Friday, June 24, 2005

Short-sight versus hind-sight

The Rise of Benedict XVI; the inside story of how the Pope was elected and where he will take the Catholic Church by the American Vatican watcher John Allen has been out for awhile now and has been for the most part well received. Allen's account described as objective and insightful.

But is it correct?

He argues that these scenes – and the further outpouring of emotion at the funeral that followed them – defined the kind of pope the College of Cardinals was looking for; he had to be “another serious, world-class leader”, and ideally someone associated with the John Paul legacy. And as Dean of the College of Cardinals, with the job of presiding over the funeral and pre-conclave masses, Cardinal Ratzinger was perfectly placed to demonstrate that he met those criteria. He also chaired the daily meetings of the Sacred College during the interregnum, and it’s clear from the testimony of John Allen’s witnesses (he talked to several cardinals off the record for this book, and states that he has reported nothing that was not confirmed by at least two of them) that Ratzinger acquitted himself impressively in the management of the Church during this period.

Allen lists the reasons “Why Ratzinger Won”: they include “the funeral effect”; his intellectual clout; the change in the rules for the conclave which made it possible to elect a pope with a simple majority; and, critically, the absence of a credible challenge from the liberal wing of the Church or the developing world. He reports that some cardinals had reservations about the way the choice of Ratzinger would be received at home, but suggests that those concerns were largely limited to Europe and the United States. He makes a thoroughly convincing case.

The review of Allen's book from The Tablet: An insider’s guide to the conclave.

In opposition to Mr. Allen's account is that of Sandro Magister (with whose work readers should no doubt be familiar after reading this blog).

This adherence to reality should apply to all other reporting of Church events too, in order to give a faithful account of them. If Joseph Ratzinger’s career path since the middle of 2004 had been followed attentively, if his speeches had been read carefully, if his gestures had been analysed, if the growing consensus about him in the college of cardinals had been registered… then his election as pope would not have come as a surprise, as it did for practically all of the media, but rather as a natural occurrence.

The rest of Magister's comments can be found here at www.chiesa.

So which version is correct? Was it clear to anyone paying attention since last year that Ratzinger's election was the culmination of a growing consensus? Or was it simply Ratzinger's performance from the death of John Paul II up to the sealing of the doors of the Sistine Chapel that convinced the cardinals he was the man of the hour?

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Spanish Senate shows some sense

Madrid, Jun. 23, 2005 (CNA) - After heated debate, the Spanish Senate vetoed a bill that would make homosexual unions equivalent to marriage. Now voters are demanding the bill be completely killed in the Senate rather than being sent to the House of Representatives and that a referendum on the issue be held.

The move to veto passed by a vote of 131 to 119. The measure could go back to the House of Representatives, where the Socialist government has enough support for it pass in a vote scheduled for June 30.

The civil rights watchdog website launched a campaign to have the measure killed in the Senate before it gets sent to the House and that a referendum on the issue be held, so that “the Spanish people can address this issue that has divided our society and our representatives so much.”

“To approve this law without a consensus would be a new display of unwillingness on the part of the Government to listen to different sectors and of the imposition of its policies without any dialogue with society. We demand that Zapatero withdraw this bill,” said Ignacio Arsuaga, president of HazteOir.og.

“If the Senate does not veto it, the bill will return to Congress and we will continue demanding, in the name of a million and a half protestors who filled the streets of Madrid last Saturday, that the president of the government withdraw this bill,” he added.

Spanish Senate vetoes gay marriage law from Catholic News Agency.

The vote was relatively close, 131 for veto and 119 against. However, the Senate vote was supposed to be 'just a formality' (where have we heard that before in Europe lately?). Now we'll see if Zapatero has the nerve to ignore a major protest march through the streets of Madrid and the veto of the Spanish Senate.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

On the absence of Vatican II

As I've noted elsewhere, my religious formation was at first haphazard and later, though organized, still rather bland and unfulfilling.

I started formal Catholic religious education in fifth grade. Fifth and sixth grades, under the guidance of relatively traditional individuals such as the deacon Mr. Hart and others were educational for a kid who had been brought up in the Church through his dad taking him to Mass every other Sunday and through the prism of his protestant grandmother who had taught in Catholic schools for many years and had many friends in the local clergy.

Someone once made the comment to my mother that my brother and I were more up on Catholic stuff like the sacraments than the kids who had been going to CCD all their lives.

But then in junior high and high school, things changed. The program was not really geared toward learning about the Church, rather it was more along the lines of touchy-feely stuff. Nothing hard, just a lot of moral stuff like 'love your neighbor and help him'. To be honest, I really didn't pay that much attention. I got through confirmation (again, 'good works' was emphasized far more than 'faith') and then I just stopped going...

Sandro Magister's column today on the competing interpretations on the place of the Second Vatican Council brought to mind my religious education's gaping hole and now that I think about it, it becomes more and more clear on what as missing.

Magister looks at Cardinal Ruini's comments on what is considered the standard history of Vatican II and how it is flawed due to its biased interpretation:
One of the other central theses is that Vatican II marked a fundamental rupture between the preceding, preconciliar ecclesial period and the postconciliar period that followed.

Cardinal Ruini challenged this vision at its core. Not only did Vatican II not signal a rupture understood as a “new beginning” in the history of the Church, but such a breaking off “is also theologically inadmissible.”

The ironic thing about how Vatican II is considered to be a break with the Church of the past is how Vatican II's aftermath ignores the catalyst itself of the break.

Looking back again at my religious formation, where was Vatican II? I consider this again and again and the only time I remember hearing about it was in one particular class that was presided over by the high school debate teacher. His session was oriented toward current events and we discussed abortion among other things. Yet even then, Vatican II was just a ship passing out at sea.

Certainly the spirit of Vatican II was with us. One hears stories of religious education in the past and how they hate the Catholic Church because of it. I just shake my head because I cannot fathom such hostility. How could I be hostile toward a void, a non-existent thing? The spirit of Vatican II was alive and well in our confirmation program that was basically about putting together enough public service credits, in going to nursing homes to play the guitar and talk to old people. Certainly, 'good works' are fundamental and I was happy to do them, but when they are carried out in a vacuum of serious religious discussion, they just come across as busy work to fill the time. This spirit has no name, and why should it have a name? After all, was not Vatican II hijacked by Paul VI?

Everyone talks about how Vatican II is supposed to be the great revolution in the Church, bringing it into modernity. I would instead suggest that those people instead use Vatican II as an excuse to ignore Vatican II and the works of the Council Fathers in reaffirming the Magisterium at the end of the second millennium of Christ.

