Rorate Caeli

Actual confessionals mean more actual confessions

The past few years have seen several parishes around the world restore things like altar rails, high altars, statues, centrally-located tabernacles and other items that used to be commonplace in Catholic churches.

One area, however, that has been largely neglected is restoring (or constructing) confessionals to the naves or transepts of churches.  Even so-called conservative churches have accepted the "reconciliation room" as the standard so long as there is a kneeler and screen as an option inside the office-like room.

Compare the typical parish "reconciliation room" with one of the many confessionals in Saint Peter's Basilica:

Recently a novus ordo parish (pray it will offer the TLM soon) discovered more people go to confession when there is a visible confessional.

An Old-School Confessional Revives Saying "I'm Sorry"

By Ann Marie Somma
Religion News Service

DERBY, Conn. (RNS) The Rev. Janusz Kukulka can't say for sure that his parishioners are sinning more, but they sure are lining up at the new confessional booth to tell him about it.

For years, Kukulka, was content with absolving sins in a private room marked by an exit sign to the right of the altar St. Mary the Immaculate Conception Catholic Church.

But something happened during Lent this year. For the first time, Kukulka really noticed the two confessionals missing from the rear of his church. They'd been gone for four decades, ripped out during the 1970s to make room for air conditioning units during a renovation inspired by the Second Vatican Council.

They must have been a thing of beauty, Kukulka thought. He imagined their dark oak paneled doors and arched moldings to match the Gothic architecture of the church designed by renowned 19th-century architect Patrick Keely.

Their absence was striking, especially when the Archdiocese of Hartford had asked parishes to extend their confession hours during Lent, part of a public relations campaign to get Catholics to return to the sacrament of reconciliation.

So, one Sunday Kukulka announced his desire to the congregation. "I told them I wanted a visible confessional," he said.

He got one within a week.

Has anything changed -- or will change soon -- for the better?

Translated and adapted by Rorate's Italian Correspondent, Francesca Romana:

Some Thoughts from Don Divo Barsotti on Church Problems of the Magisterium

26th January 1989

For decades the Church has been talking about peace and can no longer assure it: hell is no longer mentioned and humanity is drowning without a gurgle. Sin is not mentioned and error is not denounced.

What has the Magisterium been reduced to?  The Church has never spoken as much as She has in the past years, but never have Her words been so bereft of power.

“In My Name they will cast out demons…”.  How is it possible to cast them out if there is no longer the belief in their presence?  And the demons have overrun the earth.

Television, drugs, abortion, falsehood, but most of all - the refusal of God: darkness has descended upon the earth. Theologians dispute the Pope. Perhaps the crisis will not be overcome until, in true humility, the bishops  want to recognize the presumption that has inspired and guided them these past decades, most of all, during the Council itself, and afterwards.

They, it is certain, remain the “doctores fidei”, but it is exactly this that is their sin: they did not want to define the truth, they did not want to condemn error and they expected “to renew” the Church, almost as if “their” Council could be the new foundation of everything.

From the volume: “Fissi gli occhi nel sole” (Fix your eyes on the sun) Ed. Messaggero, Padova. (Source: L’Eco dell’Eremo Santuario Beata Vergine del Soccorso, Minucciano (Lu) no.62, December 2012)

German Archbishop calls for women deacons, Communion for divorced Catholics, and on and on

From The Local:


Women Catholic deacons 'no longer taboo'

Germany's top Roman Catholic has called for women to be allowed to become deacons, which would enable them to perform baptisms and marriages outside of mass - a novelty for Catholic women. 

Archbishop of Freiburg Robert Zollitsch, who chairs the German Bishops' Conference, called for the change at the end of a four-day meeting to discuss possible reforms. 

The conference, the first of its kind, invited 300 Roman Catholic experts to propose reforms. Zollitsch's comments echo year-long calls from the Central Committee of German Catholics to permit women to become deacons. On Sunday, Zollitsch said that aim was no longer a 'taboo.'

Zollitsch said the Catholic Church could only regain credibility and strength by committing to reform. He described an "atmosphere of openness and freedom" at the conference. ...

Another proposal to emerge from the conference was to extend the rights of remarried divorcees to sit on church bodies such as parish councils. Conference members also discussed the possibility of granting them the right to receive Holy Communion and attend confession. ...

The position of divorcees remains highly controversial within the Church.  The conference also touched on the difficulty, particularly in eastern Germany, of recruiting people to work for Catholic institutions such as hospitals and kindergarten. At present the Church can only employ Roman Catholics. However Zollitsch called for work permits to be extended to non-Catholics and to those with "different lifestyles." This would technically apply to homosexual people too. However Church labour reforms are unlikely to be introduced in the next three years. ...

    Fr. Lombardi, Holy See spokesman, defends legal recognition of non-marital "unions" of two persons?

    Father Federico Lombardi, SJ, spokesman of the Holy See, to journalists assembled at the headquarters of the Association of the Foreign Press in Rome, on April 24:

    "[I]t is a good thing for the child to know that he has a father and a mother"; [it must be] "made clear that matrimony between a man and a woman is a specific and fundamental institution in the history of mankind. This does not prevent that other forms of union between two persons may be recognized".

    (Source: Rossa PorporaH/T: Secretum meum mihi, on our sidebar).

