Thursday, August 25, 2016

From the pen of Benedict XVI?

The previous pontiff, Benedict XVI, otherwise known as Joseph Ratzinger, has said and written a few things over the years since he resigned that have given me pause as they didn't match up quite with what the man had said and done when he was out and about as prefect of CDF and then pope.

Now he has reportedly said a few more things in an interview ahead of a biography soon to be released that are downright weird considering the man we thought we knew (Vox Cantoris has links to it all).

The long and the short of it for me is this: how much of what comes out of that monastery is real and how much is filtered through (or comes whole cloth from) the former pope's handlers?  Doesn't matter.  Just ignore it and move on.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

News from China II

Sandro Magister at www.chiesa has chimed in with his usual excellent work.  Aside from his usual links to the primary sources, he provides a nice summary of the latest happenings in the relationship between the ChiComs and the Holy See including this description of the genesis of the recent agreement:

That day, [Francis'] touchdown in New York on his way to Philadelphia coincided with the landing of Chinese president Xi Jinping, who was expected at the United Nations. Everything had been calculated for the two to cross paths “accidentally” at the airport and exchange a greeting. Xi was aware of this ardent desire of the pope, but in the end he let it drop and the meeting did not take place.

From that moment on, however, the secret contacts between the Vatican and Beijing underwent an acceleration. In October and then in January a delegation of six representatives of the Holy See went to the Chinese capital. And in April of this year, the two sides set up a joint working group that now seems to have come to an understanding over a point that the Vatican takes very seriously: the appointment of bishops.

Read it all for details on the excommunicated bishops of the Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association and their being brought into the fold under the deal.

Magister notes:

The example that is brought up most often is that of Vietnam, where the candidate for bishop is proposed by the Vatican but the government can veto him, and then on to other candidates until the government approves one of them.

But for China, the solution of which Cardinal Tong appears to have knowledge sees the roles reversed. The candidate will be selected and proposed to the Vatican by the Chinese episcopal conference. Only that this conference is a creature of the communist party, completely at the beck and call the regime, devoid of “underground” bishops and with one of the excommunicated eight as its president.

Let us pray for our Chinese brethren as they enter this brave new world created by the Holy Father.

Friday, August 12, 2016

It can happen to you

I have returned home from a trip. Between my home and my destination is the city where I was born, baptized, and both my parents now reside. When I was a boy, the city had three parishes and there were a number of rural/small town parishes throughout the county, but most of them were all eventually rolled up into one single team ministry that was then put together into an official parish.

It was in that city where I went to Mass on Saturday. After Mass, I was looking through the bulletin and checking out the news of the combined parish. Up in the corner on one of the inside pages was a box containing information on how parishioners could fill out a survey for a plan to build a new church and parish buildings beside the existing Catholic school building. This bit of news, a small box on an inside page, left me feeling startled and anxious.

I was of course being naive. Other cities have had parishes closed and church buildings sold or torn down. I lamented those events that came to my attention as well, especially in the cases where old and venerable examples of quality Catholic architecture and art were either sold off or simply destroyed

The information about the proposal included diocesan long-range planning that included this datum: by 2019, there would be only two priests assigned to the entire county. The proposal then asks this question: Two priests watching over a handful of church buildings across a wide rural county or two priests watching over one large parish with at most two or three buildings?

This is an old draft that I never got around to publishing.  The circumstances of my hometown's Catholic community have not chanced as far as I know for sure.  I have been told though that protests from influential parishioners have delayed matters.  The moral of the story remains relevant.  In the conversation I had about the delays, the woman with whom I was talking said that a lot of folks were not happy to be losing the churches they grew up in.  She didn't have anything to say in reply when I noted they had only themselves to blame by not having more sons and encouraging them to explore a vocation the priesthood.

News from China

In recent days, relations between the Holy See and the People's Republic of China have been in the news.  This column by Anthony Clark at Catholic World Report is as good a recap as any of recent events.  The column describes Cardinal Tong's statement, "the pope will choose from a list of proposed candidates for ordination to bishop by China’s bishops and state authorities, which would finally normalize how bishops are selected and ordained in China."

Clark quotes from the statement,

Fortunately, after working for many years on this issue, the Catholic Church has gradually gained the reconsideration of the Chinese government, which is now willing to reach an understanding with the Holy See on the question of the appointment of bishops in the Catholic Church in China and seek a mutually acceptable plan. . . . The Apostolic See has the right to choose from the recommended list the candidates it considers as most suitable and the right to reject the candidates recommended by a bishops’ conference of China and the bishops in the provinces under it.


Mr. Clark goes on to describe Cardinal Zen's reaction.  Zen, the long time opponent to any compromise, wrote a response posted by The title says it all: “My concerns over China-Holy See dialogue and repercussions on Chinese Church”

The end of Mr. Clark's column is a brief summary of  Sino-Holy See relations.

The point that stands out is Mr. Clark's comparison to Vietnam, "but it should be recalled that the Vatican’s proposed agreement with China is comparable to agreements made with communist Vietnam quite some time ago. In June of 2010, Pope Benedict XVI established a similar form of diplomatic relations with Vietnam, and the Church there has continued to flourish under a circumstance that Pope Francis is now proposing with China."

Long time readers know where I stand vis-a-vis the ChiComs.  They are not to be trusted.   Mr. Clark's comparison to Vietnam is on the surface apt due to PRChina and Vietnam being communist, but whether the Church is truly prospering there is debatable.