Benedetto XVI Forum Luogo d'incontro di tutti quelli che amano il Santo Padre.


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    00 9/12/2009 1:40 AM

    Cardinal Bertone launches
    a 'transparency' operation
    for the Vatican bank IOR

    Translated from

    Sept. 11, 2009

    Operation Transparency will soon be under way at the IOR (Istituto per Le Opere di Religione), otherwise known as the Vatican bank.

    It is expected that by Friday next week, there will be a meeting of the IOR oversight commission and its executive council to decide how to execute the instructions of the cardinals' commission which in late spring had called for making the operations of the IOR more transparent.

    The global financial crisis had its negative consequences on the finances of the Holy See which had significant investments in the worst hit American financial giants. The IOR today needs better coordination but most of all, a unified management.

    In recent months, IOR has been the target of renewed criticisms and scrutiny following the July publication of the book Vaticano s.p.a. by Gianluigi Nuzzi, a staff writer for the Panorama weekly magazine.

    Nuzzi's book is based mainly on the personal archive of IOR documents collated by the late Mons. Dardozzi, which show questionable financial operations and dubious payments to individuals which went on during the 1980s and into the mid-1990s, even after the departure of the late Archbishop Paul Marcinkus.

    Under Marcinkus's management, the IOR became involved in a major financial scandal that involved the bankruptcy of Milan's Banco Ambrosiano, in which the IOR had been a major investor. Marcinkus escaped prosecution in Italy for the bankruptcy because of his immunity as a ranking Vatican official.

    The current president of IOR, layman Angelo Caloia, an Opus Dei member, had tried to make the bank operations more transparent but came up against the old guard made up of those who had worked with Marcinkus.

    Now, following the request of many cardinals and under the new leadership of Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone as chairman of the IOR's oversight commission, Operation Transparency will be launched to avoid further repetition of the questionable practices cited in Nuzzi's book.

    The other members of the cardinal's commission are Cardinals Attilio Nicora, president of the Administration of the Patrimony of the Apostolic See (APSA, from its Italian acronym); Jean-Louis Tauran, French; Telesphore Toppo, Indian; and Odilo Scherer, Brazilian.

    They will be meeting with Caloia, his vice president, Virgil Dechant, and the three other members of the executive council - Manuel Soto Serrano, Robert Studer and Ronaldo Hermann Schmitz.

    Caloia's present appointment ends in 2011. The choice of his successor will be decisive in the execution of Operation Transparency.

    Whistleblower exposes
    Vatican Bank shenanigans

    by Philip Willan

    Philip Willan is the author of The Last Supper: The Mafia, the Masons and the killing of Roberto Calvi. Willan's article on the IOR may be biased, since Calvi was the chairman of Banco Ambrosiano at the time it went bankrupt in 1982, for which the Vatican, as majority shareholder, later paid bank customers $224 million in restitution. His gruesome death in London, first thought to be a suicide, was ruled murder through 25 years of investigations, but the accused murderers, all tied to the Mafia, were acquitted for insufficient evidence. The Wikipedia entry on Calvi, brief as it is, is the stuff of stay-awake page-turners.

    Rome, July 2 — When John Paul II became Pope in 1978 he inherited a number of relationships that would later prove embarrassing for the Vatican. Entanglement with dubious financiers such as Michele Sindona and Roberto Calvi, would bring lasting discredit on the Catholic Church.

    The choice of such disreputable business partners – both had links to the Mafia and were involved in ruinous bankruptcies – may have seemed justified at the time by the requirements of a clandestine global struggle against atheist communism. Both men were staunch anti-communists and members of Licio Gelli’s right-wing masonic lodge, P2.

    Some 30 years on, the memory of the financial scandals associated with the name of Paul Marcinkus, the Lithuanian-American archbishop who ran the Institute for the Works of Religion, the Vatican bank also known by its Italian acronym IOR, is beginning to fade.

    [Marcinkus was a trusted aide of John Paul II. He first came in as his primary English translator, then became his chief bodyguard for which he earned the nickname 'The Gorilla' and is credited with saving the Pope's life in the knife attack on him in Fatima. Then he was named pro-president of the Vatican Governatorate as well as president of the IOR. It is said he facilitated providing funds to the Solidarity movement in Poland during its fight against the Communist regime.]

    We were led to believe that a new broom, wielded by the lay banker Angelo Caloia, had since swept clean the premises of the IOR, housed in the medieval Bastion of Nicholas V. The Vatican, it was thought, had learned the painful lessons of the Marcinkus era.

    That assumption has been called into question by a new book, Vaticano S.p.a. (Vatican Ltd), written by the Panorama reporter Gianluigi Nuzzi.

    Archbishop Marcinkus, Giulio Andreotti, and Guzzi.

    [NB: It must be remembered that the documents Nuzzi uses only go as far as the 1990s. So all the 'generalizations' in this article have nothing to do with what the IOR may have been and is since Benedict XVI became Pope.

    However, Cardinal Sodano, who for almost 15 years headed the cardinal's oversight commision for the IOR, is known to have made a midnight appointment, before his term ended as secretary of state, of a trusted man to a high IOR managerial position in order to keep a foothold in.]

    A cavalier attitude to financial ethics continued well into the 1990s, with huge political bribes being laundered through the IOR and funds donated for charitable purposes being casually misappropriated by the bank’s administrators, according to Mr Nuzzi’s reconstruction.

    Mr Nuzzi’s allegations are based on internal IOR documents, more than 4,000 in all, that were smuggled out of the Vatican by a disgruntled employee. This unique violation of IOR confidentiality was made possible by an unlikely whistleblower: Monsignor Renato Dardozzi.

    An electronic engineer who held a top job at the state telecommunications company, Mgr Dardozzi was ordained priest at the age of 52. He worked in the IOR under Marcinkus [who was IOR president from 1971-1989; he resigned in the wake of the Ambrosiano scandals, and retired back to the US, where he died in Feb, 2006 at the age of 84] participated in the joint Vatican/Italian commission that examined the IOR’s role in the collapse of Mr Calvi’s Banco Ambrosiano, and witnessed Mr Caloia’s uphill struggle against the personnel and practices of the Marcinkus era.

    The chief exponent of the old guard appears to have been Monsignor Donato De Bonis, who served as secretary general under Marcinkus and perpetuated the latter’s administrative legerdemain under the new regime.

    In 1987, according to Mr Nuzzi, Mgr De Bonis set up the Cardinal Francis Spellman Foundation, with its own account at the IOR. Signatories on the account were De Bonis himself and Giulio Andreotti, the veteran Christian Democrat politician.*

    [Andreotti, who turned 90 in January, is perhaps emblematic of Italian politicians. He was Prime Minister of Italy three times (in 1989-1992, he was the last Christian Democrat PM before the party dissolved in the wake of the Tangentopoli scandal regarding widespread business bribes to leading CD politicians), twice Defense Minister, twice Minister of the Interior, and Foreign Minister in 1983-1989. All this, while openly in league with the Mafia (though late in his career, he decided to cut off his ties with them) and at the same time, presenting himself as a leading Catholic layman. He has been senator for life since 1991. He also founded and edits the monthly Zatholic magazine 30 GIORNI.]

    During its first six years of operation the account received some 50 billion lire (€26 million) and paid out 43 billion.

    Though Dardozzi’s documents show that Andreotti and De Bonis were beneficiaries of the Spellman account, the internal IOR correspondence is coy of admitting as much.

    The Christian Democrat politician is often referred to cryptically as Omissis, while De Bonis goes under the codename Roma. Ownership of the account was clearly a sensitive matter.

    The choice of the virulently anti-communist Spellman as “patron” of the fund is interesting. The well-connected cardinal of New York earned the sobriquet “money-bags” for his fund-raising skills and he earmarked significant sums for Italy’s Christian Democrat Party during the cold war years.

    The Spellman fund seems to have been administered by De Bonis with promiscuous generosity. A variety of convents and clerics were to benefit, with payments ranging from the modest 1 million lire paid to five mother superiors, to the $50,000 sent to the auxiliary bishop of Skopje-Prizen, for the Albanian-speaking faithful, and the $1 million delivered to Cardinal Lucas Moreira Neves, the archbishop of Sao Salvador de Bahia in Brazil.

    There were also payments of a more personal nature: 100 million lire for one of Andreotti’s lawyers, $134,000 for a New York conference on Cicero sponsored by the former prime minister, and even a 60 million lire payment to Severino Citaristi, a former treasurer of the Christian Democrat Party convicted of corruption.

    In 1991 the account paid some 54 million lire in six instalments to Gioconda Crivelli, a jewelry and fashion designer who appears to have been a personal friend of Mr Andreotti. And a 5 million lire payment went at the same time to Monsignor Giuseppe Generali, described in an interview by Andreotti’s political colleague Walter Montini as Andreotti’s “spiritual guide”.

    “He was so close to Andreotti as to become the protector of his sons during the dark years of terrorism,” Montini said. How a churchman could perform such a function was not explained.

    Part of the massive Enimont bribe, paid to politicians to secure their approval for a reorganisation of the chemicals sector, was also bounced through the Spellman fund, according to Mr Nuzzi.

    But Mr Caloia and Mgr Dardozzi chose discretion over transparency when questioned about it by prosecutors from Milan. “Despite the full collaboration promised and publicised in the press, they limited themselves to referring only what can no longer be concealed,” Mr Nuzzi writes.

    Mgr Dardozzi’s documents reveal how the IOR leadership debated how much it was safe to reveal to the prosecutors. In a note to the cardinals’ oversight committee, Mr Caloia warned of the sensitivity of the issue.

    “Any leak would constitute a source of grave harm for the Holy See,” he wrote. “And that is because the document outlines procedures and figures that – not being essential for the Milan prosecutor’s office – have not been transmitted.”

    The reserve was motivated, Dardozzi observed wryly in a note to the IOR’s chief lawyer, by the need to avoid “leading (the investigators) into temptation”.

    It is interesting to note that Mgr Dardozzi’s motive for turning whistleblower was not unalloyed disapproval of the IOR’s unethical conduct. His decision to smuggle his secret archive out of the Vatican sprang from anger at the institute’s refusal to pay him a commission on the sale of a valuable villa near Florence.

    The unusual monsignor wanted to leave the money to his adoptive daughter, whose health condition required expensive hospital treatment.

    Whatever the reason, Dardozzi’s archive offers an unprecedented glimpse of the inner workings of one of the world’s most secretive and unaccountable financial institutions.

    The idea that a noble end – winning the cold war or funding one’s favourite charity – justifies almost any means, still seems to endure at the Pope’s bank in the Nicholas V Tower.

    The topic of the Vatican bank’s financial shenanigans continues to fascinate the Italian public. Despite negligible publicity in the press and on television, Vaticano S.p.a. jumped to third place in the non-fiction rankings within 10 days of publication.

    The full IOR story obviously remains to be told. I do not know what Guzzi's book says about the origins of IOR's incredible and unconscionable 'getting into bed' with the Mafia and the Masons - which seems to be acknowledged fact. But it must have begun under Paul VI - how much did he know about it? He already had a great shock about the P2 Masonic lodge that apparently recruited a number of ranking Curia members, including Paul VI's chosen orchestrator of all post Vatican-II liturgical reforms, Mons. Anibale Bugnini (Piero Marini's beloved mentor).

    For the sake of Benedict XVI and the reputation of the Church, let us pray that Cardinal Bertone and his oversight commission will indeed bring transparency to IOR.

    Just as a matter of interest, the IOR [circled in red, right side of photo)] is housed in the semi-circular Torre San Nicola right next to the Apostolic Palace.

    I'd like to believe there must be a perfectly reasonable explanation (or explanations) for the apparent 'shenanigans' at IOR for so many years. Raising money to finance anti-Communist Cold War activities and the Church's charities does not justify partnering in business with the Mafia and the Masons. It's hard to imagine a more hypocritical set-up than that, nor stranger bedfellows for the Catholic Church. And then, all the petty graft of funnelling money to favorites for causes that cannot possibly qualify as 'works of religion' is simply appalling.

    In many ways, Dino Boffo's 'sins of omission' and/or possible commission, and even Silvio Berlusconi's philandering, are trivial offenses compared to the apparently massive and shady financial dealings that compromised the Church (and lost it a lot of money, too).

    [Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 9/14/2009 5:47 PM]
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    00 9/14/2009 6:44 AM

    This may be the next big crisis that the Holy Father, as Primate of Italy, and the CEI, will have to face up to, especially if the scale of incidence becomes appreciable. Somehow, with general access to the Internet these days, it is unthinkable that if any more cases existed than what AP has documented, they would not have been reported by now - after all, it's been almost 10 years since the crisis erupted in the United States. So one must take this report with a lot of salt!

    Italy grapples with priest sex abuse

    VERONA, Italy, Sept. 13 (AP) — It happened night after night, the deaf man said, sometimes in the priest's bedroom, sometimes in the bathroom, even in the confessional.

    When he was a young boy at a Catholic-run institute for the deaf, Alessandro Vantini said, priests sodomized him so relentlessly he came to feel "as if I were dead." This year, he and dozens of other former students did something highly unusual for Italy: They went public with claims they were forced to perform sex acts with priests.

    For decades, a culture of silence has surrounded priest abuse in Italy, where surveys show the church is considered one of the country's most respected institutions. Now, in the Vatican's backyard, a movement to air and root out abusive priests is slowly and fitfully taking hold.

    A yearlong Associated Press tally has documented 73 cases with allegations of sexual abuse by priests against minors over the past decade in Italy, with more than 235 victims. The tally was compiled from local media reports, linked to by Web sites of victims groups and blogs. Almost all the cases have come out in the seven years since the scandal about Roman Catholic priest abuse broke in the United States.

    The numbers in Italy are still a mere trickle compared to the hundreds of cases in the court systems of the United States and Ireland. And according to the AP tally, the Italian church has so far had to pay only a few hundred thousand euros (dollars) in civil damages to the victims, compared to $2.6 billion in abuse-related costs for the American diocese or euro1.1 billion ($1.5 billion) due to victims in Ireland.

    However, the numbers still stand out in a country where reports of clerical sex abuse were virtually unknown a decade ago. They point to an increasing willingness among the Italian public and — slowly — within the Vatican itself to look squarely at a tragedy where the reported cases may only just be the tip of the iceberg. The Italian church will not release the numbers of cases reported or of court settlements.

    The implications of priest abuse loom large in Italy: with its 50,850 priests in a nation of 60 million, Italy counts more priests than all of South America or Africa. In the United States — where the Vatican counts 44,700 priests in a nation of 300 million — more than 4,000 Catholic clergy have been accused of molesting minors since 1950.

    The Italian cases follow much the same pattern as the U.S. and Irish scandals: Italian prelates often preyed on poor, physically or mentally disabled, or drug-addicted youths entrusted to their care. The deaf students' speech impairments, for example, made the priests' admonition "never to tell" all the more easy to enforce.

    In this predominantly Roman Catholic country, the church enjoys such an exalted status that the pope's pronouncements frequently top the evening news, without any critical commentary. Even those with anti-clerical views acknowledge the important role the church plays in education, social services and caring for the poor.

    As a result, few dare to criticize it, including the mainstream independent and state-run media. In addition, there's a certain prudishness in small-town Italy, where one just doesn't speak about sex, much less sex between a priest and a child.

    "It's a taboo on top of a taboo," said Jacqueline Monica Magi, who prosecuted several pedophilia cases in Italy before becoming a judge. "This is the provincialism of Italy."

    Breaking the conspiracy of silence, 67 former students from Verona's Antonio Provolo institute for the deaf signed a statement alleging that sexual abuse, pedophilia and corporal punishment occurred at the school from the 1950s to the 1980s at the hands of priests and brothers of the Congregation for the Company of Mary.

