on deck, starting with closing together around Peter and following him.

During a terrible time for the people of Israel, the prophet Isaiah said something especially relevant even for our time, and with very healthy practical implications: "Those who build you up work faster than those who destroy you". The statement is valid and will continue to be valid for the Church at every stage in her history.

I think that the concept of 'faster' here does not simply have a temporal connotation but also one of concentration and density. The question is whether those forces that in fact tend to cause the physical and moral destruction of the Church as a living reality and as such, a presence in history, are more or less as powerful as the forces that nourish, reconstruct, heal and revitalize her.

An engrossing spectacle. A dramatic crossroads. And for those who, like me, can feel some sort of shiver about this, it is useful to remember something Joseph Ratzinger wrote in the 1970s: "To me, it seems clear that very difficult times await the Church. Her real crisis has hardly begun. One must be aware of forces that have been agitated. But I am also totally sure of what will remain at the end: not the church of political worship, which failed with Gobel* but the Church of faith. Certainly, it will no longer be the dominant force in society to the degree that she was until fairly recently. But she will flourish again and she will be visible to human beings as the homeland that gives them life and hope beyond death".

*Thanks to Beatrice (and Carlota) for identifying Gobel for me. Wikipedia says Jean-Baptiste Gobel (1727-1794) was a Jesuit priest who was among those who signed the French Revolution's 1791 Civil Constitution of the Clergy in which civilian electoral assemblies were empowered to select bishops. Gobel was elected constitutional bishop of eight dioceses, but he chose Paris, of which later he became city administrator. He became associated with the so-called Cult of Reason, denounced priestly celibacy, and came to be considered an atheist by Robespierre, who was a deist. When Robespierre took control of the Revolution, Gobel and other leaders of the Cult of Reason were guillotined. Sic transibunt...

An even more interesting article for 'context' is this one from Sandro Magister in mid-June 2012, which is a major article in terms of the way the whole Vatileaks episode is presented and its implications, and because it does have a broader purpose than just that, namely, to put it into the perspective of Benedict XVI's overall work as Pope. Note the strong statements in the title about Benedict XVI's governance, and I must flash-forward to February-April this year to see exactly how Magister may have changed his tune. Then, as now and always, I do take issue with the very first sentence of the article on a basic matter of fact that is ignored in any discussion about Vatileaks and the supposed ills of the 'Roman Curia'...

Benedict XVI guides
the Barque of Peter
through stormy times

The Pope is reproved for supposed weak governance. On the contrary.
All the major 'conflicts' in his Pontificate so far have arisen
from strong decisions made by him 'against the current'.

ROME, June 12, 2012 – Everything is topsy-turvy, it seems, in a Vatican Curia that is riven by conflicts.

[It is really troubling when a veteran Vaticanista like Magister disparages the entire Curia in this way, although only a few agencies have been involved so far in Vatileaks - the Secretariat of State, the Vatican Governatorate, and IOR. So let us get this straight once and for all.

Has anyone pointed to any 'conflicts' or dereliction of duty within, say, the CDF, or Bishops, or the Causes of Sainthood, or Divine Worship, just to mention the most obviously non-conflictual/non-conflicted offices of the Vatican Curia? The worst that has been said of Curial offices (other than the Secretariat of State and the Governatorate) during the past seven years were those retroactive reports of irregular financial transactions in Propaganda Fide under its last administration in John Paul II's Pontificate.

In this Pontificate, the Pontifical Council for Migrants has been ridiculed for trivia like 'Ten Commandments for Drivers', and on a more serious level, the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace for a position paper on the global economic crisis and its advocacy of a world authority to take charge.

And of course, there was the notorious failure of the Congregation for Bishops under Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re (and the Secretariat of State, which has co-equal responsibility in this) to properly vet the Communist collaborationist Mons. Wielgus before he was named Archbishop of Warsaw by Benedict XVI, or Lefebvrian Richard Williamson so they could have forewarned the Pope of his negationist positions before his excommunication was lifted. And the , of course, has been tarred by Mons. Vigano's broad brush even if he could only cite one specific case of presumed 'corruption' in that office.

Why then should the entire Roman Curia be denigrated in general and demonized for the faults of a few rotten apples? According to Cardinal Sodano's last count, some 4,200 persons, clerical and laymen, are employed in the various Vatican offices. Half of them are responsible for the physical and administrative running of Vatican City-State and have nothing to do with Church affairs. The other half run the Roman Curia which oversees the work of the universal Church in 22 different sectors. That's 2,000 people having to deal indirectly with the problems of 1.2 billion Catholics. In terms of figures alone, the work of the Curia is superhumanly staggering, but it does not get any credit for this at all.

It is almost criminal irresponsibility for anyone in media to disparage 'the Roman Curia' day in and day out, when probably 99% of them have nothing at all to do with the dirty infighting and malicious intrigue of those wrapped up in the dirty linen left out to hang by Vatileaks.]

The most explosive conflict is now being played out in the field of finance - fought out with neither charity nor truth, in complete disregard of Benedict XVI's theme and title for his third encyclical.

This war has stunned the world with the unprecedented brutality by which, on May 24, Ettore Gotti Tedeschi was dismissed as president and member of the board of IOR, the Vatican's main financial institution which functions on some levels like a bank.

But perhaps the more amazing characteristic of this and other conflicts now being played out in the Vatican and the Church is that Benedict XVI himself triggered them.

Not because of weakness in commend, as has been universally claimed, though erroneously. ['Universa1]lly'? No. Only by those who do not like him, for one reason or another!]

On the contrary, they have arisen from his strong and unequivocal acts of governance that he has carried out with daring and courage, knowing well that they were bound to elicit opposition.

Indeed, the true reasons why the lay Administrative Council of IOR threw out Gotti Tedeschi were not those listed in the internal memorandum released to the media by Carl Anderson to explain the Council's vote of 'no confidence' in him.

The true reasons are those which provoked the first serious disagreement in December 2010 between Gotti Tedeschi and Cardinal Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone [who named him president of IOR in 2009, and who heads the committee of cardinals that exercises supervision over IOR].

In December 2010, a new Vatican law on financial transparency was to be promulgated by Benedict XVI in order to pave the way for the admission of the Holy See to the 'white list' of European states certified to have the highest standards of financial transparency, and therefore, most equipped to combat money laundering and covert funding for terrorism.

To draft the law that would later be called Vatican Law 127, Gotti Tedeschi and Cardinal Attilio Nicora, who was at the time, president of the Administration of the Patrimony of the Apostolic See [which administers the Vatican's material assets] - called on two Italian lawyers who were the most authoritative experts on this kind of law, Marcello Condemi and Fernando De Passquale (Condemi had drafted the analogous law for Italy years before).

But even before the law could be promulgated - as it was on December 30, 2010 - with its institution of an Authority for Financial Information which would have supreme powers to examine any movement of currency in any office of the holy See or those associated with it - both Nicora and Gotti Tedeschi came up against severe opposition to such powers for AIF.

It was strongest among the management of IOR below Gotti Tedeschi, and in this, they had the support of Cardinal Bertone.

The lay director-general of IOR, Paolo Cipriani [responsible for the IOR's day-to-day management], and other top IOR officials expressed strenuous resistance to any exposure of the secrecy that covers many IOR accounts, both those that are known only by numbers or otherwise. Italian prosecutors have been looking into some of these accounts for possible violation of regulations against money-laundering.

Cipriani and company claimed that secrecy was one of the irrenunciable pillars of Vatican City State sovereignty [But what an unfortunate way to state it - secrecy cannot be a' pillar' of any state in the free world; the right to keep certain things secret for the sovereign good of the state, yes, but not secrecy itself] and they are convinced that the IOR's ability to maintain such secrecy in the manner of an offshore bank was one of its attractions to depositors, especially foreign clients, and that without such a clientele, the IOR would be forced to shut down.

But on December 30, 2010, Benedict XVI issued a motu proprio - an act of law personally desired and signed by him - that promulgated Law 127 without changing a comma in the draft that was so opposed at IOR. The AIF with its sweeping powers was instituted, and the Pope named Cardinal Nicora to head it.

With that motu proprio and with Caritas in Veritate earlier, Benedict XVI had clearly marked out the line of march for a definitive transition of Vatican financial activities towards a regime of maximum transparency that could be checked and certified by international institutions.

But the opposition to the new norms simply increased. In the fall of 2011, the Secretariat of State and the Vatican Governatorate, in agreement with the management of IOR (except Gotti Tedeschi), virtually rewrote Law 127, and on January 25, 2012, decreed that their revision was to go into effect. The revised law drastically reduced the investigatory powers of the AIF [and granted the Secretariat of State, the Governatorate and the Vatican Gendarmerie a share of the financial oversight pie, effectively divesting the AIF of any real authority!]

[No one has explained - nor does Magister in this piece - how it is that the Secretariat of State and the Governatorate could thus replace a law promulgated by a papal motu proprio! As if the Pope's authority counted for nothing, and his subordinates could simply overturn his will! When these changes were first reported earlier this year, this was never explained - and the implication was that it all had the approval of the Pope. If it did, why did Nicora and Gotti Tedeschi continue to express their opposition to the revised law?]

Before and after the revised law was decreed, Gotti Tedeschi and Nicora strongly opposed the fact that the financial transparency intention had been turned on its head. Both believed the revised law would hinder the Vatican from getting on the 'white list'.

In fact, last March, during a site inspection by Moneyval [the Council of Europe's regulatory group for financial activities], the inspectors reportedly voted 8 to 2 against the revised law, compared to their earlier vote of 6 to 4 in favor of the original law.

And so we come to the defenestration of Gotti Tedeschi. [The Italian word 'defenestrazione' is very graphic - meaning throwing someone out of the window.]

This move was agreed upon by the IOR administrative council and Cardinal Bertone, contrary to the public statements made by Carl Anderson, a member of the council and Supreme Knight of the Knights of Columbus.

In fact, the meeting of the Administrative Council of May 24 at which Gotti Tedeschi was dismissed with a no-confidence vote - the minutes of which were released to the media two days later by Anderson - was preceded a half hour earlier by a meeting called by Cardinal Bertone with his financial advisers and Cipriani.

Days before, both Anderson and another board member, the German banker Romaldo Hermann Schmitz, had both written privately to Cardinal Bertone to say that they were going to carry out a 'no confidence' vote against Gotti Tedeschi "with the certainty of supporting what Your Eminence has rightly indicated".

In these same letters - published June 9 by Il Fatto Quotidiano [the newspaper that initially published all the Vatileaks] - Andserson and Schmitz both express their concern about an increasing international isolation of IOR, especially after the American banking giant JP Morgan publicly withdrew its accounts from IOR. For this, they blamed Gotti Tedeschi, whom they described as 'bizarre'.

But even judging from the JP Morgan case, the reason for withdrawal was IOR's continuing lack of transparency - which is the root of any decline in IOR's international standing.

Gotti Tedeschi had taken care to always keep Mons. Georg Gaenswewin, the Pope's private secretary, informed of what he was doing at IOR and of the opposition he was encountering. Therefore, henow wanted the Pope to have a memorandum with his version of the entire episode surrounding his dismissal.

But his memorandum and the documentation he had compiled as attachments ended up among the papers confiscated indiscriminately by Italian state police from his homes in Piacenza and his office in Milan on June 5, in connection with an investigation into suspected bribery of government officials by executives of the Italian defense industry and technology giant Finmeccanica. [Gotti Tedeschi is not a subject of the investigation, but was considered 'an informed witness'. Prosecutors were hoping to find any documents in his possession that could be used against Finmeccanica, since one of the banks used by the company is Banco Santander, whose Italian subsidiary Gotti Tedeschi has headed for years. He is also a personal friend of Finmeccanica's president Emmanuele Orsi.]

Almost immediately, information from some of the confiscated documents and from the interrogation of Gotti Tedeschi by prosecutors from Naples and Rome made their way into Italian media, which happens systematically in Italy in flagrant violation of the rules of secrecy governing criminal and related investigations.

But other private letters also emerged from the Vatican. Besides those of Anderson and Schmitz, there was a letter written in March to IOR director-general Cipriani from a psychotherapist friend, Pietro Lasalvia, containing the latter's disastrous and damaging 'diagnosis' of Gotti Tedeschi's mental health based on observing him during a Christmas party for IOR personnel.

[Whoever was responsible for releasing that letter deserves his very own circle in Hell. It was an action that was improper in every way, based on a most improper action to begin with. Who would have asked the psychiatrist to observe Gotti Tedeschi and submit a medical evaluation based on such a cursory observation? And why? The letter was written to Cipriani, so it could only have been released, if not by him or by the doctor, by someone who had access to his personal correspondence or to the doctor's correspondence. This is an act every bit as despicable and reprehensible as Mons. Vigano's shotgun character assassination of presumed enemies in the Vatican! Both illustrate the sickening extremes of unethical and immoral behavior that persons working at the Vatican are capable of, just like other human beings employed anywhere else, when driven by ambition or vendetta. Yet no one is outraged about it in the media.]

Thus in the conflicts unleashed in the Vatican by Operation Transparency, Benedict XVI has not been a passive spectator but an active protagonist.

It was his decision: Transparency was the line of march to be followed, and for this he issued the motu proprio that would have legislated the measures for maximum transparency.

The upper hand now held by those who oppose this policy cannot annul the orientation he has clearly given. [Yes, but how did they get the upper hand in open opposition to his wishes, to begin with? Either they acted and prevailed, simply because they could, or they managed to win the Pope over by their arguments. Either way, it does not look good for him at all! In an article that is supposed to be in praise of the Pope's firm governance, that obvious question - a humongous elephant in the room - is ignored by Magister.]

]Benedict's intentions remain clear despite everything. Even to public opinion, which is convinced that Benedict XVI is for true transparency, while other persons in the Vatican are not, even if they profess this loudly.

Naturally, financial transparency is not the only ground on which Benedict XVI has intervened with acts of governance during his Pontificate so far.

On other no less important grounds, this Pope has taken strong decisions of a normative [regulatory and disciplinary] nature, knowing full well that they would provoke resistances and divisions. Here is a summary listing:

- In 2007, he issued the motu proprio Summorum pontificum, which allowed the use of the traditional Roman Mass as a form equally valid as the Novus Ordo.

- In 2009, he lifted the excommunication imposed on the four bishops consecrated in 1988 by the late Mons. Lefebvre against the express prohibition of John Paul II. With the motu proprio Ecclesia unitatem, he also opened the way for the Lefebvrians to re-enter into full communion with Rome.

- In 2009, with the Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum coetibus, he prescribed the way by which Anglicans converting to Catholicism could do so in groups, along with their bishops and priests.

- In 2010, he promulgated new and more severe rules on dealing with delicta graviora, severe offfenses committed by priests, including the sexual abuse of children and minors.

- In 2011, with the Instruction Universae ecclesiae, he set the rules that would institutionalize and standardize the celebration of the traditional Mass in the universal Church.

