Friday, April 28, 2006

Odds and ends

John Allen provides a list of ten candidates who may or may not succeed good Cardinal Sodano at State. The usual suspects are all there. Allen also provides a lot of info on background from senior officials saying they have no clue who the pope will choose... Allen also reports that there is in fact a document floating around on the condom issue.

Sources told NCR this week that a draft study currently being prepared by the Pontifical Council for Health Pastoral Care would provisionally accept the use of condoms in the narrow context of a married couple, where one partner is infected with HIV/AIDS and the other is not, as a means to prevent transmission of the disease.

Speaking on background, an official in Lozano Barragàn's office later told NCR that the draft takes a favorable position on the use of condoms to halt the spread of the disease "inside marriage and the family, not outside of it."

Lozano Barragàn, however, has stressed in subsequent interviews that the work of his office is on-going and provisional, and has indicated that it will be up to Benedict XVI to decide if a document should be issued.

The key quote is of course, "It is not clear when, or if, an official Vatican document on the subject will be released to the public." Like I said the other day, if this document ever makes it to public consumption, it will be six months to a year. Mark your calendars.

A seminary friend and I were discussing the whole condom thing. He made a point about how he learned that in sex out of marriage, the Church didn't make a distinction between sex with contraception and sex without it since the sex itself is a sin. It is only after marriage that such distinctions come into play...

This is to me a lot of hair splitting over an issue that will all too easily blow up in the Church's face. The mass media and the general public will simply hear 'it's okay to use a condom' and will tune out all the points about HIV, inside the marriage and all that.

To wrap up our survey of Vaticanisti, Sandro Magister has general reaction on Cardinal Martini's comments on the condom issue that bear reading.


Pope clarifies Church’s traditions...

Vatican City, Apr. 27, 2006 (CNA) - As the world watches the Catholic Church in its process for the beatification of John Paul II, the Vatican has released a message from Pope Benedict to the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, which just finished its plenary assembly. In it, the Pope clarifies the Church’s stance and means for assessing sainthood.

The Pope went on, saying that "It is clear that a cause of beatification or canonization cannot be initiated in the absence of a proven reputation for holiness, even when dealing with people who have been distinguished for their evangelical coherence and for particular ecclesial or social merits."

He then addressed the second theme of the plenary session--"the miracle in the causes of saints"--explaining that "miracles constitute divine confirmation of a judgment expressed by the ecclesial authorities on [a person's] virtuous life.”

“It should also be clearly borne in mind”, he wrote, “that unbroken Church practice establishes the need for a physical miracle, a moral miracle is not enough."

Moving to the subject of martyrdom, the Pope said that in its truest sense, the source and motive of martyrdom must be modeled in Christ, not done for what he called “fake different reasons” like “political or social ones.”

“It is of course necessary”, he said, “to find incontrovertible proof of willingness to suffer martyrdom, ... and of the victim's acceptance thereof. But it is equally necessary that, directly or indirectly but always in a morally certain fashion, the 'odium Fidei' of the persecutor should be apparent.”

“If this element is lacking,” Benedict explained, “there is no real martyrdom in accordance with the perennial theological and juridical doctrine of the Church."

Dr. Peters offers his own take on the Holy Father's letter at his blog.

John Paul II, both legally and by force of his personality, improved the Church's ability to recognize contemporary examples of holiness. But, by canonizing over 450 saints (more than all the popes since Trent combined) and by beatifying more than 1,300 men and women besides, John Paul's vital message that the "universal call to holiness" (Lumen gentium V) could be lived in modern times was (in the opinion of many) being steadily diluted by an avalanche of names that, with few exceptions, would never be recognized beyond small circles of compatriots.

The bolded comment pretty much sums up exactly my thoughts about the saints of John Paul. Over the two millennia of the Catholic Church, we have seen saints whose lives and examples have propelled them to fame down through the centuries. Catholics name their kids after saints like Francis, Anthony, Monica and Clara. But how many people outside of those who make it their business to follow the business of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints really have any idea who the vast majority the 450 saints really are?

Here's a new book idea for writers out there: The Lives of John Paul's Saints.

CPA throws a wrench in the works

Chinese bishop to be ordained against Pope’s wishes |

On Sunday, April 30 in Kunming (Yunnan), the Patriotic Association (P.A.) – and in particular its vice-president, layman Anthony Liu Bainian – wants at all costs to ordain a priest as bishop without the Holy See’s permission. Over the last two years, Beijing and the Vatican had arrived at an agreement which left it to Rome to indicate candidates for the episcopacy. Accordingly, auxiliary bishops of Shanghai, Xian, Wanxian and the ordinary of Suzhou were ordained. This agreement had put to the side the P.A., which for decades had held the reigns of ordinations, weakening its power over the official Church. This time however, the Patriotic Association is not standing by and has decided to have Father Ma Yinglin ordained as Bishop of Kunming (capital of Yunnan).

This new ordination is creating many new problems for the Church and the government of China. The first is the ecclesial position of the candidate who thus finds himself in de facto breach of ecclesial communion (latae sentientiae excommunication, “by the very commission of the offence”). As things currently stand, Chinese Catholics reject a bishop if he is not in communion with the Vatican and do not take part in his functions, preferring to swell the ranks of the underground Church. Plus, such a challenge by the AP shines a bad light on the government, which thus appears to be driven by mid-level authorities and their anti-Holy See expressions, while top officials – at least over this last year – have been engaging in signs of détente and dialogue with the Vatican.

The Chinese Patriotic Association wants to save itself before the party higher-ups decide to give the Holy See what it wants in order to get them to move from Taiwan to Beijing...

That's funny, really. It's true in all bureaucracies, but especially communist ones that the left hand knows what the right hand is doing and then tries to sabotage it before the right hand amputates the left hand and grafts on a new one. Duplicity insinuates itself everywhere.

Let the Patriotic Association ordain Father Ma against the wishes of the Holy See and Father Ma himself. They can all take plane rides to Manchuria one day and inexplicably disappear into the northern mountains, never to be seen again. (I know, I know, they don't do that anymore, it's just house arrest...)

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Again Iran

I never got back to Iran last week.

An online acquaintance and I were discussing the situation and the solution presented itself...

Iran has a huge population of people under 30 who are growing up in a world that never knew the corruption of the Shah. A commonly repeated fact is that despite the ban on such things, satellite dishes atop the roofs of Tehran beam down Western programming.

