Benedetto XVI Forum


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See preceding page for earlier posts today, 6/29/12.




A universal and ecumenical feast
June 29, 2012

In reflections before today's Angelus prayers, marking the feast of Saints Peter and Paul this Friday, Pope Benedict XVI highlighted the universal and ecumenical value of the liturgical feast.

Rome, he said, "bears inscriptions in its history of the life and glorious death of the humble fisherman of Galilee and the Apostle to the Gentiles, whom she has rightly chosen as her Protectors. Recalling their luminous witness, we remember the venerable beginnings of the Church that in Rome that believes, prays and proclaims, Christ the Redeemer”.

But “Saints Peter and Paul not only shine in the sky of Rome, but in the heart of all believers who, enlightened by their teaching and by their example, all over the world walk the path of faith, hope and charity. On this road to salvation the Christian community, supported by the presence of the Spirit of the living God, feels encouraged to continue strong and serene on the path of fidelity to Christ and proclamation of his Gospel to men of all time”.

Earlier, the Pope bestowed the pallium on 40 new Metropolitan Archbishops from around the world before presiding at a Mass concelebrated with the bishops.

In his Angelus reflections, the Pope said: "The bestowing of the pallium …is also part of this fruitful spiritual and missionary itinerary.... It highlights the intimate communion of pastors with the Successor of Peter and the deep bond that binds us to the apostolic tradition. This is a double treasure of holiness, which blends together the unity and catholicity of the Church: a precious treasure to be rediscovered and lived with renewed enthusiasm and continued commitment."


Here is a translation of the full text of the Pope's remarks today:

Dear brothers and sisters,

We celebrate with joy the liturgical solemnity of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul, a feast that has accompanied the bimillennial history of the Christian people.

They were called the pillars of the nascent Church. Illustrious witnesses of the faith, they spread the Kingdom of God with their different gifts and, following the example of the Divine Master, they sealed their evangelical preaching with their blood. Their martyrdom is a sign of Church unity.

And as St. Augustine observed: "One day alone is consecrated to the feast of the two apostles. But they too were one only. Although they were martyred on different days, they were one. Peter went ahead, and Paul followed"
(Disc. 295, 8: PL 38, 1352).

An eloquent sign of Peter's sacrifice is the Vatican Basilica and this square, so important for Christianity. And Paul's martyrdom, too, has left significant traces in our city, especially the Basilica dedicated to him on Via Ostiense.

Rome's history is inscribed with the signs of the life and glorious deaths of the humble Fisherman from Galilee and the Apostle of the Gnetiles, whom she has rightly chosen as her Protesctors.

Commemorating their luminous testimony, we remember the venerable beginning of the Church in Rome which believes, prays to and announces Christ the Redeemer.

But Saints Peter and Paul do not only shine in the sky of Rome, but in the hearts of all believers who, enlightened by their teaching and their example, in every part of the world, are walking along the road of faith, hope and charity.

On this journey of salvation, the Christian community, sustained by the presence of the Spirit of the living God, feels encouraged to continue strongly and serenely along the road of faithfulness to Christ and of announcing his Gospel to men in every age.

This spiritual and missionary spirit is also the context for the imposition of the Pallium on the Metropolitan Archbishops which I performed this morning in the Basilica. It is a rite that is always eloquent, which highlights the intimate communion of the pastors with the Successor of Peter and the profound tie that binds us all to the apostolic tradition.

It is a double treasure of holiness, in which the unity and the catholicty of the Church are merged, a precious treasure to rediscover and to live with renewed enthusiasm and constant commitment.

Dear pilgrims, who have come here from every part of the world, on this holiday, let us pray with the expressions of tghe Oriental liturgy: "Praised be Peter and Paulm, the two great lights of the Church. They shine brilliantly in the firmament of the faith".

In this atmosphere, I address a special thought to the delegation from the Patriarchate of Constantinople, who as they do every year, came to take part in our traditional celebration.

May the Virgin Mary lead all believers in Christ to the goal of full unity!

After the plurilingual greetings, he had this message in Italian:
Finally, I greet the Italian-speaking pilgrims, especially the Metropolitan Archbishops and those who accompanied them; the Sisters of Santissima Madre Addolorata; the Associazione Amici di Santa Veronica, as well as the Pro Loco of Rome and their master 'infioratori' [creators of pavement tapestries using flowers to create their designs] whom I thank for the artistic floral tribute that we can see today on the Piazza.

Also gathered here today, to renew their expression of profound communion and spiritual nearness to the Successor of Peter, are the faithful of the Diocese of Rome with the Cardinal Vicar Agostino Vallini, and young Catholics who joined together spontaneously through the social networks: Thank you for your presence.

Dear friends, I thank you from the heart for this gesture of affection and for your initiatives to support my ministry and to promote in every environment a courageous and active Christian witness. I also count on your prayers in order to continue serving the Church with the gentleness and the strength of the Holy Spirit.

I wish everyone a happy holiday on this Feast of Saints Peter and Paul. Thank you.


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Pope Benedict to visit Loreto
on October 4 on the 50th anniversary
of historic train trip by John XXIII

Adapted from the Italian service of
June 29, 2012

The shrine of Loreto is located on a 450-meter promontory a few miles inland from the Adriatic coast.

Pope Benedict XVI will visit Loreto in the province of Ancona on October 4 to mark the 50th anniversary of Blessed John XXIII's 1962 train trip to Italy's best-known Marian shrine. [6/29/12 P.S. He will be going by helicopter, not by train.]

Medal commemorating John XXIII's 5th year as Pope, highlighting his visit to Loreto and Assisi (their basilicas are seen on the obverse side of the model); and right, the 'Papa buono' on the train to Loreto, with the saturno that he often wore.

Archbishop Giovanni Tonucci, papal delegate, Archbishop and Prelate of Loreto, made the announcement today at the Basilica della Santa Casa (Holy House). [Because of the importance of the shrine, the commune of Loreto and the shrine itself are under a special prelature answerable directly to the Pope, who appoints a personal legate to act as Prelate and Archbishop, and the legate's residence is called the Apostolic Palace.]

The Apostolic Palace is a 17th-century architectural masterpiece that flanks the Basilica of the Holy House. At right, top panel, is the elaborate marble 'box' that houses the Holy House. Below, the altar side and the entrance side of the Holy House.

The church houses a 12x9meter stone and brick structure that Tradition says was Mary's house in Nazareth, transported to Europe, according to legend, by flights of angels,after the crusaders lost their last battle to the Muslim Saracens in the 13th century.

A famous image of the Madonna carved out of black cedarwood and known as Our Lady of Loreto has been venerated at the church for centuries. Pope Benedict offered the traditional Golden Rose tribute to the image andthe shrine when he was there in 2007.

Papa Roncalli had chosen Loreto as the destination for the first trip made outside Rome by a Pope for decades. He did it one week before the opening of the Second Vatican Council.

The train trip was big news in its day, even internationally, and thousands of Italian faithful turned up at the stations along the way to cheer the Pope.

Mons. Tonucci had invited Benedict XVI to come to Loreto for the occasion, and the Pope accepted.

My addendum:
It will be his second trip to Loreto as Pope. As a cardinal, he visited Loreto seven times between 1987-2002, five of them for official business as CDF Prefect (including the celebration of the 'twinning' of Loreto with Joseph Ratzinger's beloved Marian shrine of Altoetting) and twice on a personal visit of devotion (the last time with his brother Georg.


On September 1-2, 2007, Pope Benedict attended an 'Agora' of Italian Catholic youth - some half a million of whom gathered for a prayer vigil and a very moving Q&A with the Pope on Saturday night and Mass the following morning on the plain of Montarso on the Adriatic coast.

The yearly youth 'Agoras' or faith gatherings are sponsored by the Italian bishops' conference. In 2007, they expected at most 350,000 young people to show up at an event that was intended to be a dress rehearsal for WYD in Sydney one year later.

[Re-reading the coverage of the event in the items I put together in PASTORAL VISITS IN ITALY thread of the Papa Ratzinger Forum back in 2007, I realized I had almost forgotten the rave reviews received by Benedict XVI for what he achieved in Loreto by way of his ability to speak to young people - "as if he was a grandfather holding them on his lap." on e reporter said - and to challenge them. There was one totally rave review by Marco Politi, of all people, who had not a single negative thing to say in the entire article, and Filippo Di Giacomo who had infamously derided Benedict XVI for producing what he called a monumental flop - Di Giacomo actually used the English word - on his trip to Brazil earlier in 2007, especially when compared to John Paul II's trips there, wrote an article about Benedict in Loreto that was entitled "The shy theologian who is more popular than Wojtyla"! You can check out the Loreto coverage (including backgrounders about Loreto and its history as a shrine) on pp. 4-6 of the PASTORAL VISITS thread
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Here is an account that provides better context for the jury verdict in Philadelphia last week which found Msgr. William Lynn, who served as secretary for clergy in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia from 1992 to 2004, guilty on one count of child endangerment for allowing a priest to take a new assignment involving contact with children even after learning of allegations that he had engaged in inappropriate contact with at least one minor. It was the lightest of the charges brought against Lynn - he was acquitted on a conspiracy charge and a second child endangerment charge (involving another priest who was overseen by Msgr. Lynn in the 1990s and also on trial, James Brennan, accused of actual sex abuse of a minor, but the jury deadlocked on this, and for now, Brennan is free untilthe propsecutors decide to call for a new trial against him.

The usual rabble of Catholic-haters hailed the outcome on Lynn because it was the first time a ranking clergyman had ever been found guilty of anything in connection with the sex abuses committed by priests under their supervision. Never mind that Lynn's offense appears relatively minor (though he faces jail time of 3-1/2 to 7 years for the conviction), especially in view of the prevailing culture in the 1990s when the episode occurred, nor that he was convicted on the basis of a 2007 law applied retroactively to his case. But perhaps the most interesting aspect that has emerged from all this is what the jury that convicted Lynn thought about the broad tarbrush the prosecution used against the Church in presenting its case against Lynn. This is an account by a reporter commissioned by a Philadelphia law firm to blog the Lynn trial.

Philadelphia jury didn't buy theory
that convicted Mons. Lynn 'conspired'
to keep abusive priests in active ministry

by Ralph Cipriano
June 25, 2012

Lost in all the hoopla over the "historic" conviction of Msgr. William J. Lynn was the jury's repudiation of the prosecution's central allegation in the priest abuse case: that Lynn had somehow conspired with predator priests to keep them in ministry, so they could abuse new victims.

The prosecution's conspiracy theory was basically that the monsignor got up every morning and said, hey, what can I do today to keep our bad boys in collars, so they can continue to rape, pillage and molest more innocent children.

[This, however, has been the constant and patently unfounded general accusation made by all the critics of the Church, especially the organized supposedly 'victim-advocate' groups, in whose eyes every Catholic priest is the very personification of Satan, and no Catholic could possibly ever be driven by anything other than evil motivations, that in fact, the Vatican itself has ordered bishops to turn a blind eye - and even cover up - for sex-offender priests. They have asserted this every way they can, on every occasion they could possibly use - from press releases routinely deriding any positive action taken by the Church against offending priests and bishops, to documentaries like the 2005 BBC Panorama that slandered Cardinal Ratzinger for orchestrating 'cover-ups', even blaming him for a 1962 CDF document which the anti-Catholic forces have deliberately mistranslated and misconstrued to represent a directive asking bishops to keep all their investigations into sex-offender priests 'secret', to each and every court suit that has ever been filed to prosecute these sex offender priests. All of which the media reports indiscriminately, without challenging allegations presented as fact.]

On Monday, the jury foreman in the case went on Fox 29 and said that nobody on the jury bought the prosecutors' conspiracy theory that sounded far-fetched when the trial began back in March, and seems even more absurd now that the three-month trial is over, and no evidence was ever presented to back it up.

It would be comical, except that the Commonwealth just spent a ton of money and eight weeks of trial time trying to convince the jury that Bill Lynn the quintessential company man was the alleged mastermind down at the archdiocese of a secret plot to sexually abuse children.

The jury found Lynn not guilty of conspiring with Father Edward V. Avery, or anyone else, to endanger the welfare of children.

On Monday morning, jury foreman Isa Logan went on Fox 29's Good Day and told anchors Mike Jerrick and Karen Hepp that he didn't believe the prosecution's conspiracy theory, and neither did anyone else on the jury.

"It wasn't about him [Lynn] passing them [abuser priests] on from parish to parish," Logan explained to the two TV anchors. Instead, the jury concentrated on Lynn's supervisory role, Logan said. "It was more on what are your actions knowing about a father [priest], what do you do after the fact when you find out that this person could be a potential problem or is a problem."

"None of us understood or believed that he [Lynn] had the understanding that here's a predator priest, I'll help him get to another parish so he can continue to enjoy what he likes to do," Logan stated. "None of us believed that."

[I certainly hope the jury's commonsense judgment is the general reaction of unbiased readers who get their news only from the MSM and would therefore tend to have only the latter's negative view of the Church. Of course, future cases against individual prelates may prove that some of them did, in fact, conspire actively to cover up priestly sex crimes as a way to 'protect the image of the Church', but these will have to be proven case by case, as with Mons. Lynn, and not taken as a general indictment of all priests and their superiors.]

"It's a ludicrous notion," agreed Jeff Lindy, one of Msgr. Lynn's defense lawyers. Lindy said the conviction is based on an old Pennsylvania child endangerment law that didn't really apply to Lynn. The defense lawyer hopes the conviction is thrown out on appeal.

"It's clearly a complete repudiation of any claim that Msgr. Lynn conspired with anyone," agreed Alan J. Tauber, another defense lawyer who's also pinning his hopes on an appeal. "It's one of the clearest cases for reversal that I've ever seen based on the application of the law," Tauber said.

Lawyers in the case have been free to talk since Judge M. Teresa Sarmina lifted her gag order last Friday, when the verdict was announced. But getting lawyers to talk on the other side of the case has been difficult. Tasha Jamerson, a spokesman for District Attorney Seth Williams, could not be reached for the past two days.

The conspiracy case against Lynn was so weak that even pro-prosecution Judge Sarmina tossed two conspiracy counts to endanger the welfare of children that allegedly linked Lynn to the other defendant in the case, Father James J. Brennan. Brennan's case ended in a mistrial after the jury deadlocked on two counts against him, attempted rape, and endangering the welfare of children.

To anyone who sat through the entire trial, the real conspiracy was the elephant in the courtroom: the archdiocese's successful top-down campaign to keep pervert priests out of jail, and the sins of Mother Church out of the media, and the civil courts. It was so obvious only a table full of prosecutors could miss it.*

While defense lawyers talked about an appeal, Lynn remained an inmate of the Curran-Fromhold Correctional Facility, known as CFCF, at 7901 State Road in Northeast Philadelphia. A hearing on whether to spring Lynn from jail and keep him under house arrest until his Aug. 13 sentencing was scheduled for 11 a.m. Tuesday in Courtroom 304.

Whether Pennsylvania's old child endangerment law applies to Lynn may be the key issue if the case is appealed. The interesting thing about the defense theory that the old child endangerment law didn't apply to Lynn is that at one time, the people who agreed with that theory included former District Attorney Lynne Abraham, and a 2005 grand jury that investigated sex abuse in the archdiocese.

A January 12, 2012 defense motion for relief to the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania that fell on deaf ears outlines the appeal case. The applicable state law known as EWOC [endangering the welfare of a child] said: "A parent, guardian, or other person supervising the welfare of a child under 18 years of age commits an offense if he knowingly endangers the welfare of the child by violating a duty of care, protection or support."

Here's what the 2005 grand jury report said about whether that law applied to Lynn or any other member of the archdiocese hierarchy: "As defined under the law ... the offense of endangering welfare of children is too narrow to support a successful prosecution of the decision-makers who were running the Archdiocese. The statute confines its coverage to parents, guardians, or other persons 'supervising the welfare of a child.' High-level Archdiocesan officials, however, were far removed from any direct contact with children."

On Oct. 1, 2006, Assistant District Attorney Mariana Sorensen, one of the authors of the 2005 grand jury report, wrote an article in the Allentown Morning Call, calling for the closing of legal loopholes in the EWOC law.

"It was also one year ago that the same grand jury revealed gaping loopholes in Pennsylvania laws intended to protect our children," wrote Sorensen, who helped write the 2011 grand jury report, and also worked on the current archdiocese case.

"The grand jury recommended simple amendments to statutes that would close the loopholes," Sorensen wrote. "Lawmakers have yet to pass any of these amendments ... They should promptly enact the Philadelphia grand jury recommendations to: ... make the law against endangering the welfare of children explicitly apply to supervisors who place children in the care of those known to be dangerous to children ... "

"What criminal law reforms cannot do is identify or hold accountable past abusers and enablers who have successfully concealed their offenses until after the statute of limitations has run," Sorensen wrote.

Hmm, that sure sounds like under the old law, prosecutors were saying they didn't have a case against Bill Lynn.

