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00Friday, November 27, 2009 5:10 AM

Highlights of this report were released last July, so none of this is really a surprise, but the extent of both the abuse and the cover-up is nothing less than sickening, and every retelling is a terrible blow to the church, not just in Ireland. In the Year for Priests, one prays this is a scourge that will never recur again anywhere, and of course, we pray for all the victims, their families and their offenders. May the great Irish saints foster a rebirth of the fervent essential Catholicism that generations of good and saintly Irish nuns and priests brought throughout the world, including my own country.

Ireland's Roman Catholic archbishops
'covered up abuse to protect church's reputation'

By Matthew Moore

26 Nov 2009

Ireland's Roman Catholic archbishops and police covered up four decades of child sex abuse by priests in a conspiracy to protect the reputation of the church, a report found.

Clergy were able to molest hundreds of vulnerable children because of a "systemic, calculated perversion of power" that put their abusers above the law, the Irish government said.

The damning verdict on the conduct of Church and secular authorities followed a three-year investigation into allegations of child abuse by priests in Dublin going back to the 1960s.

Investigators who were given access to 60,000 previous secret church files accused four Archbishops of Dublin of deliberately suppressing evidence of "widespread" abuse.

Archbishops John Charles McQuaid, Dermot Ryan and Kevin McNamara, who have all since died, and Cardinal Desmond Connell, who is retired, all refused to pass information to local police, the report said.

Evidence was kept inside a secret vault in the archbishop's Dublin residence, with suspect clerics moved between parishes to prevent the allegations being made public.

For their part, Gardai frequently ignored complaints from victims, effectively granting priests immunity from prosecution. The inquiry found that church authorities nurtured inappropriately close relations with senior police officers.

Last night the current Archbishop of Dublin, Diarmuid Martin, apologised to the victims, describing their abuse as an "offence to God". He said: "I offer to each and every survivor my apology, my sorrow and my shame for what happened."

In a 750-page report published yesterday the Commission to Inquire into the Dublin Archdiocese blamed the Church's "don't ask, don't tell" approach for perpetuating abuse.

"The Commission has no doubt that clerical child sexual abuse was covered up by the Archdiocese of Dublin and other Church authorities," it said.

"The structures and rules of the Catholic Church facilitated that cover-up.

"The State authorities facilitated that cover-up by not fulfilling their responsibilities to ensure that the law was applied equally to all and allowing the Church institutions to be beyond the reach of the normal law enforcement processes."

The inquiry, headed by Judge Yvonne Murphy, dismissed the claims of former bishops that they did not know sex abuse was a crime. [Incredible that any adult could say that, let alone bishops!]

It concluded that the the church hierarchy was preoccupied with "the avoidance of scandal, the protection of the reputation of the Church, and the preservation of its assets".

It added: "All other considerations, including the welfare of children and justice for victims, were subordinated to these priorities."

The commission looked at a sample study of allegations made by 320 children against 46 priests between 1975 and 2004. One priest admitted to sexually abusing over 100 children, while another accepted that he had abused on a fortnightly basis over 25 years.

Two of the priests featured in the report have their names blacked out so not to undermine ongoing criminal actions.

Dermot Ahern, the Irish justice minister, said that the Gardai would review its procedures for dealing with sexual abuse complaints, and promised to continue to pursue the perpetrators.

"The report catalogues evil after evil committed in the name of what was perversely seen as the greater good," he said.

"There is no escaping the cruel irony that the Church, partly motivated by a desire to avoid scandal, in fact created a scandal on an astonishing scale."

Victims called for senior Catholics and police officers to face criminal charges over the cover-up, and for the inquiry to be expanded to cover every Irish archdiocese.

"Those who turn a blind eye to these offences are as much a part of the problem as those who actually commit them," said Andrew Madden, who helped blow the whistle on the abuse 10 years ago.

The publication of the report, which was submitted to the Irish government in July, is expected to prompt a wave of new child abuse allegations against Catholic priests.

On Wednesday the Christian Brothers religious order announced it had set aside £145 million to compensate children who had been abused in its schools in orphanages in Ireland.

That offer came six months after a landmark report revealed widespread sexual, physical and emotional abuse of children in Catholic-run institutions dating back to the 1930s.

Dublin sex abuse: this could
finish off Catholic Ireland

November 26th, 2009

This is written in haste, but my first thought on reading about the appalling (but not surprising) cover-up of sex abuse in Dublin archiocese was: this will make the Catholic Church even more loathed in Ireland than it already is.

The greatest scandal, of course, lies in the acts perpetrated by wicked clergy against the innocent. But it’s the secrecy and deceit of the Church authorities that resonates most with me.

For, although I was educated by Irish brothers, I can honestly say that I’ve never experienced clerical paedophilia, or even met a priest or brother who was to my knowledge a classic paedophile.

But I have encountered, many times, the arrogance of senior clergy who believe that almost anything can be kept secret from the laity if it might “damage the good name of the Church” (ie, inconvenience or embarrass them).

And I associate the worst abuses of power with the mean-spirited Jansenism of the Irish Church and the Irish clerical diaspora. More on this subject later.

Back in October 2006, meeting the bishops of Ireland on ad limina visit, Pope Benedict XVI spoke to them in unusually strong terms of the sex offenses against minors by the Irish clergy. It is worth reposting the CNS report of that meeting.

Also worth noting that when the Pope spoke about sexual abuses by priests on his trip the US in April 2008, most reporters treated it as if it was the first time he had ever spoken about the issue as Pope, even if this talk with the Irish bishops was quite well-reported in the Catholic media at the time.

Benedict XVI told Irish bishops in 2006:
'Find the truth and prevent priestly abuse'

By John Thavis

VATICAN CITY, Oct. 30 2006 (CNS) -- Pope Benedict XVI said priestly sexual abuse of minors was a "heart-rending" tragedy that requires an effort of purification by the church.

Addressing Ireland's bishops at the Vatican Oct. 28, the Pope encouraged them to establish the truth of past sex abuse cases, take steps to prevent future crimes and bring healing to the victims.

"The wounds caused by such acts run deep, and it is an urgent task to rebuild confidence and trust where these have been damaged," the Pope said.

Irish church leaders have had to deal with hundreds of allegations of clerical sexual abuse, many of which came to light in recent years.

The bishops set up an advisory committee and an independent, lay-led commission to study the problem, and earlier this year published "Our Children, Our Church," a child protection policy that included new measures more consistent with state procedures.

The Pope's remarks to the bishops, at the end of their "ad limina" visit to the Vatican, were his most extensive public comments on priestly sex abuse since his election in April 2005. The heads of dioceses are required to make "ad limina" visits every five years to report on the status of their dioceses.

"In the exercise of your pastoral ministry, you have had to respond in recent years to many heart-rending cases of sexual abuse of minors. These are all the more tragic when the abuser is a cleric," the pope said.

"In your continuing efforts to deal effectively with this problem, it is important to establish the truth of what happened in the past, to take whatever steps are necessary to prevent it from occurring again, to ensure that the principles of justice are fully respected and, above all, to bring healing to the victims and to all those affected by these egregious crimes," he said.

The Pope said that by facing the problem in this way the church in Ireland would grow stronger and come to see the present moment as a "time of purification."

In their private talks with Vatican agencies, Irish bishops said they were encouraged to continue their efforts to deal with sexual abuse and to develop the policies expressed in "Our Children, Our Church."

When Pope Benedict met privately with Bishop Denis Brennan of Ferns, Ireland, where more than 100 allegations of clerical sex abuse were made between 1962 and 2002, the Pope communicated his personal anguish and horror at the behavior of the clerical abusers, according to a spokesman for the Ferns Diocese.

Speaking to the bishops as a group, the Pope said it was also important that the good work of the majority of Irish priests not be overshadowed by the transgressions of some.

"I am certain that the people understand this and continue to regard their clergy with affection and esteem," he said.

The Pope said he was concerned about the sharply declining vocation rate in Ireland. He asked the bishops to offer young people an attractive vision of the ordained priesthood.

"Even if Christian commitment is considered unfashionable in some circles, there is a real spiritual hunger and a generous desire to serve others among the young people of Ireland," he said.

The Pope described the Irish as a people shaped by the Christian faith. He said modern changes in Irish society present challenges as well as opportunities, and people are looking to the bishops for leadership.

"Help them to recognize the inability of the secular, materialist culture to bring true satisfaction and joy. Be bold in speaking to them of the joy that comes from following Christ and living according to his commandments," he said.

While the Church sometimes must speak out against evils, he said, it must correct the impression that Catholicism is merely a "collection of prohibitions."

"So often the church's countercultural witness is misunderstood as something backward and negative in today's society. That is why it is important to emphasize the good news, the life-giving and life-enhancing message of the Gospel," he said.

He said one key was sound catechesis among young Catholics. He encouraged bishops to make sure catechetical programs are based on the Catechism of the Catholic Church and to avoid superficial presentations of Catholic teaching.

The Pope also said he hoped and prayed for reconciliation, particularly in regard to Northern Ireland, where he said much progress has been made in recent times.

In an address to the pope, Archbishop Sean Brady of Armagh, Northern Ireland, invited the pontiff to visit the country.

"Should God's will and your heavy responsibilities allow you to accept this invitation, you will discover in Ireland a country of warm welcome, but also of change," Archbishop Brady said. He cited Ireland's recent economic success and the accompanying "loss of Christian memory."

The Pope did not respond directly to the invitation. British newspapers reported that consideration was being given to a simultaneous visit to Northern Ireland next spring by the Pope and Britain's Queen Elizabeth, as a culmination of the Northern Ireland peace process.

The Irish bishops, however, said they were told in the Vatican's Secretariat of State that the Pope appeared to be "booked up" for travels through 2007. He has two known trips scheduled, to Brazil in May and to Austria and the Czech Republic in September [NB: This trip did not take place until this year!]

At a press conference Oct. 28, the Irish bishops said they were impressed with the sympathy and encouragement Pope Benedict showed in their meetings. The Pope tended to do more listening than talking, said Bishop Michael Smith of Meath, Ireland.

Bishop Patrick Walsh of Down and Connor, Northern Ireland, said the Pope, in words and demeanor, was very positive. The Pope "doesn't go around slapping backs or anything like that," but exudes a quiet, restrained joy that comes from faith, he said.

Even as the Pope points to threats to society and the Christian response, he takes care to point out that Christian values are in many ways shared by all humanity, Bishop Walsh said.

"I think the Holy Father at the present moment seems to be right on the wavelength of giving a very positive message, in language people can understand," he said.

The full text of the Pope's 10/28/06 address to the Irish bishops may be found on

00Friday, November 27, 2009 7:57 PM

Comments of
on the occasion of the publication of the
Commission of Investigation in the sexual abuse of children
by priests in the Archdiocese of Dublin

26th November 2009

It is difficult to find words to describe how I feel today. As Archbishop of a Diocese for which I have pastoral responsibility, of my own native diocese, of the diocese for which I was ordained a priest, of a Diocese which I love and hope to serve to the best of my ability, what can I say when I have to share with you the revolting story of the sexual assault and rape of so many young children and teenagers by priests of the Archdiocese or who ministered in the diocese? No words of apology will ever be sufficient.

Can I take this opportunity to thank Judge Yvonne Murphy and her team for their diligent and professional work in producing this Report, which I expect will provide an invaluable framework for how we can better protect the children of today and the future.

The Report of the Commission gives us some insight into the crimes that took place. But no report can give an indication of the suffering and trauma endured by the children, and indeed the suffering also of their family members.

Many survivors have not yet been able to speak about abuse they experienced. For them the publication of the Report must be truly traumatic. I urge them to turn to some trusted friend, to a counsellor or counselling service of their choice, to the health services, to the Gardai [Irish police] or if they so wish to the Diocesan Child Protection Service.

The report focuses on a representative sample of cases, but the Commission examined many other cases. The Report highlights devastating failings of the past. These failings call on all of us to scrupulously apply clear guidelines and norms. There is no room for revisionism regarding the norms and procedures in place.

The sexual abuse of a child is and always was a crime in civil law; it is and always was a crime in canon law; it is and always was grievously sinful.

One of the most heartbreaking aspects of the Report is that while Church leaders – Bishops and religious superiors - failed, almost every parent who came to the diocese to report abuse clearly understood the awfulness of what has involved.

Almost exclusively their primary motivation was to try to ensure that what happened to their child, or in some case to themselves, did not happen to other children. Their motivation was not about money or revenge; it was quite simply about that most basic human sense of right and wrong and that basic Christian motivation of concern for others.

The survivors of abuse who courageously remained determined to have the full truth heard by all deserve our recognition and admiration.

How did those with responsibility dramatically misread the risk that a priest who had hurt one of those whom Jesus calls “the little ones” might go on to abuse another child if decisive action was not taken?

Excuses, denials and minimisations were taken from priest abusers who were at the least in denial, at worst devious in multiple ways, and decisions were taken which resulted in more children being abused.

Efforts made to “protect the Church” and to “avoid scandal” have had the ironic result of bringing this horrendous scandal on the Church today.

The damage done to children abused by priests can never be undone. As Archbishop of Dublin and as Diarmuid Martin I offer to each and every survivor, my apology, my sorrow and my shame for what happened to them. I am aware however that no words of apology will ever be sufficient.

The fact that the abusers were priests constituted both and offence to God and affront to the priesthood. The many good priests of the Archdiocese share my sense of shame. I ask you to support and encourage us in our ministry at what is a difficult time.

I know also that many others, especially parents, feel shocked and betrayed at what has been revealed. I hope that all of us - bishops, priests and lay persons - working together can rebuild trust by ensuring that day after day the Church in the Archdiocese of Dublin becomes a safer environment for children.

I ask the priests of the diocese and the Parish Pastoral Councils to ensure that the wide reaching measures introduced into our parishes and organizations regarding the safeguarding of children are rigorously observed and constantly verified and updated.

This scandal must be an occasion for all of us to be vigilant so that the abuse of children - wherever it takes place in our society - is addressed and the correct measures are taken promptly.

The hurt done to a child through sexual abuse is horrific. Betrayal of trust is compounded by the theft of self esteem. The horror can last a lifetime.

Today, it must be unequivocally recalled that the Archdiocese of Dublin failed to recognise the theft of childhood which survivors endured and the diocese failed in its responses to them when they had the courage to come forward, compounding the damage done to their innocence.

For that no words of apology will ever be sufficient.

00Friday, November 27, 2009 9:30 PM

Over 120,000 attend opening
of Vietnam's Jubilee Year

Left photo show French Cardinal Roger Etchegaray who led the Vatican delegation representing Pope Benedict XVI.

HANOI, Vietnam, Nov 25, 2009 (CNA) - An estimated 120,000 Catholics participated in the opening ceremony of Vietnam’s Holy Jubilee year marking the 350th anniversary of Catholic vicariates in the country.

However, the celebrations were marred by news of the resignation of the Archbishop of Hanoi, which some believe to be a result of government pressure.

On Monday evening four cardinals, 30 Vietnamese bishops from all 26 dioceses and 1200 priests gathered with an estimated 120,000 lay faithful from northern dioceses to participate in the ceremony.

Fr. J.B. An Dang told CNA that the priests included dozens of foreign clerics from Europe and the United States.

Festivities took place at So Kien, about 43 miles south of Hanoi, where the Church in Vietnam first was able to build a large and durable complex of buildings. The celebrations marked the 350th anniversary of the first apostolic vicariates in Vietnam and the 50th anniversary of the establishment of the Catholic hierarchy in Vietnam.

The ceremony began at 5:30 pm with a one-hour procession of martyr’s relics. Bishop Peter Nguyen Van Nhon, President of the bishops’ conference of Vietnam, presided over the procession.

The gathered faithful were reminded that between the years 1625 and 1886 fifty-three edicts of persecution of Christians were signed by the Trinh Lords, the Nguyen Lords and the dynasty of the Kings of Nguyen. Each persecution was worse than the one before.

Those gathered for the Jubilee celebration expressed their gratitude for the estimated 130,000 Christians who died in these persecutions. Of these martyrs, 117 were beatified on four separate occasions. Their numbers included 96 Vietnamese, 11 Spanish Dominicans and 10 French members of the Paris Foreign Missions Society.

Pope Leo XIII beatified 64 of these martyrs on May 27, 1900. Pope St. Pius X beatified eight on May 20, 1906 and 20 on May 2, 1909. Pope Pius XII beatified 25 on April 29, 1951.

All 117 were canonized on June 19, 1988 by Pope John Paul II under the strong protest of Vietnam’s communist government, Fr. An Dang reports. Another young Vietnamese martyr, Andre Phú Yên, was beatified by John Paul II in March of 2000.

Following the grand opening of the Jubilee ceremonies Cardinal Jean Baptiste Pham Minh Man, President of the Holy Jubilee Committee, delivered his official declaration.

After the opening Mass, the festival’s inaugural night began with a sea of candle lights to welcome a procession of 118 Sisters of St. Paul from Hanoi and also a much loved performance group from the Diocese of Bui Chu. The performers included 400 trumpeters and drummers.

The opening ceremony was the second largest recent Catholic gathering in North Vietnam. The largest gathering was a Mass at Xa Doai on August 15, when more than 500,000 Catholics protested against the assaults on priests in Tam Toa.

The So Kien ceremony was widely reported and interpreted by state media as “an equivocal evidence” for the religious freedom policy of the Vietnam government, Fr. An Dang reported.

“The joy on the opening day of the Holy Jubilee in Vietnam, however, was marred by the news that Archbishop of Hanoi had submitted his resignation to the Pope,” he added.

On November 14 Archbishop Joseph Ngo Quang Kiet told his priests at their annual archdiocesan retreat that that he had submitted his resignation to Pope Benedict XVI because of deteriorating health. The archbishop, aged 57, is one of the youngest bishops in Vietnam.

Fr. An Dang explained to CNA that while the prelate ran a tight, exhausting schedule in his large archdiocese, many Vietnamese Catholics suspect that he is resigning due to pressure from the Vietnamese government.

00Saturday, November 28, 2009 11:45 PM

It is not surprising by now that the media, particularly those in the UK, take every occasion to denounce the Catholic Church for the sexual abuses against minors committed by some priests, and the Pope and the Vatican for allegedly having tried to cover up these abuses for decades - deliberately distorting Vatican documents and dates to allege the cover-up, trusting that few readers will bother to go check out the documents and dates they cite for veracity.

Thus, even if the contents of the Murphy Report have been generally known for months, the release of the full report earlier this week was treated as though it were a new scandal altogether.

The Vatican press director has also had to make the statement reported below to distinguish between local Churches and the universal Church in terms of direct supervision and responsibility for the conduct of priests serving in the local Churches. But notice the slant in the headline and the report itself.

Holy See keeps its distance
from Irish abuse problem

by PADDY AGNEW in Rome

Nov. 27, 2009

NOT FOR the first time, the Holy See yesterday formally attempted to keep its distance from an Irish clerical sex abuse problem.

Responding to the publication of the Dublin diocesan report, Vatican senior spokesman Fr Federico Lombardi told The Irish Times that matters such as these are handled by the local Church rather than by the Holy See.

“With regard to matters like this, the line is very clear. We leave all comment to the local church involved . . .”

In a section of the report, “Documents Held by Rome”, the commission appears to imply that full co-operation was not forthcoming from the Holy See. In particular, the commission reports that requests for information made to the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) and to the Papal Nuncio in Dublin went unanswered.

