Monday, December 31, 2007


Saint Sylvester I, pope and confessor
Seventh day in the Octave of the Nativity

One thing I need to do next year is get back into doing this. Since my surgery, I've been slacking off all year and that needs to change. So my resolution is to do at least one news post per day (and maybe skip weekends). We'll see.

Louis E. and I have been discussing the College of Cardinals in the previous post. Check it out if you have any thoughts on the subject. Chime in.

I suppose that's about it. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Sunday, December 30, 2007

The Calendar

I once made this cool chart. It plotted the days of the week that Christmas could fall on and then the succeeding Sundays because I was interested in seeing if it was at all possible for there ever to be a Second Sunday of Christmas since the calendar jumps through so many hoops this time of year thanks to Epiphany's move to a Sunday. I carried it out for all seven days I think and came to the conclusion that it was impossible and that the Second Sunday of Christmas has been banished forever and ever (at least in the US).

In any case, I just thought of that. I was going to post on how today is the sixth day of the Octave of Christmas and how it strikes me as odd every year that it is the only day that is a feria, but that's not really interesting in and of itself.

I was going to wait until tomorrow to pronounce who I think is the most important player this last year, but we might as well cut to the chase:

Benedict XVI

Pretty obvious, huh? After all, he did issue the MP, he wrote an encyclical. Didn't he come out with Jesus of Nazareth too this year? Honorable mention goes to the good Archbiship Ranjith of CDW just because he's been at the fore in defending the Holy Father's work this year.

We all know what is the major story of the year (Summorum Pontificum), but what is important but largely overlooked, even at the time it was issued, is the Apostolic Letter in the form of a Motu Proprio with which Pope Benedict XVI reinstates the traditional norms for the majority required to elect the Supreme Pontiff. The two-thirds majority was something that came out of the history of the Church and as it stood, if John Paul II's reform had been in place at the time of his election, he probably wouldn't have been elected. Two-thirds requires consensus and Benedict XVI rightly restored the equilibrium of the papal election process. Of course, he added a few tweaks of this own, but they can be forgiven. Of course, it would be nice if the 'general acclamation' method was reinstated as well, but we will go on hoping all the same.

That about sums up the Year of Our Lord 2007. See you next year. Have a nice rest of the Octave and God bless.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

If only I had the patience...

I'd have a cool banner and posts with embedded video.

Of course, I hate video because most web videos are not closed captioned for the hearing impaired, namely me. :)

The 29th

As part of the class, we had to memorize the prologue, either for recitation or copying down. Middle English is hard.

Here bygynneth the Book of the tales of Caunterbury.

1 Whan that Aprille, with hise shoures soote,
2 The droghte of March hath perced to the roote
3 And bathed every veyne in swich licour,
4 Of which vertu engendred is the flour;
5 Whan Zephirus eek with his swete breeth
6 Inspired hath in every holt and heeth
7 The tendre croppes, and the yonge sonne
8 Hath in the Ram his halfe cours yronne,
9 And smale foweles maken melodye,
10 That slepen al the nyght with open eye-
11 So priketh hem Nature in hir corages-
12 Thanne longen folk to goon on pilgrimages
13 And palmeres for to seken straunge strondes
14 To ferne halwes, kowthe in sondry londes;
15 And specially, from every shires ende
16 Of Engelond, to Caunturbury they wende,
17 The hooly blisful martir for the seke
18 That hem hath holpen, whan that they were seeke.

For the edification of ye humble souls, here is a blog that deals with all things ecclesiastical in England. The journalist, good Mister Thompson, is reported to be resented by certain parties due to his journalistic efforts. Enjoy.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Christmas Eve

The time of expectation draws now to an end as Christmas arrives and Christ increases with each passing (and longer) day.

As a little boy with a blanket reminded us:

8 And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.

9 And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.

10 And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.

11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.

12 And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.

13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,

14 Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.

As another little boy said, I say unto all of you:

God bless Us, Every One!

Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Alexy II is for Putin

From Interfax-Religion:

Moscow, December 13, Interfax - Patriarch Alexy II of Moscow and All Russia supports First Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev's proposal to Vladimir Putin that he become prime minister upon the expiration of his presidential term, if Medvedev is elected president.

"If there is such a combination of a new president and Vladimir Vladimirovich [Putin], provided that he gives his consent, I think this would be a great blessing for Russia," Alexy said on NTV on Thursday.

"However, having known Vladimir Vladimirovich for years, I can acknowledge that ambition and pride have never prevailed in his activities," he said.

The patriarch praised "Vladimir Vladimirovich's selfless devotion to our homeland, his love for our homeland and huge efforts that he has made for the benefit of our homeland, its might, and its development for the good of our people."

It's such a simple word, so easy to say... tsar...

Although it would probably make a lot of Russians living outside the Motherland angry, especially the Romanov remnant, I would certainly before Putin being declared the tsar, if only because it would immediately clarify things. We all know he's going to manipulate things to stick around. Why not just go all the way and be done with it?

Friday, December 14, 2007



Anonymous Anonymous said...

Castrillon is the first Cardinal deacon; hence, it is before him that the oath must be taken. No connection with ED [Ecclesia Dei].
14 December, 2007 13:47

That was posted in reply to a discussion at RORATE about news regarding the bishop-elect of Savona-Noli swearing "an oath of fidelity to the Church before the Vatican Pontifical Commission "Ecclesia Dei", in the hands of the Eminent Cardinal Dario Hoyos Castrillon [sic]." Some were of the opinion that it was motivated by the diocesan administrator's previous banning of the Mass of Blessed John XXIII.

The explanation itself is not news, but I found the mention of this tradition to be an interesting one. In fact, I think I will inaugurate a new label in honor of little snippets like this: traditions.

Monday, December 03, 2007

North vs. South

Interfax Religion:

Meanwhile, the Constantinople Patriarchate had interpreted canonical rulings to state that ‘it had an exclusive right to convene all-Orthodox sessions’, Fr. Vsevolod reminded. However, ‘mechanisms of inter-Orthodox consultations had not been functioning for several decades’, he underlined.

‘Those, who spoke of their exceptional right to call all-Orthodox sessions, have actually blocked this process when it came down to an attempt to clear up the rights of equally significant local Churches’, the representative of the Moscow Patriarchate said.

According to him, the developing crisis in inter-Orthodox relations which are currently in the degree of ‘a grave and chronicle decease fraught with lethal risk’ results in appearance of parallel dioceses ‘not only in diaspora, but also on the canonical territories of certain Churches’.


In this regards and referring to the decision by the Moscow Patriarchate to abandon the Ravenna working session, an Orthodox member of the joint commission on condition of anonymity spoke to AsiaNews about the problems that may be created by the Russians non participation. He explained that the Russian Church has entered a phase of post communist transition and that an internal battle for succession has begun. All external statements are subject to internal use to further different positions. In his view, there is a need for caution, and optimism, because no-one [within the Russian Orthodox Church] will dare go against the dynamics of history. Moreover the decision to withdraw from Ravenna was not shared by many Russian prelates.

The East fascinates me to no end. The Latin Church has its divisions, but in the end, there is the Pope and he is Supreme Pontiff of the Universal Church. If you accept it, then that's that and if you don't, you're out. In the East though, with its co-equal (for the most part) churches, this ongoing conflict between Moscow and Constantinople being fought on many fronts is interesting to watch as it plays out. You have agents of Constantinople in Ukraine doing what they can to help along an independent Kiev patriarchate. You have the Russians walking out of Ravenna and rumors of power struggles. With that kind of dynamic, the Latin Church's ongoing struggles over liturgy and a return to orthodoxy seem eminently solvable. After all, you're either with the Pope or you're against him.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

It's Advent

Little Lent and all that.

And it had an appropriate beginning of sorts as we had our first ice storm. It came down in pretty copious amounts as I found out when we took out the trash last night. A good inch of that hard, semi-frozen sleet/slush on the ground. I haven't looked to see if any of it has melted this morning, though the National Weather Service said it was supposed to climb back above freezing later last night.

While I was off doing other things, we've had new cardinals and an encyclical. Most of the first paragraph of "Spe salvi" is now quoted at the top of this blog. I am only through to 16 myself, so I still have a ways to go, but so far it has been fascinating. I need to pick up a physical copy to sit next to my copy of "Deus caritas est".

I don't think I've read it anywhere else, but it seems interesting in itself that both encyclicals of Benedict XVI have been signed and released in the same period of the year. Taking both together, it's sort of a reverse look at the liturgical year with "Spe salvi" leading us into Advent and our hope for the coming of our Savior and then "Deus caritas est" on Christmas itself telling us about who He is and what He has brought us.