    While not all acknowledged being victims themselves, 14 of the 67 wrote sworn statements and videotaped testimony, detailing the abuse they say they suffered, some for years, at the school's two campuses in Verona, the city of Romeo and Juliet. They named 24 priests, lay religious men and religious brothers.

    Vantini said he, too, was silent for years.

    "How could I tell my papa that a priest had sex with me?" Vantini, 59, told the AP one afternoon, recounting through a sign-language interpreter the abuse he said he endured. "You couldn't tell your parents because the priests would beat you."

    Vantini named two priests and two lay brothers — three of whom are still alive — but asked that their names not be printed for fear of legal action. He spoke with the nervousness and agitation he says has accompanied him all of his life from being raped as a child by a priest.

    "I suffered from depression until I was 30," said Vantini, who attended the school from age 6 to 19. "My wife said it was good that I spoke out because it lifted this weight from my chest."

    Vantini's one-time schoolmate, Gianni Bisoli, 60, named the same men in his written declaration and in an interview, as well as 12 other priests and brothers from the Congregation, accusing them of sodomizing him, forcing him to have oral sex and to masturbate them.

    In his declaration, Bisoli also accused Verona's late bishop, Monsignor Giuseppe Carraro — who is being considered for beatification — of molesting him on five separate occasions while he was a student at Provolo, which he attended from age 9 to 15.

    A diocesan probe cleared Carraro of sex abuse. But the investigation interviewed none of the alleged victims, limiting testimony to surviving members of the Congregation, other school personnel and their affiliates, and documentation from the Congregation and Verona diocese.

    The late bishop's beatification process was suspended pending the investigation, but is now going ahead to the Vatican's saint-making office.

    Five decades later, Bisoli still recalls the route he said he took from the institute, located on a quiet street named for the congregation's founder, Don Antonio Provolo, along the serpentine Adige river to the bishop's residence tucked behind Verona's Piazza del Duomo.

    Bisoli, who became deaf at age eight, said he was accompanied by one of his abusers and walked past the red brick Castelvecchio, an imposing 14th-century citadel, then along the main Corso Cavour thoroughfare or the more out-of-the-way pedestrian shopping street Via Mazzini.

    "They brought me inside the curia (the diocese headquarters)," Bisoli recalled in an interview. "There was a servant who opened the door, then someone brought me inside. It was dark."

    Bishop Carraro appeared, he recalled. "The bishop started to touch me, grope me," he said, running his hands up and down his body, pulling at his shirt and shorts to demonstrate. "I pulled away. But he continued to touch me for 15, 20 minutes. I didn't know what to do."

    On a subsequent occasion, Bisoli says, the bishop tried to sodomize him with a banana. Another time, they were on the sofa and he sodomized him with his finger, offering him candy to appease him, Bisoli said.

    Once, Bisoli said, the bishop offered him some gold crosses that had caught Bisoli's eye.

    "I said 'at least give me 10,000-20,000 lire so I can buy a Coca-Cola or an ice cream,'" Bisoli recalled.

    The current bishop of Verona, Monsignor Giuseppe Zenti, initially accused the former students of fabricating their claims in talking in January to L'Espresso, a left-leaning newsweekly. Zenti called the accusations "lies" and a stunt that was part of a long-standing real estate dispute between the Congregation and the deaf students' association, to which the alleged victims belong.

    But when one of the accused lay religious men admitted to sexual relations with students, Zenti ordered an internal investigation into the Congregation. The results found that some abuse occurred, albeit a fraction of what has been alleged.

    According to the diocese probe, there were episodes of physical violence against two unnamed students between 1958 and 1965. From 1965 to 1967, two would-be priests with "sexual disorders" were kicked out; while between 1965 and 1990 a religious brother had sexual relations with an undetermined number of students, the investigation found. In all cases the accused were removed.

    "There could have been some episodes, some bad apples are possible," Carlo de' Gresti, spokesman for the Provolo institute said in an interview at the school's Chievo campus, where a lay staff now runs a technical school for poor teens. "It happens, even in families. That there could have been 26, 27, 25 pedophiles? There is no objective corroboration from anyone who isn't inside the (students') association."

    Advocates, however, says the diocese's investigation was fatally flawed because it didn't interview the alleged victims and only people with links to the school who may have something to hide.

    "If they had wanted to shed full light on it, they wouldn't have only heard from priests and lay brothers, but from the deaf as well," said Marco Lodi Rizzini, a spokesman for the victims.

    The investigation has been forwarded to the Vatican, said the Rev. Bruno Fasani, spokesman for the diocese. He claimed former students had been manipulated into denouncing innocent priests and accused some of harboring a long-standing animosity to the church.

    Zenti, for his part, asked forgiveness from the victims.

    "The feeling that prevails is above all one of profound solidarity with the victims of abuse," Zenti said in a May statement. "To them and their families, a humble request of forgiveness is made."

    Among the cases the AP tallied, there were charges of inducing boys into prostitution, participation in satanic rituals, and one notorious case in which the church itself determined that an elderly Florentine priest was responsible for "sexual abuse, false mysticism and domination of consciences."

    Where there were sentences, they ran from a two-year suspended sentence to eight years in jail, although with Italy's notoriously lengthy appeals process it's unclear how many have been carried out. Where civil damages were awarded, which has been rare, the amounts ranged from about euro15,000 per victim to euro150,000 (about $22,000 to $220,000 at today's exchange rates).

    The cases in the AP survey involve civil or criminal cases and investigations. For that reason, the Verona figures were omitted, since no criminal or civil action is pending because the statute of limitations has expired.

    In 2002, when the abuse scandal was erupting in the United States, the No. 2 official in the Italian Bishops' Conference, Monsignor Giuseppe Betori, was quoted as saying clerical sex abuse was so limited in Italy that the conference leadership hadn't even discussed the matter.

    But Italian prelates and the Vatican now seem to be taking the problem far more seriously. Monsignor Charles Scicluna, the Vatican prosecutor in the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith — which handles cases of priestly sex abuse — acknowledged that public awareness of the problem in Italy had increased as a result of the "tsunami" of cases that came to light in the United States.

    "There is a change of mentality, and we find that to be very positive," he told the AP.

    In a shift for the Vatican, Scicluna acknowledged that priestly sex abuse was an age-old problem that needed to be rooted out.

    "I don't think it's a question of happening. It has always happened. It's important that people talk about it, because otherwise we cannot bring the healing which the church can offer to people who need it — both the victims and perpetrators."

    [Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 11/27/2009 12:25 AM]
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    00 9/14/2009 8:25 PM

    Doctrinal dialog to start
    soon with Lefebvrians

    VATICAN CITY, Sept. 14 (Translated from ASCA) - The Vatican team which will carry on a doctrinal dialog with the Lefebvrians is ready for the discussions expected to begin shortly.

    Heading the team is Mons. Guido Pozzo, named by Pope Benedict XVI last summer to be Secretary-General of the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei (PCED), now attached to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

    The PCED was established by John Paul II in 1988 to be the Vatican liaison with traditionalist groups including the Lefebvrians' FSSPX, and handled all the preliminary negotiations that led to Pope Benedict's revoking the ecommunication of their bishops.

    With the principal effort of reconciliation now focused on clarifying doctrinal aspects of Vatican-II that the Lefebvrians question, the Pope placed the PCED under the CDF umbrella. It also coincided with the retirement of Cardinal Dario Castrillon Hoyos, who led the PCED fromm the beginning but who turned 80 earlier this year.

    The other theologians on the Vatican team are the Swiss Dominican Charles Morerod, who is the new secretary of the International Theological Commission (also under the CDF); German Jesuit Karl Josef Becker who taught theology at the Pontifical Gregorian University; and the Vicar-General of Opus Dei, Fernando Ocariz Brana. All three priests are also consultants of the CDF.

    Heading the FSSPX team is Spanish Mons. Alfonso de Galarreta, one of the four bishops whose excommunication was lifted.

    ASCA goes on to report briefly about statements made last week by the Archbishop of Vienna, Cardinal Christoph Schoenborn, who laid down a hard line to the FSSPX. [Schoenborn is a member of the CDF but not of Ecclesia Dei].

    Schoenborn told a German newspaper that the talks with the FSSPX would start 'in a few days' and that FSSPX would be 'told clearly' that there are certain elements of Vatican-II that are non-negotiable, namely, relations with the Jews, ecumenism, inter-religious dialog, and religious freedom.

    He said the only reason for the Pope's efforts to try and bring back the FSPPX to full communion with Rome was "his desire to achieve unity in the Church". [DUH!!!]

    [Isn't it ironic how the Archbishop of Vienna is so prompt to take a hard line against the Lefebvrians but does everything he can to pander to his ultra-liberal constituency and fellow bishops in Austria, not to mention priests who flaunt having mistresses and children? Perhaps he will be more convincing if he can show that he can lay down the orthodox line with his own people, rather than lecturing the Lefebvrians.

    Also, he thinks of the coming talks in terms of 'negotiation', when Mons. Fellay of the FSSPX has made it very clear that the Lefebvrians are not looking for any compromises, only for clarity.

    I think the Lefebvrians deserve, at the very least,the same respect that Schoenborn shows the Austrian youth groups whom he continues to encourage in their circus Masses, and the modern artists whose blasphemous works he is willing to host in his own Cathedral's museum!

    I certainly pray the Pope is not blind to this situation just because Schoenborn has been one of his 'favorites'. How can he then lay down the law with other bishops if he allows Schoenborn to get away with these questionable practices?

    In any case, let us ask the Holy Spirit to shine his light on these upcoming discussions and the men who will carry them on. I hope they do it without publicity - from either side - until they have something definite to report.]

    P.S. If Le Figaro is to be trusted, Cardinal Schoenborn may not be all that wired into what's happening at the Vatican, at least in relation to the dialog with the FSSPX:

    Talks won't start
    till mid-October

    by Jean-Marie Guénois
    Translated from

    Sept. 14, 2009

    The discussions between Rome and the FSSPX will not start 'before mid-October', suthoritative sources indicated in both Rome and Econe (FSSPX headquarters in Switzerland).

    It won't be 'in a few days', as the Archbishop of Vienna, Cardinal Christoph Schoenborn, made known this weekend.

    The composition of the two delegations to the dialog commission - a project of Benedict XVI in an effort to bring back the traditionalist gorup into full communion with the Church of ROme - has not been officially announced.

    In any case, the discussions, which will focus on the interpretation of certain Vatican-II documents, will be strictly confidential.

    They constitute a crucial step in the reconciliation sought by the Pope who, last January, lifted the excommunication of the four FSSPX bishops who were consecrated in 1988 by the late Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, founder of the FSSPX.

    [One of the four bishops, Richard Williamson, has been 'inactivated' by the FSSPX because of negationist statements he made about teh Holocaust.]

    P.S. Now, the word comes directly from Fr. Lombardi:

    Fr. Lombardi confirms
    talks to begin after Oct. 15

    Translated from
    the Italian service of

    Setp. 15 (RV) - The doctrinal discussions between the Vatican and the FSSPX will get under way in the second half of October, Fr. Federico Lombardi confirmed today.

    Responding to newsmen's questions, the Vatican Press Director also confirmed the names of the theologians who will represent the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in the discussions: Charles Morerod, Swiss Dominican; Karl Josef Becker, German Jesit; and Fernando Ocariz Brana, Spanish vicar-general of Opus Dei.

    [The report then refers to statements about the talks made by Cardinal Schoenborn to a German newspaper, without mentioning that he said the talks would start 'in a few days'.

    The Archbishop of Vienna was clearly wrong about the date, on top of having spoken out of turn. It is not his place to speak about this sensitive issue, even if, and especially not if, he had a direct involvement in the talks, which he clearly does not. I cannot imagine the Holy Father authorizing him to say anything hostile as he did, on the very eve of the talks which took Benedict XVI four years to pave the way!

    Considering his appalling record as a pastor in the past 2-3 years, it's hard to believe now that this is a man who was (probably still is, by his supporters) widely considered papabile!

    When was the last time you remember reading something positive about him? Sure, he organized the papal visit to Austria very well (except for those egg-splatter robes he approved for the Mariaell Mass!), but after the Pope left, things turned even worse for the Church in Austria.

    And everytime he's been in the news lately, it is for some outrage of omission or commission, of which those interested may find a whole file with pictures on the Catholic Conservation blog.

    Again, I ask: Is the Pope aware of all this? Has anyone called his attention to it?

    [Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 2/13/2010 4:29 PM]
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    Orthodox prelate's visit to Rome
    showcases improving relations

    Vatican City, Sep 15, 2009 (CNA) - The Russian Orthodox and the Roman Catholic Churches have improved relations under Pope Benedict XVI, and in a sign of a growing closeness, the Vatican announced today that Archbishop Hilarion (Alfeyev), the Russian Orthodox head of External Church Affairs, is paying his first visit to Rome.

    From left: Photo on the banner of the bishop's personal website; Hilarion with the late Patriarch Alexei (center) and current Patriarch Kirill (left); photo on the bishop's Facebook page.

    Archbishop Hilarion of Volokolamsk is visiting Rome at the invitation of Cardinal Walter Kasper, the president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity. His trip began today and will last until September 20.

    Archbishop Hilarion's post was previously filled by then-Archbishop Kirill, who was elected the Patriarch of Moscow and all Russia this past January.

    This week's visit to Rome will be Archbishop Hilarion's first, since he was appointed as president of the Department for External Church Affairs of the Patriarchate of Moscow after the selection of Kirill.

    The archbishop will be received by the Holy Father and will meet, among others, Cardinal Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone; Cardinal Walter Kasper; Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, prefect of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches, and Archbishop Gianfranco Ravasi, president of the Pontifical Council for Culture.

    "In the wake of the many meetings and conversations with the Patriarch in the past," says a statement issued by the Council for Christian Unity, "this visit will confirm the ties of friendship between the Catholic Church and the Russian Orthodox Church, on the solid basis of mutual understanding and respect, with a view to closer collaboration and to favor the presence of the Church in the lives of the peoples of Europe and the world."

    At a meeting with the ambassador from the Dominican Republic to Russia, Archbishop Hilarion said that relations between the two Churches are good and have particularly improved under Pope Benedict.

    “We have frank and rather efficient dialogue and its objective is to present the Christian vision to our present world and give answers to the questions raised by today’s reality,” the Orthodox archbishop said according to Interfax news agency.

    NB: Bishop Hilarion is relatively young (born 1966), and studied piano, violin and composition in the conservatory before he went on to priesthood. From 2002 until he was appointed to his present position, he was the Russian orthodox representative to European institutions and was based in Vienna. At least two of his compositions, St. Matthew's Passion and Christmas Oratorio, have been performed in Rome.


    I'll post the following as a post-script to the above.

    I know it's good form - and protocol - to be optimistic in official statements that have to do with improving relations between two parties, but it's the 'positive' equivalent of 'crying wolf' - you can't keep saying it for months and years - without any appreciable progress - and expect not to elicit "Ho-hum" as a reaction.

    But maybe Patriarch Kirill will make a difference this time - I can't see what objection he could have to meeting in a third country.

    Vatican sees end to tensions
    with Russian Orthodox


    VATICAN CITY, Sept, 17 (AP) – Relations with the Russian Orthodox church have vastly improved, possibly paving the way for a papal visit to Moscow or a historic meeting between the Pope and the Orthodox patriarch outside of Russia or the Vatican, a senior Vatican cardinal said Thursday.

    Cardinal Walter Kasper told Vatican Radio "we have overcome all the tensions in recent years."

    He spoke after meeting with Archbishop Hilarion, head of external relations for the Moscow patriarch's office. Hilarion is scheduled to meet Friday with Pope Benedict XVI.

    Kasper said "yes" when asked if a trip to Moscow was a "little bit closer" but said that was not on the agenda for the moment.

    More likely was a meeting between Benedict and Patriarch Kirill in another country.

