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.