You read it here first: encyclical #3 will have something to do with Pentecost.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Saturday Morning

I always feel better after Confession. I'm not very good at it, but after I get out of it, I usually have a comtemplative smile.

On my way out, I picked up a calendar for next year with all the seasons and feast days. As I walked out and looked at the calendar, I was pleased by it. If nothing else tells us what kind of times we are living in in the Church, it is a calendar that has on its front Pope Benedict XVI and titled 'Catholic Traditions'.

I need some help. Back when I was in seventh grade, I was included as in my region's junior high choir. Bucking the trend that God and public school must be completely separated, we sang a medley of 'Gloria', 'Adoremus' and 'Kyrie'. At the same concert, the high school all-state choir performed as well and three of their five selections were about praising God (with their final song being 'Battle Hymn of the Republic'). Their first song consisted of the following as I remember it and I've always been on the look-out for the full lyrics since then, but I've never found them. It was a very short a cappella piece, a very nice one.

What I remember:

Come let us sing
Sing to the Lord our God
And raise a joyful voice (something)
Sing to God a song of joy.

Come let us sing
Come let us sing
Sing to the Lord our God
Sing to God a song of joy!

Anyone know it?

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Dear Leader, Holy Father


None of the political leaders of the West, and few of the West's opinion leaders, comprehend this. We are left with the anomaly that the only effective leader of the West is a man wholly averse to war, a pope who took his name from the Benedict who interceded for peace during World War I. Benedict XVI, alone among the leaders of the Christian world, challenges Islam as a religion, as he did in his September 2006 Regensburg address. Who is Joseph Ratzinger, this decisive figure of our times, and what led the Catholic Church to elect him?

His review/exposition on 'Twentieth Century Catholic Theologians', by Father Fergus Kerr.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Junk Mail Christianity

Since I subscribed to NCRegister (but since let it lapse), I've gotten all kinds of junk mail from various orders and causes and the like that I'd like to donate to, but let's face it: I'm a walking charity case myself. :D

But that's beside the point...

I went through mail yesterday afternoon after I got home and two things stood out. One Benedictine monastery sent me a St. Benedict prayer card as well as a CD of their chant work along with a little pamphlet describing what's on the CD. One problem though: I'm deaf. ;)

In another letter I opened up yesterday, I received a set of rosary beads and a 'How To Pray The Rosary' pamphlet. Not exactly high quality stuff, but definitely something worth having.

Prayer cards...
Chant CDs...
Rosary beads...

The mail is a good thing when it comes to providing one with such things. :)

Friday, October 26, 2007


I don't normally post these unless it's someone interesting. An archbishop from India isn't too out of the ordinary, but his name sure is:

VATICAN CITY, OCT 26, 2007 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in separate audiences:

- Cardinal Telesphore Placidus Toppo, archbishop of Ranchi, India.

Someone named after my patron saint! How splendid. :D

Cardinal Biffi in his own words

Sandro Magister has a run-down of Cardinal Biffi of Bologna with extracts from His Eminence's new memoirs, published now as he reaches the age of eighty and thus passes from the electorate of the College of Cardinals. The entire piece is worth reading, but a section in particular stands out (my bolding):

"4. Finally, I would like to point out to the new pope the incredible phenomenon of 'Dominus Iesus': a document explicitly endorsed and publicly approved by John Paul II; a document for which I am pleased to express my vibrant gratitude to Cardinal Ratzinger. That Jesus is the only necessary Savior of all is a truth that for over twenty centuries - beginning with Peter's discourse after Pentecost - it was never felt necessity to restate. This truth is, so to speak, the minimum threshold of the faith; it is the primordial certitude, it is among believers the simple and most essential fact. In two thousand years this has never been brought into doubt, not even during the crisis of Arianism, and not even during the upheaval of the Protestant Reformation. The fact of needing to issue a reminder of this in our time tells us the extent of the gravity of the current situation. And yet this document, which recalls the most basic, most simple, most essential certitude, has been called into question. It has been contested at all levels: at all levels of pastoral action, of theological instruction, of the hierarchy.

"5. A good Catholic told me about asking his pastor to let him make a presentation of 'Dominus Iesus' to the parish community. The pastor (an otherwise excellent and well-intentioned priest) replied to him: 'Let it go. That's a document that divides.' What a discovery! Jesus himself said: 'I have come to bring division' (Luke 12:51). But too many of Jesus' words are today censured among Christians; or at least among the most vocal of them."

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Catholic Education

Aside from the larger places like Notre Dame, Boston College or Georgetown, I've always been interested in the status of the smaller places that advertise themselves as 'traditional' and all the other adjectives.

Father Z has a long post with various quotes from parents, students, alumni and even an official response to one allegation from Franciscan U. of Steubenville in Ohio. It's a fascinating look at 'Charismatic' orthodoxy meeting 'traditional' orthodoxy, if you all will permit me the use of such broad and non-specific terms.

Have a look.

Because now I'll never hear it anyway...

Day of wrath and terror looming!
Heaven and earth to ash consuming,
David's word and Sibyl's truth foredooming!

What horror must invade the mind,
when the approaching judge shall find,
and sift the deeds of all mankind.

The trumpet casts a wondrous sound,
through the tombs of all around,
making them the throne surround.

Death is struck and nature quaking,
all creation is awaking,
to its judge an answer making.

The written book shall be brought forth,
in which is contained all
from which the world is to be judged.

So when the Judge shall sit,
whatever is hidden shall be seen,
nothing shall remain unpunished.

What am I, wretched one, to say,
What protector implore,
when (even) a just person will scarcely be confident?

King of tremendous majesty,
you who save gratuitously those to be saved,
save me, fount of pity.

Remember, gracious Jesus,
that I am the cause of your journey;
do not let me be lost on that day.

Seeking me, you sat exhausted;
you redeemed me by undergoing the Cross;
let so much toil not be in vain.

Just judge of vengeance,
grant the gift of forgiveness,
before the day of reckoning'.

I groan, as one guilty;
my face is red with shame;
spare, O God, a supplicant.

You who forgave Mary [Magdalen],
and heard the plea of the thief [Dismas]
have given hope to me also.

My prayers are unworthy;
but you, the Good, show me favour,
that I may not be consumed by eternal fire.

Grant me a place among the sheep,
and separate me from the goats,
placing me at your right hand.

When the wicked are confounded,
doomed to flames of woe unbounded,
call me with Thy Saints surrounded.

Low I kneel, with heart submission!
See, like ashes my contrition!
Help me in my last condition!

Liturgical Doings

Though we do look at our own diocese and its liturgical doings at times, we don't stray too often into the larger currents of the 'reform of the reform' and the 'extraordinary form' except as they are referenced by the Holy Father.

However, Dan at the Holy Whapping has a post and then a clarification that sets out his thoughts on one 'methodology' as championed by the New Liturgical Movement; Shawn Tribe of the NLM responds to Dan's initial post at the NLM.

Liturgy used to be something I was interested in, but not so much now. However, the ongoing discussion is interesting in and of itself.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Mixed Feelings

With the news of the consistory and the list of the soon-to-be cardinals made know, we have before us the prospect that Archbishop DiNardo will be the only US bishop who will be receiving the red hat. The archbishop is of course the ordinary of the of Houston-Galveston archdiocese down in the great state of Texas and his cardination (or however it's spelled) will be the first for the US South.

All congratulations to the archbishop certainly. But as a former resident of the diocese of Sioux City during HE's tenure there, I am left to wonder if western Iowa is somehow unworthy of greatness and must only be a stepping stone for prelates on their way up.

But ignore my flyover-country inferiority complex.

As for the rest of the list... Archbishop Comastri will soon get his red hat. Does that merit him a higher place on the List of Papabili? Only time will tell.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Housekeeping II

We turn away from our constant vigil of all things Roman to note some new links down the left column.

The Joyful Eunuch is a new blog meant for young people. I had a nice conversation with its blogger and got a chance to talk shop for a little while the other night.

Fumare is a Catholic legal blog that has recently turned to coverage of the Ave Maria School of Law debacle. AveWatch covers the same issue. For those who may be unfamiliar with the situation, several years ago, the former head of Domino's Pizza funded the founding of the new Ave Maria School of Law up in Michigan. Then, with the founding of his new university complex in Florida, he and the dean of the school decided the law school would relocate. Faculty were not consulted and recently, three dissenters were given the boot based on trumped up charges. Very bad all around.

Vatican Watcher rating: I wouldn't send my kid to Ave Maria.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007


The custom links remain the same, but the Blogrolling list got cleaned up. If you read and you find your blog is missing, leave a comment and an updated URL.


