Saturday, June 30, 2007

Letter of Pope to Chinese Catholics

It's up! (Along with a note of explanation.)
Some extracts I found interesting:
Benedict on the relationship between Church and State (In China and elsewhere)
As far as relations between the political community and the Church in China are concerned, it is worth calling to mind the enlightening teaching of the Second Vatican Council, which states: ‘‘The Church, by reason of her role and competence, is not identified with any political community nor is she tied to any political system. She is at once the sign and the safeguard of the transcendental dimension of the human person''. And the Council continues: ‘‘The political community and the Church are autonomous and independent of each other in their own fields. They are both at the service of the personal and social vocation of the same individuals, though under different titles. Their service will be more efficient and beneficial to all if both institutions develop better cooperation according to the circumstances of place and time''.13
Likewise, therefore, the Catholic Church which is in China does not have a mission to change the structure or administration of the State; rather, her mission is to proclaim Christ to men and women, as the Saviour of the world, basing herself – in carrying out her proper apostolate – on the power of God. As I recalled in my Encyclical Deus Caritas Est, ‘‘The Church cannot and must not take upon herself the political battle to bring about the most just society possible. She cannot and must not replace the State. Yet at the same time she cannot and must not remain on the sidelines in the fight for justice. She has to play her part through rational argument and she has to reawaken the spiritual energy without which justice, which always demands sacrifice, cannot prevail and prosper. A just society must be the achievement of politics, not of the Church. Yet the promotion of justice through efforts to bring about openness of mind and will to the demands of the common good is something which concerns the Church deeply''.
In the light of these unrenounceable principles, the solution to existing problems cannot be pursued via an ongoing conflict with the legitimate civil authorities; at the same time, though, compliance with those authorities is not acceptable when they interfere unduly in matters regarding the faith and discipline of the Church. The civil authorities are well aware that the Church in her teaching invites the faithful to be good citizens, respectful and active contributors to the common good in their country, but it is likewise clear that she asks the State to guarantee to those same Catholic citizens the full exercise of their faith, with respect for authentic religious freedom.
A lesson from the history of the early Church
In this regard, last year, while speaking of the nascent Church, I had occasion to recall that ‘‘from the start the community of the disciples has known not only the joy of the Holy Spirit, the grace of truth and love, but also trials that are constituted above all by disagreements about the truths of faith, with the consequent wounds to communion. Just as the fellowship of love has existed since the outset and will continue to the end (cf. 1 Jn 1:1ff.), so also, from the start, division unfortunately arose. We should not be surprised that it still exists today ... Thus, in the events of the world but also in the weaknesses of the Church, there is always a risk of losing faith, hence, also love and brotherhood. Consequently it is a specific duty of those who believe in the Church of love and want to live in her to recognize this danger too''.
The history of the Church teaches us, then, that authentic communion is not expressed without arduous efforts at reconciliation. Indeed, the purification of memory, the pardoning of wrong-doers, the forgetting of injustices suffered and the loving restoration to serenity of troubled hearts, all to be accomplished in the name of Jesus crucified and risen, can require moving beyond personal positions or viewpoints, born of painful or difficult experiences. These are urgent steps that must be taken if the bonds of communion between the faithful and the Pastors of the Church in China are to grow and be made visible.