The report states that rather than contacting the commission, the CDF contacted the Department of Foreign Affairs, saying that the commission had not gone through “appropriate diplomatic channels”.

Fr Lombardi argued such an explanation was perfectly normal since routine diplomatic practice requires that any outside requests made to the governance of the Holy See, in this case, the CDF, would pass through diplomatic channels – in this case, the Department of Foreign Affairs in Dublin and the Irish Embassy to the Holy See in Rome. “It’s obvious, if you are looking for official documents from the Vatican then you have to go through the normal diplomatic channels,” he said.

Vatican observers argue the same “diplomatic” reasoning would apply to the lack of a reply from the Papal Nuncio in Dublin. He, too, as the Vatican’s ambassador in Ireland, cannot respond directly to a request from an albeit independent Irish body.

Vatican analysts point out that while the Catholic Church is very centralised when it comes to issues like Church appointments, it is contrastingly decentralised when it comes to day-to-day, local church financial administration.

Put simply, this means that bishops are appointed in Rome but damages are paid in Dublin.

For the nuncio or indeed the CDF to respond directly to the commission might have implied acceptance of a certain Vatican responsibility or indeed culpability with regard to Irish affairs.

As for the overall findings, Fr Lombardi was reluctant to add any further comment: “In all cases like this, it is not appropriate for Rome to comment, rather that is for the local bishop. In the case of Dublin, we have an excellent archbishop and he knows what has to be said.”

I think Fr. Lombardi missed the occasion remind the reporter of Pope Benedict's address to the Irish bishops back in October 2006 in which he asked the local bishops to find out the truth, attend to the victims and take steps against recurrence of the problem.

He got caught up in explaining a technicality - and whenever someone resorts to a technicality, no matter how valid it is, the impression left is always negative.

Citing Benedict's words to th Irish bishops would at least have introduced something positive. Though there is no guarantee, of course, that the reporter would have used it.

00Monday, November 30, 2009 4:43 PM

This letter was sent out to all priests about two weeks ago, but I have just now seen it. It is a letter that should perhaps be sent to priests and bishops every week, every day if possible - at least, the epigram that refers to a promise priests and bishops make on the day of their ordination and which they repeat on Maundy Thursday every year.

The incidence and degree of disobedience to the Holy Father exhbitied by many priests and bishops (including quite a few cardinals) has been scandalous and unabated. It constitutes a complete breach of promise, or even worse, a deliberate forgetting that they ever made such a promise.

For priests and bishops,
obedience to the Pope
is a filial obligation

"Do you promise filial respect and obedience to me and my successors?"
Pontificale Romanum. De Ordinatione Episcopi, presbyterorum et diaconorum, Edition typica (Typis Polyglotis Vaticanis 1990)

Dear Brothers in the Priesthood,

Even if they are not bound by a Solemn Vow of obedience, ordinands profess a "promise" of "filial respect and obedience" to their own Ordinary and his Successors.

If the theological standing of a Vow and a promise is different, the total and definitive moral obligation is identical, and likewise identical is the offering of one's will to the will of Another: to the Divine will, mediated through the Church.

In a time such as ours, marked as it is by relativism and democraticism, by various forms of autonomous individualism and libertinism, such a promise of obedience appears ever more incomprehensible to the prevailing mindset.

It is not rare for it to be conceived as a diminution of dignity and human freedom, as perseverance in obsolete forms, typical of a society incapable of authentic emancipation.

We who live authentic obedience know well that this is not the case. Obedience in the Church is never contrary to the dignity and respect of the person, nor must it ever be understood as an abandonment of responsibility or as a surrender.

The Rite utilizes a fundamental adjective for the right understanding of such a promise; it defines obedience only after mentioning "respect", and this with the adjective "filial".

Now the term "son", in every language, is a relative name, which implies, specifically, the relationship of a father and a son. It is in this context that the obedience we have promised must be understood.

It is a context in which the father is called to truly be a father, and the son to recognize his own sonship and the beauty of the fatherhood that has been given to him.

As happens in the law of nature, no one chooses his own father, nor does one choose one’s own sons. Therefore, we are all called, fathers and sons, to have a supernatural regard for one another, one of great reciprocal clemency and respect, that is to say the capacity to look at the other keeping always in mind the good Teacher who has brought him into being, and who always, ultimately, moulds him.

Respect is, by definition, simply this: to look at someone while keeping Another in mind!

It is only in the context of "filial respect" that an authentic obedience is possible, one which is not only formal, a mere execution of orders, but one which is ardent, complete, attentive, which can really bring forth the fruits of conversion and of "new life" in him who lives it.

The promise is to the Ordinary at the time of ordination and to his "Successors", since the Church always draws back from an excessive personalism: She has at heart the person, but not the subjectivism that detracts from the power and the beauty, both historical and theological, which characterize the Institution of obedience.

The Spirit resides also in the institution, since it is of divine origin. The institution is charismatic, of its very nature, and thus to be freely bound by it in time (the Successors) means to "remain in the truth", to persevere in Him, present and operative in his living body, the Church, in the beauty of the continuity of time, of ages, which joins us enduringly to Christ and to his Apostles.

Let us ask of the Handmaid of the Lord, the obedient one par excellence, of her who, even in weariness, sang her "Behold, do with me according to your Word", the grace of a filial obedience, entire, joyful, and ready; an obedience which frees us from being the protagonists of our own selves and which can show the world that it is truly possible to give all to Christ and to be men fully real and authentic.

From the Vatican
Nov. 18, 2009

+Mauro Piacenza
Titular Archbishop of Vittoriana

00Tuesday, December 1, 2009 4:32 PM

Swiss bishops criticize ban
on construction of new minarets

By John Thavis

A typical minaret; campaign poster by advocates of the ban says "STOP! YES to the ban on minarets"; and one of the four Swiss mosques that have a minaret.

This story has been getting much play in the Italian media since the Sunday referendum in which 57% of Swiss voters opposed the construction of new minarets (mosque towers) in Switzerland - only the towers, not the mosques. And now, there are protests from around the world, including the United Nations, but so far none as vicious and violent as those that followed the Danish cartoons nor the Regensburg lecture.

Initially, one might see it as a protest against 'Islamization' of the landscape by Swiss who are suddenly conscious, perhaps, that they want to keep their country's traditional European look, i.e., this was not so much a religious statement as a cultural one.

Most reactions see it as a violation of religious freedom.

My beef with all this worldwide outrage against a vote freely taken by a free people in one of the world's most democratic nations is this: Where were all these outraged is people when a Strasbourg court upheld an idnividual's protest at the display of the Cross in Italian public schools, a tradition that had been incorporated into Italian law? Everyone is too ready to rally to the Muslims, but none other than the Italians to the Cross????

VATICAN CITY, Nov. 30 (CNS) -- The bishops of Switzerland said the country's ban on the construction of minarets, the Muslim prayer towers, represents an obstacle to interreligious harmony.

The ban aggravates interfaith tensions and could have negative repercussions on Christian minorities in Muslim countries, the bishops said in a statement Nov. 29.

The prohibition was adopted by Swiss voters in a referendum that passed Sunday with a 58 percent majority. There are about 150 mosques in Switzerland serving some 400,000 Muslims; only four have minarets and, unlike in Islamic countries, they are not used to call Muslims to prayer.

The bishops said the referendum campaign, promoted by right-wing parties, had used exaggeration and caricature, and demonstrated that "religious peace does not operate by itself and always needs to be defended."

"The decision of the people represents an obstacle and a great challenge on the path of integration in dialogue and mutual respect," the bishops said. Banning the building of minarets "increases the problems of coexistence between religions and cultures," they said.

The bishops said the measure "will not help the Christians oppressed and persecuted in Islamic countries, but will weaken the credibility of their commitment in these countries."

Swiss authorities said after the vote that the four existing minarets would be allowed to stand, and that there was no ban on the construction of new mosques.

The Osservatore Romano carried this item in today's issue:

Swiss bishops say
'No' to new minarets
damages religious freedom

Translated from
the 11/30-12/01 issue of

BERN, Switzerland, Nov, 30 - "A severe blow to religious freedom asnd to integration"; a development that will "complicate things for Christians" who live in countries where religious freedom is already 'quite restricted'; a hiundrance "but also a great challenge" on the path of integration through dialog and reciprocal respect.

Those were some comments from the statement of the Swiss bishops' conference on the referendum on Sunday in which 57.5% of Swiss voters opposed the construction of new minarets in the country.

Only four of 26 six cantons (Basel, Geneva, Neuchatel and Vaud) voted in favor of the proposition presented by the governing centrist party.

The country's rightist political party campaigned against the proposition, saying minarets are "a symbol of Islam's claim to political and social power".

The bishops' statement issued by their spokesman Walter Mueller said, "this increases the problem of coexistence among cultures and religions", which are not limited to Switserland.

Before the refrendum, the Church in Switzerland underscored several times that a ban against new minarets would not be good "for Christians who are oppressed or psersecuted in Islamic countries" but would dmage "the credibility of their civic commitments in those countries".

The note also states that the campaign against new minarets "with its exaggerations and caricatures, showed that religious peace does not happen by itself and that it must always be defended".

The bishops said "the people must be given the necessary confidence in our juridical order and its adequate attention to the itnerests of everyone" and said it was now important "to be committed even more" to stand up for Christians who live in countrties with a Muslim majority.

Fr. Felix Gmür, secretary general of the Swiss bishops conference, explained the referendum results this way: "People are afraid of those who come from afar, those whom they do not understand, and therefore, they close up."

[That's disingenuous! The opponents are only against the towers, not the mosques! The opposition is aesthetic and cultura, not religious. Besides, most European mosques no longer use the minaret which was traditionally used by a muezzin to call the faithful to prayer five times a day. Perhaps this should be seen as a stage in the evolution of mosque architecture in keeping with - since only four of Switzerland's 150 mosques have minarets now, i.e., the Muslims themselves don't consider it obligatory. Calls to prayer chanted over a sound system are now used routinely by most mosques, so the minaret has outlived its use.]

He adds that the campaign agains the minarets was "rather harsh", arguing not only against minarets but against Muslim extremist groups.

He likened banning minarets to banning the Curcifix, in an interview with Vatican Radio.

"Those who support the ban claim that religion should be a private matter - that everyone can pray where they please, but not in public places. At the same time, they call themselv es Christians, but for Christians, worship cannot simply be a private matter."

He said this should open a debate to "make things clear, because society is disoriented, there are contradictions throughout all of European society, as demonstrated by the controversy over the Cross in Italy."

He said the four cantons where the vote for the minarets prevailed were those that have the largest Muslim populations.

The Swiss Federation of Evangelical Churches expressed regret at the refendum outcome, saying "the ban against constructing new minraets will not resolve any problems but will only create new ones".

It must be made clear that the ban does not affect the four minarets already existing in the country, much less the construction of new mosques.

But the disappointment among Swiss Muslims was great. Imam Youssef Ibram, who is in charge of Geneva's Islamic Cultural Center, called it "a catastrophic event. We were confident in the clearheadedness of the Swiss people, and this is an enromous disappointment".

The Grand Mufti if Egyot, Ali Gomaa, called the referendum outcome 'an insult' to all Muslims and 'an attack' on religious freedom.

In Indonesia - the world's largest Muslim nation -, the main Islamic organization Nahdlatul Ulama called it a sign of 'hatred and intolerance' but called on Muslims to react 'without excesses'.

A campaign poster depicting missile-like minarets was among those used by the Swiss People's Party which advocated the ban. Someone posted a 'Thank you' sign over it.

Minaret ban challenges
tolerant Swiss image

By Helena Bachmann

Geneva, Nov. 30, 2009 - The image of Switzerland abroad is of a place where peace, democracy and human rights are valued above all else. The Swiss were even instrumental in setting up the U.N. Human Rights Council, which is based in Geneva.

But this reputation has taken a massive hit now that a majority of residents have voted to ban minarets on mosques, which a right-wing political party likened to missiles on campaign posters.

After months of heated debates fueled by charges of racism and religious discrimination, about 57% of the Swiss electorate voted to ban the construction of new minarets in a nationwide initiative Sunday.

The result stunned the country's 400,000-strong Muslim community, especially since a poll conducted in late October indicated that a majority of Swiss voters were against the ban.

"We are trying to digest this terrible shock, hurt and disappointment," Saida Keller-Messahli, president of the Zurich-based Forum for Progressive Islam, tells TIME. "We see this as a rejection of our culture and identity."

The party behind the initiative, the right-wing Swiss People's Party (SVP), had argued that Islamic symbols should be forbidden in Switzerland because they were a danger to Swiss society.

The SVP claimed that minarets — the tall, thin towers on mosques that are used to call Muslims to prayer — in particular were dangerous because they were indicative of Islamic power and radicalism. If permitted, they could spark Islamic extremism in the country, the SVP said.

"[The vote] clearly shows that our citizens refuse to accept the rampant Islamization of Switzerland," the party said Monday in a statement, adding that those who don't respect the country's laws should leave.

Opposition to the proposal was fierce. The government, most other political parties and religious and human rights groups had urged voters to reject the initiative, insisting it would violate the section of the constitution guaranteeing freedom of religion and incite hostility toward Switzerland's various religious and ethnic groups. Many of these groups now share the Muslim community's outrage.

The Swiss Bishops Conference, backed by the Vatican, said the Catholic Church sees the decision as "an obstacle to a peaceful coexistence of different cultures and religions." The Protestant Church, meanwhile, called the vote "a violation of basic freedoms."

The vote is also a huge embarrassment for the Swiss government, which had launched a nationwide campaign promoting religious tolerance before the vote.

"The outcome of the vote is a reflection of the fears and uncertainties that exist among the population, and concerns that Islamic fundamentalist ideas could lead to the establishment of parallel societies," Swiss Justice Minister Eveline Widmer-Schlumpf said Sunday.

She added that "marginalization and exclusion on the basis of religious and cultural differences would be devastating for an open country such as Switzerland."

That acknowledgment won't lessen the criticism of leaders around the world.

French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner said he was "shocked" by the vote. "It is an expression of intolerance," he told the French RTL radio station. "I hope the Swiss will reverse this decision quickly."

The Council of Europe, a 47-member human rights group now chaired by Switzerland, called the outcome "a source of profound concern" and said it goes against "the values of tolerance, dialogue and respect for other people's beliefs."

[The same Council upheld a Finnish-Italian woman's challenge to the Cross displayed in Italian public schools last month.]

Some have even voiced concern that the vote could spark the kinds of riots in the Muslim world that broke out after a Danish newspaper published cartoons lampooning the Prophet Mohammed in 2005.

Reaction in the Muslim world was swift. Maskuri Abdillah, the head of Indonesia's largest Muslim group, Nahdlatul Ulama, said the vote reflected "a hatred of Swiss people against Muslim communities," while Grand Mufti Ali Gomaa, Egypt's highest religious official, called it an "insult" to Muslims and an "attack on freedom of beliefs."

Keller-Messahli says she's concerned that radical Muslims could use the vote to convince other Muslims that Western societies discriminate against them. "They might use it as a ruse to stir trouble," she says.

Thus far, however, the initiative's opponents are taking a peaceful approach. On Sunday night, hundreds of people demonstrated on the streets of Zurich and Bern, carrying candles and carton minarets and waving signs reading, "This is not my Switzerland." That's a feeling many of the country's Muslims are undoubtedly sharing today.

Perhaps more concerning to Catholics is this story, which the OR does not carry:

Swiss bishop advocates married clergy
Translated from

BERN. Nov. 29 – Mons. Norbert Brunner, Bishop of Sion and incoming president of the Swiss bishops conference, said in an interview with the Zurich newspaper NZZ am Sonntag that there is no substantial connection between celibacy and priesthood, and that therefore, it should be possible to ordain married men as priests.

He says celibacy should be voluntary, and "I think that in our bishops' conference, there is near unanimity that this should be possible in Switzerland".

This photo of a recent Mass concelebration by the Swiss bishops, taken from their site, speaks volumes about their orientation.

Mons. Brunner, who starts his two-year term as president of the Swiss bishops in January, claims he has interevened several times with the Vatican in favor of abolishing mandatory celibacy for priests.

But what a hardheaded ideologue! Has he read nothing of all that John Paul II wrote - not to mention all previous arguments in recorded history for why celibacy is mandatory for priests?

To begin with, no one has a right to be a priest - just because he or she wants to. The Church has the right to say who it accepts to be priests.

And for centuries, anyone intending to be a priest, who heard the 'call', was never unaware that celibacy would be obligatory, and therefore, became priests knowing this.

Nothing has changed. Those who want to become priests but cannot promise celibacy should stay out and serve the Church in some other way.

Mons. Brunner needs a good spiritual retreat in Ars to clear his head.

00Tuesday, December 1, 2009 6:06 PM

Personal Ordinariates:
an expression of Vatican II ecumenism

by Fred Kaffenberger

Nov. 30, 2009

Virtue Online, based in Pennsylvania, bills itself as "the voice for global orthodox Anglicanism" and is a daily compendium of news and commentary focused on developments within the Anglican Communion, It has just opened a fewature called 'Anglicans swimming the Tiber' which puts together all news and commentary regarding the opening to Rome.

The recent apostolic constitution on Anglicans seeking full communion with the Catholic Church, Anglicanorum Coetibus, has stirred up a wide range of reactions among Catholics, Anglicans, Protestants, and the Orthodox churches.

As the Bishop of Rome, the Pope has an apostolic responsibility to all baptized Christians, even if their ecclesial communion does not accept Roman primacy.

And so, when groups of Anglicans approached the Vatican seeking union, Pope Benedict XVI responded with a pastoral gesture to enable groups to be admitted corporately — even retaining as much as possible their historical character and pastoral structures.

This corporate provision is thus a practical expression of Vatican II documents: Lumen Gentium (the dogmatic constitution on the Church) and Unitatis Redintegratio (the decree on Christian ecumenism).

Anglicanism began as a political break between Henry VIII of England and the Catholic Church. In the years after the break, various groups have contended within Anglicanism, from low church congregationalists, to high church sacramentalists, from Evangelical Anglicans to Anglo-Catholics.

Over time, Anglicanism has described itself as a via media - a middle way in which the baptized can hold contradictory opinions regarding the efficacy of the sacraments and understanding of creedal doctrines.

In the nineteeth century, Anglicans in the Oxford Movement articulated a branch theory, which looked to the bishops as bearers of apostolic tradition. This view implies a sacramental view of the episcopacy, which is internally problematic for current Anglicanism.

When Anglican Archbishop Rowan Williams recently criticized the Catholic practice of ordaining only men (at an ecumenical conference in Rome), his primary argument appealed to baptismal theology and not to any sacramental theology of Holy Orders.

As the culmination of ecumenical discussions between Catholics and Anglicans in the nineteenth century, the Catholic Church investigated Anglican claims in favor of a valid Anglican episcopacy. Leo XIII issued Apostolicae Curae in 1896, which definitively denied the validity of Anglican orders.

Although Anglicans have priests and bishops, they are not priests and bishops in the way that Catholics understand them. With certain exceptions, Apostolicae Curae closed the door to a corporate answer to Anglicans seeking union with Rome.

The Second Vatican Council expressed a profound respect for other Christians, and a growing awareness that sacramental rituals have a vitality even outside the parameters of apostolic succession and communion with Rome.