    "They are not refusing a meeting with Pope: this will probably not take place in Moscow or Rome but in a third location," Kasper said.

    The previous Pontiff, John Paul II, was frustrated in his efforts to visit Moscow, a trip that would be seen as an important sign that differences between Roman Catholicism and Orthodox Christianity were being narrowed.

    The Moscow church blocked any visit, accusing the Vatican of poaching for converts in Russia and other traditionally Orthodox lands of the former Soviet Union. The Vatican always denied the charge.

    Kasper said the two churches plan to resume theological talks soon in Cyprus. [NB: The theological talks involve not only the Russian Orthodox but all the other Orthodox Churches.]

    As part of signs of an improving climate, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev told Italian reporters in July that Moscow wants to improve its ties with the Vatican.

    [Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 2/13/2010 4:33 PM]
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    Vatican to hold first Synod
    for Church in Middle East

    17 September 2009

    The Vatican is expected to announce plans to hold a special assembly of the Synod next year for the dwindling Catholic communities spread throughout the troubled region of the Middle East.

    Sources told The Tablet this week that the so-called “Middle East Synod” would probably take place over a two-week period in October 2010 at the Vatican.

    The official announcement could come next week. Middle East bishops have been petitioning the Vatican for a special synod for several years.


    The following story confirms the planned synod:

    Pope and Patriarchs meet tomorrow
    to discuss Church future in the Middle East

    by Fady Noun

    BEIRUT, Sept. 18 (AsiaNews - Tomorrow, the heads of the seven Catholic Rites represented in the Middle East will meet with Pope Benedict XVI.

    The meeting is expected to focus on the growth of fundamentalism in the Middle East and the concerns it is generating among Christians; as well as the importance of Islamic-Christian dialogue, the status of Eastern Catholic Patriarchs in the Universal Church, and the Ecclesiastic jurisdiction in Kuwait and the Gulf States.

    Maronite Patriarch Nasrallah Boutros Sfeir, Armenian Catholicos Bédros XIX and Syriac Catholic Patriarch Ignace Joseph III Younan arrived in Rome yesterday; Melkite Patriarch Gregory III, Chaldean Patriarch Emmanuel Delly, Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem Fouad Twal and Coptic Patriarch Antonios Naguib will join them today.

    The Patriarchs’ observations are contained in a note to be delivered to the Pope. In their meeting, they plan to talk in great detail with the Holy Father first of all about issues relating to the place of their Churches in the Universal Church as well as other ecclesiological matters, including the ecclesiastical jurisdiction of Kuwait and the other Gulf emirates - countries which in recent years have welcomed tens of thousands of Arab Christian blue and white collar workers attracted by their booming economies.

    The Eastern Churches want Rome to reflect on the fact that from a historical perspective the region should belong to the Antiochian Rite.

    The Patriarchs are also concerned about the fate of Christians of the Middle East, who are challenged, especially in Egypt and Iraq, by the growth of fundamentalism. They will stress the importance of a strong and concerted international action to redress the injustice visited upon Palestine, and will recommend a just resolution that would include the right of Palestinians to their own state.

    They also insist on the importance of the Islamic-Christian dialogue.

    During their stay in Rome, the Patriarchs will also participate in a preparatory session on Sept. 21-22 for a special assembly of the Synod of Bishops for the Middle East, which should be held in the Vatican next year.

    [Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 2/13/2010 4:35 PM]
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    Healing the schism
    with traditionalists

    Sept. 18, 2009

    From a strictly demographic point of view, one could argue that the intense interest surrounding relations between the Vatican and the Society of St. Pius X, popularly known as the "Lefebvrites," is terribly exaggerated.

    Worldwide, the society has a little under 500 priests, roughly the same number as the Diocese of Buffalo. It claims one million faithful, a number impossible to confirm but which, even if true, would represent less than one-tenth of one percent of the global Catholic population.

    Yet for a variety of reasons, the Vatican's effort to put Humpty-Dumpty back together again by reconciling with the Lefebvrites carries a significance way out of proportion to those numbers.

    In the first place, the rupture triggered in 1988 by the late French Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre represents the only formal schism in the wake of the Second Vatican Council.

    (Some traditionalists reject the idea that the society is in schism, usually offering a version of Ronald Reagan's famous quip about the Democrats: "I didn't leave the Democratic Party, it left me." Yet Pope John Paul II's 1988 motu proprio Ecclesia Dei was about as clear as possible, asserting that the ordinations "constitute a schismatic act.")

    Healing the schism has been a special priority for John Paul II and Benedict XVI, both of whom participated in Vatican II. Throughout history, Popes have always tried to end schisms, since it's a core principle of Catholic theology that any validly ordained bishop can ordain another bishop, and hence a schism can become self-replicating if not nipped in the bud.

    [The FSSPX has not been credited enough for the fact that its four illegally ordained bishops have never tried to consecrate other bishops. Somehow, I see that as a sign that its leadership is fundamentally moderate and truly wants to get back into the Church.]

    When it comes to the Society of St. Pius X, several other constituencies also feel an investment in which way things go:

    •Dissidents of various stripes complain that the Vatican's outreach to the Lefebvrites has not been matched by similar solicitude for other disgruntled Catholics;
    •Theologians, church historians and ordinary Catholics alike wonder about the implications of bringing the Lefebvrites back into the fold in terms of the teaching of Vatican II, especially on ecumenical and inter-religious dialogue and on religious freedom;
    •Bishops and other church leaders grumble that offering the Lefebvrites too many concessions would mean rewarding them for disobedience;
    •Experts in Jewish-Catholic relations worry about Jewish reaction to any deal, given the ambivalent track record of some traditionalists on anti-Semitism -- fears turbocharged by the recent cause célèbre involving Lefebvrite Bishop Richard Williamson and his comments on the Holocaust;
    •Some liturgical traditionalists hope that readmitting the Lefebvrites, whose signature issue is the pre-Vatican II Latin Mass, will help tip the scales toward a more reverent, classical style of worship.

    Not only are those perspectives different, they're usually put forward with more than a little bit of mustard. As a result, news that formal talks between the Vatican and the Society of St. Pius X are set for late October is inevitably a big deal, regardless of the society's demographic footprint.

    The news was put into circulation on Monday by Cardinal Christoph Schönborn of Vienna, Austria, a theological protégé (and former graduate student) of Pope Benedict XVI as well as a member of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. [And he was wrong on the dates: he said the talks would start 'in a few days'; the Vatican Press office issued a statement later saying it would not start until after mid-Pctober.]

    In an interview with the German daily Passauer Neue Presse, Schönborn said that talks between the Vatican and the Society of St. Pius X would begin soon, and that the Vatican would make clear "what is not negotiable."

    In particular, Schönborn said, the legitimacy of the Church's "dialogue with Jews, other religions and other Christian faiths" is not up for discussion.

    [I would not credit Schoenborn's prefabricated assumptions, especially since he was speaking out of place - but in fairness, I must also admit my distaste for him is growing by the day, so I am biased.]

    In that sense, the model for the talks with the Lefebvrites is not so much the Middle East peace process, with each side giving up some ground in order to get a deal. It's more akin to negotiating a friendly corporate takeover, ironing out how much autonomy the smaller operation will still enjoy and where it must toe the line of its parent company.

    [The error here is thinking of the dialog in terms of negotiations. Mons. Fellay, the FSSPX superior-general put it quite clearly and sensibly: "We seek clarifications, not compromises" because there can be no compromise on doctrinal matters! And that is what the FSSPX under his leadership has constantly said - not a minor factor, I believe, in Benedict XVI's openness toward them since he met with Fellay in Sept. 2005.]

    In light of those comments, reporters in Rome pressed Jesuit Fr. Federico Lombardi, the Vatican spokesperson, for details. On Tuesday, Lombardi confirmed that talks will indeed take place toward the second half of October. He also identified three experts who will be participating for the Vatican:

    •Swiss Dominican Fr. Charles Morerod, secretary of the International Theological Commission and rector magnificus of the Dominican-run Angelicum University in Rome;
    •German Jesuit Fr. Karl Josef Becker, an emeritus professor at the Gregorian University in Rome and a longtime advisor to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith;
    •Spanish Msgr. Fernando Ocáriz, the vicar general of Opus Dei and an advisor to the Vatican's doctrinal congregation since 1986. (For the record, Ocáriz was actually born in Paris but to Spanish parents, so let's not quibble about nationality.)

    A wag might be tempted to say that the talks have thus already produced one miracle: the Jesuits and Opus Dei are on the same side!

    These three figures appear to be carefully chosen. Becker and Ocáriz were both major contributors to Dominus Iesus, the 2000 document from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, led by then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, on religious pluralism.

    That text strongly upheld the uniqueness and the universality of the salvation won through Christ, thereby addressing one of the Lefebvrites' major doctrinal objections to Vatican II.

    Morerod is a veteran of Anglican-Catholic and Orthodox-Catholic dialogues, and a figure known for bringing a thoroughly orthodox approach to ecumenical efforts.

    It would thus be difficult to argue that these three theologians suffer from a fuzzy sense of Catholic identity, or represent a sharp break with Church tradition.

    In that sense, they're good interlocutors for the Society of St. Pius X, because they can't be accused of heresy (not credibly, anyway) when making the points to which Schönborn alluded, about dialogue with Jews, followers of other religions, and other Christians.

    Ocáriz brings another bit of expertise that could be useful. One hypothesis occasionally floated about how to bring the Lefebvrites back into communion is to grant them a special canonical status, perhaps a personal prelature. [It is also the structure favored by Mons. Fellay.]

    To date, the only personal prelature in the church remains Opus Dei, so Ocáriz is in a position to evaluate the pros and cons of that idea.

    As for the long-term prospects of these talks, all one can say is that the jury is still out. Speaking on background, Vatican officials generally say that they sense a division in the Society of St. Pius X between a "moderate" camp centered around the superior general, Bishop Bernard Fellay, which is seriously committed to reunion, and a more "hard-line" current that still thinks of the Lefebvrite movement as the Athanasius of the modern age, standing alone against the heresy of the post-conciliar church.

    That second group tends to view reconciliation with Rome in a more eschatological key. [How much influence does teh second group have, which includes the disgraced Bishop Williamson? I think we must all pray for the continued good health of Mons. Fellay who has been consistently sensible these past four years that I have had reason to follow his statements.]

    If that diagnosis is correct, it remains to be seen which camp might prevail -- and whether the end result might actually be a "schism within a schism," with some elements of the society willing to accept reconciliation and others repudiating it.

    Allen fails to mention the one obvious effect of these doctrinal talks for the universal Church - a start, finally, to clarifying the obscure and/or deliberately ambiguous language of Vatican II documents, long overdue, and one that will benefit the entire Church, not just the Lefebvrians.

    It is not hard to imagine that Benedict XVI sees this as a providential occasion to make such clarifications formally, after 50 years of to-each-his-own interpretation.

    [Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 9/21/2009 8:38 PM]
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    I have no time to do translations just now, but Sandro Magister on his blog has just made some explosive accusations that paint L'Osservatore Romano's editor, Giovanni Maria Vian, as scheming not-so-behind-the-scenes to consolidate 'power' in his hands with respect to the Catholic media world in Italy.

    Magister was always very supportive of Vian, sometimes almost gushing, even, and this marks a surprising turnaround. In effect, Magister says Vian is behind an article in today's Il Giornale (the same newspaper that published the fabricated attack on Avvenire's now-resigned editor Dino Boffo) entitled "That supposed secular conspiracy cited in order to cover the truth about Boffo and his holy protectors" - an all-out attack against the Italian bishops' conference signed by a Diana Alfieri, and which Magister reproduces in full.

    Magister claims that Diana Alfieri is a pseudonym occasionally used at Il Giornale for articles they do not wish attributed to a real person - and moreover, that this time the person behind the pseudonym is none other than Vian; that Il Giornale has timed the article on the very eve of the Italian bishops' Permanent Council meeting which will be discussing, among other things, who will succeed Boffo as editor of Avvenire, the CEI newspaper, and as director of thee CEI's radio and TV networks.

    Magister hypothesizes that Vian, who has always claimed having the full support of Cardinal Bertone, is pushing for his own candidates for the three vacant positions, and that if he manages to pull it off, he would then have even more 'power' than Boffo had as tri-media czar for the CEI.

    But if Vian is pushing his own candidates to head the CEI's media empire, why would he then antagonize the bishops further with the Alfieri article? Much as his recent judgments may have been questionable, I do not doubt his loyalty to the Church - but, as it is, his previous actions were certainly not conducive to keeping a united front for the Church in Italy!

    I have no idea where Magister is coming from, either, but much as I have become increasingly disillusioned with Vian's journalistic capabilities, and worse, his editorial judgment at OR, why would he collaborate with Il Giornale to do a hatchet job on the CEI - which is really the Pope's organization for running the Church in Italy in his capacity as Primate of Italy? It would be like the right hand trying to chop off the left hand.

    It's all very puzzling, since neither Vian nor Magister is stupid. And while Vian showed unwarranted but obviously deliberate indiscretion when he chose to attack Avvenire's editorial position [I felt his action to be unprofessional and unethical - he has no right to question a 'rival' newspaper's editorial positions, especially if these are very much according to orthodox Catholic doctrine, as Avvenire is] in an interview with Corriere della Sera the day after the attack on Boffo by Il Giornale, I cannot recall Magister being unfair - much less, mean - to anyone in the four-plus years that I have been following his articles and his blog.

    Nor can I explain Vian's penchant in recent months for stepping where he should not, on the one hand, and for keeping silent on news that he ought to report, on the other. His latest omission being not to give a single line in OR to Andrea Tornielli's well-received new book on Pope Paul VI, when Vian himself is an avowed and passionate Montinian devotee! A baffling and obvious omission that Magister did not fail to note in his blog previously.


    [Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 9/20/2009 12:47 AM]
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    On the eve of the fall meeting of the Italian bishops' conference Permanent Council this week, Vittorio Messori presses his case for full transparency by the CEI on the Boffo case. Is it possible the Italian public has not moved beyond that already?

    Transparency and ethical problems:
    A difficult challenge for the CEI

    Translated from

    Sept. 20, 2009

    The heavy shadow of the 'Boffo case' hangs over the Permanent Council meeting of the CEI which starts tomorrow.

    In this 'management board' of the national Church - around 20 bishops - there is no unanimity about who was responsible for the crisis and for how it was managed.

    Above all, not on the CEI's defense-to-the-extreme of Boffo, not to mention the invective against "a disgusting attack on Christianity by dark secular forces": and all this, without bothering to explain what exactly happened in the court action at the bottom of the case, without baring all the facts.

    In fact, although the CEI leadership and some other bishops rightly gave Boffo their human solidarity, while exceeding themselves by crying 'shameful aggression', most of the Italian bishops kept silent or limited themselves to dutiful expressions of support.

    Particularly significant in this respect was the silence of L'Osservatore Romano over the Boffo case - more than just being noncommittal, if we are to go by the interview given by its editor Vian.

    For sure, in his opening remarks tomorrrow afternoon, Cardinal Bagnasco will reiterate his defense of the resigned editor, perhaps muting his indignation for the occasion. But this was the line chosen in the first moments of the crisis, and it is not customary for the Church hierarchy to take back a choice once made, for better or for worse.

    Nonetheless, the case will be discussed behind closed doors. This is not, after all, merely a secondary and fleeting crisis, but an event that was devastating for the CEI leadership which concentrated in just one man - someone moreover who was a high risk for blackmail - the entire information system of the Church in Italy.

    The tsunami that was unleashed by the across-the-page banner headline denouncing Boffo as an immoral moralist on a sleepy August morning has unsettled those in the hierarchy who knew about Boffo's court penalty, thought that it would never come to light, that it would forever remain buried in the files of a small provincial court.