One of my professors, Reza Aslan, once wrote a multi-part article about a trip to his homeland Iran. His observations about the youth of Iran, his near-contemporaries, are telling:

Hardly anyone visits the ayatollah's mausoleum anymore. Almost everyone I see is traveling from distant cities. They have stopped here for a stretch, some cool air, and a quick picnic before continuing to Tehran. Yet the shah's palace is bursting with young Iranians, clicking pictures and pointing excitedly at the tawdry furnishings. By the looks on their faces, it seemed obvious that it is not excess and corruption they see, but wealth and power

Teenagers especially have devised ingenious methods of getting around the Islamic Republic's strict ban on intermingling between boys and girls. Because dating is practically unheard of, packs of sexually charged teenagers drive up and down Tehran's busy streets at night indiscriminately flinging their phone numbers at each other on scraps of paper. The papers are collected, phone calls placed, introductions made, and if all goes well, a soiree is planned at someone's house, at a park, or, best of all, at one of the many mountain retreats just outside of the city, where boys and girls can mingle away from the prying eyes of the Basij.

The staggering death toll of the Iran-Iraq War left Iran with an exceptionally young and profoundly discontented population. Indeed, it was primarily their discontent that swept the Reformist President Mohammed Khatami into power with an unprecedented 80 percent of the popular vote. Emboldened by his popular mandate, Khatami launched an audacious liberal agenda. Restrictions were eased, laws finally upheld, and Iran's Basiji thugs reigned in.

Throughout Tehran, women replaced their dull black chadors with fashionable overcoats and flashy, colorful head scarves that barely covered their well-coiffed hair. [...]

"Food court," as it is known throughout Tehran, is the refuge of Iran's next generation. This is the generation born after the revolution. They do not recall life under the Shah and are fed up with the anti-imperialist rhetoric of their elders. They were children during the Iran-Iraq War and have no experience of the horrible sacrifice Iranians were forced to make to keep the revolution alive. They couldn't care less about the revolution. They want what all teenagers want. They want what they see on their satellite stations.

Amid the pizza, burger, pasta, and Tex-Mex stands, boys in jeans and T-shirts ogle made-up girls in stylish designer scarves. Text messages are relayed back and forth between the tables. Seats are exchanged. I'm amazed at the bravado with which they casually mingle with each other.

As I sit typing on my laptop, a tall girl with heavy makeup stops at my table and smiles brightly. "Hello!" she exclaims in overly rehearsed English. "My girlfriends want to know if you will please like to join us for a Coke."

I'm baffled and say nothing. I want to tell her I speak Persian, but I sense the revelation would somehow disappoint her. She taps me on the shoulder and points to a group of cheerful young girls in flashy headscarves stealthily smoking cigarettes and giggling uncontrollably. One of them waves me over, and it occurs to me that this generation will not put up with the clerical noose around their necks much longer.

It is said that where goods cross borders, troops do not. This axiom is not infallible, but it does show the way towards dealing with Iran. Back to my discussion with the acquaintace... We were talking and after exchanging observations regarding the political situation in Iran, the obvious solution was to lift any and all embargoes blocking goods from entering Iran and let trade and tourism do the work that almost thirty years of embargo and isolation had not.

The young people of Iran are not going to wait too much longer before they find their strength and bring about change. The question becomes what will they think of the West, aside from their emulation of Western trends? By opening up, we can offer them friendship while working politically to keep the current president and the Guardian Council in check.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

An observation on the condom issue

This alleged document is getting a lot of press. I would like to draw a comparison if I may.

The homosexual document floated around the Curia for months before it was eventually released. I find it interesting that people would ignore the empirical evidence right before their noses and just assume that having heard of this document on condoms for the first time this last week, it is going to appear out of thin air to change a major position of the Church regarding birth control and sex.

Let's mark down late April as the start of the rumors and expect a possible document (if there is really one, which I highly doubt) in say... six months to a year.

I do doubt there is going to be any document that 'relaxes' the Catholic position. As Benedict has stated, we are moving towards a smaller Church with more fervent believers. One does not fight relativism and immorality by relaxing the rules.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Go forth and multiply

Istat paints a greying picture

One in five Italians is 65 or over

(ANSA) - Rome, April 24 - Concerns over Italy's ageing population were fuelled on Monday by the release of a report showing that the country's grey army has swelled to some 11.5 million, or almost 20% of the population .

The report by national statistics bureau Istat said that a record 19.5% of Italians are now 65 or over, making Italy one of the world's 'greyest' societies .

It warned that unless the trend changed, the figure was likely to hit 34% by 2050 .

Under-18s account for just 17.1% of the population compared to 18.4% in 1995, Istat said, projecting a fall to 15.4% by 2050 if current trends continue .

It stressed that Italy, which has a population of 58 million, could soon find itself with one in every four people over 65 and only one in every eight under 18 .

On a brighter note, Istat highlighted a surge in the birth rate after years of decline .

It said the average number of births per female was now 1.34, well below the replacement level of 2.2 for a stable population but nonetheless the highest rate in Italy in 15 years .

The Global Baby Bust from Foreign Affairs paints the stark picture: unless we start having babies, we are doomed.

And then there was Vietnam

Hanoi expected to establish diplomatic relations with Vatican soon

Hanoi (AsiaNews) – The Vietnamese government and its Commission on Religious Affairs want to establish diplomatic relations with the Holy See and are working on a timetable to reach that goal, Ngo Yen Thi, head of the commission, said at the closing of the Communist Party Congress. Vietnam is also doing its utmost to be accepted by the international community and join the World Trade Organisation (WTO).

Vietnam has however been often criticised for intolerance against Buddhists, democratic Catholics, and Protestant Montagnards. Many faith-based groups are considered illegal and persecuted, their leaders are arrested and their property destroyed. Even those groups that are legally recognised are subjected to stringent controls over what they can or cannot do.

In 2004, the US State Department designated Vietnam a “country of particular concern” on religious freedom, potentially hampering its bid to join the WTO. But Mr Thi said Vietnam would continue to urge the US to drop this designation, as it aims to join the World Trade Organisation this year.

In the last two years the takeover by the reformist wing of the Communist Party in Hanoi is giving religion greater leeway. Religion is seen first of all as a countervailing force to stem the profound immorality and corruption within the party and society. Greater openness towards religion is also seen as a useful way to promote Vietnam’s ‘new path’.

Yeah, they shouldn't have too much trouble with getting the US to drop that designation. After all, Carter the human rights guru moved the embassy from Taiwan to Beijing and since then, the PRC has joined the WTO despite its disgusting human rights record.

If the reformist wing of the Communist Party does continue to loosen up on religion matters in a serious, meaningful way, the Holy See might want to view Vietnam as a pattern for the People's Republic of China to follow. "Look to your south and see what the Vietnamese have done." The PRC has become known for its corruption and graft. The dose of faith in Vietnam may very well show the solution for the PRC.

The condom thing

Or How The Media Took One Thing and Made It Something Else
Or The Health Minister's Debacle

April 24th

Condom issue hangs over Vatican | ANSA

Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini, the former archbishop of Milan, said last week he thought that in certain situations condoms could be considered a "lesser evil" .

His words made a splash in the media, which immediately began speculating that a shift may be on the cards in the Vatican's traditional rejection of condoms as an option for fighting AIDS .