On Nov. 15, 2007, the co-sponsor of the bill to reform the EWOC law, state Rep. Dennis O'Brien, said on the floor of the state house, "The current law punishes only those people with the duty of care to a child who violate that duty by abusing or endangering the child. This bill acknowledges that employers and supervisors of those abusers should also share the responsibility for the welfare of these children. Thus, this bill imposes criminal liability on the employers or supervisors of abusers who knew of the abuse but failed to act, or worse, concealed the abuse."

Defense lawyer Tauber has researched 280 cases in Pennsylvania involving the EWOC statute. "Never once has the statute been applied to a supervisor of employees before the statute was amended in 2007," Tauber said.

Here's what the law was changed to in 2007: "A parent, guardian or other person supervising the welfare of a child under 18 years of age, or a person that employs or supervises such a person, commits an offense if he knowingly endangers the welfare of the child by violating a duty of care, protection or support."

Lynn was secretary for clergy from 1992 to 2004. He got a pass from former District Attorney Lynne Abraham and the 2005 grand jury that investigated sex abuse in the archdiocese. But in 2011, a new grand jury, and a new district attorney, Seth Williams, looked at the same old EWOC law, and arrived at the opposite conclusion, that the law did apply to Lynn.

*The opinion among objective commentators (the few who do not have it in for the Catholic Church no matter what) seems to be that Lynn was used by Philadelphia prosecutors as a 'show piece' since he was secretary of the clergy for the Archdiocese at a time when, as Philadelphia grand jury in 2005 concluded, the late Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua (1923-2012, Archbishop of Philadelphia from 1988-2003, who died last January at age 88, before he could be charged with anything) and his predecessor, Cardinal John Krol, had "orchestrated a systemic cover-up of sexual abuse of children over four decades that shielded 63 pervert priests from prosecution, after they had raped, sodomized and molested hundreds of innocent children" and that when Mons. Lynn went through 323 secret archive files in 1994 to compile a list of 35 abuser priests in active ministry, Cardinal Bevilacqua ordered that list shredded.

Evidence that the cardinal ordered this and that it was carried out by Lynn's direct superior at the time was presented at the trial to support the prosecution's conspiracy charge against Lynn. Cardinal Bevilacqua testified ten times before grand juries in Philadelphia in 2003 and 2004, as did his senior aides when he was Archbishop, which led a 2005 grand jury to conclude that the cardinal had "a strict policy, according to his aides, that forbid informing parishioners...The cardinal, in fact, encouraged that parishioners be misinformed.” The cardinal's last testimony, taken in connection with Mons. Lynn's trial, was videotaped in November 2011. Lynn's defense contested it on the ground that Bevilacqua by then was suffering from senile dementia. In any case, the jury did not find Lynn guilty of conspiracy in this regard.

Cardinals Krol and Bevilacqua are no longer around and are no longer subject to earthly justice, but if they erred as it appeared they did, only God knows whether they repented and sought his pardon while they lived. Along with Cardinal Law of Boston, and Archbishop John Magee of Ireland (private secretary to three Popes) - both of whom at least admit wrongdoing - these ranking men of the Church represent a sad era in modern Catholic history that, we all pray, is now a thing of the past. The sadder thing is that Bevilacqua and Magee both ordered or carried out a cover-up after the Boston-Cardinal Law scandal had already made the Church the sempiternal scapegoatof negative public opinion for all abuses ever made against children anywhere.]

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Saturday, June 30, 12th Week in Ordinary Time
"It is the annual feast of the sainted protomartyrs of the Holy Roman Church, who, blamed for the burning of the City, were ordered by the emperor Nero to be most savagely slain by means of different torments: some, covered with skins, were exposed to wild dogs and torn to pieces, others were crucified, and others delivered up to burning so that as daylight failed they served to illumine the night. All these were disciples of the Apostles and the first of the martyrs which the Roman Church entrusted to the Lord".
Readings for today's Mass:

Years ago, Father Z posted an excerpt from a sermon by St. Augustine that helps to contemplate vividly on all the martyrs of our faith:

When some festival of the martyrs falls due, perhaps, and some holy place is named at which all are to assemble to celebrate the solemn rites, remember how the throngs incite one another, how people encourage each other, saying, “Come on, let’s go!” Others ask, “Where are we going?” And they are told, “To that place, to the holy site.”

People talk to each other and catch fire with enthusiasm, and all the separate flames unite into a single flame. This one flame that springs up from the conversation of many people who enkindle one another seizes them all and sweeps them along to the holy place. Their devout resolve sanctifies them.

If, then, holy love energizes people and tugs them to a material place, what kind of love must it be that tugs persons united in heart toward heaven, as they say to each other, We are going to the Lord’s house?

Let’s run, let’s run fast, they say, for we are going to the Lord’s house! Let’s run and not weary, because we shall reach a place where fatigue will never touch us.

Let’s run to the Lord’s house, and let our soul be gladdened by those who tell us these things; for those who cheer us on have seen out homeland before we have, and they shout from afar to us latecomers, “We are going to the Lord’s house! Walk! Run!”

The apostles have seen it, and they exhort us, “Run, walk, follow: we are going to the Lord’s house!”

And what do we reply, every one of us? “I rejoice over those who told me, We are going to the Lord’s house. I rejoiced over the prophets and I rejoiced over the apostles, for all of them have told us, We are going to the Lord’s house.”

- AUGUSTINE, Bishop of Hippo (En. ps. 121.2)


The Holy Father met with

- Cardinal William Joseph Levada, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (weekly meeting)

- Metropolitan Archbishops upon whom he imposed the Pallium yesterday, along with the families and
delegations. At Aula Paolo Vi. Multilingual address.

The Vatican Press Office also released:

- The Holy Father's appointment of three President Delegates for the forthcoming Assembly of the Bishops' Synod
to discuss the New Evangelization:
Cardinal John TONG HON, Vescovo di Hong Kong (CHina)
Cardinal Francisco ROBLES ORTEGA, Archbishop of Guadalajara (Mexico)
Cardinal Laurent MONSENGWO PASINYA, Archbishop of Kinshasa (Democratic Republic of the Congo)

- The nomination of Fr. Miguel Ángel Ayuso Guixot, M.C.C.J. (a Combonian missionary), to be Secretary of
the Pontifical Council for Inter-Religious Dialog. Until now, he was president of the Pontifiical Institute
for Arabic and Islamic Studies.

- The text of the Holy Father's letter designating Cardinal Joseph Zen, emeritus Bishop of HongKong,
to represent him at the celebration of the 100th birth anniversary of Blessed Peter ToRot, catechist
and martyr of Papua New Guinea, which will take place in Rabaul on July 7.

- The following announcement by the Pontifical Household:

The Holy Father Benedict XVI will be transferring for the summer to the Apostolic Palace in Castel Gandolfo on Tuesday afternoon, July 7.

Private audiences are suspended during this time. The Wednesday General Audiences will not be held in the month of July, but will resume on August 1 in Castel Gandolfo. On Sundays and religious holidays during the summer season, the Holy Father will lead the mid-day Angelus from the Apostolic Palace in Castel Gandolfo.

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Pope greets new Metropolitans,
their families and delegations

June 30, 2012


Benedict XVI on Saturday met with the metropolitan Archbishops who received the pallium during Friday’s celebration of the Solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul.

The Archbishops were joined in the Paul VI audience hall by their friends, families, and pilgrims from their Metropolitan Sees.

Pope Benedict XVI said the presence of Archbishops from the different parts of the world manifested in a visible way the universality of the Church, which is called to make Christ known and to proclaim the Gospel on all continents and in all languages.

He then spoke to the Archbishops in seven different languages: Italian, French, English, German, Spanish, Portuguese, and Polish.

“I extend warm greetings to the … Metropolitan Archbishops upon whom I conferred the Pallium yesterday,” the Pope said. “I also welcome their family members, their relatives, friends and the faithful of their respective Archdioceses who have come to Rome to pray with them and to share their joy.”

The Holy Father concluded by imploring the Archbishops to bring back to their communities the experiences of intense spirituality and authentic unity in the Gospel which they went through during their days in Rome.


Here is a full translation of the Holy Father's words:

Dear brothers and sisters,

He began in Italian:
I am happy to address my heartfelt welcome to all of you who have accompanied to Rome, to the tombs of the Apostles, the Metropolitan Archbishops on whom I had the joy of imposing the pallium yesterday at the Vatican Basilica during the solemn celebration commemorating the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul.

In this encounter, we wish to prolong the climate of profound ecclesial communion that we experienced yesterday. In fact, the presence of the Metropolitan Archbishops who come from various parts of the world, visibly manifests the universality of the Church, which is called to make Christ known and to announce the Gospel in all the continents and in various languages.

I affectionately greet each of you, venerated and esteemed Brother Metropolitans, and with you, I greet your families, friends and the faithful entrusted to your pastoral care who are with you during these very significant days. I extend my greeting as well to your respective dioceses.

I address myself in the first place to you, dear Pastors of the Church in Italy. I greet you, Mons. Francesco Moraglia, Patriarch of Venice; Mons. Filippo Santoro, Archbishop of Taranto - you have a great family of friends, one can see - and Mons. Arrigo Miglio, Archbishop of Cagliari.

I assure you of my constant prayers so that you may carry out with joy and faithfulness your episcopal ministry, in order to edify your diocesan communities in charity, sustaining them in their testimony to the faith and helping them to manifest even more their renewed enthusiasm in the encounter with the person of Christ.

He said this in French:
I am pleased to welcome the French-speaking pilgrims who have come here to accompany their new Metropolitan Archbishops on whom I had the joy of imposing the pallium.

I heartfully greet Mons. Luc Cyr, Archbishop of Sherbrooke (Canada), Mons. Paul-André Durocher, Archbishop of Gatineau; Mons. Pascal Wintzer, Archbishop of Poitiers, and Mons. André Lépine, Archbishop of Montreal.

The pallium is the symbol of unity which binds the pastors of the local Churches to the Successor of Peter, Bishop of Rome. It also reminds the pastors of their responsibility to be exemplary and zealous, rich in love for everyone, in guiding the people of God entrusted to their pastoral care.

To all the priests and the faithful of your archdioceses, I gladly give the Apostolic Blessing as a token of peace and joy in the Lord.

In English:
I extend warm greetings to the English-speaking Metropolitan Archbishops upon whom I conferred the Pallium yesterday. From the United States of America: Archbishop Charles Chaput of Philadelphia, Archbishop William Skurla of Pittsburgh, Archbishop William Lori of Baltimore, Archbishop Samuel Aquila of Denver. From Papua New Guinea: Archbishop Francesco Panfilo of Rabaul. From the Philippines: Archbishop Luis Tagle of Manila, Archbishop Jose Advincula of Capiz, Archbishop Romulo Valles of Davao, Archbishop John Du of Palo. From Bangladesh: Archbishop Patrick D’Rozario of Dhaka. From the Antilles: Archbishop Joseph Harris of Port of Spain. From Zambia: Archbishop Ignatius Chama of Kasama. From India: Archbishop John Moolachira of Guwahati, Archbishop Thomas D’Souza of Calcutta. From Pakistan: Archbishop Joseph Coutts of Karachi. From Australia: Archbishop Timothy Costelloe of Perth, Archbishop Mark Coleridge of Brisbane. From Korea: Archbishop Andrew Yeom Soo Jung of Seoul. From Nigeria: Archbishop Alfred Martins of Lagos.

I also welcome their family members, their relatives, friends and the faithful of their respective Archdioceses who have come to Rome to pray with them and to share their joy.

In German:
I greet with joy the delegations and guests from Berlin as well as all the pilgrims from Germany who have accompanied Cardinal Rainer Maria Woelki to Rome on his receiving the pallium.

The Pallium makes visible in a special way the close unity of the Archbishop and his Church district to the Pope and the Chair of Peter. It also recalls his task, like that of Christ, the Good Shepherd, to go after the lost sheep, to take him up on his shoulders, to bring him back to the flock, and to care for him. Thus the Pallium stands for the care and responsibility of the shepherd for his flock.

And precisely on the basis of this common responsibility, we must tend and protect our unity. In your prayers and commitment, remember to promote and celebrate the unity of the Church. I bless you all from the heart.

In Spanish:
On the occasion of the imposition of the Pallium, I heartfully greet the Archbishop of Guadalajara, Cardenal Francisco Robles Ortega; of Tucuman, Mons. Alfredo Horacio Zecca; of Los Altos-Quetzaltenango-Totonicapán, Mons. Mario Alberto Molina Palma; of Ayacucho o Huamanga, Mons. Salvador Piñeiro García-Calderón; of Ciudad Bolívar, Mons. Ulises Antonio Gutiérrez Reyes, and of San Luis Potosí, Mons. Jesús Carlos Cabrero Romero, as well as those who are with them in prayer and affection during this significant occasion.

I place you all under the faithful custody of Saints Peter and Paul, so that the spiritual nearness and bonds of communion of your local Churches with the Apostolic See may grow even more, and that you may intensify your announcement of the Gospel. May God bless you!

In Portuguese:
I greet with joy the Brazilian Archbishops - Dom Wilson Jönck, of Florianópolis; Dom José Francisco Dias, of Niterói; Dom Esmeraldo de Farias, of Porto Velho; Dom Jaime Rocha, of Natal; Dom Airton dos Santos, of Campinas; Dom Jacinto de Brito Sobrinho, of Teresina; and Dom Paulo Peixoto, of Uberaba; as well as the Archbishop of Malanje in Angola, Dom Benedito Roberto - who have received the Pallium as a sign of your special communion with the Successor of Peter.Dear Archbishops, be for your people a sign of Christ, the Good Shepherd, who leads his sheep.

I also welcome the priests, religious and faithful who have accompanied you here, asking them to pray for their Archbishops so that they may not lack the strength to comply with their mission.

As a token of joy and peace in the Lord, I grant to those of you who are here and to your archdiocesan communities my Apostolic Blessing.

In Polish (translated from the Italian version provided by the Vatican):
I cordially greet the Metropolitan Archbishops of Poland who received the Pallium yesterday: Stanisław Budzik of Lublin, Wiktor Skworc of Katowice, and Wacław Depo of Częstochowa.

With them, I greet the faithful who share their joy, especially the representatives of their Archdioceses, all those dear to them, and whose who support them with their prayer.

The pallium is the sign of special union with Christ and communion with the Successor of Peter. May this communion also pervade the hearts of the faithful. I entrust this hope to God in my prayers, and I bless you all from the heart. Praised be Jesus Christ!

He ended in Italian:
Dear brothers and sisters, bring back to your communities the experience of intense spirituality and authentic evangelical unity during these days, so that it may touch the heart of believers and reverberate in all of society, leaving proofs of goodness.

May the intercession of the heavenly Mother of God and of the Apostles Peter and Paul obtain for the Christian people the ability to be able to make the word of truth that the Lord Jesus left us as a gift shine in the world through the tenacious and limpid witness of individuals.

With these sentiments,I impart the Apostolic Blessing from my heart.

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Excommunicated Chinese bishop
committed 'sacrilege'
by ordaining new priests;
1 deacon refuses to be ordained

by Gerard O'Connell
June 30, 2012

The excommunicated Chinese bishop, Paul Lei Shi-yin, committed “sacrilege” by ordaining four new priests on June 29 in Leshan diocese, southwestern China, Archbishop Savio Hon Tai Fai, said in Rome the day after the ordination ceremony.

[It must be pointed out that Mons. Hon, from HongKong, is the secretary of the Congregation for the Evangelizaiton of Peoples, the Vatican dicastery directly supervising the Roman Catholic Church in China, which continues to be mission territory for the Church. That is why his opinion matters in this case.]

Lei ordained four new priests on June 29, the first anniversary of his own illicit ordination, UCA News reported. He was ordained bishop without the approval of Pope Benedict and in defiance of the Holy See’s clear instructions on 29 June 2011, and this resulted in his being the first Chinese priest to be publicly declared excommunicated by the Holy See since the Cultural Revolution ended in 1976.

Archbishop Hon told Vatican Insider today hat Lei's ordinations were not just invalid but sacrilegious, because he had already incurred excommunication latae sententiae in 2011 by being ordained bishop without the papal mandate and so “has been deprived of communion in the Church.”

Therefore, he said, “It is a sacrilege for him to receive and to administer any sacrament” and, furthermore, “No faithful layperson, not to speak of the clergy, should be involved in any act of sacrilege”.

“For the good of the community," he said, "the Church does not allow any illegitimate bishop to exercise any Episcopal function which has not been given to him by the Pope through the pontifical mandate.”

In fact, it had been planned that Lei Shi-yin would ordain five new priests, but one of the five deacons who was to be ordained refused to be ordained priest by the excommunicated bishop, local Church sources told UCA News.

The other four deacons accepted to be ordained by Lei Shi-yin after the diocese allegedly promised each of them a car and a sum of money, estimated to be worth Chinese Yuan 150,000 (Euro 18,640, or US$23,600), the Asian Catholic news agency reported.

