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Since September, it seems nothing has been bigger news in the circles of ecclesiastical gossip and intrigue, especially for the aficionados of the Tridentine liturgy, than the rumored “demotion” of Raymond Cardinal Burke, a Wisconson native and former Archbishop of St. Louis, who has been serving as Prefect of the Apostolic Signatura since 2008.
Radical Traditionalists, already no fans of Pope Francis, immediately went into hyperbolic fits of indignation: Never has a cardinal been treated so badly! What disrespect! How ham-fisted! It’s a junta! You might as well decapitate him! Where is Pope Benedict? Or Pius X, better yet? This is all Kasper’s fault! Woe is us! The modernists are coming!
Naturally, the secular media picks this up from the conservative Catholic blogosphere and puts their own spin on it: Burke is demoted for opposing reforms in the Synod; Burke is demoted for calling the Church rudderless under Pope Francis; Burke is demoted for disagreeing with Pope Francis on LGBT issues, etc.
Though he confirmed the rumor himself in the midst of the Synod on the Family, the official appointment was only made on 8 November, when Burke was appointed as Cardinal Patron of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta – a crusader-era hospitaller order that continues its millennium-long tradition of service and chivalry from its headquarters on Rome’s Aventine hill.
But the truth is, if Pope Francis were really interested in ungraciously demoting Burke, he could remove him from the College of Cardinals altogether, send him into cloistered retirement permanently, or appoint him as bishop of some small diocese somewhere (I hear Spokane is open).
The fact is that nearly all the cardinals working in the Roman Curia as heads of dicasteries lose their office when the pope that appointed them dies or resigns. The new bishop of Rome has complete freedom to either confirm them in their appointments, reappoint them anew, give them a temporary appointment, or let them go altogether. All cardinals are basically at-will employees of the Pope – more so than any other office in the Church, the Sacred College is tied directly to the personal prerogative of the bishop of Rome.
Cardinal Burke was never confirmed in his office as prefect, but was simply left there on an interim basis – even for longer, at 18 months, than several others in the curia. This happens with every single new pope. All the time.
Far more dramatic moves are common. Some quick examples:
- About ten months after his election, Pope Benedict XVI effectively combined two Pontifical Councils – Culture and Interreligious Dialogue – under the leadership of a single president, and sent the former president from Interreligious Dialogue out to the nunciature in Cairo, without the dignity of the red hat that usually goes with his former office.
- Pope St. John Paul II was known to be heavy-handed with bishops in a way that neither Francis nor Benedict can be said to emulate. In the 80’s he placed the Archbishop of Seattle in a bizarre power-sharing arrangement with a freshly minted auxiliary bishop (not a coadjutor) for a year. In the 90’s he appointed a French bishop to a diocese that has not existed for fifteen centuries, just to force him out of any pastoral responsibility.
- Pope Bl. Paul VI transferred one bishop who opposed reform efforts from being ordinary of a diocese to serving as auxiliary of another.
- Pope St. Pius X, of course, is rumored to have simply pulled the zucchetto off the head of a bishop he did not like, sending him off with a “Goodbye, Father” to indicate his demotion to presbyteral status. (which flies in the face of Catholic ecclesiology, after all: ordination leaves an indelible character, no?)
By comparison, Burke is being given a plum assignment. He gets a cushy residence, gets fêted and fed, gets to dress up in his beloved baroque wardrobe, and never has to worry about his livelihood. On top of that, he actually gets to work with an established and internationally respected humanitarian organization. I would not mind being “demoted” like this. Not at all. (Except for the garb, i suppose).
Cardinal Burke served for just over six years as prefect of the Apostolic Signatura – longer than any of his seven predecessors going back to the days of Paul VI.
It is true that he has become the poster-bishop for the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite – the Tridentine Mass. He is more widely known for his watered silk and lace ensembles than for his various canonical accomplishments. He is outspoken in his criticism of even the slightest suggestions at reform in the church, a voice for the status quo and the fortress-against-the-world approach to ecclesiology.
