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00Thursday, November 18, 2010 8:48 PM

Cardinal O'Connor's revenge:
The 'seamless garment' unravels

By George Neumayr

In the years following Roe v. Wade, the US bishops debated the place of abortion in their agenda. Cardinal John O’Connor of New York argued for giving primacy to the abortion issue, while Cardinal Joseph Bernardin of Chicago wanted abortion integrated into a long and dubious list of “threats to life.”

The latter view prevailed in the USCCB, and became known as the “Seamless Garment.” The upset election of New York Archbishop Timothy Dolan to the USCCB presidency over Bishop Gerald Kicanas of Tucson, the media-described Bernardin “protégé,” is a posthumous victory of sorts for O’Connor.

Not that the Bernardin Left is now powerless in the Church in America. It retains plenty of influence in chanceries and Catholic classrooms across the country, not to mention — as evidenced by the close vote between Dolan and Kicanas — the episcopate itself.

But the “Seamless Garment” bishops are running out of steam, stopped not only by their overtly political liberalism, which looks painfully passé in the light of the Democratic Party’s crack-up and the nation’s changing mood, but also by the moral fallout of their doctrinal liberalism.

Historians will likely note that what ultimately silenced and discredited the “Seamless Garment” bishops was not this or that silly political stance, but the sex abuse scandal.

Before it erupted, bishops like Roger Mahony could command an audience on topics like amnesty; after it, their moral authority seemed shot. People were in no mood to be lectured on “justice” from bishops who hadn’t provided any to children in their own dioceses.

The irony of Bishop Kicanas's defeat is that the fingerprints of dissenters are on the weapon that felled him: members of SNAP — who normally wouldn’t object to a politically liberal, doctrinally vague candidate like Kicanas — broadcast to the press his complicity in ordaining a priest who went on to molest minors.

Kicanas’s explanation of the ordination to Tim Drake of the National Catholic Register managed to unite liberals and conservatives against him: SNAP found his refusal to apologize offensive, while his admission that he knew of the candidate’s homosexual experiences and ordained him anyway left conservatives dismayed.

The media casts Kicanas’s defeat and Dolan’s win as a “traditionalist” victory. But that is overstating it. For one thing, Dolan — though he sees himself walking in the footsteps of John O’Connor — is far from a confrontational conservative.

According to the media’s telling, the “moderate” lost and the “conservative” won. But it is more accurate to say that the moderate won and the liberal lost.

In reality, the immediate outcome of the USCCB election has to do primarily with the slow unraveling of the “Seamless Garment” and the aftershocks of the abuse scandal. Bernardin’s dream of the USCCB as a Vatican-resistant body of progressive political opinions was simply overtaken by the nightmare of clerical corruption.

00Saturday, November 20, 2010 3:47 AM

Cardinal-elect Burke on abuse:
Every measure has been taken
but you can never do enough

ROME, NOV. 19, 2010 (Zenit.org).- One of the two U.S. archbishops to be made cardinals on Saturday says the Church can never do enough to prevent a recurrence of the sexual abuse crisis, and yet, every prudent measure has been taken.

Cardinal-designate Raymond Burke, prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura, affirmed this in an interview with Vatican Radio on the eve of the consistory that will induct him into the College of Cardinals.

The 62-year-old prelate served as the archbishop of St. Louis and the bishop of La Crosse, Wisconsin, before being named in 2008 as the prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura.

Asked about the Church's response to the abuse of children by clergy, the cardinal-designate said:

"In one sense you can say absolutely that you can never do enough to prevent such horrible things happening -- the most grievous breech of trust between a priest, a spiritual father, and a child.

"[...] On the other hand, I have to say that -- and I'm not speaking about myself, but the bishops that I know in the United States and as I know the situation in general -- I believe that every prudent measure has been taken to address this evil so that it doesn't happen again. [...] The work continues, but I believe that a tremendous amount of progress has been made."

In the two-part interview, the cardinal-designate was also asked about leading the faithful in promoting the Church's moral teachings.

He responded by speaking about the "question of a person who publicly and obstinately espouses the right of a woman to choose to abort the infant in her womb receiving Holy Communion." He said this is an issue that "strikes me as something very clear."

"In the 2,000 years of the Church’s tradition, she’s always firmly held that a person who is publicly and obstinately in grave sin should not approach to receive Holy Communion and if she or he does, should be denied Holy Communion," Cardinal-designate Burke said.

“It is discouraging that either members of the Church claim not to understand this or they claim that in some way there is an excuse for someone who is publicly and obstinately in grave sin to receive Holy Communion," he added.

Cardinal-designate Wuerl
on diminishing religious freedom

Cardinal-designate Donald Wuerl, archbishop of Washington, D.C., is the other U.S.-born on the list of 24 new cardinals.

Vatican Radio also spoke with this 69-year-old Pittsburgh-native, who spoke about "the diminishment -- the increasing diminishment of religious freedom."

"And I'm not just talking about around the world, but it's true on a global level," the cardinal-designate said. "We just saw the violence in Iraq. [...] I think that's something that we as a people, the people on this planet, need to be concerned about."

He went on to point to issues of concern for religious freedom in the United States:

"We're seeing now a new writing of how freedom of conscience and freedom of religion is being interpreted. It used to be that we always made room for conscientious objection, we always made room for religious exemption.

"And now there are those that basically say that freedom of religion means you can worship in your house of worship, but it can't overflow and have any impact on our culture. That religious values that are woven right into the fabric of our history are no longer welcome. And I think that's something we need to be very aware of and very alert to."

Cardinal-designate Wuerl also spoke about the challenges facing the New Evangelization. He cited the Holy Father's list of three main "barriers" to preaching the Gospel, which he presented when he visited the United States in 2008.

The first, the prelate said, is secularism, "which doesn't look beyond the horizon of today. It doesn't think of our relationship with the transcendent, our relationship with God. Even though many, many of our younger people today are finding that that's an essential part of life if you are going to have a truly balanced life. You need to recognize the spiritual part of your life."

He continued: "The second is materialism. The consumerist society that we so often brag about is a society focused on things and the accumulation of things. And that very, very much tends to limit your horizon.

"And the third is individualism. We are so caught up in the focus on ourselves, our rights, our needs, that we tend not to pay a lot of attention to our interdependence with the people around us, the community, the common good. And in the Church -- the whole idea that there would be a magisterium that calls you to action around absolute principles and faith commitment.

"So all of that is the context. And I think that is the great challenge of the Church today. How do you preach Jesus risen and present in this secular, material, individualistic world? How do you help someone understand that you can actually encounter the risen Christ and have a living relationship with God? That, that's our challenge. That's our task. But it's been that way for 2,000 years."

00Monday, November 29, 2010 6:08 PM

Thanks to Damian Thompson for pointing to what could be a most useful site - the ORDINARIATE PORTAL -
which describes itself as a one-stop site linking to articles, news and comment on the forthcoming Ordinariate in the UK... Today it features the farewell sermon yesterday by Bishop Andrew Burnham to his Anglican diocese. It is beautiful and touching, and gives us a glimpse of the Anglican bishop's world that he has now left behind. He must now prepare to be ordained as a Catholic priest, and being married, he cannot hope to become a bishop in the Catholic Church.

Bishop Burnham lays down
crozier and miter
at the feet of Our Lady

Bishop Andrew Burnham gave this homily at St John the Evangelist, New Hinksey, Oxford, at a Solemn Mass of St Andrew on Saturday 27th November 2010. At the end of the Mass he laid aside his crozier and mitre at the feet of Our Lady.

In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you?(John 14:2)

Thank you, all of you, for getting out the snow-chains and coming here today. It was a bit of an after-thought to put on this service: I am supposed to be on Study Leave and I knew, in my heart, that it would turn into Gardening Leave, that I should be resigning rather than returning to the work of a bishop in your midst.

But I shall always remember my wife, Cathy, telling the students at St Stephen’s House on the Leavers’ Course, that it is vital to leave properly, to say your goodbyes, and move on. It’s not quite what the Americans call ‘closure’ but it’s something like it. It is what distinguishes a decent departure from a death.

In some ways, leaving is uncomfortably like dying. As I sit in my office, I hear about what is going on. Other bishops providing cover: and we are already grateful to Bishop Lindsay Urwin for that. The Council of Priests meeting and talking about what kind of Bishop of Ebbsfleet is needed in future. Stories that suggest that people are not moving off but simply moving on, looking forward to a new bishop and life returning to normal.

Death is often cruelly disruptive, leaving all kinds of unfinished business, and a multitude of ‘if onlys’. A decent departure sorts out some of the things that need to be sorted out, makes proper arrangements. I keep returning to the Passion Narrative and the departure of Jesus. Make no mistake, I have no delusions of grandeur but, as I said in my Pastoral Letter, I have found the Farewell Discourses in St John’s Gospel immensely rich. As I said in that letter,

‘looking through the Farewell Discourses, there is not only Jesus going ahead to prepare a place but also the promise of a fresh outpouring of the Holy Spirit (John 14). Jesus is the True Vine and, cut off from him, we can do nothing but wither and be thrown into the fire and burned (John 15). His new commandment is to love one another. ‘By this shall men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one for another’. The work of the Spirit is to guide us into all the truth (John 16:13) and to glorify the Father and the Son. Thus our sorrow will be turned into joy. We learn of the gift of Peace, which, amidst the tribulation of the world is found only in Christ. Finally Jesus prays for the gift of Unity (John 17). It is that gift of Unity, I believe, which is offered to us, and through us eventually to all separated Christians, in the Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum Coetibus. It is because it is a gift of the Holy Spirit, abiding in his Church, that I believe I must accept it and invite others to come with me on the journey’.

‘I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you’. Jesus’s departure was a death, but it was a death that brought about salvation, and, part of the secret of doing that, humanly speaking, was the way he prepared his disciples and what he was then going on to do.

Jesus’s death was a departure but in no sense was it a decent departure. There was the cruelty of the Passion, the desolation of Golgotha, the anguish of the Pièta, and the chill of the sepulchre. My point is that it is that departure – that death – explained beforehand and back-announced gloriously in the Resurrection that must inform all our attempts to be disciples of Jesus.

And so, a decent departure, explained beforehand and – who knows? – back-announced in what comes later. That isn’t a Messiah complex but an attempt to follow Jesus, as a disciple.

So what am I leaving behind? 75 parishes – not to mention the couple of dozen parishes I lost in Exeter diocese two or three years ago, a loss which I still notice. The mostly wonderful – and otherwise usually loveable – priests who serve those parishes. Fr X who calls a spade an ‘effin’ shovel’. Fr Y whose private generosity to me and support has been extraordinary. Fr Z who gets in touch every few months with yet another tranche of candidates for me to confirm.

And then there are those people who must be named: Vicky Hayman and Jackie Ottaway in the office, and former staff, who have kept the whole thing going. Alan who has driven me around for nearly ten years and has heard me gently snoring through the ten o’clock news as he has driven me home. Fr Bill, my chaplain, who has left my stuff behind in a whole variety of sacristies but who has gone round the bun fights doing most of the Bishop’s pastoral work for him. The team has been fabulous.

And there are others too: His Honour Mr Judge Patrick, who used to give me free legal advice and support but who, now he’s a judge is no longer allowed to. The two or three deans who have kept in touch on the phone more or less every week for ten years. Talking of which I should mention my Council of Priests, which became a Council of Friends.

The people of the parishes, showing time and time again a commitment to the Lord and to each other which I have found humbling, instructive, and life-enhancing. Various key lay people – on the Lay Council, running Brean, turning up at Parish Evangelism Weekends – serving with devotion and skill.

I’m also leaving behind the hugely maddening Anglo-catholic movement: its frailty and fearlessness, its humour and its holiness. It is a home for some slightly disreputable characters – and the ministry of Jesus specialised in being at table with slightly disreputable characters.

Ten years touring round the West and the South West has had its moments. No time for anecdotes, but there was the time when I stopped at a service station and bought two cups of tea, which I promptly dropped all over ‘me privates’. From Burnham-on-Sea (Burnham-on-Crouch?) back to Oxford in a sodden suit. What would people have thought had I been on the way there rather than on the way back?

The Anglo-catholic movement has fought a losing battle for 150 years, trying to convince the Church of England that she would be Catholic if only she conformed herself to the Catholic Faith and fully embraced Catholic Faith and Order.

It was a losing battle when I was a little boy of ten, told off for sticking saints’ names into the Confiteor at the Early Communion. It was a losing battle when I was twenty and Fr Hooper was still going strong at Mary Mags, filled to the gunwales despite its extreme churchmanship.

It is a losing battle now, as the General Synod presumes to discuss matters of Faith and Order on which classical Anglicanism always claimed to have the same view as the universal Church, the Church of the First Millennium, East and West.

But I love the Church of England – the mainstream bit – and shall miss her. She taught me the psalms and the Revised Standard Version. She taught me about music in the service of God. She taught me about the beauty of holiness.

Oh yes, the naughty excitement of the Folies Bergère may be available in Anglo-catholic worship but the dull dignity of cathedral worship, the seemliness and the decency, is something I shall also miss. I have tried to gather some of that up in today’s service.

There is nothing more Anglican than Herbert Howells’ Collegium Regale, ‘Let all mortal flesh keep silence’ by Edward Bairstow, one-time organist of York Minster, and the psalm chant by George Thalben-Ball, long-time organist of the Temple Church.

There is little more beautiful in literature than the Cranmerian cadences of the traditional language of the Prayer Book, which, rather unusually, we are using today. I shall even miss some of those in the mainstream whom I have known and with whom I have worked.

So, if leaving well is calling to mind what one will miss, then I am learning to leave. If it is about looking forward to what is coming next, then I’m not sure: I have never been less sure of how the future will unfold.

But, finally – and I have given up trying to make this address into a proper sermon – I must say, if I am to leave properly, thank you for all you have done for me, for all you have been for me, and for all you are to me, and always will be to me.

For many, I hope it will be ‘see you soon’ rather than ‘good-bye’ but, on your journey of discipleship, look not to me but to the Lord whom we serve. He alone can teach us how to be pilgrims on the way that leads to Paradise.

In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you?

00Saturday, December 4, 2010 3:41 PM

Anglican leader says 17 bishops and
over 150 clerics outside the UK
now ready to join Ordinariates

December 03, 2010

The leader of the Traditional Anglican Communion (TAC) has disclosed that over 150 clerics in his group, including 17 bishops, hope to enter ordinariates within the Catholic Church in the coming year.

Anglican Archbishop John Hepworth, in a message to members of the TAC, expressed high hopes for the success of the ordinariates—although he revealed that the past year’s negotiations have not always proceeded smoothly.

“There have been exquisite difficulties this year,” Archbishop Hepworth conceded. “We have discovered how little detailed knowledge we have of the way the Catholic Church does things, and Catholic officials have discovered, I believe, their need to acquire a better and more profound knowledge of contemporary Anglicanism.”

However, as plans for the ordinariates advance, the TAC leader reported that 24 priests and one bishop of his group plan to seek ordination to the Catholic priesthood in the English ordinariate, which is to be formed early in 2011. In the US, Hepworth said, 51 priests and 5 bishops (three of them retired) will seek to join a new ordinariate.

Two Anglican bishops in Central America are asking for ordinariates, the TAC leader disclosed. In Canada, three TAC bishops are seeking an ordinariate, and 43 Anglican priests hope to join.

Archbishop Hepworth invited TAC members from Australia and neighboring countries to a meeting that will be held in early February, for those hoping to see an ordinariate established there. He said that 6 Anglican bishops and 28 priests have already indicated their interest.

Since nothing like this has happened before in the Church - at least not on this scale - the entire pastoral letter of Bishop Hepworth is worth reading for the insight it gives into the practical probems of setting up the Ordinariates.

Pastoral Statement from the Primate
Saint Andrew’s Day 2010

The creation of the first Ordinariate for Anglicans under the Apostolic Constitution of Pope Benedict XVI has been announced. As anticipated, for a host of symbolic and historical reasons, the first Ordinariate will be in England.

A second Ordinariate has this week been announced for Australia. This must surely rejoice the generous heart of the Holy Father.

Anglicanorum Coetibus is a response to many overtures from Anglicans (including our own Petition) in the years when the hopes of ARCIC (the Anglican – Roman Catholic International Commission) for unity faded.

It is also a response to the disintegration of the Anglican Communion over the past thirty years. And it is above all a recognition that many Anglican communities have come, in the ecumenical journey of the past hundred years, to a faith and a sacramental life that is fully Catholic.

In the beautiful phrase of the Holy Father, they were ready to enter into the full communion of the Catholic Church in a corporate manner. This is a moment to reflect on the prophetic wisdom of Pope Benedict. It is a moment to thank him for his daring trust that Anglicans would respond. It is a time to intensify our prayers for him. May the Lord protect him, and give him strength!

It is also a time to remember in our prayers the Archbishop of Canterbury, who acknowledged recently in Rome the prophetic witness of this initiative.

It is expected that announcements about the other two countries initially involved in preparations for the Anglican Ordinariates (Canada and the United States) will soon be forthcoming.

It is also important that the rest of the Anglican world is quickly reassured that the Apostolic Constitution has a global reach. In our own Communion, four further Provinces have already passed resolutions seeking the formation of an Ordinariate.

There have been exquisite difficulties this year. The implementation of the Apostolic Constitution has posed difficulties including the way in which the text of the Apostolic Constitution should be interpreted.

We have discovered how little detailed knowledge we have of the way the Catholic Church does things, and Catholic officials have discovered, I believe, their need to acquire a better and more profound knowledge of contemporary Anglicanism.

There have been times when we have felt excluded. We have not been able to see clearly how the Ordinariate will be initiated, or what the processes for clergy and laity will be. That uncertainty led to feelings of insecurity.

As and when my duty as Primate required it, I raised a number of serious issues with Catholic authorities to assist the implementation process. I am now able to say that I am much more at ease with the implementation processes.