Italian newspapers pressed Vatican officials for views on Martini's remarks, hopeful of gauging which way the wind was blowing. But prelates were cautious, refusing to do more than confirm that it was a tricky issue .

On Sunday, the La Repubblica daily cited the pope's chief aide on health matters as saying the Vatican will soon publish a document on the use of the condom by people with serious diseases such as AIDS .

But so far there has been no confirmation that such a document is in the pipeline.

Catholic Church to Ease Ban on Condom Use | Deutche Welle

One year after the election of Pope Benedict XVI, the Vatican, in a reversal of church doctrine, is prepared to allow the use of condoms to combat AIDS.

In a victory for reform-minded critics of the Vatican, Pope Benedict XVI has now reversed the Catholic Church's long-standing position with regard to the use of condoms to combat the spread of the HIV virus.

The Vatican's "health minister" Cardinal Javier Lozano Barragan, who is close to the pope, told the Rome-based newspaper La Repubblica "It was the pope who took the initiative over this very sensitive and difficult issue." Barragan, who is Mexican, added that the Vatican is preparing a document on condom use, but declined to reveal its details.

Church has not changed position on respect for human life, other moral issues, says Msgr. Sgreccia

Vatican office clarifies: teaching on condoms and AIDS will not change | Catholic News Agency

Vatican City, Apr. 24, 2006 (CNA) - An official from the Pontifical Council for Health and Pastoral Care, presided by Cardinal Javier Lozano Barragán, made it clear today that the recent interview given by the Mexican prelate to the Italian daily La Reppublica, doesn’t hint at any change in the doctrine of the Church on the use of condoms to fight Aids.

Over the weekend, numerous dailies and news agencies have headlined the Cardinal’s interview, in which he declared that: "This is a very difficult and delicate subject that requires prudence. My department is studying this closely with scientists and theologians expressly assigned to draft a document that will be issued soon," he said.

The prelate’s declarations became the basis of heavy speculations, especially his thoughts on making “the Church’s position more flexible,” in respect to the use of condoms.

And that was that. Tune in for next weekend's episode of 'The Vatican is poised to relax...'

Another retrospective

Benedict’s Annum

April 25th, 2006

Pope Benedict XVI began his second year in the Chair of Peter yesterday, and what a difference a year makes. Part of the press tarred him as the “Hitler Youth” Pope, Cardinal “Panzer” Ratzinger, John Paul II’s “orthodox enforcer,” feared by liberals and championed by reactionaries.

Today he is today viewed by much of the world with a bemused indifference. What happened?

The discerning will soon come to understand that the bold and energetic leadership of John Paul II was an anomaly. Bishops of Rome, truthfully, are more properly understood as captains of ships whose voyage has long since been charted. They put a new and human face on an ancient institution. Their job is to subtly steer and correct, not create. This does not make it a small job.

On the contrary, the challenges are immense. Truth is not negotiable. It is not flexible. The Creed of Nicea has remained for eighteen centuries and weathered the storms of heretics, Borgias, Reformations, Gnostics, Councils, Wars, and even the frailties and sins of fallen clergy—and is still intact.

Benedict understands what his role is, and that is not to make bold changes for changes sake but rather to spread the good news. And despite the desires of many—- The Good News is not new news.

The essay above has a lot to say about the media and its expectations. I skipped most of that, even though it's well worth the read. The conclusion is the best part because of its interesting imagery. The 'ship' metaphor has been popular since Antigone's day. Luckily for us, Benedict is a better, more flexible pilot than Creon.

Monday, April 24, 2006

And their ears may be unstopped

That was from the Gospel some time ago when Jesus spit in eyes of the blind and unstopped the ears of the deaf.

While I was gone the last few days, the topic of American Sign Language in the Mass suddenly became a hot topic in the Catholic blogosphere due to the article For Deaf Priests and Parishioners, a New Mass Works in The New York Times.

Amy simply quotes a portion of the article, but the comments are interesting.

The Curt Jester discusses how the Sacraments work for the deaf (words of consecration, going to confession, etc.).

Rocco has a few quotes, though nothing to add really.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Open Topic

I'm going to be gone a couple of days.

The open topic here is what do you think Benedict's first year? Hash it out and come to a consensus for when I get back.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

On the first anniversary: reading Ratzinger

This past week, I was able to pick up my second book penned by then-Cardinal Ratzinger. My first was The Spirit of the Liturgy, a book that is by now famous as a possible blueprint for a reform of the reform of the Mass.

My second is Truth and Tolerance: Christian Belief and World Religions. I've only just started this book, but my impression of it is already clear.

Theological writing can be rather imcomprehensible, at least what I've read. For example, my parish library has a copy of Prayer by Hans Urs von Balthasar. I checked it out and started reading the first chapter. After some fits and starts, I gave it up and took it back. As a noted theologian, I will not dispute von Balthasar's reputation. But as a writer, he is either way too wordy or just untranslatable without causing lots of problems for his style. Or maybe it was just the one book. The first chapter did not go anywhere. It did not move forward, but merely recircled a point, addressing it in different ways. Ugh.

On the other hand, there is Joseph Ratzinger. Stylistically, he has to be one of the most delightful non-fiction writers I've had the privilege of reading. Just one example is how he refers to himself in his writings with an 'I' and we the readers as 'you' and collectively 'we' are going to discuss this or that. He writes like he is lecturing with a nice outline and he covers the points in an organized, efficient way. His prose is light. That's not to say that it is not full of meaningful content, quite the contrary. But it moves along from point to point and does not linger or end up in rhetorical cul-du-sacs.

Enough about that. If you haven't read him yet, I highly recommend the professor-pope.

On the first anniversary: the brother's view

This story from CNS with Monsignor Ratzinger's comments regarding his relationship with his brother is from yesterday. It's rather interesting to read being a brother myself. Some excerpts for those of you who haven't seen this yet.

"We still call each other up regularly and frequently, and we see each other every time it's possible," said the monsignor, who lives in the southern German city of Regensburg.

Though getting together is not as easy as it was before his brother became pope, Msgr. Ratzinger said the things they chat about and the affection they share have not changed.

As young boys, they both were forced into military service under the Nazi regime, and both ended up in prisoner-of-war camps.

"When we were made prisoners by the Allies, our capture and imprisonment were like a liberation for us" because it brought the "un-Christian" military service to an end, Msgr. Ratzinger said.

The two brothers also share an intense love of culture and music.

"From the time we were young, music and playing music together was a dimension of the divine message for us," Msgr. Ratzinger said.

But, like most siblings, the two brothers have disagreed, even over religious matters, he said.

"It's happened that, in the beginning, I would not understand some of his bold" decisions right away, he said. But, after some thought, he said he always realized his younger brother had been right.

His brother is able to "look at faith and the world from a different perspective" while the monsignor said his own views were perhaps more affected by everyday opinions.