None of these acts of governance by Benedict XVI failed to provoke controversies, opposition and conflicts. But it must be noted that he has never tried to 'repair' such differences through disciplinary measures, much less with headline-making dismissals and replacements.

His way of governance has been to accompany his normative decisions - such as the acts listed above - with efforts to explain with reason the profound motivations for his decisions.

Thus, for instance, his two initiatives to help heal the rupture with the Lefebvrians were preceded by his memorable address to the Roman Curia on December 22, 2005, in which he definitively said that the documents of Vatican II were to be interpreted only as a renewal of the one subject Church in continuity with Tradition, and not as a complete break with the pre-Conciliar past as the progressivists had misrepresented Vatican II all along.

[I'd call that address 'historic', nothing less! It caught everyone by surprise. Not that anyone doubted Joseph Ratzinger's interpretation of Vatican II, but that he had decided to state it clearly and unequivocally as Pope, and chose the first appropriate occasion to say so. It must have been the first rude awakening for those who thought he would be an ineffectual pushover Pope simply because he looked physically frail. Though why they assumed that when they had built up a fearsome image of him as Panzerkardinal and Rottweiler is very strange.

On second thought, I think it's because it was inconceivable to them that, Panzerkardinal and Academie Francaise intellectual notwithstanding, he could ever conceivably 'outdo' his predecessor in any way whatsoever. Suddenly, here he was, asserting himself and his Pontificate almost in the identical words and with the same soul of goodness that John XXIII had announced his decision to call Vatican II. As if to say, kindly but firmly, "You want to understand Vatican II? Listen to what the Father of Vatican II meant it to be!"]

His liberalization of the traditional Mass was accompanied by his incessant illustration of the riches in both rites that should enrich each other, as in the Masses that he himself celebrates in public. [Except that so far, he has only celebrated the Novus Ordo. I cannot imagine if and when he will ever say the traditional Mass in public as Pope - he had no problem doing that when he was a cardinal. Everytime Assumption comes around, when he says Mass at the parish church in Castel Gandolfo, I keep hoping it will be the occasion. Now I'm thinking an unlikely thing such as the Mass to welcome the Lefebvrians back to the Church of Rome. I really[ can't think of a reason why he hasn't done so yet. His Masses at the Vatican are always accompanied by librettos describing the entire ritual and all the prayers with the necessary translations. So if Mons. Marini announces that the Pope will celebrate the extraordinary form of the Mass even just a week beforehand, the public will be prepared, and those who attend the Mass will have the libretto to guide them every step of the way. And those following it on TV won't really be confused because even if the Pope will be celebrating ad orientem, the TV camera will always photograph him facing the camera...]

His decision to set up Ordinariates for the Anglican communities joining the Church, with their own hierarchies and rituals, has been accompanied by a 'symphonic' redefinition of the ecumenical journey with the other separated Christian churches.

His courageous leadership in confronting the problem of sex-offender priests head-on has been accompanied by a tireless effort toward moral and spiritual regeneration of the clergy, including a Year for Priests, and he has taken every occasion to praise the virtues and necessity of priestly celibacy. He even directed a national state of penitence for the Church of Ireland as a way to deal with the trauma of clerical sex abuse.

Finally, his decisions in favor of maximum financial transparency for the Vatican are inseparable from his theological view of this field of human activity enunciated in Caritas in veritate.

Those who have ears to listen understand the gentle firmness of this Pope's governance.

Since Magister has made this article into almost a review of Benedict XVI's Pontificate, I find it rather arbitrary to limit the Holy Father's acts of governance to literal 'laws' or formal instructions that he enacts. What about the bishops and cardinals he has named, the persons he chose to lead the Curial offices, the various Synods that he has convoked, the Year of St. Paul before the Year for Priests and the Year of Faith, the whole corpus of his homilies, catecheses, Angelus messages, and assorted writings? They are just as much acts of governance, aren't they? - the various means whereby he has guided the Barque of Peter all these years.

OK, I am reminded now: Other than what turned out to be his most unfortunate choice for a Secretary of Statee, my other lingering regret about B16's Pontificate is that he never celebrated the traditional Mass as Pope. It is a decision I have not been able to rationalize, because after all the grief he had to go through from his critics and detractors before and after Summorum Pontificum, there seems to be no reason he could not have done it, even if not at a large public Mass televised worldwide. For instance, at one of the Masses he celebrated at the Pauline Chapel, as on his 85th birthday...Sorry, Papa Bene!
[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 6/14/2013 9:27 PM]
6/14/2013 8:25 PM
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Friday, June 14, Tenth Week in Ordinary Time

Extreme right: 'Ecce Homo', painted by the saint
ST. ALBERT CHMIELOWSKI (Poland, 1845-1916)
Painter, Lay Franciscan, Founder of the Gray Brothers and Gray Sisters
Born to a wealthy family near Cracow, Adam Chmielowski took part in the revolt against the Russian Czar Alezander III. Wounded and imprisoned in 1863, his left leg was amputated. But he managed to escape and fled to Paris. Since he had a talent for painting, he studied art in Paris, then engineering in Ghent, and further art studies in Munich. Returning to Cracow, he devoted himself to his art and is said to have undergone a spiritual conversion when painting 'Ecce Homo'. His life thereafter was marked by poverty, service and prayer, with a particular devotion to the Eucharist, the Cross and Our Lady of Czestochowa. After a brief stint with the Jesuits who rejected him because of poor health, he joined the Franciscan Third Order in 1887, taking the name Albert. He started by restoring churches and paintings, and then realizing the plight of the homeless in Cracow, he founded the Brothers of the Third Order of St. Francis, more familiarly known as the Gray Brothers, dedicated to helping the homeless, the aged and the needy regardless of race or religion. Later, a similar community of Albertine sisters was established. Despite his handicap and a bad false leg, he travelled around Poland to propagate his mission, founding shelters, orphanages, soup kitchens and homes for the aged, as well as 21 houses for the order. During World War I, he ordered the Albertine nuns to help out in the military hospitals. He died of stomach cancer in 1916. He was beatified by John Paul II in 1983 and canonized in 1987.
Readings for today's Mass:


Pope Francis met with

- His Grace Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury and Primate of the Anglican Communion, on his first visit
to the Holy See since his election in January; with his wife and delegation. After the private conversation
between the Pope and the Archbishop, formal addresses followed with an exchange of gifts. Afterwards, they
prayed together at the Redemptoris Mater chapel of the Apostolic Palace.
The English translation of the Pope's address and the text of Archbishop Welby's remarks are on Vatican Radio's English site:

- Writers and staff of the Rome-based Jesuit monthly magazine La Civilta Cattolica. Address in Italian.
Vatican Radio does not carry the English translation.

One year ago...
Benedict XVI met with H.E. Jose Graziano da Silva, director of the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) of the United Nations, which has its headquarters in Rome. Da Silva of Brazil was elected in 2011, and formally assumed office in January 2012.,,,= The Vatican and the FSSPX issued formal statements on where they stand, respectively, in regard to the doctrinal discussions begun in 2010. {This is where the negotiations stalled and remain so to this day.]

Vatican to the FSSPX: 'Yes, but...' -
Ball's back in Lefebvrians' court

July 14, 2012

The Press Office released this statement on the meeting yesterday between Cardinal William Levada and Mons. Bernard Fellay, Superior-General of the FSSPX:

On the afternoon of Wednesday 13 June, Cardinal William Levada, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and president of the Pontifical Commission 'Ecclesia Dei', met with Bishop Bernard Fellay, superior general of the Society of St. Pius X, who was accompanied by an assistant.

Also present at the encounter were Archbishop Luis Ladaria S.J., secretary of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and Msgr. Guido Pozzo, secretary of Ecclesia Dei.

The purpose of the meeting was to present the Holy See's evaluation of the text submitted in April by the Society of St. Pius X in response to the Doctrinal Preamble which the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith had presented to the Society on 14 September 2011.

The subsequent discussion offered an opportunity the provide the appropriate explanations and clarifications. For his part, Bishop Fellay illustrated the current situation of the Society of St. Pius X and promised to make his response known within a reasonable lapse of time.

Also during the meeting, a draft document was submitted proposing a Personal Prelature as the most appropriate instrument for any future canonical recognition of the Society.

As was stated in the communique released on 16 May 2012, the situation of the other three bishops of the Society of St. Pius X will be dealt with separately and singularly.

At the end of the meeting the hope was expressed that this additional opportunity for reflection would also contribute to reaching full communion between the Society of St. Pius X and the Apostolic See.

The FSSPX communique

Communiqué of the General House of the Society of Saint Pius X
June 14, 2012

On Wednesday, June 13, 2012, Bishop Bernard Fellay, Superior General of the Society of Saint Pius X, accompanied by the First Assistant General, Father Niklaus Pfluger, was received by Cardinal William Levada, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, who delivered to him his dicastery’s evaluation of the Doctrinal Declaration sent in by the Society on April 15, 2012, in response to the Doctrinal Preamble submitted on September 14, 2011, by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

During this meeting, Bishop Fellay listened to explanations and further details from Cardinal Levada, to whom he presented the situation of the Society of Saint Pius X and spelled out the doctrinal difficulties posed by the Second Vatican Council and the Novus Ordo Missae. The desire for additional clarifications could result in a new phase of discussions.

At the end of this long, two-hour interview, Bishop Fellay received a draft document proposing a Personal Prelature, in the case of a possible canonical recognition of the Society of Saint Pius X. During the meeting the situation of the three other bishops of the Society was not discussed.

At the conclusion of that meeting, it was hoped that the dialogue might continue so as to allow the parties to arrive at a solution for the good of the Church and of souls.

Menzingen, June 14, 2012

[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 6/14/2013 8:27 PM]
6/14/2013 10:07 PM
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No surprise in this news, as most legal commentators said from the start that the bizarre accusation against Benedict XVI and Cardinals Sodano and Bertone would never prosper at the International Criminal Court, but the SNAPping dogs will not miss a chance to pillory the Church... and media outlets like AP are only too happy to accommodate their propaganda...

International Criminal Court rejects
bid by victims' advocate groups to charge
Benedict XVI for crimes against humanity


NEW YORK, June 13, 2013 (AP) = The International Criminal Court has rejected a longshot request by clergy sex abuse victims to investigate former Pope Benedict XVI and Vatican cardinals for possible crimes against humanity.

The tribunal, based in The Hague, told attorneys for the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests that "there is not a basis at this time to proceed with further analysis."

"The matters described in your communication do not appear to fall within the jurisdiction of the court," a court official wrote in a May 31 letter to the Center for Constitutional Rights, the nonprofit legal group that represents the victims. The legal organization released the letter Thursday.

Jeffrey Lena, the U.S. attorney for the Vatican, had called the 2011 request to the court a "ludicrous publicity stunt."

"The common thread running through all these cases is the mistaken idea that 'everything is controlled by Rome,'" Lena said Thursday.

Pam Spees, senior staff attorney for the Center for Constitutional Rights, said her group was confident it could collect enough evidence as new abuse victims come forward to press the tribunal to reconsider.

The odds against the court opening an investigation have been enormous. The prosecutor has received more than 9,700 independent proposals for inquiries since 2002, when the court was created as the world's only permanent war crimes tribunal, and has never opened a formal investigation based solely on such a request.

Attorneys for the victims had argued the global church maintained a "long-standing and pervasive system of sexual violence" despite promises to swiftly oust predators.

The Survivors Network argued that rape, sexual violence and torture are considered crimes against humanity as described in the international treaty that spells out the court's mandate. The complaint also accuses Benedict and Vatican officials of creating policies that perpetuated the damage, constituting an attack against a civilian population.

But the court wrote in its letter to victims' attorneys that it can only investigate crimes committed after the tribunal was formed and can only examine "the most serious crimes of concern to the international community as a whole, namely genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes."

"It appears that some of these preconditions are not satisfied with respect to the conduct described," the court wrote. "Some of the allegations described in your communication do not appear to fall within the court's temporal jurisdiction, and other allegations do not appear to fall within the court's subject-matter jurisdiction."

A study commissioned by the U.S. bishops from the John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York found abuse claims had peaked in the 1970s, then began declining sharply in 1985, as the bishops and society in general gained awareness of the problem.

Vatican officials and Church leaders elsewhere have apologized repeatedly, clarified or toughened church policies on ousting abusers and, in the U.S. alone, paid out nearly $3 billion in settlements to victims and removed hundreds of guilty priests.

However, Barbara Blaine, a leader of the Survivors Network, argued that Catholic officials "are still knowingly enabling predators to harm and endanger children across the world, while concealing these heinous crimes even more effectively." [Does she have any objective facts to support this wild claim at all? If there were any such objective evidence, or even simply anecdotal accounts, the AP writer would not have missed the chance to include those in this report!]
[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 6/14/2013 10:11 PM]
6/14/2013 11:55 PM
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Warning! I shall use this news item as an occasion to vent...

'The Vatican lobby threat goes
beyond sexual orientation'

In an interview with Vatican Insider, American Vaticanista John Allen
weighs in on Pope Francis’s comments about 'the gay lobby' in the Vatican-
about which we learn nothing new


New York, June 14, 2013

What do you think the Pope meant?
It’s important to remember that the "gay lobby" phrase came up in the context of the Vatileaks scandal, when the big question was who’s behind it. The theory was that maybe gays were involved, not because they’re gay, but because somebody with a secret to keep could be vulnerable to pressure and blackmail. The concern isn’t really sexual orientation, but whether somebody is working against the pope’s interests.

How is this lobby functioning inside the Vatican?
I’m not sure it’s really a "lobby" … I doubt they have meetings or a secret handshake. However, people leading a double life - whether it’s about sex, money or anything else - often feel a natural affinity with one another.

When do you expect him to implement his reform and what is the key for the reform?
He’s obviously taking his time, but he clearly understands that he was elected on a reform mandate by Cardinals from around the world who were fed up with what they saw as bad management in the Vatican. [And how have they been running their own dioceses??? Let him who is without sin cast the first stone.... Apparently, all of them are spotless in this respect! Including such notorious cardinals like Mahony and Daneels, who have proudly beatem their breasts in public as among the 'grand electors' of the new Pope.]

Is this comment related to the Pope’s effort to reform the Curia, to the sexual abuses, or both?
It’s related to reform of the Roman Curia, in that Francis wants to make sure decisions are being made for the right reasons and not because of hidden pressures.

[That's specious reasoning at best. If the 'hidden pressures' are to do the right thing, then why not? Why must 'hidden pressures' always be evil?

It is obvious from Allen's answers that he knows no more than we do about this supposed 'gay lobby' or whatever lobby there is, and if the journalist who is considered 'the best-informed American' about the Vatican and Church affairs has nothing to add to the innuendoes unleashed by Repubblica last February, shortly after Benedict XVI announced he was stepping down, one can almost take that as a guarantee that there really is no 'there' there, or if there is, it is relatively minor and exists more as a potential for blackmail, as Messori noted in his interview with Il Fatto Quotidiano yesterday, rather than as an active conspiracy involving "powerful and influential persons inside the Vatican and outside it". It's not as if there are not always some ranking persons vulnerable to blackmail in any institution.

