Monday, May 30, 2005

Ways of going forward

Sandro Magister is not only an excellent journalist looking at the Vatican's activities, his column is also a forum for essays that explore the Roman Catholic Church's relations with itself and the larger society...

Among sociologists of religion, for example, there are widely differing interpretations of the condition of Christianity in the West.

And there are even different outlooks among churchmen. Even two personalities in very close agreement, like pope Ratzinger and his vicar, Camillo Ruini, agree upon the diagnosis but disagree somewhat on the strategies of response.

This is the scenario upheld in this essay written for www.chiesa by Silvio Ferrari, a professor of canon law and relations between Church and state at the State University of Milan and the University of Louvain. He is also the editor of the “Quaderni di Diritto e Politica Ecclesiastica” published by “il Mulino”:

Read the complete article Minority Church, Church of the Masses: The Two Strategies of R. & R., Inc. from www.chiesa.

Sunday, May 29, 2005

Dziwisz going home?

The buzz has come in fits and starts and spanned years and two pontificates. But after conversations across the pond, Benedict XVI now seems prepared to send his predecessor's heart back to Poland, appointing Stanislaw Dziwisz as the new archbishop of Krakow.
But Benedict has his own people, rendering the aggiunto role of Dziwisz redundant. And the man needs a new sense of mission after having lost the raison d'etre of most of his 66 years.

Read the complete entry Aggiunto Non di Piu' from Whispers in the Loggia.

A timeline from John Allen

There can be legitimate discussions about all of these views, but each runs the risk of clouding objectivity. What I want to do here is provide as much clarity as possible about what we know, and what we don't know.

The most helpful way to go about this, it seems to me, is a chronology.

Read the complete article The Word From Rome, May 27th from National Catholic Reporter.

Basically, as it says, John Allen put together a pretty comprehensive timeline of events. It's worth a read to get an idea of what went on last weekend as far as the feeding frenzy surrounding Father Maciel and the on-again/off-again investigation.

A visit to Italy

Pope Benedict XVI has begun the first trip of his papacy by heading to the southern Italian city of Bari.

Benedict follows in the footsteps of the late John Paul II, the most travelled pope in history, but his first visit will only last three hours.

He will celebrate an open air Mass, which is expected to attract crowds of more than 100,000 people in the city on the Adriatic coast.

The Pope's first foreign trip is set to be to Germany, for World Youth Day.

Read the complete article Benedict XVI on first papal visit from BBC NEWS.

Friday, May 27, 2005

A call for essays

I am looking for anyone who would be willing to submit a short essay/profile on the various cardinals (bishops as well) who could be considered papabili. The profile ought to include some biographical info and should definitely include details on each papabile's thoughts on the major issues confronting the Church (sexual morality, medical ethics, social justice, collegiality, secularism, etc.).

Leave a comment here or email me at jacob(dot)copper(at)gmail(dot)com if you're interested.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

A turf war

On May 20, the Legionaries of Christ issued a news release stating that the "Holy See" had informed them that "at this time there is no canonical process underway regarding our Founder, Fr. Marcial Maciel, LC, nor will one be initiated." Subsequently, the Catholic News Service and other press agencies quoted the Vatican Press Office as confirming the statement.

That news startled some observers, since an official of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the Vatican agency charged in 2001 by Pope John Paul II with responsibility for reviewing cases of sexual abuse of minors by clergy, traveled in early April to New York and Mexico City to collect testimony from alleged victims. Those efforts by Msgr. Charles Scicluna, the Promoter of Justice within the congregation, suggested that a preliminary investigation was underway.
In fact, however, the communication came from the Secretariat of State, the department that handles papal diplomacy and acts as a coordinator for the work of other Vatican agencies. It came in the form of a fax, which was unsigned but bore a seal from the Secretariat of State indicating official status. Italian Cardinal Angelo Sodano, the Vatican's Secretary of State, is a longtime supporter of Maciel and the Legionaries of Christ.

What this means is that the statement did not come from the Vatican agency that ultimately has responsibility for deciding Maciel's fate. Officials of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith have refused to make any comment on the recent news reports, but a senior Vatican official told NCR May 25 that the congregation has made "no statement" on the Maciel case, even to the Secretariat of State.

The official stressed this does not mean that there eventually will be a canonical case against Maciel, merely that the agency charged with making that decision has not yet communicated its intentions. Given the preeminence of the Secretariat of State within the Vatican, at a minimum these recent developments suggest there are grave doubts within the Holy See about proceeding.

Read the complete article New Legionaries intrigue: Statement on Maciel not issued by agency responsible for sex abuse cases from National Catholic Reporter.

I'm sure you all read Amy Welborn over at open book, so you've seen this already (*bows to Amy*).

In the statement quoted by John Allen from the Legion of Christ, their spokesman stated that the Legion didn't really distinguish between agencies in the Vatican and they assumed that the Vatican was speaking as a united body.

As a political science degree-holder and a student of government, I'd have to say that guy is either extremely naive or extremely incompetent (or a bald-faced liar). Any bureaucracy has its share of robbing Peter to pay Paul and the Holy See is no different in its day-to-day operations. As Allen points out, Sodano the Secretary of State is a supporter of Maciel and there at least can be no doubt now that he is pulling his weight in an effort to see Maciel off the hook. As to Sodano's motivations, who can say?

As for the CDF, it has been pointed out that the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith has been given the sole power handle sex abuse cases, with only the Supreme Pontiff himself overlooking their activities. As the Holy See spokesman said over the weekend, it was the CDF and its investigator who are the ones making the final determination on the investigation of Maciel, not the Secretariat of State and certainly not the Legionaries of Christ.

I may be wrong, but I'd say there's an ugly little turf war going on here and the only one who's going to stop it is Benedict himself. May God be with hin in reining in some cardinals.

Understanding globalization

Vatican City, May. 24, 2005 (CNA) - The Vatican announced today that it will hold an international summit aimed at understanding moral factors in globalization from May 27th to 28th.

The meeting, called ‘The World System in the 21st Century: Subsidiarity and Cooperation for Development’, is being sponsored by the Centesimus Annus "Pro Pontifice" Foundation, which was instituted by Pope John Paul in June 1993.

Read the complete article Globalization and Christian morality: Vatican to hold summit from Catholic News Agency.

An acquaintance of mine once made the point that globalization has failed only insofar as it leaves out certain places (the Middle East, Africa) that in turn serve as breeding grounds for the disaffection and fundamentalization of the local populations.