Msgr. Ratzinger said the qualities he most admires in his brother are his unpretentious nature, his humble spirit, and the seriousness with which he tackles every task.

This is a really cool editorial

All too often, we have statements by the People's Republic and Cardinal Zen and the Vatican, but we rarely hear from the Republic of China/Taiwan on what they think. I'm not even going to try and cut this down. Read it all and ponder the implications of withdrawing support from the ROC.

Diplomats battle trends in international arena | China Post


Taiwan has a very good diplomatic service. The competition among intelligent, well-educated and articulate young people to enter the foreign service is intense. Indeed, many of Taiwan's diplomats are brilliant people. They have a depth of international vision matched rarely by foreign diplomats.

However, they have a hard row to hoe -- that is, their life is not easy. People expect miracles. Of course, miracles are in short supply. The fact is that our diplomats battle international trends that are much like the earth's tectonic plates -- that is, forces so massive no one person can control or counter them.

For many years, the Republic of China was "island China," a representative of the Chinese nation. The island received defense aid from the United States -- indeed, many U.S. servicemen were stationed here. That all changed when President Carter recognized Beijing. This shift of recognition was a disaster in more ways than one. Not only did the Republic of China lose U.S. support, it almost certainly slowed the pace of democratization in Taiwan.

But the truth is, Taiwan is one of the world's most vibrant democracies and the island receives too little credit for its achievements in governance. Taiwan remains a beacon of freedom for those oppressed around the world -- not only in mainland China, but elsewhere in the world. Taiwan has shown that the struggle for freedom can bring benefits for all.

What about other places in the world? Belarus, for example, has an oppressive regime that rules by a mixture of the carrot and the stick -- rewards for those who cooperate and harassment for those who don't. Although Belarus has elections, international observes say they are neither free nor fair.

One of Taiwan's allies -- indeed, the only one in Europe with formal ties -- is the Vatican. The Vatican is special case -- it is the seat of the Roman Catholic Church. The Vatican is a very valuable ally for Taiwan, but its interests are fundamentally different from other nations -- its role is to protect the faithful and propagate the faith. There has been a suggestion that the Vatican's head of state Pope Benedict XVI, would like to visit both mainland China and Taiwan. This might not be a very practical undertaking.

Mainland China has an estimated 12 million Catholic believers and Taiwan has about 300,000. Mainland China is seen as one of the greatest evangelistic challenges left for the world's Christians.

Talk of the Vatican withdrawing its recognition from Taipei has been going on for at least 30 years. So far, nothing has happened. The on again, off again talks with Beijing founder on several principal questions -- who will appoint the mainland's bishops and who will lead the faithful. So far, the mainland regime has shown no signs of budging on these key questions. They insist the state-sponsored church is the only true church for China's Catholics, while those loyal to the Vatican worship in private, with the constant threat of persecution. Some bishops in mainland China have recently been appointed by a process of joint consultation between the Vatican and Chinese authorities. The appointment of bishops is fundamental to the governance of the Chinese church -- and indeed, any part of the Roman Catholic communion. The bishops are the successors to the original apostles who first carried the word of Christianity to the world. They are successors to the apostles in a direct and literal sense. The Church also teaches that primacy belongs to the Bishop of Rome -- in other words, the Pope -- just as St. Peter, the rock on which the Christian Church was built -- had primacy among the apostles.

The Vatican has reached an accommodation with communist Vietnam and the Church is growing in leaps and bounds.

The Vatican held out an olive branch to the Chinese authorities by inviting four Chinese bishops -- two from the "official patriotic " church and two from the underground church loyal to Rome -- to the recent meeting of bishops from all over the world in Rome.

Beijing requires two things of the Vatican: one, to sever ties the Republic of China on Taiwan which Vatican officials have said they are willing to do "immediately;" and second, not use religion as an excuse to meddle in China's internal affairs.

The question of the Vatican recognizing Beijing is one of these tectonic plates mentioned before. Whatever the skill and adroitness of our diplomats, the fact is that the Vatican has been around for 2,000 years and has survived by putting the interests of the faithful first. We must, of course, do our best to prevent the loss of such an important ally, but if the communist mainland regime and the Vatican can reach agreement, there is little we will be able to do.

However, doing "little" and doing "nothing" are very different. Taiwan has a well-deserved reputation for religious tolerance and the Catholic faithful will remain faithful. We must present our case -- that we are a long-standing friend of the Vatican and a beacon of freedom in Asia for the world's believers -- as forcefully as we can.

We are fortunate to have a diplomatic service that can present our case well. They are accustomed to working against the odds and performing miracles. Taiwan may have lost its formal links with many of the world's powers, but we have substantive links with the world's most significant nations. The Vatican, in area, is very small, but its influence is profound. Losing the Vatican as an ally would be more than just a diplomatic loss because Taiwan shares the same values of religious freedom and open society that the Vatican represents.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Pian Rite/Tridentine Mass

Amy over at Open Book discusses the various thoughts on the subject as the deadline of last Holy Thursday came and went without a rumored announcement on the subject of a liberalization of the policy regarding the Mass of St. Pius V.

Someone wrote last week that in the consistory and then the interdicasterial meeting, there was not a consensus for a change in policy. If the heavy hitters are not going for it, then its unlikely that Benedict XVI is going to strike out on his own on such a sensitive topic. Unlikely, but not impossible. If Benedict has taught us anything, it's that he'll do what he wants and thinks is best and his reasons will be impeccably researched.

With all this talk on the subject, it's important to remember that the Holy Father is interested in a reform of the reform. That does not equal a universal indult. That is more along the lines of fixing up the Novus Ordo and eliminating various abuses. The rumors swirling around a universal indult are far more interesting to cover and prognosticate about since reforms of the Novus Ordo are likely to be organic and little noticed as they are hidden in the daily business of the Congregation of Divine Worship. But that incremental reform is far more important for the billion or so Catholics whose Mass experience on any given day is that of the New Order.

But in order to appease the masses on this, in conversations with various people on the topic, it goes like this...

Anyone who is in the know on what Benedict's plans are is not going to say anything worth reporting. Those who are talking are outside the inner circle and are just talking for the sake of striking it rich should his particular prognostication prove to be right.

An interesting point

From here:

Want to do your parishioners a real favor? Don't accomodate them in Spanish, offer free English courses in the parish hall. Coming here without speaking English isn't exactly ideal but accomodating not learning it is just wrong on so many levels.

As far as Mass goes - if only there was a way to have one language in Church around the world...hmmmmmmmmm. That aside, I understand a need for Spanish Masses, but it should be on a limited scale, there shouldn't be a permanent ghettoized segment of the population. And, if you come here, you should have to assimilate to a considerable degree.

If someone feels that everything should be in Spanish for them, I got a country some 20 miles South of here for them.

The bolding is mine.

