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Friday, July 29, 2005

The return of 'God's Rottweiler'?

An opinion piece by Claus Christian Malzahn at Spiegel Online takes aim at Benedict XVI. The attention-getter/summary at the beginning of the piece pretty much sets the tone for what is to follow:

The argument between the Vatican and Israel is a nasty step back to the days of animosity between Judaism and Christianity. All the trust between the religions which John Paul II spent two decades building up, is now being shattered by his successor.

Malzahn begins by proclaiming that rather than following in the steps of his predecessor, the new pontiff "is a reactionary who is leading his church into a spiritual fortress, rather than sending it confidently out into the field." Malzahn then goes on to the ongoing affair with Israel, making the obligatory reference in that "Benedict XVI refuses to say that terrorism against Israel is actually terrorism, proves that he is following in the spiritual tradition of Pius XII more than that of John Paul II. Pius was also a pope who acted according to the rule book and viewed dogma as more important than true life and political reality."

In contrast to the alleged flaws of Benedict's first 100 days, Malzahn holds up John Paul II as the model of papal leadership both in the Church and without. After recounting John Paul's standing up to totalitarianism, he goes on to describe his ecumenical streak:

No pope before him has ever done so much for dialogue and conciliation between the world's major religions. And this he achieved without ever opting for a spiritual relativism which would compromise the Church's true principles. Principles which included taking a critical view of Catholicism's past.

Malzahn then recounts the late pontiff's accomplishments in building a relationshipm withe the Jews, including visiting a synagogue and punishing members of the clergy who supported anti-Semitic positions. But these accomplishments are being undone.

This is mainly because Benedict XVI has barely needed 100 days to trample over the infant seedling of trust between Jews and Christians that John Paul II planted.
[...]
Ratzinger's politics, on the other hand, are over the top. And he's not just risking a return to a kind of cold war with Israel and the Jews.

Malzahn then elaborates with a reference to the late invitation of the Protestants of Germany to the World Youth Day, which did not take place until after complains were lodged. The author then concludes:

Such bull-in-a-china-shop tactics cannot be considered dialogue. But then, Ratzinger doesn't want dialogue. The German pope wants to be right. His predecessor, on the other hand, battled for faith, and was successful. What a difference.

---------------------
Is the Jewish/Vatican relationship destroyed over this? I think Mr. Malzahn has some kind of ax to grind and personally I'm disappointed in Spiegel Online. It usually is a bit more moderate in its opinions.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Enter Levada

The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has handed down a stiff sentence against Fr. Gino Burresi. The transgressions? The same ones charged against Fr. Marcial Maciel, founder of the powerful Legionaries of Christ

by Sandro Magister
[...]

Magister examines the implications of the Burresi case as they pertain to Father Maciel and what could be expected in the case of the founder of the Legionaries of Christ.

Read the complete article The First Sentence from Prefect Levada Makes the Legion Tremble from www.chiesa.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Dear readers

The blog passed 3,000 hits tonight. A small milestone. :)

Thanks for reading.

Israel: protesting just what exactly?

Amy over at open book pulled out the relevant points of the two articles I linked to and discussed here. From there, she let her readers have at it and the debate was on.

The debate over Amy's entry is basically centered around Israeli motivations for wanting to attack the Holy See and specifically Benedict XVI for what they perceive as a lack of comment on Israeli civilian deaths at the hands of suicide bombers.

Amy-reader Christopher Fotos provided a link to a Jerusalem Post article detailing the new Israeli protest. The article begins with a recap of the July 24 Angelus and the lack of any mention of Israel. From there, it goes on to explain the new Israeli position.

Nimrod Barkan, director of the Foreign Ministry's World Jewish Affairs Bureau, called Vatican Archbishop Pietro Sambi into his office to protest what Israel believes was not just an innocent oversight.

Barkan said not condemning terrorism in Israel had been Vatican policy for years, and "now that there is a new pope, we have decided to deal with it."

"We feel that now that there is a new pope, we need to turn over a new leaf and change the fact that the Vatican refrained in the past from condemning attacks here," he said. "They need to help the moderates in the Middle East, not the extremists."

Barkan said that during the reign of pope John Paul II, Israel "quietly" protested in Rome the pope's lack of condemnation of attacks in Israel. He said Israel had now decided to go public with the matter to change an entrenched but negative mode of conduct.

Mr. Barkan commented on why he thought John Paul II failed to comment often enough on terrorism in Israel and then added further on what Israel will do if the Holy See does not alter its ways to suit his government.

If the protest is not effective, "we will have to weigh other steps," he said.

Barkan said he was not concerned the public protest would damage relations with the new pope.

