Pope Francis

PopeWatch: The Queen

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Pope Francis met with the Queen yesterday:

According to Vatican Radio, Thursday’s audience marked the queen’s seventh encounter with a pontiff and the fifth different pope she has met. Besides trips to Rome, she also welcomed Pope John Paul II and Benedict XVI, now Pope Emeritus, on their respective visits to Britain.

Her first papal encounter was with Pope Pius in 1951, the year before she ascended the throne, the broadcaster said.

The Queen’s latest visit to Italy, at the invitation of Napolitano, was initially planned last year but was postponed because of illness.

Britain’s ambassador to the Holy See, Nigel Baker, told Vatican Radio the Queen had decided to take advantage of the rescheduled trip to meet Pope Francis.

“If you look back in terms of Queen Elizabeth’s reign, it is extraordinary how far the relationship between Britain and the Holy See, and between the Anglican Church and the Catholic Church, has developed since 1952 when she became queen,” he said.

A key aspect of that has been her several encounters with different popes over the years, Baker said. Continue reading

PopeWatch: Libertine Atheism

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Sandro Magister at his blog Chiesa has an interesting post examining an intellectual influence on the Pope:

 

His name is Alberto Methol Ferré. An Uruguayan from Montevideo, he often crossed the Rio de la Plata to visit his friend the archbishop in Buenos Aires. He died in 2009 at the age of eighty. A book-length interview of 2007 has been reprinted in Argentina and now also in Italy, of capital importance for understanding not only his vision of the world but also that of his friend who went on to become pope:

In presenting the first edition of this book in Buenos Aires, Bergoglio praised it as a text of “metaphysical profundity.” And in 2011, in the preface to another book by a close friend of both men – Guzmán Carriquiry Lecour, the Uruguayan secretary of the pontifical commission for Latin America, the highest ranking layman at the Vatican – Bergoglio once again offered his gratitude to the “brilliant thinker of the Rio de la Plata” for having laid bare the new dominant ideology after the fall of the Marxism-inspired forms of messianic atheism.

It is the ideology that Methol Ferrè called “libertine atheism.” And that Bergoglio describes as follows:

“Hedonistic atheism and its neo-Gnostic trappings have become the dominant culture, with global reach and diffusion. The constitute the atmosphere of the time in which we live, the new opium of the people. The ‘sole form of thought,’ in addition to being socially and politically totalitarian, has Gnostic structures: it is not human, it recycles the different forms of absolutist rationalism with which the nihilistic hedonism described by Methol Ferré expresses itself. It dominates the ‘nebulized theism,’ a diffuse theism without historical incarnation; even at its best it produces Masonic ecumenism.”

In the book-length interview that has now been republished, Methol Ferré maintains that the new atheism “has radically changed its face. It is not messianic, but libertine. It is not revolutionary in a social sense, but complicit with the status quo. It has no interest in justice, but in all that permits the cultivation of radical hedonism. It is not aristocratic, but has transformed itself into a mass phenomenon.”

But perhaps the most interesting element of Methol Ferré’s analysis is in the answer that he gives to the challenged posed by the new hegemonic thinking:

“This is what happened with the Protestant Reformation, with Enlightenment secularism, and then with messianic Marxism. An enemy is defeated by taking the best of his intuitions and pushing them further.”

And what is his judgment of libertine atheism?

“The truth of libertine atheism is the perception that existence has an intrinsic destination of enjoyment, that life itself is made for satisfaction. In other words: the deep kernel of libertine atheism is a buried need for beauty.”

Of course, libertine atheism “perverts” beauty, because “it separates it from truth and from goodness, and therefore from justice. But – Methol Ferré warns – “one cannot redeem libertine atheism’s kernel of truth with an argumentative or dialectical procedure; much less can one do so by setting up prohibitions, raising alarms, dictating abstract rules. Libertine atheism is not an ideology, it is a practice. A practice must be opposed with another practice; a self-aware practice, of course, which means one that is equipped intellectually. Historically the Church is the only subject present on the stage of the contemporary world that can confront libertine atheism. To my mind only the Church is truly post-modern.”

