Wednesday, May 02, 2012

A Stick to beat the Cardinal with...

The latest Church news in Ireland is a continuation of the ongoing controversy regarding the involvement of Cardinal Sean Brady - then part-time secretary to the Bishop of Kilmore - in the Church investigation into the actions of the now-notorious child abuser Fr Brendan Smyth. This article from the Irish Times gives a summary of the contents of a televison programme which brings to light further detail of how the investigation was conducted in 1975.
In particular, the programme makes it known that in addition to hearing the experiences of some children who were abused by Smyth, Fr Brady also received information from them about other children who were victims of Smyth. The program claims - and I see very little reason to doubt this - that this information was not used to warn either the parents of these children or the civil authorities, and therefore the abuse continued.
 By any standard, the neglect and incompetence of Church authorities in deal with Fr Smyth are self-evident and appalling. The fact that Smyth ever had access to vulnerable children after Church authorities became aware of his abuse is inexcusable. With the benefit of hindsight, it's clear that he should have been reported to the civil authorities as well. As we know, that was not often done in those days - sometimes out of a desire to protect the image of the Church, sometimes out of the belief that the Church had the primary responsibility for dealing with the issue, sometimes out of a concern that it would not serve the welfare of victims to go down the criminal route. However, even if the Church authorities at the time made the mistaken decision that they should be primarily responsible for dealing with Smyth and protecting vulnerable children, it is evident that Fr Smyth's superiors proved inexcusably negligent in the responsibility they assumed. Those who suffered because of this failure have every right to bring the truth to light and have every justification to be as angry as hell with anyone associated with this failure. At the very least, the mishandling of Fr Smyth was sinfully negligent.
However, there is also a duty on us to look at what happened seriously and forensically. Because of his involvement in the investigation, the demand has been made of Cardinal Brady that he resign as Archbishop of Armagh. The case is made that he heard the accounts of abuse, that he received the names and addresses of those who had been abused and that therefore he should have made a report to the civil authorities and stopped the abuse there and then. I have no doubt but that Cardinal Brady - and pretty much everyone in Ireland - wishes that he had done so.
Given what we have seen about how abuse cases were mishandled within the Irish Church, I know for a fact that if I was even tangentially involved in a Church investigation into a child protection issue, I would be documenting everything and checking & double-checking that the civil authorities had been notified. I wouldn't want any error to lead to the harm of young people. I'd be chasing, chasing, chasing everyone else involved to ensure that things were handled properly. (To be frank, I'd also be half-terrified of landing myself into trouble if everything wasn't done correctly.) However, if I didn't have benefit of hindsight, if I didn't know how badly things were done in the past, I wouldn't be so scrupulous and suspicious in my approach. And that's the situation that Fr Brady found himself in. He conducted the interviews according to the best of his ability and reported everything to Bishop McKiernan in the expectation that Fr Smyth would be dealt with properly. Indeed, his only link to this case is the fact that he was asked by his bishop to take those witness statements. He only became aware of Fr Smyth's abusing ways because his bishop involved him in the investigation. Fr Brady's error was that he assumed that the investigation - and in particular Bishop McKiernan and Fr Smyth's superior - would deal with the case properly and ensure that Smyth was locked away. That didn't happen. Smyth was able to abuse again and untold damage has been done to the lives of innocent people.
And, yes, things could have happened differently if Fr Brady had made a report to the civil authorities. However, the question must be asked whether Fr Brady could have had the extraordinary foresight to mistrust his Bishop and mistrust the Church investigation which would have led to him making that report.
In my opinion, it's not reasonable to expect Fr Brady to have made that decision. So, it is right to examine this sorry case. It is right to question Cardinal Brady's role in it. It is a sacred duty to respect and honour the voices of Fr Smyth's victims. However, I cannot bring myself to conclude that it is reasonable to demand Cardinal Brady's resignation. Many in the media and public life are using the pain of child abuse victims as a stick to beat the Cardinal with.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Pop over to the Cnytr

... to congratulate her on her marriage and to encourage her to start a Jap-Cath-Navy blog.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

In Our Time

BBC Radio 4's In Our Time is one of my favourite radio programmes. If you're interested in the history of ideas, it's always worth a listen. They've just launched a new website with an archive of all their past episodes.