"What could be worse than implying that it is okay to kill Jews? What else am I supposed to do," he said.

Another reader of Amy's responded with a selection of different speeches and letters written by the late pontiff that either condemned terrorism as a whole or specifically mentioned the Holy Land. Apparently, one has to specifically mention Israel's situation in particular when condemning terrorism or else one is implicitly saying it is okay to kill Jews. As one reader pointed out over at Amy's, even when specifically condemning violence in the Holy Land, it's still not a sure thing that one will be cleared of charges of anti-Semitism.

Smokescreen or protest, the State of Israel is playing with fire. The UN condemns Israel and everyone brushes it off as more UN nonsense. But Israel condemning the Holy See over slights both real and more often imagined (it would seem) is a policy that risks that government's credibility with its allies in war against terrorism.

Israel: ulterior motives?

The other day, during his Angelus address on July 24, the Holy Father condemned the terror attacks of 'these days'. This was in the wake of the terror attacks in the past 72 hours in Egypt, London and elsewhere.

Doctor Navarro-Valls explained in comments to the press two days later on the 26th:
"Concerning the Israeli reaction to the fact that the Holy Father, in his Angelus of Sunday July 24, did not also mention Israel alongside other countries, it should be noted that Benedict XVI's words specifically referred to the attacks of 'these days.'

"It is surprising that the Holy Father's intention should have been thus groundlessly misinterpreted, it being well known that in numerous interventions the Church, the Magisterium of the Supreme Pontiffs, and most recently Pope Benedict XVI, have condemned all forms of terrorism, from whatever side it comes and against whomsoever it is directed.

"Obviously, the serious attack in Netanya two weeks ago, to which the Israeli comments refer, also falls under the general and unreserved condemnation of terrorism."

In addition to Doctor Navarro-Valls' comments, there is a story at AsiaNews.it detailing how the Israeli protests were allegedly a smokescreen to cover pulling out of talks scheduled with the Holy See that has been postponed several times already. Israel has failed to live up to its obligations in negotiating with the Holy See the Church's tax status in Israel. The Church is exempt from paying taxes. However, those rights have been continually eroded by the Israeli government over time.

After agreeing to very few meetings in 2005, Israel agreed to meet on 19 July, only to cancel the meeting at the last moment, and have it transferred to 25 July. Apparently Israeli officials feared the consequences of cancelling this meeting too at the very last moment, so they contrived to find fault with the papal Angelus address to cover up their non-compliance with their treaty obligation to negotiate with the Holy See.

It's interesting the kinds of things that Israel is ready to pull when it comes to Christians. The Jews throughout the centuries have been persecuted and exterminated out of fear, greed and prejudice and the Israelis are right to remind the world of this occasionally, since the world too often forgets. However, being Jews should not a free pass for the Israeli government to be able to slander and double-cross one's allies against terrorism.

Taking a look at my previous post, Israel has made it all too evident this year with the Patriarchate affair and now this latest incident with Benedict XVI that it is all too willing to take advantage of the Christian churches in its territory as it sees fit for its own gain. The AsiaNews article did not say if the negotiations were actually held or not yesterday.

As the CWN story points out, the earlier Israeli comments were tempered later by a statement that the Holy Father's failure to mention Israel was a mistake rather than some deliberate omission. Whatever Israel's motives, one gets the sense that its condemnation of the Holy Father backfired a bit.

The Jerusalem debacle

Magister discusses the reform of the procedure of the Synod of Bishops and then contrasts the Western institutions with those in the East, leading into a look at the Patriarchate of Jerusalem and the upheaval that has been going on there for quite awhile.

First, the reform:
[...]
The opposite took place in the Roman Church. There, papal primacy was greatly strengthened during the second millennium. Benedict XVI – together with the cardinals who elected him – is convinced that the time has come to strike a balance of powers and give greater recognition to the role of the bishops.

A small first corrective measure has already been introduced into the synod Rome is planning for next October. The synod – an institution inaugurated by Paul VI after Vatican Council II, periodically gathering around the pope representatives of the Catholic bishops from all over the world – will remain a consultative rather than a deliberative body, but the bishops will be able to discuss their topic, the Eucharist, using procedures much better adapted to bringing out different points of view, which the pope will have to consider.

Benedict XVI hopes that by reinforcing the college of the bishops, he will heal the schism that has divided the Church of Rome from the Eastern Churches. He wants to bring the respective systems of governance closer together according to the best that each has produced throughout its history.
[...]

On the election of a new patriarch:
[...]
The Israeli government, in fact, has not yet recognized the dismissal of Ireneos from his office, unlike Jordan and the Palestinian Authority, which have approved it.

