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00Monday, October 11, 2010 8:00 PM

Recently, one of the documents issued by the Vatican in preparation for the current Synodal Assembly on the Middle East was a fact sheet on the Oriental Catholic Churches. There are 23 in all, grouped under five main traditions: Alexandrian, Antiochian, Armenian, Chaldean, and Byzantine.

Although it is very schematic, it is also very informative. I do not recall coming across a similar summary before, and it gives a whole new perspective on Anglicanorum coetibus. The framework of an Ordinariate has been the starting point for incorporating the eastern Churches - coming from established traditions in their respective areas of origin - into the Church of Rome. (I did not realize there were so many that had crossed over from the Eastern European Orthodox Churches.)

All of these churches continue to follow their old rites and traditions, which is what Anglicanorum coetibus proposes to converting Anglicans. Only this time, the formula is being extended to a Western Church for the first time.


Currently there are 23 in the Catholic Church Churches "sui iuris" [in law, 'under their own management'] belonging to the five Eastern traditions.


Patriarchal Coptic Church
In 1824 the Holy See created a patriarchate for the Catholic Copts, but it existed only on paper. Pope Leo XIII, through the apostolic letter "Christi Domini" of November 26, 1895, re-established the Coptic Catholic Patriarchate of Alexandria. 
 The current Patriarch is His Beatitude Antonios Naguib who began his ministry March 30, 2006. The patriarchal seat is located in Cairo. Coptic Catholics are only found in Egypt and the Sudan, and currently number around 210,000.

Ethiopian Metropolitan Church sui iuris
In 1930, an ordinariate was established in Eritrea for the faithful following the Ethiopian rite. in 1951, an Exarchate of the Ethiopian Rite was established uin, and the ordinariate in Eritrea was raised to the rank of an Exarchate. Ten years later, on April 9, 1961, an Ethiopian metropolitan was created, with its seat in. to which the earlier ecarchates, Asmara for Eritrea and Adigrat for Ethiopia became suffragan eparchies. In 1995, two new eparchies, Barentu and Keren, were established in Eritrea. 
 The current Ethiopian Metropolitan is Mons. Berhaneyesus Demerew Souraphiel. The liturgical language of this Church is Ge'ez, a Semitic language that has otherwise been disused for centuries. TheChurch has about 208,000 members today.


Syrian Patriarchal Church
It is the Syriac Orthodox Church which hass been in Rome since 1783. The Church has its own hierarchy, under the authority of a patriarch with the title Patriarch of Antioch of the Syrians. 
 ince January 20, 2009 the Patriarch is His Beatitude Ignage Youssif III Younan. Now based in Beirut (Lebanon), most of the faithful live in Iraq (42,000) and Syria (26,000), while 55,000 live in the USA and Venezuela.

Maronite Patriarchal Church
The Maronite Church is named after its founder, Saint Maron († 410), who established it in the fourth century. It is headed by the Patriarch of Antioch of the Maronites, His Beatitude Cardinal Nasrallah Pierre Sfeir. The seat is in Bkerke, Lebanon, and counts with 3 million faithful living in Lebanon, Cyprus, Jordan, Israel, Palestine, Egypt, Syria, Argentina, Brazil, Mexico, USA, Canada, and Australia.

Major Archiepiscopal Syro-Malankar Church
In 1930 a small group of religious and faithful of the Malankara Orthodox Church of India , led by Bishop Geevarghese Mar Ivanios. asked and obtained communion with the Catholic Church from Pope Pius XI. In 1932, he gave new life to the now Catholic Syro-Malankar Church with the erection of two dioceses and the imposition of the pallium in Mar Ivanios. On February 10, 2005 Pope John Paul II elevated the church to the rank of major archbishopric.
 The Major Archbishop is His Beatitude Baselios Cleemis Thottunkal, with headquarters in Trivandrum. The church has more than 410,000 members.


Armenian Patriarchal Church
The Armenian Catholic Church arose in 1742 from the Armenian national church and was recognized by Pope Benedict XIV (1740-1758). Now based in Bzoummar, Lebanon, it has communities in Lebanon, Iran, Iraq, Egypt, Syria, Turkey, Israel, Palestine and other places of the Armenian diaspora around the world. In 1008, membership was estimated at 540,000. It is headed by the Patriarch of Cilicia of the Armenians, currently His Beatitude Nerses Bedros XIX Tarmouni.


Patriarchal Chaldean Catholic Church
In 1551, some Chaldean Orthodox bishops and faithful gathered at the ancient monastery of Rabban Yochanan Hormisda in what is now Mosul, present-day Iraq. They elected Abbot John Sulaqa as Patriarch, and sent him to see Pope Julius III in Rome, where he converted to Catholicism. In 1553, the Pope created a Catholic Patriarchate of the Chaldean Rite, but full communion with Rome was not definitively established till 1830, when Pope Pius VIII conferred its head with the title Patriarch of Babylon of teh Chaldeans. Until the end of teh 20th century, its seat remained in Mosul, but since 2000, it has been in Baghdad. The current Patriarch is His Beatitude Cardinal Emmanuel III Delly. Memership is about one million, of whom 250,000 live in Iraq and reprsent majority of the Christian population there. The church also has communities in Iran, Lebanon, Syria, Egypt, Turkey, Australia, the USA, and Jerusalem.

Major Archiepiscopal Syro-Malabar Church
1662-1663 is considered the founding date of the India-based Syro-Malabar Church (mostly in the state of Kerala). In 1896, three apostolic vicariates were created led by Syro-Malabar bishops, In 1923, Pope Pius XI gave the Church its own hierarcy. This was followed in 1934, by de-Latinization of the Syro-Malabar rite, whose own liturgy was approved by Pius XII in 1957. In 1992 Pope John Paul II elevated the Church to the status of Major Archbishopric , naming Cardinal Anthony Padiyara as the first Major Archbishop (he remained as head until he died in 2000). The present Major Archbishop is Cardinal. Varkey Vithayathil, with his seat in Ernakulam-Angamaly. Its membership is estimated at around 3,600,000.


Patriarchal Melkite Church
In 1724, the Melkite Orthodox Church split into into two branches - the Antioochian Orthodox Church which remained under the influence of Constantinople the other the Melkite Catholic Church, which formally declared communion with Rome. Today, Melkite Catholics can be found not only in the Middle East, but also in countries like Canada, the United States of America, Brazil, Australia. The Patriarch of Antioch of the Greek Melkites is His Beatitude Gregory III Laham, with headquarters in Damascus. The church has about 1.2 million members.

Ukrainian Major Archiepiscopal Church
In 1595, an agreement was signed in Rome then ratified in Brest-Litovsk in 1586, under which unincorporated Ukrainian territories were united into the Eparchy of Volinia and joined to the existing Metropolitan Archieparchy of Keiv and other eparcheis of the so-called White Ruthenia. The so-caleld Union of Brest was consolidated in 1620, with its seat in Kiev. The Church was elebated to a Major Archbishopric in 1963, headed by the Major Archbishop of Kiev, but the seat was officialy transferred to the historic See of Leopoli in Kiev on Dec. 6, 2004. The current head is His Beatitude Cardinal Ljubomyr Huzar. His flock numebrs about 4.3 million dispersed throughout the world.

Romanian Major Archiepiscopal Church
Another Orthodox Church offshoot, this arose from the decisions made by three Bishops' Synods in 1697, 1698 and 1700 to seek full communion with the Church of Rome. In 1721, Pope Innocent XIII established a bishopric for the 'units in Transylvania', with the seat in Fagaras, transferred in 1737 to Blacj. In 1853, with another papal bull, Pius IX established the Greek Catholic Romanian Eparchy of Fagaras as a metropolitan seat, with three suffragan dioceses. The Church was elevated to Major Archbishopric status in December 2005. It is currently headed by His Beatitutde Lucian Muresan, who has six eparchies, five in Romania and one in teh USA which reports to the Holy See. Total membership: 740,000.

Ruthenian Metropolitan Church sui iuris
Ruthenia is a term used since the 13th century to designate lands in eastern Europe occupied mostly by Ukrainians (now spread over many national boundaries). In 1646, the Ruthenian Orthodox Church voted to join Rome, through the so-called Union of Uzhorod agreement, while retaining the Byzantine rite. In the 19th and 20th centuries, many Ruthenian Catholics emigrated to teh United States, especially to its mining ctiies. Today teh Ruthenian Church consists of the Eparchy of Mucacevo int eh Ukraien which is directly under the Holy See, the Archieparchy of Pittsburgh with its three suffragan eparchies in teh USA, and an Apostolic Exarchate in the Czech Republic. Its seat is in Pittsburgh, and has been vacant since the death in June of Mons. Basil Myron Schott. Number of faithful: 594,000.

Slovak Metropolitan Church sui iuris
In 1846, the Union of Uzhorod was unanimously accepted in the territory that includes present-day eastern Slovakia. Erected in 1818, the Eparchy of Presov was transferred in 1937 from the jurisdiction of the Primate of Hungary to the direct supervision of the Holy See. In 1997, Pope John Paul II erected the Apostolic Exarchate of Kosice. On January 30, 2008, Pope Benedict XVI reorganized the Church into a metropolitan church sui iuris, elevating the Eparchy of Presov to a metropolitan seat, and the Apostolic Exarchate of Kosice to an eparchy; and created the Eparchate of Brattislava. The seat of the Church is in Presov, and the current Metropolitan Archbishop is Mons. Jan Bajak, who has a flock numbering about 350,000.

Albanian Church sui iuris
The first union was sought
In 1660, an Orthodox archbishop joined the Catholic Church and sought to bring his church into full communion with Rome, but this effort was abandoned in 1765 due to obstacles posed by the Ottoman rulers, whose rule made Albania predominantly Muslim. In 1895 a group of Orthodox villages south-east of Elbasan, central Albania, converted to Catholicism. Much later, in 1939, the Catholics of Albania were united into an ecclesiastical jurisdiction, the Apostolic Administration of Southern Albania. The present administrator is Croatian-born Frnaciscan of teh Byzantine rite, Mons. Hill Kabashi, who was named in 1996. His flock numbers 1bout 3,600.

Belarus (Byelorussian) Church sui iuris
Many Orthodox Byelorussians (White Russians) became Catholic under the Brest-Litovsk agreement. But in 1939, an exarch was named for Byelorussian faithful following the Byzantine rite (the Greek-Catholic Byelorussian Church). In 1960, the Holy See named an Apostolic Visitator for Byelorussians abroad. At the start of 2005, teh Greek-Catholic Byelorussian church had 20 parishes,. 12 of whom are recognized by the state. [As in Russia, the Russian Orthodox Church in Belarus is zealous about keeping the Catholic Church from operating among the Orthodox. In Moscow, for instance, it refuses to have the Catholic ecclesiastical jurisdiction call itself a diocese, on the grounds that only the Russian Orthodox Church is entitled to have a diocese in the Russian capital.] The Catholic Rhurch in Belaru has 3,000 parish-based members, with anotheer 4,000 living outside the jurisdiction of these parishes. In 2003, the church had only 10 priests and 14 seminarians.

Bulgarian Church sui iuris
In 1859-1861, some Bulgarian orthodox Chrisians asked for union with Rome. Pope Pius IX accepted their request and personally ordained Archimandrite Joseph Sokolsky as Archbishop on April 8, 1861. In 1926, an Apostolic Exarchate for Bulgarian Catholics of the Byzantine Rite was established. At the end of 2004, the Apostolic Exarchate of Sofia had about 10,000 faithful in 21 parishes; five priests and 16 religious eparchs, with another 17 males and 41 females belonging to religious orders. Heading the Exarchate today is Bishop Christo Proykov.

Croatian Church sui iuris
In 1611, a bishop was named for the Coatian Orthodox who had converted to Catholicism. In 1853, this Eparchy became a suffragan of the Archdiocese of Zagreb. In 2001 [with the redefinition of national territories and sovereignties in the former Yugoslavia], an Apostolic Exarchate for Macedonians (6000 members) was detached from the eparchy, and a separate Apostlic Exarchate for Serbia and Montenegro was created in 2003, With 25,000 members. The seat of the Eparchy was transferred from Zagreb to Krizevci, and now has jurisdiction over all Croatians of the Byzantine rite (15,311 in Croatia). Their primate is Mons. Nikola Kekic,

Greek Church sui iuris
The first mutilple conversions to Catholicism from the Orthodox Church of Greece took place in the late nineteenth century with the creation of a Greek Catholic Church sui iuris. The Apostolic Exarchate of Greece for Catholics of the Byzantine rite was erected on June 11, 1932. In 2004, this small church had 2,300 members. It is currently under Bishop Dimitrios Salachas. The Apostolic Exarchate of Constantinople for Catholics of the Byzantine Rite was established for Turkey in 1911. The seat has beem vacant since 1957 and is currently under an Apostolic Administrator, Mons. Louis Pelatre.

Italo-Albanian Church sui iuris
Based in Italy, it consists of two eparchies and the Abbey of Grottaferrata. The Eparchy of Lungro (in Tuscany) was erected February 13, 1919, by Pope Benedict XV in a city where 32,800 out of 33,182 residents were Albanian Catholics of the Byzantine rite. The Eparchy as 22 parishes. In 1937, Pope Pius XI erected a second Eparchy, Piana dei Greci, where in 2004, 28,500 out of 30,000 residents were Albanian Catholics of the Byzantine rite. The current Eparch is Mons. Sotir Ferrara. The Abbey of Grottaferrata, founded in 1004 by St. Nilus of Rossano and located in the Alban Hills 20 kms southeast of Rome, has 98 members currently under Archimandrite Emiliano Maker, OSBI.

Macedonian Church sui iuris
Established first in 1918 as the Apostolic Exarchate of Macedonia, it was abolshed in 1924. In 2001, after Yugoslavia broke up into a number of smaller nation-states, the Holy See re-established the Apostolic Exarchate of Macedonia comprising all Mecedonian Catholics following the Byzantine rite, currently numerbing 11,500. Since 2001, the Holy See has named the Latin bishop of Skopje as ex-officio Exarch, currently Mons. Kiro Stojanov.

Russian Church sui iuris
This Church originates from Russian Orthodox who entered into communion with Rome in 1905. An Apostolic Exarchate was first formed for these Russian Catholics in 1917. In 1928, second Exarchate was established in Harbin for Russian Catholics who had emigrated to China. Both exarchates still exist, but no bishops have been named.

Hungarian Church sui iuris
In the eighteenth century, many Hungarian Protestants converted to Byzantine-rite Catholicism. On June 8, 1912, Pope Pius X created the Eparchy of Hajdúdorog for 168 such parishes. On June 4, 1924, the Apostolic Exarchate of Miskolc was created. This church now has about 300,000 members, and its current primate is Mons. Peter Fulop Kociss of the Eparchy of Hajdúdorogis, based in Nyiregyhaza.


Equally important to know is the full list of Synodal participants as published in the first bulletin of the Synodal Assembly, in which 'Benedict XVI, Supreme Pontiff' ranks #1, as President of the Assembly. Among other things, it contains a 'who's who' with full names and titles of the leaders of the Oriental Churches:

00Monday, October 11, 2010 9:57 PM
Teresa, thanks for the post above. It is truly informative and one of a multitude posted by you on this forum which I have immediately saved into a special PC file. Even though I am not continuously commenting and thanking you, I want you to know that I am one of those who appreciate your consistant input and especially the personal time that goes into your own translations of articles and documents.

Thank you again. Your "love's labour" for the Church and the present pope is not in vain.

Hi, Mags! Thanks for your kind words... I know even if I don't hear from you that you would look at this Forum now and then, if not regularly. I appreciate your friendship, and it truly gives me great pleasure to try and share everything good that I can find about B16 on this Forum with everyone who is interested in him.... GOD BLESS!


00Tuesday, October 12, 2010 10:50 PM
Teresa, you probably won't believe it but I visit and read 90% of the posts on this forum every single day. It is due to the fact that, as a pensioner, I have more time than most people but also because you have translations from European languages other than English. It contributes to a wider grasp on matters for a laywoman like me.

However, I really do not comprehend how you and some other forum contributors on the web manage a professional life plus "forum-ing". The mind boggles. How do you manage all of this while oftentimes the Vatican press office or communication sector(s) seem fast asleep or reactively trying to fix things that went wrong from a communication point of view?

No answer expected.

Hope you still enjoy some fine autumn weather in New York City! [SM=g7566]
00Thursday, October 14, 2010 1:37 AM
Tax investigation could land Pope with €8bn bill
By Michael Day in Milan: Thursday, 14 October 2010

European Commission to investigate exemption allowing the Vatican to avoid paying £2bn a year levy on 100,000 properties


Eight billion euros worth of tax breaks pocketed by the Catholic Church in Italy could be in breach of European law and may have to be repaid, it has emerged.

The development is the latest blow to an institution that has been rocked by an annus horribilis following the global clerical paedophilia scandal that broke earlier this year, and investigations into money laundering.

The European Commission has said that tax relief on 100,000 Italian properties enjoyed by the Holy See since 2005 was under the spotlight, after announcing an "in-depth" investigation.

A spokesperson for Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia said the EC suspected the exemption amounted to state aid that was at odds with European Union law.

"These exemptions may distort competition," he said. "Thus far, Italian authorities have not provided sufficient evidence to enable the Commission to conclude that the contested measures are justified by the principles of the Italian tax system".

The crux is whether the EC decides Church-run businesses should really be considered as commercial enterprises and therefore liable to taxation.

The Church was exempted from paying the tax, known as ICI in 2005 by a centre-right government under the then Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi. The conservative premier is now back in power after re-election in 2008.

When the 2005 rules were introduced, humanist and secularist organisations claimed it was "unfair help" and breached the principle of division between church and state.

The EU initially questioned the ICI exemption in 2005, which resulted in the measure being modified a year later by the then centre-left government of Romano Prodi. The EC twice shelved the case, first in 2008 and again this year. News agency Ansa reported that its decision to reopen the case now was made after the Radical Party filed a complaint with the European Court of Justice.

If Italy is found to have violated EU subsidy laws, it will have to cancel the exemption and seek reimbursement from the church. If that happened, the financial consequences for the Catholic Church would be grave.

Estimates value the Vatican's property tax breaks at €2bn (£1.75bn) a year. No one from the Vatican was available to comment on the EC probe. However, a statement by the Italian foreign ministry said: "The Italian government is convinced that it can demonstrate to the EC in a clear and definitive manner the good reasons that justify the current regulations, which do not violate EU rules on state help in favour of the church."

The church currently avoids paying tax on about 100,000 non-commercial properties including 8,779 schools, 26,300 ecclesiastical structures and 4,714 hospitals and clinics.

In addition to avoiding ICI, the church also benefits by paying only 50 per cent of the IRES business tax on its commercial earnings, thanks to Italian tax laws adopted in the 1950s which granted deductions for charitable organisations.

Italian and EU authorities were already poring over the Vatican's opaque finances. Last month it emerged that Vatican Bank president Ettore Gotti Tedeschi and director-general Paolo Cipriani are being investigated following two transactions that were reported as "suspicious". The announcement by magistrates was seen as the judiciary's way of pressuring the Vatican into being more open about its financial operations. Both men strongly deny the allegations.

More serious investigations are thought to relate to suspicions by magistrates Nello Rossi and Stefano Rocco Fava that other Vatican Bank officials used the institution, known as IOR, and its status as a non-Italian entity, to avoid taxes as well as to launder money.

News of the EC probe on tax breaks will also send a shudder through Vatican financiers, who already fear the effect the paedophilia scandal will have on voluntary donations – the financial life-blood of the church, not to mention the raft of litigation they may face from abuse victims in the coming years.

In Italy, taxpayers can opt to earmark 0.8 per cent of income tax payments to the religions of their choice – in most cases the Catholic Church, which last year benefited to the tune of €900m. The proportion of taxpayers donating this money to the church peaked at 90 per cent in 2004. It fell slightly to 87 per cent in 2008, however, and church authorities fear further slides on the back of this year's dreadful headlines.

The EC has previously investigated how other member states tax former state religions, including probes into subsidies for the Catholic church in Spain and sales tax rules for churches in Belgium. The EC also plans to examine rules giving tax breaks to church institutions and amateur sports clubs by ensuring they maintain non-commercial status.


00Saturday, October 16, 2010 1:03 AM

On heading the world's largest diocese -
spanning 4 nations and 3M square kms

Interview with Mons. Paul Hinder
by Carmen Elena Villa

ROME, OCT. 14, 2010 (Zenit.org).- When Bishop Paul Hinder looks at a map of his territory to plan pastoral visits, the view he contemplates is unparalleled in the rest of the Church.

