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00Wednesday, June 9, 2010 12:43 AM

Barely two days since the Holy Father decried the continuing persecution of Christians in some places of the Middle East, here is a new outrage from Iraq, where no one represents the Christian minority at all in the councils of power, or at least, is even intersted enough in their plight to speak up for them, much less defend them!

The killing of a Christian businessman
in Kirkuk rekindles fear among Christians

Kirkuk, Iraq, June 8 (AsiaNews) – A member of the Christian community in Kirkuk, northern Iraq, was the victim of a new, targeted killing. Last night, a 34-year-old businessman was shot to death.

Local sources told AsiaNews, “Christians are once more the target” of attacks. In the city, there is an “atmosphere of insecurity”.
An eyewitness said, “At 9 last night Hani Sali Wadi was killed in front of his house”.

Born in 1976, he was married with a daughter, the source told AsiaNews. He was a businessman who owned a mobile phone store in downtown Kirkuk.

At present, it is unclear why he was killed, but Christians fear the community might be in for a new wave of violence. “We Christians are once more targets of attacks,” the source lamented.

Northern Iraq, especially the cities of Mosul and Kirkuk, has been the scene of targeted attacks against the Christian community for quite some time. The area is in the middle of a power struggle between Arabs, Kurds and Turkmen.

Christians believe they are being persecuted amid an atmosphere of general indifference.

They are convinced that attackers “are not common criminals” and that behind the attacks “are precise political plans”, namely the eventual creation of a Christian enclave on the Nineveh Plains.

In their view, both central and provincial governments “are doing nothing to stop it”.

00Wednesday, June 9, 2010 1:09 AM

On the preceding page, AsiaNews has a compelling account of the murder of Mons. Padovese who now appears to have died a martyr's death - victim of a ritual killing by a Muslim fundamentalist.


Immense crowd at ecumenical
funeral service for Mons. Padovese

by Mavi Zambak

Iskendur, TURKEY, Jnue 8 (AsiaNews) - The funeral of Bishop Luigi Padovese was held yesterday afternoon in his cathedral at Iskenderun, Turkey.

An immense crowd of the faithful came in large numbers from all the parishes of the Vicariate of Anatolia. A grieving church, gathered in prayer around its pastor, attended the funeral presided over by the apostolic nuncio in Turkey, Mgr. Antonio Lucibello.

Among the concelebrants Mgr. Ruggero Franceschini, Metropolitan Archbishop of Izmir; Msgr. Louis Pelâtre, Apostolic Vicar of Istanbul; Istanbul's Armenian coadjutor, Archbishop Georges Khazzoum; and the bishop of the Maronite Catholic Church of Antioch.

Present, together with the Italian vice-consul, were representatives of local authorities, the mayor, the prefect and the police chief. Also present were members of Caritas Turkey and the Council of European Bishops' Conferences.

The ecumenical prayer service was conducted in Turkish, in Italian, but also in Armenian, Arabic and Latin. The bishops and priests of other Christian rites joined in mounring and praying for their dear friend and brother, as did the local mufti.

In his homily, Mgr. Franceschini said:

The tragic news of the violent death of Mgr. Luigi Padovese left us aghast, unable to understand how something so horrible could have happened, especially against a clergyman, a bishop, a close friend of the Turks and Turkey. And once again, this land has become the place of martyrdom for those who loved her so much.

Bishop Luigi Padovese has been called a good person and a decent man and he really was. He was also deeply involved in studies concerning the early Church, especially the patristic period - he knew these places where the Church took its first steps very well and loved them with passion. Far more that this he loved the people of this land.

In the spirit of cooperation with local authorities, the very day before he died he had met with them to discuss religious minorities (of Turkish nationality) and find ways of collaborating for the common good. For us Christians, in particular, his death reminds us that fidelity to the Gospel, in certain situations, may be paid with the spilling of blood.

And he invited the whole Church of Turkey and all the men and women of good will to believe with all their strength in the dream of peace that can be achieved only by mutual forgiveness, by prayer and sacrifice, he spoke these words of encouragement and hope: "As a father, brother and friend, full of pain but forcefully remembering the venerable Pope John Paul II, I say to you, to you all: do not be afraid!

Do not lose heart, be happy, like the Apostles, to live in suffering and trial, without abandoning your faith, which is why we hope, it is the foundation of our joy. Yes, dear brothers, joy!

And nobody will be able to extinguish this torch, because it is sustained not only by the many martyrs and saints of these lands, the Blessed Virgin patron saint of this community, but today, I am sure, one more angel is now at the throne of God: our servant, our Bishop Luigi.

We wish him, brother of St. Francis, a priest of God Most High and Bishop of the Holy Church, to rest in peace beside his Lord.

With him, we here continue to pray that the sky over this Middle East will once again be serene and our hearts rediscover the path of peace, harmonious co-existence in collaboration for the common good.

Finally, the Metropolitan of Smyrna repeated the prayer that Cardinal Dionigi Tettamanzi, on the day Mgr. Padovese was murdered, recited during the Mass of Corpus Christi in Milan, the late bishop's hometown:

Lord Jesus,
Son of the Eternal and Son of Man,
never cease to invite and welcome us
to this wonderful feast of friendship,
so that our daily life,
the tasks of ministry,
the words we say,
the services we offer,
and even the dull stretches of our humanity
are a door and not a wall
for our brothers
a door that opens them to an encounter with You,
and the beauty of Your mystery
and not a wall that hides You and keeps You far from sight

“A door and not a wall" this was the life of Mgr. Padovese,
often under police escort and yet so free
in proclaiming the Gospel in arid land;
"A door and not a wall "- the church that he wanted,
a small flock open to the friendship of people;
"A door and wall" to welcome to the very end,
like you Lord Jesus,
the lacerations that inhabit the hearts of peoples and human beings,
even those of the one who so foolishly raised his hand
and for whom he continues to be both "brother" and "father."

The body, carried in a long procession, then left the town of Iskenderun to be taken to Milan, where Caridnal Tettamanzi will preside at a funeral Mass on Monday morning, June 14, in the Cathedral of Milan.

Here's a story with picture from Turkey's English-only daily newspaper Zaman:

Funeral mass held for
slain bishop in Turkey

June 8, 2010

The picture is available only as a thumbnail so it cannot be further enlarged without getting fuzzier.

Dignitaries and the faithful mourned a murdered bishop at a funeral Mass in the Mediterranean port of İskenderun in southern Turkey on Monday.

Luigi Padovese, the Vatican’s apostolic vicar in Anatolia, was stabbed to death on June 3. His driver, Murat Altun, has been charged with murder, and Turkish authorities said the killer did not have political or religious motives.

Altun reportedly suffers from serious depression and was found to be mentally unsound by the İskenderun State Hospital department of psychiatry. [This appears to be the official Turkish version, but neighbors who witnessed part of the crime say otherwise. See AsiaNews story in the precedeing page. Insanity has been used as a defense for other Christian killings in Turkey before this.]

The Mass, which took place at the Church of the Annunciation in İskenderun, was attended by Alessandro Azzoni, the second in command of Italy’s diplomatic mission to Turkey; Simon Carta, former Italian consul general in İzmir; İskenderun Governor Cemil Aksak and other state and religious officials.

While expressing sorrow for the murder of Padovese, Azzoni told the Anatolia news agency that the deadly incident would not have a negative impact on relations between Turkey and Italy.

Noting that Padovese’s efforts have become a model for them, Azzoni continued: “We want Padovese to be a model for all of Turkey, and we want everybody to see his life and the results of all his efforts concerning kinship, love and dialogue. … This symbol of love and kinship with İskenderun will also continue. Such an incident will never stop us. We have hope for the future. We will experience joy more than anxiety. … This love between İskenderun and Italy will continue. The love between Italy and Turkey has always existed.”

While expressing that this was a tragic incident, Carta shared messages of kinship between Turkey and Italy.

Antonio Lucibello, the apostolic nuncio to Turkey, said the funeral Mass. Speaking after the service, Metropolitan Archbishop of İzmir Ruggero Franceschini underlined Padovese’s contributions to Turkey. The archbishop also said Padovese loved Turks, shared his food with them during religious festivals and fed needy people.

A message from Pope Benedict XVI sent via Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone was read by Lucibello.

Padovese’s death deeply saddened us. The Pope wished for me to offer his condolences politely to you and stressed that with prayers, he is close to all bishops, archbishops, fathers, priests, nuns and all Christian communities in Turkey. …

The Pope, who is wholeheartedly close to all people who shed tears of pain because of what happened to Luigi Padovese, bestows holy blessings on you through Christ the Lord, our salvation and source of hope.

Turkish authorities who attended the service, including Hatay Governor Mehmet Celalettin Lekesiz, Mayor Yusuf Civelek and Republican People’s Party (CHP) Hatay deputy Abdulaziz Yazar, also expressed sorrow over Padovese’s death and said they hope that such an incident does not happen again.

Padovese’s body was sent to Antalya, where it will be flown to Milan. The slain bishop will be buried in the Italian city.

Meanwhile, the Vatican-based AsiaNews claimed that the murderer of Padovese may have had other motives, alleging that the psychological condition of the 26-year-old killer cannot be used as a defense.

Church lawyer Ercan Eriş was quoted in the news as saying that “the murderer cannot become depressed in a day and that there is no medical report which declares that.”

00Wednesday, June 9, 2010 9:51 PM

The challenge to priests:
'Bring Christ to the world'

Vatican City, Jun 9, 2010 (CNA) - The undersecretary for the Congregation for the Clergy, Archbishop Celso Morga, told Vatican Radio this week that a fundamental challenge priests face and what is expected of them as a result of the Year for Priests is that they bring Christ to world, “with all of his love, with all of his demands.”

The archbishop made his comments at the conclusion of the Priestly Congress organized by the Pontifical Athenaeum Regina Apostolorum in Rome in preparation for the International Meeting of Priests that will close the Year for Priests.

Archbishop Morga explained that “the priest carries out a ministry, the proclamation of Christ. And Christ has his demands, he has his commandments. This is the great challenge for today’s priest. To bring Christ with all of his love, with all of his demands.”

Priests must always remain “in union with Christ,” the archbishop said. “They must be pious men. And consequently they must be obedient. The priest is a servant. His life is not in his own hands but rather in the hands of another - Christ, and in the hands of the Church, his spouse,” he noted.

Archbishop Morga said the International Meeting of Priests taking place in Rome starting today would be “the largest gathering of priests in history”. Some 14,000 are expected to attend, three times the number that attended the Jubilee of Priests in 2000.

“There are 10,000 priests registered with the Opera Romana Pellegrinaggi. Another 3,000 have registered with the Prefecture of the Secretary of State. Therefore we expect 13-14,000 priests. In 2000, we brought together 5,000 priests in Rome. This time we are going to double or triple that number,” he added.

Addressing priests from 70 countries,
Cardinal Bertone speaks about
'the beauty of priestly celibacy'

VATICAN CITY, JUNE 9, 2010 (Zenit.org).- There is a beautiful aspect of celibacy that underlines a priest's dedication to serve each and every person as a brother or sister in Christ, says Benedict XVI's secretary of state, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone.

The cardinal spoke about the priesthood and celibacy this afternoon at the "Priests Today" conference, held at Aula Paolo VI in the Vatican. The Congregation for Clergy sponsored the three-hour event, in cooperation with the Focolare Movement, the Schoenstatt Movement and the International Catholic Charismatic Renewal.

Priests "are essentially brothers among brothers, who recognize the face of Christ in each other. Brothers of every person, of men and women, whom they must love and serve with total selflessness, without any attachment, without seeking their own interest," explained Cardinal Bertone.

"This how the importance and beauty of celibacy must be understood. And in you, this beauty radiates that unconditional love which has always been extremely valued by the Church, as sign and stimulus of charity and as special source of fruitfulness in the world," he added.

The Church and humanity, the cardinal stated, "are in need of priests of this mettle, of authentic 'prophets of a new world,' the world that began with the coming of Christ, which is in continuous becoming, in continuous formation."

"At this time," Cardinal Bertone lamented, "we have had to bear the sorrow of infidelity, on occasions most grave, of some members of the clergy, who have had an extremely negative effect on the credibility of the Church."

For this reason, he recalled, when Benedict XVI spoke with journalists on the flight to Portugal, he said that 'persecution' is born within the Church herself.

"From this sorrow arises a providential awareness," he added, quoting Benedict XVI's Pastoral Letter to Catholics of Ireland. "It is necessary to live 'a period of rebirth and spiritual renewal,' to follow 'with courage the path of conversion, purification and reconciliation,' 'to find new ways to transmit to young people the beauty and richness of friendship with Jesus Christ in the communion of his Church.'"

Thousands of priests from 70 countries took part in the half-day event that was the first event in the closing ceremonies of the Year for Priests, which ends Friday.

Denver bishop reports 'great excitement'
at closing rites of Year for Priests

Rome, Italy, Jun 9, 2010 (CNA) - In exclusive commentary provided to CNA, auxiliary Bishop James D. Conley of Denver spoke on the closing of the Year for Priests in Rome, saying the bustling atmosphere is filled with “great excitement and anticipation” with a “real electricity in the air.”

Bishop Conley also remarked on the rise of seminarians, asserting that despite recent media coverage of scandals in the Church, more young men are “responding to the call to serve the Church as priests in greater numbers each year.”

The events for the closing of the Year for Priests in Rome began on the morning of June 9, and will continue through June 11. Bishop Conley told CNA that the number of participants has surpassed all predictions.

“I know that the expectations for the number of priests have over doubled than what was anticipated - from 5,000 to over 10,000 registered up to this point,” the bishop said. “All three places of registration were overflowing all day long yesterday.”

“The organizers have had to open a second venue,” he added, “in order to accommodate the overflow.”

Commenting on the current atmosphere among the priests in Rome, Bishop Conley said that there “is a real electricity in the air” and that individuals have come “from all over the world” to celebrate. “Mostly young priests, from what I observed,” he noted.

Speaking on the significance of this week's events, and the entire previous year dedicated to priests, Bishop Conley said that it “was clear from the start that the purpose of this whole Year for Priests called by Pope Benedict, was to be a year of prayer for the sanctification for priests.”

“All of the events this week center around prayer,” he explained. “Each day there will be extended adoration of the Holy Eucharist and Benediction. The Holy Father told us last year that hoped this would to be 'a time to deepen the commitment of all priests to interior renewal fro the sake of a more forceful and incisive witness to the Gospel in today's world.'”

“This 'spiritual renewal' which he has highlighted will also be a new beginning for priests in many ways and not simply a 'conclusion' of this Year for Priests,” the Denver bishop said.

“The meditations, Masses and congress will focus on the figure of the priest in light of the example of our patron, St. John Marie Vianney, the saintly Cure d'Ars,” he noted. “The Holy Father will meet twice with all participants, first during a prayer vigil on Thursday evening and then at Mass on Friday morning, both in Saint Peter's Square.”

Touching on recent media reports that have focused on protest groups attending the closing of the Year for Priests, such as SNAP (Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests) and self-titled “women priests,” Bishop Conley told CNA that “I have been in and around Saint Peter's Square over the past three days and have not seen one counter-demonstrator.”

“I heard that there were some here but I have yet to see any,” he added. “They must be very small in number.”

When asked what he thinks the benefits are of this year dedicated to the priesthood, Bishop Conley said that one “of the fruits that I foresee after the close of the Year for Priests (which I have already discovered with our own seminarians in Denver) is a purified and refined intention/motivation to become a priest.”

“I think that with all the news of scandal in the priesthood that young men are entering the seminary today because of truly supernatural motives and not worldly reasons,” said the bishop. “They know that the world will ridicule their decision to become a priest and even mock them as strange or even perverted. In spite of this, they are responding to the call to serve the Church as priests in greater numbers each year.”

“I know the North American College boasts of the highest numbers in over 25 years. We just built a new 24 room dormitory in Denver at Saint John Vianney seminary. The numbers are up everywhere, in spite of all the bad news in the media about the priesthood.”

“The only explanation for me is the fact that the Church needs good, holy, normal, faithful priests now more than ever and young men are courageously responding,” Bishop Conley said.

“I think this will only continue after the Year for Priests ends. Although it is a challenging time to be a priest, it is also a very exciting time to be a priest.”

00Friday, June 11, 2010 12:09 PM

Archbishop of Smyrna on
the martyrdom of Bishop Padovese:
'We want the truth, not pious lies'

by Bernardo Cervellera

PARMA, Italy, June 10 (AsiaNews) - Archbishop Ruggero Franceschini, 71, who has been Archbishop of Izmir (Smyrna) for six years, says that after the martyrdom of Archbishop Luigi Padovese in Iskenderun, the Church in Turkey is devastated and hurt, but more united than ever, and Catholics, Orthodox, Armenians, Chaldeans are more fraternal.

The bishop is also bluntly outspoken about another aspect: the Church in Turkey wants to know "the whole truth and nothing but the truth" about the motives of Mgr. Padovese's assassin (who was his driver for four years).

The Turkish Church does not believe the motive of murder was sexual in nature, nor the "pious lie" about Murat Altun’s supposed mental illness. Mons. Franceschini knows that the killing took place according to an Islamic ritual, but that more lies behind this apparent fanaticism. Especially since the murderer was never a devout Muslim.

Mgr Franceschini hypothesizes that the assassination was planned with precision, the killer well-trained, and the masterminds belong to those aiming to destabilize the country and distance Turkey from Europe.

With his characteristic clarity, he is calling on the universal Church and Rome to clearly show its support for the Church of Turkey with intelligence and effective solidarity. He appeals for volunteers, teachers, nuns and religious, to go on mission to Turkey, mainly to keep the few Catholic schools open.

After attending the funeral of Mgr. Padovese in Izmir, Mgr. Franceschini came to Italy to attend the solemn funeral of the slain bishop to be held in the Cathedral of Milan on Monday, June 14, at 10.30. Below is the interview that he granted us.

Your Grace, after the martyrdom of bishop. Luigi Padovese, how is the Church in Turkey?
It is, of course, prostrate and pained, but united. Several bishops attended the funeral of Mgr. Padovese, held in the Cathedral of Iskenderun on June 7. Sitting beside me was a coadjutor bishop of the Armenians. He could not even utter a single word: he was devastated. from the shock of the death.

The vicar of the Chaldeans did not come, although there were many Chaldean priests. There was also a bishop of the Syrian Orthodox. All were prostrate and distraught. You could clearly read the thought of the Armenians: "History repeats itself”, perhaps thinking of the genocide of Armenians in Turkey n the early 1900s. But neither were we Latins very stoic. Regional authorities were also there at the funeral.

Various Christian prelates at Mons. Padovese's funeral Mass in Iskenderun on June 7. (Photo: Terrasanta,net)

Having said all that, it was a beautiful moment of unity. And we will not give up, we will try to keep the Church on course.

What is your view of the murder of the Vicar of Anatolia?
We seek the truth about the murder of Mgr. Padovese first and foremost. The day before the funeral, the Minister of Justice together with the judge supervising the investigation into the murder, arrived in Iskenderun. The judge did not say a word.

They asked to see me in private, and I told them: "We want the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. We do not want other lies: that there were others involved, there was no one else involved, it was a crime of passion. Nothing must be kept hidden”.

I believe that with this murder, which has an explicitly religious, Islamic element, we are faced with something that goes beyond the government. Rather, it points towards nostalgic, perhaps anarchist, groups who want to destabilize the government.

The very modalities of the murder aim to manipulate public opinion. After having killed the bishop, the young Murat Altun shouted "I killed the great Satan. Allah Akbar." This is really strange.

Murat had never before said anything similar. knew him for at least 10 years. I was the one who took him on to work for the Church. He had never expressed himself in this way. He was not a practising Muslim. He was a young man who had a Christian culture, without being Christian. Neither he nor his father were our enemy. In my opinion, he was being used as a tool in the hands of others.

The use of Islamic ritual serves to divert attention: to suggest that the motive is religious and not political. Moreover, by pushing the religious motive - that of a conflict between Islam and Christianity - public opinion can be inflamed in an area where we are weak and believed to be weak.

What’s more, Prime Minister Erdogan’s strongest supporters are not to be found in radical Islam but among moderates. And I fear that now, he no longer has even their support.

Murat Altun has also claimed the bishop was homosexual and said he was "depressed and unstable".
The murderer has also "confessed" sexual motives, saying that Mgr. Padovese paid him for "services". But this is a track that only aims to confuse.

And I do not believe even the usual hasty and pious lie that Murat was mentally ill and addicted. He was neither one nor the other. Days before the killing, he tried to pass himself off as crazy, but the doctors have told him not to show up any more because he is sane.

I suppose he has good lawyers advising him and preparing these alibis, so that even if convicted, he could get away with a sentence of a few years.

Some think that given the violence, Turkey should never join Europe ...
Certainly underlying this carefully studied murder is the desire of some sectors of Turkish society not to join Europe, since they do not want any change.

We hope that this killing, instead of distancing us, moves us closer to Europe. Indeed, we hope that our friendship will extend to other European countries to work for our well-being and yours, given that Turkey is becoming an increasingly great country.

What is life like for the small Church in Turkey?
The Church in Turkey is not small, but very diverse, with different denominations. But in recent times we have learned to love each other. At the funeral of Mgr. Padovese we were all there: Latin, Armenian, Catholic, Orthodox, Syrian Orthodox, Chaldean. Each confession prayed their own prayer gathered around the coffin.

We need to feel more united with Rome. Even the Orthodox, who now increasingly look to Rome, are saying this. We need to feel that the heart of Catholicism beats for us too. We feel a little abandoned. It is true that now there is going to be the Synod for the Churches for Middle East, which should also help mature solidarity between us and the universal Church.

Let us hope so, we hope that the document of the Synod is not only a cultural document with little real effect. Something has to change.

If we were not here in Turkey - we Capuchins, some Dominican and some other religious orders - there would be no priests. In Smyrna there is only one local priest, whom I ordained. Others prefer to live abroad, where they are freer. They do not have the mentality of service and mission.

What would you ask of the Church in Italy and of the Universal Church?
First of all prayer, but a prayer that is aware of the stakes that we do not want to give up despite the difficulties: the Christian community was born here, and here the first councils took place - we cannot abandon these places.

