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    AmP Countdown: Time left to demand that Congress make health care reform pro-life: 2009-11-07 18:00:00 GMT-05:00


    Wednesday, November 11, 2009

    Offbeat: Vatican sponsors conference on extraterrestrial life - Alien reunification imminent?

    A series of study sessions this week on the topic of astrobiology sponsored by the Vatican Observatory and the Pontifical Academy of Sciences is drawing all sorts of silly speculation and headlines in the mainstream press - everything from "Does Jesus save aliens?" to "ET calls the pope?"

    The Catholic News Service story provides a fairly sober analysis of what was actually discussed in the meetings. 

    And for those seriously interested in the theological implications of extraterrestrial life, the senior apologist at Catholic Answers Live, Jimmy Akin, has actually spent a good deal of time thinking about the subject. Maybe drop him an email.

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    Commentary: A tale of two nun organizations

    I haven't been watching the Vatican visitation of women religions in the United States very closely.

    I do, however, have a fixation on numbers and statistics, so this email forwarded to me caught my eye this morning.

    You see, in the mainstream media, it is often claimed that the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR) represents 95% of women religious  in the United States. 

    This is disconcerting, because the LCWR doesn't exactly always agree with Rome.

    This email from a sister at the other organization which represents women religious in the U.S. (The Council of Major Superiors of Women Religious - CMSWR), paints a slightly different picture:
    The LCWR represents approximately 80% of women religious in the USA. CMSWR represents 20% (about 10,000 women religious). We represent 80% of new vocations; LCWR 20% of new vocations.
    I don't trade stocks on the market, but even I know a smart buy when I see one. Talk about expanding market share.

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    Tuesday, November 03, 2009

    Will Anglican priests entering the Church be required to embrace celibacy?

    That was the question addressed by today's note from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith:

    There has been widespread speculation, based on supposedly knowledgeable remarks by an Italian correspondent Andrea Tornielli, that the delay in publication of the Apostolic Constitution regarding Personal Ordinariates for Anglicans entering into full communion with the Catholic Church, announced on 20 October 2009 by Cardinal William Levada, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, is due to more than 'technical' reasons. According to this speculation, there is a serious substantial issue at the basis of the delay, namely, disagreement about whether celibacy will be the norm for the future clergy of the provision.

    Cardinal Levada offered the following comments on this speculation: "Had I been asked I would happily have clarified any doubt about my remarks at the press conference. There is no substance to such speculation. No one at the Vatican has mentioned any such issue to me. The delay is purely technical in the sense of ensuring consistency in canonical language and references. The translation issues are secondary; the decision to delay publication in order to wait for the 'official' Latin text to be published in 'Acta Apostolicae Sedis' was made some time ago.

    Cardinal Levada goes on to quote from Canon Law, and my father has helpfully blogged about this and explained what's happening in layman's terms. Basically - there's no change to the Church's current norms on celibacy.

    Previous AmP posts on the topic of Anglican Reunification are archived here.

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    Thursday, October 22, 2009

    Background: Abp. Di Noia asked dominicans for Anglican reunification prayers

    This little note from Augustine Di Noia, OP (that's him in white - he was one of the most important prelates involved in the recent Anglican reunification news behind Cardinal Levada and the Pope himself) to his brother dominican friars back in the United States reveals the beautiful mutual-uplifting of prayers that permeated the Vatican's proceedings:
    "Today there was announced -- at press conferences in Rome and London -- the forthcoming publication of an apostolic constitution in which the Holy Father allows for the creation of personal ordinariates for groups of Anglicans in different parts of the world who are seeking full communion with the Catholic Church. The canonical structure of the personal ordinariate will permit this corporate reunion while at the same time providing for retention of elements of Anglican liturgy and spirituality.

    When I asked the Friars (and other OPs - Ed.) to pray the Dominican litany from 22 February to 25 March earlier this year, the intention was that this proposal would receive the approval of the cardinal members of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith which was necessary if the proposal of some structure allowing for corporate reunion was to go forward. Our prayers at that time were answered, and now that the proposal has become a reality we can tell everyone what we were praying for then.
    Context provided at the Dominican Friars' St. Joseph (East Coast) Province Blog.

    I was honored to attend Di Noia's Mass of episcopal ordination back in July.

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    Wednesday, October 21, 2009

    Open Thread: Anglican-Catholic Reunification

    I will be busy today attending to APP-related activities, but I want to allow the discussion about yesterday's news to continue. Here are the posts AmP published yesterday about the Vatican announcing special pastoral provisions for traditional Anglicans to be received back into the Catholic Church:

    Please be aware of these resources which provide ongoing quality coverage and commentary:

    For those very interested in the internal politics of this news, do read the entirety of Robert Moynihan's most recent report from Rome. He was in the room when the Vatican press conference took place, and provides a unique and thorough perspective on the many dynamics that were and are at play.

    ... and that should provide ample fodder for you eager Papists .... and those eager to be Papists!

    And, as in all open threads, AmP readers are welcome to drop appropriate links into the comment box.

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    Tuesday, October 20, 2009

    Raw video: Abp. Nichols of Westminster explains new Anglo-Catholic structures

    Raw video from the press conference held this morning in London. This video features Archbishop Vincent Nichols, the President of the Catholic Bishop's Conference of England and Wales, explaining more about what the new Anglo-Catholic structures will look like:

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    Video: Vatican press conference on Anglican provision

    From the Vatican's YouTube channel, interesting because it gives us a visual of what happened in Rome this morning:

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    Sunday, October 18, 2009

    Important: Abp. Burke appointed to Congregation of Bishops

    Good news for the Church in the United States, and the world, as reported by Whispers:
    [Yesterday], B16 named the church's "chief justice" Archbishop Raymond Burke to the membership of the Congregation for Bishops, giving the 61 year-old prelate a seat at the dicastery's all-important Thursday Table, whose votes recommend prospective appointees to the Pope.

    As a result, Burke's impact on the process and its outcomes could be felt for two decades; normally renewed on a five-yearly basis, Curial memberships automatically cease at age 75 for bishops and 80 for the college of cardinals, which the Wisconsin-born prefect of the Apostolic Signatura is likely to join at the next consistory, expected to take place sometime in mid-2010.

    ... Though it can only be gauged with time, the emergence of a potential "Burke effect" on Stateside appointments bears watching.
    Any move that places Abp. Burke in a more prominent oversight role over the appointment of bishops in the United States is a good thing.

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    Friday, September 18, 2009

    "Pope holds meteorite during visit to Vatican astronomers' headquarters"

    Pope Benedict Phone Home:

    When Pope Benedict XVI officially inaugurated the Vatican Observatory's new headquarters in Castel Gandolfo, a Jesuit astronomer let the pope hold a meteorite from Mars.

    "The pope very much wanted to be involved with our new headquarters," U.S. Jesuit Father George Coyne told Catholic News Service Sept. 17.

    Pope Benedict spent the evening of Sept. 16 in the company of papal astronomers who conduct study and research in Castel Gandolfo, outside of Rome, and at another research center in Tucson, Ariz.

    His hourlong visit began with "a very beautiful prayer and blessing" for the staff and official inauguration of their new headquarters, said Father Coyne, the former director of the Vatican Observatory. (CNS)
    Sounds like a stellar time.

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    Friday, July 10, 2009

    Prepare for the Obama-Benedict meeting spin

    As this post goes live, Barack Obama will be meeting for the first time with Pope Benedict XVI.

    I will be shocked shocked if the mainstream interpretation of this meeting does not include such conclusions as a) the meeting was an unmitigated success involving two enlightened individuals b) the meetings was a validation of Obama's presidency and major parts of his agenda and c) the meeting was a refutation/dismissal of the widespread criticism Obama has received from dozens upon dozens of Catholic bishops and hundreds of thousands of American Catholics.

    Of course it is none of these things. It is a meeting of the most powerful man in the world with a Pope who is charged with safeguarding the universal Church.

    Surprises may happen, of course, remember how well the Vatican handled the visit of House Speaker (and convenience Catholic) Nancy Pelosi? Obama's visit to the Holy Father will take place on the pope's home turf.

    The early word from the Obama administration is hardly encouraging. Instead, it's more of the same. White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs, himself a Catholic, said yesterday: "The President often refers to the fundamental belief that each person is endowed with dignity." 

    I'm sorry but I almost want to stop reading there because, of course, Barack Obama totally ignores the teaching of the Church that unborn children also are endowed with dignity. It's like someone claiming as common ground "we all agree not to shoot people between 2pm and 12pm", and then shooting them precisely at 1:59PM. Such a person can't claim to be against shooting.

    Anyway, we'll see.

    Also of note: Dan Gilgoff wrote a piece yesterday "How Meeting the Pope Can Change Obama's Rocky Catholic Narrative". 

    I think it's analysis is superficial. The substantive and fundamental disagreements between Obama and Pope Benedict won't be solved with a single meeting. There is also an inability to grasp that what American bishops do is not what the Pope is charged to do, when it comes to relating to the American President. 

    The fact that the pope and American bishops may treat Obama in different ways does not show that they hold different opinions about him, but that they have diverse ways of dealings with the problematic he presents.

    Even on the international stage, I hardly think the pope has any cause to be impressed with Obama's track record so far. The President, after all, has quickly seen to the federal funding of international "reproductive health" initiatives, which basically equal contraception and abortion - both soundly condemned by the pope in his most recent encyclical.

    Also, President Obama has managed to side with the dictator in both significant conflicts currently taking place in troubled counties (Iran and Honduras). This is hardly the tactic that the pope would probably consider appropriate when he speaks about how a just government should serve as oppose to exploit the common good of its citizens.

    And climate change? Please. The current Cap & Trade bill being introduced in the Senate is widely-agreed to have almost zero impact on the global environment, and will instead only leverage more taxes on average Americans, reducing the possibility of their human development. And an economically weaker America has diminished potential to do good in the world.

    I could go on, but hopefully my point is coming across. I fail to see what the Pope and President Obama have in common, save good words. Only Pope Benedict's words are true and he follows up on them through action.

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    More on this week's motu proprio Ecclesiae Unitatem

    Yesterday I asked AmP readers to help me understand Ecclesiae Unitatem, the motu proprio issued by Pope Benedict on Wednesday. In addition to the good comments left there, one tipster sent me a short-hand explanation which I found useful:
    Don’t you think that the Holy Father simply wants to separate the two parts of the SSPX controversy? I.e., the liturgical and the doctrinal. By separating them, he can mainstream (even more) their liturgical desires through the CDW, while continuing to study their doctrinal concerns through the CDF.
    Fr. Z also wrote a very helpful analysis.

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    Picture: Obama's gift to Pope Benedict - St. John Neumann's stole

    In about an hour Barack Obama will present this gift to Pope Benedict XVI:
    The owners of the DiCocco Family St. Jude Shop are getting to be experts at this. When there's a presentation for the pope, call the store in Havertown.

    Twice in the last 15 months, the store owners have been tapped for their Benedict XVI know-how.

    The first time, they helped supply a specially made chair the pope used during a U.S. visit. This time, they assisted the White House in finding a gift for him.

    That present will be given to Benedict as part of President Obama's visit to the Vatican tomorrow.

    The box will contain a stole that had been draped around the enshrined body of St. John Neumann in Philadelphia for nearly 20 years.
    AmP reader John clarifies:
    I suppose the headline isn't wrong, but I wouldn't describe this as "St. John Neumann's stole" since he didn't wear it while he was alive. As I understand it, his body was first displayed in the '60s when the cause for his canonization was underway. When the shrine was renovated in the late '80s, they dressed it in modern, polyester, Gothic-style vestments. Last year, Cardinal Rigali had them replaced with silk Roman-style vestments like the saint would have worn when he was alive. I guess the stole the president is giving to the Holy Father is classified as a third-class relic, which ain't nothin', but it struck me as odd. Still, I guess it's better than the box-set of DVDs he gave the British PM (which couldn't even be watched on the other side of the pond).
    I wonder what other gifts Obama has brought for the Holy Father?

    You can find out more about the stole here at the Redemptorists website.

    Fr. Z., I might add, is none too impressed.

    During a recent trip to Baltimore I actually visited one of the parishes St. John Neumann pastored. Very cool. It's a small (Catholic) world.

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    Thursday, June 25, 2009

    Cool: Detroit's Archbishop blogs from Rome

    From the Archdiocese of Detroit website:
    "Archbishop Allen Vigneron next week will embark on a pilgrimage to receive a pallium -- a thin, woolen scarf, that symbolizes an archbishop's mission to shepherd God's people. Archbishop Vigneron will carry prayers for the people of the Archdiocese in his heart as he journeys to receive his pallium from Pope Benedict XVI at the Vatican on June 29."
    More than that, he will be blogging from Rome at http://aodonline.wordpress.com/!