The 68-year-old bishop, a native of Switzerland, is the Apostolic Vicar of Arabia, and his "diocese" covers five nations and some 3 million square kilometers (1.6 million square miles).

His 1.3 million-member flock is comprised entirely of immigrants who daily interact in coexistence with the Islamic world. They represent as many as 90 nationalities, with particularly strong concentrations from the Philippines, India, Indonesia, Nigeria, Europe and the United States.

The headquarters of his vicariate is in Abu Dhabi, capital of the United Arab Emirates, where there are seven parishes. But he also oversees four parishes in Oman, another four in Yemen, and one each in Qatar and Bahrain.

The churches of the vicariate generally have no external signs of the faith:ages: no bells or crosses. And the faithful often gather to worship in private homes.

ZENIT tracked down Bishop Hinder, who has served the vicariate for just over five years, as he is in Rome for the synod on the Middle East. Today, in fact, he gave an intervention at the synodal assembly regarding the reality of his mission.

How would you describe the faith of the people in these Arab countries?
It's true that our people quite often live a bit shut-in among themselves, in a context of individuals that profess the same faith. Not only when they come to church, but also in meeting places at work, and not infrequently. sharing the same apartment, etc.

It's not that they are completely isolated, but it is also true, that they are faced with a situation that is a challenge to their personal faith. For example on the values of life itself or how they live their relationship with God and their relationship with others or in being committed to and from the Gospel.

This worries our faithful, but in the main it unites them, less so in the case of others. Because of this they organize themselves -- very often with the pretext of prayer -- in associations where they can live this faith, I would say more developed, perhaps, than others and above all in the Holy Mass. The Eucharistic liturgy is very important for them; in fact our few churches are truly packed. Even during the week thousands attend Mass.

Do the faithful carry out works of charity?
Certainly. They face the whole challenge, from the moral point of view, on how to live in keeping with the Gospel and God's Commandments. These people live not only the aspects of religious devotion to the Sacraments.

They wowant to be of help to their brothers and sisters who have problems, as those in prison, and in hospitals - visiting the sick, taking Communion to them, etc. This is often done through organized work in groups - many of them help the few priests available by going to places where they usually cannot go.

I would like to add that active catechesis goes on, all in the hands of the laity. Every Friday, they catechize more than 20,000 children.

What are the main riches of the faith in these countries?
I would say their profound faith, which is expressed in different ways, a quite vital devotion not only through the sacraments, but also in the veneration of saints, participation in prayer groups or Bible study, etc.

And then, as I said earlier, they are sensitive and attentive in helping others, whether in the countries where they now live in in their home countries. If there is a disaster in another country, as for example in Pakistan, a special collection is organized in the church, and the people are generous. They have an active sense of sharing despite the existing problems.

How can Christians remain faithful along with Islam?
We live the daily presence of Islam (we hear if five times a day, above all). I would say that the different immigrant communitiees live "next" to each other, not "with" the others.

With the Muslims, there are the inevitable professional contacts, in offices, at work, the daily routine of living, when anything has to be done officialls. Obviously, educators are those who are most exposed and most engaged in dialog with Muslims. It's not the case with the majority of immigrant workers.

What is your personal experience as the pastor of such special people, who live together in another culture and another faith?
It is a challenge that is beyond human capacity. If I did not have the Lord's promise that he would always be with us and if I did not have the encouraging faith of my brothers and sisters, I would not be able to do it. On the otehr hand, to be exposed every day to another very powerful faith -- Islam -- can be a stimulus to deepen one's own faith and the practice of it.

Do the attacks suffered by Christian of the East (India, Pakistan, Nigeria, Iraq) especially in the last two years, put fear in Christians of Arabia?
In our countries, as opposed to those you mentioned, we feel relatively secure. There can be precarious situations of security in certain parts, but generally there aren't direct threats. Clearly this does not take away the reality that very often the fact of being Christian has discriminatory consequences.

How is the relationship with non-Catholic Christians in Arabia?
Relations with non-Catholic Christians are generally good. The greatest problem for us is the proselytism of certain evangelical groups who fish in our waters because they are not allowed to do so among non-Christians. Very often they work with more than questionable methods.

How can Catholics transmit their religion to their children in an environment of such strong restriction of religious freedom?
Ideally, it should be done first of all in the families. But they often lack time and sufficient knowledge of the Bible and of the Catholic faith. So It is important that they send their children to catechism in our parishes (in 2009 there were more than 25,000 children per weekend). In certain situations, they have to this in a hidden way, in private. I have great admiration for so many laypeople who put their gifts at the service of the Church by being catechists, as wek seek to provide the necessary formation even if it isn't always easy.

What do parishioners and faithful expect from the synod?
It seems to me that our faithful expect above all an encouragement in their situation, which is anything but easy. We expect from bishops that they take seriously their responsibility as pastors to give the flock the bread of the word and the bread of life. Finally they expect recognition, namely that the whole Church take note of their existence and their struggles. In this connection we expect solidarity in the faith, which is expressed above all in prayer.

00Saturday, October 16, 2010 5:14 PM

Ognizzanti Church is where Renaissance painter Sandro Botticelli and his wife are buried. In 1540, Botticelli painted his famous frescoes of St. Jerome and St. Augustine (seen above) for the Church.

Restored Giotto crucifix to return
to Florence church on November 6

Florence, October 14 (ANSA) - A five-year restoration of a crucifix from the Florence church of Ognissanti (All Saints) is over and the newly acclaimed artefact will take its rightful place there as the work of Giotto, restorers said Thursday.

It was only during the painstaking restoration that the 14th-century work was definitively attributed to the pre-Renaissance master.

The large (467x360 cm) cross took so long to be renovated because it was in a "very poor state of repair," lead restorers Marco Ciatti and Cecilia Frosinini said, and the supporting structure had to be "thoroughly bolstered".

They pointed out that cutting-edge solvents were used to remove centuries of grime while "extremely delicate attention" was taken with the coloured glass in Christ's halo, which was "in very bad shape".

As well as enabling the attribution, the restoration work also "revealed a lot of new information about how the artist worked," they said.

In particular, they said, infrared reflectography examination allowed experts to discover preparatory drawings under the painting.

The crucifix will be unveiled in the Ognissanti church on November 6, although art fans will have a chance to get a sneak peek at it on October 18-22 at the Opificio delle Pietre Dure, Florence's world-famous restoration workshop, where the work was done. As befitting its new status, the cross, which had been relegated to a little-visited sacristy, will be placed in a transept chapel and illuminated by a special new LED system.

"Hitherto, the work only attracted the attention of experts, but from now on it will inspire that of the international public," said the head of Florence's museums, Cristian Acidini.

The Ognissanti Crucifix was previously thought to have been by a relative or pupil of Giotto.

Dating to the second decade of the 1300s, Giotto would have painted it some 20 years after completing his famous monumental crucifix in Florence's Santa Maria Novella church.

Although renowned for his skill at life drawings at a time when stylised Byzantine art dominated, much of Giotto's life, travels and training remains shrouded in mystery.

He was born in Tuscany of a father named Bondone, studied with Cimabue, one of the greatest painters of his day, and completed his greatest masterpiece, the decoration of the Scrovegni Chapel in Padua, in around 1305.

However, the year and precise place of his birth and his family's background remain subjects of dispute, as does the order in which he completed his works and even their attribution.

00Saturday, October 16, 2010 5:34 PM

At Synodal assembly, top Catholic prelate
in Turkey says ultra-nationalist fanatics
were behind his predecessor's killing last June

VATICAN CITY, Oct. 15 (AP) — Turkey's top Roman Catholic bishop has publicly accused Turkish ultra-nationalists and religious fanatics of being behind the slaying of the country's senior bishop in June.

Monsignor Luigi Padovese, the Vatican's apostolic vicar in Anatolia, was stabbed to death by his driver outside his home in Iskenderun on June 3, a day before he was to leave for Cyprus to meet Pope Benedict XVI.

The slaying shocked the Turkish Church and cast a cloud over Benedict's visit. It was the latest in a string of attacks in recent years on Christians in predominantly Muslim Turkey, where Christians make up less than 1 percent of the 70 million population.

Turkish officials have insisted the slaying was personal and not religious or politically motivated, and the driver's lawyer has said the suspect had mental problems.

But the head of Turkey's bishops' conference, Monsignor Ruggero Francheschini, told a Vatican meeting Thursday that Padovese was the victim of "premeditated murder" by the same forces that Padovese had denounced for killing a priest in 2006 and three Christians in 2007.

In speech to bishops gathered for a meeting about the plight of Christians in the Middle East, Francheschini said Padovese's killing was part of a "dark plot of complicity between ultra-nationalists and religious fanatics, experts in schemes of tension."

The driver, Murat Altun, was arrested soon after the slaying. His lawyer, Cihan Onal, said Friday that prosecutors in Iskenderun are still investigating the case and it's not clear when they will issue an indictment.

While some Church officials and diplomats have quietly said the murder seemed suspect, Franceschini's comments were unusual in their bluntness. He said he wanted to set the record straight to erase the "intolerable slander circulated by the same organizers of the crime."

The circumstances of Mons. Padovese's death are significant to determine if he was a martyr to the faith or simply the unfortunate victim of a madman.

00Monday, October 18, 2010 6:56 AM

Mass among the gum trees, as
Pope canonises St. Mary in Rome

Oct. 18, 2010

PENOLA, NSW, Australia - On Sunday, Pope Benedict XVI declared Australia's first saint, Mary of the Cross MacKillop, in front of tens of thousands at St Peter's Square.

Magpies upstaged the priests where it all began, writes Jo Chandler.

Given the earthy, egalitarian character of the woman at the centre of all the hoopla and her devotion to a life of raw simplicity, you'd have to imagine that if Mary MacKillop was inclined to drop in from heaven to enjoy her big moment, she's more likely to have found her way back to Penola than to have followed the A-listers to Rome.

A world away from the solemn, stage-managed pageantry of the Vatican rituals, she could have jostled for standing room among an estimated 5000 shivering pilgrims up the back of a wind-swept paddock deep in wine and grazing country.

There, under the canopy of gum trees, she could have joined in the joyous, gloriously messy Mass celebrating her story, opening with a parade of pipes and drums, an Aboriginal smoking ceremony and a hymn declaring ''this is holy ground''.

A retired archbishop, Dr Leonard Faulkner, and eight other celebrants conducted formalities but were raucously upstaged by the chorus of spring-time magpies and restless pupils from the local school that bears her name, the latter resisting the best efforts of their teachers to shoosh them.

It's uncertain what Mary would have made of those members of the congregation who had smuggled in glasses of local Coonawarra red to sustain themselves through the service, and who couldn't attempt a rough mouthing of the Nicene Creed. But there were many secular devotees of her remarkable achievements in the congregation, and many long-lapsed Catholics.

Alongside them were the rapturously devout, raising their prayers to the woman henceforth known as St Mary of the Cross, enlisting all manner of favours and miracles.

She would doubtless have been gratified by the sincere devotions of the group of Northern Territory Aboriginal pilgrims, among them 16-year-old Mary MacKillop Dodd of Port Keats. And she would surely have been moved by the glowing euphoria of the women who followed in her footsteps and preserve her Rule and vision of service to the most marginalised.

Up in the front rows she would have found sisters Eunice Barry, Margaret Lamb and Liz Morris singing up a storm. While others eyed the brooding grey skies nervously, the sisters had enlisted St Joseph for a small miracle of their own.

They had left his weatherbeaten statue sitting unsheltered on the concrete step outside their convent. ''We always put him outside when we want to hold off the rain,'' Sister Margaret cheerily confided. Glimpses of sunshine dutifully fought their way through.

The theme of Penola's celebration was ''where it all began''. And yesterday's Mass took place a mere stone's throw, and almost 150 years, from the very place, and the very moment.

It happened after Sunday Mass one morning in 1861. MacKillop was a vital 19-year-old governess; born into poverty, her childhood ''one of sorrows'' and household servitude, resigned to a life of family duty, but harbouring a secret ambition of religious service.

She had just heard a sermon from Father Julian Tenison Woods. He was a charismatic 28-year-old priest, a long way from his gracious London origins - a scientist, adventurer and radical bush missionary, outspoken about wanting to change the world.

''I heard the pastor from the altar speak of the neglected state of the children of his parish,'' MacKillop would later write. At the end of the service, ''I had to go and offer myself to aid him.''

She confided to him her desire to devote herself ''to poor children … in some very poor Order''. The conversation crystallised a shared vision that would change both their lives, and transform many more, when they founded together the Sisters of St Joseph.

She would later reflect: ''Little did either of us then dream of what was to spring from so small a beginning.''

Then there is this account of Saint Mary's path to beatification by her first postulator:

00Monday, October 18, 2010 6:49 PM

Montreal's St. Andre:
A 'shining example'

Oct.. 17. 2010

Below towering rooftop statues of Jesus Christ, John the Baptist and 11 apostles, Canada's latest saint smiled down from a tapestry flapping in a brisk wind on the facade of St. Peter's Basilica yesterday.

On an altar in St. Peter's Square, Pope Benedict XVI recognized the humble, diminutive lay brother as a saint, placing him in Catholicism's pantheon, the culmination of a process that Montreal Catholics have been shepherding since he died 73 years ago.

In top right photo, Canada's official delegation to the rites - Mayor Gerald Tremblay of Montreal, Senate Spaker Noel Kinsella and Foreign Minister Lawrence Canon.

With an estimated 3,000 Quebec faithful watching in the square, and many Quebec and Canadian flags on display, Pope Benedict urged Canada's Catholics to follow the "shining example" of St. Andre Bessette, the man better known to Montrealers as Frere Andre (Brother Andre).

Friend to the poor and sick, founder of Montreal's St. Joseph's Oratory, and dubbed the Miracle Man of Montreal, Brother Andre officially joined the sainthood along with five others during an elaborate ceremony in the square, marked by joyous singing by several choirs.

Despite dire forecasts the previous day, rain never materialized and the cloud cover cleared occasionally to warm the masses.

In a homily before an estimated 80,000 pilgrims from around the world, Pope Benedict said St. Andre Bessette "knew suffering and poverty very early in life."

Born to an extremely poor family in St. Gregoire, southeast of Montreal, Bessette was orphaned at age 12 and drifted for years as an illiterate, unskilled worker.

In 1870, he joined the Congregation of Holy Cross, a group which reluctantly accepted him and assigned him a lowly job in the reception area of College Notre-Dame in Montreal. His early-life difficulties "led him to turn to God for prayer and an intense interior life," Pope Benedict said.

"Doorman at College Notre-Dame in Montreal, he showed boundless charity and did everything possible to soothe the despair of those who confided in him."

Bessette "was the witness of many healings and conversions. 'Do not try to have your trials taken away from you,' he said, 'rather, ask for the grace to endure them,'" Pope Benedict added.

"For him, everything spoke of God and His presence. May the example of Brother Andre inspire Canadian Christian life."

Pope Benedict was accompanied by five cardinals, 10 archbishops, 13 bishops and 20 priests. Among them was Jean-Claude Turcotte, Archbishop of Montreal. Along with Quebecers, about 2,000 other pilgrims were in Rome to celebrate Brother Andre's canonization, from places such as the United States and India.

Those in the crowd in Rome to support Brother Andre were easy to spot: They wore white scarves around their necks bearing images of the new saint and St. Joseph's Oratory, along with the words: "A friend, a brother, a saint."

I was wondering whether Canada had been struck with the same 'Marymania' that appears to have had secular Australia in a spell over the past few weeks - and this earlier commentary in the National Post confirms a similar phenomenon in ueber-secular Canada, at least in Quebec province.

Brother André canonization reconnects
Montreal with its Catholic past

By Graeme Hamilton

Left, a wax model of Brother André in the museum at St. Joseph's Oratory in Montreal; right, in a stained-glass window in the University of Toronto.

Reading the newspapers, watching television news, even riding the metro in Montreal these days, one would never guess that Quebec has broken with its Catholic past.

Black-and-white images of Brother André, who will be canonized by Pope Benedict XVI in Rome Sunday, are everywhere. There are ads celebrating him in the subway system, the two French-language news networks will begin live coverage from Rome early in the morning and the Journal de Montréal was promising a 16-page special section Saturday about the soon-to-be saint, who died in 1937.

In two weeks, a Mass celebrating his sainthood is expected to draw more than 50,000 people to the Olympic Stadium. It is the kind of treatment usually reserved for a pop star like Celine Dion or hockey’s Montreal Canadiens.

“There’s going to be a bit of that Québécois pride. It’s Brother André. He’s one of us,” said Spencer Boudreau, a McGill University professor of religious education. “Even if the majority of them aren’t going to church, it’s Frère André.”

The desertion of Quebec churches after the Quiet Revolution of the 1960s is well documented. Once a central player in family life, education and social services, the Catholic Church surrendered those roles to the provincial government. Regular church attendance, once estimated at close to 90%, has plummeted to less than 15%.

But that has not stopped Quebecers from calling themselves Catholics. University of Lethbridge sociologist Reginald Bibby calls it “the Quebec anomaly.”

In a 2007 paper, he noted that despite the steep drop-off in church attendance, the proportion of Quebecers identifying themselves as Catholic was 83% in the 2001 census, down only slightly from 88% 40 years earlier.

There remains a strong attachment to symbols of the province’s Catholic heritage. When a commission studying the accommodation of religious minorities suggested it would be a good idea for a secular state like Quebec to remove the crucifix hanging in the provincial legislature, the proposal was immediately shot down.

“Try to touch the cross on the mountain or change Sainte Catherine Street to Catherine Street and there’d be an outcry,” Mr. Boudreau said. “That’s part of our identity.”

Rather than being rejected as a relic from Quebec’s priest-ridden past, Brother André is being redrawn as a folk hero who symbolizes the triumph of a little guy born into poverty and poor health.

“There is a lot of emphasis on his poverty, on the fact that he had little education,” said Raymond Lemieux, professor emeritus in the faculty of theology at Université Laval. “That touches a portion of the population that is generally left aside.”

The slogan on the advertisements taken out by St. Joseph’s Oratory, the towering Montreal shrine that Brother André helped build, describe him as “a friend, a brother, a saint.” That resonates even with people who do not attend church, said Danielle Decelles, a spokeswoman for the Oratory.

“Brother André can be, as our slogan says, a friend, a brother,” she said. “He lived like us. He was from here and he lived an ordinary life like everyone lived at the time. He was someone close to the people, and he is still seen that way.” He was a humble man who “reached the highest step,” the advertisement says.

Robert Mager, a professor of theology at Université Laval, said Brother André represents a popular Catholicism that has endured while institutional religion withers. [Very apropos to Benedict XVI's reminder to seminarians to respect popular piety, allowing for some degree of irrationality.]

“There are still many Quebecers who go to shrines or who go to monasteries to spend a weekend, even if they don’t go to church,” he said. “These are people who are attached to a very emotional sort of religion, related to spirituality, and they find that pilgrimages suit them.”

Brother André, who attracted an estimated one million mourners when he died at age 91, was credited with healing powers. Pilgrims by the thousand continue to visit the Oratory in hopes of finding a cure.

“Brother André was at the heart of the interface between the sacred and death and illness,” Mr. Mager said. “Many people who are personally suffering from illness, the death of a loved one or difficulties in life like the break-up of a couple, will go towards someone like Brother André, who represents what religion can offer as hope.”

Mr. Boudreau said he tells his students at McGill to think of saints as role models. “From the Catholic perspective, these are models of holiness and that simple people can attain great heights,” he said. “It’s counter-cultural in a sense. Somebody who has taken a vow of poverty, chastity and obedience and devotes his life to the sick is really not what the world of consumerism is all about.”

The Church is clearly hoping the excitement generated by Brother André’s canonization will spark some renewed interest in Catholicism in Quebec. But Mr. Boudreau said he doubts the effect will be long lasting. In order to be declared a saint, the Vatican must confirm two posthumous miracles.

“That would be the third miracle of Brother André if church attendance went up,” Mr. Boudreau joked.

Why is there fascination for the new Catholic saints even in hyper-secularized societies like Australia and Canada? As the article above partly indicates, it's because the Catholic Church is the only religion that elevates ordinary mortals, including beggars, shepherds and doormen, to an honor like sainthood.

Indian divinities have their roots in the mists of long-ancient myths, and various Hindu sects have their iconic holy men but usually only one at a time, as are continuing reincarnations of the ancient gods; Tibetan Buddhists have continuously reincarnated lamas. Their common characteristic is that they are seen as supernatural beings.