In England, Bishop Mercer has had a very productive meeting with the Episcopal Delegate for the Ordinariate (representing both the Bishops’ Conference and the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith).

Twenty-four TAC clergy have indicated their firm intention to seek ordination and membership of the English Ordinariate. Bishop Mercer Aa hero of the darkest days of Rhodesian terrorism when he was Anglican bishop of Matabeleland) becomes the sixth Anglican bishop to seek membership of that Ordinariate.

In the United States, the creation of a community of Ordinariate-bound Anglicans from many backgrounds was greatly boosted by the gathering at the Anglican Use parish in San Antonio two weeks ago. The Episcopal Delegate through his hard working (and former Anglican) secretary is gathering information needed for a formal announcement of the timetable.

I have created a structure for TAC groups wishing to enter the Ordinariate in the United States to be gathered so that they can pray and plan and wait in harmony.

Archbishop Falk, Bishop Moyer and Bishop Campese are involved in that work. They, with other retired TAC bishops in the United States (Bishops Hudson and Stewart), will be entering the Ordinariate. Fifty-one priests of the TAC in the United States have so far indicated that they are seeking admission.

Bishop Garcia of Puerto Rico and Bishop Rodriguez of Central America, eith the unanimous consent of their Synods, have petitioned for separate Ordinariates in their respective Provinces.

The Canadian TAC Bishops (Bishops Wilkinson, Reid and Botterill) have petitioned for an Ordinariate. Forty-three of their clergy have so far announced their intention of seeking admission to the Ordinariate with their bishops.

In Australia, the Episcopal Delegate and I are calling all those clergy and laity intending to join the Australian Ordinariate together for a “San Antonio of the South” from 1st – 3rd February. (Canada will no doubt be having a similar gathering, to be valled “San Antonio in the Snow”.)

The Church of Torres Strait and the Nippon Kristos Sei Ko Kai (The TAC in Japan) are involved in the implementation of the Apostolic Constitution in Australia. My two suffragan bishops (Bishops Entwistle and Robarts), along with the former Anglican bishop of Yokohama (Bishop Kajiwarra) and the Bishop of the Torres Strait (Bishop Nona) and one retired bishop of the Anglican Church of Australia all intend to enter the Ordinariate.

In line with its historic autonomy, the Church of Torres Strait is seeking an Ordinariate for its own people, who are now spread throughout Australia.

Twenty-eight TAC priests (not yet including the Torres Strait) have so far indicated their firm intention to seek membership of the Ordinariate.

I have been assured that Episcopal Delegates for a number of further regions will be named. I have planned visits to Japan and Latin America in February, and am planning major visits to India and Africa, prior to the naming of Delegates.

I now wish to raise with each member of the Traditional Anglican Communion several very important matters.

1. The “Gathering” of the Anglicans is bringing diverse groups cogether:
As we come to this moment of creating Ordinariates, we are bringing together groups of people who share the twin vision of achieving unity and of bringing the treasure of Anglicanism into the fullness of Catholic Communion.

Some groups have been hostile to others. Some come from positions of power, others from persecution and dispossession. The intensity of the Anglican disputes and the sudden ability to “defame without blame” on the internet have driven many beyond breaking point to the fracturing of the Anglican Communion.

Similarly, the fracturing of Anglican groups of people outside the Anglican Communion (whether by conscience or expulsion) is rightly seen as a scandal.

Now, we must form a single community in Christ. It is not easy. It will not be easy for some time.

Disputes about the elements of our common life, our prayer and liturgy and instruments of governance, could easily at this time overwhelm the initial fragility of our emerging communities.

2. The “Patrimony” of the Anglicans:
The unique pathway into “the fullness of Catholic Communion” provided by the Ordinariates demands a special reverence and continuity with our past. We must avoid the temptation to discard or belittle the treasures of the Patrimony. Each of us, in our application to become a member of an Ordinariate, will be seeking to be Catholics of the Western Church, but with unique ecclesial structures that “gather” us.

Aboriginal Australians in ancient times carried the precious glowing embers of fire on their great nomadic journeys, ready to make the campfire around which they would gather. So it must be with us. Burning embers carried by many tribes to make one great fire around which we find warmth and light and community!

The Anglican Use in the United States has proudly carried the name Anglican within the Catholic Church for the past thirty years. And soon, so shall we.

3. The example of the United States Anglicans:
For that reason, the gathering of those bound for the United States Ordinariate last week in Texas was of such significance. It was a majestic moment of creating Christian community. It is an example that should be quickly followed.

4. The temptations posed by Anglican ways:
The open governance of Anglican communities, both parish and diocese, recognised and supported by the Apostolic Constitution, is a vital part of the Patrimony. It can also be an occasion of sin, if we resort to power plays. Even in parish vestry meetings, this is not unknown!

5. Our common life in this moment of transition:
There are some Anglican clergy and people who are ready and impatient for their entry into the Ordinariate. Others, the great majority of Anglicans, cannot yet see the possibility. A few have been scornful and hostile.

For the Traditional Anglican Communion, “coming into the fullness of Catholic Communion” is a matter of policy of the College of Bishops, as is the acceptance of the Catechism of the Catholic Church as the “authoritative expression of the Catholic faith”.

“Never” is not an option for any of us. It is of the utmost importance that those who are ready now should hold those who are not yet ready in the deepest bonds of prayer and Christian closeness. And vice versa.

6. The need for fairness and integrity:
We must commit ourselves in every part of our Communion to scrupulous fairness in any role we might have in the creation of the Ordinariates.

All those on the Anglo-catholic side of Anglican Synods over the past thirty years will be aware that fairness has too often been lost. We have experienced marginalization, forced expulsion, argument by ridicule, and many other techniques that were needed to win those crucial votes.

The diversity of Anglican groups now preparing to join Ordinariates is a miracle of grace. Charity and forgiveness are to be the hallmarks of the gathering of Anglican groups. Every group that approaches this with integrity has an equal right to involvement in the formation and development of Ordinariates. None of us owns an Ordinariate. We are each its servant.

7. The future of the Traditional Anglican Communion:
The Traditional Anglican Communion is committed to maintaining its corporate life, its witness to the fullness of Catholic faith, and its pastoral ministry to Anglicans hurt in the debilitating debates and in the violence of the past thirty years, for as long as such a ministry is needed on the way to Catholic and Anglican unity.

Decisions on the ways in which this ministry and corporate life should now be structured, and on the formal relationships between those within and those outside the Anglican Ordinariates, are properly made by the TAC bishops.

I am accordingly acting on the petitions of those TAC bishops who have sought a Plenary Meeting of the College of Bishops, and on my own desire to confer with my brother bishops, by calling for such a meeting from the 2nd – 6th May 2011, either in Italy or Australia, depending on some negotiations still taking place. I will confirm the country and city of the meeting before the end of January.

In the midst of the joy and the apprehension, the uncertainty and the longing, we come to the season of Advent. We join in spirit with the great throng of people waiting for the Coming of the Messiah. A people that waited in darkness have seen a great light! We wait, and with the Blessed Newman make our Advent prayer that wonderful first verse of his:
Lead, kindly Light, amid th’encircling gloom, lead Thou me on!
The night is dark, and I am far from home; lead Thou me on!
Keep Thou my feet; I do not ask to see
The distant scene; one step enough for me.

I attach two statements that I believe capture the mood and spirit of the moment.

With the assurance of my prayers for each of you,

+John Hepworth, Primate

00Sunday, December 5, 2010 12:04 AM

Vatican sets example
with solar installations

4 DEC 2010 (RV) - Two years after the inauguration of the Vatican’s solar installations, the Holy See has released a book entitled “The Energy of the Sun in the Vatican.”

Presented to the public earlier this week, the book outlines the birth, development and realization of two renewable energy projects within the Vatican City walls: the solar cooling plant above the cafeteria and the photovoltaic plant atop the Paul VI Audience Hall.

Aula Paolo VI: left, before solar panels on roof; right, with solar panels installed.

“Solar energy has unlimited possibilities,” said Cardinal Giovanni Lajolo, President of the Governatorate of Vatican City State, speaking to journalists at the press conference for the book release.

Cardinal Lajolo spoke about the importance of renewable energy in the face of climate change which, he said, is not only a problem of ecology but “impacts international justice and peace.”

The book release comes as representatives from over 190 countries are meeting in Mexico to discuss how best to slow down the current process of climate change.

“The Vatican is [setting] an example,” says Milan Nitzschke, vice president of SolarWorld – the German-based company that sponsored and built the Vatican’s solar installations.

“The electricity production coming out of the…solar panels on the rooftop of the Hall is much more than the electricity [needed] in the same building,” he told Vatican Radio. “And it feeds about 20% of the electricity of the whole Vatican.

“So it shows to everyone around the world that it is possible to produce more energy on the rooftop than is used in the house under this roof.”

Nitzschke also says they were careful to take Vatican City’s architecture into consideration when designing the plants.

“It’s the most beautiful installation we ever did,” he says. “It’s unbeatable in aesthetics.”
00Sunday, December 5, 2010 12:21 AM

Mgr Franceschini: The Turkish Church
'cannot intervene' against falsehoods
in the murder of Mgr. Padovese

IZMIR, Turkey, Dec. 2 (AsiaNews) – The Archbishop of Izmir, Ruggero Franceschini, confirms to AsiaNews that a group of “professors and lawyers” have ruled that Murat Altun, who assassinated Mgr. Luigi Padovese is insane.

This conclusion is in direct opposition to a report by several doctors who - before the murder - had found Murat Altun to be perfectly sane.

The bishop of Izmir, who after the death of Mgr. Padovese, succeeded him as vicar of Anatolia, sadly comments that "Unfortunately I cannot speak in court. The Vatican can, through the nuncio, the Italian ambassador can, because Padovese was an Italian citizen, and family members of Padovese, they may intervene. The bishops of the Latin Church may intervene, but no one is obliged to listen to them. The Latin Church is not ackowledged as a juridical subject".

Last June 3, Mgr. Padovese, 63, was stabbed to death in the garden of his home in Iskenderun, on the southern coast of the country. The killing, which took place according to a kind of Islamic ritual, was carried out by Altun, who had worked for years as the bishop’s driver.

The same Altun, before the murder, had sought to be declared insane, visiting several doctors, who instead had ruled out any instability. Altun had also confessed to "sexual" motivations for the murder, seen by many as an attempt to manipulate public opinion.

Yesterday, the Hurriyet newspaper published the news that a group of experts have issued a report stating that Altun is not sane.

A few months ago, in an interview with AsiaNews, Mgr. Franceschini claimed to have met the Turkish minister of justice to whom he said: "We want the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. We do not want other lies: that there were others involved, that it was a crime of passion. Nothing must be kept hidden”.

"[The minister] seemed quite sincere, and he promised me the truth," the Bishop says today. He adds: "I have not been questioned, no one has ever asked me anything. We don’t even have the possibility to shout or protest. We are even criticized by people who should not criticize us, people who instead should love us".

00Sunday, December 5, 2010 8:31 PM

The British publishing house Catholic Truth Society (CTS), is the subject of The Tablet's cover story this week.

Their boat came in:
The rise and rise of the CTS

by Christopher Lamb

Dec. 4, 2010

There has been a dramatic turnaround in the fortunes of the Catholic Truth Society, the company behind the UK edition of Peter Seewald’s book-length interview with Benedict XVI. It’s the latest in a line of lucrative contracts won while many publishers struggle.

It is the first week in October and Fergal Martin, the general secretary of the Catholic Truth Society, or CTS as it is known in the trade, is on a mission at the world’s largest book fair, held each year in Frankfurt for more than five centuries, almost since Gutenberg invented mechanical type in nearby Mainz.

Moving among the more than 7,000 wheelers and dealers in international publishing, drawn from more than 100 countries to Germany’s financial capital, Martin is pursuing a contract for what arguably may turn out to be one of the most important books of the decade, in the Catholic world at least.

He has heard from the Vatican publishing house, Libreria Editrice Vaticana, that the British and Irish rights of a new book based on a series of conversations between Pope Benedict and the German journalist Peter Seewald, are up for grabs.

“We had to move very fast, as it was a late starter,” said Martin, who would have been only too aware of the globally best-selling impact of the previous collaboration of the then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger and Seewald, God and the World, published in 2000.

By the time the fair closed on 10 October, and Martin returned to the rented offices of CTS in Vauxhall, south London, he had the contract for the UK edition of Light of the World, sealing a deal to cement the rising fortunes of this Catholic publishing house.

CTS'S latest publications: LOTW; Verbum Domini; the official record of Benedict XVI's state visit to teh UK; and extreme right, the children's book Friendship with Jesus, which disseminates in English Benedict XVI's endaaring Q&A with First Communion children of Rome in Oct. 2006.

While the CTS rack at the back of churches has long been a familiar sight, filled with small booklets about the lives of saints and such titles as “Why go to confession?” or “Get married or live together?”, the past three decades had not been particularly generous to the house, which experienced some financially very lean times.

But that has now changed. Although the booklets, together with papal encyclicals, have long been the most conspicuous part of CTS’s output, it has sailed impressively out of earlier doldrums.

Its success in winning the UK rights to Light of the World follows hard on being quick off the mark in publishing the official record of the Pope’s visit to Britain, which quickly sold out and is already being reprinted.

CTS also won the deal to bring out in Britain the second instalment Benedict XVI’s Jesus of Nazareth, not to mention the coup sealed earlier this year in winning the contract to publish the new English translation of the Missal. The latter will be extremely lucrative, with guaranteed sales to all parishes and religious houses in England, Wales, Scotland and Australia.

At a time when other publishers are struggling, observers put the turnaround down to incisive management, an emphasis on direct selling to the public and a determination to cater comprehensively for the Catholic ­mainstream.

CTS is one of only two British publishers with the title “Publishers to the Holy See” (the other is Burns & Oates, now part of Continuum) and is a registered charity with a bishop as chairman – currently Paul Hendricks, an auxiliary in Southwark Diocese. It sees its role as “evangelical and educational”.

For £30 a year, CTS members get free booklets and priority in delivery of new books. Membership has traditionally provided a major plank of the charity’s income but, according to the charity’s accounts, numbers of members have decreased over recent years; all the more reason for CTS to win lucrative contracts publishing missals, books and bibles.

The charity was founded in 1868, produced hardbound copies of Pope Pius X’s encyclicals and, in 1956, published 150,000 copies of the Douay Bible in one year.

According to Catholic writer Chris Ralls, who has written a history of the society, CTS under the leadership of Tom Rittner, general secretary from 1949 to 1973, secured the right in 1966 to publish the Revised Standard Version Bible. By the time Rittner retired, CTS had sold almost a million copies. With the Second Vatican Council, Catholic publishing was booming.

However, by the 1980s income began to fall, and in 1986 the society made a dramatic loss of £80,000. For many years, CTS had owned 38-40 Eccleston Square – two grand Victorian terraced houses behind Victoria Station in central London.

In the early 1990s, it sold the buildings to the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales and they became the conference’s headquarters. The transaction effectively saved the CTS from financial meltdown.

The society now keeps its costs low. It employs just 23 staff (including those who work in the CTS bookshop outside Westminster Cathedral) with none paid more than £60,000 a year.

According to Martin, general secretary since 1995, the society has made a slow but purposeful financial recovery to the point where it can now take on big publishing projects.

Although this year and last, it made an operating loss, in years previously it made a surplus of around £200,000. Gross income is on average about £1.5 million and, according to the latest accounts, the society has been able to set aside £400,000 specifically to publish the Missal, which will be printed by a specialist Italian company.

Some publishers, however, are not so sure. Kevin Mayhew, who publishes Christian books and music, said: “Frankly, we were gob­smacked when they won the Missal contract. Where’s the money and expertise to do that project?”

Success in winning such a lucrative deal riled CTS’ rivals in the publishing world and there were mutterings that the contract was secured between the society and the bishops’ conference before anyone else could get a look in. This accusation is strenuously denied by both parties.

Martin admitted that the society “didn’t expect to be in the running”, but added: “Those accusations were never made to me, hand on my heart this is not true.”

Whatever the story, a lot of the credit for the recent publishing coups must go to Martin himself. The 57-year-old was educated by Benedictines at Belmont Abbey in Herefordshire, before their school closed in 1993.

He trained as a barrister and worked in legal publishing, part of it at Cambridge University Press, before securing the job at CTS. According to his predecessor, David Murphy: “Fergal has all the right contacts, and the right touch.”

Before the Missal and the Seewald book, Martin oversaw the publishing of The CTS New Catholic Bible, which was presented to the Pope in 2008, and the latest version of the Catechism.

Observers say that under Martin the society has positioned itself very carefully. As Brendan Walsh, editorial director of Darton Longman and Todd, who worked at CTS in the early 1980s, explained: “Most publishers tend to flail around a bit, not quite knowing who they are or what precisely they are trying to do. The CTS produces middle-of-the-bat Catholic books for Catholic schools and parishes.

The teaching of Catholic doctrine has become a little blurry, and CTS pamphlets make it all seem comfortingly neat and tidy again. No wobbling. They’ve always had financial support from their members and recently they have increased their income from sales and have expanded their publishing programme, so taking on the new Missal is a natural development. They’ll make a good job of it.”

For all the concern to keep the price low for customers, the society has developed a reputation for hard bargaining and does not, like many other publishers, offer discounts to big bookshops. One publishing source who wishes to remain anonymous said: “Their relationships with bookshops are not that good, they prefer direct selling rather than giving to bookshops, and are not that generous in their terms.”

When the Missal is eventually produced, CTS will primarily sell them directly to parishes rather than through bookshops, but Martin denies that CTS is unpopular with stores.

Penny Glover, of St Denys Bookshop in Manchester, says she has never had any problems. However she did explain that CTS is strict with its terms and does not, for example, offer free postage and packaging for any order under £75.

Nevertheless, in an industry that has suffered severe turbulence, the success of the CTS is remarkable. As David Murphy says: “There have always been difficult times, but the society always seems able to bounce back; maybe it shows there is a God, and he looks after the CTS.”