Commenting on this courageous act by one of the deacons, Archbishop Hon, the Chinese-born Secretary of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, said; “Ever since the 1990's I have been able to meet many (Chinese) seminarians” and “most of them are firm in faith and in front of pressure have heroically refrained from being ordained by illegitimate bishops.” [It took the reporter eight paragraphs before identifying who Mons. Hon is exactly, and why his opinion matters in this case.]

Indeed, he said, “The same is true for many candidates approved by the Holy See to be ordained bishop. At the cost of great sacrifice they have heroically resisted the con-celebration of illegitimate bishops in their ordination ceremonies”.

Aware that the Chinese authorities are planning to ordain two more bishops during the month of July – one in Shanghai (with the Pope’s approval) and the other in Harbin (without the papal mandate), and seeking to prevent further wounds to Church unity, the Vatican Archbishop reaffirmed the Holy See’s firm position on Episcopal ordinations.

It is “absolutely forbidden” for a priest to be ordained bishop without the papal mandate, he reiterated, and whoever does so incurs automatic excommunication (latae sententiae). In other words, the candidate to be bishop in Harbin should refuse to go ahead.

Likewise, he said, it is “forbidden” for an illegitimate bishop to participate in an Episcopal ordination that has the Pope’s approval, he too seriously breaks Church law. In other words, he wants to avoid this happening at the ordination in Shanghai.

Some happy news from India for a change:

Unexpected cases of healing
in the Diocese of Itanagar,
in extreme northeast India

Where the Catholic presence has increased by 40%

by Marco Tosatti
Translated from the Italian service of
June 30, 2012

'Strange' healings are taking place in the Indian diocese of Itanagar, according to its Bishop, Mons. John Kattrukudiyil, on a visit to Germany for the periodic meeting organized by the organization Aid to the Church in Need, a Vatican-sponsored organization which helps Churches and the faithful in places that are most in need.

He says that numerous inexplicabloe healings have taken place, preceded and apparently caused by community prayers, and that this could partly account for an extraordinary increase in Catholics - 40% in the past 35 years - in a remote and mountainous area of India.

He says he frequently receives reports of such healings. "The stories fill me with perplexity. I have a theological background, and it is easy to be skeptical about these things. But the persons concerned are absolutely convinced that they are the beneficiaries of miracles."

He cites a man who had been a persecutor of the Church until he married a Catholic girl and he converted. "Afterwards, someone asked him to pray for a paralytic, which he was hesitant to do, but did anyway. The following day, the paralytic got up and walked to church". The convert was so amazed that he started to be a frequent churchgoer and "is now a very active member of his parish".

[My addendum: Information about the diocese from its website - It was erected by Benedict XVI on December 7, 2005, under the patronage of St. Joseph. The diocese was created by breaking it off from the Diocese of Tezpur in India's Assam region. Geographically, it comrpises the ten civil districts of the region called West Arunachal Pradesh. Mons Kattrukudiyil, until then Bishop of Diphu in Assam, was named to be its first bishop. The diocese is named after the capital of Arunacahl Pradesh ('land of the rising sun'), and it is bordered by Bhutan to the west, China to the north and northeast, and Burma to the east. It stretches from its snowcapped mountains in the north to the plains of the Brahmaputra valley in the south. The diocese covers 84,000 sq km. Its geographical isolation has resulted in its 26 major tribes speaking their own languages to flourish with their own distinct identities.]

Mons. Kattrukudiyil is well aware of the skepticism that greets stories of miraculous healing, and in Europe, he has often been dismissed with "Come on, don't tell us tall tales!"

But he says "There are too many stories reported that I cannot ignore them".

A possible historical-theological explanation he sees is in the 'relative freshness of the local church'. "It's the experience of a very young Church which is experiencing the grace of the Church such as it was in apostolic times" when such healings were frequent, as the Bible narrates.

He says that often the healings happen after friends gather together at the home of a very sick person to pray for him. "Persons who had been ailing for a long time are healed - and it seems to me that these witnesses are experiencing what the primitive Church did".

"In the early Church," he notes, "healings were achieved by the Apostles after praying to Jesus and in his name. It was a spiritual grace that came to them by belonging to the Church".

He notes a 40% increase in Catholics in the past 35 years, and says that the situation of Catholics in the region has improved greatly. "The Church is no longer just tolerated but praised for its charitable activities. Politicians do not miss an occasion to praise the Church for its humanitarian work".
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What a beautiful tribute!
Thank you, Teresa, for translating and including that article by Mons. Bruno Forte, Abp. of Chieti-Vasto. What a warm and heartfelt tribute to Benedict XVI it is!

It is especially gratifying to see it coming from Abp. Forte, who, on some occasions in the past, has let his opposition to Benedict's initiatives be known, especially regarding Summorum Pontificum. Because of this, and because I have heard it speculated that this Holy Father would not have given consideration to Abp. Forte's translation to either Milan or Venice, since he does not hold him in high regard as a theologian, I have wondered how the relationship between the two stood. Surely Abp. Forte cannot be unaware of what others have said about him and the Pope.

Well, here is our answer. He lays blame squarely on the journalists who have failed in their responsibilities. He highlights how strongly the faithful are rallying to support the Holy Father, and most incisively, he gives a keen assessment of the Pope's strength, evangelical wisdom, and holy reliance on the divine assistance, such as we could have hoped would have been forthcoming from some of the Pope's closer associates in the Curia. Instead, we have Abp. Forte to thank for saying what needed to be said. God bless him.


Dear 'Fieschi-Adorno",

Welcome to the Forum! I must say I was struck by the nick, which sounds like it came out of 'Simone Boccanegra' (almost), but anyway, thank you for taking note of Mons. Forte's tribute. I confess that I debated whether to say anything in the post about his reported objections to Summorum Pontificum back when, because I would have had to research it (I generally prefer to forget negative actions and reacions against Benedict XVI) to get it right, and I did not have the time. Nor do I have the time just now to research Mons. Forte's theological positions. But I was very glad he wrote that editorial for Il Sole 24 Ore. Before him, only Cardinal Bagnasco had publicly expressed his support of the Pope over the Vatileaks furor (first as CEI president, in his opening remarks to the CEI spring assembly, and then as Archbishop of Genoa in his Corpus Domini homily); the often-overlooked Cardinal Angelo Comastri, Arch-Priest of St. Peter's Basilica who, in all these years, has been as prompt as Cardinal Bagnasco in publicly speaking up for the Pope during these intermittent media crises; and Cardinal Antonio Canizares, who writes his tributes for Spanish newspapers. (I don't count the 'duty interviews' with Cardinals Sodano and Bertone, and Mons. Becciu, because they were not spontaneous initiatives.)


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This is yesterday's news, but it took some time to put together the necessary illustrations... I was rather shocked when I read the headlines because it had never occurred to me that among the hundreds of cultural sites trhat UNESCO has chosen in the past 40 years as World Heritage sites, the birthplazce of Jesus had never figured till yesterday! And it probably would not have passed muster if it hadn't been presented by the Palestinians, because at the same time the UNESCO also considered it one of the most endangered cultural sites. Somehow, I don't think the Palestinians care; after all, their terrorists used it as a hideout back in 2006 inviting an Israeli siege. But they wanted a cause that would be almost a shoo-in to win (in fact, there were 6 votes against it to 13 for), despite the paradox that the first UNESCO World Heritage site on their territory that they are now boasting about is a completely Christian site which Muslims before now had only ever sought to conquer as a war trophy and for nothing else. It is sad that Jesus's birth site had to be the object of this political one-upmanship. P.S. I must acknowledge, however, that since the Palestinian Liberation Organization came into being, its leaders - first Yassir Arafat and now Abu Mazen - have always made it a point to attend Christmas Midnight Mass at the Church of St. Catherine adjoining the Nativity of the Basilica.

UNESCO adds Christ's birthplace
to World Heritage list, and
Palestinians claim it as a victory


JERUSALEM, June 29 — The Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, along with the Pilgrimage Route, was added on Friday to Unesco’s World Heritage List, a move that was celebrated by Palestinians who hailed it as a significant political and diplomatic achievement as much as a cultural one.

Hanan Ashrawi, who leads the Palestine Liberation Organization’s Department of Culture and Information, called the 13-to-6 vote of the World Heritage Committee meeting in St. Petersburg, Russia, “a welcome recognition by the international community of our historical and cultural rights in this land.”

The venerated church, the traditional birthplace of Christ, is in what is now a Palestinian-administered part of the Israeli-occupied West Bank. It was the first such site to be nominated since Palestine was granted full membership in Unesco, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, eight months ago.

Israel and the United States lobbied strongly against the church’s listing, which was approved with two countries abstaining, just as they had opposed Palestine’s UNESCO membership, viewing it as part of a contentious, wider campaign for international recognition of statehood in the absence of an agreement with Israel.

Particularly galling for Israel was the fact that the church was also placed on the List of World Heritage in Danger, which UNESCO attributed to the damage it has suffered from water leaks. Palestinian officials have also suggested that the site is endangered by Israel.

Ms. Ashrawi said in a statement that Friday’s decision “emphasizes that Israel must be bound by international law and treaties, particularly pertaining to its illegal and detrimental measures as a belligerent occupant and as a major threat to the safety and the responsible preservation of that important segment of human civilization in Palestine.”

Palestinian officials briefing reporters in Bethlehem this week said that a vote to include the church on the list would be a vote in favor of self-determination and cultural rights for the Palestinian people.

“We believe that all of Palestine is in danger,” said Omar Awadallah, who deals with the United Nations at the Palestinian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Israel has said that it is not opposed to the church’s listing as a world heritage site, but that it objects to what it calls the Palestinians’ using Unesco as a political tool against Israel.

“This is proof that UNESCO is motivated by political considerations and not cultural ones,” the Israeli prime minister’s office said in a statement after the vote. “Instead of taking steps to advance peace,” it added, “the Palestinians are acting unilaterally in ways that only distance it.”

“The world should remember that the Church of the Nativity, which is sacred to Christians, was desecrated in the past by Palestinian terrorists,” the statement said, a reference to Palestinian gunmen occupying the church in 2002 along with clerics and civilians who had taken refuge there as Israeli tanks and troops pushed into Bethlehem. The Israeli military action was part of a broader offensive after months of Palestinian suicide bombings inside Israel. The church remained under siege for 39 days.

Because Palestine [but Palestine does not yet exist as an actual state - that is why its delegation to international organizations is not called Palestine but Palestinian Liberation Organization] was only recently accepted as a UNESCO member, the Palestinians decided to fast-track the church application for inclusion in the list on an emergency basis.

A panel of experts that advises the World Heritage Committee had determined that although the church needed renovation and conservation, it did not appear to be in imminent danger and should not qualify for emergency status. Leaders of the three
churches that share control of the Church of the Nativity, always leery of prospective changes to the delicate status quo, also expressed reservations about the nomination.

An important addendum from

Fr. Pizzaballa, Franciscan Custos of the Holy Land expresses quiet acceptance of the UNESCO decision, which he calls "great news". At first, when the proposal had been raised, all the churches who officiate in the church (Greek-orthodox, Catholics and Armenians) had expressed opposition over fears that the action of the PNA could distort the use of the holy place.

Speaking at the Franciscan Media Center, Fr. Pizzaballa, however, ruled that "President Abu Mazen, the president of the Palestinian Autonomy, has said very clearly, even in writing, in a formal letter to our Churches (Greek Orthodox Patriarchate, Armenians and Custody) that guarantees the full autonomy of Churches in management of holy sites and respect the status quo and normal functions. This insurance is very important. "

"Our hope as churches - he added, reiterating the position always taken in the issue - is that ... the holy places are considered first of all holy places and religious and that cultural, political, local or international issues, are excluded from the management, life, and dynamics of the holy places. They must remain a place of peace and serenity for all pilgrims and not become a place of difficult coexistence. This is our hope for Bethlehem and all the holy places. "

The Basilica of the Nativity was built in the fourth century under Emperor Constantine, and encloses the cave and the manger where Jesus was born and laid. In the sixth century, it was destroyed in a fire and rebuilt under Justinian. According to tradition, in 614 the church was saved from Persian destruction, thanks to the depiction in the upper part of the structure of the three Magi in national costume.

In 2002 it suffered a siege by Israeli troops who wanted to flush out some Palestinian militants who had taken shelter there. It has long been in need of urgent restoration of the walls and columns, blackened by the fires and the roof, which is very unstable is in need of repair. In 2011 the church was visited by at least two million pilgrims.

[IMG][/IMG]The physical placement of the Basilica of the Nativity is rather awkward, and in fact, it is all rather unprepossessing. Center, the Door of Humility, which is the entrance to the Basilica of the Nativity. Right, an old photo shows better where the entrance is located.

Benedict XVI in Manger Square during his visit to the Holy Land in 2009.

And in the Grotto of the Nativity:

World Heritage sites:
As of now, 951 sites in 155 nations have been declared World Heritage sites by UNESCO - 739 are cultural sites, 183 are natural sites, and 23 are mixed. The complete list can be consulted here:

As old churches go, one does not really visit the Basilica of the Nativity to appreciate the church built over the site of the Nativity. The whole impression one gets is of neglect and a paucity of features to 'admire', so you simply head down to the grotto just to be physically inches away if you can from the star on the floor that Tradition says marks the spot where Jesus was born, and ite adjoining altar of the manger. Even down in the Grotto, the fact that three Christian churches (Roman Catholic, Greek Orthodox and Armenian) have their respective 'turfs' staked out is a distraction. The attendant priests, at least the times I've been there, are surly and unfriendly, and being in a crowd of tourists each elbowing their way to come close to the altars is quite a distraction. I had to close my eyes and will myself to hear 'Silent Night' and 'O Little Town of Bethlehem' in my mind to achieve the sense of awe that the place demands. On my second visit to Israel, I deliberately went back to the Basilica twice on separate days to see if the experience would be more 'spiritual' but I concluded it must be me who was deficient and unworthy. How different from being at the Calvary chapel of the Basilica of the Holy Sepulchre just a few feet away from the rock of Golgotha on which the Cross stood! [For some strange reason, this spot does not seem to be 'popular' with pilgrims.] Or standing on the Mount of the Beatitudes and looking down on the Lake of Galilee. Both very sublime spiritual experiences which I relive with Proustian vividness and immense gratitude every time I pray the Rosary.

My point is that the Basilicas of the Nativity and the Holy Sepulchre have not seemed to benefit at all from having too many Christian churches in charge with rival claims that have often led to physical hostilities. If each shrine had been the responsibility of one Church alone, I think no one would spare any expense or effort to make them worthy of the Lord, as Christian churches have done over the centuries. As it is, both basilicas are in a state reflecting a weird and warped (and quite un-Christian) stalemate that can only be dispiriting when one looks to be uplifted. And I certainly do not count out the fact that much of it has not changed in centuries, and that in itself is admirable.

A great comparison could be made with the Basilica of the Annunciation in Nazareth, a magnificent modern shrine with all the traditional elements present and as beautiful as Catholic shrines usually are. Of course, having been built and laid out specifically and literally around the site traditionally believed to have been that of the Annunciation, the design is compelling, and the chapel on that site is everything one expects as a spiritual oasis. Besides, the trip from Jerusalem to Nazareth and back, with an excurion around the Lake of Galilee, is easily the most New Testament-evocative experience one could have in the Holy Land.

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July 1, Thirtheenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Fourth from left: Fray Serra's giant monument in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park.
BLESSED JUNIPER SERRA (b Mallorca 1713, d California, 1784), Franciscan, Professor, Missionary, Father of the California Missions
Born Miquel Josep Serra, this Catalan native joined the Franciscan order where he took the name of St. Francis's childlike companion, Brother Juniper. Until he was 35, he was an important professor of philosophy who was also famous for his preaching. Then he decided to become a missionary to the New World, arriving first in Mexico where for 18 years he worked in central Mexico and what is now known as Baja California. In 1769, when the Spanish territories in central America were threatened by a Russian invasion from the north, Serra and a fellow missionary headed north to California and founded the first Catholic mission in what is now San Diego. In the next two decades, despite unending physical and material difficulties, 8 more missions were founded, including the famous ones in Monterrey/Carmel, San Luis Obispo, San Juan Capistrano and San Buenaventura. (Twelve more would be founded after his death.) Serra also fought for and gained from the Spanish military commander of the region the first Bill of Rights for native Americans which protected the Indians by making the friars their legal guardians. Serra, who suffered until the end of his life from the consequences of a badly infected wound leg when he first arrived in Mexico, was sustained by prayer, often from midnight till dawn. He was an indefatigable traveller, mostly on foot, and personally baptized over 6,000 individuals and confirmed just as many. He brought native Americans not just the gift of faith but a decent standard of living, thus winning their love. He is buried in the San Carlo Borromeo mission in Carmel. He was beatified in 1988.
Readings for today's Mass:

Sunday Angelus - The Holy Father reflected on the two healings by Jesus recounted in today's Gospel,
saying the healings were not only physical but spiritual, "an invitation to grow in our own faith,
to trust in the Lord’s promise of abundant life, and to pray for all those in need of his healing touch".