This is not the message the Church should be sending. Noble simplicity does not call for acting simply like nobility. The Church does not need princes in renaissance and baroque regalia, it needs shepherds and servants garbed like Christ the Deacon, ready to wash the feet of the disciples of God.
It seems somehow fitting to match Burke with the Sovereign Military Order of Malta. An affinity for flashy capes is perhaps not their primary charism, but it is a starting point that they share with their new patron. It can be done in context, not as an historical recreation or an exercise in liturgical nostalgia.
Does anybody think he would be better suited at Cor Unum or Christian Unity? Archpriest of Mary Major? Or perhaps as a diocesan ordinary back in the States somewhere? Personally, I wonder why there is not just a personal prelature for the devotees of the Extraordinary Form; make Burke the prelate. Or perhaps personal ordinariates might be more fitting; make him one of the ordinaries. If there is one bishop (in this case a cardinal) representing that movement in the church, it would be enough. If it is that ministry which gives him the most joy, and for which he gets the most support, would not that be just the place to put him?
The WYSIWYG Pope
What I like most about Pope Francis is probably his integrity. Honesty and humility wrapped up with transparency. This is exactly what some people seem to find most frustrating – the off-the-cuff remarks, open to interpretation, or occasionally without all the details in place. The WYSIWYG Pope (What You See Is What You Get). But that is precisely the charm. And a much needed breath of fresh air. Just as Benedict XVI was a different kind of fresh air after the long lingering of John Paul II, and his theological acumen and teaching gifts a welcome change from the poetic philosophy of our most recent sainted bishop of Rome, the straight-shooter Francis is a welcome change from the meticulously careful German academic.
I am still unpacking all the ecumenical and interreligious activity of the weekend, but some small examples suffice as well. During his interview on the plane, Papa Francesco again responded to questions about celibacy, stating ‘nothing new’ when he said that the door is (theoretically) open, as required celibacy for diocesan priests is a discipline and not doctrine or dogma. Many have said it before and anyone who has studied Church history or understands the hierarchy of truths knows this and is probably thinking, “Just words… I’ll believe it when I see it.”
But whether he is talking about celibacy, or clericalism, or retiring popes, he is willing to speak directly on subjects that have been largely taboo for the rest of us for the last generation. I am not talking about ‘liberal’ issues like changing church moral teaching, ordaining women, or embracing New Age spirituality as a replacement for the rosary. I am talking about centrist, orthodox, reform issues like creative responses to our ministry problems drawn from the Tradition of the Church. This is about healing wounds caused by scandal and sex abuse, and demolishing systems that promoted or allowed such to happen, and build up in their place living adaptations of even more ancient ecclesiological structures.
Pope Francis is willing to name these problems, and at least open them up for discussion. Hopefully that attitude will trickle down, like a bad economic model (or perhaps, like the dewfall), to the rank and file church leadership, and we will have a vibrant discussion on how best to support our priests, bishops and deacons without enabling clericalism; how to support celibacy as a charism without foisting it on anyone with a call to ecclesial ministry and leadership; and how to accept that the bishop of Rome is not a monarch for life by divine right, but a diakonos of the diakonoi of God.
Reflections after a hiatus…
For the next few weeks, I will be perched in a loft suite in what was once the Monastery of St. Andrew, founded by Pope St. Gregory the Great. For its more recent history (a mere millennium or so), it has been under the care of the Camaldolese Benedictine monks.
Working with both US and Roman academic systems once again, several of my jobs have finished for the year – undergrad professor, TA, and residence manager – while others continue for a few weeks: seminary professor, John Paul II Center graduate assistant. With no more undergrads in residence to manage, I have had a week to clean up and vacate myself. For the intervening few weeks while finishing other tasks, this view is mine. Then plans for a little travel in Italy, a three week seminar on Orthodox theology in Thessaloniki, and a few stops in North America before coming back for a new semester in late August.