Kasper in Russia

During his visit to Moscow to meet with officials of the Moscow Orthodox Patriarchate, Walter Cardinal Kasper spoke with two correspendents of on his mission.

Will you also discuss the matter of the Ukranian Greek-Catholic Church? [accused of proselytism – ndr)

No, it is not my task to speak about matters linked to another Church. They themselves must do so and this is not the scope of my negotiations. I must say that on this point, the new pope takes the same position as John Paul II.

Your dialogue will focus on local, Russian problems?

We will discuss what the Holy See and the Russian Orthodox Church can do together in Europe and for Europe, for Christian values in Europe: it is a field of common interest.

During the Eucharistic Congress in Bari, you said you hoped to further international dialogue with Orthodox Churches in autumn. What did you mean?

In 1980, we formed a mixed theological commission, composed of all the Orthodox Churches and the Catholic Church. The last plenary meeting took place in 2000 in Baltimore (USA). Now, all the Orthodox Churches (including Russia) want to resume theological dialogue and to develop dialogue within the commission. It is not something completely new, but there is the need to reorganise the Commission to restart in autumn.

Read the complete article Cardinal Kasper in Moscow: we want to deepen Orthodox-Catholic dialogue from

On his specific mission, Kasper was vague, but those three answers that I've included cover a lot of ground. The Ukrainian situation is certainly a sticking point, especially since the Archbishop in Kiev is already a de facto patriarch over that Church. The resolution of that will take time and effort and compromise in order to make peace.

Kasper's answer to the second question listed above is intriguing, but at the same time expected. Asked about local Russian issues, the cardinal answers that secularism in Europe needs to be combatted. Note that the cardinal does not say secularism in Russia, but in Europe. What role does the Vatican see the Russians playing in that battle? We'll see.

Finally, on the comission, that is good news. As long time readers will remember, I looked at a symposium that was held in Rome awhile ago that looked at issues separating the West and the East in a scholarly, unbiased setting and noted the progress that had been made there. Hopefully the commission, when it resumes its work, can pick up there and go forward.

We'll find out details after Kasper has reported back to the Holy Father.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Reason for being

From Whispers in the Loggia comes this post on a fiasco in Philadelphia.

I feel existential tonight and I'd like to say a few points on the reason this blog exists. Aside from the rather vague blurb and the title at the top, this is less about news and more about meditation and comments after the fact. I'm certainly not plugged into any original sources of info.

Basically, I read, I ponder and I say a few things that come to mind. I was reading (big surprise there, right?) the other day on the state of blogs and how so many are simply a lot of posts that link to something offsite and that's it. Nothing else. It's more like a personal index of stuff the blogger wants to direct his or her readers to rather than adding anything fresh.

There are certain bloggers out there who I look up to in terms of their style in presenting their ideas and also in their ability to actually report something that is 'news' and not simply recycled.

As much as I'd like to emulate them in the latter, I hope you all get something out my efforts at the former, because I'm just not 'plugged in'.

Monday, June 20, 2005

RIP Jaime Cardinal Sin

Cardinal Jaime Sin, the influential former leader of the Philippines' large Roman Catholic community, is dead, Church officials have announced.

Cardinal Sin played a key role in the Philippines' transition to democracy following the lengthy dictatorship of Ferdinand Marcos.

He had a history of illness, having suffered from a reported heart attack last year, and was aged 76.

He retired in 2003 after nearly 30 years heading the Manila Archdiocese.

That period saw him playing key roles in the toppling of both Ferdinand Marcos in 1986 and Joseph Estrada in 2001.

He was taken to Manila's Cardinal Santos Medical Centre with a high fever on Sunday evening and suffered multiple organ failure, said his spokesman, Father Jun Sescon.

He died there at 0615 on Tuesday (2215 GMT Monday).

Speaking on Philippine radio station DZBB, Fr Sescon called on people in Asia's largest Catholic country to "include in their prayers the soul of Cardinal Sin".

Church officials are consulting with the late cardinal's family about funeral arrangements.

After the election of the new pope in April, Cardinal Sin described Benedict XVI as a "bright and good man, and a good friend".

Read the complete article Philippines' Cardinal Sin is dead from BBC News.

Pius XII: The Beginning

Sandro Magister at his column takes a look at two differing though not mutually exclusive theories on how the legend of Pius XII began and grew before, during and after World War II.

The Black Legend of Pius XII Was Invented by a Catholic: Mounier
And with him, another important Catholic: Mauriac. It wasn’t just communist propaganda that created the image of pope Pacelli as a Nazi-lover. Two pieces in two influential magazines have thrown new light on the origins of this image

by Sandro Magister

ROMA, 20 June 2005 – In the latest issue of “La Civiltà Cattolica”, the Jesuit historian Giovanni Sale reconstructs the birth about the “black legend” of Pius XII as being pro-Hitler.

“La Civiltà Cattolica” is the magazine of Rome’s Jesuits whose articles are read and authorized by the Vatican’s secretariat of state before publication.

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

In the same period, in the latest issue of "Archivum Historiae Pontificiae", the annual magazine published by the faculty of ecclesiastic history at the Pontifical Gregorian University, also run by Jesuits, an article appeared by the historian Giovanni Maria Vian presenting a different reconstruction of the original of the black legend of Pius XII.

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

Read the complete article The Black Legend of Pius XII Was Invented by a Catholic: Mounier from www.chiesa.

In today's column, Magister links to a previous column written back in January of this year. A Son of the Church of Pius XII Breaks the Silence on His Sanctity features a note by Pietro De Marco entitled 'Towards an Evaluation of Pius XII'.

My Christian formation took place in the Church of Pius XII. My parish priests, my religion teachers were men of the Church of Pius XII. No anti-Semitic attitudes were transmitted to me, unless one maintains that the Creed, the Catechism, the Mass, and the Gospels were or are anti-Semitic. For years, I prayed on every Good Friday for the "perfidi Judaei," knowing since my youth that "perfidus" in Church Latin means "unbelieving" with respect to Christ.

My high school religion teacher and spiritual director – mine, and of many others in Florence – until the time of his death, Fr. Raffaele Bensi, was a priest of the Church of Pius XII, even though he had been trained for the priesthood during the two preceding pontificates. He was a priest of the Church of Pius XII also in his intense activity to help the Jews and the men of the Italian anti-fascist Resistance conducted during the war.

But I learned from Fr. Bensi that the Church, with the same courage and freedom with which it sought to help the Resistance and the Jews, also meant to save the lives of the men on the other side, when the defeated were made beasts to be hunted.

