Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Across the sea

In his meetings with the Greek bishops on their
ad limina
visits to Rome, Benedict XVI had a few things to discuss with them. Zenit.org has the stories.

1. Relations with the Greek Orthodox:

"The desire is great in all to take part together in the one altar on which is offered under the veil of the Sacrament the one Sacrifice of Christ," the Pope said today when addressing relations with the Orthodox.

"We want to intensify prayer so that the day will come as soon as possible in which we will be able to break together the Bread and drink from the same Chalice in which the price of our salvation is deposited," he added.

In this context, Benedict XVI hoped "that ever greater perspectives will be opened for a constructive dialogue between the Orthodox Church of Greece and the Catholic Church, and that common initiatives will multiply in a spiritual, cultural and practical order."

Relations between the Greek Orthodox Church and the Holy See have progressed since Pope John Paul II visited Greece in May 2001 and was received by Archbishop Christodoulos, according to Cardinal Walter Kasper, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity.

2. Legal status of the Church in Greece:

Benedict XVI took up the request of Catholic bishops of Greece to be able to have an "appropriate" juridical status in that country.

The Pope formulated the request today in the wake of meetings with the prelates of that overwhelmingly Orthodox nation, in which Catholics comprise 0.55% of the population.

"In the conversations I have had with you I have gathered your desire to have defined, on the part of the state, the right to have an appropriate and recognized juridical status," the Holy Father told an audience of Catholic bishops of Greece. [...]

Taking into account the Orthodox majority, the Greek Constitution establishes a state license to build "places of prayer" and prohibits proselytism.

Jewish and Islamic worship are recognized by the law as "semi-public," whereas the Catholic Church and other Christian denominations are recognized as private entities. The opening of a Catholic church requires permission from the local Orthodox bishop.

Benedict XVI recalled that "a dialogue is taking place on the issue that does not see the Apostolic See as the first protagonist. It is, in fact, an internal matter to which, however, the Holy See pays much attention, as it desires an appropriate solution of the problems at stake."

"In this field, in addition to dialogue, perseverance is necessary," he asserted.

The Pontiff told the visiting bishops: "The Catholic Church does not seek any privilege, but only recognition of its own identity and mission, so that an effective contribution can be made to the well-being of the noble Greek people, of which you are a part.

"With patience and in respect of legitimate procedures, and thanks to the commitment of all, the desired understanding will be attained."

Juxtaposing these two stories, it's interesting to see how they fit together. In the first one, Benedict is all about reconciliation and dialogue. He praises the archbishop of the Greek Orthodox Church and bids his own bishops to work towards greater unity. In the second story, the Pope's tone remains the same, one of dialogue, but the message is different: the Catholic Church wants 'recognition of its own identity and mission' for the 'well-being of the noble Greek people'.

In short the message is, 'Unity is good, guys, but don't allow yourselves to be subsumed into the larger Orthodox culture.'

Monday, October 30, 2006

The Emerald Isle

The Belfast Telegraph:

Pope Benedict XVI has been invited by the Roman Catholic Primate Archbishop Sean Brady to visit Ireland.

As predicted in the Belfast Telegraph at the start of the visit two weeks ago, the invitation to the Pope was likely to be made during the pilgrimage to Rome, where the Irish hierarchy not only met the Pope personally but also a number of leading Vatican officials, including those responsible for his visits.

Informed sources have indicated that Archbishop Brady and his fellow bishops have been anxious for some time that Pope Benedict should come to Ireland to "complete" the visit of Pope John Paul II who was unable to come to Armagh for security reasons.

Such a visit would be particularly appropriate in the event of a political settlement in Northern Ireland, although it is understood that such a visit might cause difficulties for the DUP leader Dr Ian Paisley.

If Dr Paisley was to become First Minister, he could be required by protocol to welcome the Pope formally at Armagh, which would be a key venue in any proposed Papal visit.

On the other hand, Dr Paisley has already made history by meeting Archbishop Brady and his senior colleagues for formal political talks at Stormont.

That would be interesting to see, Paisley meeting the Pope at the See of St. Patrick. But first we have to see if the northern Irish can get their stuff together and come up with a plan. Otherwise, home rule will be out the window (again).

Back and forth

The informative Magister has a general summary of the 'reasoned' debate going on post-lecture. The line of argument is carried on between Aref Ali Nayed, who first responded to the lecture, and then Alessandro Martinetti replied to Aref Ali Nayed, wbo then replied to Martinetti...

You get the general idea. There are links going to and full-text versions of all the different replies and counter-replies. They're all worth reading.

Thursday, October 26, 2006


I am going to take a break this weekend. I'll be back on Monday.

In the meantime, check out Magister here.

Pope Ratzinger and his vicar, Ruini, see in Italy “a rather favorable terrain” for the public rebirth of Christianity in Europe and the world, too. But many do not accept their view. And the archbishop of Milan, Tettamanzi, has placed himself at the head of the opposition

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Monday, October 23, 2006

In the UK and other places

The Herald (of the UK) has an article about the Church (Catholic that is) and State (the government of the United Kingdom and particularly the Scottish Executive). The political liaison officer at the Scottish parliament noted that while Tony Blair conpliments the churches for standing up for family values, Blair and his party have pushed an agenda that the most anti-family the country has seen. The whole article is worth a read.