So perhaps the universal appeal of Catholic saints is that even in ordinary and humble callings, they show that regular folk can be shining examples of a selfless holy life for other regular folk to emulate. And that in the past, as in the present, there does not seem to be a shortage of such selfless holy persons. Not all of them may eventually be known by name but we know they exist as part of the vast legion of the communion of saints.....

I had to look up the reference in the title of the next article, which is a more fleshed-out acocunt of St. Andre's life. Rocket Richard was the popular nickname to Canada's most prolific goalmaker in the history of Canadian ice hocket. He played from 1942 to 1960 for the Montreal home team.

Brother André:
The Rocket Richard of miracles

by Eric Reguly

Oct. 15, 2010

A young boy from Quebec lay in hospital, near death. A road accident victim, he had suffered massive cranial trauma and was evidently in an irreversible coma. Any doctor will tell you that recovery from serious head injuries is exceedingly rare.

The boy’s family and friends prayed to Brother André, the founder of Montreal’s Oratoire Saint-Joseph du Mont-Royal and a man famous for healings; he had been beatified in 1982, four decades after his death.

Against all odds, the boy emerged from his coma. The recovery was judged scientifically inexplicable by several doctors.

The Vatican confirmed a second miracle attributed to André late last year; two are necessary, one for the beatification, the other for the posthumous canonization[All beatifications and canonizations are posthumous!], which will be formalized in St. Peter’s Square in Rome by Pope Benedict XVI on Sunday.

And the boy? He has returned to health after the 1999 accident, when he was 9 years old, and will be among 5,000 Canadians making the pilgrimage to Rome to watch André’s elevation to sainthood. His identity has never been revealed.

“He’ll certainly be among the crowd at St. Peter’s,” said Mario Lachapelle, the Quebec priest who, as a member of the Congregation of Holy Cross, was André’s vice-postulator, a middleman who sponsors and pleads the canonizations to the Vatican. “But he and his family are humble people and they value their privacy.”

If the boy – now young man – does reveal his identity, he will become an instant international celebrity, for André’s healings are known throughout the Catholic world, from Canada to the Philippines.

In Italy, Father Lachapelle said André is known as the “Padro Pio” of Canada, a reference to the famous southern Italian priest, known for his stigmata and healings, who was canonized in 2002.

André’s canonization on what should be a warm, sunny autumn day in Rome will be one of the biggest spectacles of Pope Benedict’s reign. Canonizations are still relatively rare, even though Benedict’s predecessor, Pope John Paul II, cranked up the Vatican’s saint-making machine with alacrity, to the point he was accused by one Italian observer of churchly matters of using saints as “Vatican marketing decisions.”

André will be one of six canonizations, and will be the first Canadian male saint born on Canadian soil. Marie-Marguerite d’Youville, founder of Montreal’s Order of Sisters of Charity, was the first Canadian-born saint and was canonized in 1990.

The event starts at 10 a.m. and promises to be a festival of colour and ceremony, with tens of thousands of visitors, many of them politicians, ambassadors and senior Roman Catholic Church officials from the countries that claim the fresh saints.

While Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Quebec Premier Jean Charest are not expected to attend, Minister of Foreign Affairs Lawrence Cannon and Gerald Tremblay, the mayor of Montreal, among others, will be in the throng.

The Canadian church will send five bishops, four archbishops and two cardinals, Marc Ouellet and Jean-Claude Turcotte, plus an army of nuns and priests..

André is a superstar in his native province. When he died at age 91 of old age – there is no medical record of a fatal disease – on Jan. 6, 1937, a million people filed by his coffin, the equivalent to one in three Quebec residents at the time.

“For Montreal, his canonization is a great drawing card,” said Anne Leahy, Canada’s ambassador to the Holy See in Rome. “People in Quebec are proud of Frère André just like they are proud of Maurice Richard.”

André’s body, placed in the Crypt Church, below the present day basilica, was a sight to behold. Piled against the walls were hundreds of crutches that had been owned by cripples allegedly cured by André. He is associated with an extraordinary 125,000 miracles, though he never considered himself a healer. Instead, he urged the unwell to see a doctor or pray.

The Vatican has been exploiting miracles forever. It first cranked up the saint conveyor belt in the centuries after the death of Jesus Christ, when Christians were persecuted by the Romans. Back then, virtually any martyr became a saint. [And it remains so, Mr. Ignorant Reporter. Because martyrdom is the ultimate sacrifice for the faith, an imitation of Christ that merits instant recognition if the victim was killed 'in odium fidei', out of hatred for the faith.]

In later centuries, the definition of saint was broadened to include the ultra-faithful and pious. [Not being Catholic, the reporter just does not get the concept of holiness that underlies all the causes for sainthood!]

The number of saints, of course multiplied. The saint glut troubled the 12th Century pope, Alexander III, who imposed tighter restrictions on canonizations.

The modern-day criteria for sainthood date back to the 17th Century, when it took four posthumous miracles (recently reduced to two) to qualify. The Vatican insists on the use of independent doctors to verify that healings – the vast majority of miracles are medical cures – are scientifically unexplainable.

Under Pope John Paul II, the canonization process was simplified by the elimination of the Devil’s Advocate, the Vatican official who would argue against sainthood. Saintly inflation rates exploded to almost 500 canonizations, including Mother Teresa’s. [Reguly does not take into account that the number included mass sainthood for martyrs in Asia and Africa and the Spanish Civil War, who numbered in the dozens!]

André’s first Vatican-confirmed miracle was the healing in 1958 of a Quebec man, Giuseppe Carlo Audino, who suffered from cancer. He prayed to André and the cancer disappeared. This miracle was cited in André’s beatification by John Paul II in 1982.

Father Lachappelle, who has spent his career studying André, said some of the stories of miracles were fantastic. “He would say [to a cripple], ‘You’re not sick, so leave you’re crutches here.’ And some of them just walked away,” he said.

André saw himself as a simple man, incapable of miracles “I am nothing,” he would say, “only a tool in the hands of Providence, a lowly instrument at the service of St. Joseph.”

Father Lachappelle said what interests him most about André’s life is not so much the healings but his unconditional acceptances of others and his ability to speak simply about the love of God. And what he calls his “avant-garde” ecumenism.

“What is fascinating about Brother André is that he was so much ahead of his time,” he said. “He was a father figure, and did not have an image of God as a dispenser of justice.”

André, he said, was “avant-garde” in the sense that he was unusually liberal for his time. For example, he befriended non-Catholics and non-Christians, a rarity for devout men of the Church in that era.

One of his closest friends was George H. Ham, the Protestant newspaperman who published the first biography of André, “The Miracle Man of Montreal,” in 1921.

André was born Alfred Bessette, one of ten children, in a town about 40 kilometres southeast of Montreal in 1845. He had a miserable upbringing. He was only nine when his father was killed by a falling tree. Three years later his mother died of tuberculosis.

André was small and sickly, had little schooling and was largely illiterate. He never wrote a full sentence in his life, making the research into his career, his spirituality and his miracles reliant on the observations of friends, fellow brothers, eyewitnesses and biographers.

After his parents died, he bounced from family to family, job to job and worked as a farm hand, tinsmith, blacksmith, baker, shoemaker, coachman and, four years, in textiles mills in the United States. He returned in 1867, the year of Canadian confederation, and presented himself in 1870 to the Congregation of Holy Cross in Montreal, where he was given the name Brother André and a low-exertion job as porter at Notre-Dame College.

He doubled up as a floor washer and barber, and the sacks of coins he saved over the years from his five-cent-a-pop haircuts would later be used to finance the building of a chapel on Montreal’s Mont Royal. The chapel, which still exists, is next to the larger Crypt Church that was completed under André’s watch in 1917.

The basilica, which was started in 1924 and not completed until 30 years after André’s death, sits atop the Crypt Church. Dedicated to St. Joseph and inspired by André, the basilica’s 97-metre-high dome is the world’s third largest of its kind.

André would become better known as a healer than a builder. He had an affinity for the poor and the ill and visited them everywhere. He would urge them to pray to St. Joseph or rub a medal of the saint.

In time he gained the reputation as someone who could cure sickness – a miracle worker – and the people would go to him in the hundreds, then thousands. Some allegedly were cured, others died, though his friends said anyone who met him felt enriched or transformed in some way.

On Sunday, the Vatican will officially recognize André as the miracle worker he insisted he wasn’t. Quebec will celebrate, along with the young man in St. Peter’s Square whose family is convinced André saved their son’s life.

00Wednesday, October 20, 2010 4:46 AM

Bishop says half of the Christians
in Middle East are vulnerable migrants

By Cindy Wooden

VATICAN CITY, Oct. 19 (CNS) -- Up to half of the Catholics in the Middle East are migrant workers, mostly from the Philippines, who pack the few churches in the Arabian Peninsula each weekend and often turn to the church when their employers exploit or abuse them.

Mons. Hinder presides at annual gathering of the Vicariate clergy and faithful in Abu Dhabi last March.

Bishop Paul Hinder, the apostolic vicar for Arabia, is responsible for the pastoral care of Catholics in the United Arab Emirates, Oman, Yemen, Bahrain, Qatar and Saudi Arabia.

There are more than 2 million Filipinos in the region, and about 80 percent of them are Catholic.

[Clearly, this is the largest-ever 'diaspora' of Catholics to non-Christian lands in terms of numbers. It is a phenomenon that dates back to the 1970s when he oil-rich nations of the Middle East began exporting unskilled labor, skilled labor and professionals - mostly teachers, doctors, nurses and engineers - from the Philippines and other Asian countries, to do work which was considered too menial for Arabs to do themselves (cleaning crews and sanitation workers in public places including airports, or domestics and nannies to service rich families), and the professionals to staff their hospitals, schools, hotels and oil enterprises.

And clearly, too, there will be work for them as long as Arabs are unwilling to do menial jobs and/or are unable to train the professionals they need to keep their societies more or less 'abreast' with the rest of the world. But even if many of them face long gainfully-employed years in the Middle East, sending home badly neededdollars to their families, practically none of them are likely to settle in the Middle East and an all-pervasive Islamic culture that is openly hostile to Christian culture.]

There also are tens of thousands of Catholics from India, Sri Lanka and Africa, he told reporters at the Vatican Oct. 19.

Given that situation, he said he thought the Synod of Bishops for the Middle East was "too focused on the classical Oriental churches in the Middle East" and on problems facing the region's native Christians because of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the war in Iraq and the continuing tensions in Lebanon.

"The Church cannot distinguish between first- and second-class Catholics" by downplaying the needs of the millions of Catholic migrant workers in the region, he said.

The situation is urgent, the bishop said, because in too many places the migrant workers, especially the women, "are treated as slaves," not just in the Arabian Peninsula, but in Lebanon and Israel as well.

"It's not a particular problem of the Muslim world," but also happens when the employers are "wealthy Christians who treat these women in a horrible way," forcing them to work up to 22 hours a day, preventing them from leaving the house and, sometimes, subjecting them to sexual abuse, the bishop said.

[The Philippine governments since the 1980s have been aware of this general risk to women who are employed as domestics in Arab households and has promoted awareness campaigns to discourage Filipino women hiring themselves out as domestics in the Arab countries.]

The Church knows what happens to them only because some of them manage to flee and the first place they turn is the Church, he said. Church workers take the exploited to their embassies, which provide a safe house until they can be repatriated, but no psychological help or support is offered to them, the bishop said.

In some countries of the region, women who get pregnant as a result of rape "risk the death penalty" for adultery unless they can get married before the pregnancy is noticed or get to their home country to give birth, he said.

The possible exploitation of migrant workers is not the only point Bishop Hinder wanted the synod to recognize, he said. The immigrant communities of the Middle East are actively Catholic, energize church life and often have more contact with Muslims or Jews than the long-term Catholic residents of the region do, he said.

"But, of course, I'm partial because I'm defending my people," he said. "It's my passion to make their reality known."

He said even other bishops don't realize there are so many Catholics in the Arabian Peninsula, and most Catholics would be shocked to hear that he has several parishes where more than 10,000 people attend Mass on an average weekend.

That's partly because most countries in the region do not allow foreigners -- including the Catholic Church -- to own property, so they can build churches only on land leased to them for that purpose. Usually, it is the country's leader or a member of the royal family who owns the land, he said.

Bishop Hinder said the situation in Saudi Arabia, where there are many Christian guest workers, "is particular," because as the land containing Islam's holiest shrines, it does not permit churches to be built. [In fact, Saudi Arabia is the largest exporter of Oriental labor in the world today.]

Still, he said, since Saudi King Abdullah Aziz visited Pope Benedict XVI in 2007, restrictions have eased on worship by small groups of Catholics in private homes or facilities.


The Vicariate Apostolic of Arabia is a Roman Catholic apostolic vicariate located in the United Arab Emirates. It is a territorial jurisdiction of the Latin Rite of the Roman Catholic Church covering the following countries of the Arabian Peninsula: Bahrain, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, United Arab Emirates and Yemen, an area of over 1.2 million square miles.

* Total population in 2004: 47,760,669
* Total Catholic population as of 2004: 1,300,500 (2.7% of the whole)
* Parishes: 20
* Total priests (diocesan and religious): 45
* Catholics per priest: 28,900

There are Catholic parishes in all these countries with the exception of Saudi Arabia, where the public practice of non-Islamic religions is forbidden. The current superior of the vicariate is the Swiss-born Bishop Paul Hinder OFM Cap.

It was established in 1888 as the Apostolic Vicariate of Aden and changed to its present name in 1889. The See of the jurisdiction was in Aden until 1973, when it was transferred to St. Joseph's Cathedral in Abu Dhabi.

Formerly part of the Vicariate Apostolic of the Gallas, the Vicariate Apostolic of Arabia was formed as a prefecture by Pope Pius IX on January 21, 1875. It was made into a vicariate Apostolic on April 25, 1888, by Pope Leo XIII as the Vicariate Apostolic of Aden, located in Yemen. On the 28th of June, 1889 the name was changed to the Vicariate Apostolic of Arabia. On June 29, 1953, the Prefecture Apostolic of Kuwait was separated from the Vicariate Apostolic of Arabia. Since 1916 it has been in the care of the Capuchins of Florence, who govern it.

00Wednesday, October 20, 2010 4:15 PM
Court rejects Vatican bank bid to unfreeze funds
by Guy Dinmore: October 20 2010

An Italian court has rejected a bid by the Vatican bank to free €23m of its funds frozen by the Italian judiciary as part of an investigation into suspected breach of money laundering regulations.

Vincenzo Scordamaglia, a lawyer representing the Institute of Religious Works (IOR), as the Vatican bank is formally known, said he had learnt from media reports on Tuesday that the court, the Tribunale del Riesame, had rejected the case he had filed this month. He said he would lodge an appeal once he had received formal notification

In the first case of its kind, the Italian judiciary last month froze €23m held by the Vatican bank in an account in Credito Artigiano, an Italian bank. The Vatican bank’s two top officials – Ettore Gotti Tedeschi and Paolo Cipriani – were placed under investigation for suspected breach of anti-money laundering norms.

Mr Tedeschi has said the case resulted from a “misunderstanding” between the Vatican bank and Credito Artigiano when the Vatican tried to transfer money to two accounts it held in two other banks in Germany and Italy.

Vatican observers said they believed the decision by IOR to challenge the freezing of its funds was the first case of the Vatican, a sovereign state, seeking redress through the Italian judicial system.

The observers said the move reflected the extreme sensitivity of the Holy See as it seeks inclusion on lists compiled by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, and the Financial Action Task Force of jurisdictions compliant with international norms on tax co-operation and money laundering.

Mr Gotti Tedeschi – a veteran banker and lecturer in ethics in finance – was appointed by Pope Benedict a year ago to bring more transparency to the Vatican bank following its entanglement in the fraudulent collapse of the partly Vatican-owned Banco Ambrosiano in the 1980s and the Enimont corruption trials involving Italian government officials a decade later.

00Thursday, October 21, 2010 1:07 AM

Like the topic above, I mentioned the following 'issue' earlier in the BULLETIN BOARD on today's almanac page in the BENEDICT thread. But whereas I have not gone so far as to say Vian should resign - only that he seriously reconsider his mandate from the Pope and whether he will continue to shoot himself in the foot by all the unnecessarily controversial pop culture opinions that he chooses to play up in the Pope's newspaper - an American member of the Pontifical Academy for Life wants him dismissed .....

American Life League president
calls on the Vatican to dismiss
the OR editor for 'Simpsons' debacle


Washington, DC, 20 October 2010 – American Life League president Judie Brown is calling on supporters to ask the Vatican’s press office to dismiss the editor of L’Osservatore Romano, the Vatican’s official newspaper, after the paper made a pronouncement that cartoon character Homer Simpson is a Catholic.

Brown is a three-term member of the Pontifical Academy for Life, the group that advises the Pope on life issues.

The story has drawn the jeers of an already hostile secular media ready to take aim at the Catholic Church.

“The Simpson debacle proves to faithful Catholics once again that it’s time to shake up the newspaper staff at the Vatican,” Brown wrote in her daily column, Straight Talk on Life. “Clearly heads should roll over this one.”

As evidence of the negative effect of the Osservatore article, Brown points to the relatively small coverage of the past week’s canonizations, papal letter to seminarians and important Middle Eastern Synod of Bishops by the secular media.

Instead, the narrative from the secular media reporting on the Vatican City this week has focused on the Vatican’s own newspaper pronouncing Homer Simpson a Catholic.

“Readers have left dozens of negative comments aimed at placing the Catholic Church in the realm of the irrelevant and the absurd, poking fun at truth and literally basking in the mindlessness of what the Vatican newspaper has done,” Brown said.

“It is our opinion that it is time for a complete change in management – the sooner, the better.”

If Vian does not already do it daily, I suggest that when he wakes up everyday, he should do a search for Papacy and Vatican News, and look at the list of headlines from media around the world. Because even today, with the names of the new cardinals announced, the Simpson story still got listed much more often than any other news 'item' about the Church and the Vatican.

Vian cannot be so self-engrossed over his own personal agenda of 'remaking' OR into his rather-shallow idea of a 'newspaper of ideas' as not to see that he is being counter-productive to the Church's communications effort - bad enough already - by providing the MSM with an opportunity to indulge in ultimately useless polemics about pop culture and worsening their distraction from the substantive developments occurring in the Church!

Someone blogs about the OR's pop culture penchant at FIRST THINGS today...but though the blogger mocks the opinions expressed in the OR on pop icons and culture - and nails the problem by saying "Their editorial staff reminds me of the stereotypical youth pastor: really nice, solidly Christian, but trying way to hard to be hip" [Pathetic, if you ask me!] - I think he takes the problem less seriously than it ought to be!

00Thursday, October 21, 2010 4:09 PM

Introducing the new cardinals

Oct. 20, 2010

While John Allen's instant commentary on the new cardinals-designate yesterday did not offer any new insight or information, he did perform one excellent service which none of the Italian newspapers, not even Avvenire (much less, L'osservatore Romano), have done - which is to provide biographical sketches of the soon-to-be cardinals - 21 out of the 24, at least. (I will try to add the other 3 later, if I can put something together or find it rfeadymade form some other source.)

This is essential because, after all, every member of the College of Cardinals is eligible to be Pope. Indeed. a quick review of the biodata of those cardinals who have been widely considered 'papabile' since the post World War II period (when the 'papabile' game became an established media exercise) shows that the princes of the Church generally have a remarkably outstanding record in terms of credentials and ecclesial experience. And even if a few may have been associated with controversies or even 'scandals' in the past, apparently, their personal holiness has not been questioned.

Cardinal-designate Raymond L. Burke
Cardinal-designate Raymond L. Burke, 62, is prefect of the Vatican's highest tribunal, the Supreme Court of the Apostolic Signature. While the court's work is generally shrouded in secrecy, when it comes to moral and political issues -- especially abortion and same-sex marriage -- Cardinal-designate Burke is one of the most-outspoken U.S. bishops.

Before the November 2008 U.S. presidential election, he said the Democratic Party "risks transforming itself definitively into a 'party of death.'"

In 2004, he was the first U.S. bishop to say publicly that he would withhold Communion from Catholic politicians with voting records that contradicted church teaching on fundamental moral issues.

He was serving as archbishop of St. Louis when Pope Benedict XVI named him head of the Apostolic Signature in 2008.

A canon lawyer, the cardinal-designate worked for the court from 1989 to 1994 and was named a member of the body in July 2006. He also served on the Roman Rota, the church's central appeals court, before being named bishop of La Crosse, Wis., in 1994.

