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16/11/2007 17.43
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Posted today in the preceding page:

Will students get to greet the Pope at Catholic University?- American Papist publishes
university item about Pope's visit to Catholic U in Washington, but it's to meet with
Catholic educators.

The Pope's day - He calls on missionary orders to involve more laymen in their mission.

Aftermath of the Brazil visit - Two Brazilian bishops say Brazilian Catholics are
'turning to Christ' again, as the Pope exhorted during his trip and in his choice of theme
for the Aparecida bishops' conference. Excellent story, translated from Tracce.

Mons. Ranjith decries bishops' regulations that 'annul or deform' the Pope's
intentions in Summorum Pontificum- Translated from Apcom.

Creating cardinals:
Pomp, circumstance and
giving input to the pope

By John Thavis
Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY, Nov. 16 (CNS) - Pope Benedict XVI presides over his second consistory in late November, inducting 23 new cardinals into the church's most exclusive body.

The ceremony to create the cardinals takes only an hour or so, but the celebratory and consultative events that surround it last four days.

The working part comes first, when the pope meets Nov. 23 with the College of Cardinals - including the cardinals-to-be - in a closed-door assembly. The main topic for the morning session is ecumenism, while the afternoon is open to "free interventions" on other matters.

On Nov. 24 the pope holds the consistory proper, a Liturgy of the Word, during which he pronounces a formula that officially creates the new cardinals.

Then, as each cardinal kneels before him, the pope hands him a scarlet biretta - the "red hat" - whose color signifies a cardinal's willingness to shed his blood for the faith. It's a moment that always prompts applause from pilgrim cheering sections.

In the afternoon, the Vatican hosts receptions for the new cardinals in an 'open house' event that attracts thousands of well-wishers. For some, it's a rare chance not only to greet the cardinals but also to see rooms of the Apostolic Palace that are normally off-limits.

On Nov. 25, the pope concelebrates a morning Mass with the new cardinals, presenting each of them with a gold ring, a sign of their special bond with the church of Rome.

The consistory and the ring Mass are scheduled for St. Peter's Square, mainly because of the huge crowds expected. Rain and cold could force the events inside, but that's a worst-case scenario that liturgical planners hope they don't have to face.

On Nov. 26, the pope holds an audience with the new cardinals, their relatives and the pilgrims who have accompanied them. It's a less-formal event and gives the visitors a real chance to voice support for their favorite sons.

In recent years, consistories have celebrated the church's universality, and this one is no different. Pilgrims from 15 countries are descending on Rome; they include U.S. contingents from the archdioceses of Philadelphia, home of Cardinal-designate John P. Foley, and Galveston-Houston, where Cardinal-designate Daniel N. DiNardo is archbishop.

Some of the new cardinals, including Cardinal-designate Foley, are taking advantage of the pilgrims' presence to celebrate their first Mass in the Rome churches to which they have been assigned. These "titular" churches symbolize their status as members of the clergy of Rome and their new relationship with the bishop of Rome, Pope Benedict.

Although most of the attention will focus on the public events, the consultative session with cardinals is an important part of the program. Pope Benedict, continuing a tradition of his predecessor, convened the cardinals at his first consistory in 2006 to get their input on issues that included dialogue with Islam and outreach to Catholic traditionalists.

This time, the focus is on ecumenism.

"I am very happy and I am very grateful that the Holy Father has chosen this theme," Cardinal Walter Kasper, the Vatican's chief ecumenist, told Vatican Radio.

The cardinal said the session would include a report on the state of ecumenism, followed by a general discussion among the cardinals. The results of a recent Catholic-Orthodox meeting will be taken up, but the discussion will be much wider, covering relations with Oriental churches, Protestant churches and Pentecostal movements, he said.

Cardinal Kasper said the opportunity to examine ecumenical themes with all the world's cardinals was particularly important because "ecumenism is a mandate from Our Lord. It is not an option, it is an obligation for the church."

Naturally, not all the cardinals will be able to make it to Rome for the consistory events. Vatican officials were still doing a final tally, but they estimated that about 150 of the 180 existing cardinals would be able to attend.

That will ensure a large red sector around the papal altar. It used to be a much smaller group: 50 years ago, there were only 70 cardinals; 30 years ago, there were 134.

After this consistory, the College of Cardinals will have 201 members. That's a record number, but one that seems destined to be broken in coming years.

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17/11/2007 02.32
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Thanks to Lella for this, as I cannot access the FIDES news service which requires subscription. The Apcom story I posted earlier barely scratched the surface of this very substantial interview. Here is a translation:

'Summorum Pontificum' also indicates
for the whole Church some theological
and disciplinary principles necessary
for its renewal as intended by Vatican-II

Interview with Archbishop Albert Malcolm Ranjith, Secretary of the Congregation for Diovne Worship and Sacramental Discipline.

VATICAN CITY (Fides News Agency) - With the Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum, Pope Benedict XVI has enabled the celebration of the traditional Mass without necessarily requesting the permission of the local bishop.

After Vatican-II and in particular, with the consequent liturgical reform of 1970 promoted by Pope Paul VI, the old Missal was replaced by the Novus Ordo, and even if the old rite was never abolished, those who wished to use it had to get the local bishop's express permission. And were often denied.

But such a permission was sanctioned by another Motu Proprio - Ecclesia Dei afflicta issued by John Paul II on July 2, 1988. With Pope Benedict's Motu Proprio, such permission is no longer necessary and any 'stable group' can freely ask their parish priest for the celebration of the traditional Mass on a regular basis.

Fides agency directed some questions about the Motu Proprio to Mons. Ranjith.

Your Excellency, what do you think is the deepest significance of Summorum Pontificum?

I see in this not only the Holy Father's concern to open the way for a return to full communion with the Church of the followers of Mons. Lefebvre, but an idnication to the whole Church of some theological and disciplinary principles that must be preserved in order to carry out the profound renewal of the Church which was the great intention of Vatican-II.

I think the Pope strongly desires to correct the temptations evident in some circles who see the Council as a rupture with the past and as a completely new beginning. We should not forget his speech on December 22, 2005 to the Roman Curia.

Moreover, not even the fathers of Vatican-II themselves thought in terms of rupture. Whether it had to do with doctrinal or liturgical choices, or juridical and pastoral decisions, the Council was a time for profound examination and an updating, aggiornamento, of the rich theological and spiritual legacy of the Church from its bimillennial history.

With teh Motu Proprio, the Pope wished to affirm clearly that any temptation to deprecate the Church's venerable traditions is out of line. The message is clear: progress, yes, but not at the expense of, or doing without, the Church's previous history. So, even liturgical reform should be faithful to what took place in the life of the Church from the beginning to the present, without excluding anything.

On the other hand, we must never forget that for the Catholic Church, divine Revelation does not only come from Scriptures but also from the living Tradition of the Church. This distinguishes us cldearly from other manifestations of Christian faith.

For us, truth is what emerges, so to speak, from both poles of Scripture and Tradition (capital "T"). I think this position is much richer than any other because it respects the Lord's freedom to guide us toward a more adequate understanding of truth that can be revealed even through what could happen in the future.

Of course, the process of discerning just what emerges is realized through the Magisterium of the Church. But what we must grasp is the importance attributed by the church to Tradition. Vatican II's Dogmatic Constitution Dei verbum states this clearly (DV 10).

Moreover, the Church is a reality that goes beyond the level of mere human invention. It is the mystical Body of Christ, the heavenly Jerusalem, the people elected by God. Therefore, it goes beyond earthly frontiers and every limitation of time. It is a reality that transcends by far her earthly and hierarchical manifestations.

That is why, within the Church, whatever has been received must be transmitted faithfully. We are neither inventors of the truth nor its masters. We are only those who receive it and have the task to safeguard it and pass it on to others.

As St. Paul said, speaking of the Eucharist, "In fact, I have received from the Lord what, in my turn, I am passing on to you" (1 Cor 11,23).

Respect for Tradition is not our free choice in searching for the truth - it is the basis for it, and we must accept it as such. Therefore, faithfulness to Tradition is an essential attitude of the Church itself.

And the Motu Proprio, in my opinion, should also be understood in this sense. It is a possible stimulus for a necessary course correction. Because, in some choices made for the liturgical reform carried out after the Council, orientations were adopted that obfuscated soem aspects of liturgy which were better reflected in the traditional rite - all because those who were responsible interpreted liturgical renewal as something to be done from scratch, ex novo.

But we know very well that was not the intention expressed in Sacrosanctum concilium, which states that "new forms must draw organically from those that already exist" (SC 23).

One characteristic of Benedict XVI's Pontificate appears to be an insistence on the correct intepretation (hermeneutic) of Vatican-II. Do you see Summorum Pontificum as a step in that direction? And in what way?

Already as a cardinal, the Pope in his writings rejected a certain 'exuberance' found in some theological circles who were motivated by a so-called 'spirit of Vatican-II'. which for him was actually an 'anti-spirit', what he called a Konzils-Ungeist (Chapter 2, The Ratzinger Report).

He wrote then: "One must decisively oppose this scheme of a 'before' and 'after' in the history of the Church, which is totally unjustified by the documents of Vatican-II, which do nothing but to reaffirm the continuity of Catholicism".

However, such an erroneous interpretation of the Council and the historical-theological path of the Church has influenced all sectors of the Church, including the liturgy. This attitude of facilely rejecting eccclesiastical, theological and liturgical developments of the past millennium, on the one hand, and a naive idolization of what they presume to be the thinking (mens) of the early Christians, on the other, has had an influence of not little relevance to the liturgical-theological changes of the post-conciliar era.

The categorical rejection of the pre-Conciliar Mass, as a 'relic' of an era that has definitely been 'overcome', is a result of that mentality. So many in the Church took up that attitude, but thank God, not everyone.

Sacrosanctum concilium, the Council Constitution on the Liturgy, does not offer any justification for such an attitude. Whether in its general principles or in the standards it proposes, the document is moderate and faithful to what the liturgical life of the Church should be. Just read the Paragraph 23 of that Constitution!

Some liturgical reforms abandoned important elements of liturgy and their related theological considerations. Now it is necessary and important to recover these elements.