    An argument over numbers: how does the 1950s compare with today?

    Update: Catholic Voices have apologised for their earlier mistake: all credit to them. They are, however, still behind the curve, since they have subjected the first available set of reliable data, which had gaps in it, to another kind of statistical analysis, a ten-year moving average. I'd like to see this re-done with the full set of data for the 1950s, which I provide. However I also think it is a largely meaningless exercise to debate whether we should talk of a peak in 1937 or in 1956, because of the effect of the second world war.

    Another update: Catholic Voices latest post does, however, still contain serious problems.

    Over here in England and Wales there has been a lively debate following the claim that, as one website put it in a headline,

    The website in question is a blog run by 'Catholic Voices', a group dedicated to 'Putting the Church's case in the public square', and supported by a number of the English Catholic 'great and good'.

    The basis of the claim was a statistical summary on the National Office for Vocation (NOV) website of ordinations to the secular priesthood from the 1930s onwards, which said that there were an average of 6 ordinations a year for the 1930s, 18 year in the 1940s, and 45 a year in the 1950s. This year the  NOV, which is an official organ of the Bishops' Conference of England and Wales, expects there to be 41 ordinations to the secular clergy; there should be another 11 ordinations of former Anglican clergy for the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham. 41+11=52; 52 is more than 45, so here's your headline.

    Ignoring the fact that these figures for the 1930s, 40s, and 50s don't make any kind of sense, Catholic Voices posted their triumphalistic post about how we are (finally?) enjoying a new springtime in the Church. Not content with that, Austen Ivereigh, one of Catholic Voices' three 'coordinators' (in an organisation otherwise dominated by young Catholics who, perhaps, didn't know any better) hit back on Twitter at those wondering if these figures for the mid 20th Century could possibly be accurate. Such people were 'traddies', 'pessimists', and (in another tweet) 'gloom-mongers'.
    In other words, while presenting a good-news story about the Church, at least some senior Catholic Voices wanted to use it to settle some scores with Faithful Catholics they don't happen to like: those dreadful 'traddies'.

    Doubts about the figures, summarised on my blog, led the NOV, very sensibly, quietly to remove them from their website, but apart from adding a disclaimer about the numbers for the 1930s, Catholic Voices has not seen fit to remove or change their original post.

    The inerrant word of God does not "evolve"

    From the Catholic News Service:

    Human evolution: Science, faith explore the mysterious emergence of man

    VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Evolutionary science is still grappling with understanding how the human species, with its unique capacities for language, culture, abstract reasoning and spirituality, may have emerged from a pre-ape ancestor. 

    While the Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches that God, "in a plan of sheer goodness freely created man to make him share in his own blessed life," the church still considers the scientific investigation of the origins of humanity to be a valuable contribution to human knowledge.

    In its continuing dialogue with world-renowned scientific experts, the Pontifical Academy of Sciences brought together evolutionary biologists, paleoanthropologists, archaeologists, neuroscientists, theologians and philosophers to discuss the major physical and cultural changes that occurred during mankind's evolution. ...

    "Philosophy and theology should ask themselves how they can find a meeting point with and become enriched by the naturalist viewpoint of science, starting from the assumption that the human being is already a speaking, questioning being," he added.

    How that speaking, questioning being emerged from a 5 million-year-long lineage of other primates is still a matter of much debate.

    It is?

    Queue this traditional, learned priest -- who is also a trained scientist. Give them a listen, and discuss:

    The real St. Francis

    From the Catholic Encyclopedia: 

    Francis's lightsomeness had its source in that entire surrender of everything present and passing, in which he had found the interior liberty of the children of God; it drew its strength from his intimate union with Jesus in the Holy Communion. 

    The mystery of the Holy Eucharist, being an extension of the Passion, held a preponderant place in the life of Francis, and he had nothing more at heart than all that concerned the cultus of the Blessed Sacrament. 

    Hence we not only hear of Francis conjuring the clergy to show befitting respect for everything connected with the Sacrifice of the Mass, but we also see him sweeping out poor churches, questing sacred vessels for them, and providing them with altar-breads made by himself. 

    So great, indeed, was Francis's reverence for the priesthood, because of its relation to the Adorable Sacrament, that in his humility he never dared to aspire to that dignity.

    Man Refused (again) Hand Communion at Papal Mass

    H/T Kneeling Catholic:

    I keep waiting for one of Pope Francis' balloon-masses..... but instead I keep seeing Masses with lots of Latin and only kneeling people receiving Holy Communion from the Holy Father! ...

    @ 1hour 57min 39 sec you can see once again--as last week-- someone being reminded to receive Holy Communion on the tongue... [Rorate note: even stronger, he was denied in the hand, not just reminded, a good sign]

    To be sure, there are the 'crowd-pleasing-priests' eg @ 1hour 57min 08sec, who distribute Holy Communion any-old-way, but it is clear that there is a standing directive to distribute on the tongue which certain priests take it upon themselves to contravene. ... 

    Holy See Refutes News Reports on Communion for "Remarried-Divorced"

    This clears it up: there is no document being prepared.

     From Zenit:

    A recent news report stating that the Pontifical Council for the Family is working on a document on distributing Communion to divorced people who have sought to re-marry prompted a denial from the Holy See.