Caveat: In all my remarks about Pope Francis's meeting with the CLAR leaders, I am assuming a 95% confidence level (to adapt a technical term in statistics - it means I am confident that 95% of the synthesis is true and accurate) not just to the content of the CLAR synthesis but also to the language it is presumably quoting rather than just paraphrasing.

This makes it all the more regrettable that Pope Francis should have reinforced the already dreadful public perception of the Curia by his 'candid' remarks to the CLAR leaders. Simply throwing out catch phrases used by the media, and saying they are 'true', is in fact 'demagogic', as the media generally are, unless he revealed evidence about these charges to CLAR that did not make it to their 'synthesis' of his remarks.

Some commentators have argued that CLAR should never have published that 'synthesis', that it was improper, that it was a violation of canon law, even, [is it? I must look it up), to reveal the content of a private conversation with the Pope. But why did they not use the same argument when
1) Vatican Radio's Spanish service and the website of Caritas International both released the full transcript of the Pope's extemporaneous remarks to them (from which almost everyone in the media pointedly ignored his statement that "If we must, sell the churches to feed the poor!", as they ignored his ill=thought-through but undoubtedly well-meaning exhortation to the movements at the Pentecost vigil to shout 'Viva Gesu" instead of 'Viva Francesco' when he makes an appearance)..

2) A few days later, more than one bishop from Puglia who had seen the Pope during their ad-limina visit published their accounts of the conversation, including the Pope's confidence about the faith encyclical - which many of his adulators pooh-poohed as unlikely to have been said by him, but which he confirmed himself yesterday, speaking off-the-cuff again to the executive council of the Bishops' Synod. He obviously did not think his confidence to the bishops of Puglia was abused and misused.

All this chivalry and protectiveness for the Pope is admirable and one we might expect from his adulators, but they seem unable to accept that among the qualities they most admire in him - his forthrightness and earthiness, that the whole world has welcomed as 'unprecedented' and 'refreshing' in a Pope - can also be a source of embarrassment, which they will then turn cartwheels to neutralize or suppress from public consciousness.

And yet, Pope Francis is not naive in media matters. His scathing denunciation of them as 'coprophiliac and corprophagic' in an interview with Andrea Tornielli three years ago, shows he knows very well how they work. And so there is no way he does not realize that as Pope, nothing he says - in private or in public - is not going to be considered 'news' and therefore made public somehow.

It was disingenuous, for instance, for Fr. Lombardi to claim that the Pope really does not intend his daily homilies at Santa Marta to be made public, whereas from Day 1, Vatican Radio and L'Osservatore Romano have been reporting them religiously, to the point that the Vatican site has even opened a special webpage dedicated to the "Daily Meditations of Pope Francis". (I am not sure 'meditations' is the right word for remarks made off the cuff - 'daily pastoral thoughts' might be more appropriate.)

When a Pope preaches, in whatever circumstances, he wants his words to be disseminated to the world, to spread the Word of God. Does anyone doubt Pope Francis thinks that about his daily homilettes?

Even his informal remarks to guests, who always represent a larger entity (the 6 CLAR leaders represented all the male and female religious in latin America and the Caribbean), must be considered in this light. He knows - unless, he specifically asks them beforehand to 'keep this just between us' - that everything he says to them will be transmitted to all those whom they represent, and via the media, to everyone else.

Two issues are of importance here. First, prudence, No one should expect the Pope to comport himself in every way like the local parish priest, as fuzzy-warm and endearing as that may be. A Pope cannot make statements loosely that can be interpreted in any way that is counter-productive to the Church, even if it raises his own personal likability profile.

And even if he Pope Francis does think that there is corruption in the Curia and a gay lobby in the Vatican, and says so openly, what does it gain the Church that the whole world applauds him for his 'honesty and candor', when he is merely repeating what questionable types like Paolo Gabriele and Mosn, Vigano have been saying without evidence to back up their accusations?

We come to the second point: Responsibility. Loose remarks are counter-productive - even if not to him personally, because he has seen how, to the media, he can do no wrong - but to the Church, which already has a very negative image painted of her arising from all the irrational and rabid animus against Benedict XVI. The US Navy has a great expression, "Loose lips sink ships". Hopefully, not the Bark of Peter.

Ultimately, in the light of many statements from Pope Francis and his representatives that the much-awaited 'Curial reform' will come, but it will take time, and there is no timetable, etc, etc, does that mean he can afford to allow that 'corruption' and that 'gay lobby' to continue, presumably, until this vaunted Curial reform can take place?

The answer may lie in John Allen's reply to the last question in the interview:
- .

How are his actions so far perceived in the United States?
To date, Francis has very high approval ratings in America. One recent poll found that 82 percent of American Catholics like the Pope, and given how divided American Catholics usually are, that’s a minor miracle.

There you have it. Because the world already thinks Pope Francis walks on water and can possibly do no wrong - and surely he knows that this is the image he enjoys - it may be that he is sure he has more than enough personal capital in charisma and reputation to carry him through anything and everything, where someone 'unpopular' like Benedict XVI would be dragged through the mud and repeatedly nailed on the Cross. (For some reason, the Other who dwells in Francis and from whom everything he says and does comes, as he told the CLAR leaders, apparently did not see fit to lead Benedict XVI the same way!)

OK, MEOW! But he is our Pope, and we can only wish him all the best, and pray for him, but that does not mean one cannot point out his little mis-steps along the way when they have been consistent so far. And I am sorry I cannot be half as tactful as Vittorio Messori.

Speaking out -Part 2
In which I try to be
as objective as I can be

Beatrice on her website calls attention to a blog entry by a Spanish priest who claims, in effect, that Pope Francis has been robbed of much more through the disclosure of remarks he has made in private, than Benedict XVI ever was, through the physical theft of his private documents. With all due respect for the priest, he is comparing apples and oranges.

Benedict XVI certainly did not offer his private papers to be violated and pilfered. And it was not just his privacy that was violated but that of those who wrote to him, confident that their letters would remain private.

Pope Francis offered his private remarks voluntarily, with a reasonable expectation they would be made public, just because he is the Pope. In the same way that his daily homilettes, also meant to be 'private' and therefore not supposed to be disseminated, have become the first feed of the day from Vatican Radio. and headline-generating in the world media because of the Pope's gift for picturesque and highly striking language.

Did Caritas, the bishops of Puglia, and CLAR dishonestly make use of remarks made to them by the Pope in private? Surely, each one used the remarks opportunely and opportunistically, perhaps even improperly, to advance their own respective agenda. But the Vatican = neither on behalf of Pope Francis, nor on behalf of the official Vatican media themselves - has not contested their version of what the Pope told them.

So we must assume the Pope himself is not unhappy that his private remarks have been made public, or that they have been distorted significantly in the telling. If he were, he would have made it known without ifs or buts - he's a very targeted and focused communicator. So no, I don't believe for a moment that he feels he had been robbed of his right to private expression, for want of a better term to describe what it is he was supposedly robbed of.

Isn't it remarkable, though - even if perfectly understandable - that the media would home in on anything they thought salacious about the Vatican? Media attention has focuxed almost exclusively on the 'gay lobby' remark, and little notice has been given to the Pope's words about how he must defer to his cardinal advisers to reform the Curia since he himself is too 'disorganized'.

The reform of the Roman Curia is something that almost all of us cardinals asked for at the congregations that preceded the Conclave. I, too, asked for it. But I cannot carry out the reform - these are management questions. I am very disorganized - I have never been good at these things. But the cardinals of the commission will carry it out.

There is [Cardinal] Rodriquez Maradiaga, who is Latin American, and is taking the lead. There is Errazuriz [emeritus Archbishop of Santiago de Chile] - they are both very organized. So is the cardinal from Munich. They will carry out the reform.

Obviously, MSM is ignoring those remarks because, after March 13, the media - along with the Pope's cardinal electors - had praised him to high heavens as the very man who had all the administrative skills and experience to finally 'reform the Curia'. He was everything good, in fact, that Benedict XVI was not.

Had they not done so, here would have been a wonderful opportunity to point out yet again the model of humility shown by a Pope who can admit openly to his defects and deficiencies, or some such wonder-filled elaboration of the humble-Pope paradigm. But the Pope's own words have put them into estoppel, though I doubt that will stop any of his media adulators from resurrecting the myth of the administrative Superman after a decent interval (give it a few days after the CLAR interview goes beyond its seven-day shelf life as news).

No one was looking for a perfect Pope. There has never been one. The only reason I can think of that MSM and other mindbenders had in building up Francis instantly as the perfect Pope was that it was their best way to get back at Benedict XVI. This is how they could ventilate all their hostility to him, by holding up a paragon for all Popes whose lustrous image and insurmountable stature, they believe, would forever cast Benedict XVI into oblivion where he belongs. (And how dare he come back to live in the Vatican, when he is supposed to have vanished in a puff of smoke as all evil and unworthy ones must when Goodness appears!)

My only question is: Where were the media in the past eight years with regard to Cardinal Bergoglio? The whole world knew that the Cardinal emerged as the only final rival to Cardinal Ratzinger in the 2005 Conclave. One would have thought that the Catholic media, at least, would have assigned an Argentine correspondent just to keep tabs on such an extraordinary personage. But I do not recall that anyone in the media gave him a second thought after he was an also-ran. [Except perhaps Andrea Tornielli, who, it seems, never failed to interview him whenever he came to Rome.]

In many respects, Cardinal Bergoglio was such the forgotten man to the point that in 2013, none of the leading Vaticanistas or other name commentators in the European and Anglophone media even had him in their list of papabile. As he himself pointed out to the CLAR leaders, he was only ranked #44 among the London bookies!

I am well aware of the 'transfiguration' that being elected Pope makes possible. And I am most aware and appreciative of the many great personal and pastoral virtues of Pope Francis. But only the media, by the singular alchemy they possess to make or break personalities, could transform the forgotten 'also-ran' from 2006 into the paragon of Popes overnight.

Of course, their task was easy, since the new Pope, starting with his papal name, soon showed himself to be a fertile fount of novelties - far beyond Karol Wojtyla who himself needed at least a year and the success of his first visit to the United States to become a media superstar. Not only were Jorge Bergoglo's entire personality and provenance novel and distinct, but he also easily shucked off long-standing papal traditions that even Papa Wojtyla honored.

And so the salutatorian of the 2005 Conclave quickly emerged, valedictorian this time, as very much his own man, a minimalist Pontiff - with the highest possible favorable public profile of any world figure since the peak global infatuation for Barack Obama. A Pontiff who immediately referred to himself as the Bishop of Rome (he has yet to call himself Pope), and to his predecessor as the emeritus Bishop of Rome.

Unthinkably but oh so true, Papa Bergoglio almost instantly eclipsed John Paul II (forget Benedict XVI - not even in the running!) as the supernova in the firmament of the Church and the darling of the world stage. If Papa Wojtyla had to wait 27 years until he died to be acclaimed 'Santo subito;, the impression is that Papa Bergoglio is 'Santo gia' (already a saint), the first to be canonized by universal acclamation, as it were.

He has become a figure no PR meister could have fashioned or even imagined. None of it comes from him, he insists with trademark humility - everything he says and does, he told the CLAR leaders, comes from the Other who dwells in him. Divine assurance then, of absolute infallibility, not just in matters of faith and morals.

Here we are, three months since then, and already, Pope Francis holds the record for the most 'firsts' ever registered by any Pope in history (Let me name the ways - no, I can't keep track), except, necessarily (at least not yet), the longevity of Leo XIII and the frequent-flier miles of John Paul II.

Inevitably, all the newsworthy statements and gestures of Pope Francis have been routinely preceded in news reports and commentary by "unlike his predecessor" to the latter's eternal detriment - or so it seems, if one goes by the media. This is what is objectionable. As if Pope Francis cannot be praised for what he says and does, without having to put down or reflect badly on Benedict XVI in the process. Pope Francis cannot gain any more stature than he already has by the continual denigration of Benedict XVI.

I am eternally grateful that Pope Francis has shown his personal consideration for Benedict XVI in so many ways, from that first unexpected request on the loggia of St. Peter's when he asked the faithful to join him in a prayer for the emeritus Bishop of Rome. It's just too bad no one else has taken the cue.

So I keep hoping that his generosity and consideration would also lead him to say explicitly, "I am not telling you, the media, how to do your job, but please do not report on me at the expense of my predecessor, who is a good man, who did his best in carrying out the Petrine ministry, who deserves the gratitude of the Church, and whose selfless act of renunciation did make it possible for me to be where I am now." (No superlatives, just bare unadorned fact). Obviously, the Other has not yet prompted him to do so. Please God, let it be ASAP.
[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 6/18/2013 10:26 PM]
6/15/2013 1:49 PM
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What the 'four-hands'
encyclical teaches us

by Vittorio Messori
Translated from

June 15, 2013

Vatican officials had sought to tone down the reality - they spoke of a document that Benedict XVI had drafted in part and that Pope Francis had taken up to complete, or rather, fragments that the emeritus Pope had written that the reigning Pope has then developed to completion.

Instead, the encyclical on faith will really be 'an encyclical by four hands' [as in a piano duet, for which the Italian term 'a quattro mani' is habitually used].- just so, textually, as announced plainly by Papa Bergoglio on an official occasion - his meeting with the current Executive Council and Secretariat-General of the Bishops' Synod.

Thus, another 'first' for the Argentine Pontiff: a doctrinal document of primary importance - on faith, no less, therefore, on the very foundation of the Church. One that was ideated, thought through, and in large part written by one Pope and signed by another.

A Pope who announced on the same occasion that he would not fail to inform the addressees of his first circular letter to Christianity - that is the meaning of the word 'encyclical' - that he "received from Benedict XVI a great piece of work" that he fully shares-and found to be "a powerful text".

Of course, every Pope in the documents he issues under his name always cites his predecessors, but as citations, sources duly footnoted, certainly never as co-author. Indeed, one thinks back, with irony, to the resignation of Celestine V, who was imprisoned in some secret place by his successor Boniface VIII for fear he could inspire a schism, and whom he brought back to captivity when the old monk sought to escape.

Let us try to understand how we have come to this unprecedented situation now. Joseph Ratzinger's primary concern - as a scholar, then as cardinal, and finally as Pope - was always to turn back to the fundamentals, to recover the bases of Christianity, to offer a new apologetics appropriate to contemporary man.

And so, he planned a trilogy on the major virtues, those called 'theological' - thus, he wrote an encyclical on love and one on hope. The one on faith was to come, and he had planned to publish it by autumn of 2013, at the end of the special year that he decreed precisely to a rediscovery of the reasons why we believe the Gospel.

The work was far advanced when he came to the realization that his advancing age no longer allowed him to carry the burdens of the Pontificate on his shoulders.

Perhaps, free from the duties of the Bishop of Rome, he would have enough strength left to finish the text and publish it, 'de-classing' it from a papal encyclical to just a scholarly text, as he had done with the three volumes he wrote on the historicity of Jesus. Books that do not have magisterial value but are open to debate by experts on the topic.