We need solidarity not only proclaimed, but active. Every year, we need help to repair one church or another, and we do not know how. Then we need to homes for the priests and for the religious sisters to live in. We need lay people and more priests to come live with us.

Unfortunately, the congregations, especially the female, decide not to come when they find out that they cannot open a convent for vocations here.

There are difficulties for religious freedom, and there is a lot of work to be done. In Turkey, there is no freedom to proclaim the Gospel outside the church, there is no freedom to establish seminaries or build new churches, but we can work in existing parishes, meet people, and transform our sitting rooms into churches…

What are the most urgent needs?
Support for our schools. In Turkey there are still some Catholic schools open that go back before the days of Ataturk. Once these schools were the best in Turkey, now they are barely surviving.

But we are desperately trying to enhance them for the sake of Catholic youth, who are very badly treated in state schools. Unfortunately, the Christian Brothers have withdrawn. Only the Sisters of Ivrea remain in the field of education, but they are very old.

We need teachers, volunteers, women religious who can stay for two or three years, to support these schools. They should come even if they cannot open convents to train new sisters. It is important to go to Turkey to give, not to accumulate.

It is difficult but not impossible to promote vocations, especially male vocations. So far, I have ordained two priests, but both are foreigners and they have to learn the local language, which is difficult. We need local vocations.

To improve our communication effort, the Church in Turkey is linking to a non-profit organization,the Santa Claus Association, which will be launching a website within the year.

00Wednesday, June 16, 2010 8:28 PM
War in Bavaria
Plain war has broken out in Bavaria between Bishop emeritus Walter Mixa and some of his former clergy, also involving the spokesman for the Arch-Dioceses of Munich and Freising.

Mixa has returned to live in his Bishop’s residence and since then all hell broke loose:

- He said he was pressured into submitting his resignation and that he revoked it three days later

- He said he felt like he was going through purgatory during the last few months

- He said he will take his case to Rome, to the Holy Father (whom he has an appointment with in July) and, if necessary to court

- slowly but surely details are coming out and they show that he was clearly framed by some members of his own staff, with the support of some obviously lying / fabricating lay staff members of the Dioceses next door in terms of the accusation of sexual abuse, which were found groundless with not even one week

- a declaration of the most outrageous kind was made by the spokesmen of the Arch-Dioceses of M+F, basically calling Mixa mentally instable and that his stay at a Psychiatric clinic was 'a good start' to deal with the situation (the clinic treats all types of modern culture related problems)

- the entire lib/green press corps of Germany is jumping on the case, trying to do their very best to discredit Mixa as much as possible - knowing, that they played a big role in the lying/fabricating/witch hunting

- It becomes clearer and clearer that the responsible people for the witch hunt in Augsburg are heavily lobbying for a democratic Church and Zeitgeist Catholicism. It is more and more obvious that Mixa was mobbed out by the press and by those people because of his strict, conservative views and of his straightforwardness about them.
Podium discussions are held with members of the local Catholic faithful, the Greens and Protestants who see the first responsibility of the Church in our society in the assurance of social justice (!!!!!)
I imagine (and hope) counter discussions will follow with traditional minded Catholics (the society of St. Peter has many members in the Dioceses of Augsburg)

This is going to be U G L Y !!!!

OMG, I have NO idea what could cause more pain to the Holy Father than catholic clergy in an outright war against each other in Bavaria!!

Zollitsch has gone missing - as always during this type of situation.

Here is an interview with Bishop Mixa by the always reliable and great Paul Badde:


Thanks for the info, Heike, and the perspective you bring to the matter.

I mentioned the new developments in the Mixa case in an entry in the BENEDICT thread, but I have decided that unless the news concerns Benedict XVI directly, I will no longer bother to track all the developments in these internecine wars, and simply post when there is something definitive to post about the issue.

For the same reason, I have not posted anything so far about the conflicting stories in today's news (6/18) regarding the supposed rehabilitation by the Congregation for Bishops of Mons. Paetz in Poland to resume giving the Sacraments, after he was disciplined back in 2002 for committing sexual abuse.

I have felt from the beginning that Zollitsch and Marx, and their very talkative underlings, treated Mixa unceremoniously, to say the least, by speaking to the press about wanting him to resign. That was very pharisaical, sanctimonious and downright impolite of them.

On the other hand, as I understand it from the news reports, Mixa did deny the beatings at first, and I am not sure he has denied the accusations about using church funds to finance some of his hobbies. So for the public lying alone, he made himself unfit to continue being a bishop - even if he now says that he denied it because in the 1970s, beating was not considered physical abuse. He should have said so last April instead of flatly denying it first, only to change his statement afterwards.

And now, he does something like going back to live in the bishop's residence (even if he says it is only while he makes new living arrangements) and making all these inflammatory statements to the press (even if he is speaking in self-defense) - when the more prudent way would have been to wait until he met with the Pope. Because now his enemies in the German Church have become even more vicious, making him out to be a psychiatric case.

They have all been behaving childishly, and I find it strange that Germans who hwve the intellectual reputations such as Mixa, Zollitsch and Marx have, do not see how ridiculous, inappropriate and unacceptable it is for them to behave in this way!


P.S. I agree that it must be particularly bitter for the Holy Father that the Church in Germany should give such a shameful example of the 'internal persecution' that arises from the Church itself! He cannot replace misbehaving bishops unless they are found guilty of grave offenses, and he can only name new bishops when a vacancy arises, as with Augsburg now. He can also end up making a questionable choice as he may have done with Marx.

And since bishops have autonomy in their own respective dioceses, there is little he can do about and against open dissidents (Lehmann, Zollitsch at al) or covert ones, who are even more insidious (Marx and whoever else). I am still 'scandalized' about the last Katholikentag in Munich which had little Catholic about it!

00Saturday, June 19, 2010 1:16 PM
On to a more Ratzinger-type bishop... The week before Andrea Tornielli first reported that Cardinal Marc Ouellet of Canada now looms to be the next Prefect of the Cognregation for Bishops rather than Cardinal Pell of Sydney, George Weigel wrote an admiring post about Ouellet in his syndicated column.

Courage in Quebec

June 9, 2010

Quietly but often forcefully, senior churchmen speak of Cardinal Marc Ouellet, the archbishop of Quebec City and thus the Primate of Canada, as papabile: a man-with-the-makings-of-a-pope.

The thought would doubtless elicit a groan or a laugh — perhaps both —from the 66-year-old Canadian theologian: no man with his wits about him wants to shoulder the burdens of the papacy, and Cardinal Ouellet is a man of high intelligence.

Still, it should be noted that the Canadian cardinal recently demonstrated one of the qualities required of 21st century popes: a willingness to confront the increasingly aggressive secularism of the North Atlantic world with reason, conviction and courage.

Several weeks ago, Cardinal Ouellet spoke to a Canadian pro-life rally,
- praised the present Canadian administration for not including abortion-funding in its G8 global maternal health proposals,
- deplored the lack of legal restrictions on abortion in Canada, and
- reaffirmed the Church’s ancient conviction, recorded in the earliest sub-apostolic literature, that abortion is a grave injustice whatever the circumstances.

Pretty standard stuff, that, although said, I’m sure, with Marc Ouellet’s usual passion and elegance. But the commentariat and the politicians went bonkers.

Parti Quebecois leader Pauline Marois declared herself “completely outraged” by Cardinal Ouellet’s remarks. The very minister whose federal government department would run the Harper Government’s maternal health care initiative in the Third World — which Ouellet explicitly supported — condemned the cardinal’s comments as “unacceptable.”

Patrick Lagace, columnist for Montreal’s La Presse, then vented his secularist spleen at the thought that there might be some role for religiously-informed moral judgment in public life:

“We’re all going to die. Cardinal Ouellet will die someday. I hope he dies from a long and painful illness. …Yes, [what] I’ve just written is vicious. But Marc Ouellet is an extremist. And in the debate against religious extremists, every shot is fair game.”

Just to be clear on what’s being claimed here: to articulate publicly a biological fact recognized by embryology textbooks — that human life begins at conception; and then to draw two logical moral conclusions from that fact — that the product of conception is an innocent life that deserves the protection of the law, and that abortion is the taking of that innocent life — is to be an “extremist”: or even worse, a “religious extremist” of the sort whose minions throw acid into the faces of little girls wanting to learn how to read.

The Quebec National Assembly quickly got into the act, unanimously affirming the so-called “right to choose.” But again, it was not the thought of back-alley abortions with coat-hangers but another Great Bugaboo that horrified some Quebecois legislators.

“What we’re seeing here is the rise of the religious right in Canada,” fretted a Parti Quebecois legislator, Carole Poirier.

Such are the phantoms that haunt the secularist mind: Marc Cardinal Ouellet, a mild-mannered intellectual and pastor, is really a French-speaking version of Pat Robertson, determined to force women into sexual peonage and likely to claim that volcanic eruptions in Iceland are divine retribution for Nordic unbelief.

Cardinal Ouellet backed down not an inch (or, to be precise in Canadian terms, not a centimeter). Rather, he returned service with brio, suggesting that those determined to foist state-funded abortion on Third World countries were guilty of “neocolonialism” and asking whether the smug secularists of Quebec were not themselves living in an “underdeveloped country,” morally speaking, as they evinced so little regard for the dignity of the human person.

I have no idea what the Holy Spirit has in mind for Cardinal Marc Ouellet’s future. But I do know that Quebec — once one of the most vibrantly Catholic parts of North America; now arguably the most religiously arid space between Baffin Island and Tierra del Fuego — is immensely blessed to have as its chief shepherd a man of solid Catholic faith, genuine piety, well-honed intelligence and deep compassion.

Perhaps one day the commentariat and the politicians of La Belle Province will figure that out. That might be one small step toward their reclaiming a lost patrimony that is religious and cultural, not just linguistic.

00Saturday, June 19, 2010 3:39 PM

New photo book on JPII

Un Pontificato attraverso le immagini

From an OR press release:

A new book JOHN PAUL II: a Pontificate of images (pp.128) has been published by the Vatican Photographic Service (Tipografia Vaticana 2010).

It presents “a truly 'beautiful' Pope, particularly in the singular way he carried out his apostolic mission, amazingly charismatic as Karol Wojtyla was" (from the preface by Cardinal José Saraiva Martins).

The first section is entitled 'Pilgrim of the world', with images from his Apostolic Travels to bring the Christian messsage to all the peoples of the earth.

The second section is entitled 'A friend to all' and presents one of the obvious characteristics of the great Pontiff: “his deep humanity, his great closeness to all the people, regardless of color, race, religion or culture" (id.).

Two formats are available: the large format (20x28cm) € 16; and the small format (15x21cm) € 12. The short texts have been translated into 4 languages: Italian, English, Polish and Spanish.

HOW TO ORDER from the Vatican Photographic Service:

phone +39 06.6988.4797
fax: +39 06.6988.4998
e-mail: Servizio Fotografico

The book has not come out in English yet, but I hope they do not use the translation they give to the title in this press release. The direct translation of the Italian is 'A pontificate through images', which is what it is, whereas to translate it as 'A pontificate of images' is certainly misleading, unfair to John Paul II, and totally unnecessary when the direct translation says it best!

Newt Gingrich and John Paul II:
US politician's documentary on
'9 Days That Changed the World'

By Elizabeth Lev

ROME, JUNE 17, 2010 (Zenit.org).- Over the past few months, mainstream media has done as much to sully the reputation of Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI as the BP oil spill has done to pollute the Gulf of Mexico.

The U.K. Telegraph and the New York Times have both been busily trying to tar these great Popes with their broad brush of sex abuse scandals, hoping to reduce their papacies to the same tawdry tenure of many politicians.

One US politician, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, well aware of how scandal can obscure great achievements, decided to highlight one of the great lasting contributions of Pope John Paul II in a documentary titled "Nine Days That Changed the World."

Produced by Citizens United, an advocacy group active in promoting traditional American values, and hosted by Newt Gingrich and his wife Callista, the 94-minute film traces the historic visit of John Paul II to Poland the year after his election to the pontificate.

The ramifications of the Pope's visit were enormous and the film convincingly shows that those few days in Poland set in motion a series of events that would play a pivotal role in overthrowing Communist rule in Europe.

Gingrich, who converted to Catholicism a year ago, mostly through his wife's witness and an encounter with Benedict XVI, presents the story as an extraordinary example of "freedom through faith." Old video footage, interviews and location shots are expertly woven by director Kevin Knoblock into a smooth and compelling narrative.

In the film, George Weigel, author of the John Paul II biography Witness to Hope, explains the historical context of the visit, as well as the exciting interplay between the Communist regime and a Pope determined to awaken the Christian memory and identity of his people. Jerzy Kluger, the Pope's childhood friend, offers insights into the sentiments of this remarkable Pontiff.

Former Polish President Lech Walesa discusses the role the visit played in the foundation of the Solidarity Movement, which would become the first recognized free trade union in the Communist bloc, counting over 10 million members by 1981.

Theologians Dominican Father Wojciech Giertych and Legionary of Christ Father Thomas Williams contextualize the spiritual meaning of the papal visit to a land that had been sucked dry of religion.

John Paul II revived the faith of the Polish people, erecting crosses where they had been taken down, praying in places that seemed bereft of both hope and love, as in his visit to Auschwitz, and reminding the Polish people of Christianity's rich history on their soil.

Many interviews with those who were present during the visit, even if just standing in the crowds in Warsaw, testify to the overwhelming influence John Paul II's visit had on the third of the Polish population that came to see him.

Pope John Paul II personally brought the Polish people the message he gave to the world on Oct. 22, 1978, days after his election: "Be not afraid. Open wide the doors to Christ. To his saving power upon the boundaries of states, economic and political systems, the vast fields of culture, civilization and development. Do not be afraid!"

A few interesting facts emerge in the story. Originally, John Paul II had asked to make a short two-day visit in May 1979, on the millennium anniversary of the martyrdom of St. Stanislaus, the 11th-century bishop of Krakow, who was martyred by the king of Poland after Stanislaus openly criticized his unjust and oppressive rule.

The Communist authorities refused, fearing the effect of having the Pope addressing the Poles on that historic occasion. They compromised with a nine-day visit in June instead, a decision they would live to regret.

The film is very moving on many levels. Seeing the charismatic and athletic John Paul II wooing and winning his people with words, gestures and warmth brings waves of loving nostalgia to all those who knew him. John Paul II's deference to Cardinal Stefan Wyszyński, primate of Poland, is particularly touching.

The filmmakers endorse the prevailing theory that the attempted assassination of John Paul II on May 13, 1981, by Mehmet Ali Agca (who recently was given space by the Associated Press for his criticisms of Benedict XVI) was really engineered by Communist leaders who perceived the Pope as their greatest threat. Former CIA director James Woolsey explains this connection in the film.

While the film is an uplifting triumph, there is one sad note. Two of the people interviewed for the film were on the plane carrying the Polish president, which crashed on April 10, 2010. One of the victims was Anna Walentynowicz, a Solidarity leader with Lech Walesa, whose testimony was one of the highlights of the film.

The "Nine Days that Changed the World" project is a heartening example of the great vocation of laypeople: a politician, using a solid study of history and the innovative dazzle of media, to recount the inspiring and uplifting truth.

For more information: www.ninedaysthatchangedtheworld.com

00Sunday, June 20, 2010 3:32 AM

Spain's Catholic voice
in the Holy Year of St. James

by Elizabeth Lev

Many were startled last week to read that on June 10, Spanish Prime Minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero visited Pope Benedict XVI for a half hour. Given that Zapatero has actively promoted abortion and secularism in Spain, it would seem the two would have little to discuss.

Indeed for the most part, the visit was in keeping with custom, as Zapatero is the outgoing president of the European Union; the President usually sees the Bishop of Rome to evaluate his mandate.

Zapatero and Benedict XVI met in Valencia in 2006 and even though there is reason to believe that was enough for the Spanish politician, it seems that Benedict can't get enough of Spain.

Zapatero will have two more opportunities to see the Roman Pontiff in the near future, one in Madrid in August 2011 and one this coming November when Benedict XVI will arrive for his pilgrimage to the shrine of St. James the Greater in Compostela, which is celebrating a Jubilee this year [and then on to Barcelona the next day to consecrate the Templo Expiatorio de la Sagrada Familia, the late Catalan architect Gaudi's masterwork, whose nave will finally be completed by autumn in time for the Pope's visit].

Unfortunately for Zapatero's secularist agenda, he governs a land that fought hard 900 years ago to gain the status of being one of the world's principal pilgrimage sites. After Jerusalem and Rome, in 1100, the shrine of St. James the Greater [Santiago, in Spanish) saw the greatest flux of pilgrims from all over the known world.

Pilgrims to the shrine have often brought back a little souvenir, the shell of a mollusk that is native to those waters. They would tie the shell to their robes as a symbol of their long journey. That same shell can still be found on the coat of arms of Benedict XVI, leader of the "pilgrim people of God."

The Jacobean Year occurs when the feast of St. James (July 25) falls on a Sunday. On Jan 1, the archbishop of Santiago, Julián Barrio Barrio, inaugurated the Holy Year by opening the Holy Door, and pilgrims have been steadily streaming along the many routes of the famed Camino de Santiago, leading across Europe to the shrine of St. James.

In the Charlemagne Wing of St. Peter’s Basilica, a new exhibit shines a little light on this historic pilgrimage site, which cemented the bond between Spain and Rome almost a millennium ago.

Open until Aug. 1, and free to the public, "The Road to Santiago" displays maps, sculptures and richly decorated reliquaries along with manuscripts testifying to the establishment of this important center.

Considered the "finis terrae" -- the end of the world -- the little village of Compostela stood on the western coast of Spain looking out over the vast expanse of the Atlantic Ocean. When pilgrims reached this point, they had walked until they could walk no more.

According to tradition, the body of Apostle James the Greater was brought to Compostela from Jerusalem in the ninth century.

The shrine containing these precious relics was a relatively small chapel surrounded by walls to protect the site from incursions from pirates and Normans, until it was rebuilt starting in 1070 (simultaneously with the introduction of the Roman rite) and continuing into the 12th century, to make it more pilgrim friendly.

A panoramic shot of the front facade facing a monumental square; below right, the south facade, and left, the north facade.

Modeled after the great pilgrimage basilicas of St. Foy and Conques in France, the new church was much larger and had a very wide apse to allow access to the relics as well as radiating chapels in the apse to keep the flow of pilgrims constant.

This early model of Romanesque art came from the voyages of the bishops of Compostela through France to Rome, in particular the travels of Diego Gelminez, bishop of Compostela from 1101 to 1140.

The main entrance to the Cathedral is called the Portico de la Gloria - its center pillar is topped by the image of St. James; at right, another popular image of the saint dressed as a pilgrim.

The decorative capitals carved in stone like those of ancient Rome, boast biblical scenes or imaginative allegories like those Gelminez had seen in Cluny.

His earlier trips to Rome had been fraught with danger, as these were the years of the blockade of Holy Roman Emperor Henry IV against reforming Pope Gregory VII. On one occasion, Gelminez has to disguise himself as a soldier and slip among the emperor's troops to make his way to Rome.

The efforts were worth it however, since Pope Callistus II raised Compostela to the status of archdiocese. Each trip inspired Gelminez to add a little more Romanitas to his church. He added a confession like St. Peter's and elegant stone reliefs like those still scattered around the ruins of Rome.

As pilgrims reached the 'end of the world' to venerate the remains of the apostle who had died in Jerusalem, they would feel a little bit of the Eternal City in the architecture and decoration, particularly in the use of stone, a reminder of the Rock, St. Peter, buried in Rome.

The colored displays recall the stained glass that would soon become the rage throughout Europe, but the display is very small with just a few works and an interesting video presentation. A short visit suffices, but it surprises visitors to see how closely Spain was once tied to Rome: without airplanes or Internet or phones, just faith.

Much like the memory of St. Stanislaus helped Pope John Paul II rejuvenate the religious sentiment of Poland, one hopes that through the historic shrine to the remains of the Apostle and Martyr James the Greater, and the legacy of Bishop Diego Gelmirez, Benedict XVI will be able help the Spanish rediscover their Christian voice.

The scallop shell (middle panel) is the most familiar symbol of St. James (in fact, the French name for the scallop shell is coquille St. Jacques) and the pilgrimage to Santiago.

It does not have the Bernini colonnades (nor the Apostolic Palace nearby!), but I consider the cathedral complex of Santiago the most fascinating and stunning church ensemble I have ever experienced. Always a major surprise for anyone seeing it for the first time, but so diffuse and vast it is difficult to capture in still photographs.

00Tuesday, June 22, 2010 11:38 PM
A hint of accountability
in new Vatican financial scandal

June 21, 2010

Recent days have brought an intriguing hint of a culture shift at the Vatican in the direction of accountability, perhaps accelerated by fallout from the global sexual abuse crisis.

Already reeling on that front, the Vatican now faces an embarrassing financial scandal: Cardinal Crescenzio Sepe of Naples has been named a target by Italian prosecutors for his role in alleged corruption in public works contracts while he was Prefect of the Vatican’s Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples from 2001 to 2006.

[It's questionable that 'the Vatican' itself is facing the scandal, except in the deliberately irresponsible MSM: From the time this investigation was first speculated on in the Italian media months ago, news reports made it clear that it involved primarily the business activities of Propaganda Fide as its leadership carried them out in 2001 to early 2006, specifically, what was the personal involvement of Cardinal Sepe. No other Vatican figures or offices were ever linked to this scandal in a general or specific way. Perhaps tangentially, by the fact that one of the civilian figures in the scandal was made a Gentleman of His Holiness under John Paul II - i.e., a glorified Vatican usher for guests of state visiting the Pope - in which all the Pope did was probably to approve a list presented to him by his associates, with no particular ties or even acquaintance with the 'gentleman' in question.]

The investigation of Sepe comes as part of a widening corruption scandal in Italy known as the “Great Works” probe, which has already linked an array of politicians and businessmen to an alleged network of kickbacks in major public projects, such as the Jubilee Year of 2000 and the recent meeting of the G8 in earthquake-damaged L’Aquila, Italy.

Sepe is the first former Vatican official implicated in the scandal.