Church and State
Regarding the delicate issue of the relations to be maintained with the agencies of the State, particular enlightenment can be found in the invitation of the Second Vatican Council to follow the words and modus operandi of Jesus Christ. He, indeed, ‘‘did not wish to be a political Messiah who would dominate by force but preferred to call himself the Son of Man who came to serve, and ‘to give his life as a ransom for many' (Mk 10:45). He showed himself as the perfect Servant of God who ‘will not break a bruised reed or quench a smouldering wick' (Mt 12:20). He recognized civil authority and its rights when he ordered tribute to be paid to Caesar, but he gave clear warning that the greater rights of God must be respected: ‘Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God, the things that are God's' (Mt 22:21). Finally, he brought his revelation to perfection when he accomplished on the Cross the work of redemption by which he achieved salvation and true freedom for the human race. For he bore witness to the truth but refused to use force to impose it on those who spoke out against it. His Kingdom does not establish its claims by force,28 but is established by bearing witness to and listening to the truth and it grows by the love with which Christ, lifted up on the Cross, draws people to himself (cf. Jn 12:32)''.
Truth and charity are the two supporting pillars of the life of the Christian community. For this reason, I have observed that ‘‘the Church of love is also the Church of truth, understood primarily as fidelity to the Gospel entrusted by the Lord Jesus to his followers ... However, if the family of God's children is to live in unity and peace, it needs someone to keep it in the truth and guide it with wise and authoritative discernment: this is what the ministry of the Apostles is required to do. And here we come to an important point. The Church is wholly of the Spirit but has a structure, the apostolic succession, which is responsible for guaranteeing that the Church endures in the truth given by Christ, from whom the capacity to love also comes ... The Apostles and their successors are therefore the custodians and authoritative witnesses of the deposit of truth consigned to the Church, and are likewise the ministers of charity. These are two aspects that go together ... Truth and love are the two faces of the same gift that comes from God and, thanks to the apostolic ministry, is safeguarded in the Church and handed down to us, to our present time!''.
A decision for Chinese Bishops?
Given this difficult situation, not a few members of the Catholic community are asking whether recognition from the civil authorities – necessary in order to function publicly – somehow compromises communion with the universal Church. I am fully aware that this problem causes painful disquiet in the hearts of Pastors and faithful. In this regard I maintain, in the first place, that the requisite and courageous safeguarding of the deposit of faith and of sacramental and hierarchical communion is not of itself opposed to dialogue with the authorities concerning those aspects of the life of the ecclesial community that fall within the civil sphere. There would not be any particular difficulties with acceptance of the recognition granted by civil authorities on condition that this does not entail the denial of unrenounceable principles of faith and of ecclesiastical communion. In not a few particular instances, however, indeed almost always, in the process of recognition the intervention of certain bodies obliges the people involved to adopt attitudes, make gestures and undertake commitments that are contrary to the dictates of their conscience as Catholics. I understand, therefore, how in such varied conditions and circumstances it is difficult to determine the correct choice to be made. For this reason the Holy See, after restating the principles, leaves the decision to the individual Bishop who, having consulted his presbyterate, is better able to know the local situation, to weigh the concrete possibilities of choice and to evaluate the possible consequences within the diocesan community. It could be that the final decision does not obtain the consensus of all the priests and faithful. I express the hope, however, that it will be accepted, albeit with suffering, and that the unity of the diocesan community with its own Pastor will be maintained.
The Three Types of Chinese Bishop and their Canonical Status
Currently, all the Bishops of the Catholic Church in China are sons of the Chinese People. Notwithstanding many grave difficulties, the Catholic Church in China, by a particular grace of the Holy Spirit, has never been deprived of the ministry of legitimate Pastors who have preserved the apostolic succession intact. We must thank the Lord for this constant presence, not without suffering, of Bishops who have received episcopal ordination in conformity with Catholic tradition, that is to say, in communion with the Bishop of Rome, Successor of Peter, and at the hands of validly and legitimately ordained Bishops in observance of the rite of the Catholic Church.
Some of them, not wishing to be subjected to undue control exercised over the life of the Church, and eager to maintain total fidelity to the Successor of Peter and to Catholic doctrine, have felt themselves constrained to opt for clandestine consecration. The clandestine condition is not a normal feature of the Church's life, and history shows that Pastors and faithful have recourse to it only amid suffering, in the desire to maintain the integrity of their faith and to resist interference from State agencies in matters pertaining intimately to the Church's life. For this reason the Holy See hopes that these legitimate Pastors may be recognized as such by governmental authorities for civil effects too – insofar as these are necessary – and that all the faithful may be able to express their faith freely in the social context in which they live.
Other Pastors, however, under the pressure of particular circumstances, have consented to receive episcopal ordination without the pontifical mandate, but have subsequently asked to be received into communion with the Successor of Peter and with their other brothers in the episcopate. The Pope, considering the sincerity of their sentiments and the complexity of the situation, and taking into account the opinion of neighbouring Bishops, by virtue of his proper responsibility as universal Pastor of the Church, has granted them the full and legitimate exercise of episcopal jurisdiction. This initiative of the Pope resulted from knowledge of the particular circumstances of their ordination and from his profound pastoral concern to favour the reestablishment of full communion. Unfortunately, in most cases, priests and the faithful have not been adequately informed that their Bishop has been legitimized, and this has given rise to a number of grave problems of conscience. What is more, some legitimized Bishops have failed to provide any clear signs to prove that they have been legitimized. For this reason it is indispensable, for the spiritual good of the diocesan communities concerned, that legitimation, once it has occurred, is brought into the public domain at the earliest opportunity, and that the legitimized Bishops provide unequivocal and increasing signs of full communion with the Successor of Peter.
Finally, there are certain Bishops – a very small number of them – who have been ordained without the Pontifical mandate and who have not asked for or have not yet obtained, the necessary legitimation. According to the doctrine of the Catholic Church, they are to be considered illegitimate, but validly ordained, as long as it is certain that they have received ordination from validly ordained Bishops and that the Catholic rite of episcopal ordination has been respected. Therefore, although not in communion with the Pope, they exercise their ministry validly in the administration of the sacraments, even if they do so illegitimately. What great spiritual enrichment would ensue for the Church in China if, the necessary conditions having been established, these Pastors too were to enter into communion with the Successor of Peter and with the entire Catholic episcopate! Not only would their episcopal ministry be legitimized, there would also be an enrichment of their communion with the priests and the faithful who consider the Church in China part of the Catholic Church, united with the Bishop of Rome and with all the other particular Churches spread throughout the world.
In individual nations, all the legitimate Bishops constitute an Episcopal Conference, governed according to its own statutes, which by the norms of canon law must be approved by the Apostolic See. Such an Episcopal Conference expresses the fraternal communion of all the Bishops of a nation and treats the doctrinal and pastoral questions that are significant for the entire Catholic community of the country without, however, interfering in the exercise of the ordinary and immediate power of each Bishop in his own diocese. Moreover, every Episcopal Conference maintains opportune and useful contacts with the civil authorities of the place, partly in order to favour cooperation between the Church and the State, but it is obvious that an Episcopal Conference cannot be subjected to any civil authority in questions of faith and of living according to the faith (fides et mores, sacramental life), which are exclusively the competence of the Church.
In the light of the principles expounded above, the present College of Catholic Bishops of China cannot be recognized as an Episcopal Conference by the Apostolic See: the "clandestine'' Bishops, those not recognized by the Government but in communion with the Pope, are not part of it; it includes Bishops who are still illegitimate, and it is governed by statutes that contain elements incompatible with Catholic doctrine.