    Other contributers will include a Vicar General of the Detroit archdiocese, the archbishop's 10-year old nephew, a local lay woman who is a long time friend of the archbishop, and a couple of folks in the archdiocesan communications division.

    I love to see Archbishops carrying their flock with them, not just in their hearts, but through their words.

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    Tuesday, June 16, 2009

    Bad link: Vatican bans Facebook at work

    From Jack Smith at the Catholic Key blog:
    "From Catholic News Service. It's in the client area, so no public link. Excerpts:
    The Vatican spokesman said the move is a "normal and prudent" measure that reflects similar strategies taken by other companies around the world that have blocked employee usage of social networking sites on office networks.

    Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, the spokesman, told Catholic News Service June 16 that "there is nothing surprising" about the new ban.
    But some employees are complaining (anonymously) about the ban because Facebook has become a major news source and for many has replaced email. That's true for me on both counts.

    It's also an important way for apostolates to communicate. It is the main means of communication for the Catholic young adult groups on both sides of the state line here."
    More from the CNS article:
    Banning Facebook indicates a lack of knowledge about how the Internet functions and how it can be a valuable work tool, the employee said.

    "Given the Vatican's foul-up with communication in the past, (the online networking ban) shows they haven't learned their lesson," the employee said.
    I completely agree. It's counter-intuitive to ban the world's largest social communications website while other organs of the Vatican are expanding their active presence there. On May 25th, for instance, the Pope encouraged young people to use social media.
    Sure, Facebook can be a time-waster at work, but the solution to that temptation is not to ban access to it, but rather to address the unprofessional and selfish attitudes that cause people to waste time at work. In other words, the people that are abusing Facebook at work - once it is banned - will start wasting time with solitaire. And that's pretty tricky to ban.

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    Sunday, June 07, 2009

    A clarification from L'OR about its favorable Obama coverage?

    Maybe, but not enough yet:
    The Vatican newspaper has once again emphasized that when it comes to the Obama administration and pro-life issues, the Vatican and the U.S. bishops are in full agreement and that no compromise is possible on the right to life.

    The newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano, said it was a mistake to view its press coverage of Obama — which has been positive on many issues — as evidence that the Vatican is following a “different strategy” than the U.S. bishops in dealing with the new administration.

    The comments came in the newspaper’s June 5 edition, in an article criticizing the Obama administration’s restoration of federal funding for embryonic stem-cell research.

    The newspaper appeared to be defending itself against accusations by some U.S. Catholic commentators that its editorial line was too soft on Obama. (CNS Blog)
    I wouldn't say "too soft". I'd say "out of touch with reality." But here is L'OR's clarification:

    "It is appropriate to underline that in reporting on recent statements and initiatives of the president of the United States, L’Osservatore Romano has certainly not intended to express appreciation for his positions on questions of ethical importance.

    ... Obviously the Holy See and L’Osservatore Romano have been, are and will be fully at the side of the U.S. bishops in their commitment in favor of the inviolability of human life in whatever stage of its existence. Other interpretations have no foundation, especially those that have wanted to use the newspaper’s articles to make it appear that the teachings of the U.S. episcopate on the inherent evil of abortion were an exercise in partisan politics, supposedly in contrast with a different strategy of the Holy See.

    ... President Obama has shown himself to be open to dialogue and the U.S. bishops have welcomed this possibility in a positive manner. But in doing so, they have reaffirmed, and quite rightly, that in dialogue no compromise is ever possible on the fundamental question of the right to life."

    Three replies, one for each of the paragraphs quoted above:

    1) What L'OR has said certainly leaves it open to exactly that question. What could it have been praising except questions of ethical importance?

    2) L'OR expressly denies the claim made by some (mostly pro-Obama liberal Catholics) that "the teachings of the U.S. episcopate on the inherent evil of abortion were an exercise in partisan politics". I'm waiting for pro-Obama liberal Catholics to apologize for continually making this charge. Now is a time for them to prove that they themselves weren't engaging in partisan politics. I'm not holding my breath.

    3) Again we are confronted with the problem of dialogue. President Obama has "shown himself to be open to dialogue", L'OR claims. Well, no he hasn't. Because he has shown no openness to re-examining his position that abortion is a fundamental right of women. The technical description for this state of affairs is a dead-lock. It will continue as long as the bishops maintain their position (i.e., forever), and as long as Obama maintains his (forever, barring our vigorous activity to promote a culture of life at every level of our society and also ... well, prayer and fasting).

    I'll limit myself to these thoughts at present. But I am happy to see some clarification come from L'OR. Their statement creates the possibility for charitable correction as well as honestly assessing the facts.

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    Rumor: Di Noia is moving, but not state-side

    Earlier this week I reported on rumors that Augustine Di Noia, O.P. might be elevated to become the next bishop of Fort Wayne, Indiana.

    Now it appears (and my sources are confirming) that Di Noia is indeed due for a move ... but only across the street. It is speculated that this announcement will be made sometime this week.

    He will become the new secretary of the CDWDS (the #2 spot), a "bump upstairs" from his current position as undersecretary of the CDF (the #3 spot), taking over Abp. Ranjith's CDWDS position (who is expected to become Archbishop of Colombo, Sri Lanka).

    Di Noia, of course, will be elevated to the dignity of Archbishop as part of this move.

    Whispers has more, and predicts this curial shake-up next:

    "Among other top Curial posts slated to shift over the coming weeks are the presidencies of the Pontifical Councils for Christian Unity and Justice and Peace, where Cardinals Walter Kasper and Renato Martino have both long passed the retirement age of 75."

    This is turning into a very interesting summer.

    Odd, when I spent some time with Rev. Di Noia a month-and-a-half or so ago he didn't mention this plan to me. But then again, he was more occupied with congratulating his state-side brothers on their recent achievement.

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    Sunday, May 03, 2009

    Photos: Pope ordains 19 priests today in St. Peter's


    [AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia]
    CNA: "Fifty thousand filled St. Peter's Square to pray the Regina Coeli with Pope Benedict XVI at noon on Sunday, following Holy Mass in St Peter’s Basilica where he ordained 19 new priests for the Rome diocese. The Pontiff asked the faithful to pray for vocations and for his imminent journey to the Holy Land."

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    Monday, April 27, 2009

    Pope's next encyclical to be released June 29

    So says the AP:
    A Vatican cardinal says Pope Benedict XVI's encyclical on globalization and the poor is expected to be released June 29.

    The ANSA and Apnews agencies have quoted Cardinal Renato Martino, who heads the Vatican's office for justice and peace, as saying the encyclical is expected to be released on the feast of St. Peter and Paul, a major day for the church.

    Benedict has been working on "Caritas in veritate" (Charity in Truth) since 2007 but recently said he had held back on issuing it so that he could update it to reflect the global economic downturn.
    If the rumor is true, that means Pope Benedict will be releasing this encyclical one day after bestowing the pallium on this year's new archbishops, including American archbishops Dolan and Carlson (am I forgetting anyone? update - yes I was: Vigneron!).

    Ph/t: Brian Saint-Paul.

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    Tuesday, April 21, 2009

    Green: Vatican To Build 100 Megawatt Solar Power Plant

    There's money in the Vatican budget for this?
    "The Vatican is going solar in a big way. The tiny state recently announced that it intends to spend 660 million dollars to create what will effectively be Europe's largest solar power plant. This massive 100 megawatt photovoltaic installation will provide enough energy to make the Vatican the first solar powered nation state in the world! 'The 100 megawatts unleashed by the station will supply about 40,000 households. That will far outstrip demand by Pope Benedict XVI and the 900 inhabitants of the 0.2 square-mile country nestled across Rome's Tiber River. The plant will cover nine times the needs of Vatican Radio, whose transmission tower is strong enough to reach 35 countries including Asia.'" (Slashdot)
    Quote:
    “Now is the time to strike,” Cardinal Giovanni Lajolo, the Vatican City’s governor, said in an interview from his study overlooking the Michelangelo-designed Basilica of St. Peter’s. “One should take advantage of the crisis to try and develop these renewable-energy sources to the maximum, which in the long run will reap incomparable rewards.” (Bloomberg)
    What's next, an electric popemobile?
    Solarworld executives in November said it was time to think about a “green” popemobile and offered to give the pope a low- emissions electric car to replace the white armored Mercedes- Benz open-top G-Class used by the Vatican.

    While there has been no switchover since then, Lajolo at the time called an electric popemobile a “brilliant idea. If it costs less and can set an example, why not?”
    Doh!

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    Tuesday, April 07, 2009

    Report: Vatican has rejected 3 Obama picks for ambassador

    The Washington Times reports on Italian newspaper rumors (underlining mine):
    The Vatican has quietly rejected at least three of President Obama's candidates to serve as U.S. ambassador to the Holy See because they support abortion, and the White House might be running out of time to find an acceptable envoy before Mr. Obama travels to Rome in July, when he hopes to meet Pope Benedict XVI.

    Italian journalist Massimo Franco, who broke the story about the White House attempts to find a suitable ambassador to the Vatican, said papal advisers told Mr. Obama's aides privately that the candidates failed to meet the Vatican's most basic qualification on the abortion issue.

    ... He said the Vatican recognized that a foreign nation is free to appoint the ambassador of its choice but that the pope is free to reject a proposed envoy if he believes the candidate would "fail to improve relations" with the Catholic city-state.

    Mr. Franco, who has close connections at the Vatican, added that the rejection of the Obama candidates "would suggest that, at least so far, none of the potential Democratic diplomats were considered fit to 'improve relations' with the Holy See."
    In tandem, Headline Bistro adds (underlining mine):
    A longtime John Kerry supporter is about to land the prized position of U.S. ambassador to Italy, and Caroline Kennedy may join him nearby as ambassador to the Vatican, an Italian news magazine has claimed.

    In an April 2 article in Panorama, journalist Carlo Rossella predicted that 60-year-old David Thorne, a donor to the Obama campaign and brother-in-law of former presidential candidate John Kerry, will be given the post, per the request of Kerry himself.

    And in a report that will drop like a bombshell among Vatican watchers, Rosella also asserted that Caroline Kennedy – her own hopes to rise to the U.S. Senate dashed for now – has been suggested as the Obama administration’s ambassador to the Holy See.

    It’s an ironic tangle of State Department, campaign and even marriage connections that only adds fuel to speculation over who will represent the United States in two of the State Department’s most high-profile posts.

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    Sunday, March 29, 2009

    Papal spokesman Lombardi to resign in May?

    Damian Thompson at Holy Smoke picks up on some circulating reports:

    The Pope's press officer, Fr Federico Lombardi, is to resign after Benedict XVI's visit to the Holy Land, according to Italian and German press reports.

    Fr Lombardi, a Jesuit, presided over the mega-disaster of the Williamson affair. The Pope's decision to lift the SSPX excommunications was not his responsibility, but the Church's failure to anticipate the row and its grotesquely slow response to the worldwide row most certainly was.

    Then he allowed a question about Aids, condoms and Africa to be asked aboard the papal plane, which the Pope handled with less than total assurance and clarity. Sorry to have to make that point, but the fact that the Vatican press office felt it necessary to tinker with his quotes afterwards is revealing, don't you think?

    How about also addressing the Secretariat of State's involvement in these recent fiascoes?

    update - related:
    [David Gibson:] "Just as a bit of housekeeping, it seems that after changing some of Pope Benedict’s comments on condoms when he was in Africa–and prompting an uproar about the uproar–the official text is back to what the pope originally said on the plane to reporters. Why? Perhaps Fr. Lombardi told them to set it aright. Perhaps they are more confident that they can argue their case. Either way, here it is…"
    Perhaps Fr. Lombardi got a talking-to, or whoever was responsible.

    update 2 - context: Good analysis from Joan Desmond.

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    Thursday, March 26, 2009

    Pope Benedict XVI creates new diocese in the Philippines

    Yep, the pope can do this sort of thing:
    Pope Benedict XVI has created a new diocese in the Philippines and named its bishop.

    An article posted on CBCP Web site said the Pope elevated the Prelature of Libmanan in Camarines Sur and appointed Fr. Jose Rojas, 52, as its bishop.

    ... The Libmanan diocese has nearly 500,000 Catholics. It has 27 parishes and 51 priests.

    Following the Pope’s order, the Philippine Catholic Church now has a total of 16 archdioceses, 52 dioceses, seven apostolic vicariates, five territorial prelatures, and one military ordinariate.
    Cool - it's wonderful seeing the Church grow. The successor to Peter lives!

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    Thursday, March 19, 2009

    Rumor: John Paul II to be beatified on April 2, 2010?