A native of Richland Center in the Diocese of La Crosse, Wis., he did his college and theological studies at Wisconsin's Holy Cross Seminary, The Catholic University of America in Washington and the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome. He was ordained a priest June 29, 1975, by Pope Paul VI in St. Peter's Basilica.

He returned to Gregorian University from 1980 to 1984 to study canon law and taught there as a visiting professor of canon law from 1984 to 1994, when he was appointed bishop of La Crosse. After serving La Crosse for eight years, he was appointed archbishop of St. Louis in 2003.

Cardinal-designate Donald W. Wuerl
Cardinal-designate Donald W. Wuerl of Washington, 69, is known for his commitment to promoting Catholic religious education and Catholic schools. As head of the archdiocese that includes the U.S. capital, he also has been a leader in defending Catholic values in public life.

In November 2009, he was one of more than 140 Christian leaders who signed the "Manhattan Declaration," pledging renewed zeal in defending the unborn, defining marriage as a union between a man and a woman and protecting religious freedom.

Within the U.S. bishops' conference, he serves as chairman of the Committee on Evangelization and Catechesis, chairman-elect of the Committee on Doctrine and chairman of the board of the National Catholic Educational Association. He is author of the best-selling catechisms, "The Teaching of Christ" and "The Catholic Way."

Born in Pittsburgh, he holds degrees from The Catholic University of America and the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome and a doctorate in theology from Rome's Pontifical University of St. Thomas. After studying at Rome's North American College, he was ordained to the priesthood in 1966. Named auxiliary bishop of Seattle, he was ordained a bishop by Pope John Paul II in 1986. He resigned the position in 1987 and was named bishop of Pittsburgh in 1988. He was named to Washington in 2006.

Cardinal-designate Angelo Amato
Italian Cardinal-designate Angelo Amato is the 72-year-old prefect of the Congregation for Saints' Causes. A Salesian, he worked closely with then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. After years as a consultant to the doctrinal congregation, in 2002 he was named secretary of the office then headed by the future pope.

He was one of the principal drafters of the doctrinal congregation's 2000 statement, "Dominus Iesus," which underscored the unique and universal salvation offered by Christ through his church.

Since Pope Benedict XVI named him prefect of the saints' congregation in 2008, Cardinal-designate Amato has traveled the world presiding over beatification ceremonies.

Born in Molfetta, he was ordained a priest in 1967. He holds a licentiate in philosophy from the Pontifical Salesian University and a doctorate in theology from the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome.

He taught dogmatic theology at the Salesian University, served as dean of the theology faculty and as vice rector of the university, 1997-2000.

He also served as secretary of the Pontifical Academy of Theology and as a consultant to the pontifical councils for Christian unity and for interreligious dialogue.

Cardinal-designate Kurt Koch
Swiss Cardinal-designate Kurt Koch, 60, has been president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity and president of the Commission for Religious Relations With the Jews since July.

The former bishop of Basel, Switzerland, and former president of the Swiss bishops' conference had been a member of the pontifical council since 2002 and had served on the international Catholic-Orthodox theological commission and the international Catholic-Lutheran dialogue commission.

Born in Emmebrucke, he was ordained a priest for the Diocese of Basel in 1982. He studied at Lucerne University and at the University of Munich. After three years' service in a parish in Bern, he began teaching at Lucerne, eventually becoming rector of the theological faculty in 1995.

Following special traditional procedures, he was elected bishop of Basel by the priests of the cathedral chapter in August 1995, and Pope John Paul II confirmed the election four months later.

Shortly after arriving in Rome, Pope Benedict XVI asked then-Archbishop Koch to give the main talks at the annual gathering of scholars who had done their doctoral research with him when he was a professor in Germany. He gave two lectures: "The Second Vatican Council: Between Tradition and Innovation," and another on the council's document on the liturgy and the liturgical reforms it launched.

Cardinal-designate Fortunato Baldelli
Italian Cardinal-designate Fortunato Baldelli, 75, spent 43 years serving in the Vatican's diplomatic corps before Pope Benedict XVI chose him in 2009 to head the Apostolic Penitentiary, a Vatican tribunal that deals with the most sensitive matters of conscience as well as with the practice of indulgences.

Born in Valfabbrica, he was ordained a priest in 1961 for the Diocese of Assisi-Nocera Umbra-Gualdo Tadino. After earning a graduate degree in canon law, he entered the Vatican's diplomatic service in 1966, serving at Vatican embassies in Cuba and Egypt.

He worked for several years in the Vatican Secretariat of State before being named the Vatican's observer at the Council of Europe in Strasbourg, France.

In 1983, Pope John Paul II named him an archbishop and apostolic delegate in Angola. Two years later, he was named nuncio to Sao Tome and Principe. In 1991, he was named nuncio to the Dominican Republic and, after three years, was sent to Peru as nuncio. His diplomatic postings concluded with an unusually long term as nuncio to France, 1999-2009.

Cardinal-designate Gianfranco Ravasi
Italian Cardinal-designate Gianfranco Ravasi, 68, is a biblical scholar who serves as president of the Pontifical Council for Culture and of the pontifical commissions for the Cultural Heritage of the Church and for Sacred Archeology.

Since 1988, Cardinal-designate Ravasi has been the host of a popular Sunday morning biblical reflection televised in Italy as part of the program, "Frontiers of the Spirit." Pope Benedict XVI chose the archbishop to write the meditations for his Good Friday Way of the Cross service in Rome's Colosseum in 2007.

Born in the northern Italian town of Merate, he was ordained to the priesthood for the Archdiocese of Milan in 1966. He taught biblical exegesis at the Milan archdiocesan seminary and at another theological school in northern Italy. He served as a member of the Pontifical Biblical Commission from 1985 to 1995.

In 1989, he was named prefect of Milan's Ambrosian Library, a library and museum complex originally founded in the early 1600s, which continues to house academies offering classes in a variety of classical and historical subjects.

He served as head of the library until 2007 when he was named head of the culture council.

Cardinal-designate Kazimierz Nycz
When Cardinal-designate Kazimierz Nycz was installed as archbishop of Warsaw, Poland, in 2007, he called on Catholics to give evangelical witness in an increasingly secularized world and asked the media to serve the truth and the common good.

The cardinal-designate, now 60, was named archbishop of Warsaw in March 2007, two months after Pope Benedict XVI's original choice resigned at his own installation Mass amid accusations of having collaborated with Poland's former communist regime.

Polish newspapers at the time published quotations from Cardinal-designate Nycz's secret police file saying that he repeatedly had refused to cooperate. He told Vatican Radio at the time that the biggest task facing the church in Poland was to purify itself of the past in order to devote its energies to preaching the Gospel and helping the poor.

The son of a builder, he was born close to the former Nazi concentration camp at Auschwitz and was ordained to the priesthood for the Archdiocese of Krakow in 1973 by the future Pope John Paul II. After completing his doctorate at the Catholic University of Lublin, he began working in the archdiocesan office for religious education. Pope John Paul named him an auxiliary bishop of Krakow in 1988 and appointed him bishop of Koszalin-Kolobrzeg in 2004.

Cardinal-designate Mauro Piacenza
Italian Cardinal-designate Mauro Piacenza, 66, was named prefect of the Congregation for Clergy Oct. 7. He had served as secretary of the clergy congregation since 2007.

Cardinal-designate Piacenza spent years in a variety of teaching posts, from teaching religion in Italian public high schools to teaching theology, canon law, contemporary culture and the history of atheism at both public and church-run institutes. He also served as a judge for church courts on the diocesan and regional levels and worked in communications for the Archdiocese of Genoa -- the northern port city where he was born.

He began working at the Congregation for Clergy in 1990 and was promoted to the position of undersecretary in 2000.

While maintaining his role as undersecretary, the cardinal-designate also was named president of the Pontifical Commission for the Cultural Heritage of the Church in 2003 and president of the Pontifical Commission for Sacred Archeology in 2004, positions he held until 2007, the same year he was appointed secretary of the clergy congregation.

He was heavily involved with providing support for the 2009-10 Year for Priests. On the clergy congregation's website, he provided numerous reflections in an effort to help priests grow in holiness.

Cardinal-designate Piacenza was ordained a bishop in 2003 and was made an archbishop in 2007.

Cardinal-designate Albert Malcolm Ranjith Patabendige Don
Sri Lankan Cardinal-designate Albert Malcolm Ranjith Patabendige Don of Colombo, 62, is best known for his strong defense of tradition in the Catholic Mass during the three-and-a-half years he served as secretary of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments.

He told the Vatican newspaper, L'Osservatore Romano, in 2007 that Pope Benedict's decision to give Catholics greater access to the pre-Vatican II Tridentine Mass was a combination of growing requests for Mass in the old form and continued abuses of the new liturgy.

"The more this fidelity (and) a sense of the beauty and awe in the liturgy diminished, the more requests for the Tridentine Mass increased," he said in the interview.

Born in northwestern Sri Lanka, Cardinal-designate Ranjith was ordained to the priesthood in 1975. He completed his studies in theology at Rome's Pontifical Urbanian University and did postgraduate studies at the Pontifical Biblical Institute in Rome.

He was named auxiliary bishop of Colombo, Sri Lanka's capital, in 1991 and bishop of the newly erected Diocese of Ratnapura in 1995. In 2001, he returned to Rome to serve as head of the pontifical missionary societies under the Vatican's Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples.

In 2004, Pope John Paul II named him an archbishop and apostolic nuncio to Indonesia and to East Timor. He was appointed secretary of the congregation for worship in 2005 and returned to Sri Lanka as archbishop of the capital city in 2009.

Cardinal-designate Paolo Romeo
Italian Cardinal-designate Paolo Romeo, 72, was named archbishop of Palermo in 2006, ending almost 40 years of service in the Vatican diplomatic corps.

Born in the southern city of Arcireale, he was the fifth of his parents' nine children. After his high school and initial college studies at the Arcireale seminary, he was sent to study in Rome, where he earned degrees in theology and canon law.

Ordained to the priesthood in 1961, he began studies at the Vatican's diplomatic academy in 1964 and entered the diplomatic corps three years later. Over the next nine years, he worked at Vatican embassies in the Philippines, Belgium, Venezuela, Rwanda and Burundi. In 1976, he joined the staff of the Vatican Secretariat of State, working on the Latin America desk.

In late 1983, Pope John Paul II named him an archbishop and nuncio to Haiti, where Jean-Claude "Baby Doc" Duvalier was still president. Duvalier ended his family's three-decade rule over the impoverished country by fleeing in 1986. The cardinal-designate's next assignments took him successively to Colombia, Canada and finally to the post of Vatican ambassador to Italy and San Marino.

Cardinal-designate Laurent Monsengwo Pasinya
Congolese Cardinal-designate Laurent Monsengwo Pasinya of Kinshasa, 71, is a biblical scholar and an activist on justice and peace issues.

He is president of the Congolese bishops' conference and co-president of Pax Christi International, the Catholic peace organization.

With the Vatican's blessing, in the 1990s he took an active role in mediating his country's political crisis and trying to guide the nation to a new democratic constitution. In 1991, he was elected president of the Sovereign National Conference; from 1992 to 1994 he served as president of the High Council of the Republic; and in1994-1995 he served as speaker of the country's transitional parliament.

Born in Mongobele, he attended the minor seminary of the Inongo Diocese before entering the major seminary at Kabwe. Sent to Rome in 1960, he studied theology at the Pontifical Urbanian University and was ordained in Rome Dec. 21, 1963. From 1964 to 1970, he studied at Rome's Pontifical Biblical Institute, earning a doctorate in biblical sciences.

He was named auxiliary bishop of Inongo in 1980, auxiliary bishop of Kisangani in 1980 and archbishop of Kisangani in 1988. Pope Benedict XVI named him archbishop of Kinshasa in 2007.

Cardinal-designate Paolo Sardi
Italian Cardinal-designate Paolo Sardi, 76, is the pro-patron of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, a position that involves promoting the spiritual interests of the Knights of Malta and their relationship with the Vatican. He also has served since 2004 as vice chamberlain of the Holy Roman Church, a position which involves special duties when a pope dies.

The Knights of Malta were founded in Jerusalem at the end of the 11th century to run a hospice for pilgrims but gradually took on military responsibilities to defend pilgrims and Christian lands from Muslim attacks. Today, the knights are dedicated solely to promoting the holiness of their members, supporting efforts to promote the faith and charitable work, especially in health care.

Cardinal-designate Sardi was born in Ricaldone in northern Italy and was ordained to the priesthood in 1958. After earning a licentiate in theology, he earned a degree in canon law and jurisprudence from the Catholic University of the Sacred Heart in Milan.

He taught moral theology in Turin until 1976, when he was called to the Vatican to work in the Secretariat of State. In 1996, Pope John Paul II named him an archbishop and an apostolic nuncio with special responsibilities in the Vatican Secretariat of State. Pope John Paul personally ordained him to the episcopacy Jan. 6, 1997. In the secretariat he coordinated the office that edited the pope's texts and speeches.

Cardinal-designate Reinhard Marx
German Cardinal-designate Reinhard Marx, 57, archbishop of Munich and Freising, is the youngest of the new cardinals named by Pope Benedict XVI. A specialist in the social teaching of the Catholic Church, he had a German best-seller on his hands in 2008-09 when he borrowed from the more famous Marx -- Karl Marx -- the title for his Catholic reflection on ethics and economics.

Cardinal-designate Marx's book was called "Das Kapital" ("Capital") just like the other Marx's book was, but the archbishop added the subtitle, "A Plea For the People." The main thesis of the book was that without controls and limits dictated by ethical values, capitalism really is inhuman and anti-Christian.

Born Sept. 21, 1953, in Geseke, he prepared for the priesthood in Paderborn and also studied at the Institut Catholique in Paris. He was ordained to the priesthood in 1979 and ministered first in a parish and then as chaplain at a school. In 1986, he began studying again and in 1989 earned a doctorate in theology from the University of Bochum.

He was serving as a professor of Catholic social doctrine in 1996 when he was named an auxiliary bishop of Paderborn. In 2001, he was named bishop of Trier. Then-Bishop Marx suspended a Trier diocesan priest in 2003 after the priest invited non-Catholics to receive the Eucharist at a Mass he was celebrating. Three years later, the bishop also withdrew the priest's permission to teach Catholic theology after the priest refused to acknowledge and accept the church's position on sharing Communion with other Christians.

In 2007, Pope Benedict named then-Bishop Marx archbishop of Munich and Freising.

Cardinal-designate Elio Sgreccia
Cardinal-designate Elio Sgreccia, 82, an Italian bishop, is a bioethics expert who served as president of the Pontifical Academy for Life from 2005 to 2008. During that time he articulated, with Pope Benedict XVI, the Vatican position on many thorny issues such as embryonic stem-cell research, euthanasia, the definition of brain death, abortion, in vitro fertilization.

Elio Sgreccia was born in Arcevia, Italy. He was ordained June 29, 1952, and served as rector of the local seminary. Pope John Paul II consecrated him a bishop Jan. 6, 1993.

Cardinal-designate Sgreccia served as secretary of the Pontifical Council for the Family before Pope John Paul named him as head of the academy for life Jan. 3, 2005. John Paul died just three months later; the cardinal-designate led the academy under Pope Benedict until he retired in 2008.

He has written numerous books on various aspects of bioethical questions. He serves as president of the International Federation of Bioethics Centers and Institutes of Personalist Inspiration, which puts the value of the person at the center of every phase of life, from birth to death.

Cardinal-designate Medardo Mazombwe
Cardinal-designate Medardo Mazombwe, 79, is the retired archbishop of Lusaka, Zambia. He is well known for his attention to the heavy debt burdens of developing countries and working to persuade wealthier nations to forgive those debts.

He was born in Chundamira, Zambia. He was ordained in 1960 and in 1971 was consecrated a bishop by Pope Paul VI.

In 1996, Pope John Paul II made him archbishop of Lusaka, the capital, where he served for 10 years before retiring.

He was president of the Zambian bishops' conference for three separate terms: 1972-1975, 1988-1990 and 1999-2002. Cardinal-designate Mazombwe also served as president of the Association of Member Episcopal Conferences in Eastern Africa, 1979-1986.

In his efforts to allow developing countries a chance to improve their economic situations, Cardinal-designate Mazombwe participated in a church delegation that lobbied Britain in 2005 to bring to the table of a Group of Eight meeting the issues of trade justice, improved aid packages to poor countries and cancellation of the debts of the world's 27 poorest countries.

He also spoke out against the problem of political corruption in many of those countries.

Cardinal-designate Antonios Naguib
Egyptian Cardinal-designate Antonios Naguib, 75, is the Coptic Catholic patriarch of Alexandria and leader of a church that has about 163,000 members, mainly in Egypt. The patriarch was at the Vatican when Pope Benedict XVI announced he would be a cardinal because he was serving as the recording secretary of the Synod of Bishops for the Middle East.

Born in Samalout, Egypt, he studied at the Maadi seminary outside Cairo as well as at the Pontifical Urbanian University in Rome. Ordained to the priesthood in 1960, he served as a parish priest in Fikriyah, Egypt, for a year before returning to Rome to complete degrees in theology and in Scripture.

He taught sacred Scripture at the Maadi seminary for 13 years and was elected bishop of Minya, Egypt, in 1977. He retired in 2002 and, according to the biography the Vatican press office released Oct. 20, he had "a period of rest" until he was elected patriarch of the Coptic Catholic Church in 2006. He currently serves as president of the assembly of the Catholic hierarchy of Egypt.

Cardinal-designate Robert Sarah
Cardinal-designate Robert Sarah, 65, retired archbishop of Conakry, Guinea, has been a member of the Roman Curia for several years, most of them as a leader in evangelization. Born in Ourous, Guinea, he was educated in seminaries in Guinea, France and Senegal. He earned a degree in theology from the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome and another in Scripture from the Franciscan biblical institute in Jerusalem.

He was ordained in 1969, after which he served as rector of the minor seminary of Kindia in his home country and was pastor at several local parishes. He was consecrated a bishop at the age of 34 and was at the time the youngest bishop in the world.

In 2001, he was named secretary of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, the church's missionary agency, by Pope John Paul II. He was appointed president of the Pontifical Council Cor Unum, the Vatican's charity office, Oct. 7. The office coordinates Catholic charitable giving, distributes funds in the name of the pope and identifies Catholic projects that need special help.

Cardinal-designate Jose Estepa Llaurens
Spanish Cardinal-designate Jose Estepa Llaurens, 84, is the retired military ordinary of Spain and was one of the bishops who worked with then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger in editing the Catechism of the Catholic Church in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Over the years, he also served as a consultant, and later member, of the Congregation for Clergy and as a member of the council of military ordinaries under the Congregation for Bishops.

Born in Andujar, he studied in Salamanca, Rome and Paris and was ordained to the priesthood in 1954. In 1972, Pope Paul VI named him an auxiliary bishop of Madrid, where he served for 11 years as rector of the archdiocesan seminary.

In 1983, he was named an archbishop and head of the military ordinariate for Spain. He retired in 2003 but continues to serve as a chaplain to retired Spanish veterans and is the grand prior of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulcher of Jerusalem in western Spain.

Cardinal-designate Raymundo Damasceno Assis
Brazilian Cardinal-designate Raymundo Damasceno Assis, 73, is the archbishop of Aparecida and president of the Latin American bishops' council, or CELAM.

Born in Capela Nova, he studied at the archdiocesan seminary in Mariana before going to Rome to study theology at the Pontifical Gregorian University. He did further studies in catechesis at the catechetical institute in Munich and in the philosophy of science at the University of Brasilia.

Ordained to the priesthood in 1968 and incardinated in the Archdiocese of Brasilia, he taught at the major seminary and at the University of Brasilia. He worked in parishes and served as vicar general of the archdiocese.

In 1986, Pope John Paul II named him an auxiliary bishop of Brasilia. He served as general secretary of the Latin American bishops' council, 1991-95, and as secretary-general of the Brazilian bishops' conference, 1995-98 and 1999-2003.

Pope John Paul named him archbishop of Aparecida in 2004. Within the Brazilian bishops' conference, he serves as president of the economic council and president of the commission for evangelization.

Cardinal-designate Walter Brandmuller
German Cardinal-designate Walter Brandmuller, 81, is the retired president of the Pontifical Committee for Historical Sciences. He is the author or co-author of several books dealing with church history and, particularly, books that try to place some of the darker moments of church history in perspective. For example, his book, "Light and Shadows: Church History Amid Faith, Fact and Legend," published in English in 2009, tackled topics such as the Crusades, the Spanish Inquisition, the Reformation and the Renaissance popes. He co-authored the German book, "The Fall of Galileo and Other Errors: Power, Faith and Science."