It's a worthy point, though not without its faults. Right off hand, I know of many instances of German immigrants here in Iowa who were quite happy to go to services on Sunday that were in the German language. The only things that halted this practice were two world wars. Of course, if the Mass was in Latin, that would certainly solve the problem.

Vatican Watcher is pro-Latin, all the way. :)

Future uncertain

Church’s fate uncertain after storm | Quad-City Times

By Deirdre Cox Baker | Comments(0)

IOWA CITY — The tornado that spared parishioners of St. Patrick’s Catholic Church from harm has resulted in an uncertain future for the historic structure itself, which was nearly destroyed Thursday night by winds estimated at 150 mph.

“We will meet with the diocese and insurance people today to get an idea of the scope of the damage. We’ll assess that and make a determination as to what to do,” the Rev. Rudy Juarez said Monday.

“Our immediate need is cash to work with,” he said. “We need cash for mobility.”

The Catholic Diocese of Davenport will work with the congregation to determine its future, but what happens next will really be driven by the local parish community, said David Montgomery, a diocese spokesman. “It will take some time to figure all this out,” he added.

St. Patrick’s has a Gothic design and was built in 1898 of red brick. It was the original Irish parish in downtown Iowa City and is located not far from two other Catholic parishes in Iowa City: St. Mary’s and St. Wenceslaus. Neither of those churches suffered any storm damage.

St. Patrick’s has a membership of 1,300 families, including some 150 Hispanic families who have joined since Juarez was assigned the church almost two years ago and added a weekly Spanish-language service.

There is some precedent for dealing with such a disaster in the Davenport Diocese. In 1997, Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic Church in Muscatine, Iowa, was destroyed by fire. That parish temporarily held services in a downtown building, but its members eventually merged with two other Catholic churches in Muscatine, St. Mary’s and St. Matthias, Montgomery said.

A rebuilding fund has been established for St. Patrick’s Catholic Church. Donations should be made payable to the St. Patrick’s Church Rebuild Account and sent to: Hills Bank & Trust, c/o Roger Reilly, 1401 S. Gilbert St., Iowa City, IA 52240.

Looking at my map from last July, it's clear from an outsider's standpoint the problems faced by St. Patrick's.

St. Mary's is only five blocks north and St. Wenceslaus another three. In an era of closing and merging parishes, it creates a dilemma that is not easily solved. However, if the parish does have one thing going for it, it is the 150 Spanish-speaking families. That kind of ministry is not easily absorbed by other parishes that lack pastors with the necessary language skills to offer a Mass in Spanish.

I'm surprised we haven't seen this sooner

Rally over Vatican talks with Beijing

Published: Tuesday, 18 April, 2006, 10:46 AM Doha Time

HONG KONG: Rights groups in Hong Kong marched yesterday in protest at warming ties between China and the Vatican, saying Rome should halt talks until Beijing grants full religious freedoms to mainlanders.
About 20 activists led by the China-baiting Southern Democratic Alliance marched through downtown to the city’s Catholic Cathedral where they handed a petition to Catholic leader Cardinal Joseph Zen’s assistant.
“We urged Cardinal Zen and the Church to think twice before establishing diplomatic relations with the Chinese Communist Party,” said alliance chairman James Lung.
“If the Holy See (Vatican) re-establishes links with China while China is still oppressing religious freedoms, that would be wrong,” Lung said.
Zen, made a cardinal by Pope Benedict in March, is seen as key to the Church’s desire to rebuild bridges between China and Rome. All ties were severed in 1951 after Beijing expelled the Vatican’s envoy.
Zen is expected to act as a conduit between the pope and Beijing.
The communist regime in China controls the mainland’s official Patriotic Catholic Church, which appoints its own bishops and refuses to recognise the authority of Rome.
Followers of the pontiff are forced to worship illegally in the so-called underground church.
The government church has about 4mn worshippers, according to official figures, while the underground church has about 10mn, based on Vatican estimates.
Non-official Catholics in China are routinely detained for weeks at a time for inviting friends to worship at home. Priests have been sentenced to years in jail and some have simply disappeared.
Zen said the Vatican had indicated it would be prepared to drop its ties with China’s rival Taiwan in order to win Beijing’s support. Any such move would be matched by an apology from the pope, he said.
Lung believed such a move would be disastrous.
“Who would represent Taiwan after that?” he asked. “The Vatican is the only state in Europe that recognises Taiwan. Taiwan’s believers would be left in the cold.”–AFP

The bolding is mine of course.

The activists point out the central conditions for any kind of detente with the PRC and the sticking point on abandoning the ROC/Taiwan. The latter is a modern democracy and the former is a post-communist totalitarian regime.

This last week on 'Frontline' was the story of Tank Man, the individual who stood out in front of a column of tanks headed towards Tiananmen Square on June 5th, 1989. Certain individuals at the Vatican might do well to watch the program.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Coming together on Easter

Monday, April 17, 2006


Parishioners find comfort in each other

By Brian Morelli
Iowa City Press-Citizen

In many ways, St. Patrick's Catholic Church celebrated Easter Mass on Sunday similar to how they would any year: as a parish.

Little girls wore Sunday's best dresses and bonnets and boys dressed in spring outfits. However, while worshippers remembered the resurrection of Jesus, they too were resurrecting from the tornado that decimated their church just three days before.

"This Easter Sunday morning 2006, I am a grateful man," the Rev. Rudolph Juarez said to more than 400 worshippers at the opening of the 11 a.m. Mass in the Regina High School gym.

"I was driving down Governor (Street) and Rochester (Avenue) on my way here, and I had a hankering for gumbo ... because I could have sworn I was in New Orleans, but I was in Iowa City. I am grateful to be in Iowa City, and grateful to be here with this church," said Juarez, and parishioners clapped.

Thursday's F2-rated tornado tore off the 228 E. Court St. church's roof, knocked over the steeple and sent support beams flying, while about 70 people sought shelter in the church basement.

That destruction was only a small sampling of 3½ miles of damage in Iowa City from a twister with 150 mph winds, according to the National Weather Service.

While damage estimates are at about $10 million and rising, there were surprisingly no serious injuries in Iowa City, although the storm killed Christine McAtee, 49, when a tornado tore through her mobile home near Nichols, about 20 miles southeast of Iowa City.

Juarez said he expected the building to be closed for at least 10 months, and the future of the church is unclear. The damage to the church was not yet assessed. If and how they rebuild is still to be decided, Juarez said.

Juarez lives in the rectory, which also was severely damaged. He is being housed at the Newman Catholic Student Center, 104 E. Jefferson St.

"We will rebuild St. Patrick's in some way. Where, we don't know. When, we don't know that either," Juarez said. "We have to be open to God's will."

Mass proceeded in standard fashion, aside from a few on-the-fly adjustments because of relocating to the gym.

"As Jesus, who rose from the dead, we too as a parish will rise up to new heights," Juarez said.

For many, the service was one of mixed emotions, but parishioners were mostly upbeat.