The Church of Pius XII was then still the sovereign Church in its judgment of history, in the decisions its men faced, in the horizons of ultimate choice to which these were called. It might err, in men just as in this or that act or judgment, but it drew its capacity for judgment and for jurisdiction from its own supernatural foundation: and in that, no circumstance founded otherwise could replace or compel it. This is the meaning of its "perfectio," which is strictly connected with martyrdom, because collision with other powers – even the most legitimate – is certain.

But I learned from Fr. Bensi that the Church, with the same courage and freedom with which it sought to help the Resistance and the Jews, also meant to save the lives of the men on the other side, when the defeated were made beasts to be hunted.

Should the Church take a stand? Should it have taken a stand? De Marco makes an excellent point, but it is also a terrible question. The Church's mission on Earth is ultimately saving souls through Christ so that they may find eternal life. Should Pius have taken a stand against Nazism or was his safe harbor for one and all to enter and find hope amid the carnage enough?

I am not in a position to answer such questions and explore their depths, but it is clear that Pius XII has been demonized by his enemies. Hitler had no qualms about taking Germany into a two-front war and including the US among its list of enemies. I don't think he would have had any qualms about wiping out the Holy See.

Look at the Parable of the Talent. Would a good vicar/regent/steward be considered responsible for overseeing the destruction of his master's goods and property?

On the march in Madrid

From one of Amy Welborn's entries today comes this first person account of the protest in Madrid the other day.

"Later they will say, that we were only five or six." That's the chant that demonstrators at Madrid's pro-family demonstration shouted Saturday, a protest that the event's organizers announced was attended by around 1.5 million people. The people chanted the slogan over and over, laughing, because it was obvious there was a sea of people, just as it was equally obvious that the government cannot admit that the protest was well attended.

On Sunday, much of the press was reporting the demonstration was attended by only around 180,000 people. The government said that number was too high, and that only 166,000 made the march.
In any event, even using the government's lower number that's certainly more than the government's own figures that calculate there are only around 10,000 homosexuals bothered to register as couples. In other words, the government is willing to redefine marriage for 10,000, but ignores 166,000 - to 1.5 million others.
I hadn't thought of the route before, since it's one that we take all the time as it cuts from the main street of Gran Via to our home to the north, and through the Chueca neighborhood. Chueca is a bohemian neighborhood, with various gay bars and establishments. And some great places to eat, I might add. We were walking along, minding our own business, when two men - considerably bigger and better built than me - walked up to our families and began to insult the children.

"Oh no, they've come even here," shouted one fellow to the other. To which the other looked at the children, and said, "Ewww, how disgusting!"

I was a bit surprised, that anybody would bother to call children disgusting. I was also suprised since this march wasn't about being against homosexuals - as much as the Socialist government and others have tried to make it. This was about trying to send a message to the government to protect the traditional family.

As we walked past the two men, the larger one shouted behind us: "Why don't you all go away and stay out of our neighborhood."

Read the complete article Later they will say we were five or six from Spero News.

Robert Duncan makes two excellent points in his account of the march sponsored by the Family Forum and supported by the Episcopal Conference (the bishops organization is Spain). If the Spanish Senate approves the gay marriage bill, the will of 10,000 will trump the will of over 150,000 (democracy in action?). The 10,000 and their supporters can't even show charity and humility in their apparent victory.

If the Senate passes the bill, the question then becomes will the Spanish electorate remember this thumbing the nose at their wishes when it comes time to vote to keep the Socialists in power in the Cortes? I sure hope so.

A not quite orthodox exorcism

The body of Maricica Irina Cornici

A PRIEST and four nuns each face up to 20 years in jail after performing an extraordinary exorcism on a 23-year-old woman who was chained to a cross, gagged and starved in the cellar of a Romanian convent.

The woman died, apparently of suffocation, because a towel had been stuffed into her mouth to muzzle her screams.

Maricica Irina Cornici, who was brought up in an orphanage before becoming a nun, was crucified for three days while Father Daniel Petru Corogeanu, a Romanian Orthodox priest, recited prayers to banish evil spirits. According to the Mediafax news agency in Romania, she was a schizophrenic, given to rapid mood shifts, and this had persuaded nuns in the convent that she was possessed by the Devil.
Miss Cornici was raised in an orphanage until the age of 19, when she travelled to Germany to work as a nanny for a family of doctors. After psychological and psychiatric tests, the German Embassy had declared her apt to take care of children.

Read the complete article Priest held over 'torture killing' from Times online.

This has really nothing to do with the Vatican, but for my senior seminar final paper, I examined the Roman version of exorcism. There seems to be conflicting evidence on if the woman was in fact mentally ill. I think the priest who expressed no remorse ought to reevaluate his procedures on determining if someone is possessed or just sick.

Sunday, June 19, 2005


Archbishop Levada said that he did not intend to bring any transparency to CDF affairs, as confidentiality serves a purpose of ensuring that an accused reputation is not damaged until all the facts are in and have been weighed.

He also cited the new revised norms adopted by the US bishops, saying that he didn't intend to comment since in his new capacity as prefect, he'd be one of the officials in Rome advising the Holy Father on if he should accept them or not.

Levada did add one point:
He said he felt a tension between Catholic teaching on forgiveness and the American policy barring offenders permanently from any church work. However, he was quick to say that he saw the necessity for this approach.

Read the complete article American Archbishop Appointed to Vatican from Guardian Unlimited.

I don't have a problem with forgiveness, but I think that kind of mentality on the part the bishops can only lead to trouble. It's pretty much a certainty that pedophiles are not reformable. Perhaps Archbishop Levada has other things in mind when he says 'church work', but illusions that forgiveness equals reform are not good things to entertain.

Friday, June 17, 2005

A short break

Dear readers,
This weekend, I'll be recuperating from some annoyingly painful pull under my shoulder blade. Don't ask me how I did it, because I don't know. In any event, it's improving, but I'll take the opportunity to take a break and come back on Monday and see what's cooking from our friends in Rome.

By the way, signing up for the daily Vatican Info. Service bulletin email was a great idea. I swear, the most frequent visitor to the Holy Father in the evening is the secretary of the CDF. I wonder how much of a job Levada's going to have when he gets there.

See you Monday.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

The first wave

This last Sunday and Monday, a few Italians went to the polls to vote. Most did not. The fertility referendum as we all know was not valid, as not enough of the electorate participated. In fact, I've not even seen any results as to if the referendum passed (aside from the 50% rule).