Times (of London) Online has a story on how once of John Paul II's cassocks has been cut up into a hundred thousand pieces to meet demand from the Faithful. All well and good. But in the story there is this quote:

But the scheme has caused disquiet in the Vatican, which is anxious to discourage the veneration of relics, seen as a medieval practice with no place in the modern church. “Wars were fought over the hunt for relics in the Middle Ages,” said Bishop Velasio De Paolis, secretary of the Apostolic Signature, the Vatican’s top judicial body.

Someone doesn't like all the 'superstitious mumbo-jumbo'... Wars were fought over Transubstantiation as well. Maybe we should just label the entire Mass as 'medieval' too.

Monday, September 24, 2007


The thing in 'Braveheart' where English lords get to sleep with the new wifes of Scottish men in order to 'breed out the Scots'...

Wallace is a big time Catholic who's been to Rome. He's pious and all that. We all know Mel is personally into the entire traditional scene...

So why in the hell wasn't Longshanks in the movie worried in the least bit by promulgating a law that broke several commandments, namely adultery and coveting one's neighbor's wife, not to mention violating sizable chunks of canon law, etc?

I think such a law would be grounds for interdict and excommunication, don't you?

But hey, great battle scenes. :D

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Links and Comment

RORATE CAELI discusses an Italian newspaper's comments on if the MP is even in effect yet. A commenter named David says that since it's not in the AAS along with other details, it's not in effect, despite RC's assertions to the contrary. Yet David never mentions whether or not the MP has or has not been published in the L'Osservatore Romano which he himself asserts is an official newspaper of record by which documents such as the MP may be promulgated. Nice try, but if you want to point out it's not been printed in the AAS but never point out if it's been printed in the L'Osservatore Romano, you're not going to sell it to me.

Father Z posts an interview of a confrere of his back in Minnesota with the traditionalist The Remnant. Good points are made all around. The comment about how people tend to buy into the 'restoration' idea is a great one since people always love to restore things (unless you were just so into the 1970s renewal that you were positively in love with Urban Renewal as well and took delight in turning America's downtowns into blocky architectural wastelands). The good Father of the interview and the The Remnant interviewer brought up an impending persecution of Catholics and the possibility that we are living in the End Times. I left a comment:

Re: The End Times and Catholic persecution

Certainly when you reach out, you’ll find those of the O’Brien frame of mind, to reference to Michael O’Brien and his book ‘Father Elijah’. Personally, I tend to be more of the ‘The Name of the Rose’ sort who views predictions and feelings of the impending arrival of the End Times with a grain of salt as so many past predictions have come to naught.

I’m of the opinion that the MP and the renewal of the 1962 Missal are too easy a temporal landmark to base ideas of an impending crisis. The End Times will come in God’s good time and not with any kind of prelude like the MP: it’s just way too obvious.
Comment by Jacob — 22 September 2007 @ 5:29 pm

For those of you who are interested in secular politics and the upcoming US presidential election, I found this post at 'Suitably Flip' to be quite interesting regarding the campaign contributions made by the Hsu guy donated millions for himself and others, all while on the run from an outstanding warrant for his arrest in the great state of California.

Thursday, September 20, 2007


The MP went into effect on the 14th. I guessed in the last post that there would be something in the next issue of the weekly newspaper. It arrived today and...


Must be hard work spelling out in your own words what the Pope spelled out in his own words. Of course, HE the Bishop could be using his Latin skills as a former teacher to actually come up with a decent translation since the Holy See has dropped the ball there. We'll wait and see, but HE is on borrowed time right now.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

The MP

My bishop has promised some kind of guidelines for the implementation of the MP here in the diocese by tomorrow. I would assume that they will be published in the next edition of the newspaper. HE is a former Latin teacher, so I am hoping that he has some interest in the 'Latin Mass' and will support it here at home, but we'll see.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

The Salzburg Catholic Theme Park

Last night on TV was The Sound of Music with Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer (who reportedly said of working with Andrews that it was like being hit over the head by Valentine's Day everyday). Of course, Fraulein (I have heard from a German that 'fraulein' is now not used for 'miss', it's viewed as impolite) Maria leaves the abbey and goes off to serve as governess of the von Trapp children and promptly turns them into great singers and so on.

On top of the singing and the lyrics that I totally remembered and even the hand gestures of Max (:D), last night I was paying attention to the churches and the abbey in particular during those parts. Robert Wise's montages of the local ecclesiastical architecture, first forwards as Maria goes out into the world and then backwards when she retreats to the abbey, was quite impressive.

I wonder about how much of all that survived post-Vatican II and the modern world?

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Papal diplomacy II

Here we looked at the article in The Economist that called on the Holy See to shed its sovereignty and become one large NGO (non-governmental organization) along the lines of the Red Cross or Doctors Without Borders.

At the time, I really didn't feel like going through and talking about it, but I asked a couple of questions for readers to think about. They were:

But would that be the best method of getting across the Catholic message in an institutional way? Aside from the historical and traditional points surrounding the Papal States, Vatican City and the juridical status of the Holy See, diplomatic status does have its benefits for the Pope's nuncios.

Now, the secretary for relations with states, Archbishop Mamberti, has responded in the Italian bishops' newspaper Avvenire. His reply to The Economist's piece has been translated and quoted by Sandro Magister at www.chiesa for our edification.

The archbishop:

“This is certainly not an acceptable invitation! It may have arisen from an imprecise understanding of the Holy See’s position in the international community: a position that can be traced back to the beginning of the international community itself, and has been reinforced above all since the end of the nineteenth century.

“With the disappearance of the Papal States, it has, in fact, become increasingly more clear that the Holy See’s international juridical personality is independent of the criterion of territorial sovereignty. This situation is accepted tranquilly by the international community both on the bilateral level – I recall that there are almost 180 countries that maintain diplomatic relations with the Holy See – and on the multilateral level, as shown in particular by the UN general assembly resolution 58/314 of 2004, which expanded the range and prerogatives of the Holy See’s action as a permanent observer at the UN.

“Behind the invitation to reduce itself to a non-governmental organization, apart from a lack of understanding of the Holy See’s juridical status, there is probably also a reductionist vision of its mission, which is not sectarian or linked to special interests, but is universal and inclusive of all the dimensions of man and humanity.

“This is why the Holy See’s activity within the international community is often a ‘sign of contradiction’, because it does not cease to raise its voice in defense of the dignity of each person and of the sacredness of all human life, above all the most vulnerable, and in defense of the family founded upon marriage between one man and one woman. It does not cease to assert the fundamental right to religious freedom, and to promote relations among individuals and peoples founded upon justice and solidarity.

“In carrying out its international role, the Holy See is always at the service of the comprehensive salvation of man, according to Christ’s commandment. It comes as no surprise that there are some who seek to diminish the resonance of its voice!”

Magister goes on with various facts and figures and he makes the argument that this move is meant to silence the Holy See. It can be all for peace in Burundi, but on the topics of abortion or euthanasia, it ought to be silent and so on. Magister notes though that the Holy See has relations with almost two-hundred states and they in the form of the General Assembly of the UN have only strengthened the Holy See's position in that body.

Thursday, August 09, 2007


Magister has profiles of two up and coming gentlemen in the Curia. The gist of the entire piece is that scholars in much the same mold of Benedict XVI are being appointed here and there to the 'cultural' positions of the Curia. If anyone knows of the scholarly credentials of those in such positions of power as the Secretariat of State, the Congregation for the Clergy or CDF, I'd be interested in knowing more...

Long-time blogger Amy has moved on from Open Book to a more personal blog. We wish her well in her new endeavor and hope that her time for writing valuable works expands as she hopes. Good luck and God bless.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007


Moving aside from personal thoughts to more worldly topics, Magister has a piece today on Grand Ayatollah Sistani, the religious leader of the Shi'ites of Iraq and a man we've mentioned at this blog a few different times.

The piece mentions how because of Sistani's moderate viewpoints, he has been the target of various assassination attempts and his co-workers have been killed one by one. Magister's quote of the words of the Chaldean patriarch after meeting Sistani are instructive:

“The grand ayatollah received us with a warm ’welcome,’ he spent an hour with us, and at the end he did not disguise his satisfaction. Our common desire is that of finding a way to bring peace and tranquility to the country. We both know that Iraq is sick, but we want to find together the medicines to heal it. We talked together like two brothers who love each other.”

Magister also notes the grand ayatollah's response to the Regensburg speech which sharply contrasted with much of the Muslim world:

In September of 2006, during the days of violent anti-papal protest that exploded in the Muslim world after Benedict XVI’s lecture in Regensburg, representatives from Sistani paid two visits to the secretary of the Vatican nunciature in Baghdad, Thomas Hlim Sbib, in order to express esteem and friendship toward Benedict XVI, and the desire for a meeting with him in Rome.