    Of course, there are those, within and outside the Church, who gloated when the case exploded: there is 'friendly fire' even in the Church where Holy Orders do not guarantee holiness.

    Others - including myself, if you will allow me a personal reference - have been left saddened, both by the ferocious violence of the attack on a colleague who is professionally excellent and personally estimable, and by the enormous damage done to the image of the Church.

    [Perhaps Messori reflects the consensus of Italians, but I find it difficult to believe that the average Italian thinks any worse of the Church because Boffo was penalized, without needing to be put on trial, for a trivial indiscretion - even if the circumstances appear questionable because they have not been explained at all. In the same way, the Italians apparently don't think any worse of their Prime Minister for his womanizing.

    The implication for the Church, I think, is more subtle, and something that is always valid - and it really is surprising that both Cardinals Ruini and Bagnasco appear not to have factored it in, in Boffo's case. It is what Messori himself stated in his earlier article about this case: More than Caesar's wife, the Church and its ministers should be 'above suspicion' in in every sense of the word.]

    But one must also regret the injustice of the accusation of 'hypocritical moralism' against Boffo, who actually limited himself to the minimum indispensable criticism, far from the invective and condemnation of a preachifier.

    The clerical 'justicialists and moralists' (obsession with ethics grows as faith weakens, and today, the faith itself seems to have disappeared, as the Pope notes) reproached Boffo for being too discreet - they don't think he denounced Berlusconi enough.

    But regarding his court episode, the fact is that everyone in the business knew that Boffo had been fined by a court in Terni. And everyone - except, it appears, some bishops and cardinals - knowing the radicalization [others would speak of downright barbarization) of journalistic practice, knew that sooner or later, one of those omnipresent connivers in the court system would have given the Boffo file to some journalist.

    Indeed we know now that there is such a file, but we have not seen it because Boffo has moved to block public access to it, and so, we are all still in the dark as to what really happened.

    The court files have been sealed; the young man who was supposedly responsible for the telephone molestations is dead. To reconstruct the truth - at least juridical truth - the only other lead left to reporters is the woman who received the telephone calls. But she has been unbreachable, slamming doors in the face of whoever asks.

    [In fact, from what has been reported, she dropped her charges against Boffo after he paid the court fine - and presumably, in view of his explanation. I don't know how Italy's court system works, but if the complainant withdraws her charge, then it couldn't have been such a serious offense.]

    But it is this 'reticence' to which, notwithstanding the respect that the faithful owe their pastors, one would wish to call the attention of the excellencies and eminences of the CEI's Permanent Council.

    We would like to do this by asking to know - in full transparency - exactly why a court fined Boffo for a punishable offense.

    Beyond everything, the damages - lost 'chronicles' of the Catholic media system - are paid for by the offerings of the faithful and their tax asssessment. Because of this, we believe that Catholics have a right to know what really happened, at least as the Magistrature of the Republic reconstructed the event.

    [Knowing the 'facts' of the event itself is not important, but rather, the capacity of the CEI leadership to be 'transparent' about the event.]

    Boffo's departure from the scene has also opened up the problem of his replacement, which is not an easy job.

    The new 'set of cards' dealt in the 1990s, with the implosion of the Christian Democrats, provoked a diaspora of Catholic politicians across the entire spectrum of political alingments. Avowed believers went left, right and center.

    It thus became difficult to find a daily newspaper that gsve adequate space to political information balanced among the opposing parties without favoring some and making others unhappy.

    But that was a prowess, almost acrobatic, that Boffo managed very well in Avvenire for 15 years, thanks to the finesse and experience of his 'inventor' and great mentor, Cardinal Ruini. And it will be difficult to find a man who can re-start the undertaking.

    [But that's giving Boffo the status of being indispensable or irreplaceable, which no one ever really is. It also disparages the honest effort and personal abilities of those who are carrying on Avvenire in the interim. It's not as if the newspaper has faltered because Boffo resigned!]

    Other choices, equally none too easy, await the bishops: For instance, the front of possible controversies becomes broader daily on problems regarding the human body, sexuality, reproduction and end-of-life.

    But 139 years since the breach of the Porta Pia [marking the entry of the Italian nationalist army into Rome in 1870, to complete the unification of Italy] - which we observe today, in fact - history has confirmed each time that ultimately, a compromise can be found between the exigencies of State and the circumstances of the Church. And that peaceful coexistence is possible.

    There will not be episodes - no matter how scandalous, they will be filed away eventually - to belie this constant in Italian history, in which even the fiercest anti-clericalism has never dis-acknowledged the bimillenial imprint of the Church on Italian history.

    After all, even Raffaele Cardona, the general who bombarded and eventually took the Rome of Pius IV, was himself a devout Catholic who went to Mass daily.

    [Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 9/21/2009 6:42 PM]
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    Sandro Magister's translator renders his title for the following article as "Make or Break. The Italian Bishops at the Final Tally", an approximate translation of Magister's Italian title, but in any case, the title seems to be misleading.

    The implication is that the Italian bishops conference could stand or fall on the Boffo case, although the text of the article itself does not reflect that view at all! It concentrates on the CEI's Cultural Project - about which a good background was provided in the articles on Cardinal Ruini, its president, posted last week in PEOPLE AROUND THE POPE.

    However, I continue to be bothered that even Vatican experts like Messori and Magister do not seem to look at the CEI as the organization through which the Holy Father carries out his function as Primate of Italy, because whenever they speak of the Italian bishops - which neither of them appear to have high regard for as a group - they tend to be very critical and sometimes contemptuous. As if the CEI had nothing to do with the Pope at all, or that what the CEI does and how it is regarded by the public and/or treated by the media does not reflect on the Pope.

    Also, I think the assumption is false that 'there are some who are giving it up (the Cultural Project) for dead'. Who exactly is thinking that, knowing that Cardinal Ruini has not been asleep at the helm - as one can see by a simple look at the 'Progetto Culturale' webpages on the CEI website and what it reports on the project's activities and Cardinal Ruini's speaking engagements to promote these activities.

    What the CEI has been doing
    in its 'cultural project'

    There are some who are giving it up for dead. But the facts prove that it is more alive than ever.
    With three big new developments: a proposal to the country on the "educational emergency,"
    a new school of theology applied to a "pluralist" society, and an international conference on "God today".

    ROME, September 21, 2009 – The executive board [formally, it's called the Permanent Council] of the Italian bishops' conference is meeting in Rome this evening for the usual early fall session, with shock waves still spreading over the resignation of Dino Boffo as editor of Avvenire, the newspaper owned by the CEI, after he was defamed by public attacks against his person.

    During the firestorm, the Church hierarchy, both in Italy and at the Vatican, demonstrated that they were divided and disoriented. [Divided certainly, but 'disoriented'?]

    The attack against Avvenire, in fact, was also leveled by some against the approach that they personify in Cardinal Camillo Ruini, president of the CEI for fourteen years, until 2007, and of the "cultural project" that he conceived and realized, to a great extent through the newspaper directed by Boffo. [But the 'cultural project' was hardly ever mentioned in the secular coverage of the main Italian newspapers.]

    The idea that the Ruini approach is disappearing is contradicted by various signals – all in recent days – that prove its vitality. [The idea appears to have been mostly wishful thinking by commentators who had previously been enthusiastic about Ruini when he was the big gun at CEI and have suddenly decided to find fault with how he handled the CEI's political actions - successfully by all accounts - in his time!]

    One of these signals is the widespread diffusion in Italy, beginning on September 17, of a book produced by the committee for the cultural project of the CEI, entitled La sfida educativa [The challenge of education].

    The book is presented as a report on what has been called, including by Benedict XVI, an "educational emergency." A report, that is, on the dramatic incapacity that today's society demonstrates in educating the new generations.

    {More importantly, the reason the study was carried out came from Benedict XVI's exhortation at the decennial national convention of the Italian Church in Verona in 2006.]

    But in addition to being a descriptive and analytical report, the book is also a proposal on how to face this emergency and overcome the challenge. In the preface, Cardinal Ruini writes that what is at stake are "the fundamentals of the existence of man and woman, the very meaning that we attribute to man and to our civilization."

    The educational challenge therefore does not concern only the family, the schools, the Church, but society as a whole. Chapter after chapter, the book examines it in various areas and through the work of different specialists: including the areas of work, business, commerce, mass media, entertainment, sports.

    The question of education will be the linchpin of the pastoral action of the Italian Church during the decade of 2010-2020, as established by the bishops' conference. But with the cultural project, the intention is to involve the entire nation.

    One piece of evidence is that the printing of La sfida educativa was entrusted not to a Catholic publishing house, but to one that is "secular" to the core, Laterza.

    And it is at the Rome offices of Laterza that the official presentation of the book will take place, on Tuesday, September 22. With Cardinal Ruini, with the education minister, Mariastella Gelmini, with the president of the industrial confederation, Emma Marcegaglia, and with the president of the publishing house, Giuseppe Laterza, acting as moderator.


    A second signal is coming from Venice, and also has a cardinal as its inspiration: not Ruini, but Angelo Scola, patriarch of the city.

    [Interestingly, Cardinal Scola was Ruini's first candidate to replace him as CEI president, a nomination opposed by Cardinal Bertone, who agreed to Ruini's next choice, Cardinal Bagnasco, who had succeeded Bertone as Archbishop of Genoa..]

    Both cardinals – not by accident – are part of the committee for the cultural project instituted by the CEI in 2008, with Ruini as president. Scola, in Venice, is living proof of how the cultural project can be realized in original forms, creatively, and productively in a model diocese.

    On September 5, Cardinal Scola opened in Venice an international conference entitled "The pluralist society," with lectures by Italian and foreign scholars from different disciplines, Catholics and non-Catholics, from Massimo Cacciari to David Novak, from Ottfried Höffe to Cesare Mirabelli, from Ignazio Musu to Steve Schneck.

    The conference marked the opening in Venice of a new study center called the "Alta Scuola Società Economia Teologia," ASSET, which has the purpose of promoting interaction among the various disciplines, including theology, in confronting the crucial questions of a culturally "pluralist" world.

    In introducing the conference, Scola invited Christians to identify and propose "common ground" on which to enact "noble compromises" among different positions.

    But this does not change the duty of these same Christians, whenever compromise is not possible, as in the case of abortion or of the family, to make use of conscientious objection and otherwise continue their "proclamation" in society at full voice, in the hope of a positive change.

    The new Alta Scuola is the latest of a constellation of initiatives organized over the past five years by Cardinal Scola and collected under the banner of the Studium Marcianum, named after the holy patron of Venice, the evangelist Mark, including the international magazine Oasis [for the Oasis Foundation set up to promote dialog with the Muslim world].

    ASSET will operate through seminars, cultural laboratories, summer courses, publications, annual lectures. The inaugural lecture, next December 17, will be delivered by the philosopher Robert Spaemann, of the University of Munich [a devout Catholic traditionalist and friend of Benedict XVI]


    A few days earlier, on December 10, Spaemann will speak at a major conference organized in Rome by the committee for the cultural project of the CEI, meaning by Ruini himself.

    And now we come to a third signal.

    The conference will be entitled "Dio oggi. Con lui o senza di lui cambia tutto [God today. With him or without him, that changes everything]." This has already been covered by www.chiesa.

    There is a striking convergence between the theme of this conference and what Joseph Ratzinger indicated as the "priority" of his pontificate: "to make God present in this world, and provide man with access to God." All the more reason at a time "when in vast areas of the world the faith is in danger of dying out like a flame which no longer has fuel" [from the Pope's March 10 letter to the Catholic bishops of th3 world].

    Last September 9, Cardinal Ruini – in Milan to present a book in which he talks with the secular intellectual Ernesto Galli della Loggia – emphasized the importance of this next conference on God.

    On that occasion, at Ruini's table, the editor of L'Osservatore Romano, Giovanni Maria Vian, recalled how at its beginning ten, fifteen years ago, the cultural project launched by Ruini seemed like "a phoenix," no one knowing what it is and where.

    The rector of the Catholic University of the Sacred Heart, Lorenzo Ornaghi, told him again that in reality the cultural project later revealed itself to be "a giant effort to transform the Christian message in popular culture."

    The Catholic University was and is a crucible of this project. It is no coincidence that the appointment and reconfirmation of the "Ruinian" Ornaghi as its rector was one of the most hotly contested episodes of the Italian Church in recent years.

    Another crucial instrument of the cultural project was and is Avvenire. It is no accident that Ornaghi's opponents were the same ones who in recent years also opposed Boffo as editor of the bishops' newspaper, having inflammatory false accusations circulated against both of them. This has also been reported in recent articles from www.chiesa.

    The choice of Boffo's successor as editor of Avvenire will therefore be indicative of whether or not the Italian bishops' conference intends to continue on the path of Ruini's project.

    [Cardinal Ruini was elected president of the Cultural Project in 2008 for a five-year term, so regardless of who the eventual editor of Avvenire is, the CEI will continue to use Avvenire as an informative and promotional outlet! Again, the 'Cultural Project' is an initiative of the CEI in accordance with Benedict XVI's explicit indications in his 2006 Verona speech - it is a major initiative for the CEI and Ruini precisely because it is in accordance with the Pope's vision of pastoral work in the Church of Italy.]

    Of course, Cardinal Ruini has always worked in complete harmony with the current Pope and with his full support, just as he did with his predecessor.

    [Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 9/21/2009 9:10 PM]
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    00 9/21/2009 8:34 PM
    Here's a great story I failed to post at the time it was first reported.

    Synagogue from Jesus's time
    discovered at planned Christian
    pilgrimage site in Magdala

    JERUSALEM, SEPT. 11, 2009 ( The ruins of a synagogue from Jesus's time were discovered during excavations of a site in Magdala where a pilgrimage center is being built on the shores of the Sea of Galilee.

    The Israel Antiquities Authority, which has been overseeing the excavations, announced this unique archeological find in a press release today.

    The Magdala Center excavation began shortly after Benedict XVI's visit to the Holy Land in May, where he blessed the cornerstone of the future building that is being developed under the direction of the priestly congregation, the Legionaries of Christ.

    The Holy Father blessed the cornerstone for the Magdala Center after he addressed an inter-religious meeting at the Notre Dame Center in Jerusalem on May 11, 2009. Bottom right photo shows a view of Magdala's location on the northern shore of the Lake of Galilee.

    The archeological excavation, directed by Dina Avshalom-Gorni and Arfan Najar of the antiquities authority, began July 27, and approximately one month later the first vestiges of an important find were uncovered.

    As the excavation continued and significant findings were added, the conclusion was reached that these ruins are of a synagogue from the first century, possibly destroyed in the years of the Jewish revolt against the Romans, between A.D. 66 and A.D. 70.

    In the center of the 1,292-square-foot building, the team discovered a stone engraved with a seven-branched menorah [candelabrum].

    Avshalom-Gorni explained: "We are dealing with an exciting and unique find. This is the first time that a menorah decoration has been discovered from the days when the Second Temple was still standing. […]

    "We can assume that the engraving that appears on the stone […] was done by an artist who saw the seven-branched menorah with his own eyes in the temple in Jerusalem."

    Thus far, only six other synagogues have been discovered from the period of Jerusalem's Second Temple.

    This finding is of great interest for the Jewish world, affirmed Shuka Dorfmann, director of the antiquities authority, who visited the site twice and spoke of the extraordinary nature of the discovery and the need to study it deeper.

    The Israelite authorities have requested the continued excavation of the area, and that the findings be preserved in that site and be included in the Magdala Center project.

    Numerous Israelite and Christian archeologists have already made appointments to visit the ruins in the past days.

    Magdala is located just over four miles from the ancient town of Capernaum, where Jesus spent much of his time during his public ministry. It is assumed that he came to this site, now being excavated, at least once to preach.

    Magdala is also thought to be the place frequented by many eyewitnesses to the life and works of Jesus, including Mary Magdalene, who was native to this town.