Interfax: "The vice-president of the European Parliament Mario Mauro criticized certain officials of the European Union for inequitable policy on traditional Christian Churches."

‘For the last ten years the Europarliament accused the Orthodox and Catholic Churches of violating human rights more then thirty times, but not once brought similar accusations against such states as, for instance, China or Cuba,’ Mauro said at the ‘Europe at a turning point: confrontation of civilizations or a new dialogue?’

The most interesting comment came not in the article itself, but in the little intro paragraph on the main Interfax-Religion page:

Speaking at the international conference in Moscow, he urged to remember that the blue colour of the flag of the Council of Europe symbolizes the Intercession of the Holy Virgin, and twelve starts depicted in a circle remind of the apostles

According to Wikipedia, such an assertion as to the meaning of the flag is not strictly correct. Note of course that the Council of Europe is not the European Union.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

St. Louis gets the win on the road

Tonight in Game 1 of the World Series, the Cardinals scored seven runs and only allowed two by the Tigers. Anthony Reyes pitched eight innings. The Great One and Scottie each hommered.

Game 2 probables are Weaver for the Cards and Kenny Rogers for Detroit.

I was quite pleased to see Pujols and Rolen both get out of their funk. The Great One has not been too bad in the postseason so far, but his brilliance as seen last year with the famous home run at Houston had not been seen until tonight. Rolen gave us all a scare with his collision rounding third. Bad Scott! Bad! Don't put your shoulder into that situation!

Game 2 is tomorrow night once again in Detroit.

Friday, October 20, 2006


The links down the left have been augmented.

As I've noted before, I don't really care for the Haloscan service. I'm going to see about playing with my template this weekend and reverting back to Blogger. We'll see how badly I screw things up.

EDIT: The template was reset and then I put back in the custom stuff for the sidebar. I noted that with a reset, the page was loading a lot faster than it used to, a nice side benefit.

For all you syndication folks, down the left under Subscribe is the chicklet for Feedburner and then a link for Atom. The little chicklet down in the lower right hand corner was reset from Feedburner and now goes to the Blogger Atom/RSS link. Subscribe to whichever you prefer, though the big chicklet that uses Feedburner will tell me how many subscriptions I have...

ANOTHER EDIT: Over time, I'm going to go through and label all the posts according to their subject label. Don't count on me doing this very quickly though. 'Search this blog' at the top is still everyone's best friend for finding stuff.

From The Economist

The piece in The Economist starts off with the question of if the leaders of the two monotheistic religions can find a way to talk to each other. It mentions the letter from the thirty-eight scholars and the Pope's stated regret for the distress caused by his lecture. Then it oulines the letter in broad strokes and its points illustrating Benedict's supposed mistakes regarding the finer point of the Quran.

Vatican officials have cautiously welcomed the scholars' letter, saying they too see prospects for a tough, meaningful conversation. After all, they point out, the pope has often said that the two faiths have different, but related problems: for the Christian, today's adversary is “reason without faith” or cold secularism. For moderate Muslims, it is “faith without reason” or violent fundamentalism.

The author then goes on to give two reasons for why Benedict is more pessimistic than his predecessor who was more inclined to work with Islamic countries in the UN and according to most objective observers not so inclined to confront Islam's extremist elements.

The first factor suggested by The Economist for Benedict's attitude is of course the fact he was Grand Inquisitor (of course! anything he does has to be because he was the head of the CDF). As such, he had to deal with instances of the Islamization of Christianity by heretical elements.

The second factor is far more credible and less insulting:

Another factor is the increased profile in the papal entourage of Arab Christians whose view of Islam is influenced by their own experience of inter-religious tensions in their homelands. In 2005, a few months after his election, Benedict presided at a meeting of his former doctoral students [a synopsis can be found here from www.chiesa] at which the topic was Islam. One of the two outsiders invited to the discussions was an Arab Jesuit with uncompromising views. The meeting is understood to have ended with broad agreement that there is little scope for discussing the basics of theology with Muslims: as a religion that puts overwhelming stress on revelation, its tenets are fixed and not open to re-interpretation. So (on this controversial view) it would be more worthwhile for the two faiths to discuss practicalities, like curbing violence and ensuring religious freedom.

The article closes with the usual Economist preachiness:

If that view prevails, it will be a disappointment to some of the scholars who wrote to the pope. As many authorities on Islam would point out, Muslim thinkers were arguing hard over the boundary between faith and reason 1,000 years ago—and there are Muslims today who want to revive the “rationalist” side of that argument. Without interfering, the pope could help by indicating he does not see all Muslims as unreasonable types.

The problem with that conclusion is that it mischaracterizes the problem that Islam faces today regarding reason. Islam is fundamentally a judicial faith. Jurists of the various schools of thought regarding the interpretation of the Shariah law are far more prevalent than any true theologians. As my professor liked to drum into my class, Islam is about 'right practice', not 'right thought'. Unlike modern judicial systems, the so-called 'gates of itjihad' (i.e. 'independent juridical reasoning' based on the law) were closed centuries ago in the majority Sunni world.

For those who would introduce a more rationalist approach to Sunni jurisprudence, efforts are severely hampered by the idea that the Shariah is literally the Word of God and cannot be tampered with in any way. Note that the ones who are proclaiming this view are more often than not the very fundamentalists who are willing to resort to violence in order to ensure their view prevails.

