Thursday, February 28, 2013

Today's the Day

It's 3:37 in Rome.  The Holy Father will depart in less than five hours.  EWTN has live coverage and rebroadcasts.  Right now they are rebroadcasting the meeting with the cardinals which took place this morning.

As has been reported elsewhere, the Holy Father will keep his reigning name and his style of Holiness.  He will keep wearing white in the form of a simple white cassock with no papal insignia.  Gone will be the red shoes and the fisherman's ring will be broken.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Colorado Lawsuit Update

(CNN) -- A Catholic hospital in hot water for claiming in a Colorado court that a fetus is not a person backtracked on Monday, saying it was "morally wrong" to make the argument while defending itself in a wrongful death lawsuit.
"In the discussion with the Church leaders, CHI representatives acknowledged that it was morally wrong for attorneys representing St. Thomas More Hospital to cite the state's Wrongful Death Act in defense of this lawsuit. That law does not consider fetuses to be persons, which directly contradicts the moral teachings of the Church," Catholic Health Initiatives said in a statement.

It promised that attorneys for the hospital would not cite the Wrongful Death Act in any future hearings.
The state's bishops similarly released a statement, expressing support for CHI and for the Stodghill family.

"We join CHI in affirming the fundamental truth that human life, human dignity and human rights begin at conception. No law can ever mitigate God-given human rights," they said. "Each human life is a sacred gift, created as a unique and unrepeatable expression of God's love. Life is given by God, and the right to life is a fundamental good, without which no other rights can be enjoyed."
This news is a few weeks old now.  It's a good outcome.  I am especially appreciative of the Bishops' statement.  "Life is a fundamental good."  Amen!

A Step Closer to Conclave '13

Pope Benedict XVI has amended Roman Catholic church law so that the conclave selecting his successor can be brought forward, the Vatican says.

The change to the constitution means cardinals will no longer have to wait 15 days after the papacy becomes vacant before beginning the conclave.

As a result, the conclave can now start before 15 March.
The decision on the date of the beginning of the conclave will be taken by the cardinals but will not happen earlier than 1 March, officials said.
No surprises here.  I assume Conclave '13 will start as soon as possible now.  I see no reason why next week isn't probable.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

What Has Been Going On

The flurry of news has died down.  Most of what is floating around has to do with the conclave possibly being moved up since mourning for a dead pope and hasty travel arrangements are in this case not necessary.  There is also a lot of talk of an American pope out there.  John Allen of NCReporter is doing a "Papabile of the Day" with Angelo Cardinal Scola being the first to be profiled.

Tomorrow, the Feast of the Chair of St. Peter, is the final deadline for the Society of St. Pius X to reply to the latest offer and final from Benedict XVI to reconcile.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Tens of Thousands


Tens of thousands of pilgrims have attended St Peter's Square in Rome for one of the final public appearances of Pope Benedict XVI.

He is stepping down on 28 February.

The Pope recited the Angelus prayer and thanked all those who had prayed for him and shown him support over the past few days since his resignation.

The Pope appeared at his study window overlooking St Peter's Square at 11:00 GMT, his first such appearance since announcing his resignation last Monday.

The crowd erupted into loud applause and there were chants of "Long live the Pope".

One banner in the square read: "We love you".
The Pope used his Angelus appearance to urge the faithful to "renew" and "refocus" on God.
He said: "The Church calls on all its members to renew themselves... which constitutes a fight, a spiritual battle, because the evil spirit wants us to deviate from the road towards God."

The pope spoke in a number of languages; speaking in Spanish, he said: "I beg you to continue praying for me and for the next pope."

A lot of the rest of the article is just rehashing of old news and talk about the pope's Lenten retreat with the senior members of the curia and then his final appearances before the 28th.  The Vatican is considering moving up the conclave due in order to get things over with before Holy Week.

This is interesting due to its bluntness:

One Vatican official told Reuters news agency it was "absolutely necessary" that Benedict lived in the enclave, "otherwise he might be defenceless".

"He wouldn't have his immunity, his prerogatives, his security, if he is anywhere else," the official said.