And this is another difference in comparison with the Church of Rome. In the East, the Orthodox patriarchs have ties with the respective national governments that go back to the "caesaro-papist" model typical of the Byzantine Empire, which remained in force even after the arrival of Muslim domination.

In the case of the Greek Orthodox patriarch of Jerusalem, both his removal and his election must be approved by Israel, the kingdom of Jordan, and the Palestinian Authority.
[...]

Read the complete article (and the accompanying essay) The Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem Is Being Replaced. How the Vatican Is Voting from www.chiesa.

Monday, July 25, 2005

I'm out for a week

This week, my brother and I, with the help of our beloved parents, are moving to another abode here in Iowa City. Thus, my time online may be curtailed and posts made here could be few and far between.

But take heart and be of good cheer, for as MacArthur once said, "I shall return." In the meantime, I'll leave you all with pictures, links and comments on the five parishes of Iowa City.

The picture on the left here is St. Mary of the Visitation (the official name, which has been pared down to just St. Mary's) Church here in Iowa City. The church takes its name from the large painting depicting that event contained in the high altar. Father Ken Kuntz has helped me out and St. Mary's is where I go to Mass.

Iowa City has around 60,000 people and has five Catholic churches, including the Newman Center. The unusual thing is that four of the five are all in the same general area and three of the five are within eight blocks of each other.


This second picture is of St. Patrick's Church. It is one of the three that is closely clustered here in downtown Iowa City. St. Pat's is not far from where I currently live and I can see its steeple from my living room window. The Very Reverend Rudolph Juarez, EV, JCL is the current pastor. The decor is shall we say austere. One reason why I prefer St. Mary's over St. Patrick's is the decor.

Given the fact that liturgy has come to play such a small role for me (all Masses are pretty much silent), the visual is far more important to me these days. I'd prefer to sit/kneel/stand in a church that reaches out to me as Catholic rather than one that would be more at home as a post-Lutherian meeting house in Madgeburg.

St. Wenceslaus' Church was the 'Bohemian' church in Iowa City. I've only been to Mass there a couple times. It has a nice altar, but the interior is just kind of bland. The church and its associated buildings are located in a nice neighborhood not far north of Mercy Hospital. Father Michael Phillips is the pastor.

St. Thomas More Church here on the right is the last parish in Iowa City. I've been to a range of Masses at St. Thomas More, including First Communion and Confirmation (for my cousin). The church is located on the west side of the Iowa River close to the University of Iowa's arts campus. Completed in 1966, the 'worship center' seen at the right is an example of a non-traditional design. The actual 'church' where Mass is held is I think unique that it is wider than it is long (as far as I can tell). St. Thomas More is okay, but personally, I prefer my churches to be brick and mortar rather than steel and concrete. Just my preference (probably why I went with St. Mary's).

Last of all, we come to the Newman Catholic Student Center, which is located diagonally across the intersection of Jefferson and Clinton from the Pentacrest. The Pentacrest is the group of four buildings that flank Old Capitol (the first capitol building of the State of Iowa).

It's your standard student center, I would suppose. It has a large worship area with chairs rather than pews. Kneeling is optional (be prepared to kneel on the floor if you choose to kneel at all). I don't know Father Ed Fitzpatrick at all, but Catholic students that I know come away with positive experiences and that is the important part.

Saturday, July 23, 2005

Recruitment

Earlier this summer, there was some debate over the fact that the United States Army had below average recruitment and that at current levels, it was going to miss its recruitment goal for the year. (Of course, the articles and debate missed the fact that Army recruitment was about the same in the first half of the year last year and picked up in the secend half enough to reach the goal.) What all the naysayers who were suggesting that young men and women just don't want to join up and go die in Iraq missed was that the Marine Corps has sustained a substantial percentage of all casualties in Iraq since the US invaded, but during that same time, the Marines have consistently met their recruitment goals and in some years have had to turn people away.

Why do the Marines do better than the Army in terms of recruitment? As a viewer of that medium known as the television, all I can say is that the Marines have kick-ass commercials and the Army does not. (Anyone who has seen the movie Patton ought to know what a crock that 'Army of One' line is...)

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- "Just as Keanu Reeves fought against the powers of evil, a priest comes to help people fight against sin. There is a battle out there," explained Father Jonathan Meyer, associate director of youth and young adult ministry for the Archdiocese of Indianapolis.
[...]
Father Meyer said the poster, on which he is featured as the "Matrix"-style priest, had its origins in a skit that he saw during his first year at the North American College, the U.S. seminary in Rome. The skit, put on by a group of older seminarians, was based on the film. In it, a group of priests fought Satan in a series of mock martial-arts confrontations.
[...]
After a few initial edits, the poster was given a trial run at Our Lady of the Greenwood, in Greenwood, where Father Meyer also serves as associate pastor.