    An article by an Italian news agency claimed that Pope Francis appointed Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, president of the Pontifical Council for the Family, to draft a document to find “a solution” for those who are "remarried divorced persons" to receive Communion. The report also claimed that the Holy Father’s move was prompted by requests from “many Italian bishops.”

    The report spread throughout various news and media agencies in the country.

    In a statement released by the Holy See Press Office, the Pontifical Council for the Family denied the bogus reports.

    “The Pontifical Council for the Family declares that there is no basis to the news, circulated by some press agencies, that a document on distributing Communion to remarried divorced persons is being prepared,” the communique stated.

    Original article here.

    Anniversary of an anniversary

    So much has happened in the last two months that it may be easy to forget some of the major traditional liturgical events in recent years.  To illustrate -- and maybe boost our spirits -- let us take a look back to three years ago on this date.

    Today is the eighth anniversary of the installation (formerly coronation) of Pope Benedict XVI.  On 24 April 2010, the fifth anniversary was commemorated with one of the largest traditional Latin Masses in the world in over four decades, offered at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C. 

    His Excellency Edward James Slattery, the bishop of Tulsa, Oklahoma, was the celebrant of the traditional Latin Solemn High Pontifical Mass for the Anniversary of the Coronation of the Supreme Pontiff.  Approximately 100 priests, brothers and seminarians filled the sanctuary, some serving as sacred ministers, some assisting in choir and some priests helping with the distribution of communion to the 3,500 people in the congregation.  Father Gregory Pendergraft, FSSP, spent weeks -- if not months -- with preparations as the Master of Ceremonies, supported by many excellent clergy.  The Pontifical High Mass from the Throne was offered in the presence of William Cardinal Baum, retired archbishop of Washington, D.C..

    The basilica shrine’s choir, under the direction of Dr. Peter Latona, sang Palestrina’s “Missa ‘Tu es Petrus’” as the ordinary setting of the Mass, with its corresponding motet, as well as Joao Lourenco Rebelo’s “Panis angelicus,” Thomas Tallis’ “O sacrum convivium” and Jean Lheritier’s beautiful paschal piece, “Surrexit pastor bonus.”  A group of 16 men mostly from Saint Mary's church in Washington, under the direction of composer and conductor Richard Rice, comprised the Canticum Novum Schola of Greater Washington to sing the complete propers of the Mass in Gregorian chant, as well as the responses (including the pontifical blessing), dismissal and a prayer for Benedict – “Oremus pro pontifice.”  The mighty recessional by Dr. Latona on the pipe organ was J.S. Bach’s “Prelude and Fugue in A Minor.” 

    The Paulus Institute -- which organized and funded the Mass -- produced a montage of photos, viewable here and a sample of its complete video here. The complete video is also available:

    News from the Institute of the Good Shepherd (IBP)

    As reported by various French Traditionalist Catholic blogs, the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei has appointed Dom Antoine Forgeot OSB, Abbot Emeritus of Fontgombault, as "Commissioner Plenipotentiary"  of the Holy See for the Institute of the Good Shepherd, and therefore its Superior, for a period of six months. The appointment was made in the aftermath of continuing dissensions within the IBP over last year's elections to the position of Superior General of the same institute. Apparently, one of the responsibilities of Dom Antoine will be the holding of new elections for that position. 

    Dom Antoine Forgeot was the Abbot of Fontgombault from 1971 to 2011.

    (For the background, see Rorate's post last year: Sore loser.)

    Raising children outside the Church is now "pastoral"

    By Catholic News Service

    LONDON (CNS) -- Church leaders have told the British government that members of the royal family who marry Catholics under recently passed legislation will not be obliged to bring up their children in the Catholic faith.

    Lord Wallace of Tankerness, speaking on behalf of the government, said he had been assured personally by Msgr. Marcus Stock, general secretary of the Bishops' Conference of England and Wales, that the canonical requirement of Catholics to raise their children in the faith was not always binding. 

    "I have the specific consent of Msgr. Stock to say that he was speaking on behalf of Archbishop (Vincent) Nichols (of Westminster) as president of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of England and Wales and can inform the House that the view taken by the Catholic Church in England and Wales is that, in the instance of mixed marriages, the approach of the Catholic Church is pastoral," he said.

    "It will always look to provide guidance that supports and strengthens the unity and indissolubility of the marriage," Lord Wallace said.

    "In this context the Catholic Church expects Catholic spouses to sincerely undertake to do all that they can to raise children in the Catholic Church," he continued. "Where it has not been possible for the child of a mixed marriage to be brought up as a Catholic, the Catholic parent does not fall subject to the censure of canon law."

    The remarks were made during the third reading debate of the Succession to the Crown Bill in the House of Lords April 22.

    For the first time in more than 300 years, legislation would allow British monarchs to marry Catholics. The sections of the 1701 Act of Settlement that insist on the sovereign being a member of the Church of England will, however, remain in place.

    The bill will also end the rule of male primogeniture and permit female first-borns to have the right of succession over any young brothers.

    The bill means that if the child of Prince William and the Duchess of Cambridge, due in July, is a girl, she will have the right to rule ahead of any younger brothers -- and will also be free to marry a Catholic.