In a certain sense this is true, but the opposite has also occurred. Globalization has left in its wake scorched earth where culture has been razed to the ground and replaced with the seeds of global consumerism, etc. I don't need to recapitulate all the arguments made by the Holy Father and his illustrious predecessor over the years.

During the last Conclave, the general thought was that the new Pope was going to either be a man who was going to deal with modern issues (secularism, the culture of death) or a man who was going to deal with the Third World (poverty, disease, social justice). If Benedict XVI is going to truly make his mark, he is going to have to be able to reach out and find a strategy for combatting the effects of both too much globalization and not enough globalization.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

From Amy Welborn on Father Maciel

The following comes from the communications director of the North American branch of the Legions of Christ:
I hope to bring a bit of clarity regarding the confusion over the
recent news regarding Father Maciel.

1. The Holy See contacted the Legion of Christ with the good news that there is not now nor will there be a canonical process regarding accusations against Father Maciel.
2. The Holy See authorized the Legionaries to make a public statement in this regard, and said if sources wanted verification they could contact the Vatican Press Office.
3. Several major news agencies followed this process and accurately
reported that the Holy See confirmed our statement. Catholic News Service and the New York Times were the first.
4. Questions directed to the Vatican Press Office regarding whether this was "their statement" are a bit off the mark. The Holy See authorized the Legion to make a statement, and the Vatican press office has verified its accuracy.

As I noted before, I'm waiting to see if the Vatican Press Office would issue a definitive statement. The idea that someone of the caliber as Sandro Magister would report on an ongoing investigation and then on the same day have a CNS report come out that there was no investigation and there would not ever be a canonical process is just too far beyond the pale.

From the LC from open book.

Monday, May 23, 2005

Thoughts on the Legionaires

Another news day is about to begin in Europe and hopefully the Vatican Press Office will issue some kind of definitive statement on the status of the investigation of Father Maciel.

As was noted earlier, there have been claims and counter-claims on the status of the investigation amid allegations that the Vatican has lied, the Legionaires have spun a quote into a definitive statement, etc. The interesting thing today has been pretty much the bandwagon effect of the mainstream media who picked up the original CNS story and other versions of it from some of the early reporting and added comments from the alleged victims as well as supporters. The general media picture is too muddy at this point to really sort through.

But the hope is from this standpoint that the Vatican will issue a statement that spells out the status of the investigation and if a canonical process (canon law-speak for 'trial') has been ruled out.

I am of the opinion that the Vatican at the very least has been misquoted. It just makes no sense for the Press Office and the CDF to play games on this issue in trying to maintain a veil of secrecy through deception. We'll see...

Is it over, is it not over?

Amy Welborn this morning has blogged a very fascinating addition to the Father Maciel story. First the investigation was gaining steam, then supposedly it was called off (with no reason given). But now it would appear that not all is to be believed. Amy gives a letter in full from a newsgroup of abuse victims that can be read in full at her blog. A couple of excerpts follow that give the gist of the letter.

"The communiqué does NOT pertain to the Holy See, it is a communiqué from the Legionaries of Christ. They called me, the same as you are calling me, and they asked me if there is any communiqué about the investigation or about a possible investigation, into Fr. Maciel. I told them that the Press Office had not received any communiqué about if there exists, had existed or will exist said investigation, that it is not the competency of the Press Office but that it is the direct competency of Mons. Scicluna."


On asking him if the Holy See was going to provide an official denial, he told me that, at least for today, they were NOT going to make any denial given that in fact there never was any official communiqué from the Holy See.
On saying goodbye, he left me a phone number with which I could hear the daily communiqués of the Holy See to avoid any misunderstanding.

So we have two things. The Holy See has categorically denied being behind the announcement that the investigation has been concluded. The other is that someone out there is trying to see the investigation discredited in some way for some reason. As Amy Welborn points out, the Holy See spokesman is not quoted directly in the CNS story but is by the NYT in its piece.

It will be interesting to see how this plays out, but I have the feeling that this will be one thing we'll never get the full details on.

Read the complete article at Questions about LC from open book.

Sunday, May 22, 2005

The investigation of Father Maciel

Vatican says no church action planned against Legionaries' founder

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The Vatican has confirmed that it plans no canonical process against the founder of the Legionaries of Christ, Father Marcial Maciel Degollado, investigated for alleged sexual abuse of teenagers under his care. The Vatican confirmation came after the Legionaries issued a May 20 statement saying that "there is no canonical process under way into our founder, Father Marcial Maciel, LC, nor will one be initiated." Father Maciel has consistently denied the accusations made against him. The confirmation was issued by Passionist Father Ciro Benedettini, a Vatican spokesman, after Catholic News Service asked him about the Legionaries' statement. The decision not to start a canonical process comes after Msgr. Charles J. Scicluna, an official of the Vatican Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, traveled to Mexico and the United States earlier this year to interview adults who said they were abused by Father Maciel, now 85, when they were teenage seminarians of the Legionaries. "

Taken from CNS News Briefs May 20, 2005.

The International Herald Tribune's story Vatican will not try founder of Mexican order for abuse quotes Juan Vaca, one of the men who alleges that he was abused by Father Maciel, as saying that the investigator who interviewed him since the new investigation began, Monsignor Scicluna, told him that the Church owed him an apology along with the other victims for not protecting them. Vaca also said that the ending of the investigation would destroy the Vatican's credibility.

Friday, May 20, 2005

Father Maciel and the Purification

ROMA, May 20, 2005 – Last April 2, just as John Paul II was dying in Rome, in New York the promoter of justice for the Vatican Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Charles J. Scicluna, from Malta, was interviewing Paul Lennon, the former headmaster of a "School of Faith" run by the Legionaries of Christ. Mr. Lennon, who is Irish, is now a psychotherapist in Alexandria, Virginia, and a witness against one of the most revered and powerful men of the Catholic Church worldwide: Fr. Marcial Maciel Degollado, 85, from Mexico, the founder of the Legionaries and the apple of pope Karol Wojtyla's eye.


But meanwhile, in another Vatican building, that of the former Holy Office, the then cardinal prefect Joseph Ratzinger had just told Scicluna, his promoter of justice, to pull from the congregation's shelves all of the trials still on the waiting list and in danger of never being processed. The order was: "Every case must take its proper course."

Among the folders was one six years old and marked, in Latin: "Absolutionis complicis. Arturo Jurado et alii – Rev. Marcial Maciel Degollado." The first phrase describes the charge, the second gives the name of the first of the accusers, and the third is the name of the accused. The alleged crime, the absolution of an accomplice in confession, is one of the most terrible for the Church, so much so that it has no statute of limitations.