There are concerns he could be cited in relation to legal cases connected with alleged sexual abuses by Catholic Church officials.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Vatican Bank

In January the Italian central bank suspended all bank card payments in the Vatican, citing its failure fully to implement anti-money laundering legislation.

The Holy See was required to meet European Union safeguards on finances by the start of 2013.

Pope Benedict has promised greater transparency in Vatican finances and the operations of its bank.

A group of experts from the Council of Europe said last year that the Vatican had made progress in reforming to meet EU standards but that a lot of work remained to be done.
I'm confused.  What is the obligation here for the Vatican?  Or is it the EU saying, "do this because I'm bigger than you"?   Click the link to read more about the Vatican Bank's newly appointed head.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Morning Roundup

Opaque, hierarchical and arcane, the Vatican is a tough beat even for seasoned reporters. It involves paying punctilious attention to papal routine -- never missing the often dreary papal audiences on a Wednesday and the uneventful address from the Vatican on Sunday.
Now, Pope Benedict's resignation -- the first in 600 years -- has rewritten the rule book; not just for the Vatican, which now goes through a complex and unprecedented interregnum, but also for the Vatican press corps.
Interesting and illuminating.  Unfortunately, the author gets off track and doesn't tell us exactly why His Holiness's abdication changes the rules.

Speaking unscripted to thousands of priests from the diocese of Rome, in what turned out to be a farewell address in his capacity as bishop of the Italian capital, Benedict outlined a cloistered life ahead, once he steps down in two weeks time:
"Even if I am withdrawing into prayer, I will always be close to all of you and I am sure that you will be close to me, even if I remain hidden to the world," he said.
Ugh.  Don't tell me this was all overblown (probably), and His Holiness being available was meant in a purely spiritual sense!
"In my opinion, once he resigns he should put aside the white cassock and put on the robes of a cardinal," said Father Thomas Reese, senior fellow at the Woodstock Theological Center at Georgetown University and an author of books on the Vatican.
"He should no longer be called pope, or Benedict, or your Holiness, but should be referred to as Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger," Reese added. "After the new pope is elected, he should attend his installation along with the other retired cardinals and pledge his allegiance to the new pope."
This I agree with wholeheartedly.  Most importantly, a message must be sent that will not be two Popes.  Confusion must be annihilated at all costs to secure the legitimacy of Benedict XVI's successor.
On Wednesday night, he presided at an Ash Wednesday Mass that was moved to the vast St Peter's Basilica from its original venue in Rome.

A capacity crowd gave him a thunderous standing ovation at his last public Mass. In his homily he said the Church had been at times "defaced" by scandals, divisions and rivalries.

"Thank you. Now, let's return to prayer," the pontiff said, bringing an end to several minutes of applause that clearly moved him. In an unusual gesture, bishops took off their mitres in a sign of respect. Some of them wept.
You know, His Holiness's abdication could become a public relations masterstroke.  Benedict XVI, the pope who retired from the papacy for the good of the Church and his flock.  Talk about legacies.  Could His Holiness's exit from the papacy not only define how history will view him but also redefine how history views John Paul II?

Sandro Magister: Who Will Take Up the Keys of Peter

In this article, his first online since the announcement of the abdication, Magister talks a bit about the circumstances and then launches into the brief resumes of the cardinals (and one biship) he thinks are likely contenders in the coming conclave.

Among the Italian candidates, [Angelo] Scola, 71, appears the most solid. He was trained as a theologian in the cenacle of “Communio,” the international magazine that had Ratzinger among its founders. He was the disciple of Fr. Luigi Giussani, the founder of Communion and Liberation. He was rector of the Lateranense, the university of the Church of Rome. He was the patriarch of Venice, where he demonstrated effective managerial abilities and created a theological and cultural center, the Marcianum, reaching out with the magazine “Oasis” toward the confrontation between the West and the East, Christian and Islamic. For almost two years he has been archbishop of Milan. And here he has introduced a pastoral style very attentive to the “far away,” with invitations to the Masses in the cathedral distributed on street corners and in subway stations, and with special care for the divorced and remarried, who are encouraged to approach the altar to receive not communion but a special blessing.