It is possible that he consulted the new Pope about this, and that Francis gladly offered to use the work already done, bring it to completion, and sign it as an encyclical with his name.

This has disconcerted some eccelesial circles: The idea of a papal document with such importance and on such a decisive topic that has joint authorship has left many perplexed.

On the contrary, it is most welcome. The novelty seems precious because it can help recover a perspective that many faithful appear to have forgotten. That perspective of faith in which it is not the persona of the Pope that matters, and all that goes with it - a biography, a culture, a nationality, a personality.

What matters is the papacy, the institution desired by Christ himself with a specific task: to lead the flock, as a good shepherd, through the tempests of history, without deviating from the right course.

To the faithful, the Pope exists to be their master in faith and morals, not by advocating his own ideas, but by helping them to understand the divine will, announcing the eternal life that awaits us at the end of our earthly journey, and watching that we do not fall into the abyss of error.

That is why Popes are assured of the assistance of the Holy Spirit - to keep them from straying from the path. In his teachings, the Roman Pontiff is not 'an author' whose qualities one must admire. Indeed, he would betray his role if he said fascinating and original things that were not along the lines indicated by Scripture and Tradition. A Pope is not allowed to say "in my opinion", which is the hallmark of heresy.

Simplifying extremely, we can say that "one Pope is as good as another" in that ultimately his person does not count, but only his obedience and fidelity as an instrument of evangelical announcement.

Anecdotes about the Popes, on their daily lives, may be interesting, but they have no bearing on their mission. What really counts is the Papacy as a perennial institution that will endure until parousia - to the end of history and the second coming of Christ. An institution which, to the Catholic, is not a weight to be borne, but a gift for which we must be grateful. It does not matter whether the Pope of the moment is 'pleasing' as a person, whether we love his character or style.

Joseph Ratzinger and Jorge Bergoglio are vastly different personalities, but they cannot differ - and Heaven watches that this does not happen - when they speak of Christ and his teaching, as teachers of faith and morals.

As instruments - "a simple and humble worker in the vineyard of the Lord", as Benedict XVI called himself in his first remarks as Pope - they are in a way interchangeable. They can explain more deeply the significance of the Gospel, help it to be understood better by the men of their time, but always in the wake of Scripture and Tradition. They are not allowed to be 'creative'. They are not 'authors' but leaders, in turn led by an Other.

Precisely because of this, the idea is not at all unwelcome - but rather, it seems a precious occasion offered to us by what Hegel would call 'the cunning of history' - of a document by two Popes that reannounces the faith, which is the basis of everything.

A document by an emeritus Pontiff and a reigning one shows that Popes may be different personalities but that the perspective in which they are called to lead the Church is the same, the direction is the same. Just as their words are basically identical in re-proposing the great wager on the truth of Christianity.

And so, no one should be scandalized at a 'four-handed encyclical'.

6/15/2013 2:27 PM
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So! Everyone has not drunk the Kool-Aid... Here's one Vaticanista who has strayed from the herd mentality. Tbanks to Aqua for calling my attention to the article.

A Vatican ‘Gay Lobby’?
This is not the crux of the matter

A news analysis

June 14, 2013

VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis’s recent words about corruption and an influential “gay lobby” in the Vatican have revived, in the media at least, concerns raised in the Vatileaks scandal.

Pope Francis spoke about corruption, including a “gay lobby,” in an off-the-cuff conversation with the presiding board of the Latin American and Caribbean Confederation of Religious Men and Women (CLAR).

After the June 6 meeting, which reportedly lasted about an hour, the six board members in attendance sketched a summary of what the Holy Father told them. It is noteworthy that no mention was made in this summary about the questions and the inferences the six religious who met the Pope made.

The text of this summary was given to the Chilean website Reflexión y Liberación (Reflection and Liberation), which decided to publish the text in its entirety.

During the conversation, Pope Francis reportedly spoke about a “gay lobby” and corruption in the Vatican.

Moreover, speaking about the reform of the Curia, Pope Francis said: “I cannot promote the reform myself, these matters of administration. ... I am very disorganized; I have never been good at this. But the cardinals of the commission will move it forward.”

These declarations, albeit informal, have been headlined all over the world. Father Federico Lombardi, director of the Holy See Press Office, did not deny that the conversation took place, nor the contents of the conversation. But he declined to comment further because it was part of a “private meeting.”

CLAR did not deny the authenticity of the summary. Rather, in a statement issued on June 12, the organization stated that it “regretted” the summary’s publication, which was meant only for private reflection. The editors of Reflexión y Liberación have stood by their decision to publish the information.

In fact, notice of a “gay lobby” inside the Vatican is not groundbreaking news. Much has been rumored about a possible such lobby inside the Vatican during the last few years, and the Vatileaks scandal was the peak of such widespread gossip.

Benedict’s actions
Under Benedict XVI’s pontificate, actions against priestly lobbies and careerism were carried out.

One reform that had the potential to correct these problems was Benedict XVI’s decision to limit access to seminaries in “The Instruction Concerning the Criteria for the Discernment of Vocation With Regard to Persons With Homosexual Tendencies in View of Their Admission to the Seminary and to Holy Orders.”

Issued in November 2005, it was one of Benedict’s first acts of governance as Pope. The instruction denies access to seminaries to anyone who has in any way, even superficially, supported a “gay culture” or a gender culture.

According to one source who works in a Vatican congregation and asked for anonymity, the instruction was intended to avoid even the opportunity for a “gay lobby.”

He explained that the “Pope’s decision would break the chain of the old-boy school system that had been taking place inside the Vatican for a long time. Vatican officials used to co-opt and hire priests and clerks faithful to them among Vatican ranks, so that they can influence his protégés. This is how any kind of lobby rises up. …This is what Benedict XVI tried to fight … by asking for a more severe selection of the candidates to the priesthood.”

This kind of Vatican old-boy school system was also described in Via col vento in Vaticano (Gone With the Wind in the Vatican), a book signed by the anonymous group of I Millenari (The Millenarians), which is full of allusions and indirect attacks on Roman Curia representatives. The book shocked the Vatican world at the end of the ’90s and was an Italian bestseller.

The instruction on seminaries was just the first step. Several times Benedict XVI censured and condemned priestly careerism. One of his strongest denunciations was in 2009, when he celebrated a Mass to ordain five bishops.

On that occasion, Benedict XVI said, “We do not bind people to us; we do not seek power, prestige or esteem for ourselves. We lead men and women toward Jesus Christ, hence toward the living God. In so doing, we introduce them into truth and into freedom, which derives from truth. Fidelity is altruism and, in this very way, liberating for the minister himself and for all who are entrusted to him.”

These two examples are evidence that a fight against a possible (never verified or verifiable) “gay lobby” and against priestly careerism was handed on to Pope Francis from Benedict XVI.

Pope Francis also inherited the report of the three cardinals appointed to investigate on the leaks of private documents from the Vatican. In fact, Pope Francis did not mention the Vatileaks report in the meeting with CLAR, and he was more likely speaking of the need for reform in general terms.

What surprised Vatican insiders
While media have focused on the corruption and “gay lobby” references in the CLAR summary, what astonished most within the Vatican corridors was the part of the transcript where Pope Francis admits he “cannot promote the reform” himself. In fact, the sentence has been viewed as a misunderstanding of the role of the Pope himself.

A consultant of a Vatican congregation, who requested anonymity, told the Register June 12 that “no Pope can afford a reform of the Roman Curia by himself. He always asks for the support of commissions, consultants, canon-law experts.”

But, he added, what the Pope said to CLAR “could lead to the impression that there are people who are taking over the power while he is acting as the bishop of Rome.”

Such an impression would be dangerous if the message people take away is that the Pope has handed over his own authority over the universal Church to other people.

In fact, there is much that must still be understood about the role of the “advisory board” of eight cardinals appointed by the Pope to help him to develop a Curia reform.

According to Paolo Gherri, who teaches canon law at the Lateran University, “The advisory board could lead to a complex reform of the Roman Curia or simply to nothing. … They just give an institutional/political line, giving the Pope suggestions and ideas. Only the Pope will decide if this will lead to a reform and what kind of reform it will be.”

The prominent Italian vaticanista Sandro Magister underlined that the Pope seems to be following the Jesuit way of managing things. In the leadership of the Society of Jesus, the superior general appoints assistants, who represent their respective geographical areas. Each of the assistants gives his own suggestions to the superior general, who is the only one charged with making the final decision.

According to Magister, the same style of management is taking place with Pope Francis’s advisory board of cardinals, who represent eight geographical areas and are expected to report back to the Pope Oct. 2-4.

Magister wrote, “The eight will be gathered around the Pope. They will deliver to him a set of proposals. He will be the one to decide. Alone.”

Francis’s recent declarations to CLAR seem to cast doubt on his capability of governance, since he himself admitted his disorganization.

In some Vatican corridors, this is the more profound focus of the Pope’s off-the-cuff comments to CLAR, not the attention-grabbing headlines about a Vatican “gay lobby.” [Yes, but it has been egregiously and pointedly ignored by almost all the media reports about the CLAR remarks! Oh no, we can't have this Pope with any defects or deficiencies at all! ]

The bigger questions must still be answered: Who is counseling the Pope? Who will he appoint as secretary of state and other key Vatican positions? And, ultimately, will Pope Francis be truly capable of reform? [This is an unfair question. We must wait and see.]

When Rocco Palmo coins the tag PAPA CHIACCHIERONE (Chatterbox Pope) for the reigning Pope... er, Bishop of Rome... that sounds like a lowering somewhat of the skyhigh pedestal on which Pope Francis rests right now in the world's perception. Not that I have read any of the Italian MSM use that openly irreverent term, as Rocco claims, but he was responsible in the remote past for inventing the frivolously inappropriate tag His Fluffiness for Benedict XVI, as if he were a poodle, a term which fortunately, no one else picked up. But across the pond from Philadelphia, this time, the Chatterbox Pope tag was picked up by Damian Thompson, in a masterly blog post that begins by sort of tweaking the Pope's nose about his propensity for too much candor in his private remarks, and then modulates into well-phrased praise for his brand of messaging. Excellent job, Mr. Thompson! I could take lessons...

Meet Francis, the 'chatterbox Pope'

July 14, 2013

I’m not surprised that Pope Francis’s first meeting with the Archbishop of Canterbury went well: these are early days, but this new pontiff is a media-savvy charmer in a way that none of his predecessors have been. Seriously, he could give Bill Clinton lessons in how to work a crowd.

And he’s just as effective in small groups or one-on-one. Notice how he described himself yesterday as just “Bishop of Rome”, a title he seems to prefer to that of “pope” – and this is music to Anglican ears, as well he knows.

We haven’t been told exactly what the Pope and Archbishop Welby said to each other in private, but I wouldn’t be surprised if His Holiness departed from his prepared message. He always does.

His morning sermons are often extemporised, accompanied by shrugs worthy of a harassed maître d’ and “huh?” noises that the Vatican press office has given up trying to render into English.

All very sweet – but what do we really know about Francis’s views? Well, he’s not a traditionalist like his predecessor, Benedict XVI. Indeed, he’s positively anti-traditionalist, not aggressively so, but in an I-can’t-be-doing-with-all-that-fussy-nonsense kind of way.

Consider, for example, what he said to a group of Latin American members of religious orders who sat with him in a circle the other day, none of the nuns wearing religious dress (Benedict would have been horrified).

Apparently, Francis recalled that one traditionalist group had presented him with a spiritual bouquet of 3,525 rosaries that they’d prayed for him. “Why didn’t they say 'we pray for you’… but this thing of counting.”

Now, it’s true that the devotional practice of counting rosaries is very old-fashioned – but they were said with love, and it’s just rude, Your Holiness, to diss the old ladies who counted them.

But did he actually say those words? The comments were taken from notes compiled afterwards by his visitors, and we can’t be sure of their accuracy. Something tells me that confusion over quotes is going to be one of the leitmotifs of this pontificate. “Did the Holy Father really say that Catholics have to throw away their iPhones?” “I think he was joking, but you never know with Pope Frank.”

When the former Cardinal Bergoglio was first elected, we were told that he was famous for not giving interviews to the Argentine press. To which one can only reply: who needs interviews, when he shoots from the hip all the time? Francis the Chatterbox Pope. A recipe for disaster, huh?

I don’t think so. He won’t undo the work of the great Benedict: it would create too much ill-feeling and, at 76, he doesn’t have time. Yes, there will be gaffes, possibly so many that we stop worrying about them. But if you listen to the Pope’s improvised talks, you quickly realize that his central focus never shifts.

Follow Jesus by helping the poor. Beware of the Devil, who wants you to spend all day distracting yourself with little treats.

This is not earth-shattering stuff – until you try to put it into practice. Jorge Bergoglio has a gift that eludes the boring, risk-averse platitude merchants who have captured the machinery of most Catholic and Anglican dioceses. He relaxes you with his smiles and shrugging, and then tweaks your conscience so hard that you wince in pain.

Don’t gossip, he tells us. That’s the one that really sticks in the mind. I can’t say I’ve followed that instruction to the letter, but every time I backslide, shall we say, I imagine Francis the Chatterbox tapping his watch and reminding me: you haven’t got forever, you know.
[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 6/16/2013 3:12 PM]
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Saturday, June 15, 2013, Tenth Week in Ordinary Time

In the absence of any images to be found online (not even from Italian and Franciscan sites) of the indicated saint of the day, the illustrations above show, extreme left and extreme right, St. Francis receiving the stigmata, in paintings by Giotto and El Greco, respectively. Other photos show a general view of La Verna; the Chapel of the Stigmata with a Crucifixion scene by Andrea della Robbia; and Franciscans processing along the Corridor of the Stigmata for a daily Office liturgy.
Servant of God ORLANDO CATANEI, one of several companions and followers of St. Francis in his lifetime who have been declared saints, blessed or servants of God. As a count, Orlando possessed property near Arezzo including the mountain of La Verna. In 1213, hearing Francis preach about the dangers of worldly pleasures, he rethought his life, asked Francis to be his spiritual director, and spent the rest of his life performing charitable work. He also gave La Verna to Francis and built a church there. Francis, who found the wooded mountain and its caves an excellent place for meditation, accepted gratefully. Benedict XVI was to have made a pilgrimage to La Verna when he made a pastoral visit to Arezzo last year but it had to be cancelled because bad weather did not allow the helicopter flight to the mountain shrine. It was recently announced that Pope Francis will undertake the missed trip to La Verna at a date to be announced.
Readings for today's Mass:


Pope Francis met with

- Cardinal Stanisław Dziwisz, Archbishop of Cracow

- H.E. José Manuel Durão Barroso, President of the European Commissionm and his delegation

- Cardinal Marc Ouellet, Prefect of the Congregation for Bishops (weekly meeting)

- Delegation of French Parliamentarians in France-Holy See Friendship Group. Address in Italian.
Vatican Radio's English translation of the Pope's brief remarks may be found here
Very strange! I had thought this would have been the perfect occasion for the Pope to say something about gay marriage, and praise the impressive grassroots moment in France that has defended traditional marriage and the traditional concept of the family these past months, Nope - no reference to that topic at all!....BUT...Utter silence about this glaring omission in the news reports about the event.