[CTS recently entered into partnership with Ignatius Press in the USA.]

00Monday, December 6, 2010 4:06 PM

New York's Old St. Pat's:
Cathedral with a past,
basilica with a future:


December 6, 2010

New York City’s first Roman Catholic cathedral, a landmark Gothic Revival church built in downtown Manhattan two centuries ago, when sailing ships crowded the harbor and DeWitt Clinton was mayor, was elevated to the status of a basilica on Sunday, honoring a rich history of succor to waves of immigrants.

Under vaulting stone arches and golden Florentine light slanting over a crowded nave through stained-glass windows, St. Patrick’s Old Cathedral, an ornament of old New York at Prince and Mott Streets in NoLIta, was officially inaugurated a basilica at afternoon vespers led by Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan.

The designation — an act formally approved by Pope Benedict XVI in March to fulfill a hope expressed by Archbishop Dolan at the cathedral’s bicentennial last year — changed not a brick about the cathedral, built from 1809 to 1815 by Joseph François Mangin, the architect who designed City Hall.

Although the title carries symbolic privileges and responsibilities, including acting as the Pope’s home parish on visits to the Archdiocese of New York, the designation was foremost an acknowledgment of the church’s history of ministering to generations of Irish, Italian, Hispanic and Asian immigrants; of sheltering orphans and nurturing soldiers; and of defending parishioners from 19th-century anti-Catholic mobs.

“It recognizes our history,” said Msgr. Donald Sakano, the pastor. “But even more, it indicates that we have a role, a mission.”

He was referring to his basilica’s future in changing neighborhoods, including NoLIta, Little Italy and SoHo, where immigrants once crowded into cold-water flats and artists found refuge in spacious lofts. In recent years, the area has been transformed by the arrival of fancy boutiques, specialty shops, multi-million-dollar apartments and, from his perspective, a new generation of souls.

“Now we are surrounded by young people,” Monsignor Sakano said. “It’s a young, vibrant, trendy area.”

St. Patrick’s Old Cathedral was the first seat of the Diocese of New York, which was established in 1808. But it lost that distinction in 1879, when the new and much larger St. Patrick’s Cathedral on Fifth Avenue at 50th Street was completed and became the seat of a growing New York archdiocese.

The old cathedral was damaged by fire in 1866, but restored in 1868. It is a soaring brick-and-stone edifice, 120 feet long with a vault of 85 feet, topped by a bell tower reminiscent of an old California mission. The building was designated a New York City landmark in 1966 and is on the National Register of Historic Places.

The interior is stunning, with gracefully slender columns supporting arches that seem to soar in all directions. Chandeliers suspended on long chains light the aisles. Marble floors lead to a bright marble altar that is surrounded by carved motifs of saints, screens of gold leaf and a painting depicting the Resurrection. In the choir is a Henry Erben organ.

Beneath the church is a labyrinth of mortuary vaults. In the church graveyard were buried many of New York’s early bishops and prominent Catholics, including Pierre Toussaint, a black man born a slave in Haiti, who became a prominent abolitionist and whose canonization is under consideration in Rome. His remains were removed to the Midtown cathedral in 1990.

St. Patrick’s Old Cathedral, named for Ireland’s patron saint, is a trove of Catholic history. Elizabeth Ann Seton, America’s first native-born saint, established an orphanage on the site. The rectory was home to Archbishop John Hughes, who assembled parishioners to defend against marauding anti-Catholic Nativists, and to John McCloskey, America’s first cardinal, who received his red cap in a ceremony attended by the future president, Chester A. Arthur.

On Sunday, Archbishop Dolan, wearing a white miter, carrying a gold staff and accompanied by his archdiocesan predecessor, Cardinal Edward M. Egan, led a procession of bagpipers, clerics and fraternal orders into the church for the ceremonies.

The pews were packed, and crowds stood in the aisles. The organ boomed and hymns were sung. Archbishop Dolan blessed two symbolic artifacts, a bell and a colorful umbrella, items that traditionally accompanied a pope in Roman street processions. These were now to be entrusted to the new basilica.

In a homily, Archbishop Dolan spoke of the church’s historic past and future vitality.

“The title basilica is awarded to a church because of its historical, spiritual, cultural and artistic value,” he said. “This is still a living, breathing, loving, embracing, serving parish.”

It's a lovely church and a true oasis in downtown Manhattan, and I thank the very gracious Brooke Shields and her husband Chris Henchy, who had both their children baptized here - in simple but beautiful old-fashioned ceremonies - for introducing me to Old St. Pat's.
00Monday, December 6, 2010 10:29 PM
There's a lengthy story in today's New Jersey Star-Ledger that's quite disturbing:


I will come back to it later.
00Tuesday, December 7, 2010 1:19 PM

On December 1, the German service of Vatican Radio had an interview with Mons. Guido Pozzo, Secretary of the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei, the organism that had been responsible since John Paul II created it in 1988 for liaison with traditionalist groups, particularly thr FSSPX. Since Ecclesia Dei was integrated into the Congregation for the Doctrine in 2008, Mons. Pozzo has been its ranking officer in charge.

has now provided this full translation of the interview:

'Summorum Pontificum'
three years later:
Interview with Ecclesia Dei Secretary

Translated by Daniel Lloyd
from the German service of

Gregor Kollmorgen's Note: Wednesday I had mentioned an interview with Msgr. Guido Pozzo, the Secretary of the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei, on the occasion of three years of Summorum Pontificum, and summarised a few salient points, inviting readers to help with a full translation. One of our readers was kind enough to provide just that. Here then is the full text of the interview:

The Old Mass, the SSPX and Tradition:
A Conversation in the CDF

Translated from German by Daniel Lloyd

What is the status of the Old Mass today? More than three years have passed since the motu proprio Summorum Pontificum came into force, with which Pope Benedict XVI once again permitted the celebration of the Liturgy according to the old books. The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith watches over the implementation of the motu proprio – or, more accurately, the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei. It is also responsible for the conversations with the traditionalists of SSPX.

We discussed both themes – the old Mass and the SSPX – with the secretary of the Commission, Mgr Guido Pozzo. Last summer, Ecclesia Dei broached the subject in the dioceses of the worldwide church whether it is now possible in every single diocese to take part in a Mass in the EF of the Roman Rite. We began by asking Mgr Pozzo how the situation is now.

MONS. POZZO: Three years after the publication of the motu proprio Summorum Pontificum, the PCED has asked all the bishops, via the nunciatures, to report on their experiences in these past three years, in accordance with what the Holy Father had written in his accompanying letter. A good third of the world’s bishops have sent us such a consideration. I must add that the majority of these answers came from those dioceses in which a desire for the Mass in the Extraordinary Form exists. Thus, this return is very satisfactory.

Concretely put, in which countries is there the greatest interest in the so-called old Mass?
At the moment, the greatest interest and the most requests are found in Europe, in the United States of America, and also in Australia. Much less in Latin America, Africa and Asia.

Pope Benedict asked for “charity and pastoral care” to be shown to traditionalist believers. And so the PCED are now watchmen of a sort for those cases in which that does not happen. Where have you found resistance?
The expression “watch” translates the ancient Greek “episcopein”. The primary task of a bishop is to watch. In this sense the PCED exercises the office of oversight and watches over the application of the motu proprio.

Certainly, there is still prejudice and resistance against the Mass in the old rite, whether it be on ideological grounds, or because the demand for Mass in the old form is seen partly an expression of an antithesis – of an opposition even – to the reform of the liturgy as the Second Vatican Council wanted it.

Clearly, these prejudices – still widespread – are to be taken on and overcome. Above all, we have to restore the unity of liturgical history, the unity of the lex orandi as an expression of the unity of the lex credendi, within the unique character of the liturgical forms of the one Roman Rite.

To clarify, what barriers are erected by parish priests or bishops who do not esteem the old Mass, in order to stonewall the demand for it?
There are bishops and priests who see in the demand for the old rite above all the risk of nostalgia for the aesthetic, the purely ornamental, the formalistic. I do not rule out that this is true in some cases, but, generally speaking, that shows a kind of prejudice.

For the old rite of the Mass has a deep richness, which must not only be respected, but also rediscovered, even to the advantage of the liturgy as it is celebrated today. This prejudice and resistance must be overcome through a change in the forma mentis, the disposition. There needs to be a commensurate liturgical education.

How do you see the interest in the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite: as growing, waning, or constant?
I would say: growing, and that's because we have observed that there is a particular interest in, and recourse to, the old form of the Mass among the younger generation. And that is surprising news.

Could you give an estimate of how many believers there are in Europe, for example, who are consistently interested in the old Mass?
The commission does not have really reliable figures, because the situation presents itself as very diverse. We can say, though, that, in France, the number of believers attached to the old form of the Roman Rite is significantly higher than in Germany, Italy or Spain.

It is also clear that a judgement about the worth of the Extraordinary Form of the Rite has nothing to do with numbers. Both Forms are equal in worth and honour. The Ordinary Form is that which is normal, usual, more widely spread; the Extraordinary Form is that which is special and different.

The motu proprio says nothing about educating priests who wish to learn to celebrate the Mass according to the old books. Many regard this as a gap, insofar as the celebration of the old liturgy requires rigorous preparation. How would you advise interested priests?
The problem of priests qualified to celebrate the old rite is certainly important and urgent. I have to say that the reason why the bishops often have difficulty in fulfilling the desire for a Mass in the old form is, in fact, the lack of qualified priests who can properly celebrate this Mass.

Here, then, those faithful affected must have understanding and much patience. I am of the opinion that seminarians should be offered the opportunity to appropriately learn to celebrate in the Extraordinary Form – not as a duty, but rather as a possibility.

Where it is possible, one could call on those institutes who come under the jurisdiction of Ecclesia Dei and who follow the traditional liturgical discipline to assist in the training of priests.

In any case, what is essential is a liturgical and theological education which decisively does away with the idea that there is a preconciliar liturgy in opposition to a postconcilar one, or that there is a preconciliar ecclesiology in opposition to a postconciliar one.

Rather, there is a growth and a deepening in the history of the faith and liturgy of the Church, but always in continuity, and in essential unity, which can and may never be lost or narrowed.

Pope Benedict wishes that both forms of the Roman Rite should enrich each other, but without mixing. What can the old liturgy “learn” from the new?
Firstly, in the motu proprio’s accompanying letter to the bishops, Pope Benedict mentions on the one hand the necessity of updating the calendar of saints: that is, incorporating those saints canonised after 1962; and on the other, the inclusion of certain prefaces from the missal of Paul VI, in order to enrich the collection of prefaces in the missal of 1962.

Ecclesia Dei has initiated a programme of studies in order to fulfil the will of the Holy Father. We will soon come, I think, to a suggestion which will shortly be laid before the Holy Father for approval.

I believe that one must also recognise that the ordinary form of the Roman Rite offers more extensive readings from the Holy Scriptures than the missal of 1962. Nevertheless, a change in this direction in the missal of 1962 is not easy, because one must always have in view the relationship between the individual scriptural readings and the antiphons or responsories in the Roman Breviary for the relevant day.

We must also recall, though, that under Pope Pius XII, a range of complementary readings for the commons of saints was added. Thus, one cannot exclude an eventual expansion even in the readings for Mass.

That does not mean that, as the celebrating priest or the bishop, one can subjectively and arbitrarily change the order of the lectionary, or mix the two forms, such that the distinctiveness in each is lost.

The Old Mass in St Peter’s: can it be celebrated with no strings attached?
With the coming into force of the motu proprio Summorum Pontificum, the Extraordinary Form of the Mass is no longer under indult, as before; rather, it is governed by the norms of the motu proprio. Therefore, in St Peter's, as in all other churches, the norms of the motu proprio are in force.

That means that even in the sacristy of St Peter’s, everything is set up for a celebration according to the Old Rite?
Yes, as far as I know. In fact, each morning, many priests celebrate the Mass in the old rite, even with servers.

Will Pope Benedict celebrate a High Mass in the Extraordinary Form one day?
I think you’re asking the wrong person!
[That's the same answer that Mons. Guido Marini gives whenever he is asked that. I think, perhaps, this is the one major perplexity I have with our Pope. The problem is obviously not the lack of a 'stable group' who asks for the EF at the Vatican itself - otherwise we wouldn't have all the daily Masses being celebrated in St. Peter's by ordinary priests. I certainly hoped that the third anniversary of SP coming into force on the Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross might have provided the occasion. It need not be a major liturgy, but at least one celebrated at the main altar of St. Peter's. Obviously, the congregation needs to be prepared for it, not taken by surprise, so the first EF Mass he says as Pope will likely not be one that is televised worldwide, although why not - provided it was announced beforehand that he would be using the traditional rite? For now, I can only imagine what it would be like if Benedict XVI celebrated Midnight Mass on Christmas with the traditional rite!... Not that he needs to do it if only to underscore everything he has always said about the traditional Mass in all his writings, but to show the world today what the traditional Mass is when celebrated by the Pope in St. Peter's Basilica. Would that not be the most convincing argument to prove his point all these years about the Mass that nourished 'all the saints of the Church' before 1970????]

On the subject of the conversations of the Holy See with the Lefebvrists, that is, with the FSSPX: can you say whether there has been any progress to date?
Confidentiality is the ruling principle for the success of the conversations taking place between the specialists from the CDF and the FSSPX, and I will not depart from this principle.

But I can say that the climate of these conversations is positive, constructive, and characterised by mutual respect.

Until now, the discussions have focused on making the reasoning and arguments of each side known to the other, in order to clarify the basis or roots of the existing difficulties with the Magisterium. To get to the bottom of these roots, and the ultimate grounds for the difficulties with clarity is, in my view, progress.

Since the motu proprio, the use of the old Mass is no longer a bone of contention between the Holy See and the FSSPX. There remain, however, many magisterial differences, on the lines of religious freedom, ecumenism, of the notion of tradition. Which is the really contentious issue?
The disputed points are precisely those addressed in the question. It has nothing to do with a rejection of the authority of the Second Vatican Council per se, or the subsequent papal teaching office.

Rather, it has to do with certain statements or teachings in the conciliar documents about religious freedom, ecumenism, relationships with non-Christian religions, the concept of the liturgical reforms, the unity of the Magisterium vis-à-vis tradition

In general, the FSSPX’s difficulties have to do with the continuity or consistent development of certain of the Council’s teachings, and of the subsequent papal teaching office in view of the unchanging Magisterium of the Church and of tradition.

It does not seem to me that the FSSPX rejects in principle that it is possible or legitimate for there to be a development in, or a consistent, coherent deepening of, Catholic doctrine.

What divides the FSSPX from the position of the Holy See is the judgement made about the continuity or coherence between certain teachings of the Second Vatican Council and previous statements of the Magisterium.

I think that Pope Benedict’s most recent statements on the hermeneutic of renewal in continuity with the tradition and the unchanging Magisterium of the Church provide a basic principle for the solution of the conflict. It revolves around applying this principle both in particular cases and in its whole scope – more than has hitherto been the case.

Pope Benedict wrote that even priests in those communities which are attached to the old form of the Roman Rite cannot in principle exclude celebrating according to the new books. How does the FSSPX see that?
You would have to ask the FSSPX. I think, as I said before, that the question of the liturgical books of Paul VI’s reform has to be addressed as part of the proper understanding of liturgical reform and of its consequent correct application.

The basic question which the FSSPX has to answer is whether the Ordinary Form of the Roman Rite, which Paul VI promulgated, is in and of itself valid and legitimate. There can be no doubt and no hesitation on this point. The answer must be an indubitable ‘yes’.

Elsewhere, we have the ambiguities, shortcomings and also doctrinal errors which have spread in the period following the Council, be they in theological understanding, or be they in the application of liturgical reform. The then Cardinal Ratzinger, today Pope Benedict, spoke of a “disintegration” in the liturgy. From this viewpoint, one cannot say that many of those criticisms which were aired were wrong.

If we put to one side for a moment the question of liturgical abuses in the ordinary rite, the ordinary form of the Mass, as it is celebrated for example by Pope Benedict himself, must be accepted by all those who wish to belong to the Catholic Church. So, also by the Lefebvrists. Is this the case?
I do not think we are there yet. Even if, as has been said, the understanding of liturgical form as it is found in many renderings of the liturgical reforms, in liturgical theology, and in very many applications which prove to be abuses or to be in some way lacking, presents an objective problem.

We have to rediscover the true sense and the true meaning of liturgical reform. The Pope celebrates according to the missal of Paul VI: that is an absolutely normative benchmark.

We know, though, that there are many celebrations of the Mass which do not conform to the true teachings and the true spirit of the liturgical reforms and of the missal of Paul VI. Why has that happened? Why has there been this abusive application, these shortcomings, this false understanding? We have to answer this question.

Bernard Fellay, the Superior of the FSSPX, recently threatened Richard Williamson with expulsion from the Fraternity if he continued to allow himself to be represented in his German court proceedings by a lawyer with far-right connections. Is the SSPX on the brink of a split?
Bishop Willamson’s case is an isolated incident, and it rests with the Superior of the FSSPX to deal with him within the Fraternity, even with discipliniary measures, as circumstances dictate. The Holy See has already expressed itself with absolute clarity on the subject of Bishop Williamson’s views.

In the book Light of the World, which has just been published, the Holy Father confirmed that the Williamson case, insofar as it has to do with his erroneous pronouncements with regard to the Holocaust, is a separate matter. It must be completely separated from the question of the relationship between the FSSPX and the Holy See, which has to do with problems of doctrine and canon law.

Where do you see the Lefebvrists’ real handicap: in doctrine or in politics?
I am convinced that the questions which hinder the full reconciliation of the FSSPX with the Holy See have to do with doctrine. Potential ideological-political implications which might reflect that could result from it, but they are not an overriding or decisive element of the discussions.

