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Angelicum Quote of the Day


Thomas F. O'Meara, OP

One of my favorite professors from Notre Dame, an owlish Dominican ecclesiolgist named Tom O’Meara, published an autobiography a few years ago. I had noticed a copy for sale at the Angelicum bookstore the last couple weeks, but have not been inclined to buy too many extra books while here in Rome. Today, however, I discovered an entire table full of clearance priced texts as they get ready to wind down the academic year, including this paperback at about 85% off the previous price.

Randomly flipping through the book as I logged it into my library inventory, I came across this page describing his first days in Europe in the late summer of 1963:

“I spent my first days in Europe at the Angelicum, the Dominican graduate theological school and seminary. It was named after Thomas Aquinas but called the Angelicum because Aquinas’s theological acumen had resembled that of an angel. With a few eccentric scholars, some inedible meals, primitive toilets, officious porters and sacristans, the “Ange” lived up to what I had heard of it from my teachers who had studied there. A year or two before it had been an almost obligatory school to which Dominicans came from all over the world to gain expeditiously a doctorate. The study of dogmatic theology rarely ranged far from collecting passages from Aquinas on some major or minor topic and ignored other theologians from Origen to Maurice Blondel. Historical contexts and contemporary problems were neglected, for this was a citadel of a strict neo-Thomism where the salvation of Jesuit Suarezians was in only a little less doubt than that of Protestant Hussites. On the eve of the Council, one of the Dominican professors at a meeting of advisors to the Vatican had bemoaned the variety and looseness of theological opinions tolerated by the church, views held even in Rome, views such as those of the Redemptorists in moral theology or the Jesuits in the psychology of grace. He devoutly hoped that the Council would proclaim lists of clear positions on canon law and doctrine so that those vagaries opposed to the Dominican school of Thomism would end. Most of my teachers in the Midwest had received their doctorates from the Angelicum in philosophy, theology, and canon law. What soon amazed me was that American Dominicans had lived in Rome without becoming interested in history or art. Their graduate studies had been repetitive, boring, more memorized scholasticism, and the two years were physically and psychologically difficult, the life of prisoners whose goal was survival. Sadly, poverty, isolation, and rigidity of daily schedule – even in a cloister arranged around a fountain and palm trees and perched above the Roman forum- had for most blocked out the history and beauty around them.”

Thomas F. O’Meara, OP, A Theologian’s Journey, 70.


Quote of the Day

The advice of Pope Saint Gregory the Great (590-604) to Augustine of Canterbury, as a model of communion for the contemporary (postmodern?) ecclesial scene:

Agustine’s Second Question: Even though the faith is one, are there varying customs in the churches? And is there one form of Mass in the Holy Roman Church and another in Gaulish churches?

Pope Gregory answered: My brother, you know the customs of the Roman Church in which, of course, you were brought up. But it is my wish that if you have found any customs in the Roman or the Gaulish church or any other church which may be more pleasing to Almighty God, you should make a careful selection of them and sedulously teach the Church of the English, which is still new in the faith, what you have been able to gather from other churches. For things are not to be loved for the sake of a place, but places are to be loved for the sake of their good things. Therefore choose from every individual Church whatever things are devout, religious, and right. And when you have collected these as it were into one bundle, see that the minds of the English grow accustomed to it.

From The Venerable Bede, Ecclesiastical History of the English People, as quoted in Frederick M. Bliss, Catholic and Ecumenical: History and Hope – Why the Catholic Church is Ecumenical and What She is Doing About It, p9.

[emphasis mine]

Saint Andrew the Protoclete

Andrew was the first Apostle of Our Lord, first having been a disciple of John the Baptizer. Sometimes, for some reason, my fellow western Christians forget this and refer to Peter as the first. Peter would have died an anonymous Galilean fisherman if not for his brother, Andrew, who brought him to the Christ.

One of the early successors to Peter and Paul decided to settle the question of when the church year should begin by determining that the first Sunday of Advent, and therefore the first Sunday of the ecclesiastical year, should be that Sunday nearest the feast of the first Apostle. Before that, advent was celebrated in local churches as anywhere from three days to six weeks.