In any case, Sandro Magister has hailed this as the first victory in Pope Benedict's bid to combat secularism and the culture of death. Cardinal Ruini, the Vicar of Rome and president of the Italian bishops conference CEI has been hailed as the chief architect of this victory.

As June 12 drew near, the president of the CEI was certain that the boycott would succeed. For weeks IPSOS, a research institute directed by Nando Pagnocelli, had been giving him confidential access to some reassuring data, which showed that voter turnout would not rise above 40 percent. And during the last days, as the citizens understood better what was being put to referendum, their decision not to vote grew as well.

But six months ago, at the beginning of winter, the forecasts were much less certain, and the adversary far more terrible. On January 14, three days before Ruini spoke out against the referendum for the first time, "Corriere della Sera" – the newspaper that embodies secular, rationalist Italy and is immediately imitated by almost all of the national press – had already taken an official position: "the 'yes' vote should win," and "all of the attempts to avoid a popular pronouncement, with predictions that this would only increase confusion, should be dismissed."

Ruini faced an 'uphill battle' and he and his colleagues managed to persevere. As Magister notes, "One key element in the Church's opposition to the June 12 referendum is that all of its arguments were drawn from reason, and not from faith: in this way, it gained the assent of secular thinkers like Giuliano Ferrara and Oriana Fallaci, agnostic scientists like Angelo Vescovi, feminists like Eugenia Roccella and Paola Tavella, and Jews like Giorgio Israel."

When it comes to dealing with these issues, that is probably the key. Most reasonable people who are relatively unbiased politically or morally are going to side with the idea that abortion and other reproductive matters such as fertility (etc.) ought to be properly regulated to avoid abuse. Yet since not all of them are Catholics, trying to sway them with religious arguments is not the best way of gaining support. However, reason... Fair-minded people are reasonable people. That is how they can be swayed.

Magister points to Spain as the next great test. Hopefully they'll take the example of their Italian colleagues to heart.

Read the complete article Embryos Welcome: Ruini Wins the Referendum, and Sets an Example from www.chiesa.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Ruini speaks on the referendom

Q: Some say that the Church has attacked the secularity of the state.

Cardinal Ruini: This is something totally mistaken. If by secularity of the state one understands that the Church cannot have a public expression, then it is not about secularity, but it is about a secularism that harms the state even before it does the Church.

If, on the contrary, one understands by secularity the freedom of each one and the distinction of tasks, this secularity has not been affected at all.

The Church, in a matter of the greatest human and moral importance, had the duty to express with clarity of voice, a voice that has been heard and shared by very many citizens, based on their personal conscience.

Read the complete article Cardinal Ruini on Italy's Failed Referendum from ZENIT News Agency.

His Eminence is spot on in regards to those who think that this vote is a challenge to the secular nature of Italian society.

I just find it amusing when the people speak out and the 'secularists' view it as an assault on secularism. If secularism insists that common citizens cannot vote according to their moral beliefs, that's more like facism.

Look at this example. A politician opposes abortion because he views it as murder. He is accused of bringing his religious beliefs into the political sphere. Is the same politician acccused in the same way when he advocates a tougher stance on thieves or common murderers? After all, the Ten Commandments prohibit stealing and killing.

Why is there this double standard on the part of secularism?
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The shortened, simplified version of the "Catechism of the Catholic Church" will be presented by Pope Benedict XVI during a June 28 liturgy at the Vatican and will be available in Italian bookstores the following day.
A draft of the volume, in which church teaching is presented in a question-and-answer form, was sent for comment in early 2004 to all the cardinals and the presidents of bishops' conferences around the world.

The draft distributed in 2004 included an appendix with some common Christian prayers and standard formulas of Catholic doctrine.

Read the complete article Simplified catechism to be released June 28 at Vatican liturgy from Catholic News Service.

I'm looking forward to seeing what they include in this abridged catechism. The CCC is a great work and I prize it highly, but despite all the 'theory', it does lack a bit in terms of 'externals'. Not that that is the point of a catechism, but such things like that are always good to know and learn about.

The winds are shifting

Hong Kong, Jun. 14, 2005 (CNA) - During a luncheon Tuesday at the Foreign Correspondents' Club in Hong Kong, Bishop Joseph Zen told reporters that the Vatican's policy on China has not changed under Pope Benedict XVI and that the Vatican desires to make every effort in order to normalize relations with Beijing.
"The Holy See is ready to switch diplomatic relations with Taiwan to Beijing. Until now the Holy See never unilaterally abandoned any friend," he said. "So this time, it may be forced to make a painful decision, because otherwise the China authority would not accept dialogue with the Holy See”. But, the bishop cautioned, the Vatican should only accept normalization if Beijing will guarantee genuine religious freedom. "The Vatican should be sure that the Beijing government is going to grant a real religious freedom. It's unfair to switch diplomatic relations and to start negotiations later. Nobody works that way," he added.

Read the complete article Hong Kong bishop says Vatican is “anxious” to establish diplomatic ties with Beijing from Catholic News Agency.

If the Holy See goes through with this, it could very well end up as a fiasco. Let's face it. Do we really think that the Chinese are going to grant real religious freedom and respect that freedom down the line? has stories just about every week on this or that bishop or priest either going to jail or being released.

If the Holy See were to cut off relations with a democracy and open relations with the People's Republic of China based on promises of religious freedom (would this freedom apply only to Catholics? Would Falun Gong members remain imprisoned in the Bamboo Gulag?), it would display a level of naiveté that would be incomprehensible.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Sociology professor comments on vote

EUROPE/GERMANY - “Italy’s non vote in the referendum on fertility treatment law is an example for the rest of the countries in Europe” Dr Norbert Martin, Professor of Sociology and member of the Pontifical Council for the Family tells Fides

Koblenz (Fides Service) - “I am delighted with Italy’s non vote in the referendum on fertility treatment law” Dr. Norbert Martin, Professor of Sociology at the University of Koblenz, Germany, and member of the Pontifical Council for the Family told Fides with regard to the 12-13 June referendum in Italy on the present law on fertility treatment. Results so far show that the referendum failed obtain the requested 50% of eligible voters to be valid. “I was most impressed by the commitment of both the Italian Bishops and the laity - Dr Martin said-. This commitment and the outcome are an example for the rest of Europe where similar questions are being debated in many countries. This is unquestionably a great success for the unitary action of the Church in Italy and I express my congratulations”.
The today’s news reports the principle media in Germany say the low number of voters in the referendum is a “victory for the Catholic Church in Italy” which encouraged people to use their right to respond with a non vote. And the mention the united effort of the Bishops of Italy.