In the run-up or immediately after the Conclave, I read about a letter that has been circulating before the Conclave and how then-Cardinal Ratzinger was encountered near St. Peter's and was lamenting the state of the clergy, exclaiming, "We priests..." in abhorrence and disgust. Magister points out Ratzinger's thoughts on the subject as well:

On March 25, Good Friday, in the meditations for the Stations of the Cross at the Coliseum, Ratzinger lamented "how much filth there is in the Church, and even among those who, in the priesthood, ought to belong entirely to [Christ]” and offered a glimpse of an energetic re-purification.

And again here:

Two days before the conclave, on April 16, Ratzinger met Cardinal Francis George of Chicago, a great proponent of his election and an even more decisive supporter of a rigorous approach to purifying the Church of this scourge. Ratzinger assured him of his support.

As George was kissing the newly elected pope’s ring, Benedict XVI told him he would keep that promise.

It's going to be quiet at first perhaps. It may not be noticed amid the larger issues of stem cell research, abortion, contraception and the battle against secularization, but Benedict XVI is going to undertake a major rooting out of corruption of the priesthood that has not been seen in quite awhile.

Whether or not the charges against Father Maciel prove true or not, he will be one of the first to be subjected to the purifying fire. For his own immortal soul and that of the Church, this is definitely a good thing.

Read the complete article at The Legionaries of Christ: Fr. Maciel's Trial Draws Nearer from www.chiesa.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

More on the Vatican and the PRC

"We are sincere about establishing ties with the Vatican," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Kong Quan was quoted as saying by the Associated Press. He also expressed hope that under new Pope Benedict XVI, "the Vatican will create favourable conditions to normalise relations".

The Vatican's position was explained concisely by a cardinal:

"If they give us the possibility, we're ready tomorrow," Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, a former senior Vatican diplomat, said to the London Telegraph.

As the article explains, Taiwan is the official sticking point for the People's Republic of China. However, Taiwan itself responded to the latest reports of the new dialogue:

"China uses Taiwan as a pretext, while the real problem is that of religious freedom," the diplomat, Chou-seng Tou, was quoted by the Italian news agency ANSA as telling reporters in Rome.

I would agree with the Taiwanese diplomat. Taiwan is a pretext. The key question is what would happen after if the Vatican were to compromise and withdraw its recognition of Taiwan. Would the People's Republic be serious about opening 'a wider door for the activities of Roman Catholic Churches in Mainland China'? I don't think so.

Read the complete article at Taiwan Remains a Question as Vatican-China Relations Progress from Christian Today.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Trends in seminarians

Analyzing the data published by the "Statistical Yearbook of the Church 2003," the semi-official Vatican newspaper reported last week that overall, the number of priests has decreased over the past 25 years from 421,000 to 405,000, but since 1988 there has been a "very slight" tendency to recovery.

Read the complete article at Religious Priests Down, Diocesan Priests Up from Zenit News Agency.

Also at Zenit is this: Seminarians Double In 25 Years. Africa and Asia have seen increasing numbers of seminarians that have countered the decrease in Europe and the flat number in the United States.

Increasingly in places like the US and Europe, parishes are staffed by priests from Africa, Asia and Latin America, who bring their own ideas and culture that are often quite different from those of the people they are sent to serve. If this trend continues to develop, the African or Asian or Latin American Pope is not going to be far off, simply because bishops and cardinals are going to have to be drawn from the seminaries of the Third World.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

The Vatican and the Chinese

According to media reports from China and elsewhere, the Vatican is hoping to establish ties with the People's Republic of China by 2008, in time for the Beijing Olympics.

Pope Benedict XVI has launched a campaign to promote relations with countries and territories, particularly China, that have not yet established diplomatic ties with the Vatican in order to implement the late Pope John Paul II's wishes, it said.

As it has been noted elsewhere, the prerequisite for the establishment of relations the end of the Holy See's recognition of the Republic of China (i.e. Taiwan). The Holy See is the only European government to recognize the RoC.

As this ties into my twin interests of political science and religious studies, this topic is especially interesting. Personally, I think it's a bad idea to to kowtow to the Communist Chinese at the expense of Taiwan. Taiwan is a free, democratic state and mainland China is a totalitarian regime that persecutes Catholics and people of all religious denominations.

Read the complete article at China, Vatican set to establish diplomatic ties by 2008 from Viet Nam News Agency.

Monday, May 16, 2005

Read the full article: Religious Leaders Agree on Role of Mary at ABC News, from the Associated Press.

SEATTLE May 16, 2005 — A group of Roman Catholic and Anglican leaders studying the role of Mary, the mother of Jesus, said Monday that after years of talks they have agreed that Catholic teachings on the Immaculate Conception and the Assumption of Mary into heaven are consistent with Anglican interpretations of the Bible.

This is certainly important, but coming together to agree on the Virgin Mary is a long way from other more important issues (women clergy, gay bishops, the primacy of the papacy, etc.).

It's like the Israelis and the Palestinians. There can be all this talk of prisoner releases and removal of settlements, but it's just beating around the bush when the main issue is Jerusalem. (Only analogy I could think of.)
VIS press release for the weekend: what happened this weekend.

I took the day off yesterday and I think I'll take today off as well and start fresh tomorrow. I've been sort of ill with something between the flu and allergies.

In case you haven't noticed the links down the left column, check out WITH ISSUE if you haven't already. Janjan's ongoing story of how she went from Judaism to Catholicism is interesting, enlightening and uplifting all in one.

Saturday, May 14, 2005

Reforming the patriarchate

This entry, The patriarchate, at open book led me to the following:

Ratzinger advocated breaking up the Latin Patriarchate at

In an essay written by the then Cardinal Ratzinger, the following argument is quoted at the blog entry:

The image of a centralized state which the Catholic church presented right up to the council does not flow only from the Petrine office, but from its strict amalgamation with the patriarchal function which grew ever stronger in the course of history and which fell to the bishop of Rome for the whole of Latin Christendom. The uniform canon law, the uniform liturgy, the uniform appointment of bishops by the Roman center: all these are things which are not necessarily part of the primacy but result from the close union of the two offices. For that reason, the task to consider for the future will be to distinguish again and more clearly between the proper function of the successor of Peter and the patriarchal office and, where necessary, to create new patriarchates and to detach them from the Latin church. To embrace unity with the pope would then no longer mean being incorporated into a uniform administration, but only being inserted into a unity of faith and communio, in which the pope is acknowledged to have the power to give binding interpretations of the revelation given in Christ whose authority is accepted whenever it is given in definitive form.