Father Meyer said it got a huge response. "They were going like hotcakes. Young kids wanted them to hang in their bedrooms, high school students wanted them to hang in their lockers," he said. "That is invaluable. If we can get kids to hang a picture of a priest in their room, we've done something huge for vocations."

The response, though, seems to make sense to him. It appeals to people at a level that everyone appears to share. "People love heroes. The poster personifies the priest as a hero," he said.
[...]

Read the complete article A la 'Matrix,' vocations recruitment poster shows priest as hero from Catholic Online from CNS.

This poster here I hope is the start of a new trend. The Priesthood ought not be misrepresented, but it could definitely use a little glamour. After all, priests are heroes and they are saving lives around the world everyday. Is the Holy Father's sunwear all that unexpected in this light?

EDIT: If any of my dear, wonderful readers lives in the Indianapolis Archdiocese or has contacts there and could donate a copy of the poster to this author for 'research' (it would look pretty sweet in my room at my new apartment), it would be most appreciated.

Friday, July 22, 2005

The CDF in action

A recent decree by a Vatican congregation removing the well-known founder of a religious order from active ministry could indicate how Pope Benedict XVI will handle the sexual abuse crisis.

The action also may provide some hint of how the Vatican could handle other high profile cases of a similar nature, including one involving the founder of the Legionaries of Christ, a worldwide religious order.
[...]
The case has significance for at least three reasons: it's the first such decree under Levada and the new pope; Burresi is a widely known mystic and Fatima devotee sometimes compared by his followers, including groups in the United States and Canada, to the Capuchin mystic and saint Padre Pio; and finally, because it involves action against a widely known founder of a religious community on the basis of decades-old accusations.

This last point, observers say, could potentially have implications for how the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith eventually handles similar cases, such as charges of sexual abuse against Fr. Marcial Maciel Degollado, the founder of the Legionaries of Christ. Maciel has been accused by a number of former seminarians of sexual abuse. His case is reportedly under investigation by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.
[...]

Read the complete article CDF acts against a religious founder from The Word From Rome.

As John Allen points out, this move against Father Gino Burresi could serve as the prototype for such a move in the case of Father Maciel, founder and former head of the Legionaries of Christ. Despite the confusion created by certain announcements earlier this summer regarding the case of Father Maciel, it would seem according to Allen that the investigation still exists.

A report cited by Allen that was written by a commission of cardinals is instructive not only in Burresi's case, but also in light of recent events surrounding the CDF's investigation of Maciel. (See this entry and others subsequent for the story on Maciel's investigation that came about in late May and into June.)

In its conclusion, the report urged the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith to take administrative action against Burresi despite the statute of limitations. One concern, the report suggested, was that if no action resulted, Burresi's followers would interpret the investigation as evidence of unfair hostility against him.

"It should not be forgotten that during this process some persons said that the accused 'would come out of it triumphant, more esteemed than ever, and thus without any shadow, indeed more glorious than before,' " the judges wrote.

"[They said] 'that the Secretariat of State defends Fr. Gino, thus victory is assured.' If no new limitation is applied to his ministerial liberty simply due to the fact that the proven offenses have been prescribed [by the statute of limitations], probably the sentence of this court will be used as an instrument of propaganda in favor of the accused. He will be able to continue to do harm to those psychologically weak persons who place themselves under his spiritual direction."

Allen points out just who that reference to the Secretariat of State could be referring to, but it is merely his speculation. But in any case, it is interesting that once again, State is seen as a 'protector' of someone who was under investigation by the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith.

Hope yet for the Spanish

Madrid, Jul. 21 (CNA/CWNews.com) - A judge in Alicante, Spain, is refusing to marry a lesbian couple and has filed a legal challenge against the change in Spain's Civil Code allowing same-sex couples to contract "marriage." If the case reaches Spain's Constitutional Court, that body could reverse the new law.
[...]
The leading opposition party in Spain, the Partido Popular, is also considering a challenge to the new law's constitutionality. In order to initiate such a proceeding, the party would need 50 senators or representatives to vote in favor. Such a vote is all but guaranteed as more than 143 representatives and 131 senators voted against the legalization of same-sex marriage.

Read the complete article High Court might reverse same-sex marriage in Spain from Catholic World News.

Hopefully the Spanish judiciary has enough 'reactionary' judges to garner a reversal. Not a fan of judicial activism, but a move like this is certainly one reason why the courts exist and exercise judicial review. We'll see what comes of this.