Can the PCED advise the faithful to attend Mass celebrated by the priests of the FSSPX or to receive the sacraments there, or would they advise against it?
In his letter to the bishops after the lifting of the excommunications from the four bishops illegally consecrated by Archbishop Lefebvre, the Pope clarifies that the lifting of the excommunications – that is, of heavy disciplinary punishment – does not mean that the FSSPX is immediately canonically recognised; nor, as a consequence of it, do the priests of the SSPX legitimately exercise their priestly ministry.

In light of these pronouncements it is clear that the Catholic faithful are urged to avoid participating in the Mass of a priest of FSSPX, and receiving the sacraments from him, because they are canonically irregular. The same goes for every other priest who finds himself in an irregular canonical situation, or who is without a bishop.

Can you estimate how long it will take for the Lefebvrists to return to the Catholic Church?
We have no fixed date in mind. We are praying, working, and acting so that the re-integration of the FSSPX into full ecclesial communion does not take too long.

I cannot praise Mr. Lloyd enough for what is the cleanest, most idiomatic English translation I have yet seen in five and a half years of following news agency and blog translations from other languages, and I think whoever reads it will agree.... Usually, the translations are so dreadful, particularly those that translate literally, word for word, without considering whether anyone would ever express himself in English that way, that I prefer to translate the piece all over myself if I have not already done so previously. A translation has to be precise but also idiomatic and freely flowing in the language of translation, without losing the sense and tone of the original. Mr. Lloyd does that admirably.

00Tuesday, December 7, 2010 10:41 PM

At the dawn of 2011,
despite bumps in the road -
Catholic orthodoxy marches onward

by David Hartline
Monday, December 6, 2010

It seems every time a kerfuffle pops up in the Catholic Church, many engage in hand wringing, and doom-and-gloom scenarios. The latest occurred with Pope Benedict XVI’s remarks on condoms, which were wildly taken out of context in his interview-book with Peter Seewald, Light of the World.

Following these remarks, some of us have probably been peppered with questions from family and friends as to what this means, and if the Church has changed her teachings in the arena of birth control.

Those of us who have welcomed the new orthodoxy taking place within in the Church during the last ten or twenty years, probably have wished this latest kerfuffle had never taken place. However, this in no way shape of form means the orthodoxy movement has stalled.

Oddly, I received some gleeful e-mails pointing out that my book The Tide is Turning Toward Catholicism couldn’t possibly be correct. Hopefully, this article will point out that Catholic orthodoxy is alive, well and here to stay.

Church liberals who had long pilloried Pope Benedict XVI even before he was a cardinal, when he was just a university professor in Germany, seemed perplexed on how to treat the latest uproar. Some felt that he was moving in the right (or in their case left direction.)

However, even the more cynical among them knew that the Holy Father hadn’t changed a thing the same ones who leave posts at the National Catholic Reporter decrying the German pontiff’s lack of pastoral ministry.

Though I don’t know which saint said it, I am sure someone who was canonized uttered something along these lines; “God please save your Church from these overly pastoral pastors.”

The Holy Father was engaging in an abstract theological conversation much like a bunch of guys at a sports bar might conjecture what would happen if modern team X played historical team Y for a mythical championship. Yet, the mainstream media along with some in the Catholic media went into a frenzy.

The Holy Father was changing nothing in the Church’s teachings concerning birth control. The fault lies with those in the Vatican communications services who failed to screen editor Giovanni Vian's partial and out-of-context excerpt of the condom remarks for L’Osservatore Romano. The continuing communications comedy of errors in the Vatican could make one’s hair fall out.

Yet, I remember the words of a priest who once spent a considerable amount of time at the Holy See. He told me that the number of jaw-dropping examples of God’s Grace that he personally witnessed behind the Vatican walls, still amazes him to this day. On the flip side, the magnitude of sinister, almost demonic, attacks on the Church also amazes him to this day. The Evil One knows where his primary target is located and he does his best to cause mayhem.

Despite the handwringing buy some of my fellow orthodox-minded Catholics, they must remember that in her 2,000 years the Church has seen so many attacks that the latest uproar is but a blip.

Following the Protestant Reformation whole towns (in Catholic areas) saw priests and bishops abandon their posts. Bishop Francis DeSales was greeted with volleys of rotten fruit and empty churches when he entered Geneva, Switzerland. By the time of his death, half of the city had returned to the One True Faith, as many had come to see the lies and empty promises of Jean Calvin.

St Francis De Sales’s ordeal is a telling example for us some 500 years later. Like that dark period, the Church in recent times has been engulfed in a horrible scandal.

The scandal that brought on the Reformation primarily revolved around money and power, while the Church’s most recent scandal revolved around lust and deviancy.

We must take the example of St. Francis De Sales's hard long road to heart, for if we try to repair any damage with a quick fix, we will find ourselves in worse shape than when we started.

In more recent times, the mainline liberal Protestant churches became very much 'of the world' in the 1960s and 1970s. Llistening to the glowing media reports surrounding these churches, one might think they would be full to bursting, instead of empty.

But if you can’t stand for the dogmatic truths of Christ and His Church, you most certainly will fall for anything. Sadly that is exactly what has happened, as there doesn’t seem to be a left-wing cause or alternative lifestyle that the liberal churches don’t support.

The Anglican Church is literally imploding before our eyes, as not only many of the rank and file worldwide Anglican Communion faithful (called Episcopalians in the US) are coming home to Rome, but so are many Anglican priests, as well as a few bishops thanks to the personal Ordinariate offered by Pope Benedict XVI.

In Britain it is estimated that more people attend Friday prayers in the mosques than those who attend Anglican Church services on Sunday morning. Recently, the leader of the Anglican Church, The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams stated that he welcomed Sharia Law being applied in Great Britain....

The liberals within the Catholic Church would have us go two ways, both of which would be a disaster. For example Kathleen Kennedy Townsend recently wrote an op-ed piece in the Washington Post taking former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin to task for exposing the less-than=Catholic public views of her late uncle, President John F Kennedy.

Governor Palin was merely reiterating a theme that has been espoused before by many orthodox-minded Catholics, including Archbishop Charles Chaput of Denver, aBout the nation’s only Catholic President. In her new book America By Heart, Governor Palin reminds her readers that President Kennedy downplayed his Catholic faith and was certainly no help to Catholic schools.

It took a member of the Disciples of Christ Church, Lyndon Baines Johnson to allow Catholic school children to use the public school buses that their parent’s taxes were funding.

It wasn’t merely Governor Palin in Kennedy-Townsend’s crosshairs, but the beliefs of orthodox Catholics. A good liberal Catholic document wouldn’t be complete without references to the Grand Inquisitor and or the Inquisition, and Kenendy-Townsend does not disappoint her fellow liberals.

Still another recipe of disaster for faith in the modern world would be the Rick Steves Route.[hartline goes on for several pragraphs about
this Steves, who, it seems, is a TV host on public TV, a blogger and Lutheran who sees nothing wrong with going to Mass at St. Peter's and receiving Communion of he feels like it ("Don't ask, don't tell), but is also a social liberal who disagrees with Catholic teaching on morality and on the primacy of the Pope.]

In some ways Steve's makeshift theology goes to the heart of liberal rebellion and dare I say the Protestant Reformation? It smacks of “go ahead you know what’s best, you don’t need some stuffy churchmen to tell you what to do!” Disobedience masquerading as relativistic intellect has been the downfall of many in the Old and New Testament.

God gave Peter one set of keys, not 40,000 (the number pf denominational and non-denominational 'churches' dotting the Protestant landscape). Now the Lutheran Church, the oldest of the Protestant confessions, is splitting once again over same-sex marriage...

My intent here is not to replay the Protestant Reformation. I am well aware of the corruption that existed in the Catholic Church during the time of Luther. However, pride and envy have been man’s downfall since the Garden.

In one hammer swing to the church doors at Wittenberg, Martin Luther went from quite possibly being one of the greatest reformers that the Catholic Church had ever seen, to a megalomaniac who thought he knew better than the Church that Christ created, as to how to aid in man’s salvation...

Every time one of my articles reiterates the statistics concerning dioceses where vocations are booming due to fervent orthodoxy and traditional Catholic devotional practices, such as Eucharistic Adoration and Marian devotions, I receive e-mails (some nicer than others) from liberal Catholics and liberal Protestants upset at my assertion.

According to them, the young men and young women who embrace orthodoxy and traditional Catholic devotions simply haven’t come to grips with the modern world, while liberal young people who shun religious life altogether have. A rather odd assertion but I suppose if you believe in relativism, you end up being ruled by the Dictatorship of Relativism.

Oddly enough, from time to time, I also get positive heartfelt e-mails from Evangelical Protestants buoyed by the fact that within the Catholic Church, the tide is turning to orthodoxy.

To conclude, the Catholic Church has found herself in some rough patches. Many both inside and outside the Church have tried, with the best of intentions, to make mankind over into something that ends up being contrary to God’s and purposes and plans.

The Reformation begat the Enlightenment, which begat the French Revolution, which begat Karl Marx and on the downward spiral plunges, but there exists an institution that though full of corrupt and sinful human beings, continues to march onward some 2,000 years later.

This institution is the Catholic Church and though we have had many bumps in the road, we march and process onward to preach the Good News that Christ handed down to Peter and everyone of the 265 successive popes (Matthew 16:15-20.)

The doom and gloomers might want to ponder this fact as they watch the implosion of the pillars of the Dictatorship of Relativism. Yes, despite some bumps in the road, the tide continues to turn toward Catholic orthodoxy.

00Thursday, December 9, 2010 2:24 PM

This is epochal news that I should have posted promptly yesterday... I need to get more information and resources, though...

Vatican officially confirms
first Marian apparition in the USA
150 years ago in Wisconsin

CHAMPION, Wis, Dec. 8 (AP) -- The Roman Catholic Church on Wednesday designated a Wisconsin spot where an apparition of the Virgin Mary allegedly appeared three times to a Belgian-born nun in 1859 as the only one of its kind in the United States.

The Shrine of Our Lady of Good Help at Champion, just east of Green Bay near Lake Michigan, has long been a popular destination for the faithful. But it was only in the last two years that the Diocese of Green Bay undertook the official process to earn the distinction that now puts it in company with renowned holy apparition sites including Lourdes, France; Guadalupe, Mexico; and Fatima, Portugal.

[Seeing as it only took two years to earn the confirmation, one wonders why the diocese waited 148 years to do anything about it!]

Green Bay Bishop David Ricken approved the sightings as legitimate apparitions after a two-year study by a commission he appointed.

Ricken announced the distinction at a special Mass for the Feast of the Immaculate Conception at the shrine, where he read from a decree that stated the apparitions witnessed by Sister Adele Brise in 1859 "do exhibit the substance of supernatural character, and I do hereby approve these apparitions as worthy of belief (although not obligatory) by the Christian faithful."

Brise was 28 at the time of the visions, and had emigrated to Wisconsin from Belgium with her family about four years earlier. Brise would recount that a lady dressed in dazzling white appeared to her and claimed to be the "Queen of Heaven who prays for the conversion of sinners," according to information provided by the Green Bay diocese.

The apparition asked Brise to do the same, and to gather children and teach them what they should know for salvation.

After receiving the apparitions, Brise established a Catholic school and a community of Franciscan women.

Such sites of confirmed apparition earn that designation only by a Catholic bishop's decree. A spokesman for the Green Bay Diocese said there are only 11 other such sites worldwide, none in the United States until now.

Since this is truly a rare event, you may read the entire decree on
and the website for the Shrine is here

NB: The last Marian apparition confirmed by the Vatican - in May 2008 - were those that took place in 1664-1718 to Bernadette Rencurel in St. Etienne de Laus, near Lyons, France - an even much longer gap than with the Wisconsin apparitions. For more information, visit the excellent English webpage of Notre Dame de Laus here:

Fr. James Martin, who was written a book on the lives of saints, notes the many similarites between the apparitions at Lourdes and at Champlain, Wisconsin:

Striking parallels between
Lourdes and Champion

by James Martin, SJ

December 09, 2010

The Church has approved (as "worthy of belief") for the first time a Marian apparition in the United States, after a two-year investigation by the local bishop.

Bishop David L. Ricken of Green Bay has approved the apparitions of the Blessed Virgin Mary as seen by Adele Brise in Champion, Wis., in 1859. Bishop Ricken stated in a letter: “I declare with moral certainty and in accord with the norms of the Church that the events, apparitions and locutions given to Adele Brise in October of 1859 do exhibit the substance of supernatural character, and I do hereby approve these apparitions as worthy of belief (although not obligatory) by the Christian faithful.” The website for the Shrine of Our Lady of Good Help has the story of the apparitions and the life of Sister Adele.

There are several notable similarities to the more well known apparitions at Lourdes, France, to St. Bernadette Soubirous, besides simply the timing - Lourdes: 1858; Champion: 1859.
In both cases,
- the apparitions were to a woman who had struggled with physical infirmities (Bernadette suffered from asthma; Adele lost an eye in an accident);
- the woman was at the time outdoors, in the midst of carrying out taxing physical chores (Bernadette looking for firewood for her family; Adele Brise carrying wheat to a mill);
- the women were poor but pious Catholics;
- the woman was most likely seen as on the margins of society (Bernadette's indigent family was living in a converted jail cell; Adele was a part of a poor immigrant population);
- the local pastor asked for an identification from the vision (Bernadette's pastor, Abbe Peyramale asks; Brise's pastor asks as well);
- the identification given was concise (Lourdes: "I am the Immaculate Conception"; Champion: "I am the Queen of Heaven");
- Mary asks for prayers for sinners;
- the visionary later became associated with a religious order (Bernadette enters the Sisters of Nevers; Adele a group of Third Order Franciscans);
- a chapel is built on the spot of the apparitions, which alters the original appearance of the site (in Lourdes the Grotto is paved over and the course of the nearby Gave River is changed; in Champion, the trees in which the Virgin appeared are felled to make room for the chapel); and
- the chapels later receive many visitors and miracles become associated with pilgrimages to the shrine.

Here is the story from CNS:

Green Bay bishop becomes first
in the US to approve Marian apparitions

By Sam Lucero
Catholic News Service

CHAMPION, Wis., Dec. 8 (CNS) -- Bishop David L. Ricken of Green Bay has approved the Marian apparitions seen by Adele Brise in 1859, making the apparitions of Mary that occurred some 18 miles northeast of Green Bay the first in the United States to receive approval of a diocesan bishop.

Bishop Ricken made the announcement during Mass at the Shrine of Our Lady of Good Help Dec. 8, the feast of the Immaculate Conception. More than 250 invited guests filled the shrine chapel to hear Bishop Ricken read the official decree on the authenticity of the apparitions. He also issued a second decree, formally approving the shrine as a diocesan shrine.

The decree on the apparitions' authenticity comes nearly two years after Bishop Ricken opened a formal investigation. On Jan. 9, 2009, he appointed three theologians to study the history of them.

"They are all theologians with a particular concentration and expertise in the theology of the Blessed Virgin Mary," said Father John Doerfler, vicar general and chancellor of the diocese.

Although the three theologians were not named by the diocese, Father Doerfler said two of the three are internationally recognized and they have "general experience in examining apparitions."

Brise, a Belgian immigrant, was 28 when Mary appeared to her three times in October 1859. The first appearance took place while Brise was carrying a sack of wheat to a grist mill about four miles from Robinsonville, now known as Champion.

A few days later, on Oct. 9, as Brise walked to Sunday Mass in Bay Settlement, about 11 miles from her home, Mary appeared to her again. After Mass, Brise told the pastor what she had seen. He told her to "ask in God's name who it was and what it desired of her," according to a historical account found on the shrine's website.

On the way home from Bay Settlement, Mary again appeared to Brise. When Brise asked who the woman was, Mary responded, "I am the Queen of Heaven, who prays for the conversion of sinners and I wish you to do the same."

She told Brise to "gather the children in this wild country and teach them what they should know for salvation. Teach them their catechism, how to sign themselves with the sign of the cross and how to approach the sacraments."

Brise devoted the rest of her life to teaching children. She began a community of Third Order Franciscan sisters and built a school next to the shrine. Brise's father, Lambert, built a small chapel near the spot of the apparitions.

When a brick chapel was built in 1880, the trees where Mary appeared were cut down and the chapel's altar was placed over the spot. A school and convent were also built next to the chapel.

The current chapel was dedicated in 1942 under the title of Our Lady of Good Help. Today the shrine, which sits on six acres of farmland, receives thousands of visitors each year.

Brise died on July 5, 1896, and was buried in a small cemetery just east of the chapel. Father Doerfler, who serves as the shrine's rector, said official recognition of the apparitions affirms "the mystery of God's providence."

"He has had the Blessed Virgin Mary appear here. I do not know the reasons why," he told The Compass, Green Bay diocesan newspaper. "All of this ... has to do with God's plan to bring people to salvation through his son Jesus Christ."

Apparitions have taken place throughout history "as a sign of God's providence, to remind us of what God has already revealed," said Father Doerfler. "As a loving mother would remind her children about things that are important, so our Blessed Mother Mary has appeared throughout history to remind us of things that are important for our salvation and to draw us closer to her Son."

Marian apparitions date back to the fourth century and have been reported around the world, according to the University of Dayton's Marian Library, which holds one of the world's largest collections of research on Mary. The Marian Library lists 11 Marian apparitions that have received official approval by diocesan bishops worldwide since 1900.

Karen Tipps, who has been a volunteer and caretaker of the shrine with her husband Steve for 18 years, said Bishop Ricken's decree "is the fulfillment of everything we've worked for: to make the shrine a beautiful place of pilgrimage; to try and promote the message of what happened here."

While the declaration will not change the way longtime pilgrims view the shrine, it will change the way the rest of the world sees it, she said. "The shrine has had pilgrims for more than 150 years ... but in the Church view and the world view, having the bishop gone to this length to get the commission going, it's what others need for affirmation of what happened here," said Tipps.