The Pope, who considers the Mass of Pius V revised by John XXIII as a way to recover those elements obfusdcated by the 1970 reform, surely thought a lot about his decision. We know that he consulted different sectors of the Church about this first, and then, despite some objections, he decided nevertheless that free access to the traditional rite should be allowed.

It is not, as some have said, a return to the past, as much as a way to restore balance in an integral way between the eternal, transcendent and heavenly aspects of the liturgy and its earthly and communitarian aspects. This will help eventually to establish an equilibrium between the sense of the sacred and of mystery, on the one hand, and the external gestures, attitudes and socio-cultural aspects deriving from liturgy.

When he was still a cardinal, Joseph Ratzinger insisted a lot on the need to read Vatican-II starting with its first document, which was Sacrosanctum concilium. Why do you think the Council Fathers decided to make liturgy their first objective?

Surely, it must have been primarily their awareness of the vital importance of liturgy to the life of the Church. The liturgy is, so to speak, the nucleus, because what one celebrates is what one believes and what one lives - the famous axiom of Lex orandi, lex credendi. That is why every true reform of the Church passes through liturgy. The Council Fathers were very aware of this importance.

Moreover, liturgical reform was already under way even before the Council, starting with the Motu Proprio Tra le Sollecitudini of St. Pius X, and the Mediator Dei of Pius XII. It was Pius X who attributed to liturgy the expression that it is the 'primary spring' of authentic Christian spirit.

So perhaps, the existence of structures and the experience of those who had been studying the possible introduction of liturgical reforms led the Council Fathers to choose it as the subject for their first sessions.

Pope Paul VI reflected on the thinking of the Council Fathers about this when he said, "Let us review together our scale of values and duties: God in the first place; prayer as our first obligation; the liturgy as the first source of divine life communicated to us, the first school for our spiritual life, the first gift which we can make to the Christian people"(Paul VI, Address at the closing session of the second period of Vatican-II, Dec. 4, 1963).

Many see the publication of Summorum Pontificum as the Pope's attempt to bring back the Lefebvrians into the Church. Is that right?

Yes, but that was not the only reason. The Holy Father, in explaining his decision, listed all his reasons, both in the Motu Proprio and in his explanatory letter.

Of course, he took into account the growing requests from various groups and above all, the Society of St. Pius X (SSPX, formal name of the Lefebvrian movement) and the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter, as well as various lay associations, to liberalize the traditional Mass.

To achieve the total reintegration of Lefebvrians into the Church is important because, in the past, errors of judgment were made which caused unnecessary divisions within the Church, divisions which cannot perhaps be easily overcome now. And the Pope describes this risk in his explanatory letter to the bishops.

What do you think are the most urgent problems that must be dealt with for proper celebration of the liturgy? What would be the priorities?

I think that in the growing demand for the liberalization of the traditional Mass, the Pope saw signs of a certain spiritual void caused in part by how the Mass has come to be celebrated.

These less than desirable practices have been the result of post-
Conciliar litugical reforms which tend to reduce, or perhaps, better said, to misunderstand certain essential elements of the faith, as well as an attitude of adventure and innovation that is not itself faithful to the discipline imposed by the liturgical reform - and that is something we see everywhere.

I think that one of the causes why some important elements from the traditional Mass were abandoned in the post-Conciliar reform by some liturgical sectors was ignoring or under-estimating what took place in the liturgy during the second millennium of Christianity. Some liturgists have considered the developments of that period only as negative.

It is an erroneous attitude, because when one speaks of the living Tradition of the Church, we cannot pick and choose only those which agree with our own preconceived ideas.

Tradition, considered in a general sense even in the fields of science, philosophy and theology, is always something living which continues to evolve and progress through the high and low points of history.

As I said earlier, living Tradition is, for the Church, one of the sources of divine Revelation and is the fruit of a continuous evolution. That is true even in liturgical tradition with a small 't'.

The liturgical developments in the second millennnium have their value. Sacrosanctum concilium does not talk of a new rite, or of a rupture, but of a reform that can emerge organically from what exists already.

That is why the Pope said: "In the history of liturgy, there is growth and progress but no rupture. What was sacred in preceding generations remains sacred and great even for us, and cannot suddenly be completely prohibited or even judged dangerous" (Letter to bishops, July 7, 2007).

To idolize and idealize the liturgy of the first millennium at the expense of the second is hardly a scientific or modern attitude. The Fathers of Vatican-II did not show such an attitude.

But the second great problem is a crisis of obedience to the Holy Father that is evident in some circles. The attidue of autonomy which some ecclesiastics have displayed, even in the highest ranks of the Church, certainly does not help the mission that Christ has entrusted to his Vicar on Earth.

One has seen that in some countries and dioceses, bishops have issued rules that practically annul or deform the intentions of the Pope [in Summorum Pontificum]. Such behavior is not in consonance with the dignity and nobility of the vocation of a Pastor of the Church.

I'm not saying this of everyone. Majority of the bishops and ecclesiastics have accepted the wishes of the Pope with due reverence and obedience, and that is very laudable. It is just unfortunate that there are these voices of protest.

At the same time, it cannot be ignored that the Pope's decision was necessary because as he said, the Holy Mass "in some places has not been celebrated in a way that follows the prescriptions of the new Missal, but instead, the new Missal was taken to be an authorization, or even an obligation, to be 'creative' which has often led to deformations of the liturgy to the limits of what is supportable."

"I speak from experience," he contiinued, "because I, too, lived through that period with all its expectations and confusions, and I saw how the arbitrary deformations of the liturgy profoundly hurt many persons who are totally rooted in the faith of the Church" (Letter to Bishops).

So the result of these abuses was a growing spirit of nostalgia for the traditional Mass.

The situation has been aggravated by a sense of general disinterest in reading and following normative documents from the Holy See or even the Instructions and Premises of the liturgical books.

Liturgy still does not count enough to be a priority in the courses for continuing education of churchmen.

Let me be clear. The post-Conciliar reforms to the liturgy were certainly not all negative. There are many positive things that have been achieved. But there have also been abusive changes introduced and that continue to be practised despite their harmful effects on faith itself and the liturgical life of the Church.

I would cite, for example, a change which was never proposed by the Council Fathers nor in Sacrosanctum concilium, which is to receive Communion in one's hands. This alone has resulted in a certain diminution of faith in the real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist.

Such a practice, and doing away with communion rails, and kneelers for the pews, the introduction of practices which oblige the faithful to be seasted or standing at the elevation of the Blessed Sacrament - diminish the genuine significance of the Eucharist and the sense of profound reverence with which the Church, its faithful, should address the Lord, God's only-begotten Son.

Then, there is the fact that the Church, God's dwelling, becomes nothing more than an assembly hall for meetings, concerts or inter-religious rites.

In some Churches, the Blessed Sacrament is almost hidden away or abandoned in some inconsequential side chapel that is not even properly set up.

All these laxities tend to dim and diminish the faith that is central to the Church, namely the real Presence of Christ. For us, Catholics, the physical Church is properly the dweelling of the eternal.

Another serious error is to confuse the specific roles of the clergy and the laity in the liturgy, so that the presbytery, the space around the altar, becomes a place of too much movement - certainly not a place from which the Christian can catch a sense of wonder and splendor in the presence and saving grace of the Lord.

Then there's the use of dancing, musical instruments and songs that have little to do with liturgy and are not at all appropriate to the sacred environment of the Church and of the sacramental nature of liturgy. I would also add some homilies with a political-social character which are often extemporaneous. All this denatures the celebration of Holy Mass, making it a choreography and a theater event, but not a manifestation of faith.

There are other aspects which are hardly consistent with the beauty and the wonder of what is being celebrated on the altar.

Still, not everything has gone wrong with the Novus Ordo, but much has to be put into order so as to avoid further damage to the life of the Church.

I think that our atttiude to the Pope, his decisions, and the expression of his concern for the good of the Church, should be what St. Paul advised the Corinthians - "Everything should be done for building up" (1 Cor 14,26).

[Modificato da TERESA BENEDETTA 17/11/2007 15.53]
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Pope is working on three documents
simultaneously, Vatican sources say

ROME, Nov 16, 2007 (CNA).- Sources at the Holy See have confirmed to CNA that Pope Benedict XVI is set to finish an encyclical on the virtue of hope that, according to the Italian daily La Repubblica, will be called Spe Salvi (Saved by Hope).

In addition, they said the Pontiff is also working simultaneously on two other important texts, including one on social issues.

After the announcement of the theme of the next encyclical, which according to the Italian daily, could be published before Christmas, Vatican sources consulted by CNA said the Pope is also working on a social document, confirming what was informally said during the Pope’s vacation last summer.

This new document, “which may or may not be an encyclical, would be an updating of the themes contained in Populorum Progressio from the perspective of the social and ethical challenges posed by globalization,” the sources said.

This year marked the 40th anniversary of Populorum Progressio, the encyclical by Paul VI that addressed the issue of human development as an integral phenomenon that should have political, social, ethical and spiritual effects.

“There has not been, therefore, ‘a change’ in what the Holy Father is interested in, but rather he is working on different texts at the same time, as he did as a theologian and as a Cardinal,” sources explained.

They also said Benedict XVI is working on a third text: the second and last part of his book on Jesus Christ. In this second part, he will write about the Gospel passages on the Passion, Resurrection and the infancy of Jesus.

“This theological and personal work of the Pope, which will be the second part of JESUS OF NAZARETH, is also being written, without impacting the other official documents which he is considering publishing as part of his Magisterium,” sources said.

17/11/2007 14.28
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Vatican joins historic talks to end
950-year rift with Orthodox church

By Ruth Gledhill, Religion Correspondent
and Paul Bompard in Rome
The Times of London
November 16, 2007

That's a strange headline, to say the least! "Vatican joins..."??? You'd think the Vatican came on as a me-too or Johnny-come-lately rather than being one of the prime movers in a formal series of dialogs of which there have been at least 10!

The Roman Catholic and Orthodox churches took tentative steps towards healing their 950-year rift yesterday by drafting a joint document that acknowledges the primacy of the Pope.

The 46-paragraph “Ravenna Document”, written by a special commission of Catholic and Orthodox officials, envisages a reunified church in which the Pope could be the most senior patriarch among the various Orthodox churches.