Article from Agenzia Fides.

Monday, June 13, 2005

Beatification and canonization

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Benedict XVI has moved another step away from beatification ceremonies, asking Cardinal Jozef Glemp of Warsaw to preside in Poland over the beatification of three Polish priests.

In mid-May Pope Benedict had the prefect of the Congregation for Saints' Causes celebrate the beatifications of Mother Marianne Cope of Molokai and a Spanish nun, although the pope later met with the pilgrims who had come from Hawaii, New York, Spain and Peru for the ceremony.
When Pope John Paul died, all beatification ceremonies were put on hold. Then the Vatican announced that Pope Benedict, in an attempt to highlight the difference between a beatification and a canonization, would preside only over ceremonies in which saints were declared.

Read the complete article Pope asks Polish cardinal to preside over beatifications in Poland from Catholic News Service.

Four churches ordered to be demolished

From Iowa...

The Diocese of Davenport has ordered that four churches be demolished in Clinton, a river town along the Mississippi. The diocese cites suburbanization and falling parish membership for the order.

Earlier this month, demolition began on St. Patrick's, a century-old, Romanesque-style building that for decades served Catholics who lived in downtown neighborhoods. St. Irenaeus is expected to be next, followed by St. Boniface, built in 1905, and St. Mary's, erected in 1884.

Read the complete article Churches to close in Iowa town from The Washington Times.
Having taken several summer road trips up and down the Mississippi along the Iowa side, I can say that the river towns have some of the best examples of church architecture in Iowa. They proud buildings that are landmarks of the Catholic heritage of eastern Iowa. Perhaps they aren't financially viable anymore, but there ought to be better options for these pieces of history than demolition.

The rehabilitation of Mary

Even before the 'Seattle Statement' was issued last month (read more), the position of Mary has been under a reexamination by Christians outside the Catholic Church.

Even going that far implies that Mary's revival — and the Seattle Statement — could have historic consequences. As Spretnak says, it carves out a middle ground between the "biblical-plus" view of Mary and the view that she is just a "sister" to us humans, not really a unique figure in the story of salvation. It's a "new space entirely," that takes us "much closer to a pre-Reformation, and (for Catholics) a pre-Vatican II position."

There's the rub — not just for Protestants but for liberal Catholics who are uneasy with such titles for Mary as "Seat of Wisdom" and "Gate of Heaven," which seem to challenge Christ's central role in Christianity.

Still, the doubters may need to get with the program. Mary's comeback as Queen of the Universe makes her, in Spretnak's words, much more than "a nice lady mentioned in the Bible."

Read the complete article After Decades in the Background, Mary's Making a Comeback from the Los Angeles Times.

The rehabilitation of Mary in the hearts and minds of greater Christianity is a good thing. Those who are more open to the Virgin are more likely to accept her message and find the proper course in their lives through her intervention with Christ.

The one thing I am wary of is the movement to declare her 'co-redemptrix'. Perhaps there are valid theological arguments, but Christ ought to remain the central focus for all Christians. John Paul II wrote in Crossing the Threshold of Hope that "true devotion to the Mother of God is actually Christocentric, indeed, it is very profoundly rooted in the mystery of the blessed Trinity..."

Maciel: questions and answers

In the June 10th 'The Word from Rome', John Allen answers reader questions about the Maciel affair:

One question that several readers asked in the wake of that report was whether the Secretariat of State acted on its own initiative, or whether it had been asked to issue a statement.

In fact, Vatican sources say, the current superior of the Legionaries of Christ, Fr. Álvaro Corcuera, who succeeded Maciel in January 2005, contacted the Secretariat of State to inquire about recent media reports that an investigation against Maciel was underway. It was in response to that inquiry, sources said, that the Secretariat of State issued its statement to the Legionaries, which was subsequently confirmed by the Vatican Press Office.

Read the complete article The Word From Rome from National Catholic Reporter.

I think Mr. Allen and his readers miss the true question that John just gets so close to and then doesn't answer. The Legionaries asked the Secretariat of State and the Secretariat issued a statement. Fine. But did the Secretariat inquire with CDF before it issued its statement? The answer to that question would answer a lot.

Sunday, June 12, 2005

A mystery

The line of apostolic succession is supposed to reach all the way back to when Jesus laid his hands upon the Apostles and sent them forth to spread the Good News. Every Catholic bishop is the latest of a long long line that goes all the way back.

However, browsing, most bishops have their lineage traced back only as far as Scipione Cardinal Rebiba, who was appointed Auxiliary Bishop of Chieti, Italy on 16 Mar 1541. The problem though is that there is no existing record of his actual consecration as bishop.

In the 'Notes' section of THE EPISCOPAL LINEAGE OF HIS HOLINESS POPE JOHN PAUL II, there is an account of why so many trace their lineages back to Cardinal Rebiba:

One startling fact emerges from this research: more than 91% of the more than 4,300 bishops alive today trace their orders back to a single bishop named in 1541 - Scipione Rebiba. Why so many bishops should trace their lineages to this one bishop can be explained, in great part, by the intense sacramental activity of Pope Benedict XIII, who consecrated 139 bishops during his pontificate, many of them cardinals, nuncios and bishops of important sees who in turn consecrated many other bishops. And it is the consecrator of Benedict XIII who gives us the direct link to Scipione Rebiba.

It is widely believed that Rebiba was consecrated by Gian Pietro Cardinal Carafa, who became Pope Paul IV, but no documentation of any kind has been found and therefore we must stop at Rebiba.

Does this make apostolic succession a dead letter? Hardly. Records are destroyed or lost over time, mistakes are made, etc. It's human nature. The tradition is by far more important than the paperwork. However, the mystery for historians and researchers is there and will remain front and center until evidence is found and they can turn their attention to some even earlier break in the record-keeping.

Friday, June 10, 2005

Dumbing down the message

This last week, several blogs and news pieces have looked at how the mainstream media has tended to chop up Pope Benedict's homilies and messages into a few eye-catching quotes and sound bites for mass consumption. One of the most recent examples was the so called 'attack on homosexuals', when in actual fact, the Holy Father in his homily addressed a variety of activities that harm the family that included (yes, he mentioned it) homosexuality. Of course, items such as *giggle*masturbation*giggle* are just not 'sexy' enough for the media to report on, so they label the Holy Father's comments as an attack on gays and leave it at that.

CNS takes a look at this issue. A couple of interesting excerpts:

As one veteran wire service reporter recently lamented in the Vatican press office, the new pope is hard to write about because short citations don't do justice to his complex arguments. You can't just cherry-pick quotes.