General intention:
That everyone may have work in safe and secure conditions.

Mission intention:
That Christian volunteers in mission territories may bear witness to the love of Christ.

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'Jesus heals body and spirit
and asks us for our faith'

July 1, 2012

In his Angelus reflection today, the Holy Father spoke about the two miracles performed by Jesus in today’s Gospel. In English, he said:

In today’s Gospel, Jesus restores life to a little girl in response to the faith-filled prayer of her father. In this miracle may we see an invitation to grow in our own faith, to trust in the Lord’s promise of abundant life, and to pray for all those in need of his healing touch. Upon you and your families I invoke God’s blessings of wisdom, joy and peace!


Here is a translation of the Pope's full message:

This Sunday, the evangelist Mark presents us with the stories of two miraculous healings that Jesus performs for two women: the daughter of Jairus, one of the leaders of the synagogue; and a woman who suffered from a hemorrhage (cf. Mk 5 21-43).

These two episodes have two levels of interpretation – the purely physical - Jesus bends down to meet human suffering and heals the body; and the spiritual - Jesus came to heal the human heart and to give salvation, and He asks for faith in Him.

In the first episode, in fact, at the news that the daughter of Jairus was dead, Jesus says to the leader of the synagogue, “Do not be afraid, but have faith!”
(v. 36). Jesus goes with him to where the girl was, and exclaims: “Little girl, I say to you: Get up!” (v. 41). And she got up and walked.

St. Jerome comments on these words, emphasizing the saving power of Jesus: “Little girl, get up through Me: not on account of your own merits, but through My grace. Rise, therefore, through Me: being cured does not depend on your virtue”
(Homilies on the Gospel of Mark, 3).

The second episode, about the woman suffering from a hemorrhage, re-emphasizes how Jesus came to liberate the human being in his entirety. Indeed, the miracle takes place in two phases: the first is the physical healing, which is closely tied to deeper healing, that which bestows the grace of God to those who are open to Him in faith. Jesus tells her: “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace, and be healed of your disease” (Mk 5,34).

These two stories of healing are an invitation for us to overcome a purely horizontal and materialistic view of life. Too often we ask God to cure our problems, to alleviate our concrete needs – and this is right. But what we should ask for even more is an ever stronger faith so that the Lord may renew our lives, and a firm trust in His love, in His providence, that never abandons us.

Jesus, in his attention to human suffering, also makes us think of all those who help the sick to carry their crosses, especially physicians, other health care professionals and those who provide pastoral care in nursing homes. They are “reservoirs of love,” who bring peace and hope to the suffering.

In the Encyclical Deus Caritas est, I noted that, in this invaluable service, one must first be professionally competent - it is a primary, fundamental requirement - but this alone is not enough. This service, in fact, is first and foremost, about human beings who need human and heartfelt attention.

“Therefore, in addition to professional training, a certain ‘formation of the heart’ is necessary above all for such workers: This should lead them to that encounter with God in Christ that sustains love in them, and opens their soul to others”
(No. 31).

Let us call upon the Virgin Mary to accompany our journey of faith and our commitment to practical love, especially to those in need, as we invoke her maternal intercession for our brothers who live with suffering in body or spirit.

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Call me short-sighted and opinionated, or even worse, ill-informed - too ill-informed to even have an opinion on Vatileaks and its consequences - but I refuse to see the entire episode as a genuine 'crisis' for the Church, as many in the best-informed Church circles write about it. In particular, I dispute the fact that this is a crisis not just for Benedict XVI, but for the Church and the institution of the Papacy itself.

Indeed the tendency has been to trumpet every single foible or stumble that the Vatican has made during this Pontificate as a crisis for the Church, if not 'the crisis', that will so undermine Benedict XVI that he will be unable to function as Pope and thereby bring calamity and ruin to the Church from which it will never recover. I wonder if the chroniclers in Alexander Borgia's time said this about the Pope and the Church then.

But in this Pontificate, those who have no fondness for Joseph Ratzinger at all have said it of Regensburg, of Wielgus, of the Williamson case, of the ad-hominem assault on the him in 2009 when MSM did all they could to show he, too, had something shameful to hide about dealing with sex-offender priests, and its second installment in 2010 after the Cloyne Report and the Irish government's unprecedented and totally unfounded attack against him and the Church. Meanwhile, he is doing unprecedented things in governing (various laws and norms on dealing with grave offenses committed by the clergy, on the liturgy and on financial transparency, not to mention a meticulous attention to the bishops he is naming) as well as in 'confirming his brothers in the faith' (his unfailingly brilliant Magisterium, his travels and interaction with the faithful, and his own shining example of personal holiness), but they are all wiped out from media memory - as if they had never happened at all - at the first whiff of anything negative they can exploit against him and the Church.

It is not helped at all by Catholic newsmen and commentators who buy into the secular media narrative that a 'crisis is crippling the Pope and the Church he leads'. This is the context in which I object to the 'crisis mode' invoked and evoked by traditionalist Church historian Roberto Di Mattei in this essay - which certainly does argue very well for the lingering and perennial tendency in the Church for reformists who question the primacy of the Pope and the very structure of the Church itself... My thanks to Beatrice for leading me to the article from an online service called Correspondence Europeene, which also links to Italian sites such as Corrispondenze Italiane, in which this article apparently first appeared. I cannot find the Italian original, so the following is a translation from the French site. And let me be on record that I dispute the word 'crisis' everytime it is used in this article...

Vatileaks: What's really at stake
is the primacy of the Pope

by Roberto Di Mattei
Translated from
June 29, 2012

To the many crosses that have already marked the Pontificate of Benedict XVI have recently been added the unauthorized disclosure of private documents from his desk and the loose talk of newsmen about perceived power struggles in the heart of the Vatican, the attempt to alienate the Holy Father from some who have been among his most faithful co-workers, and the 'scandals' which are damaging to Peter's Chair itself.

It is inevitable that this situation arises when within an 'unnatural' [an institution that is both divine and human] society like the Church, the spirit of the world could prevail over the desire for transcendence among those who live in that society.

And while it is true that the current atmosphere is artificially maintained by secular circles, it is equally true that other sectors are seeking to profit from this [perception of] grave crisis within the Church. And I mean those who desire a radical reform of the Church with the object of transforming, if they can, her divine constitution.

Thus, on June 17, Corriere della Sera devoted an entire page under the banner "The Council of Trent is finally over after five centuries'. [WISHFUL THINKING! The Council that produced the great reformer saints of the 16th century who were also supreme examples of holiness, spirituality and intellect, enabled the Church to grow beyond and despite the Reformation, by defending and strenghtening her sempiternal articles of faith and Tradition that were valid then, today and for always. So Vatican II added the pastoral concepts of religious freedom, ecumenism and inter-religious dialog - fine, but these are not doctrinal innovations at all (much less do they 'replace' any Catholic doctrine) and can, in fact, be reconciled with doctrine, even if the FSSPX doesn't think so.

We come then to 'collegiality' but those who push 'collegiality' to mean the Church should become a democratic and therefore, totally human institution - democratic means 'of the people, for the people and by the people' - seem to overlook the fact that the Church was constituted by Christ himself, it is and has always been an institution in which humans advance the cause of God, not their own, and so it is primarily "of God, for God and by God', its principal criterion and not the other. As the Baltimore Catechism put it, man was created "to know God, to love God and to serve God", because in dping so, he advances his own humanity to come ever closer to God. Furthermore, the collegial-democratic advocates constantly ignore that Vatican II always stressed 'communion with the Successor of Peter' every time it brought up the idea of 'collegiality'.]

The writers, Marco Rizzi and Alberto Melloni, claim that the crisis we are witnessing is that of "the Church model elaborated by the Council of Trent in the mid-16th century, and which the Second Vatican Council sought to bring up to date and to adapt to profound changes that had taken place during the centuries that followed".

According to Rizzi and Melloni, the center of the Tridentine model was an authoritarian and bureaucratic organism - the Roman Curia; that this model is in crisis today and that the Church should change 'the form of ecclesiastical government' by following the high road of 'collegiality' advocated by Vatican II.

"Since 1964, we have been awaiting a permanent collegial organism that can play this role," Melloni wrote for the same newspaper last June 4, "which is different from the Bishops' Synod, which has to be called [by the Pope] to meet,and which does not have anything but consultative functions. This expectation and this questioning over how to institute this aspect of 'communion' has transformed the Pope into a target for those who are supposed to help him, and to make Church the scapegoat for the media". [The fact that after 40 years, not one of the reformist-progressivists has managed to spell out a practical way in which they envision 'collegial rule' - as opposed to the Pope's central rule - goes to prove the obvious irrevocable reality that they cannot possibly think for the Church better than Christ himself did when he instituted it. The collegiality they dream about is an illusion - whatever structural form it assumed, it would be as perpetually litiginous as any of the existing secular 'Parliaments', democratic or otherwise, and stalemated in a way no strong and conscientious Pope could be. What's worse - and this would be its most objectionable feature - it will inevitably be subject to prevailing opinion and therefore lend itself easily to modifying Church doctrine and practices as the wind blows. No faith can be a democracy. You live by its rules, or you don't profess the faith at all - go be a happy Episcopalian. Otherwise, you will live the rest of your life trying to change the Church Christ instituted, while growing increasingly embittered and corrupted by the original sin, pride, and the diobedience that is its inevitable consequence.]

In fact, the attacks today against the Roman Curia were already heard during the sessions of Vatican II, re-echoing now, fifty years later. The Roman Curia is made up of all the dicasteries and offices which support the Pope directly in his government of the Church. They have no authority other than that which they receive from the Pope, and the Curia is, so to speak, his instrument.

Therefore to weaken or undermine the Curia is to weaken or undermine the power of the Pope. Therefore what's at issue here is the sovereignty of the Pope, the fullness of his powers in all the domains that have to do with strengthening the power of the Faith and the governance of the Church.

That is why Hans Kueng, the heretic of Tuebingen, says that "The Vatican at its core still remains a court [as in a royal court], at the top of which still seats an absolute master, with rites and customs that are medieval and baroque, sometimes even modern, but with traditions that have crystallized. The more one gets closer to the reigning sovereign as one climbs the ecclesiastical career ladder, the less competence counts, as long as one has an obedient nature and a great ability to adapt to the wishes of he who reigns" (La Repubblica”, 28 mai 2012).

[As usual, hyperbolic Hans gets carried away by his relentless hostility to Rome, to the point of a patently false and insulting characterization of the people who are close to the Pope (the heads of Curial offices and his closest aides). In fact, outside of Cardinal Bertone with his less than stellar record as Secretary of State, even the Italian media have not been able to criticize any of the men Benedict XVI has chosen to head the Curial offices as incompetent or unqualified - indeed, they often are the best men he could have possibly named. The criticism for some of the recent Curial appointees, who also happen to be proteges of Bertone, was not that they are not the best qualified for their particular positions, but only that they are proteges of Bertone, and therefore, it is implied, likely to do his bidding rather than acting autonomously. But Benedict XVI would never have named them if he had any doubts of their competence or suitability for the position, just as he has not named a number of candidates Bertone has had for the Italian episcopate, choosing instead Angelo Bagnasco as CEI president, Angelo Scola for Milan, Cesare Nosiglia for Turin, and Francesco Moraglia for Venice, to name just the most prominent examples. Nor did Benedict's friendship for Bertone make him buy into the latter's ambitious schemes to control San Raffaele and the Toniolo Institute, for instance. Nor IOR, it would now seem.]

The Primacy of the Pope's government, along with the infallibility of his Magisterium, represent the foundation on which Jesus Christ instituted the Church, a foundation to which she will stay firmly anchored to the end of time.

This Primacy was conferred on Peter, Prince of Apostles, after the Resurrection (Jn 21,15-17), and it was recognized by the primitive Church not as a personal and transitory privilege but as a permanent and essential element of the Church's divine constitution, to which Jesus gave a monarchical form, precisely to assure its indefectibility [the belief that the Holy Spirit will not allow the Church to err in its belief or teaching].

It was necessary that someone on earth speaks in his place in order to confirm the faithful in their faith and guide them to their supernatural goal. That is why St. John Chrysostom said of St. Peter that he was 'os Christi'- the mouth of Christ - and at another time, that he was the 'os et vertice apostolorum' (mouth and leader of the apostles).

The roots of the rejection of the Pope's Primacy go back to the heresies of the first centuries, like gnosticism and montanism. It would resurface towards the end of the Middle Ages, in the theories that a permanent Synod like an ecumenical Council takes its powers directly from Christ, and is therefore superior - or at the very least, equal - to the Pope.

Conciliarism was condemned by Pope Eugene IV at the Council of Florence (1439) and by Blessed Pius IX at the First Vatican Council (1870) but it has never been extirpated from the Church, and in our time, it has flourished again in neo-modernist theology, which is, alas, quite widespread, even in Rome's pontifical universities, in seminaries, in Catholic books and in Catholic newspapers .

In the post-Vatican II era, 'collegiality' has been the order of the day for those who have an egalitarian democratic idea of the Church, who would oppose the 'centralism' of the Pope with a government based on the decisions of one or more Synods.

Their idea is a sort of Church 'Parliament' made up of currents and parties that would fight it out, as has been happening anyway precisely because of existing polycentric tendencies.

In fact, the universality of the Church demands the exercise of a central authoritative power, and if today, there is fragmentation and apparent anarchy, it is certainly not because of an excess of central power, but sooner or later, by the eventual weakening of the Pope's government in favor of bishops' conferences and other peripheral and local entities.

The crisis in which we find ourselves is also the consequence of this erosion of pontifical centrality. [Di Mattei is assuming that it has been eroded! The rats are out there gnawing away diligently, but when did rats ever wear down rock?] The great Church reformers like St Gregory the Great in the sixth century and St. Gregory VII in the 11th century accompanied their practical reforms with a spiritual and moral renewal while clearly affirming the Pontifical Primacy .

Those who now wish to reform the Papacy undermine the very foundation of the Church, just as those who love the Church can only defend the pontifical Primacy against conciliarist and local tendencies.

Today as in the past, the litmus test for true Catholics is the Pope. But attachment to the Pope is not so much the natural and sensitive affection for a man, but rather a profound love of the faith which is expressed towards an institution founded by Christ and represented by his Vicar on earth.

It is he, the Pope, and no one else, who is the supreme court of last resort for the faithful, and today more than ever, Catholics need the firm and definitive word of the Supreme Pastor to fight back against the aggressions - from within and from the outside - that the Church is experiencing.

P.S. Sorry, I must sound off more about this 'crisis' talk.

To all those who insist on reading Vatileaks as part of a general attack on Benedict XVI, how about thinking that sometimes a cigar is just a cigar! - i.e., the obvious target is Cardinal Bertone, so he must be the target. In what way would Benedict XVI be weakened by having someone more competent and efficient in Bertone's place? By showing that he was wrong to choose him to begin with? So what? Popes have been wrong before. Papal appointments are not within the purview of papal infallibility!

Considering how many times this Pope has ignored Bertone's recommendations for key episcopal appointments and vetoed his major empire-building initiatives, is it not conceivable that in a corner of his mind, the rational Joseph Ratzinger is nagged by a question like "How could I have been so wrong about this man's judgment?"

Vatileaks is an attack on the Pope in the most literal criminal sense since it blatantly violates his privacy rights - and that is reprehensible and unpardonable anyway you look at it. It is more painful for the Pope that the immediate traitor happens to be someone who was (as I always maintained long before this whole mess) the most privileged person in terms of serving the Pope's most direct personal needs. But these affronts are personal to him and do not involve the Church at all, except to those (too many, unfortunately) who equate the Vatican bureaucracy (mainly that of the Secretariat of State) with the Church.

Of course, all the anti-Catholic elements are naturally gloating over this mother of all embarassments for the Vatican and touting it as 'another major crisis for this Pope'. But commentators sympathetic to Benedict XVI, who also think this is 'a crisis for Benedict XVI', have not presented any credible argument to show that it is. And their 'crisis mode' is a reflex they have developed from years of being within the media echo chamber, reverberating with the herd mentality that beat reporters, not excluding those covering the Vatican, tend to develop: "If everyone says so, it must be so! I can't stand apart from them by saying something different!"

The argument might be that every new embarrassment for the Vatican further undermines the authority of Benedict XVI. Perhaps in the minds of those who say so! How about considering the direct unadulterated reaction of the faithful when he is in their presence?

Is his mind any less acute or his teaching any less effective and enlightening because of all these distractions? Has any of it distracted him at all from his singleminded mission as the Successor of Peter? Has his demeanor changed through all the various 'crises' that have been touted as 'the one' that will crush his Papacy and bring down the Church? Has any of those media-generated and media-driven crises diminished him or his Pontificate at all?