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

The Deaths of the Saints

Not for the Faint-Hearted
I was browsing for images of St Blaise today, and stumbled across this surprsing image of the saint. Now, it's not pious iconography, but I'm sure that at least some of my readership will enjoy the Deaths of the Saints blog. (Maybe this comes under the Punk Catholic heading...) If you're not squeamish, you should probably check out St Agatha, St Theobald and St Bartholomew.

St Joan of Arc
More in tune with the Hermeneutic of Continuity, the excellent Matt Alderman has recently completed two images of St Joan of Arc - here and here.

Monday, February 01, 2010

Pope to English & Welsh Bishops: Look to Newman


In this morning's Bolletino we have the Holy Father's address to the Bishops of England and Wales. (The Scots have their own episcopal conference, and the whole of Ireland has a single hierarchy, in case you were wondering.) Damian Thompson has his own take on what the Pope had to say. (Little praise, plenty of coded warnings.) However, I prefer to focus on what the Pope says about Newman:
Make it your concern, then, to draw on the considerable gifts of the lay faithful in England and Wales and see that they are equipped to hand on the faith to new generations comprehensively, accurately, and with a keen awareness that in so doing they are playing their part in the Church’s mission. In a social milieu that encourages the expression of a variety of opinions on every question that arises, it is important to recognize dissent for what it is, and not to mistake it for a mature contribution to a balanced and wide-ranging debate. It is the truth revealed through Scripture and Tradition and articulated by the Church’s Magisterium that sets us free. Cardinal Newman realized this, and he left us an outstanding example of faithfulness to revealed truth by following that "kindly light" wherever it led him, even at considerable personal cost. Great writers and communicators of his stature and integrity are needed in the Church today, and it is my hope that devotion to him will inspire many to follow in his footsteps.
Much attention has rightly been given to Newman’s scholarship and to his extensive writings, but it is important to remember that he saw himself first and foremost as a priest. In this Annus Sacerdotalis, I urge you to hold up to your priests his example of dedication to prayer, pastoral sensitivity towards the needs of his flock, and passion for preaching the Gospel. You yourselves should set a similar example. Be close to your priests, and rekindle their sense of the enormous privilege and joy of standing among the people of God as alter Christus. In Newman’s words, "Christ’s priests have no priesthood but His … what they do, He does; when they baptize, He is baptizing; when they bless, He is blessing" (Parochial and Plain Sermons, VI 242). Indeed, since the priest plays an irreplaceable role in the life of the Church, spare no effort in encouraging priestly vocations and emphasizing to the faithful the true meaning and necessity of the priesthood. Encourage the lay faithful to express their appreciation of the priests who serve them, and to recognize the difficulties they sometimes face on account of their declining numbers and increasing pressures. The support and understanding of the faithful is particularly necessary when parishes have to be merged or Mass times adjusted. Help them to avoid any temptation to view the clergy as mere functionaries but rather to rejoice in the gift of priestly ministry, a gift that can never be taken for granted.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Round Up...

Cnytr has twisted my arm, and made me remind you all that she's blogging again. Pester her and persuade her to post more about her trip to Rome, her forthcoming wedding and her new puppy.

Incidentally, she and Deirdre seemed to have had a most excellent time when they met up in Rome. I'm thrilled that Deirdre has promoted me to the rank of 'Interesting Person'. I love Rome 'blogs, so I'm also adding her friend Elizabeth to my Blogroll. I presume they both have examinations at the moment, so I'm expecting both of them to do a lot of blogging as I always did when I had examinations. ;)

Matthew of the Holy Whapping posts the funniest thing I've read so far this year. He shows that quite apart from being a fine rubricist, Fortesque offers tips on semantics, airlibe travel and anger management.