    Some members of the House of Lords were deeply concerned that the Code of Canon Law of the Catholic Church compelled a Catholic spouse to raise his or her offspring as Catholics.

    Canon 1125 requires that in a mixed marriage the Catholic "is to make a sincere promise to do all in his or her power in order that all the children be baptized and brought up in the Catholic Church."

    Lord Cormack attempted to introduce an amendment April 22 to put beyond doubt the requirement that the sovereign be a Protestant and in communion with the Church of England. This was withdrawn after Lord Wallace revealed the assurances of the Catholic hierarchy.

    The bill passed third reading, meaning it has passed through both Houses of Parliament and requires only Royal Assent before it becomes law later this year.

    For the record: "It is not possible to find Jesus outside the Church"

    The following is Vatican Radio's translation of today's homily by Pope Francis:

    I thank His Eminence, the Cardinal Dean, for his words: thank you very much, Your Eminence, thank you.

    I also thank all of you who wanted to come today: Thank you. Because I feel welcomed by you. Thank you. I feel good with you, and I like that.

    The [first] reading today makes me think that the missionary expansion of the Church began precisely at a time of persecution, and these Christians went as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus and Antioch, and proclaimed the Word. They had this apostolic fervor within them, and that is how the faith spread! Some, people of Cyprus and Cyrene - not these, but others who had become Christians - went to Antioch and began to speak to the Greeks too. It was a further step. And this is how the Church moved forward. Whose was this initiative to speak to the Greeks? This was not clear to anyone but the Jews. But ... it was the Holy Spirit, the One who prompted them ever forward ... But some in Jerusalem, when they heard this, became 'nervous and sent Barnabas on an "apostolic visitation": perhaps, with a little sense of humor we could say that this was the theological beginning of the Doctrine of the Faith: this apostolic visit by Barnabas. He saw, and he saw that things were going well. 

    And so the Church was a Mother, the Mother of more children, of many children. It became more and more of a Mother. A Mother who gives us the faith, a Mother who gives us an identity. But the Christian identity is not an identity card: Christian identity is belonging to the Church, because all of these belonged to the Church, the Mother Church. Because it is not possible to find Jesus outside the Church. The great Paul VI said: "Wanting to live with Jesus without the Church, following Jesus outside of the Church, loving Jesus without the Church is an absurd dichotomy." And the Mother Church that gives us Jesus gives us our identity that is not only a seal, it is a belonging. Identity means belonging. This belonging to the Church is beautiful.

    And the third idea comes to my mind - the first was the explosion of missionary activity; the second, the Mother Church - and the third, that when Barnabas saw that crowd - the text says: " And a large number of people was added to the Lord" - when he saw those crowds, he experienced joy. " When he arrived and saw the grace of God, he rejoiced ": his is the joy of the evangelizer. It was, as Paul VI said, "the sweet and comforting joy of evangelizing." And this joy begins with a persecution, with great sadness, and ends with joy. And so the Church goes forward, as one Saint says - I do not remember which one, here - "amid the persecutions of the world and the consolations of the Lord." And thus is the life of the Church. If we want to travel a little along the road of worldliness, negotiating with the world - as did the Maccabees, who were tempted, at that time - we will never have the consolation of the Lord. And if we seek only consolation, it will be a superficial consolation, not that of the Lord: a human consolation. The Church's journey always takes place between the Cross and the Resurrection, amid the persecutions and the consolations of the Lord. And this is the path: those who go down this road are not mistaken. 

    Let us think today about the missionary activity of the Church: these [people] came out of themselves to go forth. Even those who had the courage to proclaim Jesus to the Greeks, an almost scandalous thing at that time. Think of this Mother Church that grows, grows with new children to whom She gives the identity of the faith, because you cannot believe in Jesus without the Church. Jesus Himself says in the Gospel: " But you do not believe, because you are not among my sheep." If we are not "sheep of Jesus," faith does not some to us. It is a rosewater faith, a faith without substance. And let us think of the consolation that Barnabas felt, which is "the sweet and comforting joy of evangelizing." And let us ask the Lord for this "parresia", this apostolic fervor that impels us to move forward, as brothers, all of us forward! Forward, bringing the name of Jesus in the bosom of Holy Mother Church, and, as St. Ignatius said, "hierarchical and Catholic." So be it. 

    Priestly celibacy and its well-connected opponents

    "For the moment" celibacy for Latin-rite priests is the law.  But as a new Associated Press story shows, lobbyists for the left are back in positions of influence after an eight year hiatus.

    Pope's friend asks him to lift celibacy rule for priests
    She's Francis' close friend and she's sure he'll lift celibacy mandate for priests

    BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (AP) — She uses a wheelchair and carries the weight of her 87 years, but Clelia Luro feels powerful enough to make the Roman Catholic Church pay attention to her campaign to end priestly celibacy.

    This woman, whose romance with a bishop and eventual marriage became a major scandal in the 1960s, is such a close friend with Pope Francis that he called her every Sunday when he was Argentina’s leading cardinal.

    Luro’s convinced that he will eventually lead the global church to end mandatory priestly celibacy, a requirement she says “the world no longer understands.” She believes this could resolve a global shortage of priests, and persuade many Catholics who are no longer practicing to recommit themselves to the church.

