Wednesday, December 12, 2012

The New Evangelization: Tweeting

I was on Twitter briefly, but it just didn't work for me as a means of communication.  But now the Holy Father has joined the trend (@pontifex).

From VIS::

Vatican City,  (VIS) - "Dear friends, I am pleased to get in touch with you through Twitter. Thank you for your generous response. I bless all of you from my heart".

This was Benedict XVI's first tweet, published after the blessing that concluded today's general audience. The Pope used a tablet to send his first tweet, which was transmitted in eight languages (English, Italian, Spanish, French, German, Portuguese, Polish and Arabic), and displayed on a screen installed in the Paul VI Hall.

Throughout the day the Pope will respond to three questions - submitted from three different continents - selected from those sent during recent days.

The Holy Father already has over one million followers on Twitter.

Personally, I would have gone for two tweets, preceding the one above with "In nómine Patris, et Fílii, et Spíritus Sancti. Amen."  With such a universal tool of communication like Twitter, the universal language of the Latin Church is logical. 

December 21st, 2012

From the Associated Press via

VATICAN CITY (AP) — The Vatican's top astronomer has some assurances to offer: The world won't be ending in about two weeks, despite predictions to the contrary.

The Rev. Jose Funes, director of the Vatican Observatory, wrote in Wednesday's Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano that "it's not even worth discussing" doomsday scenarios based on the Mayan calendar that are flooding the Internet ahead of the purported Dec. 21 apocalypse.
Yes, Funes wrote, the universe is expanding and if some models are correct, will at one point "break away" — but not for billions of years. But he said Christians profoundly believe that "death can never have the last word."

The Mayan Long Count calendar begins in 3,114 B.C., marking time in roughly 394-year periods known as Baktuns. The Mayans wrote that the significant 13th Baktun ends Dec. 21.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Pope Benedict's Christmas Schedule 2012

Via Vatican Insider

Tuesday 25 December 2012 
Central loggia of the Vatican Basilica, at 12:00

The Holy Father Benedict XVI will address His Christmas message to the world and pronounce the "Urbi et Orbi" Blessing.

Monday 31 December 2012
Vatican Basilica, 17:00

The Holy Father Benedict XVI will preside over the First Vespers of the Solemnity of Mary, Holiest Mother of God, followed by the exposition of the Blessed Sacrament, the traditional Te Deum hymn in thanksgiving for the past year and the Eucharistic Blessing.

Tuesdat 1 January 2013
Papal Chapel, Vatican Basilica, 9:30

The Holy Father, Benedict XVI will celebrate Holy Mass for the Solemnity of Mary, Holiest Mother of God on the eighth day of Christmas, which falls on the same day as the 46th World Day of Peace on the theme "Blessed are the peacemakers".

The Mass will be co-celebrated with the Secretary of State, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone; the President of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, Cardinal Peter Kodwo Appiah Turkson; the Titular Archbishop of Roselle and Substitute for General Affairs to the Secretary of State; the Titular Archbishop of Sagona and Secretary for Relations with States, Mgr. Dominique Mamberti; S.D.B., Titular Bishop of Bisarcio and Secretary of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, Mgr. Mario Toso and the Titular Archbishop of Midila and President of the Pontifical Ecclesiastical Academy, Mgr. Beniamino Stella.

Sunday 6 January 2013
Papal Chapel. Vatican Basilica, 9:00
The Holy Father, Benedict XVI will celebrate Holy Mass on the Solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord, during which he will confer Episcopal Ordination upon some presbyters.

Sunday 13 January 2013
Sistine Chapel, 9:45
The Holy Father, Benedict XVI will preside over the Eucharistic Celebration, during which he will administer the Sacrament of Baptism to some children.

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Woe to the Republic!

Over at HotAir, they're talking about what the election means.  Ed Morrissey mentions last night proved 2010 was the anomoly, that 2008 and 2012 represent the new norm, realignment to the Left.  But I don’t see this as a realignment towards the Left. I think it is a realignment AWAY from the Right. I think Americans are relatively sane in regards to big government. But they simply don’t trust Republicans and are even frightened of them.

While the Democrats use it as an excuse to pretend their Leftist agenda is awesome despite public disapproval, I think it is very true for the GOP. I think the Republicans have a messaging problem.