Finally, I have been following the Blessed Columba Marmion Novena over at Vultus Christi. Marmion is the Summa of St Thomas, converted into spiritual theology, along with a dash of St Paul. I'm a huge fan of his Christ: The Ideal of the Priest and have just started his Christ in His Mysteries.

Having issues and the defining issues?

I stumbled across the following article and something struck me. The author says:
How come the deciding issues of whether one is a member of the church or not always seems to come down to issues concerning sexuality.
The usual suspects, gay marriage, abortion, etc are always and ever the issues that we are told are the defining issues as to whether or not we are catholic.
Has anyone ever heard of a bishop saying that tax fraud barred one from being a catholic? Has ever a bishop clearly and unambiguously spoken so strongly against the evil of poverty - one in six of the world's population are starving?
The author's point of view is not uncommon these days, and demonstrates how the media filters people's perceptions of the Church. You'll note that he mentions abortion as being one of those issues 'concerning sexuality' which is a defining issue. I would argue that the question of abortion primarily concerns the value of life - the 5th commandment rather than the 6th commandment - and that the author neglects to mention the Church's resistance to euthanasia.

Yes, the meaning of sexuality is one of those areas where the teaching of the Church meets most resistance in the modern world. But it's not something which the Church obsesses about. It's the media who are sex-obsessed. It seems to me that papal and episcopal statements are combed by the media for passing references to sexual morality, these are then cherry-picked and reported, and the rest of what the Church has to teach is neglected. When the Church speaks out against poverty or on environmental issues or against greed, it simply doesn't make headlines. Why? Because it doesn't really titillate the head-line makers. It doesn't attract the attention of the sub-editors. A fair reading of the speeches and messages of any of the recent Pontiffs - they're all available on the Vatican website - will show that the Church speaks out on a whole gamut of issues and offers a radically challenging and uplifting vision of the human person.

Meanwhile, the author of that article presents the following as his parting shot:
Also, is there not something unusual about bishops going on and on in such solemn tones on matters of sexuality while they adorn themselves with chains, crosses, rings and long frocks?
Is one ever struck by the visual appearance of so many bishops?
Again, it seems to me that the problem is with the imagination of the author... Normal episcopal regalia becomes chains, crosses, rings and long frocks... And if he's talking about Irish Bishops, he should be very well aware that they normally present themselves for public consumption in a clerical suit.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Long time, no blog...

I'm afraid it's been much too long since I've blogged regularly. I sometimes feel like posting a rant in the key of St Bernard or St Gregory the Great about how the cares of the world and the pastoral life are keeping me from 'blogging. Of course, they complained that their activity was keeping them from contemplation, which is much more worthy and noble, so I guess I'll just keep quiet.
Anyway, Fr Z has dug some interesting stuff out of my archives in order to mark today's feast of St Agnes. The Vatican's Youtube channel has some great footage of the traditional blessing of the lambs.


Since I last blogged, Jane & Lizzy have updated their template, so we look forward to hearing more from them. *Hint-hint*

I should also give a 'shout-out' to Seraphic whose book is being launched shortly.

What else? Deirdre has an excellent post for those who might be considering studying in Rome. The Irish Catholic has a new website. And Cardinal Newman is going to be beatified! (I've long been a fan.)

As I often do when stuck for original content, I'll conclude with an except from one of his Parochial and Plain Sermons. This was written when he was an Anglican, but it certainly has something to say to us as we celebrate the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity.
[L]et me remind you, my brethren, how nearly the whole doctrine of ecclesiastical order is connected with personal obedience to God's will. Obedience to the rule of order is every where enjoined in Scripture; obedience to it is an act of faith. Were there ten thousand objections to it, yet, supposing unity were clearly and expressly enjoined by Christ, faith would obey in spite of them. But in matter of fact there are no such objections, nor any difficulty of any moment in the way of observing it. What, then, is to be said to the very serious circumstance, that, in spite of the absence of such impediments, vast numbers of men conceive that they may dispense with it at their good pleasure. In all the controversies of fifteen hundred years, the duty of continuing in order and in quietness was professed on all sides, as one of the first principles of the Gospel of Christ. But now multitudes, both in and without the Church, have set it up on high as a great discovery, and glory in it as a great principle, that forms are worth nothing. They allow themselves to wander about from one communion to another, or from church to meeting-house, and make it a boast that they belong to no party and are above all parties; and argue, that provided men agree in some principal doctrines of the Gospel, it matters little whether they agree in any thing besides.

But those who boast of belonging to no party, and think themselves enlightened in this same confident boasting, I would, in all charity, remind that our Saviour Himself constituted what they must, on their principles, admit to be a party; that the Christian Church is simply and literally a party or society instituted by Christ. He bade us keep together. Fellowship with each other, mutual sympathy, and what spectators from without call party-spirit, all this is a prescribed duty; and the sin and the mischief arise, not from having a party, but in having many parties, in separating from that one body or party which He has appointed; for when men split the one Church of Christ into fragments, they are doing their part to destroy it altogether.

But while the Church of Christ is literally what the world calls a party, it is something far higher also. It is not an institution of man, not a mere political establishment, not a creature of the state, depending on the state's breath, made and unmade at its will, but it is a Divine society, a great work of God, a true relic of Christ and His Apostles, as Elijah's mantle upon Elisha, a bequest which He has left us, and which we must keep for His sake; a holy treasure which, like the ark of Israel, looks like a thing of earth, and is exposed to the ill-usage and contempt of the world, but which in its own time, and according to the decree of Him who gave it, displays today, and tomorrow, and the third day, its miracles, as of mercy so of judgment, "lightnings, and voices, and thunderings, and an earthquake and great hail."

Monday, December 28, 2009

'Mentioned in the Murphy Report'

This news report is worth reading. It deals with the pressure on Bishop Martin Drennan to resign. The key sentence - to my mind - is:
The bishop has been under mounting media pressure since four of his colleagues mentioned in the Murphy report on how allegations of child sex abuse were handled in the Dublin archdiocese have tendered resignations.
Firstly, the 'story' here is about media pressure. This pressure which the media applies is one which doesn't come under near enough scrutiny. What is the motivation behind this pressure and who sees that it is applied responsibly?

Secondly, it seems to me that the only accusation leveled against Bishop Drennan is that he is 'mentioned in the Murphy Report'. This phrase seems to have taken on a voodoo-like power. It portends all kinds of wrong-doing and suggests imminent disaster for the one 'mentioned'.

What worries me in this case is that Bishop Drennan is merely 'mentioned' in the Murphy Report. He's not criticised in the Murphy Report. His behaviour wasn't found to be inadequate or harmful in the Murphy Report. No, he was 'mentioned' in the Murphy Report, and therefore there is 'Media Pressure' for him to resign. What is this? Some form of McCarthyism? What if one were to point out that Archbishop Martin is also 'mentioned' in the Murphy Report? Will there be media pressure for his resignation? Indeed, TV and Radio personality Gay Byrne is, if you want to be technical about it, also 'mentioned' in the Report. I guess he's lucky that he's already retired or he might have to face pressure as well.

To my mind, the targeting of Bishop Drennan shows that the line has been crossed between the media acting in the public interest and the media stoking up a witch hunt. Bishop Drennan has been accused of no crime or negligence. He was made Auxiliary Bishop of Dublin in 1997 - at a time when it seems that the handling of abuse cases was being put right. Anyone who has taken the time to actually read and digest the Murphy Report will find nothing even mildly critical of him.