Lumen Gentium 8 says: "This Church constituted and organized in the world as a society, subsists in the Catholic Church, which is governed by the successor of Peter and by the Bishops in communion with him, although many elements of sanctification and of truth are found outside of its visible structure. These elements, as gifts belonging to the Church of Christ, are forces impelling toward catholic unity."

The Vatican II decree Unitatis Redintegratio, on ecumenism among Christians, explores the principles of Christian unity in more depth, but notes that "there is no opposition" between individuals seeking union with Rome and ecumenical actions - because they are both inspired by God.

The new constitution, Anglicanorum Coetibus, builds on this recognition of "elements of sanctification of truth" in Anglicanism: the pastoral role of Anglican leaders as well as the value of Anglican liturgical forms. P

ersonal Ordinariates allow Anglican groups to enter into communion with the Catholic Church in a way that preserves the pastoral relationship and the ritual practices which are impelling these Anglicans toward Catholic unity.

In many cases, the pastoral role of once-Anglican bishops in the Catholic Church will be (as Rowan Williams criticizes) more of a chaplaincy, but for others will be fully episcopal.

A married Anglican man who served as an Anglican bishop would be ordained as a priest and not a bishop, but he could be appointed as an Ordinary and even retain the insignia of bishop (with the status of a retired bishop). This gesture is not merely symbolic, but is an affirmation of the pastoral relationship which the ordinariate had with his people, and a way of continuing the relationship in the Catholic Church.

The constitution has been met with a surge of positive reactions from Anglicans seeking corporate union with Rome. Now, it's a matter of waiting for the groups to make their requests, and for the local bishops to make a place for them.

00Tuesday, December 1, 2009 7:07 PM

Fr. Blet and his book on Pius XII in the Second World War, based on the 11 volumes of documents from the Vatican Archives that he and three other Jesuit scholars put together on orders from Pope Paul VI in the 1960s.

It's been two days since Pierre Blet, SJ, died Sunday morning, and the only English news item I can find about his death comes from a Catholic blogger who lives in Rome. What are CNS and CNA doing? I will post the blog entry first because right now, I don't have time to translate the articles that came out in OR today.

Rev. Dr. Pierre Blet, S.J., 1918-2009
by J.P. Sonnen

Nov. 30, 2009

Sunday morning at 9 a.m. one of the very last Rome legends passed on to his reward at Rome's Hospital Santo Spirito.

Fr. Pierre Blet, S.J., famous Church historian, Rome professor and renowned Jesuit scholar (and great defender of the memory of the Servant of God Pius XII), passed away at the age of 91.

In him, the Company of Jesus loses one of its most heroic members: ever wise, observant, pious and loyal. May the Lord reward him with the prize of His chosen ones. Every day, Fr. Blet celebrated Holy Mass according to the Usus Antiquior of the Roman Missal.

October of 2008 I was in the lobby of the Gregoriana (Rome's Jesuit University) and took this pic[leftmost photo, above) of our beloved Fr. Blet. It was always a joy to see him at the Gregorian and to see him smile and wave. He was a brilliant man, shy and had an angelic smile. He would always smile back if you smiled at him. He was French and spoke some English.

Fr. Blet joined the Jesuits in the 1930s. In 1958 he graduated from the Sorbonne with his doctorate. In Rome he became professor of modern history at the Pontifical Gregorian Univeristy and for 17 years he taught diplomatic history at the Pontifical Academy of Ecclesiastics. In 1985 he was elected a corresponding member of the Institut de France.

Once, about 1998, when John Paul II was chatting with journalists on a flight he was asked about Pius XII and his answer was simple: "Read Blet."

Paul VI asked Fr. Blet along with some other scholars to defend the wartime record of Pius XII. After their research they published the Actes et Documents du Saint-Siège relatifs à la seconde guerre mondiale (Città del Vaticano, 1965-1981).

In English. you can get Pius XII and the Second World War According to the Archives of the Vatican, which contain Fr. Blet's conclusions drawn from the documents he compiled. The book was published in English by Paulist Press in 1999.

From Wikipedia about the WW-II documentation:

Actes et Documents du Saint Siège relatifs à la Seconde Guerre Mondiale (Acts and Documents of the Holy See related to the Second World War), often abbreviated Actes or ADSS, is an eleven-volume collection of documents from the Vatican historical archives, related to the papacy of Pope Pius XII during World War II.

The collection was compiled by four Jesuit priest-historians—Pierre Blet (France), Angelo Martini (Italy), Burkhart Schneider (Germany), and Robert A. Graham (United States) — authorized by Pope Paul VI in 1964, and published between 1965 and 1981.

The remainder of the documents from Pius XII's papacy may not be released for years; Bishop Sergio Pagano, the prefect of the Vatican Secret Archives said in June 2009 that it would take five or six more to organize the papers, after which the Pope can decide to make further documents available to researchers.

The completed catalog would include approximately 16 million documents from Pius XII's papacy (1939-1958) contained in approximately 700 boxes.

00Friday, December 4, 2009 12:43 PM

Cardinals Bertone and Zen:
Opposing views on how to implement
Pope's letter to Chinese Catholics

For the Vatican secretary of state, the clandestine Church must come out into the open
and comply with the Chinese authorities.
Cardinal Zen thinks that would be handing itself over to the enemy.
One Chinese bishop recently 'went over' to the 'official' Church.

ROME, December 3, 2009 – The Catholics of China have received two very different instructions recently from two of the highest authorities of the Church: Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, and Cardinal Joseph Zen Zekiun.

As secretary of state, Bertone is responsible for Church geopolitics as a whole. Zen is bishop emeritus of Hong Kong, and a member of the commission set up by the Vatican to follow the implementation of the normative letter written by Benedict XVI to Chinese Catholics in June of 2007.

Cardinals Bertone and Zen are both Salesians, and have known each other for much of their lives. But they are often in disagreement concerning China. The former appears more "realistic," the latter more combative. Each claims to be interpreting the Pope's letter correctly.

In recent weeks, a situation involving a Chinese bishop has again revealed the glaring divergence between the two.

The bishop is Francis An Shuxin, 60, coadjutor of the diocese of Baoding, whose main bishop, James Su Zhimin, 75, has been held in an unknown location since 1996.

Bishop An Shuxin himself spent ten years in prison. He was set free last August 24. But at a high price: that of joining the Patriotic Association, the political instrument used by the Chinese authorities to keep the national Church under supervision and separate it from Rome.

Bishop An Shuxin's decision caused some disarray among the 'underground' clergy and faithful. Baoding is in Hebei, the region of China with the highest concentration of Catholics, at least a million and a half, most of them without official recognition.

In addition to Su Zhmin, two other "clandestine" bishops of Hebei are currently in prison: 85-year-old Cosmas Shi Enxiang, bishop of Yixian, who disappeared after his arrest on April 13, 2001, and 74-year-old Julius Jia Zhiguo, bishop of Zhengding, who was rearrested last March 30.

Together with Bishop An Shuxin, two priests of his diocese were also released from prison, on condition that they join the Patriotic Association.

To some in the underground Church, the action of these three seemed like a betrayal, going over to the side of the enemy. But others believe it is a necessary step in order to emerge from clandestine status, a condition that Benedict XVI described in his 2007 letter as "not a normal feature of the Church's life."

It is widely believed that the Roman curia has been pushing the clandestine bishops and priests to obtain official recognition, for the sake of normalizing the life of the dioceses, even at the price of bowing to some of the diktats of the regime.

In the case of Bishop An Shuxin, the Vatican Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples is suspected to have counselled him, and on November 3, the congregation issued a statement denying it had ever pressured him.

On November 16, Cardinal Bertone addressed a letter to the priests of the Chinese Church, ostensibly in connection with the Year for Priests.

In the letter, dated November 10, Bertone doesn't mention the case of the bishop of Baoding. But the cardinal urges "reconciliation within the Catholic community and a respectful and constructive dialogue with the civil authorities, without renouncing the principles of the Catholic faith."

Bertone also writes that "a truly Eucharistic community cannot retreat into itself, as though it were self-sufficient, but it must stay in communion with every other Catholic community."

Bertone's letter is interesting for other reasons. In exhorting Chinese priests to virtue, he highlights their vices: frequent infidelity to the promises of poverty and chastity, hotheadedness, laziness in pastoral care, lack of study, disinterest in promoting vocations, the absence of missionary zeal...

The statistics on the Church in China are not encouraging. Over the past ten years, the Catholic population in China has remained unchanged. Vocations to the priesthood are falling, but so are vocations to religious life for women. The priests and bishops are too old, or too young. The generation in the middle is missing, and the younger priests are not suitable candidates to be bishops.

With the Church in such a weak condition, the regime feels encouraged to exercise strong pressure and supervision over it. For two years, the Holy See has been unable to appoint any new bishops in China.

Judging by the 23 pages of an instruction released on November 18 by Cardinal Zen – his latest of many commentaries on the letter from Benedict XVI in 2007 – the responsibility for this disappointing state of affairs lies to a great extent with the Vatican authorities.

In Zen's view, the idea is taking hold that the heroic season of the clandestine Church has ended, and that all of its bishops and priests should join the official Church recognized by the regime.

Zen thinks this would lead to an even worse subservience of the Church to the regime in China, and represents an abusive interpretation of Benedict XVI's letter.

The cardinal's instruction reviews the Pope's letter from start to finish, explaining it in what Zen maintains is the only correct way.

According to Zen, when Benedict XVI writes that "the clandestine condition is not a normal feature of the Church's life," he is not ordering the clandestine communities to give in to the demands of the government, but is telling them to resist as long as the abnormal condition that leads to the clandestine condition continues to exist.

He claims that while the Pope is not forbidding the clandestine communities to ask for and obtain official recognition, neither is he inciting them to do this frivolously. On the contrary, the Pope warns them that the regime "almost always" grants recognition on the condition of doing things that are "incompatible with Catholic doctrine."

Zen firmly believes that joining the Patriotic Association is something a clandestine bishop must never do, not even to obtain his freedom.

To those who point out that the Pope has not asked officially recognized bishops to leave the Patriotic Association, Zen says the compromise is due to historical circumstances. He says the Church is allowing illegitimate bishops appointed by the government who have since returned to communion with Rome to remain 'official' but only provisionally, and with the sincere intention of changing this state of things as soon as possible.

At the Vatican, Cardinal Zen's instruction was considered his latest criticism of the Curia's "diplomatic" stance.

Until a few months ago, Vatican attention to China was mostly directed by Monsignor Pietro Parolin, undersecretary for relations with states, and Monsignor Gianfranco Rota Graziosi, bureau chief of the same section.

Parolin has the most expertise in this area, and also followed the situation of the Church in Vietnam. But last summer he was sent to Venezuela as apostolic nuncio, and no one has replaced him in the Curia who has equal competence on the China dossier.

Meanwhile, in Beijing, about a hundred Catholic representatives appointed by the government, including 40 bishops, postponed a scheduled Nov. 25-26 National Assembly of Catholic Representatives for an undetermined date.

The Assembly is the highest authority governing the Catholic Church in China, formally above the Patriotic Association and the PA's episcopal conference, the Council of Chinese Bishops. None of these three institutions is compatible with the configuration of the Catholic Church.

The powers of the Assembly include that of appointing the presidents of the Patriotic Association and of the Council of Bishops. Both of these posts have been vacant for years, because they were both occupied by the "patriotic" bishop of Beijing, Michael Fu Tieshan, who died in 2007, and of Nanjing, Joseph Liu Yuanren, who died in 2004.

In recent months, Cardinal Zen did everything he could to convince the official bishops and priests to boycott the meetings. He didn't succeed. But the Chinese authorities stopped forcing the issue. And by postponing the National Assembly of Catholic Representatives, they have left open the opportunity – or temptation – for yet another compromise with Vatican authorities.

It's all very confusing. It's difficult to say how prompt and how efficiently the pastoral letters and instructions are disseminated among the underground Catholics. Who knows how many of them are even aware at present of the Bertone letter and the Zen instructions?

In any case, it seems to me the cause of the Church in mainland China is crippled above all by the lack of at least one strong leader or rallying point within China for the underground Chinese.

Cardinal Zen favors the heroic stand but he is not inside China, and we really don't know what influence he has, if any, on the underground Church there. He does have the advantage of proximity and language over the Secretariat of State, whose translators apparently botched the first version of the Pope's letter!

And the Vatican Secretariat of State appears not to have developed an effective way of communicating with the underground Church other than established ways like the Internet (and snail mail) that the Chinese authorities can easily block.

Also, what is it really that Mons. Parolin had to contribute to improving the situation, if in the two years since the Pope's letter, he obviously failed to coordinate with Cardinal Zen in any way?

There is no one-size-fits-all solution for now. I personally think the underground bishops should decide what to do individually, based on a realistic asessment of their respective local situations, and what would be best for their underground flock. Some will choose to continue resisting, some will decide that going over to the official Church will bring more good than bad to their flock.

Meanwhile, they can look at the experience of those who are now in the official Church. If they are able to practice their faith freely and in the open, does it really matter that they have to pay lip service to the PA?

And since apparently all the official bishops in China have by now also been recognized by the Vatican, they may be justified in interpreting the Pope's letter to mean that as official bishops, they should be good citizens as well. Which means, in their case, following PA orders.

The PA appears to have just one raison d'etre: to create the appearance of a Chinese Catholic Church that is independent of Rome. It does not seem to have anything to do with the arrest, imprisonment, and sometimes, disappearance and death, of some bishops and priests, which, from all accounts, are carried out by local/regional officials arbitrarily. Equally important, the PA does not appear to deviate from the doctrine of the Church, except for the practical matter of appointing bishops.

In this context, I find the Curial interpretation of the Pope's letter reasonable.

After some accommodation was reached on the naming of bishops - with the Vatican approving the last few bishops named by the PA - Benedict XVI perhaps thinks such a provisional truce is acceptable (and preserves the apostolic succession), until the Vatican is able to work out a more satisfactory agreement with the Beijing central government on the appointment of bishops. This appointing power appears to be the only outward sign of whether the bishops of China are under the jurisdiction of Rome or of Beijing.

Meanwhile, Cardinals Bertone and Zen should come to a mutual accommodation themselves because the lack of coherence - and even downright opposition - of their respective stands only confuses the Chinese Catholics more!

Worse, some would say the Pope's letter was not at al clear, even after the Vatican published a compendium of it, which was supposed to help understanding. So, it's not very reassuring when the two cardinals most involved in the issue have radically different interpretations of what the Pope meant.

Perhaps they should ask the Pope directly which one is right. I suspect the Pope will say it is not a black-and-white situation at all and should not be dealt with inflexibly.

00Friday, December 4, 2009 7:46 PM

Not so secret: New book
features 105 documents
from Vatican archives

By Cindy Wooden

VATICAN CITY, Dec. 4 (CNS) -- With millions of documents filling almost 53 miles of shelf space, the Vatican Secret Archives obviously still hold some secrets.

Despite the aura of mystery surrounding the archives, the Vatican actually encourages academics to research its holdings and has worked with a Belgian publishing house to bring 105 of the most important, or curious, documents to the public.

The coffee-table book, The Vatican Secret Archives, was published by VdH Books in Dutch, English, French and Italian.

Cardinal Raffaele Farina, the Vatican archivist, wrote in the introduction that he knows popular books and movies love to imply there are deep dark secrets intentionally hidden from public view.

But, as Bishop Sergio Pagano, prefect of the archives, explained, the "secret" in the archives' title comes from the Latin "secretum," meaning "personal" or "private."

In fact, Pope Leo XIII ordered the archives opened to researchers in 1881, and currently 60 to 80 scholars work there each day, poring over the parchments, ledgers, letters and texts.

The new book lets readers see some of the things the academics have seen, including handwritten letters to Pope Pius IX from Abraham Lincoln and from Jefferson Davis.

Both letters were written in 1863 while the U.S. Civil War raged on.

President Lincoln's letter is a formal, diplomatic request that Pope Pius accept Rufus King as the U.S. representative to the Vatican.

The letter makes no mention of the war, but assures the pope that King is "well informed of the relative interests" of both the United States and the Vatican "and of our sincere desire to cultivate and strengthen the friendship and good correspondence between us."

On the other hand, the letter from Jefferson Davis, president of the secessionist Confederate States, is filled with references to the war and its "slaughter, ruin and devastation."

Only the first page of the letter and Davis's signature are included in the book, but the Vatican historian's commentary about the letter includes quotations from the second page as well.

The commentator said Davis wrote to Pope Pius after the Pope had written to the archbishops of New York and New Orleans "urging them to employ every possible means to end the bloodshed and restore peace."

Davis wrote to the Pope about the suffering caused by "the war now waged by the government of the United States against the states and people over which I have been chosen to preside."

He assured the Pope that the people of the South are fighting only to defend themselves and to ensure they can "live at peace with all mankind under our own laws and institutions."

The book's historical commentary said the letter was, in fact, a veiled ploy to convince Pope Pius to recognize the independence of the Confederacy and establish diplomatic relations; the Pope did not do so.

The book also includes a photograph of a letter to Pope Leo written on birch bark. The 1887 letter from the Ojibwe people of Grassy Lake, Ontario, thanks the Pope -- "the Great Master of Prayer, he who holds the place of Jesus" -- for having given them a good "custodian of prayer," the local bishop.

The birch-bark letter and the most fragile ancient documents in the archives have been digitally scanned, and scholars consult them on one of the computers in the archives' Index Room.

But most of their requests result in the actual document being retrieved from storage in an underground bunker, a loft or one of the many rooms lined with 16th- and 17th-century wooden cupboards.

In a silence broken only by an occasional page turning and a constant click-click of keys on laptop computers, the scholars examine and write about the documents.

Alfredo Tuzi, director of the reading room, said the most popular topics of current research are the 1936-39 Spanish Civil War and the rise of Nazism in Germany and Fascism in Italy, roughly during the same years.

The archival material those scholars are working with has been available to the researchers only since 2006 when Pope Benedict XVI authorized the opening of all materials related to the papacy of Pope Pius XI, who died in February 1939.

Tuzi said that like any government, the Vatican has a set policy for the gradual opening of documents to public research. While some countries stipulate a number of years -- often 50 years after the documents were written -- the Vatican Secret Archives open records one entire pontificate at a time.

Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI have asked the archives' staff to speed up the organization and cataloguing of the records from the pontificate of Pope Pius XII -- who reigned during and after World War II -- so that scholars can access them soon.

Archival material created after February 1939 is kept behind a strong wire fence in the archives' two-storey underground bunker, inaugurated by Pope John Paul II in 1983.

Made of reinforced concrete, the bunker resembles an underground parking garage featuring rows of metal shelves instead of cars. The yellow lines painted on the floors do not indicate parking spaces, but are glow-in-the-dark arrows pointing to emergency exits.

00Friday, December 4, 2009 9:49 PM

Fr. Twomey calls on all Irish bishops
named in abuse report to resign now

Religious Affairs Correspondent

Dec. 3, 2009

ALL BISHOPS named in the Dublin diocesan report “should resign immediately from their current pastoral positions”, leading theologian Dr Vincent Twomey has said.

The former professor of moral theology at St Patrick’s College, Maynooth, said “the longer they delay in doing so, the greater the damage they will do to all faithful Catholics, and in particular to the survivors of abuse who are still paying the price for the sins of their priests and bishops”.