Born in Ansbach, he was ordained in 1953 for the Archdiocese of Bamberg. He earned a doctorate in theology in 1963 and completed a post-doctoral specialization in the history of the church in 1967 at Ludwig-Maximilian University in Munich. He taught there for two years before becoming a professor of church history at an institute for theological and philosophical studies in Dillingen. From 1971 to 1997, he taught medieval and modern church history at the University of Augsburg. For most of that period, he also served as pastor of a parish in Walleshausen.

From 1998 to 2009, he served as president of the Pontifical Committee for Historical Sciences. He also is one of the world's experts on the history of the church councils and was one of the founders and director of an annual journal of historical articles on the councils.

Cardinal-designate Raul Vela Chiriboga
Cardinal-designate Raul Vela Chiriboga, 76, retired archbishop of Quito, Ecuador, headed the country's military diocese for 14 years.

He was born in Riobamba, Ecuador, and attended the local Salesian high school before studying philosophy and theology at San Jose major seminary in Quito.

He was ordained in 1957 and named auxiliary bishop of Guayaquil in 1972. That same year he was consecrated bishop and, from 1972 to 1975, he served as secretary-general of the Ecuadorean bishops' conference.

In 1975, he was transferred to serve as bishop of Azogues, and in 1989, he was named to head the military ordinariate of Ecuador. While serving in that capacity, he also worked with the bishops' economic affairs council, 1996-1999.

Pope John Paul II named him archbishop of Quito in 2003, a post he held until September.

I wish photographs had also been provided, though it may take some time and effort to do that. Meanwhile, I will also come back to rearrange these biodatas alphabetically, as they are presented in random order.

P.S. Re photos of the cardinals-designate, Catholic Press Photo has thumbnail photos of 16 out of the 23., so that's a good part of the work done!

00Friday, October 22, 2010 5:17 PM
Everything that is despicable about media bias is illustrated in this story. It begins with DAYLIFE, the US-based service (The line-up of its officials shows a clearly liberal background, which would account for the obviousbias) that facilitates topic searches for media outlets, which chooses to highlight this particular story in this way:

You would think that it would be a cause for rejoicing that at least one priest offender is brought to justice - but no!, they choose instead to negatively highlight the Pope's role in the sex abuse scandal and even use his picture in the article. The AFP item itself carries the now-standard MSM rider about the Pope and his possible personal involvement in the sex abuse issue. MSM will stick to its narrative of a filthy Church and a do-nothing, probably-personally-culpable Pope, in the face of all evidence to the contrary!

AFP's caption for the Pope's picture:
The Vatican has been under fire, which has reached all the way to Pope Benedict XIV, for its past handling of and current reaction to sex abuse scandals.

Ex-priest found guilty of abuse

October 22, 2010

BIRMINGHAM, Oct. 22 (AFP) - A UK ex-priest was yesterday jailed for 21 years for a campaign of sexual abuse against young boys over more than two decades.

James Robinson, 73, who has lived in the United States since 1985 but was extradited from California last year to face trial, was found guilty of 21 sexual offences by a jury at Birmingham Crown Court in central England.

The jury heard that the former Roman Catholic priest, who was ordained in 1971, moved from parish to parish sexually abusing children, including two altar boys.

One victim told the court he had "carried" Robinson's face with him since being assaulted.

Jurors were told that he used his status as a priest to gain "unfettered and unlimited" access to boys, giving them gifts and taking them on trips in his sports car.

Robinson, known to churchgoers as Father Jim, had denied all the offences, which were committed between 1959 and 1983. Jurors deliberated for about six hours before unanimously convicting him.

Unusually, Robinson did not face charges relating to two of his six victims because they contacted the police after his extradition. However, the two were allowed to give evidence in support of the other four.

Paedophile priest scandals and allegations of high-level cover-ups that swept Australia and the United States in 2004 have surged again since last year and rocked the Roman Catholic Church.

A new wave of scandals began in Ireland last November with revelations of widespread abuse, in many cases stretching back decades, then spread to Pope Benedict XVI's native Germany, Belgium, Austria, United States, Brazil and other countries.

The Pontiff has faced allegations that, as archbishop of Munich and later as the head of a powerful Vatican body, he helped to protect paedophile priests.

He admitted during a visit to the UK last month that the Church had failed to act quickly enough to stamp out the problem.


Then there is this continuing MSM play-up of the OR-Simpsons debacle, in which even the following stand taken by the reporter who wrote the ill-advised article is still headlined as being that of 'the Vatican':

You should hear the Schadenfreude in the mealy-mouthed announcer's voice as she reports on it!

Mr. Vian, the OR editor, continues to allow this ridiculous situation to fester without speaking up to try and correct it! He is being cowardly and irresponsible, to say the least.

00Friday, October 22, 2010 9:22 PM

Ignatius Press coming out
with English edition of
Paul Badde's 'The Face of God'

October 21, 2010

Best-selling journalist, historian and author Paul Badde embarks on an exciting quest to discover the truth behind the Holy Face of Manoppello, a relic recently rediscovered and rumored to be the "veil of Veronica".

Vatican correspondent for German newspaper Die Welt, journalist Paul Badde was intrigued when he heard of a mysterious image in a remote Italian village — an image of a man's face on byssus cloth.

Byssus, or sea silk, is a rare and delicate fabric woven from a silky filament produced by mollusks. It is claimed that the fabric is so thin and delicate that it is impossible to paint on — yet the image in Manoppello is clearly visible and, moreover, when laid over the image of the face on the Shroud of Turin forms a perfect match.

Experts determined that the cloth of Manoppello is not Veronica's veil, but rather the face cloth layed over the face of Jesus in the tomb. Unlike the Shroud of Turin, which is a "negative" of the image, the image on the face cloth is a "positive" of the face of Christ.

Paul Badde takes the reader along on a thrilling journey of discovery as he travels to research this remarkable relic, tracing the turbulent history of the Holy Face from ancient times up to the historic 2006 visit to Manoppello by Pope Benedict XVI.

Here is a PR release about the book:

SAN FRANCISCO, Oct. 21, 2010 – “The Face of God” is a “gripping cultural thriller,” declares the German newsmagazine Der Spiegel. Such praise is common for well-written mysteries, detective stories, thrillers, and other works of fiction.

This book, however, is not fiction.

In The Face of God: The Rediscovery of the True Face of Jesus, journalist, historian and best-selling author Paul Badde reports in tantalizing detail on his exciting quest to uncover the truth behind a rare, mysterious cloth housed in small church in the remote village of Manoppello, Italy.

Better known as the Holy Face of Manoppello, this is a relic recently rediscovered and, prior to Badde’s research, thought by many to be “Veronica’s Veil” – the cloth used to wipe Jesus’ face as He carried his cross to Golgotha for crucifixion.

Badde’s research and reports on the Holy Face of Manoppello prompted a 2006 visit to the relic by Pope Benedict XVI – in spite of counsel against it by others in the Vatican. Badde compiles and expands on those dispatches in “The Face of God.”

The German newspaper Bild called the results of Badde’s work “almost beyond our imagination.”

The image of a man’s face on the cloth in Manoppello is clearly visible. Most astonishing — when the face of the Shroud of Turin is laid over the Holy Face of Manoppello, the two images form a perfect match. They are the same face.

Unlike the image on the Shroud, however, which is a “negative,” the Holy Face of Manoppello is a “positive” image on a cloth made of byssus, or sea silk, a rare and delicate fabric woven from a silky filament produced by mollusks. The fabric is so thin and delicate it is impossible to paint on.

The Face of God reports the conclusion by experts that the cloth of Manoppello is not Veronica’s veil, but rather a burial cloth of Jewish tradition that was laid over the face of Jesus in the tomb.

The book recounts Badde’s thrilling journey of discovery as he travels to research this remarkable relic, tracing the turbulent history of the Holy Face from ancient times to the historic visit to Manoppello by Pope Benedict XVI.

Badde is a best-selling author, renowned journalist and historian. He has been an editor of Die Welt since 2000, first as the Jerusalem correspondent and, most recently, as the Vatican correspondent in Rome. His other works include “Maria of Guadalupe: Shaper of History, Shaper of Hearts;” “Jerusalem, Jerusalem;” and “The Heavenly City.”

Ignatius Press will publish The Face of God in November, in hardcover, and Badde will be in the U.S. for a multi-city book tour that same month.

For more information about “The Face of God,” to request a review copy or to schedule an interview with author Paul Badde, please contact Christine Schicker with The Maximus Group at 404-610-8871.

00Saturday, October 23, 2010 8:41 PM

Not unexpectedly, the Anglophone news agencies have hastened to report today on the statement yesterday by Italian authorities prosecuting a case of alleged violation of banking rules by the Vatican bank IOR. Fr. Lombardi responded with a statement yesterday [which I translated and posted in the BULLETIN BOARD on the BENEDICT thread, but the report from the prosecutors was available only in Italian and I had no time to translate it:

Prosecutors question Vatican
commitment to banking rules

ROME, Oct. 23 (AP) - Italian prosecutors contest claims by the Vatican bank that it is trying to comply with international rules to fight money laundering, saying an investigation that led to the seizure of €23 million (£20m) from a Vatican bank account shows "exactly the opposite", according to a court document.

An Italian court rejected a Vatican request to lift the seizure, leading the Vatican to express "astonishment" at the court's ruling and indicating the case will not be cleared up quickly, as the Vatican originally predicted.

Since the money was ordered seized last month, the Vatican and the bank's chairman, Ettore Gotti Tedeschi, repeatedly said the allegations resulted from a "misunderstanding" and that the Vatican bank - officially known as the Institute for Works of Religion - was working to comply with international rules to fight money-laundering.

The strongly worded document from the prosecutors' office said that while there is a "generic and stated will" to conform by the bank "there is no sign that the institutions of the Catholic church are moving in that direction".

It said the prosecutor's investigation had found "exactly the opposite".

The document was submitted to the court as part of the prosecutors' case against the bank.

The Vatican spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi, issued a new statement, saying Vatican bank officials "confirm their intent to follow the line of transparency" in all financial transactions and are confident in being able to provide as soon as possible all clarifications requested.

Under the investigation, financial police seized the money September 21 from a Vatican bank account at the Rome branch of Credito Artigiano Spa, after the bank informed the Bank of Italy about possible violations of anti-money laundering norms.

The bulk of the money, 20 million euro, was destined for JP Morgan in Frankfurt, with the remainder going to Banca del Fucino.

The prosecutors' document suggests confirmation of Italian press reports that the probe was widening, looking into possible violations in earlier years linked to Italian corruption, in addition to the two most recent cases.

The document cites suspicious transactions involving cheques drawn from a Vatican bank account at Unicredit bank in 2009, involving the use of a false name.

The prosecutors also cited a 650,000 euro withdrawal from a Vatican bank account at Intesa San Paolo bank where the Vatican did not specify the money's ultimate destination despite a specific request by the Italian bank.

The prosecutors called this "a deliberate failure to observe the anti-laundering laws with the aim of hiding the ownership, destination and origin of the capital". The Italian banks declined comment.

The Vatican bank is required to provide such information because it is considered by Italy to be a foreign bank.

Not surprisingly, the Anglophone news agencies took no notice of Gianluigi Nuzzi's commentary and background on this current IOR imbroglio which appeared in a major Italian newspaper yesterday. Nuzzi claims the situation is the result of machinations by former officials of IOR from the Wojtyla years who were dismissed during BenedicT XVI's overhaul of the IOR last year, and says that both Benedict XVI and Ettore Gotti Tedeschi, the veteran banker he chose to head the IOR, are above blame in this case.

Last year, on the other hand, Nuzzi's book Vaticano s.p.a., detailing mismanagement and questionable business at IOR since the scandal years of the 1980s to just before the overhaul by Benedict XVI was widely quoted and commented on in the Anglophone media.

A later development:

IOR president says Church under attack
in bank probe as in the sex abuse cases

By Lorenzo Totaro

Oct. 23, 2010

An Italian probe into the Vatican Bank for alleged violations of money-laundering laws is another example of a “fierce attack” on the Catholic Church following criticism of Pope Benedict XVI and scrutiny of clerical sex- abuse cases, the bank’s Chairman Ettore Gotti Tedeschi said.

“The fierce attack on the Church’s credibility started just six months after the publication” of Benedict’s encyclical Caritas in Veritate (Charity in Truth) in July 2009, he said today at a conference in Fermo, central Italy. “First, it was the attack on the pope, then the pedophilia-related facts, and now it carries on with the case that involves me.”

Gotti Tedeschi’s remarks, previously reported by Italian news agency Ansa, were confirmed by Milko Vitali, moderator of the conference. Gotti Tedeschi declined to comment further on his remarks, Vitali said by phone.

The Vatican Bank and its top executives, Gotti Tedeschi and Director General Paolo Cipriani, were put under investigation by Rome prosecutors last month for allegedly omitting data in wire- transfer requests from an Italian bank.

Prosecutors froze 23 million euros ($32 million) in an account registered to the Institute for Religious Works, or the IOR as the Vatican Bank is called, at a Rome branch of Credito Artigiano SpA.

The IOR “took note” of a decision this week by a court in Rome to uphold the seizure of the funds, and reiterated that it’s committed to financial transparency, Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi said in a statement late yesterday. Lombardi declined to comment by phone on Gotti Tedeschi’s remarks today.

Three other IOR transactions are under scrutiny for alleged violations of money-laundering laws, Corriere della Sera said on Oct. 21, citing court documents. In one case, a priest allegedly moved 300,000 euros from an account in San Marino and transferred it to a businessman, Corriere reported.

The Church has been rocked this year by allegations of clerical sexual abuse of minors in countries including Ireland and Germany, the Pope’s homeland. Benedict, who has repeatedly apologized for the abuse, has been criticized for his handling of such cases as archbishop of Munich from 1977 to 1981. [Look, even Bloomberg News, a financial news service, now carries this 'standard rider' on Vatican-related stories!]

Six months after his encyclical came out, Benedict visited Rome’s Great Synagogue last January amid Jewish concerns over his move to put wartime Pope Pius II on the path to sainthood. Critics say Pius did too little to stop the Holocaust, a charge the Vatican rejects.

[I really think the release of CIV had little to do with the eruption of the media battles against the Church. The resurgence of the pedophilia issue came after the disclosure of priest abuses in past decades at a Jesuit school in Germany in January. The Pope visited the Synagogue two weeks earlier - and the polemics over Pius XII were a continuation of the rekindling of this issue when Benedict XVI proclaimed his predecessor's heroic virtues on Dec. 19, 2009.... The timing of the first report on an investigation into IOR did come the day after the Pope's triumphant visit to the UK, so one might have reason to suspect some malice in the timing. But otherwise, one must question the rightness of linking the attacks on the Church to CIV!]

00Saturday, October 23, 2010 9:13 PM

Papal Humor
by George Weigel

Oct 20, 2010

Despite the world’s fascination with All Things Papal, there isn’t much out there about papal humor. Which is, in a sense, entirely understandable: it takes a certain breadth of imagination, shall we say, to imagine Gregory XVI or Pius XI telling a joke (much less telling one on himself).

Blessed John XXIII is an exception, as he was in many other ways, and two of his wisecracks have been widely circulated. In one, the Pope is asked how many people work at the Vatican, to which the Pontiff replies, “About half.”

In the other, the Pope visits the Convent of the Holy Spirit, where the somewhat flustered nun in charge greets him by saying, “Welcome, Your Holiness, I am the superior of the Holy Spirit,” to which John responds, “Congratulations, sister; I am merely the Vicar of Jesus Christ.”

I hope that the publication of my new book, The End and the Beginning: Pope John Paul II — The Victory of Freedom, the Last Years, the Legacy (Doubleday), adds the Polish Pope to the short list of papal humorists, where he certainly deserves a roster spot.

John Paul II’s humor, as I experienced it, tended toward the ironic: not in the post-modern sense, in which irony is the short road to cynicism, but in the more venerable sense of irony as a recognition that we’re not in charge of our own lives, and that we play the fool if we try to control everything.

Thus one of my favorite John Paul II stories involves the late Pope turning the skirmishing fire of his humor on himself and his office.

The distinguished Polish actor Jerzy Stuhr was in Rome at one point during John Paul’s pontificate, and the Pope invited him to dinner in the papal apartment. When they were seated at the table, the Pope asked Stuhr what had brought him to Rome, and Stuhr replied that he was playing in a production of Adam Mickiewicz’s Forefather’s Eve.

The Pope spoke about the importance of this drama in Polish history—Forefather’s Eve was considered such an emotionally inflammatory evocation of Polish nationalism that its performance was banned in the Russian- and Prussian-occupied parts of partitioned Poland during the 19th century — and then asked Stuhr what role he was taking in the Roman production of Mickiewicz’s classic.

Stuhr replied, “Your Holiness, I regret to report that I am Satan.” To which the Pope, on reflection, said, “Well, none of us gets to choose our roles, do we?”

On another occasion, John Paul II turned his own humor against that unhappy attempt at humor known as the Polish joke: in this case, the habit that Germans had, in the 1970s, of calling shabby goods, shoddy work, or any kind of foul-up “polnische Wirtschaft” — “Polish business.”

In the wake of the Banco Ambrosiano scandal of the early 1980s, in which the Vatican bank was embroiled, the Pope summoned several cardinals known to be knowledgeable about finance to the Vatican to sort through the wreckage.

After spending the morning listening to a tale of corruption, incompetence, bureaucratic self-preservation, and general stupidity, John Paul decided it was time for lunch. As he was walking with the cardinals toward the meal, he spotted the German Joachim Meisner, cardinal archbishop of Cologne, and walked up beside him: “Tell me, Eminence,” John Paul said, with that signature twinkle in his eye, “do you think we have some polnische Wirtschaft in the Vatican finances?”

As Cardinal Meisner told me years later, his jaw dropped and he was “speechless.” Later, after lunch, several of his brother cardinals asked Meisner what the Pope had said. “It can’t be translated,” was the German’s discrete reply.

A great Christian thinker once noted that joy is the infallible sign of God’s presence. If a robust sense of humor is an expression of a fundamentally joyful stance toward life — a stance founded on faith in God’s ultimate triumph over what so often seems to be the world’s tragedy — then the humor of John Paul II is yet another reason to recognize in him a life of heroic virtue.

I think it might make a good exercise to start compiling available accounts of Joseph Ratzinger/Benedict XVI's humor - which has never been of the LOL kind but rather, a dry humor in the best tradition of German irony.

00Tuesday, October 26, 2010 9:29 PM

Maciel's trustees refuse
to give up positions

But papal delegate De Paolis has issued an ultimatum:
unless they 'change', it will be 'disaster' for all

ROME, October 25, 2010 – Now that he has been made a cardinal, Archbishop Velasio De Paolis will have more authority to implement his mandate from Benedict XVI to salvage the Legionaries of Christ, brought to the brink of ruin by their founder, Marcial Maciel, and by the men of his inner circle.

But the difficulties encountered by the pontifical delegate are significant. The superiors of the congregation, the most powerful of which is vicar general Luís Garza Medina, are by no means giving up on the idea of remaining in their positions of command, now and always.

In mid-September, De Paolis asked Garza to give up the main offices that he holds, at least those of territorial director for Italy, supervisor of consecrated virgins of the movement Regnum Christi, general prefect of studies and head of the financial holding company Integer. But Garza said no. A chill has fallen between the two.

De Paolis has been in office since June 16, but has only been able to operate and decide fully since October, when he was finally given the four "advisers" that the Vatican authorities had promised him four months earlier. One of them, Brian Farrell, is a Legionary with an important role in the Vatican Curia and a proponent of a decisive shift in the direction of the congregation.

Two others, the Jesuit Gianfranco Ghirlanda and Sacred Heart Fr. Agostino Montan, are highly experienced canon lawyers, even more in favor of decisive action for reform. The one most inclined to negotiate with the heads of the Legionaries appears to be the fourth, Mario Marchesi, previously a professor at their university.

Last October 19, De Paolis addressed to the Legionaries and members of Regnum Christi a long and well-constructed letter, which gives fairly clear indications of the process of "rebuilding" and "renewal" that the pontifical delegate intends to undertake. And of the obstacles that he is encountering.