That was especially true when the pope spoke about the family to a packed Basilica of St. John Lateran. His 3,000-word speech was a seminar, not a tirade.

Interestingly, Pope Benedict said little about specific church teachings on these issues. His goal was not to insist on Catholic doctrine, but to convince with arguments that have inspired the doctrine -- no doubt realizing that his audience was the wider society as well as the diocesan leaders sitting in front of him.

The lengthy text was so rich that one archbishop, rereading it carefully the next day, remarked the pope had given "a theology lesson on the family." It was a challenging talk even for pastoral experts.

Read the complete article Not many sound bites: New pope's discourses defy simplistic headlines from Catholic News Service.

Televised events from the Vatican

This article from Sandro Magister takes a look at two different areas. First is Benedict XVI's possible intention to replace Archbishop Piero Marini, master of ceremonies for the pontifical liturgies. This due to Benedict's style and his known statements on how the Mass needs to be reformed.

And even with his inaugural mass Benedict XVI has made it clear that he wants to accomplish a "reform of the reform" in this area, with increased fidelity to the great tradition of the Church.

So it is foreseeable that Marini will also leave the stage, and will be replaced by a pontifical master of ceremonies more in agreement with the current pope.

Benedict XVI will no doubt do much to alter the operations of the offices of the Holy See to suit his own preferences and ways of doing things. The presentation of the Mass on TV is certainly one of the most visible ways of doing so. The Holy Father will make sure that his intentions in redefining certain aspects of the Mass and other ceremonies will be shown live and in color.

The truly interesting part is the companion essay 'Television Cameras between Two Popes', by Virgilio Fantuzzi, S.I. This look at how papal ceremonies are planned and conducted for television and the focus on the ceremonies surrounding John Paul II's death, funeral and the elevation of his successor is invaluable, given how many of us watched and remember in vivid detail all the details that Fantuzzi describes.

During the death and funeral of John Paul II, CTV earned appreciation for the quickness with which it captured and broadcast the images of the various rites, beginning with the "Certification of death" that took place in the chapel of the pope's private apartment on the morning of April 3. For CTV, these days constituted a real and proper tour de force.
It was the first time that television cameras were able to follow, in its entirety, the unfolding of the rites that take place around the pope's body, broadcasting these to the world in real time. Major international television networks that transmit the news around the clock, like CNN, stayed connected with the Vatican for days and days. Apart from the air waves, the images coming from the Vatican could be received over a computer's internet connection.

Read the complete article Papal Masses on TV: Benedict XVI Wants a New Director from www.chiesa.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Meetings in Moscow

More news out of Moscow as relations between the Vatican and perhaps the most hostile Orthodox patriarchs continue to thaw.

Moscow (AsiaNews) – There are “encouraging” signs of possible progress in dialogue between the Vatican and the Russian Orthodox Patriarchate “on both inter-religious and political levels”. This is what Moscow Metropolitan, Mgr Tadeusz Kondrusiewicz, has to say about latest statements by Russia and the Vatican, which suggest a shift in chronically strained relations between the two Christian churches. He also invites followers of both confessions to “common Christian witness”.
“Increasingly frequent bilateral contacts help to break the ice between Catholics and Orthodox and strengthen reciprocal faith,” the Metropolitan told AsiaNews. “There is a need to at least meet and dialogue to eliminate accumulated problems, and lately, this need seems to have become more visible.”
Commenting on the meeting of Lavrov with the Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Angelo Sodano, the Metropolitan emphasised the importance of collaboration to counter religious extremism: “We can do much working together, not only at a level of states, but also at an inter-confessional level”. (MA-VK)

Read the complete article Moscow Metropolitan: “Encouraging” signs of dialogue with the Orthodox from

A coming together in terms of reuniting the West and the East may still be far off. However, with examples of continuing dialogue like this latest news becoming more frequent, it's clear that the Latin West and Greek East allying against the common foe of secularism. Hopefully issues such as Catholic missionary work in Russia and the Ukrainian pseudo-patriarchate won't cause too much tension as both sides go forward.

Something closer to home

A man who attended Regina High School in the 1960s has accused the school's former principal of sexual abuse, according to a lawsuit filed late Tuesday in Scott County District Court.

The 55-year-old man, who now lives in Florida, is seeking unspecified damages from Regina, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Davenport and Bishop Lawrence Soens, who served as Regina's principal from 1958 to 1967. Soens became bishop of the Sioux City Diocese in 1983. He retired in 1998 and currently lives in an independent living apartment in Sioux City.

The man, who was younger than 18 at the time, alleges that beginning in 1963, Soens would sometimes call him to his office under "a false pretext of investigation and discipline to engage in sexual contact...

Read the complete article Ex-principal named in sex abuse suit from the Iowa City Press-Citizen.

The Sioux City Journal has a more in-depth story here

I was confirmed by Bishop Soens in the mid-90s. Given his tenure starting in 1983, his name was ever-present in Mass for as long as I can remember: "with John Paul our Pope, Lawrence our bishop and all the clergy who have done your will throughout the ages".

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

"Vatican anoints Sun software"

Sun Microsystems has found a new customer for its Java Enterprise System collection of server software: the Catholic church.

The Holy See will use the Sun software--along with Sun Fire servers and StorEdge storage systems--for e-mail and directory tasks and later plans to build an Internet portal, the company announced Wednesday. The system can handle 100,000 e-mails per day, Sun said.

Posted by Stephen Shankland

From Vatican anoints Sun software from CNET

Personal note

Last night, I finished Crossing the Threshold of Hope by John Paul II. I'm a little behind in my reading, I know.

I received in the mail yesterday my recently purchased copy of The Spirit of the Liturgy by Joseph Ratzinger/Benedict XVI.

My plodding into less academic and more Catholic reading material continues... Any recommendations?

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

An article about Vatican watchers

Today, Sandro Magister covered two subjects, the outlets of Vatican news ("the daily newspaper “L’Osservatore Romano” and through a very unusual Jesuit magazine, “La Civiltà Cattolica”") and the Vaticanologists who cover the Vatican for the Italian and world media.

Here are the final paragraphs of Magister's essay that come after his discussion of the breakdown of the conservative/progressive paradigm of reporting by the media and his criticism of how the media covered events like the Papal funeral.

This adherence to reality should apply to all other reporting of Church events too, in order to give a faithful account of them. If Joseph Ratzinger’s career path since the middle of 2004 had been followed attentively, if his speeches had been read carefully, if his gestures had been analysed, if the growing consensus about him in the college of cardinals had been registered… then his election as pope would not have come as a surprise, as it did for practically all of the media, but rather as a natural occurrence.