The Economist is right in that the Pope can help by recognizing without interfering. The problem is that fundamentalists won't reciprocate; Christians in the Holy Lands are waiting to be driven away one way or another. So it's back to practicalities and arguing over religious freedom.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Life and death in Portugal

The BBC:

(The RSS drop down menu that came by default with Firefox is quite convenient.)

MPs in Portugal have agreed that the country should hold a new referendum on whether to legalise abortion.

Currently abortions are only legal in Portugal if a woman has been raped, if her life is in danger, or if the baby has serious abnormalities.

But the governing Socialist Party is proposing that women should be allowed to choose an abortion up to the 10th week of pregnancy.

The public vote is expected to be set for January.

It was proposed by the governing Socialists, and backed by the main opposition centre-right Social Democrats and the far-left Left Block.

The Communist party voted against, while the Christian Democrats abstained.

The article goes on to talk about how the PM wants to further legalize abortion so that the poor women of Portugal don't end up getting back alley abortions while the rich women jet off to countries where abortion is legal.

Then the fact that Portugal is largely Catholic is made known and that it has some of the most restrictive abortion laws in Europe.

Nothing out of the ordinary can be found here (socialists take power and start legalizing all kinds of stuff) EXCEPT for one thing: the Christian Democrats abstained?! What!?

Brouhaha in Turkey


Ankara (AsiaNews) – Benedict XVI will be welcomed as a "foreign leader of state” on his arrival in Turkey and not as a religious leader.

Hurriyet, Turkey’s most popular daily, pointed to a “diplomatic crisis” brewing over the upcoming papal visit. The newspaper said the Vatican generally described the Pope's visits as "religious missions," but state officials said that since he has been invited by the President of the Republic of Turkey, Ahmet Necdet Sezer, the Pope would be welcomed as a "foreign leader of state."

The newspaper said that “although it was not clear at first whether this would be acceptable to the Vatican, agreement should be reached this week”.

The “diplomatic crisis” hinted at in Turkey does not seem to have any substance in reality. There have already been papal trips where the pope is welcomed as “head of the Vatican” and not as head of the Catholic Church. Moreover, the Holy See has already given official notice of the visit, which has been scheduled from 28 November to 1 December.

Hurriyet said that when he arrives in Turkey, Benedict XVI will be greeted at the airport by top level government officials, and then taken to the Cankaya President Palace to be formally welcomed by the head of state. The newspaper said the Pope will give President Sezer an antique Bible and a book of some of his works and prayers.

Around 1,000 journalists are expected to cover the event.

In covering this, Catholic World News noted that the Turkish government is apparently ignoring the fact that Benedict is visiting because of an invitation from the Patriarch of Constantinople. Aside from whatever is going on in the Turkish collective psyche lately, I don't see how this is all that big of a deal. Turkey is supposed to be 'secular', in fact it is militantly so (given its secular nature is guaranteed by the military). If there were no ulterior motives behind this declaration, then it only makes sense that the Turkish government would receive the Pope as a head of state.

But I'd say it's obvious that there are ulterior motives. The ruling party of Turkey, AKP, controls both the presidency and the prime ministership. Much of its cohesion comes from its bid to join the EU as a full member, a bid that Benedict XVI has in the past opposed. Though the prime minister claims otherwise, a survey cited in the Wiki article showed that a majority of respondants believed that AKP was in fact a party "political party with a religious axis."

The dots are certainly there for any who care to connect them.

RIP Cardinal Pompedda

According to Zenit.org, Cardinal Pompedda died Tuesday night in a Rome clinic where he had been for quite some time. He was 77.

In a telegram, sent by Benedict XVI on hearing the news, the Pope recalled the service carried out by the Italian cardinal, a "distinguished jurist and for many years diligent collaborator of the Holy See, in particular of the Tribunal of the Roman Rota and of the Apostolic Signature, offering everywhere an appreciated testimony of priestly zeal and fidelity to the Gospel."

Born in Ozieri, Sardinia, on April 18, 1929, he had been a priest since Dec. 23, 1951, and a bishop since Jan. 6, 1998. Pope John Paul II elevated him to cardinal in 2001.

He exercised his priestly ministry for 30 years in the parish church of Our Lady of Guadalupe, in the Monte Mario district of Rome.

The Office for Liturgical Celebrations of the Supreme Pontiff announced that the cardinal's funeral will be presided over by Benedict XVI this Friday at 5 p.m. in St. Peter's Basilica.

The College of Cardinals now has 187 members, including 115 electors who could participate in a conclave.

Articles mentioning His Eminence both in life and in death are listed at CardinalRating.org.

Cardinals of the Holy Roman Church has a dossier with more in depth info on Cardinal Pompedda's various academic accomplishments and curial postings.

Assumptions and presumptions

Michael Paulson wrote this article for the Bostom Globe. It covers the usual ground. Its phrasing is what I find interesting.

