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Milestone 100,000

On Sunday, 1 March, somebody in Hungary became the 100,000th visitor to my humble little blog, which I started in October 2009 as I moved to Rome, to communicate with friends and family about travel and visits to the sites of the Eternal City, and to offer musings and commentary on Christian Unity and reform in the Catholic Church.

The more I try to write for my dissertation, though, the less frequently I write for the blog. When I started I averaged three posts a week. Now if I get three a month I am being productive. I noticed I have over 16,000 words of notes and half-written posts in my draft file. Like my dissertation, there is a lot of starter material that just needs time and focus to complete. Also like my dissertation, much of it will never see the light of day.

My first post spoke of the surprises in technology, liturgy, community life, and diet and exercise found upon arriving in Bella Italia.

By far the most read post was about Pope Francis lifting restrictions on married Eastern Catholic priests in the ‘diaspora’ – including the U.S., Australia, Canada, et al. That post alone was viewed 8,000 times. I would like to think the popularity is because of my brilliant prose and that it was an English-language scoop, but I know that the title “Married Catholic Priests coming to a Parish Near You” played a bit on hopes that this would include Latin, or Roman Catholic, priests as well as those serving our Eastern brothers and sisters.

Recent rumors try to suggest that Pope Francis might actually extend it in some way to the Latin Church, but i suspect there are so many people who do not understand the hierarchy of truths well enough that they would think this was an act worth breaking communion over, and as wrong as they are, there is no doubt that a good leader would tread carefully even to do the right thing before allowing the weak of faith to fall further into sin.

The most surprising moments included being introduced to the Archbishop of Canterbury and his ecumenical officer, who greeted me with “Oh, so you’re the one with the blog…!” (I got to see Bishop Jonathan again very briefly during the 50th anniversary celebrations of Unitatis Redintegratio, one of the great ecumenists I have been privileged to meet in these years).

Even after 5 1/2 years, there are still surprises to be found, new adventures in Rome. Just recently with a class walking over the Ponte Fabrico to Isola Tiberna, someone pointed out the marble faces adorning the bridge, which I have crossed dozens of times at least, and never noticed.

Or take the Station Churches, an ancient tradition like so many revived with the Second Vatican Council after being lost for some time before hand. While I have always managed to attend a few of the morning liturgies with the North American College, this is the first year I have been able to attend most of the official Italian liturgies in the afternoons. Photos here.

Now, some personal updating for friends and family:

Officially, the pontifical graduate degrees of License and Doctorate take two and three years respectively. My License took three, including almost a year’s worth of additional classes between the Berrie Fellowship and the extra requirements specific to the ecumenical section at the time (Most people doing an STL are required to take 24 classes  in addition to comps and thesis; I took 36, and had credit for 9 more from previous graduate studies and experience). During the doctorate, I have worked two part time jobs and taught 2-3 classes a semester, so while I am still aiming for the three-year mark, I will accept if that just gets me to a good draft.

As I get ever closer to 40, the idea of settling into a permanent position gets more and more appealing. These five years in Rome mark the longest I have lived in one city since I was 16, and even then entails moving at least for every summer, and often not knowing where I will be more than a few months ahead. Recent job searches have revealed potential positions in Edinburgh, Basel, Geneva, Jerusalem, all over the US, and Antarctica. (Admittedly, the last one had nothing to do with theology, but who would not want to spend a few months dodging penguins in -15C weather after the Baroque excess and summer heat of Rome?)

Dear friends and colleagues, faithful readers and strangers who happened by while looking for images, thank you for your visit and your interest. I hope we will be seeing more of each other over the year to come! Happy Lent!

50th Anniversary of Unitatis Redintegratio celebrated in Rome

UnitatisInvite-page-001

Quinque annis fui Romae

I am not a classicist, so any Fr. Reggie disciples out there, be merciful with my occasional Latin. 

It seems more and more my posts begin with “sorry I have not written in so long…”, but then so do most of my emails. 

A new semester has begun for U.S. study abroad students in Rome, and in the miracle attributable to Our Lady of Climate Change, while Calgary experienced the hottest summer on record in 75 years, Rome has been topping out at a pleasant 27°C [80°F] or below since I have been back. That’s practically Halloween weather! 

My adjunct professorial career continues with two courses this fall: Catholicism Today, and the Theology of the Church in Rome. I will also be serving as the Academic Success and Spiritual Life/Campus Ministry Advisor for one university, where i now reside. No longer the graduate assistant at the John Paul II Center for Interreligious Dialogue, my academic focus should allow time for more writing. Mostly, i hope, on the dissertation, but also a bit on this blog! 

