Ah, the Church and money. That has been a problem area since Judas was treasurer and helped himself to the contents of the purse. Most popes, all of them over the past two centuries, have announced initiatives to reform this vexing area. Pope Francis has his go at it:
In the most concrete sign to date of his intention to reform the Vatican, Pope Francis announced the creation Monday of a single authority to handle all business, administrative and personnel management at the Holy See, a response to the rash of financial scandals that have tarnished the Roman Catholic Church’s reputation among believers and nonbelievers.
The new Secretariat for the Economy will draw up the Vatican’s annual budget, call on lay experts for advice and launch surprise internal audits. The body will help ensure “a more formal commitment to adopting accounting standards and generally accepted financial management and reporting practices, as well as enhanced internal controls, transparency and governance,” the Vatican said in a statement.
Heading the secretariat is Australian Cardinal George Pell, the archbishop of Sydney, who has been a critic of the Vatican’s lack of accounting transparency. Pell is a member of a group of eight handpicked cardinals whom Francis has tasked with advising him on how to reform the Holy See.
“If we make better use of the resources entrusted to us, we can improve our capacity to support the good works of the church, particularly our works for the poor and disadvantaged,” Pell, 72, said in a statement.
In a papal document known as a motu proprio, Francis decreed that Pell would work with a 15-member council made up of eight senior prelates from different parts of the world, as well as seven lay experts “of various nationalities, with financial skills and acknowledged professional status.” The pope has already hired independent firms such as Ernst & Young and KPMG to help shake up the Vatican’s complicated and murky bureaucracy.
Centralizing many financial powers under the new secretariat represents the biggest change to the Curia, the Vatican administration, since John Paul II overhauled operations in 1988. Continue reading
This is interesting. Raymond Cardinal Burke has an article in L’Osservatore Romano on The Francis Effect. Father Z provides the commentary:
During a recent visit to the United States, I was repeatedly impressed by how deeply Pope Francis has penetrated the national conversation on a whole range of issues. His special gift of expressing direct care for each and all has resonated strongly with many in my homeland.
At the same time, I noted a certain questioning about whether Pope Francis has altered or is about to alter the Church’s teaching on a number of the critical moral issues of our time, [I get a lot of this. A stewardess on a flight the other day gave me that song and dance.] for example, the teaching on the inviolable dignity of innocent human life, and the integrity of marriage and the family. Those who questioned me in the matter were surprised to learn that the Holy Father has in fact affirmed the unchanging and unchangeable truths of the Church’s teaching on these very questions. They had developed a quite different impression as a result of the popular presentation [read: mainstream media] of Pope Francis and his views.
Clearly, the words and actions of the Holy Father require, on our part, a fitting tool of interpretation, [read: hermeneutic] if we are to understand correctly what he intends to teach. My friend and colleague at the Dignitatis Humanae Institute, Cardinal Renato Raffaele Martino, put it this way in a recent article in this newspaper: “The Holy Father instructs with his words, but effectively teaches through his actions. This is his uniqueness and his magnetism” (L’Osservatore Romano, English edition, [ore] 13 December 2013, p. 7). In other words, Pope Francis is exercising strongly his gift for drawing near to all people of good will. It is said that when he manifests his care for a single person, as he does so generously whenever the occasion presents itself, all understand that he has the same care for each of them.
With regard to his manner of addressing the critical issues, the Holy Father himself has described his approach, when he stated: “We cannot insist only [get that?] on issues related to abortion, gay marriage and the use of contraceptive methods…. I have not spoken much about these things, and I was reprimanded for that. But when we speak about these issues, we have to talk about them in a context. The teaching of the Church, for that matter, is clear and I am a son of the Church, but it is not necessary to talk about these issues all the time” (“The Pope’s Interview”, [TBI™] ore, 25 September 2013, p. 14). In other words, the Holy Father wants, first, to convey his love of all people so that his teaching on the critical moral questions may be received in that context. [When Francis uttered the infamous “Who am I to judge?”, it was in a context. HERE] But his approach cannot change the duty of the Church and her shepherds to teach clearly and insistently about the most fundamental moral questions of our time. I think, for instance, of the Holy Father’s words to the participants in the second annual March for Life in Rome on 12 May of last year, or of his Twitter message to the participants in the annual March for Life in Washington, D.C., on 22 January.