What then is his crime? Guilt-by-association with Cardinal Connell? Being in the wrong place several years after the wrong time? Or is it simply the case of someone wanting an episcopal scalp?

Saturday, November 28, 2009

On the Dublin Report

I'm not sure what can fittingly be said about the Dublin Report. I guess that I'd suggest reading the report itself rather than relying on media accounts or analysis. It's a fair report. It lays blame justly without having an axe to grind. The details of the abuse - and the realisation that much of it could have been prevented had senior clergymen acted decisively and with spine is sickening.
A Humbler Church?
There have been calls for a 'humbler' Church. I'm a young man. I don't have any real memory of a time when the Church 'ran' everything in society, so some of those calls don't make a whole lot of sense to me. They seem to be aimed at the realities of an Ireland which is almost dead. Likewise, the cliché of rich senior prelates living the high-life and a culture of unquestioning obedience doesn't really relate to anything I've seen in modern Ireland. Yes, our Bishops may live in historic buildings, but the few bishops I know live very modestly behind those walls. I freely admit that no priest in Ireland is going to be living on the breadline, but many of the priests I know gave up very prestigious careers and livelihoods in the secular arena for a life which pays significantly less and brings its own demands and pressures. They're not asking applause for that. However, I think that they do, however, deserve the presumption of sincerity.
Whose humility?
If there needs to be a humbler Church, it seems to me that we need to strive for a holy humility. It sometimes seems to me that when people talk about a 'humbler Church', they really mean a Church who doesn't really believe in anything any more and a faith which doesn't make any moral demands. I sometimes suspect that what is being asked for is a Church which dispenses spirituality, affirmation and pretty ceremonies without upsetting anyone by actually preaching the Gospel. That's not the kind of humility we need. Reading about the abuse, one has to wonder whether the men who did had any kind of belief in Christ or judgement or perdition or charity or kindness?
I think we need to look towards the holy and zealous humility of St Francis of Assisi and St John Vianney. We clergy have a particular responsibility within the Church. We need to be humble before the teaching of the Church and do our best to teach it by word and example. We need to believe and preach more fervently. We need to cleave more firmly to the Truth who is Christ. Our humility can't be a going quietly into the night, but a growing submission to the demands of our priesthood. "Holiness rather than peace, " as Newman used to say. The unholiness uncovered by the Dublin Report can only be atoned for by a holy humility. That holy humility must also include a burning zeal for justice. The laxity which led senior clerics to hurt so many people by not dealing firmly and aggressively with abuse can never be repeated. We mustn't be afraid to hold ourselves to the highest standards of probity in all matters. We should not resent the idea of bishops having a bit of spine in dealing with priests who step out of line.
Continuing to be a Priest
Despite the report, I'm still happy to be a priest. Indeed, because it's a fair and just report, I'm somewhat relieved that it's finally out there. Anyone who's been following the news for the past few years would have known what kind of horrors were going to be published, and no one within the Church can object to an uncovering of the truth an a fair judgement. Having read the report, I know that what's in it has made it much more difficult to be a priest in Ireland. However, it's also made it so very clear how much the Church and the World need Christ. He is the only one who can bring healing, reconciliation, liberation and salvation. If I didn't believe that, I'd be as well off hanging up my collar. That's not to say that I can proffer Him as an easy answer. Using Him as a glib slogan is not an option. That path toward healing isn't going to be an easy one for our society and it's not at all clear how it's going to come about. It's going to place huge demands on all sincere Catholics, and on clergy in particular. There may be times when it may seem as though the game mightn't be worth the candle, but as we approach the end of one Church year and face into the hopeful penitence of Advent, we should remind ourselves that He is with us always, even until the end of time.

(Incidentally, Seraphic posts with her usual common sense and compassion.)

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

A Priest in Love?