When I opened my draft file for the blog, I found 15,000 words in notes waiting for me. I should be so inspired on my doctorate! (The oldest is a half written post about the feast of St. Agnes, well known for the blessing of the lambs to be shorn for wool used in the making of the pallium – the unique vestment of metropolitan archbishops everywhere. A friend once asked the sisters responsible for the shearing about their fate, these blessed and cared-for critters, “Que successo?” “Al forno!”)
I will see what I can do about resurrecting a few of the choicer bits, but I really ought to be grading a few last papers anyway. I am keeping a file of funny answers, too, for late publication (along the lines of “Vatican II is the pope’s summer residence, right?”)
What a year it has been, too! I remember a monsignorial staffer under JPII once claiming that the curia were constantly “out of breath” trying to keep up with the then-tireless pontiff. Communications fiascos notwithstanding, one begins to think the Benedict years were something of a breather for them. Now, each week brings something new and interesting for the vaticanisti and the ecclesiology wonks.
Pope Francis is not quite my idea of a perfect pope, but he is the pope I think I have been waiting for, for most of my life. A colleague asked me recently what I thought about him, and opened by suggesting she thought I might be more of a Pope Benedict fan.
It is true, in many ways: my personality is more similar to Ratzinger than either Wojtyła or Bergoglio. I appreciated Ratzinger’s profound theological acumen and ecumenical commitment, his ability to listen, his collaborative style and loyalty to his close collaborators. A lot of pastors and bishops could learn from that example.
He was the first real theologian-pope in a couple of centuries, and in terms of prolificacy, stands among the greats. His sensitive, introverted, and bookish personality made me think that, if I had to choose a kindred spirit from among the three pontiffs which I can remember during my lifetime, it would be Ratzinger. (I was born in the last months of Paul VI, and still in diapers when John Paul I had his brief time on the Chair of Peter).But, the Church is in need of reform. It is always in need of reform, always in need of purification. While John Paul II and Benedict both lead certain areas of reform forward, certain ecclesiological and very practical issues have remained untouched.
The Roman curia and its communications stagnated under John Paul II, the quality and confidence of bishops and bishops’ conferences waned, and a centralized ultramontanist ecclesiology crept back in – really, had never quite been rooted out – but both were overshadowed by the sheer volume of his personality. Under Benedict, many of the inherited flaws began to show through, and he unfairly got much of the blame for issues that went without redress under his saintly predecessor. The sex abuse scandal sits at the top of the heap, finances next, but the whole Vatican communications apparatus was not far behind. Pope Benedict got the ball rolling in many cases – on sex abuse, on finances, on Vatican personnel – but these successes were frequently given short shrift compared to the communications and competence fiascoes. The biggest distraction was unfortunately his ecumenical effort at reintegrating traditionalist sects into the Church via a re-introduction of the Tridentine liturgy on a mass scale [pun intended].
I think I understand Ratzinger’s concern with the abrupt changes to the liturgy in the late sixties. One of his main themes has been about a reintegration, an informing of each other, of the old Tridentine Rite (what he called the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite, the Mass of Pius VI (1570), Revised in 1962) and the ordinary form of the Roman Rite (the Mass of Paul VI, Missal of 1970, last revised in 2002). Aside from the fact that this seems to make Ratzinger a champion of the hermeneutic of discontinuity that he otherwise preached against, for many people the revival of the baroque bling in liturgy was a distraction at best, and a sign of a return to the disastrous ecclesiolatry of the late 19th and early 20th century at worst. Not without reason, for too many people in the Church, the high baroque trappings, the traditionalist interpretation of liturgy, the lace and the maniple et al. all go hand in hand with precisely the forms of clericalism and institutional navel-gazing that allowed the scourge of pedophilia to fester and actually promoted the kind of bishops who would cover up the worst cases.