In a letter published in The Irish Times today, he says “my instinct is to defend the church from unfounded attacks. But the revelations of the Murphy report are something else. The actions, or rather for the most part, the inactions of the bishops named there are simply indefensible.”

He says: “at the very least, it would seem, all were guilty of negligence – some, such as Bishop Donal Murray of Limerick, whose behaviour was described as ‘inexcusable’, more than others. But all were deemed guilty of inaction, of failing to listen to their conscience, as Mary Raftery put it on radio and television.”

Author of a number of books including End of Irish Catholicism? , Dr Twomey was a doctoral pupil of the current Pope for seven years at Tübingen University in Germany.

Mons. Twomey is the author of a biography-cum-theology of Joseph Ratzinger/Benedict XV.

He is also a member of the Schülerkreis, an annual conference of the Pope’s graduate students who meet the Pontiff annually. This get-together has taken place at Castel Gandolfo every summer since Pope Benedict’s election to the papacy in 2005.

Speaking last night, Dr Twomey said he had written the letter in a personal capacity. He had found the response of Ireland’s Catholic bishops following publication of the report last week “mind-boggling”.

“They seem incapable of responding,” he added.

In his letter, Dr Twomey says the bishops “were deemed guilty of putting the interests of the institution above the safety and welfare of children. Their failure to act when necessary, whatever the motivation, caused profound emotional damage to the victims of clerical sexual abuse and their families, and facilitated even more abuse.”

He said “their failure to act decisively has also, as Fr Tom Doyle, the American canon lawyer, said on Prime Time , caused untold spiritual damage to those entrusted to their pastoral care”.

Meanwhile, it emerged the Office of the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Barry Andrews is preparing legislation to create a Criminal Assets Bureau type of dedicated agency to oversee information on child abuse.

A proposal that the Garda vetting unit be put on a statutory basis and that this body would have responsibility for the management of all information on child abuse is being explored.

00Saturday, December 5, 2009 12:18 AM


Sandro Magister rightly calls attention on his blog to this development - which is huge, in terms of what it says about how even a reputable newspaper editor has no second thoughts about playing unscrupulously to bring down a fellow editor, and three months later, he now says it was all a mistake and the victim was really not what he had made him out to be! I wonder how the rest of the Italian media will treat this!

Feltri bows to Boffo
and says he was given
false documents

Translated from

Dec. 4, 2009

Left, Vittorio Feltri; right, Dino Boffo.

More than three months since his attack on Dino Boffo and Avvenire, the editor of Il Giornale, Vittorio Feltri, has revisited the issue and says that for him, "The case is now closed".

Closed with his verification that the charges he levelled against Boffo last September were false.

Feltri writes that he "had a chance to see" the procedural documents about the court case that involved the former editor of Avvenire {forced to resign several days after the scandal provoked by Feltri's front-page charges against him]. And that "from these documents, Dino Boffo is not implicated in any homosexual incidents' nor is he referred to as 'homosexual'.

Consequently, Feltri yields the honors to Boffo both for being a 'prestigious and appreciated' journalist and for the "sober and dignified' attitude he took. Boffo, he says, "can only inspire admiration".

There is more, in Feltri's retraction [in the form of an answer to a woman reader who asks about the episode].

In effect, he says he looked into the charges made against Boffo not before he published his headline-grabbing accusations last August, but only afterwards, much later.

And claims that he published the accusatory documents he did, which he later verified to be false - only because they were "delivered by a reliable informant, one above suspicion".

Feltri does not give specifics. But the documents given to him were exactly the same that had been sent earlier that summer by mail, anonymously, to some 200 Italian bishops and prominent Italian Catholics.

It is thought they come from Catholic elements who were against Boffo, and who finally hit the mark, thanks to Feltri.

Well, Feltri's 'above suspicion' source can hardly crow now.

Marco Tarquinio has been named the new editor of Avvenire, and Dino Boffo's real friends could not have wished for anyone better.

While Feltri remains at Giornale nursing poisonous thoughts about the informant who misled him. [He should have known better!]

Here is the text of Feltri's note from Page 1 of Giornale today, Dec. 4, 2009, preceded by the reader's letter that gave him the occasion to make this retraction:

The case is closed:
On Boffo, I have had
a chance to see...

Translated from

Dec. 4, 2009

Dear Editor,

I read in your paper some considerations about Dino Boffo, the editor of Avvenire who resigned after having been implicated in a complicated episode of molestation.

I must say that I have always wondered why such a trivial matter became so huge as to cause a media fracas far beyond what it deserved.

As the one who lit the fuse, what do you have to say about this from a distance of three months?

Eva Cambra

Dear Madame,

When we published the news, which was not really new (it had already been revealed by Panorama although with little evidence), we were aware that it would not pass unnoticed. Not for the substance in itself, which is insignificant from the penal angle, but for its political effect.

It was a time of media pyrotechnics over the presumed amorous excesses of (Prime Minister) Berlusconi. La Repubblica, in particular, had daily reports about his female escorts and bedroom gossip. The so-called political debate had given way to gossip used as a weapon against the Prime Minister, on TV as well as in the national and international press.

Even Avvenire, usually calm and reflective, yielded to the temptation of setting off a couple of fireworks itself. Nothing exceptional, even, but given the source, the effect resonated.

Notwithstanding, I personally would not have concerned myself about Dino Boffo, a prestigious and appreciated journalist, if I had not been given by a reliable informant - above suspicion, I would say - a photocopy of the judicial form that prescribed a penalty against him for telephone molestations. With it, a note that [purported to] summarize(d) the reasons for the penalty.

The reconstruction of the 'facts' as described in the note, I can say today, do not correspond to the actual contents of the procedural documents [relating to the case and sentencing] .

At the time, we judged the case interesting to show that we all prefer not to speculate on the private affairs of others because even ours, if scrutinized, would never turn out to be perfect. [???? If he/they thought so, then why did Feltri proceed with his unequivocal Page 1 assault on Boffo's morals, having nothing but those two 'documents' to base it on????]

I could have finished there. However, the day after, pandemonium ensued because the newspapers and TV triggered an unjustified dust-up. [He's blaming the newspapers and TV???? He knew exactly the effect his Page 1 accusations would have!]

The 'thing', as you say, instead of remaining a small matter thus became blown up. [No editor considers a story 'small' when he places it on Page 1 with the literally blaring headline he gave it, and written by him, no less! Besides, Feltri wrote another strident Page 1 story later against Boffo that was definitely ad hominem and standing his ground!]

But perhaps, it might have remained 'small' if Boffo, in the midst of teh controversy (easy to say, now), instead of keeping the court file under wraps, had made it public himself, allowing verification that the case was really trivial and not a scandal.

In fact, from the court file, Dino Boffo is not implicated in any homosexual incidents, much less referred to as a 'known homosexual' [as the anonymous note had claimed].

This is the truth. Today, Boffo would still be at the top of Avvenire. Moreover, Boffo knew to be restrained, despite everything that had been said and written about him, keeping a sober and dignified attitude that can only evoke admiration.


But this is outrageous. Magister was being too kind with Feltri.

This explanation/retraction does not even carry a single word of apology to Boffo for having put him - irresponsibly as it turns out, since Feltri never bothered to check the documents given him, as any greenfoot journalist would - in such a life-changing situation. Indeed, he even blames Boffo for not having disclosed the court files himself!

And worse, no apology to Avvenire, and the Italian bishops, and the Church itself, for the great scandal he, Feltri, caused. And no apology for conduct unbecoming a fair journalist, not to mention editor!

Should the Italian press associations not institute some formal censure of Feltri for abominable practices that practically ruined Boffo's reputation, if not his career?

As published widely in the Italian media at the time (and posted here), these are the documents on which Feltri based his original story:

Left, a copy of the court order penalizing Boffo with a fine for telephone molestation; right, the anonymous 'note' claiming that the case was about a homosexual situation that involved Boffo. What fair-minded journalist would have rushed to write a Page 1 story with a 72-point headline on the basis of documents that look as disreputable as the above, without verifying the allegations first? BTW, Feltri claimed in his original story that the anonymous note was a 'police information bulletin'.

Reaction from


SIR (Servizio Informazione Religiosa), the news agency of the Italian Bishops' Conference, and therefore a sister agency of Avvenire, has posted a note reacting to Feltri's retraction:

What editor Feltri wrote today in his newspaper, replying to a letter on 'the Boffo case', leads to some first considerations that, on the one hand, are consolatory because they confirm that truth finds a way to make itself known despite attempts to block it, but on the other hand, they bring back questions that arose from many quarters when this episode broke out, on the value and respect for professional ethics in the information media.

One must now seriously confront within the journalistic field the ultimate motivations in a profession that loses its way if it does not serve the truth, the common good, and the dignity of others: a frontier in which Dino Boffo always gave all he had.

The following statements were released by


In behalf of Dino Boffo

Mr. Boffo wishes to spend the day in reflection where he is these days, outside Italy. He wants to make it known that his thoughts today are particularly for the persons and families who were carelessly drawn into the accusations that were made to his detriment, and hopes that at least now, they will be left in peace.

Statement from Marco Tarquinio
New editor of Avvenire

As far as I am concerned, the story published today on Page 1 of Il Giornale by Vittorio Feltri does not repair the damage that was done, not only to Boffo as a person, but to the idea itself about providing correct information, that must be verified before reporting it, and on how any journalistic battle should be fought. However, it does set the facts right.

I said at the time that with a gentleman like Dino Boffo, time, too, would be a gentleman to him. For once, we have waited far less than usual for this to happen.

A truth that had been turned upside down has been made right, and that matters. It is an important retraction because it could reflect the responsibility that journalists have towards our readers, towards a free press, and to ourselves.

00Saturday, December 5, 2009 8:13 PM

Here is an item that is very much and always apropos, especially in the light of Benedict XVI's extemporaneous homily to the International Theological Commission last Wednesday about the essence of true theology.

Theologians who believe they personally have an unprecedented contribution to Church thinking - which contradicts or fudges what has been taught for 2000 years - should find a mechanism whereby they can express their 'ground-breaking/world-shaking' personal opinion on Church doctrine.

Something that shows humility and honesty, not just their overweening ego, such as perhaps prefacing every statement of their unorthodox opinions by saying "I know this is not what the Church teaches, and I do not expect any faithful Catholic to agree with me nor to accept what I say as Catholic teaching, but this is what I believe. However, I will not teach this as a Catholic theologian."

USCCB theologian criticizes
a Fordham theologian for
yet another Jesuit case
of dubious Christology

A reminder of the deep divides
within the theological community

Dec. 04, 2009

Back in 1993, then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger gave an address in Hong Kong to the presidents of Asian bishops’ conferences on Christology, meaning the Church’s teaching about Christ.

Ratzinger criticized trends in contemporary theology that he believed gave too much away for the sake of accommodating religious diversity, and a footnote cited the work of Belgian Jesuit theologian Jacques Dupuis.

At that stage, Ratzinger’s footnote was no more than a scholarly citation, yet it signaled that Dupuis was on the radar screen of the Church’s doctrinal authorities. For those paying attention, it thus came as little surprise that eight years later, Dupuis was subject of a critical Vatican “notification.” (Dupuis died in 2004.)

Right now, the memory of that episode might make Terrence Tilley, a Fordham theologian and past president of the Catholic Theological Society of America, shudder.

Weinandy(left) and Tilley.

In the most recent issue of the Quarterly of the Fellowship of Catholic Scholars, Capuchin Fr. Thomas Weinandy, executive director of the U.S. Bishops’ Secretariat of Doctrine, subjects Tilley’s presidential address to the CTSA last June to a withering critique – in effect, suggesting that it offered clever rhetoric masking “doctrinal ambiguity and error.”

In very broad strokes, the CTSA is often perceived as leaning to the left in Catholic debate, while the Fellowship of Catholic Scholars has a reputation as more conservative.

Weinanday’s essay was affixed with a note that his views “do not necessarily reflect any position of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.” Of course, it’s also not quite the same thing to be targeted by a staffer for the U.S. bishops as to be singled out by the Vatican’s doctrinal czar and a future Pope.

At the moment, there is no reason to believe that either Tilley or the CTSA is likely to face any sort of official investigation or reprimand.

At a minimum, however, Weinandy’s essay is a reminder of the deep divides within the theological community, as well as the sometimes uneasy relationship between the Church’s doctrinal authorities and its theological guild. [Which should not be uneasy at all if all Catholic theologians, especially priests who teach in Catholic institutions, think of themselves as priests first, who owe filial obedience to the Successor of Peter and therefore respect for his Magisterium, which is that of the Church and not his personal teaching!]

Though the disputes involved are complex, as with Dupuis the heart of the matter is Christology. The title of Weinandy's essay, "The Demise of the Doctrine of the Incarnation" suggests that Tilley's views question that Christ was both fully God and fully human -- a charge that Tilley denies.

One core point concerns method. Tilley suggests that contemporary theologians are doing what earlier Church fathers and councils did: Finding ways to express who Christ was in ways relevant to their cultures and times, without betraying the content of the faith.

Weinandy, on the other hand, insists that classic doctrines aren’t “models,” but rather “a true ontological account of the mystery, one that can be known and believed.”

In effect, Weinandy accuses Tilley of a kind of relativism.

Another bone of contention is the exercise of ecclesiastical authority. Tilley criticizes what he calls "[S}star-chamber tactics and political sanctions” from the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in attempting to stifle theological reflection, while Weinandy says that when the Vatican criticizes a theologian, it always does so “in a scholarly, respectful and professional manner.”

[Tilley is seriously disingenuous here - which is a courteous way of saying 'You Lie!'. Can he cite one example of 'star-chamber tactics' or 'political sanctions' that have ever been employed by the CDF against dissenting theologians since Vatican II?

Those who want to cast the 'enemy' in a bad light often do so by making unfounded and damning general statements like the above, trusting that none of those who listen or read them knows the facts or will bother to check them out. It's reprehensible that a theologian does so like a garden-variety politician.]

The full texts involved can be found here:

•Tilley’s presidential address:
•Weinandy’s response in the Fellowship of Catholic Scholars quarterly:

00Sunday, December 6, 2009 7:18 PM

Apostolic visitants of Legion of Christ
gather in Rome for first assessment

From top, left to right: Blázquez, Versaldi, Ezzatti, Chaput and Matti.

Rome, Italy, Dec 4, 2009 (CNA) - The five bishops taking part in the Apostolic Visitation of the Legionaries of Christ are meeting at the Vatican for their first evaluation.

The meeting is being held today and Saturday at the office of the Vatican Secretary of State and is being led by Archbishop Fernando Filoni, Substitute for General Affairs.

The five bishops present at the meeting are Bishop Ricardo Watti Urquidi of Tepic, Mexico; Archbishop Charles Chaput of Denver, United States; Archbishop Ricardo Ezzati Andrello of Concepcion, Chile; Bishop Guiseppe Versaldi of Alexandria, Italy; and Bishop Ricardo Blazquez Perez of Bilbao, Spain.

Officials said media reports of an emergency meeting between the bishops that supposedly took place in October were completely false.

Earlier this year on March 13, the Superior General of the Legionaries of Christ, Father Alvaro Corcuera, publican announced the decision of Pope Benedict XVI to carry out an Apostolic Visitation of the order, which began on July 15.

00Tuesday, December 8, 2009 2:22 AM

I am surprised that Archbishop Williams should react the way he is doing. What did he expect, after 'deciding' last summer that the way to avoid a schism int he Anglican Communion it to have it proceed on a double-track - one track for those who are traditional in doctrine adn practices, the other for those who want their Church to give in to all the ultra-liberal lifestyle indulgences of the contemporary world?

Archbishop of Canterbury calls
on Episcopalians in the United States
to block lesbian bishop's appointment

By Steve Doughty

Dec. 7, 2009

The Archbishop of Canterbury today called on American Anglicans to block the appointment of a lesbian bishop.

Dr Rowan Williams warned that the selection of a new homosexual bishop could push the divided Anglicans over the edge into full-blown schism.

The Archbishop spoke out after leaders of the Church of England's sister church in Los Angeles chose 55-year-old Reverend Mary Glasspool as an assistant bishop.

He said the choice raised 'serious questions' and warned it was a threat to the 'bonds' that tie 77million Anglicans together.

Canon Glasspool, who lives with her long-term partner Becki Sander, acclaimed her election as a victory for gay rights.

'Any group of people who have been oppressed because of any one, isolated, aspect of their person yearns for justice and equal rights,' she said.

The historic worldwide network of Anglican churches that owe allegiance to Canterbury has been locked in angry dispute for six years since the liberal-dominated US Episcopal Church first appointed a gay bishop.

Following the consecration of the Right Reverend Gene Robinson as Bishop of New Hampshire in 2003, Dr Williams and other Anglican leaders asked the Americans to hold back from further controversial appointments in the interest of unity.

The Archbishop said today: 'The election of Mary Glasspool by the Diocese of Los Angeles as suffragan bishop elect raises very serious questions not just for the Episcopal Church and its place in the Anglican Communion, but for the Communion as a whole.

Dr. Rowan Williams said that Canon Glasspool's appointment raised 'serious questions'

'The process of selection however is only part complete. The election has to be confirmed, or could be rejected, by diocesan bishops and diocesan standing committees.'

Dr Williams added: 'That decision will have very important implications.

"The bishops of the Communion have collectively acknowledged that a period of gracious restraint in respect of actions which are contrary to the mind of the Communion is necessary if our bonds of mutual affection are to hold."

Conservative Anglican in the US and Britain have developed links with traditionalists in Africa and Latin America which could lead to a breakaway Anglican church which rejects homosexual practice and women priests.

While many evangelicals are attracted to the new Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans, conservative Anglo-Catholics have been offered incentives to breakaway from Anglicanism and return to the fold of the Roman Catholic Church.

Pope Benedict has offered them their own bishops and parishes, and the right to appoint their own married priests while keeping traditional Church of England services.

The Reverend Rod Thomas of the evangelical Reform movement in the Church of England said of the Los Angeles appointment: 'I feel deeply ashamed that this is happening in the Anglican Church. I think a schism is absolutely inevitable.'

Canon Glasspool said: 'I am very excited about the future of the whole Episcopal Church, and I see the Diocese of Los Angeles leading the way into that future.'

00Wednesday, December 9, 2009 1:45 PM

Another Israel-Vatican session
on stalled property disputes,
another statement of 'final stages'
in 14 years of fruitless talks

JERUSALEM, Dec. 9 (AFP) – A top Israeli official was headed to the Vatican on Wednesday for a new round of talks on long-standing disputes over Church property in the Holy Land and other issues that have marred ties.

Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon will head an Israeli delegation at the plenary meeting of the joint economic commission starting Thursday, according to a ministry statement, which sounded an upbeat note despite the continuing, deep-rooted disagreements.

The negotiations "are in their final stages after reaching significant understandings in recent months," mainly on issues of taxation and the legal status of Vatican personnel, it said.

But senior officials told AFP that, despite much agreement between the two sides, differences remain over the status of more than 100 Church properties in Israel, occupied east Jerusalem and the West Bank.

In the case of six sites in Jerusalem and the Galilee area, Israel rejects demands that the Church be granted full control of its property, and wishes to maintain a right to expropriate sections of the sites for future public infrastructure works.

"We will insist on our right to expropriate" Vatican property in case the need arises, the statement said.

A senior official involved in the talks said "the disagreement is over the future of the land surrounding the sites and what the state could do with them... The state wants to be allowed to use it for infrastructure work."