    In Galilean towns such as Magdala, Christian communities were born, and until the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem, these believers many times shared the synagogues with Jews.

    Only after the temple was destroyed in the year 70 was there a more clear separation between Jews and Christians, and at that time the latter created their own places of meeting and worship.

    The initiative to build a center here began when the Legionaries of Christ arrived to Jerusalem in 2004 by the invitation of Pope John Paul II, to take care of the Pontifical Institute Notre Dame of Jerusalem Center.

    The Magdala Center, also in northern Israel like the Notre Dame Center, aims to complement the services offered to pilgrims who visit Jerusalem.

    The land where the building is being erected is on the shore of the Sea of Tiberias, also known as the Sea of Galilee.

    The Magdala Center, aside from preserving and exhibiting the ruins of this holy place, will offer a hotel for pilgrims to the Holy Land, and a multimedia center that will display the message and life of Jesus and the history of the land.

    Another part of the project includes a center that will promote the vocation and dignity of women, inspired by the figure of Mary Magdalene.

    Legionary Father Juan María Solana, director of the Notre Dame Center and initiator of the Magdala project, stated, "I knew that Magdala was a holy place and I always had a hunch that it would be a special place for pilgrims of various religions; but the finding that we have made certainly exceeds our expectations."

    He continued: "In a moment of prayer at the site, I thought of the last time the faithful gathered here, around the year 70, and how most had been witnesses of the life of Our Lord. I dream of the day that this place will be opened to visiting pilgrims, and I hope it will serve to create bridges and bonds of true love and dialogue between believers of different religions that come together in the Holy Land."

    The opening of the Magdala Center is planned for Dec. 12, 2011, though the schedule may have to be adjusted due to the recent discoveries.

    [Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 9/22/2009 8:35 AM]
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    00 9/22/2009 8:29 AM

    The entire text of Cardinal Bagnasco's much-awaited opening remarks this afternoon to the Permanent Council of the Italian bishops conference (CEI) meeting in Rome is already available on the CEI site. But until I can translate it, here is a first report from AGI as to what he said on the Boffo case.

    Cardinal Bagnasco:
    The attack on Avvenire
    struck at the Church itself

    by Salvatore Izzo

    VATICAN CITY, Sept. 21 (Translated from AGI) - With carefully chosen words, the president of the Italian bishops' conference (CEI), Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco, reiterated today his condemnation of the personal attack by Il Giornale and its editor Vittorio Feltri last month against Dino Boffo, who subsequently had to resign as editor of the CEI newspaper Avvenire and director of tis radio network and TV channel.

    Opening the autumn session this week of the CEI's Permanent Council, Bagnasco said, "We are still experiencing," he said, "the bitterness of an attack which, being unjustly directed at a person who was involved in giving public voice to our community, ended up striking somehow at all of us."

    "The gravity of the attack cannot but be stigmatized again as a sign of the alarming degradation of that good tradition of civil coexistence that we all desire and to which we should all aspire".

    "The telephone call that the Holy Father so kindly made to me, in order to get information and assesments on that contingency, and the words of great benevolence that he made about our (CEI's) work, have comforted us a great deal."

    Reiterating that "the Church in this country is a presence that has been constantly loyal and constructive, and which cannot be coopted nor intimidated simply because it is doing its duty."

    Following the invitation made by the Pope in his Angelus message yesterday to renounce all aggressiveness, Bagnasco indicated a line of action {"which must nonetheless not be misconstrued") that would not further exacerbate tensions with the government, as well as those within the Italian church itself.

    "Following the wisdom of the Cross," he said, "free of interpretations that are extraneous to the reasoning of the Church, and with full respect for every person, everything takes on a different perspective, and these tribulations, none of which we sought, can become the mysterious seeds of salvation and good in this life and later for eternity."

    "We are well aware," he added, "that others, looking at us, should receive from us, from the fabric of our communal life, the example of genuine witness to Christian living. Even when points of view are legitimately different, we cannot behave badly like those who no longer hope."

    [Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 2/13/2010 5:05 PM]
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    00 9/23/2009 2:30 AM

    Thanks to Lella who credits her follower Elisabetta

    for this item that appeared in an Italian blog.
    I checked it out but it does not say how the blogger got hold of Cossiga's letter.

    Cardinal Bagnasco and the Italian bishops' conference may think the Boffo case is more or less behind them but it never will be until they choose to tell all. A former Italian President who is well-known for being a devout Catholic has written Cardinal Bagnasco a letter on the Boffo case, among other things, on a matter that I personally believe needed to be spelled out the way Cossiga does to Bagnasco and the Italian bishops' conference.

    I will translate the first part of it, for now. The second part, equally important but less pressing, consists of Cossiga's reflections on the Treaty and Concordat that regulate relations between Italy, on the one hand, and the Vatican and the Italian Church, on the other.

    Ex-President Cossiga calls out
    Cardinal Bagnasco on the Boffo case

    Translated from

    Sept. 22, 2009

    Honorable Cardinal,

    I read with great attention and deference the opening remarks you gave at the opening of the current session of the Permanent Council of the Italian bishops' conference (CEI).

    You know that I consider myself an 'infant Catholic', namely, one of those who believe that Catholics must conform their decisions in politics, even at the parliamentary or national level, to the teachings of the Curch in doctrine and morals, as well as to natural law as accepted, illuminated and proclaimed by the Church.

    [Cossiga coined the term 'infant Catholic' at the time former Prime Minister Romano Prodi described hismelf and his fellow leftist Catholic ministers as 'adult Catholics' who can make up their own minds whether they should apply Church doctrine to their political decisions at all.]

    That is a position, of course, which is not shared by all Catholic politicians, some of whom (at lesat 60 members of Parliament), not too long ago - without any reaction from the CEI - signed a document rejecting criticisms of a law co-sponsored by some Catholic 'militants' which would give rights and responsibilities to de facto unions including those which are non-heterosexual.

    You know that from the age of six, I was enrolled in Catholic Action, and that I did not resign from it until I was elected President of the Republic, that aftermy term, I wanted to rejoin it but I could not do so because its presidency at the time made it clear to me that my presence would not be welcome.

    But you also know that I am a staunch supporter of the secular state, which years ago, a great Catholic theologian who later elaborated on 'positive secularity' had said that in the 21st century, the only kind of state compatible with the current social doctirne of teh Church - after Vatican II abandoned Robert Bellarmine;s theory of the
    potestas indirecta Ecclesiae in rebus temporalibus (the church's indirect power in temporal matters), which had been sustained up to the 20th century Christian theoretician of democracy, Jacques Maritain.

    The case of Avvenire's ex-editor Dino Boffo is a painful one. But to state as you did yesterday that the attack against him "had somehow struck at each of us" does not convince me at all.

    I think that the Church in Italy, particularly the simplest of the faithful, have been more stricken by the climate of reticence and ambiguity with which the Boffo case has been treated by our responsible Curch hierarchy, reminding many of the dark omerta-like cloud under which some American and Irish bishops chose to deal with their sad cases of sex-offender priestss, thus creating perplexity among the faithful and bringing great spiritual and material damages to their dioceses.

    In short, to the 'revelations' made by Il Giornale (clearly fed by some sources within the Church organization itself), all that was needed was a clear reply: Dottore Boffo is not a homosexual. Or, as the case may be, he is a homosexual who lives a chaste life, and as recommended by the Church, carries his innate tnedency as a Cross, since the homosexual tendency, even if it is a disordered feeling, is not a sin in itself if it does not lead to the commission of unnatural acts.

    The same statement that condemns homosexual activity and the justifications made of it by persons and associations which call themselves Catholic, besides encouraging homosexuals to live chaste lives and consider this discreet behavior as a Cross to be borne, should also condemn anyone for committing a sin against charity and justice by showing contempt or discrimination against anyone for being homosexual, even those who do engage in homosexual activity.

    And so, Dino Boffo, if he is homosexual (and even if not a 'chaste' one), should have been respected bot only by a secular newspaper like Il Giornale, but by the very Church authorities who then led him to resign.

    In fact, given the total orthodoxy of his editorial line and his own writings, he should have been able to continue editing Avvenire. [That's all very well, in theory, but given the way the world is, I am not sure that having a confirmed homosexual editing the Catholic bishops' newspaper after the big brouhaha would have been feasible.

    It might have, back in 2004, if the CEI had taken the aboveboard approach when Boffo first told Cardinal Ruini about his court fine. At the time, it might have looked to everyone as welcome candor for a change from the Church hierarchy about sensitive matters of a sexual nature, and Boffo - if a chaste homosexual - might even have become a cultural hero.]

    Ecclesiasitcal authorities [i.e., Bagnasco primarily] could have shed definitive clarity on the matter by convincing Dott. Boffo to make public the judicial file on his case now kept under wraps in the Terni Tribunal. Files which neither the young woman who filed the complaint nor her mother, both devoutly observant and militant Catholics, would have objected to making public.

    On the other hand, in terms of criticism and insults, whatever was printed by Il Giornale [against Boffo] take second place to those expressed in public more than once by the new secretary-general of the CEI who, overwhelmed by his new responsibility and in keeping with his last name [Crociata, which means 'crusade] has embarked on a crusade against the President of the Council of Ministers with accusations, criticisms and insults which would have already led to his arrest if he lived in France and had said anything of the sort about President Sarkozy and his wife, as he has about Prime Minister Berlusconi.

    The latter is, after all, head of the executive department in a State whose relationships with the Italian Catholic Church (and not just with the Holy See) are regulated not only by a treaty [the Lateran Pacts] but also by a Concordat, which is an agreement in international law that is in force not only on the Italian juridical order and the Vatican's, but also on the Church's canonical order which I believe the said monsignor is subject to....

    Wow, that's a lot to reproach Cardinal Bagnasco with - and I believe, rightly. I did not bother to translate anything on Mons. Crociata's anti-Berlusconi tirades but much of it was being 'more Popish than the Pope". Perhaps, however, Cardinal Bagnasco has already reined him in, because he stopped.

    As for the case of Mr. Boffo, one of my first comments after Il Giornale's defamatory attack was this one, in a post on Sept. 1:

    It must be made clear that the sense of Feltri's rash accusations was that Boffo had no moral standing to keep pounding on Prime Minister Berlusconi's alleged libertinism in Avvenire, since he himself has questionable morals.

    Even if Boffo happens to be homosexual, which no one of his supporters has addressed in public, that does not make him immoral nor sinful in the eyes of the Church unless he habitually practises homosexual acts.

    The only reason I can think of that Cardinals Ruini and Bagnasco have not pressured him to tell all in public is that he may indeed be a self-acknowledged homosexual, and no matter how chaste he has lived his life, the very label alone applied to the editor of the Italian bishops' newspaper would leave Avvenire and the CEI open to all kinds of unsavory inferences.

    Human nature being what it is, that would unfortunately damage Avvenire's moral credibility - and nothing could be worse for a Catholic newspaper.

    So will Cardinals Bagnasco and Ruini still get to do the right if difficult [perhaps to them, unthinkable] thing, or choose to be like Boston's Cardinal Law who will forever live under the shadow of ostensibly having enabled more priestly sex offenses in his diocese by covering up for erring priests.

    Mr. Boffo would certainly help them by making a clean breast of everything. It's the price of being the tallest tree in the Catholic media forest, as he was before August 29: Sure, you are entitled to the sanctity of your private life from public scrutiny - until you commit any infraction that cracks that shell of privacy, after which, you become an open target.

    [Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 9/23/2009 2:34 AM]
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    Italian Jews agree to resume
    joint observance of
    Day for Judaism in 2010

    ROME, Sept. 22 (SIR) - Today Card. Angelo Bagnasco, President of the Italian Bishops’ Conference, had a meeting with Giuseppe Laras, President of the Rabbinical Council of Italy, and Riccardo Di Segni, Chief Rabbi of the Jewish Community in Rome.

    Among other things, the rabbis agreed to resume the joint observance of a Day of Reflection on Jewish-Christian Relations next January 17. The Rabbinical Assembly of Italy decided not to join the observance in 2009 after the Rabbi of Venice launched a fresh assault in November 2008 against Benedict XVI over the Good Friday prayer, more than a year after Benwedict'x revision of the prayer, which some JEws continue to denounce.

    [The Day of Judaism is observed by the Church with local Jewish communities in Italy, Poland, Austria and Netherlands on the same day, Jan. 17. The back ground for the Italian Jews' protest may be found on]

    A statement released by the Italian Bishops’ Conference said “the Cardinal wanted to express his cordial wishes for the beginning of the Jewish year and asked the Rabbis to pass them on to all Italian Jews”.

    During the meeting the cardinal and the two rabbis had the opportunity to discuss some “open issues” with the Jewish Community in relation to the Good Friday prayer “Oremus et pro Iudaeis”reviesed in 2007 by Benedict XVI after liberalizing the traditional rite which uses the prayer.

    In this regard, the statement points out that “there is absolutely no change in the attitude the Catholic Church has had towards the Jews since the Second Vatican Council”. Accordingly, the Italian Bishops’ Conference reaffirms that “it is not its intention to actively pursue the conversion of Jews”.

    At today’s meeting, the cardinal also expressed his “concern about those episodes of anti-Semitism and anti-Judaism that are occurring from time to time, reaffirming the need to retain strong vigilance and expressing the hope that relations between the two parties may become stronger”.

    [Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 2/13/2010 5:10 PM]
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    So, finally, the expected outcome of the IOR makeover. Here is how Vatican Radio reported it this morning:

    Gotti Tedeschi is new IOR president
    Translated from
    the Italian service of

    The cardinals oversight commission for the Istituto per le Opere Religiose (IOR) [better known as 'the Vatican bank'], presided by the Cardinal Secretary of Satte Tarcisio Bertone, at the recommendation of the IOR's new Supervisory Council, has named Prof. Ettore Gotte Tedeschi as the new president of the Council [and therefore of the bank] , with Ronaldo Hermann Schmitz as vice president.

    Prof. Gotti Tedeschi succeeds Angelo Caloia.

    Earlier, the cardinals' commission named the members of the Supervisory Council. Besides Gotti Tedeschi, who is president of the Italian branch of Santander Consumer Bank [a Spanish bank], and Schmitz, the other Council members are: Carl Anderson, Supreme Commander of teh Knights of Columbs; Giovanni De Censi, president of Credito Valtellinese; and Manuel Soto Serrano.

    The cardinals thanked Prof. Caloia for his generous service to IOR and expressed their best wishes to the new Supervisory Council, as well as to the IOR prelate, Mons. Piero Pioppo; Paolo Cipriano, director-general, and Massimo tulli, vide director.

    Vatican bank has new chairman

    VATICAN CITY, Sept. 23 (AP) – The Vatican has named an Italian economist as the chairman of its bank.

    The Vatican said Wednesday that Ettore Gotti Tedeschi replaces Angelo Caloia at the helm of the bank, formally known as the Institute for the Works of Religion.

    The statement said Caloia and the bank's other board members had resigned. The Vatican did not give a reason.

    Gotti Tedeschi served as the head of the Italian operations of Spain's Banco Santander. In the book "Money and Heaven", he explored capitalism and Catholic values.

    The Vatican bank was famously implicated in a scandal over the collapse of the Banco Ambrosiano in the 1980s. Roberto Calvi, the head of the Banco Ambrosiano, was found hanging from Blackfriars Bridge in London in 1982. The circumstances remain mysterious.

    Vatican Bank names new president
    By Lorenzo Totaro and Flavia Krause-Jackson

    ROME, Sept. 23 (Bloomberg) -- Ettore Gotti Tedeschi, chairman of the Italian unit of Banco Santander SA, has been appointed as the new head of the Vatican Bank.

    Gotti replaces Angelo Caloia, according to a statement on the Vatican Web site. The Commission of Cardinals chose Gotti today to head the bank, which is known as the Institute for the Works of Religion (IOR).