As we approach the Year of Faith he has so rightly convoked, are not many of his supposed sympathizers in the media professing their lack of faith in him? Don't the alarmist media realize that they have been crying 'Wolf!' far too many times in the past seven years, and yet 'the humble worker in the vineyard of the Lord' has not been scared off but has stood his ground fearlessly and firmly against all comers? Or to use the secular wolf metaphor, you can only cry 'Wolf' twice because the third time no one will believe you.

Is this any way to treat someone whom the Lord has probably destined to be a saint and Doctor of the Church? On second thought, why not? Joseph Ratzinger, priest, in persona Christi, would see these unfair personal affronts against him as more nails on the Cross he has to bear like the Lord did, and welcomes them in this spirit.

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At least 17 killed, dozens injured
in terrorist attacks on Catholic cathedral
and another Christian church in Garissa, Kenya

July 1, 2012


Vatican spokesman Fr. Federico Lombardi expressed horror and deep concern today over the latest Sunday bombing of Christian churches in Africa.

The bloody attacks in the Kenyan city of Garissa against two Christian churches, one of them the Catholic cathedral, during Sunday services today constitute a horrible and very troubling act.

It seems indeed that for terrorist groups, attacks on Christians gathered for Sunday prayers in their places of worship have becomer a method considered particularly efficient to spread hatred and fear.

The cowardice of violence against helpless persons who are gagthered peacefully in prayer is indescribable. Beyond expressing our closeness to the victims, we must decisively reaffirm and defend the religious freedom of Christians and oppose irresponsible acts that feed hatred among diffent religions, but responsible parties must also act effectively towards a stable solution of the tragic problems in Somalia which are affecting the region.

Eugenio Bonanata reports details:

Grenades and firearms against Chfistians attending Siunday services in two churches of Garissa, in orhteast Kenya, near the border with Somalia. The attacks were carried out by a group of seven masked men who split up - one group targeting the Catholic cathedral, adn the othwe to the nearby African Inland Independent Church, where the attack claimed most of the victims among them two policedmen who had been assigned as security. Many of the 17 reported dead so far died on the way to the hospital.

The supreme council of Mislims in kenya immediately condemned the act and said that places of worship must be respected.

Police recovered an unexploded grenade in the cathedral. The gunmen are believed to be milita of the Somalian Islamist extremist group Al Shabaab, who have been accused of other terrorist attacks in Kenya after Kenyan forces entered Somalia last year in pursuit of rebels.

The city of Garissa is the site of an important KLenyan military base. A hundred kilometers away is the huge refugee camp Al Dadaab housing some 500,000 Somali refugees. Last Friday, the terrorists abducted four foreign humanitarian workers employed in consrtruction.

Church attacks kill 17, wound dozens

NAIROBI, Kenya, July 1, 2012 (AP) — Gunmen killed two policemen guarding a church, snatched their rifles and then opened fire on the congregation from inside and out on Sunday, killing 17 people and wounding 40, security officials said.

Two gunmen entered the simple wooden church of teh African Inalnd Independent Church in the city of Garissa at around 10:15 a.m. Sunday, while two others waited outside, police commander Philip Ndolo said. When the congregation fled the attack inside, they ran straight into another hail of bullets from gunmen outside, he said. At least one grenade was detonated in the attack.

Overturned wooden benches littered the church afterward. A victim wearing a simple blue dress lay on the sandy earth outside. Witnesses reported seeing the four gunmen flee in dark blue outfits and masks.

"We were deep in prayers preparing to give our offerings," said a visibly shaken David Mwange, a churchgoer. "We first had a loud bang from outside which we mistook to be coming from the rooftops. We then had gun shots which made us to lie down. Within no time we had gunshots all over. Everybody was shouting and wailing in pain."

The bloodiest of the two attacks came against the African Inland Church in Garissa, a city some 195 kilometers (120 miles) west of the Somali border. Ndolo said 15 people were killed and at least 40 wounded. A grenade attack against a second church in Garissa wounded three people.

Garissa Mayor Ismail Garat called the church assault "evil." "We are not used to witnessing such kinds of acts in our country, where people are just shot in broad daylight. We really want to know who the heartless people who did this are," he said.

Ndolo told reporters he wanted an investigation carried out before assigning blame to the group many people in this region assume is at fault: al-Shabab, the most dangerous militant group in Somalia.

Another security official said two attackers walked up to the two policemen guarding the church, shot them at point-blank range and took their rifles. The official spoke only on condition he wasn't identified because he is not allowed to speak to media.

The police were guarding the church because of the increasingly dangerous security situation near the border with Somalia and because Somalia's Islamist militants have made Christian churches a common target.

The Vatican spokesman condemned the "vile" and "disgraceful" attacks and said they showed the necessity of defending the rights of Christians to celebrate their faith and "oppose irresponsible acts that fuel hatred among religions."

The White House also condemned the attacks, saying: "At a time of transition, peace and stability are essential to Kenya's progress. We support those who recognize Kenya's ethnic and religious diversity as one of the country's greatest strengths."

Garissa is one of two major Kenyan towns near the border with Somalia. It lies just to the west of the Dadaab refugee camp, which houses nearly 500,000 Somali refugees. On Friday armed attackers kidnapped four international workers with the Norwegian Refugee Council and are believed to have taken them over the border into Somalia.

A top security official suggested after that assault that the attackers came from within the camp. Kenyan officials have long complained Dadaab and its inhabitants are a threat to Kenya's security. Kenyan officials hope to see the Dadaab refugees move back to Somalia, but they cannot force the refugees to move without breaking international law and courting wide international condemnation.

Areas of northern and eastern Kenya along the border with Somalia have suffered a series of gunfire and grenade attacks over the last year. Militants attacked a church in Garissa in December, killing two people.

Kenya sent troops into Somalia last October to hunt al-Shabab fighters. The militants, who are allied with al-Qaida, have threatened repeatedly to carry out revenge attacks for Kenya's push into Somalia. Sunday's attacks appear to be part of that trend.
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Mons. Di Noia speaks about
the task he faces to try
and bring back the FSSPX

July 1, 2012

In a bid to keep talks on course to a possible reconciliation, Pope Benedict XVI has appointed American Archbishop J. Augustine DiNoia as vice president of the commission charged with helping to bring the Society of St. Pius X back into full communion with Rome.

The 68-year-old Dominican and Bronx, N.Y., native, until now secretary of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, becomes vice president of the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei. He spoke with Register correspondent Edward Pentin June 27 about his new position, some of the obstacles involved in bringing the society back into full communion, and his hopes for a successful resolution.

As Archbishop DiNoia had not yet begun work at the commission, he preferred not to comment on reports of a leaked letter from the SSPX that said the society found the doctrinal preamble “clearly unacceptable.” The document is supposed to form the basis for reconciliation with Rome.

What was your reaction when you were appointed? Did it come as a surprise?
It was a surprise, but, then, these things are always a surprise. Being appointed here [as secretary at the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments] was a surprise.

What stage has the Vatican reached in its talks with the SSPX?
To be honest, I don’t know. I have a steep learning curve in terms of the issues as they have developed in the dialogue. When I came here, I studied the history of the reform and took a close look at the council, so I’ve learned a lot about the objections that come from that world. I’ve read books by Romano Amerio and Roberto de Mattei on the [Second Vatican] Council, and, of course, I’ve been studying the Council for years; so, in that sense, I have a framework out of which I can talk with them about their problems.

Another factor of great importance, autobiographically for me, is that I had lived my entire religious life, until I came here to Rome, in a Dominican priory, mostly in Washington or in New Haven, Conn. In those places, the hermeneutic of continuity and reform, if I may put it that way, was lived. I never experienced the Council as a rupture. It’s interesting — only as I’ve begun to read this traditionalist literature and interpretation have I begun to understand that, in a certain sense, there are problems that are real. But if you cease to believe that the Holy Spirit is preserving the Church from error, you cut your moorings. [Interesting to come up against this concept of the Church's 'indefectibility' - the Holy Spirit will not allow it to err on doctrine - for time in less than 24 hours!]

The councils cannot — whatever their interpretations may be by the left or right, or whatever the intentions of the authors were of the council documents — be led into error. All of the documents stand. Schism is not the answer. So I’m sympathetic to the society, but the solution is not breaking off from the Church.

That being the case, why do you think some Catholics have decided to stick to “frozen” tradition, as it were, rather than coming into full communion?
I don’t honestly know; I can only speculate. To say why people are traditionalist I’d have to say it depends on their experiences. The [reform of the] liturgy has been a factor; it was a terrible revolution and shock for people. Many of these people feel abandoned, like the Church left them at the dock with the ship. So the reasons are very complicated and vary from one type of traditionalism to another and from countries, cultures and contexts in which they have arisen.

Another issue is there’s a failure to recognize a simple fact of the history of the Church: that all theological disagreements need not be Church-dividing. So, for example, the Jesuits and Dominicans had a tremendous disagreement in the 16th century about the theology of grace. In the end, the Pope forbade them to call each other heretics, which they had been doing. The Pope said, “You may continue to hold your theological opinion,” but he refused to give a doctrinal determination, saying the Jesuits or Dominicans were right.

Now, this is a very interesting example, because it shows that Catholicism is broad enough to include a tremendous amount of theological diversity and debate. Sometimes the Church will act, but only when it sees people slipping into heresy and therefore breaking off from communion.

You’ve worked closely with Pope Benedict XVI in the past. How important is this reconciliation for him?
The Pope hopes for reconciliation — that’s the Pope’s job. The ministry of Peter is above all to preserve the unity of the Church. So, apart from whatever personal interest Pope Benedict might have, he shares his concern with John Paul II. As you know, he has been involved in this from the beginning.

The Pope is bending over backwards to accommodate them, but he’s not going to give in on the issue of the authenticity of the teaching of Vatican II as a series of acts of the magisterium.

The Society of St. Pius X argues the Second Vatican Council promulgated no infallible and irreformable teaching. It was pastoral and not dogmatic. If that is so, why is it important that they agree with it?
There’s enough that’s dogmatic in it. The sacramentality of episcopal ordination, to take one example, is a development of the teaching of the episcopacy, so it is doctrinal.

Traditionally, the doctrines were stated as canons with anathemas. There aren’t any of those, but it’s certainly full of the ordinary magisterium and a restatement of it. It’s doctrinally rich. But did it seek to clarify what Trent left open or that Vatican I left open with regards to Scripture and Tradition?
There are doctrinal developments here and there. And the society thinks, of course, that the whole teaching on religious liberty is a departure from the tradition. But some very smart people have tried to point out it’s a development that is consistent.

What I’ve tried to argue is that all they have to do is to say there’s nothing in the Council that is contrary to Tradition and that every text, or every part of it that is controversial, should be read in context of the Council — and read it in light of the Tradition. It seems to me, despite their difficulties, they should be able to do that.

What do you say to the argument that if the Council documents are neither infallible nor unchangeable then they are therefore not binding?
To say they are not binding is sophistry. The Council contains swathes of the ordinary magisterium, which is de fide divina [of divine faith].

Now, the pastoral constitution “On the Church in the Modern World” [Gaudium et Spes] makes comments about the nature of culture which, generally speaking, everyone now believes was overly optimistic. Well, that’s not de fide divina. It’s not precise; it’s very imprecise.

But the Council’s full of the ordinary magisterium. When I worked at the [U.S.] bishops’ conference and I was discussing, say, Veritatis Splendor, people would ask me: “Is it infallible?” I would say, “The more important question is: Is it true?”

What I meant was: The overemphasis is on infallibility. This is why John Paul II and Benedict XVI decided not to define anything infallibly anymore because you see what happens is: People say: “I only have to believe what’s been infallibly defined.” Now, that is very little.

So that’s why there’s a distinction between the ordinary and extraordinary magisterium. The extraordinary magisterium is what the Church defines, and it almost always involves settling disagreements that probably have been defined. The Church would perhaps have never said Mary was the Mother of God if Nestorius hadn’t denied it.

But with the ordinary magisterium there’s huge amounts of what we believe that’s de fide divina that’s never been defined. That’s why people have talked about the ordinary magisterium, trying to get out of this reductionist reading that says you only have to believe what’s infallible. So, no, the Council does have binding teaching. The Fathers are writing as bishops of the Church in union with the Pope; that’s why the Council is so important.

Yet Cardinal Ratzinger stressed the Council should not be seen as a kind of “superdogma.”
It did not seek to define infallibly any doctrines; that’s what he’s saying, but he’s not saying it doesn’t contain great amounts of the ordinary magisterium.

If you take the dogmatic constitutions, they are called dogmatic constitutions — Divine Revelation [Dei Verbum], Lumen Gentium, those two surely, but other ones, too.

What would the Society of St. Pius X bring that would positively impact the Church if they reconcile?
The traditionalists that are now in the Church, such as the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter [known by the initials FFSP, which confuses it with the FFSPX], have brought what the Pope has insisted upon: that in the solemnity of the way in which they celebrate the liturgy, especially in the area of the liturgy, they are a testimony to the continuing liveliness of liturgical tradition previous to the Council, which is the message of Summorum Pontificum.

The thing is: They can’t say that the Novus Ordo is invalid, but their celebration of the 1962 Missal is something that remains attractive and nourishes faith, even of those who have no experience of it. So that’s a very important factor.

I’ve tried to find an analogy for this. Let’s say the American Constitution can be read in at least two ways: Historians read it, and they are interested in historical context: in the framers, intentions of the framers, the backgrounds of framers and all of that historical work about the Constitution. So, you have a Constitution you can study historically and shed a great deal of light on the meaning of it.

However, when the Supreme Court uses the Constitution, when it’s read as an institutional living document upon which institutions of a country are based, it’s a different reading. So what the framers thought, including not only experts upon whom they’re dependent — they are parallel to the bishops, and the experts are parallel to the periti [theologians who serve as participants [Not participants! Advisers!] at an ecumenical council].

Those documents have an independence from all of them. I often say that what Council Fathers intended doesn’t matter because it’s how you apply it today that matters. It’s a living document.

Yet it’s the way it has been applied that’s the problem.
What’s very important for theologians, people in charge to understand is that the Council has been interpreted in wildly destructive and discontinuous ways. I’m reading a book by Louis Bouyer, who wrote a book -– in 1968 — called The Decomposition of Catholicism. Then there’s Xavier Rynne, who shaped the Western world’s understanding of the Council by writing those articles in The New Yorker.

The Pope has written brilliantly about this many, many times, but, you see, in part, the traditionalists are reacting justly against the outlandish interpretations of the Council by the progressivists.

What else positive can they bring?
If they [the FSPX] are accepted by the Church and restored to full communion, they will be a sort of living witness to the continuity. They can be perfectly happy being in the Catholic Church, so they would be a living testimony to show that the continuity before and after the Council is real.

But that’s only if they comply with the Vatican’s conditions?
It’s more than that. It’s not like an edict — stop on red; go on green — because membership and full communion involves faith that the Holy Spirit is preserving the Church from error and that communion with the See of Peter is part of the reality of being in full communion. It’s not accidental.

So, if they comply, it has to be with the necessary requirements of being fully Catholic, not simply what the Pope says or what I say. … They have to say: “Yes, I do believe the Church is preserved from error by the Holy Spirit.” Then I can say, “Okay, then; you’re a Catholic.”

The society has been fed by people who use the word “error.” “Error” is a vague word in the Catholic tradition. There are many different levels of error. Sometimes it means you’ve fallen into heresy; sometimes it means that you are rash.

Your new position is as vice president of Ecclesia Dei, but it’s not clear who you are replacing.
There was a vice president for a while, Msgr. Camille Perl. However, what they’ve done is fill a position which I believe has been empty for three years. I’m not sure when Msgr. Perl went into pensione.

Some have argued that you have been brought in to help prepare a canonical structure for the FSSPX should they reconcile. Is this based on the extensive work you did in helping to create the Anglican ordinariate?

I don’t know; the Pope didn’t tell me why he chose me. I was involved in the ordinariate from the beginning. I was undersecretary of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, involved in discussions that led to formation of the ordinariate, but I am not a canonist. I didn’t have a direct role in the composition of the constitution, but, yes, I have experience, perhaps of dialogue.

The Anglicans who came to Rome seeking full communion would often come and see me. So I guess I must have some kind of gift that attracts them to me [laughs]. [And because he is Anglophone as they are![

How much is a perceived weakening of the dogma extra Ecclesiam nulla salus (no salvation outside the Church) a major part of the problem, as some traditionalists assert? Has today’s understanding of the dogma contradicted its earlier teaching?
I don’t know if you can blame this on the Council so much as the emergence of a theological trend that emphasised the possibility of salvation of non-Christians. But the Church has always affirmed this, and it has never denied it. … [Karl] Rahner had a disastrous effect on this with his “anonymous Christianity.” But the Council does not alter the teaching of the Church.