She believes that the timing of the apparitions' approval was part of a divine plan. "It's now because this message is meant for this time in history," Tipps told The Compass. "If you look at the state of our children right now, there's no hope. There's no faith. There's nothing to live for."

She said a "crisis in catechesis" exists today, much like it did when Brise was told to teach children their catechism. "The message (given to Adele Brise) is, 'Gather the children. Teach them their catechism. Teach them their faith," she said.

"We need to do that. ... We're not giving them the substance of their faith. So I think that's why it is happening at this time in history. That's why Bishop Ricken was brought here. I think it's a divine plan that this needed to come to fulfillment now for the world to get this message."

Tipps said it will be a big adjustment having more people visiting the shrine. "It's been such a quiet place. But now it's for the world to be able to share ... what we've had here and what we've experienced for the last 150 years."

00Thursday, December 9, 2010 4:54 PM

I mentioned the OR article referred to below in my OR summary yesterday, Dec. 9, in the BENEDICT thread. Reuters proides some details.

Vatican City is
the world's greenest state

VATICAN CITY, Dec. 7 (Reuters) - With a population of only 800, Vatican City is the world's least populated sovereign state, as well as the nation with the highest Pope-to-citizen ratio. And now, the Holy See's hometown can add one more title: world's most carbon-neutral state.

Lower panel, the Aula Paolo VI roof before and after it was fitted with the solar panels, shown close up in the top panel.

The city-state's official newspaper, L'Osservatore Romano, recently trumpeted the installation of giant solar panels on top of the Paul VI Conference Hall two years ago, which have since saved the Vatican nearly 90 tons of fossil fuel equivalent.

The report goes on to state that the installation has "reached a small record in solar energy power production per capita: 200 watts at peak times... per inhabitant, compared to 80 in Germany, the world leader in this field."

For his push towards renewable energy, Pope Benedict has been dubbed the "green pope" by parts of the Italian press. The Pontiff has also made recent public statements that he would like to retrofit his iconic "Popemobile" with solar-powered technology.

00Friday, December 10, 2010 11:04 AM

Canadian Anglicans request ordinariate
By Anna Arco

9 December 2010

Anglican or Episcopal parishes in America that have requested to join an ordinariate, according to Google Maps.

An Anglo-Catholic parish in Calgary has become the first mainstream Canadian Anglican church to request to join an ordinariate in Canada.

St John the Evangelist in Alberta province in Canada’s mid-west overwhelmingly voted to take up an ordinariate when such a structure exists.

It is the first parish belonging to the Anglican Communion in Canada to make this move.

After 10 months of meetings and talks about the offer made in the Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum coetibus, the parish overwhelmingly voted to join an ordinariate once it is established in Canada.

Fr Lee Kenyon, the priest in charge of the parish, explained that the Anglo-Catholic parish of St John the Evangelist was something of an anomaly within the Anglican Church of Canada (ACC). He said that although the ACC had started ordaining women in the 1970s, Calgary diocese remained conservative and only ordained the first women in 1989.

St John’s continued to exist in “almost splendid isolation” from the tensions that were rocking the Anglican Church of Canada over the ordination of women and acceptance of same-sex blessings.

Fr Kenyon said: “Of course it became clear by last year that the ACC was going in a different direction. One of the things you hear most from parishioners is the question about who left whom. We didn’t leave the ACC, it left us.”

With the publication of Anglicanorum coetibus, Fr Kenyon says the parish had an offer to consider –the parishioners and the vestry, the ACC’s version of the Parochial Church Council, were convinced they could no longer continue in the way they were going.

A committee was formed to explore whether the parish would remain as a parish in the ACC, join the Anglican Catholic Church of Canada, a group which belongs to the Traditional Anglican Communion, or to go through with its own process to join an ordinariate.

They contacted Archbishop Thomas Collin of Toronto who is the Catholic liaison officer for the ordinariate in Canada, and began to study the Catechism of the Catholic Church and took up the Evangelium course.

Fr Kenyon said: “It was important for us to get to grips with what the Catholic Church teaches, to see if this was for us. One thread going through this process was that we didn’t leave out of anger and that those tensions may well be the occasion for our departure from the Anglican Church of Canada, but that they should never be the reason for our conversion. There needs to be personal conversion and conviction in those people who take up the ordinariate.”

In October the vestry voted to accept Anglicanorum coetibus, and then another vote was held by parishioners. Of the 60 adult members of the parish, only two people voted against the motion and a few abstained.

Archbishop Collins has asked the local diocese to appoint a priest mentor for the next step in preparing the parish to take up the ordinariate.

Fr Kenyon said he thought an ordinariate in Canada would probably be joined on a parish by parish basis, similar to what has been proposed in England and Wales. He said there was another group from the ACC looking at joining an ordinariate from Toronto with approximately 50 lay people and two clergymen.

The ACCC, not in communion with Canterbury, voted to take up the ordinariate earlier this year. There are 27 member parishes in Canada which have indicated that they wish to take up Anglicanorum coetibus.

Earlier, there was this news from Australia - to which I worked backwards after seeing an item today in the Italian service of ZENIT about statements made by Bishop Elliott to the Catholic Weekly of Sydney, It turns out it dates from Nov. 28, but is no less significant:

Gateway for Anglicans
‘in place by Easter’,
says Sydney bishop

By Damir Govorcin

November 28, 2010

SYDNEY - The first personal ordinariate for former Anglicans is expected to be established in Australia by next Easter, according to Bishop Peter Elliott, the Australian Catholic Bishops’ delegate for assisting lay Anglicans join the Church.

The first such ordinariate is to be established in England and Wales in early January.

Bishop Elliott says “we’re hoping to follow a similar timeline”, but it “may be a few months later”.

“We’re yet to work out with the Vatican what would be the best procedure, but it ought to focus around Easter and Pentecost,” said Bishop Elliott, auxiliary Bishop of Melbourne.

“We would hope by then to have specific churches designated for the ordinariate and, also the most important thing, to have some clergy who have been privately

reconciled and ordained to the priesthood ready to welcome their fellow former Anglicans.”

Catholic News Service reported the UK ordinariate will include five former Anglican bishops, who announced their resignations earlier this month, and an unspecified number of clergy and laity divided into about 30 groups.

The ordinariate will be formed by a decree and Pope Benedict XVI will appoint the ordinary at about the same time, the English and Welsh Catholic bishops said.

The structure, which will resemble a military diocese, will be the first to be created since the Pope issued his apostolic constitution Anglicanorum coetibus on November 4, 2009.

The ordinariate will allow groups of Anglicans to enter the Catholic Church while retaining much of their distinctive patrimony - including married priests - as well as their liturgical practices.

Bishop Elliott said: “I hope the structure can begin next year in Australia and that it will expand.

“I know it will be very small to start with and begin in some major cities. But once it is up and running I believe it will attract a much larger number of people.

“You can’t expect people to join something they can’t see, but next year that will be very different.

“The same situation applies in the UK and we will be following carefully what happens there even if we’re a few months behind their process.”

00Friday, December 10, 2010 3:00 PM

Revision begins of
the Legion’s constitutions

From the website of

ROME, December 8, 2010 - The general directorate of the Legionaries of Christ has communicated the creation of the central committee for the revision of the Legion's constitutions.

By disposition of the pontifical delegate, Cardinal Velasio De Paolis, who will preside over the commission, the committee will be made up of six priests, including two of his personal advisors (Fr Gianfranco Ghirlanda, SJ and Fr Agostino Montan, CSI) and four Legionary priests (Fr Roberto Aspe Hinojosa, LC, Fr Anthony Bannon, LC, Fr José García Sentandreu, LC, and Fr Gabriel Sotres, LC).

According to the Holy See’s instructions (cf. Decree of July 9, no. 9), the pontifical delegate and the central commission will initiate and guide the work of revising the fundamental normative text that will govern the life of the congregation.

This process, which will involve all Legionaries of Christ, will last for several years[????]. It will conclude with the celebration of an extraordinary general chapter that will examine the proposed modifications and present them to the Holy See for approval.

In the upcoming weeks, the central commission will present its work methodology and the first thematic texts for individual and community reflection in the congregation.

00Saturday, December 11, 2010 8:07 PM

Fr. Cervellera of AsiaNews:
China is trying to prove
it is 'master of the Church'

By Alan Holdren

Rome, Italy, Dec 10, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News).- Father Bernardo Cervellera, a longtime observer of Sino-Vatican affairs, is deeply troubled by recent moves made by China’s communist authorities.

"We are back in the 1950s,” said Fr. Cervellera, a missionary of the Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions and editor of institute’s influential AsiaNews website.

"Honestly, I would say that with these elections we are taken back to the time of Mao Zedong and the foundation of the Patriotic Association,” the state-authorized Catholic Church established by the communist ruler.

Fr. Cervellera has for many years been a sharp critic of the regime in Beijing and a cautionary voice on the Church’s relations with the regime. In a Dec. 9 interview with CNA he said recent developments do not offer much cause for optimism.

The troubles began Nov. 20 when communist authorities appointed Father Guo Jincai a bishop, in express defiance of Vatican wishes and without the Pope's approval. In a gesture that sparked further outrage from the Vatican, authorities forced at least eight bishops loyal to Rome to participate in the rogue ordination.

This week, communist officials again forced bishops loyal to Rome to take part in elections for the government-run Catholic Patriotic Association and Bishops' Conference of the Catholic Church.
Neither institution is recognized by the Vatican.

While others see recent developments reflecting a more delicate political balancing act by the two sides, Father Cervellera believes many in the Church are being overly optimistic about the intentions of the Communist government in Beijing.

Fr. Cervellera said Chinese officials are sending a clear message that the Communist Party — and not the Vatican — is in charge of the Chinese Church.

He said the recent elections to the Patriotic Association and the so-called Bishops' Conference were meant "to wound the Vatican" and set up obstacles to unity in the Church.

The elections installed a bishop ordained without papal approval to head the bishops’ conference. A bishop loyal to Rome was elected to head the Patriotic Association. Both bishops were the only candidates nominated to run for the posts.

Installing a legitimately ordained bishop to the presidency of an organization not approved by the Vatican is another show of force by communist officials. The move is intended to signal that Beijing, not Rome, is "master of the Church," he said.

Fr. Cervellera, who worked for a time as university professor in Beijing and is former head of the Vatican’s missionary news agency, Fides, serves as an unofficial counselor to the Vatican on Chinese affairs.

He believes that Vatican officials have been “perhaps too optimistic” in thinking that Pope Benedict XVI’s outreach to Chinese Catholics and government authorities would lead to new respect for the Church. In fact, he says, little has changed since the Pope’s historic 2007 open letter to Chinese Catholics.

In part, Fr. Cervellera believes, the government's provocative actions were motivated by the Chinese Patriotic Association, which feels threatened by any moves to strengthen ties with Rome. He said association members are keenly concerned to preserve power and thus their jobs and control of Church finances.

"The more the Vatican tries to have a dialogue with the government, the more the Patriotic Association thinks that it's coming to its end," he said.

He also believes the government sees control of the Church as a way to maintain power over a population dissatisfied with rising inflation and a growing disparity between rich and poor.

Then, there is the issue of Communist ideology. "I think they really cannot understand what freedom of religion means, that there is something in the conscience, in the awareness of the person which doesn't belong to the party or the state, but belongs only to God," Fr. Cevellera said.

Catholics in China, he explained, have “freedom of worship, but not freedom of religion.” True freedom of religion would mean that the Church would have the power to govern itself without interference from government officials.

The situation now, he said, is “terrible.” Chinese officials have created "a problem with our communion from the sacramental point of view."

Chinese Catholics loyal to Rome have been put in a difficult position. They fear that the bishops not approved by Rome will from now on preside over or be present at all ordinations of new bishops, which are illegitimate from the Catholic point of view. The result would be a Church led by bishops who are fact bishops in name only.

In the meantime, both the official state-sanctioned Church and that which remains "underground," unwilling to subject itself to Communist authority, continue to be united and, paradoxically "strengthened" by their persecution. There is no freedom for either, Fr. Cervellera said.

As for the future, he hopes that recent Popes’ initiatives to open the Church for China's nearly six million Catholic has not been in vain.

"My hope is that all the work done for the unity of the Church by John Paul II, Benedict XVI and the Church in China can continue,” he said.

Of course, I place my hope in the Holy Father's attitude that difficulties present opportunities during which God will help work out matters for the better with constant prayer and trust in Him.

00Tuesday, December 14, 2010 1:05 PM

Legion institutes drastic rules
eliminating public identification with Fr. Maciel
and regulating references to him

From the website of

Rome, Italy. December 11, 2010. Following authorization by the pontifical delegate, Cardinal Velasio De Paolis, Fr Alvaro Corcuera, LC, general director of the Legion of Christ and Regnum Christi, issued norms regarding the figure of Fr Marcial Maciel.

The decree, promulgated on December 6, is the result of many considerations and suggestions, and of an ongoing exchange among the major superiors of the congregation. The decree formalizes in broad strokes what has for the most part already been general practice:

- In institutional writings, the way of referring to Fr Maciel will be as “founder of the Legion of Christ and Regnum Christi” or simply “Fr Maciel.”

- It is confirmed that photographs of the founder alone or with the Holy Father cannot be placed in Legionary or Regnum Christi centers.

- Dates having to do with his person (birthday, baptismal day, name day, and priestly ordination anniversary) are not to be celebrated. The anniversary of his death, January 30, will be a day dedicated especially to prayer.

- The founder’s personal writings and talks will not be for sale in the congregation’s publishing houses, centers, and works of apostolate.

- The crypt of the Cotija cemetery with the mortal remains of the Maciel Degollado family, Fr Maciel and other Legionaries of Christ and Regnum Christi consecrated members will be given the value that pertains to any Christian burial place.

It will be treated as a place of prayer for the eternal repose of the deceased.

- The retreat centers in Cotija will continue offering the same services, but a place for prayer, reparation, and expiation will be created there.

Along with these institutional provisions, the text indicates that the superiors and directors must proceed “according to the criteria of this decree also for all matters not explicitly covered in it, taking their communities’ and teams’ personal preferences into account.”

In addition, respecting the personal freedom of the Legionaries of Christ and consecrated members of Regnum Christi, the norms leave space so that anyone who wishes to may privately keep a photograph of the founder, read his writings, or listen to his talks. In addition, the content of these writings may be used in preaching without citing the author.

Upon issuing the decree, Fr Alvaro Corcuera expressed his firm hope that this institutional position will help all Legionaries and Regnum Christi Movement members to focus on the person of Christ and continue forward united in charity.

00Friday, December 17, 2010 3:59 PM

When all the members of the Traditional Anglican Communion (at least 400,000) convert to Catholicism as they intend to do - remember it was the TC that had been 'lobbying' Rome for decades for a mechanism to enable mass conversion - they will significantly swell the population that attends traditional Mass rather than the Novus Ordo. It will be in the form that the Anglican Church celebrated Mass initially, namely, the Roman Catholic traditional Mass but said in English.

Cionverting Anglican priests in Australia
will follow traditional liturgy

by Tess Livingstone

December 17, 2010

PRIESTS in Australia's new Anglican Ordinariate will celebrate Mass facing east, away from their congregations, using 500-year old liturgies.

Archbishop John Hepworth, Primate of the Traditional Anglican Communion, said the traditional sacred liturgies -- more in the language of Shakespeare than modern vernacular -- would be held in parishes in all capital cities, the Gold and Sunshine coasts, Rockhampton and Torres Strait.

The process took a major step forward yesterday when Archbishop Hepworth and Catholic Bishop Peter Elliott announced the establishment of an Australian Ordinariate implementation committee comprising senior Catholic, Anglican and TAC clergy.

The committee will finalise details of the Ordinariate at a two-day meeting at St Stephen's College, Coomera, on the Gold Coast, in early February.

The Ordinariate will be established by Easter or Pentecost, in accordance with the invitation Anglicanorum Coetibus (on groups of Anglicans) issued by Pope Benedict.

The mass-conversions in Britain, Canada, the US and other English-speaking countries have been spurred on by conflicts within the Anglican church over women priests and bishops and controversies over traditional doctrines such as the divinity of Christ and the virgin birth.

Bishop Elliott said the initiative was "groundbreaking and historic . . . I am heartened by the spirit of goodwill and co-operation and the convergence of heart and mind."

Four TAC bishops, a retired Anglican bishop, a Japanese bishop, 24 priests and several thousand laypeople will join from the outset. Many of the Ordinariate's priests will be married, and Catholics will be free to attend their Masses.

Chaplain Father Andrew Kinmont, who runs a parish out of the St Stephen's College chapel, plans to join the Ordinariate and hopes his parishioners will as well.

A spokesperson for Anglican Primate Phillip Aspinall declined to comment.

00Friday, December 17, 2010 4:16 PM
I'm marking a place for an excellent review by church architect Matthew Alderman, formerly on the Shrine of the Holy Whapping blog, on the Padre Pio shrine in San Giovanni Rotondo, which the Fransciscan custodians of the saint's legacy inexplicably entrusted to one of Italy's most avant-garde architects, Renzo Piano who produced a strange armadillo-like contemporary church that is stylistically very much at odds with Padre Pio, one of the most traditional of modern saints!

Here is the link:

00Saturday, December 18, 2010 4:58 PM

In his weekly column yesterday, John Allen has a lengthy commentary on the Vatican-related Wikileaked documents so far, and while I find many of his comments interesting, I am taken aback by his conclusion that what has been released so far of reports about the Vatican to the State Department from US diplomats based in the Vatican "reflect a remarkable investment of time and energy by American diplomats to try to understand the Vatican, and an impressive grasp of its basic realities" which is at odds with the conclusions of just about every Vaticanista in Italy and with Allen's own opening statement that "we learned basically zilch about the Vatican we didn’t already know"..... I won't bother commenting much because the statements I find questionable don't have to do with Benedict XVI personally, so I have no reason to be 'combative'...