De Paolis describes his project as "change in continuity," with the accent on the first word. The changes – he writes – include "not a few things." They concern freedom of conscience, the role of confessors and spiritual directors, the forms of control over everyday life, and more.

But the point on which he insists most is "the problem of the exercise of authority within the Legion," including the way in which the superiors relate with each other.

De Paolis dedicates numerous passages and one entire paragraph of the letter to the need for superiors to change the way in which they act. For the first time in an official Church document, he states in black and white the thesis according to which "the current superiors could not have been unaware of the offenses of the founder," and so "by remaining silent about them, they would have been lying."

He does not endorse this thesis, but he also does not rule it out. In conjecturing that their knowledge of the outrages of the founder would have come about "late and gradually," he does not say how or when.

And in effect it is now common opinion, even among Vatican authorities, that Garza and Maciel's other ultra-faithful aides knew of and covered up his double life as early as the early 1990s, long before his 'punishment' by the CDF in 2006 and his death in 2008.

It could be gathered from the letter, however, that that for now, neither De Paolis nor higher Vatican authorities intend to remove the superiors of the Legion by executive fiat.

They are trying to get them to leave their positions of their own will, or at least, to immediately change their attitude, because – as stated in the letter – "if we get caught up in the desire to prevail, and to impose our own ideas on the others, disaster is certain."

The fact remains that, so far, no trace of this desired conversion has been seen in the leaders. By closing ranks, they are withholding visibility and initiative from the healthy part of the Legion, those hundreds of priests and novices who yearn for a renewal of their religious life, but continue to suffer highly suffocating restrictions and pressures, on the individual and collective level.

In any case, if the superiors of the Legion were counting on resolving everything in short order, within a few months and with minimal adjustments, De Paolis is shattering all of their illusions with this letter.

The process of rebuilding – he writes – will take "the necessary time, which is expected to be two or three years, or even more." and he cites God's exhortation to the prophet Elijah: "Get up, eat, because the journey is too long for you."

The pontifical delegate has announced the formation of three commissions: the first for a thorough revision of the constitutions; the second for the victims and requests for compensation; the third for problems of an economic nature, until now the unchallenged domain of Garza.

For the lay movement Regnum Christi – which will soon be inspected by an apostolic visitor, Ricardo Blázquez, Archbishop of Valladolid – there are plans for greater autonomy with respect to the Legion.

As for the specific charism of the Legionaries, the letter from De Paolis identifies this as the education of priests and laity, in the schools and universities, toward a Christian culture capable of reacting to the widespread culture "undermined by immanentism and relativism."

It will be difficult, if not impossible, for the superiors of the Legion to overturn these guidelines. But not to impede them.

And in the absence of rapid steps forward in the journey of renewal, other priests will leave, not "hotheads" as their superiors say, but some of the best, in addition to those who have already left and been incardinated into the diocesan clergy.

The new vocations will disappear, and are already drying up more or less everywhere, for example in Italy, where only one novice entered this year.

Given this situation, if there is any intention to bring trust and courage to the healthy portion of the Legion of Christ, only one urgent signal of transformation can be given: the removal of those leaders, at least the highest ranking, all of whom owe their power to the man who both founded and capsized it. Because they still continue to hold the movement hostage.

[De Paolis should set a deadline - if Garza and his acolytes do not voluntarily step aside by December 31, 2010 (a full six months since the Holy Fahter's decision regarding the LC - he should replace them with Legionaries he can trust who are untainted by previous association with Maciel.]

00Tuesday, October 26, 2010 11:32 PM
A belated report... We pray for the bishop's recovery and his assailant, and hope this was not a really a hate crime!

Canadian bishop severely
beaten in his rectory:
Assailant a mental case?

October 23, 2010

VANCOUVER - One person is in custody after the Roman Catholic bishop of Kamloops, B.C., was severely beaten at the city's cathedral.

Royal Canadian Mounted Police were called to the Sacred Heart Cathedral in the B.C. Interior city on Friday night, and found Bishop David Monroe bleeding on the floor of the church rectory. Police believe he had been beaten with a blunt object.

Monroe, 69, was rushed to the hospital, along with another priest who dislocated a shoulder trying to fend off the attacker.

"We pray for the bishop and for the conversion of the guy who hurt the bishop," said Rev. Derrick Cameron. "Certainly, he [Monroe] could have died if we weren't there. Timing-wise, he would have bled to death."

The assailant fled the church, but police say they tracked down the suspect.

"We started backtracking to see what else had gone on in the evening, and one thing that did catch our eye was that a couple hours previous there was an adult male that was brought to the Kamloops hospital by some family members who were concerned for his mental health," said RCMP Staff Sgt. Garry Kerr. "They said his mental state was quite deteriorated and he was apparently having some delusions of some sort involving religion."

Kerr said police found the man in a shed at his father's home on the north shore of Kamloops. It appears he swam across the Thompson River.

Monroe, who has been bishop since 2002 of the 155,000-square-kilometre central B.C. diocese, was taken to hospital with what Kerr described as serious injuries. He was expected to be released Saturday.

"I was at the hospital [Friday] night and was able to speak … very, very briefly with the bishop.... The most severe injuries the bishop had were all above the neck and face and [he was] severely, severely beaten," Kerr said.

"We are fortunate, quite frankly, that it was not a double murder … I mean, the scene was that horrific, and I am just glad to say that he [the suspect] is in custody."

The suspect, whose name has not been released, was undergoing a psychological evaluation. He was scheduled to appear in a Kamloops court on Monday.

00Friday, October 29, 2010 4:26 PM
Apparently, NCReporter is now acting as a PR arm of victim abuse groups - it always has been, informally, but this time time, it is rather blatant. I have reporduced the post as is, and note that although teh byline reads 'by NCR staff", John Allen's tagline is appended at the end...

Vatican denies squelching
coverage of victims’ rally

By NCR Staff

Oct. 29, 2010

A Vatican spokesperson has confirmed that permission has been denied to film aspects of an Oct. 31 gathering of sex abuse victims in Rome that may occur inside St. Peter’s Square, but insists the ban is standard practice rather than an effort to squelch coverage of the event.

The gathering is billed as “Reformation Day,” and organizers plan to launch a petition calling on the United Nations to include the systematic sexual abuse of children as a crime against humanity.

Two American survivors of abuse, Bernie McDaid and Gary Bergeron, are the primary organizers of the Oct. 31 event, which aims to bring together victims of sexual abuse from various nations to press the Catholic church for reform. The plan is to assemble outside the grounds of the Vatican, near Castel Sant’Angelo, then process to St. Peter’s Square.

Victims may enter the square individually, though they’ve been denied permission to gather as a group on Vatican grounds.

On Oct. 26, Bergeron and McDaid issued a press release charging that the Vatican has told media outlets they will not be able to cover anything that happens on Vatican property.

The press release asserted that the Vatican is “trying to stop people around the world from joining us in spirit,” saying the attempt to stop filming of whatever happens in the square is “quite frankly, enough.”

On Oct. 27, Jesuit Fr. Federico Lombardi, the Vatican spokesperson, told NCR the ban is simply standard practice.

An official in the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for Social Communications, Lombardi said, has told someone in contact with the group that “interviews and filming aren’t usually permitted in St. Peter’s Square.”

Lombardi said that’s “a general rule that’s always been the case,” and said that even he follows the same protocol.

“When I give interviews to TV crews that ask me for them, I always do it outside the boundaries of St. Peter’s Square,” Lombardi said.

Bergeron and McDaid say that “groups of survivors and individuals are coming from over a dozen countries” to take part in the Oct. 31 gathering. It’s not clear precisely how many people may take part.

Information on the event may be found at www.survivorsvoice.org.

[John Allen is NCR senior correspondent. His e-mail address is jallen@ncronline.org.]

00Monday, November 1, 2010 12:05 PM

This is a misleading headline from AP since at the time the news broke of the investigation of IOR, its president said that IOR had been, in fact, working with the competent agencies for the IOR to sign up on the list of the European Union's regulated banks, as even this article acknowledges in its later paragraphs....

Vatican bank signs up to new laws
on money laundering after Italian police crackdown

by Nicole Winfield

VATICAN CITY, Oct. 31 (AP) - The Vatican bank has broken with hundreds of years of convention by taking steps to satisfy tough EU and international norms on money laundering and terror financing.
But the move only came after the bank was confronted with an unprecedented crackdown by Italian prosecutors.

The bank has made written and in-person pledges to pass anti-money laundering legislation, report and investigate suspicious transactions,

Italian prosecutors previously placed Vatican bank chairman Ettore Gotti Tedeschi and his deputy Paolo Cipriani under investigation and police seized ¤23 million from a Vatican bank account in recent weeks. The Vatican reacted furiously, insisting any gaps in its records were a "misunderstanding" that could be easily clarified. It also tried to get the seizure lifted, but the court refused.

Now the Vatican has given its commitments to some of the key institutions involved in the fight against money laundering, officials said.

Vatican bank bosses have now made a written commitment to the Financial Action Task Force - the Paris-based policymaking body that develops anti-money laundering and anti-terror financing legislation - to do whatever is necessary to come into compliance with its norms, a senior FATF official said.

The FATF requires the Vatican to pass legislation making money-laundering a crime; to establish an entity to report suspicious transactions and then investigate them; and to pass legislation requiring that the bank identify its customers properly and make that information available to law enforcement agencies, the official said.

Separately, on 15 October, Vatican bank officials met with European Commission officials and agreed that Pope Benedict XVI would act to bring into Vatican law European Union directives on money laundering that are required of Eurozone countries, said Amadeu Altafaj i Tardio, spokesman for the European commissioner for economic and monetary affairs, Olli Rehn.

The bank, formally known as the Institute for Religious Works, also pledged to establish a compliance "authority" headed by a Vatican cardinal on 1 January to implement the anti-money laundering legislation, he said. The authority will be the contact for all EU and international agencies working to fight money-laundering.

Vatican bank officials also had two meetings starting in the spring of this year with officials from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development to learn how to get on the "white list," of states that share tax information to crack down on tax havens, said Jeffrey Owens, head of tax issues at the OECD.

To join the OECD's club, the Vatican must first make a formal commitment to transparency and exchange of financial information and then undergo peer review.

To get on the "white list" the Vatican must enter into tax information sharing agreements with at least 12 other countries - a process that can take years.

"The next step is: they know what the standards are. Do they want to advance the dialogue with the aim of committing to the standards?" Owens said.

00Monday, November 1, 2010 12:07 PM

Because of its significance, I posted this last night on teh BENEDICT thread when the news broke... And it's only been one week since the Synodal assembly on the Middle East ended!

At least 7 worshipers and 7 Iraqi troops
die in takeover of Baghdad church

By Ernesto Londono and Aziz Alwan

Sunday, October 31, 2010

In this 2008 file photo, an Iraqi policeman conducts a security check inside the church raided today.

BAGHDAD - At least seven Iraqi Christian worshipers and seven Iraqi security forces were killed Sunday night after commandos stormed a church in Baghdad where a band of suicide bombers had been holding parishioners hostage, Iraqi and U.S. military officials said.

As Iraqi troops stormed the Our Lady of Salvation Church in the upscale Karradah neighborhood shortly after 9 p.m., some of the assailants detonated suicide vests, said Lt. Col. Eric Bloom, a U.S. military spokesman.

The mayhem underscored how dangerous the Iraqi capital remains as a deepening political crisis continues. Iraqi lawmakers remain at an impasse over who is entitled to lead the next government after the March 7 parliamentary election. Many Iraqis fear that the impasse could sow instability and violence as the U.S. military mission here winds down.

Between 20 to 30 people were wounded in the attack and subsequent rescue operation to free the approximately 120 hostages attending evening Mass, Bloom said. He said all the attackers were gunned down, but an Iraqi official said some were in custody.

Bloom, who got the casualty numbers from the Iraqi army, said the death toll could rise. An Iraqi security official said at least 21 civilians and troops were killed.

The assailants, armed with grenades, rifles and at least one car bomb, turned a relatively secure neighborhood into a battleground. The operation was apparently carried out in a failed effort to secure the release of prisoners in Iraqi custody who belong to the Sunni insurgent group al-Qaeda in Iraq.

The attack Sunday began around sunset at a branch of the Baghdad stock market located near the church. Gunmen lobbed grenades and exchanged gunfire with guards at the exchange, killing two, an Iraqi police official said.

As Iraqi security forces moved in, the assailants jumped in a car, drove it to the entrance of the Our Lady of Salvation Church, got out and detonated explosives inside the vehicle, authorities said.

Sunday Mass was being held inside the Assyrian Christian church when the gunmen, reportedly wearing explosive vests, ran inside.

Hussain Abdul Amir, 35, who lives nearby and witnessed the attack, said the gunmen did not appear to be Iraqi.

"Their accent was not Iraqi," he said.

He said the gunmen were demanding the release of al-Qaeda in Iraq inmates in Iraqi custody.

Other witnesses and officials quoted by Iraqi television stations supported that account. Iraqi police officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not allowed to talk to reporters.

Residents in the area ran for cover as Iraqi security forces and a small team of U.S. military officials set up a security perimeter outside.

The hostages were held for about two hours, during which lengthy exchanges of gunfire and explosions were heard in the area.

Shortly after 9 p.m., Iraqi elite troops stormed the church and killed the four gunmen. It was not clear whether hostages, security forces or bystanders were hurt during the operation.

"We were able to assassinate all the gunmen," a police official said minutes after it was over. "They were all wearing suicide vests."

00Monday, November 1, 2010 12:34 PM

Quebecois celebrate St. Andre Bessette
By Anne Sutherland

MONTREAL, Oct. 31 — For one Quebec politician, the most moving moment in Saturday’s celebration of St. Brother Andre’s recent canonization came when four members of the late cleric’s family carried in a small shrine containing a sliver of the saint’s heart.

“That was it for me, and when they brought in the crutches,” said Bernard Blanchet after the ceremony.

The city councillor for Lachine, Que., and his mother, Denise, were among a crowd of 30,000 people who flocked to Montreal’s Olympic Stadium on Saturday to remember and celebrate Quebec’s Brother Andre, who was elevated to sainthood on Oct. 17 in Rome.

Vendors hawked $10 T-shirts with his image, while people stood in long lines in the souvenir shop where wooden crucifixes, key chains, statues of St. Joseph and candles were flying off shelves, with special St. Joseph’s Oratory carryalls to hold all the goods.
The crowd spanned all age levels — from toddlers in strollers to seniors using walkers.

Performers from 3 Petits Chanteurs sang as the processional moved toward the makeshift altar, watched by Prime Minister Stephen Harper, Premier Jean Charest and Montreal Mayor Gerald Tremblay.

Quebec singer Chantal Pary took the microphone for a rendition of 'Miracle de la Montagne' by Lucie Bernier as 180 young adults from different cultural communities joined the processional, which also included 60 bishops and almost as many priests and other clergy.

Cardinal Jean-Claude Turcotte presided over the two-hour Mass and spoke at length about the man born Alfred Bessette on Aug. 9, 1845 in St. Gregoire, Que., south of Montreal.

“He often said: ‘The world is silly if it thinks that Brother Andre is doing miracles. It is the good God who does the miracles. St. Joseph obtains them,’” Cardinal Turcotte said of the new saint.

The bell from the first chapel build on Mount Royal was brought to the stadium to call the faithful to worship.

“Thank God for this remarkable man. He was our brother and our friend,” Turcotte said of the tiny unassuming doorkeeper at College Notre-Dame in Montreal.

Born to an extremely poor family in St. Gregoire, southeast of Montreal, Bessette was orphaned at age 12 and drifted for years as an illiterate, unskilled worker. In 1870, he joined the Congregation of Holy Cross, which reluctantly accepted him and assigned him to a lowly job at the reception area of College Notre Dame in Montreal.

He became known as a friend to the poor and sick, and was dubbed the Miracle Man of Montreal, with thousands of people attributing to him miraculous recoveries from everything from physical infirmities to tuberculosis to cancer.

“I believe in him,” said Suzanne Deschenes from Longueuil, Que.

“My parents taught me all about Brother Andre and he certainly deserved all this,” she said after the ceremony ended.

00Tuesday, November 2, 2010 2:46 AM

The problem with this item is that there is nothing in the interview itself to support the headline, which is identical in all the other language versions (French, German and Italian), but none of the other translations contains anything about the current Vatican-FSSPX talks either.

FSSPX head says talks with Vatican
are now 'at a pivotal point'

Interview with Bishop Bernard Fellay

Nouvelles de Chrétienté
Sept.-Oct. 2010

Mons. Fellay (center).

The Society of St. Pius X is celebrating its fortieth anniversary. Is this the end of the wandering in the desert, as it was for the Hebrews in the time of Moses?
It seems to me that what we are experiencing resembles instead one of those expeditions of the scouts who catch a glimpse of the Promised Land, although circumstances do not allow the people to enter it.

In order to avoid any misinterpretation of the image just used, I hasten to add that we declare just as firmly as ever that we are Catholics and that, with God’s help, we intend to remain that way.

However for the Church as a whole this crisis does resemble a wandering in the desert, with one difference: the manna is quite difficult to find. There are encouraging signs, especially on the part of Rome; unfortunately they are quite mixed up in other very troubling matters. A few blades of grass in the desert….

In spite of everything, how is the Society of St. Pius X developing throughout the world?
The Society is actually developing a bit everywhere. Some regions are making more rapid progress than others — I’m thinking of the United States, for example — but the big handicap that we run up against is the lack of priests.

Requests for help come in from all sides, but because of our severe shortage of priests we cannot respond as we ought. With every appointment [of an SSPX priest to a pastoral assignment] we make a choice that is going to disappoint one or more groups of the faithful.

On the one hand that is a rather good sign, since it shows a certain development in our work, but it is also quite painful. Think of the mission countries, particularly in Africa or in Brazil. If we could send fifty priests there, it would be a great relief. The immense continent of Asia is waiting also….

Archbishop Lefebvre used to say that for the authorities in Rome the statistics of that growth were more eloquent than theological arguments. Is that still true?
I don’t know whether we should say “the statistics” or “the facts”. At any rate the two things are equally telling. As the good old saying puts it, contra factum non fit argumentum, there is no arguing against the facts — that is still totally valid. And Archbishop Lefebvre’s statement is quite true.

We should note that it is not so much the number that impresses Rome, since we are still a negligible quantity in the Mystical Body as a whole. But what we represent, in an extremely vivid way, a living tradition — that overawes them. These magnificent fruits which are very certainly, by the admission of a high-ranking Roman prelate himself, the work of the Holy Ghost — that is what induces the Roman authorities to take a look at us. All the more because we are talking about fresh fruit springing up in the middle of the desert.

In this month of September, reports on the implementation of the Motu Proprio concerning the traditional Mass are to be sent to the Holy See. Only a few bishops implemented the Roman directives generously. How do you explain this hesitance, or this resistance?
Just as the new Mass expresses a certain new spirit, that of Vatican II, so also the traditional Mass expresses the Catholic spirit. Those who cling tenaciously [mordicus] to Vatican II because they see in it a new start for the Church, or those who suppose that, with Vatican II, a new leaf was turned definitively in Church history, simply cannot accept the coexistence of a Mass that recalls precisely what they thought they had abandoned forever.

There are two spirits embodied in the two Masses. That is a fact! And the two do not go together! We find among modern Catholics a similar hatred for the Rosary, for example. And it is all related. We see in the controversy over the Mass - a very good illustration of the complexity of the crisis that is rocking the Church.

Do you mean to say that in the Church today, behind a façade of unity, there are hidden divisions not only between the local bishops’ conferences and the Holy See, but even in Rome among various opposing trends? Do you have factual evidence?
Yes, alas, we certainly are in those times that have been foretold, when there will be cardinal against cardinal, bishop against bishop. This sort of dispute is generally very discreet and escapes the notice of the laity.

But recently, on various occasions, it has become open and public, for instance in the gratuitous attack by Cardinal Schönborn against Cardinal Sodano. That looked a lot like a settling of scores. But it is no secret that opposing trends clash in Rome itself. We have the facts about several cases, but I don’t think that it is helpful to the lay faithful to reveal such things.

A recent conference given by Msgr. Guido Pozzo, Secretary of the Ecclesia Dei Commission at the seminary of the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter1 attempts to prove the doctrinal continuity between Vatican II and Tradition. To that end it deals with the question about the “subsistit in” and the issue of ecumenism. Do these examples seem convincing to you?
I would not say “convincing” but surprising. That conference is the very logical application of the principles enunciated by Benedict XVI in December of 2005. And it gives us a presentation of ecumenism that is fairly different from what we have heard for the past forty years, a presentation mixed in with eternal principles concerning the oneness of the Church and her unique perfection, concerning the exclusive character of salvation.