Just as Pope John Paul II was driven by the desire to bring down Communism, so Pope Benedict XVI hopes passionately to see the restoration of a unified Church. Although he is understood to favour closer relations with traditional Anglicans, the Anglican Communion is unlikely to be party to the discussions because of its ordination of women and other liberal practices.

Unification with the Orthodox churches could ultimately limit the authority of the Pope, lessening the absolute power that he currently enjoys within Catholicism. In contrast, a deal would greatly strengthen the Patriarch of Constantinople in his dealings with the Muslim world and the other Orthodox churches.

Pope Benedict has called a meeting of cardinals from all over the world in Rome on November 23, when the document will be the main topic of discussion. The Ravenna “road map” concedes that “elements of the true Church are present outside the Catholic communion”.

It suggests that means “be sought out” to set up a new ecumenical council, similar to those of the early Church which drew up the Nicene and other creeds, and to which Catholic and Orthodox bishops would be invited. Such a council would attempt formally to end the schism of 1054 between East and West.

If the proposals move forward, the Pope would be acknowledged as the universal Primate, as he was before the schism. Although it is not stated outright, he would be expected by the Orthodox churches to relinquish the doctrine of infallibility. The proposals could also allow married priests in the Catholic Church, as already happens in the Orthodox.

However, continuing disputes within the Orthodox Church between Constantinople and Moscow mean that there is unlikely to be agreement among the entire Orthodox community about reconciliation with Rome.

The document, The Ecclesiological and Canonical Consequences of the Sacramental Nature of the Church, has been produced by a commission of Orthodox and Catholic bishops and theologians that met in Ravenna in western Italy last month. The Russian delegate walked out of the meeting, an indication of the enduring disputes within the Orthodox Church.

Referring to the early councils of the Church, whose decisions are still central to doctrine throughout Christendom, the document adds: “In the course of history, when serious problems arose affecting the universal communion and concord between Churches – in regard either to the authentic interpretation of the faith, or to ministries and their relationship to the whole Church, or to the common discipline which fidelity to the Gospel requires – recourse was made to Ecumenical Councils.”

These councils, which assembled bishops from Rome, Constantinople, Alexandria, Antioch and Jerusalem [NOT ONLY THEM! The councils were ecumenical, i.e., universal in those times] are still regarded as binding by Catholics and the Orthodox in particular.

“The means which will allow the reestablishment of ecumenical consensus must be sought out,” the document states.

The Catholics at the Ravenna meeting were led by Cardinal Walter Kasper, of the Council for Promoting Christian Unity. The Orthodox were headed by Metropolitan Zizioulas, of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople.

A delegate from Moscow blamed Constantinople for upsetting the talks, and the final text published by the Vatican was agreed without the input of the Moscow Patriarchate.

After Rome and Constantinople, Moscow is agreed to be third in the hierarchy of “equals”, but it is still at odds with Rome over the Uniate Catholics in Ukraine, whose loyalty is to the Pope.

If the Orthodox were able to move closer to Rome, the Constantinople Patriarchate would have much stronger influence in its dialogue with the Muslim world in Turkey and beyond. Healing the schism would in effect turn Patriarch Bartholomew into an Orthodox “Pope”.

The document suggests that the Pope, always referred to in the text as “Bishop of Rome”, could be the “first” among the regional patriarchs. But this would be only as a primus inter pares, with his authority resting firmly on the support and consensus of the other patriarchs.

“Certainly Rome could not be the absolute centre of administration, with authority over all the others,” Greek Metropolitan Athanasios Chatzopoulos, one of the participants of the Ravenna conference, said. “The ‘primus’ would not be able to do anything without the consent of the other Patriarchs.”


About the Great Schism

- On July 16, 1054, Pope Leo IX excommunicated the Patriarch of Constantinople. The Patriarch, Cerularius, soon reciprocated, excommunicating the Pope.

- Christianity has since been split in two, largely because of three words: The Nicene Creed of the Roman Church says that the Holy Ghost “proceeds from the Father and the Son”; the Orthodox Church claims the Holy Ghost originates with the Father alone.

- This “Filioque clause” was the official reason for the Great Schism, but other disputes would now need to be clarified before the churches could unite.

[Modificato da TERESA BENEDETTA 17/11/2007 15.52]
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The headline below given by the newspaper to the story is rather misleading, of course... The writer is also the editor of the British weekly, Catholic Herald, which has 'conservative' views as against the liberal Tablet.

Pope gets radical
and woos the Anglicans

By Damian Thompson
Daily Telegraph (UK)
Nov. 16, 2007

Two and a half years after the name "Josephum" came booming down from the balcony of St Peter's, making liberal Catholics weep with rage, Pope Benedict XVI is revealing his programme of reform. And it is breathtakingly ambitious.

The 80-year-old Pontiff is planning a purification of the Roman liturgy in which decades of trendy innovations will be swept away.

This recovery of the sacred is intended to draw Catholics closer to the Orthodox and ultimately to heal the 1,000 year Great Schism. But it is also designed to attract vast numbers of conservative Anglicans, who will be offered the protection of the Holy Father if they covert en masse.

The liberal cardinals don't like the sound of it at all.

Ever since the shock of Benedict's election, they have been waiting for him to show his hand. Now that he has, the resistance has begun in earnest - and the Archbishop of Westminster, Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor, is in the thick of it.

"Pope Benedict is isolated," I was told when I visited Rome last week. "So many people, even in the Vatican, oppose him, and he feels the strain immensely." [Just because he has opponents, as anyone is bound to have, does not mean he is isolated! He draws strength, commmunion and companionship from sources far more powerful.]

Yet he is ploughing ahead. He reminds me of another conservative revolutionary, Margaret Thatcher, who waited a couple of years before taking on the Cabinet "wets" sabotaging her reforms.

Benedict's pontificate moved into a new phase on July 7, with the publication of his apostolic letter Summorum Pontificum.

With a stroke of his pen, the Pope restored the traditional Latin Mass - in effect banned for 40 years - to parity with the modern liturgy. Shortly afterwards, he replaced Archbishop Piero Marini, the papal Master of Ceremonies who turned many of John Paul II's Masses into politically correct carnivals.

Cardinal Murphy-O'Connor was most displeased. Last week, he hit back with a "commentary" on Summorum Pontificum.

According to Murphy-O'Connor, the ruling leaves the power of local bishops untouched. In fact, it removes the bishops' power to block the ancient liturgy. In other words, the cardinal - who tried to stop Benedict issuing the ruling - is misrepresenting its contents.

Alas, he is not alone: dozens (????) of bishops in Britain, Europe and America have tried the same trick.

Murphy-O'Connor's "commentary" was modelled on equally dire "guidelines" written by Bishop Arthur Roche of Leeds with the apparent purpose of discouraging the faithful from exercising their new rights.

A few years ago the ploy might have worked. But news travels fast in the traditionalist blogosphere, and these tactics have been brought to the attention of papal advisers.

This month, Archbishop Malcolm Ranjith, a senior Vatican official close to Benedict, declared that "bishops and even cardinals" who misrepresented Summorum Pontificum were "in rebellion against the Pope".

Ranjith is tipped to become the next Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship, in charge of regulating worldwide liturgy. That makes sense: if Benedict is moving into a higher gear, then he needs street fighters in high office.

He may also have to reform an entire department, the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, which spends most of its time promoting the sort of ecumenical waffle that Benedict abhors.

This is a sensitive moment. Last month, the bishops of the Traditional Anglican Communion, a network of 400,000 breakaway Anglo-Catholics based mainly in America and the Commonwealth, wrote to Rome asking for "full, corporate, sacramental union".

Their letter was drafted with the help of the Vatican. Benedict is overseeing the negotiations. Unlike John Paul II, he admires the Anglo-Catholic tradition. He is thinking of making special pastoral arrangements for Anglican converts walking away from the car wreck of the Anglican Communion.

This would mean that they could worship together, free from bullying by local bishops who dislike the newcomers' conservatism and would rather "dialogue" with Anglicans than receive them into the Church.

The liberation of the Latin liturgy, the rapprochement with Eastern Orthodoxy, the absorption of former Anglicans - all these ambitions reflect Benedict's conviction that the Catholic Church must rediscover the liturgical treasure of Christian history to perform its most important task: worshipping God.

This conviction is shared by growing numbers of young Catholics, but not by the church politicians who have dominated the hierarchies of Europe for too long.

By failing to welcome the latest papal initiatives - or even to display any interest in them, beyond the narrow question of how their power is affected - the bishops of England and Wales have confirmed Benedict's low opinion of them.

Now he should replace them. If the Catholic reformation is to start anywhere, it might as well be here.

In his blog 'Holy Smoke' for the Daily Telegraph, Thompson wrote this last week:

Cormac's dangerous game
Posted by Damian Thompson
on 11 Nov 2007

Pope Benedict XVI knows that Cardinal Murphy-O’Connor and the English bishops are trying to block his reform of the liturgy, according to German contacts of mine in the Vatican.

As a result, he may well decide to bring forward the date of Murphy-O’Connor’s resignation. The English cardinal is certainly behaving like a man with nothing to lose: in a statement last week, he produced an interpretation of the Motu Proprio that reads as if it was designed to irritate the Pope as much as possible.

Benedict is not surprised. “He remembers that Murphy-O’Connor, together with other liberal cardinals, did his best to stop a Ratzinger victory in the conclave,” says my source, who reckons that the English bishops are merely following the example of German liberals in trying to sabotage the liberation of the Latin Mass.

It’s a risky strategy, however.

Cardinal Murphy-O’Connor is anxious to ensure that his successor comes from inside the “magic circle” of Bishops’ Conference liberals. So was it really wise to allow one of his favourites, Bishop Arthur Roche of Leeds, to misrepresent the Pope’s wishes in a letter to his clergy?

The Pope is not a man who bears personal grudges – he likes Murphy-O’Connor, despite everything – but he has a faultless memory, and if he sees the name Arthur Roche on the terna, or shortlist, for Westminster, the first thing he will think is: “Ah, an opponent of my Motu Proprio.”

Apart from anything else, the liberals have picked the wrong battlefield. The Motu Proprio has already removed the power of bishops to block the 1962 Missal, and that power isn’t coming back to them any time soon.