There's been quite an amount of coverage of the case of an Irish priest who announced at Mass this weekend that he's leaving ministry because of "loving, beautiful and life-giving relationship" with a woman. Needless to say, the spin that the media are putting on it is aimed at abolishing clerical celibacy. The Irish Independent headlines its account with Church cheers as priest admits that he's in love. This is - I think - the only media account which speaks about cheering. I can believe a popular priest receiving a round of applause in recognition of his work following a decision to leave the ministy, but the thought of a congregation cheering him in such circumstances strikes me as grotesque and implausible.

Now, the priest in question has been lauded for his honesty. After all, he told his congregation that because celibacy was "integral to the priesthood" he could no longer remain a priest. Fair enough. Stepping down was a more honourable action than leading the kind of double-life which has brought shame and disgrace to the ministry.

However, this doesn't change the fact that this priest is having a relationship with a married mother of two. And so, whilst he did the right thing in resigning the ministry, the truly honourable thing would have been to admit peccavi - I have sinned - rather than talking about a "loving, beautiful and life-giving relationship". Now, my heart goes out to this man. He's fallen into an adulterous relationship, a situation of serious sin. Sin being what it is, he may well be able to justify this situation to himself. Romantic love can cloud the thinking part of our brains. He may well believe that this is something postive and good in his life. Our prayers should be with him. He deserves our pity.

Less deserving of our pity, however, are those who are trying to make him some kind of poster-boy argument in favour of abolishing priestly celibacy. He is no such thing. He's an unfortunate man who proved unfaithful to the promise he took at ordination, and who failed to respect the marriage vows of his new partner. Such sin isn't an argument in favour of anything. The fact that men and women commit adultery isn't an argument in favour of making marriage a more 'open' and less permanent relationship. Would we cheer and applaud a married clergyman who was unfaithful to his wife?

This is a sad, sad, situation. But this is a time for the Church to speak clearly about the meaning of marriage and celibacy. Fidelity to marriage vows and promises of celibacy have an especial value these days. Normally, I think that situations like Fr McKenna's should be passed over with a discreet and charitable silence. Self-righteousness is ugly and none of us are without our own sins. However, when his case is being used disingenuously to undermine the value of priestly celibacy, I think that it's only right to say bluntly what is really happening.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

New Motu Proprio

The Holy Father has issued a new motu proprio dealing with the whole SSPX situation. It's called Ecclesiae Unitatem (The Unity of the Church) and has been issued in Latin and Italian.

What does it say? The meat of the letter is the transfer of the Commission Ecclesia Dei from the Congregation of Divine Worship to the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith. This commission used to have as its ambit the usage of the 1962 Missal in the Church. Now, however, its remit has a more theological aspect. The President of the Commission will henceforth be the prefect of the CDF and will focus on securing agreement with the SSPX on points of doctrine. This is a very significant step in the direction of reconciling the SSPX.

Friday, July 03, 2009

Newman Miracle Approved

There have been whispers about this for months, but the Bolletino finally announces:
- un miracolo, attribuito all'intercessione del Venerabile Servo di Dio Giovanni Enrico Newman, Cardinale e Fondatore degli Oratori di San Filippo Neri in Inghilterra; nato a Londra (Inghilterra) il 21 aprile 1801 e morto a Edgbaston (Inghilterra) l'11 agosto 1890;
- a miracle, attributed to the intercession of the Venerable Servant of God John Henry Newman, Cardinal and Founder of the Oratories of St Philip Neri in England; born in London (England) 21 April 1801 and died in Edgebaston (England) 11 August 1890
Followers of the 'blog will know that I have a devotion to Newman and am delighted that his beatification is imminent.
The big question is - will it be held in England or in Rome? Pope Benedict has had a policy of not celebrating beatification ceremonies himself, but rather delegating them and having them celebrated in the local Churches or countries of the Beati. However, Newman has been a significant influence on Pope Benedict and, given his historical and theological stature, the beatification may happen in Rome. We'll wait and see.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Apostolic Visitation of the Legion

Via Zenit (itself a Legionary operation) the text of a letter from Cardinal Bertone:
The Holy Father is aware of the noble ideals that inspire you and the fortitude and prayerful spirit with which you are facing the current vicissitudes, and he encourages you to continue seeking the good of the Church and society by means of your own distinctive initiatives and institutions. In this regard, you can always count on the help of the Holy See, so that with truth and transparency, in a climate of fraternal and constructive dialogue, you will overcome the present difficulties. In this respect, the Holy Father has decided to carry out an Apostolic Visitation to the institutions of the Legionaries of Christ through a team of Prelates.