WYD itinerary of the Holy Father

Thursday, August 18:
1000 - Depart from Rome
1200 - Arrive at Köln/Bonn Airport/welcome ceremony
From there, the Holy Father will travel to the Archbishop's residence.
Afternoon - Rhine ferry trip with young people and visit to Kolne Cathedral
After, the Holy Father will return to the Archbishop's residence.

Friday, August 19:
Morning
- Courtesy call on the President of Germany
- Visit to the Kolne Synagogue and address to the Jewish community
Lunch - Archbishop's residence with a group of young people
Afternoon
- Meeting with seminarians at St. Pantaleon Church
- Ecumenical meeting at the Archbishop's residence

Saturday, August 20
Morning - reception of civil and political authorities
Afternoon - reception of the various Muslim communities
2030 - The Holy Father will preside over the WYD Vigil at Marienfeld.

Sunday, August 21
Morning - The Holy Father will preside over the WYD Mass.
Immediately following - The Holy Father will lead the midday Angelus.
Afternoon - Meeting with bishops and greeting of the WYD committee
1930 - Depart for Rome

Read the complete article from Agenzia Fides.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Comments on Spirit...

I finished The Spirit of the Liturgy today. It was my first Cardinal Ratzinger book. Any recommendations on what I should read next of his?

The then-cardinal brought up a lot of different points about Mass that I had perhaps considered in the past but never took the time to really think through to the logical conclusion. Why is the Sign of Peace where it is and does it belong there? Just structural questions like that were brought up as points to consider.

The one point that I've been considering the most was at the end of the book when Ratzinger discussed silence and prayer in the Mass. He suggested how perhaps the Eucharistic Prayer should be recited silently by the priest after saying the first few words of each section as a cue for those present. This would serve as a means of drawing everyone into the 'action' rather than just standing/kneeling and listening to the recitation. It brought to mind my own experience during Mass. I have always followed along and in places where I knew the parts well, I mouthed the words along with the priest. Would silence bring closer attention or would it just allow those present to space off?

Of course, in my present condition, the Mass is pretty much silent anyway, so for me, Ratzinger's thought is in fact reality, though I have no cue words to go by...

Clarification

A thank you goes out to a long time reader for emailing and clarifying a point on the Ukrainian situation. I wasn't aware of certain points, but the email and a quick trip to the following article clarified a few things.

History of Christianity in Ukraine from Wikipedia

I didn't realize the situation in Ukraine was that complex. In any case, I'm interested in seeing how it all pans out.

Sunglasses


In a few different places, comments have been made about Benedict XVI's sunglasses. Most all of these comments have centered on the choice of sunglasses made by His Holiness and how they fit into his wider taste in clothing...

While this is a rather interesting and humorous line of discussion, I would also note that it is misguided. Sunglasses are a part of our lives. They are recommended to protect our eyes from the harsh UV rays of the Sun. That Benedict would choose a pair of sunglasses that are close-fitting and wrap around his eyes is completely understandable. That they happen to cost around £200 is perhaps a bit vain on his part, but so what? I'm just wondering if he talked to his confessor about wanting £200 sunglasses... ;)

A new catechism

PERTH, Australia (CNS) -- The writers of the first comprehensive catechism for Ukrainian-rite Catholics hope it helps diminish the effects of the "Latinization" of the Byzantine church, said the bishop in charge of the project.

Australian Bishop Peter Stasiuk of the Ukrainian Catholic Diocese of Sts. Peter and Paul of Melbourne said Ukrainian Catholics worldwide "have become instilled" with teachings of the Latin rite.

"We attend Roman Catholic schools, we read their religious literature and we have become more or less immersed in Roman Catholic theology and tradition. No wonder our church is deeply Latinized -- to the extent that we have become so comfortable that we do not even see a need to change or to rediscover our own roots and traditions," said the bishop, who also chairs the Synodal Catechetical Commission of the Ukrainian Catholic Church.
[...]
The catechism, a draft of which is 600 pages long, will be divided into three sections: "Our Faith," "Our Prayer" and "Our Life," he said.

The first section will explore the Nicene Creed, the Ukrainian Catholic liturgy and how God has revealed himself, Bishop Stasiuk said. The second section will focus on prayer and the liturgy and will follow the cycles of the day and the year in the prayer life of the Ukrainian Catholic Church, he said. The last section will be dedicated to morality.

The "thread that will keep the catechism" together will be the prayers of St. Basil the Great recited during the act of consecration during the liturgy, he said.
[...]

Read the complete article Catechism will help Ukrainian Catholics recover identity, bishop says from Catholic News Service.