The Appointment of Bishops
As all of you know, one of the most delicate problems in relations between the Holy See and the authorities of your country is the question of episcopal appointments. On the one hand, it is understandable that governmental authorities are attentive to the choice of those who will carry out the important role of leading and shepherding the local Catholic communities, given the social implications which – in China as in the rest of the world – this function has in the civil sphere as well as the spiritual. On the other hand, the Holy See follows the appointment of Bishops with special care since this touches the very heart of the life of the Church, inasmuch as the appointment of Bishops by the Pope is the guarantee of the unity of the Church and of hierarchical communion. For this reason the Code of Canon Law (cf. c. 1382) lays down grave sanctions both for the Bishop who freely confers episcopal ordination without an apostolic mandate and for the one who receives it: such an ordination in fact inflicts a painful wound upon ecclesial communion and constitutes a grave violation of canonical discipline.
The Pope, when he issues the apostolic mandate for the ordination of a Bishop, exercises his supreme spiritual authority: this authority and this intervention remain within the strictly religious sphere. It is not, therefore, a question of a political authority, unduly asserting itself in the internal affairs of a State and offending against its sovereignty.
The appointment of Bishops for a particular religious community is understood, also in international documents, as a constitutive element of the full exercise of the right to religious freedom. The Holy See would desire to be completely free to appoint Bishops; therefore, considering the recent particular developments of the Church in China, I trust that an accord can be reached with the Government so as to resolve certain questions regarding the choice of candidates for the episcopate, the publication of the appointment of Bishops, and the recognition – concerning civil effects where necessary – of the new Bishops on the part of the civil authorities.
Finally, as to the choice of candidates for the episcopate, while knowing your difficulties in this regard, I would like to remind you that they should be worthy priests, respected and loved by the faithful, models of life in the faith, and that they should possess a certain experience in the pastoral ministry, so that they are equipped to address the burdensome responsibility of a Pastor of the Church.45 Whenever it proves impossible within a diocese to find suitable candidates to occupy the episcopal see, the cooperation of Bishops in neighbouring dioceses can help to identify suitable candidates.


In not a few situations, then, you have faced the problem of concelebration of the Eucharist. In this regard, I remind you that this presupposes, as conditions, profession of the same faith and hierarchical communion with the Pope and with the universal Church. Therefore it is licit to concelebrate with Bishops and with priests who are in communion with the Pope, even if they are recognized by the civil authorities and maintain a relationship with entities desired by the State and extraneous to the structure of the Church, provided – as was said earlier (cf. section 7 above, paragraph 8) – that this recognition and this relationship do not entail the denial of unrenounceable principles of the faith and of ecclesiastical communion.
The lay faithful too, who are animated by a sincere love for Christ and for the Church, must not hesitate to participate in the Eucharist celebrated by Bishops and by priests who are in full communion with the Successor of Peter and are recognized by the civil authorities. The same applies for all the other sacraments.
Concerning Bishops whose consecrations took place without the pontifical mandate yet respecting the Catholic rite of episcopal ordination, the resulting problems must always be resolved in the light of the principles of Catholic doctrine. Their ordination – as I have already said (cf. section 8 above, paragraph 12) – is illegitimate but valid, just as priestly ordinations conferred by them are valid, and sacraments administered by such Bishops and priests are likewise valid. Therefore the faithful, taking this into account, where the eucharistic celebration and the other sacraments are concerned, must, within the limits of the possible, seek Bishops and priests who are in communion with the Pope: nevertheless, where this cannot be achieved without grave inconvenience, they may, for the sake of their spiritual good, turn also to those who are not in communion with the Pope.
Future Moves
Numerous administrative changes have taken place in the civil sphere during the last fifty years. This has also involved various ecclesiastical circumscriptions, which have been eliminated or regrouped or have been modified in their territorial configuration on the basis of the civil administrative circumscriptions. In this regard, I wish to confirm that the Holy See is prepared to address the entire question of the circumscriptions and ecclesiastical provinces in an open and constructive dialogue with the Chinese Episcopate and – where opportune and helpful – with governmental authorities.
Message to Priests
I would now like to address a special reflection and an invitation to priests – especially those ordained in recent years – who have undertaken the path of the pastoral ministry with such generosity. It seems to me that the current ecclesial and socio-political situation renders ever more urgent the need to draw light and strength from the well-springs of priestly spirituality, which are God's love, the unconditional following of Christ, passion for proclamation of the Gospel, faithfulness to the Church and generous service of neighbour. How can I fail to recall, in this regard, as an encouragement for all, the shining examples of Bishops and priests who, in the difficult years of the recent past, have testified to an unfailing love for the Church, even by the gift of their own lives for her and for Christ?
My dear priests! You who bear "the burden of the day and the scorching heat'' (Mt 20:12), who have put your hand to the plough and do not look back (cf. Lk 9:62): think of those places where the faithful are waiting anxiously for a priest and where for many years, feeling the lack of a priest, they have not ceased to pray for one to arrive. I know that among you there are confrères who have had to deal with difficult times and situations, adopting positions that cannot always be condoned from an ecclesial point of view and who, despite everything, want to return to full communion with the Church. In the spirit of that profound reconciliation to which my venerable predecessor repeatedly invited the Church in China,49 I turn now to the Bishops who are in communion with the Successor of Peter, so that with a paternal spirit they may evaluate these questions case by case and give a just response to that desire, having recourse – if necessary – to the Apostolic See. And, as a sign of this desired reconciliation, I think that there is no gesture more significant than that of renewing as a community – on the occasion of the priestly day of Holy Thursday, as happens in the universal Church, or on another occasion that might be considered more opportune – the profession of faith, as a witness to the full communion attained, for the edification of the Holy People of God entrusted to your pastoral care, and to the praise of the Most Holy Trinity.
Furthermore, I realize that in China too, as in the rest of the Church, the need for an adequate ongoing formation of the clergy is emerging. Hence the invitation, addressed to you Bishops as leaders of ecclesial communities, to think especially of the young clergy who are increasingly subject to new pastoral challenges, linked to the demands of the task of evangelizing a society as complex as present-day Chinese society. Pope John Paul II reminded us of this: ongoing formation of priests "is an intrinsic requirement of the gift and sacramental ministry received; and it proves necessary in every age. It is particularly urgent today, not only because of rapid changes in the social and cultural conditions of individ- uals and peoples among whom priestly ministry is exercised, but also because of that ‘new evangelization' which constitutes the essential and pressing task of the Church at the end of the second millennium''.
The Family
Since the future of humanity passes by way of the family, I consider it indispensable and urgent that lay people should promote family values and safeguard the needs of the family. Lay people, whose faith enables them to know God's marvellous design for the family, have an added reason to assume this concrete and demanding task: the family in fact "is the normal place where the young grow to personal and social maturity. It is also the bearer of the heritage of humanity itself, because through the family, life is passed on from generation to generation. The family occupies a very important place in Asian cultures; and, as the Synod Fathers noted, family values like filial respect, love and care for the aged and the sick, love of children and harmony are held in high esteem in all Asian cultures and religious traditions''.
The above-mentioned values form part of the relevant Chinese cultural context, but also in your land there is no lack of forces that influence the family negatively in various ways. Therefore the Church which is in China, aware that the good of society and her own good are profoundly linked to the good of the family, must have a keener and more urgent sense of her mission to proclaim to all people God's plan for marriage and the family, ensuring the full vitality of each.
Canonical Normalisation?
Considering in the first place some positive developments of the situation of the Church in China, and in the second place the increased opportunities and greater ease in communication, and finally the requests sent to Rome by various Bishops and priests, I hereby revoke all the faculties previously granted in order to address particular pastoral necessities that emerged in truly difficult times.
Let the same be applied to all directives of a pastoral nature, past and recent. The doctrinal principles that inspired them now find a new application in the directives contained herein.
Day of Prayer
Dear Pastors and all the faithful, the date 24 May could in the future become an occasion for the Catholics of the whole world to be united in prayer with the Church which is in China. This day is dedicated to the liturgical memorial of Our Lady, Help of Christians, who is venerated with great devotion at the Marian Shrine of Sheshan in Shanghai.
I would like that date to be kept by you as a day of prayer for the Church in China. I encourage you to celebrate it by renewing your communion of faith in Jesus our Lord and of faithfulness to the Pope, and by praying that the unity among you may become ever deeper and more visible. I remind you, moreover, of the commandment that Jesus gave us, to love our enemies and to pray for those who persecute us, as well as the invitation of the Apostle Saint Paul: ‘‘First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all men, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life, godly and respectful in every way. This is good, and it is acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth'' (1 Tim 2:1-4).
On that same day, the Catholics of the whole world – in particular those who are of Chinese origin – will demonstrate their fraternal solidarity and solicitude for you, asking the Lord of history for the gift of perseverance in witness, in the certainty that your sufferings past and present for the Holy Name of Jesus and your intrepid loyalty to his Vicar on earth will be rewarded, even if at times everything can seem a failure.
I'm sure that Fr Z will be analysing this letter, given his interest in the situation of the Chinese Church.