    CNA (website seems to be having problems today):
    Pope John Paul II could be beatified on April 2, 2010, according to a report in the Polish newspaper Dziennik, which claims the Congregation for the Causes of the Saints has already made the decision.

    At the beginning of this month, Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz of Krakow said the beatification process of Pope John Paul II was about to be concluded and that Benedict XVI himself wanted to close the process “as soon as possible” because that “is what the world is asking for.”

    The beatification process of John Paul II began on June 28, 2005, two months after the death of the Pontiff thanks to a dispensation granted by Pope Benedict. The dispensation waived the normal five-year waiting period after a person dies that the Church requires before a cause for canonization can be opened.
    April 2nd, of course, would be the fifth anniversary of the late Holy Father's passing.

    Tom McFeely reports on the rumors in the Italian press, which are corroborative.

    Here is the website for the Cause of John Paul II, Servant of God.

    Mark the calednar and buy your plane tickets!

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    Secretariat of State responsible for post-editing of papal comments?

    So it seems. CNS blog explaining how what the pope said on the airplane ... well, changed, by the time his comments were published by the Vatican:

    Even allowing for translation differences, the pope didn’t speak of a “risk.” He said what he said.

    The Vatican made some other changes, too. For example, the pope said you couldn’t resolve the problem of AIDS only with money, explaining that assistance programs require a “soul” and spiritual help as well.

    But in the official Vatican version, “money” was, strangely, replaced by the phrase “advertising slogans.”

    Asked about the discrepancies, Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi said the tape is normally transcribed and then the text passes through the Secretariat of State for slight editing — to put it into good Italian if there are discontinuous expressions. But modifying the meaning of what the pope said is not supposed to be done, he said.

    Father Lombardi said he would have to verify what happened in this case and correct it if necessary.

    This, of course, is exactly what I predicted yesterday would happen.

    So why does the Secretariat of State get to oversee simple transcription tasks instead of the Vatican Press Office? Evidently because they like exercising editorial control over what the Pope says ... which I don't necessarily have a problem with in theory, but how it's being practiced now just makes a complete mess of things.

    Do the homework, please!

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    Monday, March 16, 2009

    Chinese to become 8th Vatican website language (+ a sneaky tip)

    From the Vatican Information Service bulletin:
    "... for the occasion of the Solemnity of St. Joseph, husband of the Virgin Mary and Patron of the Universal Church, the official website of the Holy See will be enhanced by the addition of a new section in Chinese".

    Chinese "will be the eighth language to be represented on the www.vatican.va website, which also includes Italian, English, French, Spanish, German, Portuguese and Latin.

    "Thanks to the new service", the communique concludes, "internet users from throughout the world will be able to navigate in Chinese to access the texts of His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI which will be available in both traditional and simplified Chinese characters".
    Also, if you remember that picture I posted of the Vatican website "Obama-fied", you'll probably be interested in what the artist has decided to do - make it fully functional:

    "since the mock-up was so popular, I've created a full-blown version with active links, a Web feed, and a few other nice features. I'm planning to keep the blog and the other elements regularly updated -- so people can basically use this as their "substitute" Vatican site. The full, working version is here." - Shaun Gallagher

    Now don't get riled - I'm not suggesting a parallel Magisterium or anything! - just promoting a more accessible portal to find documents and information on the existing Vatican website. I think it could prove useful. Hey, it has an RSS feed.

    And sorry, there's no way to avoid the occasional mention of "Benedict XVII". Yeah - Benedict the 17th!

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    Friday, March 13, 2009

    Vatican rumors

    Whispers speculates about the future Archbishop of Westminster and an upcoming curial shake-up (one is always in the works, it seems), while recapping what's going on with the Legion (although if you've been reading AmP, there's nothing new mentioned). All round, a bit of a slow period - but things will speed up again soon I trust.

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    Thursday, March 12, 2009

    Photos: this is *not* how a Vatican spokesman should look!

    Someone needs to get the message to Vatican spokesman Fr. Federico Lombardi that when you're in front of the cameras you don't touch your face this much! The Reuters photo journalist had a field day:




    These still images make it appear that Fr. Lombardi is extremely uncomfortable with what he has to say, or the position he is in. I doubt this is the case - but he appears that way from these photos. And he could completely avoid this false appearance by simply folding his hands and staring into the cameras - like a spokesman.

    [Photo credit: REUTERS/Alessia Pierdomenico]

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    Thursday, March 05, 2009

    Breaking: US court allows man to sue Vatican

    I've seen similar stores in the past, but this one appears a bit more serious/believable:

    In one what lawyers said was a landmark ruling, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in Portland, Oregon, decided that victims of sexual abuse by priest can take legal action against the Vatican - which has been accused of covering up for offenders - even though it is considered a sovereign nation.

    When the case finally came to court last year, the Holy See claimed immunity under an American law - the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act (FSIA) - that grants immunity before US courts to foreign states.

    However, the court said that abuse could be an exception to the act, adding that the Vatican has "control over the priest in terms of his removal and his transfers, enough control that it can be held legally responsible as the master of the priest".

    The ruling was "a major breakthrough in the sense that the problem emanates from the top", said Jeff Anderson, a lawyer for the plaintiff. (UK Telegraph)

    ... or am I off base and this isn't going anywhere?

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    Monday, February 16, 2009

    Magister: "The Legion Is in Disarray. Betrayed by its Founder"

    Noted Vatican analyst Sandro Magister picks up on the Maciel scandal:

    "New revelations about the second life of Fr. Marcial Maciel. He was not only guilty of sexual abuse, but also had a lover and a daughter. The Legionaries of Christ are in danger of collapse. Some are calling for an apostolic visitor. Or for direct intervention by the pope"

    Read Magister's column here.

    Most of what Magister says I've already published at some point. A few of his observations:

    [Fr. Corcuera's] authority has been deeply shaken. Fr. Corcuera was always extremely close to the founder. The latter's misconduct inevitably reflects back on him, and on other leaders in the congregation. In part for reasons of personal conduct, therefore, the congregation of the Legionaries of Christ no longer seems to be capable of managing its own recovery. Some of the priests who are highly respected in the congregation – Thomas Berg, Richard Gill, and Thomas Williams – see no solution other than an authoritative intervention by the Holy See.

    ... In order to overcome the latest resistance, in 2006, it took a direct order from Benedict XVI to require Fr. Maciel to retire to a penitential life. The secretary of state at the time, Cardinal Angelo Sodano, defended the founder of the Legionaries to the end.

    Magister's covering of this story is significant because he is widely read inside the Vatican.

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    Wednesday, February 11, 2009

    John Haldane says "Time for 'God's Rottweiler' to show his bark – and his bite"

    John Haldane, Professor of Philosophy at the University of St Andrews and Consultor to the Pontifical Council for Culture in the Scotsman:
    [Pope Benedict is] a gentle man and not at all the strict and harsh disciplinarian suggested by the tabloid title "God's Rottweiler". In view of recent events, however, it may be that some barking and biting are now called for.

    ...it has been revealed that the founder of another traditionalist Catholic movement, the Legionnaries of Christ, fathered at least one child by a girl of 15 when he was 68. Marcial Maciel had long been the subject of accusations of sexual predation, but his movement produced hundreds of priests and he found favour with John Paul II.
    I've come across these rumors that the woman Maciel impregnated was 15 at the time she became pregnant. Currently, however, I do not find them credible and have strong private evidence that she was not a minor. Once again, however, the Legion's secrecy makes it impossible to definitively dismiss these rumors, so in all likilihood they will continue to spread.

    Anyway, Haldane continues:
    ... [Maciel's] movement, however, was not reformed. Benedict had acted, but the Vatican had not followed through, and members of the Legionnaries behaved as if it were business as usual. So, again, the charge arises: did the Vatican not care or did it not know. Either way, its failure imperils Pope Benedict's project of reform, renewal, and restoration.
    Yes - the current situation is a wound to the universal Church that does not promise to heal itself.

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    Monday, February 09, 2009

    Update: Argentine seminary ousts Holocaust-denying bishop

    Progress:

    Roman Catholic bishop whose denials of the Holocaust led to Vatican demands he recant has been removed as the head of an Argentine seminary.

    The ultraconservative Society of St. Pius X said in a statement e-mailed Monday to The Associated Press that it has dismissed British Bishop Richard Williamson as director of its seminary in La Reja, outside Buenos Aires.

    "The statements from Monsignor Williamson do not in any way reflect the position of our congregation," said Father Christian Bouchacourt, the society's South American superior. "A Catholic bishop cannot speak with ecclesiastical authority except on matters concerning faith and morality. Our brotherhood does not claim any authority over other questions." (AP)

    Related:

    Maybe this one can be quietly put to bed soon.

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    Disappointment at the Vatican press office

    Today, in the first bulletin from the Vatican press office after the weekend (summarizing February 7-9th), the following news items were considered important enough to publish:
    • the Pope made public his message for the seventeenth World Day of the Sick
    • the Pope appeared at the window to pray the Angelus (as he does every week)
    • the Pope launched an appeal for peace [in Madagascar]
    • the Pope and German Chancellor Angela Merkel had a phone conversation
    • Cardinal Bertone expressed appreciation of the attempts to save the life of Eluana (We are all presumed to know about this case since it is in Italian news. And this is an international news service?)
    • the Pope received the Letters of the new ambassador of Brazil (a photo op, in other words)
    • the usual announcement of recent papal audiences (this week it has been Nigerian bishops)
    • the usual noting of recent papal acts (an interesting appointment to "director for telecommunications" - maybe someone got fired? I'll have to track that question down some other time.)

    ... anyway, my simple point is: no mention of the Legionary crisis. Not even a note of condolence from the Holy Father over the public admission of the scandalous life of Maciel, a revelation which is clearly shaking thousands of LC and RC members worldwide. And this situation does not merit a mention?

    update: I should make myself clear, especially since I have many new readers who don't know where I am coming from: I'm not impugning the pope in this post, I'm simply saying that it strikes me, an independent observer, as odd that so many things are done by the pope and in the pope's name every day - so why a selective silence when it comes to an objectively grave situation like the one facing the Legionaries? I don't apprehend, immediately, the prudence of not even expressing sympathy for the victims and members of the movement.

    You will recall that it was an "information vacuum" that exacerbated the SSPX-Holocaust situation. I would hate to see the Maciel meltdown follow the same general trajectory - because that can still be avoided.

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    Sunday, February 08, 2009

    Analysis: How do Maciel and the Legionary charism relate?

    Canon Lawyer Edward Peters (my father) asks the question that, if Maciel was in fact a criminal, then how is one to understand his charism?

    I think it's the most important question of practical theology one can ask in this situation. The claim is being made by Legionary leaders that Maciel's charism, because it has the approval of a Vatican dicastery, no longer relies on Maciel's own person:
    "... setting aside questions about what exactly the Legion's "charism" is, Legion spokesmen are invoking the ecclesiastical approval of their charism in the same terms that one sees used to defend the celebration of sacraments by grave sinners, that is, as if dicastery approval of a charism worked ex opere operato to guarantee the authenticity and spiritual fecundity of a given charism. I ask, says who?
    For those not familiar with the term ex opere operato, in this case, Peters is claiming that Legionary leaders are saying their charism was transmitted intact regardless of the personal virtue of Maciel (just like the Church teaches sacraments convey grace to the recipient regardless of the minister's personal virtue). However, a charism is not a sacrament, so the question remains open to debate, a debate which Peters takes up next:
    "Notwithstanding some authors who think that Roman approval of a religious institute enjoys the certitude of (one level or another) of infallibility, the better opinion is, I think, that ecclesiastical approval of a religious institute's charism is not protected by any level of infallibility. See Avery Dulles, Magisterium (2007) at 78."
    That's Cardinal Avery Dulles, the renown theologian, so his opinion holds some serious weight.

    Why is this question of Maciel and the Legionary charism important for moving forward? Peters:
    "[if Church approval of a charism is not infallible, this] would let us explore the question of the Legion's future with a frankness that would be harder to muster if one feared impugning a determination made by the Church's magisterium."
    Here again, the Vatican could provide us clarity. In the meantime, serious debate is welcome.

    update: Peter Vere, another canon lawyer, has published his thoughts on these (and related) topics in an interview over at the Life After RC blog. I found several of his points to be helpful.

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    Update: Holocaust denier Bp. Williamson will review evidence

    The Associated Press:
    A bishop who faces a Vatican demand to recant his denial of the Holocaust said he would correct himself if he is satisfied by the evidence, but insisted that examining it "will take time," a German magazine reported Saturday.

    Richard Williamson is one of four bishops from the ultraconservative Society of St. Pius X whose excommunication was lifted by the Vatican last month. The decision sparked outrage because Williamson had said in a television interview he did not believe any Jews were gassed during the Holocaust.