And yet they argue it does?
This is a very good example of two of the things we’ve mentioned: the danger of reading this as it’s been read by Rahner, instead of in the light of the whole Tradition. [But that's why the declaration Dominus Iesus had to be made! To straighten out once and for all any ambiguity in the Council documents about salvation: It re-states and clarifies that the Catholic Church is the one Church of Christ, the one instituted by the only Savior, and within which salvation is to be found, even if other religions have elements of truth.]

They claim that salvation is hardly proclaimed anymore.
Ralph Martin agrees with that. We do have a crisis, because the Church has been infected with the idea that we don’t have to worry or be anxious or we don’t sufficiently take the mandate to proclaim Christ seriously. But it’s not because of Vatican II, but bad theology. That’s why Dominus Iesus was part of the response to all of that theology of religion. {There we are!] There is no question that the necessity of extra Ecclesiam nulla salus has a long history. But they were talking about heretics, not nonbelievers. That formula addresses the problems of heresies. It has its history.

The Council did say there are elements of grace in other religions, and I don’t think that should be retracted. I’ve seen them, I know them — I’ve met Lutherans and Anglicans who are saints.

Some traditionalists say secular humanism frequently wins over dogmatic assertions in the modern Church. To give an example: The Holy Father has said he wouldn’t have lifted the excommunication on Bishop [Richard] Williamson had he known about his anti-Semitism. [He never said that!] But while anti-Semitism is heinous, traditionalists say that such views aren’t a dogmatic position. And yet Catholic politicians can freely speak against the dogma and remain in full communion with the Church. What do you say to such an argument?[EXCUSE ME, not just politicians! Priests, many of them prominent and highly placed, have been doing so shrilly and fallaciously for decades since Vatican II about issues like abortion, contraception and priestly celibacy - which certainly go to far more basic elements of Catholic doctrine than the new pastoral attitudes of ecumenism and inter-religious dialog! Why are these priests, thousands of them - and the wannabe-theologian sisters - not made to pass the test of faith that the CDF (not the Pope) now insists on imposing on the FSSPX for their far less essential objections?] [
That’s a trap. Edward Norman, in his very good book Secularization, says there’s no question that what he calls internal secularization, secular humanism, has definitely invaded parts of the Church. They [FSSPX] are probably right about that, and I could give them a longer list of examples than they could probably make themselves.

However, to try and defend Williamson on this basis is disgusting and odious. Is a politician the same thing as a bishop? Give me a break. It’s garbage; it’s sophistry. Do they want a blanket excommunication of everyone who’s pro-choice? And yet here is a person, a bishop, who openly proclaims a position which the Church is desperately trying to suppress in the Church itself, which is anti-Semitism. [But Mons Di Noia, the FSSPX official position from the time the 'Williamson case' erupted it that they do not share his opinions, and they immediately disciplined him by taking away any positions he held and keeping him effectively in quarantine, not including him since then in any of the consultations or meetings of the FSSPX!]

In the CDF statement that accompanied your appointment, it said your experience “will facilitate the development of certain desired liturgical provisions” in the celebration of the 1962 Roman Missal, commonly known as the Tridentine rite. Could you explain this in more detail?
There are two things: In the calendar, there are a lot of saints they would like to add, but the Roman Missal is fixed. There’s got to be a dialogue between them and the Congregation for Divine Worship on how to incorporate elements of the Roman calendar and how it has developed over the last 50 years. And then the prefaces: The old Roman Missal of 1962 has a very limited number of prefaces, and they are also interested in incorporating some of the prefaces. But because it’s the 1962 edition, who can revise the 1962 edition of the Missal?

In effect the Novus Ordo, the current Roman Missal, is a revision of the 1962 Roman Missal. So the issue is: How can they do this? I don’t know, but the job has to be done. We already had two meetings, between representatives of the congregation and representatives of Ecclesia Dei, to discuss how that could be done.

Mention was made of your good relations with the Jewish community. How good are those relations?
I’ve had long and warm relationships with various Jewish leaders from the time I was in the United States, working at the bishops’ conference, which has continued all along. They have come to see me every year. I don’t know if they’ve said anything in public, but on the phone they’re very happy. They know I’m sensitive to their concerns.

Nostra Aetate (a document believed by many to have helped foster better Jewish-Catholic relations) is a problem for the SSPX.
Yes, but remember: If you take the constitution exactly, as a jurist, there’s the broad and the strict, and that’s a disagreement that can be held by two justices simultaneously. So again, if they want to take a stricter reading of those conciliar texts, they’re perfectly free to do so theologically. But it doesn’t mean they have to be outside the Church, and they should argue against people based on theology.

If they believe Nostra Aetate is being badly interpreted, then they have to get into the battle to correctly interpret it. Rather than walk away from the field, they have to play the game.

Could a reconciliation be timely, given the problems in the Church and culture?
Traditionalists have to be converted from seeing the Council as rupture and discontinuity. This is a distinction [historian Roberto] de Mattei makes. The Council was experienced as a rupture [at least in the first 40 years after it closed, and then came the December 22, 2005, watershed moment when Benedict became the first post-conciliar Pope to say clearly, NO! VATICAN-II WAS NO RUPTURE, BUT A RENEWAL IN CONTINUITY WITH TRADITION], but doctrinally and theologically it has to be read in continuity — otherwise you must just as well throw in the towel.

Do you think the FSSPX fears their concerns won’t be safeguarded if they reconcile?
How will they not be safeguarded? Who’s telling them what to do? The only thing I’m telling them is: Vatican II is not a departure from Tradition.

Are you optimistic or pessimistic about reconciliation?
I’m neither; I just don’t know. I think it will be an act of grace. In fact, I’m going to ask the Dominicans to start praying. I hope it’ll happen. The Pope doesn’t want this to continue — another sect, another division.
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Monday, July 2, 13th Week in Ordinary Time
Panel shows the saint's head enshrined in Drogheda, Ireland.
ST. OLIVER PLUNKETT (Ireland, 1629-1681), Bishop, Primate of Ireland, Martyr
Mentioned early on by Benedict XVI in his Letter to the Catholics of Ireland in March 2010, Plunkett was martyred
by the English for defending the faith in Ireland during a period of severe persecution. He studied for the
priesthood and was ordained in Rome, where he served among the poor until he was appointed Archbishop
of Armagh. A new wave of anti-Catholic persecutions in 1973 forced him to do his pastoral work in secret
and to live in hiding. Priests were exiled, schools were closed, Mass had to be held in secret, convents
and seminaries were suppressed. In 1679, he was arrested and imprisoned in Dublin Castle, then sent
to London for trial. He was found guilty of fomenting revolt by a jury that deliberated for all of 15 minutes.
Then he was hanged, drawn and quartered. Considered the second patron of Ireland after St. Patrick, his
head is enshrined in Drogheda, his body in another abbey, and other relics in various Irish churches.
He was beatified by Benedict XV in 1920 and canonized by Paul VI in 1965.
Readings for today's Mass:


The Holy Father met with

- Cardinal Giuseppe Versaldi, President of the Prefecture for Economic Affairs of the Holy See

- Mons. Pier Luigi Celata, until last week Secretary of the Pontifical Council for Inter-Religious Dialog.
[His replacement was announced last week without any mention of his resignation, which is unusual.]


Finally, the announcement:
Mons. Mueller now heads the CDF

The Holy Father has accepted the resignation of Cardinal William Joseph Levada, after reaching canonical retirement
age, as Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and ex-officio president of the Pontifical Commission
Ecclesia Dei, the Pontifical Biblical Commission, and the International Theological Commission.

He has named to succeed him Mons. Gerhard Ludwig Müller, until now Bishop of Regensburg, who has been raised to the rank of Archbishop.

On a day of new beginnings, this is the first day at work at the Vatican for the new communications adviser to the Secretariat of State, Greg Burke.


It's really annoying when journalists draw general, often fallacious, conclusions from a limited number of facts that happen to be 'synchronic', or taking place around the same time. In scientific studies, one always begins by first calculating the minimum nunber of cases one has to investigate in order for the study to have any conclusive 'power' at all, one way or the other. And yes, 'power' is the technical term for that minimum number. It could be as little as 50 or as many as a few million, depending on how specific is the conclusion you want to draw. Certainly not 3, because in any study, there are 3 possible conclusions to draw - true, false or inconclusive - and you can't possibly draw a conclusion from examining only 3 cases. Yet in the past 24 hours, I have read the following 'conclusions':
- The Opus Dei is the new 'grey eminence' in the Vatican because of Cardinal Herranz, Greg Burke, and the declaration of Opus Dei's second superior, Alvaro del Portillo as Venerable. (Sandro Magister et al)
- The Americans are an emerging power bloc in the Vatican because of the new appointments for Mons. Di Noia and Greg Burke, and the apparent major role of Knights of Columbus leader Carl Anderson at IOR (John Allen)
- Benedict XVI's recent appointees are 'progressives' - Mueller to CDF, Brugues as Archivist-Librarian, and reaching back to last year, Braz de Aviz to the congregation in charge of religious orders - and therefore, the orthodox Pope is showing himself to be more 'open' to progressive thinking! (Carlo Marroni)

All such conclusions are forced for effect and have no statistical power at all, obviously, but journalists tend to make them periodically anyway. But they don't need statistical power at all in the case of analyzing the Curia - just simple proportion. To be plausible at all, they would have to factor in the total population of 'ranking' prelates in the Vatican and its organisms as the common denominator for whatever hypothesis of dominance they have - Italians, Opus Dei, Americans, progressives, non-Europeans, football fans, whatever. There are 22 Curial offices at present, with two ranking officials (Prefect or President, and Secretary) - so that's 44. Add another 10 for the top officials in SecState after the top 2, and for the Vatican's communications poohbahs. You get 54 as a denominator. 3 out of 54 - if we apply it to the 'conclusions' drawn by the Vaticanistas - is hardly significant..

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The other item in today's RINUNCE E NOMINE from the Vatican besides Mons. Mueller's appointment to be the CDF Prefect had to do with the dismissal of a Slovakian bishop, which, as these announcements go, contained no explanation. Here is AP's take, which brings up an interesting common-sense question about when and why the Pope can dismiss bishops...

Pope fires Slovak bishop
in rare show of authority


VATICAN CITY, July 2 (AP) — The Pope fired a 52-year-old Slovak bishop on Monday for apparently mismanaging his diocese, in a rare show of papal power. [Winfield ignores that the Pope did the same thing a few weeks ago with an Italian bishop after a papal 'visitator' reported evidence of questionable financial dealings involving diocesan funds.]

[AGI's Salvatore Izzo says that an apostolic visitation made to the Slovak bishop's diocese last January reported grave administrative irregularities in the Diocese of Trnava attributable to the bishop, but the latter, who is a Redemptorist, refused to resign which is his option under canon law when there is a 'grave impediment' to carrying on his functions; Thus, the Pope was forced to dismiss him.]

Usually when bishops run into trouble — either for alleged moral lapses or management problems — they are persuaded by the Vatican to resign. But Pope Benedict XVI has become increasingly willing to forcibly remove bishops who refuse to step down, sacking three others in the last year alone.

In the most notable case, Benedict fired Bishop William Morris of Toowoomba, Australia last year after he called for the church to consider ordaining women and married men [and who had, for seven years, ignored the Vatican's requests for him to desist from doing so]. He also removed a Congolese bishop for management problems in his diocese and an Italian one in May for similar reasons. [So, Ms. Winfield, four dismissals in a year's time is a 'rare display of power'? The occurrence of these dismissals is obviously dependent on the existence of a compelling reason for the Pope to dismiss a brother bishop.]

On Monday, the Vatican said Benedict had "relieved from pastoral care" Bishop Robert Bezak of Trnava, Slovakia. No reason was given, but Italian news reports said administrative problems in the diocese were to blame.

Bishops normally hand in their resignation when they turn 75 years old, their customary retirement age.

The exercise of this ability to fire a bishop has important implications, particularly concerning bishops who mishandle cases of sexually abusive priests.

In the face of U.S. lawsuits seeking to hold the Pope ultimately responsible for pedophile priests, the Holy See has argued that bishops are largely masters of their dioceses and that the Pope doesn't really control them.

The Vatican has thus sought to limit any liability to the bishops themselves, arguing that the Pope doesn't exercise sufficient control over them to be held responsible for their bungled response to priests who rape children. [This argument still holds! But it does not necessarily mean that the Pope can dismiss a bishop for a 'bungled response' because that would depend on what the response was exactly!]

The ability of the Pope to actively fire bishops, and not just passively accept their resignations, would seem to undercut the Vatican's argument. Still, no bishop in recent memory has been forcibly removed for mishandling an abuse case. ['Mishandling an abuse case' is quite a broad term. The mishandling has to rise to a criminal level - as in the case of financial manipulation involving diocesan funds - before it becomes actionable. So far, among the bishops who have failed to resign on their own (and who have not retired) because of provable complicity in covering for sex offenses by their priests, not one case has been raised that would seem to rise to that level.

The recent verdict against Mons. Lynn in Pennsylvania found him guilty of "one count of child endangerment for allowing a priest to take a new assignment involving contact with children even after learning of allegations that he had engaged in inappropriate contact with at least one minor"(Compared to the infamous case of Fr. Keoghan in Boston who was 'tolerated' by Cardinal Law, Lynn's negligence was relatively minor).

And the other bishop awaiting trial, Mons. Robert Finn of Kansas City, is facing, along with his diocese, "a criminal misdemeanor charge of failure to report suspected child abuse regarding a priest arrested last year for possession of child pornography". (Somehow, under Missouri law, this is a criminal misdemeanor, whereas ]ynn's offense, under Pennsylvania law, was a felony!)

Of course, while the charges against Lynn and Finn are minor in degree, it doesn't make their failures any less objectionable. But it must be pointed out that Lynn's offense dates back to the 1990s when there was no specific canon regulation - nor specific criminal law in Pennsylvania - that prohibited what he did, or directed himn to do otherwise. (And as far as cover-up goes, it would seem from evidence presented to a pennsylvania grand jury that Lynn's superior at the time, Archbishop Anthony Bevilacqua, was actively carrying out such a cover-up, but because of the statute of limitations, and more importantly, because he died last January, any criminal action against him is moot now.) It was a totally different culture with regard to sexual abuse of children, before the Boston scandal erupted ib 2001 and the Catholic Church was forced to act specifically and concretely to confront the issue, forcing secular society at the same time to do so, although so far, the brunt of criminal prosecution has been against Catholic priests, bishops and dicoeses. Finn's offense is more 'actionable' because it happened in 2011, almost a decade since the USCCB promulgated a code of action to protect children, and does cast doubt on his judgment.]

Even the most well-known case, that of Cardinal Bernard Law, ended when Law offered his resignation after the sex abuse scandal exploded in his Boston archdiocese in 2002. Law subsequently was named archpriest of one of the Vatican's basilicas in Rome, St. Mary Major. [If that action had been done by Benedict XVI, we would never ever hear the end of it from MSM, but John Paul II got a relative pass from the MSM because he was already visibly ill at the time. Funny that the MSM held their punches against a then 81-year-old ailing Pope but are not holding back, and even hitting below the belt often, at an 85-year-old Pope who has never been in the best of health!]

I have not yet posted here Sandro Magister's account earlier this month of bishops who have been dismissed and why
because his presentation is a bit muddled and reads even worse in translation, but I will have to get around to it soon

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Israel's Holocaust museum alters
caption on Pope Pius XII


JERUSALEM, July 1 (AFP) - Israel's Yad Vashem Holocaust museum has altered the wording on a display dealing with the controversial role of the Vatican and Pope Pius XII during the Holocaust, the museum said on Sunday.

The change in text comes after years of friction between the Vatican and the museum over a panel which accused Pope Pius XII of failing to protest the killing of Jews and signing a treaty with Nazi Germany to protect the Church.

The new panel clarifies that the deal, known as a concordat, was in fact signed by his predecessor Pius XI, and it presents arguments by both critics and defenders of the actions of Pius XII.

In a statement, Yad Vashem insisted that the change was "an update to reflect research that has been done in the recent years, and presents a more complex picture than previously presented.

"This change is not a result of Vatican pressure," the statement said.

The panel has been an issue of simmering tension between Yad Vashem and the Vatican for years, with a former papal nuncio to Israel, Antonio Franco, threatening to boycott a Holocaust commemoration in 2007 over the wording.

Yad Vashem in the past said the panel would only be changed if the Vatican agreed to open its archives to researchers and evidence showed Pius XII's role had been misrepresented.

The Vatican has yet to open those archives fully, though it has made public selected documents. But Yad Vashem said on Sunday that new research "has clarified certain issues, while still leaving many questions open."

[The basic problem in all this controversy about Pius XII is that 'none are more blind than those who refuse to see' - and for some reason, dominant Jewish opinion since the early 1960s bought completely into the Soviet propaganda depicting Pius XII's 'silence' about the Jews during World War II as moral cowardice, even if Jewish leaders, including the first israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir, had been praising him for years for what he did for the Jews in World War II. Israel is just as guilty here of reprehensible historic amnesia regarding Pius XII as Bishop Williamson is about the gas chambers in Auschwitz.