The most contentious property is the Cenacle, which Christians believe to be the site of the Last Supper and which is located on the second floor of the ancient Mount Zion building that houses King David's tomb.

"Everything that has to do with Jerusalem and Mount Zion will remain under full Israeli sovereignty. The issue is not on the table," the official said.

Another source of discord is the status of the Hospice of the Daughters of Charity of St Vincent de Paul, which cares for Palestinians with severe physical and mental handicaps.

Israeli developers have long been interested in the sprawling site, which sits on prime real estate just outside the Christian quarter walls of the Old City.

Under a bilateral agreement signed in 1993, which marked a historic rapprochement between Israel and the Vatican, a joint commission was set up to resolve the financial and real estate issues, notably in territory occupied by the Jewish state after 1967.

Negotiations have sputtered ever since they resumed in 2004 after a 10-year hiatus.

P.S. The Vatican Press Office has released the usual communique after each of these sessions, in which only the dates and some participants' names seem to change:

The Plenary meeting of the Commission took place in an atmosphere of cordiality and mutual understanding. The Delegation of the Holy See was headed by Monsignor Ettore Balestrero, Under-Secretary for Relations with States; and the Delegation of the State of Israel was headed by Mr Daniel Ayalon, M.K, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs.

The Plenary took notice of the work done by the "Working Level" Commission, since the previous Plenary, and has agreed guidelines for the further work to be done.

It was also agreed to hold the next Plenary meeting on 27 May 2010, at the Vatican. The next "Working Level" meeting will take place on 7 January 2010.

The Delegation of the Holy See (H.S.):

- Monsignor Ettore Balestrero, Under-Secretary for Relations with States at the Secretariat of State; Chairman.
- H.E. Archbishop Antonio Franco, Apostolic Nuncio in Israel,
- H.E. Bishop Giacinto-Boulos Marcuzzo, Latin Patriarcal Vicar;
- Msgr Maurizio Malvestiti, Under-Secretary of the Congregation for the Eastern Churches;
- Msgr. Alberto Ortega, Secretariat of State;
- Father David-Maria A. Jaeger, OFM, Legal Adviser;
- Father Jacek Dobromir Jasztal, OFM;
- Father Pietro Felet, SCJ;
- Mr Henry Amoroso, Second Legal Adviser;
- Mr Samir Abu-NassaR, CPA;
- Fr Giovanni Caputa, SDB, Secretary.

The Delegation of the State of Israel (S.I.)
- Mr Daniel Ayalon, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs; Chairman.
- Mr. Shmuel Ben-Shmuel, Head of World Jewish and Interreligious Affairs Bureau, MFA;
- Mr Mordechay Lewy, Ambassador of Israel to the Holy See;
- Mr Ronen Gil-Or, Director of General Law Department, MFA;
- Mr. Bahij Mansour, Director Departmentof Religious Affairs, MFA;
- Mr Moshe Golan, Senior Deputy State’s Attorney, Responsible of Civil Law Matters, Ministry of Justice;
- Mr Oded Brook, Head of the International Affairs Division , Ministry of Finance;
- Ms Klarina Shpitz, Chief of Staff, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs.

00Wednesday, December 9, 2009 10:36 PM

Apostolic visitation of US nuns' orders
moving forward despite ‘boycott’ reports

Washington D.C., Dec 4, 2009 (CNA) - Responding to a report which claimed that the majority of women religious are not complying with the apostolic visitation, the Apostolic Visitation Office has said that “some congregations” have sent incomplete responses but the effort is moving ahead as planned.

The National Catholic Reporter in a Nov. 24 article cited unnamed sources who claimed a significant number of religious congregations were not cooperating with the Apostolic Visitation.

“There's been almost universal resistance” said one unnamed woman religious who reportedly was familiar with the congregations’ responses. "We are saying 'enough!' In my 40 years in religious life I have never seen such unanimity."

Nov. 20 was the deadline for questionnaires to be returned to the apostolic visitator, Mother Mary Clare Millea, who is superior of the Apostles of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

The National Catholic Reporter, citing “an informed source,” said many women religious submitted only partial answers to the questionnaire. Some sent in copies of their orders’ religious constitutions, arguing that this contained the information requested.

However, a statement from the Apostolic Visitation Office casts doubt on the extent of this uncooperativeness.

The Apostolic Visitation’s assistant for communications, Sr. Kieran Foley, FSE, responded to a CNA inquiry about the reported boycott.

She said the office continues to receive responses from major superiors to the questionnaires and has not yet completed its review of these responses.

“In a spirit of confidentiality, as I am sure you will understand, we are not at liberty to disclose how many we have received or from whom,” Sr. Foley told CNA. “While some of the congregations did send incomplete answers to the questionnaire, the Apostolic Visitation will be moving ahead as planned with the phases as described on the Apostolic Visitation web site, that is, at the completion of the data collection from the questionnaires (Phase 2), we will proceed to Phase 3, conducting selected on-site visits to congregations.”

On July 28 the Apostolic Visitation sent to congregation leaders a working document called an Instrumentum Laboris, which outlines the aims of the Visitation.

The document presented “reflection topics” for all members of religious orders to consider in preparation for the visitation. Topics included the religious identity of the respondent’s order, its governance and financial administration, and its spiritual and common life.

Questions were presented concerning religious orders’ vocation promotion, admission and formation policies, and fidelity to and expression of their vows. The reflections also asked respondents about their concerns for the future of their religious order.

00Sunday, December 13, 2009 10:43 PM

McKillop canonization to be
announced before Christmas?

by Vincent Morello

Dec. 13, 2009

Pope Benedict at the Mary McKillop chapel in Sydney, July 2008.

THE Vatican is tipped to decree Mary MacKillop's second miracle before Christmas, all but confirming her as Australia's first saint.

The woman at the centre of the campaign for her canonisation, Sister Maria Casey, says the Vatican planned to announce last week that the apparent curing of a woman with cancer during the mid-1990s, after prayers to Mary MacKillop, was a miracle.

But it was forced to delay the announcement.

"There was the possibility that we would've heard sometime last week, but events in Rome precluded that," Sr Casey said last night.

She is the Australian Catholic Church's official representative in Rome campaigning for the canonisation.

"I don't envisage any announcement before or during next weekend, but we do think it might be before Christmas," she said. "We are very hopeful indeed."

Sr Casey said it was usual for the Vatican to make announcements in the run-up to Christmas.

The Vatican already recognises that Mary MacKillop is responsible for one miracle, the healing of a woman with terminal leukaemia.

She was beatified by Pope John Paul II in 1995.

Sister Casey said if a second miracle were decreed by the Vatican before Christmas, Mary MacKillop would probably be canonised early in the new year.

Speculation that an announcement was near began building after Prime Minister Kevin Rudd attended mass at Mary MacKillop Chapel in North Sydney, where she is interred, yesterday morning.

A spokesman for the Prime Minister would not confirm if the visit had anything to do with any announcement.

But a spokeswoman for the Sisters of St Joseph, the congregation founded by Mary MacKillop, admitted that excitement and expectations were running high both in Rome and in Australia.

"The sisters are very excited and they're waiting on an announcement some time, hopefully, before Christmas," the spokeswoman said.

Mary MacKillop is revered for her lifetime of work across Australia, establishing schools and refuges for orphans and the needy.

She was born in Melbourne, worked extensively in South Australia, and died in North Sydney in 1909, aged 67.

00Monday, December 14, 2009 12:07 AM

This was the leading article from The Catholic Herald, on November 4, 2009, when the Murphy Report had just been released. I did not see it then, but what it has to say is timeless and strikes all the right notes against hand-wringing and the feeling of despair that is bound to follow such devastating findings.

The Murphy report is a cry
for deep spiritual renewal

The Ryan report on Irish child abuse, published in May, left us holding our collective breath, waiting for the publication of the Murphy inquiry into child abuse in the Archdiocese of Dublin.

And it has proved again to be not so much another nail in the coffin as another nail in the Cross. The Body of Christ has been wounded, not by his enemies but by those who claimed to be his friends.

Our immediate task is to be on our knees: first, to pray for the victims; second, to pray for the priests who betrayed their vocations; third, to pray for those whose dereliction of duty put the reputation of the Church ahead of the command of love. And throughout we must remember that we “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”.

It is in that spirit alone that we may start to ask the questions. We must never minimise the damage which sexual abuse so often does to the young. Those who have suffered know this; those who work with them in later life know this too.

Yet it is common in many circumstances – including that of the close family. It is not typified as a clerical crime, nor indeed exclusive to any one sexual tendency. Like so many sexual sins, the temptations can be blindingly powerful, and what may seem to the perpetrator to be an almost trivial incident can have consequences which echo through a lifetime. Our only safeguard is to work continuously at the virtue of chastity, whether we are married or unmarried.

Though we may shrink with disgust from the sin, we recoil with a different emotion from the calculated cover-up, described by the report as “the maintenance of secrecy, the avoidance of scandal, the protection of the Church and the preservation of its assets”.

This was not spontaneous temptation but cold, institutionalised policy, carried out at senior levels – and implicitly encouraged by the neglect of the Holy See*. The reputation of the Church was preserved at the direct cost of Christ’s little ones. Here at least holy anger is justified. “My house is a house of prayer, but you have made it a den of thieves.”

And with holy anger may come hope. Is there a chance that the Church will be shocked into abandoning its cultural history of treating authority as a hierarchy of power and not as a hierarchy of loving service? Will we learn that we are a community bonded in our readiness to accept and love each other: “members of one another” – not just in words but in truth?

And since we are members of one another, should we not ask our bishops to declare a day of solemn reparation for the institutional and personal corruption with which we have wounded the Body of Christ?

*[This is assuming that the Holy See was aware at all times of what was taking place in Ireland. Is it not reasonable to assume that the secrecy clampdown by the local bishops extended, with more reason, to keeping the Vatican from knowing about the crimes and the cover-up?

No one appears to have sat down so far to determine exactly what the Vatican knew and when it knew about the Irish abuses. It was unlikely to have been before the scandals in the US broke through into the media.

As late as 2000, even Cardinal Ratzinger had dismissed the initial outcry over the US cases as mostly media-generated and not likely to be as widespread as reported.

Yet by 2005, his CDF has been assigned by John Paul II to receive complaints of priestly offenses, and he had begun the investigation of Father Maciel, which surely was part of why he denounced 'filth in the Church' at the Good Friday Via Crucis.

I am still awaiting a good and objective recounting of these scandals at the level of the local Churches and how and when they were reported to the Vatican - whether to the Congregation for the Clergy or the Congregation for Bishops or the CDF.

In Ireland, there was the egregious case earleir this year of Bishop John Magee of Cloyne, who was a private secretary to Paul VI, John Paul I [he was the first prelate to see the dead body of John Paul I), and John Paul II, for whom he also became the first Master of Liturgical Ceremonies until he was appointed to be Bishop of Cloyne in 1987.

However, as Bishop of Cloyne, he was later found by one of the earliest investigations into the Irish child abuse scandals to have failed to implement in his diocese self-regulatory procedures agreed by the bishops of Ireland in 1996. In particular, his diocese would not cooperate with a government investigation into two cases brought up in 2008. All this could make him criminally liable under Irish law for reckless endangerment of children.

Magee subsequently issued a statement acknowledging his failing but refused to resign. In March 2009, in response to a request by Magee, Pope Benedict XVI appointed an Apostolic Administrator to run the Diocese of Cloyne, while Magee, now 74, claimed he would devote his time to cooperating into inquiries about child abuse under his administration.

Magee's shortcomings were, of course, aggravated and magnified by the fact that he had held the positions he did at the Vatican

00Monday, December 14, 2009 8:14 PM

It appears the Australian reporters are really wired in on this story. Interesting detail here that we may not just get a new saint from Oceania but also that two Popes of recent history will also be declared Venerable!

Nod for MacKillop sainthood this week

December 15, 2009

ROME: Mary MacKillop will be approved as Australia's first saint on Saturday, according to a senior official of the Vatican Congregation for Saints.

The congregation will present the case for her canonisation to Pope Benedict, whose approval of it is regarded as certain.

The official said her canonisation in St Peter's Basilica will probably be held during the following European autumn to allow time for adequate preparation and the arrival of followers from Australia. Canonisation ceremonies usually draw tens of thousands from the country of the saint concerned.

A meeting of cardinals, expected to be held in February or March, is required to confirm the Pope's decision but this is regarded as a purely formal event.

The Blessed (Mother) Mary clashed with some church authorities over her establishment and direction of the Sisters of St Joseph, devoted to educational work.

Sixteen years after her death in 1909, Archbishop Michael Kelly of Sydney established a tribunal to examine her life.

The investigation was completed in 1973. In 1992 the Vatican recognised she had led a life of ''heroic virtue''.

Three years later the Vatican, recognising that she was instrumental in a miraculous cure of a woman dying of cancer, beatified her. A second miraculous cure after beatification is required before canonisation.

It appears the cure of a second cancer case has now been adjudged miraculous, opening the way for her to become St Mary of the Cross.

Canonisation means that her name is included in the canon of the saints which are recognised by Catholics worldwide.

Other cases will be put forward to the Pope along with Mother Mary McKillop on Saturday. One will be that of Brother Andre Besette of the Holy Cross Order who is known as the Miracle Worker of Montreal. [I have a special devotion to Brother Andre who was the spirit and visionary behind the Shrine of St. Joseph in Montreal!]

Two other possibilities are Popes John Paul II and Pius XII. Recognition of John Paul began with demands for santo subito - instant sainthood - during his funeral rites.

His successor, Benedict, waived the normal five-year wait before examination of a candidate for sainthood can begin. Recognition of Pius comes after angry Jewish protests against his alleged inadequate response to Nazi persecution of Jews.

00Monday, December 21, 2009 11:49 PM

From left, Mary McKillop, Andre Bessette, John Paul II, Pius XII, and Jerzy Popieluszko.

It's only right that I should post this item on this thread, and not just in the BENEDICT thread, for the record.


Translated from

Today, December 19,2009, the Holy Father Benedict XVI received in private audience Mons. Angelo Amato, S.D.B., Prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, during which the Holy Father authorized the promulgation of decrees regarding:

- A miracle, attributed to the intercession of Blessed Stanislaus Sołtys, called Kazimierczyk, priest of the order of Canons Regular of the Lateran, born Sept. 27, 1433 in Kazimierz (Poland) where he died on May 3, 1489;

- A miracle, attributed to the intercession of Blessed Andre Bessette (secular name, Alfred), religious of the Congregation of the Holy Cross, born in Saint-Grégoire d'Iberville (Canada) on Aug. 9, 1845, and died in Montréal on Jan. 6, 1937;

- A miracle, attributed to the intercession of Blessed Mary of the Cross McKillop (secular name, Mary Helen), founder of the Congregation of the Sisters of St. Joseph of the Sacred Heart, born Jan. 15, 1842, in Fitzroy (Australia) and died Aug. 8, 1909 in Sydney;

- A miracle, attributed to the intercession of Blessed Candida Maria de Jesus Cipitria y Barriola (nee Juanna Joesfa), Spanish founder of the Congregation of the Daughters of Jesus (1845-1912).

- A miracle, attributed to the intercession of Blessed Giulia Salzano, Founder of the Congregation of the Catechist Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, born Oct. 12, 1846 in Santa Maria Capua Vetere (Italy) and died May 17, 1929, in Casoria;

- A miracle, attributed to the intercession of Blessed Battista da Varano (secular name, Camuilla), nun of the Order of St. Clare and founder of the Monastery of St. Clare in Camerino (Italy), born April 19, 1458, in Camerino, where she died on May 31, 1524;

- A miracle, attributed to the intercession of the Venerable Servant of God Josep Tous y Soler, priest of the Order of Capuchin Minor Friars and founder of the Congregation of the Capuchin Sisters of the Mother of the Divine Shepherd, born March 31, 1811, in Igualada (Spain), died Feb. 27, 1871, in Barcelona;

- A miracle, attributed to the intercession of the Venerable Servant of God Leopoldo de Alpandeire Sánchez Márquez (secular name, Francisco), lay member of the Capuchin order, born July 24, 1866 in Alpandeire (Spain), and died Feb. 9, 1956, in Granada.

- A miracle, attributed to the intercession of the Venerable Servant of God Emanuele Lozano Garrido, layman, born Aug. 9, 1920, in Linares (Spain). where he died on Nov. 3, 1971;

- A miracle, attributed to the intercession of the Venerable Servant of God Teresa Manganiello, Laywoman, of the Third Franciscan Order, born in Montefusco (Italy) on Jan. 1, 1849, where she died on Nov. 4, 1876;

- A miracle, attributed to the intercession of the Venerable Servant of God Chiara Badano, laywoman, born in Sassello (Italy) on Oct. 29, 1971, where she died on Oct. 7, 1990;

- The martyrdom of the Servant of God Jerzy Popiełuszko, diocesan priest, born Sept. 14, 1947, in Okopy Suchowola (Poland) and killed in hatred of the faith on Oct. 20, 1984, near Włocławek;

- The heroic virtues of Blessed Giacomo Illirico of Bitetto , lay member of the Franciscan Order; born in 1400 in Zara (Dalmatia), died around 1496 in Bitetto (Italy);

- The heroic virtues of the Servant of God Pius XII (Eugenio Pacelli), Supreme Pontiff, born in Rome on March 1, 1876, died in Castel Gandolfo on Oct. 11, 1958;

- The heroic virtues of the Servant of God John Paul II (Karol Wojtyła), Supreme Pontiff, born May 18, 1920, in Wadowice (Poland), died in Rome on April 2, 2005.

- The heroic virtues of the Servant of God Louis Brisson, priest and founder of the Oblates of St. Frnacis de Sales, born June 23, 1817, in Plancy (France) where he died on Feb. 2, 1908;

- The heroic virtues of the Servant of God Giuseppe Quadrio, prest of the Salesian Society of St. John Bosco, born Nov, 28, 1921, in Vervio (Italy), died in Turin on Oct, 23, 1963;

- The heroic virtues of the Servant of God Mary Ward (secular name, Joanne), founder of the Institute of the Sisters of the Blessed Virgin Mary, now the Congregation of Jesus, born in Mulwith (England) on Jan. 23, 1585, died im Hewarth on Jan. 30, 1645;

- The heroic virtues of the Servant of God Antonia Maria Verna, Founder of the Institute of Sister of Charity of the Immaculate Conception of Ivrea, born June 12, 1773, in Pasquaro di Rivarolo (Italy), where she died on Dec. 25, 1838;

- The heroic virtues of the Servant of God Maria Chiara Serafina di Gesù Farolfi (secular name, Francesca), founder of the Poor Clare Francscan Missionaries of the Holy Sacrament, born Oct. 7, 1853, in Tossignano (Italy), died June 19, 1917, in Badia di Bertinoro;

- The heroic virtues of the Servant of God Enrica Alfieri (secular name, Maria Angela), nun of the Congregation of the Susters of Charity of St. Jeanne Thouret, born Feb. 23, 1891, in Borgovercelli (Italy), died in Milan on Nov. 23, 1951;

- The heroic virtues of the Servant of God Giunio Tinarelli, layman, member of the Pia Unione Primaria Silenziosi Workers of the Cross, born in Terni (Italy) on May 27, 1912, where he died on Jan. 14, 1956.