The Catholic bishops of the United States, faced with ongoing controversy over the church's posture toward homosexuality, next month will vote on a proposal that would condemn ``scorn and hatred" of gays and lesbians but would also declare that gay couples should not be allowed to marry or adopt children, that baptizing the children of same-sex couples presents ``a pastoral concern," and that the church has the right to deny ``roles of service" to gays and lesbians who are not celibate.
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The proposal, which is to be voted on in Baltimore at the next semi annual meeting of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops, is sure to ratchet up the debate over gays and lesbians in the Catholic Church, which teaches that men and women who are attracted to people of the same sex should be celibate, as should unmarried heterosexuals. In recent years, the Catholic Church, in Rome and in Boston, has been outspoken in its opposition to same-sex marriage, and, in the wake of widespread presumptions that there is a disproportionately high number of gay men in the Catholic priesthood, the Vatican has undertaken a review of American seminaries that asks students and teachers about the presence of gay men.

The bolding is my own. According to Mr. Paulson, the Church is debating even though its teaching is clear cut. Perhaps what he should say is that different people are wringing their hands and deciding whether or not they can follow the teaching or find some way to undermine it in their favor.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Commentary on the open letter

Sandro Magister has an extensive point-by-point commentary on the open letter sent by thirty-eight Muslim scholars last week which I linked to here. His preliminary paragraph summarizes well the points of the letter:

nstead of saying they are offended and demanding apologies, they express their respect for him and dialogue with him on faith and reason. They disagree on many points. But they also criticize those Muslims who want to impose, with violence, “utopian dreams in which the end justifies the means”

The analysis of the letter has a lot of great points and it's definitely worth a read both as a summary of the letter or as a companion. I don't need to repeat it here. One remark of Magister's that is important is this one:

It is worthwhile to recall that even the most authoritative leader of Shiite Islam, the Iraqi grand ayatollah Ali Al-Sistani, has expressed toward Benedict XVI the respect and attention that can also be found in the letter of the 38. And he did this much sooner. In the most violent days of the anti-papal protest that exploded in the Muslim world, representatives of Al-Sistani visited on two occasions the secretary of the Vatican nunciature in Baghdad, monsignor Thomas Hlim Sbib, to express his friendship toward Benedict XVI and his desire for a meeting with him in Rome.

We should all pray for the continued health of Sistani. He's probably the greatest friend the West has anywhere in Islam today. That is to say his goals and those of the West largely coincide. His website can be found here in case anyone is interested in learning more.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Other newsy items

From The Trumpet is a piece on Benedict, Islam, Iran and world peace. One quote stands out:

Political scientists still largely regard religion as passe. But it is now clear that, while they were looking for the formula for world peace, religion was working behind the scenes for a mighty comeback! That comeback was to be sourced within, and stimulated by, two great religions: Roman Catholicism and pan-Islamism.

Political scientists still WHAT?! I was going to comment on this piece at length, but then I read the above paragraph and it just destroyed all credibility of the author. I don't know what planet Ron Fraser lives on, but MY poli sci department didn't discount religion by any means. Moving on...

Catholic Online has a nice article about the renovation of the basilica in Baltimore.

On that Saturday – 200 years after the basilica’s cornerstone was laid in 1806 – the $32-million restoration project will be revealed to a public whose interest has been greatly heightened as more and more people begin to understand the basilica’s special place in U.S. Catholic history, not only as a symbol of religious liberty but also as an architectural gem.

There's lots more in the article on what all has been renovated and the historical arcitecture of the basilica.

Finally, Catholic World News has its top ten stories. Guess what they are before you go look here.

VIS: Calendar


VATICAN CITY, OCT 17, 2006 (VIS) - The Office of Liturgical Celebrations of the Supreme Pontiff made public today the calendar of celebrations to be presided over by the Holy Father in the months of November and December 2006:


- Thursday, 2: All Souls Day. At 6 p.m. in the Vatican Grottoes, a moment of prayer for deceased Supreme Pontiffs.

- Saturday, 4: At 11.30 a.m. at the altar of the Cathedra in the Vatican Basilica, Mass for the repose of the souls of cardinals and bishops who died during the course of year.

- Tuesday, 28 to Friday, December 1: Apostolic trip to Turkey.


- Sunday, 5: 31st Sunday in Ordinary Time. At 10 a.m. in the cathedral of Sao Paulo, Brazil, beatification of Servant of God Mariano de la Mata Aparicio.


- Saturday, 2: At 5 p.m. in the Vatican Basilica, First Vespers for the first Sunday of Advent.

- Friday, 8: Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary. At 4 p.m. in Rome's Piazza di Spagna, homage to Mary Immaculate.

- Sunday, 10: 2nd Sunday of Advent. At 9 a.m., pastoral visit and Mass at the Roman parish of "S. Maria Stella d'Evangelizzazione."

- Sunday, 24: Vigil of the Solemnity of the Birth of Our Lord. Midnight Mass in the Vatican Basilica.

- Monday, 25: Solemnity of the Birth of Our Lord. At midday from the central loggia of the Vatican Basilica, "Urbi et Orbi" blessing.

- Sunday, 31: At 6 p.m. in the Vatican Basilica, First Vespers of thanksgiving for the past year.


- Sunday, 3: 1st Sunday of Advent. At Ollur in the archdiocese of Trichur, India, beatification of Servant of God Eufrasia of the Sacred Heart of Jesus Eluvathingal.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Old Order, New Order, Old Order

In case anyone was wondering, I haven't sounded off yet on the whole Tridentine/Pian/Old/Latin/etc. Mass yet because frankly others have made better points.

For example, Amy and Father Jim Tucker make a lot of good points.