This association is not one Ratzinger could make, and it is his papacy that convinced me it is not an entirely fair association, either. To him and to many of his fans, there was a certain kind of reverence lost after 1968 that had to be retrieved, and his own personal piety found its comfort zone, like most of us, in the mode of expression he was familiar with in the innocence of childhood. Indeed, in my first few years in Rome, many curial officials bemoaned the ‘crisis of 1968’ as if everyone should know what it was, and somehow never seemed to understand why I (and many of my peers) found it shocking that someone who lived through 1938 could think that 1968 better represented the downfall of moral society!
The real problem was that he was trying to put the toothpaste back in the tube, so to speak, forty years too late. It might have been a better way to go immediately after the council, to have a slower, longer transition period, maybe with both forms of the rite for a period of time. But now, given the state of the church he inherited, and indeed had some responsibility for, what the Church needed was, and is, great reform. And it needs to be seen making this reform with urgency and integrity. Pope Benedict started some much needed reform, but more attention was given to the moves that seemed to be contrary to reform – even if that was not entirely his intent. It is Francis who is seen to mean it, without qualification and without pining for a long lost ideal that was not nearly so ideal as it seems now, to some. And he has the energy to engage it full-on. If only he were twenty years younger!
The most commonly spoken fear in Rome, these days, is that Francis will be assassinated (a la Godfather III) before his reforms can take effect. It is mostly said jokingly, in a moment of black humour.
The real fear and the reason that even a year after his election there is only a subdued hope and enthusiasm is this: We had a Council. We had every bishop in the world come together and call for reform; for greater synodality and collegiality; for a renewal of the diaconate and appreciation for the vocational contribution of the laity; for uncompromising commitment to ecumenism and interreligious dialogue; and commitment to being in, if not of, the modern world; for a renewed and constantly renewing liturgy that called forth full, conscious, and active participation.
Yet, at the fiftieth anniversary celebration of the opening of Vatican II in Rome, one participant quipped ‘it seems as if I have come to a funeral, rather than a celebration. Are we here to honor the Council, or bury it?’ Everyone one of the reforms I mentioned was floundering or at least seemed to be unpopular in the halls of power and in the seminaries. “Ecumenism?” I heard one priest say, “They will never make you bishop doing your license in ecumenism. Try dogma or canon law. Ecumenism is a failed experiment anyway.” Within a couple decades of the largest and most comprehensive ecumenical council the Church has ever seen, some of its central acts were being re-interpreted in ways to make them less like reform and more like reinforcement of the old status-quo.
Many reforms remain half-executed. Just by way of example, take the restoration of the diaconate as a full and equal order – while we now have permanent deacons, we still have transitional ones as well. The cursus honorem of the seminaries, in the minor orders, though officially abolished, has since the early 80’s has been effectively revived with nothing more than different names and rites. Most people think the major difference between deacons and presbyters is marriage and celibacy, meaning there is no shortage of men called to the diaconate being ordained priests, and men called to priesthood being ordained deacons. And nobody agrees on just what a deacon IS, though too many people assume they are subordinate to priests. Yet there has been very little official movement, and not even the possibility of discussing ordination and marriage in the same sentence, in fifty years. It has even become en vogue to revive the befuddled medieval thought that deacons are not really clergy anyway, since they are not ordained to the priesthood, as such.
If the Council could not achieve a comprehensive lasting reform in all of the intended areas, the thought goes, how can one pope? Especially one who may serve for a decade or less? Will he not so disturb some of the powers-that-be, that when his successor is elected, they will seek to balance the ‘fast-moving’ years of Francis with another caretaker pope? People talk of pendulum swings as if John Paul II and Benedict were conservative and Francis liberal, when in fact Francis is just the middle ground where the pendulum should come to stop and rest.
If we have a century of popes in the mode of Francis (and John Paul I, I suspect), we might be able to fully receive the Council without the continued polarization of the Church in the last five decades. We might be able to fully live out the reforms called for, without undue excess or burdensome reticence, and collectively take joy in being the Church again.
As one of my students recently said, “Pope Francis made it cool to be Catholic.” For her, it was the first time in a lifetime of faith that this was the case; when I shared this with an older student later, he simply smiled and added, “…again.”
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.
Lombardi on Francis
I found this quote in my notes without a link. If anyone knows the source, I will happily correct it. Also, it is second-hand, so take it with the same grain of salt as that interview that ‘reconstructed from memory’ the ‘sense’ of the conversation. Still, this sums up what i have been hearing from many in the communications world of the Vatican for a year.
[UPDATED: From the New Yorker, and no apparent comment from Lombardi on the conversation].
James Carroll reports a conversation with Lombardi:
I met Lombardi in a spartan room in a grand Mussolini-era building just outside St. Peter’s Square. Lombardi is a dark-eyed, silver-haired man of seventy-one, who looks as if he could be an Italian film director. I asked what his life had been like since Benedict stepped down. Lombardi broke into a broad smile. Then he said, “We experienced for years—and for good reason, also—that the Church said, ‘No! This is not the right way! This is against the commandments of God!’ The negative aspect of the announcement . . . this was in my personal experience one of the problems.” Father Lombardi and I are almost the same age. In his earnest good will and kindliness, he struck me as the priest I would have liked to become. He said, “The people thought I always had a negative message for them. I am very happy that, with Francis, the situation has changed.” He laughed. “Now I am at the service of a message . . . of love and mercy.” He laughed again.
Church reform and papal retirement, a year on
John Allen’s article commemorating the first anniversary of Pope Benedict’s resignation this week points out that for all the attention Pope Francis has received this year as a ‘revolutionary’ or ‘reformer’, the single most revolutionary act by the bishop of Rome in the last year was Benedict’s humble and courageous decision to retire.
Even here in Rome, studying at the heart of the Church, I found out first through Facebook.
It is a great example of something that should not have been surprising, or all that revolutionary. Certainly, it was, given the climate and context of the Church in recent decades. Following on the heels of the soon-to-be saint John Paul II, who lingered in office several years longer than was probably good for himself or for the Church, one might have thought it was blasphemous to suggest something of the sort. In a sense, Benedict, being the excellent ecclesiologist that he is, had to resign, to disabuse the papacy from the personality cult, and remind us that every office in the Church is one of service and ministry; not power, prestige, or persona.
The impact on the conclave was obvious, as many commentators have already noted. Rather than an overwhelming outpouring of grief at the death of the towering figure of John Paul II that got his right-hand man elected, the cardinals were able to take better stock of the real situation in the Church and especially in the curia, and set about doing something about it.
It never ceases to amaze me how strong the current is that was in favor of the retreat from reform (sometimes called a ‘reform of the reform’) in a Church that has declared, a the highest level of authority, ecclesia semper purificanda. The truth is that there is no purification without reform; there is no reform without action. We must act to change the Church, so that the Church can change the world.
For the last generation, we have been told repeatedly that ‘tinkering with Church structures’ is not what is needed; instead, greater personal holiness is the all-encompassing solution. There is both wisdom and naivety in such statements. The wisdom is that prayer is paramount, and holiness is indeed a necessary virtue in all Christians; the naivety is that tinkering is not what is needed not because it is ineffective, but because some structures have been so badly neglected for so long that any ‘tinkering’ is just putting lipstick on a pig. Anything short of a radical and all-encompassing overhaul is complicity, or at least complacency.
But in a sacramental reality, we cannot underappreciate the real value of a change in tone; we cannot dismiss it as superficial. Which is not at all to buy into the oversimplified dichotomies we see, both in secular media (e.g.Rolling Stone) and in the reactionary wing of the fold that contrast Benedict and Francis, putting one or the other in a completely unfavorable light.
It has always seemed to me that Benedict’s biggest liability was not (just) a hostile secular media who never let go of the image of God’s Rottweiler – because in truth, his biggest fans never did either, still hoping for the hammer of heresy to drop. It was about image, though: His apparent penchant for baroque bling distracted from his genuine reform efforts.
For too many in the church, these trappings of power and privilege – whether imperial, renaissance, or baroque in origin – go hand in hand with clericalism and the sex abuse scandal. Who can forget that it was the church of lace surplices, brocaded maniples and mumbled latin anaphorae – with its concomitant failure at human formation in seminaries and warped ecclesiology – that brought us the greatest wave of scandal the Church has faced in the modern age? It does not matter that there is little or no direct causal relationship, but the correlation is too widely fixed: “traditionalism” = clericalism = abuse of power = a climate of permission for child sex abuse.
Joseph Ratzinger had long been trying to redeem that, to separate out the legitimate traditions from their accrued associations. He may have a point that the transition from the Missal of Pius V to that of Paul VI was too abrupt, but his solution came forty years too late. Add that to his well-established reputation and the series of administrative and communications fiascos, and there was only so much he could do.
So he did what he could: he set the stage for someone without the same baggage to come along and continue the good work he had started. I can imagine that he realized the cost of trying to restore some place in the mainstream for the older form of the liturgy came at too high a cost, or that the cause of reunion with the SSPX was lost. Or perhaps he saw his work done already: he brought the tridentine liturgy out from the periphery and into the center of the Church, in whatever small way. He left no more excuses for “traditionalism” to be a code word for dissent, and planted the seeds that may redeem that part of our liturgical patrimony from its oft-associated failures in ecclesiology, pastoral formation, and leadership.
Thanks to Pope Benedict, contemplation and action could again meet in the endless effort of Church reform. There is much to be done, since, in some respects, the Church stopped being interested in self-purification and reform sometime around the time I entered adolescence, as if the whole idea had been a failed experiment of the 70s and 80s rather than a movement of the Holy Spirit.
Enter Pope Francis, who genuinely seems to be setting about to reform the Church, perhaps (we can hope) on as grand a scale as Gregory I or VII, Pius V, or John XXIII. Some will call anything he accomplishes too little, too late; others will denounce it as too much, too fast. I would instinctively err on the side of the former, considering how many centuries it often takes to resolve problems in this institution, but in the last year it has been hard even to keep up with the constant flow of good news. I continue to pray for deep, genuine, and theological reform of the Church, and I have hope that it is coming. The Church is, after all, called to be holy, too, not just the people in it!
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!
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.
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)
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)
Year of the Deacon: A Proposal
With the success of the Year of the Priest under Pope Benedict, I humbly suggest to Pope Francis (or whomever is reading) that we should have a Year of the Deacon. If anything, the diaconate is suffering from under-attention far more than the presbyterate, so the same motives that made the first so successful and timely apply at least double for this suggestion!
Plus, given that Francis of Assisi is often said to have been a deacon (though this is apparently in some dispute, whether he was ordained at all), it seems all the more appropriate that a bishop of Rome with that name initiate a year to honor and build up these Icons of Christ, Diakonos.
Naturally, it should be done ecumenically, rather than unilaterally. Especially as the discernment of the nature of the diaconate is a shared ecumenical challenge and opportunity. Invite all the heads of communion to declare the same, and have an ecumenical gathering of deacons as part of the celebrations.
I propose that the Year of the Deacon start on the feast of Deacon St. Lawrence of Rome, 10 August 2014 and conclude on the feast of Deacon St. Stephen of Jerusalem, Protomartyr, on 26 December 2015. The highlight events of the year could take place on 30 October 2014 to recognize the 50th anniversary of the vote on Lumen Gentium, which included the call for the restoration of the diaconate to its full and proper place in the Catholic Church. These were the two saints invoked as patrons for the restored diaconate by Pope Paul VI in Sacrum Diaconatus Ordinem.
Would it not be a grand sight, to see St. Peter’s filled with deacons and their wives from around the world, celebrating the liturgy with the bishop of Rome? Dioceses offering catechesis on the ancient office of the deacon, its institution, and the symbolism of the Last Supper as iconic for the diaconal office; a surge in vocational promotions efforts for the diaconate; a special synod on the identity of the deacon, including the question of women as deaconesses (or just as deacons)?
He could even take the opportunity to introduce his new archdeacon…
What else could be done during such a Year of the Deacon? Ideas?