In a similar way, Pope Francis has reaffirmed the Church’s perennial teaching on the indissolubility of marriage, [get that?] as well as the practical importance of the Church’s canonical discipline in seeking the truth regarding the claim of the nullity of a marriage. I think in particular of his words to the Plenary Assembly of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura: “It is always necessary to keep in mind the effective connection between the action of the Church which evangelizes and the action of the Church which administers justice. The service of justice is an undertaking of the apostolic life…. I encourage all of you to persevere in the pursuit of a clear and upright exercise of justice in the Church, in response to the legitimate desires that the faithful address to their Pastors, especially when they trustingly request that their own status be authoritatively clarified” (ore, 15 November 2013, p. 8).
[So, Your Eminence, what is Francis doing?] Pope Francis has clearly reaffirmed the Church’s moral teaching, in accord with her unbroken tradition. What, then, does he want us to understand about his pastoral approach in general? It seems to me that he first wishes to have people set aside every obstacle which they imagine to prevent them from responding with faith. He wants, above all, that they see Christ and receive His personal invitation to be one with Him in the Church.
The Holy Father, it seems to me, wishes to pare back every conceivable obstacle people may have invented to prevent themselves from responding to Jesus Christ’s universal call to holiness. We all know individuals who say things like: “Oh, I stopped going to Church because of the Church’s teaching on divorce”, or “I could never be Catholic because of the Church’s teaching on abortion or on homosexuality”. The Holy Father is asking them to put aside these obstacles and to welcome Christ, without any excuse, into their lives. Once they come to understand the immeasurable love of Christ, alive for us in the Church, they will be able to resolve whatever has been troubling them about the Church, His Mystical Body, and her teaching. Continue reading
Pope Francis had some advice yesterday for his 19 new Cardinals:
During his homily in St. Peter’s Basilica, Francis told the cardinals to strive to “be saints.” To achieve that, he advised them to simply love those who are hostile to them, bless those who speak badly of them, and “smile at those who perhaps don’t merit it.” Continue reading
One loss is good for the soul. Too many losses is not good for the coach.
From the only reliable source of Catholic news on the net, Eye of the Tiber:
SOCHI, Russia––For only the third time in Winter Games history, the United States swept the podium, capturing the top three spots Thursday in Slopestyle Skiing’s Olympic debut, an event that many sports historians say was created in the past four years by a half-baked college kid in his dorm room in Colorado. In the meantime, the Vatican has yet to medal, leading EOTT to ask just why the Holy See National Team has failed to take to the podium.
“From what I’ve seen, it’s probably because there is no Holy See Olympic team. I’d definitely start there,” said EOTT sports reporter S.C. Naoum in an interview with Raymond Arroyo this morning. “The problem is that the Church is not impulsive. They take their time with nearly everything, including canonizations, which have been known to take centuries. There’s no way they could ever learn the ever-changing sports that seemingly materialize out of nowhere every four years.
The last time the Holy See had an Olympian was in the 2012 Vancouver games when Father Roberto Manisini competed in Cross Country Skiing. Mansini took last place that year after Vatican officials took nearly three months to pray and contemplate whether Mansisni should remain behind the pack to conserve energy, or to try to take an early lead. Afterwards came another two years of back-and-forth paper work passed from one Vatican department to the other, until then Pope Benedict XVI gave his final seal of approval to conserve his energy and wait for a better opportunity. Mansini came in last with a time of 19,723 hours. Continue reading
One of the biggest mistakes thus far of the current pontificate is those idiotic questionnaires which were ordered in preparation for the synod on the family in October, at least, judging from what Sandro Magister at Chiesa is reporting, that might well be the private assessment of Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri:
Finally, on Monday the 24th and Tuesday the 25th of February there will be a meeting of the council of the general secretariat of the synod of bishops, coordinated by the new cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri.