    Set up in 1942 by Pius XII to manage the Vatican’s finances, the IOR reports directly to the Pope. Caloia, 70, has been IOR’s chairman for more than 20 years.

    Candidates to succeed him included Hans Tietmeyer, a former head of Germany’s Bundesbank, Antonio Fazio, ex-governor of Italy’s central bank, and Roberto Mazzotta, former chairman of Banca Popolare di Milano Scarl, the Italian daily La Repubblica reported on Sept. 18.

    The institute was at the center of a scandal in the 1980s that led to the collapse of Banco Ambrosiano, which had close ties to the Vatican, amid debt of $1.3 billion. The Vatican paid $240 million to compensate Ambrosiano’s account holders without admitting any wrongdoing.

    The IOR also used to own part of Societa Generale Immobiliare, developer of the Watergate complex in Washington, according to the Washington Business Journal.

    Gotti, 64, is a professor of ethics and finance at Milan’s Catholic University. He’s the author of the book, Denaro e Paradiso (Money and Paradise).

    In the past two years, Gotti Tedeschi has also been L'Osservatore Romano's editorial commentator on economic matters, and was one of the consultants for the Pope's encyclical, Caritas in veritate.
    [Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 9/24/2009 3:06 AM]
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    For the record, and for easy reference:

    Participants in the Bishops Synod's
    special assembly for Africa

    VATICAN CITY, SEPT. 23, 2009 ( Here is the list published today of those Benedict XVI appointed to participate in the forthcoming Special Assembly for Africa of the Synod of Bishops, due to be held Oct. 4-25 in the Vatican on the theme: "The Church in Africa, at the Service of Reconciliation, Justice and Peace. 'You Are the Salt of the Earth ... You Are the Light of the World."


    -- Cardinal Angelo Sodano, dean of the College of Cardinals.

    -- Cardinal Peter Erdo, archbishop of Esztergom-Budapest, Hungary, and president of the "Consilium Conferentiarum Episcoporum Europae" (CCEE).

    -- Cardinal Andre Vingt-Trois, archbishop of Paris, France.

    -- Archbishop Robert Sarah, secretary of the Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples.

    -- Archbishop Henri Teissier, emeritus of Algiers, Algeria.

    -- Archbishop Jaime Pedro Goncalves of Beira, Mozambique.

    -- Archbishop Orlando B. Quevedo O.M.I. of Cotabato, Philippines, secretary general of the Federation of Asian Bishops' Conferences (FABC).

    -- Archbishop Luigi Bressan of Trento, Italy, president of the Italian Episcopal Conference's episcopal commission for the evangelisation of peoples and co-operation among churches.

    -- Archbishop Jorge Ferreira da Costa Ortiga of Braga, Portugal, president of the Portuguese Episcopal Conference.

    -- Archbishop Ludwig Schick of Bamberg, Germany, president of the "Weltkirche" commission of the "Deutsche Bischofskonferenz".

    -- Archbishop Raymundo Damasceno Assis of Aparecida, Brazil, president of the Latin American Episcopal Conference CELAM.

    -- Archbishop Jorge Enrique Jimenez Carvajal C.I.M. of Cartagena en Colombia, Colombia.

    -- Archbishop Telesphore George Mpundu of Lusaka, Zambia.

    -- Archbishop Cornelius Fontem Esua, of Bamenda, Cameroon.

    -- Archbishop Wilton Daniel Gregory of Atlanta, U.S.A.

    -- Archbishop-Bishop Henryk Hoser S.A.C. of Warszawa-Praga, Poland.

    -- Archbishop Gabriel Charles Palmer-Buckle of Accra, Ghana.

    -- Archbishop Odon Marie Arsene Razanakolona of Antananarivo, Madagascar.

    -- Archbishop Michel Christian Cartateguy S.M.A. of Niamey, Niger.

    -- Archbishop Edward Tamba Charles of Freetown and Bo, Sierra Leone.

    -- Bishop John Anthony Rawsthorne of Hallam, England, president of the Catholic Agency for Overseas Development (CAFOD) of the Bishops' Conference of England and Wales.

    -- Bishop Maurice Piat C.S.Sp. of Port-Louis, Mauritius.

    -- Bishop Edmond Djitangar of Sarh, Chad.

    -- Bishop Peter William Ingham of Wollongong Australia, president of the Federation of Catholic Bishops' Conferences of Oceania (FCBCO).

    -- Bishop Louis Nzala Kianza of Popokabaka, Democratic Republic of Congo.

    -- Bishop Jean-Pierre Bassene of Kolda, Senegal, president of the John Paul II Foundation for the Sahel.

    -- Bishop Giorgio Bertin O.F.M. of Djibouti, apostolic administrator "ad nutum Sanctae Sedis" of Mogadishu, Somalia.

    -- Bishop Menghisteab Tesfamariam M.C.C.J., eparch of Asmara, Eritrea.

    -- Bishop Benedito Beni dos Santos of Lorena, Brazil.

    -- Bishop Maroun Elias Lahham of Tunis, Tunisia.

    -- Msgr. Obiora Francis Ike, director of the Catholic Institute for Development, Justice and Peace (CIDJAP), Enugu, Nigeria.

    -- Fr. Raymond Bernard Goudjo, secretary of the "Justitia et Pax" Commission of the Regional Episcopal Conference of West Africa (CERAO), Cotonou, Benin.

    -- Fr. Juvenalis Baitu Rwelamira, director of the Centre for Social Justice and Ethics; professor and director of the Centre for the Social Teaching of the Church at the Catholic University of Eastern Africa (CUEA), Nairobi, Kenya.

    -- Fr. Guillermo Luis Basanes S.D.B., general counsellor of the Salesian Society for the Africa-Madagascar region.

    -- Fr. Emmanuel Typam C.M., secretary general of the Confederation of the Conferences of Superiors Major of Africa and Madagascar.

    -- Fr. Zeferino Zeca Martins S.V.D., provincial for Angola of the Society of the Divine Word.


    -- Fr. Barthelemy Adoukonou, secretary general of the of the Regional Episcopal Conference of Franco-phone West Africa (CERAO), Ivory Coast.

    -- Fr. Paul Bere S.J., professor of the Old Testament and biblical languages at the "Institut de Theologie de la Compagnie de Jesus, Universite Catholique dell'Afrique de l'Ouest", Abidjan, Ivory Coast and at the Hekima College Jesuit School of Theology, Nairobi, Kenya.

    -- Fr. Benezet Bujo, professor of moral theology and social ethics at the "Universite de Fribourg" in Switzerland.

    -- Fr. Belmiro Chissengueti C.S.Sp., secretary of the "Commissao Episcopal Justica e Paz", Luanda, Angola.

    -- Fr. Gianfrancesco Colzani, professor of missionary theology at the missionary faculty of the Pontifical Urban University, Rome.

    -- Fr. Michael F. Czerny S.J., director of the African Jesuit AIDS Network (AJAN), Nairobi, Kenya.

    -- Filomena Jose Elias, member of the pastoral and liturgical council of the cathedral of Maputo, Mozambique.

    -- Martin Esso Essis, emeritus professor of economics at the University of Abidjan, Ivory Coast.

    -- Sr. Anne Beatrice Faye C.I.C., general counsellor of the Sisters of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception, Senegal.

    -- Deogratias Kasujja, counsellor of the centre run by the Work of Mary - Focolari Movement, in charge of spiritual formation of members, Uganda.

    -- Mariam Paul Kessy, national co-ordinator of the Christian Professionals of Tanzania, (CPT), assistant secretary of the Justice and Peace commission of the Episcopal Conference of Tanzania.

    -- Sr. Elisa Kidane S.M.C., general counsellor of the Combonian Missionaries, Eritrea.

    -- Msgr. Matthew Hassan Kukah, vicar general of Kaduna, Nigeria.

    -- Br. Jose Sebastiao Manuel O.P., director and co-founder of the "Mosaiko" cultural centre, Luanda, Angola.

    -- Fr. Aimable Musoni S.D.B., professor of ecclesiology at the Pontifical Salesian University, Rome.

    -- Sr. Immaculate Nakato S.M.R., general counsellor of the Society of Our Lady of Help, Uganda.

    -- Yvonne Ndayikeza, national co-ordinator of movements of Catholic Action in Burundi and permanent executive secretary of the commission for the apostolate of the laity, Bujumbura, Burundi.

    -- Fr. Joseph-Marie Ndi-Okalla, professor of theology at the faculty of theology of the Catholic University of Central Africa (UCAC) in Yaounde, Cameroon; president of the "Association Internationale de Missionologie Catholiques"(AIMC/IACM) for Africa

    -- Fr. Paulinus Ikechukwu Odozor C.S.Sp., associate professor of Christian ethics and the theology of world church, University of Notre Dame, Notre Dame - Indiana, U.S.A.

    -- Sr. Teresa Okure S.H.C.J., academic dean of the faculty of theology at the Catholic Institute of West Africa (CIWA), Port Harcourt, Nigeria.

    -- Florence Oloo, deputy vice chancellor for Academic Affairs of Strathmore University, Nairobi, Kenya.

    -- Fr. Godfrey Igwebuike Onah, vice rector of the Pontifical Urban University, Rome.

    -- Felicia Onyeabo, national president of the Catholic Women Organisation, Nigeria.

    -- Fr. Angelo Paleri O.F.M. Conv., postulator general of the Order of Friars Minor Conventual, director for the diffusion of "Ecclesia in Africa" in mission lands, Zambia.

    -- Fr. Samir Khalil Samir S.J., professor of the history of Arab culture and Islamic studies at St. Joseph's University, Beirut, Lebanon.

    -- Maurice Sandouno, head of the DREAM programme for combating the transfer of the HIV virus from mother to child, Conakry, Guinea.

    -- Fr. Kinkupu Leonard Santedi, secretary general of the Episcopal Conference of the Democratic Republic of Congo (CENCO), Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo.

    -- Sr. Liliane Sweko Mankiela S.N.D. de N., general counsellor of the Sisters of Our Lady of Namur, Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo.

    -- Fr. Anselm Umoren M.S.P., superior general of the Missionary Society of St. Paul, Abuja, Nigeria.


    -- Sr. Marie-Bernard Alima Mbalula, secretary of the Justice and Peace commission of the "Conference Episcopale Nationale du Congo" (CENCO) and of the "Association des Conferences Episcopales de l'Afrique Centrale" (ACEAC), Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo.

    -- Fr. Joaquin Alliende, international president of the Aid to the Church in Need Association.

    -- Elard Alumando, country director of the DREAM programme, Malawi.

    -- Marguerite Barankitse, foundress of the "Maison Shalom", Ruyigi, Burundi.

    -- Paolo Beccegato, international area director of Caritas Italiana, Rome.

    -- Emmanuel Habuka Bombande, executive director of the West Africa Network for Peacebulding (WANEP), Ghana.

    -- Rose Busingye, foundress and president of Meeting Point International, Kampala, Uganda.

    -- Munshya Chibilo, head of distance adoption projects of the Pope John XXIII Community Association, Zambia.

    -- Thomas Diarra, instructor at the catechesis formation centre, Kati, Mali.

    -- Assande Martial Eba, member of the "Fondation Internationale Notre Dame de la Paix", Yamoussoukro, Ivory Coast.

    -- Kpakile Felemou, director of the DREAM centre, Conakry, Guinea.

    -- Axelle Fischer, secretary general of the Justice and Peace Commission for Franco-phone Belgium, Brussels, Belgium.

    -- Inmaculada Myriam Garcia Abrisqueta, president of the "Manos Unidas" association, Spain.

    -- Br. Armand Garin, regional head of the Little Brothers of Jesus for North Africa, (Algeria and Morocco), Annaba, Algeria.

    -- Elena Giacchi, gynaecologist at the centre for study and research into the natural regulation of fertility at the Sacred Heart Catholic University, Rome, and president of WOOMB-Italia, (national co-ordination of the Billings ovulation method - Italy).

    -- Sr. Bernadette Guissou S.I.C.O., superior general of the Sisters of the Immaculate Conception, Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso.

    -- Christophe Habiyambere, president of Fidesco, Kigali, Rwanda.

    -- Sr. Felicia Harry, N.S.A. (O.L.A.), superior general of the Missionary Sisters of Our Lady of the Apostles, Ghana.

    -- Jules Adachédé Hounkponou, secretary general of the international co-ordination of Christian Youth Workers (CIGiOC)

    -- Marie-Madeleine Kalala Ngoy Mongi, honorary minister for human rights, Democratic Republic of Congo.

    -- Fr. Speratus Kamanzi A.J., superior general of the Congregation of the Apostles of Jesus, Nairobi, Kenya.

    -- Josaphat Laurean Kanywanyi associate professor of law at the University of Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania.

    -- Sr. Mary Anne Felicitas Katiti L.M.S.I., mother provincial of the Congregation of Little Servants of Mary Immaculate, Zambia.

    -- Edem Kodjo, secretary general emeritus of the Organisation of the African Union (OUA), prime minister emeritus, professor of patrology at the "Institut St. Paul" of Lome, Togo.

    -- Gustave Lunjiwire-Ntako-Nnanvume, international secretary of the "Mouvement d'Action Catholique Xaveri" (MAC Xaveri), Democratic Republic of Congo.

    -- Ngon-Ka-Ningueyo François Madjadoum, director of "Secours Catholique et Développement" (SE.CA.DEV), Chad.

    -- Sr. Jacqueline Manyi Atabong, assistant to the superior general of the Sisters of St. Teresa of the Child Jesus in the diocese of Buea; co-ordinator for Africa of the International Catholic Commission for Prison Pastoral Care (ICCPPC), Douala, Cameroon.

    -- Sr. Bernadette Masekamela C.S., superior general of the Sisters of Calvary, Botswana.

    -- Fr. Richard Menatsi, acting director, co-ordinator of the Justice and Peace Desk / Inter-regional Meeting of Bishops of Southern Africa (IMBISA), Harare, Zimbabwe.

    -- Sr. Cecilia Mkhonto S.S.B., superior general of the Sisters of St. Bridget, South Africa.

    -- Ermelindo Rosario Monteiro, secretary general of the episcopal Justice and Peace Commission, Maputo, Mozambique.

    -- Maged Moussa Yanny, executive director of the Upper Egypt Association for Education and Development, Egypt.

    -- Aloyse Raymond Ndiaye, president of the "Comite National des Chevaliers de l'Ordre de Malte au Senegal", Dakar, Senegal.

    -- Laurien Ntezimana, theology graduate of the diocese of Butare, Rwanda.

    -- Fr. Sean O'Leary M.Afr., director of the Denis Hurley Peace Institute, South Africa.

    -- Sr. Pauline Odia Bukasa F.M.S., superior general of the Ba-Maria Sisters, Buta Uele, Democratic Republic of Congo.

    -- Augustine Okafor, expert in governmental administration, Nigeria.

    -- Orochi Samuel Orach, assistant to the executive secretary of the Uganda Catholic Medical Bureau, Kampala, Uganda.

    -- Barbara Pandolfi, president of the secular institute of the Missionary Sisters of the Kingship of Christ, Italy.

    -- Alberto Piatti, secretary general of the AVSI foundation, Milan, Italy.

    -- Raymond Ranjeva, former vice president of the International Court of Justice in the Netherlands, and a member of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace.

    -- Genevieve Amalia Mathilde Sanze, head of the Work of Mary - Focolari Movement, Abidjan, Ivory Coast.

    -- Victor M. Scheffers, secretary general of "Justitia et Pax Netherlands", The Hague, Netherlands.

    -- Br. André Sene O.H., head of health pastoral care in the diocese of Thies, Senegal.

    -- Sr. Bedour Antoun Irini Shenouda N.D.A., mother provincial of the "Missionaires de Notre Dame des Apotres", Cairo, Egypt.