"I am excited to celebrate as a parish and as a community," said Katy Lincoln of Iowa City. "We could go to another church in town, but our church is the people, not the building."

Lincoln, 43, was baptized at St. Patrick's and has attended the church her whole life.

"I realize it is just a building, but there is a lot of family memories there," Lincoln said.

Lincoln's mother, Pat Brandt, 71, was baptized, married and attended St. Patrick's her whole life. She also saw eight of her children baptized and six children married at the building.

"It's a sad weekend, but we all survived. We are a strong people, stronger than a storm. ... It's not quite the same as being in that church, but it is the people who make a church," Brandt said.

Joe Wallace, 26, of Iowa City, is a teacher at Regina and attends St. Patrick's. He echoed Lincoln and Brandt's thoughts.

"Being a Catholic, you have a lot of events in life that take place at church. Knowing that might not exist anymore is emotional. But seeing us rebound is powerful. When we need to come together we do," Wallace said.

Pedro Chavez, 40, of Iowa City, came with his wife and three children to the 12:30 p.m. Spanish Mass. He said he was still getting over the shock of the tornado.

"I've never been in a tornado warning before. This is the first I've been in a tornado," said Chavez, adding that he had seen the devastated church. "It's hard to look at. We feel very sorry."

Jerry Miller, the deacon, was in the church Thursday during the storm. Beforehand, he went to his car and heard sirens, which prompted him to warn those in the building to head for the basement. He said as an Iowan he has heard many sirens, and normally they prompt little reaction. He said he was not sure why it was different this time.

"You could call it intuition or a feeling. I am not really sure," Miller said.

Whatever the reason, Juarez and others said Miller saved many lives.

In the church, the balcony collapsed and with it a large organ fell to the floor level. Only a short time before a youth choir had been practicing on the balcony, and people had been congregating below.

Regular services including daily Mass and other functions will continue at St. Patrick's Parish Hall, 435 S. Linn St., which will serve as home while the future status is determined.

Other newsy items

Jerusalem Church leaders urge int’l community not to boycott Palestinians

Jerusalem, Apr. 13, 2006 (CNA) - The 13 patriarchs and heads of Christian Churches in Jerusalem launched in their joint Easter message a powerful appeal for reconciliation between Israel and Palestine and called on the international community not to boycott the Palestinian people by stopping aid, reported AsiaNews.

The Christian churches in the Holy Land—Orthodox, Armenian, Latin Catholic, Copt, Syriac, Anglican and Lutheran—will celebrate Easter on April 16 or 23. Their leaders call on their faithful to see the proximity in dates as a sign of the need for greater solidarity and shared witness of the resurrection of Jesus.

“It seems nowadays that we face an unknown path or impasse in political life (sic) between the new Israeli government and the new Palestinian government,” they said in their message.

The Church leaders reproached the international community for withholding aid from the Palestinian people. “It is not permitted to boycott a people on whom oppressions and injustices were and are imposed, while the international community remained so far paralyzed in putting an end to these oppressions, and therefore this paralysis gave birth to violence, terrorism and the humiliation of the human person [sic],” they said.

“Instead of boycotting, we appeal to the International Community to seize the opportunity of this phase in history of the conflict in order to try seriously to put an end to the suffering,” they said.

"The Church leaders reproached the international community for withholding aid from the Palestinian people."

Actually, its more like withholding money from a terror organization whose stated goal is to see the State of Iarael and all of its citizens wiped off the face of the Earth...

But hey, who cares about being correct. The patriarchs are making bold statements for peace!

Papal preacher lambasts Dan Brown

Gospel of Judas also dismissed as money-making venture

(ANSA) - Vatican City, April 14 - The pope's personal preacher railed on Friday against Dan Brown's Da Vinci Code and the recently published Gospel of Judas, saying they amounted to a fresh betrayal of Christ .

What more needs to be said?


Pope's Easter message calls for talks on Iran

Vatican, Apr. 17 ( - Pope Benedict XVI (bio - news) called for "serious and honest" negotiations to defuse tension over the development of nuclear power by Iran, in Urbi et Orbi message delivered on Easter Sunday.

The Holy Father did not explicitly mention Iran as he addressed the crowd in St. Peter's Square at midday on Easter Sunday. But his reference to "the international crises linked to nuclear power" was unmistakable.

Iran for sure has nuclear materials and facilities. Its president went on TV and declared Iran a member of the Nuclear Club. Aside from regional stability in the Middle East, this nuclear capability would pose no threat to the US directly as Iran does not have any intercontinental ballistic missiles or long-range bombers. However, those things aren't needed to give a terrorist group some material for not even a nuclear bomb but some nuclear fuel that can be blown apart by regular explosives to cause a lot of problems with radiation.

That is why Iran's assertions that it is not producing weapons-grade fuel and that its nuclear program is not for military use ring so hollow. The country is a state-sponsor of terrorism. All it takes is one radiological bomb in Tel Aviv or even someplace like New York City to illustrate that fact.

So the question becomes what should be done about the situation? First of all, negotiations have NOT worked. The EU with US approval has been negotiating and negotiating with Iran since last year. The negotiations have been a sideshow while Iran continues its fuel enrichment. Even before that, the IAEA had been negotiating.

So then what is to be done if negotiations are pretty much worthless at this point? We'll discuss that tomorrow.

Friday, April 14, 2006

A sad way to head into Easter

St. Patrick's Catholic Church, Iowa City
Good Friday, 2006

As the Iowa City Press-Citizen reports, an F2 tornado made its way through central Iowa City Thursday evening, leaving a path of destruction in its wake. St. Pat's did not escape, losing the front part of its roof and its steeple to the tornado.

Despite the loss of their church, the Church itself moves forward for the celebration of Holy Saturday/Easter Vigil and Easter:

St. Patrick's has released a schedule of Masses for the rest of the week, but plans are not yet final for a long-term relocation of the parish.

Tonight's Good Friday services will begin at 7 p.m. in the Regina Elementary School gymnasium.

Holy Saturday services will begin at 8:30 p.m. in the Regina High School gymnasium.

Easter Sunday services will be held at 7 a.m., 9 a.m.; 11 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. in the Regina High School gymnasium.

Readers may remember my post from last July where I talked about the churches of Iowa City. The parish is known locally for its Spanish Masses and its particular ministry to the local Spanish-speaking population through the efforts of its pastor Father Juarez.

As we go into the Easter Season, please keep St. Patrick's in your prayers so that the parish may undergo a resurrection as glorious as that of our Lord Jesus Christ.

St. Patrick's in better times.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

This week

In case anyone forgot, it's Holy Week this week. I'm going to take the week off and will return next Monday. If anyone interesting happens though, I'll probably post about it.