The Vatican announced that the five-man commission of cardinals exercising oversight of IOR have named, with the Pope's approval, Mons, Battista Mario Salvatore Ricca as Prelate of IOR. curfrently director of Domus Scantae Marthae, as well as three other residence-hotels operated by the Vatican for priests, religious and bishops visiting Rome. As prelate, Mons. ricca will act as secretary at meetings of the cardinals' Commission and will attend the meetings of IOR's supervisory council.

One year ago...
Benedict XVI met with H.E. Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser, President of the 66th General Assembly of the United Nations; 12 bishops from Colombia on ad-limina visit; and Cardinal William Joseph Levada, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (weekly meeting)...Fr. Lombardi denied published speculation that the Holy Father's apostolic visit to Lebanon on September 14-16 was in danger of being scrapped because of the worsening civil war in Syria, next door to Lebanon.

CDF formally erects
Australian Ordinariate

June 15, 2012

The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, under the Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum coetibus, formally erected today the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of the Southern Cross in the territory of the Australian Bishops' Conference.

At the same time, Pope Benedict XVI named Rev. Harry Entwistle as its first Ordinary. The Ordinariate is under the patronage of St. Augustine of Canterbury.

The first two Ordinariates, composed of former Anglicans who have professed Catholicism, are based in the United Kingdom and in the United States.

[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 6/18/2013 11:00 PM]
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So eager are the media to see some sign of movement in the much vaunted 'reform of the Curia' that here's a prime example of media spin to make events fit their narrative: The MSM, typified by this AP report, have blown up the appointment of the IOR prelate to make it Pope Francis's 'first important appointment in the Curia' or something equally historic, out of this fairly simple announcement:

The Vatican announced that the five-man commission of cardinals exercising oversight of IOR have named, with the Pope's approval, Mons, Battista Mario Salvatore Ricca as interim Prelate of IOR. curfrently director of Domus Scantae Marthae, as well as three other residence-hotels operated by the Vatican for priests, religious and bishops visiting Rome. As prelate, Mons. ricca will act as secretary at meetings of the cardinals' Commission and will attend the meetings of IOR's supervisory council.

I shall not bother to fisk the tendentious AP report (sometimes downright erroneous, even), but have merely indicated the questionable reporting in purple, in which recent developments at IOR are presented in the worst light possible, including the last Moneyval evaluation. AP reverts to the pre-release publication of that evaluation in which MSM were gloating that the Holy See would get a failing mark from Moneyval, when in fact it passed more than the majority of the key criteria.

The distorting spin begins with the fallacious headline: The IOR prelate does not 'oversee the Vatican bank'. He attends the meetings of both the lay Executive Board as well as those of the Cardinals' oversight commission, so is presumably aware of everything that is discussed. The MSM line is that in his position, the new interim prelate would, in effect, be Pope Francis's spy who will keep him informed of everything that is happening at IOR, unless he is meant to oversee all the overseers. That is not 'overseeing' by any stretch. The line on 'trusted prelate' comes from the fact that Mons. Ricca happens to be the director of Domus Sanctae Marthae, where the Pope lives. Also note that it is more than 5 paragraphs into the story when the AP report mentions that the nomination is interim, i.e., temporary....

Pope taps trusted prelate
to oversee Vatican Bank

By Nicole Winfield

VATICAN CITY, June 15, 2013 (AP) -- Pope Francis took a first big step in reforming the troubled Vatican bank on Saturday by tapping a trusted prelate to help oversee its management, in a sign he wants to know more about its activities.

Francis signed off on naming Monsignor Battista Ricca as interim prelate of the Institute for Religious Works.

[The report does not mention that the post of prelate was vacated when Mons. Piero Pioppo, named by Benedict XVI in 2008, was promoted to become Apostolic Nuncio to Cameroon and Equatorial Guinea.]

It's a key job that has been left vacant since 2011: The prelate oversees the bank's activities, attends its board meetings and, critically, has access to all its documentation. The prelate reports to the commission of cardinals who run the bank and is currently headed by the Vatican No. 2. That gives Ricca a near-direct line to the Pope, serving as a bridge between the bank's lay managers and board members and its cardinal leadership.

Ricca is currently director of the Vatican hotel, where Francis lives, and other Vatican-owned residential institutes for clergy.

Technically the appointment was made by the bank's five-member commission of cardinals, headed by Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, Vatican secretary of state. But the Vatican statement announcing the appointment made clear Francis had approved it, an indication that it was something Francis either initiated himself or strongly supported.[/COLORE ] [The phrase "with the approval of the Holy Father" was used - which would have been added, regardless, to any announcement of any Vatican appointment not arising directly from the Pope!!

The Vatican spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi, said the interim nature of the appointment was a sign that Francis is still mulling how to reform the Vatican bureaucracy as a whole -- one of the major priorities set out by the cardinals who elected him pope in March.

Right before resigning, Pope Benedict XVI named German aristocrat and financier Ernst von Freyberg as president of the Vatican bank, filling a vacancy that had been left open for nine months following the ouster of Italian banker Ettore Gotti Tedeschi for alleged incompetence. Von Freyberg has said the bank's main problem is its reputation, not any operational shortcomings.

The Council of Europe's Moneyval committee, however, says otherwise. The committee, which helps member countries comply with international norms to fight money laundering and terrorist financing, gave the Vatican bank several poor or failing grades in its inaugural evaluation last year.

While praising the Vatican as a whole for making progress quickly, Moneyval said the bank's rules for customer due diligence, wire transfers and suspicious transaction reporting were insufficient. It said the bank needed an independent supervisor and must conduct a thorough risk assessment to ensure that it knew its clients and the risks it faces.

Vatican officials have recently revealed that six such transactions were flagged last year and an additional seven so far in 2013.

But the customer checks are only now getting under way, even though the Vatican pledged to Moneyval that they would be completed by December 2012. Von Freyberg has said they would be completed by the end of July.

The Vatican must submit a progress report to Moneyval in November.

The Vatican opened itself to the Moneyval evaluation process after signing a new European Union monetary agreement in 2009. Its aim is to shed the bank's image as a secretive tax haven and improve its reputation in global financial circles following a series of scandals, including a money-laundering investigation launched by Rome prosecutors in 2010.

In an interview this week, von Freyberg said his aim was to make the bank's activities more transparent, by publishing its annual report online on Oct. 1. He has hired a leading firm in the fight against money laundering, Promontory Group, to go over the bank's client base, a top-notch international law firm to review the bank's legal framework, and a fancy German public relations agency to help revamp the bank's image.

"I cannot comment on the past," von Freyberg said. "I am here now to take things in hand and we are doing this with great effort."

He said he had some of his own ideas about bank reform, but that the cardinals were the top decision-makers and that the mission of the Vatican bank remained the same.

The Vatican bank was founded in 1942 by Pope Pius XII to manage assets destined for religious or charitable works. Located in a tower just inside the gates of Vatican City, it also manages the pension system for the Vatican's thousands of employees.

The bank is not open to the public; its 19,000 clients include Holy See personnel, religious orders, prelates and diplomats accredited to the Holy See.

The Vatican bank's finances have long been shrouded in secrecy. In the 1980s, it was implicated in a scandal over the collapse of Italy's Banco Ambrosiano in one of Italy's largest fraud cases. Roberto Calvi, the head of Banco Ambrosiano, was found hanging from Blackfriars Bridge in London in 1982 in circumstances that remain mysterious.

Banco Ambrosiano collapsed following the disappearance of $1.3 billion in loans the bank had made to several dummy companies in Latin America. The Vatican had provided letters of credit for the loans.

While denying any wrongdoing, the Vatican bank agreed to pay $250 million to Ambrosiano's creditors. [The Banco Ambrosiano story was hardly secret - so high profile was it, as an example to the world of 'Vatican secrecy' and financial suspiciousness.]

In the 2010 money laundering case, Italian financial police seized 23 million euros and Rome prosecutors placed the Vatican bank's then-president, Gotti Tedeschi, and general director Paolo Cipriani under investigation for alleged violations of Italy's anti-money laundering norms in conducting a routine transaction from a Vatican bank account at an Italian bank. The money was eventually unfrozen. The men technically remain under investigation but nearly three years later, haven't been charged.

But that isn't the only problem facing the Vatican bank. Last year, under pressure from the Bank of Italy, JPMorgan closed its Vatican bank accounts. And in December, again under pressure from the Bank of Italy, Deutsche Bank Italia halted its 15-year term providing electronic payment services to the Vatican, leaving the tiny city state cash-only. E-commerce operations only resumed at the end of May and still aren't fully operational, even though the Vatican announced in Februrary the problem had been resolved, The Associated Press reported earlier this week.

[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 6/16/2013 2:49 PM]
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June 16, 2013, Eleventh Sunday in Ordinary Time

ST. JEAN-FRANCOIS (John Francis) REGIS (France, 1597-1650), Jesuit, Missionary and Preacher
Born to a wealthy family in southern France, Jean-Francois received a Jesuit education and joined the order at age 18. He was as diligent in prayers as he
was with his studies. After he was ordained,he did missionary work in various parts of rural France, preaching in plain language which attracted faithful of
every class. He spent mornings saying Mass and hearing confessions, and afternoons visiting prisons and hospitals. He was particularly solicitous of
prostitutes whom he persuaded to a new life, by having them trained as lacemakers. Taking note of his gifts, the Bishop of Viviers assigned him to
evangelize the diocese which was prey to various forms of Protestantism, and where many parishes had been deprived of the sacraments for two decades.
For the next 12 years, he carried out this 'internal mission', under punishing conditions in a desolate part of France, although what he really wanted was
to be a missionary to the Indians of North America. During this time, he earned a reputation as a 'saint'. To his dying day, he continued preaching and
organizing social services for prisoners, the sick and the poor. He was canonized in 1717. He is the patron saint of the Jesuits in France.
Readings for today's Mass:


Pope Francis presided at a Year of Faith event - a Mass to celebrate the Gospel of Life, Evangelium Vitae,
the title of an encyclical by John Paul II. After the Mass, he also made brief remarks before leading the Angelus.
Vatican Radio's English translation of his homily may be found here:

Pope Francis's letter to UK leader
on the eve of the G8 summit

The Vatican released the text of a letter sent by the Pope to Prime Minister David Cameron of the United Kingdom, which currently holds the Presidency of the G8 nations in 2013, on the occasion of the G8 summit that is taking place in Lough Erne, Northern Ireland, June 17-18.

To The Right Honourable David Cameron, MP

Prime Minister:

I am pleased to reply to your kind letter of 5 June 2013, with which you were good enough to inform me of your Government's agenda for the British G8 Presidency during the year 2013 and of the forthcoming Summit, due to take place at Lough Erne on 17 and 18 June 2013, entitled A G8 meeting that goes back to first principles.

If this topic is to attain its broadest and deepest resonance, it is necessary to ensure that all political and economic activity, whether national or international, makes reference to man. Indeed, such activity must, on the one hand, enable the maximum expression of freedom and creativity, both individual and collective, while on the other hand, it must promote and guarantee their responsible exercise in solidarity, with particular attention to the poorest.

The priorities that the British Presidency has set out for the Lough Erne Summit are concerned above all with the free international market, taxation, and transparency on the part of governments and economic actors.

Yet the fundamental reference to man is by no means lacking, specifically in the proposal for concerted action by the Group to eliminate definitively the scourge of hunger and to ensure food security.

Similarly, a further sign of attention to the human person is the inclusion as one of the central themes on the agenda of the protection of women and children from sexual violence in conflict situations, even though it must be remembered that the indispensable context for the development of all the afore-mentioned political actions is that of international peace.

Sadly, concern over serious international crises is a recurring theme in the deliberations of the G8, and this year it cannot fail to address the situation in the Middle East, especially in Syria. In this regard, I earnestly hope that the Summit will help to obtain an immediate and lasting cease-fire and to bring all parties in the conflict to the negotiating table.

Peace demands a far-sighted renunciation of certain claims, in order to build together a more equitable and just peace. Moreover, peace is an essential pre-requisite for the protection of women, children and other innocent victims, and for making a start towards conquering hunger, especially among the victims of war.

The actions included on the agenda of the British G8 Presidency, which point towards law as the golden thread of development – as well as the consequent commitments to deal with tax avoidance and to ensure transparency and responsibility on the part of governments – are measures that indicate the deep ethical roots of these problems, since, as my predecessor Benedict XVI made clear, the present global crisis shows that ethics is not something external to the economy, but is an integral and unavoidable element of economic thought and action.

The long-term measures that are designed to ensure an adequate legal framework for all economic actions, as well as the associated urgent measures to resolve the global economic crisis, must be guided by the ethics of truth.

This includes, first and foremost, respect for the truth of man, who is not simply an additional economic factor, or a disposable good, but is equipped with a nature and a dignity that cannot be reduced to simple economic calculus.

Therefore concern for the fundamental material and spiritual welfare of every human person is the starting-point for every political and economic solution and the ultimate measure of its effectiveness and its ethical validity. Moreover, the goal of economics and politics is to serve humanity, beginning with the poorest and most vulnerable wherever they may be, even in their mothers' wombs.

Every economic and political theory or action must set about providing each inhabitant of the planet with the minimum wherewithal to live in dignity and freedom, with the possibility of supporting a family, educating children, praising God and developing one's own human potential. This is the main thing; in the absence of such a vision, all economic activity is meaningless.

In this sense, the various grave economic and political challenges facing today's world require a courageous change of attitude that will restore to the end (the human person) and to the means (economics and politics) their proper place. Money and other political and economic means must serve, not rule, bearing in mind that, in a seemingly paradoxical way, free and disinterested solidarity is the key to the smooth functioning of the global economy.

I wished to share these thoughts with you, Prime Minister,, with a view to highlighting what is implicit in all political choices, but can sometimes be forgotten: the primary importance of putting humanity, every single man and woman, at the centre of all political and economic activity, both nationally and internationally, because man is the truest and deepest resource for politics and economics, as well as their ultimate end.

Dear Prime Minister, trusting that these thoughts have made a helpful spiritual contribution to your deliberations, I express my sincere hope for a fruitful outcome to your work and I invoke abundant blessings upon the Lough Erne Summit and upon all the participants, as well as upon the activities of the British G8 Presidency during the year 2013, and I take this opportunity to reiterate my good wishes and to express my sentiments of esteem.

From the Vatican
15 June 2013

One recalls that in 2009, a few months after the current global financial-economic crisis erupted in the autumn of 2008, Benedict XVI sent this letter to then Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi who was the host of the G8 summit in July 2008. This letter was sent a few days before the official release of Benedict XVI's social encyclical, Caritas in veritate, in which he discusses many of the points made in the letter. Perhaps in part due to this, Benedict XVI's letter is not limited to generic exhortations but he is able to cite specifics...