00Monday, December 21, 2009 11:53 PM

Sandro Magister has revived a 2005 post by him that is relevant to the revived controversy over the cause for beatification of Pius XII. However, as I commented in the BENEDICT thread, the accusations by prominent French intellectuals like Francois Mauriac and Albert Camus never gained any traction in the public mind, and were quickly subsumed as soon as the propaganda launched by THE DEPUTY gained immediate worldwide resonance.

The Black Legend of Pius XII
started with a French Catholic

He was Emmanuel Mounier, a philosopher, and with him,
a more famous French intellectual, Francois Mauriac.
Soviet propaganda and the play 'The Deputy' continue to be cited,
but history scholar Giovanni Maria Vian,
now editor of L'Osservatore Romano, wrote in 2004
that the Black Legend was started earlier by
French and Polish intellectuals.

ROME, June 21, 2005 – In the latest issue of La Civiltà Cattolica, the Jesuit historian Giovanni Sale reconstructs the birth of the “black legend” that Pius XII was pro-Hitler.

Civiltà is the magazine of the Jesuits in Rome, and its articles are read and authorized by the Vatican’s secretariat of state before publication.

According to Fr Sale’s reconstruction, it was the international communist press, led by Moscow, that generated the black legend after the end of the Second World War.

In the same period, the latest issue of Archivum Historiae Pontificiae, the annual magazine published by the faculty of ecclesiastic history at the Pontifical Gregorian University, also run by Jesuits, had an article appeared by the historian Giovanni Maria Vian presenting a different view of how the Black Legened began.

According to Vian, the accusations against Pius XII’s “silence” were brought about not only by Soviet propaganda, but also French and Polish Catholics, especially two important intellectuals, Emmanuel Mounier and François Mauriac.

Fr Sale draws our attention to the first important speech given by Pius XII after the end of the Second World War: his message to the cardinals on 2 June 1945.

In this speech, Papa Pacelli strongly condemns “the ruinous and relentless applications of the national socialist doctrine which went as far as using the latest scientific methods to torture and suppress often innocent people”.

These words by the Pope follow almost to the letter a suggestion made to him a few days previously by the then-ambassador of France to the Holy See, the Catholic philosopher Jacques Maritain. Both in Maritain’s suggestion and in the Pope’s speech, Jews were not explicitly mentioned, but Fr Sale sees in this a clear “allusion to the Final Solution against the Jews ordered by the Nazi hierarchy”.

In his speech, Pius XII then recalls the killing of thousands of Catholic priests in the Nazi concentration camps, with “Polish priests first in line in terms of number and the harshness of their treatment”.

The speech resonated widely around the world. Referring to the comments in the international press, Fr Sale notes that “the Pope’s words were interpreted along the lines of the ideological and political orientations of the various countries at the beginning of the cold war”.

What dictated the line of the Communist press in the whole world was a comment on Radio Moscow on 7 June 1945, in which Fr Sale already sees “the development of several motifs which were too become central in the successive decades of the anti-Pacelli polemic”.

Radio Moscow accused Pius XII of coming forward too late and dishonestly with his opposition to Nazism, because he had been “silent when the German death machines were running, when the chimneys of the cremating ovens were smoking”. In this comment, Radio Moscow did not mention the Jews by name either.

Fr Sale writes that this is how “the black legend began which in some way has continued all the way down to the present day, the legend that presents Pius XII as a friend and ally of the Nazis”.

In the conclusion of his piece, Fr Sale points out that five months after that speech Pius XII “had the opportunity to feel the full horror of the Nazi atrocities, when on 29 November 1945 he received a delegation of Jewish refugees who had come to thank him for the work the Catholic Church did for them during the Second World War”.

And he adds:

“In any case, at that time (1945). the exact perception (psychological, cultural and historic awareness) of what had happened to the Jews in the heart of Europe during the final years of the war did not yet exist […]. The concept of the Holocaust and the uniqueness of the Shoah had not yet been established, not even in Jewish circles”.

[This is an elementary historical fact that most commentators today ignore - as they make the mistaken assummption, now widely accepted as fact, that 'everyone' knew about the Holocaust when it was happening! Even all the isolated reports before 1945, when the Nazi death camps were uncovered to the world, gave little indication of the extent and degree of the Nazi genocide. Nor did the world learn until much later that the Nazis had decided to implement what they called the 'Final Solution' for teh extermination of all Jews at the Wannsee Conference of 1942.]

* * *

In Archivum Historiae Pontificiae, Vian doesn’t contradict Fr Sale’s reconstruction. However, he does integrated it with criticisms of the pope’s “silence” that in those years had come from French and Polish Catholics. Criticisms of which Pius XII was aware, as is demonstrated in the passage quoted above from the speech from 2 June 1945.

Here is a translation of Vian’s article in Volume 42 of the journal, published in 2004, but without the bibliogrpahical notes. He reconstructs the birth and development of the Black Legend from 1939 to the start of Paul VI's Pontificate. In 2004, Vian was a lecturer of patristic philology at Rome’s La Sapienza University, and a member of the Pontifical Committee for Historical Sciences.

Origins of the Black Legend
about 'the silence of Pius XII'

by Giovanni Maria Vian

The controversy over Pius XII’s silence during the Second World War in the light of the horrendous, genocidal attempt of the Nazis to exterminate Europe’s Jews - one of the greatest tragedies of the 20th century – is by now a part of history.

A great deal has been written on the subject, and more still will be written, because of the subject’s indubitable relevance, because of the passionate interest it provokes even beyond the narrow sphere of specialists in the field, and because of its undeniable potential for exploitation, in view of the ongoign cause for his beatification.

It is above all this exploitation that has led to the creation of a full-blown Black Legend that goes far beyond judgement of the Pope’s behaviour during those tragic years of conflict.

The goal of this essay is to recall the origins of the accusations which were made against this Pope, which are often forgotten, and which were first and foremost expressed by Catholics, and then expanded, even as early as during the war years themselves, by Soviet and then Communist propaganda.

The first person to wonder about “the silence of Pius XII” was Emmanuel Mounier. This was only a few weeks after the March 2, 1939, election as Pope of the cardinal secretary of state Eugenio Pacelli.

The questions were raised a propos the aggression towards Albania by Italy in April of that year, and the absence of a condemnation on the part of the new Pope.

In an article written just after this, the French Catholic intellectual pointed out that although it would be “ridiculous for a believer to challenge the papal conscience”, nevertheless “the scandal of this silence” had entered “thousands of hearts”.

He went on to say, “I am not in a position to judge whether this wasn’t the inevitable price of successful diplomacy […]. I only asked for a few words. So that the Word may bring life”.

The problem of words not spoken, pointed out so early on by Mounier, would come to torment the Pope’s conscience during the long and terrible six years of war, which broke out only a few months after the invasion of Poland by the German National Socialist regime and their Soviet Russian allies. [Historical fact: The Soviets did not invade Poland when the Nazis did, but a few days before the invasion of Poland, they signed the Soviet-Nazi non-aggression pact in whch they both pledged not to attack each other for the next 10 years. Hitler sought the treaty to avoid getting into a two-front war if the Soviets retaliated for an attack on Poland while the French and British reta;iated on the Western front. The pact only lasted two years, as it turned out, since Hitlere felt bold enough to take on the Soviets as well.]

It was in this context, the Jesuit historian Burkhart Schneider wrote, that “the Pope was criticised for his apparent silence, which seemed to indicate indifference in the face of unspeakable suffering”. These criticisms came above all from “Polish communities in exile”, and thus again from Catholics.

The political and diplomatic line of the Holy See in the preceding decades and more importantly during the frightful war of 1914-1918 had been an attempt, without too much support from Catholics themselves, to keep a sort of neutral impartiality between the conflicting sides.

Along this line was the condemnation from Pope Benedict XV of the “useless slaughter” of World War I and an honest “diplomacy of assistance”, which in Germany was carried on by Pacelli himself, as the Apostolic Nuncio in Munich.

During this new tragic war – caused by the totalitarianism of the Nazis and Soviets [But Soviet totalitarianism had nothing to do with World War II, which was willfully started by Germany and which it decided to wage against the Soviets themselves despite their 1939 non-aggression pact!] which the Holy See had condemned in 1937 with the encyclicals Mit Brennender Sorge and Divini Redemptoris – Pius XII intended to follow that same policy.

But the Pope ended up making some choices that cannot be considered neutral.

In the early years of the war, Pius XII made an unprecedented decision, between autumn 1939 and spring 1940, to support the eventually aborted attempt by some German military groups colluding with the British to overthrow Hitler’s regime.

After Germany attacked the Soviet Union in the middle of 1941, Pius XII not only decided to have the Holy See abstain in what was being pitched as a crusade against communism, but also - in the itnersts of defeating Hitler - set about to temper the opposition that many American Catholics were posing to the alliance between the United States and Stalin’s Russia.

This did not mean that the Pope and his closest advisers had changed their minds about atheistic and totalitarian Communism. They would always be radically against Communism as an ideology, as it made clear in 1943 [HOW????] and culminating in the condemnation of Communism published by the Holy Office in 1949.

The idea of Pius XII being “in the pay of the Americans”, an image spread and supported by the Soviets because of Papa Pacelli's firm anti-communist attitude – is totally without historical basis.

The controversy over Pius XII's overall role in World War II was the fruit of Soviet propaganda in general, and was soon picked up by members of the Russian Orthodox Church.

After 1944, this polemic, compounded with Mounier’s earlier questions, had filtered through to the diplomats accredited to the Holy See, soon stoked by new accusations against Papa Pacelli and the Vatican with regard to the Nazi policy of Jewish extermination.

After the war, relations between the victorious allies soon led to a split between the Soviets and the West, which also resulted in Soviet hegemony over easternand central Europe.

In the context of the Cold war, Pius XII was accused by the Soviets of having supported Nazi Germany and Fascism, of having forgiven them, of having covered up German war crimes, of not having condemned Hitler’s barbarisms, of having been silent agout them, and of having sided with the capitalist West.

The Pope had already responded to these accusations during the war, saying on 13 June 1943: “That the Pope wanted war, that a Pope keeps a war going and provides money for it to carry on, that a Pope does nothing for peace… More horrific and absurd slander than this has perhaps never been heard”.

After the war, on 24 December 1946, Pius XII explicitly alluded to the propaganda against the Holy See: “We know very well that all of our words, all of our intentions, can be misinterpreted and twisted through political propaganda”.

In 1951, the questions that Mounier had raised a dozen years earlier on the subject of the Italian aggression towards Albania was turned into a harsh reproach of Pius XII for not having condemned the monstrous persecution of Jews - in the words of another French Catholic intellectual, François Mauriac, who would be awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1952.

In the introduction to Bréviaire de la haine. Le IIIe Reich et les Juifs (Breviary of hate: Teh Third Reich and the Jews), by Léon Poliakov, Mauriac emphasises that the book is first and foremost directed at Germans, and then writes :

This breviary has also been written for us French, whose traditional anti-Semitism has survived the excesses of horror in which Vichy played its own timid and ignoble part.

Above all, to us French Catholics; if we have salvaged any of our honour, without a doubt we owe it to the heroism and charity that many bishops, priests and religious showed towards the hounded Jews.

But we never had the comfort of hearing the successor of Galilee, Simon Peter, use clear and precise words, rather than diplomatic allusions, to condemn the countless crucifixions of the ‘brothers of the Lord’.

During the occupation, one day I asked the venerable cardinal Suhard, who from the shadows of the other side had done so much for the persecuted: ‘Your Eminence, command us to pray for the Jews’.

His only answer was to raise his arms heavenwards. Of course, the occupying powers had ways of pressurising people that could not be resisted, and the silence of the Pope and the upper echelons of the hierarchy were no more than a disgusting duty to avoid even worse disasters.

But this does not excuse the wide-spread crime of all those who bore witness but did not speak out, whatever the reasons for their silence were”.

[Nobel Prize or not, Mauriac is exhibiting what I have decided to call the sanctimony of malice, or the malice of sanctimony - which often leads its practitioners to illogic. How can he say that 'silence... was a disgusting duty to avoid even worse disasters", and then follow up by saying "This does not excuse the crime of those who lore witness but did nto speak out, whatever the reasons for their silence?"

I would like to read all of what Mauriac wrote on this issue, but judging by the citation singled out by Vian, one could imagine Mauriac laboring under the collective guilt and shame Frenchmen like him felt about the cowardly treason of the Vichy collaborationist regime and conveniently turning this guilt against someone like Pius XII.]

The tone of the Jew Poliakov is less severe. On the subject of the anti-Semitic tradition and Pius XII’s attitude, and just before elaborating some arguments on the “anti-Christian essence of anti-Semitism”, he expresses the following, softer opinion:

It does not fall to an Israelite writer to express judgement on the century-old dogmas of another religion, but in view of the immense consequences, it is impossible not to be deeply disturbed. The sense of our perturbation should not be misunderstood.

We are not saying that there was even a trace of anti-Semitism in the pope’s thoughts. If, unlike many French bishops, he did not make his voice heard, it was certainly because his jurisdiction extends to all of Europe, and he had to consider not only the grave threats hanging over the Church, but also the spiritual conditions of his faithful in all countries, who were influenced by the anti-Jewish tradition of Christianity.

This was the situation at what would be the turning point in the campaign against Pius XII for his alleged silence about the Jews in World War II.

It came with the play Der Stellvertreter [The Deputy] by Rolf Hochhuth, which was performed for the first time in Berlin on February 10, 1963. Due to its extreme anti-Pacelli bias and the strong debates it immediately provoked, it had an enormous influence on the image of Pius XII and the Holy See, both in public opinion and in the historical debate itself.

Following the immediate flare-up, particularly significant was the testimony in defence of the Pope by Giovanni Battista Montini, one of his closest advisors. Montini had been archbishop of Milan since the end of 1954, and made cardinal by John XXIII in 1958.

Montini’s statement came in an article puclished in the English Catholic magazine The Tablet on May 11, 1963. Among other things, it underlined the similarity between Hochhuth’s play and a “Communist publication” on the Vatican and the second world war.

Then, in a letter that reached The Tablet on the day he was elected Pope and took the name Paul VI in June 1963, Cardinal Montini defended Pius XII’s wartime actions against Hochhuth's charge that Pius XII was partly to blame for the Nazi crimes against the Jews because he failed to condemn them.

“This attitude of condemnation and protest, for the absence of which the Pope is being reproached, would not only have been futile, it would also have been dangerous. That’s all,” Cardinal Montini wrote.

He concludes:

Subjects like these and historic people we know should not be played with through the creative imagination of playwrights, who are lacking in historic discernment and, God help us, human honesty.

Otherwise, just like in the present case, the tragedy would be something else: that of someone trying to offload the horrible crimes of German Nazism onto a pope who was extremely conscientious in his duties and aware of history, and who in the opinion of more than one friend was certainly impartial, but also very loyal to the German people.

Equally, Pius XII had the merit of having been the Vicar of Christ who tried to fulfil his mission as best he could with courage and integrity. Could the same thing be said of this theatrical injustice, (evenn) in the context of culture and art?

Similar tones and criticism against the propaganda-like views in The Deputy were articulated about two years later in an article by the historian Giovanni Spadolini.

It was published on February 18, 1965 after the first two performances of Hochhuth’s play in Rome, which was immediately banned, unleashing bitter polemics.

The article by Spadolini, an authoritative intellectual and lay politician, began with a direct attack on the position of the left-wing parties, especially the Communists. “The very party that champions dialogue with Catholics has proclaimed a sort of crusade for freedom of thought on the basis of this libellous anticlerical defamation and nationalist self-defence”.

Spadolini recalled Montini’s defence of Pius XII, first in 1963 when he had just been elected Pope, and then again in January 1964 during his historic journey to the Holy Land, and so again pointed out the elements of political propaganda in the play that had just been shown in Rome.

He said that the then-cardinal of Milan “had stood up, with the loyalty of an advisor and disciple who does not forget, against the absurd and unjust indictments of a political propaganda thinly disguised as moralism”.

And when “Paul VI laid foot on Israeli ground in what was the most significant and revolutionary step of his Palestinian mission, everyone could tell that the Pope wanted to respond to the systematic attacks from the communist world, which had managed to find complicity or indulgence even in Catholic hearts – or at least some Catholics who were known even in Italy”.

In Spadolini’s article, the perceived origins of the accusations against Papa Pacelli were clear: firstly, between 1939 and 1951, the two Frenchmen Mounier and Mauriac; then, the Soviet propaganda of the war years, and finally, the Communist propaganda in the immediate post-war period and during the Cold War.

The controversy over Pius XII simply stepped up after his death, during the very different pontificate of John XXIII, and then exploded definitively after Paul VI became Pope.

It was tied up to contrasting the Pacelli and Roncalli pontificates, which was one of the factors that led Paul VI in 1965 to introduce the causes for beatification for his two predecessors simultaneously:

“In this way, the wish that was expressed for both by so many voices shall be fulfilled; in this way, their spiritual patrimony shall be kept safe for history; in this way, it will be ensured that these authentic and dear characters will not be reinterpreted and will only be remembered through the cult of true sanctity and thus the glory of God, for our veneration and for that of future generations”.

With the passing of time, the question of Pius XII’s silence has become increasingly complicated, because the repeated accusations against Papa Pacelli have crystallized into a “black legend”.

This has certainly not helped the new, positive relations between the Catholic Church and Judaism. In the meantime, the accusations against him that started with some Catholics and was promoted primarily through Soviet propaganda, will not go away easily, because there are still many who will not forgive Pius XII for his anticommunism.

[Vian's 2004 article obviously does not factor in the virulence of anti-Pius sentiment in militant Jewish circles, which at this point, far outweighs the animus of Communists, ex-Communists and Communist sympathizers who resetned Papa Pacelli's unconditional anti-Communism.

Also, strangely, Vian has not lately mentioned Mounier and Mauriac in connection with the Pius XII question, and I would be itnerested to know whether they figure in the book he edited earlier this year, In difesa di Pio XIII: Le ragioni della storia.]

00Thursday, December 24, 2009 3:15 PM
Say a daily prayer for the Christians persecuted in many parts of the world.

Report says Chaldean churches
in Kirkuk cancel Christmas Masses

WASHINGTON, Dec. 24 (CNS) -- The Chaldean Catholic Archdiocese of Kirkuk, Iraq, has canceled Christmas Masses because of insecurity and attacks against Christians, the Washington Post reported Dec. 23.

"This is the first time we have had to cancel our celebrations," the Post quoted Kirkuk Archbishop Louis Sako as saying.

The Post also reported that a sign on the Kirkuk cathedral read, in part: "We apologize to all the brothers for not conducting celebrations or accepting greetings or guests, but we pray for peace and security in Iraq. We cannot celebrate because of our grief over the victims of the bombings in Mosul and Baghdad."

In Mosul, less than 100 miles from Kirkuk, Christian churches were targeted in late November and early December. On Dec. 23, two people were killed in a bomb attack on the Syrian Orthodox Church of St. Thomas.

A hospital official in Mosul told Agence France-Presse that the two people who were killed were Muslims. In late November, a Chaldean Catholic church, rectory and convent in Mosul were bombed in two separate incidents, but no one was injured.

Indonesia on high alert
for attacks on churches during
Christmas celebrations

by Mathias Hariyadi

Jakarta. Dec. 24 (AsiaNews) - Indonesian security forces have stepped up security across the country, a few hours ahead of the start of Christmas celebrations.