Let me quote no less an authority than the New York Times, which in an article yesterday said: “In July, Pope Benedict issued a letter giving parishes the authority to celebrate the [Tridentine] Mass without obtaining bishops’ permissions.” [Mr. Thompson, not that anyone would use or need the New York Times as an 'authority' in matters regarding the Catholic Church! The Motu Proprio itself is clear enough about this particular provision.][

Cormac, Arthur, Kieran and Crispian, let me ask you: what part of that sentence do you not understand?

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Well, we knew we'd hear from them, and not kindly, but not inaccurately either! Translated from an Apcom item carried in Avvvenire today:

ROME, Nov. 16 (Apcom) - After having walked out of the Ravenna Catholic-Orthodox meetings last month adn broken an embargo on publishing the Ravenna document, the Patriarchate of Moscow has now openly criticized that document.

"It has a series of doubtful conclusions and statements that are not supported by historical fact," said Bishop Ilarion, representative of the Patriarchate to the Russian news agency Interfax.

"It seems we are caught in a trap," he continues, "in which the Roman Catholics are trying to express an ecclesiological model of the ecumenical Church in such a way that the role of the 'primary bishop' becomes as close as it can possibly be to the role of the Pope in the modern Roman Catholic Church. And on his part, the Patriarch of Constantinople is trying to obtain for the 'first' Patriarch in the (Orthodox) hierarchy rights which it does not have now." [But this is outrageous! Where in the Ravenna document is any of this stated or even implied? All its references, insofar as agreed upon about the Bishop of Rome, was his historical role and functions in the first millennium!]

For Ilarion, in any case, the document approved by the delegations in Ravenna must now be examined by Russian experts in canon law and then decided on by a Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church.


I found the original Interfax item on which the above item was based. I have edited the item to read less awkwardly than Interfax's English translation from the Russian.

Bishop Hilarion says Russian Orthodox
Theologians Commission must examine
'ambiguous' document adopted at
the Orthodox-Catholic conference in Ravenna

Moscow, November 16, Interfax - The Russian Orthodox Church's representative to the European Institutions, Bishop Hilarion of Vienna and Austria, says the final document of the 10th meeting of the Joint Orthodox-Catholic Commission in Ravenna should be examined in detail by Russian Orthodox theologians.

"The document has a whole series of dubious conclusions and assertions that are not borne out by historical truth," Bishop Hilarion told Interfax in an interview.

He said the Ravenna's document must be "thoroughly examined by a group of canon law specialists, ecclesiologists and church historians" under the Theologian Commission of the Russian Orthodox Church. Then the official assessment by the Commission must be approved by the Holy Synod of the Russian Church.

The document was not signed by the representatives of the Moscow Patriarchate as theyleft the Ravenna sessions at the start to protest the participation of the "Estonian Apostolic Church" established by the Constantinople Patriarchate on the Russian Church's canonical territory in 1996.

Hilarion said the Orthodox-Catholic dialogue may not be considered legitimate without the Moscow Patriarchate's participation.

He told Interfax that the Ravenna document does not describe the modern Roman-Catholic and Orthodox Churches as they are but "probably some theoretical Church based on ecclosiological principles of the Ecumenical Councils period."

The representative of the Moscow Patriarchate disputes Paragraph 39 of the document which states that "even after the break between East and West which rendered impossible the holding of Ecumenical Councils in the strict sense of the term, both Churches continued to hold councils whenever serious crises arose. These councils gathered together the bishops of local Churches in communion with the See of Rome or, although understood in a different way, with the See of Constantinople, respectively." [These are the actual sentences from Paragraph 39 of the Ravenna statement, rather than Interfax's version.]

"In Belgrade last year, I already disputed these assertions as contradictory to the ecclesiological self-interpretation of the Local Orthodox Churches," Ilarion said.

[It's hard to see what Hilarion's objection is, unless it is based on a misunderstanding of the provision if we are to go by the Interfax version, as follows:

In 1054 after the Schism between the Eastern and Western Churches both the Churches continued assembling councils in critical situations, and bishops of the Local Churches associated with the Rome See, and those associated with the Constantinople Se attended those councils.

The translation makes it appear that bishops of both sides continued to attend each other's councils, when it is clear in the Ravenna statement, edited and released in English, that each side held their own councils.]

But Hilarion agrees that the assertion in Paragraph 45 "to examine more thoroughly" the role of the Rome bishop in the communion of all Churches should be the starting point in the next stage of the Commission meetings, where the primacy in the Ecumenical Church will be discussed.

However, he ontinues: "Apparently we will find ourselves in a trap. That is to say: The Roman Catholics would strive to express an ecclesiological model of the Ecumenical Church so that the role of 'the first bishop' would most closely match the actual role the Bishop of Rome now has in the modern Roman Catholic Church."

He adds that in its turn the Constantinople Patriarchate "would strive to arrange so that the 'the first patriarch' in the Orthodox hierarchy (the Bishop of Constantinople' would obtain rights that he does not have now."

And there was a companion piece to the above:

Orthodox-Catholic dialogue incomplete
without Moscow Patriarchate - Bishop Hilarion

Moscow, November 16, Interfax - Deliberate exclusion of the Moscow Patriarchate from the Orthodox-Catholic dialogue makes this dialogue incomplete and deprives it of legitimacy, Bishop Hilarion of Vienna and Austria, the Russian Orthodox Church's envoy to European nternational organizations, said. [But what delberate exclusion? It was they who walked out in Ravenna!]

"It will no longer be an Orthodox-Catholic dialogue. It will be the Vatican's dialogue with just a part of the Orthodox Church. I don't think all Orthodox churches will accept the outcome of such a dialogue," Bishop Hilarion said in an interview with Interfax.

"Without the Russian Church, whose size is greater than the size of all other local Orthodox churches taken together, it will be difficult to pretend that the dialogue involves the Orthodox Church in all its entirety," he said.

Bishop Hilarion was commenting on the recent statement by the Chairman of the Joint Orthodox-Catholic Theologian Commission, Metropolitan Ioannis of Pergamos of the Constantinople Patriarchate, to the effect that the Moscow Patriarchate's decision to leave the commission meeting in Ravenna in October only demonstrated the "authoritarianism" and "self-isolation" of the Russian Church, and on the assertion by Catholic member of the commission and advisor to the Roman Curia, Priest Dimitri Salakas, that this departure was "not a barrier to progress in the dialogue."

A delegation of the Moscow Patriarchate led by Bishop Hilarion in October left the Ravenna meeting in protest against it being attended by representatives of the so-called Estonian Apostolic Church, formed in 1996 by the Constantinople Patriarchate on the canonical territory of the Moscow Patriarchate.

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I'm surprised Rocco Palmo does not have this item on his blog yet, but although this particular item is marked 'free' on the site of the Tablet, I am having trouble logging on, so here's a translation of the report from the Italian news agency ASCA:

VATICAN CITY, Nov. 16 (ASCA) - According to the British Catholic weekly, The Tablet, the Vatican will be issuing 'before Christmas' an Instruction to clarify some aspects of the Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum.

It claims that Cardinal Dario Castrillon Hoyos, Prefect of the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei, presented the Instruction draft to Pope Benedict XVI at their meeting last Thursday.

The Instruction would clarify, for instance, what is meant by a 'stable group' of faithful who may request the parish priest to make the traditional Mass available to them.

Other clarifications have to do with aspects of canon law.

Such clarifications are deemed necessary because of lukewarm or even hostile reactions on the part of some bishops and bishops conferences to the Pope's full validation of the traditional Mass.

Such reactions have given rise to guidelines issued by some bishops which are considered restrictive rather than supportive of the Pope's Motu Proprio.

In recent interviews, Mons. Malcolm Ranjith, the number-two man at the Congregation for Divine Worship, has spoken about the 'rebellion' and 'disobedience' of some bishops against the Pope with regard to the Motu Proprio.

La Repubblica also has a similar story, quoting from Mons. Ranjith's interview with Fides (full transcript posted earlier on this page).


The Italian news agency Adnkronos reports that the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei will soon publish an order addressed to seminaries "in which it is required that the celebration of the Latin Mass be taught to future priests

It is not clear whether the order will be an exclusive document or if it will be part of the general Instruction on implementing the motu proprio which is expected tyo be published soon.


Apropos, here is what the Tablet said in its issue last week about the implementation of the Mass MP. The article reacts to Mons. Ranjith's earlier interview with PETRUS when he spoke of the 'rebellion' of some bishops and priests over the revalidation of the traditional Mass. The Tablet article gives a brief overview of the major 'objectors' to the MP so far.

Rebuke for bishops who resist Old Rite
By Robert Mickens
The Tablet
Nov. 9, 2007

A senior official at the Congregation for Divine Worship [and Discipline of the Sacraments] (CDW) this week said that bishops who were trying to curtail use of the Tridentine Mass were "in rebellion against the Pope" and guilty of pride, "one of the gravest sins".

Archbishop Malcolm Ranjith, who serves as the CDW secretary, levelled his criticism at "theologians, liturgists, priests, bishops and even cardinals" who have written "interpretative documents that inexplicably try to limit the Pope’s motu proprio" – the document that liberalised use of the pre-Second Vatican Council Mass.

The CDW official told an Italian online news service that the bishops should especially "return to obedience" since they "have professed fidelity to the pontiff".

Pope Benedict issued his motu proprio last July despite concerns by many bishops that it could deepen divisions in the Church.

Since the motu proprio came into force on 14 September, entire national episcopal conferences – including those in the Philippines and Germany – have released explanatory letters that could be seen as placing conditions on the celebration of the Tridentine Rite and therefore limiting the implementation of the papal document.

A motion to issue such a letter by a group of Italian bishops was voted down by the conference’s permanent committee.

Some bishops around the world – including Bishop Arthur Roche of Leeds, chairman of the International Commission on English in the Liturgy, and Bishop Donald Trautman of Erie, chairman of the US bishops’ liturgy office [As of Nov. 14, 2007, not any more!] – have individually written explanatory letters directly to priests in their own dioceses, and at least two Italian bishops have publicly stated that they would not permit the pre-conciliar liturgy in their churches.