I'm interested in picking this up once there's an English translation. It's nice to see the Ukrainians reclaiming their identity. I'm sure Moscow is not going to be pleased with a catechism aimed at strengthening the identity of the Ukrainian Church in Ukraine itself.

I read the other day about how the Ukrainian Orthodox community was pushing on with its efforts to form their own church independent of the Moscow Patriarchate. All the noise that the Russians make regarding the Catholic Church and the Ukrainian Catholic situation I'm sure is muted compared to the internal battle surrounding the Orthodox Church in Ukraine. Personally, if I were the Ukrainian Catholics, I'd let the Orthodox situation resolve itself. That way, if the local Orthodox do indeed get their own patriarch, then Moscow would perhaps be quiet since a Catholic patriarch in Kiev would not really its problem anymore...

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Down south II

In comments to the previous post, fears included the people choosing Chavez over the Church. It would appear that the Venezuelan people have their priorities straighter than previously thought.

[...]
Caracas sociologist Mercedes Pulido, a Chavez critic who was minister of the family under a previous government, said Chavez also was angered by several surveys released in mid-July that found that the Catholic Church is the institution with the highest credibility among Venezuelans.

The church "is the only institution which (Chavez) has not been able to control," she said.

Read the complete article Venezuelan bishops' statement leads to war of words with president from Catholic News Service.

Monday, July 18, 2005

Down south

CARACAS, Venezuela (Reuters) -- Venezuela's highest Catholic prelate on Sunday condemned President Hugo Chavez's rule as a dictatorship and urged Venezuelans to reject it in an attack likely to strain already poor church-government ties.

"I am convinced that what we have here is a dictatorship," Cardinal Rosalio Castillo, who is retired, said in a interview published by El Universal newspaper.

He told Venezuelans to use their constitutional right to refuse to recognize the left-wing president on the grounds he was not ruling democratically. Castillo did not elaborate on what actions he thought Venezuelans should take.
[...]

Read the complete article Venezuelan cardinal: Chavez a dictator from CNN.

Today, I'm not going to write so much as a Vatican watcher...

In prosecuting the War on Terror, the United States has let its responsibilities in the Western Hemisphere be sidetracked. The War on Terror needs to be fought, but Chavez is an excellent example of how US foreign policy has 'forgotten' what are traditionally its primary areas of focus.

As recently as twenty years ago, the President of the United States and his close advisors were prepared to secretly run counter to the will of Congress in funding anti-communist forces in Latin America. The current administration doesn't seem to give Chavez and his emerging brand of communism in Venezuela a second thought while it deals with Iraq and other hot spots in the Eastern Hemisphere.

Fighting for liberty for all people around the world is something I'm 100% behind. The US thought could stand to reevaluate its priorities as Latin America slowly drifts left.

I commend the Church in Venezuela for seeing Chavez for what he really is and calling attention to him and his brand of totalitarianism. Hopefully, they'll pull their country back from the brink before it's too late.

Thanks goes out to the Fly for the link to CNN.

Saturday, July 16, 2005

A blog I found

Does anyone else read White Around the Collar?

It looks interesting.

Friday, July 15, 2005

It's all in the details

Vatican, Jul. 15 (CWNews.com) - Vatican employees will lose one annual holiday under a work schedule set by Pope Benedict XVI (bio - news).

In an internal memo to the offices of the Vatican, Cardinal Angelo Sodano (bio - news), the Secretary of State, has listed the holidays set by the new Pontiff.

As usual, the new Pope has set the anniversary of his election, April 19, as a holiday for Vatican employees. But Pope John Paul II (bio - news) also declared a holiday on the feast of his patron saint, St. Charles, on November 4. The March 19 feast of St. Joseph, the patron saint of the new Pontiff, is already a full holiday on the Vatican calendar.

Many Vatican employees had hoped that the new Pope would a holiday on July 11, the feast of St. Benedict, whose name he chose when he was elected to the papacy. But Pope Benedict held with tradition and left the holiday on the feast of the saint in whose name he was baptized. Born Joseph Ratzinger, he will celebrate the feast of St. Joseph, just as the previous Pope, born Karol Wojtyla, celebrated the feast of St. Charles. ("Karol" is a Polish form of "Charles.")

The anniversary of the current Pope's election, on April 19, will replace the previous annual holiday on October 16, the anniversary of Pope John Paul's election. Several new memorials have been added to the working calendar. Vatican employees will also be asked to commemorate April 2, the anniversary of the death of Pope John Paul II; April 16, the birthday of Pope Benedict XVI; and April 24, the anniversary of the current Pope's installation. But those dates will not be full holidays, and Vatican offices will be open for business.