Morally Licit Use of Prophylactics

It's probably childish of me to post this from the Telegraph:
India is struggling to prevent millions of condoms from being made into toys or sold as balloons.
The contraceptives were distributed free to control the country's population and restrict the Aids virus.
However, they are being used instead to strengthen roads, provide extra waterproofing for houses and to carry water.
Health activists said millions of condoms were melted down for their latex and made into toys. Others were dyed and sold as balloons.
In rural areas, villagers used them as water containers. India's soldiers covered their gun barrels with condoms as protection against dust.
Only a quarter of about 1.5 billion condoms made each year were "properly utilised", the activists said.
Health planners are trying to control India's population of more than 1.2 billion. In 2005 the HIV epidemic afflicted more than 5.7 million people. Of the 891 million condoms meant to be handed out free, most were used by road contractors, who mixed them with concrete and tar to create a smooth surface.
I wonder if seeing these immoral plans frustrated makes a little schadenfreude licit?

Friday, June 29, 2007

Letter to Chinese Catholics

Out Saturday:
Si informano i giornalisti accreditati che domani, sabato 30 giugno 2007, sarà a disposizione, a partire dalle ore 9 con embargo fino alle ore 12, la Lettera del Santo Padre Benedetto XVI ai Vescovi, ai presbiteri, alle persone consacrate e ai fedeli laici della Chiesa cattolica nella Repubblica Popolare Cinese.
Accredited journalists are advised that tomorrow (under embargo from 9am to 12 noon) there will be made available the letter of the Holy Father Benedict XVI to the Bishops, priests, consecrated persons and the lay faithful of the Catholic Church in the People's Republic of China.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Motu Proprio - Official Confirmation

From the Bolletino:
Si è svolta ieri pomeriggio in Vaticano una riunione, presieduta dal Cardinale Segretario di Stato, in cui è stato illustrato ai rappresentanti di diverse conferenze episcopali il contenuto e lo spirito dell’annunciato "Motu proprio" del Santo Padre sull’uso del Messale promulgato da Giovanni XXIII nel 1962. Il Santo Padre si è recato a salutare i presenti e si è intrattenuto con loro in un’approfondita conversazione per circa un’ora. La pubblicazione del documento – che sarà accompagnato da un’ampia lettera personale del Santo Padre ai singoli Vescovi - è prevista entro alcuni giorni, quando il documento stesso sarà stato inviato a tutti i Vescovi con la indicazione della sua successiva entrata in vigore.
Basically, it's official confirmation of yesterday's meeting with various members of the Episcopal Conferences about the forthcoming Motu Proprio of the Holy Father about the use of the missal promulgated by John XXIII in 1962.
The statement adds that the Motu Proprio will be issued within a few days, and will be accompanied by a personal letter of the Holy Father. The letter and the document will be sent to all bishops, along with indications about its coming into force.
The communication also indicated that the Pope met and conversed with the bishops at yesterday's meeting for about an hour.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