Those who favour the Tridentine Mass have complained that such restrictions contradict the clear stipulations contained in the Pope’s motu proprio.

Archbishop Ranjith, who is close to the Pope and is expected by many to be the next prefect of the CDW, accused bishops who are limiting the Old Rite of being motivated by "prejudices of an ideological type or by pride".

Clergy who have voiced reserves about the motu proprio have been careful not to criticise the Pope directly and have sought subtle ways to justify their opposition to his decree.

The most prominent among them has been Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini. The retired Archbishop of Milan made his point in a leading Italian paper last September by saying, that he would not celebrate the Tridentine Mass even if he counted himself among the most qualified to do so.

Others, such as Belgian Cardinal Godfried Danneels, have downplayed the motu proprio by saying there was no interest in the Tridentine Mass in their countries, even though the head of the worldwide pro-Tridentine Mass organisation Una Voce is from Belgium.

Cardinal Dionigi Tettamanzi told priests in Milan that the document did not apply to the northern Italian archdiocese since it uses the Ambrosian Rite rather than the Roman one. [This, however, is sure to be clarified by the Pontifical Commission. It is said that the document will state that the Motu Proprio applies to the other Latin rites.]

In Augus,t Archbishop Mario Conti of Glasgow sent out a letter pointing out that the motu proprio required provision for "stable groups" who "adhered" to the earlier rite, and said he thought it unlikely there were such groups in his diocese (The Tablet, 25 August).

Archbishop Ranjith, a native of Sri Lanka, said the motu proprio was "an act of liberty and justice towards traditionalists". He then criticised celebrations of the New Rite Mass that are frequently "transformed into shows with dancing, singing and applause".

Meanwhile a small number of prominent bishops around the world have spoken in favour of the Tridentine Mass’s wider use. Cardinal George Pell became the first archbishop in four decades to celebrate the Old Rite in Sydney’s cathedral last Saturday morning.

When Father Z ran the above article on his blog, some readers asked what Cardinal Arinze, Prefect of the CDW and Mons. Ranjith's boss, has had to say about the MP. A Father McAfee posted this answer:

Cardinal Arinze has spoken out before the motu proprio. He did so on EWTN. There, he said the classical roman liturgy (his name for the 1962 missal) should be celebrated whenever people want one.

However, he was not in favor of removing the requirment of the approval of the local bishop. When Benedict convened the meeting of the dicasteries, it was reported that Cardinal Arinze called for an expansion of the present indult but not a general de-restriction of the mass. The Pope chose to derestrict the Mass.

It would be interesting to find out how the cardinal envisioned expanding on the indult .How could you expand it without the removal of the major obstacle to it - the local bishop? Maybe I will ask him when I see him.

Comment by fr.franklyn mcafee

If anybody has seen anywhere any article about Cardinal Arinze's current attitude to the Motu Proprio, please share. I have been wondering about this myself, interpreting his resounding silence as disapproval, and if he does, then I feel very sorry indeed.

Fr. McAfee is right. The Pope had to bypass the local bishops in this case - doutless on solid canonical grounds that doing so through a decree with churchwide scope does not in any way challenge the bishop's authority within his diocese. At least, not one bishop or lay critic of the MP has questioned the Pope's right to issue the Motu Proprio.

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The Holy Father met today with
- Bishops of Kenya, Group 5, on ad-limina visit
- Participants of the International Conference of Health Workers sponsored by the Pontifical Council
for Health Ministry. Address in Italian.


Translated from PETRUS today:


VATICAN CITY - Pope Benedict XVI today re-stated the Church's opposition to euthanasia, saying it implies society's renunciation of its duty to heal the sick, who even if considered incurable, have the right to be assisted and supported until their natural death.

"The temptation to perform euthanasia," he said in an address to participants in a Vatican-sponsored international conference of health care workers on the proper care for aged patients, "is one of the most alarming symptoms of a culture of death which is making headway in the welfare society."

In what could be an indirect response to those who have claimed that John Paul II's death was the result of euthanasia, Benedict XVI said, "My venerated predecessor, especially in sickness, offered ab exemplary testimony of faith and courage....On many occasions, he called on scientists and doctors to engage themselves in research to prevent and cure illnesses linked to old age, without ever yielding to the temptation to cut short the lives of aged sick people in ways that would amount to euthanasia."

"Human life in every stage deserves maximum respect," he said, "and in many ways, even more so, when it is marked by old age and sickness."

He said "a general commitment is needed so that human life is respected this way not only in Catholic hospitals but in all places of healing."

Citing John Paul II's encyclical Evangelium vitae, the Pope said "Human life is a gift of God and all of us are called on to safeguard it always", aduty, he said that is particularly incumbent on all health care workers, "whose specific mission is to be 'ministers of life' in all its phases, particularly when it is made most fragile by illness."

"It is possible to live through illness as a human experience to be assumed with patience and courage," the said. "It is right to use palliative cures when necessary, because even if they cannot cure, they can at least alleviate the pain that comes with some illnesses" but it is also important "to show ill persons love, because they ne understanding, comfort, encouragement and constant accompaniment."

The same is true, he said, in the care of older people, "when one arriveds naturally at the last stage of our earthly journey, which has distinct phases, each with its own lights and shadows."

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Article in the London Daily Telegraph

Dear Friends,
Sorry if I'm repeating something already reported, but here's the full article by Damian Thompson in Friday November 16th's Daily Telegraph, just in case a British perspective hasn't been added to the blatant misrepresentation of the Motu Proprio by numerous bishops.

You can't tell me they didn't understand Summorum Pontificum! They just didn't want to. I feel so angry that I wish cries of "Heresy!" would come back and these rebellious bishops could be dealt with in 16th Century ways!!!!!
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Cardinal Sean addresses the Holy Father's visit to the U.S.
In case no one has checked it out, Cardinal Sean O'Malley has a personal blog

and today is his first post after the USCCB meeting just concluded. The first item he addresses is why the Holy Father is not coming to the Archdiocese. I think he did fine, gentle and brief job of it. Hopefully those who are upset will consider the points he brings up and the Cardinal does hold out some hope for a future date.

If you want to check out his Archives, you'll find so many beautiful photos ... especially of the recent Catholic-Orthodox pilgrimage he led, first to Rome and then to Istanbul. The photos of the churches visited and other sites are really incredible.

Enchoy ... [SM=g27828] [SM=g27828] [SM=g27828]
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A full translation of the Pope's homily and messages at the Angelus today has been posted in AUDIENCE AND ANGELUS TEXTS.




Pope Benedict XVI covered a lot of ground in his Angelus message today.

In his brief homily based on today's Gospel, he emphasized Jesus's invitation to his disciples not to be afraid, but "to face difficulties, incomprehension and even persecutions with confidence, persevering in their faith in him."

He said "history must run its course, which includes human tragedies and natural calamities," but "let us not fear for the future, even when it appears dark to us, because the God of Jesus Christ, entered history in order to open it to transcendent fulfillment."

He then paid tribute to persons in the consecrated life, especially the cloistered nuns who will be remembered particularly next Wednesday, Nov. 21, on the feast of the presentation of the young Mary at the temple in Jerusalem.

After the Angelus prayers, he called on international assistance to the victims of last week's cyclone in Bagnladesh. He hailed the opening of an international conference in Jordan on the campaign to eliminate anti-personnel land mines.

And he paid tribute to Fr. Antonio Rosmini, the great 19th-century priest and philosopher who was beatified today in Novara.

Pope praises, Vatican beatifies
Italian whose writings were condemned

By Carol Glatz
Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY, Nov. 19 (CNS) - Pope Benedict XVI today praised the life and example of a 19th-century Italian philosopher and religious-order founder whose writings had been condemned by the church until six years ago.

Blessed Antonio Rosmini was a great priest and an "illustrious man of culture" who generously dedicated his life to harmonizing the relationship between reason and faith, the pope said just a few hours before Cardinal Jose Saraiva Martins led the Nov. 18 beatification ceremony in the northern Italian city of Novara.

In remarks made shortly after his midday Angelus prayer in St. Peter's Square, the pope asked that Blessed Rosmini's example help the church, "especially Italian ecclesial communities, grow in the awareness that the light of human reason and grace, when they walk together, become a source of blessing for the human person and for society."

Blessed Rosmini, who lived 1797-1855, founded the Institute of Charity - also known as the Rosminian Fathers - and the Congregation of the Rosminian Sisters of Providence.

The road to his beatification had been impeded by an 1887 Vatican condemnation of 40 proposals selected from works written by the Italian priest.

But in 2001, the Vatican Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, headed then by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger who is now Pope Benedict, declared that the positions condemned 114 years ago did not accurately reflect Blessed Rosmini's thinking or beliefs.

Historians said the propositions were pulled out of the context in which they were written.

In his homily during the Nov. 18 beatification Mass, Cardinal Saraiva Martins said elevating the Italian philosopher to blessed "will certainly help restore the friendship between reason and faith, between religion, ethical behavior and the public service of Christians."

He said Blessed Rosmini's message that reason and faith should be intertwined has "burning relevance" for today's world where there is "a steady eclipse of God and his providence."

The cardinal told 30 Giorni, an Italian magazine, he was "truly happy" to see this "great, bright, prophetic thinker" finally elevated to "the glory of the altars."

In an interview published in the magazine's September issue, Cardinal Saraiva Martins said because the 1887 condemnation was issued posthumously "Rosmini was not able to defend himself" from propositions that were - in fact - "pulled out of their context and therefore interpreted arbitrarily."

However, a cycle of investigations, condemnations and commendations from the Vatican also occurred during Blessed Rosmini's life.

Two of his books - The Five Wounds of the Church and The Constitution According to Social Justice - were placed on the Index of Forbidden Books in 1849. But six years later a top-level Vatican review of all of his published works led to a judgment by Pope Pius IX that they were free from heterodoxy.

While he was alive, Blessed Rosmini's attempts to find a way to bridge the gap between Catholic philosophy and secular philosophy was seen as a dangerous concession to those who thought reason alone could lead people to truth and ultimate happiness.

His popularity with the papal court was not enhanced by his belief that the unification of Italy was inevitable and the Vatican should loosen its temporal grip on the Papal States, supporting the formation of a confederation of Italian states in order to safeguard the independence of the papacy.