That is definitely an interesting spin on the age-old question on the primacy of the Pope. In certain places evangelized by the Latin West, the West Indies and the East Indies for example, there are 'patriarchs', though they are not of the same grade as the ancient patriarchs of the Near East. If there was to be a large reorganization in the manner that Cardinal Ratzinger suggested, it would be quite a change indeed.

The big question would be the retention of the Pope's overall authority on doctrine. Let's face it, if that gets scrapped or subdued in a way that makes papal infallibility and interpretation of the Magisterium meaningless, then the Catholic Church would quite probably end up going the way of the Anglican Communion unless there was going to be an ecumenical council held every other year? (In Eastern Orthodoxy, the only way to do anything to decide questions of doctrine is through the vehicle of the ecumenical council.)

Reaction to Levada

This first piece is the Catholic World News story on William Levada's appointment to head the CDF: US archbishop to head Vatican doctrinal congregation. The story itself is pretty bland, but down below where readers can comment, there are a lot of negative and disappointed comments.

One comment provides this link: OFF THE RECORD: in a Roman café. This opinion piece is interesting in its look at Levada's activities during his career and his lack of any real substance on major issues.

If anyone else has any articles that are positive or negative on the appointment of William Levada, please share.

Friday, May 13, 2005

More on the Holy Father's homily

The entire article: Benedict XVI Assumes Office, and Immediately Preaches in Defense of Life at www.chiesa

The entire article is very well done and only a few quotes can't do it justice, but here's one that is pertinent:

The Eucharist, "Dominus Jesus," the defense of life: these are the three pillars upon which Joseph Ratzinger has built the agenda for his pontificate.

The third pillar coincides with the "anthropological question" that dominates the beginning of the 21st century: the great conflict of faith, culture, and civilization that is taking place between the Christian and the secular vision of life and man.

The always brilliant Sandro Magister weighs in on the homily of Benedict XVI from his installation Mass as Bishop of Rome. Aside from the summary and Magister's take on it, there is included two pieces, one describing and the other written by Romano Guardini, a theologian who is one of the great influences upon the present Pope. The two pieces detail Guardini's thoughts on the inviolability of human life.

And it can also be found in one of his most influential teachers, the German theologian Romano Guardini (1885-1968). Ratzinger has said on a number of locations that he was formed in his school, as in that of Möhler, Newman, Scheeben, Rosmini, de Lubac, and von Balthasar.

This question is made especially relevant because as Magister points out and explains, there is a referendum coming up in Italy on eliminating restrictions to a public law that deals with human life before birth.

Levada appointed Prefect

Blogger was down today (I think a bit longer than they said they would be) and I didn't have a chance to post.

Levada, the Archbishop of San Francisco, has been appointed by the Holy Father to serve as Prefect of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith.

For my readers, I'd like to read comments on what you think about Levada. Is this good, is this bad? As I've stated before, I know really very little about the guy and I've read conflicting pieces from the news media that really provide no insight into the man's character.

So please, do share. And also, we're over 600 visits. Thanks for reading.

Five year waiting period set aside

Read the entire article: Pope says he will allow JPII's sainthood cause to open immediately
at Catholic News Service

After finishing his speech to a group of priests, Pope Benedict XVI read a special announcement in Latin before taking questions and comments from his audience:

He (Benedict XVI) then read, in Latin, a letter from Cardinal Jose Saraiva Martins, prefect of the Congregation for Saints' Causes, to Cardinal Camillo Ruini, papal vicar of Rome.

The letter said that at an April 28 audience, Pope Benedict, "considering the special circumstances that were explained," had decided "to dispense from the five-year period of waiting after the death of the servant of God, Pope John Paul II. ..."

Pope Benedict had to wait several minutes to finish the sentence -- saying he was authorizing the immediate opening of the "cause for beatification and canonization" -- because the priests broke into a loud and sustained standing ovation.

When they quieted, he said, "I see you all understand Latin very well." The comment brought more applause.

The Holy Father has a great sense of humor.

I think it is great that they are setting aside the five year wait. However, I do think that as the article spells out, it is a long process and absolutely no short cuts should be made on behalf of the late Holy Father. I don't see the Congregation for the Causes of Saints or Benedict XVI allowing it anyway, but a definite effort should be made to make sure the process is rigorous and thorough.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Levada: is he in, is he out?

Read the article: Appointment of Archbishop Levada to the CDF “just a rumor” official say at Catholic News Agency

San Francisco, May. 12, 2005 (CNA) - The spokesman for the Archdiocese of San Francisco dismissed as "rumors" recent reports announcing that Archbishop William Joseph Levada was about to be appointed as the new Prefect of the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

Mr. Maurice Healy, spokesman for the San Francisco diocese, dismissed the speculation as rumor, telling the Associated Press that the recent meeting between the Archbishop and Pope Benedict XVI was just a “courtesy call."

Pontifical acts


VATICAN CITY, MAY 12, 2005 (VIS) - At 11 this morning, in the Regia Hall, Pope Benedict addressed members of the diplomatic corps accredited to the Holy See, in his first meeting with them as a group since his April 19 election to the papacy. In his speech in French, The Pope thanked the ambassadors and authorities of the countries they represent for their participation in the funeral of John Paul II and the celebrations for his election and the start of his pontificate.

The Holy Father also sent thanks to those who are not represented at the Holy See, but have large Catholic communities and sent messages upon the death of John Paul II. I'm interested in seeing what the Holy See's foreign policy is going to be, especially in Eastern Europe. I don't see any radical changes occurring, but given this last week's conflict between Russia and its former dominions on the anniversary of V-E Day, I just wonder if the Holy See will spend some time on the issue of Russia, aside from the Orthodox/Catholic questions.



VATICAN CITY, MAY 12, 2005 (VIS) - The Holy Father has confirmed that the 11th Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops will be celebrated on the theme: "The Eucharist: Source and Summit of the Life and Mission of the Church," and has decreed that it will be held in the Vatican from October 2 to 23, 2005.

The theme of the Synod had to be reconfirmed after the death of John Paul II. The planning was already much advanced and this was a mere formality. The Eucharistic Year that began last October and concludes with the Synod has formed a major theme of the pontificate of Benedict so far, with much emphasis placed on the Eucharist as the center of the Church.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Benedict XVI said to believe in collegiality

4:37 pm: American who has worked with pope says Benedict wants to share power with bishops at Free New Mexican

By NICOLE WINFIELD | Associated Press
May 11, 2005

VATICAN CITY - An American who has worked with Pope Benedict XVI suggested Wednesday the pope would embrace sharing more power with local bishops _ a big issue in the United States where Catholics have sometimes chafed under Rome's control.