On a purely academic level, the return of the Pian Mass (recall, brethren, the great discussion Papabile had over the best term to use in referencing it) is a positive for the Church. As many have already noted, the SSPX and others out there are not going to return en masse just because of an indult (or whatever legal framework is designed).

For my own personal tastes, I can't say that I'm waiting for the Pian Mass's return with much enthusiasm. I have never seen personally the worst modern excesses of the Novus Ordo and due to my situation, I don't have to listen to the wailing and crooning of overzealous music directors anymore (which in itself is rather disappointing, you don't miss it until it's gone).

My own taste as far as what makes a church Catholic has really gone towards exterior and interior appearance. If you all look down to the picture I posted of the new church going up in Tennessee, you'll get an idea of what I mean.

Buildings aside though, liturgy is fundamental for the life of the Church. It's always interesting to read about people talking about bad music and soft, squishy homilies, but being unable to hear Mass leads one to really focus on the little details such as decor and what the priest is doing up there amid his surroundings. Everyone would do well to put on a pair of earmuffs or stick in some ear plugs and just sit through the Liturgy of the Eucharist and watch the priest. Over and above what he has to say for a homily or how he might intone the various parts of the Eucharistic Prayer, his basic motions I would surmise say a lot more about him. My parish priest I think says Mass more reverently than any other man I've ever seen.

As one friend noted, even with an indult, the Pian Mass is not going to make massive inroads out here in Iowa if only because there are not enough trained personnel to pull one off except in special locations such as the basilica up in Dyersville or other approved parishes. I think the point that the Pian Mass will enrich the Novus Ordo is valid and such a filtering down of the best of the Pian Mass's attributes onto the Novus Ordo would be the best outcome. But in the end for me, the quality of Mass is based on the where it's at and the how it's done, not the what is being done.

Milingo's appeal back home

Spero has a nice translation of an African journalist's thoughts on the whole Milingo affair and what Africans back home think about the Archbishop's fling with his wild side.

Is it foreseeable that many of Milingo’s followers in Africa will join “Married Priests Now!” (the archbishop’s newly-minted sect) and Rev. Sun Myung Moon’s family federation. Not likely.

It is true that Milingo impressed many people, in Africa and elsewhere, with his alleged supernatural gifts. However, for the people here, religion and the sacred is much more than that: if not, it would be little more than the services rendered by a witch doctor or faith healer – those who only the very poor and uneducated take seriously today. In matters of religion, people want to trust: a Church that they can trust, with ministers they can trust.

The experience with Milingo shows that people will not follow false prophets, at least not for very long. Also, priests are like the village elders, men who are chosen for upright conduct and clear minds; they are expected to be good examples of both.

That kind of cultural respect for the office of priest/bishop is a very positive sign. That view of the office as being sacred and a position of respect is something the West has definitely lost in a lot of ways. Martyn Drakard the journalist's thoughts are quite heartening when it comes to a continent that is known for its faith supposedly being ten miles wide and only an inch deep.

Monday morning


Item #1:

VATICAN CITY, OCT 16, 2006 (VIS) - In response to an invitation from Ahmet Necdet Sezer, president of Turkey, the Holy Father Benedict XVI will make an apostolic trip to that country from November 28 to December 1, 2006, visiting Ankara, Ephesus and Istanbul.
OP/TURKEY VISIT/... VIS 061016 (60)

BBC has a piece up on this. This little paragraph is in my mind not anything major. It's just the usual little formality we see every trip. If he /wasn't/ going, that would have warranted something bit more extensive than this.

Item #2:

- Appointed Cardinal Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone S.D.B., as a member of the commission of cardinals overseeing the activities of the Institute for Works of Religion (IOR).

This is just a formality as well, appointing the Cardinal-Secretary to the commission of the Vatican Bank. I always thought the Vatican Bank and all the conspiracy theories swirling around it were far more interesting than that crap Dan Brown wrote about. ;)

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Would Elizabeth still be Queen?

Keith Cardinal O'Brien has stated that he would be happy if the people of Scotland chose independence.

In a newspaper interview, the cleric cited the success of smaller independent nations such as Ireland and Denmark to support his views.

He also voiced frustration with the current powers of Holyrood.

The 68-year-old's views have been welcomed by Scottish National Party leader Alex Salmond.

In an interview with the Catholic Herald newspaper, Cardinal O'Brien said: "I would not get too involved in the politics of independence, but I am happy that, if it is the wish of the people, Scotland becomes an independent country.

"There is currently some frustration among the Scots about the say they have over what happens here, and that is part of what is pushing the independence movement.

"I can see this coming, perhaps not in the next few years, but before too long."

The complete interview will be published next week in the Catholic Herald.

As far as the actual issue at hand, I have read opinions going in either direction. On the one hand, Scotland has provided the UK with a lot of talent over the years that would stay in Scotland and be used at home if Scotland were no longer a member of the UK. On the other hand, if Scotland remained in some kind of economic union with the rest of the UK and the EU, its talent would still be able to migrate out of the country, but the national programs that gave something back to Scotland would be gone. Could Scotland pull off an Ireland and be the next economic tiger of Europe? Aside from gneralizations by His Eminence, serious study would have to be made of the economic situation: skilled labor, tax incentives, trade agreements, etc.

Personally, I think it would be interesting if Great Britain was once again divided in two. If the Scots chose to keep the monarchy in their independence, England would once again be ruled by a Scottish monarch. Or they could put whichever of the Stuart claimants they preferred back on the throne.