Pope shares reflections
on economic crisis in letter
to Prime Minister Berlusconi
on the eve of the G8 summit

Translated from

July 4, 2009

This is the text of the letter sent by the Holy Father Benedict XVI to the Hon. Silvio Berlusconi, President of Italy's Council of Ministers (Prime Minister), on the occasion of the meeting of heads of government of the G8 nations in L'Aquila from July 8-10. Italy holds the G8 presidency this semester.

Honorable Mr. President,

In view of the coming meeting of the heads of state and government of the most industrialized nations (G8), which will take place in L'Aquila on July 8-10, under the presidency of Italy, it is my pleasure to send my heartfelt greeting to you and all the participants.

I gladly take this opportunity to contribute some reflections on the agenda of the meeting, as I have done in the past.

I have been informed by my co-workers about the commitment with which you, and the government you have the honor to lead, are preparing for this important meeting, and I know how much attention has been devoted to reflecting on the summit agenda by the Holy See, the Catholic Church in Italy,and the Catholic world in general, not to mention the representatives of other religions.

The participation of the leaders not only of the G8 but of many other nations will help insure that the decisions to be adopted - in finding solutions that can be shared to the principal problems which affect the economy, peace, and international security, may more faithfully reflect the views and expectations of the peoples in all the continents.

This broadened participation in the discussions of this summit are more than ever timely, considering the multiple problems of today's highly interconnected and interdependent world.

I refer, in particular, to the challenges of the current economic and financial crisis, as well as the concerning data about climate change - all of which can only urge wise discernment and new projections "to 'convert' the model of global development" (cfr Angelus, Nov 12, 2006), in order to make it capable of effectively promoting integral human development, inspired by the values of human solidarity and love in truth.

Some of these themes will be confronted in my third encyclical, Caritas in veritate, which will be presented to the public in the next few days.

In preparation for the Great Jubilee of 2000, at the urging of John Paul II, the Holy See had occasion to pay great attention to the work of the G8. My venerated predecessor was indeed convinced that the liberation of the poorest nations from the burden of foreign debt, and more generally, the eradication of the causes of extreme poverty in the world, depend on a full assumption of fraternal responsibility towards all mankind by the governments and States that are more economically advanced. This responsibility has not diminished, and in fact, has become even more pressing today.

In the recent past, thanks in part to the great impetus that the Great Jubilee of 2000 gave to the search for solutions to the debt problems and economic vulnerability of Africa and other poor nations, and in part to noteworthy changes in the world's economic and political scenario, a majority of the less developed countries enjoyed a period of extraordinary growth which allowed most of them to expect compliance with the objective set by the international community at the threshold of the third millennium, namely, to defeat extreme poverty by 2015.

Unfortunately, the financial and economic crisis which has invested the entire planet since 2008 has changed the panorama, so that there is real risk not only of extinguishing all hope of emerging from extreme poverty, but that even those populations who have enjoyed a minimum of material wellbeing up till now will also fall into poverty.

Moreover, the present world economic crisis threatens cancellation or drastic reduction of plans for international aid, especially that intended for Africa and the other nations that are economically less developed.

Therefore, with the same force that John Paul II asked for condoning of the foreign debt for the poorest countries, I, too, wish to appeal to the member nations of the G8, to the other states who will be represented, and to the governments of the entire world, to maintain and potentiate development aid, especially the component aimed at 'giving value' to 'human resources', not only despite the crisis, but indeed because this is one of the principal ways of solving the crisis.

Is it not, in fact, by investing in man - in all the men and women on earth - that we can succeed in effectively keeping away the worrisome prospect of a world recession?

Is this not, in fact, the road towards obtaining, as much as it is possible, a functioning of the world economy to the benefit of all the inhabitants of every nation, rich and poor, great and small?

The subject of access to education is intimately linked to the effectiveness of international cooperation. If it is true that we must 'invest' in man, the goal of basic education for everyone, without exclusions, by 2015, should not only be maintained but generously reinforced.

Education is the indispensable condition for democracy to function, for the fight against corruption, for the exercise of political, economic and social rights, and for the effective recovery by all states, rich and poor.

Applying correctly the principle of subsidiarity, support for development cannot ignore the network of educational activities that the Catholic Church and other religious confessions carry out in the poorest and most abandoned parts of the globe.

UI also urge the distinguished participants of the G8 summit to remember that the measure of technical efficiency for any provisions they may adopt to emerge from the present crisis will coincide with their measure of ethical values.

One must therefore consider concrete human and familial exigencies. I refer, for example, to the effective creation of jobs for everyone that will allow workers to provide appropriately for the needs of their family and to carry out their primary responsibility to educate their children and be protagonists in the community that they belong.

"A society in which this right is systematically denied," John Paul II wrote, "in which political and economic measures do not allow workers to reach satisfactory levels of employment, can obtain neither ethical legitimacy nor social peace" (Centesimus annus, 43; cfr. Id., Laborem excercens, 18).

To that end, indeed, there is urgency for an equitable system of international commerce in fulfillment of - and if possible, even going beyond - the decisions on development made in Doha in 2001.

I hope that every creative energy may be employed to absolve the commitments made at the UN Millennium summit on the elimination of extreme poverty by 2015

There is an obligation to reform the international financial architecture to assure the effective coordination of national policies, avoiding credit speculation and guaranteeing wide international availability of public and private credit in the service of production and labor, especially in the most disadvantaged nations and regions.

The ethical legitimization of the G8's political commitments will require naturally that they confront the thinking and the needs of the entire international community.

To this end, it seems important to reinforce multilateralism, not only for economic questions, but for the entire spectrum of issues concerning peace, world security, disarmament, health, and safeguarding the environment and natural resources for present and future generations.

The extension of the G8 to other regions does constitute significant progress. However, during the negotiations and in the concrete operational decisions, all circumstances must be considered, not just those of the most important nations or who have the most obvious economic success. Only this way can such decisions be truly applicable and sustainable over time.

Therefore, may they listen to the voice of Africa and less economically developed nations! May they look for efficient ways to link decisions taken by various groups of nations, including the G8, to the Assembly of the United Nations, where every nation, whatever its political and economic weight, can legitimately express itself in a situation of equality with all the rest.

I wish to add, finally, how significant it is that the Italian government has chosen to host this meeting in the city of L'Aquila, a choice approved and shared by the other member states as well as those invited.

We have all been witness to the generous solidarity of the Italian people and other nations, of national and international organizations, towards the people of the Abruzzo who were struck by the earthquake.

This fraternal mobilization could constitute an invitation to the members of the G8 and for the governments and peoples of the world to be united in facing the current challenges which call on mankind to make decisive choices that can no longer be put off about the fate of mankind itself, intimately linked to the fate of creation.

Honorable Mr. President, as I invoke the assistance of God on all those who will be present at the meeting in L'Aquila and on multilateral initiatives aimed at resolving the economic and financial crisis and to guarantee a future of peace and prosperity for all men and women without exception, I take this occasion to renew my expressions of esteem, and assuring you of my prayers, I extend to you a deferential and heartfelt greeting.

From the Vatican
July 1, 2009

[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 6/18/2013 10:28 PM]
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Every morning, I wake up sincerely disposed to be fuzzy and warm about Pope Francis, and therefore totally uncritical about what I read about him in the media. Among my morning prayers, I ask the Lord to be spared of any new aggravation by anything I read about the Pope. And everyday, my resolve quickly disintegrates after reading the first few items in my limited but habitual systematic review of news about the Church and the Vatican.

It was easy when B16 was Pope, because, as a Benaddict (the reason for which I decided to take part in this Forum and the two others I was part of). my ambitious goal was to be able to post as many positive and neural items as I could find about B16, supplemented by as many photos as I could find. From time to time, I did post negative items to illustrate the disinformation, distortion and downright lies that media indulged in about anything that involved B16, and to go on record with a point-by-point rebuttal of their utter disregard for truth.

But reading news and commentary about Pope Francis these days has become very much an occasion of sin for me - the sin of ire, and yes, arrogance, to feel the way I do about the injustice and inherent dishonesty in much of what I read in the media today.

As far as I have seen, no one in the Italian media other than Vittorio Mesaori, has dared find any fault at all with the 'indiscretions' of Pope Francis - to use a favorite term used by Italian Vaticanistas when attributing supposed journalistic looks behind-the-scene to tattling from supposed insiders who are therefore purported to be 'in the know;.

And while the English sense of 'indiscretion' may well apply to the Pope's confidences to the Bishops of Puglia about the faith encyclical or the pressures he received to sack Mons. Guido Marini as his liturgical MC, and to the CLAR about corruption and the gay lobby in the Vatican, I sincerely believe the Pope was not being indiscreet at all, that he truly meant to convey the messages he did, in both cases, as they were fairly straightforward and not likely to be misinterpreted.

The bishops could not have invented or misunderstood what was said about the. faith encyclical - and the Pope soon confirmed what they said. And the six CLAR leaders could not all have possibly misheard two statements as "It is true there is a current of corruption in the Vatican: and "It is true there is a gay lobby in the Vatican" both said in parallel statements of identical construction. I repeat, the only problem with the latter statements is that unless the Pope also told the CLAR leaders he had objective bases for those statements, it was improper to have simply repeated the generic accusations that media and Pope Benedict's other detractors have been slinging about indiscriminately, like an octopus squirting black ink to cover its target in a blanket of slander. Especially since no one has bothered to substantiate those accusations at all in any specific manner.

The media wagons continue to circle around Pope Francis, both to praise him for his forthrightness in speaking of 'a current of corruption' and 'the gay lobby' in the Vatican, and to defend the circumstances in which he said what he did. Here is a typical article. much of which I post in purple - and I thank Lella and her blog for leading me to it:

Pope Francis wants to change
the Roman Curia once and for all

by Fabio Marchese Ragona
Translated from

Juene 13, 2013

A clear signal of change and a precise message: The Pope wants to change the Roman Curia once and for all. This is the conviction that reigns at the Vatican after the publication on a Chilean website of the private conversation between Francis and a group of Latin American religious, in the course of which the Pontiff supposedly confirmed the existence of a gay lobby in the Vatican.

A clarification from CLAR promptly followed to condemn the publication of the contents of that conversation, underscoring that "there was no audio recording made of the encounter" and that "the (published) text was prepared on the basis of the recollections by the participants".

Therefore, what was published was authentic, but, the CLAR continues, "singular expressions contained in the text cannot be attributed with certainty to the Pope, but only their general sense".

It is a fact that Bergoglio touched on the topic with his fellow religious, unaware [ignaro] that his words would soon echo around the world.
[The statement assumes the Pope is naive about these matters, which he obviously is not. He could easily have asked the CLAR to "Keep this between you and me", but obviously did not do so, or the CLAR leaders, who are, after all, nuns and priests, would have admitted honestly to violating his confidence. That their 'synthesis' was published at all means they had furnished it to someone who belonged to the website Religion y Liberacion, or had access to it. The CLAR leadership obviously saw the immense news value of having the Pope himself confirm the general perception that 'something is rotten', to say the least, in the Roman Curia, even if he did not seem to have told them he had documents to back that perception.]

The article continues with this extreme defense and justification of the Pope's statements, from a theologian cardinal, no less:

"I am not very informed myself, but it is a very sad thing," Swiss Cardinal Georges Cottier told Il Giornale. "If the Pope really made those statements to those religious leaders, it was surely to invite the persons [in the 'corruption' and 'gay lobby', presumably] to convert them.

The Swiss cardinal, who was once the theologian of the Pontifical Household under John Paul II, went on: "Within the Church, it is known that there are sinners both among the clergy and laymen.
[DUH!] Francis is telling us that the weaker ones fall into temptation. From the beginning, he has been calling on priests to be holy {Yeah, like he was the first Pope ever to say so! As if Benedict XVI had not said that on every occasion he could, not just to priests, but to all the faithful, even children when he talked to them directly: 'Be saints'![ ] So if he referred to these scandals, it is because he wants to act and save everyone from sin!] [I can't believe the last statement came from a theologian!]

But the problem of the homosexual lobby in the Sacri Palazzi is said to be just the tip of an iceberg. There are those who are convinced that the great challenge for the new Pope is to confront the problem. [DUH again! The cardinal electors all said they chose Cardinal Bergoglio primarily to reform the Curia, as if that were the overriding mission of the Vicar of Christ on earth. But of course, he has to confront all the problems, real and perceived, that beset the Curia. What's to be convinced about?]

One of those so convinced is Fr. Dariusz Oko, professor of theology at the John Paul II Pontifical University of Cracow. Last December, Fr. Oko publicly denounced the presence of a gay lobby in the Vatican and reiterated today: "The Holy Father has confirmed something that many have known for years. I think that finally, he has broken through the wall of omerta [silence about criminal wrongdoings] that has existed for some time. But now, how to break down the wall of omerta in the seminaries? Whoever is concerned with Benedict XVI's revolution in forbidding the ordination of homosexual priests?"

The Polish priest is convinced that the Pope is facing a great battle about this: "The problem of a gay lobby in the Vatican is important but marginal. The true challenge to the Pope is the heresy of homosexuality itself - I call it 'homo-heresy' - which is the rejection of the Catholic Church's teaching on homosexuality, in which defenders of homosexuals favor priesthood even for gays. The Holy Father must combat this heresy which is widespread throughout the Church".

And the root of the problem, says Fr. Oko, can be found in the places where priests are 'formed': "Who in Italy has any interest in the actual situation in seminaries? It is there that the future of the Church is decided. The only way out is to continue the revolution by Ratzinger who wished to 'liberate' the seminaries from gay teachers and homosexual seminarians".

[My initial objection to Fr. Oko's statements (and there are even more when we examine them further) - even if he praises Benedict XVI - is that he uses the term 'homosexuality' as if the very condition itself was the sin, rather than the active practice of it. It's no stretch to think that throughout the history of the Church, there would have been quite a few homosexuals who became priests - and even saints - because the priestly vow of chastity helped them to suppress and sublimate their sexual desires in the same way that heterosexual priests do!]

The priest from Cracow, shortly after it was reported that the three-man commission of cardinals had submitted their report on Vatileaks to Benedict XVI, spoke of the "mafia-like methods' used by the so-called gay lobby in influencing nominations and promotions made at the Vatican. [Yes, but one must point out thathe does not have any details, either, no specifics, only generic statements, which is the reason I did not bother to post anything about his statements last February.]

He reiterated that today, pointing out that homosexuality is irreconcilable with the priesthood. [Once again, a mis-statement!]

"It is a notion that goes to the very essence of Catholicism... The problems caused by abuse of minors by priests and religious are as important as a gay lobby that is in a position to 'condition' the Church. But the crucial problem involves the Catholic view of the priesthood and the sacraments. If we wish to save the theology of priesthood that is faithful to Tradition, then our priests must be heterosexual males conformed to Christ. himself. In short: whether we admit homosexual candidates to the priesthood raises the question off whether we wish to safeguard the traditional Catholic view of the priest who acts in persona Christi".