Dominican Rev. Augustine Di Noia, undersecretary in the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, told Vatican Radio it was "significant" that the pope had included the bishop's miter in his papal coat of arms rather than the traditional papal tiara. ...

The key question is of course just what form this collegiality will take? More synods of bishops? Greater local authority? It will be interesting to see

Levada's appointment a 'done deal'

Reports Say Pope Is Close to Naming American to Top Vatican Post at beliefnet

By Kevin Eckstrom
Religion News Service
Media reports indicate Pope Benedict XVI is moving closer to naming an American, Archbishop William Levada of San Francisco, to his old job as chief enforcer and guardian of Catholic faith and doctrine.

As first reported by Religion News Service on May 3, Levada appears to be the top contender to succeed Benedict -- the former Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger -- as prefect for the powerful Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

According to one quoted official, it's a done deal that could only be changed if someone specifically went in to change the Pope's mind.

Levada was appointed archbishop of San Francisco in 1995 and previously served in Portland from 1986 to 1995. In both posts, he confronted many of the social issues roiling the U.S. church, including euthanasia, homosexuality and Catholic politicians who support abortion rights.

Levada is widely considered a doctrinal conservative but has also shown a pragmatic streak. For example, he brokered a deal with San Francisco city officials that continued public funding to church ministries by allowing employees to enroll a person outside his or her immediate family in health plans.

The policy met the city's requirement of providing coverage for domestic partners but it did so without giving official church recognition to couples, both gay and straight, living together out of wedlock.

More fallout from Father Reese

Resignation of America editor worries some Catholic journalists at Catholic News Agency

New York, May. 11, 2005 (CNA) - The forced resignation of Fr. Tom Reese as editor of America magazine has created a wave of reaction among Catholic journalists and academics across the country.

Many are voicing concerns that this will drive out theologians and journalists who will have to find organizations and publications that are not 'Catholic' in which to continue their work. Despite the apparent concern and defense of Father Reese and his so-called 'balanced' approach, some questioned the magazine's balance as more like 'bias'.

“A lot of people were unhappy with America, including people in Rome,” Fr. Richard John Neuhaus, editor of First Things, told the Globe in an interview. He said he knew many Catholics, including bishops, who were unhappy with Reese's editorial leadership, which “had kind of a carping attitude toward the pontificate of John Paul II.”

Father Neuhaus also voiced an excellent point:

“Just as you don't expect Planned Parenthood to give a platform to the pro-life position, there's no reason why a Catholic journal should provide a platform for positions that are clearly contrary to those of the Church, and that was an editorial error that caused Tom a lot of trouble,” Neuhaus was quoted as saying.

Do not fear the future

Do not fear the future, Pope says at Catholic World News

Official text at The Holy See

Continuing the series of talks on the psalms and canticles that was begun by Pope John Paul II (bio - news)-- and basing his talk on his predecessor's notes-- Pope Benedict spoke about the "hymn of adoration and praise" from the Book of Revelation (15: 3-4). He used that passage to illustrate his argument that "the believer does not fear the future.

"Human history is not in the hands of obscure powers, or chance, or mkerely human choices," the Pontiff said. In spite of "the violent onslaught of Satan," God's power is supreme, and the Lord cares for his people. "God is not indifferent to the sufferings of mankind," he said.

Indeed, is it not said that God's victory over Satan was completed when Christ was resurrected? The idea of 'Providence' has fallen by the wayside. That is not to say that free will is not valid, but the idea that God has left the world on auto-pilot to do as it will on its own has become the default mentality. The Holy Father's message that God through Christ and His Church is active is an all-important reminder that we are God's Children and our activities are not undirected.

God's action in human history has a specific purpose, the Pontiff continued: "He invites the world's peoples to conversion." Benedict XVI said that the world should "learn to read history as a message from God." Those who do, he concluded, will face the future with confidence. He reminded the audience of Christ's promise: "Be of good cheer; I have overcome the world."

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

English translation of the Pope's homily

First part of Benedict XVI's first homily at St. John Lateran and the second part at Zenit News Agency

This day, in which for the first time I may sit in the chair of the Bishop of Rome, as Successor of Peter, is the day in which the Church in Italy celebrates the feast of the Lord's Ascension. At the center of this day, is Christ. And only thanks to him, thanks to the mystery of his Ascension, are we able to understand the meaning of the chair, which in turn is the symbol of the authority and responsibility of the bishop. What, then, does the feast of the Lord's Ascension tell us? It does not say that the Lord has gone to a place far away from men and the world. The Ascension of Christ is not a journey into space to the most remote heavenly bodies, because in the end, heavenly bodies, like the earth, are also made up of physical elements.

The Pope's schedule

Many private meetings, few major ceremonies, on Pope's schedule at Catholic World News

Vatican, May. 09 ( - The Vatican has released the Pope's public schedule for May and June, which shows only a few major public ceremonies.

Not that it is all that surprising that a man who is 78 years old would opt to stay home and clean house rather than immediately pick up the globetrotting where John Paul II left off. The Holy Father's strategy is I think going to be more on mentality than activity. The Church itself must be prepared for the coming 're-evangelization' of Europe along with other tasks of the 21st century and Benedict XVI seems to have this in mind as he sets about meeting with the members of the Curia and getting a feel as Pope (a lot different to be in charge rather than just one of the prefects, even as head of the Doctrine of the Faith) for the state of the Church and figure out just what kind of strategy needs to go into combatting secularism, commercialism, etc.

Monday, May 09, 2005

Cube vs. Cathedral: The Lost Match of the Church of France at www.chiesa

Secular culture is largely winning, and sociologist Danièle Hervieu-Léger announces the end of French Catholicism. But the Church bears part of the blame. Gianni Ambrosio explains why

In Monday's column, Sandro Magister presents the work of Hervieu-Léger, which can be summed up by the following:

The most important recent essay by Danièle Hervieu-Léger, a renowned sociologist of religion, is dedicated to an assessment of the condition of the Church in France. The verdict is clear from the title itself: "Catholicisme, la fin d'un monde [Catholicism, the end of a world]."