Wikileaks on the Vatican

Dec. 17, 2010

One week ago today, behind-the-scenes alarm was percolating among American diplomats in Rome and in the Vatican, as word spread that the first major wave of “Wikileaks” revelations about U.S./Vatican relations would run the next morning.

By midday Saturday, it became clear that this first round of leaks would be more a whimper than a bang.

At the big-picture level, we learned basically zilch about the Vatican we didn’t already know. It’s no surprise, for example, that the Holy See is concerned with protecting its sovereign immunity in sex abuse cases, and we hardly needed a leaked cable to make the point; the numerous motions filed in American courts already sufficed.

Likewise, it’s no shocker to learn that the Vatican isn’t fond of Hugo Chavez, or that it favors efforts to combat climate change, or that it sees Poland as a potential counter-weight to secularism in Europe, or that it wants Turkey to be more friendly to its Christian minority.

Even when the cables add new details, they mostly fill in a picture that was already clear.

For example, if someone had ever asked me how the Vatican might react to American overtures to help beef up its counter-terrorism operation, I would have predicted the response would be mixed. On the one hand, they realize the threat from groups such as Al Qaeda is no joke. On the other, they would be hesitant to wrap themselves too much in the American flag, in part because doing so might make them an even bigger target.

We now know that’s more or less exactly how Domenico Giani, the head of the Vatican gendarmes, reacted in 2008 to a U.S. proposal to conduct a “crisis management tabletop exercise.” Giani was apparently open to the idea, but remained “reluctant to engage in a comprehensive dialogue with the United States about Vatican capabilities and preparedness,” in part due to “the Holy See’s sensitivity about being seen to be too close to any one state.”

To be sure, the cables are still worth a read, as there are nuggets to be gleaned.

For instance, a 2004 cable reports that the Vatican pressed the United States to emphasize the scientific argument for adult stem cell research -- reflecting a realistic assessment that moral objections to the use of embryonic stem cells are likely to be less effective in moving opinion.

A 2006 cable after a trip by Benedict XVI to Spain shows unnamed Vatican officials criticizing the Vatican spokesperson at the time, Spanish layman Joaquin Navarro-Valls, for playing up a conflict with Spain’s Socialist Prime Minister.

We even find a Vatican official in 2010 urging the U.S. government to try to keep phone rates in Cuba low, on the grounds that ease of communications would accelerate the process of political reform.

On the whole, however, such insights fall into the category of “interesting but not game-changers,” as they don’t fundamentally alter perceptions of Vatican priorities or its internal culture. (Insiders already knew, for example, that some Vatican officials resented Navarro’s independence, which is why they’ve put his successor, Jesuit Fr. Federico Lombardi, on a tighter leash.)

One note of caution: The story is not over. According to a published index of the full body of 250,000 leaked cables Wikileaks has received, some 800 deal with the Vatican, with roughly 700 of them originating from the U.S. Embassy to the Holy See.

To date, sixteen of those cables have been posted on the Wikileaks web site, and a handful of others have been provided to select media organizations. Other cables are likely to appear in coming weeks, and it’s possible some could contain more explosive revelations.

While we await round two, here’s something nobody yet seems to have said out loud, but which deserves to be put on the record: Based on the cables we have seen so far, Americans ought to feel reassured that their tax dollars which fund the U.S. Embassy to the Holy See aren’t being wasted.

Both the quantity and the quality of the analysis expressed in these documents are often impressive -- in some cases, reading like newspaper essays from some of the better Vaticanisti on the beat. (Granted, that may be where embassy personnel got some of this stuff in the first place, but they still packaged it well.)

In 2001, for instance, the embassy correctly predicted that “the Vatican will not support our efforts in Iraq,” foreshadowing the Holy See’s opposition to the U.S.-led war in 2003. A 2004 cable accurately flagged then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger’s opposition to Turkish membership in the European Union as a personal opinion rather than a harbinger of a policy shift, a reading which has remained valid even after his election to the papacy.
{DUH! Even a regular newspaper reader, knowing John Paul II's opposition to all wars in general would have been able to 'predict' the Vatican would oppose the US policy in Iraq - he already opposed the first Gulf War; and Cardinal Ratzinger's opposition to Turkey's entry into the EU was well publicized at the time!]

A 2006 cable ahead of Benedict’s visit to Poland, the second foreign journey of his pontificate, is actually one of the best backgrounders on a papal trip you’ll ever read.

On the subject of Polish influence in Rome, the cable correctly anticipates that although the Polish footprint would decline in the post-John Paul II era, Poles will remain important players because they’re now “part of the culture” at the Vatican. It’s commendably sober in noting that although Benedict XVI’s choice as theologian of the papal household comes from a politically prominent family of ultra-nationalists in Poland, that’s probably not why he got the job. (In fact, Fr. Wojciech Giertych was tapped more as a Dominican than as a Pole.) It sagely dissects Vatican attitudes towards Radio Maryja, the Catholic radio station in Poland often accused of anti-Semitism and xenophobia. The Vatican would like to see Radio Maryja toned down, the cable explains, but it won’t get directly involved, because Rome sees it as “an internal Polish question” for the local bishops to resolve.

The cable even offers splashes of journalistic color, such as describing one source greeting passing nuns in Polish as he sits at a cafe near St. Peter’s Square telling his tale to American diplomats.
The cable is signed by the U.S. Ambassador at the time, Francis Rooney.

Frankly, the author of the cable spent more time analyzing Polish/Vatican relations than most of us in the press corps who actually made the trip. Reading it, my own first reaction was: “I wish I had written that!” [And why did Vaticanistas not think it worthwhile to analyze Polish-Vatican relations post-JPII? I think it is because they took it for granted that it was unlikely any Pope could make an impact on the Poles aftr John Paul II. In fac,t my lingering impression from that trip is that the reporting and commentary greatly underplayed the immense popular success that Benedict XVI achieved during the trip, even in comparison to JPII's own trips to his native land and the astronomical magnitude of the Polish Pope's stature in the eyes of his compatriots!]

Similarly, a February 2009 cable in the wake of Benedict’s decision to lift the excommunications of four traditionalist bishops, including one who’s a Holocaust denier, presents a gripping treatment of the Vatican’s PR woes. Scrubbed of State Department acronyms and diplomatic jargon, the writing would be at home in the Atlantic Monthly or the New York Review of Books, full of telling details and insider scoop. [Do tell! Rodari and Tornielli, to mention just two Vaticanistas who did research this episode for their book, have not identified any such 'telling details and inside scoops' from the cables that they did not already know.]

The cable is signed by Julieta Valls Noyes, the current Deputy Chief of Mission under U.S. Ambassador Miguel Diaz at the Embassy to the Holy See.

One especially keen insight: the cable observes that Vatican leaks were much more common during the John Paul years, while Benedict and his team do a better job of keeping the lid on. While officials during the John Paul era rued those leaks, Noyes writes, in some ways they actually helped the Vatican. They provided time for opponents to make their case, and for possible blowback to be considered before decisions were formally announced. Today, that informal feedback loop has been short-circuited, with the result being decreased sensitivity to likely public reaction. [A chain of arguments that has often appeared in th Italian media, so I don't see that it meant any 'keen insight' on the part of Valls-Noyes!]

Once again, I found myself feeling a bit of Vaticanista envy, since the cable puts that point more succinctly and elegantly than I ever have. [I have the uneasy feeling that this entire column is sort of an inexplicable and totally unnecessary brown-nosing by Allen of the US embassy personnel at the Vatican!]

One can, of course, find fault with specific judgments. For instance, senior Vatican personnel are not quite as technophobic as that February 2009 cable made it sound. I’ve received e-mails from several heads of Vatican offices over the years, I know for a fact there’s more than one Blackberry at that level, and during a recent visit to a Vatican big-wig I actually spotted an iPad on his desk. [DUH! After all, no one could have been so naive as to believe that spectacularly childish twaddle about the Vatican's communications technology phobia!]

Even though Benedict XVI has conceded the Vatican should make better use of the Internet, their PR problem is more a matter of structures and a lack of internal coordination, not so much living in the Dark Ages in any literal sense.

To take another dubious point, if the U.K.’s Ambassador to the Holy See, Francis Campbell, actually said that Benedict’s opening to traditionalist Anglicans last year could unleash anti-Catholic violence in England, it should have come with an asterisk that it probably reflected personal frustration more than a realistic assessment of likely consequences.

On the whole, however, these cables reflect a remarkable investment of time and energy by American diplomats to try to understand the Vatican, and an impressive grasp of its basic realities. (What the State Department and other U.S. policy-makers actually do with that input, of course, is another kettle of fish.)

I realize it’s embarrassing for diplomats to have their private judgments and confidential exchanges rolled out in public, and it may have a short-term chilling effect on their relations with some Vatican officials. Still, the other side of the coin is that the leaks also expose some pretty solid work.

Finally, before anybody in the Vatican gets their noses out of joint, they ought to recognize that one consistent thread in these cables is the Vatican’s importance on the global stage and the value of high-level U.S. engagement.

Given that some voices in the United States and elsewhere periodically question why secular governments take the Vatican so seriously, that ought to cement impressions of the U.S. embassy as a friend. [Not necessarily. It can also be a simple Realpolitik appreciation of the Pope still holds the highest moral authority among any public figures!]...

[Allen's column also contains a vignette on his brief meeting with the Pope after serving as a pool reporter at a recent Vatican event, which I will post in the BENEDICT thread.]

Dolan takes time out
to meet USCCB personnel

On my way back from Rome, I stopped by the Washington headquarters of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops on Monday for an interview with a couple of staffers. They were kind enough to invite me to attend their noon Mass, which, as it turns out, was the first Mass at the USCCB celebrated by the conference’s new president, Archbishop Timothy Dolan of New York.

I told Dolan afterwards that I supposed this was the bishops’ conference equivalent of watching a new cardinal take possession of his titular church in Rome.

It was a vintage Dolan performance, full of energy and humor. He stressed how proud he was to be leading the conference, and thanked everyone for their hard work and service to the church. It happened to be the feast day of Our Lady of Guadalupe, and Dolan delivered a brief fervorino about how Mary’s maternal love means we don’t need to be afraid.

“We all have our worries,” he said in his brief homily ... then added with a smile, “mine got a little bigger a couple weeks ago.” That, of course, was a reference to his upset win in the balloting for USCCB president.

While in the building, Dolan made a point of dropping by the various offices and departments of the USCCB, and by the time he was done there was basically no one who hadn’t gotten a handshake or a pat on the back. (I’ve said before that watching Dolan in action, it almost seems that his version of the sin against the Holy Spirit is to leave an un-greeted person in whatever room he enters.)

The mere fact of making the rounds, according to one USCCB staffer, won people over, since nobody remembered any previous conference president ever doing it. The experience offered a reminder that whatever one makes of Dolan on political or theological grounds, he’s undeniably a charmer.

* * *

Earlier this week I published interviews with two major players on the Vatican scene: Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, President of the Pontifical Council for Culture, and Archbishop Rino Fisichella, President of the new Pontifical Culture for Promoting New Evangelization.

00Thursday, December 23, 2010 10:41 PM

Holy See’s ambassador to Moscow
is named nuncio to Great Britain

By Anna Arco

20 December 2010

Russia’s current nuncio has been chosen to replace the Holy See’s outgoing ambassador as papal nuncio to Britain in the New Year.

Left photo, Mons. Mennini presenting his credentials to Russian President Putin after Russia and the Vatican formalized diplomatic relations last year.

Archbishop Antonio Mennini, who is Italian, and serves as papal ambassador to the Russian Federation, will take up his new post early next year. He will replace the outgoing nuncio, Archbishop Faustino Sainz Muñoz, and will oversee key appointments to episcopal posts in England and Wales.

In the next five years he is likely to propose candidates for the Archdiocese of Cardiff, which is currently empty, as well as the dioceses of Brentwood, Portsmouth, Wrexham, Hallam and Plymouth, where the bishops are coming up for retirement.

The new appointee was sent to Moscow in 2003 after having served as nuncio in Bulgaria and diplomatic attaché in Turkey and Uganda. According to reports, Archbishop Mennini has a reputation for being a “discreet diplomat” who was widely credited with improving the Vatican’s relations with the Russian Orthodox Church.

Relations between the two communions cooled considerably in 2001 after John Paul II established Catholic dioceses in Russia, a move which was seen as an act of aggression by Russian Orthodox leaders.

But a growing rapprochement led to President Dmitry Medvedev meeting the Holy Father in Rome in 2009 and promising to establish full diplomatic relations with the Holy See.

Last summer, the states assumed full diplomatic relations and Archbishop Mennini became the first Apostolic Nuncio to have his credentials recognised by Russia.

His predecessor as nuncio to Britain, Archbishop Sainz Muñoz, resigned because of ill health.

The Nunciature in Wimbledon. The private chapel used by Benedict XVI to offer his daily private Mass during his visit to London was fitted with stained glass windows by artist Brian Davis, using the image of the lighted candle adopted as a logo for the papal visit.

Archbishop Mennini ‘has a reputation as someone who is going places’
The Italian archbishop has done brilliantly as nuncio to Russia and is regarded as a key Vatican insider

The new Nuncio to the UK:
'Someone who is going places'

By Edward Pentin

20 December 2010

Pope Benedict XVI’s choice of Italian Archbishop Antonio Mennini as the new apostolic nuncio to Britain has been warmly welcomed here in Rome.

The 63-year-old archbishop, who will leave his current post as apostolic nuncio to the Russian Federation early next year, is “famous” for the good work he did there, according to one Vatican official. “He’s easy to work with and is able to do great work.”

Another described his appointment as “very significant” for both the Church and the government. “He comes to the position with tremendous ecclesiastical and political skill and this makes it a really strong appointment,” he said. “He has a reputation of someone who’s going places.”

The Holy Father’s recent visit to Britain is said to have been an important factor in choosing Archbishop Mennini who is seen as highly capable on thorny matters relating to Church and state. He’s well regarded for the way he handled the very delicate relationship with Moscow, where he is credited for improving relations “dramatically” with the Russian Orthodox.

Archbishop Mennini has been the Pope’s representative to Russia since 2002, with Uzbekistan added later. He previously served as nuncio to Bulgaria and also worked in Turkey and Uganda after entering the diplomatic corps in 1981.

Although he has no experience of Catholic-Anglican relations, most of his predecessors didn’t either, but his eight years of dealing with a Church closely linked to the state is expected to serve him in good stead.

It’s too early to say how he will deal with a nuncio’s other important role: that of recommending names to Rome for episcopal appointment. He was involved in only a few appointments in Russia – notably Archbishop Paolo Pezzi of the Mother of God Archdiocese in Moscow in 2007, and in 2003, Bishop Cyryl Klimowicz of St Joseph in Irkutsk – geographically the largest diocese in the world.

But he’ll be continuing his contacts with a recently overhauled Congregation for Bishops, now with a new prefect and secretary.

Born to a father who was a senior lay official in the Vatican, the archbishop is regarded as a “key Vatican insider”. He will be the first Italian to hold the position since 1997 and only the second since 1973. His predecessor is Spanish.

00Monday, January 3, 2011 1:52 AM


Our world continues to be marked by violence, especially against the disciples of Christ.
- Pope Benedict XVI, 26 December 2010

Vatican City. Dec. 31, 2010 (Agenzia Fides) – Once again this year, Fides publishes an annual document of all the pastoral workers who lost their lives in a violent manner over the course of the last 12 months.

(The document includes brief biographical notes of the victims and how they met their deaths.)

According to our information, during 2010, 23 pastoral care workers were killed: one Bishop, 15 priests, one male religious, one religious sister, two seminarians and three lay people.

Analysing the list for each continent, America had the most victims once again (15), followed by Asia *6), and AFRICA 92).

Fides's list includes all pastoral care workers who died violent deaths. We do not propose to use the term “martyrs” since it is up to the Church to judge their possible merits and also because of the scarcity of available information in most of cases, with regard to their life and even the circumstances of their death.

In this regard, we register, in this year coming to an end, the opening of the beatification process of the Fidei donum priest Fr Daniele Badiali, a native of the diocese of Faenza (Italy), killed in Peru in 1997, and the beatification of Polish Father Jerzy Popieluszko, martyr, killed in hatred of the faith on 20 October, 1984, near Wroclawek, Poland.

Martyrdom is “a form of total love for God”, founded “on the death of Jesus, on his supreme sacrifice of love, consumed on the Cross so that we might have life”, and the strength to face it “from the profound and intimate union with Christ, because martyrdom and the vocation to martyrdom are not the result of human effort, but the response to an initiative and a call from God. They are gifts of His grace, which enable them to offer their lives for the love of Christ and the Church, and thus the world” (Benedict XVI, General Audience, 11 August, 2010).

The scant biographical notes of these brothers and sisters killed help us to understand how they offered all their lives, almost always in the silence and humility of daily work, “for the love of Christ and the Church, and thus the world.”

Their radical and total commitment was the proclamation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, made not only with words but with the testimony of their lives, in situations of suffering, poverty, tension, violence... without discrimination of any kind, but with the sole aim of ensuring the Father's love and promoting the human person, created in the image and likeness of God.

Some were victims of that violence, fighting it or being willing to help others with the small everyday problems, giving their own safety last priority. This year too, many were killed in attempted robberies or kidnappings which ended badly, caught in their homes by bandits in search of imaginary riches. Others were killed in the name of Christ by those opposing love with hatred, hope with despair, dialogue with violent opposition, the right to perpetrate abuses.

“Our world continues to be marked by violence, especially against the disciples of Christ,” Said Pope Benedict XVI (Angelus, 26 December, 2010), recording that “the ground is bathed in blood” in various parts of the world, hitting even the Catholic communities gathered in prayer in places of worship.

The provisional list compiled this year by Fides, must therefore be added to the long list of many of whom there may never be news, who in every corner of the world suffer and even pay with their lives for their faith in Christ. They are the “cloud of unknown soldiers for the great cause of God” - in the words of Pope John Paul II - to whom we look with gratitude and veneration, for without knowing the faces, without which the Church and the world would be enormously poorer.