Read the complete article Vatican employees will lose one annual holiday from Catholic World News.

Will the personnel at the Vatican go on strike like the French when they lost the Monday after Pentecost? Developing...

Educating the masses

Magister's new look at the pontificate of Benedict XVI as it has progressed so far provides much insight into what's going on in Rome and the changes that are waiting to be made as the Vatican continues the transition from John Paul II to his successor. Rocco takes a good look at these different points over at Whispers in the Loggia and I don't need to rehash the excellent points he's made.

There is one section of Magister that I would like to examine in more detail, however.

[...]
But for his part, Benedict XVI is captivating the crowds.

The same masses of the faithful that applauded the gestures or striking phrases of pope Karol Wojtyla, while almost completely missing what it was that he was talking about, are doing the opposite with the new pope. They follow Ratzinger's homilies word for word, from beginning to end, with an attentiveness that astonishes the experts. Verifying this takes nothing more than mingling among the crowds in attendance at a Mass celebrated by the pope.

The new pope's style is sober in terms of his contact with the masses. His symbolic expressiveness comes entirely from the liturgy, which he celebrates with a great sense of authority. But apart from the Masses, catecheses, and blessings, Benedict XVI is a minimalist. "The pope must not proclaim his own ideas, but rather constantly bind himself and the Church to obedience to God's Word," he said when taking possession of the Chair of the Bishop of Rome, in the Basilica of St. John Lateran, on May 7. And he keeps to this standard even in regard to public gestures. He does very little of his own. He wants the faithful to pay attention to what is essential, which is not his own person but Jesus Christ alive and present in the sacraments of the Church.
[...]

Read the complete article The First Three Months of Benedict XVI: New Pope, New Style from www.chiesa.

I don't know how many of you are familiar with the book Cryptonomicon by Neal Stephenson. It's about computer hackers who set up a secure data storage site as a commercial venture, but the venture morphs into something much bigger.

In the novel, one of the major characters is Enoch Root. Root is a former Catholic priest whose departure from the Church is never spelled out, but still works with the Church at the grassroots level. While he is in jail with the protagonist, he talks about how at one time, those in his profession were expected to deliver interesting and thoughtful theological and philosophical homilies every week (back when Oxford was still dedicated to educating the clergy).

While I'm sure Stephenson is exaggerating to some extent, I would find it most interesting if Benedict XVI were to lead Catholics into a new period taking the faith seriously not only as a 'faith', but as an intellectual subject that is worthy of study and understanding. The 'why' we believe what we believe can be just as important is the 'what' we believe.

This is not to say that what our priests are teaching us each Sunday in Mass is boring or not very stimulating. Far from it, learning about the Gospel is fundamental. But on issues that have divided and caused so much debate in society, it is as important to learn about the Church's reasoning behind its positions on stem cell research, abortion and marriage.

As the section above illustrates, the laity are probably far hungrier for such reasoning than they're given credit for by most everyone.

Rest in peace, Bishop Locati

VATICAN CITY, JUL 15, 2005 (VIS) - Bishop Luigi Locati, apostolic vicar of Isiolo, Kenya, was murdered last night by a group of unidentified persons who shot him as he returned home from a parish center. The police are unaware of the motive for the killing.

The Italian bishop, who was almost 77 years old, presented his resignation upon having reached the age limit for bishops two years ago, but was still awaiting the appointment of a successor.

MURDER OF BISHOP LOCATI, APOSTOLIC VICAR OF ISIOLO, KENYA from Vatican Information Service.

Please everyone take a moment and say a prayer for the deceased bishop and the Kenyan authorities that they may bring the perpetrators of this crime to justice.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Convergence

LONDON (CNS) -- A Catholic bishop said Anglican clerics opposed to the ordination of women bishops should not be received into the Catholic Church for "negative reasons."

Bishop Declan Lang of Clifton, one of England's leading Catholic ecumenists, spoke amid rising speculation that the vote taken by the Church of England July 11 to remove legal obstacles to the episcopal ordination of women would lead to mass defections of traditionalist clergy.

Bishop Lang, co-chairman of the English Anglican-Roman Catholic Committee, a group that meets twice a year to promote ecumenical projects and the joint study of theology, said mechanisms existed within the English Catholic Church to receive married Anglican ministers and even to ordain them as Catholic priests.

"When there was the ordination of women in the first place there were some Anglicans who applied to be received into the Catholic Church, and the same provision is there at the moment," he told Catholic News Service July 12. "But there is an understanding that you don't come into the Catholic Church for a negative reason.