Scola has often been a subject of Magister's writing and one gets the sense after reading all that that Magister has his own favorite.

In addition to Scola, another entry for the list of candidates could be Cardinal Bagnasco, 70, archbishop of Genoa and president of the Italian episcopal conference.

Not to mention the current patriarch of Venice, Francesco Moraglia, 60, a rising star of the Italian episcopate, a pastor of strong spiritual life and very much beloved by the faithful. His limitation is that he is not a cardinal. Nothing prohibits the election of someone who is not part of the sacred college, but even the highly credentialed Giovanni Battista Montini, although projected as pope in1958 after the death of Pius XII, had to wait until he received the scarlet before he was elected in 1963 with the name of Paul VI.

Here one candidate who could meet the expectations is the Canadian Marc Ouellet, 69, multilingual, he as well trained theologically in the cenacle of “Communion,” for many years a missionary in Latin America, then archbishop of Québec, one of the most secularized regions of the planet, and today the prefect of the Vatican congregation that selects the new bishops all over the world.

Apart from Ouellet, two North Americans who elicit appreciation in the college of cardinals are Timothy Dolan, 63, the dynamic archbishop of New York and president of the episcopal conference of the United States, and Sean O'Malley, 69, the archbishop of Boston.

If from Latin America and Africa, where indeed the majority of the world's Catholics live, there do not seem to emerge prominent personalities capable of attracting votes, the same is not true of Asia.

Note well Magister's opinion of the cardinals of Africa.  He fails to mention the perennial favorite Arinze or the oft-mentioned Turkson.  The same goes for Latin America.  Interesting.

[...] In the Philippines, which is the only nation in Asia where Catholics are in the majority, there shines a young and cultured cardinal, archbishop of Manila Luis Antonio Tagle [56], the focus of growing attention.

As a theologian and Church historian, Tagle was one of the authors of the monumental history of Vatican Council II published by the progressive “school of Bologna.” But as a pastor, he has demonstrated a balance of vision and a doctrinal correctness that Benedict XVI himself has highly appreciated. Especially striking is the style with which the bishop acts, living simply and mingling among the humblest people, with a great passion for mission and for charity.

One of his limitations could be the fact that he is 56, one year younger than the age at which pope Wojtyla was elected. But here the novelty of Benedict XVI's resignation again comes into play. After this action of his, youth will no longer be an obstacle to being elected pope.

My bolding.  Magister has other things including links to and translations of the pope's statements and a brief look at the motivations of John Paul II and Benedict.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Benedict XVI's Final Public Mass

I caught the rebroadcast of the Holy Father's last public Mass today on EWTN.  It was pretty normal except for the occasional shots of people looking sad due to the significance of the event.

Then after Communion, Cardinal Bertone came out to address Benedict.  And as soon as I saw this, I knew what was coming.  The secretary of state finished his address and went up to warmly greet the pope.  Cut away to the congregation applauding, clergy, religious, and laity.  I knew it would happen, but I hoped it would not go on, but it did.  Things moved along to the final blessing, but they were still applauding and Benedict had to wait.


I really wish Cardinal Bertone had waited for some other occasion than Holy Mass.

Zenit has his address translated into English.


The Times
Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz of Cracow, secretary to the late Pope John Paul II, was quoted as saying that Benedict’s predecessor had decided to remain Pope while dying an agonising death from Parkinson’s because “you don’t get down from the Cross”.
I first saw this over at the Daily Mail.  And yeah, it was definitely overblown, with only the apparently inflammatory quote without any contect.  So thanks to The Times for a bit more information.  The extra info regarding the quote may extinguish the flames for me.  But I think this illuminates that now more than ever, John Paul II's greatest legacy.  He and his papacy are the greatest in living memory and therefore the measuring stick again which all others will be judged.  And Benedict XVI will now be fully measured up to his predecessor, with their respective exits from the papacy probably the greatest contrast of all.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013


Daily Mail
While Vatican spokesmen gave assurances that the retired Pope will never interfere with the appointment or decisions of the new one, Benedict’s brother Georg Ratzinger said that ‘where he’s needed he will make himself available’ and added that the next Pontiff ‘may ask for advice’.