My patron and namesake is also patron of Greece, Russia, Scotland, and Romania, as well as the apostolic founder and patron of the Holy See of Constantinople and the Ecumenical Patriarchate.

Icon of the Holy Brother Apostles, Peter and Andrew

One of my favorite icons is of the brothers Andrew and Peter embracing. This Icon of the Holy Brother Apostles was written for the 1964 meeting of Patriarch Athenagoras I and Pope Paul VI, a gift from the Successor of Andrew to the Successor of Peter, as a sign of the fraternal relationship of the two churches (also called “sister churches”). A copy of this icon was given to me for my service on the National Planning Committee of the NWCU by then-chairman Allen Johnson.

While much of the western ecumenical world was caught up in the announcement by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith about the Anglican-Catholic personal Ordinariates in October, Cardinal Kasper joined Metropolitan Zizioulas and other representatives of the Catholic and Orthodox Churches on Cyprus for the 11th plenary round of the Joint International Commission for Theological Dialogue. The topic of this round of conversation is “The Role of the Bishop of Rome in the Communion of the Church in the First Millennium”.

His All Holiness Bartholomew I greets His Eminence Walter Kasper

In honor of the feast of Andrew, the Holy Father sends a personal message and a high-ranking delegation to the Patriarch of Constantinople; a return delegation is sent to the See of Rome to honor the patronal feast of Sts. Peter and Paul every June 29. This year’s address indicated signs of hope for the ongoing dialogue and the central questions to our restored unity – the role and relationship of the universal primacy of Rome and the other major Patriarchates, and the local churches.

The Holy Father’s message to Patriarch Bartholomew for the feast of St. Andrew today highlighted this work as a sign of the growing unity of the churches, and acknowledged the many areas for cooperation even as we are still on the journey to full unity.

Patriarch Bartholomew’s message of welcome to the Roman delegation likewise highlighted the work of the Commission, now tackling some of the most fundamental ecclesiological issues which remain to divide us, namely, primacy in general and that of Rome in particular.

“We are, therefore, convinced that the study of Church history during the first millennium, at least with regard to this matter, will also provide the touchstone for the further evaluation of later developments during the second millennium, which unfortunately led our Churches to greater estrangement and intensified our division.”

He also called attention to the slow progress being made toward the calling of a Great Council of the entire Orthodox world, an event which has not happened in centuries, and which would be akin to an Orthodox Vatican II.

The Challenge of Priesthood

This should not be the topic of my first blog touching on the Year of the Priest. Maybe it should a story of vocation, or a theological reflection on the priesthood of Christ and his church. Perhaps an ecclesiological exposition of the ministerial priesthood of the bishop, presbyter, and deacon, with ecumenical emphasis. That is the price of procrastination, however. Those will come in time.

I came across both of these articles yesterday evening, and it was too powerful to avoid.  

Very Rev. K. Scott Connolly

The first is from my diocesan newspaper, the Catholic Northwest Progress, in part of a series highlighting the presbyterate of the archdiocese in honor of the Year of the Priest; they provide brief profiles of five pastors each issue. This week’s issue includes five whom I know personally. Two were in seminary formation with me; two have worked with me as collaborators for the pastoral leadership of a parish; I have had several conversations with each, and have known most of them since I was 17 or 18.

Given that familiarity, I was mostly skimming the profiles. What priest does not think the greatest joy of being a priest is celebrating the sacraments, anyway? (Well, OK, there was one). I almost missed “the greatest challenge as a priest” on my first read, but that is the most telling part. Most of us who are or have been in pastoral ministry find that time-management and administration is an omnipresent challenge, and legitimately so. Yet, one response truly stands out, and calls us to remember what ministry, and the presbyterate, is really about.

Achbishop Diarmuid Martin of Dublin

To then turn to the next article only confirmed that read. Archbishop Diarmuid Martin of Dublin addressed this week’s release of the national investigation of the sexual abuse of children and its systematic cover-up by the Catholic hierarchy in Ireland. The report itself reads much like the reports in the States over the last ten years. What reads differently is the response of the archbishop himself, which should be read in full and is available here:

Three times, the archbishop repeats that “No words of apology will ever be sufficient.”