That assembly will begin to evaluate the responses to the questionnaire concerning the upcoming extraordinary synod in October, also dedicated to the pastoral care of the family.
The episcopal conferences of Germany, Austria, and Switzerland have already seen to spreading all over the world, through detailed press releases, the responses that have come to them, tipped very much out of balance toward the progressive side.
But this diffusion has been judged as a “unilateral initiative” and “not correct” by Baldisseri, who reiterated in an interview how the publication of these materials, which were supposed to have been sent “confidentially” to the Vatican, were by no means authorized.
Not only that. The new cardinal – also in the same interview published in the “Quotidiano Nazionale” on February 11 – also defined as “a possible interpretation” that which sees the release of the data as a form of pressure for influencing the work of the synod. Continue reading
Some of the Pope’s fans on the left are beginning to get impatient:
Spanish revolutionary, Harvard-educated public health specialist, abortion rights advocate and Roman Catholic nun.
These four labels seldom apply to the same person, but Sister Teresa Forcades, a 48-year-old woman from Barcelona, straddles many worlds.
In Europe she is the star of televised debates on feminism and religion, a leader of the Occupy movement in Spain who has taken on big corporate interests and a fierce critic of modern capitalism.
She pulls no punches with her views. “I don’t think it is possible to have democracy and capitalism. They go against each other because the way we live capitalism is that we allow some corporations to have such power that they are able to influence government. And that’s the problem,” she told Al Jazeera in an interview.
Until recently, these controversial opinions might have led to her being reprimanded by the Vatican. But now, with a new leader in power apparently committed to fundamentally changing the church’s approach on social justice issues, she believes she’s merely taking some of Pope Francis’ ideas and running with them.
The new pope has invigorated the previously isolated social justice wing of the church, a change that many leading activists have welcomed. But at the same time, others are warning that his papacy has so far been more about a shift in tone than about substantive change on key issues such as abortion, women’s ordination and gay rights. Continue reading
Sandro Magister at his blog Chiesa brings us some comments made by Pope Francis on the liturgy:
But on Monday, February 10, with no forewarning Jorge Mario Bergoglio broke the silence and dedicated to the liturgy the entire homily of the morning Mass in the chapel of Santa Marta. Saying things he has never said before, since he became pope.
That morning the passage was read from the first book of Kings in which during the reign of Solomon the cloud, the divine glory, filled the temple and “the Lord decided to dwell in the cloud.”
Taking his cue from that “theophany,” pope Jorge Mario Bergoglio said that “in the Eucharistic liturgy God is present” in a way even “closer” than in the cloud in the temple, his “is a real presence.”
And he continued:
“When I speak of the liturgy I am mainly referring to the holy Mass. The Mass is not a representation, it is something else. It is living once again the redemptive passion and death of the Lord. It is a theophany: the Lord makes himself present on the altar in order to be offered to the Father for the salvation of the world.”
Further on the pope said:
“The liturgy is the time of God and space of God, and we must put ourselves there in the time of God, in the space of God, and not look at our watches. The liturgy is nothing less than entering into the mystery of God, allowing ourselves to be carried to the mystery and to be in the mystery. It is the cloud of God that envelops us all.”
And looking back on one of his childhood memories:
“I recall that as a child, when they were preparing us for first communion, they had us sing: ‘O holy altar guarded by the angels,’ and this made us understand that the altar was truly guarded by the angels, it gave us the sense of the glory of God, of the space of God, of the time of God.”