The review of the essay by Gianni Ambrosio is included by Magister. Ambrosio takes a long look at the various stages of the secularization of France and the marginalization of the Catholic Church in France that is leading to its death. As the opening states, Ambrosio points out that the Church is partly at fault for this decline due to its abandoning of the 'rural' and 'family' indentities that allowed it to teach the Church's teachings and role in society to the general population.

Ambrosio's point will need to be studied and a solution properly formulated for the Church to reemerge from its deathknell in France.

Comments at St. John Lateran

There is no complete English translation yet, but the VIS daily bulletin covering the weekend does have quite a few passages from the homily that His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI delivered at St. John Lateran on Saturday.


"The bishop of Rome sits in his cathedra to bear witness to Christ," said the Pope. "Thus the cathedra is the symbol of the 'potestas docendi,' that authority to teach which is an essential part of the mandate to bind and to loosen conferred by the Lord on Peter and, after him, on the Twelve." On this subject, the Pope affirmed that "where Holy Scripture is disjoined from the living voice of the Church, it falls prey to the disputes of experts."

The last line is the important part. Organizations like the Anglican Communion are being torn apart by such 'disputes'. Islam is an example where a holy text can be interpreted as to call for fundamental peace or fundamental war, depending on what your 'expert' says the text means.

"This authority to teach frightens many people, both within and outside the Church. They ask themselves whether it does not threaten freedom of belief, whether it is not a presumption that goes against freedom of thought. It is not so. ... The Pope is not an absolute sovereign whose thoughts and will are law. Quite the contrary, the ministry of the Pope is a guarantee of obedience to Christ and to His Word. He must not proclaim his own ideas, but constantly bind himself and the Church in obedience to God's Word in the face of all attempts to adapt that Word or to water it down, and in the face of all forms of opportunism."
Benedict XVI emphasized that this is what John Paul II did "when, in the face of all apparently benevolent attempts, in the face of erroneous interpretations of freedom, he unequivocally underlined the inviolability of the human being, the inviolability of human life from conception to natural death. The freedom to kill is not true freedom, but a tyranny that reduces human beings to slavery.

"The Pope is aware of being bound - in his important decisions - to the great community of the faith of all times, to the binding interpretations that have developed during the Church's pilgrim journey." He has the responsibility to ensure that the Word of God "continues to be present in its greatness and to sound forth in its purity, so that it is not dismembered by constant changes in fashion."

Sunday, May 08, 2005

Interview from 2002 with Cardinal Ruini

Exclusive Interview with Cardinal Camillo Ruini: "My Battle for Man" at www.chiesa

Politics and faith, Catholics and secularists, Europe and Islam: The pope´s vicar covers all the fields. He also speaks of good and bad culture models. And of the No. 1 danger: the naturalistic tendency of modern man

Tonight I've been browsing through the archives of articles at www.chiesa and I came across this interview that Sandro Magister did with Cardinal Ruini. The wide range of topics covered and Ruini's answers to them are interesting, especially the cardinal's comments on the Church and politics. Cardinal Ruini also gives me some more titles that I need to pick up and read one of these days...

Returning to the masters of Catholic thought, which would you advise to be reread today?

"Certainly Alexis de Tocqueville, he's always current. And Maurice Blondel. And Romano Guardini. But also Lonergan - I remember, from my studies, his openness to scientific reasoning."

At the last plenary assembly of bishops you cited with admiration Karl Löwith, the Jewish philosopher and historian.

"He's another I would recommend to be read. He helped me understand the historical and cultural situation of Christianity in Germany in the 19th century, between Hegel and Nietzsche."

Magister is bolded, Cardinal Ruini is in quotes.


Over the past few days, several different blogs and news sources have been linked to under the 'Selected Links' heading in the left hand column. Be sure to check them out. If you all have any other blogs you like that are similarly themed, please share.

Comments on religious education

The parish my family was a member of from when I was in fifth grade up to when I graduated from high school was pretty run of the mill. Our first pastor, Father Remes, was pretty cool.

Religious education was not very challenging, however. In fifth and sixth grades, we had good teachers and the subject matter still revolved around the sacraments and other related topics. In sixth grade, we prayed the rosary every class first thing.

High school and especially confirmation were less about catechesis and more about social justice and the like. We had a lot of stuff talking about Jesus and so on, but we had very little actual religious education. The most interesting part was our time with Mr. Stevens, but he was just interesting because he actually talked to us about current issues in the Church and elicited our thoughts and comments. Otherwise, it was all rather bland. After I was confirmed, I lost interest.

What should religious education contain? I think one of the principal topics of any kind of Catholic religious education should be the history of the Church. We never heard about it in CCD. Everything I learned about the Church, the Papacy, the Great Schism, the Reformation I learned on my own. These are seminal events in the history of Western Civilization and our faith and they too often are not even mentioned.

Part of the problem from my perspective on why a lot of young people are apathetic. They are not engaged perhaps? They view it all as busy work?
Pope: Responsibility in use of the media to knock down the walls of misunderstanding at AsiaNews

Before singing the Regina Caeli, Pope Benedict XVI recalled World Communications Day and appealed for a sense of personal responsibility in the face of ambiguity of the media, capable of fomenting violence or of building chains of friendship.

World Communications Day is celebrated at the time of the Ascension of Our Lord. The Holy Father's words are too good for me to bother paraphrasing:

These important tools of communication can foster reciprocal awareness and dialogue, or else the contrary, they can feed prejudice and contempt among individuals and peoples; they can contribute to spreading peace or to fomenting violence. This is why it is always necessary to appeal to a sense of personal responsibility; it is necessary that all do their part to assure objectivity, respect for human dignity and care for the common good in all forms of communication. In this way, one contributes to pulling down the walls of hostility which still separate mankind and chains of friendship and love, which are signs of the Kingdom of God in history, may be consolidated.

A note to French Protestants

Pope sends olive branch to French Protestants at The Washington Post

His Holiness Benedict XVI sent a note to the assembly of the Reformed Church of France during its annual meeting. The Reformed Church received the note with surprise and gratitude. It had been one of the most critical of Benedict XVI's election.

The Protestant Federation of France -- of which the Reformed Church is the largest member -- stood out among the well-wishers after Benedict's election on April 19 by bluntly expressing its concern about him and demanding "a sign of ecumenical openness."

The Pope had responded to such criticism immediately after his election:

In his first address as Pope, Benedict said he was "willing to do everything in my power to promote the fundamental cause of ecumenism ... and am fully determined to accept every initiative that seems opportune to promote contact and understanding."

Saturday, May 07, 2005

Bishop of Rome

His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI was officially installed today as the Bishop of Rome in St. John Lateran Basilica, which is the seat of that see.