In order to do this, however, a Vatican correspondent needs to supply himself with a special virtue: “epistemological humility”. He needs to avoid drawing hasty conclusions on every small or large event, he needs to shun cookie-cutter formats, and simply study the actual matters.

That is why the job of Vatican correspondent is particularly difficult and demanding. Because the “matter” of the Church is one of the most grandiose, complex, vital and mysterious concepts that has ever existed on this earth. And for believers, also beyond earth.

Read the complete article The Vatican and Vaticanologists. A Very Special Kind of Journalism from www.chiesa.

Monday, June 06, 2005

Not so disparate as reported

Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor has denied that a sermon he preached on Sunday was an attempt to send a message to the new Pope Benedict XVI about the future of the Catholic church.

The statement from the Archbishop of Westminster's press office comes after a story in today's Financial Times (FT) which suggests that the Archbishop's sermon, which was broadcast on Radio 4, "strongly, if implicitly, opposed the direction the newly elected Pope Benedict XVI has indicated the Church should take".
In its article, the FT suggested that the choice of "Gaudium et Spes" was intended to put a distance between the Cardinal and Rome, because of Pope Benedict's supposed opposition to the Second Vatican Council.

But a statement from the Cardinal's press office has pointed out that Cardinal Ratzinger was a 'peritus theological expert' at the Council and was heavily involved in the drafting of "Gaudium et Spes".

Read the complete article Archbishop's 'message' to the Vatican denied from ekklesia.

The article goes on and contrasts Murphy-O'Connor's comments with Benedict XVI's positions.

The next batch of cardinals

From the Vaticanisti come this list of likely candidates for the next consistory.

1) William Levada, 69, Prefect of Doctrine of the Faith
2) Stanislaw Dziwisz, 66, Archbishop of Krakow, Poland
3) Angelo Comastri, 61, Archpriest of St. Peter's Basilica and Vicar General for the Vatican City-State
4) Andrea Cordero Lanza di Montezemolo, 79, Archpriest of St. Paul’s Outside-the-Walls Basilica
5) Carlo Caffarra, 67, Archbishop of Bologna, Italy
6) Antonio Cañizares Llovera, 59, Archbishop of Toledo, Spain
7) Lluís Martínez Sistach, 68, Archbishop of Barcelona, Spain
8) Andre Vingt-Trois, 62, Archbishop of Paris, France
9) Gaudencio Borbon Rosales, 72, Archbishop of Manila, Philippines
10) Michel Sabbah, 72, Patriarch of Jerusalem
11) Emmanuel III (Emmanuel-Karim) Delly, 77, Patriarch of Baghdad, Iraq
12) Joseph Zen Ze-kiun, 73, Bishop of Hong Kong, China
13) Stanislaw Rylko, 59, President of the Pontifical Council for the Laity
14) Franc Rodé, 70, Prefect of the Congregation for the Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life
15) Either Raúl Eduardo Vela Chiriboga, 71, Archbishop of Quito, Ecuador OR Antonio Arregui Yarza, 66, Archbishop of Guayaquil, Ecuador – probably will go to Yarza who is a priest of Opus Dei
16) Fernando Sáenz Lacalle, 72, Archbishop of San Salvador, El Salvador (another Opus Dei priest)
17) Two Metropolitan Archbishops from Brazil – multiple Episcopal sees that have historically had cardinals leading them are currently lacking the red hat…see Benedict name the two Brazilian cardinals who most “fit” his theological vision…Brazil being the most populous Catholic country is under-represented in the college
18) Two Metropolitan Archbishops from Africa – may be some surprises here…watch for a possible Ethiopian
19) If Cardinal McCarrick of Washington, DC, USA retires before September and a successor is named, then his successor will be created a cardinal
20) Three eminent priest-theologians...

Read the complete article New Cardinals for Probable October 2005 Consistory from vaticanisti.

Sunday, June 05, 2005

Disparate visions

Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor, the Archbishop of Westminster and the most senior British Catholic churchman, on Sunday preached a sermon in his cathedral of Westminster which strongly if implicitly opposes the direction in which the newly-elected Pope Benedict XVI has indicated he wishes to take the Church.

It is a clear sign of the unhappiness of the minority of liberals in the hierarchy with the pronouncements of a Pope who has said he would welcome the Church shrinking in size, so long as it could become purer in doing so.

In the service, broadcast by BBC Radio 4 as one of its regular Sunday morning worship series, both the Cardinal and the Cathedral's administrator, Monsignor Mark Langham, endorsed the spirit and substance of the Second Vatican Council in 1965, and of the most liberal of its four main documents, "Gaudium et Spes" (Joy and Hope).

Read the complete article UK cleric at odds with Pope over direction from Financial Times.

ROME -- Joseph Ratzinger, as a theologian and cardinal, returned to the question often over the years. And now that he is Pope Benedict, his paper trail on the issue provokes skepticism about him among more liberal Roman Catholics.

The question, in his own words: "Is the church really going to get smaller?"

At another point, in an interview published in 1997 in "Salt of the Earth," he explained it this way: "Maybe we are facing a new and different kind of epoch in the church's history, where Christianity will again be characterized more by the mustard seed, where it will exist in small, seemingly insignificant groups that nonetheless live an intense struggle against evil and bring good into the world -- that let God in."

The standard argument is that Benedict "wants a more fervent, orthodox, evangelical church -- even if it drives people away," as a New Yorker headline put it recently.

But as with much around this new pope, the whole story is complicated. He has yet to announce an overall program, having been in office just six weeks, but both critics and supporters alike say that it is unlikely that he would plan to prune back the church intentionally -- or that he could.

Read the complete article Pope Benedict's idea of a smaller church is layered from

John Paul II's papers

The personal secretary of the late Pope John Paul II says he has not burned the former pontiff's personal papers as the Pope had requested.

Archbishop Stanislaw Dziwisz said the papers were a great treasure and should be "saved and preserved for posterity".

He told Polish radio that the late Pope's notes should gradually be made available to the public.

He also suggested that they might help in the process of naming Pope John Paul as a saint.

Mr Dziwisz, who worked alongside the former Pope for almost 40 years, was named archbishop of Krakow by Pope Benedict XVI on Friday.

Read the complete article Pope aide 'has not burned papers' from BBC News.