Magister rightly points to the /religious/ background of Sistani's moderation which is a traditional look at Shi'ism. Shi'ism looks to the twelfth imam who has left this world and will return again someday. While Khomeini's revolution in Iran was not only a political one, but also a religious one in redefining Shi'ism, Sistani holds to the old ways:

Amir Taheri, an Iranian intellectual exiled in the West, says: “For Sistani, power belongs to the twelfth imam. But since he is gone, it passes to the people. The final decision is to be made by the individual on the basis of reason, the greatest gift from God. Sistani’s vision is Aristotelian, a society of pious citizens.”

The grand ayatollah's website may be found at

Monday, August 06, 2007

A loss...

...of faith? Hardly. Despite my circumstances, my belief in the Divine remains steadfast.

Rather, I look back at the old question of the Divine plan for myself. As you all know, I explored the priesthood for a little bit. As I learned though, due to my physical infirmities, that was ruled out. That left marriage and a family as I did not really see myself following in the path of those worthy souls who have chosen the path of lifelong virginity.

Well, I had my surgery back in March and while thanks to my guardian angels and those saints up there who are looking out for me I survived, I am faced with the prospect that I will never eat again and will require a feeding pump eighteen hours a day from now until the day I die.

So where does that leave me? Trust in medical science to someday come up with something? A miracle? Or do I trust in the Lord and join Him on the way to Calvary?

There are other things I worry about as far as finding a job, being a husband, a father or just being single from here on out, but that's pretty much it. That's about it.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Communion question

Since my surgery, I've not be able to swallow solids. I have been able to swallow liquids, but only through a straw because my mouth doesn't work and then I usually cough up icky stuff from the back of my throat.

For you priests and informed laypersons, what's my best option for Communion?

Thursday, August 02, 2007

The tyranny of the majority

Magister has a piece on the motu proprio that Benedict XVI released regarding the election of the Pope. As we recall, it changed John Paul II's constitution and did away with the absolute majority provision after thirty-four ballots.

In the piece, an essay written by a prominent 'progressive' is given. In that essay is an interesting thought experiment detailing how the second 1978 conclave might have gone had it been under the rules promulgated by its eventual winner and it offers insight into the history of the Church ruled by the tyranny of the majority.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Papal diplomacy

The Economist has an article on the Papal diplomatic service and its reputation around the world. To make a long story short, they're tireless and efficient or so we're led to believe.

But what interests me more is the editorial stance of the article to the effect that the Holy See should drop its status as a sovereign entity and start being the largest NGO of the world. But would that be the best method of getting across the Catholic message in an institutional way? Aside from the historical and traditional points surrounding the Papal States, Vatican City and the juridical status of the Holy See, diplomatic status does have its benefits for the Pope's nuncios.

Read and think about it.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

On the frontier

Sandro Magister has a piece on the Church in the Congo. He explains through a first person account of a priest the difficulty in getting the news or even the Pope's book to the interior of that country and others like it.

Raphaël Dila Ciendela, 44, a priest of the diocese of Mbujimayi, found out only at the beginning of June that pope Benedict XVI had published – almost two months earlier, on April 16 – the book entitled “Jesus of Nazareth.”

“I learned about it by chance, while talking with a priest friend, the rector of a seminary in my diocese, who had received the volume from a confrere who had just returned from Europe.”

Soon after it was Fr. Raphaël’s turn to take a trip to Europe. That was when he had the chance to see with his own eyes, for the first time, a copy of the volume.

“It was June 21, and I had just arrived in Italy. I saw the book by chance at the home of a friend of mine in Pisa. I finally bought the French edition for myself in Bordeaux, on July 11, the feast of Saint Benedict.”

Magister talks about the spotting internet access, the lack of TV, newspapers, book, etc. Jusb about the only thing they have is radio and there they must rely on things like the BBC and Vatican Radio on shortwave.

There are of course the usual recommendations for the Holy See:

End of story. In the Vatican, the secretariat of state, the pontifical commission for social communications, and the other officials in charge of media matters should place at the top of their agenda this very problem: how to bring news and documents from Rome quickly to the diocese of Mbujimayi and to all the other regions of the Church that find themselves in a similar situation, not only in Africa.

And all the more so in that these segments of the Catholic population are not the rear guard of the Church. They are often the youngest and most lively components, with the most fervent faith, the strongest missionary impulse. They are its future.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Going to the library

The BBC has a story on the upcoming closure of the Vatican Library until 2010. Scholars complain about their disrupted schedules, etc. etc.

There is a lot of good information on the library itself.

The Vatican Library was started by Pope Nicholas V in the early 1450s with an initial 350 Latin manuscripts. By the time he died in 1455, the collection comprised some 1,500 documents and was already the largest in Europe.

The collection now contains more than 1.5 million printed books, in addition to 150,000 precious manuscripts, the earliest of which date back to the days of the late Roman Empire.

One of the library's greatest treasures is the Codex Vaticanus, the world's oldest Bible, written by hand in the days of the first Christian Emperor Constantine, early in the 4th Century AD.

Mr Piazzoni, a layman, is proud that the Vatican Library is in the vanguard of digital technology. Microchips have already been installed inside some valuable books, which tell librarians if a book is missing from its regular stack.

In co-operation with a Japanese company, new techniques have also been developed to read palimpsests, or ancient documents that have been written over again in the days when parchment or paper was a valuable commodity.

"Using ultraviolet rays we can now easily scan documents digitally to reveal the writing underneath, which is invisible to the naked eye," Mr Piazzoni said.

I asked him why stacks of old card indexes still fill one of the reading rooms when the library catalogue has been transferred to a digital database.

"We shall never destroy them because scholars often prefer to use the old library cards, and they are a permanent record which we can always use to check possible mistakes in the database," he explained.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

A pope speaks out

CAIRO (Reuters) - Pope Shenouda III, the head of Egypt's Coptic Orthodox church, criticised Pope Benedict on Saturday over a Vatican document asserting Catholic primacy, saying his pride in Catholicism was making him enemies.

"The man (Pope Benedict) makes enemies every time. In his first statements a few months back, he lost all the Muslims. And now this time, he lost a lot of the Christian denominations because he has begun to err against Christians themselves," Shenouda told the state-run daily Al-Ahram.

Article link

Pride in Catholicism... I bet almost every martyr who has ever lived and has ever died for the Faith has had Pride in Catholicism. But you know, that kind of Pride just isn't appropriate when directed towards others, even if it has been Catholic teaching for how many centuries?

Friday, July 13, 2007

Three reasons

Michael McGough of The LA Times has a piece on the MP.

This little snippet really says a lot:

The worst-case scenario is that the pope is reaching out to traditionalist followers of the late "rebel archbishop" Marcel Lefebvre, whose followers have problems with post-Vatican II Catholicism that extend well beyond the language in which the Mass is recited.

By God, it's a damned travesty if the Pope actually reaches out right instead of left!

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Someone's got it backwards


The Federation of Swiss Protestant Churches said in a statement that Rome's position threatened past ecumenical progress. It added that it was concerned that the Catholics would "no longer be in universal communion with other churches."

Shouldn't that be universal communion with the Catholic Church? I assume this quote is in referring to protestant groups: I didn't realize we were in universal anything with them...

It can't be broken if it never existed in the first place. But thanks for playing.


If you're going to comment with something along the lines of 'There is no God' or 'There is no Pope' or 'I didn't have a choice', don't bother. Comments are moderated and I'm just going to reject those.

The other day, I got in my inbox a message for a comment to be moderated. It was a link to a YouTube movie that I /watched/ with images and text that made the point as far as I could tell that someone was unhappy because he 'didn't have a choice' as far as a religion while he was still a minor living off his parents' dime. Maybe the movie had a point and maybe it didn't, but any longtime reader will be smart enough to remember my physical condition and not post links to YouTube considering that such movies are notorious for not being closed captioned for the hearing impaired...

The interweb is a great thing, but podcasts and vidcasts are kind of pointless to those who can't hear them. :)

How many minutes to Midnight?

"Basically, what we are in the grip of at the moment, and Benedict is one of the engineers of this, is what I would call a strong re-assertion of traditional Catholic identity,"

-John Allen, quoted by a Reuters story entitled, "Is Pope Benedict turning back Catholic clock?"

Father Reese of America fame chimes in in the same article:

"This is the Pope being the German professor who is going to clarify language in his classroom," said Father Tom Reese, senior fellow at the Woodstock Theological Center at Georgetown University. "And he thinks the world is his classroom."

"The problem with that is that he defines what a church is and by doing so takes any discussion of what a church is off the table in dialogue (with other religions)," said Reese, a leading U.S. Jesuit author.

"His intention is not to insult people but many times that's the way it come across," Reese said. "He uses words the way he defines them whether people like it or not, whether it upsets gays, women, theologians, Protestants or Muslims."