Cardinal Saraiva Martins told 30 Giorni that Blessed Rosmini's ideas and opinions made him "an uncomfortable figure, above all for some circles of political power."

He said The Five Wounds of the Church is "in some ways prophetic, ahead of its time, perhaps too much" for that period.

"A prophet's destiny in the Bible but also, alas, in the history of the church is often to be misunderstood and persecuted," he said.

Blessed Rosmini is seen by many as having helped inspire some of the reforms made during the Second Vatican Council, especially, Cardinal Saraiva Martins said, in the area of religious freedom and human dignity.

Even before the philosopher's rehabilitation, Pope John Paul II praised him for showing that faith without reason becomes mythology or superstition, and reason without faith becomes worship of self, of knowledge and of power.

In a 1998 meeting with members of the Rosminian order, Pope John Paul told them, "Today's dominant culture worships freedom and autonomy, while often following false paths which lead to new forms of slavery."

He told his audience it was part of the Rosminians' mission to follow the example of their founder who saw that that there is "no opposition between faith and reason, but that one demands the other."

The late pope said the priest lived at "a time when the cry for liberation rang out and when the question of freedom dominated all others."

"Often enough, this was understood as a rejection of the church and an abandonment of Christian faith, implying a liberation from Jesus Christ himself," Pope John Paul said.

Just a few weeks after that audience, the pope released his 1998 encyclical, Fides et Ratio (Faith and reason), in which he again praised then-Father Rosmini as a modern Catholic thinker who promoted "a process of philosophical inquiry which was enriched by engaging the data of faith."

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Containing the Mideast fires of reform

The Japan Times

LONDON, Nov. 19 — The recent meeting in the Vatican between "Custodian of the Holy Places" King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia and Pope Benedict XVI was a seminal event, particularly as it comes at a time when radical Muslims are decrying the role of "Crusaders" in Middle East politics.

It was also the clearest sign yet of a rising "Holy Alliance" among the world's conservative leaders. For the target audience of this meeting was not the followers of either, but another conservative leader, President George W. Bush.

The first Holy Alliance was a creation of Austria's Prince Metternich following the Napoleonic wars. It was an attempt to preserve the peace (and security of the relatively weak Austrian Empire) through a coalition of victors upholding shared values.

Metternich's Holy Alliance was the one original political idea to emerge from Napoleon's defeat. Behind its exalted name lay an innovation of great diplomatic significance: the introduction of an element of calculated moral restraint into international relations.

The vested interests that the Alliance members — Austria, Prussia and Russia — had in the survival of their domestic institutions led each to seek to avoid conflicts that, in the past, they would have pursued as a matter of course.

Metternich's system worked through much of the 19th century because it protected a genuine balance of power between countries that shared common values. But what "common values" do the Saudi king, the pope, and the American president share? That such a meeting took place is a sign that both the pope and the king believed that there was something to achieve.

Indeed, Abdullah, who believes himself to be the paramount leader of the Muslim world, is the first Saudi king to initiate a meeting with a leader of the Christian faith.

The two men met, seemingly as equals, not to express the common values of conservatism, but to confirm and promote their authority to uphold traditional values. Both agreed that reform must be slow, cautious and that it must never undermine established institutions, especially religion and the patriarchal family.

Abdullah sought the meeting because he believes that the world since 2001 has divided the fraternity of conservatives. Until then, he and Bush shared a common worldview, emphasizing the importance of religion, the traditional family (as both countries understood it), social discipline, and the state's role in supporting these institutions.

But Bush, following the terrorist attacks of 2001, turned his back on conservatism. He sought to radically reinvent the Middle East, not only by overthrowing the Taliban regime in Afghanistan and Saddam Hussein's regime in Iraq, but also through his strident calls for democratization.

American radicalism, however, resulted in increasing tensions between religious communities in the Middle East, and the rise of radical Iran with its bid for regional hegemony. Since 2001, Christian minorities have been targeted throughout the region, including even Lebanon's Maronite Christian community. And in Iraq, Sunni Muslims feel under siege from the country's majority and now ruling Shiites.

Here is where the Holy Alliance concept of moral restraint comes in. Abdullah, perhaps earlier than most others, has understood that some code of restraint is needed if the entire region is not to descend into a war of all against all.

Moreover, Abdullah understands that his wobbly regime will only be able to withstand the radical gales that are now blowing if it can forge the type of stability-seeking alliance that Metternich built.

The king, like Metternich and the Austrian kaisers, understands de Tocqueville's dictum that the most dangerous moment for a regime is when it starts to reform. Having begun, ever so carefully, to politically open his country, the king knows that he needs regional peace and a lowering of Islamic holy rage.

The problem is that Abdullah cannot rely on his domestic conservative allies to give him the time that the kingdom needs. The Wahhabi religious establishment, the Saudi state's hidden co-rulers, could very well obstruct Abdullah's attempts at regional religious reconciliation.

Members of the religious police remain adamant that the country's Christian guests must continue to live according to strict Wahhabi rules of behavior. While the Wahhabis could yet be bribed again with oil money, the sect's power-hungry judges eagerly await the next beheading, stoning, or lashing in Riyadh's public square.

Thus, uniting the forces of status quo conservatism, even if some of those conservatives are Christian, is the only viable diplomatic strategy open to Saudi Arabia.

For conservative rulers usually fall when they fail to grasp their own vulnerability, especially when the revolutionary challenge is cloaked in conservative garb. After all, few political systems can defend against those, such as Saudi Arabia's Islamic radicals, who claim that they can preserve the system and its religious values more effectively than the current rulers.

Only an alliance of conservative leaders and powers (including a retreat by America from diplomatic radicalism), Abdullah believes, can restore some stability to the Middle East.

Mai Yamani is a Brookings Institution visiting fellow.


This is a preposterous premise - that the Pope would enter into alliance with anybody to contain democratic reforms in the Middle East - and to help prop up a rickety regime that blatantly violates the human rights of non-Muslim minorities! For all the historical allusions and seemingly scholarly approach of this article, the writer's vmind appears to be seriously compromised lby anti-American, anti-prejudice.

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Pope Removes Illinois Monsignor From Priesthood
Over Sexual Misconduct Claims

I missed this item altogther when it first came out. Forgive the delay. It's one of those items I wonder has not been more commented on. Perhaps because it is 'positive' and reflects well on the church - and especially, the Pope - than otherwise? Especially since it's a pretty drastic move!

SPRINGFIELD, Ill, Nov. 17 (AP) - Pope Benedict XVI has removed an Illinois monsignor from the priesthood following allegations of sexual misconduct, church officials said.

Monsignor Eugene Costa, 57, of Springfield, is the former pastor of St. John Vianney Church in Sherman and Holy Family Church in Athens. He has been on leave since January 2005.

Because the pope removed him, the action can't be appealed, said Kathie Sass, a spokeswoman the Roman Catholic Diocese of Springfield said on Friday.

Costa, once chancellor of the Springfield diocese, is also no longer permitted to perform priestly ministries or call himself "father," she said.

"Catholics believe the holy order leaves a permanent mark on the soul," she told the (Springfield) State Journal-Register. "In one sense, he will always be a priest. But this has removed him from the clerical state permanently."

Costa's problems began when two men in a park beat him on Dec. 21, 2004; it was later alleged he had solicited the two for sex. Subsequent investigations by the diocese and the U.S. Attorney's Office revealed a pattern of sexual misconduct.

There was no answer Saturday at a telephone number for a Eugene Costa in Springfield.

From the local newspaper:

Costa removed from priesthood -
Action by Pope Benedict cannot be appealed

Springfield Journal-Register (Illinois)
Saturday, November 17, 2007

Monsignor Eugene Costa has been removed from the priesthood by Pope Benedict XVI, Kathie Sass, a spokeswoman for the Springfield Catholic Diocese, confirmed Friday.

Costa, 57, the former pastor of St. John Vianney Church in Sherman and Holy Family Church in Athens, has been on leave since January 2005. His laicization came at the request of Springfield Bishop George Lucas, Sass said. Because the action came directly from Pope Benedict, it cannot be appealed.

Costa is not permitted to perform priestly ministries or call himself "father."

"Catholics believe the holy order leaves a permanent mark on the soul," Sass said. "In one sense, he will always be a priest. But this has removed him from the clerical state permanently."

Costa, chancellor of the Springfield diocese under former Bishop Daniel Ryan, was beaten by two young men in Douglas Park on Dec. 21, 2004.

He was subsequently said by the diocese to have engaged in "risky" and "inappropriate" behavior - he allegedly solicited the men for sex - which apparently played a role in the attack and prompted the investigation. Costa later was put on the leave of absence, and an investigation by former U.S. Attorney Bill Roberts found that Costa had been involved in sexual misconduct.

Lucas said in August 2006 that he was attempting to permanently remove Costa from being a priest. After being put on leave, Costa was sent to a center for troubled priests.

Sass declined to say where Costa is now, what his future plans are or to pass an interview request to Lucas. She said Costa still can be a practicing Catholic.

The news was first reported by Sass in the Nov. 18 issue of the Catholic Times.

A Springfield native, Costa was ordained in Rome in July 1976 and was a priest in several parishes.

The last priest connected with Springfield to be removed from the clergy was Joseph Havey, who was removed by the pope in April 2006. Havey, who had not been a priest in more than 20 years, had been accused of sexual abuse of minors in the 1970s and ’80s. Havey’s victims were among 28 who split a $3 million settlement with the diocese in 2004.

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The Holy Father met with
- Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, Prefect of the Congregation for Bishops
- Bishops of Kenya, Group 5, on ad limina visit. Address in English to all the Kenyan Bishops.

The full text of the Pope's address to the bishops of Kenya, delivered in English, has been posted in HOMILIES, DISCOURSES, MESSAGES.

The address is an excellent reaffirmation of the role of bishops, the prayer obligations of priests, the sanctity of human life, the importance of Catholic education and professional training, among other things.

Typically, the news reporting on the Pope's address to the Kenya bishops is selective, and tendentious as in this report from Reuters.