And there is so much to share.

Personally, summer included two seminars – one online on the ordination of women to the diaconate in the Church’s past, present and future; and the other in Greece on Orthodox Theology. I heard the clearest and most concise explanation of the filioque issue ever, and my faith in its ecumenical resolution is now certain. Then there were visits home to Seattle, to the Canadian Rockies and Calgary, and a wedding in the Colorado high Rockies above Denver. Hiking, camping, road trips, and fog so thick you would not be able to see a volcano if it were right in front of you. More on all of that soon. Pictures too. 

Broadly, the Vatican Bank’s been getting cleaned up, the world is at war and in large parts oblivious to the fact, Christianity has been all-but extinguished in one of its ancient patriarchates, a Pan-Orthodox Council (inshallah) is promised, and there are some rather nervous prelates around Rome. June saw the third installment of the very successful Receptive Ecumenism conferences, and as people trickle back in from vacation around the Eternal City, all eyes are on the Synod for the Family – including a heavyweight book of ‘loyal dissent‘ announced this week. 

I just had to say the blog will continue despite its lengthy pauses of late! 

Yes, that is a fire in the fireplace in late July. It was a comfy place to call home - even if only for a day!

Yes, that is a fire in the fireplace in late July. It was a comfy place to call home – even if only for a day!

Traditionalist Catholics on Pope Francis

In talking about the first anniversary of Pope Francis’ election as bishop of Rome, a recent online discussion got a bit heated and one of the commentators balked at the idea that there was really any traditionalist backlash against the Roman pontiff, and that they were all basically good Catholics. Some are, to be sure. But, a selection of quotes from conversations immediately in the days after his election show what most of us know – there are people who really want the papacy to be some kind of royal institution – in the secular sense-, whose purpose is pageantry and a prop for self-righteousness.

As the quotes are generally a year old and taken mostly from message boards and facebook posts, i chose not to record the authors. It is not meant as an academic source after all, just a sampling of the kind of negative reaction, and some more reasoned responses, that one still hears in Rome, though rather more quietly than before. All quotes are taken from self-described traditionalists, aficionados of the Tridentine Rite/Extraordinary Form and often members of the Ratzinger Fan Club; the New Liturgical Movement; associated with or at least sympathetic to the Society of St. Pius X.

 

  • ‘Bishop of Rome’?? What is wrong with this guy? Doesn’t he know his job is bigger than that?!
  • Non placet. The only thing more expensive than poverty is humility, and that lump around his neck looks like the logo of a “pietosa ong”, not like a Christian crucifix.
  • People in his position drive around in big cars because the Italian Prime Minster was kidnapped and murdered after his car was shot up by terrorists in the streets. How does a man who lived through Argentina’s Dirty War forget something like that? People have been shot dead in the streets by the Red Brigades, the organization that murdered Aldo Moro, within the last 10 years.
  • Pope Francis did not ask for the blessing of the faithful precisely; he asked the faithful to pray that he be blessed. Unsurprisingly, it has taken less than 48 hours to distort this into yet another act of subversion of the hierarchical nature of the Church. Christ instituted the priestly hierarchy to be the means by which He would bless the faithful, not to be blessed by the faithful. “for the children ought not to lay up for the parents, but the parents for the children.”
  • Such carefully stage managed ‘humility’…
  • There’s personal humility and then there is the Petrine Office. If a pope does not show proper respect for the Petrine Office, then that weakens the Petrine Office and the most important ecclesial lynchpin for Catholic unity. It’s nice that Former Cardinal Bergoglio wanted to get on the bus with his brother bishops, but it’s not nice that Pope Francis has undercut his Office. Papacy is not supposed to be a cult of personality. Look at how well Elizabeth Windsor has respected HER Office! (And how those ridiculous busses [sic] for minor royals really lowered the tone of the last Royal Wedding.)
  • The phrasing of your objection [basically, that the Church does not need all that baroque and renaissance ‘bling’] is an example of the other ideological extreme. it has no basis in fact or history. it’s inverted snobby, theology of the factory worker who considers himself morally superior to the privileged because he is underprivileged. go in to a peasant home and you will see lots of lace and baroque. its kitsch but it’s very “of the people” as opposed to the ersatz primitism of left-wing intellectual effete elite (which almost always costs more than the kitsch). I’m not promoting the particulars of the article, My point is that these small things acted as triggers that caused flashbacks in an abused group. I believe Benedict’s revival of some of the old was to bring back a neglected area. He also wore modern vestments. All of this was to show that neither one nor the other, on their own, are the way. The Church has room for all.
  • nononono… Shut up! Somebody shut him up! No more phone calls, no more tweets, no more off-script remarks! Doesn’t he know how to pope?! Enough already…
  • Something I have been reflecting on these days, which has been misjudged by all sides. Part of the negative reaction to Pope Francis is leftover frustration from the abdication of Benedict. There is also more to the “fear” aspect. Traditional Catholics were wounded animals who snap because they have been abused, often by legitimate authority. Their fear is real because neo-cons and liberals, seeking to defend The Pope, have turned on them with in the past few days. Alas, some of this has been silly traddies knee-jerk reactions of the worst kind. But some of it has been the latent misconception and actual dislike of their position by cons and libs. More understanding all around.