    “I think that in time priestly celibacy will become optional,” Luro said in an interview with The Associated Press in her home in Buenos Aires, after sending an open letter to the pope stating her case. “I’m sure that Francis will suggest it.”

    Masses, prayers ... and patience

    Nothing with New Catholic's mother has changed: she remains, unfortunately, in critical condition.  NC reports that it is clearly evident Masses have more than once brought her back from the brink. So please our dear priest readers offer any Masses you can for her recovery. Our dear lay readers, of course, please continue to pray for her.

    Also, another call for patience. With NC out, posts may be less frequent. It may take longer for your comments to appear. And, yes, to the horror of some who are quick to criticize, a less-than-charitable comment or two may sneak through the hundreds we moderate every day. Please try to forgive us in advance.

    You may send news to any of the contributors listed on the right, including me (although I will not be posting much for the next couple of days as work takes me completely away from you).

    God bless you all!

    While we're on the topic ...

    The news that the priest principal of a Jesuit high school in New York has embraced two homosexual youths' attendance at his junior prom as a "couple" is not new news. It's been out for a couple of weeks. However, an alumnus of the high school has sent Rorate a copy of the letter he wrote to Father Edward Salmon, president of McQuaid Jesuit High School, in protest:


    Father Salmon:

    I recently learned of your decision to allow two male students to attend the Junior Prom as a couple. I do not normally consider it my place to correct ministers of the Church. You have an authority which I do not and it is incumbent upon you, within reason, to understand the nature and duties of your ministry with regard to the moral law. However, it would be a sin of omission on my part, as an alumnus, a practicing catholic, and a father, to remain silent in the presence of so clear and public an act which undermines the faith of the Church and thereby endangers the souls of her children entrusted to your care.

    Pope to give First Holy Communion at Roman church

    According to a report, Pope Francis will give First Holy Communion to 44 children at the parish of St. Elizabeth and Zechariah in Rome on May 26. The Holy Father apparently called the pastor of the church personally to offer his services.

    In need of a free Canon lawyer? Visit this new site

    Often, Rorate receives emails, especially from priests, in need of a Canon lawyer. Now, a new site has launched, which offers free services: everything from answering simple questions to full-on representation. Again, all services large and small are being offered, gratis.

    From the founder

    As a longtime follower of Rorate Caeli, I wanted to share a recent initiative which I believe may be of interest to your readers. 

    In collaboration with two other canon lawyers, I recently launched the Canon Law Centre, an apostolate dedicated to providing professional canonical services free of charge to those who need it. Our website can be accessed here: 

    Our services range from answering simple questions related to ecclesiastical discipline to representing individuals or groups in formal administrative or judicial processes in the Church. We are especially interested in assisting those who have been met with opposition to their legitimate requests to have the traditional liturgy celebrated in their dioceses, etc.

    Finally, if I may ask for your prayers for our apostolate at this formative stage of its existence, your generosity in this regard would be most appreciated. 

    Thanks for your time and in advance for your prayers as we undertake this important work for the renewal of the sacred liturgy and for the Church.

    Maybe next time ... but you can't hold me to it!

    From the Associated Press:

    VATICAN CITY (AP) -- The global economic crisis is hitting Vatican employees in their cassock pockets.

    The Vatican said Thursday that Pope Francis, known for his frugal ways, decided Vatican employees won't be getting the bonus that traditionally comes with the election of a new pope.

    In the past, the Vatican's 4,500-plus workers - both religious and lay - would get an extra little something upon the death of one pope and another upon the election of his successor: In 2005, the total reportedly came to 1,500 euros (nearly $2,000) apiece.

    Vatican spokesman the Rev. Federico Lombardi said that given tough economic times - the Vatican posted a 15 million-euro deficit in 2011 - "it didn't seem possible or appropriate to burden the Vatican's budget with a considerable, unforeseen extra expense."

    A witty pope

    From the first words of the letter sent by the new Pope to the Argentine bishops present at the 105th plenary assembly of their national Episcopal Conference:

    I send these greeting lines, also to excuse myself for not being able to be present, due to "commitments undertaken recently" (does this sound good?) [sic] I am spiritually close to you, and I beg the Lord that he main join you strongly on these days.

    [Source: Conferencia Episcopal Argentina, Apr. 17, 2013. Tip: Elisabetta Piqué on Twitter]

    Cardinal Pell explains the new Papal Consultation Group

    In an exclusive interview to the USCCB's Catholic News Service, the Archbishop of Sydney, Cardinal Pell, explains the new group of Super-Cardinals and its relationship with the notion of "collegiality".

    Just to recall: the word "collegiality" is not mentioned in a single document of the Second Vatican Council, even if the concept might arguably be found in the endless references to the College (of Apostles, of Bishops) and its relationship with the Successor of Peter in the Constitution on the Church (Lumen Gentium) - to use a word loved by the new Pope, probably the most "self-referential" document in the history of the Church -; and, most importantly, in the Nota that accompanies it. 

    [Tip and source: CNS]

    Please, Holy See communication officials, make up your minds about the Pope's weekday sermons!