It was also revealed that, far from retiring to a life of contemplation in a distant monastery, Benedict will live inside the Vatican in a specially-prepared apartment block.
The DM's article is probably overblown.  But the point is valid because I thought the same things myself when I first read Benedict XVI would be close at hand and available.  So, there will a new Pope.  There will be Cardinals.  And there will be a Cardinal who is also an... ex-Pope.  Immediately, I'm thinking perhaps His Holiness wishes to engender a collegial atmosphere at the very top, to share the burden.  As they say, it's lonely up there.  So having someone else there who knows what it's like, that experience shouldn't be wasted.  I can understand that if that's the thinking.

Some Reactions

Resignation of Pope Benedict XVI
United Kingdom - Prime Minister David Cameron praised Benedict XVI, saying: “I sent my best wishes to Pope Benedict following his announcement today. He has worked tirelessly to strengthen Britain’s relations with the Holy See. His visit to Britain in 2010 is remembered with great respect and affection." He added that “He will be missed as a spiritual leader to millions.”
On the face of it, the Prime Minister's reaction seems genuine.  I especially like the affection part.
France - President François Hollande said Benedict XVI merits "respect" but did not comment on the matter specifically as it is internal to the Roman Catholic Church.
The President's comment feels cold and guarded to me.  I wonder what his religious life is like.
Israel - Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi Yona Metzger's spokesman said: "During his period there were the best relations ever between the church and the chief rabbinate and we hope that this trend will continue. I think he deserves a lot of credit for advancing inter-religious links the world over between Judaism, Christianity and Islam." The spokesman also said that Metzger wished Benedict XVI "good health and long days."
I like the Israeli reaction, looking at the practical side of things.  "Good health and long days."  Indeed!
United States of America - President Barack Obama praised Benedict XVI, saying: "On behalf of Americans everywhere, Michelle and I wish to extend our appreciation and prayers to His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI. Michelle and I warmly remember our meeting with the Holy Father in 2009, and I have appreciated our work together over these last four years."  He added that he wished "the best to those who will soon gather to choose His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI's successor."
Unfortunately, prepared remarks from President Obama.

Pope Benedict "will not interfene in successor's affairs"


Pope Benedict XVI will not interfere in the affairs of his successor after his decision to resign later this month, the pontiff's brother has said.

Georg Ratzinger told the BBC the Pope would only "make himself available" if he were needed.

Benedict XVI will bid farewell to his followers in a final audience in St Peter's Square on 27 February, Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi has said.

The Pope was to retire to the papal residence at Castel Gandolfo when he leaves office, the Vatican said, before moving into a renovated monastery used by cloistered nuns for "a period of prayer and reflection".

"He'll stay in Rome and will certainly have some duties and of course will continue to educate himself intellectually and theologically," Georg Ratzinger told the BBC.

Those are the salient points in an article that basically sums up what is already known.  The final audience is going to be crazy.  Back when the pontificate began in 2005, I read a lot about how Benedict was drawing greater and greater numbers to his audiences compared to John Paul II>  I wonder how long that trend continued and if it merely plateaued or trended back down.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Conclave 2013: First Thoughts

Catholic Hierarchy has the full list of cardinal-electors and people have begun looking at papabili.  I agree with the general sentiment that there are no names jumping out at the moment.  Certainly, aside from the thought that the will of the Holy Ghost will be done, a lot of people familiar with the college have their favorites.

On the conservative and/or traditional side, names like Burke, Ranjith, and Bagnasco (due to his being a disciple of Cardinal Siri) have been mentioned along with non-cardinal outsider Athanasius Schneider (known for his defense of Communion on the tongue and calling for a new Syllabus to clarify Vatican II).

On the "progressive" side, I can't think of any names off the top of my head.  Looking at the cardinals on the progressive side listed in Samuel's bookmakers' odds post, none of them are young enough to qualify. 