In a nutshell, Italian news reports indicate that prosecutors suspect Sepe gave various Italian public officials sweetheart deals on apartments and other residences in Rome owned by Propaganda Fidei, at the same time that massive amounts of state funds were being allocated for remodeling projects on congregation properties, including its famed headquarters in Rome’s Piazza di Spagna.

One Italian newspaper reported on June 21 that the amount of public funds involved could be as much as $3 million – and that some of the money may still be unaccounted for, since some of the work was never completed.

For his part, Sepe has denied wrongdoing, saying that he’s “completely calm” and that “the truth will come out.”

What’s striking vis-à-vis the broader issue of accountability is that both the Vatican and Sepe have vowed that the 67-year-old cardinal will cooperate with the probe, rather than attempting to invoke diplomatic immunity on the basis of holding a Vatican passport.

On background, a senior Vatican official said this morning that the recent sexual abuse crisis has helped create an environment under Benedict XVI in which officials are less likely to invoke the church's traditional privileges in a fashion that could be seen as attempting to skirt accountability for misconduct.

At the same time, the official said, the Vatican will protect its institutional autonomy, meaning that it would resist probing too deeply into the internal workings of Vatican departments.

Vatican officials have insisted that this will not be another “Marcinkus affair,” a reference to the late American Archbishop Paul Marcinkus, a former head of the Vatican Bank who was implicated in a massive financial scandal that led to the collapse of an Italian bank in the 1980s.

The Vatican eventually paid $240 million to creditors of the Banco Ambrosiano, denying legal responsibility but acknowledging “moral involvement” in the bank’s implosion.

At one stage civil authorities in Italy issued a criminal indictment for Marcinkus, forcing him to remain on Vatican property until the Italian Supreme Court ruled in 1988 that he enjoyed immunity from prosecution. Marcinkus died in February 2006.

[It is useful that Allen cited the Marcinkus story, because whatever questionable may have taken place in Propaganda Fide under Sepe, there is no comparing it in extent and any tink test to the scandal of the Marcinkus affair. Which, by the wya, none of the Italian news reports I'e seen so far has referred to at all.]

In this case, however, Vatican officials have said there will be no analogous effort to shield Sepe from the Italian investigation.

Vatican spokesperson Fr. Federico Lombardi has said that while Sepe has the right to be “respected and esteemed,” the Vatican also wants the “situation to be cleared up fully and rapidly, so that shadows on him and on church institutions can be eliminated.”

At the same time, Lombardi said that "it's necessary to take account of the procedural aspects and the legal profiles implicit in the proper relationship between the Holy See and Italy" -- meaning, in effect, that the Vatican will look after its institutional interests, but Sepe will have to answer the inquiries of civil officials.

Aside from the context of the sex abuse crisis, another factor that may help explain the contrast is that while Marcinkus was closely linked to John Paul II (among other things, Marcinkus was credited with foiling a 1982 assassination attempt against John Paul in Fatima), Sepe is not seen in the same way as an intimate of Pope Benedict XVI. Quite an understatement, that! For someone he 'took down' from being the all-powerful Red Pope, as the Propaganda Fide head has been called traditionally, to being Archbishop of Naples. No way can anyone call that relationship as 'intimate' in any way!]]

Sepe first rose to prominence in 1996, when, as the secretary of the Congregation for Clergy, he put together the celebrations in Rome for the fiftieth anniversary of Pope John Paul II’s ordination to the priesthood. On the strength of that performance, Sepe was named the chief organizer of the Great Jubilee Year of 2000, overseeing what was almost certainly the most complex logistical enterprise in recent Roman memory.

Sepe’s elevation to the College of Cardinals in 2001, and his nomination to head Propaganda Fidei in the same year, was widely seen as a reward from John Paul for Sepe’s work on the Jubilee Year.

Roughly a year after Benedict’s election to the papacy, however, Sepe was transferred to Naples, while Cardinal Ivan Dias of India took over at Propaganda Fidei. Among Vatican insiders, the word was that the new Pope not only wanted a prefect who came from a traditional mission territory, but also someone who would be less of an impresario, putting the accent more on the spiritual dimension of the church’s missionary enterprise.

That history may mean that Benedict XVI, and the people around him, feel less of an investment in defending Sepe. Should any charges stick, Benedict’s decision to remove Sepe from Propaganda Fidei could end up making the Pope look prescient. [Benedict XVI did not need this 'scandal' to confirm his good judgment in naming Cardinal Dias to be the new Red Pope. He obviously knew enough of what was going on at Propaganda Fide during the last five years of John Paul II to make him act promptly when he became Pope himself in order to distance the dicastery from any speculation of wrongdoing.]

While we must assume for now that Cardinal Sepe did nothing wrong, the appearance of wrong can be just as bad. Someone asked in the Italian media today why an Italian minister would go to Propaganda Fide about renting or buying a residence in Rome instead of going to a real etate agent? And why would a cardinal involve himself in such arrangements, anyway, that have nothing to do with the mission of Propaganda Fide, nor even with the financial good of its investments and properties?]

For the record, Sepe is not the first Cardinal of Naples to face corruption charges. [This is wrong. Cardinal Sepe faces questioning by an Italian magistrate; he has not been accused of anything so far!]

His predecessor, Cardinal Michele Giordano, was acquitted in 2000 after an indictment for involvement in a loan-sharking ring run by his brother.

Two years later, the cardinal was sentenced to four and a half months of house arrest after charges that he had illegally converted property bequeathed to the archdiocese into apartments rather than a retirement home for priests, as specified by the terms of the will. That conviction was set aside in 2005 by Italy’s highest court

I hope I have a chance to translate Sandro Magister's 2002 articles on Sepe because they give a better, almost emblematic picture of careerism in the Curia.

Cardinal Sepe defends himself
at a news conference

NAPLES, June 22 (AP) - A cardinal under investigation in a sprawling corruption scandal denied wrongdoing and insisted today he acted for the good of the Catholic church while handling real estate transactions for the Vatican office that funds missionary work abroad.

Cardinal Crescenzio Sepe of Naples told a press conference said he forgave his accusers and was going ahead serenely while accepting the "cross" that the investigation had brought on him.

Prosecutors are trying to untangle an alleged web of kickbacks involving billions of euros worth of contracts for such mega-projects as preparing 2000 Holy Year events in Rome, the 2009 Group of Eight summit and rebuilding the quake-shattered town of L'Aquila.

Sepe's real estate transactions at the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples are under scrutiny since they involved some of the key figures implicated in the probe, including prime minister Silvio Berlusconi's disaster chief, Guido Bertolaso.

The scandal marks the second major crisis implicating top church officials this year following the clerical abuse crisis.

Sepe said today he was sure of the Vatican's staunch support as he confronted the accusations.

"I'm going forward with serenity; I accept the cross and I forgive from the depth of my heart those who have wanted to strike at me from both inside and outside the church," he said in a letter read aloud at the press conference and posted on the Naples diocesan website.

"I have acted with the maximum transparency," he said, adding that all of his budgets were approved each year by the Vatican's secretariat of state. "I say this for the love of truth, knowing well that I always acted according to conscience and with the good of the church as my sole objective."

In the letter, Sepe denied point-by-point the three main accusations against him concerning his 2001-2006 tenure at the congregation and three real estate transactions involving the sale, renovation and renting of congregation-owned properties.

And he sought to dispel suggestions that he had been demoted to Naples archbishop by Pope Benedict XVI after serving in such a politically powerful position as prefect of one of the Vatican's wealthiest congregations.

Sepe said Benedict had asked him what he thought about moving to Naples, and that he readily agreed, saying he wanted to serve his remaining years among the faithful.
00Wednesday, June 23, 2010 12:38 AM
German bishops' conference confirm
they sent the Pope a 'dossier' on
the former Bishop of Augsburg

WURZBURG, June 22 (Translated from Apcom) - The German bishops' conference has officially confirmed that last April, they sent the Pope a dossier containing accusations against Mons. Walter Mixa, then Bishop of Augsburg and Military Chaplain for Germany. Mixa sugmiited his resisgnation to teh Pope shortly afterwards, and the Pope accepted.

The bishops issued a note from Wurzburg where the Permanent Council of teh German bishops' conference has been meeting.

"The bishops confirm that the accusations against him (Mons. Mixa) noe diclosed in the media were sent on to Rome in April 2010. Pope Benedict XVI then took the initiative and accepted Mixa's resignation. [That is a deliberate misrespresentation. Zollitsch and Marx called a news conference at the time to say that they were urging Mixa to resign - without apparently talking to Mixa before hand. Nonetheless, Mixa gave in and submitted his resignation.]

"Against that background, the personal future of the emeritus Bishop Walter Mixa is now in question. The Bavarian bishops, in particular, are in discussion with him about this".

[Still not clear to me are the circumstances under which Mixa apparently spent the weeks following his resignation in a psychiatric clinic. he then went to see Cardinal Re at the Congregation for Bishops in Rome, who reportedly urged him not to campaign to get his old position back.

What disturbs me about the German bishops' new statement is that they seem to be proud of what they did. Would it not have been the decent thing to confront Mixa fist with the accusations and give him a chance to respond, instead of simply turning over a one-sided, unsubstantiated dossier to the Pope? Is it not their duty to be fair and not to pass summary judgment on one of their own colleagues? A German columnist writing for EUROPA observed that the bishops have been singularly lacking in the virtue of mercy. Forget mercy - what about plain elementary decency? ]

The reporting in the Anglophone media is a bit behind - neither CNS nor CNA has reported on it so far, much less the regular MSM:

German bishops' dispute deepens;
leaks of 'secret file'
on bishop who resigned

June 21, 2010

An ugly dispute within the German Catholic hierarchy has grown uglier, with the multiple media references to a “secret file” on Bishop Walter Mixa, reportedly containing allegations of severe alcohol problems and resurrecting old charges of sexual abuse.

Bishop Mixa resigned his post as head of the Augsburg diocese in May. At the time he admitted that he may once have been guilty of physical abuse — slapping students at an orphanage where he was working in the 1970s — but he emphatically denied charges of sexual abuse. German police investigated the sex-abuse charges and dismissed them.

Last week Bishop Mixa announced that he wanted to rescind his resignation. He charged that two other German prelates, Archbishops Robert Zollitsch of Freiburg (the president of the German bishops’ conference) and Reinhard Marx of Munich, had “tricked” him into resigning and given inaccurate information to Pope Benedict XVI to ensure that the Pontiff would promptly accept the resignation.

Bishop Mixa has moved back into the episcopal residence in Augsburg, saying that he has nowhere else to live.

This weekend German media outlets reported that Pope Benedict had received a “secret file” that contained reports on Bishop Mixa’s alcohol problems, saying that the bishop’s drinking left him “out of touch with reality.” That “secret file” reportedly included the old charges of sexual misconduct as well.

Bishop Mixa has asked to meet with Pope Benedict, and the papal spokesman, Father Federico Lombardi, told reporters that the meeting would be arranged soon. However, he added, the bishop’s resignation would not be a subject for negotiation. [A report in the German media today says the meeting will take place on July 2.]

Father Lombardi said that Pope Benedict had accepted Bishop Mixa’s resignation after receiving information about the situation in the Augsburg diocese. He declined to discuss either the content or the source of that information.

“It is clear that the press is speculating,” the papal spokesman said, in an obvious reference to stories about the secret file, “but we don’t want to add to that speculation.”

BTW, it is important to note that the sex abuse allegations against Mixa are reportedly based on complaints by seminarians and priests, not minors.

00Wednesday, June 23, 2010 1:47 PM
Oldest known paintings of the apostles
rediscovered in Roman catacombs

These photos are in Osservatore Romano today but are not captioned.

Rome, Italy, Jun 23, 2010 (CNA) - Archaeologists and restorers working at the Roman catacombs of St. Tecla announced Tuesday the discovery of the world’s oldest known paintings of the apostles Peter, Paul, Andrew and John.

“They're the oldest images of the apostles and are datable to the latter half of the fourth century AD," said Fabrizio Bisconti, superintendent of archeology at the catacombs.

According to ANSA, the catacombs are owned and maintained by the Vatican’s Pontifical Commission for Sacred Archaeology. They are located about one-third of a mile from the church of St. Paul’s Outside the Walls, where the Apostle to the Gentiles is buried.

The paintings were found on the ceiling of the burial chamber of an ancient Roman noblewoman who commissioned painters to decorate it with Bible scenes.

Last year, the Vatican had reported the archaeologists’ discovery of the oldest known image of St. Paul while doing routine restoration work. On Tuesday, the Vatican team said Paul’s image was part of a ceiling painting that included the full-face icons of the other three apostles.

“The paintings of Andrew and John are undoubtedly the oldest ever,” Bisconti commented. “Some showing Peter have been found that date to the middle of the fourth century although this is the first time that the apostle is not shown in a group but singly, in an icon."

Barbara Mazzei, chief restorer at the site, said the discovery is evidence that the devotion to the apostles began in early Christianity. She said restorers have been able to uncover the image with the help of a new and sophisticated laser technology that peels off the thick calcium carbonate deposits without damaging the colors underneath, according to ANSA.

Speaking at a press conference to announce the discovery of the icons, President of the Pontifical Commission for Sacred Archaeology Archbishop Gianfranco Ravasi said, “we ought to proceed in a manner that (recognizes) all artworks of this kind have the capacity to speak to the contemporary culture, making their voices resound with their values and all of their beauty.”

Vatican Radio reported that the laser technology also uncovered an image of Christ the Teacher.

The catacombs of St. Tecla were discovered by chance in the 1950s during excavations for the construction of an office building.

00Wednesday, June 23, 2010 5:57 PM
Austrian Catholics a thorn in Vatican's side
by Veronika Oleksyn

VIENNA, June 23 (AP) – Long a thorn in the Vatican's side, Austrian Catholics have ramped up their quest for a more liberal church in the wake of the global clerical sex abuse scandal.

And while much of the push for change comes from the grassroots, the country's powerful cardinal recently caused a stir with strong gestures in support of reform, raising the stakes in the confrontation between the Vatican and dissidents pushing to allow priests to marry and women to be ordained.

What is particularly troubling for Rome is that Austria — historically a major symbol of Catholicism in Europe and a bulwark against the Protestant Reformation — is losing worshippers in record numbers as calls for reform grow stronger.

Tens of thousands of Austrian Catholics — many of whom still consider themselves devout believers — are leaving the Church each year, disgusted by the priestly sex abuse scandal and frustrated by what they see as the Catholic hierarchy's outdated ways.

For 76-year-old Erwin Bundschuh, who left the church about six weeks ago, the main problem today is an ivory tower mentality that rejects dialogue and cuts itself off from the realities of the modern day.

"You can't redesign a religious community every day but you also can't pretend as if nothing has happened in 2,000 years," said Bundschuh as he strolled past Vienna's famous St. Stephen's Cathedral. "There should be an open dialogue about certain things but it's always choked off."

Earlier this week, the head of the Vienna archdiocese's church tax office estimated that up to 80,000 of Austria's roughly 5.5 million Catholics could leave the church this year — a new record. Last year alone, 53,216 people formally had their names removed from church registries, a 31 percent increase compared to 40,654 in 2008.

Many have dropped out to also avoid paying a highly unpopular government-imposed church tax, questioning whether they should help finance an organization with which they have increasingly divergent views. [I think that if there were no such tax at all, there would be considerably fewer who 'formally' leave the Church. Regardless, if they feel so hostile to the Church and some of its most fundamental teachings and practices, then perhaps it is better that they drop out formally. They have reached the point where nothing will satisfy them other than the Church changing to suit what they want! Non prevaleabunt!]

As the sex abuse scandal has heated up, critical Austrian Catholics have stepped up their reform campaign — holding news conferences and pressuring church officials.

In May, the Priest Initiative — a group of critical clerics — adopted a strongly worded resolution that criticized the "absolutist" church structure and urged both bishops and ordinary believers to take a stand. The Vatican has had no comment on the turmoil in the Austrian Church.

Amid increasing calls for change, Cardinal Christoph Schoenborn — the country's top churchman and a papal confidant seen as a possible successor to Benedict XVI [God forbid!] — has stepped into the fray more forcefully in the past few months.

At a March service for sex abuse victims in St. Stephen's Cathedral organized with a reform group, he was among the first high-ranking Catholics to openly acknowledge church guilt in the scandal.

More recently, he accused Cardinal Angelo Sodano, the retired Vatican secretary of state, of blocking an investigation into sex abuse allegations against his disgraced predecessor, Hans Hermann Groer, 15 years ago.

He also spoke of the positive aspects of gay relationships and suggested the Church needed a new perspective on the remarriage of divorcees.

In addition, Schoenborn recently declined to publicly criticize Eisenstadt Bishop Paul Iby, who made headlines when he said it should be up to priests to decide whether they want to live a celibate life and that he would welcome it if married men could be ordained. The 75-year-old bishop also said the ordination of women should also eventually be considered.

When asked by The Associated Press what he thought of Iby's comments, Schoenborn replied: "I think that the worries Bishop Paul, Bishop Iby, has expressed here are the worries of all of us — there's no question about that."

To reformers like Richard Picker of the group Priests without Office, Schoenborn understands the plight of clerics who choose not to live in celibacy. "The cardinal has understanding for us," Picker said.

But others cautioned against overrating the softspoken Schoenborn, saying he has shown understanding for those who don't fall in line in the past but has failed to come up with concrete actions to support them.

Described as someone who tries to please everyone and dislikes confrontation, Schoenborn initially stayed quiet when he replaced Groer in 1995 amid abuse allegations. Only three years later did he personally apologize "for everything that my predecessors and other holders of church office committed against people in their trust."

[Didn't Joseph Ratzinger once say that the worst bishops were those who disliked to face problems????]

"Rome gets on his nerves and he sends signals but he'll never contradict the Pope," said Herbert Kohlmaier, a former politician and national ombudsman who heads a reform group called the Lay Initiative. "He won't cross that line." [But he already has, on many points, explicitly and implicitly!]

Experts say Austria's unusually rebellious streak these days stems from a series of conservative Vatican appointments — including Groer's — following the retirement of the liberal and outspoken Cardinal Franz Koenig, a much beloved figure, in 1985.

"The church took a new turn after Koenig and that, coupled with the Groer pedophilia story, sparked dissatisfaction," said theologian Paul Zulehner. "Austria is a special case caused by Rome."

The Groer scandal erupted in 1995 when a former student of his alleged that he abused him in the 1970s. Other accusations followed. Groer stepped down shortly after the first allegations surfaced and was later forced by Pope John Paul II to relinquish all church functions. He died in 2003 but never directly admitted any guilt.

The disgust surrounding Groer resurfaced recently when the Alpine country — like several others — was hit by a new wave of abuse claims against clergy and employees of church-affiliated institutions such as schools.

"The abuse scandal has shown that apparently the church's leadership is no longer primarily focused on Jesus' message but rather on its own interests," said Hans Peter Hurka, who heads We are Church, an influential Vienna-based lay organization active across Europe.
00Thursday, June 24, 2010 8:26 PM
AP is licking its chops over this report that has dropped from nowhere, without their having to rake muck themselves, so they can pursue their anti-Church agenda with fresh material...

Belgian police raid home and office
of retired Belgian archbishop
in sex-abuse probe

by Robert Wielaard

BRUSSELS, June 24 (AP) - Police raided the home and office of the recently retired archbishop of Belgium on Thursday, carrying off documents and a personal computer as part of an investigation into the sexual abuse of children by Roman Catholic priests, officials said.

Police and prosecutors would not say if former Archbishop Godfried Danneels was suspected of abuse himself or simply had records pertaining to allegations against another person.

The raids followed recent statements to police "that are related to the sexual abuse of children within the Church," said Jean-Marc Meilleur, a spokesman for the Brussels prosecutor's office.

Police also searched the office of a committee that is investigating sexual abuse claims with help from the Church, but did not immediately give details. The committee has already opened 120 abuse cases but expects the number to soon double.

Police took documents, but did not question Danneels at his home in the city of Mechlin, just north of Brussels, said Hans Geybels, the spokesman for the former archbishop.

"They did take away his computer," he said.

Geybels added Danneels was fully co-operating.

"The cardinal believes justice must run its normal course. He has nothing against that," he said.

Danneels was a leading liberal voice in Europe's church before he retired in January.

But he returned to the limelight when, in April 26, Belgium's longest-serving bishop, Roger Vangheluwe, resigned after admitting to having sexually abused a young boy during the time that Danneels was archbishop.

The resignation led a former priest, Rik Deville, to say that he warned Danneels at least 15 years ago that Vangheluwe had abused a boy. Danneels said in April, "I cannot remember such a discussion."

Meilleur said the search of Danneels home and office was unrelated to the Vangheluwe case.

"This is a new case that came to us recently," he said.

Vatican officials said that for the time being there would be no comment.

The sex abuse scandal has engulfed the church in Europe — and beyond — for months, with reports of abuse of in seminars, schools and other church-run institutions. Reports that priests have abused children or bishops have covered up for them have outraged the faithful.

The scandal has touched on Pope Benedict XVI's German homeland.

In his most recent remarks earlier this month, Benedict begged forgiveness from victims and promised at a Mass to "do everything possible" to protect children.

The comments came during a Mass celebrated by 15,000 priests at St. Peter's Square marking the Vatican's Year of the Priest — a year marred by revelations of hundreds of new cases of clerical abuse in Europe, Latin America and elsewhere, as well as coverups by bishops and evidence of long-standing Vatican inaction.

The June 11 remarks also marked the first time Benedict had spoken of the crisis from St. Peter's Basilica, the centre of the church.

00Friday, June 25, 2010 12:36 PM

Middle Eastern aid agencies have
'great' expectations for coming Synod

Rome, Italy, Jun 24, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News).- Representatives from Vatican delegations and aid agencies working in the Middle East wrapped up the working sessions of the Reunion of Aid Agencies for the Oriental Churches (ROACO in its Italian abbreviation) on Thursday.

According to the organizing Vatican congregation, expectations are "great" among the participants for October's Special Assembly for the Middle East.

The 83rd session of the ROACO is taking place in the Vatican this week.

Thusday's session, which centered on the situation in the Holy Land, was highlighted by addresses given by the Archbishop Antonio Franco, pontifical representative to Jerusalem in Israel, Palestine and Cyprus; Fr. Pierbattista Pizzaballa, Custos of the Holy Land; as well as other experts who spoke of current issues in the region and initiatives being undertaken in support of Christians there.