Police and soldiers are guarding the churches in the provinces considered most at risk, such as Central Java and West Java, but the state of alert is widespread.

There is fear of a repeat of episodes of violence, similar to those of Christmas Eve of 2000. In recent days, in fact, some fundamentalist groups have attacked Christian places of worship, threatening the faithful.

In the province of West Java police have mobilized over 10 thousand agents, as well as army troops. Timur Pradopo, police chief of West Java, confirms "the massive deployment of police and army" to prevent "potential terrorist attacks."

Similar measures were taken by Alex Bambang Riatmodjo, head of the security forces of Central Java. More than 11 thousand officers deployed, backed by the military.

On Christmas Eve of 2000, terrorists targeted dozens of churches in Indonesia. But not only the threat of armed terrorism is curbing Christmas ceremonies.

In West Java a number of Christian places of worship have been closed since 2004 due to the revocation of building permits. In Bandung, the provincial capital, hundreds of faithful "do not have a place" where they can celebrate Christmas functions.

The latest case concerns the Purwakarta Regency, also in West Java, where Christians can not celebrate religious services because authorities have revoked their permits.

Two weeks ago the whole of the Church of St. Albert, in Bekasi regency, was attacked by thousands of extremists on the occasion of the Islamic New Year.

The lack of security has led groups of Christians in West Java to celebrate Christmas Mass in malls, hotels and restaurants, or in private homes. John Simon Timorason, president of the Federation of churches in West Java (Bksg), confirms that the decision is in result of "numerous obstacles encountered in the construction of churches."

Anti-terrorism teams, meanwhile, have arrested Baharuddin (aka Bariddin), the most wanted man in the country. He is the stepfather of Noordin M. Top, the Malaysian terrorist killed September 18, 2009 in a police raid, and was hiding in Garut, West Java.

Tito Karnavian, head of the elite counter-terrorism department, states that "he was captured along with one of his sons”. Both were transferred to Jakarta for questioning.

00Thursday, December 24, 2009 7:12 PM

This item has appeared in a couple of blogs, but I have done my own translation, which I didn't have time to do earlier in the week. Panorama Catolico is a Spanish Catholic site.

Even if the information is in general terms, it provides an insight into the openness of the Vatican-FSSPX doctrinal discussions and its well-defined parameters, which seem to be eminently sensible.

Some 'news' about the
Vatican-FSSPX talks

Translated from

December 21, 2009

What follows is already public knowledge because they were said on December 19 by Mons. Alfonso de Galarreta when he ordained 3 priests and five deacons in the FSSPX seminary of La Reja, Argentina.

As planned, the discussions between the theological committee designated by the Holy Father and their counterparts from the FSSPX, headed by Mons. de Galarreta, are understandably behind closed doors

Nonetheless, Mons. Galarreta, addressing an overflow congregation at the seminary of Nuestra Senora Corredentora {Our Lady Co-Redemptrix) near Buenos Aires, shared the following general information at the end of a homily on priestly virtues:

He made clear that:
1. The results of the first meeting [on Oct. 26) were good.
2. Principally, they established the thematic agenda and the method of discussion.
3. All the topics for discussion are of a doctrinal nature, expressly excluding anything regarding the canonical status of the FSSPX.
4. The common point of doctrinal reference will be the Magisterium before the Second Vatican Council.
5. The discussions will follow a set procedure: when a subject is raised, the questioning side submits a document that lays the bases for its doubts. The Holy See will reply in writing through e-mail. This exchange will then be discussed at the actual meeting.
6. All sessions are taped and filmed by both sides.
7. The conclusions reached on each topics will be sent to the Holy Father and to the FSSPX Superior General.
8. The timing of the meetings will depend on whether the topic for discussion is new or one that is still under discussion. In the first case, it would be every three months; in the second case, every two months. The second meeting will be held in mid-January.
9. The CDF theologians are "persons one can speak to" and "they share our theological language" [i.e., they are Thomists.]

Some of the discussion topics mentioned by the bishop in his homily, which is not necessarily the full list, are:
a. The Magisterium before and after the Council
b. The post-Conciliar liturgical reform
c. Ecumenism and inter-religious dialog
d. Papal authority adn collegiality
e. Freedom of conscience, religious freedom, secularism and the social kingdom of Jesus Christ
f. 'Human rights' and 'human dignity' as defined by Vatican II

Galarreta underscored that the outcome of the first meeting was an improvement to the previous relationship; and that everyone spoke very freely, and only on doctrinal matters, which were examined from the viewpoint of Thomistic theology.

He said it is not possible to predict what will happen, but that the process must proceed in steps as prudence indicates and in the evangelical spirit.

It is expected that the FSSPX South American district will put Bishop Galarreta's entire homily on line soon.

00Thursday, December 31, 2009 5:22 PM

For the first time in 5 years of trying to chronicle what is happening in the Church around the world, I failed this year to put together a round-up of how Christians celebrated the Nativity - I did not have the time to do it, what with trying to keep abreast on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day of any follow-ups to the the 'attack' on the Pope, followed by my PC's viral mishap. I am sorry for my failure, because I always found the photos very inspiring....

Yesterday, Sandro Magister posted a Christmas article of sorts - about how the Dutch have effectively given up Christmas. And it's depressing that the first Christmas article I can post on this thread would be so negative.... even if it does have its hopeful note.

The Dutch have no room for the Baby Jesus

Churches are no longer churches, but condominiums, stores, or mosques.
Catholicism is in danger of disappearing.
A reportage from Amsterdam with an interview with an emeritus Dutch cardinal
who says 'We have to start all over'

by Sandro Magister

ROME, December 30, 2009 – Until half a century ago, Dutch and Flemish Catholicism seemed to be in solid shape, strong in its traditions, active in mission.

One of its symbols was Fr. Jozef Damiaan de Veuster (1840-1889), an apostle to the lepers on an island in the Pacific, who was proclaimed a saint by Benedict XVI last October 11.

A few days ago, just before Christmas, another great symbol of this Catholicism died at the age of 95 in Nijmegen, Dominican theologian Edward Schillebeeckx, Flemish by birth, Dutch by choice.

However, he was a symbol not of the flourishing but of the astonishing deterioration that the Church of Flanders and of Holland has experienced over the past half century.

Schillebeeckx reflected this metamorphosis in his own life as a theologian. In the years of Vatican Council II and of the period immediately after the council, he was a star of worldwide impact, a champion of the new theology in step with the dominant culture. But then, after his last publication in 1989, he fell into oblivion, even by the Catholics who had acclaimed him.

This disregard for him went hand in hand with what was happening in Dutch Catholicism, increasingly secularized, increasingly in danger of disappearing.

A recent survey provides a snapshot of the current profile of the Catholic Church in Holland. 41 percent of the population say that they have no religious faith, and 58 percent no longer know what Christmas is.

A Church in which there are Dominicans and Jesuits who theorize a bout and perform Masses without priesthood or Christian sacrament - those present "consecrate" collectively, around a "table that is also open to people of different religious traditions."

At the same time, a city like Rotterdam has been thoroughly Islamized, as www.chiesa showed in a shocking article a few months ago.

The survey that follows is by Marina Corradi, and was published on December 23 in Avvenire, the newspaper owned by the Italian bishops' conference. Its epicenter is Amsterdam.

Corradi's reportage is accompanied by an interview with Cardinal Adrianus Simonis, archbishop emeritus of Utrecht.

What's left of Christmas
in Amsterdam

by Marina Corradi
Translated from

Amsterdam is festive this Christmas season. Dazzling light displays illuminate the Damrak and Dam Square. Skating rinks crowded with laughing children, Santa Clauses, and the strains of "Jingle Bells" coming from the big, crowded stores.

But what is left of Christmas in one of the most secularized countries in Europe, where 58 percent of the population, according to one survey, does not know exactly what happened that day? In a country with 900,000 Arab immigrants out of 16 million inhabitants, and twenty mosques in Amsterdam alone?

The Oude Kerk, the oldest church in the city, built in 1309, stands solidly in the heart of downtown. Around it is the red-light district. From the windows in which they are displayed, the South American and Eastern European prostitutes knock on the glass in order to attract the attention of passersby. A few of them wear Santa Claus hats.

You look at them and you try to imagine what kind of story brought them here. They smile, winking. But the thousand lights of the city are an intoxication that covers the false delight of these alleyways.

You go further. The Neuwe Kerk, the church where the kings of Holland were crowned, is a museum. The only "church" in the city that attracts crowds is the church of Scientology, a six-story building in the thick of the city center. "Institute of religious technology," reads a sign inside. They offer free stress tests. And people come in droves.

It's strange, this string of churches that aren't churches anymore: but condominiums, pubs, mosques.

You look at the trash collectors, the laborers in the streets, the waiters in the pizzerias: almost all of them are Moroccan or Turkish. Almost one million hands.

And even if nearly as many immigrants come from Christian countries, the Dutch are afraid of all of these Muslims. The populist right-wing party of Gert Wilders is in second place among voters, and the election is in a few months.

Two thirds of the Dutch say that there are too many immigrants. In the suburbs there are neighborhoods like Slotervaart, completely Muslim ghettos, where it is almost impossible to find a Dutchman. They've all gone.

Rotterdam has an even higher percentage of Muslims, and a Muslim mayor. One American newspaper has called it the "Eurabian nightmare" - even if you see fewer veiled women in Dutch city centers than in some neighborhoods of Milan.

And although the murders of Van Gogh and Fortuyn have deeply shaken the Dutch, and fundamentalist imams do exist, the great majority of Muslims seem to want to work and live in peace.

In reality, the fear of Eurabia seems to be simply a consequence of an even more radical phenomenon: the almost complete secularization of a country that, until the last war, was Catholic or Protestant, but in any case Christian.

There has been a collapse: only 7 percent of Catholics now go to Sunday Mass. 16 percent of children are baptized. Holland has been a pioneer in gay marriage and euthanasia.

"After Vatican Council II," says Professor Wim Peeters, a teacher at the seminary of the diocese of Haarlem-Amsterdam, "the Dutch Church entered a profound crisis. The generation of the 1950's is gone, and it forgot to educate its children." [One can almost call it a crime!]

In 1964, religious education in the schools was abolished. Two generations of Dutch have forgotten the ABC's of Christianity. In the register of the seminary of Haarlem, the number of priests plunged at the end of the 1960's. In 1968, there isn't even one.

"I believe," Peeters says, "that we would have nothing to fear from Islam, if we were Christians. And it often seems that today the Dutch are afraid of everything: of having children, as they are of immigrants. But fear is the exact opposite of faith."

Still searching for Christmas, at number 40 on Oudezijds Voorburgwal, in the red-light district, there is a little gate. At the top floor of the Museum Amstelkring is a church, a clandestine church, dating back to the time of the Calvinist persecution that prohibited Catholic worship.

In the attic are an altar, an organ, and ten pews to which the faithful came secretly. "Ons' Lieve Heer op Solder" is the name of the church: our dear Lord in the attic. Christ in the attic, you wonder, is this Christmas in Amsterdam?

And yet. In the seminary of Haarlem-Amsterdam, there are 45 seminarians, in part the reflection of a strong Neocatechumenal presence.

Bishop Josef Punt explains that today, something has changed in comparison with the hardest crisis, twenty or thirty years ago.

"If in 1968 not even a single priest emerged from the seminary," he says, today every year in Holland as a whole 15 new priests are ordained, who keep the numbers at a stable level.

"In this diocese, a few hundred people each year ask to be baptized as adults. A new yearning can be perceived, generated by the sense of emptiness. Of course, we are talking about small numbers.

"We are a missionary Church. Everything has to be started all over again. In the monasteries outside of the city, we are creating centers of evangelization for those who, far from the faith, want to rediscover it. In our Catholic school in Haarlem, we are not able to accept all the requests for enrollment.

"I have the feeling that these parents, although they are no longer believers, are fascinated by the beauty of Christianity, and want it for their children."

It takes trust to believe this, in this city where from the bell towers of churches that are no longer churches, the bells play cheerful Christmas melodies.

A thousand Santa Clauses, and no Nativity scene. Except for a tiny one in the Salvation Army branch near Centraal Station, in the soup kitchen for the poor. Twenty homeless people numbed by the cold, giant thermoses of hot coffee, and that little Nativity scene.

And then again, at Egelantinstraat 147, almost in the suburbs, a shabby house. You ring, and one of Mother Teresa's sisters opens the door. There are four of them. Here there is Mass every morning, and vespers every evening. An undecorated chapel, two sisters in adoration. Beneath the altar, the manger of the Nativity.

But if the sense of Christmas is anticipation, then you will still find it in the streets of this city.

It is in the empty stocking that the children hang in the chimney on the eve of Saint Nicholas, December 5, expecting a gift.

It is in homeless people, and, if you look into their eyes, in those young prostitutes in the windows of the red-light district.

It is in the lonely elderly people walking hesitantly over the snow, afraid of falling down and ending up disabled in the hospital, where they may be seen as dead weight.

It is in the girls at the table of an Italian pizzeria behind the Dam, holding hands and singing, "I wish you a merry Christmas and a happy new year," Yeah, a happy year.

"In spite of everything," Professor Peeters says, "the desire for happiness, and therefore for God, is always there, in the heart of man."

'Two generations have been lost':
Interview with Cardinal Adrianus Simonis

Translated from

The archbishop emeritus of Utrecht, Cardinal Adrianus Simonis, 78, is the "old stalwart" of the Dutch Church. He is well known and loved in the country, including by the Muslims.

"Maybe because," he explains, smiling, "I said that Muslims who are faithful to God will go to the highest heights of heaven."

But the cardinal, who now lives in a town in Brabant, Nieuwkuijk, seems less optimistic about his Holland.

"Yes, there may be signs of a new trend, but we're talking about extremely small numbers," he says. "There remains that figure, that 58 percent of Dutchmen who no longer know exactly what Christmas is. There are some who, looking at Holland, are disturbed by the number of mosques. I can understand that, but the real problem here comes before immigration: it is that we have gotten lost, we have lost our Christian identity.

"Yes, there is a problem with Islamic fundamentalism in Holland, but most immigrants don't follow it. More than extremism, what worries me about the young Muslim generations is the advance of secularization. I am afraid that they will end up converting to the true religion that dominates the West: relativism."

(And in effect, looking at the young Moroccans at the McDonald's in Amsterdam, and their sisters in leggings, the question arises whether the new Muslim generations are not already assimilating, in every sense, to us). [But how general is this trend in the West? One gets the impression that self-ghettoizing and anti-assimilation are the preference of most Muslim immigrant communities - even here in the United States. And from what one reads, very much so in Italy, France, Switzerland and Germany.]

Your Eminence, aren't racism and xenophobia problems here?
I don't think so. The Dutch are a tolerant people. I don't see a wave of racism on the horizon.

In Haarlem, the bishop says that one is beginning to notice in the young people a sense of emptiness, the absence of that which has been forgotten . . .
It is true, many are aware of the emptiness. But they don't know how to go beyond it, they don't know what to ask, and of whom. They have not been taught to recognize and perceive the desire of their heart.

In this sense I am convinced, like Bishop Punt, that the Dutch Church is truly called to be missionary. Two generations have been lost. It is a matter of starting over from the beginning, and within a culture that is indifferent to Christianity, among less than friendly media.

You are 78 years old. You were a child aduring the Second World War. At the time, wasn't Holland a strongly Christian country? And afterward, what happened?
It was probably a Christianity too strongly marked by rigid moralism. It was followed by a rebellion that was radical, just as the character of the Dutch is radical. They are not capable of believing just "a little" in something. Aut, aut. They have become the opposite of what they were.

Nonetheless, there are 45 students in the Haarlem seminary today, and a few hundred adults asking for baptism. In Amsterdam, I found the sisters of Mother Teresa in adoration in front of the Crucifix. The Catholics here are few, but strong . . .
It's true. Of course, in a situation like this, the salt is forced, so to speak, to become more salty . . .

What do you intend to say, at the Christmas Masses, to the faithful?
That perhaps they have forgotten the Christian message, the one that is its essence: God became man, he came to the world in poverty, humble and fragile like a newborn child, out of love for us.

Did you know, Your Eminence, that a short time ago in the little town near here, Drunen, I saw a hundred children come out from the Catholic church where there had been a Christmas ceremony?
It must be that young priest who just arrived, who's hard at work . . ." So the story starts over, again. To start over, all it takes is the face of a Christian.

00Monday, January 4, 2010 11:21 AM
One of those year-end news items that I missed seeing right away...

Turkey seeks return of
St. Nicholas's remains

By Jonathan Head

ISTANBUL, Dec. 28 - A Turkish archaeologist has called on his government to demand that Italy return the bones of St Nicholas to their original resting place.

The 3rd Century saint - on whom Santa Claus was modelled - was buried in the modern-day Turkish town of Demre [Myra, in ancient times, of which Nicholas was Bishop at the time of his death].

But in the Middle Ages his bones were taken by Italian sailors and re-interred in the port of Bari [to protect them from desecration and destruction by the Ottoman Turks].

The Turkish government said it was considering making a request to Rome for the return of the saint's remains.

While Christmas is by and large not celebrated in Muslim Turkey, the Christmas figure of Santa Claus certainly is, in the Mediterranean town of his birth.

He was born in what was then the Greek city of Myra in the third century, and went on to become the local bishop, with a reputation for performing miracles and secretly giving gold to the needy - on one occasion being forced to climb down a chimney to leave his donation.

After his death he was canonised as Saint Nicholas, and venerated in much of the Christian world. But when Myra was occupied by Arab forces in the 11th Century, Italian sailors came and took the saint's bones to the port of Bari, where they remain interred to this day.

Prof Nevzat Cevik, head of archaeological research in Demre, says Saint Nicholas had made it clear during his life that he wanted to be buried in his home town.

Even without the bones, the town of Demre has not been shy about cashing in on its most famous native son - today visitors to the Byzantine church there are greeted by a large, plastic Santa statue, complete with beard and red snow-suit.

It seems obvious that the motivation for this outlandish suggestion is not really archeological - the tomb and the church are still there, after all - but touristic and crassly commercial. Turkey is an avowedly secular state that is also predominantly Muslim, and the relics of a Christian saint can have no relevance to them except for commercial exploitation.

00Monday, January 4, 2010 7:27 PM

Goldman is an observant Jew and is senior editor at FIRST THINGS, a Catholic journal.

The tragedy of Pius XII
by David P. Goldman

December 21, 2009

I haven’t heard a single Jewish voice defending Pope Benedict XVI’s decision Dec. 19 to declare that Pius XII lived “a life of heroic virtue.”

The Jewish organizations all object; the State of Israel said that the question of Pius XII’s prospective sainthood “does not effect Israel,” but called on the Vatican to open its World War II archives. I doubt the archives would condemn the wartime Pope.

Additional facts will not change what we know: Pius XII did his best to save Jews within the modest reach of the resources of the Church during the Nazi occupation of Italy.

If he had excommunicated Hitler or instructed priests to refuse communion to soldiers or civilians engaged in genocide, he probably would have been martyred; the Nazis would have established a puppet pope and a puppet German Church.

Pius did not speak out publicly against the mass murder of Polish priests, either, and for the same reasons.

Would the situation of the Jews improved materially had Pius XII chosen martyrdom? I doubt it; the Church already had lost the battle for Europe’s soul.