07/07/2007? Motu Date

Fr Z has the scoop:
On Wednesday afternoon the Secretary of State, Tarcisio Card. Bertone gave the Motu Proprio to 30 bishops from around the world on Wednesday afternoon in the Apostolic Palace. The bishops were explicitly chosen and invited for this. (I am guessing that they were heads of Bishops Conferences.) Pope Benedict XVI later came to the meeting. The document is three pages long, though what the format is in not revealed. The Pope’s accompanying letter is four pages.
It is clear from the way this was done that the Holy Father wanted to make sure that bishops got this document in this way, rather than having to read about it in the paper. I assume that what will happen now is that these bishops, if they are heads of conferences, will return home and distribute the document to the bishop members of the conference.
[UPDATE: They are not only heads of conferences: H.E. Archbp. Raymond Burke of St. Louis and H.E. Sean Card. O’Malley of Boston was there, whether because of this meeting or a coincidental meeting is not clear.]
The general publication is 7 July.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

The Foster Experience

Quantative Metathesis is taking Fr Reginald Foster's famous summer Latin course and gives one of the best short descriptions of the Magister I've ever read.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007


Via Fr Z:
The Holy See’s new document Guidelines for the pastoral care of the road from the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People and its president Renato Raffaele Cardinal Martino. After talking about "Street Women" and "Street Children" we get:
In the words of Bishop Trautman (*cough*): This is not American English.

Actually, I would be interested to find out just how the word 'Tramps' made it into the final version? I doubt that the translation was done by a non-native English speaker. Is it at all possible that it may have been translated by someone from some of the former British colonies (Indian sub-continent, parts of Africa) where various archaic words and grammatical forms have endured longer than in American or British English? Or is this an intra-office piece of humour that managed to escape into the wild?

Been here too long...

... or simply just too predictable?

I went into my regular pizzeria yesterday evening. Not only did the waiter not give me a menu, but he told me my order before I had even sat down, and I spotted that the chef began preparing my usual antipasto when he spotted me walking in the door.
This morning, I go into my usual cafe. They've tapped my order into the cash register and put aside one of my favourite cornetti before I've even had a chance to open my mouth.
It's fun not having to think for one's self. :)

Che bella canzone

From Hypnotic Clambake's website an mp3 of the exceptionally fun Gondola to Heaven.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Crime & Punishment (Italian style)

From the Telegraph:
Armed robberies of Italian banks and building societies have soared after a controversial prisoner amnesty in the country's crowded jails.
Last year's indulto, or pardon, for prisoners with less than three years left to serve caused uproar.
More than 15,000 inmates were released. Within hours, dozens had been arrested and sent back to jail after reoffending. New crime figures have again fuelled the controversy.
The number of bank robberies has risen nationwide, official statistics say, including a staggering 102 per cent increase in Piedmont, in the north.
There have also been marked increases in Veneto (85.1 per cent) and the Marche region (86.9 per cent), where, after a three-day series of bank raids that netted more than £70,000, police arrested six people and found that all had been released under the amnesty.
In Turin, three men arrested for holding up a bank inside a hospital disguised as doctors were also found to be pardoned ex-prisoners.
One ex-convict, released after serving seven years for armed robbery, was arrested as he fled the scene of a raid in Milan and told police: "I needed the money to visit my girlfriend in Cuba."
The most serious case was in the northern city of Udine where plumber Piero Melis, 53, was released early from an eight-month sentence for attacking his wife Carla - only to be rearrested less than six hours later after allegedly trying to strangle her.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Mass in Heaven?

Fr Z presents a wonderful Podcazt for the feast of Corpus Christi drawing on Aquinas and Dom Vonier. I strongly recommend Abbot Ansgar Vonier's Key to the Doctrine of the Eucharist.

Friday, June 08, 2007

Muslim friend reacts to Fr Ragheed's Martyrdom

I read this letter in Italian yesterday, and had been planning to translate it myself when I found the time. Zenit have spared me the work. It is the reaction of a Muslim friend of the martyred Chaldean priest Fr Ragheed Ganni.
ROME, JUNE 6, 2007 ( Here is a translation of a letter written posthumously to Father Ragheed Aziz Ganni by a Muslim friend of his who is a professor at the Pontifical Gregorian University. Father Ragheed and three deacons were shot and killed in Mosul, Iraq, on Sunday after Mass.

* * *

In the name of the compassionate and merciful God,

Ragheed, my brother,

I ask your forgiveness for not being with you when those criminals opened fire against you and your brothers. The bullets that have gone through your pure and innocent body have also gone through my heart and soul.

You were one of the first people I met when I arrived to Rome. We met in the halls of the Angelicum and we would drink our cappuccino in the university's cafeteria. You impressed me with your innocence, joy, your pure and tender smile that never left you.

I always picture you smiling, joyful and full of zest for life. Ragheed is to me innocence personified; a wise innocence that carries in its heart the sorrows of his unhappy people. I remember the time, in the university's dining room, when Iraq was under embargo and you told me that the price of a single cappuccino would have satisfied the needs of an Iraqi family for a whole day.

You told me this as if you were feeling guilty for being far away from your persecuted people and unable to share in their sufferings …

In fact, you returned to Iraq, not only to share the suffering and destiny of your people but also to join your blood to the blood of thousands of Iraqis killed each day. I will never forget the day of your ordination [Oct. 13, 2001] in the [Pontifical] Urbanian University … with tears in your eyes, you told me: "Today, I have died to self" … a hard thing to say.

I didn't understand it right away, or maybe I didn't take it as seriously as I should have. … But today, through your martyrdom, I have understood that phrase. … You have died in your soul and body to be raised up in your beloved, in your teacher, and so that Christ would be raised up in you, despite the sufferings, sorrows, despite the chaos and madness.