George Weigel, a prominent U.S. lay Catholic theologian, author and leading conservative commentator:

"Christian communities which maintain a clear sense of their doctrinal and moral boundaries can not only survive the encounter with modernity, they can flourish within it. Whereas Christian communities which fudge their boundaries tend to wither and eventually die,"

And of course Mr. Allen gets the last word:

"The Vatican's calculation is that the retrenchment we are going through now may result in a smaller church but it will be a church that is more focused, more energetic, and in the long term that will pay off,"

Have fun as pundits, guys. I know I didn't reading you. :/

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

For Father Tucker...

...who quoted Barry Goldwater here.

Another quote that might not go along with his point but bears thinking about:

I would remind you that extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice.

-Speech accepting the Republican Presidential Nomination


"Unfortunately, among them there are immigrants in an irregular situation, who, however, independently of their legal status, have inalienable human dignity. Therefore their rights must be safeguarded and not ignored or violated. An irregular migration status, in fact, does not mean criminality. The solution is better international cooperation that discourages irregularity, with increased legal channels for migration."

-Archbishop Marchetto, secretary of the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant Peoples, during the Global Forum on Migration and Development, held in Brussels, Belgium from July 9 to 11 [bolding mine]

Right, so if I live in Country A and I want to enter Country B and Country B has certain laws regarding immigration and I choose to circumvent those laws when I enter Country B, I am not breaking the law, I am simply irregularly entering Country B...

And when I commit a sin, I don't need to go to confession because I didn't actually commit a sin, I committed an irregularity...

In between

While the secular media has its way with the motu proprio and the Responses (prayers calling for Jews to convert = not very nice and the Catholic Church leaving out all the Protestants = how cliquish!), I mention another article I read that the readership might find interesting.

The Hoover Institution's Policy Review has an article entitled, "How the West Really Lost God" by Mary Eberstadt. I read through it already last week. I'd quote from it, but it's not very easy and the gist is easy enough to understand...

In some cases (Eberstadt likes to qualify every statement of hers with that phrase or something similar to it, as if by using it she cannot be accused of generalizing), family decline came before a decline in religious participation in Europe, contrary to the normally held sociological view that one finds religion and then goes on to breed as ordered to by God. She points out how the filtering through Western society of the ideals of the Enlightenment has not come out the way it was supposed to as religious belief carries on despite the fact that 'God is dead'. She points out that in a few cases, it seems more likely that a breakdown in family came before a decline in religious belief and participation. Eberstadt points out that long before the 1960s, Europe was demographically headed downhill. She also points out that prevailing sociological theory on the subject tends to atomize the individual instead of seeing him or her as a part of the larger whole...

So with family decline /preceding/ religious decline, Eberstadt plugs some holes and makes the point that maybe we've got it backwards, 'at least in a few cases'.

Read it all and decide if you agree.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

The Church of Christ



[In English]

"It follows that these separated churches and Communities, though we believe they suffer from defects, are deprived neither of significance nor importance in the mystery of salvation. In fact the Spirit of Christ has not refrained from using them as instruments of salvation, whose value derives from that fullness of grace and of truth which has been entrusted to the Catholic Church"[12].

I was going to sort through one of the articles I read about the Responses, but the article is just too full of misinformation to even bother with and the reader response at the bottom is kind of sad.

Monday, July 09, 2007

EDITORIAL: Admissions

Now that the motu proprio is out and vacation looms for the Holy Father, I find myself at a crossroads.

Whatever the results of the sharing of the good points of each form of the rite may be, they won't necessarily affect me. Given my lack of hearing, singing, chanting and such is not really my concern, so while the motu proprio is a great intellectual exercise, liturgy just isn't my thing at this point.

We'll see what pops up on the news. Hopefully the Pope will finally get to curial reform... ;)

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Summorum Pontificum




[In Latin]

[In English]

On a day like today...

I'm sick. See you all tomorrow.

Friday, July 06, 2007

Dawn in the Eternal City

It's 11:20 PM here. I'm going to bed. The MP will be released as I sleep. Good morning, Rome. Have a happy day!

Monday, July 02, 2007

Gone again

I will be gone starting tomorrow through Thursday as the fourth is the principal holiday of the US civic religion (such as it is...). I'll leave with two quotes...

Pacem in Terris (1963) - John XXIII

But first We must speak of man's rights. Man has the right to live. He has the right to bodily integrity and to the means necessary for the proper development of life...

Declaration of Independence (1776) - Thomas Jefferson

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

Continue to pray for the motu proprio's positive reception.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

The open Church's bishop

The Atlantic Monthly has in its July/August issue an article on Jin Luxian, the longtime open bishop of Shanghai and more recently the de jure bishop of that diocese. The article online requires a subscription.

Included here are several paragraphs that aren't necessarily in order along with commends.

Under this policy, Jin was asked to take up his old responsibilities as rector of Shanghai’s seminary. Though the CPA would be looking over his shoulder, he saw the necessity: In all of China, there were at most 400 priests to serve 3 million Catholics. He believed that if the Church was to have any chance of survival, China would need young, well-educated priests, even if they were subjected to Communist propaganda during their training. Through a “foreign friend,” Jin requested permission from Rome. The response was that he should “wait for the collapse” of the Communist Party, then reopen the seminary. “They underestimated the Chinese Communist Party,” says Jin. And so, after “much prayer,” he acted in what he believed to be the best interests of China’s Catholics. “I didn’t obey the directive of Rome. I said, ‘Let the Catholic Church survive.’”

In conversation, Jin exhibits few doubts about his decisions, but occasionally his answers turn defensive. During one of our interviews, I asked about his impressions of the underground Church. He began to answer, then suddenly interrupted himself. “[The members of the underground Church] say they are loyal to the pope,” he said. “But I am as loyal as them. Why become bishop? I led the [Chinese] Catholics to pray for the pope and even printed the prayer! I reformed the liturgy. Before me, it was all in Latin. But the underground Church did nothing. If I stayed with them, I would do nothing, too.”

The last few sentences are interesting given the shifting liturgical landscape in the West. Ditching Latin and reforming the liturgy might not be the best things to take credit for when discussing one's achievements as bishop.

Then, as now, Beijing had two conditions for normalizing relations with the Vatican: the severing of the Vatican’s diplomatic ties with Taiwan (and as a consequence, the transfer of its embassy to the mainland) and an agreement not to interfere in China’s internal affairs. The Vatican has indicated that it’s prepared to meet the Taiwan condition, but the second issue, which encompasses the selection of bishops, is more difficult. Informally, the Vatican might be satisfied with a compromise similar to the process used to nominate Xing in Shanghai. However, public declarations to the contrary, it’s been suggested that both the government and the underground Church have a tacit interest in preventing a deal, since it would inevitably empower the open bishops and their conference, diminishing the government’s influence and the underground Church’s prestige.

Whether an immediate way can be found through the impasse may depend on what Benedict XVI has to say in a promised letter to Chinese Catholics. Leaked reports and the impressions of a source close to the drafting of the letter suggest that it will call, as John Paul II did, for reconciliation between the open and underground churches, and focus largely on pastoral concerns. Ultimately, it’s expected to portray China’s Catholics as largely united after a half century and to acknowledge that any diplomatic solution will need to accommodate both the vitality of the open Church and the struggles of the underground one.

Which the letter did..

The article as a whole is a biographical piece on Jin and his struggles. The main thrust seems to be Jin's efforts at creating a Chinese Church, even if it meant collaborating with Beijing. The main 'bad guys' seem to be Rome and the underground Church itself: it was described as both heroic and to blame for Catholicism's backwardness before Jin reformed everything.

It's on newsstands now, go check it out.

Saturday, June 30, 2007

More on the letter

"Love and courtesy of this kind should not, of course, make us indifferent to truth and goodness."
-Second Vatican Council, as quoted in the Holy Father's letter to the Chinese

I read through most of the Holy Father's letter. I am quite pleased with its substance. Father Z made the point that, "A recurring theme in the first part of the letter is suffering." I myself am pleased that my hope that the message would be, "gut it out and stay true to the Church, your reward will be in the Kingdom of Heaven" proved true.

Terror attacks

The British people remain in our prayers in the run-up to July 7th. May Our Lady watch over that land and its people.

The letter




Or it should be, "The Government of the People's Republic of China and whoever can get this illegally".

I skimmed it. I don't see anything about moving the nunciature. Bravo!

Friday, June 29, 2007


It gets discussed by the blogging community that concerns itself with the upcoming Motu proprio, but it is never mentioned that there is an actual phrase and acronym for it: Fear, uncertainty and doubt or FUD.