Some more thoughts:
  • Romney is a great guy and I think he would have been a good president. But he played right into voters’ fears by being a rich white guy and he didn't do enough to transcend that stereotype.
  • The President went small in the campaign. Romney went big. But not big enough. In retrospect, Romney should have made this election not about the economy, but a referendum on the Future. Right or Left? Small government or Big government? Fiscal sanity or Fiscal disaster?
  • Romney should have made it clear that a vote for the President was a vote to embrace and cement the new norm of greater entitlement and regulation of society, which America can no longer afford.
  • To put it simply, Romney failed to message how high the stakes were in the election.
Every nation gets the government it deserves.
-- Joseph de Maistre, Lettres et Opuscules

Sunday, November 04, 2012

New pope chosen for Egypt's Copts

BBC News
Bishop Tawadros has been chosen as the new pope of Egypt's Coptic Christians, becoming leader of the largest Christian minority in the Middle East.

His name was selected from a glass bowl by a blindfolded boy at a ceremony in Cairo's St Mark's Cathedral. Three candidates had been shortlisted.

The 60-year-old succeeds Pope Shenouda III, who died in March aged 88.

He succeeds as attacks on Copts are on the increase, and many say they fear the country's new Islamist leaders.

The other two candidates were Bishop Raphael and Father Raphael Ava Mina. They were chosen in a ballot by a council of some 2,400 Church and community officials in October.
The new pope has studied in Britain, and has also run a medicine factory, the BBC's Jon Leyne in Cairo reports.

He is a man of broad experience and with managerial skills, our correspondent says, adding that he will need all those talents to lead the Copts as they face an uncertain future in a country now debating the role of Islam following last year's revolution.
This new Pope seems to be a bit of a technocrat.  Unfortunately, the BBC article doesn't really tell me anything about the man himself.  I realize it is probably not a priority for Copts, but I am most interested in seeing if this Pope will continue his predecessor's efforts towards unity among the Christian churches.  I wonder if unity would be helpful to the Copts in their struggles in Egypt.

Sunday, October 07, 2012

Missing Priest In Greece

For the last few days, I've been following the case of Father Christiaan Kappas (or Kappes), a priest of the diocese of Indianapolis who has been studying in Athens under the aegis of some Vatican institute.

The details and timeline of events from a week ago when Father Kappas went missing are emerging slowly, but the gist of it is that last weekend and on Monday he contacted his family in a state of fear and told them of people wanting him and his translator friend dead due to an inheritance.

Last Monday, the pair visited the police, the US embassy, the airport, and the US embassy again before disappearing.  At the second stop at the US embassy, Father Kappas spoke to his family for the last time and they haven't heard from him since.

Father Kappas' sister Nadia is updating her Facebook page with information as it is learned by the family in Indiana. There is a thread at Websleuths, a form where missing persons and famous cases are discussed.

Please join me in prayers for the safe return of Father Kappas and his translator.

Saturday, April 21, 2012


Sister Campbell suggested that her organisation's vocal support for President Barack Obama's healthcare bill was behind the slapdown.

"There's a strong connection," she said. "We didn't split on faith, we split on politics."
For a Citizen, I believe there can be leeway between faith and politics.  But for those who are directly apart of the Church, can there really be a difference between faith and politics without compromising themselves?
But Sister Campbell suggested a difficult time ahead: "It's totally a top-down process and I don't think the bishops have any idea of what they're in for."
I still have faith that this is not true.  I believe in my heart the vast majority of sisters in America are not the problem here.  But that these organizations have developed their own agenda.

Thursday, April 19, 2012


The Vatican has ordered a crackdown on a group of American nuns that it considers too radical.

It says the group is undermining Roman Catholic teaching on homosexuality and is promoting "feminist themes incompatible with the Catholic faith".

The Leadership Conference of Women Religious is the largest organisation of Catholic nuns in the US.
This is a good thing.  From all the mail I receive asking for support, it seems clear that a more conservative and traditional way of life is calling women in America.  Unforunately, it seems that many organizations in America ignore their members' wishes and have their own agenda from the top down.  I hope that is the case here so this crackdown can happen as painlessly as possible while achieving full effect for the good of all.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

SSPX Resolution Imminent?