In the name of what god of death have they killed you? In the name of which paganism have they crucified you? Did they truly know what they were doing?

O God, we don't ask you for revenge or retaliation. We ask you for victory, a victory of justice over falsehood, life over death, innocence over treachery, blood over the sword. … Your blood will not have been shed in vain, dear Ragheed, because with it you have blessed the soil of your country. And from heaven, your tender smile will continue to light the darkness of our nights and announce to us a better tomorrow.

I ask your forgiveness, brother, for when the living get together they think they have all the time in the world to talk, visit, and share feelings and thoughts. You had invited me to Iraq … I dreamed of that visit, of visiting your house, your parents, your office. … It never occurred to me that it would be your tomb that one day I would visit or that it would be verses from my Quran that I would recite for the repose of your soul …

One day, before your first trip to Iraq after a prolonged absence, I went with you to buy souvenirs and presents for your family. You spoke with me of your future work: "I would like to preside over the people on the base of charity before justice" -- you said.

It was difficult for me to imagine you a "canonical judge" … And today your blood and your martyrdom have spoken for you, a verdict of fidelity and patience, of hope against all suffering, of survival, in spite of death, in spite of everything.

Brother, your blood hasn't been shed in vain, and your church's altar wasn't a masquerade. … You assumed your role with deep seriousness until the end, with a smile that would never be extinguished … ever.

Your loving brother,

Adnam Mokrani
Rome, June 4, 2007
Professor of Islamic Studies in the Institute for the Study of Religion and Culture,
Pontifical Gregorian University

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Motu Motion...

According to Fr Z, it's in the works:
I just received a "solid" on the status of Benedict XVI’s Motu Proprio to derestrict the older form of Mass.
A source in the Secretariate of State says the MP is still in the office of Latin Letters.
If we are at this stage, then it is signed and it will be promulgated.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Persecution Continues in Iraq

Our Chaldean brothers really need our prayers:
ROME (AFP) - A Catholic Chaldean priest and five of his parishioners have been abducted in Baghdad, the Catholic news agency Asianews reported Wednesday, three days after the murder of another Chaldean priest and three deacons in northern Mosul.
Asianews said Father Hani Abdel Ahad, a little over 30, and the five others were picked up in the Suleikh quarter in northeast Baghdad, but it did not say when.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Noel Coward - Mad Dogs and Englishmen


Some things give me a headache...

... or, why not have your parish Mission Statement written by the people who designed the logo for the 2012 Olympic Games:
London 2012 will be everyone’s Games, everyone’s 2012. This is the vision at the very heart of the new London 2012 brand. It will define the venues that are built and the Games that London and the UK will host. The new 2012 emblem will use the Olympic spirit to inspire everyone and reach out to young people. It is an invitation to take part and be involved.
These will be a Games where everyone is invited to join in. A Games where people are inspired to either take part in the many sports, cultural, educational and community events leading up to 2012 or inspired to achieve personal goals.
London 2012 will encourage active participation involving people nationwide in a whole range of Games initiatives from community activities and volunteering to sporting and cultural events. It will inspire young people and connect them to sport by putting the inspirational values of the Olympic and Paralympic Games on the school curriculum.
[Read more and watch the video]
BTW, the logo is really lame... Or as the designers say:
The new emblem is dynamic, modern and flexible. It will work with new technology and across traditional and new media networks.
It will become London 2012’s visual icon, instantly recognisable amongst all age groups, all around the world. It will establish the character and identity of the London 2012 Games and what the Games will symbolise nationally and internationally.
Consider my eyes well and truly rolled.
The Telegraph has more on the logo:
Bosses of the 2012 Olympics were plunged into a fresh row last night after spending £400,000 on a controversial new logo for the London Games..
In a move billed as the most significant event since London beat Paris in 2005 in the race to host the Games, the organising committee unveiled a striking, jagged emblem as the official symbol for the Olympics.
Aimed at the younger, "internet generation", it will will also be used as the logo for the Paralympics and will be crucial to hopes of raising private sponsorship for both events.
Based roughly on the figures 2012 and apparently inspired by graffiti artists, the image - which replaces an earlier logo devised for London's bid to host the Games - was hailed as "dynamic" and "vibrant" by organisers.
Who seriously thinks that the younger "internet generation" will care a fig for the logo?
Lord Coe, chairman of the London Games organising committee (Locog), said the new logo was "edgy" and appeared to suggest it was designed to provoke a strong reaction: "We don't do bland - this is not a bland city. We weren't going to come to you with a dull or dry corporate logo that would appear on a polo shirt and we're all gardening in it a year's time."
Tony Blair raised hopes that the symbol would leave people "inspired to make a positive change in their life" while Jacques Rogge, president of the International Olympic Committee, praised it as a "truly innovative brand" that would appeal to the young.
Anyone out there inspired to make a postive change in their life from viewing the logo? Will it become the next generation's Shroud of Turin?
But the logo, which cost £400,000 and took the best part of a year to be devised by brand consultants Wolff Olins, came up against widespread disapproval yesterday, with one Jewish person even ringing the BBC to complain that it was reminiscent of the infamous Nazi SS symbol.
Design guru Stephen Bayley condemned it as "a puerile mess, an artistic flop and a commercial scandal".