I have therefore pulled up a report on Fr. Oko's statements in February about the gay lobby, whose existence he postulates from the obstacles that he found in the Curia when he first tried to call attention in the late 1990s to the misdeeds of Mons. Julius Paetz in Poland (seminarians complained he had abused them) and who was finally forced by John Paul II to resign as Archbishop of Poznan in 2002.

Being who he is, Fr. Oko could have brought it straight to the attention of Mons. Dsiwisx, then the personal secretary of John Paul II - except that it turns out (at least according to an account by Sandro Magister in 2003 - said by Magister to be a close personal friend of Paetz, seemed to have been the primary obstacle!

So the one case Fr. Oko presents is not exactly convincing for the continuing existence of this so-called 'gay mafia', although it is very plausible and possible that he did meet up with obstacles lower down the food chain, but this would have been a reflection of the general attitude in the Curia before 2001 to just keep a lid on the priest-abuse stories. Did he, for instance, ever try to file a formal complaint against Paetz with the CDF, after this congregation was given the authority to deal with sex abuse cases in 2001?

But what most of the reporting about Fr. Oko missed underscoring (or even ignoring outright) is the very title of his paper - and his well-grounded statements that Benedict XVI began attacking the problem of actively homosexual priests by early moves he made in his Pontificate, and the implication that the 'gay Mafia' was well in place under the previous Pontificate.

Because of this, the attention-grabbing headline to the following article (a headline for which the writer may not have been responsible at all]) is misleading - it ignores Father Oko's thesis which is clearly stated in the title of his paper, and which the journalist does present in the second half of the article, and makes it appear that the 'gay lobby' was the whole point of Fr. Oko's paper - it was merely incidental, based on one particular experience (and apparently undocumented in terms of the offices and persons who placed obstacles in his way to presenting a complaint against a Polish bishop - to the case he has against what he calls 'homo-heresy' in the Church.

Catholic expert details
'huge homosexual underground in the Church'

by John-Henry Westen

KRAKOW, February 26, 2013, ( - A recent paper by a Ph.D. priest from Poland has been circling the globe in recent weeks and given heightened prominence by the recent revelations of a Vatican inquiry into a “gay mafia” inside the Vatican.

“Standing with the Pope against homoheresy” was written in late 2012 by Fr. Dariusz Oko, Ph.D., a priest of the Archdiocese of Krakow and Assistant Professor at the John Paul II Pontifical University in Krakow.

Fr. Oko notes that his discovery of a
“huge homosexual underground in the Church” came from his work in philosophical criticism of homosexual propaganda and ideology, a study he was encouraged to undertake by various bishops and cardinals.

“I began my work as a struggle against a deadly, external threat to Christianity, but then
gradually discovered,” he said, that “the enemy is not only outside the Church, but within it, as well,” [How naive of any priest to think that the Church does not face, as Benedict XVI pointed out, its greatest persecution from the sins of those who are 'within', in the same way that cancer is the worst illness because for the most part, it is arises from within oneself and is not inflicted! For instance, not all habitual smokers get lung cancer.]

In his essay, the philosophy professor reveals his own run in with a homosexual clique in the Roman Catholic Church blocking justice for those abused by homosexual clergy, in this case a homosexual bishop.

“I learned about Bishop [Juliusz] Paetz [Archbishop Emeritus of Poznań] by accident, from a seminarian who told me, all trembling from emotions and terror, about his having been molested by his own ordinary. He was at a brink of losing faith, as well as mental and spiritual integrity,” relates Fr. Oko.

“Our interventions at various levels of Church hierarchy were of no avail, however; we encountered a wall that could not be overcome, even in a case as self-evident as that,” he explained. What finally broke through the wall, he says, was “a tremendous commotion in the media and reaching the Pope himself.”
[Again, why did he not just bring up the problem to Mons. Dsiwisz, or to any of the other influential Poles in the Roman Curia close to John Paul II? Anybody who interviewed Fr. Oko about his paper should have asked him this, to begin with!]

“Otherwise, everything was blocked at lower levels of local or Vatican hierarchy,” he adds. Describing the formation of homosexual cliques of clergy Fr. Oko says:

They know well, however, that they may be exposed and embarrassed, so they shield one another by offering mutual support. They build informal relationships reminding of a clique or even mafia, aim at holding particularly those positions which offer power and money.

When they achieve a decision-making position, they try to promote and advance mostly those whose nature is similar to theirs, or at least who are known to be too weak to oppose them. This way, leading positions in the Church may be held by people suffering from deep internal wounds.

They may actually achieve a dominating position in many areas of church hierarchy, become a “backroom elite” which actually has tremendous power in deciding about important nominations and the whole life of the Church. Indeed, they may even prove to be too powerful for honest, well-meaning bishops.

[That's a generic 'description' anyone could make once you postulate that such a 'lobby' exists, because that's the way all lobbies work.]

Fr. Oko also identifies the “the fear and confusion of the clergy, particularly in certain dioceses and congregations, when faced with the topic of homosexuality. “They escape into silence, unable to articulate even elementary statements on the teaching of the Church on the subject. What are they afraid of?”

“Where does that fear in entire groups of mature, adult men come from?” he asks. “They must be afraid of some influential lobby which wields its power and which they may fall into disfavor with.” [Not necessarily. One does not have to write a paper to conclude, from common sense, that t could just be the simple distaste - and yes, genuine fear, too - of persons who do not want to confront a problem, perhaps out of denial because they themselves may have some guilt or propensity int his respect, and therefore fear exposure or blackmail in case they do not respond to pressures exerted on them to do, or fail to do, what they ought to do!.]

Fr. Oko posits that Pope Benedict XVI is well aware of this subculture within the Church and has publicly lamented its “filth” and the damage it has caused.

The Pope “made cleansing the Church from homosexual abuse and preventing its recurrence in the future one of the priorities of his pontificate,” says Fr. Oko. “He removed compromised clergymen from their offices with much energy. In the very first months following his election, still in 2005, he had an instruction issued to strictly forbid ordaining untreated homosexuals. The instruction was preceded by a letter sent from the Holy See to bishops around the world, ordering that priests with homosexual tendencies be immediately removed from any educational functions at seminaries.”

Later in 2008, the Pope would issue a directive forbidding even non-practicing homosexuals from becoming seminarians.

Ably demonstrating Benedict XVI’s grave concern, Fr. Oko quotes the Pope’s 2010 book Light of the World, wherein the Holy Father says: “The greatest attention is needed here in order to prevent the intrusion of this kind of ambiguity and to head off a situation where the celibacy of priests would practically end up being identified with the tendency to homosexuality.”

Fr. Oko’s paper is remarkable, because it is not only descriptive but prescriptive, providing the tools necessary to engage in the battle to clean up the “filth.”

In a clarion call to his fellow clergy and to faithful Catholic layity, Fr. Oko recalls the Pope’s [Benedict XVI] heroism in combating the homolobby, but says, “He cannot do it all by himself.”

The Pope, “needs each and everyone of us. He needs support and healthy preaching in every local Church. It is a matter of remaining faithful to one’s conscience: defending the truth of salvation, no matter how much it should cost us.”

Fr. Oko says standing up for the truth of the faith on this issue is an existential need for Roman Catholics. “If homolobbyists are allowed to act freely, in a dozen or so years they may destroy entire congregations and dioceses,” he warns. “The situation is a bit like that in the beginning of the Reformation, when entire countries and nations left the Church.”

Fr. Oko explains how to identify the culprits and then how to engage in battle.

“Active homosexual priests are masters of camouflage,” he says quoting another experienced priest. “The real threat to the Church are cynical homosexual priests who take advantage of their functions on their own behalf, sometimes in an extraordinarily devious way.”

“The homolobby, says Fr. Oko, “represents the very centre of internal opposition against the Pope....Members of that lobby in the Church are a relatively small group, but often hold key positions (which they are very anxious to achieve), create a close network of relationships and support one another, which is what makes them dangerous.”

In terms of action, Fr. Oko suggests:

- The homosexual mafia in the Church must be dealt with in a very professional way . We must act like a prosecutor or an officer in the battlefield;

= It is important that we find a large group of people of goodwill to protect us and support what we do. That group should include clergymen, as high in the hierarchy as possible, experts in various fields, archive records specialists, lawyers, policemen, journalists, and as many believers as possible;

- It is good to exchange information, documents, and evidence. The global network of homolobbies and homomafias must be counterbalanced by a network of honest people;

- The Internet is an excellent tool, which makes it possible to create a global community of people concerned about the fate of the Church;

= The more we know, the more we can do. We need to remember that in these matters we are like “sheep sent among wolves,” and so we must be “as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves” (St. Matthew 10:16). We must have the courage to stand up against evildoers, as Christ had the courage to stand up against the Pharisees of his times;

- We cannot build our lives on sweet illusions, for only “the truth will set you free” (St. John 8:32), and that is why “God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of a sound mind” (2 Timothy 1:7); and

- All interventions should be made with utmost respect and love for every person, including the abuser. He concludes that, remembering to “recognize them by their fruit” (cf. St. Matthew 7:16) – and with the publicly known events of the last quarter-century, the reaction of the Holy See, and the documents it issued – we must clearly and explicitly admit: yes, there is a strong homosexual underground in the Church.

Westen provides a link to Fr. Oko's paper:
I have not had a chance to read it since I only came upon Westen's article today, as it is the only one in English about Fr. Oko's peper.

[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 6/18/2013 6:44 PM]
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[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 6/18/2013 8:39 PM]
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Monday, June 17, Eleventh Week in Ordinary Time

ST. GIUSEPPE CAFASSO (Italy, 1811-1860), Priest
One of the extraordinary 'social saints' of 19th-century Turin, Cafasso was a teacher of John Bosco at the seminary
and encouraged him to establish the Salesian Order. Known from his youth for his humility and prayerfulness, he was
particular vigilant against the prevalent Jansenism in his day and its obsession with sin and damnation. He urged
his students to read Francis de Sales and Alphonsus Liguori to temper Jansenist rigorism. An excellent preacher,
he encouraged daily Communion and devotion to the Blessed Sacrament. He also distinguished himself as a confessor
for condemned prisoners, for which he has been called 'the priest of the gallows'. He died from severe pneumonia.
He was canonized in 1947.

AT THE VATICAN, Monday, June 17, 2013

Pope Francis met with

= H.E. Nicolás Maduro, President of the REpublic of Venezuela, and his delegation

- H.E. il Signor Rowsch N. Shaways, Vice Prime Minister of the Republic of Iraq, and his delegation

- Cardinal Joseph Zen Ze-kiun, S.D.B., emeritus Bishop of Hongkong

One year ago...
At the Sunday Angelus, Benedict XVI reflected on two parables by Jesus - about the seed that grows by itself whether it is cared for or not, and the mustard seed, Jesus's favorite image, for great things that can grow out of the tiniest beginnings. He also gave thanks for the 50th International Eucharistic Congress that closed in Dublin on this day, and pointed out that June 20 will be the World Day for Refugees. He called attention to the beatification today in Italy of Cecilia Eusepi, who died at 18 of an ailment
that kept her from becoming the missionary sister she wanted to be.

June 17, 2012

Here is a full translation of the Holy Father's words:

Dear brothers and sisters,

Today's liturgy offers us two brief parables of Jesus: that of the seed that grows by itself, and that of the mustard seed (cfr Mc 4,26–34).

Through images taken from the world of farming, the Lord presents the mystery of the Word and of the Kingdom of God, and shows us the reasons for our hope and our commitment.

The first parable calls attention to the dynamism of sowing: the seed that is cast on the soil, whether the farmer is awake or asleep, germinates and grows by itself.

Man sows in the confidence that his work will not be fruitless. What sustains the farmer in his daily efforts is precisely his trust in the strength of the seed and the goodness of the soil.

This parable recalls the mystery of creation and redemption, of God's fruitful work in history. He is the Lord of the Kingdom, and man is his humble co-worker who contemplates and rejoices in God's creative action and awaits its fruits with patience.

The final harvest makes us think of God's conclusive intervention at the end of time when he will fully realize his Kingdom. The present is the time of sowing, and the growth of the seed is assured by the Lord.

Every Christian, therefore, knows that he must do all he can but that the final result depends on God{ this awareness sustains him in the effort of everyday, especially in difficult situations. In this regard, St, Ignatius of Loyola wrote: "Act as if everything depends on you, knowing that in fact, everything depends on God"
(cfr Pedro de Ribadeneira, Vita di S. Ignazio di Loyola, Milano 1998).

Even the second parable uses the image of the seed. But this time it is a specific seed, the mustard seed, considered the smallest of all seeds. But although it is minute, it is full of life - when it breaks up, it gives birth to a seedling that can break through the ground, to emerge into the sunlight and to grow until it becomes "the largest of plants" (cfr Mk,32): weakness is the strength of the seed, its breaking up is its power.

So it is with the Kingdom of God: it is a reality that is humanly small, made up of those who are poor in heart, who do not trust in their own strength but in the love of God, those who have no importance in the eyes of the world. And yet it is precisely in them that Christ's strength breaks through and transforms what is apparently insignificant.

The image of the seed is particularly dear to Jesus because it expresses well the Kingdom of God. In the two parables today, it represents 'growth' as well as 'contrast': growth which occurs thanks to a dynamic that is inherent in the seed itself, and the contrast between the smallness of the seed and the magnitude of what it produces.

The message is clear: The Kingdom of God, though it demands our collaboration, is first of all a gift of the Lord, a grace that precedes man and his works.

Our puny strength, apparently impotent before the problems of the world, if it is immersed in God's strength, does not fear obstacles, because the victory of the Lord is certain.

It is the miracle of God's love that allows every seed of good sown on earth to germinate and to grow. And the experience of this miracle of love makes us optimistic, in spite of difficulties, sufferings and the evil we encounter.

The seed germinates and grows, because God's love makes it. May the Virgin Mary who, as the 'good earth', accepted the seed of the Divine Word, strengthen in us this faith and this hope.-

After the prayers, he said this:
Next Wednesday, June 20, is the World Day for Refugees, promoted by the United Nations. It is meant to call the attention of the international community to the conditions of so many persons, especially families, who are forced to flee their own countries, because they are threatened by armed conflicts and other serious forms of violence.

For these brothers and sisters who are sorely tested, I assure the prayers and the constant solicitude of the Holy See, and I hope that their rights may always be respected and that they may soon be able to be reunited with their dear ones.

Today, in Ireland, the concluding celebration of the 50th International Eucharistic Congress is taking place. In the past week, Dublin was the city of the Eucharist, where many persons have gathered in prayer in the presence of Christ in the Sacrament of the altar.

In the mystery of the Eucharist, Jesus wishes to remain with us, so that we can enter into communion with him and among ourselves. Let us entrust to the Most Blessed Mary the fruits that have matured in these days of reflection and prayer.