    On Wednesday, the Vatican demanded that Williamson recant his denial before he can be admitted as a bishop into the Roman Catholic Church.

    Williamson made clear he does not plan to comply immediately, and rejected a suggestion that he might visit the Auschwitz death camp, the weekly Der Spiegel reported.

    "Since I see that there are many honest and intelligent people who think differently, I must look again at the historical evidence," the British bishop was quoted as saying.

    "It is about historical evidence, not about emotions," he added, according to the report. "And if I find this evidence, I will correct myself. But that will take time."
    Yeah, Google searches can take lots of time, especially when they turn up 28 million hits.

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    Friday, February 06, 2009

    An update on the SSPX situation

    I blogged extensively on this controversy here. Today, two signs of hope:

    "Not only has the SSPX started removing questionable texts on Jews from their websites, but word is now that clergy who refuse to adopt a new line are also getting the boot. Rorate Caeli cites Italian sources reporting that Father Floriano Abrahamowicz, the SSPX priest responsible for Northeast Italy, was expelled today.

    This could get ugly. But it certainly seems to signal that the schismatic Traditionalists of the SSPX may be getting serious about “cleaning” up their act. Could Williamson’s “recantation” be next? And what would Pope Benedict XVI do then?"

    {Of problems to have, dealing with a contrite Williamson doesn't strike me as a particularly bad one.}

    "... Father Federico Lombardi, the director of the Vatican press office, conceded that the Holy See has not handle public relations effectively ... [he said] “I think we still have to create a communications culture inside the Curia, where each dicastery communicates by itself, not necessarily thinking of going through the press room or issuing an explanatory note when the issue is complex.”

    The director of the Holy See Press Office took aim at Cardinal Dario Castrillon Hoyos and others who were involved in the decision to lift the SSPX bishops’ excommunications. “They didn't take the views of the other bishops enough into account,” he said. “One thing that's certain is that the pope didn't know [about Bishop Williamson’s denial of the Holocaust’s extent]. If someone should have known, it was Cardinal Castrillon Hoyos.”

    {This is some sign, at least, that those responsible for communicating the pope's message realize that the current modus operandi isn't working. Let's hope the lessons learned from this debacle sink in - deeply.}

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    Monday, February 02, 2009

    Breaking: New Abp. of New York to be announced soon

    A Newsmax exclusive:

    Pope Benedict XVI is set to announce a new Archbishop of New York to replace Cardinal Edward Egan, an informed Vatican source tells Newsmax.

    Speaking on condition of anonymity, the source says the decision was made today and an announcement is expected “within the next week to ten days”. He says Cardinal Egan’s successor is from the “conservative and orthodox” wing of the Church.

    .... Names often cited as Egan’s possible successor include Archbishop Harry Mansell of Hartford, Archbishop Timothy Dolan of Milwaukee, Archbishop Wilton Gregory of Atlanta, Archbishop John Myers of Newark, Archbishop Roberto Gonzalez Nieves of San Juan.

    Best guess among the candidates?

    "... The Pope has chosen an archbishop who is “dynamic, conservative and orthodox”, he says – traits which Vatican watchers say best match those of Archbishop Dolan. The 59 year old prelate is said to be good with the media, genuine, and intelligent. He also has Irish ancestry, a common characteristic of previous archbishops of New York."I think Dolan would be very good news for New York.

    (Odd that Whispers didn't have this story first....)

    I'll be watching this story closely and will update you if I hear anything more credible.

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    U.S. Women Religious to receive Apostolic Visitation

    Recently, the Vatican concluded a comprehensive examination of the seminaries and houses of formation for Priests and male religious. Now it has been announced that a similar procedure will take place for religious sisters in the United States. The Associated Press:

    The Vatican has begun a first-ever comprehensive study of women's religious orders in the United States, four decades into a steep decline in the number of Roman Catholic sisters and nuns in the country.

    The study, ordered by a Vatican congregation in December and announced Friday in Washington, will examine "the quality of the life" of 59,000 members in more than 400 Catholic women's religious institutes, said Sister Eva-Maria Ackerman, a spokeswoman for the study, which is called an apostolic visitation.

    For those interested, Cardinal Franc Rode, who will oversee the Vatican-side of things, has a lengthy text on the topic. There is also an official website for the program.

    How the process will work:

    First, Mother Clare will solicit voluntary input from the superiors general through inviting them to make personal contacts with her in Rome or in the United States. During the second stage, the major superiors in the United States will be asked for information such as statistics, activities and community practices. Selected on-site visits will be made during the third stage. During this time, the sisters will have an opportunity to share with the visitation teams their joys and hopes, challenges and concerns about their lives as women religious in the Church today. The final stage will be the compilation and delivery of a comprehensive and confidential review by Mother Clare to Cardinal Rodé. (PDF file)

    My initial reactions:
    • Check-ups are always a good thing. Broadly speaking, however, female religious orders have not exhibited the same set of problems as many seminaries and houses of formation for male religious did (particularly in recent decades). Nevertheless, accountability to the Vatican and attentiveness to the needs of and concerns about female religious should yield good fruit.
    • The initiative appears well-run at the outset. The website, transparency of the process, etc., are welcome changes of pace from the (sadly) more typical situations of bureaucracy and inneficiency that plague these sort of huge undertakings.

    But that's just me. I'd especially be interested to hear what people closer to the process are thinking, especially religious sisters, although obviously many cloistered orders and sisters in their postulancy stage don't always have access to the internet (or time to fritter away on humble blogs like my own). Still, it's worth a shot.

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    Monday, January 26, 2009

    Papist Quote of the Day

    From an AFP article entitled "Vatican official accuses Obama of 'arrogance'":
    "Fisichella is president of the Pontifical Academy for Life, one of a number of so-called pontifical academies which are formed by or under the direction of the Holy See."
    *Ahem* - "so-called"?! That's exactly what it's called.

    I guess any body that dares to criticize Obama's decisions must be relegated to "so-called" status.

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    Saturday, January 24, 2009

    Vatican 2.0: Pope Benedict gets his own YouTube channel!

    As reported earlier:

    Puffs of smoke, speeches in Latin and multipage encyclicals have all been used by the Vatican to communicate with the faithful. Now the pope is trying to broaden his audience by joining the wannabe musicians, college pranksters and water-skiing squirrels on YouTube.

    In his inaugural YouTube foray Friday, Pope Benedict XVI welcomed viewers to this "great family that knows no borders" and said he hoped they would "feel involved in this great dialogue of truth."

    "Today is a day that writes a new page in history for the Holy See," Vatican Radio said in describing the launch of the site, http://youtube.com/vatican (AP)

    Let's see if we can embed the channel:

    If not, enjoy this video (the most popular on the channel right now):

    I'm *so* excited about this initiative! But they need to enable embedding at some point....

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    Monday, January 19, 2009

    Prayers for Pope's latinist Fr. Reggie Foster

    Father Reginald Foster is the Pope's principal Latinist, and his positive influence is immeasurable.

    From AmP reader Vince (I've edited out some of what I consider personal medical details):

    Reginald continues to have serious health problems, ever since his fall last June. He has basically been bed ridden ever since that incident I just returned from the hospital where I was allowed (after a two hour wait) to go in and see Reggie. He was not conscious, but he did open one eye slightly for a moment when I spoke to him. Some of you may be hearing this news from other sources, but I just wanted to make sure that you heard. Say a prayer for Reggie.

    Amen.

    update: Fr. Z is organizing a spiritual bouquet to send to Fr. Reggie.

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    Thursday, January 15, 2009

    AP writes about big, scary "secret Vatican confession tribunal"

    The AP decided to celebrate Halloween in January I guess with a story entitled "Vatican secret confession tribunal opens up". It begins:

    "One of the Vatican's most secrecy shrouded tribunals, which handles confessions of sins so grave only the pope can grant absolution, is giving the faithful a peek into its workings for the first time in its 830-year history."

    Shock! Horror!

    "Confessions of even the most heinous of crimes and sins — such as genocide or mass murder — are handled at the local level by priests and their bishops and are not heard by the tribunal.

    Its work involves those sins that are reserved for the pope — considered so serious that a local priest or bishop is not qualified to grant absolution, said Cardinal James Francis Stafford, an American who heads the Apostolic Penitentiary."

    Eeek! Gasp!

    "Taking up nearly an entire city block, it is just steps away from one of Rome's most profane piazzas — Campo dei Fiori, filled with bars catering to tourists and college-age Americans studying abroad."

    Oh the humanity!
    ... so okay, the Vatican has a tribunal that deals with absolving very grave sins. It's called the Apostolic Penitentiary, but don't let the name fool you: sins are kept here (for a time), not sinners. And yes, because many of the crimes in question involve the sacrament of confession, it's not surprising that the subject matter is often kept, well, secret.
    Oh yeah, and Italians don't go to confession much. That's a problem too, but it has nothing to do with the Apostolic Penitentiary. And it's pretty clear to me that the AP reporter (with visions of Dan Brown running through his head, no doubt) was just looking for material to fill-out his spook piece on the big, bad Vatican A.P., and chose the topic of promoting the sacrament of confession.
    The ironic thing, of course, is that the Apostolic Penitentiary is actually a tribunal of mercy (not of punishment), that dispenses forgiveness from God for these horrible crimes according to the laws of the Church. The Apostolic Penitentiary is one of the few tribunals that keeps running even when the Pope is dead and a new one has not yet been elected - because the Church continues to dispense to mankind the means of salvation even when she is without a visible head.

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    Monday, January 12, 2009

    Pio Cardinal Laghi, US-Vatican diplomat, dies

    The news:

    In this March 5, 2003 file photo President Bush welcomes Cardinal Pio Laghi, Pope John Paul II's envoy, left, during a meeting on the looming war with Iraq, in the Oval Office at the White House in Washington. Cardinal Pio Laghi, a longtime Vatican diplomat who went to Washington in 2003 to personally try to dissuade President George Bush from launching the Iraq war, died in the evening of Saturday Jan. 10, 2009 in Rome, the Vatican said Sunday, Jan 11, 2009. He was 86. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
    President Bush has released a statement of condolance. More from the AP:

    The Italian-born Laghi had a long career in the Vatican diplomatic corps, serving first in Nicaragua in 1952. He was dispatched to India, Jerusalem and the Palestinian territories, Cyprus, Greece and Argentina before being named envoy to Washington in 1980.

    At the time, there were no formal diplomatic relations between the United States and the Holy See; Laghi oversaw the establishment of ties in 1984 and remained as the Vatican's permanent diplomatic representative there until he was recalled to Rome to serve as prefect of the Vatican's Congregation for Catholic Education.

    Prayers for the repose of his soul.

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    Wednesday, December 24, 2008

    Photo: Christmas Eve in St. Peter's Square

    "People walk around a Nativity scene, center below the obelisk, in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican, Wednesday, Dec. 24, 2008. Pope Benedict XVI is gearing up for his Christmas celebrations with Midnight Mass in St. Peter's Basilica. The Vatican's Christmas festivities began several hours earlier Wednesday with the unveiling of the larger-than-life Nativity scene next to the Vatican's largest-ever Christmas tree in St. Peter's Square. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)."

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    Sunday, December 14, 2008

    Photos: The Vatican's Tree is Lit

    One huge honkin' tree!



    Caption: "The Vatican's tallest Christmas tree is seen twinkling in St. Peter's Square, at the Vatican, Saturday, Dec. 13, 2008. Hundreds of pilgrims from the firs' native Austria sang carols in the pouring rain Saturday as the tree was officially unveiled. The Vatican says the 109-foot (33-meter) red spruce from the Piesting Valley is the tallest since Pope John Paul II started the tradition of setting up a tree in the square in 1982."

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    Wednesday, December 10, 2008

    Vatican Christmas Decoration Details

    Today's Bulletino tells us the 2008 Vatican Christmas Tree will arrive on the 12th, a gift from lower Austria:

    The lighting ceremony of the tree in the square, a Norway spruce 33 metres high from the municipality of Gutenstein, will take place at 4.30 p.m. on Saturday 13 December. The tree, which has been decorated with more than 2,000 baubles and a large star, will be lit by a boy from the Altenburg Choir in the course of a brief ceremony due to be presided by Cardinal Giovanni Lajolo, president of the Governorate of Vatican City State, accompanied by Bishop Renato Boccardo, secretary general of the Governorate. Austrian government representatives and pilgrims will participate in the event, during which musicians and singers from Ziersdorf and Altenburg will provide musical accompaniment.