After the election of Cardinal Ratzinger in 2005, it's pointless to try to decide just what the college will look for as far as "conservative" or "progressive".  I really think it will come down to age: anyone over the age of seventy-five is in my mind not a serious papabile.

Samuel: I agree with Jacob's last point here.  In the "BREAKING" post, the link in the third update goes on about how Benedict never had a chance because he is the pope who followed John Paul.  I would think maybe the next pope would be chosen young enough to really put his stamp on things and not just administer. 

The Bookmakers' Papabile

Daily Mail

9/4 Cardinal Peter Kodwo Appiah Turkson, 64
Country: Ghana Cardinal in the Ghanaian Catholic Church
Elevated to cardlinalate by Pope John Paul II
Significant views: Would like to see a black pope. Believes condoms should be used in marriage if one partner is infected with Aids.

5/2 Cardinal Marc Ouellet, 68
Country: Canada
Elevated to the cardinalate by Pope John Paul II
Significant views: Belief that abortion is unjustifiable, even in cases of rape

7/2 Cardinal Francis Arinze, 80
Country: Nigeria
Elevated to cardlinalate by Pope John Paul II
Significant views: Extreme conservatism on birth control and abortion

7/1 Cardinal Angelo Scola, 71
Country: Italy
Elevated to become Archbishop of Milan by Benedict XVI
Significant views: Wants to work more closely with Islam and support Christians in the Middle East

10/1 Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga, 70
Country: Honduras
Elevated to cardinalate by Pope John Paul II
Significant views: A moderate but is anti-abortion and criticised Ricky Martin for using a surrogate mother

12/1 Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, 78
Country: Italy
Elevated to cardinalate by Pope John Paul II
Significant views: Blamed homosexual infiltration of the clergy for Catholic child sex scandals

14/1 Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco, 70
Country: Italy
Elevated to cardinalate by Pope Benedict XVI
Significant views: Strongly against abortion and expressed anger towards same-sex unions

16/1 Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, 77
Country: Argentina
Elevated to cardinalate by John Paul II
Significant views: Against abortion and euthanasia, is against same-sex marriage but calls for respect of gay people. Washed the feet of 12 Aids patients in 2001.

20/1 Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, 69
Country: Argentina
Elevated to cardinalate by Benedict XVI
Significant views: Said Christians in Iraq under Saddam Hussein were more free than they are now

25/1 Cardinal Christoph von Schonborn, 68
Country: Austria
Elevated to cardinalate by John Paul II
Significant views: Said use of a condom by an Aids sufferer could be seen as a 'lesser evil'.

BREAKING: Benedict XVI to Resign Effective Feb. 28


Rorate Caeli has the text of the Holy Father's official declaration at the consistory.

The most relevant section:

However, in today’s world, subject to so many rapid changes and shaken by questions of deep relevance for the life of faith, in order to govern the bark of Saint Peter and proclaim the Gospel, both strength of mind and body are necessary, strength which in the last few months, has deteriorated in me to the extent that I have had to recognize my incapacity to adequately fulfill the ministry entrusted to me. For this reason, and well aware of the seriousness of this act, with full freedom I declare that I renounce the ministry of Bishop of Rome, Successor of Saint Peter, entrusted to me by the Cardinals on 19 April 2005, in such a way, that as from 28 February 2013, at 20:00 hours, the See of Rome, the See of Saint Peter, will be vacant and a Conclave to elect the new Supreme Pontiff will have to be convoked by those whose competence it is.

An update from the Vatican spokesman says that Benedict will finish up his work and then retire to the cloister within the Vatican walls.

Father Z's blog is not loading, I assume from heavy traffic.  It's all over the news, so you'll have no trouble finding stuff, though beware of rumor and gossip as I doubt anyone knows anything beyond what's stated above.

Pray and fast, brethren.


Update #1: The last pope to resign, Gregory XII.

Update #2: Father Z's blog is back up.  He has several new posts, including this one summing up his thoughts so far.  Worth a read.

Update #3: Let the post-pontificate comparisons to John Paul II begin!  Note the inaccuracy about where John Paul got his papal name.  It's my understanding it took it in honor of his predecessor, not for John XXIII and Paul VI.