For those of you who don't follow Rorate Caeli and the sources it links to regularly on the question of the Priestly Society of St. Pius X's final regularization, here are a few points:

1. The CDF/Ecclesia Dei Commission has been in talks with the SSPX for a few years now.
2. The CDF gave the SSPX a preamble to ponder and with which to agree.  There was back and forth as things were clarified and so on.
3. The SSPX was given until April 15 to state its final intention regarding the preamble.  Some interpret this as an ultimatum, but it read more to me as a due date.

In any case, that date has come and gone and now there is a lot of talk that regularization is imminent due to private letters being submitted, etc.  Since I don't care to get caught up in all the echoing of news, rumor, and gossip, I haven't said anything on this.  What will happen will happen according to God's will.  However, if it dues turn out to be true and the SSPX is coming in with all or most of its following, this is a very very good thing.  People have been talking about how this is the SSPX's last chance given Benedict has been so friendly and the next pope isn't likely to be there with an outstretched hand.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Coptic Pope Shenouda III Dead

Cairo (CNN) -- Coptic Pope Shenouda III, the spiritual leader of Egypt's Coptic Christian community for nearly four decades, died Saturday, according to the head of the Egyptian General Coptic Association. He was 88.
The Coptic Orthodox Church is the largest Christian church in the Middle East, according the Coptic Orthodox Church Centre in Stevenage, England.
In addition to millions of followers in Egypt, the church has adherents in Europe, Canada, the United States, Kenya, Zimbabwe, Namibia and South Africa, the center says.
When a Coptic pope dies, all 150 bishops of the church's Holy Council appoint an acting patriarch until a vote is conducted for a successor, Doss said. Thousands of bishops, priests and monks are eligible to vote.
The most senior bishop usually takes the role of acting patriarch. In this case, that would be Bishop Michael of Asiut. If he declines, Bishop Bakhamious of Behira is next in line, Doss said.
CNN doesn't mention it, but I read elsewhere that Shenouda III was the first Coptic Pope to meet the Bishop of Rome in over a thousand years and was big on Christian unity, especially in the East.  I am interested in seeing what kind of fresh efforts his successor makes towards ecumenism on behalf of the Coptic Church.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Book Review: The Rite (2009)

Earlier this week I finished The Rite: The Making of a Modern Exorcist by Matt Baglio, published in 2009.  In the case of this book, the title does say it all.  The main subject of this non-fiction book is Father Gary Thomas, a parish priest from California who is appointing by his bishop to be the diocesan exorcist and who takes a course on the subject while in Rome on sabbatical.  While studying and living in Rome, Father Gary is taken on by the Franciscan Father Carmine as an apprentice.  Father Gary's experiences are detailed interspersed with comments from prominent exorcists on the rite, its execution, and the pastoral approach when helping people.  Along the way, Baglio has sections that detail the scientific views on exorcism.  They are interesting in themselves and lend the book additional heft while not attempting to discredit or disprove Father Gary's experiences.  The final chapter, named 'The Exorcist', describes Father Gary's return to his home diocese and the beginning of his new ministry.

The basic description gives an idea, but the book contains a lot more in the way of details that really give it flavor as it explains the Catholic milieu in a country like Italy as opposed to the largely protestant United States.  Baglio does an excellent job of sharing with the reader Father Gary's sense of culture shock.  The opening chapters that explain the ins and outs of Catholic thinking on angels and demons also do much to help the reader as the book moves forward through Father Gary's training. 

I enjoyed this book and give it five out of five stars.  On the same subject, I recommend Michael Cuneo's American Exorcism, a look at various forms of exorcism and deliverance as practiced by Christian groups in the US, both protestant and Catholic.

Thursday, March 01, 2012

Gone But Not Forgotten...

...Until I clean out my bookmarks.

I don't put in the time like I used to to post daily.  Maybe I will again someday.  But thinking back, I started going through some of the older folders in my bookmark menu tonight.  After a bit of looking, I found myself in a rather melancholy state seeing as how so few of the Catholic blogs I used to read on a regular basis have stood the test of time except for those authored by professional journalists or those who've evolved and chosen blogging as a calling.

Now I am left wondering where those people went and what they're doing now.  One in particular springs to mind even as I type this.  I read daily the blog written by the Anglican priest who went by the pen name of 'the Pontificator' due to his journey away from the Episcopal Church towards Rome.  His journey concluded with he and his wife joining the Catholic Church.  This was of course years and years ago now.  Has he found his way into the Ordinariate here in the US?  What was his name?