    This year's nativity scene will have as its theme the "walls of Bethlehem":

    The Christmas decorations in St. Peter's Square will be completed on the evening of 24 December with the unveiling of the nativity scene located at the centre of the square. The scene of Jesus' birth, which dominates centre stage, is this year located under a temporary structure of wooden planks in the lee of "walls of Bethlehem". The setting on the outskirts of the town is emphasised by the presence of a watchtower, by a large gateway that serves as backdrop to the Nativity, and by humble dwellings stretching along the walls themselves. The scene is populated by a series of statuesque figures, some of which come from the nativity scene created by St. Vincent Pallotti in the Roman church of Sant'Andrea della Valle in 1842.

    Here is what last year's Vatican Christmas adornments looked like (credit: Laura Santoboni):
    I hope to have photos of this year's decorations online promptly, once they are unveiled in Rome!

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    Wednesday, December 03, 2008

    Female Swiss Guards?

    CNS:
    The Swiss Guard's new commander said he was willing to consider the possibility of allowing female recruits.

    When asked in an interview after his appointment whether women would one day be able to join the elite papal guard, Anrig told a Swiss news Web site, www.swissinfo.ch, that although he was unfamiliar with the finer details of the Swiss Guard regulations he believed, "as commandant, one has to be always open to new questions including those relating to recruitment."
    Right now, I'd say a 173 centimeter tall man has more of a chance than a woman. Not kidding.

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    Tuesday, December 02, 2008

    US Bishops to get extra year to prepare Ad Limina report

    Until mid-2010, is the bottom-line. This delay caused by the Vatican's considerable backlog.

    The Vatican's considerable backlog caused by several factors, including many new bishops:

    According to the Vatican's official statistical yearbook, at the end of 1983 there were 2,285 diocesan bishops in the world and they had 651 coadjutor or auxiliary bishops.

    By the end of 2006 -- the year covered in the most recent edition of the yearbook -- there were 2,705 diocesan bishops with 606 coadjutor or auxiliary bishops.

    In essence, that means that in 1983 the pope would have had to meet an average of 457 diocesan bishops each year in order to see them all every five years. By 2006, the average number of meetings needed each year rose to 541. (CNS)

    Here's a solution: let me meet with them first, and I'll screen out the baddies. ;-)

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    Monday, December 01, 2008

    Vatican's ITC takes a look at Natural Law

    Interesting....
    The International Theological Commission is celebrating its plenary session from 1 to 5 December in the Vatican's "Domus Sanctae Marthae", under the chairmanship of Archbishop Luis Francisco Ladaria Ferrer S.J., secretary general of the commission.

    The commission, which has a five-year mandate that expires this year, will study the matters presented for it to examine, says a communique published today. In particular, a draft document on natural moral law entitled "The search for universal ethics. A new look at natural law", will be presented for members' approval. The draft document will still have to follow the procedures laid down in the Statutes before any publication. (VIS)

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    Saturday, November 29, 2008

    First Sunday of Advent

    Fr. Z and NLM walk us through this evening's papal liturgy. Remember to light your advent wreath!

    [photo credit: REUTERS/Giampiero Sposito (VATICAN)]

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    Wednesday, November 26, 2008

    Vatican turns to Korean for economic advice

    Tucked away at the very end of Monday's Vatican bulletino:
    "VATICAN CITY, 24 NOV 2008 (VIS) - The Holy Father appointed .... Thomas Han Hong-soon as international auditor of the Prefecture of the Economic Affairs of the Holy See."
    Good stuff from a Zenit exposition and Catholic Asian News.

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    Monday, November 24, 2008

    Another surprise for the Vatican's Nativity Scene this year?

    Maybe-could-be:
    This week the Vatican City government began work on the construction of a new Nativity scene that will be on display in St. Peter’s Square this Christmas.

    During this past week, with the Church preparing to celebrate final holy day of the liturgical year, the solemnity of Christ the King, dozens of workers began building a curious thirteen feet tall semi-circular structure that partially surrounding the great obilesk in St. Peter’s Square.

    CNA asked the Holy See’s Press Office about the theme chosen for this year’s Nativity scene. “The theme of the Nativity scene is chosen and implemented by the Vatican government, and only when the work is completed will the Holy See be informed of the theme,” Sister Giovanna Gentili, SFP, said.

    Last year the Vatican government chose the new theme of the Holy Family in Nazareth instead of in Bethlehem. Due to the [un]usual, semicircular aspect of the preparations, many expect the Holy See to unveil another surprise this Christmas season.
    Okay, Roman Papists ... send me photos!

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    Friday, November 07, 2008

    John Allen on the future of U.S-Vatican relations

    On the whole, I support John Allen's contribution:
    "For the record, nobody from the Obama transition team has solicited my advice about relations with the Vatican, and I would frankly be surprised if the question were yet on their radar screen. Others, however, are already speculating about how things might shake out; on Wednesday, for example, Reuters moved a story predicting a “tricky” relationship between Rome and the Obama White House because of the abortion issue. As a thought exercise, I decided to pen an open letter to the president-elect about U.S.-Vatican ties over the next four years."
    Allen also tells a story from the Clinton years I found worth repeating:

    Finally, one last piece of unsolicited advice: Mr. President-Elect, whatever else you do, please try to avoid repeating the mistakes of the last Democratic administration with regard to the Vatican.

    In his memoirs, former Vatican Ambassador Raymond Flynn tells a depressing story from 1994 illustrating what I mean. During the lead-up to the U.N. conference on population in Cairo in 1994, Pope John Paul II called Flynn to the Vatican on a Saturday morning to personally request a telephone conversation with President Clinton. Flynn relayed the request urgently to the White House that afternoon, and got no response. He called again on Sunday and on Monday, both times with no results. Frustrated, Flynn then got on a plane to Washington on Tuesday. He cooled his heels outside the president’s office that night and most of Wednesday. Finally, he was admitted to the White House’s pre-Cairo war room, where he was told by Assistant Secretary of State Timothy Wirth that “nobody is getting a chance to lobby the president on this one.” Dumbfounded, Flynn explained that the Bishop of Rome is not a lobbyist, and that it would be seen as a profound act of disrespect if the president wouldn’t even get on the phone. After almost a week, Clinton finally agreed to take the pope’s call.

    The episode was symptomatic of a basic disinterest within the Clinton team about the Vatican, which at times shaded off into hostility. The result was that the U.S.-Vatican relationship during the Clinton years was more often defined by predictable differences than by imaginative areas of common purpose.

    For what it’s worth, Mr. President-Elect, my advice is to get on the phone if the pope calls. Better yet, initiate the conversation yourself. You might be surprised about where it goes.

    It's no secret that the Clintons were basically jerks to Pope John Paul II when they could get away with it.

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    Thursday, November 06, 2008

    "Black Pope could follow Barack Obama's election, says US archbishop"

    I hope this is an example of a mainstream paper misinterpreting Archbishop Gregory's meaning - but some of the quotes are just hard to get around:

    The election of Barack Obama as the first African-American US President could pave the way for the election of the first black Pope, according to a leading black American Catholic.

    Wilton Daniel Gregory, 60, the Archbishop of Atlanta, said that in the past Pope Benedict XVI had himself suggested that the election of a black pontiff would "send a splendid signal to the world" about the universal Church.

    Archbishop Gregory, who in 2001 became the first African American to head the US Bishops Conference, serving for three years, said that the election of Mr Obama was "a great step forward for humanity and a sign that in the United States the problem of racial discrimination has been overcome". Like Mr Obama Archbishop Gregory comes from Chicago, and was previously Bishop of Belleville, Illinois. (UK Times)

    There are some obvious problems here:
    • The selection of popes does not follow "the trend" set by our selection of American Presidents. The idea that Rome looks to where the American voter is tending ... is just silly.
    • I'd like to see Pope Benedict's exact quote, but I'm sure he wasn't advocating some sort of affirmative action in the selection of popes for the universal Church, and I dislike this whole notion that the Catholic Church has to elect a black pope to prove that it does not discriminate. That's an American hang-up, not the Universal Church's. Frankly, you could make a better argument that the Vatican tends to be euro-centric, and as an American shouldn't I be complaining about that? Nope. So what - we've been getting great popes.
    • I'm happy to hear Archbishop Gregory say the election of Obama means that racial discrimination "has been overcome", though I doubt the USCCB will uniformly act as if it agrees in the future.

    The other quotes from Archbishop Gregory are more nuanced and I get the distinct feeling he's being re-read through the Times' lenses.

    I do also resist this attempt by the Times and other papers to claim some sort of Vatican endorsement of Obama as Obama. Every official statement I've seen so far from the Vatican is an endorsement of Obama as President.

    And it's no surprise - Obama will be the leader of the most powerful country in the world and the Church is a universal institution with universal interests and considerations to take into account.

    And I'd like to see the original interview in La Stampa.

    Oh and - seriously - Richard Owen gets put up in Rome by the Times to report "trends" and make "predictions" like this?

    Next up ... "Does the recent mention of iPods at the World Synod of Bishops signal that the Church is switching from PCs to Macs?!"

    update: the AFP's headline is even worse: "Catholic Church ready for black pope: US archbishop".

    ... yeah, because I can just see those cardinals in the Vatican reading their morning paper:

    "Good heavens! The Americans elected a black man as their President! Why - do you know what this means? It means we can finally have a black pope! This is awesome news. I'd like another espresso, please."
    Yeah, right.

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    Wednesday, November 05, 2008

    Statements: Pope, Vatican, Bishops react to Obama victory

    The CNS blog is tracking the statements. Here are the significant ones....
    • Fluff from Vatican spokesman Lombardi.
    • More substance from Cardinal George, president of the USCCB: "We pray that you will use the powers of your office to meet them with a special concern to defend the most vulnerable among us and heal the divisions in our country and our world. We stand ready to work with you in defense and support of the life and dignity of every human person."
    • The Pope's message was private: "Asked if the pope mentioned any specific issues he was concerned about, Father Lombardi responded, "peace, solidarity and justice."
    • L'Osservatore Romano, meanwhile, the official Vatican Newspaper: "the article said, the vote for Obama was "very pragmatic" because he was the "more convincing" candidate for "an electorate needing new hope, especially for a quick economic recovery."

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    Tuesday, November 04, 2008

    Vatican workers have to use swipe cards again

    Union! Union!

    For the first time since Pope John XXIII, Vatican workers from office staff to cardinals have been issued swipe cards for clocking on and off at work.

    Ansa reports the Vatican City State has issued new cards to all employees from the lowest office staff to the grandest heads of departments, including priests or bishops.
    The swipe cards have reportedly been received without complaint by the lay staff but some older clerics have been heard grumbling that Pope John XXII abolished timekeeping in the early 1960s.

    They fondly remembered that Pope John thought that keeping staff on the clock worked against the flexibility they needed.

    The clerics complain that clocking in and out is a headache when they have to leave the office on twice weekly pastoral duty.

    The timekeeping scheme is part of a new meritocracy drive at the Vatican, which is set to introduce performance related pay next year. (CathNews)

    A "meritocracy"?

    What's next - justification through works?!

    update: Bloomberg has more details (Ph/t: Fr. Z.)

    Picture: Flick user plemeljr

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    Monday, October 27, 2008

    "Catholic bishops want the word of God on iPods"

    But really, not just iPods - everywhere:
    Catholic bishops meeting in Rome said Friday they want the word of God to be heard through what could be considered an unlikely channel: iPods.

    The bishops, attending a synod at the Vatican since October 5, called for increased distribution of the Bible "in the largest variety of our planet's languages".

    They said in a message to believers that the printed text is no longer sufficient at a time when communication has been transformed by technology.

    "The voice of the divine word must also resonate over the radio, Internet channels with virtual online distribution, CDs, DVDs, iPod ...", it said.

    It went on to add to the list "television and cinema screens, in the press, at cultural and social events." (AFP)
    It is good that they are saying this, but let us remember that the Catholic laity are already doing us a huge service by distributing the teaching's of the bishops using these new technologies. The examples are too many to name.

    Ph/t: Whipsers (who also tries to do some naming).

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    Proposed: Women lectors

    CNS Blog:
    Probably the most newsy — and somewhat unexpected — item in the final propositions of the Synod of Bishops on the Bible was a proposal to allow women to be officially installed in the ministry of lector.

    The issue was raised in Proposition 17 on “The ministry of the word and women,” and on Saturday morning it passed with 191 votes in favor, 45 opposed and three abstentions, according to our sources.

    ... The question is whether women can be officially installed in such a ministry. Until now, the Vatican has said no: canon law states that only qualified lay men can be “installed on a stable basis in the ministries of lector and acolyte.” At the same time, canon law does allow for “temporary deputation” as lector to both men and women, which is why women routinely appear as lectors.
    Disagreement:
    It’s interesting that this proposal, while passing overwhemlingly, drew the greatest number of “no” votes than any of the other 54 propositions, most of which passed with fewer than five opposing votes.
    Waiting to hear a canonist's take...