A press release from the Congregation for the Oriental Churches noted a "significant willingness" of representatives over the course of the meetings "to guarantee a better future for Christians in the Holy Land and in the entire Middle Eastern region."

The congregation noted that discussions during the ROACO have highlighted certain priorities in support of pastoral, social, educative and assistance activities of the Church in the region and that special emphasis was given to the ecumenical and inter-religious challenges.

The communique also reported the great expectations of aid agencies for this fall's convocation of the Special Assembly for the Middle East of the Synod of Bishops. According to the congregation, "the very attentive acceptance of the Instrumentum Laboris constitutes an appreciable hope for an equally sincere analysis and of possible valid orientations for the Universal Church in confirmation of its solidarity towards Christians ..."

The Instrumentum Laboris, or “working document,” for October's synod provides an overview of the current situation of the Church in the Middle East as described and compiled by the leaders of local Churches themselves.

The ROACO closes on Friday with an audience between participants and Pope Benedict XVI.

00Saturday, June 26, 2010 6:07 AM

Glorify God by your life:
Evangelization and the renewal of the liturgy

by Mons. Charles Chaput, OFM Cap.
Archbishop of Denver

Archbishop Chaput reflects on questions of evangelization and the renewal of Catholic liturgy. He examines the key issues of today’s liturgical worship within the context of American culture. Where does the Catholic liturgy fit in a culture which prizes technology, science and material proof, but has lost the vocabulary to understand humanity’s oldest and deepest need: faith in an unseen God?

I’m very honored to be here tonight. This annual lecture reminds us that the Church in Chicago has played an historic role not only in the renewal of the liturgy, but also in the evangelization of America.

The vision of Cardinal Mundelein and Cardinal Stritch, along with the pioneering efforts of priests like Msgr. Hillenbrand and lay apostolates like the Catholic Family Movement, bore lasting fruit. They gave the Church an infusion of apostolic energy that nearly a century later still informs our worship and our Catholic witness in this culture.

So I’m happy to pay tribute to that. But the fact that this Institute is celebrating its 10th anniversary also reminds us that the Chicago legacy is being carried on with zeal and intelligence under the leadership of my friend, Cardinal Francis George.

I’m a member of the bishops’s Committee on Divine Worship and I’ve been honored to work with Cardinal George on the next major development in the liturgical renewal — the English translation of the new edition of the Roman Missal, which we begin implementing in the United States some time next year.

But I’m not here to talk about the new Missal tonight. I’ve been asked to speak on the broader questions of evangelization and the renewal of the liturgy, and I will. I do need to mention one caveat, though: The thoughts I offer you tonight are mine alone. I don’t speak for any of my brother bishops, or for the bishops’ conference; and I’m very happy to defer to Cardinal George’s judgment in all matters Catholic.

I want to start our conversation in an unlikely place. The scene is Mainz, Germany, April 1964. Just a few months earlier, in December 1963, Vatican II had published its groundbreaking document on the liturgy. Sacrosanctum Concilium was rightly hailed as the distillation of the practical and theological genius of the liturgical movement.

These were heady days, and the group gathering in Mainz for the Third German Liturgical Conference was understandably in a self-congratulatory mood. One of their friends, a pioneering theologian in the continental liturgical movement, could not join them. That friend was Father Romano Guardini, author of the now classic work, The Spirit of the Liturgy.

Though he couldn’t be there, Guardini sent a long open letter that was read to the conference. In it, he praised the work of Vatican II as a testimony that the Holy Spirit was alive and guiding the Church. He saw Sacrosanctum Concilium opening a new phase in the liturgical movement.

But the bulk of his letter was a complex meditation on the meaning of worship. And in his final lines he offered an opinion that left people stunned. He wrote:

“Is not the liturgical act, and with it all that goes under the name ‘liturgy,’ so bound up with the historical background — antique or medieval or baroque — that it would be more honest to give it up altogether? Would it not be better to admit that man in this industrial and scientific age, with its new sociological structure, is no longer capable of the liturgical act?”(i)

Guardini’s remark caused quite a stir. But there’s no evidence that theologians or liturgists ever took his concerns seriously. Let me say that I do. I think he put his finger on one of the key questions of mission in his time, and also in ours.

What Guardini meant by the liturgical act was the transformation of personal prayer and piety into genuine corporate worship, the leitourgia, the public service that the Church offers to God. He recognized that the Church’s corporate prayer was very different from the private prayer of individual believers.

The liturgical act requires a new kind of consciousness, a “readiness toward God,” an inward awareness of the unity of the whole person, body and soul, with the spiritual body of the Church, present in heaven and on earth. It also requires an appreciation that the sacred signs and actions of the Mass -- standing, kneeling, singing and so forth -- are themselves “prayer.”

Guardini believed that the spirit of the modern world was undermining the beliefs that made this liturgical consciousness possible. His insight here is that our faith and worship don’t take place in a vacuum. We’re always to some extent products of our culture. Our frameworks of meaning, our perceptions of reality, are shaped by the culture in which we live – whether we like it or not.

I want to engage Guardini’s challenge in our current American context. Let’s consider some of the evidence: We live in a society where the organizing principle is technological progress, conceived in narrow, scientific and materialistic terms. Our culture is dominated by the assumptions of this scientific and materialistic worldview. We judge what is “true” and what is “real” by what we can see, touch and verify through research and experimentation.

In this kind of culture, what meaning can there be for the traditional Catholic notion that the human person is created in the image of an invisible God; that the person is a creature of body and soul, infused with “the Spirit of sonship” (ii) through the liturgy and the sacraments?

In practice, almost nothing of what we believe as Catholics is affirmed by our culture. Even the meaning of the words “human” and “person” are subject to debate. And other tenets of the Catholic worldview are aggressively repudiated or ignored.

The question becomes: What implications does all this have for our worship -- in which we profess to be in contact body and soul with spiritual realities, singing with the angels and saints in heaven, receiving the true Body and Blood of our once dead and now risen Lord on the altar?

Here’s another datum: We’re surrounded in our daily lives by monuments to our power over nature and necessity. The trophies of our autonomy and self-sufficiency are everywhere -- buildings, machines, medicines, inventions. Everything seems to point to our capacity to provide for our every need through our own know-how and technology.

Again the question becomes: What does this do to the central premise of our worship -- that we are creatures dependent upon our Creator, and that we owe thanksgiving to God for every good gift, beginning with the gift of life?

We can ask the same questions about our mission of evangelization. We preach the good news that this world has a Savior who can free us from the bondage of sin and death.

What can our good news mean in a world where people don’t believe in sin or that there is anything they need to be saved from? What does the promise of victory over death mean to people who don’t believe in the existence of any reality beyond this visible world?

So is Guardini right? Does modern man seem incapable of real worship? I think so. But the more important question for us is this: If he is right, what are we going to do about it?

One of the few people who have wrestled with the issues Guardini raised is a Chicago priest who’s made his own important contributions to the liturgical and intellectual renewal of the Church, Father Robert Barron.

Barron puts the issue this way: “The project is not shaping the liturgy according to the suppositions of the age, but allowing the liturgy to question and shape the suppositions of any age. Is the modern man incapable of the liturgical act? Probably. But this is no ground for despair. Our goal is not to accommodate the liturgy to the world, but to let the liturgy be itself -- a transformative icon of the ordo of God.”

Barron suggests that in the post-conciliar era, the professional Catholic liturgical establishment opted for the former path, trying to adapt the liturgy to the demands of modern culture. I would agree. And I would add that time has shown this to be a dead end.

Trying to engineer the liturgy to be more “relevant” and “intelligible” through a kind of relentless cult of novelty, has only resulted in confusion and a deepening of the divide between believers and the true spirit of the liturgy. (iii)

I’m not here to reargue old debates. We need to be looking forward to Jesus Christ. That means we need to take up the challenge implied in Guardini’s question. The next great task of the liturgical renewal is to build an authentic Eucharistic culture, to instill a new sacramental and liturgical sensibility that enables Catholics to face the idols and suppositions of our culture with the confidence of believers who draw life from the sacred mysteries, in which we have communion with the living God.

We need to discover new ways to enter into the liturgical mystery; to realize the central place of the liturgy in God’s plan of salvation; to truly live our lives as a spiritual offering to God; and to embrace our responsibilities for the Church’s mission with a renewed Eucharistic spirituality.

I hope the rest of my talk will offer a small contribution to this next task of our renewal. I have four points I’d like to make.

The first is this: We need to recover the intrinsic and inseparable connection between liturgy and evangelization.

Liturgy is both the source of the Church’s mission and its goal. This was the teaching of Christ and the practice of the early Church. And it was reaffirmed by Vatican II.

Sacrosanctum Concilium says this: “The liturgy is the summit toward which the activity of the Church is directed; at the same time it is the font from which all her power flows. For the aim and object of apostolic works is that all who are made sons of God by faith and baptism should come together to praise God in the midst of his Church, to take part in the sacrifice, and to eat the Lord's Supper.” (iv)

This is a beautiful vision of life lived from the Eucharist and for the Eucharist. This should be the foundation not only for our thinking about the liturgy but for our pastoral strategies as well.

The reason we evangelize is in order to bring people into communion with the living God in the Eucharistic liturgy. And this experience of communion with God, in turn, impels us to evangelize.

In this regard, the Novus Ordo, the new order of the Mass promulgated after the council, has been a great blessing to the Church. Our liturgy gives us the zeal for the evangelization and sanctification of our world. The vernacular has opened up the liturgy’s content in new ways. It has encouraged active, creative participation by all the faithful -- not only in the liturgy but in every aspect of the Church’s mission.

By the way, for the record, I’m also very grateful that the Holy Father has allowed wider use of the older Tridentine form -- not because I personally prefer it, in fact I find the Novus Ordo, properly celebrated, a much richer expression of worship; but because we need access to all of the Church’s heritage of prayer and faith.

So my first point is that we cannot look at the liturgy as something distinct from our mission. Our worship of God in the Mass is meant to be an act of adoration, submission and thanksgiving. It’s also meant to be loving acceptance of our vocation as disciples. That’s why every Eucharistic liturgy ends on a missionary note -- we are sent out, commissioned to share the treasure we have discovered with everyone we meet.

Here’s my second point: The liturgy is a participation in the liturgy of heaven, in which we worship in Spirit and truth with the worldwide Church and the communion of saints.(v)

This may be the most neglected dimension of the liturgy today. If our liturgies strike us as pedestrian, narrowly parochial, too focused on our own communities and needs; if they lack a powerful sense of the sacred and the transcendent, it’s because we have lost the sense of how our worship participates in the heavenly liturgy.

To appreciate this a little more, we should recall the legend of how Christianity came to Russia. The story goes that around 988, Prince Vladimir I of Kiev was searching for a national religion. He sent ambassadors to neighboring countries to seek out the respective virtues of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. During the course of their fact-finding journey the prince’s men had occasion to attend a Eucharistic celebration in the great Church of Hagia Sophia in Constantinople.

They were overcome with awe. They went back home and filed this report: “We came to the Greeks, and we were taken to the place where they worship their God. … We do not know whether we have been in heaven or on earth. … We know only that God dwells there among men.” (vi) Not long after that, Vladimir was baptized and exhorted all his countrymen to be baptized too.

The source for this story is ancient, and many historians today believe the account is apocryphal. But even so, it illuminates the cosmic and missionary dimensions of the liturgy.

The Eucharist, as the Prince of Kiev’s men were said to have experienced it, is a cosmic liturgy that unites the worship of heaven with our worship here on earth. In the Divine Liturgy, the Kingdom comes on earth as it is in heaven. Heaven and earth are filled with the glory of God. This is what we believe, but I’m not sure how many believers actually live it.

We see the heavenly liturgy in the Book of Revelation. Remember how Revelation begins. St. John is “in the Spirit on the Lord’s Day.” In other words, he was celebrating the Eucharist on a Sunday when he was given a vision of the worship of heaven and the world to come. (vii )

The book is filled with liturgical and sacramental imagery. At one point John sees an uncountable multitude from every tribe, tongue, people and nation worshipping before the Eucharistic Lamb. The climax of the book is the coming of “a new heaven and a new earth” and the announcement: “Behold, the dwelling of God is with men.”

There are two points I want to make here: First, our worship is an icon of heavenly things, a window through which the reality and destiny of our lives is glimpsed.

Second, the heavenly liturgy is the key to the universality of the Church’s mission. In the Catholic vision of history, God’s plan of salvation is destined to culminate in a cosmic liturgy in which all creation gives praise and glory to God, the Creator of all things. We have a foretaste of the liturgical consummation of history every time we celebrate the liturgy on earth.

This truth should transform the way we worship. It should move us with gratitude that our God would grant us the privilege of joining the angels and saints who worship before him. It should make us strive for liturgies that are reverent and beautiful, and that point our hearts and minds to things above.

This truth should also change the way we think about our public witness in this culture. We’re called to testify to Jesus Christ, to make his teachings known, to fight against all that violates God’s holiness and justice. And we need to understand our mission in the light of God’s larger plan, conceived before the foundation of the world.

The ultimate purpose of our witness is to prepare the way for the cosmic liturgy in which all humanity will adore the Creator. Our work takes part in this redemptive plan in which Christ continues to reconcile all things, until that day when every knee in heaven and on earth shall bend in worship, and God is “all in all,” as St. Paul put it.viii

Here’s my third point: We need to strive to recover and live with the same vibrant liturgical and evangelical spirituality as the early Christians.

Some of the worst liturgical ideas since the council have been based on a woolly romanticizing about what the early Christians believed and how they worshipped. It has been argued, for example, that the early Church had no sacramental priesthood and that the Eucharist was celebrated with limited ritual, essentially as a meal shared among friends.

I won’t take the time here to rebut these claims. The problem with all such nostalgic-primitivist reconstructions can be summed up in one thought: Nobody risks torture and death for a meal with their friends. And torture and death were the frequent penalty for being caught celebrating the Eucharist in the world of the early Church.

There are countless stories we could point to. One that especially moves me comes from the year 304, during Diocletian’s great persecution. A congregation in Abitina, a village near Carthage, was rounded up. The account of their torture, written by a witness just a few years after the fact, is brutally raw and graphic. What shines out is the people’s Eucharistic faith.

Interrogated about why he disobeyed the Emperor’s decree, a young lector named Felix said this: “As if one could be a Christian without the Mass or the Mass could be celebrated without a Christian! … The Christian exists through the Mass and the Mass in Christians! Neither can exist without the other. … We celebrated the glorious assembly. We gathered to read the Scriptures of the Lord at the Mass." (ix)

We notice in this confession the same themes we’ve been talking about. The Mass for these disciples is no mere meal. It’s a “glorious assembly,” a heavenly liturgy. This liturgy defines their identity as Christians. And it also defines the identity of the Church; so much so that one of Felix’s fellow martyrs would confess: “We cannot live without the Mass.” [Benedict XVI told this anecdote in his homily to the Italian National Eucharistic Congress in Bari In May 2005 - 'Senza domenica, non possiamo vivere'.]

This is the kind of faith that should inspire our worship. And this is the kind of faith that our worship should inspire. Can we really say today that we’re ready to die rather than not celebrate the Mass?

The liturgy can only inspire us if we make it the heart of our days. And that’s a task for us in this room. The centerpiece of a new Eucharistic culture has to be the Sunday celebration of the Mass.

There is no greater sign of our culture’s impact on the Eucharist than the fact that we no longer see Sunday as the first day of the week but as the final day of our “weekend.”

Jesus Christ rose from the dead on “the first day of the week.”x That’s why the first Christians hallowed Sunday as the “weekly Easter,” the Day of the Lord. That’s why we should too.

The Mass should be the spiritual offering we make to begin each week, not something we try to “fit in” among our leisure activities before we have to return to work on Monday. Even this subtle change in outlook could have a deep impact on the way we worship and the way we live our faith in the world.

My fourth and final point is this: The liturgy is a school of sacrificial love. The law of our prayer should be the law of our life. Lex orandi, lex vivendi. We are to become the sacrifice we celebrate.

It is striking how many stories of the first Christian martyrs -- especially the stories of bishops and priests -- are told in what we might call a “Eucharistic key.”

The classic is the martyrdom of the elderly bishop Polycarp. The whole account unfolds along the lines of a liturgy. Polycarp even delivers a long prayer that is modeled after the Eucharistic canon of the Mass.

Finally Polycarp asks, again echoing the prayer of the Mass: “May I be received this day … as a rich and acceptable sacrifice.” The account continues with his being roasted alive. The witnesses testify that they smell, not burning flesh, but the aroma of breaking bread. (xi)

The other classic example is St. Ignatius, the bishop of Antioch. In prison where he was awaiting his execution by being fed alive to dogs, he wrote: “God’s wheat I am, and by the teeth of wild beasts I am to be ground that I may prove to be Christ’s pure bread.” (xii)

But not only the martyrs should see themselves as a Eucharistic offering. You and I should do the same. So should every baptized believer. Again and again we read in the New Testament that we are all called to offer ourselves to God as a living sacrifice of praise, that we are to make ourselves a perfect offering, holy and acceptable to God. (xiii)

This is a foundation stone to the Catholic belief in the priesthood of all the baptized. The early Christians believed they were heirs to the vocation given to Israel — to be a “chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation.”

By the priesthood of our lives, all baptized believers are to offer, not the blood-sacrifice of animals, but the sacrifice of our hearts, the symbol of our lives, in imitation of Jesus Christ.

We make our sacrifice of praise first and foremost in the Eucharist. This is the meaning behind the council’s call for the “active participation” of the laity in the liturgy. (xv) This expression unfortunately has been taken as a license for all sorts of external activity, commotion and busy-ness in our worship. That’s not at all what Vatican II had in mind.

“Active participation” refers to the inner movement of our souls, our interior participation in Christ’s action of offering of his Body and Blood. This requires silent spaces and “pauses” in our worship, in which we can collect our emotions and thoughts, and make a conscious act of self-dedication. We are to “lift up our hearts,” and in contrition and humility place them on the altar along with the bread and wine.

But our work does not stop in the Mass.

Everything in our days -- our work, our sufferings, our prayer, our ministries -- everything we do and experience is meant to be offered to God as a spiritual sacrifice.

All of our work for the unborn child, the poor and the disabled; all of our work for immigration justice and the dignity of marriage and the family: All of it should be offered for the praise and glory of God’s name and for the salvation of our brothers and sisters.

This is another great teaching of the council that we have yet to integrate into ordinary Catholic spirituality. In Lumen Gentium, the council taught that all our works “together with the offering of the Lord’s Body … are most fittingly offered in the celebration of the Eucharist. Thus, as those everywhere who adore in holy activity, the laity consecrate the world itself to God.” (xvi)

All that we do -- in the liturgy and in our life in the world -- is meant to be in the service of consecrating this world to God.

So my friends, we have come full circle.

This is the answer to Guardini’s challenge. You are the answer to Guardini’s challenge.

The liturgical act becomes possible for modern man when you make your lives a liturgy, when you live your lives liturgically -- as an offering to God in thanksgiving and praise for his gifts and salvation. You are the future of the liturgical renewal.

The liturgical act becomes possible for modern man when you see your lives and work in light of God’s plan for the world, in light of his desire that all men and women be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth.

The mystery we celebrate with the angels and the saints must take root deep in our lives and personalities. It must bear fruit. Each of us must make our own unique contribution to God’s loving plan -- that all creation become adoration and sacrifice in praise of him.

Thank you for your attention tonight. And it’s fitting that we should conclude and go forth in the words of one of the new dismissal prayers of the new Roman Missal. So let our prayer for each other tonight be this: “Go in peace, glorifying the Lord by your life.”


i. See the account in Robert Krieg, Romano Guardini: A Precursor of Vatican II (Notre Dame, 1997), 87–90. A unofficial translation of Guardini’s letter can be found at: www.jknirp.com/guardf.htm.
ii. cf. Rom. 8:15.
iii. Robert E. Barron, Bridging the Great Divide: Musings of a Post-Liberal, Post-Conservative Evangelical Catholic (Rowan & Littlefield, 2004), 66; cf. Chap. 5: “The Liturgical Act and the Church of the 21st Century.”
iv. Sacrosanctum Concilium, 10.
v. cf. Sacrosanctum Concilium, 8, Lumen Gentium 50; Catechism, 1090, 1111, 1136, 1187, 1326, 2642.
vi. The Rus Primary Chronicle (Cambridge: Mediaeval Academy, 1953); cf. Ratzinger, Pilgrim Fellowship of Faith (Ignatius, 2005), 90–91.
vii. Rev. 1:9.
viii. 2 Pet. 3:13; Eph. 1:10, 23; 1 Cor. 15:28; 2 Cor. 5:19; Col. 1:18, 20 Phil. 2:5–12.
ix. Patrologia Latina, vol. 8, col. 696; the Latin dominico is sometimes translated “the Lord’s Day” or “Lord’s Supper.” But the form is a kind of slang, suggesting “Mass”; cf. Mike Aquilina, Fire of God’s Love: 120 Reflections on the Eucharist (Servant, 2009), 13.
x. Mark 16:2, 9; Luke 24:1; John 20:1.
xi. Martyrdom of Polycarp, 9, in The Acts of the Christian Martyrs, trans. Herbert Musurillo (Clarendon, 1972).
xii. To the Romans, 4.
xiii. cf. Rom. 12:1; 1 Pet. 2:5: Heb. 9:14; 13:15, 16.
xiv. cf. 2 Pet. 2:9; Rev. 1:6; Exod. 19:4.
xv. cf. Sacrosanctum Concilium, 14 (Latin: actuosa participatio).
xvi. Lumen Gentium, 34.
xvii. cf. 1 Tim. 2:4.

00Saturday, July 3, 2010 4:07 PM
Cardinal Ouellet’s fast rise
and papal prospects

by Father Raymond J. de Souza

July 2, 2010 – 7:30 am

When Marc Ouellet was sent from Rome in 2002 to be the new archbishop of Quebec City, it marked an astonishing rise for the former seminary rector and professor of theology. With Tuesday’s announcement that Pope Benedict has named Cardinal Ouellet to the third most senior post in the Vatican, he becomes the highest-ranking Canadian in the history of the Roman Catholic Church.