    Either the Holy See (the press office? those responsible for archiving the original texts of the Supreme Pontiff? etc) considers the weekday homilies of the current Bishop of Rome unworthy of magisterial qualities - in which case their content should not be made available at all, much less by some chosen excerpts published by Vatican Radio; or they should be accepted in their full quality as words of the Successor of Saint Peter, and their full transcripts should be made available in L'Osservatore Romano and in the Vatican website. We even suggest a new category in the page of Franciscus PP. (in English), "Omelie quotidiane" ("Weekday Homilies"), as a separate category from the more formal "Omelie"(Homilies).

    We choose not to believe that the full transcripts are being saved only for for-profit publication by the Libreria Editrice Vaticana (LEV) and authorized publishing houses in other languages!

    Pope Again Mentions the Devil

    * We've got one who always defends us, who defends us from the devil's snares, defends us from ourselves, from our sins! *
    Vatican City, 17 April 2013 (VIS) – The meaning of the Ascension, the event culminating Jesus' earthly life, was the central theme of Pope Francis' catechesis during the Wednesday general audience, celebrated in St. Peter's Square and attended by over 50,000 people. 

    “In the Creed,” noted the pontiff, “we confess our faith in Christ who 'ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father'. … What does this mean for our lives? While he 'ascends' to [Jerusalem], where his 'exodus' from this life will take place, Jesus already sees the goal, Heaven, but he knows well that the path that will take him back to the Father's glory passes through the Cross, through obedience to the divine plan of love for humanity. … We also must be clear, in our Christian lives, that entering into God's glory demands daily fidelity to his will, even when it requires sacrifice, when it sometimes requires us to change our plans.”

    God is merciful for a season, then executes judgment, and punishes

    Gerbrand van den Eeckhout
    The Sacrifice of Jeroboam to the idol in Bethel

    Lord, thou hast often pardoned this people; thou hast threatened it with destruction by earthquake, by pestilence, in neighboring countries; by the infirmities and death of its own citizens; but thou hast afterwards taken pity on them: "Thou hast been favourable to the nation, O Lord, thou hast been favourable to the nation; hast thou been glorified?"

    Thou hast pardoned us, thou hast dealt mercifully with us; what hast thou received in return? Have thy people abandoned their sins? Have they changed their lives? No, they have gone on from bad to worse; that momentary fear passed, they have begun afresh to offend thee and provoke thy wrath.

    But my brethren, perhaps you imagine that God will always wait, always pardon, and never punish? No; God is merciful for a season, God is merciful for a season, then executes judgment, and punishes.

    We must persuade ourselves that God cannot do otherwise than hate sin, he is holiness itself, and therefore cannot but hate that monster, his enemy, whose malice is altogether opposed to the perfection of God. And if God hates sin, he must necessarily hate the sinner who makes league with sin, "But to God the wicked and his wickedness are hateful alike."—Wisdom xiv, 9.

    O God, with what an expression of grief, and with what reason dost thou not complain of those who despise thee, to take part with thine enemy. "Hear, o ye Heavens, and give ear, o earth, for the Lord hath spoken; I have brought up children, and exalted them; but they have despised me."—Isa. i, 2. Hear, o ye Heavens, he says, and give ear, o earth, witness the ingratitude with which I am treated by men. I have brought them up, and exalted them as my children, and they have repaid me with contempt and outrage."

    "The ox knoweth his owner, and the ass his master's crib: but Israel hath not known me, they are gone away backwards."—Isa. i. 3, 4. The beast of the field, the ox and the ass, continues the Lord, know their master, and are grateful to him, but my children have not known me, and have turned their back upon me. But how is this ? "Beneficia etiam ferae sentiunt," says Seneca; the very brutes are grateful to their benefactors; see that dog how he serves and obeys, and is faithful to his master, who feeds him; even the wild beasts, the tiger and the lion are grateful to those who feed them.

    And God, my brethren, who, till now has provided us with everything, who has given us food and clothing: and what else? Who has kept us in existence up to the moment when we offended him: how have we treated him? how do we purpose to act in future? Do we not think to live on as we have been living? Do we not perhaps think that there is no punishment, no hell for us? But harken and know that as the Lord cannot but hate sin, because he is holy, so he cannot but chastise it when the sinner is obstinate, because he is just.

    Saint Alphonsus Maria de Liguori
    Nine sermons to be made in times of affliction (Sermon III)


    St. Peter's Seminary, Cardross (Scotland), private chapel
    Built, 1961-1966; Seminary closed, 1980.

    We offer this mass for him [Benedict XVI], so that the Lord be with him, confort him, and give him great consolation. ...

    The Council was a beautiful work of the Holy Spirit. Think of Pope John: he looked like a good parish priest, and he was obedient to the Holy Spirit, and he did that. But, after 50 years, have we done everything that the Holy Spirit told us in the Council? In the continuity of the growth of the Church that the Council was? No. We celebrate this anniversary, we make a monument, but do not bother. We do not want to change. And there is more: there are calls [voci, also 'voices'] wanting to move back. This is called being stubborn, this is called wanting to tame the Holy Spirit, this is called becoming fools and slow of heart.
    Daily mass at Domus Sanctae Marthae - homily
    April 16, 2013

    [Source: Radio Vaticana, in Italiano]

    Here come the Vestals!