We do see in this an attempt to preserve the Church’s perennial teaching and at the same time a Council that is revisited in the light of Tradition. The mixture, although interesting, still leaves open some logical questions concerning the role played by the other Christian confessions [denominations]… which were called “false religions” until the time of Pius XII. Will anyone from now on dare to use that term again?

In his lengthy conclusion, Msgr. Pozzo proposes a Second Vatican Council that has been re-examined — if not corrected; one that denounces relativism, a certain overemphasis on the “pastoral” approach, and an excessive reliance on “dialogue”…. Do you think that this presentation is capable of bringing about unanimity in Rome and in the dioceses? What do you think about this revised version of the Council?
It is interesting, in the sense that they are presenting a new Second Vatican Council to us, a council which in fact we never knew and which is distinct from the one that was presented during the past forty years. A sort of new skin! It is interesting especially inasmuch as the ultra-modern trend is condemned rather strongly. A sort of moderate or tempered council is being presented to us.
[That is really a most unfair and unjustified reading of what Pozzo meant - who was merely presenting Vatican-II as it is, seen with the hermeneutic of continuity. There is no changing what Vatican II was - it is what it always has been. The development is that Benedict XVI's hermeneutic of continuity - by the fact that he made clear his stand from the start, and his own consistency in everything he says and does - has become 'legitimate' if not mainstream, after four decades of the 'progressivist' ascendancy. Fellay should be open-minded enough to acknowledge this, but he seems to be stuck on Lefebvre's eventual argument that all of Vatican II is a mistake, seeming to forget that Lefebvre, as a Council Father, had signed all the documents of Vatican II freely. No one forced him. It was only later with the 'invention' of the Novus Ordo that he turned his back on it!]

The question remains, what kind of reception will this new formula have? [It is not a 'new formula' - it is simply the 'correct interpretation'.] It will certainly be deemed too traditional for the modernists and not traditional enough for us.

Let us say that many of our attacks have now proved to be justified, a good deal of what we condemn is condemned. But although the matter is condemned, there is still a major disagreement concerning its causes. Because ultimately, if such intellectual disorientation was possible with respect to the Council, and to such a degree, to such an extent, there certainly must be a proportionate cause! If we discover such a great divergence in interpreting the conciliar documents, we will have to admit someday that the deficiencies in those documents are there for a reason. [I don't think anybody questions the fact that the documents were deliberately left ambiguous in parts in order to get a consensus vote. I bet this is not the first Council in the history of the Church that has had to 'compromise' that way. The problem is that the progressivists appear to have forgotten all about the texts of the Council, preferring instead to claim that their ultra-liberal preferences constitute the 'real spirit' of the Council! Never mind that their actions - in the case of the liturgy, for example - directly ignore or contradict what Sacrosanctum concilium says! And who kno knows what else of the Council documents they are perverting by their Protestantizing views on ecumenism and inter-religious dialog, views which are, in effect, quintessentially relativist, because they equate the Catholic Church to any other Christian denomination, and to other non-Christian faiths?]

Some people committed to Tradition think that the crisis in the Church should end instantaneously, that the passage from this crisis to its solution should take place all at once. In your view is this a sign of supernatural confidence or of all-too-human impatience? In a gradual resolution of the crisis, what are the positive steps that have already been taken? What steps do you hope to see in the future?
The instantaneous solution of the crisis, as some people imagine it, can result only from a miracle or from large-scale violence. If it does not come about in that way, then there will still be the gradual solution. Although absolutely speaking one cannot exclude the possibility that God could work such a miracle, usually God governs His Church differently, through the more normal cooperation of creatures and of His saints.

In general it takes at least as much time to get over a crisis as it did to unleash it, if not more. The path of reconstruction is long, and the work—immense. But above all the choice of personnel will be the determining factor. If the policy for nominating bishops finally changes, then we can hope. By the same token there will have to be a thoroughgoing reform of teaching at the pontifical universities and of priestly formation in the seminaries. These are long-range projects which at the moment are still dreams, but over a period of ten years they could already be taking shape seriously. Everything depends on the Pope at first. [These are the most realistic statements given by Fellay in this interview - and he touches on issues about which Benedict XVI has started to do something. But they are generational tasks. In many ways, one regrets that John Paul II did not put his 26 years on the job to such fundamental generational tasks to reverse the widespread perversion of Vatican II. He knew it was not properly 'received', much less properly implemented - and called a Synodal Assembly to reconsider its interpretation in 1985, but there was no special effort to institute the long-range programs to train seminarian properly and to retrain or at least re-orient all the clergy who took the line of least resistance.]

For the moment the positive thing is above all the acknowledgment that many things have gone awry…. People are admitting that there is a sickness, a grave crisis in the Church. Will they go much further? We will see. [My point, precisely, about the wasted opportunity in the Wojtyla era!]
What specifically can the Society of St. Pius X contribute as a solution to this unprecedented crisis? What role can Catholics devoted to Tradition take in this work of restoration? What do you expect from the young generation which is now twenty years old and will be sixty… in forty years?

[We can offer] a reminder that the Church has a past that still remains quite valuable today. This is not dusty nostalgia but a fresh look at the Tradition of the Church — a decisive contribution toward a solution of the crisis. [Which Benedict XVI continually points to and expresses in a variety of ways, that are always original, surprising and attention-getting, at least to those who pay attention, to begin with! The problem is that there are not enough Burkes and Chaputs and Dolans, Bagnascos and Caffarras and Ruinis, Meisners and Leonards and even Nicholses, around to help push those points!]

We should add to this the reminder about the power of the traditional Mass, about the mission and role of the priest as Our Lord intends it, in His image and according to His Spirit. When we ask priests who approach the Society what they expect from us, they tell us initially that they expect doctrine. Even before the Mass! This is surprising, but at the same time it is a good sign.

The lay faithful have the important role of witnessing, of showing that the Christian life as it has always been understood, with its demands and respect for God’s law, is quite possible in the modern world. It is Christian life put into practice, a very concrete example needed by the man in the street. And for the generation of twenty-year-olds, I see that it is waiting, ready for the adventure of Tradition, sensing very well that what is being offered to it apart from Tradition is nothing but imitation goods. We are at a pivotal point for the future reconstruction and, although it is not yet clearly apparent, I think that everything is possible.

1. Lecture given by Msgr. Guido Pozzo on July 2, 2010 at the seminary in Wigratzbad (Germany), entitled, “Aspects of Catholic theology in the reception of Vatican II”. See our commentary in DICI no. 220 dated August 7, 2010, “Vatican II: a debate between Romano Amerio, Msgr. Gherardini and Msgr. Pozzo"
00Friday, November 5, 2010 11:05 AM

I am glad I waited to post anything on this latest development in the troubled Church of Belgium, but at least now, we have the side of Mons. Andre Leonard, the 'embattled' Primate of Belgium... I was planning to translate his letter of explanation from the French, but Anna Arco at Catholic Herald has now done a summary report, so here it is first...

As the Belgian Church faces
yet another meltdown,
its leader explains himself

Archbishop Andre-Joseph Leonard, the primate of Belgium,
explains the controversies surrounding him
only days after his spokesman’s resignation has sparked a new row

By Anna Arco

4 November 2010

The Belgian Archbishop who has been under fire for making controversial comments has said he is sorry for the hurt he has caused, and that while his statements may surprise some, he never intended to shock.

Archbishop Andre-Joseph of Brussels-Mechelen replied to accusations of insensitivity and homophobia in a four page statement published on the RTBF website yesterday.

The Belgian Church was in a meltdown in the wake of Monday’s public resignation of the bishops’ conference spokesman Juergen Mettepenningen, following a press conference in which he was highly critical of his former employer whom he described as a “driver who refused to follow the directions given by the GPS”.

The archbishop, who is known for his blunt and sometimes caustic style, even by those who admire him, was accused of saying that HIV/Aids was form of divine punishment, calling homosexuality a-normal and an illness, and of wanting aged and infirm paedophile priests to be spared from justice.

A group of academics from the Catholic University of Louvain, led by Fr Gabriel Ringlet, a Belgian poet and theologian who was dismayed by the archbishop’s appointment in January, have called for Archbishop Leonard’s resignation.

In his statement, Archbishop Leonard clarified his controversial comments, claiming that he had been misrepresented by the press. He said that he felt he “owed this explanation to those whom I have involuntarily made suffer on being the source of so much criticism, misunderstanding and incomprehension. I hope in this way to contribute to peace in [people’s] hearts. In the meantime, who knows which new polemic [may arise]…which I absolutely do not seek. I am, of course, conscious to say what I think in conscience to be the truth. This can surprise sometimes, but my goal is never to shock".

Archbishop Léonard said he too would react strongly to the comments he is supposed to have made “such as they have been presented to you”.

A tall, thin man appointed to lead a troubled Church at the beginning of this year, Archbishop Léonard first addressed himself to the suggestion that he had said HIV/Aids was divine punishment.

The reports arose from the publication, earlier this autumn, of a book of interviews first published in French in 2004, in which the Archbishop answered a question on whether he believed that the AIDS epidemic was a divine punishment for the sexual revolution.

He said: “Although the interviewer might have been happy (I know nothing of it) that I say that AIDS was a divine punishment (the more a remark is shocking, the better papers sell), I began by underlining that I did not reason in any way in those terms and I did not consider, in any way, the spread of AIDS as a heavenly punishment. But as the journalist appeared to be taken, by the very nature of his question, by this category of ‘punishment’, I added that ‘it was possible’ one ‘might eventually’ consider the first spread of the illness as a “sort” of ‘immanent justice’. Three precautions, therefore, (the expressions in quotation marks), to introduce the classical concept of ‘immanent justice’”

Explaining what he meant by immanent justice which he described as the result of the inherent nature of the action, Archbishop Léonard said: “I therefore do not really see why it is unseemly to say that our polluting risks giving a nasty turn to the ecological plan, or that the immoderate consumption of alcohol can damage our brain or our liver or to consider that the contamination by HIV was linked, from its beginnings, in part, to risky sexual behaviours.

He said he normally avoided the “neuralgic issues (questions on women’s ordination, priestly celibacy, sexual morality and bioethics)”.

Archbishop Léonard denied he had suggested that homosexuality was an illness or aBnormal and said he would not use that language.
On the question on whether infirm and elderly paedophile priests should be spared justice, Archbishop Léonard says that he believed that all the cases should be turned over to the civil authorities and that the Church now urged victims to report directly to the civil authorities.

The archbishop said he had been thinking about A number of cases he has dealt with recently in which he met victims of abuse who begged him not to go to the civil authorities. He said the victims had asked him to find the old priests who had abused them and get them to recognise the grave harm they had done by those who had abused them. The archbishop said he then arranged a meeting between the priest and the victims in which the priest apologised for the harm he had done.

Despite being seen as a controversial figure, the Belgian prelate has developed a reputation for being hard-hitting where sexual abuse is concerned after he reacted quickly when abuse allegations first started emerging.

But the Belgian Church has suffered an annus horribilis after a senior bishop and good friend of Archbishop Léonard’s predecessor, Bishop Roger Vangheluwe resigned when it emerged that he had abused his nephew.

The Archdiocese was subjected to a police raid in July where the tombs of two cardinals were broken into and the bishops were held in custody for a whole day.

Archbishop Léonard’s predecessor Cardinal Gottfried Danneels was implicated in alleged cover-up attempts after tapes emerged of a meeting between the cardinal, Vangheluwe and the abused nephew, in which the cardinal showed little compassion for the victim.

Heads turned last week at the surprise announcement that the leader of the Church in Belgium would be silent until after Christmas.

"We’re in a very serious crisis and the last thing we need is more commotion,” said: Dr Mettepenningen, the spokesman for the Belgian bishops’ conference.

“I’ve agreed with Archbishop Léonard that there should now be as much radio silence as possible until Christmas,” he said.

Had the moratorium on speaking to the press been his idea or was it his spokesman doing some damage control?

Those who doubted that the affairs of the Catholic Church would keep off the airwaves for long, were vindicated yesterday when Mettepenningen resigned with an outburst of rage against the Archbishop.

Having insisted that the last thing the bishops needed was more commotion only a few days earlier, Mettepenningen unleashed his fury in a two-page press release and a massive press conference at the Norbertine Abbey of Grimbergen.

He cited three main reasons for his resignation: a crisis of confidence, a crisis of leadership and a crises of choices and judgement. He described his boss as a man who was driving a car down a one-way street, a driver who ignored the directions his GPS was giving him.

Dr Mettepenningen is also a member of the theology faculty at the Catholic University of Louvain. His field is sytematic theology.

{I saw a recent article about how Louvain - which was long a synonym for excellence in Catholic higher education - has now become so secular it should stop calling itself a Catholic university.]

00Sunday, November 14, 2010 6:55 PM

I apologize that I have been remiss in posting items on this new outrage perpetrated by the Muslim world against a Christian...

Asia Bibi’s conviction
an incitement to crime,
says Justice and Peace official

Islamabad, PAKISTAN, Nov. 12 (AsiaNews) – “The sentence against Asia Bibi is a veritable incitement to crime. There was never any insult to Islam in the case and the judge did not take into account how the blasphemy law is being abused. So he came down with a harsh sentence,” said Peter Jacob, secretary of the Church’s Justice and Peace Commission, as he spoke to AsiaNews about the death penalty inflicted on a 37-year-old female farm worker by a court in Punjab last Sunday.

“We absolutely condemn this way of doing things; we call on the government to intervene and stop the law from being abused,” he added.

Asia Bibi, in photos released by her family. Center photo: Her three daughters (left to right, aged 12, 18, and 10), hold up a photo of their mother in Pakistani army uniform.

Asia Bibi, mother of four, is the first woman to be sentenced to death for blasphemy. She has been in prison since last year. The trial judge accepted the prosecutor’s contention that she insulted Muhammad in a heated discussion with colleagues.

In fact, all she did was to object to her fellow workers’ name-calling (infidel) and their attempt to get her to renounce Christianity. For this, Asia was beaten and reported to police in Ittanwali (Punjab) who arrested her on false blasphemy charges.

For Nazir S. Bhatti, who heads the Pakistan Christian Congress (PCC), Asia’s case is a clear attack on inter-faith dialogue because she was sentenced to death for her comment on Muhammad, not for any insult to the prophet.

“According to the constitution of Islamic Republic of Pakistan, the president of Pakistan or the interior minister have the power to withdraw any case,” Bhatti said. “There are examples of cases of terrorism withdrawn by the government of Pakistan. Why then the Pakistani administration is silent on Asia Bibi’s sentence?”

“In Pakistan, some 2.8 million Christians are treated as second class citizens, whilst Islamic government feel no shame to release Muslim criminals and terrorists,” he said.

Yet, despite the authorities’ silence, many figures in Pakistan’s civil society, both Christians and Muslims, are mobilising on Asia Bibi’s behalf as well as calling for the repeal of the blasphemy law.

The story was first reported on Nov. 9:

Christian woman in Pakistan
sentenced to death for blasphemy

For the first time, a woman is sentenced to death in Pakistan for this kind of “offence”.
The blasphemy law was introduced in 1986 by then Pakistani dictator Zia-ul Haq and since then
it has become a tool for discrimination and violence. Part of the Pakistan Penal Code,
the law imposes life in prison for defiling the Qur’an and death for insulting Muhammad.

Islamabad, PAKISTAN, Nov. 9 (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Pakistan has “crossed a line” in sentencing a Christian woman to death for blasphemy. Asia Bibi, a 37-year-old farm worker mother of four, was convicted of committing blasphemy before her fellow workers during a heated discussion about religion in the village of Ittanwali in June last year.

Some of the women workers had reportedly been pressuring Bibi to renounce her Christian faith and accept Islam. During one discussion, Bibi responded by speaking of how Jesus had died on the cross for the sins of humanity and asking the Muslim women what Muhammad had done for them.

The Muslim women took offence and began beating Bibi. Afterwards she was locked in a room. According to Release International, a charity organization, a mob reportedly formed and “violently abused” her and her children.

The charity, which supports persecuted Christians, said that blasphemy charges were brought against Bibi because of pressure from local Muslim leaders.

Release International’s chief executive, Andy Dipper, expressed his shock at Sunday’s ruling.

“Pakistan has crossed a line in passing the death sentence on a woman for blasphemy,” he said.

In addition to the death sentence, Bibi was also fined the equivalent for an unskilled worker of two and a half years’ wages.

Another Christian woman, Martha Bibi (no relation to Asia), is also on trial in Lahore for blasphemy.

According to the National Commission on Justice and Peace (NCJP) of the Catholic Church, between 1986 and August 2009, at least 974 people have been charged for defiling the Qur’an or insulting the Prophet Muhammad. They include 479 Muslims, 340 Ahmadis, 119 Christians, 14 Hindus and 10 from other religions.

The blasphemy law has often been used as a pretext for personal attacks or vendettas as well as extra-judicial murders. Overall, 33 people have died this way at the hands of individuals or crazed mobs.

00Sunday, November 14, 2010 7:38 PM

The other major anti-Christian story I have failed to post about - except to mention it in passin in the BENEDICT thread on the day it was reported - is the second wave of terrorist bombs set in some Christian homes in Baghdad last week. This followed the terrible attack on a Syro-Satholic Church where some 80 people wre killed.

The tragedy of Iraq’s Christians:
They are of little interest to anyone

Under Saddam Hussein, Christians in Iraq were around a million. Today, more than half have fled,
living as refugees in other countries, in particular Syria and Jordan.
Those who are left behind feel betrayed and abandoned by the government and the international community.
All they want is to be able to live and worship in peace, in their own homeland.]

by Nirmala Carvalho

Birmingham, UK, Nov. 12 (AsiaNews) – “There is now a real danger that Christians in the Middle East, and in Iraq in particular, of being exterminated, due to both persecution and large-scale emigration,” this according to Dr Joseph Seferta, an Iraqi-born Chaldean Catholic living in Birmingham, Britain, where he is a member of the Commission for Inter-faith Dialogue of the Archdiocese of Birmingham.

He gave an exclusive interview to AsiaNews about the difficult situation Christians face in Iraq and across the Middle East. Here is a summary of what he said:

I belong to the Chaldean Catholic Church, which makes up the majority of Christians in Iraq. Others include Assyrians, as well Syrian, Armenian and Byzantine Christians, both Catholic and Orthodox. Christians under Saddam Hussein totalled some one million, but now only half that number remains in the country, the rest having fled and are living as refugees, particularly in Syria and Jordan.

The atrocity committed by Muslim fanatics, which resulted in dozens of Syrian Catholics dead and dozens of others wounded, was a big blow to the struggling Christian minority.

It has been followed by other assassinations of Christians in their homes and shops. All these fanatics (known by various names) in the Middle East and other Muslim-majority countries, are bent on imposing Shari'a and running Islamic states that have no place for Christians in them.

Christians in the Middle East, of course, predate Muslims by hundreds of years and go back to apostolic times. Since the 7th Century Islamic conquest, they have been made second-class citizens with hardly any rights at all.

They have undergone many waves of persecution, which have greatly reduced their numbers and influence. They suffer prejudice and discrimination on a daily basis, while Muslim minorities here in the West enjoy full rights and have built hundreds of mosques.

Tragically, Iraq's Christians had nothing to do with the American invasion, but they always wrongly get accused of siding with the "Christian" West. Now they feel both isolated and betrayed by their own government as well as the international community.

They have always been model citizens, serving their country in every field, and their only desire is to be left alone to live and worship in peace. But they have become a soft target for extremists.

There is now a real danger of Christians in the Middle East and in Iraq in particular, being rooted out, due to both persecution and large-scale emigration, unless something is done urgently to stem the tide and save them.

Too many cannot bear their suffering any longer and are sick and tired of waiting for someone to come to their aid. People either do not know or do not seem to care about them. Even the recent Middle East Synod convoked by the Holy Father was a disappointment, due to lack of both unity and courage. [But what can the Church do concretely, afte rall? It has no influence on the Iraqi government, in which there is no ranking leader who represents Christians or is at least sympathetic to them.]

It is now high time that the United Nations seriously tackle this huge problem, for otherwise we will end up with the catastrophe of an Iraq and even a Middle East devoid of any Christians.

In October 2007, 138 Muslim leaders issued ‘A Common Word between Us and You’, a substantive invitation to Christians to dialogue based on the commandments to love God and love one another, found in the Bible and the Qur’an. The problem is that no such thing exists in the Qur’an.