00Wednesday, January 5, 2011 5:34 PM

Reaffirming Catholic identity
by George Weigel

Jan. 5, 2011

Throughout his recently completed three-year term as president of United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Cardinal Francis George, OMI, gently but firmly led his brother bishops through a reflection on their duties as defenders of the integrity of the Catholic “brand.”

A deeper commitment on the bishops’ part to being the stewards of Catholic identity in their dioceses was, one may speculate, one factor in the election of Archbishop Timothy Dolan of New York — a robust defender of Catholic truth — as Cardinal George’s successor in the president’s chair at the USCCB.

Not everything that is labeled “Catholic” warrants that label, the bishops have come to understand; and if anyone is to do something about that, the bishops are going to have to be the principal agents of change.

The debate about the Catholic identity of Catholic institutions of higher education has been underway for decades, and may well take some interesting turns in the years ahead.

At the moment, however, the hottest of hot buttons on this front involve health-care institutions that call themselves “Catholic” but which have acquiesced to practices approved by an increasingly aggressive secular culture — and to the lure of government dollars. On that new front in the campaign to reaffirm Catholic identity, Bishop Thomas Olmsted of Phoenix has become an important leader.

Bishop Olmsted inherited a terrible situation in Phoenix: The previous bishop had been disgraced; the local legal authorities had stated publicly that they could not trust the Church to police its own house in matters of sexual abuse, and proposed to take over that function themselves.

Bishop Olmsted didn’t squawk, nor did he deny that serious problems existed. Rather, he quietly and decisively set about fixing what needed fixing, so that the public authorities were soon content to revert to a more normal Church/state relationship.

Then, in 2009, a “therapeutic” abortion was performed at Phoenix’s St. Joseph’s Hospital, a part of the Catholic Healthcare West system. When Bishop Olmsted wrote the president of CHW, asking what on earth was going on, CHW attempted to justify what had happened through arguments advanced by M. Therese Lysaught, who teaches theology at Marquette University.

Bishop Olmsted was not impressed, and informed CHW that it was his duty, as the local bishop, to be the authoritative interpreter of the moral law in his diocese and the authoritative interpreter of the hospital guidelines adopted by the USCCB.

And the bishop went on to state that, on Dec. 17, 2010 (the day after this is being written), he would declare that St. Joseph’s Hospital is no longer to be considered a Catholic institution — unless CHW admits that the 2009 abortion that happened there violated the U.S. bishops’ norms and unless CHW pledges that such an abomination will not happen again.

However the Phoenix/CHW situation eventually sorts out, an important marker has been laid down by a bishop known for both his integrity and his personal sanctity.

Bishop Olmsted will undoubtedly be criticized by those for whom “dialogue” is the holy grail of Catholic life. But in our current cultural situation (and given the pressures that the Obama administration and unsympathetic state governments are likely to increase on Catholic health-care facilities), the call for “dialogue” too often amounts to a prescription for slow-motion surrender, with the Catholic identity of Catholic institutions being slowly whittled away while the “dialogue” partners carry on.

The Catholic integrity of Catholic educational and health-care institutions was at stake when those institutions were segregated in the 1950s and early 1960s; brave bishops like Joseph Ritter in St. Louis, Joseph Rummel in New Orleans, and Lawrence Shehan in Baltimore took a lot of heat, but did what they had to do to bring the conduct of Catholic institutions into sync with the Church’s teaching on human dignity.

No less ought to be expected of the Church’s ordained leaders today, when the stakes are just as high, although the issues have changed. So full marks to Cardinal George for putting the issue of Catholic identity on the bishops’ plates, and full marks to Bishop Olmsted for giving that new commitment real teeth.

I am glad Weigel gives a succinct summary here of what happened in Phoenix, as it is one of those stories that get drawn-out but repetitive treatment in the American MSM without ever really making the Catholic position clear though it is fairly straightforward. The Phoenix case is truly emblematic of the continuing challenge to Catholic teaching in a secular world.

00Wednesday, January 5, 2011 6:37 PM

Newman's canonization 'miracle'?
American girl reported cured of spinal dystrophy
while watching the beatification rite

By Mark Greaves

4 January 2011

Left: Jack Sullivan reads the Gospel at Blessed Newman's beatification Mass; right photo, with Archbishop Vincent Nichols at a news conference earlier in Sept. 2010.

A young girl was healed of intense chronic pain while watching the beatification of John Henry Newman on television, it has been claimed.

Deacon Jack Sullivan, whose severe spinal condition was miraculously cured after he prayed to Cardinal Newman, said the girl’s mother called him after the Mass to say her daughter’s pain had suddenly disappeared.

He said she was one of several people who had been cured of serious illness after attending healing services that he has conducted around America.

Mr Sullivan’s own healing, approved by the Vatican last year, led to the Victorian cardinal being beatified in September. A second miracle is all that is needed for the Church to recognise him as a saint.

He said the girl who was healed during Newman’s beatification had suffered from reflex sympathetic dystrophy syndrome, a disease characterised by continuous and intense pain that worsens over time and for which there is no cure.

Mr Sullivan told the Tablet: “Her mother asked me to pray for her daughter, who has been in hospital for two years. I prayed for her during the Mass and the mother called me back all excited saying that during the Mass all of the pain stopped… Lately I’ve been told that this young lady will be walking before Christmas.”

Mr Sullivan said two other people had been cured after he had touched them with a portion of Newman’s hair in healing services in Boston and Salem, New Hampshire.

One teenage boy was healed from a severe brain injury he had sustained in a car crash. Mr Sullivan said: “He could no longer speak or walk. When I touched him with the relic he seemed to come back to life.”

Another man from Detroit was in the advanced stages of liver cancer but after the healing service he said a CAT scan showed “all the cancer had gone”.

Mr Sullivan also said that Newman was “still with me, very dramatically so”. He said: “If it weren’t for him I probably would have been paralysed, unable to continue with the diaconate or my job… I start my day by saying, ‘Good morning, Cardinal Newman, my intercessor and my very faithful friend’.”
00Friday, January 7, 2011 4:53 PM

A quiet Coptic Christmas, but
fundamentalism and anti-Christian
discrimination must still be tackled

Cairo, January 7 (AsiaNews) – Coptic Christmas is off without incidents thanks to massive police deployment around Egypt’s Coptic churches.

At least 70,000 police and paramilitary forces, backed by armoured cars and special SWAT teams, are keeping Christian places of worship under a close watch. Roadblocks prevent vehicles from approaching churches and anyone entering a place of worship must show his or her identity papers.

Copts have defied the New Year Eve’s attack against one of their churches in Alexandria by going to church in great numbers. Even Alexandria’s al-Qiddissin (The Saints) Church, where 23 people were killed and 80 wounded, hundreds of worshippers gathered to pray.

In Saint Mark's Coptic Orthodox Cathedral in Cairo’s Abbassiya district, Patriarch Shenouda III presided over Mass last night. During the ceremony, he remembered “the martyrdom of a great many innocents” in Alexandria.

Various government officials and President Mubarak’s two sons attended the service.

In Alexandria, a group of Muslims gathered near the church that was attacked to express their solidarity with their Coptic compatriots, victims of terrorism. They shouted, “Long live the cross and the crescent!”

In the meantime, police released a facial composite of the alleged suicide bomber who set off a 10-15 kg explosive belt, which included nails and shards. The likeness is based on remains collected at the scene of the attack.

According to rumours, DNA evidence would suggest that the bomber was from Afghanistan or Pakistan, which would back the government’s claim that “foreign hands” were involved in the incident.

Appeals indicating more attacks against Coptic churches in Egypt and abroad appeared on some Islamist sites. Christmas and other days on the calendar were indicated as potential dates for attacks because of the presence of large numbers of worshippers.

The attack against Alexandria’s Coptic community highlights the fate of Egyptian Christians who have to cope with daily discrimination and the rapid rise of Islamic fundamentalism in a country that once claimed to be secular and tolerant.

Here is an analysis of the situation by Egyptian expert André Azzam.

Alexandria massacre should mark
a turning point in the climate
of fanaticism prevalent in Egypt

by André Azzam

A few days after the terrible bomb attack on New Year’s Eve, against St Paul and St George Church (the Saints Church) in Alexandria, the whole country is still moved and deeply distressed.

All over the country, everybody has been condemning this terrible attack, starting from the head of state, the ministers, the press, religious leaders from both sides and the common people, as well as foreign Embassies and expatriates working in Egypt.

Many demonstrations have been organized every day in many places. In several universities, students demonstrated against terrorism. The same took place in many sporting clubs. Discussing the matter is commonplace in all streets and public gatherings.

There is a general feeling, and hope, that this terrible incident should be the last straw that broke the camel’s back. It is not a mere incident, one more, in a long chain of attempts and discrimination against the Copts, Christian Egyptians, whose name actually means Egyptian.

Many people on radio and TV expressed sympathy to Copts, since for ordinary Egyptians the attack is seen as an attempt to destroy Egypt from the inside.

For the first time, we can hear radio speakers inviting all the Muslims to go to churches on Eastern Christmas on the eve of 7 January, to share the event with their Christian brothers and sisters and express to them their condolences for the death of more than 20 of them in this despicable attack.

Pope Shenouda III decided to celebrate Midnight Mass on Christmas in spite of the great bereavement, so as not to play the game of the fundamentalists and give up in front of the threats and danger. As stated by Pastor Bayadi, head of the Protestant churches in Egypt, “We must not give up praying on Sundays and on Christmas”.

The official spokesman of the Catholic Church in Egypt said, “We fear no one, and nothing will prevent us from going to our churches in this country of the martyrs ». (The Coptic Calendar is called the ‘Calendar of the Martyrs’ and is based on Roman Emperor Diocletian persecutions against Christians on 303 AD. The Calendar starts in 284 AD, the year when Diocletian’s reign began).

All Catholic churches that celebrated Christmas on 25 December and celebrated Epiphany on 6 January have decided to remain open on Thursday night to share the sorrow and sadness of the Coptic Orthodox Church and people on this Nativity.

Still a lot of criticism has been expressed by many people. Gamal Eid, head of the Arabic Network for Human Rights Information, considers that « the blood of tens of Christian merits the dismissal of the Home Minister ».

Mohammad al Baradei, former director of International Atomic Energy Agency wrote on his blog, “A regime incapable of protecting its own citizens is a regime whose time is over.”

Mrs Georgette Qallini, a former Member of Parliament and a current member of the Coptic Church Council, stated that the official statements about the incident should have waited for an in-depth inquiry into all sides of the attack instead of immediately concluding that it was a bomb attack by a single person who died in the incident.

A leftwing party said that the crime has to be understood in terms of a crisis situation that concerns citizenship and human rights. It insisted that a law on religious buildings treat mosques and churches equally.

At present, in order to build a new church, one has to get the written approbation of the head of state. Similarly, in order to repair or restore a church building or part of it, one needs the official permission of the local governor or a high rank official in charge of security.

For well-known thinker Tareq Higgy, “This attack marks a turning point in the process of fanaticism, which gave birth to violence and terrorism”.

According to this philosopher, “there will be no human, efficient and final solution unless the people in charge of the country recognise the true reasons of the illness, which resides in a culture of fanaticism, hatred and rejection of the other, along with a rotten education system and religious institutions that put the seed of fire and conflagration by issuing fatwas like banning New Year’s Eve celebrations . . . .”

Recently, a fatwa was issued for the assassination of Mohammad al Baradei. The Sheikh of al-Azhar, the highest Muslim authority for Sunni Muslims, denounced this fatwa. But many people consider that al-Azhar is weak in controlling outbursts, which are daily occurrence.

Fundamentalism has reached a peak and an ugly atmosphere of fanaticism prevaile in the country. Incidents happen every now and then; for instance, in the subway, when veiled women directly attack unveiled women, considered immediately as Christian, and treated as impious. Unveiled Muslim women are highly criticised by others. These are examples of incidents that happen currently in the streets.

Recently, a Muslim woman vehemently quarrelled with some youngsters who were throwing stones at crosses from outside the walls of a Christian cemetery surrounded by billboards praising the ‘union of religions’. The graveyard is located in Old Cairo, a suburb that is rich in Christian, Jewish and Muslim sites and monuments. They all went to a police station, where the woman called on the youngster’s families to educate their children to respect everybody.

To conclude, let us quote the communiqué released by Fr Rafic Greiche, head of the Press Office of the Catholic Church in Egypt and spokesman of the seven Catholic denominations that are present in the country.

After denouncing the awful start of the New Year, and recalling the death of many Christians in a Nag Hammadi, Upper Egypt, on 7 January 2010, it listed nine demands and one suggestion.

1. The immediate arrest of the criminals and their judgment in court.

2. Dealing severely with all agitators and agents provocateurs that directly or indirectly encourage fanatic actions through the newspapers, the media or preaching.

3. The immediate adoption of a law for all religious buildings.

4. The immediate adoption of a personal status law for Christians.

5. The adoption of a law that forbids religious discrimination and severely punishes anyone who breaks this law.

6. Reassertion of the civic foundations of the state, based on equal citizenship.

7. Complete restructuring of the educational programme and curricula to purge them of what is related to discrimination.

8. In-depth action against negative attitudes from religious leaders to prevent them from encouraging sectarianism.

9. Encouragement by the state of democratic life and protection of freedom of expression and belief.

Finally, the spokesman for the Catholic Church suggested setting up a committee headed by the head of state that includes sociologists and legal experts in order to study the phenomenon of terrorism, which is threatening not only Christians but Muslim as well, and represents a real danger for the nation.

All people of good will in Egypt, on all sides, hope that this horrible slaughter will open the door to a drastic solution and a strong command of the situation to start on the path to control definitively the terrible social problem of fanaticism and fundamentalism.

And this news, almost off the media radar, though it is from the AP no less. Consequently, there is no follow-up report so far:

Iran has arrested 60 Christian
leaders since Christmas

CAIRO, Jan. 5 (AP) - Iranian state television said Wednesday that leaders of the country's Christian minority have been arrested and accused of spreading a hard-line version of their faith.

The report did not give the number of people arrested. The group was promoting hard-line Christian views at cultural gatherings with the support of Britain, the TV reported, quoting Tehran Governor Morteza Tamadon. It did not elaborate.

Tamadon was quoted as calling the group "a corrupt and deviant current."

A website of Iran's political opposition reported that 60 Christians have been arrested since Christmas, including a priest taken into custody on Friday.

The Sahamnews.org website said the priest, Leonard Keshishian, was summoned by security authorities in the central city of Isfahan and arrested.

It gave no further details or a reason for the arrests.

00Friday, January 7, 2011 5:20 PM

Russian Orthodox Christmas:
Patriarch Kirill makes no reference
to Christian persecutions
but calls for 'patriotic values"

by Nina Achmatova

All photos from the site of the Moscow Patriarchate

The Orthodox Catehdral of Our Saviour in Moscow at Christmas night.

Moscow, Jan. 7 (AsiaNews) - More than 150 million faithful, in about 30 thousand churches and 800 Russian Orthodox monasteries in 60 countries around the world celebrate Christmas today.

Last night in Moscow, Patriarch Kirill celebrated the traditional liturgy of the Vigil in the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour in the presence of thousands of faithful and the President of the Russian Federation Dmitri Medvedev.

Above, President Medvedev and his family at the Midnight Mass.

In all, about more than 11 thousand faithful attended the liturgy in the capital. Prime Minister Vladimir Putin attended Christmas Mass in a church in the province.

The Russian Orthodox Christmas is celebrated according to the Julian calendar. This is 13 days "behind" the Gregorian calendar, adopted by Catholics, Protestants, some Orthodox – such as the Ecumenical Patriarchate - and the secular world. In Russia, January 7 marks the end of abstinence from meat, sweets and alcohol, which began Nov. 28, and is a national holiday.

It is also a day of high alert after recent warnings of terrorist attacks against Christians throughout the world, especially the Copts in Egypt. 7 thousand security agents were mobilized in the capital alone. All places of Orthodox worship in the city, 286 churches and monasteries are patrolled by canine units, as well as the main underground stations.

There was widespread anticipation for Patriarch Kirill’s homily in the light of New Year's bloody attack against the Coptic church in Alexandria.

In his traditional greeting for the Orthodox Christmas, Kirill did not make any reference to the attack which killed 23 people Dec. 31.

On 3 January, however, in a letter to the Coptic Pope Shenouda III, the Patriarch expressed his spiritual support to the community in the hope that "the terrorists are found and appropriately punished."

But in his homily last night there was no reference for the Coptic brothers. The Patriarch instead focused attention on the need to pray for values such as the "homeland", "national unity" and "the Christian soul." He stressed that people "now more than ever need the help of God, His love and His mercy."

"We believe and know that in answer to our prayers, our sincere faith, God enters into man’s life, holds him by the hand, strengthens the mind, body and soul."

The values to which the Patriarch referred are dear to the Kremlin. Christmas, especially in the last decade of Putin, an occasion for political and Church leaders to come together. The feast gives the opportunity to reaffirm an ever-closer collaboration that unites them in the name of a strong and united Russia.

Medvedev was present with his wife Svetlana in the cathedral in Moscow, where he exchanged greetings and gifts with Kirill. A few hours earlier he had sent greetings to all Russian citizens via Twitter.

"Christmas brings us to the timeless values of love and goodness - the president said - these were used for centuries to strengthen the moral values and unity of the Russian people... These values even today are the foundations upon which our society can build a peaceful and constructive development of Russia."

Prime Minister Putin, meanwhile attended the Christmas liturgy in the Church of the Veil of the Mother of God, patron of Turginovo, a village north of Moscow in the Tver region, where his parents originally came from.