    -- Pierre Titi Nwel, social mediator and ex co-ordinator of the National Service for Justice and Peace of the National Episcopal Conference of Cameroon (CENC), Yaounde, Cameroon.

    -- Elisabeth Twissa, vice president of the World Organisation of Catholic Female Organisations (UMOFC), Tanzania.

    -- Sr. Maria Ifechukwu Udorah D.D.L., superior general of the Daughters of Divine Love, Enugu, Nigeria.

    -- Sr. Geneviève Uwamariya of the Institute of Santa Maria of Namur, Rwanda.
    [Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 9/24/2009 4:01 AM]
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    Background on the
    second Synodal Assembly on Africa

    Oct. 2, 2009

    This morning, at the John Paul II Hall in the Press Office of the Holy See, the Secretary General of the Synod of Bishops, H.E. Most Rev Nikola Eterović, held a news briefing on the second Synodal Assembly for Africa which opens on Sunday.

    Here below is the text of the presentation of the Secretary General:

    In the Sermon on the Mount the Lord Jesus revealed the dignity of his Disciples, saying, “You are salt for the earth... You are light for the world” (Mt 5: 13-14). These words, valid for Christians of all times are directed in a particular way to the faithful of Africa in this moment of their ecclesiastical and social history.

    The relevance of this call was also underlined by the Holy Father Benedict XVI who made it the theme of his first Apostolic Visit to the heart of Africa, in Cameroon and Angola, from the 17th to the 23rd March 2009.

    This is both an observation and an exhortation. Christians, reborn in baptism through the grace of the Holy Spirit, are dressed in Jesus Christ “light of the world” (cf Jn 8:12) that “gives light to everyone” (Jn 1:9).

    Therefore, they must live the spirit of the Beatitudes and in this way mirror Jesus Christ the Light, according to his words:”In the same way your light must shine in people’s sight, so that seeing your good works, they may give praise to your father who is in heaven” (Mt 5:16).

    Committing themselves to an authentic Christian life, the Disciples of the Lord try to follow him, they go after him in denying themselves and taking up his cross (cf Mk 8:34). Allowing themselves to be guided by the light of Christ, they will increasingly become the salt of the earth that, renewed by the grace of the Holy Spirit, not only will not lose its flavor, but will be able to give a real taste of the Gospel to all of humanity in Africa and throughout the whole world.

    Being the salt of the earth and the light of the world is the vocation of every Christian. Applied to the Africa reality, this truth allows us to understand the spirit in which we wish to celebrate the II Special Assembly for Africa of the Synod of Bishops on the theme: The Church in Africa in the service of reconciliation, justice and peace. “You are salt for the earth... You are light for the world” (Mt 5: 13-14).

    The priority refers therefore, to the urgent work of evangelization that has as its inseparable companion the promotion of humanity in the context of the African continent.

    The theme of the Assembly is quite explicit as it takes its title from the Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation [by John Paul II] ECCLESIA IN AFRICA, that brings together the results of the First Special Assembly for Africa of the Synod of Bishops that took place from the 10th of April to the 8th of May 1994 on the theme: The Church in Africa and its evangelizing mission towards the year 2000. “You will be my witnesses” (Ac 1:8).

    This choice was meant to underline the continuity between the two assemblies. The first offered a general and overall picture of the situation of the Catholic Church in the continent. It also faced a variety of challenges, ecclesiastical, social and political, which, unfortunately are still largely present.

    Bearing in mind that this is still the situation, with the Second Special Assembly the Synodal Fathers, under the guidance of the Holy Father Benedict XVI, wish to deepen the mission of the Church in the service of reconciliation, justice and peace.

    These are themes that are fundamental for the present and future of the Catholic Church in Africa. In this urgent task she is prepared to work with other churches and Christian communities, with those who belong to non-Christian religions, as well as with all men of good will.

    As regards this, on the first day of activity a report of about 30 minutes is expected on the reception of ECCLESIAL in Africa which will be followed by free discussion on this theme.

    Preparation for the II Special Assembly for Africa began five years ago when, on June 15th 2004 God’s Servant John Paul II expressed a desire to call the II Assembly of Bishops for Africa.

    The most specific beginning was the publication of the Lineamenta, on June 27th 2006. During his visit to Yaoundé, in Cameroon, the Holy Father Benedict XVI delivered, on March 19th 2009, the Instrumentum laboris for the meeting of the Bishops to the Presidents of the 36 Episcopal Conferences and the heads of the two Eastern Catholic Churches sui iuris as well as the Assembly of the Catholic Hierarchy of Egypt.

    The Church in Africa hadsgreat dynamism. From 1978 to 2007, the number of African Catholics rose from 55,000,000 to 146,000,000. Vocations to the priesthood and the religious life also saw a notable growth in numbers (see graph below).

    This promising picture needs to be completed by recalling the 521 pastoral agents who were killed in Africa between 1994 and 2008 in the name of Jesus Christ (cf Mt 10:22). These were Africans by birth or adoption, i.e. missionaries in African lands.

    In the year 2008, for example, of 20 Catholic pastoral workers killed throughout the world, 5 were African: 3 priests, one religious and one lay volunteer, from respectively Kenya, Guinea, Nigeria and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

    The Gospel they preached is the true salt of the earth, the guarantee of a deep-rooted evangelization, capable of facing every difficulty. The Good News accompanied by the clear testimony of their ecclesiastical service becomes the light that shines in the darkness of the world, many times concentrated too greatly on certain areas of the African continent.

    To be evermore the salt of the earth and the light of the world is the grace that is obtained through prayer. The celebration of the Synod of Bishops will be accompanied by intense moments of prayer.

    The Holy Father Benedict XVI, President of the Synod of Bishops, will lead three Eucharistic celebrations in the Papal Basilica of Saint Peter’s. Apart from the opening of proceedings on Sunday 4th and at the end of the Synod’s work on Sunday October 25th, His Holiness will canonize 5 Blesseds on Sunday October 11th: Zygmunt Szczęsny Feliński, Francisco Coll y Guitart, Jozef Damiaan de Veuster, Rafael Arnáiz Barón and Marie de la Croix (Jeanne) Jugan. These saints concretely demonstrate how to become the salt of the earth and the light of the world.

    Prayer will accompany the reflections of the Synod Fathers every day in the morning and afternoon. The Hour of Terce will be followed by a short sermon, organized by the Synod Fathers.

    A special moment is foreseen for the evening of Saturday October 10th. The Holy father will lead the recital of the Holy Rosary with Africa and for Africa, on TV, via satellite, from the Paul VI Hall with the universities of 9 African capitals: Cairo (Egypt), Tananarive (Madagascar), Kinshasa (Dem. Rep. Congo), Nairobi (Kenya), Johannesburg (South Africa), Maputo (Mozambique), Khartoum (Sudan), Onitsha (Nigeria) and Ouagadougou (Burkina Faso).

    244 Synod Fathers will participate at the II Special Assembly for Africa, of whom 228 are bishops. These will take part in various roles: 79 will be taking part ex officio, 129 are elected and 36 are nominated by the Pontiff. Among these there are 33 cardinals, 75 archbishops, 120 bishops and 8 religious, elected by the Union of Superiors General.

    As to their positions, there are 37 Presidents of Episcopal Conferences, 189 Ordinary Bishops, 4 coadjutors, 2 auxiliaries and 8 emeritus (arch)bishops.

    With reference to Art. VII of the Ordo Synodi Episcoporum, the Holy Father Benedict XVI established that participating in the Synod of Bishops ex officio, along with the 25 department heads of the Roman Curia, there would also be all the African cardinals, presently 14, the Presidents of the Episcopal Conferences, national, regional and the international reunions.

    In choosing the Synod Fathers the criterion followed was that of electing one bishop in five. In any case, an attempt was made to have at least one bishop from each of the 53 Africa countries.

    The majority of the Synod Fathers, 197 of them, are from Africa. Another 47 come from other continents: 34 from Europe, 10 from America, 2 from Asia and 1 from Oceania.

    Among these are the Presidents of the Episcopal Conferences from the other 4 continents who will address the Assembly at the start of its work. This fact will underline that the II Special Assembly for Africa concerns the whole Church.

    As regards the work of the Synod, 20 General Congregations are foreseen along with 9 Sessions of the Circoli Minori, divided into the three official languages of the Synod: French, English and Portuguese. The Synod Fathers can also use Italian.

    Four press officers will use these languages to regularly update journalists on the work of the Synod. The first press conference will take place on Monday October 5th. Card. Peter Kodwo Appiah TURKSON, Archbishop of Cape Coast, Ghana and the General Relator, will take part.

    The Holy Father Benedict XVI has nominated their Eminences the following Cardinals as President Delegates:
    - Francis ARINZE, Prefect Emeritus for the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments:
    - Théodore-Adrien SARR, Archbishop of Dakar, Senegal, and
    - Wilfrid Fox Napier, O.F.M., Archbishop of Durban, South Africa.

    At the same time, His Holiness nominated two Special Secretaries: His Excellency Mons. António Damião FRANKLIN, Archbishop of Luanda, Angola, and His Excellency Mons. Edond DJITANGAR, Bishop of Sarh, Chad.

    The fraternal delegates, representing 6 churches and ecclesiastical communities present in Africa, with whom the Catholic Church maintains a relationship of dialogue and collaboration, will also take part in the Assembly.

    There will also be 29 experts, 19 men and 10 women, and 49 observers, 29 men and 20 women, willing to make their contribution to the successful unfolding of the Synod’s work, enriching reflection with their important testimony.

    Along with the assistants, translators and technical personnel, and, in particular, the Officials of the General Secretariat, around 400 people will take part in the Synodal Assembly.

    Three Special Guests will also participate during the Synod Assemblies, having accepted the Pope’s invitation.

    First, on Tuesday October 6th, the Patriarch of the Ethiopian Tewahedo Orthodox Church His Holiness Abuna Paulos will take part in the Third General Congregation.

    This will mean the participation at the Synod of the representative of the aforementioned Christian Church which has been present in Africa without interruption since the time of the Apostles.

    On Friday October 9th, Mr. Rudolf Adada, former head of the Joint United Nations/African Union Peacekeeping Mission For Darfur is expected. He will be reporting on the efforts for peace in the Darfur region, which is of interest not only for the African countries but for the whole world.

    On Monday October 12th the Synodal Fathers will be addressed by Mr Jacques Diouf, Director General of FAO on the efforts the FAO is making to ensure sufficient food for Africa.

    “You are salt for the earth... You are light for the world” (Mt 5: 13-14). The Church, which has been a pilgrim in Africa for 2,000 years, is trying to put into practice this invitation from its Lord. It has been doing this in the regions of North-East Africa since the time of the Apostles (cf Ac 8: 26-39).

    In some areas, such as present-day Angola for example, the Good News was announced 500 years ago. In other areas the light of the Gospel was brought by the missionaries about 100 years ago. Thanks be to God the results have been bountiful.

    One sign of apostolic fruitfulness is the number of African missionary vocations. There is an ever-increasing number of priests, religious and lay people who perform pastoral service in other particular churches in Africa or on other continents.

    Along with the Good News, they endeavor to promote the Church’s educational and social activities, offering a complete human and Christian education to the new generations.

    At the same time, they are trying to alleviate the open physical and spiritual wounds of their brothers in the face of the great challenges of underdevelopment and, therefor, hunger, illness and violence, including wars.

    By their actions, they continue the work of Jesus The Good Samaritan in favor of all Africans, regardless of their ethnicity, language or religion, thus providing a precious contribution to the process of justice and peace, born from a heart that is reconciled with God and his neighbor.

    Invoking the intercession of many African saints and, in particular, of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Our Lady of Africa, we pray that the celebration of the II Special Assembly will become a propitious occasion for the whole People of God to dedicate themselves to prayer and deep reflection on the present state of pastoral activity in Africa, in union with the Shepherds and under the guidance of the Bishop of Rome and Universal Shepherd of the Church.

    Blessed by the Holy Spirit, the Church in Africa hopes to set out, with renewed zeal, in the activities of evangelization and the promotion of humanity in the great continent.

    A Church that is at peace with itself can become a credible announcer of reconciliation even at the level of society, bringing an irreplaceable contribution to the promotion of justice and the achievement of peace.


    Some statistics about the Church’s
    charitable activity in Africa

    1) There are 53 national Caritas in Africa of whom 20 have an additional aim, generally relating to the promotion of solidarity and the complete development of man and society. Then there is the Middle-Eastern and North African Caritas. All the national organizations are coordinated by Caritas Africa which is based in Kampala, Uganda.

    2) The network of the Commissions for Justice and Peace is quite well developed. At a continental level there is SECAM’s Justice and Peace Secretariat. Furthermore, there are 8 regional and 34 national commissions, linked to their respective Episcopal Conferences. There are also 12 institutes and centers for the promotion of the Church’s social doctrine.

    3) Among the significant works of human promotion, we should recall the Sahel Foundation, created by Pope John Paul II on February 22nd 1984, after his Apostolic visit to Burkina Faso.

    (During its 25 years of existence, the Foundation has distributed approximately 40,000,000 US dollars in 9 countries: Burkina Faso, Capo Verde, Chad, Gambia, Guinea Bissau, Niger, Mali, Mauritania and Senegal, financing projects for water and arable land, as well as formation and teaching.)

    On February 12th 2001, the late Pope constituted The Good Samaritan Foundation, based on the goal to support the most needy, especially those with AIDS. The Foundation is part of the Pontifical Council for Health Pastoral Care.

    4) The Catholic Church is present in the field of the pastoral of health.

    According to the latest statistics available from the year 2007, there are 16,178 health centers of which: 1,074 hospitals; 5,373 day clinics; 186 leprosaria; 753 homes for the old and the handicapped; 979 orphanages; 1,997 kindergartens; 1,590 marriage counseling centers; 2,947 centers for social rehabilitation; 1,279 different health centers.

    5) While proclaiming the Gospel, the Catholic Church always has promoted the complete education of individuals through the Catholic Schools.

    Today on the African continent, there are 12,496 nurseries with 1,266,444 registered children; 33,263 elementary schools with 14,061,806 students; 9,838 high schools with 3,738,238 students. There are 54,362 students in the Superior Institutes; 11,011 students in the Universities following ecclesial courses and 76,432 studying other courses.

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    John Allen, as usual, seems to be the only Anglophone Vaticanista who has been doing his homework on the Synod. I am grateful that he seeks out additional informatikn sources besides the obvious one.

    Synod for Africa opens
    to high hopes, but realism

    By John L. Allen Jr.

    Oct. 2, 2009

    VATICAN - On Sunday morning, Pope Benedict XVI will celebrate the opening Mass of the Synod for Africa, which meets in the Vatican Oct. 4-25. It's one of those events in the life of the church which ought to be enormously important, though whether it will actually live up to its potential remains to be seen.

    I'm in Rome to cover the synod. I'll be posting regular reports on the NCR Today blog, and will try to offer a more analytical perspective in this column. This is the second Synod for Africa; the first met in 1994, on the cusp of the Rwandan genocide.

    As I typically say when a synod rolls around, there are two views of their value, which we might call the "glass half full" and "glass half empty" perspectives.

    The latter is far easier to state: That a synod is an expensive talk shop that typically accomplishes very little. Indeed, they're almost systematically designed to ensure that the most interesting or novel ideas are either ground out by the end, or phrased merely as things to ponder rather than action items.

    Given the expectation that any actual proposals should enjoy a broad consensus, synods typically end up affirming existing practice and then calling for further study about most everything else.

    On the other hand, the "glass half full" view holds that a synod is of greatest value for the ideas and energy it unleashes, quite apart, in some cases, from its formal conclusions. (In fact, those ideas sometimes surface around, rather than directly in, the synod hall.)