Cardinal Ouellet is now the Prefect of the Congregation for Bishops, meaning that he will head up the Vatican department that makes recommendations to the Pope for the appointment of bishops worldwide.

While the Pope does get involved personally in the most important appointments, the sheer number of dioceses around the world means that the Congregation for Bishops’ recommendation is usually accepted.

Ten years ago Cardinal Ouellet would have hardly imagined himself a bishop, let alone the Pope’s chief advisor on who should be made one.

It was in March 2001 that then Father Ouellet, a gifted professor of theology whose work was known to then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, received a call summoning him to appear at the Apostolic Palace the next day.

He was then teaching across Rome at the Lateran University. Given the urgency of the summons and his work as a professor, he spent the night wondering whether something he had taught or written was under investigation.

To his shock, he was told instead he would be ordained a bishop in less than three weeks, and appointed to the Pontifical Council for Christian Unity. Less than three years later he was the cardinal archbishop of Quebec.

His path most resembles the rise of another gifted theologian — Joseph Ratzinger. The current Pope was a German university professor in 1977, and by 1981 had become Prefect of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith — the Church’s chief doctrinal officer.

[One imagines that Cardinal Ratzinger called John Paul II's attention to the Canadian theologian - a protege of Von Balthasar and Ratzinger's colleague in Communio. And one wonders if there was someone similar who called Paul VI's attention to Joseph Ratzinger. I always thought that Paul VI himself may have picked him out because of his work in the International Theological Commission and Ratzinger's theological record both at Vatican II and in the years that followed.]

Cardinal Ouellet’s appointment will intensify speculation that he might follow Ratzinger’s own path to the papacy itself; indeed there was already such talk in 2005 after Pope John Paul II died.

Leave the future for the future, though. The appointment is significant for Canada in the present.

First, the effect on Quebec will be significant. While the appointment indicates papal favour upon Cardinal Ouellet’s willingness to challenge the increasingly secular, narrow and intolerant public discourse in Quebec, his absence will leave an enormous hole.

For some 40 years now, Quebec’s bishops have more or less accommodated themselves to the secularization of Quebec, co-operating even in the elimination of Christianity in the schools.

When Cardinal Ouellet challenged the secular fundamentalism of the Quebec consensus, he often stood alone, his brother bishops opting to remain silent — most recently in the debates about abortion. His first task in his new job will be to find his replacement and it will not be easy to do.

Second, for Canada as a whole, it means that the appointment of bishops here will receive special attention at the highest level of the Church. Cardinal Ouellet’s move to Quebec in 2002 was itself part of a trend toward more confident, evangelical and publicly courageous bishops in Canada. One can expect that he will continue to look for the same in recommending bishops, not just for Canada but worldwide.

Third, Canada has often had three cardinal electors (those under 80 who are eligible to vote in a conclave). With Cardinal Ouellet’s departure for Rome, there is now only one — Cardinal Turcotte in Montreal.

Archbishop Thomas Collins of Toronto will likely be made a cardinal this fall. Given that Cardinal Ouellet’s successor in Quebec may not be made a cardinal — Cardinal Ouellet’s predecessor was not — it opens the possibility of a second cardinal outside of Quebec, where the Canadian Church’s current vitality and future potential lies.

It is now plausible that Archbishop Terrence Prendergast of Ottawa, who has been given important global assignments in recent years, may join Archbishop Collins in being admitted to the sacred college. After all, it was Archbishop Prendergast who was at Cardinal Ouellet’s side in June during the height of the abortion controversy.

Above all, though, it is a day of great pride for the oft-beleaguered Church in Quebec and the increasingly confident Church in Canada, that one of our own has been so chosen. Quebec’s loss is Rome’s gain.

00Tuesday, July 6, 2010 6:42 PM
Except that it makes for yet another attention-grabbing headlinefor those who can't wait to hear about the next alleged Vatican misdeed, this story has little to do with the Vatican, even if Italian media reporting has always sought to capitalize on its tenuous Vatican connection all these years, all based on speculation - the standard 'guilt by association' ploy used by contemporary media against its prime targets.

The Vatican, a mobster's tomb and
the hunt for the body of teenage girl

By Nick Squires

ROME, July 5 - The Vatican has given Italian investigators permission to open the tomb of a Mafia gangster in an attempt to solve one of Italy's most enduring mysteries, the kidnapping of a teenage girl nearly 30 years ago.

It has long been suspected that the tomb, in an underground crypt, may contain not only the body of the mobster but also the remains of 15-year-old Emanuela Orlandi, who is thought to have been kidnapped by his gang in June, 1983.

The saga of Miss Orlandi's disappearance is one of the murkiest intrigues to have embroiled the Vatican in modern times. Sub-plots involve the attempted assassination of Pope John Paul II, the imprisonment of his Turkish assailant, far-Right political groups and "God's banker", Roberto Calvi, who was found hanging beneath Blackfriars Bridge in London in 1982.

The alleged mastermind behind the kidnapping of Miss Orlandi was Enrico "Renatino" De Pedis, the leader of the Magliana gang, Rome's most ruthless criminal group.

He was shot dead by rival gangsters in a street in central Rome in February, 1990, and his body interred in the crypt in Basilica of Sant'Apollinare, a Vatican-owned church near Piazza Navona. {There's the first apparently questionable link. Why is a crime lord buried inside a church 'owned by the Vatican'? I haven't the time or inclination to check out this story since it does not involve Benedict XVI in any way.]

Only his widow, Carla Di Giovanni, was said to possess the keys to the sarcophagus. In 2005, an anonymous caller to the Italian equivalent of the BBC's Crimewatch program suggested that investigators hoping to solve the mystery of the teenager's disappearance should open the crypt.

The man who made the call has since been identified as the son of a member of the Magliana gang.

Five years on, the Vatican, through the Vicariate of Rome, has finally given police and magistrates permission to prise open the marble crypt and analyse its contents.

"The Vicariate of Rome expresses no objection to the request of Italian magistrates that the tomb of Signor De Pedis be inspected," the Vicariate said in a statement. Church officials also consented to the corpse being removed from the crypt, in the hope that it could shed some light on the teenager's disappearance.

Police are interviewing witnesses in the case, which was reopened two years ago, and are unlikely to open the tomb until next month or in September. It has always been seen as highly unusual that a known mafioso should have been given the honour of being buried in a church in which popes and cardinals are also buried.

The church is next to the music school which Miss Orlandi attended and where she was last seen alive, climbing into a dark green BMW with an unidentified man.

The teenager's family said they were skeptical over claims that her remains might be in the tomb.

"We will await the facts," said her sister, Natalina Orlandi. "But I have never believed that Emanuela could be buried with De Pedis.

"As a Catholic, to think that an underworld boss could be laid to rest in a basilica is upsetting."

Over the years it has been claimed that Miss Orlandi was kidnapped so that she could be used as a bargaining chip for the release from prison of Mehmet Ali Agca, the Turkish gunman who shot and wounded Pope John Paul II in St Peter's Square in 1981.

Her parents received anonymous phone calls in which it was proposed that their daughter would be released in exchange for Agca, who was a member of an ultra-Right Turkish group called the Grey Wolves and allegedly carried out the assassination attempt on the orders of Bulgarian intelligence and the KGB.

Agca served 19 years in jail in Italy before being deported to Turkey, where he was released in January.

Another theory is that the girl's father, a Vatican employee, had stumbled on documents that connected the Vatican bank with the Magliana gang and that she was kidnapped in an attempt to silence him.

It has even been suggested that the kidnapping was carried out on the orders of a Catholic Archbishop, Paul Marcinkus, the disgraced head of the Vatican bank, known as the Istituto per le Opere di Religione (IOR).

Marcinkus, an American who died four years ago, was accused of having links not only with Roberto Calvi but with organized crime groups.

00Wednesday, July 7, 2010 3:39 AM
Cardinal Danneels questioned today
by Dutch magistrate in connection
with abuse cover-ups

by Hilary White

BRUSSELS, July 6, 2010 (LifeSiteNews.com) – The former cardinal archbishop of Brussels is beung questioned in court hearings today on his suspected involvement in cover-ups of clerical sex abuse that
occurred during his 30 years as head of the Belgian Catholic Church.

Godfreed Cardinal Danneels is taking the stand this morning in hearings that prosecutors are expecting “not to be short.”

Additionally, local news reports that authorities were surprised to find concealed in Danneels’s home confidential court documents related to the infamous case of electrician Marc Dutroux, who kidnapped, raped and murdered several young girls in the late 1990s.

Het Laaste Niews reports that dozens of photographs of the victims’ corpses and the ruins of the cells where they were imprisoned, as well as magistrates’ reports, were found among Danneels’s files.

[According to one report today: Six years ago Danneels successfully obtained an injunction against a Brussels-based newspaper to stop publication of details of his alleged involvement in the Dutroux affair. The article described an alleged attempt to blackmail the Cardinal by sending a videocassette to the Vatican. It is possible that the files found in his home relate to his defence against those charges.]

The popular Danneels, a leading voice in the European Church’s “liberal-progressive” wing, was implicated by the head of the Church’s own independent commission in covering up cases of clerical sexual abuse.

Peter Adriaenssens, a child psychiatrist, has told media that the cardinal’s name has appeared in 50 of the complaints made by victims before the commission was disbanded following the police raids. Adriaenssens said that Danneels was implicated not as an abuser himself, but as someone who knew of the abuse but did nothing to stop it.

In April, shortly after Danneels’s retirement in January, his close friend and protégé, Roger Vangheluwe, resigned as bishop of Bruges after admitting he had abused his own nephew for decades.

At the time, Danneels claimed that he had first learned of Vangheluwe’s crimes only days before they became public. But a Brussels priest, Fr. Rik Devillé, has challenged this, saying that he had informed Danneels about Vangheluwe between 15 and 17 years ago, after speaking to a confidant of the victim's family. Danneels said he had no recollection of Deville’s allegations.

In the first two weeks following the resignation of Vangheluwe, over 475 people contacted the independent Church commission on sexual abuse to report their cases. Before Danneels’s retirement, only 30 cases had been registered with the commission in the previous 10 years and none with the police.

Public outrage at the mishandling of the case of Marc Dutroux, a pedophile rapist and serial killer who kidnapped, tortured and sexually abused six girls age 8 to 19 between 1995 and 1996, resulted in some reforms of the criminal justice system.

Dutroux is known to have killed four of his victims, two of whom were buried alive, and was also convicted of murdering an accomplice. In his confession Dutroux maintained that he had been acting in conjunction with a pan-European pedophile ring that involved high-level government officials.

The Dutroux case is still prominent in the public consciousness of Belgium. At the time, official mishandling of the investigation and prosecution of the case caused widespread public outrage, culminating in a march of 300,000 on the capital in Brussels in 1996.

Many aspects of the case remain unresolved, including allegations of a vast conspiracy to block the investigation. Jean-Marc Connerotte, the original judge of the case, testified in court to being protected by bullet-proof vehicles and armed guards after police warned of death threats by “shadowy figures.”

Until there is more conclusive information, I will refrain from commenting on Cardinal Danneels's problems because I have never been sympathetic to him from the time I first became aware of his existence - which was right after the Conclave of 2005, when he uncharitably expressed his regret (or worse) at its outcome, and then, if I read right, he made it a point to leave Rome that same night of April 19 to underscore his disapproval. I was stunned at the time that a cardinal could be so uncouth and un-Christian!

00Thursday, July 8, 2010 1:13 PM
The reporting on the police investigation into sex abuse complaints against some Belgian priests has been profuse and quite sensation-mongering in the past few days, so I have decided to wait until someone reliable comes up with a sober update. Here is one.

Belgian police grill Cardinal
for 10 hours on sex-abuse cases

July 07, 2010

Belgian Cardinal Godfried Danneels was questioned by police for 10 hours on July 6, and emerged visibly shaken by the interrogation.

A spokesman for prosecutors said that the retired Archbishop of Brussels was asked about “at least 50” cases in which he was aware of the sexual abuse of children but did not report to authorities.

The spokesman said that the cardinal was treated as a witness rather than a suspect, but added that could change.

Peter Adriaenssens, the chairman of an independent commission chartered by the Belgian bishops to investigate sex-abuse claims, reported that Cardinal Danneels was “clearly in a state of shock” after the questioning, which followed the surprise police raid on the headquarters of the Belgian hierarchy and the cardinal’s residence.

“It is very difficult for him to know that a good number of people thought that he knew and did nothing,” he said. The Adriaenssens committee resigned after the police raid, in which all of the committee’s files were confiscated.

The Belgian newspaper Het Laatse Nieuws added a sensational new element to the story with a report that police had found in the bishops’ files some material relating to Marc Dutroux, a notorious criminal who was convicted in 2004 for abducting, molesting, and murdering several children.

The Belgian bishops’ conference said that the report — which prosecutors refused to confirm or deny — appeared to refer to a set of CD-ROMs about the Dutroux case that had been sent to the bishops as well as to leading politicians and journalists all over Belgium.

The bishops’ conference also protested that material from a secret police investigation had found its way into the press.

00Thursday, July 8, 2010 11:43 PM

The sad demise of celibate love
It is symptomatic of modern values
that we conclude Cardinal Newman's
intense love for a man meant
he was a homosexual

BY Jack Valero

Thursday 8 July 2010

In October 2008 there was excitement over the exhumation, in the outskirts of Birmingham, of an eminent Victorian. The remains of Cardinal John Henry Newman were being dug up as part of the process towards declaring him a saint – Pope Benedict XVI will declare him "blessed" (the first stage) during his September visit to the UK – but the move disturbed more than the ground.

The controversy turned on the curious fact that Newman was not alone in his tomb, having asked to be buried in the same plot as another priest he was very close to.

"He loved me with an intensity of love, which was unaccountable," Newman wrote after the death of Father Ambrose St John, 15 years before his own.

The object of the exhumation was to transfer Newman's remains to a marble sarcophagus in the Birmingham Oratory, giving people who wanted to pay their respects easy access to this revered English Catholic and major Christian thinker.

But a well-known gay rights activist objected. "The reburial has only one aim in mind: to cover up Newman's homosexuality and to disavow his love for another man," Peter Tatchell noisily alleged.

As it turned out, there were no remains to transfer. The coffin, not being lead-lined, had decomposed. But the controversy left two ideas stuck in the minds of many: that Newman was "gay", and that the Catholic church wished to suppress the fact.

Now, it is impossible to know what struggles went on in Newman's heart; but had he been asked, he would have found the question very strange. For him, the idea of "being homosexual" would have been an unfamiliar and even pointless categorisation; what mattered was what people did.

And on that question, Newman's contemporaries and modern biographers all agree: the author of the Apologia Pro Vita Sua never broke his vow of celibacy. His friendships may have been intense and emotional – but they were consistently chaste.

Aged 16, Newman had a "deep imagination" that "it would be the will of God that I should lead a single life".

As an Anglican he did not disdain marriage, and thought it a good thing for most people: "I think that country parsons ought, as a general rule, to be married – and I am sure the generality of men ought, whether parsons or not."

But he himself was a dedicated celibate, as both an Anglican and (from his mid-40s) a Catholic priest. For Newman this was a state of life that allowed him to love God with a wholehearted focus – but also to love many others intensely, in the pattern laid down by Jesus.

This kind of celibate love has challenged most ages, but ours seems to have given up the struggle altogether. Such love, if it is directed towards one other of the same gender, is now assumed to be homosexual – conditioned by homoerotic attraction, even if not acted upon – or if it does not have a particular object will be thought of as disembodied devotion, like the love of an idealist for the human race as a whole (but not necessarily for individual members of it).

Yet there is no evidence that Newman's attractions were homoerotic, and they were certainly not detached. He had an extraordinary capacity for deep friendship with many people, both men and women, as his 20,000 letters collected in 32 volumes attest.

He often wrote to his friends as carissimi – "dearest ones" – but his was a more innocent age, far less suspicious of strong expressions of love between persons of the same sex.

And he was not afraid to be very close indeed to a few people. "The best preparation for loving the world at large, and loving it duly and wisely," he wrote in a letter, "is to cultivate an intimate friendship and affection for those who are immediately about."

Hence his deep friendships with those "immediately about" him: John Bowden as a student, Richard Hurrell Froude and Frederic Rogers while a don at Oxford, and Ambrose St John as a Catholic priest.

St John had been in Oxford with Newman; they became Catholics together, and were ordained priests in Rome at the same time. When Newman founded the Oratory in 1848, St John was one of the first members. Being 15 years Newman's junior, when he died suddenly aged 60, Newman was devastated.

"I have ever thought no bereavement was equal to that of a husband's or a wife's," he wrote, "but I feel it difficult to believe that any can be greater, or any one's sorrow greater, than mine."

Some 15 centuries earlier, St Augustine in his Confessions wrote in the same way about the death not of his mistress, but of his best friend.

"My eyes sought him everywhere, but they did not see him; and I hated all places because he was not in them, because they could not say to me, 'Look, he is coming,' as they did when he was alive and absent."

Newman's desire to share a tomb with St John may seem unusual to the modern eye. Yet Alan Bray in his seminal work The Friend (2003) cites many such examples of friends sharing tombs in previous centuries: there is one in Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge; and another at Merton College, Oxford.

Such public commitments to "marriages of the soul" were common in pre-modern times, Bray notes, before they were eroded by the Enlightenment ethic of "universal" and "rational" fraternity.

Bray's conclusion is striking: "Newman's burial with St John cannot be detached from Newman's understanding of the place of friendship in Christian belief or its long history."

Reading the final page of Newman's Apologia – lyrically dedicated to all his Oratorian brothers and especially to "Ambrose St John, whom God gave me, when He took everyone else away; who are the link between my old life and my new; who have now for 21 years been so devoted to me, so patient, so zealous, so tender" – the writer George Eliot was impressed.

"Pray mark that beautiful passage in which he thanks his friend Ambrose St John," she wrote to a friend. "I know hardly anything that delights me more than such evidences of sweet brotherly love being a reality in the world."

Do we – can we – today applaud such friendship? Do we – can we – make room, now, for such "evidences of sweet brotherly love"?

Men and women often have intense friendships with members of their own sex, friendships that have no sexual component; yet we are losing the vocabulary to speak about them, or we are embarrassed to do so.

A "friend" is one you add to a social networking profile on the web; or it is a euphemism for a sexual partner outside marriage.

Can a man nowadays own up with pride to having a dear and close friend, another man to whom he is devoted? Can he, without it being suspected as repressed homosexuality? I fear the answer to both may be "no". And it is hard to know which is the sadder.

I cannot help think that it was a deliberate decision to meet this potential embarassment head-on in the weeks leading to the beatification of Cardinal Newman, especially since Jack Valero is one of the 'Catholic Voices' mobilized to present the Catholic viewpoint regarding the Pope, his visit and his teachings - so as not to leave the field completely to the 'Hitchkinses' and assorted lay ignoramuses of the UK media.

I thought the issue was dealt with quite well last autumn when the exhumation revived the long-standing question, mostly among non-Catholics, about the deep friendship of Newman and Ambrose St. John - a friendship about which Newman never hesitated to express himself openly and without reserve.

But it is best to bring it up again, sort of like 'before somebody else does it' on the very eve of the beatification Mass, and do everything to give the right context to that relationship. Valero's citation of Augustine is a master touch I had not read before.

00Friday, July 9, 2010 10:31 PM
Zollitsch admits shortcomings
in dealing with a 1992 case
against a parish priest with
a 20-year-record of sex offenses

Translated from

July 9, 2010

Mons. Robert Zollitsch, Bishop of Freiburg (Germany) and president of the German bishops' conference, has now admitted he committed errors in handling a sex abuse case in the past and asks the victims for their forgiveness.

He said that he had learned much earlier about sexual abuses committed by the parish priest of Oberharmsbach in Baden than he had earlier admitted - that he had been informed about the case in 1992, when, he said, he should have paid more attention to it by seeking out all possible victims as well as talking to witnesses.

Zollitsch made the admission and plea for forgiveness after speaking with victims of the parish priest, who was accused at the time of having sexually abused altar servers and other young boys over a 20-year period. He was made to retire in 1991, but authorities were never informed of his offenses.

At the same time, Zollitsch apologized for a statement made by his Archdiocesan spokesman in March and repeated in June that he learned of the priest's offenses only in 1995, after the priest was retired, even as he denied that he had ever covered up for the priest.

Zollitsch's archdiocese published an interim report Friday about reported cases of sexual abuse by priests, saying that in the first half of 2010, it had received complaints against 44 priests, religious and Church workers for sexual abuses committed between 1950 and 2000. [44 offenders is 44 too many, but the complaints cover a 50-year period.]

Of the 44, 36 were diocesan priests, of whom 16 have died and 12 are retired. Four priests have been dismissed from pastoral work, two complaints are still being investigated, and in two cases, the identity of the accused priest has not been established. Four of the complaints were against two priests and two instructors belonging to religious orders. Ten complaints were sent over to the civil authorities.

In each case, the archdiocese says it has sought to make contact with all possible victims to offer them assistance and counsel.

I hope the episode of his 'forgetfulness' has made Mons. Zollitsch realize how wrong it was for him and Mons. Marx of Munich to have been so high-handed with Mons. Mixa last April and pressuring him in public to resign before even talking to him.

In Belgium, a report from the online service of RTBF (Radio-Television Belge Francophone):

Cardinal Danneels protests
violation of secrecy
in current investigations

Translated from

July 9, 2010

The retired Primate of Belgium, Cardinal Godfried Danneels, has filed a civil complaint against a Belgian magistrate for violating the secrecy of current investigations into complaints made against bishops and priests for alleged sexual abuse.

Danneels underwent ten hours of questioning earlier this week by authorities conducting the inquiry, Before his testimony, there were several leaks to the media about the alleged prurient content of a PC seized last week from the cardinal's residence.

It turns out that the so-called prurient files included information about the case of Belgian man convicted for raping and killing girls in the 1990s as part of a European pedophile network that reportedly involved high-ranking politicians. The information was contained in a CD sent to journalists and selected personages by a British outlet seeking reactions to the case.

The picture of a nude girl also found on the computer was apparently an art drawing executed by a student in Liege automaticallly downloaded to the PC during a visit to the site of RTBF itself.