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    Friday, October 24, 2008

    Pope Benedict picks three alternative endings for Mass

    No - not in the way you are thinking. I'm referring to the very last prayers that the priest says:
    The Vatican has prepared three alternative endings for the priest's words of dismissal at Mass, to emphasize the missionary spirit of the liturgy.

    Pope Benedict XVI personally chose the three options from suggestions presented to him after a two-year study, Cardinal Francis Arinze told the Synod of Bishops in mid-October.

    The Vatican newspaper, L'Osservatore Romano, published an interview Oct. 17 with Cardinal Arinze, head of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments.

    He said along with "Ite, missa est," the Latin phrase now translated as "The Mass is ended, go in peace," the new options are:

    "Ite ad Evangelium Domini annuntiandum" (Go and announce the Gospel of the Lord).

    "Ite in pace, glorificando vita vestra Dominum" (Go in peace, glorifying the Lord by your life).

    "Ite in pace" (Go in peace).
    Quotable Arinze:
    The idea for alternative words at the end of Mass was raised at the 2005 Synod of Bishops on the Eucharist. Many bishops wanted the final words to reflect a more explicit connection between Mass and the church's mission of evangelization in the world.

    Cardinal Arinze said the concern was that, for many Catholics, the present words of dismissal sounded like "The Mass is ended, go and rest." (John Thavis)
    Love that cardinal.

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    Thursday, October 23, 2008

    USCCB leadership meets with Pope today {updated}

    From the Vatican bulletino:
    "The Holy Father today received ... Cardinal Francis E. George O.M.I., Bishop Gerald Kicanas of Tucson and Msgr. David Malloy, respectively president, vice-president and secretary general of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops."
    Hmm, I wonder what they talked about?

    update - Whispers notes CNS coverage:
    "After the Oct. 23 meeting, Cardinal Francis E. George, conference president, told Catholic News Service he did not feel it was appropriate to discuss details of the private meeting."
    Hmm, he ain't talking.

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    Tuesday, October 14, 2008

    No worries: Vatican money is safe

    In case you were wondering, the Vatican isn't going under anytime soon:
    top official of the Vatican bank has offered assurances that its deposits are safe from the world financial meltdown, an Italian Catholic magazine said Monday.

    Angelo Caloia said in interview released Monday, days ahead of publication in Famiglia Cristiana magazine, that the bank only makes safe investments.

    "Our assets are solid and we have no lack of liquidity," said Caloia, president of the supervisory council of the Institute for the Works of Religion—the bank's official name.

    The bank's depositors are religious orders, dioceses, Roman Catholic charities, other religious organizations and the Vatican itself.

    In a rare interview, Caloia said the bank stayed away from derivatives—the financial instruments blamed for many of the steep loses in the current financial meltdown.

    Caloia was also quoted as saying that the bank makes no loans and as a result "we have no uncollectable losses." (AP)
    The Catholic Church in America, being the richest in the world, is heavily responsible for the operating expenses of the universal Church:

    The Rev. Thomas J. Reese in his book "Inside the Vatican" said a cardinal told him in 1994 the bank had $4 billion in deposits and annual income of $40 million.

    The Vatican, in its annual financial statement issued in July, reported it had been hurt by the weak dollar as many of its contributions come from individuals and dioceses in the United States. It listed a deficit of some $14 million in 2007.

    The Vatican is very prudent with its investments, overall, and it is my rough guess that many Catholic organizations in America try to practice the same prudence. After all, we're not out here to make money, just cover costs.

    So don't expect a Vatican IPO anytime soon, the grace of the Holy Spirit never fails.

    Ph/t: AmP sister Catherine.

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    Thursday, October 09, 2008

    "Before the end of this year" new date for Pope's 3rd Encyclical

    The skinny:
    Pope Benedict XVI’s social encyclical is very much alive and is expected to be published before the end of the year, Cardinal Renato Martino told reporters Wednesday.

    “The project exists, and at this point it’s certain. We hope the pope can publish it before the end of the year,” Cardinal Martino said at a Vatican press conference.

    Sources earlier this year said the encyclical was provisionally titled, “Caritas in Veritate” (”Charity in Truth,”) and was expected to touch on issues related to social justice and globalization. The encyclical has reportedly been undergoing some revisions, and there was a rumor floating around recently that it wouldn’t be out until next spring. (CNS Blog)
    Earlier rumored target dates had ranged from "last month" all the way up to "April of next year."

    End of this year sounds entirely reasonable, but then again, I haven't written many encyclicals.

    In the meantime, you can still pre-order it.

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    Oh ... so that's what that is

    (Informative title, eh?)

    Yesterday I admitted to not knowing what the Vatican's "Commission for Advocates" actually does, and so the news that Archbishop Raymond Burke was it's new head had little effect on me.

    Turn's out it's their bar association.

    As the saying goes, "a burke post a day keeps heresy away." ;-)

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    Tuesday, October 07, 2008

    Archbishop Burke's Vatican takeover continues

    The Pope gave him 'smore responsibility today, from the Vatican bulletino:

    "The Holy Father appointed Archbishop Raymond Leo Burke, prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura, as president of the Commission for Advocates."

    Okay, I'll admit to having no idea what this commission does.

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    Monday, October 06, 2008

    Keeping up to date on the World Synod of Bishops...

    ... will be easier with the CNS Bible Blog launch:

    As the world Synod of Bishops gets underway at the Vatican, Catholic News Service today introduces on these pages the CNS Bible Blog. Entries in this new blog will be easy to find: Just look for the little photo of the Bible at left or click on “CNS Bible Blog” in the categories section on the right side of this page.

    Here’s a link to short biographies of our writers for this special series. You’ll see that they include priests, religious and laypeople with expertise in both the Old and New Testaments.

    Check back here often for what we expect will be an intriguing look at the books of the Bible as participants in the Synod of Bishops meet in what Pope Benedict has said will be an important gathering in the life of the church.

    Whispers is also doing overtime and John Allen has more.

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    Sunday, September 28, 2008

    Slideshow: The Evolution of the PopeMobile

    This has to be one of the coolest posts ever. I love the popemobile, and was thrilled to find out someone has scoured the internet for photos and information about them, through the years. A good example:

    "The 300D Landaulet was the first new Popemobile in thirty years, with Mercedes spanning the gap during the tumultuous period. The 300D was stretched some 450 mm, with hard top up front and soft top in the rear layout of the Landaulet body style allowing El Papa to take in the sunshine and wave to the crowds. This car retained the single-throne seat setup in the rear, but added amenities like air conditioning and a two-way radio to the driver."

    More popemobile goodness here.

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    Mark your calendars! It's Synod Time!

    Well, October 5th will be:
    "The Synod of Bishops is coming up - commencing in Rome on October 5. (The last Synod was on the topic of the Eucharist, in the fall of ‘05) Here’s the Vatican webpage for the Synod, with all of the preparatory documents. And here is a good page that’s being published by Ascension Press - ScriptureSynod.com. Good resources, promises to be continually updated. Here’s the FAQ page, for example." - Amy
    This synod's topic: "THE WORD OF GODIN THE LIFE AND MISSIONOF THE CHURCH."

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    Friday, September 26, 2008

    Flash: Benedict enacts significant papal liturgies shake-up

    Pope Benedict often displays a tact in the way he makes significant changes that allows him to escape the radar of even close observers. Case in point today (underlining mine):

    Pope Benedict XVI has made a low profile but significant move in the direction of liturgical reform by completely changing his liturgical consultants.

    A hardly noticed brief note from the Vatican Press Office on Sept. 24 {link} announced the appointment of new consultants for the Office of Liturgical Celebrations of the Supreme Pontiff. It did not mention, however, the importance of the new appointees.

    ... Also relevant to the appointments is the fact that all former consultants, appointed when Archbishop Piero Marini led the office of Liturgical Celebrations, have been dismissed since their appointments were not renewed. (CNA)

    Did you see that? All former consultants - gone. And the new set of consultants are heavy-hitters.
    Wow.

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    Wednesday, September 10, 2008

    Head of CDF Levada to meet with Pope Benedict tonight

    This is their first announced meeting together since June 24th:
    This evening, the Holy Father is due to receive in audience Cardinal William Joseph Levada, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, accompanied by Archbishop Luis Francisco Ladaria Ferrer S.J., secretary of the same congregation. (VIS)
    If there's one regular Vatican meeting I want to be a fly on the wall for, this is it.

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    Monday, September 01, 2008

    Pope Benedict receives Ingrid Betancourt

    A joyful meeting:

    Former hostage Ingrid Betancourt met with Pope Benedict XVI on Monday to thank him for his prayers during her captivity, the Vatican said.

    Betancourt, who was released July 2, had expressed a desire to meet the pontiff. The former presidential candidate in Colombia credited her religious faith with helping her survive more than six years of captivity in the Colombian jungle at the hands of leftist rebels known as FARC.

    Betancourt said meeting the pope was "a dream come true."

    She told Benedict of how she found comfort, during the worst days of her captivity, in her Catholic faith and in the knowledge that millions in Europe and across the world were calling for her release as well as that of her fellow prisoners. (AP)

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    Tuesday, August 19, 2008

    Photos: Meet the new Commander of the Vatican Swiss Guards

    Daniel Anrig, just appointed today:


    More from Ansa.it:

    The pope's famous protection force, the Swiss Guards, got a new leader on Tuesday - policeman, army captain and former law lecturer Daniel Rudolf Anrig.

    Anrig, 36, replaces Elmar Theodor Maeder who has headed the world's smallest army since 2002. Pope Benedict XVI personally appointed Anrig, until now police chief in the Swiss canton of Glarus. He will take up his command on December 1.

    Anrig, who is married with four children, served in the Guards from 1992 to 1994 before going home and getting a degree in civil and church law at the University of Freiburg.

    Did I read that right - A Canon Lawyer Swiss Guard Commander? Cool!

    Photo credit: AP Photo/Keystone, Walter Bieri.

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    Wednesday, July 30, 2008

    "Pope's vacation writing project remains a mystery"

    I though the papal spokesperson was supposed to dispel and abate rumors, not encourage them!

    The director of the Vatican press office has told reporters that during his current vacation in Bressanone, Italy, Pope Benedict XVI might be drafting a new book, an encyclical-- or something entirely different.

    The papal spokesman, Father Federico Lombardi, had earlier told journalists that the Holy Father would spend some of his vacation time on a writing project. He pointed out that there are two projects known to be on the Pope's active agenda: a second volume of his work on Jesus Christ and an encyclical devoted to Catholic social teaching.

    However, Father Lombardi observed that the Pope could have other ideas. He reminded reporters of the Pope's summer surprise last year, "when we were all expecting the social encyclical after his vacation in Cadore and instead he wrote Spe salvi.” Spe Salvi, the Pope's second encyclical, was devoted to the theological virtue of hope. (CWNews)

    Reporter #1: "Is it true the pope intends to excommunicate John Kerry?"

    Lombardi: "Absolutely false! ... or ... IS IT?! *mystery eyes* Ahem - next question?"

    Reporter #2: "Does the Pope have any major announcements scheduled for August?"

    Lombardi: "None whatsoever. But keep in mind, last time I said that he announced the Motu Proprio!"

    (*sheesh!*)

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    Monday, July 28, 2008

    Pope begins Alpine vacation, AmP to fly south soon

    Pope Benedict goes north:
    Pope Benedict XVI began his summer vacation on July 27, flying to northern Italy for a 2-week stay in the Alpine town of Bressanone. (CWNews)

    And I'm flying south to Florida sometime in early August, to meet with some old college friends.

    Because, you know, Pope Benedict said I couldn't come visit him this year...

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    Thursday, July 24, 2008

    Tip: Reserve your papal tickets by fax!

    "Using the latest in 1980s technology!"

    No, seriously, it's good to know this is offered:
    Visitors to the Vatican can now make reservations for papal audiences by fax.

    A service provided by the Prefecture of the Pontifical Household enables pilgrims to make reservations weeks or days before their trip to Rome for activities such as Wednesday audiences or Masses celebrated by the Pontiff at St. Peter's. The tickets are free.

    By downloading and faxing a document available on the Web page, pilgrims can make the reservations. The tickets can be retrieved at the ticket office located just inside the Bronze Door (by the right colonnade of St. Peter’s Square). [Zenit]
    The previous methods for getting a papal event ticket included a) sending a snail mail to your diocese, or b) asking in person at the diocese or (my personal favorite) c) begging for extra/spare tickets outside the gates.