He acknowledges not only the profoundly sinful nature of the acts of abuse by priests, but also the abject failure of the bishops and religious superiors to act for good:

“One of the most heartbreaking aspects of the Report is that while Church leaders – Bishops and religious superiors – failed, almost every parent who came to the diocese to report abuse clearly understood the awfulness of what has involved.  Almost exclusively their primary motivation was to try to ensure that what happened to their child, or in some case to themselves, did not happen to other children.”

He does not equivocate, blame the media, secular society or anti-Catholic bias; he does not claim that they ‘did not understand’ the nature of the pedophile and the ephebophile thirty years ago, or that they needed a ‘learning curve’ to adequetely deal with these problems. He makes no excuse for the culture of clericalism and institutionalism that allowed and encouraged the perpetuation of grave sin:

“Efforts made to “protect the Church” and to “avoid scandal” have had the ironic result of bringing this horrendous scandal on the Church today.”

In his interview he refers to the people making these excuses as a ‘caste’, a group who thought they could do anything and get away with it – which makes the crimes all the more horrendous because they were perpetuated by those who serve in the name of Jesus Christ.

There may be a long way to go before all remnants of that caste-mentality are eradicated from the Church, but our prayers and dedicated efforts to that end must never cease. Structures of sin have no place in the Body of Christ.

It reminds me of a parishioner whose daily intercession at Mass was for the “holiness of our priests” – simultaneously a prayer of gratitude for the many holy men who serve the Church, and a plea for the conversion of the rest.

Amen, indeed.

Ecumenical Vespers at “del Caravita”

Interior of the Oratory of St. Francis Xavier del Caravita

The Oratory of Saint Francis Xavier “del Caravita” is one of those churches in Rome you would never find unless you knew where to look, even though it is just off one of the main thoroughfares in the City. It is described as “an international catholic community in Rome”, Jesuit in origin but staffed by priests from four different orders. Aside from the national churches for the U.S., England, Ireland, and the Philippines it is the only Catholic church offering weekly Sunday liturgy in English.

On Friday, we celebrated evening prayer presided by Cardinal Kasper, with Archbishop Rowan Williams as the homilist, sponsored by the Anglican Centre in Rome. A simple and beautiful liturgy with what I thought was an especially powerful version of the renewal of baptismal vows, it was a nice counterbalance to the Colloquium the day before: a day of academic lecture complemented by an evening of prayer.

Stian, Rowan Williams, AJ

The pack of news photographers that had followed Dr. Williams throughout the lectures yesterday was back tonight, and it amazes me he was able to focus on preaching with the constant picture taking. Of course, trying to find one of these photos online to share is not easy, this is the best I could do:

After the prayer, we were able to meet the Cardinal, the Archbishop, and even U.S. Ambassador Miguel Diaz and his wife, Marian, who were in attendance. Unfortunately, we only got a couple shots with Archbishop Williams, though I did invite Cardinal Kasper to dine at the Lay Centre sometime. (We’re on the Ambassador’s list already. Somewhere down there…)

The Church of Rome

 Every Wednesday brings a guest presider with a normally brief presentation during and after dinner. This week was an opportunity to get a better look at the Church of Rome, from some excellent authorities.

Monsignor Nicola Filippi, Secretary to the Cardinal-Vicar of Rome

Our presider was Don Nicola Filippi, ordained a presbyter of the diocese of Rome in 1995 and named a Chaplain of His Holiness (the lowest grade entitled “Monsignor”) in 2005, he serves as secretary to the Cardinal-Vicar of Rome, Agostino Vallini. Princess Gesine and her husband, Deacon Masimilliano, of the Doria Pamphilj family, joined us as well. Don Masimilliano and Donna Gesine are friends of the Lay Centre and were our generous guides when we visited the family palazzo/galleria last month.

Vested for the liturgy, Don Nicola is the very image of a classical Roman senator, and I think will be a bishop himself in the next decade. Two interesting liturgical observations: there are very few deacons in Italy, I think Masimilliano is one of only two in the suburbicarian diocese where he is incardinated, so it was clear there is room for a more robust development of their role. Also, since communion under both species is not as common in Italy as it is most places in Europe and North America, Monsignor Filippi chose to serve communion by intinction, I think as a kind of pastoral compromise between his custom and ours, which was a first for me.