Monday, June 04, 2007

Further information on Barbarity in Iraq

From Asia News:
Mosul (AsiaNews) – With “a heart full of bitterness and mourning”, the Chaldean Church is today lamenting its martyrs. This is how, in a joint statement the Chaldean Patriarch and his bishops remember Fr Ragheed Ganni (in the photo) and his three sub-deacons - Basman Yousef Daud, Wahid Hanna Isho, Gassan Isam Bidawed – murdered in cold blood yesterday, as they left the Parist Church of the Holy Spirit in Mosul after Sunday Mass. This afternoon at 15.00 (local time) their funerals will be held in Karamles, Fr. Ragheed’s home town; celebrated by Msgr. Faraj Rahho, the bishop of Mosul.
Emmanuel III Delly’s condemnation on behalf of the nation’s bishops came just hours after the assassination. “It is a most heinous crime that any person of proper conscience would reject. The authors carried out a most horrible act against God, against humanity, against their own brothers who were peace loving citizens, as well as men of religion who always offered their prayers to God the Almighty for security and stability in Iraq”, the text reads.
Msgr. Rabban al Qas, bishop of Amadiyah and Erbil, reflected on the figure of Fr. Ragheed with AsiaNews: “He had such great courage, united with a loving calm. He was a spiritual man, loved by his people, Catholic and Muslim”.
Meanwhile new information surrounding the nature of the attack has come to light. After celebrating Sunday mass, Fr Ragheed and his three aides were leaving the Parish by car, accompanied by the wife of one of the sub-deacons,, Gassan Isam Bidawed. In recent days the three insisted on accompanying Fr Ragheed to protect him. “They were young men alive with faith, who accompanied their parish priests every more, risking their lives for their belief in Christ”, their friends tell. Suddenly, at the corner of the road, their car is blocked by unknown armed men militants who order the woman to distance herself from the others and then, in cold blood, shoot the remaining passengers, repeatedly. The aggressor’s then booby trapped the car with explosives; with the aim of further carnage should anyone near the car to recover the bodies. In the immediate aftermath of the attack, the bodies remained, abandoned on the city street, because no one dared to approach. It was only towards ten pm (Local time) that security forces finally defused the explosives allowing corpses to be recovered. They now lie in repose in the Church of the Holy Spirit.
The Chaldean bishops who are currently gathered for their patriarchal Synod “ask the Lord to grant mercy to the souls of these martyrs, and extend their deepest sympathies to the families of the deceased, to the bishop of the city Msgr. Faraj Rahho, to the brother priests of the victims and the Chaldean faithful throughout the world, that they may be given the necessary strength to face such an arduous situation”. The bishops conclude by recalling the persecution of Iraqi Christians, their forced emigration, their being pushed to renounce their faith asking “Iraqi leaders and international organisations to intervene to put a concrete end to these criminal acts”.
Yesterday card. Tarcisio Bertone, Vatican secretary of state revealed that the war in Iraq will be on the agenda for talks with US President George Bush in his upcoming visit to Rome June 8th.
Fr. Ragheed is the first Catholic priest to have been killed in Iraq since 2003. Before him, last year it was the turn of a Syro- Orthodox priest Fr. Paul Iskandar.
A dear friend of AsiaNews, Fr Ragheed Ganni was born in Mosul in 1972. A graduate in engineering form the local university, he studied theology from 1996 to 2003 at the Pontifical Irish College and the Pontifical University of Thomas Aquinas the "Angelicum", where he received a licence in Ecumenical Theology.

Continued Persecution of Christians in Iraq - Priest and 3 Assistants Shot Dead

A CHALDAEAN Catholic priest and three of his assistants were shot dead overnight outside a church in northern Iraq, the local police commander said.
Brigadier-General Mohammed al-Wagaa, police chief in the divided northern city of Mosul, said the cleric and his colleagues had been shot dead outside the Holy Spirit church in the Nur district.
"They finished mass ... and the four of them got into the priest's car to drive away. After they had gone about 100m a car cut them off. Four armed men got out and shot them dead," he said.
The Catholic news agency Asianews identified the victims as 31-year-old Father Ragheed Ganni and his three assistants.
Last month, the leaders of Iraq's Christian minority called on the country's beleaguered government to protect their community from attacks by al-Qaeda-inspired Muslim extremists.
In a joint statement, Patriarch Mar Dinka IV of the Assyrian Church of the East and the Chaldaean Catholic Patriarch Emmanuel Delly of Babylon said Baghdad's remaining Christians were facing persecution.
They blamed the so-called Islamic State of Iraq, an alliance of Islamist insurgent groups that serves as an al-Qaeda front, for much of the violence.
"Christians in a number of Iraqi regions, especially those under the control of the so-called Islamic State of Iraq, have faced blackmail, kidnapping and displacement," the May 10 statement said.
Now there are reports that Salafist groups such as al-Qaeda, fundamentalists who believe Islam can be renewed by returning to the values of the era of the Prophet Mohammed, are targeting Christians on purely sectarian grounds.
The US Commission on International Religious Freedom, an independent bipartisan government agency, last month voiced concern at the deteriorating situation for freedom of religion and belief in Iraq.
Christian communities now face the threat of eradication in their historic homelands in Iraq under pervasive and severe violence and discrimination at the hands of both government and non-government actors, it warned.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

An Interesting Read in the Independent...