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    Friday, July 18, 2008

    Typo: Vatican online document contains "she Creator"

    I figure a lazy Friday afternoon is the best time to complain about typos on the Vatican website. Here's one I found in a CDF instruction:

    5. Teachings of the Magisterium

    ... Human life is sacred because from its beginning it involves "the creative action of God" (18) and it remains forever in a special relationship with she Creator, who is its sole end.


    Obviously, it should read "the Creator", not "she Creator."

    Okay, what's your favorite typo on the Vatican website?

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    Wednesday, July 16, 2008

    What do Anne Hathaway and Cardinal Sodano have in common?

    It's not often that Hollywood tabloid stories and Vatican rumors find a common subject.

    The sad tale of actress Anne Hatheway and socialite Raffaello Follieri (L) is one of them, however.
    Raffaelo Follieri evidently masqueraded as the Vatican's CFO in one of his many shady dealings. The story has been widly covered.

    And as Diogenes writes today, one of Follieri's partners in crime was none other than ex-Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Angelo Sodano's nephew Andrea Sodano.
    Follieri's dreams have since crumbled into rubble.
    And let's hope that in the future, Vatican officials will display a bit more common sense than a Hollywood actress, because frankly they stand little chance of besting her in the looks department.

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    Friday, July 11, 2008

    "Per capita, Vatican City has the highest crime rate in the world."

    Bet that headline caught your eye. The line caught mine as well, and comes from this story by CNS "Crime and punishment: Vatican City tackles vast array of crimes." Some highlights (underlining mine):

    "Like the Italian system, he said, the Vatican judicial system is an inverted pyramid: Marrone is the sole judge at the bottom, then there's the three-judge tribunal, followed by the appeals court and the supreme court of appeals at the top. But the Italian system is fraught with imperfections -- like the glacial speed with which it goes through and resolves cases."

    "One loophole that needs to be tightened is the lack of legislation regarding the possession and sale of illegal drugs; this became apparent this year after a Vatican employee was caught with 87 grams of cocaine."

    "Per capita, Vatican City has the highest crime rate in the world. The vast majority of penal cases handled by the court usually involve theft, especially pickpockets, but the perpetrators never are caught in a very high percentage of those cases. According to the most recent published statistics, 472 criminal cases were reported in 2006 -- almost one crime per resident for a country with only 492 inhabitants. But those figures are deceiving since the high crime rate stems from the sheer volume of people -- some 18 million each year-- that stream through the Vatican to visit St. Peter's Basilica and the Vatican Museums."

    "However, not long ago there was a short-lived golden age of a crime-free Vatican. For two weeks during the papal transition in April 2005 no crimes were reported and no charges were brought to the Vatican's court. Criminal activity normally surges during times when huge crowds of pilgrims and tourists converge on the Vatican, and some 6 million people flooded the Vatican between April 2, the day Pope John Paul died, and April 19, the day Pope Benedict XVI was elected. But as the world stood still awaiting the next pope, robbers and criminals stayed away -- or at least were on their best behavior."

    Although it certainly doesn't count as a crime, the last time I was at the Vatican they confiscated my beloved leatherman pocket knife, making it much more difficult to open bottles of beer and wine during the remainder of my travels. Oh well, I made do.

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    Wednesday, July 09, 2008

    Confirmed: new prefect for Congregation for Saints

    As rumored (back in mid/late June):
    Archbishop Angelo Amato, the secretary of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, has been named by Pope Benedict XVI to become the new prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of saints.

    Salesian priest, Archbishop Amato became secretary of the Vatican's doctrinal congregation in 2002-- succeeding another Salesian, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, who is now the Secretary of State. (CWNews)
    More from CNA (twice actually).

    This means that Andrea Tornielli, writing for Il Giornale, got everything about this appointment right, even the date it would be announced. Someone accidentally CC'd him in on the memo, I guess.

    Replacing Amato at CDF, this Spanish Jesuit priest:

    Luis Francisco Ladaria Ferrer S.J., professor of dogmatic theology at Rome's Pontifical Gregorian University and secretary general of the International Theological Commission, as secretary of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, at the same time elevating him to the dignity of archbishop. The archbishop-elect was born in Manacor, Spain in 1944 and ordained a priest in 1973.

    Seems like a good pedigree.

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    Sunday, July 06, 2008

    Fake priest infiltrates St. Peter's, faced "inquisition"

    The Associated Press reports:
    A fake priest was caught trying to hear confessions in St. Peter's Basilica and was tried by a Vatican tribunal, a Vatican judge said in an interview published Saturday.

    Judge Gianluigi Marrone, who is a member of the court system of the independent Vatican city-state, said the man was wearing clerical garb and carried documents alleging that he was a priest.

    "Some time ago I had to deal with an unusual case -- a fake priest," Marrone told the Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano.

    "He was caught by surprise in the basilica while he was trying to take his place in a confessional. He was wearing clerical garb, but the expert eye of our [basilica] personnel didn't need much to sense something strange in his behavior," Marrone said without elaborating.

    The man was stopped and his documents checked, and even though he had what appeared to be legitimate documents, including a Vatican pass, personnel were still suspicious, the judge recalled.

    .... Last year, Italian news reports said that for the first time the Vatican court system issued a drug conviction, giving a former employee of the Holy See a four-month suspended sentence for possession of cocaine.
    An interesting case, to be sure. And it looks like it was handled well. See? The inquisition has its uses. :-P

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    Thursday, July 03, 2008

    John Allen on why Abp. Burke wasn't kicked upstairs

    I agree:

    Since news of St. Louis Archbishop Raymond Burke’s appointment as prefect of the Apostolic Signatura was announced June 27, I’ve received numerous telephone calls and e-mails, from both sides of the Atlantic, posing some version of the following question: Was this a case of what the Italians call promuovere per rimuovere … promoting someone in order to get rid of him?

    ... my hunch is that this is not a case of promuovere per rimuovere, but what one might call “promotion for multiple motives.” In no particular order, I suspect that at least the following four considerations were at work. [Read them.]

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    Saturday, June 28, 2008

    Photo: Simply Stunning Papal Vestments Worn Today

    Wow:

    "Pope Benedict XVI arrives to lead the Vespri's ceremony at the St. Paolo's Basilica in Rome June 28, 2008."

    REUTERS/Tony Gentile (ITALY)

    More photos at NLM. CNA has launched a website dedicated to this Year of St. Paul.

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    Friday, June 27, 2008

    Flash: Archbishop Raymond Burke of St. Louis assigned high-level post in Rome

    The notification from today's Vatican news bulletin:

    The Holy Father appointed Archbishop Raymond Leo Burke of Saint Louis, U.S.A., as prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura.

    This is big news. It is a gain for the universal church on the one hand, and a loss for the Church in America on the other. But that's just a start. (For previous coverage of stories related to Abp. Burke, click here).

    Related links:

    Update, more links:

    Update 2, more links and news:

    Finally, at the Archdiocesan website, the following announcement:

    he Archdiocesan College of Consultors―a seven-member board of advisors made up of priests of the Archdiocese of St. Louis―has elected the Most Rev. Robert J. Hermann, auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of St. Louis, to serve as archdiocesan administrator.

    In this role, Bishop Hermann will oversee the day-to-day operations of the archdiocese until the installation of a successor to Archbishop Raymond L. Burke.

    You can also find a bevy of information (and video!) at the St. Louis Archdiocesan website about Abp. Burke's appointment, including a Q & A, the official news release (PDF), and his biography.

    With all this St. Louis buzz in the air, I hope my readers will especially appreciate the exclusive post I have planned for tomorrow.... stay tuned!

    [I'm trying to see if I can embed the video of the Archbishop below. If you don't see anything below, it didn't work, and you can find it right here (scroll down).]



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    Thursday, June 05, 2008

    Report: "Mary the musical to premiere at Vatican"

    AP:

    A singing Mary will make her debut this month when a musical on the life of the mother of Jesus has its world premiere at the Vatican.

    The Vatican says the musical "Mary of Nazareth - A Continuing Story" premieres June 17. It is not clear if Pope Benedict XVI will attend.

    The musical is an Italian production sponsored by the Vatican offices for Social Communications and Culture. The role of Mary will be sung by Italian soprano Alma Manera.

    There have been movies and plays on the Madonna, and famous pieces of music dedicated to her.

    The most famous musical on the life of Jesus, "Jesus Christ Superstar," was made into a movie released in 1973.

    The Vatican announced the musical on Wednesday.

    I'm glad they chose my birthday for the premier date.

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    Friday, May 23, 2008

    Pope plans limits to number of Mass concelebrants?

    That's the word today:

    Pope Benedict XVI plans to curtail the practice of organizing large-scale Eucharistic celebrations with hundreds of priests concelebrating the Mass, according to a report in Italy's Panorama magazine.

    Panorama reports that the Holy Father has directed the Congregation for Divine Worship to study the question and prepare appropriate instructions. His objective, the Italian journal says, is to eliminate the concelebration of Mass by hundreds of priests at a time, with many of them standing at a distance from the altar.

    The Vatican has not commented on the Panorama report.

    If the story is accurate, the new liturgical guidelines could bring significant changes in liturgical celebrations at which the Pope himself presides, such as Masses attended by tens of thousands of people at World Youth Day or during papal trips abroad. (CWNews)

    New Liturgical Movement translates the first couple paragraphs of the original article in Panorama.

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    Thursday, May 22, 2008

    President Bush to make fifth visit to Vatican this June

    Details:

    President Bush is to meet the Holy Father again in a few weeks, according to the White House. The President will be dropping in at the Vatican while on a European tour June 9-16.

    It will essentially be a courtesy call, and will come just a couple of months after the President played host to Benedict XVI at the White House. It’s not clear exactly when Mr. Bush will come here, but sources say the meeting is likely to take place on June 13 – almost exactly a year since the President last visited the Pope.

    It will be the third time the two men have met officially, and Mr. Bush’s fifth visit to the Vatican. That’s naturally led to speculation that the President, a Methodist, is considering becoming a Catholic, although there is no hard evidence to suggest that that’s true.

    As long as his wife doesn't start writing books and giving interviews....

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    Wednesday, April 30, 2008

    What Pope Benedict is up to, from May - August

    The Vatican released his official schedule of events (reproduced by CNA):

    May:

    • Saturday 3: Recitation of the Rosary at 6 p.m. in the Roman basilica of St. Mary Major.
    • Sunday 11: Pentecost Sunday. Mass at 10 a.m. in the Vatican Basilica.
    • Saturday 17 and Sunday 18: Pastoral visit to Savona and Genoa, Italy.
    • Thursday 22: Solemnity of Corpus Christi. Mass at 7 p.m. in the basilica of St. John Lateran, followed by a procession to the basilica of St. Mary Major for Eucharistic blessing.

    June:

    • Saturday 14 and Sunday 15: Pastoral visit to Santa Maria di Leuca and Brindisi, Italy.
    • Saturday 28: At 6 p.m. in the Roman basilica of St. Paul's Outside-the-Walls, First Vespers for the solemn opening of the Pauline Year.
    • Sunday 29: Solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul, Apostles. Mass at 9:30 a.m. in the Vatican Basilica. Blessing and imposition of the pallium on metropolitan archbishops.

    July:

    • Saturday 12 to Monday 21: Apostolic trip to Australia for World Youth Day in Sydney.

    August:

    • Friday 15: Solemnity of the Assumption, Mass at 8 a.m. in the parish church of St. Thomas of Villanova in Castelgandolfo.
    It's never to early too plan your summer vacation around seeing the pope!

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    Sunday, April 27, 2008

    Lombardi describes rumors about pope's health as "baseless" and "paradoxical"

    Via Zenit:

    Rumors suggesting that Benedict XVI's health is failing are "baseless," confirmed the Vatican.

    Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, director of the Vatican press office, said this in statements to the press after the French newspaper Le Figaro published an article Saturday that raised questions regarding the Pontiff's health. The report also speculated on future successors to the papacy.

    The spokesman said the article's assertions, published less than one week after the Pontiff ended his five-day apostolic trip to the United States, were "paradoxical.”

    “Benedict XVI is well and it is paradoxical that doubts about his health are being manufactured precisely after his return from his demanding trip [to the U.S.], during which his schedule was not lightened in any way, and given the obvious joy with which the Pope responded to the welcome he received,” he said.

    Exactly, if anything, Pope Benedict appears to have gained energy and vigour since becoming Pontiff. He was positively spry during some events. I was exhausted trying to keep up with everything he was doing during those five days. Like Pope John Paul II, he appeared to draw energy from his loving audience and the importance of his mission (the grace attached to the office of Peter's successor, I'm sure, helps as well).