    Oops, sorry, our mistake. It is the entrance procession at the closing mass (Sunday, Apr. 14, 2013) of the retreat of the Bishops taking part in the 51st General Assembly of the Brazilian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CNBB), in the Basilica of the National Shrine of Our Lady, in Aparecida, Brazil.

    (Courtesy of our friends at Fratres in Unum.)

    Ad multos annos!
    Going forward with certainty

    16. Apr. MCMXXVII

    On the same day I was born, thanks to my parent’s concern, I was also reborn through water and the Holy Spirit ... . First, there is the gift of life that my parents gave me in very difficult times, and for which I thank them. But it cannot be taken for granted that human life in itself is a gift. Can it really be a beautiful gift? Do we know what will befall man in the dark days ahead — or in the brighter days that could come? Can we foresee to what troubles, what terrible events he might be exposed? Is it right to simply give life like this? Is it responsible or too uncertain? It is a problematic gift, if it is left to itself. Biological life is in itself a gift, but it is surrounded by a great question. It becomes a true gift only if, along with it, we are given a promise that is stronger than any evil that could threaten us, if it is immersed in a power that ensures that it is good to be human, that there will be good for this person no matter what the future brings. Thus, with birth is associated rebirth, the certitude that, truly, it is good to be alive, because the promise is stronger than evil. This is the meaning of rebirth by water and the Holy Spirit: to be immersed in the promise that only God can make — it is good that you exist, and you can be certain of that whatever comes. With this assurance I was able to live, reborn by water and the Holy Spirit. Nicodemus asks the Lord: “How can an old man possibly be reborn?”. Now, rebirth is given to us in Baptism, but we must continually grow in it, we must always let ourselves be immersed by God in his promise, in order to be truly reborn in the great, new family of God which is stronger than every weakness and than any negative power that threatens us. Therefore, this is a day of great thanksgiving.

    The day I was baptized, as I said, was Holy Saturday. Then it was still customary to anticipate the Easter Vigil in the morning, which would still be followed by the darkness of Holy Saturday, without the Alleluia. It seems to me that this singular paradox, this singular anticipation of light in a day of darkness, could almost be an image of the history of our times. On the one hand, there is still the silence of God and his absence, but in the Resurrection of Christ there is already the anticipation of the “yes” of God, and on the basis of this anticipation we live and, through the silence of God, we hear him speak, and through the darkness of his absence we glimpse his light. The anticipation of the Resurrection in the middle of an evolving history is the power that points out the way to us and helps us to go forward.

    Let us thank the good Lord for he has given us this light and let us pray to him so that it might endure forever. And on this day I have special cause to thank him and all those who have ever anew made me perceive the presence of the Lord, who have accompanied me so that I might never lose the light.

    I am now facing the last chapter of my life and I do not know what awaits me. I know, however, that the light of God exists, that he is Risen, that his light is stronger than any darkness, that the goodness of God is stronger than any evil in this world. And this helps me to go forward with certainty. May this help us to go forward, and at this moment I wholeheartedly thank all those who have continually helped me to perceive the “yes” of God through their faith.
    Benedict XVI
    Mass on the occasion of the 85th birthday
    April 16, 2012

    CDF communiqué on meeting with LCWR

    Communiqué of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith
    concerning a meeting with the Presidency of the
    Leadership Conference of Women Religious

    Today the Superiors of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith met with the Presidency of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR) in the United States of America. Most Rev. J. Peter Sartain, Archbishop of Seattle and the Holy See’s Delegate for the Doctrinal Assessment of the LCWR, also participated in the meeting.

    As this was his first opportunity to meet with the Presidency of the LCWR, the Prefect of the Congregation, Most Rev. Gerhard Ludwig Müller, expressed his gratitude for the great contribution of women Religious to the Church in the United States as seen particularly in the many schools, hospitals, and institutions of support for the poor which have been founded and staffed by Religious over the years.

    The Prefect then highlighted the teaching of the Second Vatican Council regarding the important mission of Religious to promote a vision of ecclesial communion founded on faith in Jesus Christ and the teachings of the Church as faithfully taught through the ages under the guidance of the Magisterium (Cf. Lumen gentium, nn. 43-47). He also emphasized that a Conference of Major Superiors, such as the LCWR, exists in order to promote common efforts among its member Institutes as well as cooperation with the local Conference of Bishops and with individual Bishops. For this reason, such Conferences are constituted by and remain under the direction of the Holy See (Cf. Code of Canon Law, cann. 708-709).

    Finally, Archbishop Müller informed the Presidency that he had recently discussed the Doctrinal Assessment with Pope Francis, who reaffirmed the findings of the Assessment and the program of reform for this Conference of Major Superiors.

    It is the sincere desire of the Holy See that this meeting may help to promote the integral witness of women Religious, based on a firm foundation of faith and Christian love, so as to preserve and strengthen it for the enrichment of the Church and society for generations to come.

    [In continuity with Benedict XVI... It is good to see the emphatic reaffirmation of the supreme and immediate power of the Holy See in such matters.]

    Ferula: Pope in continuity with his various predecessors

    From the Office for the Liturgical Celebrations of the Supreme Pontiff (in Italian):

    "The Holy Father Francis, for the celebration of the Holy Mass on the occasion of his enthronement on the Roman Cathedra (4.7.2013), made use of the pastoral cross of Paul VI, with the intention of alternating its use in the upcoming celebrations with that of Benedict XVI."