In the meantime, if anyone is passing through eastern Iowa, it's a schedule of events for St. Mary's, 302 East Jefferson Street, Iowa City:

12:10 pm - Mass

Holy Thursday
7:00 pm - Mass with Adoration to follow until 11 pm
11:00 pm - Night prayer

Good Friday
12:05 pm - Angelus
3:00 pm - Liturgy/Communion
6:00 pm - Stations of the Cross

Holy Saturday
9:00 am - Morning prayer
8:30 pm - Easter Vigil

Easter Sunday
8:00, 9:30, 11:00 am - Mass
2:00 pm - Mass (in Vietnamese)

Friday, April 07, 2006

The Meeting

The interdicasterial meeting of April 7th is... today!

One of the main points allegedly under discussion is the universal indult for the Mass of St. Pius V. Other topics no doubt include the curial reform and such matters as that.

We shall see what we shall see.

Thursday, April 06, 2006


New pope confounds critics and supporters
My opinion Andrew M. Greeley
Tucson, Arizona | Published: 04.06.2006

A year later the conservative Catholics are the ones who are angry. The pope has not repealed the council, he has not imposed the old Latin Mass, he has not banned women from the liturgy, he has defended the council's statement on religious liberty.

Father Greeley just kind of lost all credibility with the above paragraph. There are 'conservative' Catholics out there who are disappointed with Benedict XVI to some degree. However, Father Greeley's list of disappointments is more along the lines of the SSPX stance than 'conservative' Catholicism. And since the SSPX is not in the Church, I'm just not at all sure who he is talking about here with his description of 'conservative' Catholics wanting to roll back the council's statement on religious liberty or wanting a complete roll back of the whole council.

Aside from the glee of those who are pleased that Benedict XVI is not Pius XII, with the one-year anniversary coming up, the looks-back at the past year are being spun along the lines of the following:

Pope surprises by not being not the 'Rottweiler' he was expected to be
By Russell Shaw
Our Sunday Visitor (

VATICAN CITY (Our Sunday Visitor) – In the year since his election as top leader of the church, Pope Benedict XVI has surprised and sometimes confounded critics and supporters alike. His message to both camps is that he intends to be pope his way, not theirs.

Did we just get to New Jersey? Is Benedict XVI really Old Blue Eyes, the Chairman of the Board, Mr. Frank Sinatra? He's doing things 'his way', so we are left to wonder...

More generally though, I find it interesting that the media is spinning it this way. A year ago, I had no real expectations aside from a few vague ideas stemming from Benedict's age and experience. So I can't really say I've been surprised by anything. I can say though that Benedict has not done anything that would make me cringe. Far from it.

Putting it simply, I just think this coverage is all wrong. We're still dealing in stereotypes in the press. We've simply gone from the Panzerkardinal to the Pope of Love who is not the hard-liner after all.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Say what?

Russian Orthodox says Pope should shed more titles

By Tom Heneghan, Religion Editor

PARIS (Reuters) - Pope Benedict, who has dropped his title "patriarch of the West" to boost ties with Orthodox Christians, should scrap more terms tagged to his name if he wants real progress, a senior Russian Orthodox bishop has said.

Papal titles such as "vicar of Jesus Christ" or "sovereign pontiff of the universal Church" were "unacceptable, even scandalous" for the Orthodox, Bishop Hilarion Alfeyev said in a statement published this week on his Web site.

"Only renouncing titles stressing the universal jurisdiction of the pope, and the ecclesiological doctrine hidden behind that, would be a real step on the path toward reconciliation between the Orthodox and Catholic churches," he wrote.

A ha! It stands to reason that the Orthodox would want to see the titles of the Bishop of Rome proclaiming his universal jurisdiction dropped.

Hilarion, Russian Orthodox bishop of Vienna and his church's main representative in Europe, said the "patriarch of the West" title was actually more acceptable than some others.

Russian Patriarch Alexiy II said last month he hoped for a rapid resolution to the problems between the churches. Cardinal Walter Kasper, the Vatican's top official for ecumenism, said neither side wanted to lure believers away from the other.

All this talk about such things is of course coming from the Russian Orthodox Bishop of Vienna. The Orthodox See of Vienna is the flashpoint of what some call Russian hypocrisy in castigating Rome for proselytization in Mother Russia and disregarding the boundaries of ancient historical churches while at the same time, the Russians are doing it right back in places like the Archdiocese of Vienna in a country that is pretty much Catholic by tradition.

Hilarion objected to three of Benedict's eight remaining titles -- Vicar of Jesus Christ, Successor of the Prince of the Apostles and Supreme Pontiff of the Universal Church -- because the Orthodox do not believe any cleric can claim such authority.

The rest -- Bishop of Rome, Primate of Italy, Metropolitan Archbishop of the Roman Province, Sovereign of Vatican City and Servant of the Servants of God -- refer to more limited powers of the pope and do not clash with Orthodox views.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Left with nowhere to sit

From the Tyler Morning Telegraph of Tyler, Texas:
Catholic church reports theft of bishop's chair and cricifix [sic]

By KENNETH DEAN, Staff Writer

Detectives with the Tyler Police Department are investigating the weekend burglary of the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception on South Broadway.

Don Martin, the department's public information officer, said police were called to the church Saturday when officials learned two key items from the sanctuary had been stolen.

Martin said the theft of the Bishop's chair and a crucifix was an estimated loss of about $3,000. Martin also added there had been no reported church burglaries in Tyler in the past several months.

The Monsignor said it would take at least two people to carry the chair, which is made of oak and rather large.

"It is a large oak wooden chair with upholstery and the Bishop's Crest on the seat back," he said.

The Monsignor said the wooden cross is between four and five feet tall with the body of Christ on it.

"My first thought was who could have borrowed them and why - then I realized the items had been stolen," he said. "I have heard that having your home robbed leaves you feeling violated and this is our spiritual home."

The Monsignor said the church has been vandalized in the past, but he could not recall a burglary.

Anyone with information about the burglary is encouraged to contact the Tyler Police Department at (903) 531-1000 or Crimestoppers at (903) 597-2833.

The bishop in question is Alvaro Corrada del Rio S.J., Bishop of Tyler, Texas, a suffragan of Archbishop DiNardo of Houston-Galveston.

'Reciprocity' nice, but not nice enough?

This article goes on for some length as it recounts the saga of Cardinal Martino's suggestion that Islam be taught in the schools and the reaction from various sources.

My reaction to the idea of Islam in the schools can be found here and here.

Towards the end, the author quotes Oriana Fallaci. We begin there with her quoted condemnation of the Church's policy towards European immigration.

How Will Rome Face Mecca?
By Joseph D'Hippolito | April 5, 2006


In her most recently translated work, The Force of Reason, [Oriana] Fallaci blamed the Catholic Church's lax policies on immigration and ecumenism for the disintegration of Europe's identity:

"This Catholic Church...gets on so well with Islam because not few of its priests and prelates are the first collaborators of Islam. The first traitors. This Catholic Church, without whose imprimatur the Euro-Arab dialogue could neither have begun nor gone ahead for 30 years. This Catholic Church without which the Islamization of Europe, the degeneration of Europe in Eurabia, could never have developed. This Catholic Church...remains silent even when the crucifix gets insulted derided, expelled from the hospitals. This Catholic Church...never roars against (Muslims') polygamy and wife-repudiation and slavery...."