Pope says groups are
"promoting" abortion in Africa

VATICAN CITY, Nov. 19 (Reuters) - Pope Benedict accused international agencies on Monday of promoting abortion in Africa and partly blamed the spread of diseases like AIDS on "disordered notions" of marriage and the family.

"The globalized secular culture is exerting an increasing influence on local communities as a result of campaigns by agencies promoting abortion," the Pontiff said in an address to bishops from Kenya.
[Where is the accusation in that sentence, which is a simple general statement of fact?]

"This direct destruction of an innocent human life can never be justified, no matter how difficult the circumstances," he said.

The Pontiff did not say which groups the Vatican believed were promoting abortion in Africa.

But the Vatican has previously criticized Amnesty International for backing a woman's right to an abortion in the event of rape or if her life was in danger. Amnesty's decision was inspired by rapes in war zones like Darfur.

The Church teaches that life begins at the moment of conception and that abortion is killing.

The Pontiff said deviations from traditional family values were partly to blame for many of Africa's problems.

He pointed to sexually transmitted diseases, in a clear reference to the AIDS pandemic ravaging the continent.

"All too often, the ills besetting some parts of African society, such as promiscuity, polygamy and the spread of sexually transmitted diseases, can be directly related to disordered notions of marriage and family life," he said.

Almost 40 million people now live with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, mostly in sub-Saharan Africa. More than 25 million people around the world have died of AIDS.

The Pontiff urged Kenya's bishops to help parents teach their children how to live a traditional Christian vision of marriage "conceived as an indissoluble union between one man and one woman".

Here is the VIS report on the address to the Kenyan bishops:


VATICAN CITY, NOV 19, 2007 (VIS) - This morning in the Vatican, the Pope received prelates from the Kenya Episcopal Conference who have just completed their five-yearly "ad limina" visit.

Speaking English, the Pope began his talk to them by recalling that "it is bishops who, as ministers and signs of communion in Christ, are pre-eminently called to make manifest the unity of His Church." In this context he urged them "to continue your fraternal cooperation with one another in the spirit of the community of Christ's disciples, united in your love for Him and in the Gospel that you proclaim."

"Within each diocese, the vibrancy and harmony of the presbyterate offers a clear sign of the vitality of the local Church. ... As bishops, we must constantly strive to build up the sense of community among our priests. ... We must be close to them and encourage them, in the first place, to remain firmly rooted in prayer. ... Let them drink deeply from the wells of Sacred Scripture and from the daily and reverent celebration of the Most Holy Eucharist. Let them give themselves generously to praying the Liturgy of the Hours."

"A key focus of unity in a community is the institution of marriage and family life, which the people of Africa hold in particular esteem. ... This precious treasure must be guarded at all costs. All too often, the ills besetting some parts of African society, such as promiscuity, polygamy and the spread of sexually transmitted diseases, can be directly related to disordered notions of marriage and family life.

"For this reason," he added, "it is important to assist parents in teaching their children how to live out a Christian vision of marriage, conceived as an indissoluble union between one man and one woman, essentially equal in their humanity and open to the generation of new life.

"While this understanding of Christian family life finds a deep resonance in Africa, it is a matter of great concern that the globalized secular culture is exerting an increasing influence on local communities as a result of campaigns by agencies promoting abortion.

"This direct destruction of an innocent human life can never be justified, however difficult the circumstances that may lead some to consider taking such a grave step. When you preach the Gospel of Life, remind your people that the right to life of every innocent human being, born or unborn, is absolute and applies equally to all people with no exception whatsoever"

"The Catholic community must offer support to those women who may find it difficult to accept a child, above all when they are isolated from their family and friends. Likewise, the community should be open to welcome back all who repent of having participated in the grave sin of abortion, and should guide them with pastoral charity to accept the grace of forgiveness, the need for penance, and the joy of entering once more into the new life of Christ."

Benedict XVI pointed out how the Church in Kenya "is well known for the fine contribution made by its educational institutions in forming generations of young people in sound ethical principles and in opening their minds to engage in peaceful and respectful dialogue with members of other social or religious groups.

"At a time when a secularist and relativist mentality is increasingly asserting itself through global means of social communication, it is all the more essential that you continue to promote the quality and the Catholic identity of your schools, universities and seminaries. Take the steps necessary in order to affirm and clarify their proper institutional status," he concluded. "Today there is a particular need for highly trained professionals and persons of integrity in the area of medicine, where advances in technology continue to raise serious moral questions."

Pope names US military archdiocese head

VATICAN CITY, Nov. 19 (AP) - The pope Monday named Bishop Timothy Broglio of Cleveland, who served in the Vatican's diplomatic service, to head the U.S. military archdiocese.

Broglio, 55, also served as a secretary to the former Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Angelo Sodano. He was elevated to bishop in 2001.

The Archdiocese for the Military Services serves about 1.5 million Catholics, including all in the military and their families.

The former Military Vicar, Edmond O'Brien, was named Archbishop of Baltimore two months ago.

A beautiful emblematic picture from last week's
General Audience, by Dario Pignatelli of Reuters

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It looks like the Vatican itself has decided to answer back systematically all the sniping and sometimes frontal attacks against Benedict XVI because of Summorum Pontificum.

In Mons. Ranjith's long interview with the FIDES news agency last week, translated in full earlier on this page, he not only goes over all the reasons for the Pope's decision to grant full validity to the traditional Mass. He also enumerates the liturgical abuses connected with the new Mass that the Church hopes to curb and correct.

Yesterday's issue of Osservatore Romano (Sunday, Nov. 18) carried a long article by Vatican theologian Fr. Nicola Bux writing about Pope Pius XII's 1967 encyclical Mediator Dei (MD) on liturgical reform.

This encyclical led to much preliminary work that enabled Vatican-II 16 years later to come out with the liturgical constitution Sacrosanctum concilium as the first document of the Council, issued at the end of its first session. (A full translation of the Bux article has been posted in READINGS).

Mediator Dei re-states all the principles and logic that define what liturgy is and should be, and how liturgical reforms should grow organically from what exists.

The same principles were reiterated in Sacrosanctum Concilium (SC) but those responsible for implementing liturgical reform after Vatican-II chose mostly to ignore specific provisions of SC itself, let alone the principles of liturgy as defined by MD! (And as Mons. Ranjith states in this interview, even specific instructions issued by John Paul II. In a previous interview with PETRUS, he referred to documents which were either 'simply filed away, or worse, thrown into the wastebasket.']

Now comes a front-page article in tomorrow's Osservatore Romano with yet another interview with Mons. Ranjith. Before I proceed to translate the full interview, here is a translation of what Apcom reports about it:

VATICAN CITY, Nov. 19 (Apcom) - 'Faithfulness to the Council' is the title chosen by L'Osservatore Romano to summarize a long interview with Archbishop Albert Malcolm Ranjith, secretary of the Congregation for Divine Worship. The interview appears in tomorrow's issue of the Vatican newspaper.

"We are called on to be faithful to something which is not ours but which has been given to us," Mons. Ranjith says. "We should be faithful to the seriousness with which sacraments ought to be celebrated. Why do we need to issue page upon page of instructions if everyone feels free to do as he pleases?"

The prelate says that a confrontation between 'traditionalists' and 'innovators' makes 'no sense'. [The OR article yesterday by Fr. Bux starts out by saying the same thing.] "There was not and there isn't any break between a 'before' and 'after' in the Church, but a continuous line."

"With respect to the traditional Mass," he went on, "there had been a growing demand over time, which also became more organized little by little. At the same time, faithfulness to the standards of celebrating the sacraments was falling. The more such faithfulness diminished, along with the beauty and wonder of liturgy, the more some Catholics looked back to the tradtional Mass."

"For years, the liturgy has undergone so many abuses, and so many bishops have simply ignored them. Pope John Paul II made a heartfelt appeal in Ecclesia Dei afflicta, which called on the Church to be more serious about the liturgy. And he did it again in the Instruction Redemptoris sacramentum. But many liturgists and diocesan offices of liturgy criticized the Papal documents. [And obviously did mostly nothing about it.]

"The problem then is not so much about the traditional Mass, but an almost unlimited abuse of the nobility and dignity of the Eucharistic celebration. And this was something about which Pope Benedict could not be silent, as we saw in his explanatory letter to the bishops and in his many speeches. He feels a great sense of pastoral responsibility.

"Therefore, this document [Sunmmorum Pontificum], beyond being an attempt to bring back the Society of St. Pius X into the Church, is also a gesture, a strong call from the universal Pastor to a sense of seriousness about the liturgy."


I have posted the translation of the full interview in READINGS.

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20/11/2007 14.44
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This is not news, of course, but Amy Welborn today posted this brief excerpt from GOD AND THE WORLD in wnich Cardinal Ratzinger tells us what worship means. I decided to post this here [and have now added a recent collage by Caterina as an appropriate image] , because it is particularly relevant in view of all the discussion these days about worship as expressed in liturgy.


One should not, therefore, regard the worship of God as an external occupation for man, as if God wanted to be praised or if he needed to be flattered. That would of course be childish and, as a matter of fact, irritating and ridiculous.

Worship, understood in the correct sense, means that I am truly myself only when I form relationships, that only then am I true to the inner ideal of my being. And my life is then tending toward the will of God, that is to say, toward a life more closely in agreement with truth and with love.

It’s not a matter of doing something to please God. Worship means accepting that our life is like an arrow in flight. Accepting that nothing finite can be my goal or determine the direction of my life, but that I myself must pass beyond all possible goals. That is, pass beyond them into being inwardly at one with him who wished me to exist as a partner in a relationship with him and who has given me freedom precisely in this.

Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger
God and the World

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The newspaper's headline below is, as usual, misleading - as though the Pope wre moving in on modern music in general. It's the sort of thing, unfortunately, that keeps giving the public at large a wrong impression of Pope Benedict - many people never go beyond the headline and even if they do, the headlien is usually what they retain.

Why the Pope is right to purge modern music
By Damian Thompson
'Holy Smoke' (blog)
Daily Telegraph (UK)

Church music in Italy is generally atrocious, and the Vatican is no exception.

Since he arrived in Rome nearly 30 years ago, the music-loving Joseph Ratzinger has had to endure the sub-operatic warbling of bad 20th-century music. Now he has had enough.