Official Belgian sources said that the improper leaks about the Church investigation are being looked into.

I am prejudiced against Cardinal Danneels, but he has cooperated in the current investigation and has said he is happy to do so, and he is right to protest the flagrant violation of secrecy by the Belgian investigators while the inquiry is still ongoing.

Another most interesting report from DIE WELT has to do with the top two school officials at the Benedictine Abbey in Ettal, Mavaria, whom Munich Archbishop Reinhard Marx forced to resign last April after the disclosure of various sex abuses committed by priests decades ago - long before the two officials were in charge! ....

A new Vatican rebuke
for Munich's archbishop

Translated from

July 9, 2010

The air has not been good these days for MUNich's Archbishop Reinhard Marx. Recently, Pope Benedict XVI had harsh words for the way the German bishops had treated their former colleague Mons. Walter Mixa.

"After a time of often disproportionate polemics," the Pontiff wrote, "The German bishops should now show, more than they have before, their friendly closeness, their understanding, and their help so that Mons. Mixa can find the right way".

The words were unusually clear, and Freiburg Archbishop Robert Zollitsch and Marx must have felt it directed to them, for having taken the lead in bringing down the former Augsburg bishop and publicizing a report accusing him of alcoholism and other psychiatric problems.

Now the Vatican has sent another message to the German Church which is another rebuke to the Archbishop of Munich. This time it's about how he handled the revelation of decades-old sex abuses at the Benedictine Abbey of Ettal.

After the revelations in February, Marx forced the Abbot and the School Rector of Ettal to resign on the ground that they had not done enough to resolve the scandal.

But an apostolic visitation of Ettal ordered by the Vatican has now come to a different conclusion: Both officials had acted correctly and did everything they were required to do, and they should now resume their functions.

Ettal was the next big institution after the Jesuit Canisius College in Berlin to be identified as a Catholic school where abuses - sexual, corporeal and psychological - were perpetrated between 1960-1990 by some of the religious on children enrolled in the abbey's boarding school.

The abbey has posted the letter from Cardinal Franc Rode, Prefect of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life (which oversees religious orders), informing the abbey of the Vatican decision.

00Friday, July 9, 2010 11:14 PM
Russian Church welcomes
nomination of Mons. Koch
to Christian Unity

Moscow, July 5 (Interfax) - The Moscow Patriarchate expresses hope for development of the dialogue with the Catholic Church under the new head of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity Bishop Kurt Koch.

"I hope that new prospects for cooperation have been opened for us for the benefit of the both Churches," said Metropolitan Hilarion, head of the Moscow Patriarchate Department for External Church Relations, in a message to Mons. Koch.

The Metropolitan pointed out that during teh half-century since the Council was established, it has "played an important role in defining ways of dialogue between the Roman Catholic Church and other Christian Churches and communities."

"Thanks in no small degree to your predecessors as presidents of the Council, constructive relations have been developed between the Russian Orthodox Church and the Roman Catholic Church," the message reads.

Metropolitan Hilarion recalls that he has known Bishop Koch for many years "as a zealous pastor and serious theologian committed to the tradition of the Early Church and the idea of Christian unity."

He expressed hope that the bishop's pastoral ministry in Switzerland as one of the centers of inter-Christian dialogue and international diplomacy would help him fulfill new duties, while his rich experience would contribute to successful work by the Council.

00Sunday, July 11, 2010 11:47 PM
In with the new:
Vatican's artistic landscape
keeps changing

By John Thavis

Benedict XVI blesses the statue to St. Annibale Maria Di Francia in the exterior Founders Gallery in the rear of St. Peter's Basilica.

VATICAN CITY, July 11 (CNS) -- Commissioning another statue for Vatican City might sound like overkill in a place where thousands of sculpted figures crowd the landscape.

But the Vatican is on a campaign to fill every niche. When Pope Benedict XVI stopped to bless a 16-foot-tall marble statue of St. Annibale Di Francia July 7, it was cause for celebration. Carved out of a single block of milky-white Carrara marble, it was placed in one of a series of recesses that run along the outside of St. Peter's Basilica.

In 1999, over the objections of architectural purists, the Vatican began filling the basilica's external niches, which were originally designed to be vacant. [I don't think they were 'designed to be left vacant' at all! They look exactly like niches waiting to be filled! Besides, the presence of built-in niches in institutional edifices implies that the spaces are meant to be eventually functional as well! In the same way that every available niche inside the Basilica has now been filled, including statues of 39 founder saints].

The statue to the Opus Dei founder was the first one installed in the Pontificate of Benedict XVI, on Sept 14, 2005.

A whole section has since been occupied with founders of religious orders, including such figures as St. Bridget of Sweden, who established the Brigittines, and St. Josemaria Escriva de Balaguer, who founded Opus Dei.

Not just anyone gets a niche at St. Peter's. First of all, you have to be a saint. Second, someone needs to pay for the statue, which can cost more than $250,000. The size and design of the work must be pre-approved, and the sculptor must use the prized Carrara marble.

From their pedestals, the marble saints look out upon the Vatican's modern guest house and its gas station. They have a backdoor view from St. Peter's and will be seen primarily by those who live and work in Vatican City.

The Vatican is home to far more stone figures than living residents -- many times more, if you count the Vatican Museums' approximately 20,000 statues.

Why add more? That question was asked in the 1600s, when the remaining 39 empty niches inside St. Peter's began filling up with founders of religious orders. Already the interior was crowded with more than 300 statues of popes, bishops and saints, not to mention the winged cherubs that appear all over the place.

Yet it is traditional at the Vatican to keep adding works of art and decorative architecture. That's why visitors to the Vatican Museums can wander into rooms full of contemporary painting and sculpture, part of a vast collection of modern art works assembled under Pope Paul VI.

The fact that they're housed in the former bedroom of a 15th-century pope is a little incongruous, but no more so than finding Arnaldo Pomodoro's giant bronze spheres among the Belvedere Courtyard's collection of Roman statues.

Over the centuries, Vatican City has become one of the world's most jam-packed repositories of art and artifacts. The walled city-state is only 109 acres, smaller than a decent-sized golf course, yet it contains more than 150,000 museum-worthy items. Many are larger than life, like the 140 statues of saints that ring the colonnade around St. Peter's Square.

The Vatican Gardens host a wide variety of statuary from ancient and modern times, ranging from the sculpture of the River Nile to Our Lady of Fatima. The gardens are well-kept, and Pope Benedict walks there most afternoons, praying the rosary and chatting with his personal secretary.

It's a quiet environment, far from the din of Roman traffic, and the sound of water is everywhere. In early July, the pope inaugurated the 100th fountain inside the Vatican, this one dedicated to St. Joseph -- in honor of the German pontiff's namesake.

As Vatican fountains go, this one was simple: The water cascades into two elliptical stone basins. Some of the other fountains in Vatican City are intricate and playful, dedicated to eagles, sea creatures and dolphins, dragons, frogs, mirrors, an old maid and a 15-foot model sailing ship.

This largely hidden part of Vatican City is not all flowers and fountains, though. On the skyline can be seen the governor's mansion, an out-of-use train station, a heliport and a radio tower -- all built in the last century. Below ground are several subterranean parking lots, constructed in recent decades.

One thing Pope Benedict doesn't see on his afternoon walk is a statue of Galileo Galilei, the Italian astronomer condemned by the church in the 17th century for maintaining that the earth revolves around the sun, and rehabilitated in 1992 by a Vatican commission.

Last year, a large statue of Galileo was to have been commissioned for placement near the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, which is located inside the Vatican Gardens. The project was quietly scrapped, however, with no official explanation.

"What we heard was that now you have to be a saint to have your statue in the Vatican," said one Vatican source.

Instead, a much smaller, 24-inch-tall statue of Galileo, holding a book in one hand and a telescope in the other, was completed and today sits in the library of the Pontifical Council for Culture.

P.S. One can only think that one founder who will not find a niche among the other founders nor become a saint is Fr. Marcial Maciel!

00Monday, July 12, 2010 11:12 PM

The Legionaries welcome
Papal Delegate 'with gratitude'
and look forward to his guidance

Pope Benedict XVI receives Mons. De Paolis, C.S., in a recent private audience.

Rome, July 9, 2010 - Today the Holy Father appointed Archbishop Velasio De Paolis, C.S., as his delegate for the Legion of Christ, as announced in a July 9 bulletin from the Holy See´s press office.

The practical details on how Archbishop De Paolis will fulfill his charge in the Legion of Christ will be defined in the upcoming weeks.

Archbishop De Paolis has broad experience and proven competence in his own religious congregation, in university teaching, and in service to the Holy See.

He is currently the president of the Prefecture for the Economic Affairs of the Holy See, a member of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura, and a consulter for the Congregation for the Oriental Churches, the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, and the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts.

As they welcome the pontifical delegate, the Legionaries of Christ once again express their deep gratitude to the Holy Father for his fatherly solicitude, and put themselves completely at the disposal of Archbishop De Paolis.

About Mons. De Paolis

Archbishop Velasio De Paolis was born in Sonnino (Latina province, southeast of Rome) on September 19, 1935. He entered the congregation of the Missionaries of St Charles Borromeo (the Scalabrinian Fathers) at a young age and received his formation in the congregation’s seminaries. He made his perpetual profession on October 4, 1958 and was ordained to the priesthood on March 18, 1961.

He went to Rome to continue his academic formation, obtaining a doctorate in canon law from the canon law faculty at the Pontifical Gregorian University, a licentiate in theology from the theology faculty at the University of St Thomas (Angelicum), and a law degree at La Sapienza University in Rome. He also completed a two-year degree in moral theology at the Alphonsian Academy.

From 1965 to 1970, he was a professor of moral theology and canon law in one of his own congregation’s centers for philosophical and theological formation. Afterwards, he was named rector of the Scalabrinian Fathers’ International College in Rome (1970-1974) while also serving as provincial vicar.

In 1974, he was called to the general government of his congregation as counselor and general procurator. From 1971 to 1980, he was an extraordinary professor, and from 1983 onward, an ordinary professor of the canon law faculty at the Gregorian University. From 1987 on, he was also named a professor at the Pontifical Urbanian University, and became dean of the canon law faculty in 1998.

He has authored many books and articles, and is a regular contributor to the magazine Periodica de re canonica. He is a member of various associations dedicated to the study of canon law.

Throughout all these years, he has dedicated himself to apostolic activity, especially to preaching spiritual exercises.

On December 20, 2003, Pope John Paul II appointed him as secretary of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura, where he was already an officer. He received his episcopal consecration on February 24, 2004 and was assigned the titular see of Telepte.

On April 12, 2008, Pope Benedict XVI appointed him president of the Prefecture for the Economic Affairs of the Holy See, raising him to the dignity of archbishop. He is currently also a member of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura and a consulter for the Congregation for the Oriental Churches, the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, and the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts.

00Tuesday, July 13, 2010 7:35 PM

Apparently, since trying to re-open - quite unsuccessfully - its media blitz against Joseph Ratzinger/Benedict XVI on the sexual abuse issue two weeks ago, the best the New York Tiems cna come up with so far is the following story about abuses by the Belgian clergy. It continues to try to associate the Vatican and Cardinal Ratzinger with covering up or inaction on sex abuses committed by Belgian priests - and bishop, in this case, but more out of reflex than for cause!

It took years to ignite
inquiry into abuses
by the Belgian clergy


Published: July 12, 2010

WESTVLETEREN, Belgium — Behind an aggressive investigation of the Roman Catholic hierarchy in Belgium that drew condemnation from the Pope himself lies a stark family tragedy: the molestation, for years, of a youth by his uncle, the bishop of Bruges; the prelate’s abrupt resignation when a friend of the nephew finally threatened to make the abuse public; and now the grass-roots fury of almost 500 people complaining of abuse by priests.

The first resignation of a European bishop for abusing a child relative came unexpectedly on April 23. At 73, the Bruges bishop, Roger Vangheluwe, Belgium’s longest-serving prelate, tersely announced his retirement and acknowledged molesting “a boy in my close entourage.”

The boy, not named, was his own nephew, now in his early 40s.

The nephew’s story, pieced together through documents and interviews with him and others, shows that the nephew, acting after years of torment and strong evidence of church inaction, finally forced the bishop’s hand when the friend sent e-mail messages to all of Belgium’s bishops threatening to expose Bishop Vangheluwe.

For nearly 25 years, the nephew said, he sought to alert others that he had been molested by his uncle. Abuse started when he was 10, according to a retired priest, the Rev. Rik Devillé, who said he had tried to warn Belgium’s cardinal, Godfried Danneels, about the Bruges prelate’s abuse 14 years ago, but was berated for doing so.

It is not known whether Cardinal Danneels or others notified the Vatican, itself mired in allegations of inaction on sexual abuse, about the case at the time.

The Vatican accepted the bishop’s resignation as the scandal erupted in April but said nothing about the case until the Belgian police raided church properties in late June, an act that Pope Benedict XVI called “deplorable.” [But that is a blatant lie! On the day that the Vatican announced the Holy Fahter's acceptance of the bishop's resignation, it also released the texts of two declarations made at a news conference in Brussels that day by Bishop Vangheluwe himself admitting to his offenses, and by Archbishop Andre-Mutien Leonard, Archbishop of Mechelen-Brussels and president of the Belgian bishops' conference, about the case.]

Now Belgium is unique in that civil authorities seized the documents that the church might have used to pursue its own investigations, apparently placing long-shrouded cases in the public realm.

Over the years, the nephew — who still does not want his name used publicly — channeled his rage into creating art: giant screaming images in gnarled wood or a montage of a boy being crushed by a mattress.

The resignation for sexual abuse sent waves through the Catholic hierarchy in Flanders, the northern Dutch-speaking part of the country, where religion is a powerful cultural influence.

Bishop Vangheluwe, who retreated to a Trappist monastery, remains under investigation by the Belgian authorities in perhaps another child sexual abuse case and accusations that he concealed such complaints lodged against others.

A public pledge by Archbishop André-Joseph Léonard of Brussels that the Bruges resignation marked an end to cover-ups prompted more than 500 people — mostly men — to come forward in just two months.

“For the first time there is a generation of men who are telling that they were sexually abused by men,” said Peter Adriaenssens, a psychiatrist who led an internal church commission on sexual abuse but resigned last month after the police confiscated all his case files.

Mr. Adriaenssens noted that many boys were beaten by parents who disbelieved their complaints. There was, he said, a “silencing of society.”

With so many new potential victims, the police staged extraordinary raids last month, holding bishops for nine hours at the church’s Belgian offices in Mechelen while scouring the premises for hidden material. They drilled into a cardinal’s crypt and confiscated computers and documents, searching for proof that the Church had concealed evidence. [And the Times reporters find nothing unusual, objectionable or absurd in that??? If any other institution vut the Church had been so violated, we would have had a long built-in editorial about 'rampant violation and sacrliege committed on tombs'.]

Bishop Vangheluwe’s nephew remains reluctant to speak extensively about what happened. “I’m scared, and the church has a lot of power,” he said, standing near a wooden image of two heads, one with a mouth carved wide into a scream.

Father Devillé, who was alerted to the bishop’s behavior by a friend of the nephew but had no direct contact with the abused youth, said: “For the nephew, it was impossible to say anything. He didn’t want anyone else to know because there was great pressure in the family to keep silent.”

Father Devillé said the abuse continued for about eight years. When he confronted Cardinal Danneels in 1996, he said, the cardinal listened impatiently, glancing frequently at his watch.

Weeks later, Father Devillé received a letter from the cardinal. “Stop making unfounded public accusations against the church and its functionaries if you don’t have proof,” it read.

[These specific accusation woth detail by a priest against Cardinal Danneels would have provided endless fodder for journalistic outrage of the kind levelled against Cardinal Sodano for general accusations made against him by the NCR reporter Berry and Cardinal Schoenborn. But Danneels has gotten a pass from teh world's media - and from the NYT - so far compared to the presumption of guilt that most MSM have tarred Sodano with.

Both Cardinal Danneels and Cardinal Sodano are entitled to a presumption of innocence until they are proven guilty of charges made against them - not by conjecture or rumor, but by actual facts. Yet Danneels gets a pass because for decades, he was upheld by the MSM and Catholic liberals as a model for what a Pope ought to be!]

Under Belgian law, a sexual abuse victim can lodge a criminal complaint for only up to 10 years after turning 18. The church contends that Bishop Vangheluwe cannot face prosecution because the case is too old.

Cardinal Danneels, who was questioned for 10 hours last Tuesday by the police, said through his lawyer that he did not recall Bishop Vangheluwe’s name mentioned in connection with abuse.

Mr. Adriaenssens, who specializes in working with sexual abuse victims, said he believed that the turning point for the nephew came when a 12-year-old niece took home a holy card with a message from the bishop presented as a remembrance of her confirmation.

“It was a little card with a nice picture on the front and inside text from him on the importance of a healthy childhood,” Mr. Adriaenssens said. “This made him enraged.”

A meeting was arranged in April between the nephew, his family and the bishop of Bruges. But the family was infuriated that the retired Cardinal Danneels was the only other cleric present. They were expecting the newly appointed archbishop to attend, according to Mr. Adriaenssens, who said the family feared that the Church was maneuvering to “silence” it. [And how does the presence of Cardinal Danneels at the meeting serve to 'silence' it? If anything, it should have helped publicize it. Besides, the report itself says that the meeting was supposed be between the family and the bishop of Bruges.]

Those suspicions were rooted deep because Belgian Church officials failed to cooperate with child abuse cases stretching back over many years, according to Godelieve Halsberghe, a retired magistrate who led the internal church commission from 2000 to 2008.

In those eight years, Ms. Halsberghe said, she dealt with 33 cases, with 15 or 16 outstanding when she retired and the other half resolved with compensation for the victims, generally tens of thousands of euros. Church officials said only four cases were left outstanding.

They also said that all cases notified to them after 2001 were passed on to the Vatican in accordance with rules set then by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, named Pope in 2005. She said she dealt only with the Belgian church.

By April 19 this year, the e-mail messages from the nephew’s friend had reached all of Belgium’s bishops. A day later, Mr. Adriaenssens received news of a call from the nephew making a formal complaint to the commission hot line about his uncle. Mr. Adriaenssens called the bishop.

“This is your first moment to be a real priest,” Mr. Adriaenssens said he told him after the bishop admitted responsibility. Within an hour of calls to other commissioners, the view was: The bishop had to resign.

Now Belgian prosecutors and investigators must sort the hundreds of complaints that have emerged since.

Justice Minister Stefaan De Clerck said his nation was living through a period of soul-searching similar to what followed the scandal over Marc Dutroux, who was arrested in 1996 and eventually convicted in the kidnapping, torture and sexual abuse of six girls, including four who died even though the police searched his home while some victims were imprisoned there.

“How can you explain that so many people didn’t go to police, didn’t go to justice?” Mr. De Clerck asked.

Mr. Vangheluwe is abiding by an agreement with the conference of bishops that he cannot grant interviews while living in St. Sixtus Abbey here in Westvleteren.

At vespers on Thursday, he stood out among 24 monks in homespun black and white robes. Holding a prayer book turned to Psalm 99, he was a stooped figure in gray trousers, a light short-sleeved shirt and sandals.

After prayers, half of the monks left; Mr. Vangheluwe stayed for an optional 10 minutes of silent contemplation.

About Cardinal Sodano, he will have to speak up for himself soon, because the latest and harshest broadside against him comes in this blog entry by a former editor of the UK's Catholic Herald, who simply assumes Sodano is guilty of all the charges levelled against him.

It is most unworthy of a professional journalist to make this assumption, and above, all un-Christian. But he is right that if, God forbid, Sodano should have to preside at the next pre-Conclave, the Church would suffer immeasurably since the media would simply focus on Sodano's presumed sins!

Cardinal Sodano:
A catastrophe waiting to happen

His sinister record would give the press a field day
if he was left in charge of the next conclave

By William Oddie

Friday, 9 July 2010

Most accounts of Cardinal Schönborn’s recent wigging by the Pope for his criticism of Cardinal Angelo Sodano (for calling accusations of clerical child abuse “petty gossip”) tended to deflect attention from the fact that Sodano himself did not escape criticism.

However wrong Cardinal Schönborn may have been to make his criticisms to journalists and not to the authorities in Rome, the fact is that he was dead right about Sodano. [How can Oddie presume to say this with such certainty????]

The wording of the Vatican’s press release made his real mistake clear: “When accusations are made against a cardinal”, specified the statement, “competency falls exclusively to the Pope”.

After Cardinal Schönborn “clarified” his own remarks, Cardinal Sodano was made to do the same: [No, he was not. The explanation about this word covered both Sodano's use of it and the Pope's earlier use. Oddie is interpreting the Vatican press statement to suit his own purposes, not according to simple fact.]

“The word chiacchiericcio [gossip] was erroneously interpreted [hum, hum] as disrespectful to the victims of sexual abuse, towards whom Cardinal Angelo Sodano nourishes the same feelings of compassion… as … the Holy Father.”

I think not. Cardinal Sodano appears to have an exceptionally sinister record of shielding abusers, particularly eminent ones, which goes back many years. He blocked a 1995 investigation into subsequently proven accusations of child abuse against Schönborn’s predecessor as Archbishop of Vienna, Hans Hermann Groër. The most shameful episode was his consistent defence over decades of Fr Marcial Maciel Degollado, founder of the Legion of Christ. And, according to reports in the National Catholic Reporter, he had his reasons: he stands accused of receiving a great deal of money and other benefits from the Legion of Christ. In 1998, according to reports, Sodano halted investigations into sexual abuse by Maciel then being carried out by the CDF. [All of these charges that Oddie takes as Gospel truth are hearsay. Even if they are plausible and probable, they are still hearsay, and hearsay is not and has never been proof of guilt.]

One of Pope Benedict’s first actions was to depose Maciel and forbid him to function as a priest.

Cardinal Sodano’s continuing danger to the Church comes from the fact that he is still Dean of the College of Cardinals. This means that if the Pope were to die before he can be removed, Sodano will be in charge of the obsequies (he will preach the panegyric) and of the conclave: and the international press will have a field day, with millions of column inches about his alleged support for child abusers, his corruption and his sheer incompetence. This is a disaster which must not be allowed to happen. Sodano must go, soon.