This guy is amusing

In On The Other Hand - The Pope and Islam, Peter Laurie writes on what he thinks is the solution to all the world religions' problems: dialogue and equal validity:

The basis of a genuine dialogue among the major faiths of the world cannot be a mere tolerant truce, predicated on the position of each being in exclusive possession of the absolute truth.

There has to be an acceptance that all religions have something to add to the spectrum of spiritual truth. There also has to be an acceptance that God's revelation not only can be apprehended in different ways but is also on-going throughout history.

While the adherents of each faith will, understandably, believe that their approach to God is best, this viewpoint, if expressed with humility (we all see through a glass darkly) rather than in a triumphal manner (Onward Christian Soldiers), does not prejudice the achievement of greater mutual understanding.

If we are to avoid a bloody "clash of civilisations" the great faiths of the world must come together not only to achieve better mutual understanding but also to affirm human dignity and human rights in the struggle for justice and peace for all.

They must work together to better confront the ravages of our modern world: environmental pollution, poverty, racism, HIV/AIDS, war and the proliferation of arms.

They must pray together to create a new spiritual consciousness for all humanity, one that goes hand in hand with reason and commonsense.

Mr. Laurie could stand to read Cardinal Ratzinger's book on this exact subject. I doubt he'd get much out of it though...

Saturday, October 14, 2006

The Dalai Lama

AGI Online has the coverage:

(AGI) - Vatican City, Oct 13 - The Dalai Lama shared Benedict XVI's desire for peace and his conviction that this is the way to build peace, the Tibetan Buddhist spiritual leader said at the press conference after the hearing this morning at the Vatican. "The meeting with Benedict XVI was a religious one in which we spoke about human values, religious harmony and the environment," he explained, saying that there was a substantial agreement on these points. As far as the tensions with Islam are concerned, the Dalai Lama said he told the Pope that "few people who do evil do not represent their religion". "It is not right to make generalisations on the behaviour and the deeds of a few. Not all Muslims are terrorists. A few people doing evil cannot be considered to be representatives of any community: Catholic, Jewish, Muslim or any other," he said to the press. The meeting did not touch on China, because "there are many Christians there who are having trouble because of their faith". When asked about human rights in China and in Tibet, the Dalai Lama replied that the topic is discussed with the Chinese government by many foreign delegations visiting Beijing. "This needs to be done constantly regardless of the response given," he said. The Dalai Lama was also asked about the Panchen Lama, the second most important figure in Tibetan Buddhism, who was kidnapped in 1996 by the Communist government. "I have no news," he replied. "The Panchen is youngest prisoner of conscience in the world (he is currently 16, Ed.) and every time we ask about him, the Chinese government replies that 'he is where he is'." (AGI) -
131943 OTT 06

The Dalai Lama always comes across as a saintly individual, but (we knew that was coming, right?) sometimes his message can... grate.

"Not all Muslims are terrorists!"

Thanks for the tip.

Friday, October 13, 2006

The open letter

Our good friends at the BBC are reporting that that an open letter to the Pope from thirty-eight Muslim scholars is on its way.

The letter is online at the website of the magazine Islamica.

The link to the letter and an introduction to it are here. The letter-link will open a Javascript window.

At the Islamica website is also a piece by John L. Esposito that discusses the Pope's lecture and the Muslim reaction.

In particular:

Have Muslims over-reacted to the Pope's statement? Their responses need to be understood in the context of our post 9/11 world with its greater polarisation and alarming increases in Islamophobia. Many Muslims feel under siege. A Gallup World Poll of some 800 million Muslims from Morocco to Indonesia indicates widespread resentment over what respondents see as the denigration of Islam, Arabs and Muslims in the West. The cartoon controversy in Europe demonstrated both the dangers of xenophobia and Islamophobia, and the depths of anger and outrage. Therefore, it is easy to understand why Muslims would express their disappointment and anger and call for an apology and dialogue much the same as Jewish leaders strongly urged meetings with the Pope or other Church leaders for offensive comments or actions. This was the case for American Jewish leaders before the papal visit of 1987, after Pope John Paul II had met with Kurt Waldheim. As prominent Muslim leaders noted during the European cartoon controversy and in the current situation, expressions of concern or outrage do not preclude discussion and dialogue and certainly never justify acts of violence.

Yeah, it's easy to understand that people are justified in chopping off the head of a priest who wasn't even Catholic because they feel they're being denigrated by an old man who lives on another continent. Got it.

Opening remarks

The Quad-City Times has the story on the press conference yesterday in Davenport with Bishop Franklin and Bishop Amos.

From the website of the diocese, the bishops' remarks in full:

Bishop Franklin:
Thank you for attending this meeting today on such short notice.

In May of 2005, I offered my resignation to the Holy Father on the occasion of my 75th birthday. With my resignation, I offered to continue my work as Bishop of the Davenport Diocese until a successor is installed. I am now the second oldest bishop of a diocese in the United States and the seventh oldest bishop of a diocese in the world.

For the past seventeen months, we have prayed for a new bishop. Today, our prayers have been answered.

The Holy Father has accepted my resignation and has appointed Bishop Martin John Amos as the Eighth Bishop of Davenport. It is with joy and great pleasure that I introduce to you Bishop Amos.

Bishop Amos:

Thank you, Bishop Franklin.