In his homily, the Holy Father reiterated the stance of his venerable predecessor Pope John Paul II in declaring that human dignity and life needs to be defended at all costs from conception to natural death. Either life is defended or humanity will slip under the yoke of a tyranny of slavery.

I haven't found the text of the homily yet. I'll post a link as soon as I find it.

Code malfunctions, etc.

On a purely technical note, I added the trackback code from Haloscan for the Blogger code and inadvertently removed all the comments to previous posts.

I apologize for this and promise not to play with code too often.

A reader pointed mt to Extreme Catholic for more info on the Reese/America issue. The NYT did a front page, top of the fold, column one story on it. When the Paper of Record speaks, let all the world listen!
Haloscan commenting and trackback have been added to this blog.

Editor supposedly ousted by Vatican

Editor of Jesuit's America magazine forced to resign under Vatican pressure at The National Catholic Reporter

Jesuit Fr. Thomas J. Reese, editor for the past seven years of America magazine, a premier publication of Catholic thought and opinion, has resigned at the request of his order following years of pressure for his ouster from the Vatican Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

The article goes on to detail Father Reese's conflicts with the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith over his time at the magazine. It also lists the various people involved in this alleged ousting who refused comment.

I read about this yesterday, but didn't find the time to post something about it. I got up this morning and was browsing Google News and saw that a lot of the media had picked it up with such headlines as 'Vatican ousts magazine editor'. Checking out the leading Catholic news services, I didn't find one thing.

Yet another example of the media looking to trash the Church?

If my more informed readers have background on this little story, I'd be quite grateful to read up on this. I'm familiar with the cutting-edge theology of the Jesuits (read borderline heresy from an order that is supposed to be obedient to the Pope above all things). But if anyone has information on the magazine and Father Reese, I'd love to read more.

Friday, May 06, 2005

Swiss Guards: Church in microcosm

From the VIS press release SWISS GUARDS: SERVE WITH YOUTHFUL ENTHUSIASM, His Holiness addressed the newest 31 recruits of the Swiss Guards on the annual day of the Guards, when new recruits are sworn to serve the Pope and the College of Cardinals during periods of the Vacant See.

Benedict XVI in his comments remarked:
"In the person of the Pope," he concluded, "you serve the entire Church; put your youthful energy, and your interior vitality and freshness at her service. Looking at you, dear friends, I remember what I said during the inaugural liturgical celebration of my pontificate: 'the Church is young. She holds within herself the future of the world and therefore shows each of us the way towards the future.' You, dear guards, can and must provide an example and a living witness of this."

Rapproachment with the Templars?

Given that the following comes from a publication dedicated to investigating conspiracy theories, I make no claims as to the actual veracity of the following...

Pope was investigating Knights Templar before his election at The Insider details how just before his election, Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger was requesting information from Herefordshire, UK historians and government offices on the history of the Templars in the area. A local historian refused to divulge who had requested information, saying only that it was a 'former cardinal'.

The inquiries follow the Templars’ demand last December for a papal apology by 2007 for their persecution by the Vatican almost 700 years ago.

The article goes on to describe Benedict XVI's role in the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith (formerly the Holy Office and before that the Inquisition) and how it was that organization that set out along with the King of France to suppress the Templars back in the fourteenth century.

This last part was entertaining:
Mr Acheson observes an ironic historical connection between the Templars and the name of the new Pope.

He added, cryptically: “The pontiff chose Benedict as his papal title, a name with special significance for the Knights Templar. The Rule of the Templars, which is like a code of conduct for the Order, was originally known as the Rule of Benedict.”

The Templars followed the Rule of St. Benedict along with... let's see... The Benedictines, the Cistercians, and a whole slew of other religious communities over the centuries. That's really fodder for historial ironies, isn't it? ;)

If this article is actually true, it would be interesting to see if this goes forward. After 700 years of deeming the Templars a cult of Satanists and warlocks along with its offshoots in Freemasonry, I seriously doubt the Vatican can seriously be pursuing this. Or maybe it is in the name of ecumenism?

Anyone have any comments?

Thursday, May 05, 2005

The Church's business model

Since I first started reading Sandro Magister's work a couple weeks ago, I'd have to say the articles are the most fascinating things I read. The latest from today not only calls upon my religious studies, but my political science/economics studies as well.

Why Ratzinger Is the Right Pope: The Market Explains examines an opinion piece and a rebuttal posted by two prominent economists. The op-ed piece by Luigi Zingales basically starts with the premise that the Church is a business and that due to its shrinking market share, it needs to diversify its product line, find new markets and it alters its products to make them more attractive to consumers.

Zingales' fundamental point is that Benedict XVI is not the right leader to lead the Church into new markets (Asia, Africa) and he is too 'conservative' to successfully alter the Church's products or diversify. (It's basically your standard minority shareholder argument on why the CEO ought to be ousted.)

Ettore Gotti Tedeschi's rebuttal is excellent. Sandro Magister gives it in full and I suggest that if you've not read it yet, do so. I'll just quote this:
In reality, Zingales begins with a flawed premise: the maximization of the number of the faithful is not the Church's strategic objective. This is only a means; the objective is the salvation of these persons, because the faith is not a "volume business," it is a personal call that must be addressed to everyone. So the pope is interested in all souls, and especially in the neediest souls, which are those of Europe.

A note

As I stated in the comments section of the previous post, please feed me information if you think I'm not seeing the whole picture.

It would be much appreciated.

William Levada rumored for Doctrine of the Faith post

William Levada, the Archbishop of San Francisco, is rumored to be the frontrunner for the post of prefect of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith. He would replace Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, who as we all know left the post when he was elected as Pope.

According to this article at CathNews, which cites Catholic News Service:
Catholic News Service says Archbishop Levada was one of the first residential bishops to be granted an audience with Pope Benedict XVI.

Archbishop Levada served on the staff of the Congregation from 1976 through 1982 and remained a close collaborator with Cardinal Ratzinger on the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

Choosing the Archbishop of San Francisco would make good sense. I am not familiar with the Archbishop, but coming from a city like San Francisco and dealing with its liberal lifestyles, Levada should be familiar with dealing with such issues. Such experience would be essential as the guardian of the Faith.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

A return to tradition

Pope Benedict decides to revert to tradition and not preside at beatifications at Catholic News Agency

On 4 May, it was announced that the Holy Father would not preside over the beatification ceremonies. The task would revert back to the cardinals, whose province it had been up until 40 or so years ago. The upcoming beatification of American Mother Marianne Cope on 15 May will be presided over by the Prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints.