Questions like that linger after half a dozen years of reading the Catholic blogosphere.

Thursday, February 02, 2012

Bertone: Caught In His Own Web?

Read this first by Magister.  The short version is that Cardinal Bertone, secretary of state, has in all his schemes overshot and is now just about out of influence to peddle.

The fact is that in appointing Bertone secretary of state, Benedict XVI thought he was making use of his sincere devotion and untiring activism to have him carry out those practical tasks of management from which he, the pope-theologian and –professor – wanted to keep far away. Bertone accepted enthusiastically, but interpreted the assignment his own way. The pope didn't travel much? He started hopping the globe in his place. The pope kept his nose in his books? He started frenetically cutting ribbons, meeting with ministers, blessing crowds, giving speeches everywhere and on everything.

With the result that the secretariat of state worked more for Bertone's agenda than for the pope. And the cardinal slips into his agenda, once again according to his own designs, maneuvers that are sometimes very ambitious and risky.

The rest of the article above and below the excerpt details the various major attempts of the cardinal to impose his will and how they failed.  Magister does not point out how Bertone's fellow SDBs have been placed throughout the curia, but apparently that strategy has not helped him get things through when he most wanted them done.

Depending on how long the Holy Father hangs on, I'm interested in seeing if Bertone will make it to the end of the pontificate.  That is if Magister is correct in his description of just how isolated the cardinal is within the curia.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Siri Disciple to Venice

Over the years I've lost interest in the ins and outs of the Italian episcopal scene.  This article from Magister telling of the choosing of Bishop Francesco Moraglia as the new patriarch of Venice by the Holy Father though caught my eye.

Moraglia as Magister tells it is respected in various quarters.  He was ordained by Cardinal Siri of Genoa.  Moraglia's resume is impressive, though I am always interested in what these officials of the various institutes and offices in Italy actually do with their days besides shuffle paper.

Magister sums up with this:

With the appointment of Moraglia – who will be made a cardinal at the first consistory after the one that will be celebrated in February – the influence of the ecclesiastical disciples of Siri is growing, although with different sensibilities. In addition to Moraglia, in fact, others who were ordained to the priesthood by Siri are cardinals Bagnasco and Piacenza, and the newly created cardinal Domenico Calcagno. Without counting the apostolic nuncio Antonio Guido Filipazzi and the French bishop Marc Aillet. The current master of pontifical ceremonies, Guido Marini, was the last "train-bearer" deacon of Cardinal Siri, while the Vatican deputy foreign minister, Monsignor Ettore Balestrero, although incardinated in the diocese of Rome, was also born and raised in "Sirian" Genoa.

The old-timers of the curia recount that once Cardinal Sebastiano Baggio, the powerful prefect of the congregation for bishops during the last phase of the pontificate of Paul VI and at the beginning of that of John Paul II, criticized Cardinal Siri for training his seminarians and priests as if on an island separate from the Italian Church. And because of this, they were not taken into consideration to be made bishops.

"Yes, it is true," Siri is said to have replied, "we are on an island, but I have taught mine to swim." And to swim well, it could be added today.
 We'll see what happens.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Movie Review: Doubt (2008)

On Friday I watched most of the film Doubt from 2008.  I missed the last twenty minutes or so because I had to leave for 5:30 Mass, but I checked out the ending at Wikipedia.  The film stars Meryl Streep as Sister Aloysius, Philip Seymour Hoffman as Father Flynn, Amy Adams as Sister James, and Viola Davis as Mrs. Miller.  The basic plot: in 1964, a black boy, Donald Miller, attends a Bronx parochial school where the student body is exclusively Irish and Italian (i.e. white).  Donald is taken under the wing of Father Flynn who is determined to help the boy survive.  However, doubt is cast on Father Flynn's motives in the minds of Sister Aloysius, the school principal, and Sister James, Donald's teacher.

All four of the lead actors are convincing in their roles.  I am always impressed with how Philip Seymour Hoffman has morphed from the weak George in Scent of a Woman and the manic Dusty in Twister to his mature roles in the last decade.  I never saw that coming.  Meryl Streep is always fine in her roles, though I admit I am not completely enamored with her like so many others.  Amy Adams as young Sister James and Viola Davis as Mrs. Miller, the mother of the boy, both did fine in their supporting roles.  The children who acted in the film were very believable.  I have no firsthand experience of teaching sisters and priests; I have read that some felt that Meryl Streep and Philip Seymour Hoffman were not entirely convincing in their roles.  But I thought they did fine in that regard.