The Independent:

Church split feared as Pope backs return of 'anti-Semitic' Latin Mass

By Ian Herbert
Published: 30 June 2007

A plan by the Pope to authorise the widespread return of the controversial Latin Mass, despite concerns that parts of it are anti-Semitic, has provoked a backlash among senior clergy in Britain and threatens to divide the Catholic Church worldwide. The 16th-century Tridentine Mass - which includes references to "perfidious" Jews - was abandoned in 1969 and replaced with liturgy in local languages, to make worship more accessible to the bulk of churchgoers. But the Pope announced on Thursday that a long-awaited document liberalising the use of the Mass, which some clergy fear will also limit the Church's dialogue with Jews and Muslims, will be released next week.

Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor, the leader of the Roman Catholic Church in England and Wales, has written to the Pope to say that no changes are needed.


Fear, uncertainty, and doubt (FUD) is a sales or marketing strategy of disseminating negative (and vague) information on a competitor's product. The term originated to describe disinformation tactics in the computer hardware industry and has since been used more broadly. FUD is a manifestation of the appeal to fear.

Letter to the Chinese: Tomorrow

Catholic World News:

The Pope's letter, believed to be about 30 pages long, will retrace the recent history of Catholicism in China, including the persecution of the Church under the Maoist regime and the recent conflicts between the "underground" Catholics loyal to the Holy See and the "official" Church sanctioned by the Beijing regime. The Holy Father will emphasize that the Church is indivisible, and explain the Vatican's insistence on independence from government control.

The Pope's letter is addressed to "the bishops, the priests, the religious, and the lay faithful" of China, the Vatican said. The notice alerting journalists to the publication of the papal message was issued on June 29 although the Vatican press office was closed for the feast of Sts. Peter and Paul.

My favorite topic and I'm sure one readers out there get tired of me harping about. The article doesn't say what if anything the letter will have on relations with the ChiComs versus relations with the Republic of China (Taiwan). I point out yet again that cutting ties with Taipei in order to better relations with the PRC is pointless. The PRC wants a photo op, that's all it wants. If we look at Sino-US relations since human rights was delinked from trade status, we see that improving trade relations has done nothing to help the poor souls in the bamboo gulag. Now that Sodano is gone, hopefully we'll see some realism in the Vatican along the lines that moving the nunciature will do nothing to help in the long term.

What the letter should say is simple: gut it out and stay true to the Church, your reward will be in the Kingdom of Heaven.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Waiting for other things

Sandro Magister takes a look at curial reform (and the lack thereof):

Appointments made at a snail's pace. Documents that are useless or continually delayed. Offices drifting aimlessly. Why the renewal of the Vatican bureaucracy is not a priority for Benedict XVI

Along the way, I made a little outline because at first Magister is questioning stuff, but then he seemingly accepts Benedict XVI's strategy...

1. Unification of the councils which hasn't helped anything
The Pope unified councils, etc. But nothing came of it and now the councils are separating again. What was the point?

2. Bertone and Nicora: organizers?
The secretary of state and the head of the patrimony are great administrators and organizers and much of the onus has fallen to them with their appointments. Yet neither has offered much in the way of reform.

Here we have the turn in Magister's piece:

3. B16's priorities: preaching, celebrations, 'Jesus of Nazareth'
The Pope is all about convincing people through his preaching, through the liturgical celebrations (though Magister oddly forgets to mention the papal master of ceremonies whom Benedict has left in place and whom Magister quite dislikes).

4. Biding time equals waiting out his enemies
The issues Benedict waited on while things settled:
a. deputy secretary of state
b. Chinese Catholics letter
c. the Motu proprio

5. His trusted men, those from outside
Bertone for example as well as the secretary at Divine Worship as well as Hummes from South America, etc. Friends close, enemies closer...

6. The (careful) appointment of bishops
Magister mentions that the Holy Father ponders long and hard over extensive dossiers (no mention of the Warsaw debacle though).

7. Against careerism
Magister ends with a quote from the Pope:

“It is through Him that one must enter the service of shepherd. Jesus highlights very clearly this basic condition by saying: 'he who climbs in by another way, that man is a thief and a robber" (Jn 10: 1). This word 'climbs' – 'anabainei' in Greek – conjures up the image of someone climbing over a fence to get somewhere out of bounds to him. 'To climb' – here too we can also see the image of careerism, the attempt to "get ahead", to gain a position through the Church: to make use of and not to serve. It is the image of a man who wants to make himself important, to become a person of note through the priesthood; the image of someone who has as his aim his own exaltation and not the humble service of Jesus Christ. But the only legitimate ascent towards the shepherd's ministry is the Cross. This is the true way to rise; this is the true door."

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

July 7th





More information: has the scoop; Gerald and Father have translations and comments: | Gerald | Father Z

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Voting rules

VATICAN CITY, JUN 26, 2007 (VIS) - Made public today was a "Motu Proprio," written in Latin, with which the Holy Father Benedict XVI restores the traditional norm concerning the majority required for the election of the Supreme Pontiff. According to this norm, in order for the election of a new Pope to be considered valid it is always necessary to reach a majority of two thirds of the cardinals present.

With this document, Benedict XVI substitutes the norm established by John Paul II who, in his 1996 Apostolic Constitution "Universi Dominici gregis," laid down that the valid quorum for electing a new Pope was initially two thirds but that, after three days of voting without an election, there would be a day dedicated to reflection and prayer, without voting. Thereafter, voting would resume for seven additional ballots, another pause for reflection, another seven ballots, another pause and yet another seven ballots. After which an absolute majority was to decide how to proceed, either for a vote by absolute majority or with balloting between two candidates. This was to happen only in the event that the cardinals arrived at the 33rd or 34th ballot without a positive result.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Baseball has marked the time

During the last few weeks I've watched the college baseball postseason as I have the last few years since it's been on ESPN. I like the College World Series because the camera is placed overlooking home plate in such a way that the TV viewer can judge balls and strikes (horizontally better than vertically, but one can still judge pretty well). Also as well I've watched the University of Iowa baseball team play at home. College baseball is a lot of fun to go and see.

A few years ago, I read an article about the format of the tournament and how the regionals ought to be based on geography and such. The argument went along the lines that northern teams are always underrepresented in the postseason because teams are chosen and those teams almost always come from the south. For instance, Iowa played fifty-four games this season. In contrast, Louisville (a team playing in the World Series) has won fifty games. The lack of competitiveness of the north is usually blamed on shorter seasons caused by winter and wet springs that cause games to be cancelled and teams to be out on the road losing instead of playing at home and winning.

Allowing teams from the north into regionals based on geography might be nice, but I would think that they'd still get shelacked once they met teams from the south that have been playing months longer in some instances. Thus the daydream today has been Iowa and a field with a retractable roof for more home games and parity with the south. This is not an idle dream either as baseball has come under threat in the state of Iowa. A few years ago, Iowa State dropped baseball as a varsity sport because it didn't have the money. Lately as well, there have been rumors that baseball could be cut at Iowa, though thankfully they've proven not to be true. A competitive Iowa team would help to solidify support within the athletic department and the fan base at large.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Coming soon?

The BIG THREE have information on the release of the Motu proprio. According to an Italian news report cited by Rorate Caeli, Father Z and NLM, the Motu proprio and its accompanying letter is slated to be released before Benedict XVI goes away for the summer. Rorate Caeli states that the Pope's vacation starts on 9 July.

The Motu proprio is for the freeing up of the Mass of St. Pius V as edited and set out in the 1962 Missal. It is speculated that it will allow priests to say Mass according to the previous form without needing authorization from their ordinaries who might otherwise object.

Keep reading the three linked-to blogs for more info and interesting comments.

Words to live by?

Better rashness than inertia; better a mistake than hesitation.

During the 1930s, Ludwig Beck, German general and eventual chief of the General Staff, wrote in one of the German army training manuals the above quote. The quote was the product of many years of Prussian and then German military experience. The sad part was that General Beck got involved in the July 20, 1944 coup attempt and displayed both inertia and hesitation.

While Count von Stauffenberg flew back to Berlin after having planted a bomb to blow up Hitler, the conspirators at Army Headquarters were fumbling around while valuable time slipped away (Hitler survived the bomb, as we all know). Realizing that Hitler was still alive, one of the generals saw the writing on the wall and arrested Beck and his fellows and Beck was ordered to commit suicide (in that he hesitated too and had to be helped along).

As we wait for certain events in the Church to take place, it might be wise to remember the above quote from the traditions of his countrymen...

Sunday, June 10, 2007

A growing shelf

It's amazing just how books collect over time and suddenly you realize you have a shelf full of Catholic literature. I put up a shelf in my room the other week and the piles of books on my floor suddenly came together. Despite the Ratzinger books and other tomes of theology, I think the most imformative has been the book on the lives of the Popes. Always entertaining to leaf through that...