Coming to the conclusion, Francis invited those present to “ask the Lord today to give all of us this sense of the sacred, this sense that makes us understand that it is one thing to pray at home, to pray the rosary, to pray many beautiful prayers, make the way of the cross, read the bible, and the Eucharistic celebration is another thing. In the celebration we enter into the mystery of God, into that path which we cannot control. He alone is the one, he is the glory, he is the power. Let us ask for this grace: that the Lord may teach us to enter into the mystery of God.” Continue reading
Rorate Caeli has some fairly dispiriting news about Pope Francis thinking that a desire for the TLM is a mere fashion choice:
[Abp. Jan Graubner speaks:] When we were discussing those who are fond of the ancient liturgy and wish to return to it, it was evident that the Pope speaks with great affection, attention, and sensitivity for all in order not to hurt anyone. However, he made a quite strong statement when he said that he understands when the old generation returns to what it experienced, but that he cannot understand the younger generation wishing to return to it. “When I search more thoroughly – the Pope said – I find that it is rather a kind of fashion [in Czech: ‘móda‘, Italian ‘moda‘]. And if it is a fashion, therefore it is a matter that does not need that much attention. It is just necessary to show some patience and kindness to people who are addicted to a certain fashion. But I consider greatly important to go deep into things, because if we do not go deep, no liturgical form, this or that one, can save us.” Continue reading
Sage advice from the Pope to married couples:
From the only reliable source of Catholic news on the net, Eye of the Tiber:
Washington, DC––Vice President Joe Biden announced today that he was stepping down as Vice President just hours after an altercation on the phone between Biden and President Obama regarding the sanctity of life. This comes on the heels of Biden’s visit with with Pope Francis after the conclusion of the pope’s Installation Mass, in which Biden could be heard uttering the words “what have I done…what have I done.” “It appears as though Mr. Biden has had a change of heart with regards to the abortion issue after his meeting with the pope earlier today,” U.S. Press Secretary Jay Carney told the press moments ago. “He [Biden] called President Obama and informed him that he could no longer stand by as millions of babies were aborted. He also said that he had confessed his sins and now looked to remain in good standings with the Church and the good Lord. He also urged President Obama to make peace with God.” Although the full details of the phone conversation have been slow to come out, Washington insiders have said that after a heated debate about when life begins, Biden told President Obama that he was stepping down ”effective immediately” to live a life of prayer and meditation. Biden aides have yet to comment on the details, but have confirmed reports that the former vice president had placed a call to Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI about staying with him until he could get an abandoned monastery of his own to live out the rest of his life. At press time, a bare-chested Biden was seen on his knees outside St. Peter’s Basilica, repeatedly lashing himself as he screamed the words “mea culpa” in reparation for his sins. Continue reading
Catholic clerics in Europe have been reporting that more Catholics have been attending Mass since Pope Francis became Pope. According to one survey, this has not been the case in America:
According to the survey, 22 percent of Americans identify themselves as Catholic — virtually unchanged from 2007 and the same as when Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio was elected the successor to the ailing Pope Benedict XVI in March. Similarly, weekly Mass attendance levels in the eight months of Francis’ young papacy have remained stable at 39 percent — a slight statistical decline from the 40 percent reported 2012, the last full year of Benedict’s papacy.
Francis’ global popularity and favorable media coverage have led some to search for the “Francis Effect,” with Catholic clergy members having noticed an increase in church attendance in Italy, Britain and other countries.
Pope Francis has thrilled some and unnerved others inside the church with his forthright statements on issues such as social justice for the poor, fair treatment of the disabled and personal humility, while downplaying many of the social issues such as abortion and same-sex marriage. In a marked contrast with his predecessor, Francis has eschewed the luxurious papal residence, shown a popular touch while wading into large crowds and washed the feet of prisoners. Continue reading
Sandro Magister has an interesting look at a theological paper that has been released by the Vatican, which was initiated at the request of Pope Benedict in 2008:
“Heresy” and “dogma.” The two words in the Church that almost no one dares to say anymore – all the more so in this season of “mercy” – suddenly came back to the forefront on January 16, in their full meaning and in the most official form, on the front page of “L’Osservatore Romano.”
“As far as the Christian faith is concerned, violence in the name of God is a heresy pure and simple”: this is what the editorial in the pope’s newspaper calls the “unmistakable thesis” of the document of the international theological commission made public that same day.
And vice versa: “Scrupulous respect for religious freedom stems from that which is most dogmatic in the idea of God that the Christian faith has to offer.”