There is a stunning harmony between this vision of Methol Ferré and the program of his disciple Bergoglio’s pontificate, with his rejection of “the disjointed transmission of a multitude of doctrines to be imposed with insistence” and with his insistence on a Church capable of “making the heart burn,” of healing every kind of illness and injury, of restoring happiness. Continue reading

PopeWatch: Sylvia Hawk

 

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PopeWatch wishes that the below story from Independent Catholic News did not have a dateline of April 1:

Sylvia and Friend

 

 

Vatican officials today are introducing a new measure to keep St Peter’s Square clear of marauding birds. A team in the Swiss Guards has been assigned the task of supervising a Sharris Hawk, which will be brought out during the Weekly Audiences and the Angelus – on Wednesdays and Sundays.

On 26 January this year, two white peace doves were attacked by a crow and a seagull, seconds after they were released from a window in the Apostolic Palace by Pope Francis, accompanied by two young children. One dove lost several feathers in the fracas.

A spokesman for the Vatican Press Office said: “Such an event will not happen again.” He explained: “The hawk, which is called Sylvia, was bred in a wildlife centre in northern Italy and is highly trained. Her mere presence should act as a deterrent to any more attacks such as the one which took place in January. In addition however, she will act as an escort and protector to the peace doves after the ceremonies, accompanying the birds when they fly home from Saint Peter’s to their aviary, which is about one and a half a kilometres from the Vatican.”

With a wingspan of up to 120 cm (47 inches) Sharris Hawks originally come from the southwestern United States, Chile and Argentina. They have dark brown plumage with chestnut shoulders, wing underwings, white on the base and tip of the tail, long, yellow legs and beak. Continue reading

PopeWatch: Resignation Part Two

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In a shock April 1, 2014 announcement the Vatican has stated that Pope Francis is resigning today and Pope Benedict will resume his duties as Pope.

Pope Francis is quoted as naming two factors in his decision for resigning:  1.  The rich Italian  cooking that could get him up to 400 pounds if he stayed in Rome;   and 2.  Criticisms from Catholic blogs, especially in America.  Noting that his predecessor had warned him about reading the blogs, Pope Francis was disturbed by the divisions his election had caused.  “I do not want to be the cause of acrimony among Catholic bloggers.  If I stay as Pope it could be another “torture debate”, and I doubt if Western civilization could survive that.”

As for Pope Benedict, he is described as rested, fit and rearing to resume his duties as Pope.  Father Lombardi, Vatican press spokesman, said that Pope Benedict feels 75 after months of sleeping all night and eating hearty monastery food.  As for blogs, Pope Benedict stopped reading them after the condom flap, according to Father Lombardi, although he conceded that the Pope did sneak a peak at Eye of the Tiber for a laugh now and then. Continue reading

PopeWatch: Confession

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Pope Francis recently broke with protocol, something not too unusal for this pontiff, but this time PopeWatch suspects this departure from the norm will elicit cheers from almost all Catholics.

Pope Francis stunned parishioners, faith leaders and his own master of ceremonies Friday when he broke protocol to do something wholly unexpected: he bowed down in front of the crowd at St. Peter’s Basilica and confessed his sins to an ordinary priest, Reuters reported.

Typically, the pope goes to confession in private, so his decision was a departure from the past.

Francis made the noteworthy move after uttering a sermon in which he covered the importance of confession in the Catholic faith. Continue reading

God’s Not Dead; There’s Something Happening Here

There’s something happening here, but what it is ain’t exactly clear…The opening words to the Buffalo Springfield (the band that would introduce to us the likes of Stephen Stills and Neil Young) classic song written in 1966, but released in 1967 certainly resonated to those who heard it whatever their political leanings. There was a sense even before the famous or infamous 1967 events, like the Newport Folk Festival and San Francisco’s Summer of Love that something in society was changing. The same could be said today in light of a flurry of religious themed movies that have come out in the first three months of 2014.

One could argue that the first signs of the secular sea change we have been under were first seen after the mid-term elections of 2006. By November of 2008 there was no doubt the western world was changing. However, for every action there is a reaction. It may have taken the world of faith a bit longer to react but it has. Already in 2013, the Bible mini-series caught the attention of those in Hollywood who notice TV and cultural move watching habits. The Bible mini-series, the brainchild Mark Burnett and Roma Downey literally spun off into the Son of God film which is currently one of the year’s early top grossing films.