Notre Dame comes to Rome

My alma mater officially opened its new Rome Centre, one of a growing number of global gateways, in January, with some of the students moving their classes into the building for the spring semester and a weeklong meeting of the University Board of Trustees here in the Eternal City.

The first Catholic University from the States (perhaps the first at all) to enjoy a full private audience with Pope Francis, the bishop of Rome praised Notre Dame’s “outstanding contribution” to the U.S. Church, religious education, and serious scholarship “inspired by confidence in the harmony of faith and reason in the pursuit of truth and virtue.”

He later added something which has been spun, in some quarters, as a critique of the Catholic identity of Our Lady’s university. If you actually read what he said though, it becomes clear that this is not really the case:

It is my hope that the University of Notre Dame will continue to offer unambiguous testimony to this aspect of its foundational Catholic identity, especially in the face of efforts, from whatever quarter, to dilute that indispensable witness. [emphasis mine]

Regardless, it was the highlight of a busy week: there was the granting of honorary doctorates to Cardinal Tauran of the PCID and Maria Voce of Focolare; mass with Cardinal Wuerl in his titular church of San Pietro in Vincoli; receptions at Villa Taverna and Villa Richardson with the Ambassadors to Italy and the Holy See, respectively (both part of the ND family); and a closing dinner that included ND alumni working in the Holy See and leadership of the local Alumni Club. All this on top of the usual schedule of meetings and tours of the city.

It was great to bring two of the great parts of my life together, and to even see some old friends. Notre Dame, long the pre-eminent Catholic university in North America, has made surprisingly little inroads into the European scene beyond study abroad programs. That is changing, and this visit is a sign of the things to come. I have to say I am looking forward to being  a part of it in some small way!

ND Club of Italy members with President John Jenkins, CSC

ND Club of Italy members with President John Jenkins, CSC

Pope Francis to the University of Notre Dame

“The Church has the right to teach her highest moral values, and her educational institutions are expected to uphold her teachings and defend her identity.” Pope Francis said this on Thursday morning, 30 January, in the Clementine Hall to the trustees of the University of Notre Dame – a Catholic university located in the United States. The following is the English text of the Holy Father’s address.

FrancisJenkins

Pope Francis with Notre Dame President John Jenkins, CSC

Dear Friends,

I am pleased to greet the Trustees of Notre Dame University on the occasion of your meeting in Rome, which coincides with the inauguration of the University’s Rome Center. I am confident that the new Center will contribute to the University’s mission by exposing students to the unique historical, cultural and spiritual riches of the Eternal City, and by opening their minds and hearts to the impressive continuity between the faith of Saints Peter and Paul, and the confessors and martyrs of every age, and the Catholic faith passed down to them in their families, schools and parishes.

From its founding, Notre Dame University has made an outstanding contribution to the Church in your country through its commitment to the religious education of the young and to serious scholarship inspired by confidence in the harmony of faith and reason in the pursuit of truth and virtue. Conscious of the critical importance of this apostolate for the new evangelization, I express my gratitude for the commitment which Notre Dame University has shown over the years to supporting and strengthening Catholic elementary and secondary school education throughout the United States.

The vision which guided Father Edward Sorin and the first religious of the Congregation of Holy Cross in establishing the University of Notre Dame du Lac remains, in the changed circumstances of the twenty-first century, central to the University’s distinctive identity and its service to the Church and American society. In my Exhortation on the Joy of the Gospel, I stressed the missionary dimension of Christian discipleship, which needs to be evident in the lives of individuals and in the workings of each of the Church’s institutions. This commitment to “missionary discipleship” ought to be reflected in a special way in Catholic universities (cf.Evangelii Gaudium, 132-134), which by their very nature are committed to demonstrating the harmony of faith and reason and the relevance of the Christian message for a full and authentically human life. Essential in this regard is the uncompromising witness of Catholic universities to the Church’s moral teaching, and the defense of her freedom, precisely in and through her institutions, to uphold that teaching as authoritatively proclaimed by the magisterium of her pastors. It is my hope that the University of Notre Dame will continue to offer unambiguous testimony to this aspect of its foundational Catholic identity, especially in the face of efforts, from whatever quarter, to dilute that indispensable witness. And this is important: its identity, as it was intended from the beginning. To defend it, to preserve it and to advance it!

Dear friends, I ask you to pray for me as I strive to carry out the ministry which I have received in service to the Gospel, and I assure you of my prayers for you and for all associated with the educational mission of Notre Dame University. Upon you and your families, and in a particular way, upon the students, faculty and staff of this beloved University, I invoke the Lord’s gifts of wisdom, joy and peace, and cordially impart my Blessing.

Week of Prayer for Christian Unity 2014 (Rome)

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The schedule of events that i could collect to be celebrated here in Rome for the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. This excludes several parishes which dedicate daily liturgy and/or devotions to the theme. 

Settimana di preghiera per l’unità dei Cristiani

Has Christ Been Divided? Cristo non può essere diviso! (I Cor 1.1-17)

General information on the Week of Prayer can be found here.

 

 

 

Thursday, 16 January:  Day of Jewish-Christian Dialogue and Reflection

 18.00      Jewish-Catholic Dialogue Fifty Years after Nostra Aetate: A Latin-American Perspective
Rabbi Abraham Skorka at the Pontifical Gregorian University
Moderated by Cardinal Kurt Koch

 Saturday, 18 January

16.30       Incontro di preghiera dei consacrati/e della Diocesi di Roma
Basilica San Lorenzo fuori le Mura

 17.30       Vespers at Capella di Santa Brigida, Piazza Farnese  96
Cardinal Kurt Koch, Archbishop Leo (Chiesa di Finlandia), Bishop Makinen (Luterano),
Bishop Sippo (Diocesi Cattolica di Helsinki),  and Bishop Brian Farrell

[invite]      Vespers at Pontifical Beda College, Viale San Paolo 18
Very Rev. Ken Howcroft preaching

20.00      Ukrainian Catholic (Byzantine Rite) Divine Liturgy – Basilian Fathers, Santa Maria in Via Lata, Via del Corso 306

 Sunday, 19 January

 11.00       Catholic Eucharist with Archbishop David Moxon Preaching
Caravita Community, Via del Caravita 7

12.00       Angelus with Pope Francis, Piazza San Pietro

16.00      Celebrazione Ecumenica Finlandese
Bishop Teemu Sippo, SCI (Catholic), Bishop Kari Mäkinen (Lutheran), Archbishop Leo (Orthodox)
Santa Maria Sopra Minerva ,Piazza del Minerva 42

18.00      Incontro di preghiera del Gruppo Romano del SAE
Capella delle Suore Francescane di Maria, Via Macchiavelli 32

18.30       Celebrazione Ecumenica Tedesca with German/Hungarian College, S. Maria dell’Anima
At Christus Kirche Via Sicilia 70

20.00      Roman Catholic (Latin Rite) Eucharist– Archbishop Piero Marini, presiding
Santa Maria in Via Lata, Via del Corso 306

 Monday, 20 January

18.00      Anglican Choral Evensong  with Ven. Jonathan Boardman Preaching
Basilica San Paolo fuori le mura

18.30       Santa Messa at Parocchia di S. Maria delle Grazie alle Fornaci
19.30       Conferenza “Il movimento ecumenico, la santità”, Padre Ciro Bova

20.00      Greek Catholic (Byzantine Rite) Divine Liturgy – Pontifical Greek College
Santa Maria in Via Lata, Via del Corso 306

Tuesday, 21 January

11:45       Anglican Center Eucharist, Piazza Collegio Romano 2

18.30       Santa Messa, Parrocchia S. Maria delle Grazie alle Fornaci
19.30       Conferenza: L’ecumenismo, il punti di vista dei fratelli ortodossi”, P. Vladimir Zelinsky

 20.00      Syro Malankara Catholic (Antiochene Rite) Holy Qurbana – Damascene College

Santa Maria in Via Lata, Via del Corso 306

Wednesday, 22 January

10.30       General Audience with Pope Francis, Sala Audienza Paolo VI

[Invite]   Vespers at Pontifical Irish College, Archbishop David Moxon preaching

18:30    Venerable English College, Rev. Keith Pecklers, SJ, preaching

18.30       Santa Messa at Parrocchia di S. Maria delle Grazie alle Fornaci
19.30 Confronto e dibattito sul tema della santita nell/’ecumenismo: P. Ciro Bova, P. Vladimir Zelinsky

20.00      Armenian Catholic (Armenian Rite)  Divine Liturgy – Armenian College
Santa Maria in Via Lata, Via del Corso 306

 Thursday, 23 January

16.30    Mixed Salad Ecumenism in the Caribbean: Is there a Future? 
Archbishop Donald Reece, Archbishop Emeritus of Kingston, Jamaica;
Followed by a Celebration of the Word with
Rev. Willie McCulloch presiding, and Very Rev. Ken Howcroft preaching
At Centro Pro Unione, Via S. Maria dell’Anima 30 (Cosponsored by Lay Centre at Foyer Unitas)

18.30       Diocesan vespers at with Ven. Jonathan Boardman preaching,
SS. Martiri dell’Uganda, Via Adolfo Ravà 31

20.00      Maronite Catholic (Antiochene Rite) Divine Liturgy – Maronite Order of the BVM
Santa Maria in Via Lata, Via del Corso 306

Friday, 24 January

 20.00      Gruppo Incontro at Chiesa Valdese, Piazza Cavour

20.00      Romanian Catholic (Byzantine Rite) Divine Liturgy – Romanian College
Santa Maria in Via Lata, Via del Corso 306

 Saturday, 25 January

 17.30       Papal Vespers, Basilica San Paolo fuori le mura (tickets required)

20.00      Ethiopian Catholic (Alexandrian Rite) Divine Liturgy – Pontifical Ethiopian College
Santa Maria in Via Lata, Via del Corso 306

 Sunday, 26 January

16.00      Churches Together in Rome Unity Service
Rev. Dr. Karen Hamilton, Secretary General of Canadian Council of Churches
Basilica San Silvestro in Capite, Piazza di San Silvestro 17A

Monday, 27 January

14:30     Il concilio e ecumenismo: Lectio Conclusiva di ‘Il Concilio Vaticano II: Storia e Sviluppi
Bishop Charles Morerod, OP,  bishop of Lausanne, Genève et Fribourg
at Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas (Angelicum)

 

BrotherApostles

2013 in review (WordPress stats)

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 12,000 times in 2013. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 4 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

Breakfast at Tiffany’s: An unsettling cultural learning experience

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I saw for the first time recently, Breakfast at Tiffany’s. How does anyone not see this as a romance between a call girl and a gigolo? $50 “for the washroom”? That is nearly $400 in 2013 dollars!

I was not the only one with this reaction – and I was kind of shocked that something like this could be such a cult classic and regarded as such a great film of its time.  The poor girl who shared it with us, I think, was disappointed that we were not wrapped up in the romance of the film and the dreamy longing for material wealth as something to be admired. It was really one of the most morally bankrupt films I have seen in a long time, and considering I am a Game of Thrones fan (which never pretends to be anything other than brutal), that should say something!

It is awash in racism, materialism, objectification of the person, and touts a kind of celebrity lifestyle that makes Miley Cyrus look… well, ok, I cannot go that far. There is a certain elegance that Hepburn portrays that Cyrus lacks, but the latter is at least honest in the values and freedoms being celebrated: It is all naked truth, if you will. Whereas, at Tiffany’s it is a lie festooned in glitter and deceit. I do not know why my gut reaction was quite so strong, but I have never been so repulsed by a story since reading Ayn Rand. Maybe it is the reputation of the story, whether Tiffany’s or Fountainhead, and the realization that people actually want to emulate the protagonist therein that is so disturbing. Even as I write this I still cannot believe its popularity.

How was it received at the time of its release? When it came out, was it protested like the Last Temptation of Christ or Godfather III? Or did it get all the tweens atwitter looking for big sunglasses and a long cigarillo?

US Embassy to the Holy See: no closure, downgrade, or presidential plot…

Ambassador Hackett presents his credentials to the Holy Father

Ambassador Hackett presents his credentials to the Holy Father

As always, the busier and more interesting things get, the less time I have to write about them.