First, let me tell how grateful I am for the warm welcome I have received since arriving in Davenport yesterday.

As you are now aware, Pope Benedict XVI has appointed me the 8th Bishop of the Diocese of Davenport. Bishop Franklin will remain in the Diocese as the apostolic administrator until my installation on November 20.

I am sure that you are curious about who I am, where I come from and what I am like. The biographical details will be available after this press conference, but let me make some brief comments now.

I was born in 1941 in Cleveland, Ohio. The oldest of six children - three boys and three girls. I was ordained to the priesthood in 1968. Served in two parishes as associate pastor and then was transferred to the Borromeo Seminary High School and then the Seminary College where I was Academic Dean and taught Latin and Scripture.

After 10 years I was sent to St. Dominic Parish in Shaker Heights, OH where I pastored for 18 years. So pastoring and teaching have always been a part of my life.

On April 3, 2001 Pope John Paul II named me Auxiliary Bishop of Cleveland and life greatly changed.

But those are just a few of the facts about where I've been.

Last week, Archbishop Sambi called to tell me the Holy Father wished me to pastor here in the Diocese of Davenport. It has certainly been a roller coaster week! I am sad about leaving what I have called home for almost 65 years. I am anxious and at the same time excited about this new path on my journey. Certainly God has been with me on many twists and turns in life and I know that God is with me as I come here today.

I come to a Diocese that recently celebrated its 125th Anniversary. I have been told about the wonderful priests, deacons, religious and people of the Diocese.

Bishop Franklin has briefly discussed with me the serious issues facing the Diocese. I know we need to continue to reach out to those touched by abuse and to continue to strengthen the protection of children and young people. The recent decision to declare Bankruptcy will have serious implications.

I know you have many questions about a variety of these issues and others as well. So have I. But until I have an opportunity to meet with my staff and the leadership and the people of the Diocese, I really can't respond to your questions until a later date.

As a bishop when I install a new pastor for a parish, one of the final things I say to him is what I hope will be the mark of my own pastoring of the Diocese of Davenport. I say to him, "My brother, be a loving father, a gentle shepherd and a wise teacher." I pray I will be that for you….a loving father, a gently shepherd and a wise teacher. After this press conference I will join Bishop Franklin and some of the staff to celebrate Mass - to pray for the people of the Diocese and for myself.

My thought was, after that I will be going home, but I realized I am home, now. I will return to the Diocese of Cleveland to wrap up affairs there, to say my good-byes and return for my installation on November 20th.

In the meantime, I ask the people of the Diocese to keep me in your prayers. I know that over the past year you have been praying for me as you prayed for the new bishop, now you can pray for me by name.

Friday summary

Magister has a piece up on the upcoming conference in Verona. Magister covers the ongoing debate over the Christian distinctiveness Enzo Bianchi, prior of Bose, weighed in on in his book "La differenza cristiana (Christian distinctiveness)" and that the Holy Father addressed in his audience last Wednesday. Magister also details the related debate of the withholding of baptism and the 'elitist' versus the 'masses' approach to Christian evangelization. This is followed up by the usual essay by Pietro De Marco.

John Allen today asks this question:

Will it be the Benedict of Regensburg, challenging his Muslim hosts to embrace rationality, hence to renounce violence and to respect religious freedom? Or will it be the post-Regensburg Benedict, seemingly determined to project a "kinder, gentler" face to Islam, missing no opportunity to send signals of reconciliation?

Can Benedict XVI indeed be both the great critic of Islam and the great reconciler of Islam and the Church? Let's look at an analogy. A few weeks ago, Hugo Chavez, President of Venezuela, visited the United States to attend the UN's proceedings. While in the US, Chavez made some remarks about President Bush that were not well received. One of the most widely publicized counters to Chavez's remarks were was made by a New York Democrat member of Congress who basically told Chavez to get lost. The moral of the story is that people inside prefer to keep their monopoly on criticism and when people on the outside voice hostile thoughts, those thoughts are met with a firestorm.

This raises an interesting point for Benedict. Can he afford to be only the reconciler and keep any kind of credibility? No. If he's all lovey-dovey with his hosts and says not one word about the... shall we say 'old-fashioned eccentricities' of Islam, that would just send a message to the rest of the world that once again in the face of opposition, the West caves in. The Holy Father has one avenue and one avenue only. He needs to stick with the specific issue of Christians living in Muslim-majority countries and their treatment in those countries. He needs to say, "Look your religion is your business, but your so-called claims of being the religion of peace, fairness and decency don't square with the facts. For example, you won't even let the Orthodox of your own country (supposedly secular Turkey) open their seminary."

That is how I would advise him. Moving on.

That's it I guess. I will leave you all with this image of a new church going up in Knoxville, TN that Amy posted the other day at Open Book. Two parishes in the greater Iowa City area are moving, St. Thomas More to north Coralville/North Liberty and St. Patrick's to eastern Iowa City. Both will be constructing new buildings. Let us all hope and pray they are inspired in their choices for a new building's style and design. Click on it to see it full-size.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Habemus episcopum!!

Today the Vatican Information Service announced that the Holy Father had chosen Martin J. Amos (pictured at the right) to succeed William Franklin as Bishop of Davenport, Iowa, USA. The soon-to-be Ordinary of Davenport is currently an auxiliary of Cleveland, Ohio.