    At the same time, however, I think the Vatican significantly damaged its credibility on the issue of the pope's health during the many declining years of Pope John Paul II. During which, despite obvious signs to the contrary, the press office often claimed that he was in good health. Do I think they hide this pope's health issues? No. But a few extra prayers sure couldn't hurt in any case.

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    Photos: Pope Benedict XVI Ordains 29 Men to the Priesthood

    A busy day in Vatican City at St. Peter's Basilica:

    The joy intrinsic to the ordination and the sorrow caused by news of violence coming from tormented Africa marked Benedict XVI’s day today as he ordained 29 deacons from the diocese of Rome this morning in St Peter’s Basilica. The Pope later talked about the rite and made an appeal for Somalia, Darfur and Burundi. He also mentioned his ‘mission’ to the United States and extended his best wishes to Orthodox Christians who celebrate Easter today, thus renewing his hope in full unity. (AsiaNews.IT)
    Selected photos:


    My, but doesn't this picture speak volumes? Here's the official photo caption:

    New ordained priest Jarjis Robert Sayd of Iraq looks on during a ceremony lead by Pope Benedict XVI in which he ordained 29 new priests, in St. Peter Basilica at the Vatican, Sunday, April 27, 2008.

    More photos at New Liturgical Movement.

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    Friday, April 25, 2008

    Quotable Benedict: "Music infuses hope into the human soul"

    Some excerpts from a speech he made at the Vatican after a concert performed in his honor:

    This week the Italians took their turn at showing their affection and respect for the Pope by hosting a classical music concert in honor of his third anniversary and birthday. Benedict XVI thanked the choir and the orchestra for sharing the gift of music with people. Music, he said, has a spiritual value because it can “infuse hope into the human soul.”

    .... The concert featured pieces by Luciano Berio, Johannes Brahms and Ludwig van Beethoven and was performed by the Giuseppe Verdi symphony orchestra and choir of Milan.

    .... The Pope explained that there is a “spiritual value” to the art of music which, “in a special way, is called to infuse hope into the human soul, marked and sometimes injured by its earthly condition.

    “There is a profound and mysterious relationship between music and hope, between song and eternal life", the Holy Father said. "It is no coincidence that Christian tradition shows the spirits of the blessed as they sing in chorus, captivated and enraptured by the beauty of God. But true art, like prayer, is not foreign to everyday reality, rather it calls us to 'irrigate' that reality, to make it sprout that it may bring forth fruits of goodness and peace.

    Music, in fact, has a far greater value because it "reminds us furthermore of the value and the universal importance of artistic heritage,” the Pope said. He also mentioned that it is of particular value to the young, who can draw "new inspiration" from such heritage "in order to build a world founded on justice and solidarity, putting the multiform expressions of world culture to good account at the service of mankind".

    Benedict XVI mentioned the importance that "educating people to recognize true beauty has for the formation of the young", and he explained how art "contributes to refining their souls and leads towards the construction of a society open to the ideals of the spirit. (CNA)

    Underlinining my own. Many of the performers were young adults.

    A few pictures from the event:



    Credit: REUTERS/Tony Gentile (VATICAN), AP Photo/L'Osservatore Romano, HO

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    Wednesday, April 23, 2008

    Flash: John Henry Cardinal Newman to be beatified this year!

    Deo Gratias!

    The Vatican has approved the beatification of Cardinal John Henry Newman [wikipedia page], the English convert and theologian who has had immense influence upon English-speaking Catholicism, the Birmingham Mail reports.

    The Catholic Church has accepted as miraculous the cure of an American deacon’s crippling spinal disorder. The deacon, Jack Sullivan of Marshfield, Massachusetts, prayed for John Henry Newman’s intercession.

    At his beatification ceremony later this year, John Henry Newman will receive the title “Blessed.” He will need one more recognized miracle to be canonized.

    The case of a 17-year-old New Hampshire boy who survived serious head injuries from a car crash is being investigated as a possible second miracle. (CNA)

    Intentional Disciples anticipated this story, and has some helpful resources.

    Plenty of folks are going to be tickled pink about this news. Me, for one.

    Ph/t: Gashwin Gomes.

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    Photos: Pope Delivers Homily at Funeral Mass for Cardinal Trujillo


    More fantastic photos at New Liturgical Movement.

    This morning in St. Peter's Basilica, Benedict XVI pronounced a homily following the funeral Mass for the late Cardinal Alfonso Lopez Trujillo, president of the Pontifical Council for the Family, who died on Saturday 19 April at the age of 72.

    The Pope highlighted "the zeal and passion" with which the cardinal worked over the last 18 years, "his tireless activity in safeguarding and promoting the family and Christian marriage" as well as "the courage with which he defended the non-negotiable values of human life".

    Among the late cardinal's achievements, the Pope mentioned "the 'Lexicon', which is a valuable formational text for pastoral care workers and an instrument for dialogue with the modern world on the fundamental themes of Christian ethics. We cannot", he added, "but be grateful for the tenacious battle he fought to defend the truth of familial love and to spread the gospel of the family".

    He was well loved and will be dearly missed.

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    Tuesday, April 08, 2008

    Video: Pope Benedict's official greeting to the people of the United States

    As announced yesterday, the Vatican Press Office is releasing a video greeting today from Pope Benedict XVI in anticipaton of his visit to the United States next week.

    Vatican watcher Rocco Palmo explains the importance of this decision:

    "... the move underscores both the import the church's central command is placing on next week's events and Rome's understanding of the usefulness and impact of new technology, both on the life of the Stateside church and the wider society here."
    Well yes, that and the fact that the Vatican knows how much I love papist videos.

    update: okay, not the smoothest roll out we've witnessed....

    update 2: John Thavis of CNS has comments, John Allen as well:

    Release of a video from the pope ahead of a foreign trip is not standard Vatican operating procedure. Vatican sources said the decision was the result of an unusually high volume of requests for interviews with the pope from American media outlets sparked by the impending trip. Although the pope turned down those requests, sources said his advisors were impressed with the interest and wanted to offer a response.

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    Wednesday, April 02, 2008

    Photos: Pope Benedict celebrates anniversary of Pope John Paul II's death

    Pope Benedict XVI arrives in St. Peter's square [in red!] to celebrate a Mass in memorial of the third anniversary of Pope John Paul II's death:





    [Photo sources: REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi (VATICAN CITY); (AP Photo/Plinio Lepri)]

    Santo Subito!

    update: TNLM has a fine post on this Mass with plentiful pictures from the video stream.

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    Wednesday, March 26, 2008

    Did the Holy See "emphasize" the pope's baptism of a Muslim convert, or not?

    The L'Osservatore Romano is trying to claim the Holy See has not emphasized the conversion:
    The official Vatican daily, L’Osservatore Romano, has rejected claims in some media reports that the Holy See has “emphasized” the baptism of Magdi Allam, the Muslim convert and associate director of the Italian daily Corriere Della Sera who entered the Church during the Easter Vigil Mass celebrated by Pope Benedict XVI. (CNA)
    To point out an awkward truth, look at today's bulletino, published by the Vatican press office itself:

    SUMMARY: 19 - 26 MARCH

    • - Easter Triduum and Appeal for the Situation in Tibet
    • - Holy Thursday: Chrism Mass and the Lord's Supper Mass
    • - Good Friday: Lord's Passion, Way of the Cross at Colosseum
    • - Egyptian Muslim Journalist Baptised by the Pope
    • - Easter Saturday: Christ's Departure Is a New Return
    • - Easter Sunday: the Resurrection Is an Event of Love
    • - Missionary Martyrs and the Struggle against Tuberculosis
    • - Telegram for the Death of Cardinal Suarez Rivera
    • - Christ Gives Us the Certainty of Our Own Resurrection
    • - Other Pontifical Acts
    Yes, look at the fourth story: "Egyptian Muslim Journalist Baptised by the Pope".

    In the text of this story it says:
    "The catechumens who will receive Baptism tonight come from Italy, Cameroon, China, the United States and Peru. Among them is Magdi Allam, a well-known journalist of Egyptian origin, vice-director 'ad personam' of the Italian newspaper 'Corriere della Sera'.
    He is the only named convert in the article. And the only convert to receive a bulletino headline.

    Now, whether he is named because he is "well-known" or because he is Muslim, that is a separate question. Frankly, I'd imagine he is well-known for being an outspoken Muslim individual.

    My first post on this story, blogged the day-of, already has a vigorous debate taking place.

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    Tuesday, March 25, 2008

    Noted: New Legionary of Christ Director Meets With Pope

    Their meeting took place on the 15th of this month, but I didn't notice it until now:

    In a private audience with Benedict XVI, the general director of the Legionaries of Christ renewed the congregation's loyalty to the Pope at the start of a new stage in its history, following the Jan. 30 death of the founder.

    The Pope received in audience Legionary of Christ Father Álvaro Corcuera on Saturday.

    According to the congregation, in the meeting the general director wanted to assure the Holy Father of the group's "unconditional loyalty to the Pope" in what he called a "new stage in their history."

    Father Marcial Maciel, the founder of the congregation and the apostolic movement Regnum Christi, which is associated with the Legion of Christ, died Jan. 30 at age 87.

    According to the Regnum Christi Web page, "The Holy Father, with fatherly kindness, assured Father Corcuera that he continues closely accompanying the Legion of Christ and Regnum Christi with his prayers. He then granted all of its members his apostolic blessing, especially the thousands of young people and families who will participate in evangelization missions across the world during Holy Week." (Zenit)

    "Unconditional loyalty." A "new stage" in the LoC history. Good signs. Why we need good signs.
    The picture above is from their previous meeting in June 2006. More about it, in Fr. Corcuera's own words, on the Regnum Christi website. The RC report on this 2008 meeting is here. Happy Pope photo alert:

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    Sunday, March 23, 2008

    Text: Pope Benedict XVI's "Urbi et Orbi" Easter Speech

    The official English-language Vatican translation, released through the Associated Press:
    "Resurrexi, et adhuc tecum sum. Alleluia! I have risen, I am still with you. Alleluia! Dear brothers and sisters, Jesus, crucified and risen, repeats this joyful proclamation to us today: the Easter proclamation. Let us welcome it with deep wonder and gratitude!
    Brief coverage and video at CNN.

    Wikipedia on the Urbi et Orbe speech.

    Photos of (and stories from) the Easter weekend papal liturgies linked here.

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    Photos: A Rainy Easter in St. Peter's Square

    Selected from the photostream:






    [sources: AP Photo/Pier Paolo Cito; AP Photo/Andrew Medichini; AFP/Pool/Alessandra Tarantino]

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    Saturday, March 22, 2008

    Pope Benedict baptizes prominent Italian Muslim

    This news got some press today:

    Italy's most prominent Muslim commentator converted to Roman Catholicism on Saturday during the Vatican's Easter vigil service presided over by the pope.

    An Egyptian-born, non-practicing Muslim, Magdi Allam has infuriated some fellow Muslims with his criticism of extremism and support for Israel.

    The deputy editor of the Corriere della Sera newspaper, Allam often writes on Muslim and Arab affairs.

    ...

    There is no overarching Muslim law on conversion. But under a widespread interpretation of Islamic legal doctrine, converting from Islam is apostasy and punishable by death -- though killings are rare.


    The AP's original coverage had a more dramatic opening sentence:

    Italy's most prominent Muslim, an iconoclastic writer who condemned Islamic extremism and defended Israel, converted to Catholicism Saturday in a baptism by the pope at a Vatican Easter service.

    I don't think the Vatican is trying to make any sort of political or religious "statement" in choosing this individual for baptism, as much as the press would like to see it in those terms.

    Comments?

    [photo: Dario Pignatelli/Reuters]

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    Friday, March 21, 2008

    Photos: Good Friday Papal Liturgy

    Selected from the photostream:



    [sources: REUTERS/Dario Pignatelli (VATICAN); AP Photo/Claudio Peri, Pool]

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    Photos: Holy Thursday Papal Liturgy

    Selected from the photostream:




    [sources: AP Photo/Plinio Lepri; AP Photo/Max Rossi, Pool; AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino; AFP/Damien Meyer].

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    Sunday, March 16, 2008

    Photo: Pope uses Cross Staff of Pius XI, XII & John XXIII today

    Papist bloggers are buzzing about the Pope's Cross Staff seen today at the Palm Sunday Mass:

    Ken88 found this photo, and has several more of similar high-quality. Fr. Z has more from the Mass.

    It appears that this is the same papal cross staff used by Popes Pius XI & XII, as this photo suggests. update: and now TNLM notes that Pope John XIII used the "conciliar cross" as well.

    Pope Benedict also strongly decried the atrocities in Iraq, saying "enough with massacres, enough violence, enough hatred in Iraq!" This week, Iragi Archbishop Rahho was found dead after being kidnapped.

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