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.