The newly retired Bishop Franklin had this to say in the Davenport Catholic Messenger:

In May of 2005, I offered my resignation to the Holy Father on the occasion of my 75th birthday. With my resignation, I offered to continue my work as bishop of the Davenport Diocese until a successor was installed. I am now the second oldest bishop of a diocese in the United States and the seventh oldest bishop of a diocese in the world.
For the past 17 months, we have prayed for a new bishop. Today, our prayers have been answered.
The Holy Father has accepted my resignation and has appointed Bishop Martin John Amos as the eighth bishop of Davenport. It is with great joy and pleasure that I welcome Bishop Amos.

The Messenger also provided this background on the incoming bishop:

The Most Rev. Martin Amos was born on Dec. 8, 1941, in Cleveland, the oldest of six children. He attended Benjamin Franklin Elementary School and James Ford Rhodes High School in Cleveland.
Rev. Amos entered Borromeo Seminary in Wickliffe, Ohio, in 1959. He received his B.A. in classics from Borromeo in 1964. He entered St. Mary Seminary, Cleveland, in 1964 and received an S.T.B. from St. Mary Seminary, Cleveland, in 1968. He later attended St. John College in Cleveland and was awarded a Master’s in Education degree in 1975.
He was ordained to the priesthood on May 25, 1968 by Bishop Clarence G. Issenmann at St. John Bosco, Parma Heights, Ohio.
His first assignment was as associate pastor at St. James, Lakewood, from 1968-70. He was transferred to St. Thomas, Sheffield Lake, and served from 1970-73. During this time, he was also on the facult of Elyria Catholic and Lorain Catholic High Schools teaching in the religion department. Father Amos was sent to be on the faculty of Borromeo Seminary High School in 1973 and remained there until 1976. During this time he attended John Carroll University and was certified to teach Latin, history and humanities and received certification in administration and supervision. When the high school closed in 1976, he was transferred to Borromeo College. There he served as academic dean and taught Latin and Scripture from 1976-1983.
His most recent assignment was St. Dominic Church, Shaker Heights, where he served as associate pastor from 1983-85. He was appointed pastor of St. Dominic in 1985 and served there until 2001.
On April 3, 2001, Pope John Paul II named Fr. Amos titular bishop of Meta and auxiliary Bishop of Cleveland. He receieved his Episcopal ordination on June 7, 2001. Bishop Pilla has given him primary pastoral care for the sourthern districts of the diocese, including Summit, Wayne, Ashland and Medina counties. He currently resides at St. Vincent Church in Akron.
Bishop Amos is a graduate of Leadership Akron, Class XIX. His current involvements include Board of Trustees at The Village of St. Edward, Diocesan Committee on Migration and Immigration, and Diocesan Fund Development Committee.

A seminarian I spoke to today passed along a quote of Bishop Amos that he said expressed his thoughts on the new appointment: "As a bishop when I install a new pastor for a parish, one of the final things I say to him is what I hope will be the mark of my own pastoring of the Diocese of Davenport. I say to him, "My brother, be a loving father, a gentle shepherd and a wise teacher." I pray I will be that for you….a loving father, a gently shepherd and a wise teacher."

The jubilation surrounding the appointment of a new bishop to succeed Bishop Franklin comes only two days after the Diocese of Davenport became the fourth in the United States to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

On Oct. 10, the diocese filed a petition for Chapter 11 reorganization in the Iowa District of U.S. Bankruptcy Court.
The action came 22 days after a jury awarded $1.5 million to a Davenport man who claimed he was sexually abused by a diocesan priest nearly five decades ago.
Demands for settlement of that lawsuit and 25 claims that exceeded $7 million prompted the diocese’s decision to go to trial for the first time rather than settle out of court.
The possibility of bankruptcy had been looming large in the diocese since October 2004, when it announced an agreement to settle 37 sexual abuse claims and lawsuits for $9 million. In the past two years the diocese has reached settlements totaling more than $10.5 million. The jury’s award last month left diocesan leaders with no other option, they said.

In the October 12th Messenger (today), Bishop Franklin had a personal message regarding the bankruptcy and the goals of the diocese in reorganization to meet its financial obligations. The final three paragraphs:

I and the leadership of the Diocese believe that, as difficult as this decision is, it provides the best opportunity for healing and for the just and fair compensation of those who have suffered sexual abuse by clergy in our Diocese, those who have come forward and those who have not yet decided to come forward. While providing just and fair compensation to victims/survivors, we also believe that the decision to reorganize is the best way in which we will be able to continue the Church’s mission in the Diocese of Davenport.
In the coming days, more information will be made available and shared regarding the specifics of this reorganization process. I will do my best to keep you informed as the process continues. The pain and suffering by survivors of abuse will not end with the reorganization of the Diocese. The clergy abuse scandal has impacted everyone in some way: victims, laity, priests and religious. I pray that with the decision announced today, a new path toward healing can begin for everyone.
I ask for your continued prayers for the victims/survivors and their families. Please pray for me and for all who are involved in this reorganization process. Please pray for healing in our Diocese. Let us continue to trust that the Lord will guide us through this difficult time in our history.

Bishop Amos has much work ahead of him in leading Davenport forward in its time of financial trial and tribulation. He has the right attitude and with that and the Holy Spirit, all things are possible.

EDIT: Thanks to a reader for correcting the title.