This has been circulating for a few days, not really new news at this point. But I just thought I'd say a few things now that I've considered this. My first thought was that Dziwisz was a traitor. Private writings are just that, private. There are men who spent all the years of their retirement going through their correspondence and 'editing' old letters to show themselves in a different, better light. Others simply burned everything before they died in a fiery annihilation of their private selves. I can understand John Paul's wish.

Thinking on it more, I finally decided that it is hard to believe that John Paul II wouldn't know that Dziwisz would not obey his wish. They were together for decades. I would assume that the Holy Father would know his private secretary well enough to know when he agreed or disagreed with his master...

We'll wait and see what exactly the letters show.

Saturday, June 04, 2005

Papabili: Rodriguez Maradiaga

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Oscar Andrés Cardinal Rodríguez Maradiaga, who is considered to be a papabile, visited Houston, Texas yesterday and spoke at the local Catholic university. Speaking first in English at a morning session and then in Spanish in the afternoon/evening session, Cardinal Rodriguez called for mercy for immigrants.

In his talk at the Catholic university, held in the morning in English and in the evening in Spanish, he told the crowds that wealthy nations have "a greater obligation to adapt to migratory flows" and that all countries must provide opportunities for their citizens so they do not have to leave their homes to earn a living.

"Although the sovereign right of the states to monitor their borders is recognized, this cannot be done at the expense of the human rights of migrant individuals, regardless of their legal status," he said. "All legislation must take into consideration the value of human rights in an increasingly violent world where war and terror, sometimes tragically carried forth from the very structures of the state itself, fight for the throne of suffering."

Rodríguez, the archbishop of Tegucigalpa, was one of the papal advisers who helped the late Pope John Paul II draft major statements on immigration. In April, he was one of 115 cardinals from around the world who participated in the election of Pope Benedict XVI and was considered a possible candidate to become pope himself.

Some watching the papal election had hoped the cardinals would choose a Latino pope. Rodríguez said that they would — someday.

"For us we have our own calendars, but the Holy Spirit has a different one, and so, who knows?" he said. "But I am sure the day will come."

But the Latino pope would not be him, he said.

Read the complete article Cardinal urges mercy for immigrants from

In the quote cited above, the cardinal says that national soveriegnty is respected, but that 'wealthy' states must adapt... When Rodriguez stated that he didn't think he'd be the first Latino pope, I would tend to agree.

Papabili: Martini

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This article explores a book by Cardinal Martini that has been translated into Hebrew and it also looks at his relations with Jews and his role in fostering relations. The following excerpt is a look at Martini's role in the last Conclave.

For many years, Martini was at the top of the "papabili" - potential pope - list. At the last papal conclave, a little more than a month ago, Martini did not consider himself a likely candidate on account of his age (78) and poor health. But opponents of Cardinal Ratzinger and those on the lookout for a more "open-minded" pope rallied around him and hailed him as their leader. Martini favors delegating more power to Catholic communities around the world rather than concentrating it all in Rome. He would like to see bishops involved in decision-making in the Church and the pope consulting with them. He believes the time has come to reexamine the role of women in the Church and the dwindling number of men joining the priesthood. In the end, however, Martini supported Ratzinger and gave him his blessing.

Read the complete article This city is cardinal to him from Haaretz - Israeli News.

In the last Conclave, Martini was supposed to be completely out of the running due to his health and general loss of influence due to his retirement. Yet according to reports, he was the runner-up to Cardinal Ratzinger. What role will he have to play next time? The conventional wisdom last time was that he would be a player in selecting who would represent the 'progressives'. By the next Conclave, I would suspect that's all he'll be able to do at his age.

Friday, June 03, 2005

Papabili: Cipriani Thorne

Luis Cardinal Cipriani Thorne is the Archbishop of Lima and Primate of Peru as well as a member of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples. The cardinal is also considered a papabile.

Q: How is the Church in Peru responding to this systematic attack?

Cardinal Cipriani: The mission of the Catholic Church is to preach faith in Christ to all peoples.

Read the complete interview Cardinal Cipriani on the Policies Against Life and the Family from ZENIT News Agency.

NCR editorial on Maciel

EDITORIAL: Maciel scandal won't go away

If Vatican officials believe that Maciel is innocent, justice demands that they say so, especially given the way these charges have enjoyed wide international circulation. If they believe the evidence is inconclusive, that too should be said, so that at least the parties will know where they stand. If officials have prudential reasons for not moving against Maciel, the accusers have a right to know that this inaction does not presume a judgment about the veracity of their accounts.

Moreover, it’s not just the rights of Maciel and his accusers that are at stake. The broader Catholic public has justifiable concerns about the pattern of official response to the sexual abuse crisis, and a laconic statement that the church does not intend to move against an accused priest, with no explanation offered, will do little to assuage those concerns. On the contrary, it will deepen the cynicism and resentment that is already too pervasive in the Catholic community.

For pastoral reasons, therefore, as well as due process of law, the Vatican needs to offer an explanation.

Pope Benedict XVI’s motto as the archbishop of Munich was cooperators veritatis, “coworkers of the truth.” He has challenged Western culture to recover its confidence in objective truth, over against a lazy relativism. All the more reason, therefore, for the church to practice what its leader preaches -- it needs to tell the truth, and the whole truth, about the Maciel case.

Read the complete article from National Catholic Reporter.

I agree with the National Catholic Reporter. Whatever the actual circumstances are, once a reputation is diminished, it's very hard to rehabilitate it. The longer the Vatican goes on in this manner on such a high-profile case, the more it just gets trashed in the media for its white-washing. Maybe stating that there isn't enough evidence would simply lead to more charges, but when even people who are fair-minded are wondering what's up, it's time to come clean.

Other pontifical acts


VATICAN CITY, JUN 3, 2005 (VIS) - The Holy Father appointed Archbishop Stanislaw Dziwisz, adjunct prefect of the Pontifical Household, as metropolitan archbishop of Krakow (area 5,730, population 1,618,593, Catholics 1,566,555, priests 2,026, religous 4,841), Poland. The metropolitan archbishop-elect was born in Raba Wyzna, Poland, in 1939. From 1966 to 1978 he acted as private secretary to Archbishop Karol Wojtyla of Krakow and, following the latter's election as Pope John Paul II, continued to act as his private secretary throughout his pontificate from 1978 to 2005. He was ordained a bishop by John Paul II in 1998 and elevated to the dignity of archbishop in 2003. He succeeds Cardinal Franciszek Macharski, whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same archdiocese was accepted by the Holy Father, upon having reached the age limit.

VIS, June 3, 2005

Good luck and may God be with the new archbishop.