Unfortunately, Sodano's fellow cardinal-bishops will have to un-elect him as Dean of Cardinals. The Holy Father has no say in this at all. Sodano was elected to replace him as Dean when he was elected Pope. It's a tough test for Sodano.

What are his options? In descending order of personal difficulty and ascending order of selfishness -
1) He can voluntarily resign as Dean (though I am not sure if the rules allow him to do that, unless he decides as Cardinal Gantin did when he retired in 2002 to go home to Benin, paving the way for Cardinal Ratzinger to be elected - since a requirement for the Dean of Cardinals is that he resides in Rome) and give the best reason - that he does not want any shadow cast on that office. This would be an opening for him to state, even if only in general terms, his actions or inaction with respect to Cardinal Groer and Fr. Maciel.

2) He can explain the latter, preferably with specifics, without having to resign as Dean, if it turns out he is 'guiltless'.

3) He can 'tough it out' like Cardinal Law (who accepted a prominent Rome assignment from John Paul II when he could have humbly declined and chosen a more appropriate way to live out his disgraceful resignation as Archbishop of Boston) and have his presumed crimes hang over him and the Church indefinitely like Damocles's sword.

I should think Sodano has enough savvy to know that unless he speaks up for himself about these accusations, there will forever be an unsavory asterisk to his name in the history books.

May the Holy Spirit help him - and other bishops and priests who are in similar moral dilemmas - to make the right decision sooner rather than later!

00Wednesday, July 14, 2010 12:23 AM

I'm rather late in posting anything of this, but here are some useful items to bring this thread up to date:

Church of England closer to
approving women bishops

Summary by

July 12, 2010

The Church of England took another step towards ordaining women to the episcopate. At the meeting of their Synod last weekend, they adopted a draft proposal on the question.

In particular, they attempted to placate the conservative faction; priests who do not wish to serve under the authority of a bishopess will have the opportunity to go under the authority of another bishop, according to the BBC.

Now, the Synod shall submit the document for discussion in 43 dioceses of the C of E over the next few weeks, leading British newspapers reported. This consultation could last up to two years, the dioceses would be able to offer amendments [to the proposal], and the proposal along with the submitted amendments would be put to a vote at the General Synod in 2012.

If that vote is positive, the first female bishop in the Church of England could be appointed in 2014. For approval, the document needs the support of at least a two-thirds majority vote in each of the three chambers of the General Synod, bishops, priests, and laity.

In the Church of England since 1994, more than 5,000 women have been ordained priests. Since then, more than 500 priests retired early, which meant that the C of E paid out special compensation totalling 27.4 million pounds.

In 2008, about 1,300 Anglican clergy threatened to leave the church if the Synod gave the green light to women in the episcopate.

Anglicans expect exodus after
Church of England OKs women bishops

By Simon Caldwell

LONDON. July 13 (CNS) -- The largest Anglo-Catholic group in the Church of England is expecting an exodus of thousands of Anglicans to Catholicism after a decision to ordain women as bishops without sufficient concessions to traditionalists.

Stephen Parkinson, director of Forward in Faith -- a group that has about 10,000 members, including more than 1,000 clergy -- told Catholic News Service in a July 13 telephone interview that a large number of Anglo-Catholics are considering conversion to the Catholic faith.

His comments came after the General Synod, the national assembly of the Church of England, voted at a meeting in York to approve the creation of women bishops by 2014 without meeting the demands of objectors.

A July 12 statement from Forward in Faith advised members against hasty action, saying now was "not the time for precipitate action."

"This draft measure does nothing for us at all," said Parkinson. "We explained very carefully why we could not accept women bishops theologically.

"We explained what would enable us to stay in the Church of England, but the General Synod has decided to get rid of us by giving us a provision that does not meet our needs," he said. "They are saying either put up or shut up and accept innovations, however unscriptural or heretical, or get out."

Parkinson said he expected thousands of members of Forward in Faith to consider accepting Pope Benedict XVI's offer of a personal ordinariate, issued last November in the apostolic constitution Anglicanorum coetibus, in which a group of Anglicans can be received into the Catholic Church while retaining their distinctive patrimony and liturgical practices.

"Many, I expect, will be exploring the provisions of Pope Benedict's apostolic constitution. We have got 10,000 members, so clearly we are talking about thousands," he added.

A number of breakaway national Anglican churches, in communion with the Traditional Anglican Communion rather than the much larger Worldwide Anglican Communion, have already written to the Vatican to accept the Pope's offer.

The defection of thousands of mainstream Anglican traditionalists from the Church of England would represent the largest single block.

Parkinson said developments were unlikely within the next six months, however, adding that until women bishops are ordained, Anglican traditionalists had a "couple of years" to think about what to do.

The Forward in Faith statement said the proposals must be considered by provincial synods in September and the outcomes could be debated a month later when Forward in Faith holds its annual meeting.

The decision by the General Synod came after nearly 12 hours of debate on a compromise proposed by the Archbishop Rowan Williams of Canterbury and Archbishop John Sentamu of York was narrowly defeated.

The diocesan synods have now been asked to scrutinize a scheme where women bishops would have the authority to make alternative arrangements for objectors through a statutory code of practice.

The Anglo-Catholic group of the synod had wanted episcopal visitors, or "flying bishops," to minister to their members instead, but their requests were rejected.

If the resolution is supported by a majority of the diocesan synods, it will be returned to the General Synod for ratification in 2012.

Archbishop Williams told the General Synod that its vote illustrated that the Church of England was "committed by a majority to the desirability of seeing women as bishops for the health and flourishing of the work of God's kingdom, of this church and this nation."

"We are also profoundly committed by a majority in the synod to a maximum generosity that can be consistently and coherently exercised toward the consciences of minorities and we have not yet cracked how to do that," he said during the July 12 debate.

The Church of England first voted to ordain women as priests in 1992, a move that led to about 500 clergy defecting to the Catholic Church.

Since 1994, when the changes came into force, more than 5,000 women have been ordained as Anglican priests.

Last year, the Catholic Bishops' Conference of England and Wales set up a committee of bishops to liaise with Anglicans interested in a personal ordinariate, which will resemble a military diocese in structure, and also with the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

On July 5, Catholic Bishop Malcolm McMahon of Nottingham met about 70 Anglican clerics to discuss the possibility of an English ordinariate.

What does the decision on women bishops
mean for the Church of England?

By Robert Pigott
Religious Affairs Correspondent

It has been clear for several years that the Church of England's synod wanted to ordain women as bishops.

But that left a critical question - what concessions should be made to traditionalists who objected?

During a long weekend of impassioned and sometimes emotional debate, it decided that the concessions being sought came at too high a cost.

Traditionalists had wanted to be able to bypass a woman bishop and bring in a male alternative acceptable to them, to perform important functions such as ordaining new clergy.

But the synod decided that would undermine the authority of women bishops and consign them to "second class" status.

It voted to allow women bishops to decide the identity of any male bishop coming into their dioceses to work, and what he could do.

Traditionalists on the Catholic wing of the Church have long warned that many of them would rather leave than tolerate a situation they regard as deeply wrong.

Their objections include their belief that, as Jesus chose only men to be his apostles and therefore to lead the early Church, women cannot take that role.

On the Protestant wing of the Church, conservative evangelicals insist that the Bible dictates that men should lead - both their own households and the Church.

One traditionalist described the synod's decision as "constructive dismissal".

But there is reason to think that rather fewer clergy will leave the Church than the approximately 450 who did so after women were first ordained as priests in 1994.

Although a legal bar was placed in the way of women's ordination as bishops at that stage, the whole Church could see which way the tide was flowing.

Traditionalists who felt most strongly had the opportunity to leave then, and younger ones have become priests knowing that they might eventually have to serve under women bishops.

But even where bishops, priests and lay people decide to stay, they may become part of a disgruntled minority whose unhappiness could threaten the harmony of the Church.

The synod was not to be swayed and its determination to avoid undermining the authority of women bishops was driven partly by the fear that its attitudes were dangerously out of step with wider society.

Rowan Williams says holding the Church together is "difficult" One liberal priest - Canon Robert Cotton - said he was worried that the Church could turn into a sect, refusing to listen to the wisdom that was available in the outside world.

The argument focussed on part of the legislation providing for exemptions for the Church from the Equality Act 2010.

Because it is the established - or state - church, a parliamentary committee will consider the legislation allowing women bishops to be created.

A lay member of the Synod and former MP, Robert Key, warned that the Church could not count on Parliament to give it the "power to discriminate against women".

Mr Key warned that it could become "a dwindling sect, a privileged minority, a reactionary husk".

But the Bishop of Durham, Tom Wright, roundly contradicted Mr Key, telling him that when the Church started to follow the dictates of contemporary society, it "would cease to be the Church".

Liberal Anglicans pointed to the loud applause Dr Wright received - some people standing to clap - and suggested that there was a deep-seated reluctance among synod members to adapt to the spirit of the times.

That could become an issue when and if an actively gay bishop is appointed.

Some evangelicals have seen this debate - and its discussion about getting exemptions from being overseen by a bishop you do not like - as a dress rehearsal for a future debate about gay bishops.

Conservative evangelicals have challenged the assumption that the current system of diocesan bishops who control everything within their domain should continue.

They say this system of "mono-episcopacy" is not demanded by the Bible, nor by traditional practice.

The General Synod is up for re-election in the autumn They favour the sort of overlapping jurisdiction that the Archbishops of Canterbury and York seemed to envisage in the compromise plan narrowly defeated by the synod.

It would have meant a sort of "job-share" in traditionalist parishes, with a woman bishop allowing some functions to be carried out by a male alternative who had a large measure of legal independence and autonomy.

Largely because the archbishops gave their personal backing to the plan, it received a majority of the vote in the synod, failing only because the vote took place separately in the three "houses" of bishops, clergy and lay people.

Clergy voted against the plan by a margin of just five votes.

The legislation will now be sent to dioceses for what is almost certain to be their approval and will return to the synod, probably in February 2012.

To become law it will have to achieve a two-thirds majority in each house of the synod.

Given that the synod faces re-election this autumn, that's not a foregone conclusion.

If it overcomes that hurdle, the legislation will go before Parliament, and then to the Queen for the Royal Assent.

The first women bishops might be appointed in 2014.

It will seem a long while since the Church decided 30 years ago that there was no theological reason why women should not take the role.

But Dr Williams was unwilling to allow the synod to feel it had entirely solved the problem.

At the start of the final session of discussion, he reminded members that it was "desperately difficult" to hold the Church together.

He said it was "not the end of the road" for attempts to preserve unity, and said "we are profoundly committed by a majority in the synod to the maximum generosity that can be consistently and coherently exercised towards the consciences of minorities."

"We have not yet cracked how to do that," he said.

Women bishops: Now no one can deny
that the Church of England is Protestant

July 10th, 2010

Tonight the Church of England finally acknowledged something that has been obvious since 1992, when it decided to ordain women priests: that it remains, despite the Oxford Movement, and as John Henry Newman came to believe very firmly, a Protestant Church.

As such, it enjoys the freedom to follow the example of its Reformed counterparts in other countries and ordain women to the highest level of ministry, whatever it chooses to call it. (The fact that England’s established Church calls its senior presbyters “bishops” is a matter of historical accident: had circumstances been diffferent in 1558, it might have gone the way of Scotland.)

Now that this freedom is to be fully exercised, what will happen to Anglo-Catholic traditionalists? Many will quietly, without ever admitting the fact, come to terms with their Protestant identity and stay in the C of E. Others will leave for breakaway Anglican denominations or join the Orthodox.

Those who are exploring the Roman option should not be hurried. It’s wrong to say that anyone forced out of Anglicanism cannot become a good Catholic: many great converts stayed in the C of E for as long as their consciences would permit them. But, once they were Catholics, they recognised that they were no longer Anglicans.

This point would not need spelling out but for the myth that has grown up that the Ordinariate creates “Anglicans in communion with the Holy See”. Nonsense.

What it creates are former Anglicans who worship together in a new juridical structure which allows them to retain elements of their patrimony (which may be as major as adopting an Anglican-influenced translation of the Roman Rite, or as minor as not singing out of tune).

Crucially – and this must be stressed – the Vatican is not prepared to allow liberal elements in the English hierarchy to sabotage the Pope’s Apostolic Constitution.

But every single member of the Ordinariate, clerical and lay, will be a member of the Latin-rite Church governed by the Supreme Pontiff and therefore – though it is not the Church’s preferred term – a Roman Catholic. And I know I speak for many Catholics when I say that they will be very welcome indeed.

00Wednesday, July 14, 2010 11:16 PM

These days, it seems. one must look to the Mexican newspapers for revelations about the beleaguered Legionaries. This news item reports something just as 'explosive' as the NCR report of Father Maciel's financial dealings and moral depravity - because it tends to confirm the long-held suspicion that Maciel's top lieutenants were not at all in the dark about his activities... This is a signal warning of the mortal perils of any personality cult in the practice of the Christian religion, when the 'personality' becomes the ultimate yardstick of his follower's behavior. Teh duplicity of the LC hierarchy is too appalling for words!

LC's top two officials
knew all about
Fr. Maciel's double life,
one of them admits
in a 2008 recording

by Carolina Gómez
Translated from

July 14, 2010

Although the leadership of the Legionaries of Christ has insisted that they knew nothing of the double life led by the Congregation founder, Marcial Maciel, and his pederast inclinations, the present
Vicar-General of the LC, Luis Garza Medina, said otherwise in 2008.

In a tape recording disclosed ysterday by Carmen Aristgeui of MVS Noticias, Garza Medina, addressing a meeting with young concecrated persons in Totepec, Oaxaca state, in early 2008, said that at least three of the LC leadership knew of Maciel's sexual deviancies, but they decided not to speak about it.

One of the three, he said was Fr. Alvaro Corcuera, who took over as the LC Superior-General after Maciel retired.

And yet, the statement issued by the LC under Corcuera's signature on March 25, 2010, after a meeting of the territorial leaders, says that it was only in May 2006, after the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith imposed canonical sanctions on Maciel, that the LC leaders became 'fully aware' of Maciel's offenses. Corcuera even expressed 'surprise' at the CDF revelations.

"It has been a very painful, even traumatic, time for everyone. The sudden revelation of some aspects of the life of our founder - which do not at all correspond with what we experienced with him - caught us all totally by surprise. We were not prepared for it. We have all had to undergo a process of gradually assimilating this - in many cases, necessarily slow, and requiring extraordinary human and spiritual resources in order to cope".

Nonetheless, the transcript of Garza's address published yesterday by the Mexican newspaper indicate that Corcuera's words did not at all correspond to reality.

In the tape, Vicar-General Garza tells the young women, who had vowed chastity, that the founder had "an unstructured sexuality, very unstructured, resulting in a continuous and constant relationship with one woman for 30 years, during which they had a daughter. At the same time, he also had relations with another woman with whom it is probable that he had two sons. He had these simultaneous relations, a bit strange because later the children got to know each other... In his unstructured sexuality, 'our father' also committed homosexual acts even with minors," Garza says in the tape.

Garza further claimed that Maciel - who died in the United States on January 30, 2008, from pancreatic cancer - never sought confession, and as far as he knew, never had one. [Not even before he died????]

Nonetheless, Garza stated that even if Maciel may not have received ab solution, he seemed to have a 'tranquil' conscience. "Think he was at peace".

He also told his audience that after surgery for cancer, when he was prohibited from taking any sugar, Maciel asked for ice cream before he died.

Asked about the recording, Garza said he had nothing to say about it.

To appreciate the catastrophic implications of the tape on the present leadership of the LC, Sandro Magister described this leadership and their ties to Maciel in an article last March where he said that the first step in 'cleaning out' the LC was to dismiss the entire leadership:

The cohesion of the leadership group, originating from its decades-long connection with Maciel, endures today in the bond that binds and subordinates everyone to Corcuera, and even more to Garza.

Garza concentrates two key posts in himself. He is vicar general, with control of administration, and he is the director of the congregation's Italian province, headquartered in Rome, where the Vatican is.

He took this second post shortly before the beginning of the apostolic visit, transferring his predecessor, Jacobo Muñoz, to the province of France and Ireland.

But in addition to this, Garza is the creator and absolute master of Grupo Integer, the holding company that acts as treasury and administrative center for all the works of the Legion in the world, with assets totaling an estimated 25 billion euros.

Garza comes from a very wealthy family in Monterrey, which for decades was a major benefactor of Maciel's works and closely connected to another of the general councilors of the Legion, Francisco Mateos. The secretary general, Evaristo Sada, is his cousin.

In addition to being connected to Garza and Corcuera, some of the current directors were very close to the founder for years. Alejandro Ortega, until two years ago the director of one of Mexico's two provinces, was Maciel's personal secretary. Julio Marti, director of the province of the United States and Canada, was superior general of the Legionaries' general headquarters in Rome. Michael Ryan was an old friend of Maciel's family, and a supporter of the the beatification cause of his mother, Maura Degollado Guízar.

In recent days, Garza and Corcuera have closed ranks even more tightly, with a few personnel changes. Emilio Díaz Torre has been appointed director of the province of Monterrey in Mexico. And his predecessor, Leonardo Nuñez, has been entrusted with the province of Brazil.

Both are Mexican, like most of the upper echelon of the Legionaries. The second most privileged nationality is Spanish.

Of course, it's hard to say why on earth Garza would have chosen to speak at all about Maciel's misdeeds to a group of young consecrated persons, of all people! Even if the rules of the Legion and its various arms absolutely forbade any member to speak ill of 'our father'. But why did Garza himself violate that sacrosanct rule? It would be nice to know whatever happened to each of those young consecrated persons who heard Garza that day!...Did the apostolic visitators know about this tape at all? Of course, from the summary of their report, it seems they came to learn that the LC leaders did know about Maciel's hidden life and were complicit in it, so they must have had independently corroborated testimony about it.

P.S. I must apologize. In fairness to Fr. Garza, he issued a statement the day after the Mexican reports reiterating that the LC leadership only learned about Father Maciel's sexual behavior after the CDF sanction of 2006. He does not deny giving the recorded speech in 2008 from which he was quoted, but says that he was selectively quoted and the quotations edited to suggest prior knowledge by him and others in the LC leadership.... But I am wondering why Sandro Magister is not following up this story...

00Monday, July 19, 2010 6:09 PM

Ecumenism: The true story
of a 'war' that never was

The Patriarchs of Moscow and Constantinople were said to have threatened
a complete break with Rome in 2003. The pretext was the Ukraine.
A source at the Christian Unity Council clears up the misinformation.

ROME, July 19, 2010 – Among the dossiers that Cardinal Walter Kasper has handed over to his successor, Swiss archbishop Kurt Koch, the new president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, one of the most dramatic concerns the Ukraine.

During his visit to Rome last May, the chairman of the department of external relations of the Patriarchate of Moscow and all Russia, Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk, mentioned the Ukrainian question as the only real obstacle to a meeting between Benedict XVI and Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill. [The Russians have been consistent about this complaint, which also covers property disputes in the Ukraine, so it's clear no meeting can be expected until this is resolved.]

Less than one month ago, www.chiesa dedicated an entire article to the Ukrainian question:
> Ukraine plays referee between the Pope and the Patriarch of Moscow

Among other things, this article referred to one of the most critical moments of conflict between Rome and Moscow, with Ukraine as the epicenter, which happened between 2003 and 2004. The object of contention was the elevation to the status of Patriarchate of the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church, which was strongly desired by that same Church.

But it is intolerable for Russian ecclesiology, for which no "Roman" patriarchate can exist in a territory where an Orthodox patriarchate already exists.

In fact, this is just how Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I of Constantinople began a bitter letter to John Paul II dated November 29, 2003:

"I would like to draw your attention to a very serious question […]. It is the matter in particular of your intention of setting up the [Greek-Catholic] Patriarchy in the Ukraine, an intention that has been communicated to our brother Alexis Patriarch of Moscow and of all Russia by Your Cardinal Walter Kasper, as the Patriarch of Moscow informed me."

After a long argument, Bartholomew I concluded that if the new Greek-Catholic patriarchate were to become a reality, it would be a catastrophe for the ecumenical movement.

But is that how things really happened? Did Cardinal Kasper really write to the Patriarch of Moscow, who at the time was Alexei II, announcing Rome's decision to elevate the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church to a patriarchate? And did Kasper really have to go running to Moscow to retract the announcement?

An authoritative source at the Pontifical Council for Christian Unity has provided www.chiesa with a reconstruction very different from the one that emerges from Bartholomew I's letter:

It is not true that Cardinal Kasper announced in a letter to the Patriarch of Moscow the elevation of the senior archbishop of the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church, Cardinal Lubomyr Husar, to the rank of Patriarch.***

Such a letter, with an announcement of such significance, would have been possible only with the authorization of the Pope, which was never given.

In a previous meeting of cardinals, Kasper was not the only one to have expressed serious reservations about such a step: even then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger put his objections in writing.

Kasper's letter to Moscow contained only a few reflections on the history and canonical status of the patriarchates from the Catholic point of view, reflections identical to those formulated by Cardinal Ratzinger.

But the Patriarchate of Moscow either misunderstood the letter, or, more probably, used it to urge other Orthodox patriarchates to write letters of protest to Rome, the most blistering of which was the one by Bartholomew I.

Bartholomew was under pressure from Moscow, and wanted to show in this way that he, and not Alexei II, was the real 'ecumenical' leader of Orthodoxy.

Pope John Paul II, in his prudent response to the Patriarch of Constantinople, declared his 'surprise' at what he had found written in the letter, and invited Bartholomew I to Rome.

The visit took place, proceeded very peacefully, and no mention was even made of the controversy concerning the Ukrainian patriarchate: absolute silence, as if it had never happened.

Even Bartholomew I never revisited the question, making it seem that not he but others had written that letter dated November 29, 2003, very erudite from the viewpoint of traditional Orthodox historiography.

The same source from the Christian Unity council also wanted to correct another passage in the article from www.chiesa, where it says that the chill between Rome and Moscow lasted until the end of John Paul II's pontificate, to be thawed only afterward, with the new Pope:
It isn't so. After the incident mentioned above, Cardinal Kasper went to Moscow several times and the climate between the two sides began to improve.