The Pope, who last year appointed a new choir director of St Peter's, wants Gregorian chant, polyphony and baroque masterpieces to dominate the repertoire in the basilica and the Sistine chapel. And, by making his preferences clear, he is sending out a message to the whole Catholic Church.

We are moving into an era of liturgical revolution. Benedict detests the feeble "folk Masses" that have remained the staple fare of Catholic worship long after they went out of musical fashion.

He wants the Church to rediscover the treasure of its heritage - and that includes Gregorian chant as well as the pre-1970 Latin Mass that can now be celebrated without the permission of bishops.

The old guard of trendy choir directors and composers (many of whom have signed lucrative contracts with dioceses) will fight his reforms every inch of the way, egged on by philistine bishops.

But younger church musicians, like young priests, are conservative in their tastes.

The next generation of choir directors have been charged by the Pope with the task of reintroducing beautiful music into church. If they succeed, then at long last the pews may begin to fill up again.

Damian Thompson is editor-in-chief of the Catholic Herald.

P.S. 11/20/07
Here's a UPI story dated today that is based on the above blog! What astounds me is that United Press International, one of the most veteran news agencies in history, should base a story on a blog without even making an effort to go back to original sources - namely, the reports in the Italian media on the subject (reported on this forum via Sandro Magister and Father Z's roundup-cum-commentary of the little fray lit by La Stampa recently about the issue).

'Pope revives Gregorian chant' is not news today. It was months ago, if only UPI and the other Anglophone media had reported the Pope's apostolic echortation Sacramentum caritatis properly, when Benedict made the point, among other things, that the Church should follow what Vatican-II itself urged in the liturgical constitution Sacramentum conciliarum.

Pope revives Gregorian chant

VATICAN CITY, Nov. 20 (UPI) -- Pope Benedict XVI is returning the Vatican to Gregorian chant, the medieval music that served the Catholic church for centuries.

The pope has named a new director of pontifical liturgical celebrations. He has also dropped Pope John Paul II's practice of using singers from Catholic churches around the world for the St. Peter's choir, The Daily Telegraph reports.

Benedict's leanings on forms of worship are conservative. Earlier this year, he gave churches more freedom to use the Tridentine mass, the Latin rite replaced by vernacular translations after Vatican II.

In an address to the bishops and priests of St. Peter's, the pope called for "continuity with tradition" and talked about "the time of St. Gregory the Great," referring to the pope after whom Gregorian chant is named.

Monsignor Valentin Miserachs Grau, the director of the Pontifical Institute of Sacred Music, believes the entire church should return to Gregorian chance.

"Due to general ignorance, especially in sectors of the clergy, there exists music which is devoid of sanctity, true art and universality," he said.

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Re: interview with Mons. Ranjith
A very clear message from Mons. Ranjith. He reminds me of Papa when he was a Cardinal.
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Teresa, I agree with you about the heading of the piece by Damien T. It just sounds terrible and it's also factually expremely onesided. Who on earth thinks out these negative sounding "banners"? it's not helping the Pope and his mission one bit. [SM=g27812]


Dear Crotchet - It's a terrible but universal journalistic practice unfortunately. Classically, a headline or banner is supposed to summarize the item in a few words. Today, the idea is often not to summarize the story but to catch the reader's attention by 'pushing buttons', never mind if the button has nothing to do with the actual story. Instead, the buttons often have to do with widespread, even if unfounded, prejudices that arouse passions, usually hostility - and never positive, in any case - against the hapless subject of the story.

It's a modus operandi that fuels a vicious spiral of prejudice-cum-ignorance - but that's how public opinion has been shaped by the mass media in the age of global communications. Mass media today does not make 'informed public opinion' at all, because advocacy journalism - news reports that promote the reporter/newspaper's own political agenda instead of reporting objective fact - tends to present only (or at least, predominantly) the 'politically correct' mindset....

An infuriating state of affairs, but, in fact, the information age has also been the age of disinformation. Any number of academic theses and focused studies are waiting to be written on the various aspects of this subject - and the subsequent and eventual influence of the Internet, good and bad, on the general public vis-a-vis the older forms of mass media.

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The Holy Father's catechesis today was on Aphraates the Sage, a 4th century Father of the Church representing one of the oldest Eastern rites, the Syriac. In fact, he was born in what is Mosul in present-day Iraq. a translation of the full text has been posted in AUDIENCE AND ANGELUS TEXTS.

Here is the Pope's English synthesis of the catechesis

In this week’s catechesis we turn to Aphraates, an outstanding figure of fourth-century Syriac Christianity.

The Syriac Churches, Semitic in their language and thought, remained close to the Jewish-Christian tradition, and were deeply influenced by native forms of asceticism and monasticism.

Aphraates was thus part of an ecclesial community on the frontier between Judaism and the Greek world. According to some sources, he was the head of a monastery and later consecrated a Bishop. He has left us twenty-three talks, known as Demonstrations, on various aspects of the Christian life.

His style is vivid and close to that of the Bible. In the Syriac tradition, he presents Christ as the physician who heals us from the wounds of sin and our great teacher of prayer. Aphraates presents a positive view of man, called in the flesh to beauty, joy and light by the imitation of Christ in his humility.

The Christian life is seen in ascetic and spiritual terms, rooted in faith and flowering in the love of neighbour. Following the teaching of this great master of the spiritual life, let us strive to show charity and forgiveness to all, so that our prayers may be "strong with the strength of God" (cf. Dem. 4:16).






Pope 'anxious' over Somalia's humanitarian crisis

VATICAN CITY, Nov. 21 (AFP) - Pope Benedict XVI on Wednesday deplored the humanitarian crisis in Somalia where at least one million people have fled violence, and urged global intervention to help end the fighting.

"The sad news comes to us on the subject of the fragility of the humanitarian situation in Somalia, especially in Mogadishu, still the most affected by insecurity and poverty," the pope said at his weekly general audience at the Vatican.

"I am anxiously following developments and I call on those who have political responsibilities on the local and international levels to seek peaceful solutions that can bring relief to these people," he added.

"I encourage the efforts of those who, despite the insecurity and difficulties, stay in this region to bring aid and relief to the inhabitants," the pontiff said.

Some 600,000 people have fled the war-wracked Somali capital since February, bringing the total number of people displaced inside the country to a "staggering one million," the UN refugee agency said Tuesday.

Somalia's transitional government, riven by in-fighting, has been unable to exert control across the nation of about 10 million people and some provinces have declared indepedence.

The bloody clan bickering and power struggles that intensified after the 1991 overthrow of dictator Mohamed Siad Barre have undermined numerous bids to stabilise Somalia.





VATICAN CITY, NOV 21, 2007 (VIS) - At his general audience this morning Benedict XVI turned his attention to Aphraates, known as "the Sage," an important Christian figure from 4th century Syria. The audience, held in St. Peter's Square, was attended by around 15,000 people.

The Pope explained how Christian communities in Syria at that time were essentially part of "the Semitic world from which the Bible itself emerged," an expression of a form of Christianity "with theological formulations that had not yet come into contact with different cultural trends but lived off its own forms of thought. These were Churches," he continued, "in which asceticism, under various forms of hermitic life, ... played an important role."

"Aphraates was from an ecclesial community located on the frontier between Judaism and Christianity" that was "strongly linked to the Mother Church of Jerusalem and ... sought to remain faithful to the Judeo-Christian tradition of which it felt itself to be a product."

The Holy Father noted the significance of the fact that "Aphraates defined himself as a 'disciple of Sacred Scripture,' ... which he considered to be his only source of inspiration." In his works "he often presents the salvation achieved by Christ as healing and, hence, Christ Himself as doctor. Sin on the other hand is seen as a wound which only penance can heal." Another important aspect of his writings is "his teaching on prayer and in particular on Christ as master of prayer."

For Aphraates, "Christian life is focussed on the imitation of Christ," and he considered "humility to be one of the most appropriate virtues for the disciple of Christ" because "man's nature is humble and it is God who exalts it with His own glory. ... By remaining humble, even in their earthly surroundings, Christians may establish a relationship with the Lord."

His vision of human beings and their corporeal reality, said the Pope, "is very positive: the human body ... is called to beauty, to joy and to light." And it is faith that "enables sincere charity, expressed in love for God and for others."

Another key concept in Aphraates' thought is that of fasting, which the Syrian "Sage" understood "in its widest sense: ... abstention from food as a practice necessary in order to be charitable, ... abstention from vain or abhorrent words, abstention from anger and from the ownership of goods."

Benedict XVI concluded by returning to Aphraates' teaching on prayer. "Prayer is achieved," he said, "when Christ dwells in the heart of Christians, inviting them to a coherent commitment of charity towards their fellows."

An early Weihnachstmann - in full St. Nicholas regalia - paid his respects to the Pope after the audience today!


Nothing to do with the audience today, but a small advisory on the Pope's next pastoral visit within the Diocese of Rome. Translated from Apcom:


VATICAN CITY, Nov. 21 (Apcom) - Benedict XVI will make a 'pastoral visit' to the hospital of San Giovanni Battista (John the Baptist) in Rome on December 2, first Sunday of Advent, according to the French online news agency I-Media. The hospital is run by the Order of Malta.

The Pope will say Mass at 9 a.m. and then visit with patients and their families. He will pay a special visit to the ward with patients who have recovered from coma.

The Pope has previously visited the Bambino Gesu pediatric hospital in Rome.

And an item from yesterday:

Benedict XVI Saddened by Ukraine Explosion

VATICAN CITY, NOV. 20, 2007 ( Benedict XVI expressed his condolences after a methane explosion in a coal mine in Donetsk, Ukraine, where the death toll is already at 88.

The Pope sent a telegram through his secretary of state, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, to Ukraine's President Viktor Yushchenko.

He wrote: "Having learned of the disaster in the Zasyadko mine in eastern Ukraine, the Supreme Pontiff wishes to express his heartfelt condolences to the families of the victims, as well as to the government authorities and to the entire nation. While giving assurances of his fervent prayers for the souls of the deceased, he calls upon the Lord of heaven to grant consolation to the injured and to those suffering from the dramatic loss of their loved ones."

Today was declared a day of mourning across Ukraine. The Sunday explosion is the deadliest the country has ever suffered.

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