Monday, June 28, 2010

Return to Ukraine

Last night on EWTN, I watched the last half of a program called Holy Roman Spies. The title sensationalized the subject-matter, as the 'spies' of the program were rather missionaries to the Soviet Union by way of Ukraine during World War II. They were all trained at the Collegium Russicum in Rome. The program also included accounts of the college's possible infiltration by the Soviet KGB, though most of the the interviewees from the college couldn't figure out why the Soviets would have been interested in such an institution. Right...

This morning, I was directed by an email to this article by Sandro Magister discussing the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church and its relationship with the Orthodox of Russia. Long time readers will remember that when we last left the two sides, there was much hostility, not only between the Catholics and the Orthodox, but between various Orthodox factions fighting for legitimacy.

Magister's article today discusses the thawing of relations between Rome and the East and how this has affected things in Ukraine. The primary reason is that Benedict himself is German and not Polish, the ethnicity of John Paul II being one of the major wedge issues of the past due to the historic tension between Russia and Poland with Ukraine in the middle. One of the secondary reasons is that Benedict has dropped all efforts to establish the Ukrainian Greek Catholic patriarchate and has focused instead on cooperation with the Orthodox in evangelizing the larger segment of the Ukrainian population that is outside the Christian Church.

Though tensions in one sphere have eased, Magister points to another where the Greek Catholics have come under attack through pressure by the pro-Russian Ukrainian government through subtle oppression by the security services and lack of formal legal recognition or state monies, which instead go to the Orthodox Church.

To be continued.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

More on Bishop Padovese

Before getting started, a note on the honorific of monsignor. Since in Italy it's used as a courtesy, I am leaving it out, though most news sources use it for Bishop Padovese. No disrespect is intended.

First, from Asia News: Archbishop of Smyrna: The martyrdom of bishop Padovese want the truth and not "pious lies" by Bernardo Cervellera

This article is badly translated into English, so I won't quote from it extensively. But from what I gather, the Latin archbishop of Smyrna/Izmir is familiar with the murder Murat Altun and thinks that the murder was one of political motivation rather than religious. The Islamic elements of the crime are mere red herrings to throw off the investigation and confuse the public. Archbishop Franceschini completely discounts in the interview what he sees as the lies regarding Murat Altun's alleged depressed state. I'll throw this out there from the summary at the beginning of the article:

Mgr Franceschini hypothesizes that the assassination was planned with precision, the killer for well trained, and the authors aim to destabilize the country and distance Turkey from Europe.

That would seem to go with what I have read about Murat Altun's alleged involvement with the organization known as the "deep state". Al Jazeera has a timeline.

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

The Holy Father in Cyprus

UPDATE (10:01): Father Z posted on this story as well this morning and has this quote from a news article from EWTN/CNA:

Analyst Fr. Fillippo di Giacomo, who writes for publications such as L’Unitá and La Stampa, revealed that “hours before Padovese was killed, the Turkish Government called him to say that his driver, who they themselves had put in his service four years before, had gotten out of hand. That is to say, he had embraced the fundamentalist cause.”

Because of this, Padovese canceled his trip to prevent his driver from having access to the Holy Father. Also be sure to read the comments on Father Z's post for info on the expulsion of Christian missionaries from Morocco.

Original post:

From Asia News is this summary and following story from the day before yesterday on the brutal murder that occurred just before the Holy Father's trip to Cyprus.

The summary:

The bishop was stabbed in the house and beheaded outside. He cried help before he died. The murderer shouted "Allah Akbar!". The alleged insanity of the murderer is now to be excluded. There is no medical certificate to prove it. Murat Altun accuses the dead bishop of being a homosexual. Turkish minister of justice condemns the murder and promises to shed light on the incident.

The concluding paragraph of the story with my bolding:

But according to experts of the Turkish world, the killing of Mgr. Padovese shows an evolution of organizations of the "Deep State" being the first time they aim so high. So far they had targeted ordinary priests, but now they have attacked the head of the Turkish Church (Mgr Padovese was president of the Episcopal Conference of Turkey). At the same time, their actions are becoming more sophisticated, less crude than before. There not only limit their defence to claims of “insanity”, already used for the murder of Father Santoro [covered here in 2006], but offer more explanation to confuse public opinion nationally and internationally.

Just as the developing story of Murat Altun's murder of the bishop gained steam, the Pope traveled to Cyprus and Sandro Magister has his usual report on the journey and its results. After recounting the ecumenical nature of Benedict's visit to the island, Magister recounts this meeting between the Pope and a Muslim which I give here in full:

On Saturday, June 5, on his way to the Mass at the Catholic church of the Holy Cross in Nicosia – right on the border of the part of the island occupied by the Turks – Benedict XVI came across an elderly Sufi sheikh, Mohammed Nazim Abil Al-Haqqani. They greeted one another, and promised to pray for each other. They exchanged little gifts: Muslim prayer beads, a plaque with words of peace in Arabic, a pontifical medallion.

So instead of the expected meeting with the mufti of Cyprus, Yusuf Suicmez, the highest Muslim authority on the island, there was the encounter of the pope with a Sufi master, an exponent of a mystical form of Islam, a form of Islam that "presumably through Christian influence stresses the love of God for man and of man for God," instead of an inaccessible God "among whose 99 names that of Father is missing."

The words just quoted are from Bishop Luigi Padovese, apostolic vicar for Anatolia and president of the Catholic episcopal conference of Turkey, killed in Iskenderun on June 3, the eve of the pope's trip to Cyprus, in which he was supposed to have participated.

Magister then goes on to condemn the official Vatican response Padovese's murder, which he characterizes as "submissive and counterproductive".

Despite this, Benedict addressed the situation in Cyprus with two steps, decrying the situation of the division of Cyprus and the forcing out of Christians from the Turk occupied areas, and calling upon Plato, Aristotle, and the Stoics, because "for them, and for the great Islamic and Christian philosophers who followed in their footsteps, the practice of virtue consisted in acting in accordance with right reason, in the pursuit of all that is true, good and beautiful," starting with that "natural law proper to our common humanity."

Before departing for Rome, the Pope offered these words while visiting a church dedicated to the Cross:

[It] offers them hope that God can transform their suffering into joy, their death into life. [...] And if, in accordance with what we have deserved, we should have some share in Christ’s sufferings, let us rejoice because we will enjoy a much greater gladness when his glory is revealed.

Thursday, June 03, 2010


Prayers are asked for my grandfather who died yesterday evening. He was eighty-seven.

Anima eius et animae omnium fidelium defunctorum per Dei misericordiam requiescant in pace.

Today, my brother and I drove home and after meeting up with our dad, we went to see our grandmother. While there visiting, we saw various old family pictures. My grandmother had two women religious in her family besides the one I already knew about, I think. I will have to investigate that more.