The Legion webpage shows that the letter was sent on the 10th of March. The General Director of the Legionaries has written a letter - available at the same webpage - and there's a rather coy FAQ:
Why is this Apostolic Visitation taking place?
The Holy Father has decided to help us to overcome our difficulties through an Apostolic Visitation.
Father Álvaro Corcuera has been in constant dialogue with the Holy See, asking for help and guidance.


Coyness aside, at least the rhetoric of the Legion is more palatable than the ranting of Sr Sandra Schneiders who is less than pleased at the fact that American female religious are also receiving a visitation.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Check it out!

The ever-interesting Cnytr has started blogging again. Lots of St Jospehy goodness posted today... check it out!

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Amy has Moved

I should have blogged about this some time ago. Amy Welborn's blog has moved to http://blog.beliefnet.com/viamedia/
Don't forget to update your bookmarks and rss feeds.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

SSPX Bishops - No Longer Excommunicate

From the Vatican's Bolletino I read that the Holy Father has lifted the excommunications imposed on Bishops Bernard Fellay, Bernard Tissier de Mallerais, Richard Williamson and Alfonso de Galarreta. This is geared towards the reconciliation of their community with the Church.
The Congregation of Bishops explains that this is aimed at strengthening relationships with the Society and is intended to lead to a regularization of their relationship with the Holy See.

Personally, I think that this is a very generous act of the Holy Father, and I hope that no one would doubt his good will and sincerity. It will attract criticism, no doubt, but it's important to understand precisely what this gesture means. It's a gesture of mercy because the excommunications were justly imposed. It's a concrete sign that the Holy Father wants to bring the Society back into communion. However, my understanding of this (and I admit that I'm not a canonist) is that this is simply a starting point. Bishops Fellay et al still lack jurisdiction within the Church and the Society cannot be said to have been restored into full communion. Bishop Fellay and the clergy of the Society are still canonically irregular and do not have faculties to exercise their ministry. Whilst not excommunicate because of their irregular consecration, the Bishops of the Society are not properly members of the Catholic Hierarchy. Membership of the College of Bishops depends, not only on valid episcopal consecration, but also on hierarchal communion with the Bishop of Rome and the other Bishops.

It should also be noted that there is a lot of theological ground which needs to be covered, especially in the area of religious liberty, the authority of the Second Vatican Council and the newer liturgy. The clergy of the SSPX will need to undergo a severe examination of conscience regarding some of the things they have said over the past few years. However, with charity and the work of the Holy Spirit, wounds can be healed.

Edited to add: Amy Welborn does a wonderful job of gathering the commentary on this event together and explaining what's going on. She's also kind enough to link to me. ;)

Friday, December 12, 2008

RIP - Avery Cardinal Dulles SJ

Rocco is reporting the death of Cardinal Dulles:
Word from New York brings the sad news that Avery Dulles SJ -- the celebrated convert, teacher, prolific author and first American theologian elevated to the College of Cardinals, a giant of the age -- passed to his reward overnight.
May he rest in peace.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Fun!

A really cool meme - via the Shrine:
Just click each link and put the results together:
1. Band Name: Random Wikipeda Link
2. Album Title: Random quote generator (take the last four words from the first quote on the page)
3. Album Art: Flickr Interesting Photo (pick one)
I enjoyed this meme so much, I did it twice.