The First World War, in which French priests blessed cannons to kill German Catholics ,and vice versa, killed Catholic universality, which had been waning since the Treaty of Westphalia in 1648. An open condemnation of Hitler would have assisted the Allied war effort by eroding German morale, I suppose.

The Church made the same blunder as the European Orthodox rabbinate during the 1930s: it failed to foresee the magnitude of Nazi evil.

Secular Zionists such as Vladimir Jabotinsky toured Europe during the pre-war years warning that Jews faced extermination, and the majority of Orthodox rabbis denounced Zionism and preached quietism. Some of Berlin’s Orthodox rabbis wrote a letter to Hitler upon his seizure of power in 1933 hailing him as a prospective ally against Bolshevism–exactly what many in the Catholic Church believed. The whole story can be found in a 2003 book by Marc B. Shapiro.

Catholics who contend that pro-abortion politicians should be refused communion might consider whether the same ban should have applied to German soldiers or Ukrainian camp guards engaged in mass murder of Jews.

But the sad fact is that the Church had very little power to influence events in Europe. And that is the astonishing fact of the matter. The largest institution in Europe, with the widest nominal loyalty among Europeans, collapsed like a house of cards in the face of fascism.

The Church never has recovered in Europe. Weekly mass attendance among self-identified European Catholics ranges between 10% and 20%, but the numbers are deceptively large, for they reflect the residual loyalty of a rapidly-aging population.

The younger generation is barely half the size of the last one, and the proportion of young people attending mass is tiny. Project this trend forward and European churches will be empty within a generation, resembling the Church of England today.

Whatever the wartime leadership of the Catholic Church did, it failed to slow the extinction of Catholic life in Europe. The Church was not only powerless to save European Jewry; it was powerless to save itself.

When was the die cast? Was it when the “Churches of earthly power,” as Russell Hittinger described them in a brilliant 2006 article for First Things, imported nationalism into the Church?

Was it in 1648, when the Church responded to the victory of the French nation-state by delegating power to the Catholic dynasties of Europe (as Hittinger describes in a second essay)?

Or could Pius XII still have done something to slow the slide, and save something for future generations?

The deliberate use of horror by Hitler and Stalin, I argued in a recent essay for First Things, destroyed Europe’s faith:

The existence of horror is, generally, a weakness of Christian civilization, for such civilization stands, finally, as the rejection of the horrors that paganism always accepts and often embraces. How can a good God permit terrible things to happen?

Voltaire used the most horrific event of the eighteenth century, the 1755 Lisbon earthquake, to ridicule the idea of a loving God. The neopagans of the twentieth century went Voltaire one better. Rather than wait for natural disaster, they staged scenes of horror greater than the civilized mind could fathom — as though the most effective assault on faith were to commit crimes beyond the imagination of the observer.

As Goebbels bragged in a 1943 broadcast, “We will either go down in history as the greatest statesmen of all time, or the greatest criminals.”

How does one counter such evil, except by denouncing it as Satanic? Whatever we say after the fact, the score in Europe remains Gates of Hell 1, St. Peter 0. What shall we do when new Hitlers and Stalins wield the weapon of horror the next time around?

Goldman makes some powerrful arguments, and his view of the Pius XII issue is sensible and intelligent - and one that would be sustained by any rational unbiased person with some knowledge of history, particlalrly the known facts about Pius XII.

His view of the destruction of faith in Europe is perhaps too extreme, but it is also the logical extrapolation of Benedict XVI's thesis that the Nazis were aiming not just to exterminate the Jews but to destroy religion itself.

The question is how much has that faith been destroyed? Is there any reason to believe that not only has it not been destroyed - tens of thousands of mostly Europeans wouldn't turn up at the Vatican twice a week if it was - but that it is showing any signs of rebirth?

P.S. Apropos Pius XII, a contributor to Beatrice's site has cited a quotation from the Memoirs of Charles de Gaulle, in which the head of the French Free Forces in World War II (and later, President of France) said this after meeting with Pius XII in June 1944: "Pius XII sees everything from a point of view that is above and beyond men, their deeds and their issues."

Even more than the President of the United States, the perspective of the Supreme Pontiff and Christ's Vicar on earth is truly unique - and something no one can imagine unless one steps into the Shoes if the Fisherman - and that is something only 265 men have done so far in all of history..

I wish all the media commentators who treat Popes as though they were garden-variety politicians could keep that in mind

00Tuesday, January 5, 2010 7:26 PM

Medjugorje bishop says
Cardinal Schönborn’s visit
brings greater suffering
to his diocese

Medjugorje, Bosnia, Jan 4, 2010 (CNA) - Most Rev. Ratko Perić, the Bishop of Mostar-Duvno in Bosnia-Herzegovina, released a statement in which he criticizes Vienna, Austria’s Cardinal Christoph Schönborn for making a highly publicized “personal visit” on Dec. 29 to the region where Mary is said to have been appearing daily since 1981.

In his statement, released on January 2, Bishop Perić noted that it was his “duty, as diocesan bishop, to provide information to the faithful” regarding the nature of the apparitions, the divide they have caused in his diocese and the official position of the Church on the anomaly.

The apparitions have not been officially recognized by the Church.

Perić’s statement explained that due to the claims of ongoing apparitions and the ensuing debate, his diocese now unwillingly hosts a number of “new communities and associations of the faithful who, in disobedience, live at Medjugorje.” These communities, he said, “may become encouraged in their ecclesial disobedience because of the cardinal’s visit.”

The statement also called into question a November 13, 2009 statement from Vienna’s Kath.net claiming that during Schönborn’s visit, “there will also be a meeting with the local bishop and the critics of Medjugorje.”

However, the bishop stated, as of the release of the his Jan.2 remarks, the Diocese of Mostar had received no official communication from Schönborn’s office of the cardinal’s intent to visit the parish.

This absence of notification, Perić said, displays the lack of a “certain ecclesial courtesy” among prelates who are want to inform their brother bishops when one is about to visit the other’s diocese.

The bishop concluded that Schönborn’s visit, especially his actions and statements, “have added to the current suffering of the local church.”

Bishop Perić’s complete statement is as follows:

On the occasion of the visit
of Cardinal Schönborn to Medjugorje

Since the media have announced, and been present during the visit and the public presence of Cardinal Christoph Schönborn, Archbishop of Vienna, to Medjugorje, which has thus sparked a wrong impression that the Cardinal, by his presence, has recognized the authenticity of the “apparitions” of Medjugorje, I regard it to be my duty, as diocesan bishop, to provide some information to the faithful, noting that I have already sent a personal letter of similar content to the cardinal.

1. Before we begin, some media have propagated the news story that, on Sept. 15, 2009, at the Cathedral of St. Stephen in Vienna a meeting took place, at which his eminence Cardinal Schönborn was present and during which Marija Pavlovíc-Lunetti, the daily “visionary” who has allegedly witnessed the daily “apparitions” of June 1981, spoke of

how the “apparitions had influenced the changing of her life. On that occasion, the Cardinal, responded in a speech: “ It is a great gift that the Mother of God wants to be so close to her children! She has demonstrated this in so many places in the world. And she has been demonstrating this in a very special manner at Medjugorje for years and years.”

2. Then, on Nov. 13, 2009, Kath.net of Vienna announced: “The Archbishop of Vienna will visit the well-known Marian shrine at the end of the year, including the parish and the Cenacle Community. There will also be a meeting with the local bishop and the critics of Medjugorje.” The curia of this diocese was not informed by the office of the archbishop nor by the Medjugorje parish office of the Cardinal’s visit.

3. On Nov 16, 2009,the Catholic News Agency published the news story: “Cardinal Christoph Schönborn will visit Medjugorje, the small town in Bosnia-Herzegovina where six young people have allegedly been witnesses of apparitions from the Virgin Mary. But according to the Archdiocese of Vienna, the trip is 'completely private' and does not imply a statement from the cardinal on the veracity of the apparitions. It was supposed to be a completely private visit, it was not supposed to go out to the Internet,' said Fr. Johannes Fürnkranz, personal secretary to the Archbishop of Vienna.”

4. On December 29, 2009, Cardinal Schönborn arrived in Medjugorje. The media accompanied him the next day and on others as well. According to the news, he delivered a speech at the church of St. James the Apostle that highlighted the mercy of God the Father. In that speech, he said: “Who could put these things in motion? Who could invent them? A man? No, this is not the work of a human being.”

On December 31, 2009, journalists transmitted: “While some were expecting that the Cardinal’s visit to Medjugorje would be private, he has nevertheless surprised the locals by being very visible. He has spent time celebrating Mass at the Church of St. James the Apostle, walking up the hill where the apparitions occur with the visionary Marija Lunetti, praying in the silence of Adoration, and perhaps the most significant thing, delivering a speech at the parish church in the company of the Franciscans.”

5. In all of this, I have to admit that, as diocesan bishop of the Diocese of Mostar-Duvno, I have remained very surprised. I understand that a cardinal of the Holy Roman Church enjoys the faculty to confess and preach the gospel in all the Catholic Church.

But when it comes to public appearances outside of his own diocese, there is, among us bishops, a certain ecclesial courtesy: the bishop or the cardinal who is planning on coming to another diocese and appearing publicly, announces himself to the local bishop first, something suggested by ecclesial prudence. I believe that such ecclesial prudence, and such a rule, deserved to be applied especially in this case.

6. I am surprised that the office of Cardinal Schönborn has not, to the day of the publication of this statement, contacted us. I suppose that the Cardinal is aware of the Church’s position regarding Medjugorje, a position based on the investigations and conclusions according to which it is not possible to say, “The apparitions or revelations are supernatural.”

His visit to the Cenacle Community, that is to say, to Sister Elvira, who obiter dicendo, as a religious does not have the permission to live or work in this diocesan territory, could be interpreted as a support for her.

It can not only be interpreted as support to her, but also to the conspicuous number of new communities and associations of the faithful who live in Medjugorje in disobedience, and may read an encouragement to their ecclesial disobedience into the Cardinal’s visit.

7. As bishop of the diocese, I will highlight and repeat some painful facts:

· First of all, I highlight the painful “Herzegonvinian case” of the parishes which are linked to the “Medjugorje phenomenon:” from the beginning, some Franciscans, who were then in disobedience, have decisively taken the side of the figure of Medjugorje, accusing the then-diocesan bishop of causing the local crisis. One of them has since left the order and the priesthood.

· In the territory of the diocese, we now have nine ex-Franciscans who were dismissed by the superiors of the Order of Friars Minor. The Holy See has confirmed such their dismissal. Despite being suspended a divinis, they operate in the usurped parishes as legal priests.

While the alleged figure of Medjugorje responds to the most frivolous questions of the curious, we have never heard a word against the grave abuses that are damaging the unity of this local church.

· We have had a tragic experience in 2001: A few Franciscans, some of whom had already been dismissed by their order, and some others who had not yet been dismissed, invited an “old-Catholic” (a small European schismatic community) deacon who introduced himself as an “archbishop” who “confirmed” more than 700 young people in the usurped parishes. All of this occurred invalidly and sacrilegiously. He also celebrated the Mass invalidly as a deacon in some parishes.

The apparition of Medjugorje doesn’t even mention this abuse of the Sacrament of the Holy Spirit and the Holy Eucharist!

· We have also had another sad episode: Two of these priests have gone to an “old-Catholic” bishop in Switzerland requesting to be ordained bishops and to separate themselves from Mostar and from Rome in order to create a formal schism. This is something the “old-Catholic” bishop has declined to do.

· We also have had problems with the presence of two particularly charismatic promoters of the “Medjugorje phenomenon.” One of who is the profoundly disobedient Tomislav Vlašić, who was dismissed from the Franciscans last year, and who the Holy See has relieved, upon his own request, from any priestly duty or responsibility.

The other is Brother Jozo Zovko, who has been deprived from any priestly duty in the territory of this diocese since 2004, and who, according to news stories, has been pulled out of the territory of Herzegovina by his religious superiors and has been forbade from any contact with Medjugorje.

8. The Cardinal remained enthusiastic about the many confessions heard at Medjugorje where the Father’s mercy was expressed. We believe that the mercy of the Heavenly Father is equally expressed in Medjugorje as in any other parish of our diocese, before or after the Medjugorje phenomenon.

Just take a look at the long lines of faithful in front of the confessionals in all of our parishes, especially before Christmas, Easter, liturgical feasts, or confirmations.

Many claim that the confessions at Medjugorje are a strong proof that our Lady “appears.” According to such conclusions regarding to the numerous confessions, our Lady would appear in all of our parishes, and not only to those three persons to which she appears once a year at Medjugorje and the other three to whom she appears every day, both inside and outside of Medjugorje, and even at the Vienna cathedral, as they say. In total, up to now, some 40,000 “apparitions!”

Moreover, we have the impression that some of the “visionaries” decide where and when Our Lady will “appear,” since she appears where and when they want. Isn’t this an unacceptable manipulation of Our Lady, and of the sacred in general?

As diocesan bishop, I wish to inform the faithful with this statement that the visit of Cardinal Christoph Schönborn does not imply any recognition of the “apparitions” related to Medjugorje.

I am saddened by the fact that the Cardinal, with his visit, presence, and statements, has contributed to the current suffering of the local church, and even added to it, which does not contribute to the much needed peace and unity.

Ratko Perić, Bishop

I posted this earlier today in the BENEDICT thread by way of a news bulletin:

Cardinal Schoenborn professes
his belief in Medjugorje

Lella has posted on her blog an interview with Cardinal Christoph Schoenborn, Archbishop of Vienna, from a Bologna newspaper, Il Resto del Carlino, in which he says unequivocally that he believes that the Virgin Mary appeared to the 'visionaries' of Medjugorje.

Late last year, he became the first ranking Catholic prelate to say Mass in that Bosnian pilgrimage site. The interviewer does not press him whether he believes the Virgin has been appearing daily for the past 20 years or so to one or more of the 'visionaries'...

The Italian papers reported last month that Pope Benedict XVI appointed Cardinal Camillo Ruini to head a Vatican commission that will investigate the Medjugorje phenomenon definitively.

I think it is not right, proper or even seemly for Schoenborn to jump the gun this way!
More and more, the man who heads the Benedict XVI Foundation appears to be straying off the reservation in alarming ways!

In a quick Google review on material about Medjugorje, I came across this fascinating interview given by Mons. Peric in 2006 after he had made an ad-limina visit to Rome - in which he recounts the Holy Father's reactions to what he told him about Medjugorje. MUST READ!

00Tuesday, January 5, 2010 11:04 PM

2009 was also a year of martyrdom for 36 pastoral workers of the Church, including 30 priests, for whose lives in the service of the Church, we also give thanks and offer our prayers...

This was first posted in the BENEDICT thread to insure greater attention.

The true Church that
the media does not report

by Lucetta Scaraffia
Translated from
the 1/4-1/5/09 issue of

Thirty-seven missionaries were killed in the year that just ended.

Except for some praiseworthy exceptions (that were to be expected, after all) in the Catholic media, especially Avvenire - which dedicated an entire page to the subject - the Italian media have hardly paid attention to the dossier circulated by Fides, the news agency of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, on these Catholics who were killed in the performance of their apostolate.

The table shows the nationality, diocese or institution and place and date of death (in European style, the day is indicated before the month).

The toll in 2009 was almost twice that in 2008. It was also the highest number registered in 10 years. And the figure is not even final, because the killings have probably led in some instances to other deaths as yet unreported.

The news has not received any play in the secular media - probably because it contradicts the image of the Church that prevails in the media. In which it is usually represented as a rich and powerful structure that wants to impose its laws even on those who do not feel part of the Catholic world.

The image is that the Church is led by an aged and rigid hierarchy that is incapable of understanding how the world has changed, and is therefore, an antique that should be liquidated for the sake of human freedom.

Rather, what the media highlight about the Church are the defects and offenses of some of its unfaithful members, such as the sex-offender priests in Ireland.

They prefer to represent the Church through its cardinals who are portrayed as stereotypes of powerful men or through priests who are a scandal to the Church because of their behavior or vecause of their criticisms of the Church - not through the men and women who are seriously committed and engaged in difficult and often dangerous missions, in which they risk their lives because of making that courageous choice of love.

These witnesses to Christ are found in all the continents, because while only one priest was killed in Europe last year (France), eight Europeans - all missionary priests - were among these who died on other continents; 19 were American; seven, African; and two, Asian.

Of course, there is no difference in the deaths of missionaries and local Catholics - all were killed as a consequence of their decision to live and work in dangerous places of the world, seeking through their activity and example to bring to those places a message other than the reality that their inhabitants have to live with day by day.

The mere fact of having chosen such a different life to bring trust and assistance where otherwise there is only fear and violence,
makes them dangerous to those who seek to dominate and oppress through such violence.

But it is precisely the heroic testimony of these missionaries which demonstrates - if there was any need to do so - the importance of having a presence like theirs in areas that have been debased and devastated by all kinds of abuse.

Without weapons - and often, with scarce means, certainly far less that those of the violent forces that they are up against - these Catholics demonstrate with their example that a different world is possible, a world of brotherly solidarity and truth, and of generous love given freely.

But that alone makes them a mortal target.

Why, for instance, has no one in the media picked up the story of William Quijano, a young man belonging to the Sant'Egidio Community in El Salvador. In the capital city, he was the sparkplug of a center that promotes the culture of peace - in a land where it is not just a matter of ideological utopia, but a concrete teaching against the violence that gets more wisdespread daily - and for this, he was killed by a gang of his go-for-broke contemporaries who constitute a reservoir of guns for hire for those who wield power.

And there is Fr. Révocat Gahimbare, killed in ambush in Burundi, while on his way to bring help to Bene Maria nuns whose convent had been attacked.

Many of the victims were killed in acts of pillage against their churches or residences, for the simple reason that they usually live and work in battle zones without any protection - places where nobody else would come to visit, much less, to reside, and could be called 'God-forsaken', except that the missionaries are there precisely to show that God never abandons anyone.

And this is the true Church, the one that is never written about or reported in the media, even when they are stories of crime, that normally is of great interest to them.

NB: The FIDES dossier is a 15-page Word document but it is available only in Italian.

00Wednesday, January 6, 2010 1:22 AM

Priests’ conference in Rome
to feature Tridentine liturgies

by Father Matthew Gamber
Posted on January 4, 2010

ROME, Jan. 4 — Top officials from the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments will be principal celebrants at Tridentine liturgies during a conference in Rome this week. The Tridentine rite, in use before the reforms of the Second Vatican Council, is also called the extraordinary form of the liturgy.

U.S. Archbishop J. Augustine Di Noia, secretary of the Vatican congregation, will celebrate solemn pontifical vespers and benediction in the extraordinary form at the Church of St. Stephen of the Abyssinians, located inside the Vatican walls, Jan. 6.

On Jan. 7, Cardinal Antonio Canizares Llovera, prefect of the worship congregation, will celebrate a solemn pontifical Mass in the extraordinary form at the Basilica of St. John Lateran.

The conference is being co-sponsored by the U.S.-based Confraternity of Catholic Clergy and the Australian Confraternity of Catholic Clergy to mark the Year for Priests.

Archbishop Raymond Burke, prefect of the Apostolic Signature, the church’s highest court, will be the main celebrant at the concluding liturgy of the conference Jan. 8. He will celebrate a solemn pontifical Mass in the ordinary — or new – form in St. Peter’s Basilica.

Archbishop Burke celebrated a Mass in the extraordinary form in St. Peter’s Basilica last October.

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