"Those Anglican priests who were received into the church were received for positive reasons -- for example, that they accepted the teaching authority of the church," he said.
[...]

Read the complete article Bishop says fleeing Anglicans must join church for positive reasons from Catholic News Service.

Just another article on the situation with the Church of England. Towards the end, the article looks a possible 'third province' provided by the Catholic Church for former Anglicans:

[...]
Oddie, a former Anglican minister who converted to Catholicism in the 1980s, said that in the 1990s some disaffected Anglicans made contact with Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, head of the Vatican's doctrinal congregation, about a possible "parallel jurisdiction," and the future Pope Benedict XVI was said to have been sympathetic.

Such a parallel jurisdiction, Oddie said, would mean that the former Anglicans would be in communion with the Catholic Church but would be under the authority of their own bishop.
[...]

The only question I would have on this idea is when all these bishops and clergy move to the Catholic Church, are they going to be bringing their parishes with them?

Regarding the previous post and a comment made about it, I would think that any kind of communion between the English and Roman Churches after some kind of crisis in the Anglican Communion would not be a bad thing insofar as bringing in elements that led to the Anglicans' current crisis of identity. The exact circumstances I don't care to predict, but such an event precipitated by a crisis I think would be an expression of a return to more orthodox (i.e. Catholic) doctrines) over all.

Sunday, July 10, 2005

The third way: a third province?

Nearly a quarter of the Church of England's bishops, including several of its most senior, are likely to oppose moves to consecrate women as bishops at the General Synod in York today.
[...]
The traditionalist wing does not have the numbers to halt the proposed reform at today's vote, but they intend to demonstrate their strength.

They are threatening a mass exodus if the Church refuses to grant them a Third Province, a parallel Church with male-only clergy led by its own Archbishop and bishops.
[...]

Read the complete article Hundreds of clergy 'will leave church over women bishops' from Telegraph Online.

The 'traditionalists' want a third province. I'm assuming that this province would be without any territory, but instead would include all those parishes that don't want to be under female bishops... That's an interesting solution to the problem. But do they really think anyone would go for it?

I keep waiting for the final conflict that will lead to the complete dissolution of the Church of England and the greater Anglican Communion. How these guys manage to string along their organization when its membership is composed of such disparate factions is really amazing in a way.

In the end though, I am still of the belief that the see of Thomas Becket and many others will be in communion in Rome again in my lifetime.

Saturday, July 09, 2005

Memorial erected

From July 6th:

DAVENPORT, Iowa (CNS) -- In an effort to promote healing, the Diocese of Davenport has dedicated a monument to victims of clergy sexual abuse.

About 50 people, including abuse victims, gathered around the modest monument, called the Millstone Marker, outside diocesan headquarters June 20 for a solemn dedication ceremony of prayers, Scripture readings, songs, blessings and bagpipe music.
[...]

Read the complete article Davenport Diocese erects monument to abuse victims from Catholic News Service.

The Diocese of Davenport is of course my diocese at the moment. I should drive over and check out the monument. It's interesting how some victims were satisfied and others weren't. I do think that most of the priests being on a golf outing is kind of tacky. Personally, I'd suggest that they put up a statue next of a priest and a layman or woman walking together as a symbol of all the hard work and memorial to all the good people who've made the diocese what it is today.

Friday, July 08, 2005

Audiences with Amato

AUDIENCES

VATICAN CITY, JUL 8, 2005 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in separate audiences:
[...]
- Archbishop Angelo Amato S.D.B., secretary of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.
[...]

From the VIS daily email.

Once again, the Holy Father has met with Archbishop Angelo Amato. I do believe that the archbishop has been granted more audiences than any other person, even the likes of Sodano, etc.

Does anyone out among my wonderful readers know anything about Archbishop Amato? He was appointed to his current post only three years ago. Is he a trusted associate of Ratzinger or what?

Thursday, July 07, 2005

My (definite) return

I was sucked into the Fourth of July holiday and spent much time visiting. I intended to get back in the loop, but something always came up and I wasn't able to do much of anything. Plus, my mom's keyboard just causes so much pain.

In any case, I'm back home now and will be able to post at a regular clip. Take care all and say a prayer for our British comrades.

Friday, July 01, 2005

A personal update

I've been gone this last week as you all noticed. I've been off getting my housing situation in hand and spending time with my parents. It's been a long week of driving, as both activities needed doing, but were separated by a three hour drive.

A few news items...
Spain passed the marriage bill and it is now law there. Canada's lower house passed the marriage bill and it goes to the senate for consideration. Pallia (plural?) were handed out this week. Bishops were appointed, audiences were granted.

Check out the links along the left and I'll see you all hopefully with something new tomorrow.