The real breakthrough was in 2004, when the Pope brought [sent, not brought - because John Paul II never went to Moscow nor met with Alexei] the icon of the Mother of God of Kazan to the Patriarch of Moscow, accompanied by a very friendly exchange of letters between John Paul II and Alexei. This was the gesture that broke the ice.

And so it was that almsot all the Orthodox Patriarchates, including Moscow, were represented at John Paul II's funeral and the enthronement of Pope Benedict XVI - something that had never taken place in the whole long history since the Great Schism.

So the terrain of relations with Moscow and with the other Orthodox patriarchates was already well prepared at the beginning of the new pontificate.

On Moscow's part, there were other reasons for a change of attitude, with the new Pope. The fact that John Paul II was Polish, while his successor is German, is certainly one of these reasons, but entirely marginal in this context.

The article from "30 Days" with the extremely harsh letter from Bartholomew I to John Paul II, dated November 29, 2003:
> And Bartholomew wrote to the Pope...

***I think Mr. Magister should have independently researched the actual status of the Ukrainian Catholic Church, more formally known as the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church (UGCC), and its current head, Cardinal Husar.

I do not know how accurate Wikipedia is in this but it says that in the Ukraine, "Pope Paul VI... compromised with the creation of a new title of major archbishop, with a jurisdiction roughly equivalent to that of a patriarch in an Eastern church. This title has since passed to... Lubomyr Husar in 2000; this title has also been granted to the heads of three other Eastern Catholic Churches."

The official website of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church itself does not mention the word 'Patriarchate' at all in reference to itself, but consistently uses the title Major Archbishop for its leaders since the Church resurfaced from its underground status during much of the Communist era.

Since Rome itself does not refer to Cardinal Husar as Patriarch but as Major Archbishop, one assumes Moscow accepts the compromise, in the same way that the Roman Catholic Archbishop in Moscow is not called Archbishop of Moscow, nor is his jurisdiction the 'Archdiocese of Moscow' - instead his title is Archbishop of the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception... What fictions the Church has to live with to keep the peace with Moscow!

In the BENEDICT thread, I posted a very informative recent article by George Weigel about the very confusing religious situation among the Christian churches in the Ukraine.

As it turns out, there is a major news peg for Magister's article above which I am surprised he does not refer to at all:

Patriarch Kirill’s 3rd visit
to the Ukraine starts tomorrow -
with an eye on the Vatican

by Nina Achmatova

Moscow, July 19 (AsiaNews) – Like a year ago, Patriarch Kirill I has chosen to celebrate the Baptism of Rus [the beginning of Christianity in Russia] in the Ukraine itself.

The visit, which begins tomorrow, will last until 28 July, a day recently elevated to the status of national holiday in Russia. It underscores the crucial role the Ukraine plays in the politics of the Russian Orthodox Church.

The Patriarch’s trip is especially important since it comes after pro-Russian Viktor Yanukovych succeeded pro-Western Viktor Yushchenko as Ukrainian President.

The celebration is highly symbolic since the baptism of ancient Russia (Rus) occurred in what is now Ukraine. Only a year ago, the Russian Parliament (Duma) passed a law recognising it as a national holiday.

On that day in the summer of 988, Prince Vladimir of Kiev gathered the inhabitants on the shores of the Dnieper River in the summer of 988 AD for mass baptism by Byzantine priests.

The event set in motion the long process of Christianisation of Russia and it is highly significant as a symbol of Slavic unity, which the Patriarch has referred to in the past.

“Dear Ukrainians, in the past you contributed to the creation of the Empire and the Russian Church. The Empire that once was, and that shall be, will be partly yours. You tried to go west, but you found nothing good there. However, if we are united, we can stop being horses and can start being horsemen. Let us move in that direction,” Patriarch Kirill said in a message to the Ukrainians on the eve of his visit.

"Together, Russia and Ukraine", he said, "we preserve unity as a nation. We're joining the family of other European nations not as a guided nation hanging upon words of the other, stronger partner, but as equal partners, bearers of our own historic and cultural code."

The patriarch also used the occasion to stress the community of view between the Patriarchate and Pope Benedict XVI. “The Pope’s views are reasons for optimism . . . . On many social and moral issues, his approach coincides with that of Russian Orthodox Church. This will give us an opportunity to defend Christian values together, in particular in the international community.”

This is Kirill’s third visit to the Ukraine since his election in January 2009. His first trip in August 2009 led to protests by supporters of the independent Ukrainian Orthodox Church.

In Ukraine, the Russian Orthodox Church has to cope with strong conflicts among existing Orthodox Churches, of which there are three: the Ukrainian Orthodox Church loyal to the Moscow Patriarchate (UOC-MP), the Ukrainian Orthodox Church loyal to the Kyiv Patriarchate (UOC-KP) and the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church (UAOC).

The Moscow Patriarchate recognises only the UOC-MP, but last year, Kirill did show some openness towards the other two Churches. Atll three however are united in opposition to the Greek Catholic Church of the Ukraine (UGCC) [also known as the Ukrainian Catholic Church].

The election of a pro-Russian president, Yanukovych, opened the door to intra-Orthodox dialogue, which might lead to possible unification.

Viktor Elenski, an Orthodox Church expert at the Ukrainian Institute of Philosophy, said that in the Ukraine, “the ideas about Slavic unity promoted by the Patriarch have a great following” but “are seen more in political than in spiritual terms.”

“The Moscow Patriarchate follows Russian (government) policy and the Patriarch’s visit has contributed to the polarisation of the country” between the pro-Russian eastern Ukraine and pro-West nationalists (mostly found in western Ukraine).

“We have a saying,” Elenski said, “to explain the situation. Ukraine needs two visits from the US President and no more than one from that of Russia, because after the latter, there will be certainly little to do.”

For the Ukraine Catholics' version of their history, check their site on

Happily out of the confusion is the Roman Catholic Church of the Ukraine in the Archdiocese of Lviv (Lvov), western Ukraine, headed by Archbishop 'Mietek' Mocryzski - a region that has always been culturally more Polish than Ukrainian.

00Tuesday, July 20, 2010 4:36 PM

Cardinal Newman was much more
than a 'reluctant saint'

'Newman's Unquiet Grave' by John Cornwell
is a highly readable attempt to understand John Henry Newman

By Charles Moore

19 Jul 2010

Announcing the details of the Pope's forthcoming visit to Britain a couple of weeks ago, the BBC said that Benedict XVI would be beatifying "a 19th-century cardinal".

The description was accurate, but misleading, rather like referring to Alfred Tennyson as "a 19th-century peer". The man in question was never a bishop and only became a Cardinal in his late seventies. His interest lies elsewhere.

But one can see the BBC's difficulty. How could one quickly describe John Henry Newman? The most important Catholic convert in the history of the English-speaking world? The best Romantic writer of the Victorian age? The most influential spiritual leader in England since John Wesley? All these, perhaps, and more.

In the subtitle of this book, John Cornwell calls Newman "the reluctant saint", which is not a terribly useful epithet, since no one who was not reluctant could possibly qualify for sainthood.

There is a bit of an "agenda" behind this book, I suspect. ['A bit of an agenda...I suspect'???' Cornwell made his mark earlier by books insinuating all sorts of dark and treacherous misdeeds in the Vatican, most notably Hitler's Pope against Pius XXI, and A Thief in the Night about the death of JJohn Paul I.]

Cornwell is clearly on the reforming wing of the Catholic Church, and he wishes to enlist Newman as a prophet of that cause. Newman's belief in the primacy of conscience, says Cornwell, can be used to uphold attacks on Vatican teaching on contraception. His liberal idea of a university is taken to imply that he might have favoured student protest against the Vietnam war. [It's not the first time a dead historical personage has been exploited by a writer to push his personal and ideological agenda.]

But don't let that put you off. This book is a highly readable attempt to convey why Newman was, and remains, a fascinating figure. It overcomes the problem for the new reader that Newman engaged prolifically for nearly 70 years in controversies and religious inquiries many of which, even at the time, seemed obscure. It explains why, then and now, his words and his story enraptured hearts and minds.

That phrase is a cliché, but I use it deliberately, because Newman was very interested in both the heart and the mind, and the link between the two. He was learned, and never avoided intellectual rigour. His power of pure argument was prodigious. But he was also fascinated by how it is that a human being comes to understand and to love; particularly, to understand and love God.

Nowadays, people like to distinguish between "style" and "substance" (and when you think of modern politics, you can see why), but Newman understood that the style "of a really gifted mind" cannot "belong to any but himself".

It follows him about as a shadow. His thought and feeling are personal, and so his language is personal. You cannot have mere abstraction: "A man's moral self is concentrated in each moment of his life; it lives in the tips of his fingers, and the spring of his insteps."

So, as the possessor of what Cornwell calls "benign Romantic egotism", Newman naturally saw autobiography as the most arresting way of conveying the human encounter with the divine.

That is why 'Lead, Kindly Light', written after he had nearly died in Sicily as a young man, is his most famous hymn, and why the Apologia is his most popular book. As a child, he wrote, he did not believe much in the "reality of material phenomena", but preferred to "rest in the thought of two and two only absolute and luminously self-evident beings, myself and my Creator".

That luminosity never left him. And although he was in many ways a conservative, he had a surprisingly modern sense of how faith can vanish, making the world seem a hopeless place.

He had a unique gift for relating this sense to human experience: "If I looked into a mirror, and did not see my face, I should have the sort of feeling which actually comes upon me, when I look into this busy world, and see no reflection of its Creator."

He had the same gift for identifying happier experiences: he wrote that arriving at religious certitude was like being "a clamberer on a steep cliff, who, by quick eye, prompt hand, and firm foot, ascends how he knows not himself… leaving no track behind him, and unable to teach another". Newman did everything he could to leave his own track behind, and to teach.

This image of dangerous movement towards truth ("o'er moor and fen, o'er crag and torrent") also helps explain Newman's continuing importance.

His life was a painful pilgrimage. As a young don at Oxford, he saw himself as being like the snapdragon growing up the wall of his college, and never wanted to leave, but his spiritual quest forced him out.

He began as an evangelical, became a High Anglican and then converted to Rome. By becoming a Catholic, he lost his place at Oxford (then an Anglican institution) forever. People sometimes speak of conversion to Catholicism as "coming home", but Newman never found it so. Its truth he believed; its habits he found foreign.

Many people also think of religious belief, especially Catholicism, as a form of imprisonment. Newman's story is one that points in the opposite direction. His search for God expressed and produced freedom.

The present Pope is known to admire Newman, and I do hope that, when he comes, he will say exactly why. [Among other things, the preceding sentence about the freedom that religion bestows - a concept often expressed by Benedict XVI!]

He has chosen as the slogan for his visit the motto which Newman took when he became a cardinal: "Heart speaks unto heart." It is the same idea, as Cornwell reminds us, which Beethoven wrote on the score of his Mass in D: "From the heart – may it go to the heart again."

00Monday, July 26, 2010 11:38 PM

A lengthy article by Sandro Magister today on the situation in China
reminded me I had been putting off posting a recent excellent article in Ignatius Insight about the same subject, but based on an actual interview with China's oldest living bishop. He is someone I have admired since an interview he gave to 30 GIORNI 2-3 years ago, because he demonstrates how it is possible for a bishop to have good relations with the Chinese government while being loyal to the Vatican and the Pope.

Because this article is based on the actual experience of decades of the Bishop of Shanghai, I find it more congenial than Magister's, which sticks with conjecturing about the incompatibility of the 'official' and 'underground' churches in China, according to Cardinal Zen and AsiaNews, who are intransigent on this issue; and is skeptical about the cautious optimism of the Vatican Secretariat of State about recent events in which the Chinese government has ccoperated with the Vatican about new bishops.

It seems to me Bishop Jin is living the spirit of Pope Benedict XVI's 2007 letter - and was living it before the letter was written.

July 23, 2010

Editor's Note: Dr. Anthony E. Clark, Assistant Professor of Asian History at Whitworth University (Spokane, Washington), spent six weeks this summer traveling and researching in China. The following interview was given last week, shortly before Dr. Clark traveled to Hong Kong, where he interviewed Cardinal Zen. That interview, with Cardinal Zen, will appear on the Catholic World Report website in the near future.

Towering above Shanghai's St. Ignatius Cathedral is the recently built chancery of the diocese, and on the fourth floor of this imposing structure is the personal residence and greeting hall of China's most powerful aboveground bishop, the ninety-four-year-old Bishop Aloysius Jin Luxian, S.J.

While millions of tourists pour into the city's World Expo each day to get a taste of the future, the elderly Bishop Jin sits above it all as a vestige of China's past, pre-and-post Communism.

The business people who occupy Shanghai's swank new Pudong skyscrapers and the bustling young jetsetters on the Bund are largely unaware of, or don't really care about, the city's Catholic scene; it's quite small in proportion to the rising megalopolis'S materialist crowd little concerned with the vicissitudes of politics and religion.

But on the landscape of world Christianity, Bishop Jin has become a towering figure, not unlike his new chancery, accessible only through layers of watchmen and coded, locked doors.

After passing through one of Shanghai's hippest shopping centers and bastion of modern Chinese materialism, once the center of the city's Catholic community, I was ushered into the private residence of Bishop Jin.

He is surprisingly lucid and energetic for a man nearing a century old and suffering from diabetes. He is one of the Church's most enigmatic men, and one often wonders if what he is saying is a direct truth or a circuitous statement, a result of his years of dealing with Communist officials who hold an ever-tighter grasp on his movements as China's most public prelate.

He has granted countless interviews in the past, and I met him only a week after researching in the China Province Jesuit Archives, where his name is woven through the history of the Society's work in China. Bishop Jin was unusually candid with me, though I know from experience how vigilant one must be in Mainland China when discussing the government's role in religious matters.

Shanghai's Catholic churches are very different from those in the rest of China; they host more foreigners – and thus collect more foreign money – and are in much better condition than more rural parishes elsewhere.

Jin's mark is indelibly evident on the Shanghai Church, for he has received more foreign monetary help than any other Chinese bishop, and has situated the diocese's finances in such way that it is independently solvent. And he is quite proud of this success.

Some wonder, however, how much government cooperation facilitated the impressive restoration of his diocese after the human purges and pillaging of Church property during the Cultural Revolution. Whatever Jin did to make Shanghai China's most powerful diocese, some suggest, is less important than the fact that he did it.

For the less-powerful but fervent underground community in Shanghai, however, nothing less than unwavering obedience and support for the Vatican is acceptable, and Shanghai is today a penetrating example of how divided the Church in China can be.

There is a little known reality involving Shanghai: Bishop Aloysius Jin is not the main bishop of the diocese, and in a country that has officially illegalized Catholic orders, he is not China's only Jesuit bishop.

In fact, the principal bishop of Shanghai according to the Vatican is Fan Zhonglian, S.J., another Jesuit, and Jin is his coadjutor. This of course is not his official status according to China's government; official documents mention ONLY Bishop Jin as the Ordinary of the diocese.

Whenever you ask a Chinese bishop or priest about the state of the Chinese Church you hear: "It's complicated."

Bishop Jin is complicated, and he admits it. The nature of his own complexities, he says, is how he makes it all work. During the government attacks on the Shanghai Catholic community in the 1950s, both Fr. Jin Luxian and then-Bishop Gong Pinmei (Cardinal Kung) were arrested and placed in prison for refusing to follow the Party line.

Many Catholics now wonder how Bishop Jin, who spent decades suffering in a state prison for resisting Party pressures, has been so successful in Shanghai in China if he hasn't somehow changed his approach.

After presenting Bishop Jin with a few rare photographs of the Jesuit mission in the 1950s, we began to discuss the general setting of the Chinese Church today and how he has navigated through the intricacies of being a Catholic bishop in a Communist country. He said:

"Yes, it is very complicated here, and I have had to be, how do you say, both a serpent and a dove. I am both a serpent and a dove. The government thinks I'm too close to the Vatican, and the Vatican thinks I'm too close to the government. I'm a slippery fish squashed between government control and Vatican demands. When I got out of prison the Church here was in ruins; after I replaced my predecessor [Bishop Aloysius Zhang Jiashu, S.J. – consecrated illicitly], I wrote hundreds of letters to Catholics all over the world asking for money to restore the Catholic community here in Shanghai. Most of my money came from Germany – some came from America and other European countries.

"I received nothing from the Vatican. I tried to get the prayer for the Pope restored in the Missale Romanum. At that time the government forbade us from two things: we could not implement the liturgical reforms of the Second Vatican Council – this would have been viewed as capitulating to the Vatican – and we were forbidden from reciting the prayer for the Pope during Mass.

"As far as the government was concerned the Church in China was entirely independent from Rome. I made ten trips to Beijing to ask the authorities to allow us to pray for the Pope in Mass, but they were against it.

"So, since we had to use the old Mass I contacted a German friend and asked him to save as many volumes of the Missale Romanum as he could – this was after the Council and everyone was throwing them away. He sent me more than 400 discarded books with the prayer for the Pope in them, which I distributed. I also had new copies printed in Shanghai and sent them out for use elsewhere. I succeeded. This is when the Pope's name was openly mentioned again in the Mass."

Despite his often-valiant resistance to state control over the actions of the Church, I noted that he is still called China's "patriotic bishop." I asked for an example of how he has used his position to gain more freedom from the Patriotic Association for the Church in his diocese.

"I'm not a 'patriotic bishop'; I'm just a Catholic bishop. Look, I had a recent book published ABOUT the Diocese of Shanghai, and the Patriotic Association does not appear in it once. In fact, when the Patriotic Association office moved temporarily away from the cathedral and chancery, I quickly occupied the space for another use. So, when they wanted to move back there was no place for them – Shanghai thus does not have a Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association."

Perhaps one of the most openly criticized of Bishop Jin's positions is his view that the underground Church should converge with the state-sanctioned Church. Jin seems to advocate the complete dissolution of the underground community.

Some analysts, including myself, have suggested that China's official and underground Churches are becoming less distinct, an opinion that Jin adamantly disagrees with. He also renders several somewhat acrid criticisms of Cardinal Joseph Zen's open recommendation that the underground Church remain underground. Bishop Jin says:

"No, it is not at all true in China right now that the line between us and the underground is disappearing. In fact, the division is growing worse. Few people really understand that we in the sanctioned Church suffer more because we are completely in the open – subject to the government's constant scrutiny.

"First, let me outline the situation in general terms. Some people think that the underground Church is the true Catholic Church in China, and that they are the only ones truly loyal to the Pope. They also state that they are more obedient than the sanctioned community. This is largely untrue – actually, the government knows where we are at all times – we live under enormous pressure to acquiesce to Party demands.

"The underground community is on the other hand free to move around at will. You know, according to canon law a priest must remain under the jurisdiction of the diocesan Ordinary, but the underground clergy float around all over China at will with great freedom; is this obeying Church law?

"And, when the Pope wrote his recent letter to China it was the official community that responded with careful obedience to the letter. The underground have almost completely ignored it. Is this obedience to the Pope?

"Also, when the Pope called for the two Catholic communities in China to heal our differences and work as one Church, Cardinal Zen in Hong Kong encouraged the underground Church to remain firm in their opposition to the sanctioned community. Is this what the Pope wants?"

In Bishop Jin's view, the chasm between the two divided communities will remain until after the eras of Cardinal Zen and Mr. Liu Bainian, the chairman of the Patriotic Association, come to a close.

"These two men are obstacles in the Chinese Church right now, and until they are gone we will still be unable to reconcile the line between the underground and aboveground communities. As long as Liu wants the Church here to be entirely independent some Chinese Catholics will remain underground, and as long as Cardinal Zen tells the underground to remain separate there will be no unity."

I redirected our discussion toward the sufferings endured by Catholics in Shanghai during the Cultural Revolution (1966-1976), and Bishop Jin's expression became solemn as though this were a subject with raw emotional attachments.

He simply remarked that, "During the Cultural Revolution many, many holy men and women suffered and were killed, but this is a subject better left to a later time. Now is not a prudent time to discuss these things." And finally I asked if there might be something he wished could be conveyed to the Pope.

"I would first of all say, 'Thank you. Thank you for understanding China's Catholics, as you showed in your recent letter.' The letter the Pope wrote to the Church in China was beautiful.

"I would additionally tell him that we love him. We love him and pray for him. We have been praying for him especially through his recent difficulties; the Church in China is on his side. The Church in China prays for him, and the diocese of Shanghai prays for him.

"Finally I would tell him that despite the little help we have received from Rome, I still serve the Vatican. I am still loyal to the Vatican. I am so happy with this Pope; I think he deeply understands the Church in China. He should use more discretion, however, when listening to the advice of some outside bishops. The situation here is complex."

He continued to offer some personal reflections on particular persons who figured in Shanghai's painful Catholic history, touching affectionately on the former Cardinal Gong, who has become a banner of heroism within the underground Church.

They had been old friends before their imprisonment; Gong sat beside Jin during their official "trial." In the end, the predominant themes of Bishop Jin's remarks in this interview centered on how much the Church has improved since his official installment as Shanghai's bishop and how he believes that the underground community should surface to join the recognized Church.

This latter point Jin freely admits is contrary to the position of Cardinal Zen, who was also raised in the Shanghai diocese.

The complexities surrounding Bishop Aloysius Jin must be viewed in light of the complexities of his life and context. It has not been easy for him; it was not easy for all Catholics who faced government persecutions after 1949.

Thanks to Jin's tireless efforts Shanghai currently boasts a vibrant Catholic community with a well-appointed and attended seminary, and large number of restored and dynamic churches. While some say this was all accomplished through compromise, others praise his shrewdness as beneficial to the Church.

He is a warm and welcoming and affable man, but he is also uncommonly judicious, for in China there are no easy answers. Catholic bishops, both underground and official, are forced to navigate through uncertain waters; they are compelled to be both serpents and doves.

As I left Bishop Jin's residence he told me: "I was born during the reign of Pope Benedict XV, and I'll probably die during the reign of Pope Benedict XVI. I've lived my life framed between two good Popes, and I hope I've been a good bishop."

Sunday Mass at the restored St. Peter's Church, attended mostly by foreigners, in Shanghai.

The newly renovated interior of the shrine of Our Lady of Sheshan, outside Shanghai, but still within Bishop Jin's jurisdiction.

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