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Thirty thousands?

It is said that B16 does not travel like JPII did and that he rests a lot while he is out and about. It might be wise though to stop and consider something else. Reports also focus on how more and more people have been coming to see B16 at what once were sleepy audiences during the week.

When a pope has something to say that is interesting and he actually stays in Rome, that means that people are likely to come to him. Are we not yet convinced that this pope is certain that Rome is the center of the Church? Are we at all surprised that he shows this by STAYING there as well as TALKING about it?

On this weekend of processions and pilgrimages, let us all look to the Eternal City and its bishop the Vicar of Christ on earth.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007


Much has been made of the fact that since JPII took over, the Catholic population as a percentage of the wider population has fallen dramatically and that BXVI's flock is shrinking. We look to protestants and general apathy as reasons, we look to the 'spirit' of Vatican II, etc.

Tonight I was watching Billy Graham on TV. I have great respect for the Reverend Graham as he has done good work. But my brother and I couldn't help but remark once again just how little difference there was between a Christian minister calling Christ's sons and daughters back to the Church and a certain National Socialist orator who led a certain country to a world war in the last century. I mention this because indeed there is a fine line between Godliness and genocide: an audience is a powerful thing once you have it wrapped around your little finger.

When we look to our roots, we must always remember that reason is one of our core values in terms of finding Christ as opposed to emotion. Not to say that the latter doesn't play its part as well, but Catholicism has relied upon reason for several millennia. Reason will save the Church from destruction on both sides.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

I read the fifth

I wanted to comment on a BBC story about how the Vatican Library is closing for a few years to build new facilities. The story said that scholars had no warning (the renovation begins with the summer break). I was like, 'what kind of warning do you need'? I guess scholars plan to visit and check stuff out for research, but really, it has been announced, how much lead time is needed?

In any case, I am hanging in there. I read that Father Z heard it might be the fifth for the MP. We'll see.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

I get back and still no motu proprio!

Anyway, I am home. I don't know when I will be back to posting full time, but I'll be watching.

God bless and keep those Rosaries handy.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Vatican Watcher Update

Hello. This is Vatican Watcher's brother Samuel. I just though I would let Vatican Watcher's readers know that he has come out of the other side of his surgery looking a little worn, but alive! I know a lot of you have given Jacob well wishes and prayed for him. I'd like to thank you all for those and hope you will continue to keep Jacob in your prayers now, and hopefully always.

Goodnight and God bless you all.


Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Final things

The Apostolic Exhortation Sacramentum Caritatis came out yesterday. I read through the introduction and then skimmed through the body. I think what I love most about Benedict is his pure emphasis on the Mass. If we all go to Mass and participate in Mass and if the Mass is done well, with love and care and attention, everything else in the world will sort itself out: The Mass is LOVE, our love of God, God's love of us. That's what I took to be the gist.

I was going to read through all of it, but my brother headed out and as he left, he brought in the package that was sitting outside the door. My 1962 Daily Missal finally arrived. After that, I spent some time leafing through it. It is a beautiful little book and well worth the wait. Now all I need to do is find the local Indult Mass (or go see the SSPX in Cedar Rapids) and watch.

Also this week, Putin came to visit the Holy Father in Rome. Asia News has a summary. Both sides afterwards described the meeting as positive.

That's about it. Tomorrow is my surgery. I've been anointed and I'm ready. I thank you all for your prayers and well-wishes that I've received so far. God bless you all.

Yours in Christ,

Monday, March 12, 2007

The rest of this week

Posting will remain light in the run up to Thursday and my date with my surgeon.

By the way, I read a column in the local news paper about how yesterday was the 89th anniversary of the first case of Spanish Flu that proceeded to wipe out within months 20 to 40 million people worldwide. That's just a fourth of the number of people who were infected. Rcovery time took years, leaving people bedridden and unable to work.

In the US, it killed 675,000 people in 18 months (that's ten times the number of people who had died during four years of the Great War) and more people in 24 months than have died of AIDS in 24 years. It reduced the lifespan of the average American by 10 years.

Let's say a prayer that the next version of the bird-to-man flu doesn't leave as terrible a path behind it.

One of those moments

Yesterday at Mass, there was a little ceremony for the catechumens/elect with blessings and laying on of hands. After the priest finished with the blessings, he came down and kneeled with the catechumens/elect (and everyone else). Everyone kneeled and prayed...

Except me, I was busy with two rather obvious thoughts that struck me.

1. The moment would have been that much more powerful if the Tabernacle had actually been situated on the main altar rather than its venerable place under the vigilance of Mary and the Infant at one of the side altars.

2. The priest, praying, with the people, rather than to the people... I know, I know, it's a obvious reaction, but just bear with me as I've never been to an Indult Mass.

That's all.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

The new head of the CEI

Sandro Magister talks about the new head of the CEI (Italian bishops conference), Angelo Bagnasco, the recently appointed Archbishop of Genoa.

He has been archbishop of Genoa for a few months, but Benedict XVI also wanted him to be president of the bishops’ conference. He succeeds Ruini, to whom he is extremely loyal. His appointment is the confirmation of a project for a victorious Church

Further into the article:

Ruini’s reign at the CEI has lasted for twenty-one years – five as secretary, and sixteen as president. And now, his reign becomes a dynasty. Bagnasco, the heir, has sharp features and a sharp way of speaking like him, and like him he loves philosophy and has taught it for years, but above all he has an identical vision of the Church in Italy and in the world.

This is also the same “mission” that Benedict XVI handed down to the representatives of the Italian Church gathered in Verona last October: “to restore full citizenship to the Christian faith,” “to make visible the great ‘yes’ that God speaks to man and to life.”

It was Benedict XVI in person who installed the new president of the CEI. In all other countries, that appointment is decided by a vote among the bishops, but in Italy it falls to the pope.

The circumstances of the appointment as noted here are interesting in light of the little tussle noted before by Magister only a few weeks ago:

With Bagnasco as president, but not the pope’s vicar as before, the CEI exits its exceptional phase as personified by Ruini, and returns to normalcy. Very soon, perhaps in June, Bagnasco will be made cardinal, but he will in any case remain in Genoa as archbishop. His relationship with the pope will be less symbiotic, and Italian politics will no longer be focused solely on what the CEI says and does, but also on the Vatican secretariat of state. This, curiously, is now directed by Bagnasco’s predecessor in Genoa, cardinal Tarcisio Bertone.

Bertone would have preferred for the CEI to have a less prominent president. He had tried to convince Benedict XVI to opt for the bishop of a moderately important diocese, and his candidate was Benigno Papa, of Taranto. He didn’t succeed.

But another longstanding hypothesis also fell by the wayside: that cardinal Angelo Scola, patriarch of Venice, would rise to the presidency of the CEI. Bertone’s “maneuver” was interpreted as hostile toward Ruini. But the conclusion refutes this: Bagnasco is a staunch follower of Ruini, more so than Scola, and his appointment was, in the end, recommended to the pope by Bertone himself. It was an epilogue that would have been difficult to imagine even a few months ago. Bagnasco’s name didn’t even appear in the survey conducted one year ago among the Italian bishops by then-secretary of state Angelo Sodano and by the nuncio to Italy, Paolo Romeo, in order to ascertain whom they would like as Ruini’s successor.

Towards the end, there is more of Archbishop Bagnasco's biography. This snippet is interesting:

In 2003, he was promoted as ordinary military archbishop for Italy, and there isn’t a corner of the world so far-flung that he won’t visit it to meet with Italian soldiers on “peacekeeping missions.”

In a letter to military chaplains, he writes: “Many times we are surprised to find treasures of goodness, moral uprightness, and simple heroism in seemingly impossible situations.”

It is pretty clear that Magister views Archbishop Bagnasco as a worthy successor to Cardinal Ruini, someone who is much the same mold as the Vicar of Rome. Seeing his credentials laid out here, they are quite impressive. I doubt that anyone can keep truly succeed in following Ruini (much as everyone thought that anyone could follow up JPII), but the archbishop's career points to a pastoral awareness that will serve him well.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

The exhortation

Ss Perpetua and Felicitas

The daily Bollettino:

Si informano i giornalisti accreditati che martedì 13 marzo 2007, alle ore 11.30, nell’Aula Giovanni Paolo II della Sala Stampa della Santa Sede, avrà luogo la Conferenza Stampa di presentazione dell’Esortazione Apostolica Postsinodale del Santo Padre Benedetto XVI "Sacramentum Caritatis" sull’Eucaristia fonte e culmine della vita e della missione della Chiesa.