00Saturday, January 8, 2011 7:03 PM

I thank AsiaNews which has the original online report catalogued in the Google search for this event, but when I checked the site of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople for possibly more information and pictures of the event, the news report and photos on that site clearly mention the date of the visit as January 3, and not January 6, as AsiaNews reports. I will first post the brief bulletin in the Ecumenical Patriarchate site, with pictures:

Deputy Prime Minister of Turkey
visits the Phanar

On Monday, January 3, 2011, His All Holiness Bartholomew I met at the Ecumenical Patriarchate with the Hon. Bülent Arınç, State Minister and Deputy Prime Minister of Turkey. Mr. Arınç is also the former House Speaker of the Turkish Parliament (2002-2007).

The Deputy Prime Minister held private conversations with the Ecumenical Patriarch, attended a reception with leading representatives of the Greek community and its institutions in Turkey, and addressed the media with the Patriarch.

Among those present were their Eminences Metropolitans Meliton of Philadelphia and Apostolos of Moschonisia, as well as the Very Reverend Chancellor and Chief Secretary of the Holy Synod.

The formal representative of the minority communities in Turkey, Mr. P. Vingas, also addressed the Deputy Prime Minister.

This is the highest dignitary at the Ministerial level of the Turkish Government to visit the Ecumenical Patriarchate in the last sixty years.

Historic visit of Turkish Deputy PM
to Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I

by Nat da Polis

ISTANBUL, Jan. 7 (AsiaNews) - A visit of great importance yesterday marked the conclusion of the holiday season for the Orthodox Ecumenical Patriarchate in Istanbul.

Bartholomew I received the deputy prime minister of the Turkish government Bulent Arinc, in charge of minority affairs for the AKP government and representative for the party’s religious wing. After blessing the waters of the Golden Horn and launching a cross into the Sea of Marmara, Bartholomew I held talks with the Turkish government official.

The visit is the first for 58 years, when the prime minister of the time, Adnan Menderes, paid a visit to the then Patriarch Athenagoras. Unfortunately this visit was followed by the bloody anti-Christian pogrom of 1955, for which Menderes was partly responsible.

Arinc's visit assumes special significance because it occurs one month after the legal recognition of the Ecumenical Patriarchate by Turkish authorities with the restitution of the deeds of property of the Buyukada orphanage. In August 2009 Patriarch Bartholomew visited Prime Minister Erdogan, and Minister Arinc.

During the meeting - which also included the representative for minorities of the Directorate General of Foundations, Lakis Vingas - various issues were taken into consideration.

Chief among these was education for minorities and the properties of religious foundations, in the light of the new law on religious foundations, against which the opposition party CHP had appealed to the Constitutional Court. The appeal was dismissed.

At the end of meeting Arinc stated: "I have come not only to exchange greetings, but also to respond to the Patriarch’s personal invitation and I hope that my visit here will mark the beginning of a new era."

He addedL "As a government we are obliged to meet the needs of these citizens who have a centuries-old presence in these lands."

Bartholomew thanked the government for the return of the Buyukada orphanage, to which Arinc responded: "For our part we have not given anything and we have not recognized anything. Justice was done, by applying the decision of the Strasbourg and Turkish Courts".

Patriarch Bartholomew I concluded his speech by saying:
"The new Law on Foundations does not satisfy us 100%, but it certainly is a step forward. These openings concern only non-Muslim minorities in Turkey, but are a test of a democratic opening that leads Turkey closer to Europe. A reason for joy for everyone in this country.

"We look forward to 2011 and the reopening of the Theological School of Halki (This year marks the 40 years since its closure). We hope this year will see us continue on the journey towards Turkey’s full membership of the European Union. "

The Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan, yesterday underlined the importance of Bulent Arinc’s visit to the Fanar to his party's members, highlighting the difference between the policy of his minority government and that of the opposition. He extolled the importance of knowing how to understand and accept others.

Well-informed diplomatic sources say that when the Patriarch speaks of the process of democratic opening of Turkey, he believes that these openings should also include Christian minorities that are not explicitly included in the Treaty of Lausanne (1923, which speaks of minority Christian Orthodox, Armenian and Jewish ), and therefore also the Catholic Church, which still has no juridical status in Turkey.

NB: The Patriarchate site does not have any pictures or storeiss posted so far about the Orthodox Christmas, but here's an Orthodox greeting card featuring an icon of the Nativity in which teh manger with teh Baby Jesus is shaped like a tomb, as a prefiguration of his death adn resurrection:

00Sunday, January 9, 2011 2:52 PM

Practical problems of the Ordinariate:
Anglicans heading to Rome told
they can't stay in their churches

by Jonathan Wynne-Jones and Rebecca Lefort

January 9, 2011

Fr Ed Tomlinson is leading the defectors at St Barnabas

They have worshipped together for decades on the pews of their parish church. Generations of their loved ones have been baptised, married and buried there.

But now a Church of England congregation is being torn apart by the Pope's offer to welcome disaffected Anglican traditionalists into the Catholic Church.

In a vote which has split the local community and left long-standing friends on opposite sides of a growing divide, 54 parishioners at St Barnabas Tunbridge Wells have indicated that they intended to become Catholics while 18 said they would remain in the established Church.

While the Kentish churchgoers are among the first to take such a stand, congregations up and down the country will soon follow suit as worshippers and clergy weigh up whether to enter the Ordinariate, the structure set up by Pope Benedict XVI to embrace defectors from the established Church.

At St Barnabas the move towards Rome is being led by the vicar, Fr Ed Tomlinson. He believes that traditionalists who oppose the ordination of women have been badly let down by Church leaders.

But he has been told by the diocese of Rochester that if he and his followers leave the Church of England they will no longer be allowed to hold services, even on a shared basis, at St Barnabas - a nineteenth-century red-brick church where Siegfried Sassoon, the First World War poet, was baptised.

The firm stance has infuriated Fr Tomlinson, the vicar since 2006. "The whole thing stinks to high heaven," he said.

"The Archdeacon made it abundantly clear that he does not want to entertain the notion of shared worship space and that he would resist my remaining here in any capacity.

"How lamentable that a solution based on unity exists but those with authority seem more intent on division."

The decision by the diocese has upset churchgoers such as Beryl Boughton, who for the past 35 years has attended services at St Barnabas,

A member of the parochial church council, she has seen one of her daughters married at the church, while her mother and her husband are buried there. Even so, she plans to join Fr Tomlinson in entering the Ordinariate.

"I was disappointed they wouldn't agree to share [the building], but not actually surprised, said Mrs Broughton, 76. "I thought it would be too good to be true that they would see sense and let us stay.

"I just hope that they have enough people to keep it going without us, because it costs quite a bit to run.

"It will be sad in a way, but it is also quite exciting. There is quite a crowd of us going. I've no idea where we'll go – it could be my living room."

On the other side of the emerging rift is Geoffrey Copus, 80, a local historian who has worshipped at St Barnabas since 1964, but who recently stopped attending services due to his opposition to the vicar's stance.

"If people want to join the Church of Rome, they should go down the road to a Catholic church," said

"I'm very much against the move [to Rome] and there is quite a considerable body that is against it," he said.

He claimed people had been "misled by the wild enthusiasm" of the vicar, whom he said was "besotted with the Pope".

"The whole thing is impossible," Mr Copus added. "Sharing churches has been tried elsewhere and it hasn't worked."

The Ordinariate is beginning to take shape following the confirmation of three former Anglican bishops as Catholics last weekend. Last year, when the idea was first put forward, there were hopes that more amicable arrangements could be made.

As traditionalist clergy threatened to leave over their opposition to women bishops, Dr Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, said the Church of England would seek a system of sharing buildings so that defecting worshippers could continue meeting in familiar surroundings.

Yet the decision over whether to permit Catholic congregations to share Anglican church buildings was ultimately left to individual bishops, with the policy varying from diocese to diocese.

The ruling that any defectors would have to leave St Barnabas was conveyed to its vicar by the Ven Clive Mansell, Archdeacon of Tonbridge and a senior clergyman in the diocese of Rochester.

"How sad that the Ordinariate seekers, good people who have contributed so much to this parish and its fabric over so many years, were plainly told they should leave with nothing," added Fr Tomlinson.

He claimed that the decision to expel him and his followers from the church building meant that "good and faithful Christians" had been "completely betrayed by the Church of England".

But Mr Copus said: "We've got a very good Archdeacon, and I think we are fighting back quite well."

Worshippers who are considering joining the Ordinariate were meeting at St Barnabas church hall yesterday to discuss their next steps.

Defecting churches in other parts of the country are facing similar opposition in their requests to continue using their buildings.

It is understood that Fr Mark Elliott Smith and Fr Anthony Homer, priests at St Paul's Tottenham and Holy Trinity Winchmore Hill respectively, were told they would not be able to remain in their churches after they revealed they were considering converting to Catholicism.

Both are in the diocese of London, where the bishop, the Rt Rev Richard Chartres, has been particularly firm in refusing to allow defectors to continue to worship in their buildings.

"For the avoidance of confusion I have to say that as far as the Diocese of London is concerned there is no possibility of transferring properties," he said last month.

He said that previous experiments of church sharing had not led to "warmer ecumenical relations" but "tended to produce more rancour".

Last year, Archbishop Williams said that one of the "challenges" facing the Church of England was "working out shared use of churches".

William Fittall, secretary general of the General Synod and the Church's most senior lay official, also said it would be "entirely possible" for Anglicans converting to Catholicism to use their former churches, adding that it would be "a matter for the local Anglican bishop concerned whether he was content for that to be the case".

00Tuesday, January 11, 2011 10:11 AM

What's new with the FSSPX
Translated from a French blog

Jan. 10, 2010

PARIS - Last night, Sunday, January 9, at the Maison de la Chimie, Mons. Bernard Fellay, superior-general of the FSSPX, gave the closing address, as usual, at the annual colloquium organised by the Abbé du Chalard and the Institut Saint-Pie X.

To understand the specificity of this exercise, one must keep in mind that Mons. Fellay expresses himself publicly, knowing that whatever he says will be reported and commented from the outside, but paradoxically, he is speaking for internal use, using a 'house language' so to speak, with connotations that are well known to his community, and addressed to his priests.

He replied to a series of questions by the Abbé Lorans, with very 'Fraternocentric' answers, whose general tone, nonetheless, could be summarized this way in terms of the points that appeared most salient to his audience, surprised at times by his answers:

- About the establishment of the FSPPX (literally the Priestly Fraternity of St. Pius X), Mons. Fellay stressed that the primary intention of the founder, Mons. Lefebvre, was to 'make priests', rather than to respond militantly to the crisis of the Church.

- About this crisis itself and its present status, Mons. Fellay violently criticized Assisi III, as he did in his morning homily at St Nicolas di Chardonnet. But remarking that Assisi II had been not as bad as Assisi I, he expressed an ideal hypothesis for Assisi III, namely that the Pope would call on his guests from other faiths to convert to Christianity, which, of course, he does not believe will happen. Nonetheless, he did not draw any conclusions, saying merely, "We shall see what it will mean for the discussions" [the ongoing doctrinal discussions with the Vatican over disputed interpretations of Vatican II. One of the major points disputed by the FSSPX is the idea of 'religious freedom', in the sense that they maintain it is the duty of the Church to convert everyone to Christianity.]

- Regarding these doctrinal discussions, Mons. Fellay strongly maintained that in themselves, they represent 'unprecedented' progress. Because Rome has never before allowed the Magisterium to be questioned in this way, and that Rome is doing so this time about Vatican II whose Magisterium is not 'infallible'. And this is why the FSSPX is working on these discussions and keeping to its word of not discussing any specifics - "such an event must take place in peace and serenity". Which is why the FSSPX is 'tactically' not laying on its criticism of Vatican II as it has done in the past. But its war against unwanted modernity in the Church continues and no one should assume that everything has been resolved.

- About what the FSSPX can contribute to the Church: Mons. Fellay, recalling a retreat he preached in Albano recently for 30 Italian diocesan priests, indirectly underlined the positive aspect of Summorum Pontificum, asking that it should not be criticized. He believes that priests who 'return' to the traditional Mass will also return to traditional (i.e., orthodox), Catholic doctrine but they have a long way to go. He also notes that at the Vatican, there are many priests, prelates and even cardinals who are truly 'good'.

- Pride of place in Mons. Fellay's discourse of 'openness' goes to his recollection of a conversation he had with Mons. Ranjith, now Cardinal, who told him that, in his opinion, it would take at least 20 years for the post-Vatican II liturgical reform to swing back towards the traditional Mass.

And Mons. Fellay comments: "There will be intermediate steps, gradual ones" in which everything will not always go well, true, but everything won't be bad either.

00Tuesday, January 11, 2011 4:21 PM

From the archdiocesan newspaper of Boston, a beautiful story about faith and how many Catholics in China are able to practice it even under tyrannical conditions - and that even Catholics constrained to live with the 'patriotic' Church are no less Catholic because of it.

Christmas in Jilin
By Neil W. McCabe


Editor's note: This report was filed by Pilot reporter Neil McCabe, currently on active duty with the U.S. Army, who made a trip to China while on leave during the Christmas Season.

Despite bracing cold, Chinese worshipers in Jilin City, a city in the region once known as Manchuria, marked the birth of our Savior at Masses celebrated at Sacred Heart of Jesus Christ Church, a majestic structure with its doors facing the mighty Songhua River.

Sacred Heart is the only Catholic church in the city of 4 million and its parish community has grown in recent years to more than 5,000 believers, said Father Guo Sheng "Joseph" Wang, a parochial vicar at the parish and the director of its social services ministry.

Father Wang said for Christmas there were three Masses: Christmas Eve, Midnight Mass and Christmas Day.

Because of harsh temperatures that reached only 10 degrees during the day and lows of 15 degrees below zero at night, Father Wang said the Masses could not be held in the unheated 1926-built church because of concerns for elderly worshipers. Instead, the Masses were held in the parish hall chapel.

At the Christmas Day Mass, the chapel was packed with more than 500 congregants, who crowded the pews, aisles and open areas in the back. There were also more than two dozen parishioners lined up at the confessional.

When it was built by French missionaries, Sacred Heart was the local cathedral because Jilin was then a provincial capital. In the 1994, the diocesan seat was moved to Changchun, the current capital of Jilin Province. During the Cultural Revolution, 1966 to 1976, the church was closed and damaged. In 1980, it was allowed to reopen as part of the officially recognized Catholic Church in China.

Beginning in the 1990s, the government has funded repairs to both the church building and the other parish buildings.

The church and its surrounding fenced-in campus comprise a rectory, a parish hall and a performance stage along with ancillary storage sheds. Across the street behind the church, there is a health clinic for seniors.

During his August 2010 visit to the China, North Korean leader Kim Jong Il took a short tour of the church, where he said his father once sought sanctuary from the Japanese authorities during the Second World War. It is also a short walk from the Yumen Middle School, the elite Marxist school his father attended.

Father Wang said he has been a priest in Jilin Province since 1997. He grew up in Jilin City and was raised in a Catholic family. As a young man he was pressured by his father and a friend of his father to study for the priesthood, but he always resisted. Finally, he attended a religious festival and was overcome with the feeling that in fact it was his calling to be a priest.

Although he continued to resist it, he prayed for six months until accepting his vocation and he said he was admitted to Jilin Seminary in a class of 13 seminarians.

Since his ordination, Father Wang has had four assignments. For his first three years, he taught at the seminary, before his three stints at country parishes. He began his tenure at Sacred Heart of Jesus Christ Church Jan. 28, 2008.

At the parish, Father Wang shares duties with three other priests. There are two American Maryknoll priests who teach at the city's Bei Hua University.

"Our social services ministry will mark its fifth year in operation in February," he said. He is the second director. "The vision for Tianji Social Services is to promote a warm, loving, peaceful and harmonious community for everybody"

In addition to raising the profile of the city's Catholic population, the priest said the program provides student scholarships, youth activities and a home visit ministry for the elderly, poor families and those struggling with HIV/AIDS and other diseases.

Father Wang said the Church in Jilin Province and in the city is growing, but not quickly. In the province itself, there are more than 40 individual houses of worship for roughly 80,000 Catholics.

One of the 5,000 parishioners of Sacred Heart is 70-year-old Maria Qiao, who said she was baptized five years ago.

"I had a friend who was a Catholic and she told me to come to the church with her and see how having a relationship with God could help me," she said.

Qiao said, "I have had many difficulties in my life and my faith has helped me deal with those things. I have learned that when one door closes, another one opens."

A lifelong resident of Jilin, Qiao said the Communist Party in her city respects the practice of religion.

"The sisters are wonderful," Qiao said. "They teach us about the Bible and how to pray."

In Jilin City, in addition to the three priests at Sacred Heart, there are 80 sisters, who belong to the Holy Family Sisters convent, which is a diocesan order without foreign affiliations.

Some of the sisters work with Father Wang at the social services ministry, but most have duties spread throughout the city, including the health clinic near the church that focuses on the needs of the elderly, he said.

Like other parts of the country, the Diocese of Jilin struggles with the gulf between the underground and state-recognized Catholic Church.

As part of its suppression of the Catholic Church, the Communist government formed the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association in the late 1950s and required Catholics to disavow allegiance to the pope and the Church of Rome.

Catholics who refused to break ties with Rome were forced to either worship clandestinely or face persecution, including imprisonment.

In recent years there have been numerous efforts by the Vatican to reconcile the two faith communities, including Pope Benedict's 2007 Letter to Chinese Catholics in which he left the decision to join the patriotic association to the discretion of individual bishops.

Although the separation exists, Father Wang said recognized and underground priests know each other and often interact.

He said he believes the underground priests and bishops should come out and join the recognized Church because the recognized Church operates as freely as any other institution in China. "They are very proud and they should realize that it is now OK to join us."

One of his most precious memories as a priest, are the few Masses he celebrated with his cousin, a priest in the underground Church, before his cousin left China for Italy.

"He was told by his superior not to celebrate Mass with me, but he did anyway. It was a very special experience each of the three or four times we did it before he left, but obviously the first time was especially emotionally for both of us."

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