The stated aim of this move is to make the Church less Pope-centric. Personally, I don't think that's the case. The Papacy is by its very nature the center of the Church. I rather see this as simply a move to return to the traditional ways of the Church, another reminder of Benedict XVI's appreciation of history.

Consumerism and Psalm 120

In his General Audience of 4 May, His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI continued the discussion of the Psalms as begun by his predecessor, John Paul II.

His comments, more fully detailed in the article Pope warns against idolatry of riches and comfort at Catholic World News, centered on Psalm 120 (Psalm 121 in many versions). The psalm praises God for the protection that He grants to His chosen people.

In his prepared remarks, the Holy Father noted:
This faith-filled profession of trust in God’s provident concern, which accompanies us at every moment of our lives, has resounded for centuries in the Church’s liturgy and in the prayers of her saints. May the Lord indeed protect us from every evil, and grant all that our hearts desire, "both now and for ever."

As he added in his extemporaneous remarks detailed in the CWN article, Benedict XVI explained the mssage of the psalm in terms of riches and comfort:
Here the Pontiff cautioned against the ambitions that men are tempted to regard as "the high points of life," involving the pursuit of worldly power and material goods. The believer, he said, must not allow those temptations to deflect his attention from God, nor to forget that "God will protect us with love at all times."

The key here is the point that our comfort comes from God through Jesus and not through consumerism and material possessions. Certainly this is not a new point, but in picking up where John Paul left off with the Psalms, Benedict XVI also picks up where his predecessor left off in the struggle against consumerism as the false be-all, end-all of human existence.

Psalm 120 is also an excellent example of parallelism found in Hebrew poetry.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Too good to pass up

Opinion: New Catholic leader is notoriously anti-gay comes from The Open Closet.

I'm not going to get into the merits of this article except on one point:

While pundits say it is too soon to conjecture fully about the tenor of this new papacy, the well-documented religious leanings of Pope Benedict XVI – as Cardinal Ratzinger has chosen for his official papal name – suggest that the incoming pontiff will follow closely in his predecessor’s footsteps by advocating a tightly-controlled interpretation of Scripture and a renewed focus on returning the church to its ultraconservative roots.

The bolds are my own. It says something about the veracity of such 'opinion' when the writer giving the opinion is so fundamentally uninformed as to what the Roman Church's doctrine really is when it comes to Scripture. Wasn't one of the Reformation's key points against the Church that Rome did not follow Scripture closely enough? And that 'ultra conservative' point. That just makes me smile.

If the homosexual community wishes to comment on Benedict XVI and the Roman Catholic Church, by all means, it's a free country. But the least they could do is find columnists who know what they're talking about.

Panelists' predictions or lack thereof

Panelists consider direction of the papacy under Benedict XVI is an article from Catholic News Service that details the comments of a panel at the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life. The comments themselves are varied and are pretty much the usual, but I'll point out one thing that caught my eye.

Kenneth Woodward is a religion editor at Newsweek:
Woodward said it might be a good thing for the church if Pope Benedict is more of a stay-at-home, low-profile kind of pope than Pope John Paul was.

Much of the recent image of the church and the papacy has been directly related to the personal charisma of Pope John Paul II, Woodward said. A pope who is not as highly visible in all the workings of the church would open the opportunity for the world's cardinals to become more of the voice of the church, he said.

"We might see that the cardinals have something to say, something worth listening to," Woodward said.

I merely watch and I don't claim to be an expert on the Vatican or the Roman Catholic Church, but that has to be the stupidest thing I've ever read. I think the cardinals have quite a lot to say. Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger certainly wasn't a mute figure during the life of John Paul II. That's just one example, certainly, but such broad, meaningless statements as Woodward are not only meaningless but display a level of incompetency that one would not expect at such a panel.

But enough of that.

Monday, May 02, 2005

Inside the Conclave

What Really Happened at the Conclave by Sandro Magister at www.chiesa is an interesting look at the environmental factors that most likely affected the cardinals in the Sistine Chapel.

Farther down are the Holy Father's comments to pilgrims from Germany on his election.

This quote stands out from Benedict XVI's comments:
The ways of the Lord are not comfortable, but we are not created for comfort, but for great things, for the sake of the good.

Sunday, May 01, 2005

Thoughts on ecumenism

Given the emphasis that Benedict XVI has put on ecumenism already in his brief reign so far, I've been thinking about this based on two different articles that I've read in the last few weeks.

The first article is Restoring Communion between East and West at Catholic World News. In summary, the article details the ups and downs of the ecumenical relationship between the Church of Rome and the Eastern Orthodox Churches since Vatican II and how a recent symposium that was aimed at fostering academic debate stripped of institutional bias may prove to be the starting point of truly moving forward on the issue of a 'reunification' between East and West.

The second article is April 26: Anglicanism at Father Neuhaus' online journal at First Things. Father Neuhaus in his entry comments on the Anglican Communion in response to a comment he made in a previous entry and the response it evoked from readers who were upset. Neuhaus points out how despite early progress in ecumenical dialogue, the Anglicans in North America have basically driven the Communion to the point where John Cardinal Newman's comments about the Anglican Church's eventual collapse is at last happening at the dawn of the 21st century due to women priests, homosexuals living outwardly while in high office, etc.

I would say that these articles pretty much illustrate the two goals of the Roman Catholic Church as outlined by Benedict XVI as far as ecumenism.

1. Ending the schism between East and West in some meaningful way.

2. Re-evangelizing Western civilization from the ground up, since a lot of the Christian denominations are just too far gone for which the Catholic Church to have any meaningful agreement without compromising its fundamental principles.

Comments by Cardinal Pell

In a story at, No optimism from pope for moderates, George Cardinal Pell's comments at his first Mass since returning from Rome included the headline comment about how those seeking radical change in the Catholic Church were in for a disappointment. Pell stated that Benedict XVI would reaffirm the Catholic identity and he called upon all to support the Holy Father.

This would certainly reaffirm the theme that has underlined all of the Pope's comments so far. The Church needs to return to its roots and 'rediscover' what it is to be Catholic if it is going to make it in the post-modern 21st century.

Opening statements

Greetings one and all.

In light of the fact that the excellent resource that was Romanitas has now closed, I thought I'd try my hand at providing timely news and commentary on the Vatican and the Church at large as best I can. I have large shoes to fill. If anyone wants to be a co-contributor, I'd be more than happy to consider it.