The Church of Rome, the diocese itself, is an interesting reality. Their diocesan bishop is the pope, and yet, as Father Nicola said, “Rome is Rome, and the Vatican is something else entirely. That’s the other side of the Tiber.” Some of the pastoral and administrative issues sound not all that different from home!.

Deacon Don Masimilliano and Donna Gesine Doria Pamphilj

There are about 2.5 million Catholics in the diocese of Rome, and it includes 330 parishes, plus the other 600 or so churches, which are chapels, stations, oratories, or shrines. Though the bishop of Rome is Benedict, Cardinal-Vicar Villani is the ordinary for almost all intents and purposes. He is assisted by seven active auxiliary bishops, one as a kind of vicar general to the Cardinal-Vicar (who is technically the vicar general), five lead regional vicariates, and one is responsible for hospital ministry. The diocesan website lists 1215 diocesan clergy, 1917 clergy from other dioceses, 4800 religious clergy, 124 opus dei clergy, 2050 lay religious, and 1050 lay staff*. (These numbers include retired clergy, I think, and the website also counted all the cardinals, and over 1200 bishops who are probably curial staff and diplomats.)

Compare that to Seattle, with 578,000 Catholics, including 3 bishops, 294 diocesan clergy, 32 clergy from other dioceses, 96 religious clergy, 486 lay religious, about 800 lay ecclesial ministers and 1393 lay teachers. Rome has less than 5 times as many Catholics, but more than 21 times as many clergy, and half as many lay staff*.

*Lay staff listed for Rome included faculty of the pontifical universities, members of commissions and consultors to dicasteries, as well as actual paid staff in Roman offices – virtually no lay ecclesial ministers as we know them in the States.

Only about 40%-50% of the children born in Rome are recorded as being baptized, and there are only about 80 or 90 catechumens each year, though Fr. Nicola indicated that a large number of families may take their children outside the city, and thus to other dioceses, for baptism so it may not be quite as low as that looks.

He spoke about a questionnaire the chancery had been trying to get parishes to fill out regarding pastoral planning, evangelization and sacramental life, and only about 2/3 of parishes responded (I thought this was pretty good, actually). When the Cardinal started visiting pastors who had not sent the response in, one of the first said, “oh, yeah, we forgot about that. I’m sure it’s here somewhere…” and then proceeded to produce the previous year’s questionnaire, still in the original envelope.

As I am sure you have heard, though Italy is nominally 90% Catholic, very few people are very active in the life of the church. For most, it is where you go to get baptized, married, and buried. Just last night a classmate was telling me how, on his first Christmas in Rome, he attended a popular parish nearby and could not find a seat 20 minutes before mass began, and the church was filled with young people. But then, as the opening hymn began, mobile phones came out of pockets to take pictures and he heard several people calling their mothers, “yes, mama, I’m going to church. See, I’m sending you a picture!” Then they left. By the time of the opening prayer, my friend had no problem finding a seat.

Lateran Archbasilica and Palace; Cathedral and home of the diocesan chancery of Rome

One of the responses that has been very popular in Italy, and in Rome especially, are the lay movements. Whereas the U.S. has seen a greater development in the area of parish life and in lay ecclesial ministry, here there is almost the sense that if you are really serious about your faith you do not go to your parish but spend your time with the movement. Two of the largest in Rome are the Charismatic movement and the Neochatechumenate Way. (I would have guessed Sant’Egidio, Focolare, or Communione e Liberazione).

Unfortunately, some of the biggest problems for the Catholic Church of Rome come from these movements. Poor catechesis, insufficient theological education of the clergy, and the creation of a parallel church to the diocesan-parish structures were all cited as serious issues among the diocesan leadership. The dichotomy of spirituality and theology, so typical of the “classical” western Latin tradition, is noted especially in the Neocatechumate Way with an emphasis on the spiritual and too little attention on the theological. They are also having a challenge with the high number of non-Italian priests coming to serve the communities here, without adequate cultural formation and preparation for the life of the Church in Rome.