Even Benedict's call for reciprocity fails to address adequately the totalitarian nature of Islamic societies, as the ordeal of Afghan convert Abdul Rahman and Algeria's parliament illustrate.

On March 21, Algeria passed a law forbidding members of religions other than Islam to seek converts or to worship in public without a license. Violators would face imprisonment of up to five years and a fine of up to 10,000 Euros.

If Benedict wishes to develop an effective response to Islam, he must do more than demand reciprocity. He must forthrightly challenge the entrenched attitudes Catholic leaders have regarding Islam. He should start by publicly disciplining an obnoxious cardinal who can never resist a camera, a microphone or a notepad.

I think the author has the right idea, but is not quite up-to-date. Benedict XVI is already challenging the entrenched attitudes of various Catholic leaders. The calling to the carpet of a cardinal is not going to happen, as much as some people would like to see it. That's what flunkies and minions speaking out in the press are for.

The election has more on the election of the Coptic patriarch.

VATICAN CITY, APRIL 3, 2006 ( Retired Bishop Antonios Naguib of Minya of the Copts was elected new patriarch of Alexandria of the Catholic Copts.

The new patriarch is replacing Cardinal Stephanos II Ghattas, 86, who had presented his resignation to Benedict XVI, the Vatican press office announced today.

The new patriarch, 71, was elected by the Synod of Bishops of the Catholic Coptic Church, meeting in St. Joseph's Convent of the Egyptian Sisters of the Sacred Heart in Cairo on March 20, as established by the Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches.

The Pope has given assent to the election.

Egypt's Catholic Copts number about 250,000, a small minority in a country of 74 million inhabitants, 94% of whom are Muslims and most of the rest Orthodox Copts.

The Coptic Church (known as Orthodox) remained apart from Rome following the Council of Chalcedon [which we looked at here on 3/21/06] in 451. It is led today by Pope Shenouda III.

n 1741, a Coptic bishop in Jerusalem converted to Catholicism and was named by Pope Benedict XIV apostolic vicar of the small Coptic community. In 1895, Pope Leo XIII re-established the Catholic-Coptic Patriarchate.

The Coptic Church was founded by the martyr Mark between A.D. 40 and 60 in Alexandria.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Lenten almsgiving

Dear friends, in my blogging experience that is coming up on one year, I've had the opportunity to chat/correspond with many different persons involved in some way with the Church. One of the special pleasures has been getting to know certain young men who are currently in seminary or are discerning their way there.

One of those individuals needs our help. He has been guided by the Holy Spirit towards a certain congregation in Europe. However, plane fare across the Pond is not exactly inexpensive.

If anyone has any information on organizations that could provide financial assistance for soon-to-be seminarians, please let me know or leave a comment in the combox.

Also, if anyone out there wishes to personally contribute towards paying for a plane ticket, please email me.

Thank you and God bless.

Collegiality at work

From VIS:

The Synod of Bishops of the Coptic Catholic Church, meeting in Cairo, Egypt from March 27 to 30, 2006 accepted - in accordance with canon 126 para. 2 of the Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches, and having consulted the Supreme Pontiff - the resignation from office of His Beatitude Stephanos II Ghattas, C.M., patriarch of Alexandria of the Copts. On March 30, the same Synod, elected Bishop Antonios Naguib, emeritus of Minya of the Copts, Egypt as the new patriarch of Alexandria of the Copts. The patriarch-elect was born in Samalout, Egypt in 1935, and ordained a priest in 1960.

Something else:

Image hosting by Photobucket
From the BBC last year.

The growing debate

The always well-informed Amy brings to everyone's attention (which I will repeat here simply for my own reference, since I know all of you already read Amy daily) the difference of opinion between Catholic Light and In the Light of the Law over the Bishop of Lincoln's response to the audit.

Read it and reach your own conclusions.

New underground entrance planned

Vatican Museum to get new entrance

Underground mall would include shops and restaurants

(ANSA) - Rome, April 3 - Rome plans to solve access problems to the Vatican Museums by building a huge underground entrance mall complete with shops and restaurants.

The project was unveiled Monday by Rome Mayor Walter Veltroni who said: "We've done the archaeological probes and the Vatican is already looking at the project" .

The planned underground entrance would start at the Piazza del Risorgemento according to Veltroni.

The new entrance would go a long way towards solving one of the bugbears of tourists eager to get into the home of the Sistine Chapel and other artistic glories: the massive lines that form early in the day.

Visitors can wait as long as three hours in the hot Roman sun before they get in. [...]

Yes, make it easy... If everything were easy, nothing would be worth waiting for... But then self-mortification went out of style centuries ago.

More on Chinese relations

A couple of news stories:

China, Vatican may have ties by Olympics: cardinal - Reuters

No Mainland Officials At Diocesan Reception For Cardinal Zen - Indian Catholic/UCAN

Both are pretty much the same though they take different angles. The first is pretty much fluff. The second recounts how no one from the mainland came to Cardinal Zen's reception and then goes on to detail Cardinal Zen's relations with the local administration. The Hong Kong chief executive is a devout Catholic and is expected to play a role in explaining that Cardinal Zen is 'patriotic' but sometimes 'talks too much'.

Cardinal Zen also said that should the time come when the Holy See breaks off relations with the Republic of China/Taiwan in order to move the nunciature to Beijing, the Holy See ought to apologize to the people of Taiwan.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

I go to my father's house (III)

In a favorite movie of mine, the main character instructed a young trainee that how we face death is at least as important as how we face life.

Though I missed out on John Paul II's early years, I am still glad to be able to say that I was there for his last years. If I had to pick a public figure who represented all that was most courageous and heroic, I would have to pick John Paul. Some men would have broken under the strain. Others would have been simply content to hide behind the curtains of the papal window and spare himself the agony.

All his life, all his tales of survival were merely a prelude to those final years. John Paul through his faith showed us all that the way to our father's house, though often painful and humiliating, only brings us closer to the Christ.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

I go to my father's house (II)

John Paul II was many things to many people. A short biographical paragraph would not serve to properly detail the events of the man's life and times. Do we remember him as the staunch foe of communism or the globetrotting public face of the Church? Such questions are many and are best left to historians and congregations that judge if a man is worthy of sainthood.

In a way, he will be remembered more for the times he lived in and survived than anything else. He survived the Nazis. He survived the communists. He survived a deranged Turk's bullet. Nietzsche wrote that what does not kill us makes us stronger. Though John Paul would not agree that God is dead, he I think would agree that through life's adversity, we grow stronger in faith.