For decades now, the anti-Pius campaign has used the non-opening of the Vatican archives pertaining to the papers of the Pius XII Pontificate as a reason for their intransigent hostility - while refusing to consider the tons of documentary proof already available - as if opening the full archive (due in the next two years after it is commpletely catalogued) would somehow bring to light documents showing Pius XII was anti-Semitic all along and had supported everything Hitler did during the war, as unlikely and unrealistic as that may be! And when the full archive is open and none of those documents are found, they will conceivably accuse the Vatican of holding back 'incriminatory' documents. They will never run out of reasons to back down on an untenable position, yet the longer they stick to it, the more ridiculous their position will appear to the rest of the informed world who are not Jewish.

On the other hand, revising the controversial caption now, with less sweeping denunciations of Pius XII, could also be their way of setting the stage for eventually accepting the objective facts about a man who was indeed a 'Righteous among the Nations' thousands of times over, but whom the prevailing Jewish opinion would cast as the true villain of the Holocaust rather than Adolf Hitler.

An old Hebrew Scriptural saying goes: “Whosoever saves a single life, saves an entire universe", and this is the basis for Yad Vashem's list of non-Jewish individuals who have been shown to have rescued Jews during the Second World War, declaring each one 'Righteous among Nations'. By that criterion, Pius XII should lead the list, no less worthy than well-known secular figures like Oskar Schindler and Raoul Wallenberg
.] ]


The old panel displayed at Yad Vashem said Pius XII was "active" in obtaining a treaty with Germany to protect the Church's rights "even if this meant recognising the Nazi racist regime."

It said he scrapped a letter denouncing racism and anti-Semitism, and failed to protest publicly the murder of Jews.

It accused him of declining to sign the Allied declaration condemning the extermination of Jews. And it said he had failed to act to prevent the transport of Jews from Rome to Auschwitz.

The old caption:

Pope Pius XII

In 1933, when he was Secretary of the Vatican State, he was active in obtaining a Concordat with the German regime to preserve the Church's rights in Germany, even if this meant recognizing the Nazi racist regime. When he was elected Pope in 1939, he shelved a letter against racism and anti-Semitism that his predecessor had prepared. Even when reports about the murder of Jews reached the Vatican, the Pope did not protest either verbally or in writing. In December 1942, he abstained from signing the Allied declaration condemning the extermination of the Jews. When Jews were deported from Rome to Auschwitz, the Pope did not intervene. The Pope maintained his neutral position throughout the war, with the exception of appeals to the rulers of Hungary and Slovakia towards its end. His silence and the absence of guidelines obliged Churchmen throughout Europe to decide on their own how to react.

The new panel attributes the signing of the deal to Pius XI, and it notes that Pius XII made reference to the deaths of hundreds of people during a 1942 radio address, though he did not specifically mention Jews.

"The pope's critics claim that his decision to abstain from condemning the murder of the Jews by Nazi Germany constitutes a moral failure," the panel says.

"The lack of clear guidance left room for many to collaborate with Nazi Germany, reassured by the thought that this did not contradict the Church's moral teachings."

"His defenders maintain that this neutrality prevented harsher measures against the Vatican and the Church's institutions... thus enabling a considerable number of secret rescue activities," it adds.

Here is how Yad Vashem itself presented the change:

Yad Vashem Statement regarding
updated text on the panel
about the Vatican

July 1, 2012

In 2005, Yad Vashem opened its new Holocaust History Museum after more than a decade of work. The texts in the museum were written based on the research available in the early years of the 2000s.

Recently, following the recommendation of the Yad Vashem International Institute for Holocaust Research, the panel regarding the wartime activities of the Vatican and Pope Pius XII has been updated. This is an update to reflect research that has been done in the recent years, and presents a more complex picture than previously presented. Contrary to what has been reported, this change is not a result of Vatican pressure.

Over the past few years, new research, in part based on the opening of archival collections such as the Pius XI archive (up until 1939) and on other information, including that which was presented at an international academic workshop “Pope Pius XII and the Holocaust - Current State of Research” held at Yad Vashem in 2009, has clarified certain issues, while still leaving many questions open.

Only when all material is available, will a clearer picture emerge. That workshop was initiated by the late Prof. David Bankier, then head of Yad Vashem’s International Institute for Holocaust Research. The book that emerged from the academic workshop on the subject will soon be published (in English) by Yad Vashem.

Prof. Bankier offered a draft for an updated text for the Museum panel, and since he passed away, this text has been finalized by researchers of the Institute, led by the current head of the Institute, Prof. Dan Michman.

Yad Vashem looks forward to the day when the Vatican archives will be open to researchers so that a clearer understanding of the events can be arrived at.

The panel noted that the reaction of Pope Pius XII is a matter of controversy. Some visitors to the Museum did not understand the controversy. The panel now presents this controversy in more detail. Of course, no panel in a museum can ever fully explore any topic, and for those interested in learning more, the library and archives at Yad Vashem have a plethora of material.

Yad Vashem researchers and historians continue to research many aspects of Holocaust history. Over the past years, a number of corrections have been made throughout the Museum. Should any other updates be necessary in the Museums, these will take place as well.

Following is the new text:

The Vatican

The Vatican, under Pius XI, Achille Ratti, and represented by the Secretary of State Eugenio Pacelli, signed a concordat with Nazi Germany in July 1933, in order to preserve the rights of the Catholic Church in Germany.

The reaction of Pius XII, Eugenio Pacelli, to the murder of the Jews during the Holocaust is a matter of controversy among scholars. From the onset of World War II, the Vatican maintained a policy of neutrality. The Pontiff abstained from signing the Allies' declaration of December 17, 1942 condemning the extermination of the Jews. Yet, in his Christmas radio address of December 24, 1942 he referred to “the hundreds of thousands of persons who, without any fault on their part, sometimes only because of their nationality or ethnic origin (stirpe), have been consigned to death or to a slow decline.” Jews were not explicitly mentioned. When Jews were deported from Rome to Auschwitz, the Pontiff did not publicly protest. The Holy See appealed separately to the rulers of Slovakia and Hungary on behalf of the Jews.

The Pope’s critics claim that his decision to abstain from condemning the murder of the Jews by Nazi Germany constitutes a moral failure: the lack of clear guidance left room for many to collaborate with Nazi Germany, reassured by the thought that this did not contradict the Church’s moral teachings. It also left the initiative to rescue Jews to individual clerics and laymen.

His defenders maintain that this neutrality prevented harsher measures against the Vatican and the Church's institutions throughout Europe, thus enabling a considerable number of secret rescue activities to take place at different levels of the Church. Moreover, they point to cases in which the Pontiff offered encouragement to activities in which Jews were rescued. Until all relevant material is available to scholars, this topic will remain open to further inquiry.

I will desist for now from fisking the new caption, but this is how the Israeli newspaper Haaretz presents the change - objectively for the most part in comparing the old and the new captions, but ultimately offensive in saying this is a 'warning' to Benedict XVI - as if this Pope could be intimidated. He declared Pius XII Venerable just a month before he visited the Jewish Synagogue in Rome(after he had personally ordered historians of his confidence to review the material in the Vatican Archives about Pius XII) - the Jewish community of Rome did not cancel their invitation because of that.

Pius's role in the Holocaust
deserves more scrutiny

The new captions at Yad Vashem send a clear message to the incumbent Pope:
Do not glamorize Pius XII before the Vatican reviews and publishes
all documents concerning his activities during the Holocaust

By Tom Segev
July 1, 2012

From the beginning, the Yad Vashem Museum was created to reflect Israel's official concept regarding the Holocaust, and obviously it serves as a justification of Zionist ideology and of the need to establish the State of Israel and guarantee its security.

Almost sixty years later, the new museum, which opened in 2005 and was inspired by the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, presents the original political foundations in a new style: less indoctrination and more room for various points of view regarding numerous subjects, some of them sensitive and controversial.

At the entrance the visitor is greeted by an old clip of Jewish children in the Ukraine singing "Hatikva," the national anthem. The visit ends with the establishment of the State of Israel.

Still, one notable difference is that the Arabs are no longer presented as Nazis: the placing of the 1941 photo of Hitler meeting the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem is no longer as accentuated as before. The museum has also adopted a neutral stance concerning the Nazi-established "Jewish Councils," otherwise known as Judenrat. The visitors can now draw up their judgment of the councils based on their activities in both the Warsaw and Lodz ghettos.

The impression now is that the Judenrat leaders too, were victims of the Holocaust. Formerly, they were all considered villains.

One of the striking differences concerns the museum's depiction of Rejso, Israel Kestner, one of the leaders of Hungarian Jewry. In 1955, an Israeli court ruled that Kestner had "sold his soul to the devil" after he was accused of being a Nazi collaborator. He was murdered two years later in Tel Aviv.

Now, Kestner's contacts with the Nazis are depicted as praiseworthy actions that saved Jews. The change is due, partially, to the fact that Kestner's friend, Yosef "Tommy" Lapid, served as Yad Vashem's chairman. The wording under Kestner's photograph – as in all other captions in the museum – is formulated in an extremely cautious manner, weighing the meaning of every single word. The English version is slightly more positive than the Hebrew.

Many captions were dictated by diplomatic sensitivity, so as not to cause tension with foreign states. The lines dealing with the question of why the allies didn't bomb Auschwitz are more restrained than the more explicit criticism of the same issue in the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.

The new captions dealing with Pope Pius XII, are 'cleaner,' and reflect a measure of openness and recognition of different opinions. Pius XII now receives a parcel of textual 'discounts': the new wording stresses the fact that the Reichskonkordat with Germany was signed before he was appointed, and deletes the former declaration that the accord was signed "even at the price of recognizing the Nazi regime."

It does not mention that Pius XII shelved the prepared draft of an encyclical condemning racism, colonialism and anti-Semitism, drafted for Pius XI. If the Pope actually shelved such an encyclical, there's no reason to ignore it. The mention of his 1942 Christmas address and his appeals to the leaders of Hungary and Slovakia are relevant. Pius XII actually gains some points due to the detailed controversy surrounding his term.

Still, he isn't portrayed as a righteous man, but the issue calls for more study. Politically, the new captions send a clear Jewish and Israeli message to the incumbent pope, German-born Benedict XVI: Do not glamorize Pius XII before the Vatican reviews and publishes all documents concerning his activities during the Holocaust. [The Vatican has reviewed all such documents which were considered in Benedict XVI's decision in December 2010 to declare Pius XII's 'heroic virtues', which qualified him for the next step in the process - beatification itself after a miracle attributed to his intercession is certified by scientists and theologians... And by the way, the Church's process of beatification and canonization of individuals whose lives are shining examples of Christian witness is not a 'glamorization' of anyone but a recognition of holiness.]

I find it strange that as of now, 5:51 pm, July 2, in New York, the English service of Vatican Radio does not contain a single line about the Pius XII story, but its 'top story' for the moment is the reaction of a British minister to the Kenya church killings! Since when is the reaction of a British minister more relevant or interesting to RV's Anglophone listeners than a rather significant development regarding a much-maligned Pope? The Italian serive, on the other hand, had this interview with the Apostolic Nuncio to Israel:

Nuncio in Israel thinks caption modification
shows 'intellectual honesty' by Yad Vashem

Translated from the Italian service of
July 2, 2012

"Pius XII and the Holocaust" is the title of the caption that appeared for the first time in 2005 in Jerusalem's Yad Vashem Museum commemorating the Holocaust.

In the text - that was modified yesterday - Papa Pacelli was accused of not having defended the Jews by publicly denouncing their persecution. Roberto Gisotti interviewed Archbishop Antonio Franco, the Apostolic Nuncio to Israel, who had protested the caption publicly in 2007, bringing the issue to international attention.

MONS. FRANCO: The news came as no surprise to me, because since that protest in 2007, Yad Vashem has carried out some work on the issue, hosting various encounters including a workshop in March 2009 before the Holy Father's visit to the Holy Land. We have had frequent contacts which led to the idea of changing the caption, which was eventually supported by the museum's administrative director, and a few months ago, they began to discuss the changes to be made. So for me, it has been a reaiization of something that has matured over six years.

Then one cannot say there was pressure from the Vatican - which the museum director has explicitly denied - but a work of correct mediation. What then is the significance of the changes made? Can one speak of a correction and of a recovery of the positive role played by Pius XII in World War II?
No. I think one must see this as a first step towards an opening, a view that is more in keeping with the spirit and actions of the Pope and the Holy See.

If you look at the old caption, it is clear there has been a change in approach. Earlier, there were judgments of condemnation that were very explicit, made directly by the Museum leadership. Now we have a presentation of the controversy that continues to exist - because there is now accumulated historiography that has a very negative interpretation according to which Pius XII never said anything in public and especially failed to condemn the persecution of the Jews durinb World War II.

And so, Yad Vashem now acknowledges the controversy between those who see Pius XII negatively and those who say that the Pope and the Holy See did save thousands of Jewish lives even as it was decided that a public condemnation would have provoked more catastrophic actions by the Nazis [not just against the Jews but against Catholics].

The new caption now refers to the 1942 Christmas message of Pius XII and refers to his actions to help the Jews. So there are positive aspects but there are still critical elements.

And now, they are hoping that opening the Vatican archives on the papers of Pius XII's Pontificate will help clarify the situation more - the argument being that the controversy will only be resolved by studying the original documents in the Archives.

Can we say that this new caption is an act of intellectual honesty by the Museum administration by leaving open the historical verdict on Pius XII?
I have been in contact over the past six years with the Museum directors, and I can say that they are really interested in historical honesty. I don't think they have any ideological prejudices, because not only did they modify the caption, but the very fact that they held the workshop in 2009, and hope to hold more similar encounters, as well as their repeated desire to have their historians study the documents in the Vatican Archives - all this shows a certain intellectual will and honesty,without prejudices and without making an a priori condemnation. [Which they did for years, however!]

Unfortunately, everything that happened since the publication of the East German play "The Deputy" (in 1963) and the search of a scapegoat for the Holocaust, are also real. However, I do think that the historians of Yad Vashem are being intellectually honest.

[To even consider anyone else but Adolf Hitler as the one primarily responsible for the Holocaust is sick! But by casting Pius XII as their scapegoat, that is exactly what the state of Israel and many Jews have been doing. That is not intellectual nor historical honesty by any standard. Yet Yad Vashem went along with it.

That the state of Israel could have unquestioningly taken as its official position the conclusions of an East German playwright commissioned by the Soviet secret service to do a hatchet job on Pius XII is something irrevocably disgusting and stupid at the same time... Nonetheless, thank God for little blessings, if Mons. Franco has it right.]

The Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem
is not so 'satisfied' as the Nuncio

The Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, Mons. Fouad Twal, released the following statement on the French service of the Patriarchate's website, translated here:


July 2, 2012

The memorial to the Shoah, Yad Vashem, in Jerusalem, has toned down as of July 1 a text that accuses Pope Pius XII of having been passive to the fate of Jews during the Shoah, exposing in detail the controversy over his atttitude in this regard during the Second World War.

The new text keeps the arguments of Pius XII's critics contained in the old text but it also presents those of his defenders.

The Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem acknowledges the desire of the International Institute of Yad Vashem for Research on the Holocaust to seek the truth. It welcomes the fact that historical research in recent years has been taken into account. But the text modification is insufficient.

For the Patriarchate, the fact that the text was softened shows that Yad Vashem felt all the truth has not been said. One regrets that the image of Pius XII has been disfigured all these years [by the old text] without any apology being made.

One cannot accept only part of a truth which has not yet been fully disclosed. Time will be needed to study the [pertinent documents in the] Vatican archives. Meanwhile, one cannot allow things to be written whose certainty has not been determined.

All opinion is subject to the risk of prejudice, but one must not yield to blackmail:
- That of putting pressure on the Holy See to open the Archives [of the documents of Pius XII's Pontificate in its entirety;
[The Vatican already said back in 2007 that it would do that as soon as it completes cataloguing the collection which it expects to do by 2014
- That of seeking to keep the Vatican from beatifying Pius XII by using a partial truth.

The Patriarchate wishes to underscore that no one knows that if Pius XII had spoken more, he would have saved more Jews. And there could have been even more brutal actions against the Jews and those who saved them.

As Yad Vashem acknowsledges that many Christians who saved thousands of Jews, we do not know if the Vatican had in fact encouraged these rescues. Probably so. Let us await the results of historical research. Meanwhile, an accused person is considered innocent until proven guilty.

This is already quite a long post, but I found a document today that we could use for perspective, even if few are even aware that a conmtroversy exists - about the attitude and actions of Franklin D. Roosevelt as US President with regard to the Holocaust. I quote from the introduction to the document because the arguments pro and con are almost identical to the debate over Pius XII's record.[/DIM

Whether Franklin Roosevelt should have or could have done more to rescue European Jews and to stop Hitler’s killing machine is a question that will likely be debated by historians for decades to come.