This was one more reminder of how slowly my Italian is coming, too, so prayers for that please! I would like to have asked about lay ecclesial ministry in Rome. Next time!

Dr. Rick Gaillardetz and Archdeacon Johnathan Boardman

Author of seven pastoral booklets, eight books, and over 100 journal articles, Dr. Richard R. Gaillardetz is one of the most accomplished U.S. ecclesiologists of the current generation. He has been a member of the U.S. Catholic-Methodist dialogue, and his doctoral director was Dominican Father Thomas O’Meara at Notre Dame (who was also my systematics and ecclesiology professor as an undergrad). Rick is married, with four children, and currently serving as the Murray/Bacik Professor of Catholic Studies at the University of Toledo (Ohio, not Spain).

The Venerable Jonathan Boardman is an Anglican presbyter, rector (pastor) of All Saints parish in Rome, and Archdeacon of Italy and Malta for the Anglican diocese of Gibraltar, which covers all of continental Europe.

[An archdeacon in the Anglican Communion, as it once was in the Catholic Church, is basically the vicar general, and in this case one of several where each is assigned a geographic portion of a diocese. Though traditionally this was a role for a deacon, the eventual usurping of all diaconal ministries into the presbyterate included this high office.]

Having either one of these men as guests for dinner and conversation over tea would have been a treat, especially now in the wake of the apostolic constitution Anglicanorum Coetibus. To have both on the same night was a true privilege, especially for an ecumenist/ecclesiologist like me. I would have been happy just to sit back sipping my tea, and listen to them discuss the personal Ordinariates, the history of Anglicans in Rome, and the ecclesiologies of our communions today. Both men are as engaging as they are erudite, though, and welcomed questions and comments from those of us who decided to stay and converse rather than head across town for a party with the other lay students of Rome. (Still working on that bilocation thing)

Bordman and Gaillardetz

Anglican Father Jonathan Boardman and Professor Richard Gaillardetz

Professor Gaillardetz has written a great deal in exactly the areas of ecclesiology that interest me, including ecumenism, the diaconate, lay ecclesial ministry and a wide range of other topics. I have no doubt that his work will make a significant contribution to my thesis and dissertation, and it is always a blessing to make a real-life connection with someone whose work informs your own.

Father Jonathan I have met on my two forays to All Saints, first for their dedication feast – the Sunday after the press announcement of the Personal Ordinariates – and for Stian’s debut as Evensong Acolyte Extraordinaire. His comments on the Personal Ordinariates, and his personal openness about his reactions since the first announcement and the subsequent publication of the constitution, were welcome, enlightening, and honest.

[In fact, as i write this, i suddenly realize who it is that Fr. Boardman reminds me of: Bishop Daniel Jenky, CSC! Some similar physical characteristics, spoken style and personality. Good preacher. hmmm….]

“I am not angry about all this… and yet, I’m surprised how angry I was!” probably best describes one of the most common reactions, echoed by Father Boardman while relating an incident where an innocent joke about “competition” [between Catholics and Anglicans] by a Vatican colleague touched a raw nerve.

While both the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Holy See’s own Council for Promoting Christian Unity had little notice before the public announcement, and many Anglicans and Catholics alike have seen this as either “arrogant” or at least “unilateral and insensitive”, some Anglicans have also noted that it is not as if the Anglican Communion or its constituent national churches have always consulted Rome or Constantinople before making a decision that had ecumenical ramifications (such as the ordination of women to the episcopate).

Further, as my friends remind me, there are probably more Catholics – including priests – who have “swam the Tiber” in the other direction than Anglicans who have come into communion with Rome over the last three or four decades.

We also spent some time discussing the theology of the episcopate – or lack thereof – in the apostolic constitution, and wondered why at least a “conditional” ordination wasn’t proposed given the development of Catholic theology on orders in general and Anglican orders specifically since Leo XIII issued Apostolicae Curae.

I have an upcoming post updating my thoughts on the constitution, and I am incorporating some of my gleanings from this conversation there, so I do not want to duplicate it here!

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