However, it seems that what is bubbling under the current is what catches everyone by surprise, and so it is with the year’s first big surprise, God’s Not Dead.  The film’s entire production budget was between 1-2 million dollars, the mere advertising budget of most medium size films. The screenwriters are faithful Catholics Cary Solomon and Chuck Konzelman, whom I met some four years ago while giving one of my talks at Family Theater in Hollywood (founded by Servant of God Father Patrick Peyton CSC also known as The Rosary Priest.) I was impressed by Cary and Chuck, their frequent Mass attendance during the week, their fervent study and practice of the faith (as evidenced by the St. Thomas Aquinas type logic used in some of their arguments in God’s Not Dead,) and their embrace of the sacramental life, especially the Sacrament of Penance.

Both men weren’t living some fantasy of wanting to hobnob with Hollywood’s hipsters. They had been down that road successfully working and mingling with the likes of Sylvester Stallone among others. Cary and Chuck felt called to write faith based scripts. In an interview with me featured in the National Review both men spoke of the hypocrisy that the faithful have to endure in the public square.

  Hartline: I think a faithful Christian, or anyone of faith, feels a lot has changed in the last five or six years. People of faith are often mocked or belittled in popular culture, and the faithful are accused of all sorts of bigotry and ignorance. We are told to get with the times, as if our consciences could really leave the truth behind. It seems the movie is addressing that underlying feeling in the faith community.

Solomon and Konzelman: Yes, that’s definitely the nerve that’s been touched. Secular humanists insist that Christians in general — and Catholics in particular — are supposed to leave their belief system at home when it comes to matters in the public sphere. So according to the rules they propose, their belief system is allowable . . . and ours isn’t. Which is a deliberate attempt to subvert the whole democratic process. As someone else pointed out: Democracy is supposed to be about more than two wolves and a sheep voting on what to have for dinner.

 I then posed the question as to why some are willing to defend their faith as did the college student in God’s Not Dead, but sadly most do not.

Hartline: College student Josh Wheaton appears to be the nondescript everyman. While everyone else accedes to the professor’s atheistic rants, Josh decides to take up the challenge, even though he’s far from being a theologian. Is there a message there for most of us?

Solomon and Konzelman: It’s a question of being willing to try . . . and fail, if necessary. Mother Teresa got it right: God does not require us to be successful, only faithful. Secular humanism has really been racking up the score in the culture wars lately, largely because of the unwillingness of many Christians to counter their efforts. Unfortunately, doing nothing is doing something: It’s enabling the other side. Every time we roll over and don’t confront the challenge, our forfeit shows up as a win in the other team’s column and encourages them to push further. Continue reading

PopeWatch: Women

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From the only reliable source of Catholic news on the net, Eye of the Tiber:

Washington, DC––Fresh off her groundbreaking sermon denouncing “the misogynist St. Paul” for depriving the demoniac girl of her spiritual gifts in Acts 16:16, Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church Reverend Katharine Jefferts Schori has published another landmark piece of scriptural exegesis.  In a new set of essays entitled The Great Amend, Schori highlights the systematic oppression, degradation, and misunderstanding of women throughout Holy Scripture. Prominent examples include Delilah, long viewed as a villain, actually a sexually-liberated freedom-fighter; Jezebel, a trailblazing political leader and forerunner to such modern figures as Hillary Clinton and Nancy Pelosi; and Eve, an independent, free-thinking woman who was ostracized by the all-male establishment because of her dietary preferences.  “By far the most egregious example of the oppressive patriarchy within the Bible,” Jefferts Schori observes, “is a particular teenage girl, about three-quarters of the way through the book, who is forced to consent to an unwanted pregnancy.  Any fair and just society would have provided her access to proper reproductive services — including safe, legal, state-subsidized abortion.” Continue reading

PopeWatch: Obama

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Well, Obama finally has had his meeting with the Pope.  It seems rather similar, based upon the Vatican description, to his meeting with Pope Benedict:

This morning, 27 March 2014, the Hon. Barack H. Obama, President of the United States of America, was received in audience by His Holiness Pope Francis, after which he met with His Eminence Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Secretary of State, and Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, Secretary for Relations with States.

During the cordial meetings, views were exchanged on some current international themes and it was hoped that, in areas of conflict, there would be respect for humanitarian and international law and a negotiated solution between the parties involved.

  In the context of bilateral relations and cooperation between Church and State, there was a discussion on questions of particular relevance for the Church in that country, such as the exercise of the rights to religious freedom, life and conscientious objection, as well as the issue of immigration reform. Finally, the common commitment to the eradication of trafficking of human persons in the world was stated. Continue reading

PopeWatch: Secret Consistory

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This is very interesting.  Rorate Caeli has a story, written by  Marco Tossati for La Stampa, about the “Secret” Consistory on February 22, 2014 at which Cardinal Kasper proposed that a “pastoral” approach be taken to Catholics in adulterous marriage to give them a process by which they could receive communion while remaining in their adulterous marriages.  Apparently the Cardinal’s proposal was as well received as a skunk at a perfume convention:

Marco Tosatti, for LA STAMPA

 
The Consistory on  the 22nd February to discuss the family, was supposed to be secret. Instead a decision came from the top that it was opportune to publish Cardinal Kasper’s long report on the theme of the Eucharist for the divorced and remarried. In all probability [this] to open the way in prospect of the  October Synod on the Family. However half of the Consistory remained secret: [that half] concerned  observations from Cardinals. And maybe not by chance, as, after Cardinal Kasper had presented his long report (and as it seems it was not very light when given ,) rather a lot of voices were raised in criticizing it. So much so, that in the afternoon when the Pope gave him the job of responding, the German Cardinal’s tone appeared piqued, even angry to the many [present].
 
The current opinion is  that “Kasper’s theorem”  tends to allow permission in general for the  divorced and remarried  to receive communion, without the previous marriage being  recognized as null.  At present this does not happen,  based on Jesus’ words which were very severe and explicit on divorce.  People who live a full  matrimonial life without the first union being regarded as invalid by the Church, find themselves in a situation of permanent sin, according to present doctrine.
 
In this sense, Cardinal Caffarra of Bologna as well as German Cardinal Mueller (Prefect of the Congregation of the Faith) spoke clearly.  Equally explicit was Cardinal Walter Brandmuller (“ Neither  human nature nor the Commandments nor the Gospel have an expiry date[…]Courage is needed to enunciate the truth even against current customs.  Whoever speaks on behalf of the Church must possess courage if he does not want his vocation to be a failure.[…] The desire to obtain approval and applause is a temptation which is always present in the transmission of religious teaching.”   Afterwards he made his words public).  Also the President of the Italian Bishops, Cardinal Bagnasco expressed himself in a critical manner with regard to “Kasper’s theorem”;   the same went for the African Cardinal Robert Sarah, Head of “Cor Unum”  who at the end of his comments, recalled  that in the course of the centuries even on dramatic questions controversies and divergences  had existed  inside the Church, but that the role of the Papacy had always been the one of defending doctrine.
 
Cardinal Re who was one of Bergoglio’s greatest electors, gave a very short statement, which can be summarized thus:  “I will speak for just a moment, because there are future new cardinals here and perhaps some of them do not have the courage to say it, so I will: I am completely against this report.”  Also the Prefect of the Penitentiary, Cardinal Piacenza said he was against it and more or less said: “we are here now and we will be here again in October for a Synod on the Family, and so since we  want to have a positive Synod, I don’t see why we have to touch only on the matter of  Communion for divorcees.”  He added: “Since we want to have a debate on pastoral care it seems to me that we should have to take note of  a widespread pan-sexualism  and the attack of the “ideology of gender” which tend to demolish the family as we have always known it.  It would be providential if we were lumen gentium so as  clarify the situation we find ourselves in, as well as the things that can destroy the family.”  He concluded by exhorting a re-reading of the catecheses by John Paul II on corporeity, since they contain many positive elements about sex, being a man and a woman, procreation and love.
 
Cardinal Tauran, (of Inter-Religious Dialogue) returned  again to  the attack on the family, also in light of relations with Islam. Likewise Cardinal Scola of Milan raised theological  and doctrinal perplexities .
 
Cardinal Ruini was also very critical.  He [also]added: “I don’t know if I understood well, but at this moment, about 85% of the Cardinals have expressed opinions apparently contrary to the layout  of the report.”  He added that among those who did not say anything  –  therefore could not be classified – he took from their silence that: “I believe they are embarrassed”. Continue reading

Economic & Semantic Ignorance: It Rolls Downhill

 

Acton’s Power Blog covered yet another piece on Pope Francis’ salvo against the free market today in the run-up to his meeting with President Obama, and the theme is quite familiar: “Pope Francis is not an economist or technocrat laying out policy…”

It seems as though this is now a magic incantation by which anything and everything a person says about economics becomes acceptable and perhaps even praiseworthy. I could be grateful for the fact that there is a subtle implication here: if an actual economist were to say the things about free markets that Francis said, he wouldn’t have much credibility left as an economist.

The plain truth here is that whether or not a person is an economist has nothing to do with the actual nature of the statements they make. Let’s take a look at what Francis himself said in a follow-up interview to Evangelii Guadium:

I wasn’t speaking from a technical point of view, what I was trying to do was to give a picture of what is going on. The only specific quote I used was the one regarding the “trickle-down theories” which assume that economic growth, encouraged by a free market, will inevitably succeed in bringing about greater justice and social inclusiveness in the world. The promise was that when the glass was full, it would overflow, benefitting the poor. But what happens instead, is that when the glass is full, it magically gets bigger nothing ever comes out for the poor. This was the only reference to a specific theory. I was not, I repeat, speaking from a technical point of view…

With all due respect, these are testable claims about empirical reality. “But what happens instead, is…” Yes, that is an empirical statement. An attempt to “give a picture of what is going on” is an attempt to explain reality. There’s no way out of it: these are “technical” statements, their lack of details or any evidence of systematic economic training notwithstanding. (I’m familiar with the translation controversies too – none of them help his case) Moreover, they are simply false. The world’s poor have benefited immensely from the globalization and liberalization of economies; according to the World Bank, in spite of a 59% increase in population in the developing world, the number of people living in extreme poverty (less than $1.25 per day) has fallen from 50% to 21% in the last 30 years.

Continue reading

PopeWatch: Rush

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Father Z highlighted some interesting commentary from Rush Limbaugh with comments by Father Z:

RUSH:  Well, folks, the left’s honeymoon with Pope Francis may be coming to an end.  Remember the pope went out there and released an economic encyclical or document in which I analyzed it as being almost Marxist. And this caused just… There were eruptions in voluminous amounts. In fact, there were volcanic eruptions in the media.  And all of a sudden the left, which hates the Catholic Church, fell in love with the pope!

Remember that?  Oh, if I come out criticize him, the pope’s gotta be a good guy. So they fell in love with pope. “The pope is a great guy!” But now the Vatican’s chief justice feels that President Obama’s policies have been hostile toward Christians.  “Vatican Chief Justice: Obama’s Policies ‘Have Become Progressively More Hostile Toward Christian Civilization’ — The Vatican’s chief justice feels that President Barack Obama’s policies have been hostile toward Christians.”

Now, this is the Vatican. This is an official. It doesn’t have to be coming from the pope in order for it to be official. [Wellllll…. Rush… you need some tutoring here….] “In an interview with Polonia Christiana magazine [HERE] — and transcribed by Life Site News — Cardinal Raymond Burke said that Obama ‘promotes anti-life and anti-family policies.’” So the Vatican is out defending Christianity, defending itself, and this is gonna cause a fissure between the media, which was falling in love with the pope. [Not to mention fissures in the catholic Left.  Wait until the feminists start demanding that their tame males turn on Francis because Francis will never support the ordination of women.]

They weren’t falling in love with the Catholic Church, don’t misunderstand.  They were falling in love with the pope.  They thought, they really thought… Here, again, is another classic illustration of total ignorance.  They really think that they can make the Catholic Church moderate its tone.  They think they can bring the Catholic Church into what they call the Twenty-First Century.  They think that this pope might actually legalize gay marriage, sanction it in the church.

They think this pope might actually allow women to be priests.  They think this pope might actually lighten up on its pro-life position.  They really believe that. They really think the Catholic Church is just another political organization.  [Which is why the catholic Left talks about the Church’s “policies”.] If they exert enough pressure, and if they get the right pope in there, they can work on him to bring the church forward into the Twenty-First Century.  And this from the Vatican chief justice is just a major, major slapdown.

The left is not going to be happy about this. Continue reading

PopeWatch: Work

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The Pope has always been concerned with high unemployment and last week at a ceremony celebrating the 130th anniversary of an Italian steelworks he made the following comments:

“It is necessary to reaffirm that employment is necessary for society, for families and for individuals”, said the Pope. “Its primary value is the good of the human person, as it allows the individual to be fully realised as such, with his or her attitudes and intellectual, creative and manual capacities. Therefore, it follows that work has not only the economic objective of profit, but above all a purpose that regards man and his dignity. And if there is no work, this dignity is wounded! Indeed, the unemployed and underemployed risk being relegated to the margins of society, becoming victims of social exclusion”.

“What can we say, when faced with the very serious problem of unemployment that affects various European countries?”, he asked. “It is the consequence of an economic system that is no longer able to create work, because it has placed at its centre the idol of money. Therefore, the various political, social and economic actors are called upon to promote a different approach, based on justice and solidarity, to ensure the possibility of dignified work for all. Work is an asset for all, and must be available to all. Phases of serious difficulties and unemployment must be faced with the tools of creativity and solidarity. The creativity of courageous businesspeople and craftspeople, who look to the future with trust and hope. And solidarity between all the elements of society, who all give something up, adopting a more sober lifestyle, to help those in need”.

PopeWatch: Mafia

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Pope Francis, as did his two immediate predessors, has spoken out against the Mafia:

 

Pope Francis has warned Italy’s mafia they will go to hell unless they repent   and reminded them they cannot take their “blood stained money and blood   stained power to the next life.”

PopeWatch: Art

 

From the only reliable source of Catholic news on the net, Eye of the Tiber:

 

Painting of The Rise of the Sentients in Guardian Angels Cathedral in Las Vegas, Nevada

VATICAN CITY––An official at the Vatican Press Office today announced that the Vatican was in preliminary negotiations with Las Vegas bishop Joseph Pepe to swap Michelangelo’s The Last Judgment with the world-renowned painting The Rise of the Sentients located inside Guardian Angel Cathedral in Las Vegas, Nevada. Monsignor Alexander Bader, a spokesman for the Sistine Chapel, told reporters earlier this morning that The Last Judgment, though exquisite in its own right, had “run its course.” “We do not doubt the beauty of Michelangelo’s piece,” Bader told reporters. “But the fact is that the wonderfully pure artistry and vibrant colors of The Rise of the Sentients, with its images of bare-chested sentients flying up, up and away to heaven or Krypton, call it what you may, lends itself to what the theme of our chapel ought to be…artwork communicating itself on an inner level, found not so much in the painting itself, as it is in the viewer…very much like our faith.” Bader did not disclose many specifics about the trade, saying only that it was officials at the Sistine Chapel that initiated the offer, and that thus far, Pepe has been reluctant to trade the piece. “Who could blame him? All I can say at this time is that Bishop Pepe has indeed denied our first offer. We are currently working on a proposal that could also include the Pieta, and possibly even the Basilica of Saint Mary Major.” Continue reading

PopeWatch: Pope Editor

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Hmm, apparently Pope Francis is turning to Pope Emeritus for critiques:

 

— The man who serves two popes has revealed that retired Pope Benedict XVI wrote four pages of critique and commentary on Pope Francis’s landmark interview in which he blasted the church’s obsession with “small-minded” rules.

Monsignor Georg Gaenswein, Benedict’s personal secretary and head of Francis’ papal household, told German broadcaster ZDF that Francis had solicited Benedict’s input on the interview, which was published in September in 16 Jesuit journals around the globe and helped define Francis’ agenda.

The Jesuit priest who conducted the interview, the Rev. Antonio Spadaro, said Tuesday that he gave the first printed copy of the interview to Francis on the day it was published. Francis gave that version to Benedict to critique, Spadaro told The Associated Press.

Though Benedict’s comments had no impact on the published article, the revelation is further evidence of the remarkable and unprecedented collaboration between the two popes, who stay in touch by phone, in person and by sending notes back and forth across the Vatican gardens via Gaenswein. Continue reading

PopeWatch: Saint Maker

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One of the distinguishing features of the papacy since Vatican II has been an enthusiasm for proclaiming saints.  Sandro Magister at his blog Chiesa explains how Pope Francis has been exercising this power:

 

He explained, in fact, that Anchieta will be inscribed in the list of saints together with two blesseds born in France who played a leading role in the evangelization of Canada: the missionary mystic Marie of the Incarnation (née Marie Guyart, 1599-1672), and Bishop François de Montmorency-Laval (1623-1708).

The three were beatified by John Paul II on June 22, 1980, together with two other venerables who had lived in the Americas, who in the meantime had already been canonized according to the ordinary procedure: Peter of Saint Joseph Betancur (1626-1667) and the young Native American virgin Kateri Tekakwitha (1656-1980), proclaimed saints, respectively, by John Paul II on July 30, 2002 and by Benedict XVI on October 21, 2012.

Everything by the book? No. The bishop of Tenerife has revealed that the three blesseds will be proclaimed saints not according to the ordinary procedure, which demands the canonical recognition of a miracle attributed to their intercession, but through a historically extraordinary channel called the “canonization equivalent.”

The nature of this special procedure, which “has always been present in the Church and has been employed regularly, if not frequently,” was illustrated in “L’Osservatore Romano” on October 12, 2013 by Cardinal Angelo Amato, prefect of the congregation for the causes of saints.

The cardinal explains:

“For such a canonization, according to the teaching of Benedict XIV, three elements are required: an ancient tradition of devotion, the constant and common attestation of trustworthy historians on the virtues or martyrdom, and the uninterrupted fame of miracles.”

Cardinal Amato continues:

“If these conditions are satisfied – again according to the teaching of pope Prospero Lambertini – the supreme pontiff, by his authority, can proceed with the ‘canonization equivalent,’ meaning the extension to the universal Church of the recitation of the divine office and the celebration of the Mass [in honor of the new saint], ‘without any definitive formal sentence, without any preliminary juridical process, without having carried out the usual ceremonies.'”

In effect, pope Lambertini himself – in one tome of his monumental work “De servorum Dei beatificatione et beatorum canonizatione” now available in Italian from Libreria Editrice Vaticana – enumerates twelve cases of saints canonized in this way before his pontificate (1740-1758).

They are: Romuald (canonized in 1595), Norbert (1621), Bruno (1623), Peter Nolasco (1655), Raymond Nonnatus (1681), Stephen of Hungary (1686), Margaret of Scotland (1691), John of Matha and Felix of Valois (1694), Gregory VII (1728), Wenceslaus of Bohemia (1729), Gertrude of Helfta (1738).

Also in “L’Osservatore Romano” of last October 12, Cardinal Amato then enumerates the “canonization equivalents” after Benedict XIV: Peter Damian and the martyr Boniface (canonized in 1828); Cyril and Methodius of Thessalonica (1880); Cyril of Alexandria, Cyril of Jerusalem, Justin Martyr and Augustine of Canterbury (1882); John Damascene and the abbot Sylvester (1890); Bede the venerable (1899); Ephrem the Syrian (1920); Albert the Great (1931); Margaret of Hungary (1943); Gregorio Barbarigo (1960); John of Avila and Nicola Taveli? and three companion martyrs (1970); Marko Krizin, István Pongrácz, and Melchior Grodziecki (1995).

As can be noted, John Paul II, although he proclaimed more saints and blesseds than all his predecessors put together – since the popes have reserved this power to themselves – used only once the procedure of the “canonization equivalent.”

Benedict XVI also used it only once, with Hildegard of Bingen, whom he proclaimed a saint on May 10, 2012.

Pope Francis, however, has already used this exceptional procedure twice. On October 9, 2013 with Angela da Foligno (1248-1309) and the following December 17 with the Jesuit Peter Faber (1506-1546).

And he will use it a third time, proclaiming three new saints, next April 2, with the Jesuit Anchieta, Sister Marie Guyart, and Bishop François de Montmorency-Laval.

In practice the current pontiff, in just one year of pontificate, has had recourse to this special means more times than anyone other than Leo XIII, who used it a bit more, although this was over a span of twenty years (between 1880 and 1899) and was applied to persons of the first millennium of the Christian era, with the sole exception of the abbot Sylvester, who however lived in the remote 14th century. Continue reading

PopeWatch: Noah

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 And as in the days of Noah, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.

Matthew 24:37

So Russell Crowe will not receive a papal blessing for his Noah pic:

Pope Francis has nixed a would-be meet and greet with the creative team behind “Noah,” including star Russell Crowe, director Darren Aronofsky and Paramount vice chair Rob Moore, which studio executives had been scrambling to schedule as a photo-op, Variety has learned.

The meeting was tentatively on the calendar for 8:30 a.m. Wednesday in the VIP section so the pope could figuratively lend a blessing to the $125 million biblical epic. The reason the Vatican cancelled it, according to a source, is over concerns word would leak, causing a spectacle as Crowe and Aronofsky landed in Rome.

When reached by Variety last week, Aronofsky said the meeting had been proposed, but it wouldn’t happen if anybody reported or tweeted about it ahead of time.

“Noah,” scheduled for U.S. release on March 28, has been criticized by some religious groups for taking too many liberties with the story of Noah’s Ark. Continue reading

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