    [Augustinus - Update 4/14/13 at 5:55 P.M. Rome time. In case our readers are curious: the Holy Father is using the ferula of Paul VI in his Mass at the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls]

    Comments - registered

    You may have noticed we have, for the moment at least, limited the posting of comments exclusively to those registered readers - registered, that is, in any number of identification systems accepted by Blogger, including any Google account, LiveJournal, Typepad, Wordpress, AIM. Naturally, this still means you may use any pseudonym you like. And, on the other hand, word verification is off.

    The main reason for this is that, because of the huge number of comments we had been receiving lately (hundreds daily), the moderators had not been able to exercise reasonable and timely control, and many unworthy comments ended up being approved, and good comments ended up being deleted by accident. We apologize for any inconvenience. We will see how this works in the next few days.

    The College of Super-Cardinals

    It would be hard to overstate the importance of the new body gathered by the Pope - the one that, due to its characteristics and direct dependence on the Pontiff, we chose to name the Pope's "Privy Council".

    It is a characteristic of bureaucracies to expand indefinitely: "Parkinson's Law works everywhere," as Mikhail Gorbachev once wryly remarked. If it is confirmed, as it seems likely, as a permanent feature of the reorganized structure of the auxiliary organs of the papacy, after the approval of the reform this new organ itself will study, then its position will depend on what exactly the new arrangement of the Curia will be. Will most existing organs be extinguished, or will they linger on as merely or mostly decorative positions, as so many curial offices once relevant?

    It is very likely this new Council will subsist - it was obviously something very much in the mind of the voting Cardinals in the past conclave. Was its establishment part of the electoral negotiations?... A future and more detailed history of the conclave will probably one day reveal it.

    To understand what structure mostly inspired the creation of the new Council, one does not have to look further than the Society of Jesus itself. As it is currently constituted, the "Jesuit Curia" is composed of "general counsellors" the majority of whom are Regional Assistants:

    When Father General is in Rome, he begins every day meeting with his “General Counsellors”.

    The election of those counsellors shows a balance of power between the newly elected Superior General and the General Congregation who has elected him.

    Fr. General is the one who appoints (now nine) Regional Assistants, and several other General Counsellors.

    The General Congregation elects four Assistants “ad providentiam”. Their function is to assist the Superior General on behalf of the whole Society. The assistance called for deals with external matters “such as clothing, food and any expenditure touching upon the General’s person”, preventing him “from going beyond measure in labours or excessive severity”, and attending “to his soul in case necessity might arise”.

    Among the General Counsellors there is a Counsellor for Formation and Fr. General’s Delegate, responsible for the governance of the international Jesuit houses in Rome.

    One curiosity? While some form of continental representation was obviously on the Pope's mind as he assembled his Privy Council, as it happens in the Jesuit Curia, the three nations with the largest number of (nominal) Catholics  - Brazil, Mexico and the Philippines - are not represented in this group of Super-Cardinals.

    [Note: image just a (not very) artistic rendition.]

    BREAKING - RELEVANT: The Pope's Privy Council
    Pope establishes committee to counsel him in the Government of the universal Church and to study reform of the Roman Curia


    The Holy Father Francis, taking up a suggestion that emerged in the course of the General Congregations before the Conclave, has established a group of Cardinals to counsel him in the government of the universal Church and to study a project of revision of the Apostolic Constitution Pastor bonus [of Pope John Paul II] on the Roman Curia.

    This group is made up of:
    - Card. Giuseppe Bertello, President of the Governatorate of the Vatican City State;
    - Card. Francisco Javier Errázuriz Ossa, Archbishop emeritus of Santiago de Chile (Chile);
    - Card. Oswald Gracias, Archbishop of Bombay (India);
    - Card. Reinhard Marx, Archbishop of Munich and Freising (Germany);
    - Card. Laurent Monsengwo Pasinya, Archbishop of Kinshasa (Democratic Republic of the Congo);
    - Card. Sean Patrick O’Malley, O.F.M. Cap., Archbishop of Boston (U.S.A.);
    - Card. George Pell, Archbishop of Sydney (Australia);
    - Card. Oscar Andrés Rodríguez Maradiaga, S.D.B., Archbishop of Tegucigalpa (Honduras), functioning as Coordinator;
    - H.E. Bp. Marcello Semeraro, Bishop of Albano [Italy], functioning as Secretary.

    The first collective meeting of the group is scheduled for October 1-3, 2013; nevertheless, His Holiness is henceforth in contact with the mentioned Cardinals.

    [Bollettino. As always, unless otherwise indicated, translation by Rorate. This is our 5000th post: thank you so much for your readership!]

    See also: The College of Super-Cardinals

    NCR report from Argentina: "He did, in fact, favor civil unions."

    We have come to a sad time when NCR at least strives to have more accurate reporting than some "conservative" blogs and publications: 

    Congress of the Argentine Nation, Buenos Aires

    On March 19, The New York Times reported that when Argentina was gearing up for a bitter national debate on gay [sic] marriage in 2009 and 2010, Bergoglio quietly favored a compromise solution that would have included civil unions for same-sex couples.