Interverranno: Card. Angelo Scola, Patriarca di Venezia, Relatore Generale all’XI Assemblea Generale Ordinaria del Sinodo dei Vescovi;

S.E. Mons. Nikola Eterović, Segretario Generale del Sinodo dei Vescovi.

(Il Documento è da considerarsi sotto embargo fino alle ore 12.00 di martedì 13 marzo 2007.

Il testo dell’Esortazione Apostolica Postsinodale - in lingua italiana, francese, inglese, tedesca, spagnola e portoghese - sarà a disposizione dei giornalisti accreditati a partire dalle ore 9.00 di martedì 13 marzo prossimo).

The really bad Babelfish translation:

The journalists inquire themselves credit you that 13 tuesdays March 2007, to hours 11,30, in the Classroom Giovanni Paul II of Know it Stampa of the Sede Saint, will have place the Press conference of presentation of the Apostolic Esortazione Postsinodale of the Saint Padre Benedict XVI "Sacramentum Caritatis" on the Eucaristia source and apex of the life and the mission of the Church.

They will take part: Card. Angel Drains, Patriarch of Venice, General Reporter to XI the Shareholders' meeting Ordinaria of the Sinodo of the Bishops;

S.E. Mons. Nikola Eterovi, General secretary of the Sinodo of the Bishops.

(the Document is from considering itself under embargo until hours 12,00 of 13 tuesdays March 2007.

The text of the Apostolic Esortazione Postsinodale - in Italian, French, English, German, Spanish and portuguese language - will be to disposition of the journalists credits to you to leave from hours 9,00 of 13 tuesdays next March).

Monday, March 05, 2007

The way forward may not be the Way

Sandro Magister sums up the latest on the situation with the Neocatechumenal Way. I'm not going to sum all of Magister's points. This paragraph illustrates his theme though:

To the numerous communities they have established in the Holy Land is added a ceaseless flow of Neocatechumenal pilgrims, who are carefully separated from the other visitors. Even the Masses are celebrated separately. And the procedures for their rituals are identical to those in any other part of the world, including the songs composed by their founder and supreme leader, Kiko.

Bolding is mine. Magister's point is that the Way is a world apart from the rest of the Church with its own Masses, its own society, its own doctrines that may or may not be in line with Catholic doctrine. With its strength in numbers and widespread dispersion, it has many defenders, but it is increasing being criticized now that its chief defender is gone. The bolded part is perhaps hyperbole, but Magister's point is an important one.

At the end, Magister has quotes from the Holy Father and the bishops of the Holy Land on their concerns with the Neocatechumenal Way that are worth the read.

Vietnam and the Church

Asia News:

Ho Chi Minh City (AsiaNews) – Vietnam’s state-run press reported the arrival in Hanoi of a delegation representing the Holy See to discuss religious freedom and the normalisation of diplomatic relations. Newspapers report that the Vatican delegation, led by Undersecretary of State for Relations with States Mgr Pietro Parolin, will work directly with the government and the local Church. It is scheduled to remain in the country until March 11.

“We hope that in the future the Church will have a Vatican representative,” Father Joseph, a priest in one of Ho Chi Minh City’s parishes, told AsiaNews. “Although Hanoi and Rome do not have diplomatic relations Vietnamese Catholics can carry out some religious activities since 1986 when the country opened its doors to economic development and integration into the international community. However, the government still intervenes in the appointment of bishops and sets limits to the number of priests per parish.”

Bolding is mine. Not much really needs to be said here. The Vietnamese and the Holy See are where the PRC and the Holy See could be in a few years. Time will tell.

The interesting thing is the priest's remark about 'religious activities'. I love euphemisms like that. Just what is he driving at with that? They can go to Mass unhindered? The sacraments? When mentioned in the context of economic development and international integration, 'religious activities' seems so common and trivial.

A bit about China

Feria in both calendars

Last week, Sandro Magister came out with a piece on the People's Republic of China. The sum of it is that the government wants better relations with the Holy See and the state-run Catholic associatioin wants to save its fief from being left behind.

Magister's comments are interesting and they mirror what I've been saying all along, to wit, the senior leadership of the People's Republic could care less about the Catholic Church except insofar as the Church affects its hold on power. As it stands right now, with a clandestine Church that is larger than the official Patriotic Association, the senior leadership's best option is making the clandestine Church legitimate at the expense of its corrupt and pointless official association.

Thus, in order to bring the Catholic population in China under the aegis of the harmonious society as well as score the biggest foreign policy coup in quite awhile by restoring relations with the Holy See, the senior leadership is quite prepared to do away with the Patriotic Assocation. Of course, what we see now is the turf war as the association does what it can to drive the PRC and the Holy See apart in order to save itself...

Sunday, March 04, 2007

This last week

The Curia has been on a retreat this last week, so I sort of took the week off as well. In the meantime, I've been working on a few things for an upcoming surgery as well as arranging for an Anointing before I go under the knife.

Lent has been enlightening so far. I have not had any unusual personal epiphanies, but I find myself waiting and watching moreso than normal as I walk towards my own personal Calvary. My surgery does not carry with it any extreme risk of death, but at this point in my adult life, I find myself taking care to prepare for such eventualities more than before.

Now I must prepare for the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass in an hour and a half.

Monday, February 26, 2007

The Mass in Baltimore

Feria in both calendars

The Baltimore Sun has an interesting article on the 'Tridentine Mass' and the indult parish where it is celebrated in Baltimore.

It starts off with a little context on the general indult situation and then goes on to explain the differences between the Mass of St. Pius V and the Mass of Paul VI.

"Identifying with the Tridentine Mass is a kind of a mild form of protest," says Mathew N. Schmalz, a professor of religious studies at the College of the Holy Cross. "A lot of it has to do with a more aggressive assertion of Catholic identity and a feeling that that has been lost."

There is this gem on the balkanization of parishes (at least as far as Mass goes):

Bastress says the church almost operates like three separate parishes: the English-speaking community, those who come to Lithuanian services at 8:30 a.m., and the Tridentine followers at 11:30 a.m. The latter is the largest service with up to 175 attendees each Sunday, many of whom travel from as far away as Virginia or Pennsylvania to attend.

Nothing new at all here, but an interesting article from a mainstream newspaper.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

The Feast of the Chair of St. Peter

Father Z. has pictures up. I hope he won't mind if I borrow one to stick up here.

According to Zadok the Roman, the statue of St. Peter once again wore its triple tiara today after an absence of several years.

Here are details of the feast at New Advent.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

On the missal front

A few posts down, I was lamenting my internet shopping experience. I received an email from Baronius Press in reply to my inquiry stating that my order had been received and that they were having issues with shipping.

No problem on this end as long as they have the order. :)

Ruini's successor

Rorate Caeli is quoting Italian media sources saying that Angelo Bagnasco, Archbishop of Genoa, has been tipped to succeed Cardinal Ruini.

Marco Tosatti in La Stampa and the publishers of Il Foglio affirm that the successor of Cardinal Ruini at the helm of the Italian Episcopal Conference (CEI) will be (probably for Tosatti, certainly for Il Foglio) the new Archbishop of Genoa, Angelo Bagnasco, former Archbishop of the Italian Military Ordinariate and a "Bertonian". Il Foglio states that the change will probably be made public on March 7.

Union by wallpapering

Sunshine Coast Daily:

"Any idea of unity would have to be an arrangement where the Anglican Church exists with its particular theology and practice side by side. It would be a unity of diversity. But sadly it is a long way off."

Father Gowty said the main divide between the two churches was "a question of authority".

Just come right out, there's no reason to be afraid. Just string your two thoughts together so that everyone can understand.

It's a question of authority to keep our own theology (even it is totally different from Catholic theology).

That wasn't so hard.

The big things have been the Anglican primatial meeting in Tanzania and the alleged report (that didn't say what it was reported to say) that the Anglican-Catholic commission was to boldly call for union.

To summarize:
1. The Anglican primates gave the US church until September.
2. The report said no such thing.

Nothing to see here, move along.

What will those secularists say next?

national secular society (which does not capitalize its name at its website, so why should I?):

Italians Give The Pope A Kick In The Pants

First paragraph:
Pope Ratzinger spent most of last week hysterically berating the Italian government for bringing forward a new partnership law that gives legal rights to unmarried cohabiting heterosexual couples and to homosexual couples. Italy’s most senior cardinal, Camillo Ruini, then announced that he would issue an ‘official note’ to Catholics, asking them to make “a personal commitment to defend marriage and oppose de facto couples”. That was seen as a direct call on Catholic lawmakers to vote against the bill.

Second paragraph:
But a new poll shows that the Vatican is out of step with public opinion in Italy. [...]

Kick in the pants, hysterically berating... A good smile is needed before going into Lent. ;)