While love is central in Christianity, it is hardly relevant in Islam. The few Qur’anic verses that mention love mean something that is totally different from the New Testament. In the Qur’an, Allah’s love is conditional upon man’s blind obedience to his laws. Thus, we read in verse 4:107, for example, “Allah loveth not the impious and the guilty.”

Love in the Qur’an is just an attribute rather than a part of God’s very essence (as in “God is love”, 1 John 4:8). The concept of love of neighbour does not exist either.

There is only love for fellow Muslims, who, for example, are told in 5:59, “Take not the Jews and the Christians for your friends”, and in 9:29, “Fight those who believe not in Allah or his Apostle, even if they are the People of the Book [Christians and Jews] until they submit”.

00Sunday, November 14, 2010 9:04 PM
And I sidelined the following story because it came up just vefore the visit to Spain and I did not have time to look up references and choose photos...

The 18th-century Plateresque Cathedral built over the Great Mosque. Originally, the Church simply consecrated the mosque without major renovations after the Muslims were expelled. Gradually, chapels were built within the vast exterior to fit into the internal architecture, and under Charles V, a Renaissance nave was built in the center of the structure.

Bishop of Cordoba wages campaign
not to refer to the city's historic
cathedral as a mosque - since it hasn't
been a mosque for eight centuries!

Cordoba, Spain, Nov 5, 2010 (CNA) - Bishop Demetrio Fernandez of Cordoba, Spain, has asked that the city’s historic cathedral be referred to as a Catholic church and not as a “mosque,” in reference to its past.

In an October column in the Spanish newspaper ABC, Bishop Fernandez wrote, “Cathedral or mosque? Undoubtedly a cathedral. It is the main church of the Diocese of Cordoba, where the chair of the bishop is located, thus the name 'cathedral'.”

The bishop noted that the Cathedral of Cordoba has been a place of Catholic worship for eight centuries. Saint King Ferdinand III took over the city without bloodshed on June 28, 1236, and ordered the temple, which had been built as a mosque, to be consecrated, Bishop Fernandez explained.

The most striking feature of the cathedral are the arches supported by the mosque's 856 columns of jasper, onyx, marble and granite, which had been made from pieces of the Roman temple and other Roman buildings in the area.

“It was saved from destruction because of the successful negotiations between Ferdinand and the Muslim occupiers of the city, who wanted to destroy it rather than turning it over. When the Muslims invaded in 711, it was already a sacred place, as it was the location of the ancient Basilica of Saint Vincent the Martyr [of Zaragoza).”

The bishop noted that the Muslims destroyed the basilica “so a mosque could be built.”

Bishop Fernandez acknowledged the stir caused by his column, telling the Diario de Cordoba that he wrote it because “I knew it would be reported around the world, so that everybody would know that the ancient mosque in Cordoba is today a cathedral. The ones offended are those who think it’s wrong to call it a cathedral.”

“The cathedral has been a cathedral for eight centuries … I don’t mind if it is called a former mosque, but what I don’t want is it to be called just a mosque,” the bishop said, explaining that he does not want to confuse visitors to the city.

“The Catholic Church, and the Bishop of Cordoba, are the first to treat Muslims with respect and friendliness. I am friends with many in the Muslim world,” he noted, adding he supports inter-religious dialogue in an atmosphere of mutual respect.

“People get upset, but this is for the good of Cordoba,” he stated.

The Renaissance nave:

Earlier chapels, and lower right, the mihrab, or prayer corner, main feature of a mosque, preserved in all its magnificence.

Another chapel, and a fresco conserved from the 13th century.

Of course, when New York Times correspondent Rachel Donadio wrote about this controversy, she starts out her lead paragraph with the words, "The great mosque of Cordoba..."

The UNESCO, which rightly classifies the Cathedral as a World Heritage site, calls it a 'mosque-cathedral' (and we all know how the UN leads the world in being politically ultra-correct) - nbut this is simply wrong, since it has not been used as a mosque since it was consecrated a cathedral in the 13th century! Why can't they just change the signs in cordona to read 'CATHEDRAL OF CORDOBA (711-1236, Mosque of Cordoba]' - which is a short history lesson as well!

The Muslims of Cordoba, with the support of the Arab League, have been waging a campaign for years to be allowed to use the cathedral as a mosque, but this is a No-No in Church practice.

I think the monarchs of Spain and the Church in Spain deserve to be commended for having preserved much of the mosque interior as is. The Cordoba mosque was said to have been patterned after the Great Mosque of Damascus, also known as the Umayyad Mosque, built in its turn in teh 7th century over a Byzantine church dedicated to John the Baptist, whose presumptive tomb is still venerated there (and visited in 2000 by John Paul II).

Clearly, however, the Cordoba Mosque was far more elaborate than the Damascus mosque, and one shudders to imagine that the defeated Muslims might have demolished it without the intervention of Ferdinand III.

00Monday, November 15, 2010 12:48 PM
Irish clergy denounce Vatican ban
against priest who opposes
Church view of homosexuality


Nov. 14, 2010

A VATICAN ban on future writings by an Irish priest other than with approval from Rome has been described as “unwise” and “counterproductive” by the Association of Catholic Priests (ACP).

In an article for the Furrow magazine last March, Father Owen O’Sullivan, a Capuchin, suggested that homosexuality was “simply a facet of the human condition”.

Commenting on church teaching that “homosexuality is unnatural”, he asked whether, if non-procreative sex was wrong, this also meant “that non-use of genital sexuality, as in celibacy, is likewise unnatural”.

A distinction “between being homosexual and doing homosexual acts is phoney”, he said, and that “being and doing are not as separable in life as they might seem in the lecture hall”.

When the article appeared, the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith contacted Fr O’Sullivan’s Capuchin superiors in Rome with an instruction that he was no longer to write for publication without approval. [But this is SOP whenever any Catholic priest or theologian writes something which contradicts Church doctrine - it's a measure to keep responsible people from confusing the faithful with heterodox teaching. And the ACP should have knoiwn this. Also, that the ban applies only to the particular teaching objected to by the CDF - guardian of orthodox doctrine - not to everything that the offending priest writes, unless he breaks another doctrine!]

In a statement yesterday the ACP said it was “dispiriting and discouraging that an important and necessary exploration of the interface of theology and pastoral life, as represented by the writings of Owen O’Sullivan, OFMCap, is now regarded as unacceptable”.

It said “we should be encouraging and resourcing discussion, drawing on the experience and wisdom available to our church” and believed “any effort to stifle such discussion is not only unwise and illogical but counterproductive in present circumstances”.

It concluded that “in line with our stated aim to value the experience and wisdom of God’s people in any discussion of the profound mystery of human sexuality, we offer our support to our member, Owen O’Sullivan, OFMCap”.

What the ACP do not seem to realize is that 'free speech' does not apply to the teachings of the Church - at least not for priests and theologians who are in a position of 'teaching' the faithful. There cannot be more than one set of doctrines taught by the Church. No faith worth what faith means can.

What these dissident priests are trying to do is to think against the Church rather than 'thinking with the Church' as St. Ignatius advocated. Blessed John Henry Newman was a towering intellectual, and yet, he chose to convert to the Catholic Church and ever after 'think with the Church', not just because it was his duty, but because he had examined all its teachings and satisfied his elevated standards of reason. I don't think the ACP members and the great majority of Catholic dissidents today have ever tried to 'think with the church' at all, but have simply let their egos rule...

00Tuesday, November 16, 2010 9:19 PM

US bishops elect NYC archbishop
as new president in upset vote

Left photo: New York Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan, right, shortly after his election as the new president of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops was announced; and right photo, with Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz of Louisville, Ky., who was elected vice president.

BALTIMORE, Nov. 16 (AP) — New York Archbishop Timothy Dolan was elected Tuesday to be president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in an upset victory over an Arizona bishop with a moderate style who is the sitting vice president.

It is the first time since the 1960s that a sitting vice president was on the ballot for conference president and lost. The outcome is the latest sign that the American bishops — divided over how best to uphold Roman Catholic orthodoxy — favor a more aggressive approach.

Dolan received 54 percent of the vote to 46 percent for Bishop Gerald Kicanas of Tucson, Ariz., on the third round of balloting. Kicanas has served as vice president for the last three years. Dolan said he shook hands with Kicanas after the vote and thanked him for his service.

At a news conference, Dolan said he was surprised by the vote and noted it was "hardly a landslide." Kicanas issued a short statement saying he respected the choice of his fellow bishops and praised Dolan for his "exceptional leadership qualities."

The vote came at the annual fall meeting of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. Chicago Cardinal Francis George finishes his three-year term as president this week.

The newly elected vice president is Archbishop Joseph Kurtz of Louisville, Ky., who defeated Denver Archbishop Charles Chaput, 62 percent to 38 percent. Kurtz is a leader in the bishops' national campaign in support of traditional marriage.

"This is an indication that bishops are going to continue to be leaders in the culture wars," said the Rev. Thomas Reese, author of a book on the American bishops and senior fellow at the Woodstock Theological Center at Georgetown University.

In Arizona, Kicanas had urged Catholic voters to ban gay marriage and joined anti-abortion rallies and events. However, he took a more conciliatory approach in some of the controversies that have polarized Catholics in recent years.

He has not denied Communion to any Catholic politicians and rejected calls to punish the president of the University of Notre Dame for honoring President Barack Obama, who supports abortion rights. Kicanas instead urged bishops and Catholic university presidents to start a discussion about their differences.

Dolan also does not outright deny the sacrament to dissenting Catholic lawmakers, but he is seen as a stricter defender of church orthodoxy in a style favored by many theological conservatives.

By contrast, Kicanas was pilloried in the days leading up to the vote by right-wing Catholic bloggers, who urged readers to send protest faxes and leave messages for bishops at the hotel where they are meeting.

Robert George, a Princeton University scholar and an influential conservative Catholic voice, described Dolan as champion of Catholic ordodoxy with a record of working with people of other faiths — skills that will help build coalitions on social issues like marriage.

Some bishops likely were worried the Church has been too exposed to criticism by being outspoken in the public square, but the vote showed they are in the minority, he said.

"It means the bishops have decided to opt for a confident Catholicism," George said. "They had a choice, and they chose the boldest, most outspoken bishop. You wouldn't choose him as your leader unless you thought what he was doing in the capital of the world (New York) is what we want the church to represent."

Still, Dolan rejected any suggestion that his fellow bishops chose him to shift directions of the conference.

"I mean it when I say I don't think bishops sit around thinking about that," the archbishop said.

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops is an assembly of church leaders that helps them promote Catholic teaching. The organization coordinates collective statements by the bishops on key moral issues and public policy, such as immigration, health care and marriage.

The conference also has a lead role in enacting child protection policies that the bishops adopted at the height of the clergy sex abuse crisis. Still, each bishop retains the authority to set Church teaching in his diocese and answers only to the Pope.

Dolan, 60, was installed as archbishop of New York just last year, after leading the Archdiocese of Milwaukee. Born in St. Louis, he was ordained in 1976. In 1985, he earned a doctorate in church history from Catholic University.

After working as a parish priest and professor, Dolan spent seven years as rector of the North American College in Rome, considered the West Point for U.S. priests, where he had studied for his own ordination. He is considered a talented public speaker and is very popular among his fellow bishops and priests.

The shock and consternation in 'progressive' circles is evident in this report by David Gibson, who sheds his usual pretense at objectivity here:

Catholic bishops reject moderate leader,
elect New York's Timothy Dolan in a shocker

by David Gibson
Religion Reporter

Nov. 16, 2010

In a surprising result that upends tradition, the Catholic bishops of the United States have rejected a bishop who was favored to win election to a three-year term as leader of the American hierarchy and instead chose New York Archbishop Timothy Dolan, who will be made a cardinal on Saturday in Rome by Pope Benedict XVI. [OOOOOPS!!!! How could ex Vatican Radio reporter Gibson make such a WHOPPING ERROR OF FACT? Dolan is definitely not among the new cardinals-designate!]

The defeat of Bishop Gerald Kicanas of Tucson, who had been vice-president of the conference and therefore expected to become the next president by longstanding tradition, was chalked up at least in part to a last-minute campaign by conservative Catholic activists who resurrected charges that Kicanas ignored indications of sexual problems by a seminarian who was later ordained and became a notorious child abuser.

Conservatives also dislike Kicanas's reputation as a moderate who favors dialogue and persuasion over the more bully pulpit pronouncements of churchmen like Chicago Cardinal Francis George, the outgoing president, or Dolan, a media-friendly but outspoken figure who became head of the New York archdiocese only last year.

Dolan defeated Kicanas by a vote of 128-111 on the third ballot as the bishops met in Baltimore for their annual fall meeting, with officer elections one of their chief tasks.

At their elections three years ago, Kicanas defeated Dolan -- who then was archbishop of Milwaukee -- by a single vote in the race for vice-president, so Tuesday's result could be seen as a re-thinking by the bishops. Still, it was highly unusual.

"Not to elect Kicanas would be an ecclesial earthquake of monumental proportions," Father Thomas Reese, a Jesuit at Georgetown University and a highly respected observer of church politics, wrote on the eve of the vote. [Ah-ha! Reese isn't infallible, after al, eh???]

In a piece for The Washington Post, Reese said he fully expected Kicanas to win, and he sketched Kicanas's reputation as a Church moderate rather than a "culture warrior" that some bishops would prefer. [Why are conservative bishops called 'culture warriors' when they stand up for Catholic orthodoxy, but 'progressives are not similarly labelled when they aggressively try to ram their agendas through????]

In an interview with Politics Daily last fall, Kicanas also said his priority was to try to unite the bishops, who have often been split over political and social issues.

But Kicanas's centrist reputation likely did not help. He was one of the few bishops who gave Notre Dame the benefit of the doubt when the iconic Catholic university invited President Obama to give the commencement address in May 2009 -- an invitation that sparked an outpouring of anger from many bishops, who strongly opposed the pro-choice Obama and blasted Notre Dame for honoring him. ['Benefit of the doubt' in a case as clearcut as the Notre Dame issue is not being centrist - it meant approving Notre Dame's position!]

And on Monday, the day before the vote, an organization of gay Catholics endorsed Kicanas, saying they expected his open style would signal an eventual softening of his opposition to gay marriage. That endorsement flew around the Catholic blogosphere and was hardly the kind of support likely to boost a bishop's electoral chances.

Moreover, the renewed questions about Kicanas's role in the case of Daniel McCormack, the priest who was defrocked in 2007 when charges against him came to light, likely helped changed the dynamic at the last minute.

Kicanas was head of the main seminary in Chicago in the 1990s when McCormack was a studying to be a priest. Kicanas says McCormack at one point told him of two sexual encounters he'd had with other adults before coming to the seminary, and Kicanas sent him for counseling on his readiness for celibacy and for an apparent penchant for drinking too much.

McCormack was ordained in 1994 and sent into ministry, and in 2001 Kicanas was named bishop of the Tucson diocese. Kicanas later said that if he'd known about McCormack's tendency to abuse children -- which occurred after he was ordained -- he never would have allowed him to become a priest.

Interestingly, the churchman whose reputation was most tainted by McCormack's abuses was Kicanas's boss, Cardinal Francis George, the archbishop of Chicago.

That's because after George began receiving complaints that McCormack was abusing children, starting in about 2003, he did not remove him from ministry, as his own archdiocesan guidelines demanded, as well as those of the national "zero-tolerance" policies that the bishops adopted in 2002 after a wave of scandals rocked the Church.

George's independent review board of lay people and experts also wrote to him in October 2005, saying McCormack should be removed from ministry. But Cardinal George allowed the priest to stay in ministry until January 2006.

In that time he allegedly abused at least four more boys, and he was finally sent to jail, serving a 2½-year term.

Despite the scandal, George, who is a favorite among conservative Catholics, was elected president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops in November 2007, with no objection from Catholics on the right.

Not so Kicanas. Earlier this month, right-wing Catholic bloggers started to raise questions about Kicanas's record, and last week Tim Drake of the National Catholic Register -- a conservative publication owned by the Legion of Christ, a Catholic order plagued by revelations of terrible sexual and financial abuses by its late founder, Father Marcial Maciel Degollado -- wrote an essay calling for the bishops to reject Kicanas.

That article fueled much of the anti-Kicanas campaign, and Kicanas was forced to respond with in an interview with Drake, setting out his role in the McCormack episode and denying allegations made about his involvement.

"I would never defend endorsing McCormack's ordination if I had had any knowledge or concern that he might be a danger to anyone, and I had no such knowledge or concern," Kicanas said. "At no time while McCormack was a seminarian at Mundelein did I receive any allegation of pedophilia or child molestation against him. I never received any allegation, report or concern about McCormack during his seminary years at Mundelein that involved sexual abuse of anyone.

"Furthermore," he continued, "McCormack was evaluated, as was every seminarian, each of his four years by faculty and students who were given the opportunity to endorse or not endorse his continuing in the seminary. No student, nor faculty, nor anyone, ever negatively commented on McCormack in all the endorsements he received. With the harm that he has done to children and to families, it is tragic that he was ordained."

That apparently wasn't enough to mollify the concerns of many bishops that the charges would dog Kicanas if he were elected president, and the criticism likely emboldened Kicanas's conservative foes.

Kicanas garnered 104 votes on the first ballot, and Dolan tallied 84, with Denver Archbishop Charles Chaput in third with 20 out of a list of 10 candidates.

Because Kicanas did not have an outright majority, they went to a second ballot, and Dolan took the lead by 118 votes to 111. That was still just shy of a majority, and on the third ballot Dolan won with 128 votes.

The bishops then elected Archbishop Joseph Kurtz of Louisville as vice-president over Chaput, and Kurtz thus becomes the presumptive president in three years' time if the bishops return to tradition in 2013.

Kurtz is a leader in the bishops' campaign against gay marriage, and so with he and Dolan as the public face of the bishops conference, the hierarchy will likely continue to have a prominent role in political and cultural debates, with a distinctly rightward tilt.

"The two vice presidential finalists were the two most conservative on the ballot," Reese told The New York Times. "That says something about where this conference is going."

At a news conference after the vote, Dolan appeared relaxed and jovial as ever, and he dismissed any suggestions that the bishops were influenced by conservatives to reject Kicanas.

"Bishops usually bristle if they feel any undue pressure from outside," Dolan said. "We take our autonomy very seriously."

He added that bishops also don't like to feel locked in by tradition, and that the race with Kicanas was "not a landslide," so there was nothing "deeper or more mysterious" to it than that.

Dolan said he didn't expect to bring any new agenda to the leadership of the U.S. hierarchy, but acknowledged he might have a different, more public style than Kicanas. "Things are going well," Dolan said of the American bishops and their efforts.

He did say the bishops would continue to be involved in political issues, as they always have, but he rejected any suggestions that they would help Republicans more than Democrats, as many have seen them doing in debates over health care, for example.

"The bishops of the United States are not partisans, they're pastors," he said.

The election of Dolan immediately makes him the most prominent and potentially powerful churchman in the U.S. hierarchy. That is unusual, as bishops have in general preferred not to give so much influence to any one of their number and tend to elect bishops from smaller diocese to be their president.

The election of George was an anomaly in that sense, though perhaps the traditions are changing as the bishops feel they need a more active spokesman at the helm.

Dolan is also much more media-savvy than George, who is an intellectual who tends to deliver speeches rather than sound bites.

Not so Dolan, an inveterate joker as well as culture warrior [There you go again!] who, true to form, reacted to his election by claiming he won because he promised his fellow bishops Dunkin Donuts for their morning coffee breaks and Häagen-Dazs ice cream for afternoons.

"It is a humbling moment," Dolan added in an interview with a Catholic television network. "I've got to be honest, it was unexpected."

Kicanas released a statement saying his time as vice-president "has been a marvelous experience."

"I respect the wisdom of my brother bishops in choosing their new president and vice president," he said. "I greatly appreciated their expressions of thanks to me for my service as vice president. Archbishop Timothy Dolan has been a longtime friend since our seminary work together. I know of his great wit, jovial spirit, keen ability to relate to people in a deeply personal way and his exceptional leadership qualities. These will certainly serve the Conference well as he begins his term as president."

Dolan formally takes the reins as president on Thursday, the final day of the fall meeting, and then he heads straight to Rome where he, along with 23 other bishops, will be made a cardinal by Pope Benedict. [Tut-tut, Gibson! If he's leaving at all, it's to start his a[ostolic visitation in Ireland!]

I have posted a profile of Abp. Dolan in the NOTABLES thread.

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