Ultimately wrong-headed... but seeing more clearly than many of her pro-abortion colleagues:
Cardinal Keith O'Brien is the kind of Christian we seldom see any more on these shores: a real old-fashioned fire-and-brimstone merchant. The leader of Scotland's Roman Catholics this week spelled out, in unusually robust terms, his church's position on abortion - or as he put it, "the wanton killing of the innocent".
"We are killing, in our country, the equivalent of a classroom of kids every single day," he thundered from his Edinburgh pulpit. "Can you imagine that? Two Dunblane massacres a day going on and on. And when's it going to stop?" He called upon Catholic politicians to take a stand against this "unspeakable crime", hinting that those who continue to support the 1967 Abortion Act should perhaps review their relationship with the faith. "They must consider their own consciences and whether or not they can approach the altar to receive Holy Communion."
Clearly, the Cardinal set out to provoke - and he succeeded. The liberal establishment went into conniptions. "You can't impose on the conscience of others," huffed the Labour MP Peter Kilfoyle, apparently unaware that the entire purpose of a Catholic priest is to guide the conscience of his flock. It's "undemocratic and unacceptable," whinnied Terry Sanderson of the National Secular Society. I should have thought the freedom to voice one's beliefs was a central feature of any democracy.
In this newspaper, Joan Smith railed against the religious right for attempting to "impose its opinions on the rest of us" - as if we liberals would never dream of imposing our ideas about, say, gay adoption upon a doubtful public.
There is a valid anxiety behind all this fulmination. Hitherto, the abortion debate in Britain has been conducted with admirable decorum. We look with horror at the situation in America, where Roe vs Wade has become political shorthand for a divided nation: on the one hand, the doctor-slaying fundamentalists of the Republican Bible Belt; on the other, the feminists, pansies and peaceniks.
The fear is that pro-life fundamentalism, like junk food and gun crime, might be another American bad habit that we can't help picking up. Cardinal O'Brien, with his US-style fiery rhetoric, would seem to be deliberately leading us down that rancorous route.
As a pro-choice lapsed Catholic, I know where my loyalties lie. I would like to see the liberals win - but to do so having faced the arguments head-on. At present, the pro-choice argument is riddled with dishonesty and evasion.
The whole thing is worth reading...

Scottish Cardinal Speaks Out on Abortion

From the Telegraph:
Britain's two most senior Roman Catholic leaders intensified the debate on abortion yesterday by warning Catholic politicians who support terminations not to receive Holy Communion.
Cardinal Keith O'Brien, the leader of Scotland's Catholics, said the abortion rate north of the border was now equivalent to "two Dunblane massacres a day".
In a sermon marking the 40th anniversary of the Abortion Act, Cardinal O'Brien told Catholic politicians of "the barrier such co-operation (on abortion) erects to receiving Holy Communion". He also urged Catholic voters to consider "all the views" of those seeking election.
Outside St Mary's Cathedral in Edinburgh after the service, the Cardinal said he would like to see a change in the law governing what he labelled "an evil trade".
He added: "We are killing - in our country - the equivalent of a classroom of kids every single day.
"Can you imagine that? Two Dunblane massacres a day in our country going on and on. And when's it going to stop?"
But he denied wanting pro-choice Catholic politicians to be cast out of the Church.
"They must consider their own consciences and whether or not they can approach the altar to receive Holy Communion," he said.
Needless to say, there was some uninformed comment from these politicians.
Jim Devine, the Labour MP for Livingston, said that the Cardinal's comments were an "affront to democracy".
He added: "Abortion is not the issue. This could be about nuclear weapons or Iraq or anything where the Catholic church has a view.
''To tell practising Catholics how to vote is unacceptable."
Terry Sanderson, president of the National Secular Society, said: "There is an implied call to Catholic politicians and health workers to place Catholic doctrine above the wishes of the electorate.
''This is undemocratic and unacceptable."
What annoys me particularly is the disingenuousness of these arguments. It is perfectly democratic for the Church to teach her doctrine and advise her members on their moral responsibilities. Even from a purely secular view, does not the Church have the right to express her views and advise her members who adhere to the Church by virtue of their own decision?
Secondly, if a politician's duty is merely to act as a passive conduit for the views of the electorate, without regard for any objective idea of truth or justice, then the whole political apparatus should simply be dismantled, as modern technology can come up with better ways of polling the general public and determining their will than the old fashioned system of political parties and elected representatives.

Ginger is the new black?

From the Times:
A family of six have fled two homes after enduring a vicious hate campaign, apparently prompted by the colour of their hair.
Kevin and Barbara Chapman say that anti-ginger prejudice has led to their property being vandalised and their four youngest children being subjected to a litany of cruel taunts, verbal abuse and bullying.
The Chapmans and their children, who are from Newcastle-upon-Tyne, have a blaze of red hair which, they claim, has reduced them to living like fugitives in the city. Their plight carries uncomfortable echoes of the Catherine Tate sketch in which a group of ginger-haired outcasts find safety in a refuge after being ostractised by society.
Another victim of hair-colour prejudice, the Premiership footballer Dave Kitson, of Reading, claimed two years ago that fans who made fun of his red hair were as bad as racists.
This year, David Cameron, the Conservative leader, dismissed his homeland security spokesman after a race-row scandal. Patrick Mercer, a former Army colonel, had said that soldiers with red hair were given a “far harder time” than blacks and that comments like “Come on you black b******” and “Come on you ginger b******” were “the way it is in the Army”.

Friday, June 01, 2007

St Justin Martyr on the Ubiquity of the Cross

And this, as the prophet foretold, is the greatest symbol of His power and role; as is also proved by the things which fall under our observation. For consider all the things in the world, whether without this form they could be administered or have any community. For the sea is not traversed except that trophy which is called a sail abide safe in the ship; and the earth is not ploughed without it: diggers and mechanics do not their work, except with tools which have this shape. And the human form differs from that of the irrational animals in nothing else than in its being erect and having the hands extended, and having on the face extending from the forehead what is called the nose, through which there is respiration for the living creature; and this shows no other form than that of the cross. And so it was said by the prophet, "The breath before our face is the Lord Christ." And the power of this form is shown by your own symbols on what are called "vexilla" [banners] and trophies, with which all your state possessions are made, using these as the insignia of your power and government, even though you do so unwittingly. And with this form you consecrate the images of your emperors when they die, and you name them gods by inscriptions. Since, therefore, we have urged you both by reason and by an evident form, and to the utmost of our ability, we know that now we are blameless even though you disbelieve; for our part is done and finished.

Argent is in Rome

Check out her photos.