Some scholars have criticized President Roosevelt for his approach to refugee issues prior to and during World War II, and he is even accused of having pursued misguided policies and of being indifferent to the Holocaust.

Others insist that such assessments fail to account adequately for... military practicalities that for much of the war limited the Allies’ ability to reach Jews trapped deep behind enemy lines.

In 1942, as details of Hitler’s Final Solution reached the Allies, it was difficult for the public and many government officials to grasp the extent and significance of the Nazis’ systematic, mechanized killing...

On December 17, 1942, the United States joined ten other Allied governments in issuing a solemn public declaration condemning Nazi Germany’s “bestial policy of cold-blooded extermination” of the Jews. The American Congress and the British Parliament stood in silence on that date to mourn what was happening to the Jews and pray for the strength needed to defeat the Nazis.

Roosevelt believed that the surest way to stop the killing of innocent civilians was to defeat Hitler’s Germany as quickly and decisively as possible. Critics say that FDR’s “win the war” approach did not address the possibility that significant numbers of Jews could be rescued.

In January 1944, after learning from Treasury Secretary Henry Morgenthau, Jr. that the State Department was obstructing rescue efforts, Roosevelt established the War Refugee Board to coordinate governmental and private efforts to rescue those who might still be saved. The Board is credited with saving at least 200,000 Jews. Critics argue that if FDR had acted earlier, and more boldly, even more lives could have been saved.

The documents contained in this selection are from the collections of the Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum and are intended to reflect the many sides of this issue. [I am including only the first two citations as examples.]
“I feel that more might have been done but I am also aware that there were many factors in the rescue situation which were simply beyond the Roosevelt Administration’s control. Not the least of these was Berlin’s determination to liquidate the Jews and the great difficulty of assigning to a modern nation-state a humanitarian mission to rescue a foreign minority for which it had no legal responsibility. It is a moral and humanitarian response we seek from the Roosevelt Administration. Such responses are rare in history and practically nonexistent during wartime.”
Henry L. Feingold
The Politics of Rescue:
The Roosevelt Administration and the Holocaust, 1938-1945

“Authenticated information that the Nazis were systematically exterminating European Jewrwas made public in the United States in November 1942. President Roosevelt did nothing about the mass murder for fourteen months, then moved only because he was confronted witpolitical pressures he could not avoid and because his administration stood on the brink of a nasty scandal over its rescue policies. . . . Franklin Roosevelt’s indifference to so momentous ahistorical event as the systematic annihilation of the European Jewry emerges as the worst failure of his presidency."
David S. Wyman
The Abandonment of the Jews: America and the Holocaust (1941-1945)

I think the whole point is that in wartime, and especially in a world war, leaders do what they can do, and they have to operate on priorities. It is easy for anyone to take the moral high ground after the fact, and say "This should have been done and it's an unpardonable/inconceivable mistake/catastrophe not to have done so". Really?

Would anyone who thinks that way have acted differently from Pius XII if they were in his place? A religious leader with no material or diplomatic powers to wield, and yet had to think of saving the Vatican (which the Germans could have easily blown up to smithereens any time), of saving the Catholics in all of German-occupied Europe, of saving as many of those who were persecuted and whose very survival was threatened by the Nazis? Which was more heroic and practical - to try and do all that, or provoke the irrational Nazis into God-knows-what with condemnatory speeches that would be totally counter-productive? No words from anyone could have stopped what the Nazis wanted to do, and FDR was right: The only way to stop them was to defeat them...

Besides, The Second World War did not just kill six million Jews. God did not single out the European Jews for destruction. The total death toll of World War II - about 62-78 million - also includes 25 million Soviets (the USSR was the country that suffered the most war dead by far), and Germany itself lost 5.5 million in military dead alone and as many as 3 million civilians, whereas Poland lost 6 million - just to mention the three nations that suffered the greatest losses. The Nazi death camps were Satanic abominations, but the other war dead cannot be considered 'less worthy' than the Holocaust victims, nor their killings less 'systematic' - they may have been chaotic but no less deliberate as the precise programming of the Final Solution. And if a victim of the siege of Leningrad had written a diary as Anne Frank did and it had been published, the world might be more aware of what it meant to be a Russian at the mercy of the Nazis. As a Filipino, I grew up with the most horrid tales of Japanese brutalities during World War II that one can possibly conceive; no soldiers ever used the bayonet in more brutally unimaginable ways than the Japanese conquering soldiers did.

Why do calamities like world wars and tsunamis happen? The best answer that Catholicism as well as Judaism can give is that God has reasons for what He does, but human understanding cannot begin to understand His reason. It doesn't mean we should not learn any lessons we can, nor does it mean that a believer should lose faith in God because of things we do not understand. Most Jews, I believe, despite the Holocaust, have not lost that faith.

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Vatileaks and how Benedict XVI
is seeking to restore calm

Interview with the OR editor
by Giacomo Galeazzi
Translated from the Italian service of
July 2, 2012

Professor Giovanni Maria Vian, you are the editor of L'Osservatore Romano, as well as a scholar of Christian history. Does the Vatileaks episode show that Joseph Ratzinger is a Pope under attack?
Benedict XVI does not run away from problems but faces them without fear. He is taking the high road. But from the very beginning, his image has been distorted. He was presented to public opinion as the Grand Inquisitor who was also German, a Panzerkardinal, a German shepherd dog.

Then as Pope, he has had to run an obstacle course set up for him such as the misrepresentation of the Regensburg lecture, his controversy over Bishop Williamson, the misunderstanding over his position regarding the use of condoms, and the 'perfect storm' regarding sexual abuse of children by priests.

In the Williamson case, the Pope demonstrated the way he works. He wrote a letter that resembles Paul's letter to the Galatians and was able to reverse the situation. He was not going to let his detractors nullify everything he has done to strengthen relations with the Jews. It amounted to a cry of pain for a representation of facts that was very far from reality.

How has the Pope reacted to Vatileaks?
He has not denied the problem but he has indicated that the episode has been used to describe a situation that is not real but painted in the darkest tones whereas almost all Vatican functionaries are loyal and honestly lend their services to the Pope and to the Holy See. This has also been pointed out by the Deputy Secretary of State, Mons. Becciu.

About the document leaks themselves, the Pope has assigned the determination of responsibility to a distinguished jurist like Cardinal Herranz and two other cardinals - Tomko and Di Giorgi - known for their great prudence.

So the Vatican is proceeding carefully and with scrupulous respect for juridical processes. These are three cardinals in their 80s who can no longer take part in a papal conclave, and so they are absolutely free before God and their own conscience. For this investigation, they answer only to the Pope.

What is the 'purification' being undertaken by Benedict XVI?
It is a renewal of the Church in continuity with the history of Christianity. Joseph Ratzinger has reiterated many times that the worst persecution for the Church is the sin among its own members. The greatest problems for the Church are not the external attacks but rather the human weaknesses of her own members.

That is why the Church must constantly renew herself. With historical and theological finesse, Benedict XVI has said that the strength of the Papacy comes only from the grace of God. And so he evokes the Gospel episode when Christ confirms primacy on Peter, announcing his coming Passion to him, and asking him to be prepared to follow his example.

So are there no plots against the Church?
Certainly, there are attacks from the outside, but if we look back at the 2000 years of Christianity, the situation today is much better even if the Church has to operate in a secularized if not specifically de-Christianized society.

The expression 'de-Christianize' was coined in 18th-century revolutionary France which sought explicitly to undo what had been done over time. They failed.

And are there media campaigns against the Church?
The outlook of the Church is not that of the mass media. It is not so much the media 'campaigning' against the Church as incomprehension, and a reciprocal difficulty in maintaining a reasonable dialog between the Church and the media. [The incomprehension happens to be for the most part intentional and ideologically motivated. Editors, commentators and reporters who do not share the Church's views use their prejudice to systematically block accurate reporting (much less fair) about the Church, starting with the fact that they don't care if the reporters they assign to cover the Vatican even bother to learn the basic facts about the Catholic Church or about the rites that they cover. For the wire services to constantly caption any picture of the Pope wearing a liturgical robe as 'the Pope at Mass' is insulting - they can't even be bothered to identify the event correctly? And yet in the past seven years that I have religiously followed reporting about the Pope, it happens again and again. And that's just the most elementary error they keep committing. If they can't be trusted about that, what can we trust them about? Plots and campaigns need not always be spelled out. They become obvious by repeated acts of omission and commission, with absolutely no sign that there is any intention of correction.]

Is the Church an enemy of modernity?
Absolutely not. The Church distances itself from modernity when modernity amounts to a-critical reason and irrationality. From the start of the modern age, the Church has had to face the recurrent attempt to raise reason to a divinity adverse to Christianity.

In fact, all of Christian tradition has sought the aid of reason. Among so many examples, there are two admirable ones - the theological architecture of Thomas Aquinas and the poetic transposition that Dante made of it in the Divine Comedy.

Modernity in itself has never frightened the Church unless it presents itself as an anti-religious system. Nor has the Church ever been an enemy of true science - science as knowledge not as an elaboration of secular dogma.
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Castel Sant'Angelo exhibit
on the Popes from 1300-2000
is dedicated to Benedict XVI
on the 50th anniversary of Vatican-II

It includes the Velletri Cross associated with Cardinal Ratzinger

by Silvia Guidi
Translated from the 7/2-7/3 issue of

Reality always surpasses reality when it has to do with art masterpieces. Leafing through the «Banca dati delle opere illecitamente sottratte» (Data bank of stolen works) of the Italian Forze d'Ordine, one could well come across the farcical account of their recovery of a Guercino masterpiece - the painting of Santa Margherita di Antiochia, which was stolen in 1976 from the church of San Pietro in Vincoli in Rome. It found under the decorative woodwork of a reputable diagnostic medicine clinic in Bologna.

Or follow the vicissitudes of the famous Crux Veliterna (the Cross of Velletri) - which had been a gift from Frederick II of Sweden to Pope Alexander IV - and in the late 19th century would be associated with then Cardinal Ratzinger.

Reality always surpasses imagination, too, when one looks at the millennia of Roman history, inextricably linked to Christianity and to the Successors of Peter. In the exhbibit, "I Papi della Memoria' inaugurated on June 27 at the Castel Sant'Angelo (which is an Italian National Museum), seven centuries of papal history are shown, starting with the first Holy Year declared in 1300 to the Grand Jubilee Year of 2000.

Until December 8, museumgoers can admire paintings, sculptures, sacred objects, masterpieces of goldsmithery through those centuries which have been loaned by other major national museums, along with artworks recovered by Italian state police (Carabinieri), Finance Guards and local police forces as mentioned earlier.

The Velletri Cross was featured in the poster for the Pope's pastoral visit to Velletri in 2007; a photo for the Museum catalog shows its natural colors best.

The case of Crux Veliterna is emblematic: Stolen from the Velletri diocesan museum in 1983, the 11th-century Cross reliquary was recovered by Italian police in 1996 and returned to the city when Cardinal Ratzinger was the titular bishop of the suburbicarian See of Velletri-Segni.

Among the masterworks on display are a Face of Christ attributed to Fra Angelico, the portrait of Clement VII by Sebastiano del Piombo (found on the cover of the exhibit catalog), the portrait of Sixtus VI by Titian, a reliquary chalice by Benvenuto Cellini, and Donatello's famous reliquary bust of San Rossore, which was recovered by the Finance Guard in the 1970s.


I cannot resist posting this photo from my posts on Benedict XVI's visit to Velletri in 2007 because it's timely in a way.
It shows Cardinal Ratzinger when, in 2001, he marked the 50th anniversary of his ordination as a priest in Velletri -
which in turn marked the anniversary concretely by inlaying his cardinal's coat of arms on the cathedral floor. In 2007,
Benedict XVI made the decision to situate in Velletri a bronze column depicting his mission as Pope and various symbols
associated with his life as a man of God. The column was a gift to him on his 80th birthday by 100 towns and cities of
Bavaria. It is a 'twin' of the first Benedict column erected in front of his birthplace in Marktl and inaugurated by him
when he visited Bavaria in September 2006.

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So sorry, but I just realized that I did not post anything on Mons. Mueller's appointment to the CDF yesterday other than the announcement itself. I was waiting to find an English-language article that would be fair and not emphasize the 'controversial' items in his biodata that the MSM have been fixated upon in recent months since it became clear that Benedict XVI was going to name him to the CDF. I still have not found one - though followers of John Allen may have read his article about it already.
Over the years, I have posted photos and stories about Mons. Mueller everytime he came to see the Pope and whenever he has made announcements that have to do with the Vatican and the Pope.

For the record, I am posting the AFP story on his CDF nomination today, and will supplement it later with an interview given by Sandro Magister who presents Mons. Mueller in the context of his relationship with Benedict XVI and the latter's esteem for him. This, out of a flood of commentary and analysis in the Italian media... What no one seems to mention is that whatever they may think of Mons. Mueller's theology, they cannot know it better than the Pope does! And more importantly, does anyone really doubt that the Pope himself will always be the last and definitive word on all things doctrinal in the Church, as he is by his duty as Pope, as well as by his own long service as the guardian of Catholic orthodoxy in John Paul II's Pontificate? As God would have it, Joseph Ratzinger has had to be his own Ratzinger in every way - there is no competent right-hand man nor better theologian alongside him as Blessed JPII had in him.

Pope's German friend
to guard Vatican orthodoxy


Left, Cardinal Ratzinger was among those who consecrated Mueller bishop of Regensburg in November 2002; right, Mueller in Regensburg Cathedral last Saturday when he ordained five deacons as priests. He left thereafter for Rome, where he was when the Vatican made the announcement Monday.

VATICAN CITY,July 2 (AFP) - Pope Benedict XVI on Monday appointed German archbishop Ludwig Müller, a conservative theologian with liberal leanings, to head up the Vatican's powerful orthodoxy watchdog.

The 64-year-old will replace American Cardinal William Levada, who retires from the helm of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith, after seven years as enforcer of Catholic doctrine. It is a position previously held by the pope himself, as Joseph Ratzinger.

Müller, the archbishop of Regensburg in southern Germany, has a reputation as a defender of Catholic orthodoxy and has been criticised by German groups clamouring for change, such as Die Kirche von unten (The Church from Below).

A personal friend of the German-born Pope, who charged him with publishing his writings, Müller is however also known for his long-standing support for Gustavo Gutierrez, founder of the socialist Liberation theology movement.

His appointment was greeted with apprehension by the grassroots organisation Wir Sind Kirche (We are Church), which said Müller "has been very reserved, hostile" towards fundamentalists in his diocese whose vision of the Church differs.

"A key issue will be to see if his long friendship with the South American liberation theologists will lead to a re-evaluation of that theory, which Ratzinger has fought against down the years," the group said.

[Too much has been made by the Pope's critics of Mueller's friendship with Gutierrez = so they are friends, what's wrong with that? - and the same critics also make the blanket claim that Cardinal Ratzinger condemned liberation theology in toto. Obviously, they have never bothered to read the statements on LT issued by the CDF at the time. What the Church objects to is not liberation theology per se, whose primary objective is for the Church to exercise a 'preferential option for the poor' - which has been part of Church practice since the first Christian community in Jerusalem. What was objectionable about LT as practised in Latin American in the 1980s (and survives in some form today), mainly with the intellectual influence of liberal German and Dutch theologians, was that it had been made into a Marxist ideology rather than Christian teaching, diminishing the figure of Christ to a social and political propagandist rather than the Son of God, and interpreting the work of the Church to be primarily political and social rather than spiritual.]

His fierce reputation as a conservative, alongside his close friendship with Gutierrez reflects a common contradiction in the Vatican hierarchy of openness in some quarters countered by an unshakable hard-line stance on Church morals.

Müller, who travels to Peru almost every year to see Gutierrez, defended liberation theology - which champions the poor - in 2008, when he was awarded an honorary doctorate by the Pontifical Catholic University of Peru (PUCP).

But the Vatican has long criticised the movement, seen by some as a fusion between Christianity and Marxism. The Holy See this year also fell out with the university, insisting it come into line with Lima's conservative archbishop.

The Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith plays a key role in the Vatican's governing body, holding the diverse theological strains within the global Catholic Church to account.

Müller is expected to assume the post in the next few days when Levada retires and will have to take up the reins on a host of unfinished affairs, including the clerical sex abuse scandal which has engulfed the Church.

The watchdog cracks down on dissident factions, from rebellious priests challenging the Vatican's approach to priest celibacy, homosexuality and women in the Church, to feminist nuns in the United States.

The most informative biography available in English on the new CDF Prefect can be found on the website of the Diocese of Regensburg.

And of course, Hans Kueng has reacted, not that we care, and said the Pope has not learnt a lesson at all from Vatileaks, and has now made a 'catastrophic decision in naming Mueller whom Kueng said is "unloved as a bishop, irrelevant as a theologian, and a burden to ecumenism". What does he care who leads the CDF, since he is a one-man 'church' unto himself who has made himself supremely 'unloved, irrelevant and a burden' to the Catholic Church?

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