But sometimes something comes up that here, you do not even think will be a thing, only to find it exploding the internet on the other side of the Atlantic.

A week ago, the National Catholic Reporter  ran a story detailing how five of the former US Ambassadors to the Holy See were upset that the Embassy was being moved. That was the first I had heard of it, and I thought some fo the reactions seemed a bit over the top… but then you cannot expect much from partisan political appointees on either side of the aisle.

Naively, I suppose, I still expect people to read more than headlines. Especially absurd headlines like the following:

Notice how only one of these misleading leads did not start by blaming President Obama by name?

The facts are simple, and were clear even from the first reports:

  • The US is not closing the Embassy to the Holy See
  • The US is not pulling out of its diplomatic relationships with the Holy See
  • The US is not downgrading the diplomatic status of its relationship with the Holy See (e.g., from Ambassador to Special Envoy, or something)
  • The US is not combining the Embassy to the Holy See with the Embassy to Italy
  • The US Ambassador is not moving his residence, only the offices.

This was confirmed by the current and immediate past US Ambassadors to the Holy See, and the State Department again in a conference call today.

The US has four places (Rome, Vienna, Brussels, and Paris) with multiple missions in the same city, and in each case there have been moves to bring the separate embassies together physically, while maintaining separate missions, staffs, budgets, and space.

Current US Embassy to the Holy See

Current US Embassy to the Holy See

The current US Embassy to the Holy See is in a converted private home near the Circo Massimo, and while I daresay it is a better view than to be had by its big sister on Via Veneto, it is hard to have a larger meeting there than about a dozen people. It would probably make the support staff, the local staff and interns, feel a little less isolated, considering they are a much smaller crew than at US Embassy Italy.

While I can certainly see arguments for the separate location in terms of keeping a clear identity, it seems this has already been a consideration and will be seriously  maintained. Rome has three, not two, US embassies: One to Italy and San Marino, one to the UN Food Agencies, and one to the Holy See. The first two are already on the same property, but in different buildings. Adding the third does make sense economically, even if it is a drop in the bucket compared to overall waste… every little bit helps.

It is worth noting that the US Embassy to Italy does double duty to the other  micro-state completely surrounded by the Italian Republic, that of San Marino. A pretty obvious contrast between that situation and the proposal for that of the Holy See should put to rest any concerns about this being a move to combine or downgrade the Embassy to the Holy See.

What is interesting, yet unsurprising, to me is the narrative of President Obama being rabidly anti-Catholic, and that this is just one more example of his ‘war on religion/the Catholic Church’. While i certainly find several areas of disagreement, which should be rather obvious, I find this assertion as convincing as the narrative of Pope Benedict being a mean-spirited old man who was only interested in rules and regalia while actively covering up the clergy sex abuse scandal. Both have a powerful hold on the imaginations of large portions of the American population; both are false.

The current and former US Ambassador to the Holy See have the most ‘Catholic’ credentials of any persons to hold the office – not in terms of holiness, spirituality, or personal faith, to which I cannot speak – but in terms of ecclesiastical vocation and formation. Both Ambassador Ken Hackett and Miguel Diaz have given their life in service to the Church rather than to partisan politics: Diaz as a theologian, Hackett in Catholic Relief Services. That sets them out from the pack.

The rest were all partisan political appointees, and whether left or right does not matter. Glendon is a law professor; Rooney an investment banker; Nicholson was Republican Party Chairman; Boggs a democrat congresswoman; Flynn was mayor of Boston; Melady was a career diplomat; Shakespeare was president of CBS; and Wilson was a cattle ranching oil magnate.

US Embassy to Italy and San Marino

US Embassy to Italy and San Marino

This is not to say they were not good Catholics (those who were) or good Ambassadors. I am sure they were. Rather, it is simply that no president until Barack Obama had picked ‘church’ people for the post. People who were chosen specifically because of their devotion to the Catholic Church first, and country second, rather than the other way around.

So, while any change will ruffle feathers, of all the Ambassadors in the post, the most qualified to speak to the real situation of this move, as far as the Holy See and the Church are concerned, are precisely the two supporting the move: Hackett and Diaz.

Bottom line: fear not. The US and the Holy See are as engaged as they ever have been, and signs show the relationship is stronger than ever.  Moving to a new building next door to two other US Embassies will not change that.

 

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