I enjoyed the location shooting.  The use of schools that evoked that time period really gave the film heft.  When certain films are trying to create an atmosphere, I think shooting in the autumn does a lot to help that effort and it shows in Doubt.  As events proceed in the film and the tension builds, several scenes involve the tilting of the camera so that the frame is not level.  This only adds to the tension, especially in the scenes with Sister Aloysius and Father Flynn.

Doubt came out about three years ago, so I am not going to hold back on the plot here.  If you haven't seen it and have read this far and don't want spoilers, don't read on.

The film is about suspicion and doubt on many levels.  Most obviously, Sister Aloysius suspects Father Flynn of abusing the black boy Donald Miller.  Sister sees things and has things reported to her by the young and naive Sister James that leads her to suspect, but she has no proof and Father Flynn when confronted adamantly denies any wrongdoing.  In the past when such issues came up, Sister Aloysius went through back channels to allies in the priesthood who handled the issue quietly, but in the case of Father Flynn, she has no one to whom she can turn with her suspicion.  In the end Father Flynn resigns and is reassigned; nothing is resolved.

On a deeper level, the movie examines the tide of change within the Church in 1964.  Vatican II is underway and Father Flynn and his attitudes represent that change to a kinder, friendlier Church.  Sister Aloysius represents the old ways that are now in doubt.  I wonder if the writer/director John Patrick Shanley realized the irony of Sister Aloysius when he was writing her given that she is determined to instill in her students and the sister-teachers under her the sense of hierarchy that she herself fights in dealing with Father Flynn.  Even the arrival of a black family in an Irish and Italian neighborhood foretells the upheavals that are to come with urban renewal and white flight to the suburbs.

Is the film anti-Catholic?  I wouldn't say so, no.  It certainly relies upon the Catholic milieu of the time and place in which it is set to tell its story and I can't fault it for that.  It tells a story well, its characters are not caricatures as far as I could tell.  I'll give it four out of five stars.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Winter Has Finally Arrived

Here in Iowa winter has finally arrived.  Earlier this month there were record breaking high temperatures; a few days there the high during the day was in the upper fifties.  But it did not last and the mercury bottomed out this last week at the same time as a few rounds of snow have covered up the faded greens and browns.

For those of you who are interested in such things, a consistory has been announced and with it the list of cardinals-to-be.  It's a pretty underwhelming list of names even when considered in the best light.

More recently, the Vatican approved certain 'celebrations' of the Neocatechumenal Way (Wiki link).  Again, that is looking at it in the best light in that 'celebration' does not mean the infamous form of Mass to which the Way subscribes.  On the other hand, many are of the opinion that it is an outright approval and even if it is not, the devotees of the Way will view this Vatican approval as general vindication, ignoring the subtleties of it.

Finally, this morning it is being reported by various sources that former Penn State football head coach Joe Paterno is dead.  There were erroneous reports that he died last night.  Earlier this autumn, Paterno was fired after being caught up in the Sandusky sexual abuse case.  The former coach, a Catholic, received the Last Rites.  Requiescat in pace.

Friday, January 06, 2012

A New Year

Merry Christmas! Happy Epiphany! Happy birthday to the Maid of France!

Tonight I saw an interesting commercial on the US cable channel TNT. It was for, a website with a rather self-evident mission. The commercial I saw was the US national spot that can be viewed by running the cursor over the 'About' button on the main page, then clicking on 'Commercials' which should bring up a page with the commercials. Effective? It looked okay to me, but I'm sure sound would add a lot to the message.

There is a new movie in theaters now in the US, The Devil Inside. I caught the TV teaser for the very first time today, despite the fact the movie opens today. It claims to be a documentary with actual forbidden footage of exorcisms. This documentary style for horror films is in the grand style of The Blair Witch Project. The teaser for The Devil Inside had all the Hollywood trappings for the Catholic Church: priests in cassocks, sisters in habits, a priest genuflecting before a main altar (against the wall). might want to take notes: the visual trappings of traditional Catholicism sell.