The international theological commission, instituted after Vatican Council II, is an arm of the congregation for the doctrine of the faith, is headed by its prefect, and is made up of thirty theologians of various nations, appointed by the pope “ad quinquennium.”
The document made public on January 16 was ordered by Benedict XVI in 2008, in the context of his dialogue with contemporary culture, in order to reopen within it a pathway toward God, the true God. It was crafted over five years by 10 members of the commission, including the Chinese Salesian Savio Tai Fai Hon, today the secretary of “Propaganda fide,” the Swiss Dominican Charles Morerod, today the bishop of Lausanne, Geneva, and Fribourg, and the Italian Pierangelo Sequeri, a leading representative of the theological school of Milan.
For now the complete text of the document is available only in its Italian version – elegant and incisive as rarely happens with theological texts, thanks to the pen and the mind of Sequeri, even if here and there it is not easy to read – while in eight more languages an introductory summary is ready, with the complete translation still to come:
The title provides a glimpse of the document’s motivation: to fight the widespread idea that monotheism, faith in the one God, is synonymous with obscurantism and intolerance, is an indestructible seed of violence . And therefore is to be banned from civil society.
Jews, Muslims, Christians are the target of this typically relativistic theorem, which demonstrates that it intends to replace monotheism with a moderate “polytheism” deceptively presented as peaceful and tolerant.
Jews are charged with having faith in a vindictive God “of wrath and war,” that of the Old Testament, and this is imputed to them with a preconceived hostility that the document says is present “even in sophisticated culture” (one recent example of this theological anti-Judaism is provided in Italy by Eugenio Scalfari, the ultra-secularist “interviewer” of Pope Francis.
Held against the Muslims – with the reinforcement of the facts – is “the order of Muhammad to defend the faith by means of the sword,” as Emperor Manuel II Palaiologos had denounced in his dialogue with the Persian sage made known around the world by Benedict XVI in the Regensburg lecture of September 12, 2006. And it is curious that, on the same day as the release of the document of the thirty theologians, a 36-page document appeared on the Huffington Post written by Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the mastermind of the destruction of the Twin Towers and a detainee at Guantanamo, which cites Benedict XVI in order to refute the idea that the Quran legitimizes the use of force as a means for religious conversion, and justifies the attack of September 11, 2001 as an exclusively political revolt of the oppressed against the oppressor:
But Christians are the main enemy to be overthrown, in present-day anti-religious polemics. And it is here that the document brings into play the concepts of heresy and dogma.
The mere thought – it affirms – that the Christian vision associates faith with violence is consummate heresy. While it is an irrevocable dogma that “the Son, in his love for the Father, draws violence upon himself, sparing friends and enemies, or rather all men,” and therefore, with his ignominious death confronted and overcome, “he annihilates in a single act the power of sin and the justification of violence.”
The document is rich with argumentation and effective both in its “pars destruens,” where it unveils the flimsiness of the modern condemnation of monotheism, and in its “pars construens,” where it highlights the Trinitarian nature of Christianity, which distinguishes it from the other forms of monotheism and is the basis of “the irrevocable seriousness of the Gospel interdict with regard to all contamination between religion and violence.”
The document is not silent about Christian concession to religious violence in history. But it urges the recognition of the present time as the “kairòs,” the decisive moment, of an “irreversible departure” of Christianity from such violence. Continue reading
Well this is intriguing:
On a day when everyone is recalling Pope Benedict XVI’s historic — and stunning — announcement last Feb. 11 that he intended to resign the papacy comes a fascinating revelation from the 2005 conclave that elected Benedict: Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, who reportedly ran second to Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger in that conclave, later told a fellow cardinal that if he had been elected then he would have taken the name “John” after Pope John XXIII. Instead, Bergoglio was elected in March of last year two weeks after Benedict resigned and became the first pope named after Francis of Assisi. “Good Pope John,” as John XXIII is known, also stunned the church and the world by calling the Second Vatican Council that in the 1960s introduced numerous reforms and ushered Roman Catholicism into the modern world. “John, I would have called myself John, like the Good Pope; I would have been completely inspired by him,” Bergoglio told Cardinal Francesco Marchisano, according to a new book by longtime Italian Vaticanista Gianluca Barile. – Continue reading
Fernando Sebastián Aguilar the archbishop emeritus of Pamplona y Tudela was recently named a cardinal by Pope Francis. He is now facing possible criminal prosecution for remarks that ran afoul of the gay thought police in Spain.