Finally, I wish to remind you with joy that this afternoon, in Nepi, in the Diocese of Civita Castellana, Cecilia Eusepi, who died when she was only 18, will be proclaimed Blessed. This young woman aspired to be a missionary sister but was forced to leave the convent because of illness, which she experienced with unshakable faith, demonstrating a great capacity for sacrifice for the salvation of souls. In the last days of her existence, she repeated, in profound union withe the crucified Christ: "It is beautiful to give oneself to Jesus, who gave everything for us".

Earlier in the day, Benedict XVI addressed the participants of the 50th International Eucharistic Congress which ended in Dublin, with a videomessage that was played at the concluding Mass:

RTE, Ireland's state TV, has this report on the closing Mass of the 50th IEC.

Pope says abuse scandal has shaken
Ireland's Catholic legacy, but
faith must be rediscovered in Christ
and cannot be just 'a matter of habit'

June 17, 2012

DUBLIN - Pope Benedict has said the legacy of Irish Catholicism has been shaken by the clerical sexual abuse of children.

In a pre-recorded address to the 50th International Eucharistic Congress in Croke Park, the Pope praised the Church in Ireland for its heroic missionaries and its mighty contribution to the good of the world.

But he said the joy sparked by this legacy had been shaken in an appalling way by the abuse of children by priests, brothers and nuns.

Earlier, in his homily, the Papal Legate told the capacity congregation that the Lord heals the Church's wounds.

"Let us rejoice and be glad", Cardinal Marc Ouellet said. "We can rely on the Lord for a new beginning."

He said that God sustains the Church when it experiences limitations and failures and the Lord heals the Church's wounds and strengthens its members' love.

The grey morning skies over GAA headquarters cleared before Cardinal Ouellet proceeded to the alter with nine co-principal celebrants including Cardinal Seán Brady and Archbishop Diarmuid Martin.

Over 1,000 priests registered for the Congress are concelebrating the mass.

In his address, Pope Benedict said much remains to be done on the path to liturgical renewal.

He said Ireland had been shaped by the Mass at the deepest level for centuries and told the congregation that they were heirs to a Church that has been a mighty force for good in the world.

However, he said that force has recently been shaken in an appalling way by the revelation of the sins committed by priests against people entrusted to their care.

He said they abused people and undermined the credibility of the Church's message.

He said: "Instead of showing them the path towards Christ, towards God, instead of bearing witness to his goodness, they abused people and undermined the credibility of the Church's message.

"How are we to explain the fact that people who regularly received the Lord's Body and confessed their sins in the sacrament of Penance have offended in this way? It remains a mystery.

"Yet evidently, their Christianity was no longer nourished by joyful encounter with Jesus Christ: it had become merely a matter of habit."

The Pope also announced that the 2016 International Eucharistic Congress will be held in Cebu in the Philippines.

He received a standing ovation after his message.

In his closing greeting, Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin, also prayed for the victims of the abuse.

"We have kept in our prayers and in our hearts all those who suffered criminal abuse within the community of Christ's church and all those who feel in any way alienated from the church and who have not experienced in our church the love of Jesus Christ," he added.

President Michael D Higgins and the Taoiseach Enda Kenny were among the congregation in Croke Park.

Earlier, there was a “Gathering Ceremony” featuring soprano Celine Byrne, composer Fr Liam Lawton, the Dublin Deaf Choir and the RTÉ Concert Orchestra among others.


Dear Brothers and Sisters,

With great affection in the Lord, I greet all of you who have gathered in Dublin for the Fiftieth International Eucharistic Congress, especially Cardinal Brady, Archbishop Martin, the clergy, religious and faithful of Ireland, and all of you who have come from afar to support the Irish Church with your presence and prayers.

The theme of the Congress – Communion with Christ and with One Another – leads us to reflect upon the Church as a mystery of fellowship with the Lord and with all the members of his body.

From the earliest times the notion of koinonia or communio has been at the core of the Church’s understanding of herself, her relationship to Christ her founder, and the sacraments she celebrates, above all the Eucharist.

Through our Baptism, we are incorporated into Christ’s death, reborn into the great family of the brothers and sisters of Jesus Christ; through Confirmation we receive the seal of the Holy Spirit; and by our sharing in the Eucharist, we come into communion with Christ and each other visibly here on earth. We also receive the pledge of eternal life to come.

The Congress also occurs at a time when the Church throughout the world is preparing to celebrate the Year of Faith to mark the fiftieth anniversary of the start of the Second Vatican Council, an event which launched the most extensive renewal of the Roman Rite ever known.

Based upon a deepening appreciation of the sources of the liturgy, the Council promoted the full and active participation of the faithful in the Eucharistic sacrifice.

At our distance today from the Council Fathers’ expressed desires regarding liturgical renewal, and in the light of the universal Church’s experience in the intervening period, it is clear that a great deal has been achieved; but it is equally clear that there have been many misunderstandings and irregularities.

The renewal of external forms, desired by the Council Fathers, was intended to make it easier to enter into the inner depth of the mystery. Its true purpose was to lead people to a personal encounter with the Lord, present in the Eucharist, and thus with the living God, so that through this contact with Christ’s love, the love of his brothers and sisters for one another might also grow.

Yet not infrequently, the revision of liturgical forms has remained at an external level, and “active participation” has been confused with external activity. Hence much still remains to be done on the path of real liturgical renewal. In a changed world, increasingly fixated on material things, we must learn to recognize anew the mysterious presence of the Risen Lord, which alone can give breadth and depth to our life.

The Eucharist is the worship of the whole Church, but it also requires the full engagement of each individual Christian in the Church’s mission; it contains a call to be the holy people of God, but also one to individual holiness; it is to be celebrated with great joy and simplicity, but also as worthily and reverently as possible; it invites us to repent of our sins, but also to forgive our brothers and sisters; it binds us together in the Spirit, but it also commands us in the same Spirit to bring the good news of salvation to others.

Moreover, the Eucharist is the memorial of Christ’s sacrifice on the Cross, his body and blood given in the new and eternal covenant for the forgiveness of sins and the transformation of the world.

Ireland has been shaped by the Mass at the deepest level for centuries, and by its power and grace generations of monks, martyrs and missionaries have heroically lived the faith at home and spread the Good News of God’s love and forgiveness well beyond your shores.

You are the heirs to a Church that has been a mighty force for good in the world, and which has given a profound and enduring love of Christ and his blessed Mother to many, many others.

Your forebears in the Church in Ireland knew how to strive for holiness and constancy in their personal lives, how to preach the joy that comes from the Gospel, how to promote the importance of belonging to the universal Church in communion with the See of Peter, and how to pass on a love of the faith and Christian virtue to other generations.

Our Catholic faith, imbued with a radical sense of God’s presence, caught up in the beauty of his creation all around us, and purified through personal penance and awareness of God’s forgiveness, is a legacy that is surely perfected and nourished when regularly placed on the Lord’s altar at the sacrifice of the Mass.

Thankfulness and joy at such a great history of faith and love have recently been shaken in an appalling way by the revelation of sins committed by priests and consecrated persons against people entrusted to their care. Instead of showing them the path towards Christ, towards God, instead of bearing witness to his goodness, they abused people and undermined the credibility of the Church’s message.

How are we to explain the fact that people who regularly received the Lord’s body and confessed their sins in the sacrament of Penance have offended in this way? It remains a mystery. Yet evidently, their Christianity was no longer nourished by joyful encounter with Jesus Christ: it had become merely a matter of habit.

The work of the Council was really meant to overcome this form of Christianity and to rediscover the faith as a deep personal friendship with the goodness of Jesus Christ. The Eucharistic Congress has a similar aim.

Here we wish to encounter the Risen Lord. We ask him to touch us deeply. May he who breathed on the Apostles at Easter, communicating his Spirit to them, likewise bestow upon us his breath, the power of the Holy Spirit, and so help us to become true witnesses to his love, witnesses to the truth. His truth is love. Christ’s love is truth.

My dear brothers and sisters, I pray that the Congress will be for each of you a spiritually fruitful experience of communion with Christ and his Church.

At the same time, I would like to invite you to join me in praying for God’s blessing upon the next International Eucharistic Congress, which will take place in 2016 in the city of Cebu! To the people of the Philippines I send warm greetings and an assurance of my closeness in prayer during the period of preparation for this great ecclesial gathering. I am confident that it will bring lasting spiritual renewal not only to them but to all the participants from across the globe.

In the meantime, I commend everyone taking part in the present Congress to the loving protection of Mary, Mother of God, and to Saint Patrick, the great patron of Ireland; and, as a token of joy and peace in the Lord, I willingly impart my Apostolic Blessing.

And what a beautiful Mass it was - the closing Eucharistic rite of the 50th IEC! I thought it was a moving demonstration of the faith that survives in many Irish Catholics, despite all the beating that the Church has taken in recent years in the arena of world opinion, and the terrible sins committed by some of the Irish clergy and bishops against Irish children and minors for decades.

As usual, Pope Benedict XVI articulated the Irish situation best in his closing message for the Congress, one of those models of conciseness - but with such spiritual breadth and depth - that we have come to expect of Benedict XVI's texts. His concise synthesis of Irish Catholic history in the context of the sexual abuse and of the Eucharist, of Vatican II and the Year of Faith, was every bit as moving as his detailed pastoral letter in March 2010 to Irish Catholics. And his re-proposal of Vatican II as a means to overcome the practice of Catholicism only as a matter of habit but to experience it as a personal encounter with Christ was a novel look at Vatican II.

And while I am sure he did not think about it at all when he wrote his text, I found his pointed words about the need ongoing work on liturgical renewal particularly ironic because the president of the Pontifical Comittee for International Eucharistic Congresses is Archbishop Piero Marini, whose great devotion to his mentor Bugnini - architect of the Novus Ordo and its Protestantizing aspects - is well-known

Perhaps the most surprising thing about the closing Mass today was the attendance of Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny and the Irish President as reported by RTE, Irish state TV, which did give extensive coverage to the IEC this week. Last year, in a speech to the Irish Parliament, Kenny notoriously denounced the Vatican and the Catholic Church for deliberate policies that made the welfare of children secondary to protecting the image of the Church...

And for me, as a Filipino, the surprise that the Holy Father chose Cebu City in central Philippines, our country's second major metropolis, as the site of the 51st International Congress in 2016. It was in Cebu that Ferdinand Magellan in 1521 came ashore in the name of the King of Spain and first planted the Cross on our soil, so 2021 will be the fifth centenary of that event - without which we might be a Muslim nation today as neighboring Indonesia is (and was in 1521). Since then, we have remained Asia's only Catholic nation, third today only after Brazil and Mexico in the size of our Catholic population. This will be the second IEC in the Philippines. The XXXIII IEC was held in Manila in 1937, when we were a colony of the United States, and the Archbishop of Manila was an American.

Here's Vatican Radio's wrap-up report:

IEC 2012:
Farewell to Dublin,
see you in Cebu!

June 17, 2012

There is nothing as impressive as a crowd of more than 75,000 people reduced to absolute silence, or that lull that falls on a stadium as people wait in anticipation for something incredible to happen.

As the giant screens on each side of the altar raised on Croke Park's iconic Hill 16 flickered to life, the only sound to be heard was the wind rustling pilgrims plastic ponchos as they drew breath and waited to hear, to see their Pope.

The Statio Orbis – the Mass which concludes the International Eucharistic Congress - was coming to a close, a liturgy as beautiful as it was simple.

Ahead of this week of rain and prayers, queues, tears, smiles and reflection, the Archbishop of Dublin had expressed one wish: congregational singing at the final mass. Too-long Irish Churches had been silent. On Sunday his wish was granted.

As the Papal Legate, Canadian Cardinal Marc Ouellet, prayed over the gifts, 75,000 voices lifted in song - 'God’s holy name for God’s holy peopl' - and rang out across the Dublin skyline.

The Pope's representative has had a close encounter with Irish Catholicism this week. From his pilgrimage of penance to Lough Derg, where he met with abuse survivors, to Mass with pilgrims at the National Marian shrine of Knock on the Feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. He was also warmly received by Irish authorities, meeting with both the Irish President, Michael D. Higgens, and the Prime Minister, Enda Kenny - both of whom were present at the Mass Sunday.

The Irish Ambassador to the Holy See, David Cooney, described the Congress as an opportunity for the Irish Church to convey “the enduring presence and relevance of Catholicism in today’s Ireland”.

In his homily Sunday, Cardinal Ouellet said the week of Eucharistic reflection, celebration and adoration has made people more aware of God’s call to communion with Him and with one another. Now it was time to rejoice, be glad and bear witness to Him.

“The Irish bell, which resounds from Lough Derg, from Knock and Dublin, must resound in the whole world. Let’s ring the bell further through our personal testimony of renewed faith in the Holy Eucharist”.

“Even if we are sometimes tested in our faith, do not be afraid, and remember who we are: the body of Christ intent on loving God over and above all things”.

The Cardinal, who is also Prefect of the Congregation for Bishops when he is not on a mission for the Pope, was interrupted several times by applause as he spoke. However the largest outburst was provoked when he invited pilgrims to listen to Pope Benedict’s message. “He is our spiritual father, a father who is holy and worthy of our trust and sincere obedience”.

And then the silence was broken, cheers and cries rising as Pope Benedict appeared on screen. From the Apostolic Palace in Rome into the very heartland of the Irish psyche, the home of the Gaelic Athletic Association.

In the eight-minute video he spoke of how Ireland has been “shaped by the Mass at the deepest level” for centuries. He spoke of how Ireland had been “shaken by” the “appalling sins” committed by some Church members against those in their care.

“Instead of showing them the path towards Christ, towards God, instead of bearing witness to his goodness, they abused people and undermined the credibility of the Church’s message.”

Pope Benedict said it was clear “their Christianity was no longer nourished by joyful encounter with Jesus Christ: it had become merely a matter of habit.”

The aim of Vatican II and the Eucharistic Congress, he added, was “to overcome this form of Christianity and to rediscover the faith as a deep personal friendship with the goodness of Jesus Christ.”

Then, to the joy especially of the thousands of Filipinos present at Mass, he announced the 51st International Eucharistic Congress will take place in Cebu, in the Philippines in 2016.

Speaking to the Archbishop of Cebu, Mons. Jose Palma, Dublin’s Archbishop Diarmuid Martin wished him well. He said that the Congress had gone beyond the plans and expectations of the Irish hierarchy.

Let us hope they now realise the great thirst of Irish people for a faith renewed in the Eucharist, a Church united by Christ, a Church of communion and of service.

Under the circumstances, congratulations and gratitude are due to the organizers of the 50th IEC, especially Mons. Diarmuid Martin, Archbishop of Dublin, and all those who helped him put this together; to Archbishop Piero Marini, president of the Pontifical Committee for International Eucharistic Congresses and his staff; to the Irish bishops and clergy who did not allow events in the past two years to affect their cooperation; to all the Irish Catholics who showed their faith by their participation that far exceeded expectations; and to all the international pilgrims who showed their solidarity in faith with Irish Catholics...

Playing catch-up again, sorry, for Monday...
[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 6/18/2013 10:43 PM]
6/18/2013 8:45 PM
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