    It's a chance to start conversations and to put ideas on the table, not just in a local setting but for a cross-section of the universal church. It's also a month-long seminar in the diversity of global Catholicism, as participants from various parts of the world have the chance to share experiences, get to know one another, and learn from each other. Even those paying attention from afar can benefit.

    In that sense, waiting for the final statements and propositions from a synod is almost exactly the wrong way to follow it. Instead, it's important to watch the conversations in their early stages, before the polishing and refining stage kicks in and the most provocative or original bits are excised.

    Do that, and in most cases you'll find plenty to chew on.

    * * *

    The spectacular growth of Catholicism in Africa, coupled with the youthful and dynamic feel of the faith there, have generated much talk that "Africa is the future."

    High hopes for this month's synod, as well as realism about the challenges it faces, can be glimpsed from the pre-synod reflections circulating in Africa and among Africans.

    On Thursday, I attended a workshop on the synod sponsored by Pax Romana, an international Catholic movement for intellectual and cultural affairs, convened in the Casa Ravasco, a residence near the Vatican, in order to make recommendations to the bishops.

    The workshop studied matters such as alternative models of economic development (trying to encourage Africans to take advantage of competitive local advantages to increase productivity and the market value of their products), as well as possibilities for conflict resolution and peace-building.

    Dominican Fr. Emmanuel Ntakarutimana of Burundi made the following sobering observation:

    In terms of percentages of population, the four most heavily Christian nations in Africa are Burundi, Rwanda, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Congo-Brazaville. They also, of course, are the four nations which have seen the most appalling carnage in the last decade and a half, including the Rwandan genocide and the vast war in the Great Lakes region centered on Congo -- each of which have left millions dead and generated tens of millions of refugees.

    Indeed, Ntakarutimana said that he could testify from personal experience in Burundi that when violence erupted there, the casualties were lowest in Muslim-dominated areas. Put in its most shocking form, here's his conclusion: The more Christian an African nation is, the higher the odds of being slaughtered there.

    Obviously, Ntakarutimana said, this raises the troubling question of what kind of evangelization has taken place among Christians in these nations, and what needs to change to ensure that such conflicts don't repeat themselves.

    Among other things, Ntakarutimana recommended a serious investment in institutes of peace-building which could analyze conflicts and train experts, both clergy and laity, in resolving them. (Ntakarutimana added that models for such institutes exist in the United States and Europe, but too often, he said, these institutes want Africans to study on their campuses rather than investing in building similar facilities in Africa itself, closer to the local realities.)

    In general, Ntakarutimana recommended that the Catholic church focus on what he called "social therapy and the healing of memory," rethinking the nature of Christian identity to emphasize being "a family centered on the Eucharist."

    The Pax Romana event is not the only forum in which reflections on the synod are making the rounds.

    Society of African Missions Fr. Patrick Devine, chair of the Religious Superiors Conference in Kenya, recently issued a statement on the synod, highlighting its theme of reconciliation.

    While not discounting the importance of large-scale regional wars, Devine also accented smaller inter-ethnic conflicts fueled by matters such as "scarcity of environmental resources, cultural variation, state neglect, contested use of territory and the proliferation of small arms."

    Those conflicts, Devine argued, often make the church's catechetical programs, schools, hospitals and other ministries "inoperable." An approach to evangelization in Africa that doesn't include serious training in peace-making, he wrote, would represent "a fundamental flaw in the approach and vision of the church's mission."

    Holy Child of Jesus Sr. Teresa Okure, a Nigerian who serves as academic dean of the Catholic Institute of West Africa, has expressed hope that the synod will address the role of women -- both in African societies and in the church itself.

    "The marginalization of religious and women generally, or giving them token acknowledgment here and there, is simply a sin, if our equality and oneness in Christ through baptism is anything to go by," Okure wrote.

    "The practice distorts the image of God in woman, denies woman her baptismal right and new status in Christ, and greatly impoverishes not only the woman but the entire human community be belittling, killing and suppressing the God-given talents of women."

    Okure, among the synod experts appointed by the pope, counsels that church leaders must "teach by example rather than by precept." Among other things, she recommends taking up a suggestion from the first African Synod in 1994 to set up a women's commission "to critically study how to integrate women in the church's mission."

    Okure also invited African religious to reflect on how they can better model reconciliation within their own communities.

    "In some cases, superiors live a different life-style, have a different menu from other members of the community," she wrote. "The initiative of young sisters is often crushed under the guise of enforcing the vow of obedience … At times, people running for office in the congregations bribe members with all kinds of promises, including sending them for further studies if elected."

    In effect, Okure suggested, the synod ought to be an occasion for curbing such abuses.

    The Association of Member Episcopal Conferences of Eastern Africa (AMECEA) issued a statement ticking off a host of challenges for the synod to tackle, including:

    •The global economic recession;
    •Political problems in Africa, including "poor leadership, chaotic electoral politics and weak power-sharing arrangements" as well as "corruption at every level";
    •Ecological disasters;
    •Armed conflicts;
    •The rising power of global Islam, leading to pressure for recognition of Shariah, or Islamic law, in areas with significant Muslim populations (demands for "Kadhi Courts" in Kenya and Tanzania are one example);
    •A "deepened spirituality" and "solid inculturation";
    •Widespread poverty, including "serious economic problems in many areas of church life" (the bishops add that sustainability in the African church must feature "greater accountability and openness in our reporting on church finances" as well as a "severely honest handling of all funds");
    •The growth of "new internal sects" within the church, such as movements founded by married priests, and a "rising dissatisfaction of women and youth."

    The Eastern African bishops then present four expectations for the synod:
    •That it be "very practical, very concrete, and very realizable";
    •That it have a "clear plan of strategic follow-up";
    •That it respect "the particularities and diversities of the church" on the African continent;
    •That it be seen "as a process and not an event."

    * * *

    Of course, it's far from a slam-dunk that the synod will actually meet all these expectations. This may be what retired Archbishop Peter Sarpong of Ghana had in mind when he recently said, "The risk is that the second African synod could turn out to be exactly like the previous one: an occasion to repeat big truths about the church, but without suggesting practical applications."

    The Ugandan Catholic magazine Leadership recently offered a similarly skeptical view of what the synod might accomplish, saying that "Our problem is not the lack of solutions, but the will to effectively disseminate and implement findings."

    The African Theological Review recently argued that a second Synod for Africa may be premature, since the results of the first are not yet widely known or effectively implemented.

    For all that, some observers nevertheless remain hopeful that the assembly may generate some helpful new energy. Jesuit Fr. Peter Henriot, who directs the Jesuit Centre for Theological Reflection in Zambia, recently argued that the synod's theme of reconciliation is "very relevant," not just for Zambia but for "all African countries."

    If nothing else, the table at least appears to be set for three weeks of fascinating conversation. As he has in the past, Pope Benedict XVI is expected to attend many of the synod's daily sessions, and will likely make some remarks of his own at roughly the mid-way point.

    [Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 2/13/2010 5:15 PM]
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    00 10/3/2009 4:47 PM

    A torchlight procession with about 1,000 students accompanied the relics
    to the Manchester University chaplaincy.

    Almost 80,000 people have flocked to venerate the relics of St Thérèse so far during their tour.

    Crowds swelled to tens of thousands as the relics of the Little Flower made their way north. Some 3,000 people welcomed the bones in Liverpool, where they drew over 17,000 people during their 24-hour-stay in one of Britain's largest Catholic cathedrals.

    Auxiliary Bishop Vincent Malone of Liverpool welcomed the relics at the Metropolitan Cathedral of Christ the King and spoke of their importance. He explained that venerating the relics was honouring "a temple of a God-given spirit".

    The Holy Spirit, he says "who gives us through St Thérèse such lessons of uncomplicated but demanding holiness that the Church honours her as a supreme teacher of the faith - a Doctor of the Church - brought to that perfection in 24 short years.

    "What a challenge is that to those of us who have taken so much longer to make so much less progress?" he asked. Archbishop Patrick Kelly of Liverpool ordered an extra 1,000 commemorative booklets to meet huge demand.

    The cathedral was closed to the public at night while Carmelite Sisters from four nearby convents made their private devotions during their vigil watch. But from early morning Masses were packed with pilgrims.

    From Liverpool the relics were brought to St John's Cathedral, Salford where 30,000 venerated them over the weekend.

    Bishop Terence Brain of Salford, with 64 priests, celebrated a crowded opening Mass and people queued outside to file past the relics.

    One religious Sister said: "St Thérèse has given Catholics an excuse to come together and say to the world, 'I'm a Catholic!' She has been a catalyst for people to declare their faith publicly. As northerners, we are not demonstrative, we don't wear our hearts on our sleeves, but our faith is very deep. Lancashire, Yorkshire, Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire... up in the north we lived and died for our faith. That's why we have so many martyrs in this part of the country, four of them in my own family."

    Canon Tony McBride, dean of Salford cathedral, told the Manchester Evening News that six hours after the arrival of the relics, they had been visited by 7,000 people. "There was a steady trickle of people all through the night and there was never a time when there was no one here," he said. "It was a truly wonderful occasion for Salford and Greater Manchester."

    A torchlight procession consisting of 1,000 students accompanied the relics to the Manchester University chaplaincy. Large banners featuring St Thérèse, which Fr Ian Kelly, the chaplain, had received permission to hang from the lamp posts, lined Oxford Road.

    After Manchester the relics stopped for three hours with the Carmelites in Preston, in the Diocese of Lancaster, where more than 2,000 people greeted them.

    Bishop Michael Campbell of Lancaster and emeritus Bishop Patrick O'Donoghue met the casket containing the relics when it arrived at St Peter's Cathedral in Lancaster on Monday morning.

    The cathedral was packed for the opening ceremony and the first Mass and about 2,000 people came to pray beside the relics. Before being taken north, the relics had stopped at St Teresa of the Child Jesus in Filton, Bristol, where they had drawn 6,000 pilgrims.

    Fr Tom Finnegan, the parish priest, said people "took the opportunity of taking part in the liturgy, touching the casket, saying a personal prayer, kissing the casket and staying silently". He said: "Many people took part in the Sacrament of Reconciliation, there were four priests hearing confessions from 2pm till 11pm."

    He said that people's reasons for coming included a love of St Thérèse, desire to be part of the event and to show dedication to the Church.

    Bishop Declan Lang of Clifton said: "The simplicity of St Thérèse obviously appeals to people and touches them at a very deep level and I think they recognise that there is something very human here. And the simple message that she has of God's love for us: that we are called to love God and love one another is just a message that inspires people."

    However, Labour councillor Tim Cheetham of Barnsley, Yorkshire, described those venerating the relics as "slobbering zealots" on Twitter.

    [Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 10/3/2009 4:48 PM]
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    00 10/3/2009 9:05 PM
    Here is a shocker though it could be worse. At least, this priest is taking the honest step. The shocker is in who he was!

    The German theologian who
    can no longer be celibate

    Translated from

    Oct. 3, 2009

    In today's issue of Il Giornale, I report on the news disclosed yesterday by the Dioceses of Mainz and Cologne and reported in tHE German press.

    The theologian Michael Schulz, 49, dean of the faculty of Catholic theologiy in Bonn and professor of dogmatic theology, recently named by the Pope to be a member of the Itnernational Theological Commission (under the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith), is leaving the priesthood to get married.

    The news provoked surprise more in the Vatican than in Germany, where the professor is rather famous.

    Schulz was considered an important theologian who was, above all, very faithful to Rome. He was a student of teh Bishop of Regensburg, Gerhard Mueller, who is very close to the Pope and is a likely candidate to eventually head a Curial dicastery.

    The communique was released by the Diocese of Mainz, under Cardinal Karl Kehmann, because Schulz belongs to the diocese. Schulz explained very simply that he can no longer maintain priestly celibacy and so he has decided to leave the priesthood.

    That is not so bad as the case of the Canadian bishop who has been relieved after a scandalous arrest for child pornography:

    Canadian bishop charged
    with importing child porn


    ANTIGONISH, Nova Scotia, Oct. 3 - Bishop Raymond Lahey, 69, one of Atlantic Canada's most prominent bishops, has been charged with possessing and importing child pornography.

    Lahey, a bishop for 23 years, resigned as bishop of Antigonish saying he needed time for "personal renewal." Pope Benedict accepted that resignation Sept. 26.

    Then, four days later, CBC News reported that Lahey is facing child pornography charges after he was arrested at the Ottawa Airport Sept. 15.

    According to the CBC, he was arrested after members of the Canada Border Services Agency performed a random check of his laptop computer.

    Lahey, 69, served as bishop of St. George's, Nfld., from 1986 to 2003 when he was appointed to Antigonish.

    In early August, he committed the diocese to a landmark $13 million settlement to compensate victims of sexual abuse by priests in the diocese that includes northeastern Nova Scotia and Cape Breton Island.

    Lahey has served on the permanent council of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops and in 2001 was a CCCB delegate to the World Synod of Bishops that focused on The Bishop as Witness of Hope in Today's World.

    He was also a delegate to the 1997 Synod of Bishops for the Americas where he maintained that the Church must keep open its dialogue with all areas of society.

    A native of St. John's Nfld., Lahey studied canon law at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome and took post-doctoral studies in Church history at Cambridge University.

    A spokesperson for the CCCB told Canwest News Service Sept. 30 that the conference had just learned of the charges facing Lahey.

    A letter from Lahey addressed to priests, deacons, religious and parishioners, was posted on the Diocese of Antigonish's website Sept. 27 before news of the criminal charges became public.

    "I want to let you know that after much thought and careful consideration, I decided to submit to the holy father my resignation as bishop for personal reasons," Lahey wrote.

    "To so many of you I would want to say a personal word of farewell and thanks. However, I have already left the diocese to take some much-needed time for personal renewal. I simply ask for your prayers, as I assure you of my continued prayers for all of you."

    Halifax Archbishop Anthony Mancini, also adminstrator of the Yarmouth Diocese, has been appointed apostolic administrator of Antigonish.

    [Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 2/13/2010 5:17 PM]
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    00 10/5/2009 4:27 PM
    Vatican priest led vice police
    on 20-minute chase

    By Nick Pisa in Rome

    04 Oct 2009

    This story reminds me of a similar incident that was reported gloatingly by the MSM early in benedict's Pontificate but I do not now recall how that ended. It's the kind of story the British press lives for and will try to exploit as much as they can to make the Church look bad.

    A Vatican priest, Father Cesare Burgazzi, led police on a high speed car chase leaving three officers injured after being caught in a red light zone, a court has heard.

    Officers pursued the 51-year-old after he was spotted driving slowly in the Valle Giulia, an area of Rome well known for prostitution and transsexuals.

    He took officers on a 20-minute chase which was described in court as "something from a Hollywood movie" leaving two police cars crashed and three officers injured.

    When he eventually stopped he told stunned officers: "You have no idea who I am. You don't know who you are messing with."

    Father Burgazzi later claimed he "floored" his Ford Focus after mistaking plain clothes officers for robbers.

    The court in Rome heard he worked at the Vatican's State Department and was also a master of ceremonies at St Peter's Basilica.

    [I checked this right away on the Vatican webpage of the Liturgical Office,
    since they recently updated their roster, and Burgazzi's name does not appear in any category at all! In any case, unless he were a litrugical expert assigned to the Liturgical Office as a consultant, he cannot possibly work at the Secretariat of State and at the Liturgical Office at the same time.]

    Father Burgazzi is accused of wounding, resisting arrest and failing to produce documents for the car or his identity when stopped.

    His lawyer, Gianni Lostia, told the court in Rome: "My client is not a user of prostitutes or transsexuals – he did not have condoms in his car and he contests the police's claim that the front seats were reclined.

    "He was simply on his way home after a night out at a restaurant with priest friends. He thought the officers who had tried to stop him were trying to rob him and he panicked and drove off."

    [Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 10/5/2009 4:29 PM]