A Spanish prosecutor has agreed to investigate Cardinal-elect Fernando Sebastian Aguilar after a national homosexualist group launched a legal action against him last month, accusing him of hate speech for calling homosexuality a “defective way of expressing sexuality.”
Aguilar, recently named as a cardinal-elect by Pope Francis, told the Spanish newspaper Diario Sur January 20 that sex “has a structure and a purpose, which is procreation.”
“A homosexual who can’t achieve procreation is failing,” he said. “Our bodies have many defects. I have high blood pressure, a defect I have to try and correct in whatever way I can.”
Members of Colegas, the homosexual group behind the complaint, say that the Cardinal-elect’s words “clearly incit[e] hate and discrimination,” a crime that they say violates constitutional guarantees.
“Spain is a modern country and a secular one, and these types of declarations from the church have to be punished because [members of the church] are the least qualified to talk about sexual deficiencies, above all because they have hidden cases of child abuse and paedophilia,” Colegas president Antonio Ferre said after filing the complaint. Continue reading
Bishop James D. Conley of Lincoln, Nebraska, has a very insightful piece at First Things regarding the Rolling Stone article on the Pope:
The profile is an exercise in standard revisionism, bent on demonstrating Francis’ break from the supposedly conservative Church of old. Light on facts, heavy on implication, half-truths and hearsay, the piece remakes Pope Francis as the quiet hero of the liberal left. It uses the scandals of Vatican finance and sexual abuse, coupled with tired tropes about Opus Dei and the Latin Mass, to craft Pope Benedict XVI as a miserly conservative plotter. Pope Francis is the foil: the reluctant, populist leader of a move to liberalize and desacralize the Catholic Church.
It doesn’t matter how much or how little is true. Certainly, the profile contains a great deal of untruth. Inconvenient facts, such as the affability of an Opus Dei source, or the theological orthodoxy of the Holy Father, are dismissed. The piece is unbalanced in its sourcing, and it draws unreasonable conclusions from carefully selected vignettes. Over the next few weeks, bright Catholics will discredit the factual inaccuracies in the article. But what matters most is that Rolling Stone and its collaborators are working to hijack the papacy of a loyal, though often unconventional, son of the Church.
The reason is simple. Sexual and social libertines have little interest in discrediting Christianity. They’re far more interested in refashioning it—in claiming Christ, and his vicar, as their supporters. The secularist social agenda is more palatable to impressionable young people if it complements, rather than competes with, the residual Christianity of their families. The enemy has no interest in eradicating Christianity if he can sublimate it to his own purposes.
From the only reliable source of Catholic news on the net, Eye of the Tiber:
Geneva, Switzerland–New guidelines set down by the international community during the fifth Geneva Convention this week has extensively defined the basic, spiritual wartime rights of the Church Militant by outlawing all Marty Haugen music used in and around war-zones. What is officially being called The Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Parishioners in Times of Spiritual War has become the fifth convention establishing the standards on international law for the humanitarian treatment of spiritual war. “Our new resolution states that all Catholics who are in the process of spiritual warfare are to be treated humanely,” Said General of the Counsel Robert Durant at a press conference earlier this morning. “The following acts are to be henceforth prohibited: Violence to life and person, in particular, cruel treatment and torture by means of being made to listen to Gather Us In. Outrages upon personal dignity, in particular humiliating and degrading treatment such as asking parishioners to sing along to We Remember. And finally, all acts requiring parishioners to listen to said music during the reception of communion.” Continue reading
Popes are often confronted with fairly surreal situations. Pope Francis had such a moment yesterday when he was presented with a life size chocolate statue of himself made from 1.5 tons of cocoa: