Monday, September 22, 2014


An unconfirmed rumor or malicious lie has it that Msgr. Guido Marini will be the new  Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of Sacraments? According to a high-ranking prelate there are no doubts about it: he has been chosen for the position, only the official announcement is needed.
Archbishop Elect Marini, a young man by anyone's standards, is the Master of Pontifical Liturgical Ceremonies for Popes Benedict XVI and Francis. It is well known that Pope Francis likes Msgr. Marini and embraces his liturgical vision. The Holy Father is quoted as saying that the Church needs young liturgical blood more in keeping with moving forward liturgically with actually implementing Vatican II's Sacrosanctum Concilium compared to what has happened in the last 40 years. He offered the revised Roman Missal of the Anglican Ordinariate as a step in that direction and that the entire Roman Rite needs to be modeled on the Anglican Ordinariate's Order of Mass and various options.
At his appointment, Msgr. Marini will be elevated to the order of Archbishop so the rumor or malicious lie goes.  

He or someone else would replace Cardinal Antonio Cañizares Llovera who was named Archbishop of Valencia this past August 28.

...But of course there's always Archbishop Piero Marini whom the sources for the rumor may have missed the first name. Stay tuned... 


 As I look over the EF's Baptismal Rite, it truly is a rite of exorcism and truly situates baptism within the context of presenting a person (symbolically in a child in infant baptism) to God, holy and blameless, robed in white for salvation at judgment. The EF Rite is eschatological and powerful although there are some elements recovered in the revised rite that could easily be inserted such as a formal greeting at the beginning,  securing the the most prominent role of the parents in the rite itself, Scripture reading, the Litany of Saints, consecration of baptismal water and a final blessing and solemn blessing and dismissal at the end.

By comparison the revised rite is very limp and superficial not only in terms of salvation and Christ's Church the means to it, but also in recognizing evil and its source, the devil and that God's power is greater. There is no ignoring the devil or damnation or sin and evil. The revised rite is whitewashed.

In the ancient rite, the Ephphetha is prayed prior to the anointing with the Oil of Catechumens, thus prior to the actual baptism, where is seems to be best situated.

This is the prayer that accompanies it in the OF which is done at the end of the baptism after the anointing with Chrism, giving of baptismal garment and candle:

The Lord Jesus made the deaf hear and the dumb speak. May he soon touch your ears to receive his word, and your mouth to proclaim his faith, to the praise and glory of God the Father. Amen.

In the EF  this is the prayer well prior to the actual baptism:

Ephpheta, that is to say, Be opened, for an odor of sweetness. Be thou, devil, begone; for the judgment of God shall draw near.

This is the OF's prayer for the Anointing of with Sacred Chrism:

God the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ has freed you from sin, given you a new birth by water and the Holy Spirit, and welcomed you into his holy people. He now anoints you with the chrism of salvation. As Christ was anointed Priest, prophet and King so may you live always as members of his body, sharing everlasting life. Amen.

This is the EF's same prayer:

May the Almighty God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath regenerated thee by water and the Holy Ghost, and who hath given thee the remission of all thy sins, may He Himself + anoint thee with the Chrism of Salvation in the same Christ Jesus our Lord, unto life eternal.

This is the OF's clothing with white garment:

You have become a new creation, and have clothed yourself in Christ. See in this white garment the outward sign of your Christian dignity. With your family and friends to help you by word and example, bring that dignity unstained into the everlasting life of heaven..

The is the EF's:

Receive this white garment, which mayest thou carry without stain before the judgment seat of our Lord Jesus Christ, that thou mayest have life everlasting.

The OF's lighted candle:

Receive the light of Christ. Parents and godparents, this light is entrusted to you to be kept burning brightly. This child of yours has been enlightened by Christ. He/she is to walk always as a child of the light. May s/he keep the flame of faith alive in their heart. When the Lord comes, may they go out to meet him with all the saints in the heavenly kingdom.

The EF's lighted candle:

Receive this burning light and keep thy Baptism so as to be without blame: keep the commandments of God that when the Lord shall come to the nuptials, thou mayest meet Him together with all the Saints in the heavenly court and mayest have eternal life and live for ever and ever.

Sunday, September 21, 2014


Yesterday I celebrated the Extraordinary Form of infant baptism for a family that requested it.

I've done this now about five times since it was allowed in 2007.

Let me give a brief overview of the Baptismal Rite in the Extraordinary Form:

The priest wears a violet stole over his cassock to begin the celebration (he may also optionally wear a cope that is violet). Thus the first part of Holy Baptism is penitential. This is lost in the revised Ordinary Form.

The sponsors (godparents) role is elevated and the parental role is neglected. There is not problem in the godparents have an exalted role but I do think the neglect of the parental role needed to be revised. Therefore only the godparents respond to the ritual questions and the godmother holds the child. However, the questions are directed to the infant using his/her name but the godparents answer. In the Ordinary Form the questions are not directed (even symbolically an in the EF) toward the infant.

There is not a clear beginning (although it is at the entrance of the church) with the "Sign of the Cross" and greeting. I found this awkward and prefer a more formal greeting. Rather, the priest questions the child with the godparents answering "What do you ask of God's Church?" and "What does Faith offer you? Then the priest gives a brief exhortation about love of God and neighbor to the infant.

Then the priest breathes three times on the infant in the form of a cross and offers the first exorcism expelling the unclean spirit to give place to the Holy Spirit, the Paraclete.

Next the priest makes the Sign of the Cross on the infants forehead and heart with his thumb. The one over the heart is omitted in the revised form, the breath of the priest is eliminated as is the first exorcism. Not sure why! I think it is a mistake to have done so.

Then with hands on child and then raised above a powerful "collect" is prayed acknowledging the power of good over Satan and the foulness of wickedness.

Then blessed salt is placed in the child's mouth (not a lot of course) and this is the prayer: "N., Receive the salt of wisdom let it be to thee a token of mercy unto everlasting life. May it make your easy to eternal life. Only then is there the first liturgical greeting by the priest and it is the pontifical greeting not allowed priests in the OF, "Peace be with you." And another collect.

Then the child is admitted into the church building proper with another exorcism: "I exorcise thee, unclean spirit, in the name of the Father...(three signs of the cross), that thou goest out and depart from this servant of God For He command Thee, accursed one, who walked upon the sea and stretched out His right hand to Peter about to sink. Therefore, accursed devil, acknowledge thy sentence and give honor to the living and true God.Give honor to Jesus Christ His Son, and to the Holy Spirit and depart from this servant of God because God and our Lord Jesus Christ..." (Powerful stuff here folks, completed omitted in the revised rite and sadly so!)

Another Sign of the Cross is made on the infants forehead: "And this sign of the Holy Cross, which we make upon the forehead, do thou, accursed devil, never dare to violate...

Then there is the imposition of the priest's hand over the child and another powerful "Collect" is prayed.

Then the priest lays the end of his stole on the candidate as a symbol of his priestly authority and admits the child into the building the symbol of the Church of Christ with an accompanying prayer.

At the entrance to the baptistry, the godparents say the Credo and Pater Noster (in English if desired).

Then there is the Solemn Exorcism (not a minor one).

Then taking some of his spittle (this can be symbolic or omitted) the Ephpheta is prayed with spittle touching the ears and nostrils of the candidate. The Ephpeta if maintained without spittle in the revised rite but the nostrils are not blessed the ears and mouth are which is a good revision.

Then the Godparents still at the entrance to the baptistry are questioned about renouncing Satan.

Then the child is anointed on the heart with the oil of catechumens. Then the priest changes from violet stole to white (cope changed too if used). All enter the baptistry for the the rest of the question form of the Creed concerning faith.

Then immediately the child is baptized with the godmother holding the child. The water in the font is already blessed prior to the baptism. The revised rite has the blessing of water during the liturgy with a prayer that I think is too long. Blessing the water (using a shorter formula) during the liturgy is a good revision though.

Then the liturgy continues with the Anointing with Chrism, the giving of the white garment and lighted candle. And then there is a dismissal but no formal blessing.

I think a formal blessing at the end was a good revision. Things end rather abruptly.

I prefer the EF order of Baptism. I think though there should be a Liturgy of the Word or a Scripture reading and this is certainly a good revision in the OF.

The older ritual touches the participants in a dramatic way especially with the movement from the world of Satan (falleness) to the Church, the penitential aspect emphasized and redemption achieve in the Church!


As usual, at Crux John Allen has a great piece this morning. I won't print the whole thing, but you can read it HERE. But there are two things that I would like to print. He has a great piece on Pope Benedict and how the world reacted to his Regensburg speech. And then he has a bit of an editorial on the new archbishop of Sydney, Australia, every much a similar see to Chicago in terms of Pope Francis' choice of bishops but the one in Sydney a protege of the conservative Cardinal Pell, one of Pope Francis' closest and most respected advisers.  Yet, there is nothing near the same coverage of that appointment as the one in Chicago and the silliness of the right and the left concerning Archbishop Cupich.

Apologizing to Benedict XVI

In the Catholic commentariat, there’s been discussion lately about whether Pope Benedict XVI is owed an apology for the brouhaha that broke out in 2006 over a speech he gave in Regensburg, Germany, which opened with a citation of a 14th-century Byzantine emperor linking Muhammad, the founder of Islam, with violence.

At the time, Benedict’s quotation was seen as a crass religious slur. Now, with the rise of the self-declared ISIS caliphate in northern Iraq and its bloody crackdown on religious minorities, things look a little different.

However, the revisionist take on his words risks a repeat of the fatal mistake of eight years ago, only in reverse. Aside from its second paragraph, the Regensburg speech really had nothing to do with Islam, and reading it that way distorts the point the retired pontiff was trying to make.

If you read the entire 4,000 word text – which, to this day, relatively few of the pundits commenting on it seem to have done – you’ll discover that Benedict’s primary points of reference aren’t Muslims, but rather Socrates, Duns Scotus, Immanuel Kant and Adolf von Harnack, luminaries of the Western intellectual tradition.

If Benedict was criticizing anything, it wasn’t Islam, but rather Western secularism and its tendency to limit the scope of reason to what can be scientifically and empirically verified, excluding any reference to ultimate truth.

The heart of Benedict’s argument at Regensburg was that reason and faith need each other. Reason shorn of faith, he suggested, becomes skepticism and nihilism, while faith deprived of reason becomes extremism and fundamentalism. In isolation, each becomes dangerous; to be healthy, they need each other.

In Regensburg, Benedict warned against “a reason which is deaf to the divine,” among other things pointing out that ignoring the transcendent handicaps the West in trying to engage the rest of the world, which takes religion seriously, indeed.

“Listening to the great experiences and insights of the religious traditions of humanity, and those of the Christian faith in particular, is a source of knowledge, and to ignore it would be an unacceptable restriction of our listening and responding,” he said.

Benedict XVI saw himself as a teaching pope, not a governor or a diplomat, and there’s no doubt his eight-year reign suffered because of it.

Yet as a teacher, he had an impressive record. His Regensburg speech was part of a four-volume work that also includes memorable addresses at the Collège des Bernardins in Paris in 2008, at Westminster Hall in London in 2010, and at the Bundestag in Germany in 2011.

In each, Benedict tried to lay out a vision for a constructive role for religious believers in post-modern democratic societies, arguing that democracies depend upon a bedrock of values they can’t supply for themselves, and that citizens motivated by religious beliefs can help supply them.

One can disagree with Benedict’s analysis, and he would be the first to concede that when he’s functioning as a cultural critic his thought is not covered by the infallibility popes claim when they’re pronouncing on faith and morals.

At some point, however, his arguments at least deserve to be heard.

If we owe Benedict XVI an apology for anything, it’s probably not for overreacting to his reference to Muhammad at Regensburg — which still seems ill-advised, especially in the absence of any context. It’s for never considering the rest of what he had to say.

And then this about the Australian appointment of a new archbishop:

 ...If Burke is sent packing, it will be difficult to see the move as anything other than trimming his sails.
Yet before anyone concludes that Francis is conducting an ideological purge, this week brought yet another personnel move that cuts in a slightly different direction: the appointment of Anthony Fisher, formerly the bishop of Parramatta in Australia, as the new Archbishop of Sydney.

Just 54 years old, Fisher is an erudite Dominican given to subtle reasoning about matters, making him difficult to characterize in terms of sound-bites. That said, he’s perceived in Australia as a protégé of Cardinal George Pell, the former Sydney archbishop who now is Francis’ finance czar, and so Fisher’s appointment will be seen as vote for continuity with Pell’s conservative leadership.

As a footnote, the choice certainly confirms Pell’s influence with this pope. Francis’ may be the signature on the bull sending Fisher to Sydney, but dust it for prints and I guarantee you’ll find Pell’s all over it.

Yet Fisher and his mentor are hardly clones of one another. Whereas Pell is a tough guy who relishes a fight, Fisher is a kinder, gentler soul, and he will undoubtedly surprise people with his capacity to listen and to make careful distinctions...


The Mass itself (the papal parts) are in Latin! Homily at the end of this post:

What is the difference in the Mass above celebrated by Pope Francis and any papal Mass that Pope Benedict celebrated? What is the same?

Let's start with the differences:

1. There are two different people, different personalities and different liturgical priorities but all within the umbrella of the liturgy in the Ordinary Form.

2. His preaching style is more animated than Pope Benedict and Pope Francis often departs from the written text to improvise. Most good preachers do.

3. Pope Francis can't chant. This is a disappointment to those who believe the chanted Mass is the norm. I've always stated that if a priest or bishop can't carry a tune and sounds awful chanting, that he should not chant! The spoken parts of the Mass in the Ordinary Form is perfectly acceptable while other parts are chanted by others.

4. Pope Francis' taste in vestments is sober and simple. Pope Benedict used a wider array of styles but had an affinity for lace, Roman chasubles and ornate designs. Pope Benedict had a flare for style, which is not forbidden in the Catholic Church, we aren't Puritans in this regard and Pope Benedict liked the long tradition of the various liturgical styles especially the more regal. Pope Francis has an aversion to European liturgical styles borrowed from the long history of the "court" or "monarchy" in Europe. I think Americans would have the same sensibilities as we tend to mock the court and monarchy too.

5. Pope Benedict had a more integrated vision for how Latin should be preserved in the Liturgy of the Ordinary Form. Pope Francis' approach has no such unity. This is somewhat disappointing but Pope Francis has certainly celebrated all-Latin Ordinary Form Papal Liturgies and used Latin in Korea--but there isn't a clear logic emerging from his way of using Latin compared to Pope Benedict. I am pleased to note though that at the Papal Mass in Albania, Pope Francis used Latin instead of Italian.

6. Pope Francis normally does not distribute Holy Communion to the laity. If I am not mistaken the pope prior to Vatican II did not distribute Holy Communion to anyone not even the deacons and in fact Holy Communion was ministered to him at least in the most solemn expression of the EF Papal Mass. 

What is the same?

1. The altar arrangement more in line with the traditional arrangement for it in the Extraordinary Form is here to stay for papal liturgies at least under Pope Francis. The only modification in Rome is that the candlesticks are more "angled" and the crucifix is not so large as to hide the pope and his liturgical actions during the Liturgy of the Eucharist. The "episcopal candle" is to the side rather than the middle now. However, if one notes the altar arrangement in the video above, this arrangement was quite common during Pope Benedict's travels too. I prefer this look of the altar when facing the congregation rather than the overly large candlesticks and crucifix sometimes used in Rome. For ad orientem Masses, the bigger, the taller the better. These aren't  in the way when the Mass is ad orientem.

2. Both Pope Francis and Pope Benedict say the black and do the red. They are both sober in their manner of celebrating and neither is flamboyant with huge, exaggerated bodily gestures especially with arm gestures and voice inflections. Neither improvises in the least during the Introductory Rites with long introductions to the Penitential Act that are like homilies or banal post- official greetings, like Good morning, how are you and the like!  This is what both Pope Francis and Pope Benedict say when introducing the Penitential Act either in Latin or the vernacular: "Brethren, let us acknowledge our sins so as to prepare ourselves to celebrate the sacred mysteries." This is what is prescribed in the Roman Missal, it is concise, to the point and far from exaggerated or a homily.
Please find below the full text of the Pope’s homily for the Mass:
Homily of His Holiness Pope Francis
Holy Mass in Mother Teresa Square
 (Tirana, 21 September 2014)

Today’s Gospel tells us that, as well as the Twelve Apostles, Jesus calls another seventy-two disciples and that he sends them to the villages and cities to announce the Kingdom of God (cf. Lk 10:1-9, 17-20).  He comes to bring the love of God to the world and he wishes to share it by means of communion and fraternity.  To this end he immediately forms a community of disciples, a missionary community, and he trains them how to “go out” on mission.  The method is both clear and simple: the disciples visit homes and their preaching begins with a greeting which is charged with meaning: “Peace be to this house!”.  It is not only a greeting, but also a gift: the gift of peace.  Being here with you today, dear brothers and sisters of Albania, in this Square dedicated to a humble and great daughter of this land, Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta, I wish to repeat to you this greeting: May peace be in your homes! May peace reign in your hearts! Peace in your country!    

In the mission of the seventy-two disciples we see a reflection of the Christian community’s missionary experience in every age: the risen and living Lord sends not only the Twelve, but the entire Church; he sends each of the baptized to announce the Gospel to all peoples.  Through the ages, the message of peace brought by Jesus’ messengers has not always been accepted; at times, the doors have been closed to them.  In the recent past, the doors of your country were also closed, locked by the chains of prohibitions and prescriptions of a system which denied God and impeded religious freedom.  Those who were afraid of the truth did everything they could to banish God from the hearts of men and women and to exclude Christ and the Church from the history of your country, even though it was one of the first to receive the light of the Gospel.  In the second reading, in fact, we heard a reference being made to Illyria, which in Paul’s time included the territory of modern-day Albania.

Recalling the decades of atrocious suffering and harsh persecutions against Catholics, Orthodox and Muslims, we can say that Albania was a land of martyrs: many bishops, priests, men and women religious, and laity paid for their fidelity with their lives.  Demonstrations of great courage and constancy in the profession of the faith are not lacking.  How many Christians did not succumb when threatened, but persevered without wavering on the path they had undertaken!  I stand spiritually at that wall of the cemetery of Scutari, a symbolic place of the martyrdom of Catholics before the firing squads, and with profound emotion I place the flower of my prayer and of my grateful and undying remembrance.  The Lord was close to you, dear brothers and sisters, to sustain you; he led you and consoled you and in the end he has raised you up on eagle’s wings as he did for the ancient people of Israel (cf. First Reading).  The eagle, depicted on your nation’s flag, calls to mind hope, and the need to always place your trust in God, who does not lead us astray and who is ever at our side, especially in moments of difficulty.

Today, the doors of Albania have been reopened and a season of new missionary vitality is growing for all of the members of the people of God: each baptized person has his or her role to fulfil in the Church and in society.  Each one must experience the call to dedicate themselves generously to the announcing of the Gospel and to the witness of charity; called to strengthen the bonds of solidarity so as to create more just and fraternal living conditions for all.  Today, I have come to encourage you to cultivate hope among yourselves and within your hearts; to involve the young generations; to nourish yourselves assiduously on the Word of God, opening your hearts to Christ: his Gospel will show you the way!  May your faith be joyful and bright; may you demonstrate that the encounter with Christ gives meaning to human existence, meaning to every man and woman.

In the spirit of communion among bishops, priests, consecrated persons and laity, I encourage you to bring vitality to your pastoral activities and to continuously seek new ways of making the Church present in society: do not be afraid to respond generously to Christ who invites you to follow him!  In a priestly or religious vocation you will find the richness and the joy of offering yourselves to the service of God and your brothers and sisters.  How many men and women await the light of the Gospel and the grace of the Sacraments!

To the Church which is alive in this land of Albania, I say “thank you” for the example of fidelity to the Gospel!  So many of your sons and daughters have suffered for Christ, even to the point of sacrificing their lives.  May their witness sustain your steps today and tomorrow as you journey along the way of love, of freedom, of justice and of peace.  Amen.


 I've been reading various news accounts about the appointment of Archbishop Blase Cupich (Soup-itch) as the new Archbishop of Chicago. I have some observations that are very troubling about both the secular press's manipulation of the facts and ideologues in the Catholic Church, the neo-traditionalists as well as the post-Catholic progressives.

The greatest threat to the Catholic Church's unity is the schismatic ideologies of both the left and the right and the mortal sin of calumny even toward the Holy Father. For this traditional Catholic, this sort of disrespect  toward anyone especially the pope is simply anti-Catholic.

1. Reading the news accounts, one would think that every bishop that Pope Benedict named along with his predecessor, St. Pope John Paul II were culture warriors (as though this is something anathema in the Church, it is not a mortal sin to be a culture warrior, nor is it required by the moral law to be one) and that none of them cared about the poor, the immigrants or the marginalized. What hogwash!

2. The contrasts being made between Archbishop Blase Cupich and Cardinal Francis George makes the Cardinal look like an ogre whose tone did nothing for Chicago and the new Archbishop like the anti-George. This is not the first time in the history of the Church that a new pastor, a new bishop or a new pope had a different tone and emphasis from his predecessor. We are not clones of each other but we are all Catholic.

Archbishop Blase Cupich will be pro-life. He will uphold divine law revealed in Scripture, Tradition and natural law concerning the true nature of marriage and he will call the faithful to chastity no matter their state in life or sexual preferences.  

He chooses to confront the social and moral issues of the day through dialogue and not being shrill. This is perfectly acceptable.

Liturgically, he will promote what the General Instruction of the Roman Missal allows. He will not forbid the Extraordinary Form. He will celebrate the OF Mass as it is allowed today even if he has other personal preferences about this, that or the other. Don't we all?

Isn't is time that Catholics start acting like Catholics and in the areas of faith and morals as well as Church law respect not only the office of the Episcopacy and lesser Holy Orders as well as respecting and loving persons, warts and all? Or are we post-Catholic in this regard?

Saturday, September 20, 2014


My comments first: When a marriage that has failed and ended in civil divorce is placed on trial in an ecclesiastical court of the Catholic Church, the Catholic Church must make the determination if the presumption of the sacramentality of the marriage was present or not. In the authority given to the Catholic Church by our Lord to "loose and bind" the Catholic Church in justice may declare a marriage as a sacrament invalid from its beginning after the proper canonical trial that proves such a thing.

Grounds for an annulment which must meet the "proof" test of witnesses to include the former spouses would be 1) lack of due discretion at the time of the wedding; 2) lack of belief or understanding of the Catholic meaning of the Sacrament of Matrimony; 3) reserving the right to be unfaithful to the vows at the time the vows are made; 4) refusal to have children; 5) mental illness at the time of the wedding; 6) undue pressure to get married especially from parents or a desire to escape parents through marriage. There are many other grounds that must be proven too!

Sometimes there are no witnesses apart from the former spouses themselves. In these situations, the spouse's testimony should be sufficient!

Protestants are dispensed from the Catholic form of marriage. Their first marriage, even if common law is viewed as sacramental. I believe this is a grand mistake. The Catholic Church could declare these marriages simply unions, valid but not sacramental (meaning those that are done outside of any Christian denominational Church). A lack of proper religious form could be cited as the grounds to free a Protestant to have their second marriage convalidated.

A Catholic who enters marriage outside of the Church, even if free to marry, and does so without a Church dispensation is not considered to be in a sacramental marriage. No annulment is needed for this type of marriage only proof that the person was Catholic and decided not to be married in the Catholic Church. Something of this sort could be declared for Protestant marriages too!

As well when Protestant marriages end in divorce and there is a remarriage, and then one or the other wants to become Catholic, the annulment procedure for them should focus in on the Protestant's understanding of marriage as their particular denomination teaches. If it lacks what the Church teaches, especially as it concerns Holy Matrimony as a sacrament, then the annulment should be granted in an expeditious way without involving too many other Protestant witnesses who might be hostile to the process.

Pope Establishes Commission to make Marriage Annulment Procedures Simpler

On August 27, 2014, the Holy Father decided to proceed to the Establishment of a special study Commission for the reform of the canonical matrimonial process. Regarding this decision, the following is made public.

This Commission will be presided by H.E. Abp. Pio Vito Pinto, Dean of the Tribunal of the Roman Rota, and will be composed of the following members: H. Em. Card. Francesco Coccopalmerio, President of the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts; H.E. Abp. Luis Francisco Ladaria Ferrer, S.I., Secretary of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith; H.E. Abp. Dimitrios Salachas, Apostolic Exarch for the Greek-Catholics of Byzantine Rite; Monsignors Maurice Monier, Leo Xavier Michael Arokiaraj and Alejandro W. Bunge, Auditor Prelates of the Tribunal of the Roman Rota; Fr.  Nikolaus Schöch, O.F.M., Substitute Promotor of Justice of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura; Fr. Konštanc Miroslav Adam, O.P., Rector of the Pontificia Università San Tommaso d’Aquino (Angelicum); Fr. Jorge Horta Espinoza, O.F.M.,Dean of the Faculty of Canon Law of the Pontificia Università Antoniamum; and Prof. Paolo Moneta, formerly professor of Canon Law at the Università di Pisa.

The work of the Commission will start as soon as possible and will have as its goal to prepare a proposal of reform of the matrimonial process, with the objective of simplifying its procedure, rendering it more slender, and safeguarding the principle of the indissolubility of matrimony. [Original source in Italian]



Rome (AFP) - Security has been tightened in Saint Peter's Square after intelligence services intercepted a possible plan to attack the Vatican, Italian media reported Saturday, increasing fears Pope Francis could be in danger.

A foreign security service alerted Italy this week after intercepting a conversation between two Arab speakers which referred to "a demonstrative act, Wednesday, at the Vatican," Il Messaggero daily reported.

Wednesday is the day the pope holds his weekly general audience in the square in front of Saint Peter's Basilica.

Checks by Italy's anti-terrorism unit revealed that one of the speakers passed through the country eight months ago, heightening concerns the threat may be real.

Earlier warnings that the Islamic State extremists may be plotting to attack the pope have been shrugged off by the Vatican, but security has nonetheless been increased for his Wednesday and Sunday audiences, the paper said.

The Repubblica daily said plain clothes special operations officers with sniffer dogs trained in seeking out explosives were helping Vatican police vet tourists, while hotels in the area were also being kept under surveillance.

The news came a day before Francis's trip to Albania, where the pontiff is expected to mingle with the crowds as usual despite reports of possible danger from new IS recruits returning from the Middle East to the mostly-Muslim country.

Some worry the pope has made himself a target by speaking out against the Islamic State group and having the Holy See voice support for US air strikes in Iraq.

In an interview with Italy's La Nazione daily this week, Iraq's ambassador to the Holy See, Habib Al Sadr, said "what has been declared by the self-declared Islamic State is clear. They want to kill the pope. The threats against the pope are credible."

The Vatican played down the warning, saying security measures for the trip would remain unchanged.


The way I was when I was vocation director before I became a has-been:
I was vocation director for the Diocese of Savannah from 1986 to 1998. In the late 80's when I was still stationed in Savannah at our Cathedral, we had seminarians in the Pontifical College Josephinum. They were in the college division. This seminary is in Columbus, Ohio. I would go to visit them twice a year and meet with the rector to discuss their progress. He was Msgr. Blase Cupich.

After a couple of years of visiting there, he asked me if I would like to be the dean of students for the college level seminarians. I was, of course honored to be asked and said that I would consider it but that he should write a letter to Bishop Raymond Lessard, our then bishop, requesting he release me from the diocese for this ministry.

He did and Bishop Lessard approached me about it and asked if I wanted to go. I had thought about it and did not really have a desire to do this kind of work. So Bishop Lessard wrote him back and indicated that I would not be taking the position.

I often wonder, if there were parallel time, what my life would be like today if I had taken that position.

This is Whispers in the Loggia's take on Chicago's new archbishop:

 It is the most shocking major move the American hierarchy has seen in the last decade and a half – according to an increasing number of reports and confirmations, at Roman Noon tomorrow Pope Francis is expected to name Blase Joseph Cupich, the 65 year-old bishop of Spokane, as ninth archbishop of Chicago.

A moderate and keen "conference man" repeatedly nominated for the USCCB presidency over recent elections, the appointment of the Omaha-born prelate – a liturgist by training – was first reported by Associated Press, and has now been confirmed by several Whispers sources.

Possessed of a richly varied background – serving by turns as a local aide at the Apostolic Nunciature in Washington, rector of the Pontifical College Josephinum in Columbus and pastor of a parish in his hometown – in 1999 the apparent archbishop-elect was named as bishop of Rapid City, one of the nation's smallest, poorest dioceses, comprising the western half of South Dakota.

Eleven years later, Pope Benedict transferred Cupich – by then the chair of the US church's child protection efforts – to Spokane in the wake of the diocese's filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy due to a crush of some 180 civil suits. Before that move, however, it is intriguing to note that Cupich was reportedly blocked from being named archbishop of Milwaukee – an even more prominent diocese which entered bankruptcy reorganization – in the later stages of that process.

In the Washington State post, the bishop garnered wide notice for advancing a pastoral strategy of mediation to settle the claims as opposed to resorting to legal processes. Just yesterday, Cupich issued a pastoral letter to the diocese to launch Spokane's pastoral plan for the next several years.

All in all, the choice serves to reflect of one of Francis' key emphases over his 18-month pontificate: that of a church geared toward the "periphery" as opposed to being locked in its "sacristies." Put another way, Cupich's experience before landing in the nation's third-largest diocese speak to another of the Pope's lead threads – a premium on missionary pastors for a missionary church.

With the move on-deck, Cupich would become the first Chicago archbishop since George Mundelein in 1916 who was not previously a metropolitan elsewhere. The architect of the "corporation sole" behemoth that made the Windy City the most centralized and complex diocesan shop on these shores, next month marks the 75th anniversary of the death of the first cardinal, who was an auxiliary of Brooklyn at the time of his appointment and was subsequently given the use of Illinois license plate "1," a perk his successors enjoyed into the 1970s.

Given the tribal name wakiya ska – "White Thunder" – by Rapid City's Lakota Nation, Cupich has shown little reluctance for the public square, albeit in a markedly different style from his predecessor-to-be, Cardinal Francis George. A regular contributor to the Jesuits' America magazine, among other pieces there, the pick raised eyebrows in the run-up to the 2008 election by raising the specter of racism in at least some of the opposition to Barack Obama. In a 2011 piece, meanwhile, he laid out "12 things" the US bishops had learned from the sex-abuse crisis.

With the appointment, George will become the first Chicago archbishop in the diocese's 172-year history to leave office in life. The cardinal's retirement suite is already said to be prepared in a church-owned facility near Holy Name Cathedral.

While his successor now arrives as "Francis' man" launched to the fore of the Stateside bench, the successor will inherit the famous "House of 19 Chimneys" on North State Parkway (above) and alongside Lincoln Park, where the city's archbishops have resided since the 1890s.

For his part, though the outgoing archbishop floated the idea of selling the landmark house, citing his tastes as a religious and the expectations of bishops in the modern church, the cardinal was memorably shouted down by the descendants of the poor whose "pennies" built the place.


Vatican sources deny that Pope is upset over cardinals' marriage book

.- Catholic Church sources have dismissed rumors that Pope Francis is annoyed by an Ignatius Press book critical of Cardinal Walter Kasper’s position on Holy Communion for the divorced and remarried.

The French Catholic newspaper La Croix said Sept. 17 that “a senior source close to the Argentine Pope” claimed that Pope Francis would be “annoyed by the publication of this collective work.”

However, sources close to the Pope denied this claim, telling CNA that the Pope is not even aware of the book.

The book, from Ignatius Press, is titled “Remaining in the Truth of Christ: Marriage and Communion in the Catholic Church.” It is a collection of essays on the pastoral approach to Catholics who have divorced and civilly remarried. Authors of the essays include five cardinals as well as other scholars.

Contributors include Cardinal Gerhard Muller, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith; Cardinal Raymond Burke, prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura; Cardinal Walter Brandmuller, president emeritus of the Pontifical Committee for Historical Sciences; Cardinal Carlo Caffarra of Bologna, one of the closest theologians to St. John Paul II in questions of morality and the family; and Cardinal Velasio De Paolis, president emeritus of the Prefecture for Economic Affairs of the Holy See.

The book is set to be published next month, around the time that the Synod of Bishops will be meeting in Rome to discuss issues involving the family.

The Ignatius Press book’s introduction says the essays in “Remaining in the Truth of Christ” are responses to Cardinal Walter Kasper’s 2014 book “The Gospel of the Family,” which includes his advocacy of giving Holy Communion to some Catholics who have divorced and civilly remarried without an annulment.

Fr. Joseph Fessio, S.J., founder and editor of Ignatius Press, responded sharply to claims by Cardinal Kasper in an email exchange with CNA. He drew from Cardinal Kasper’s Sept. 18 interview with Italian newspaper La Stampa, responding point-by-point to the cardinal’s statements.

In the interview, Cardinal Kasper complained of learning about the book from journalists who had received advance copies of it. The cardinal said that he had not received an advance copy, adding, “In my entire academic life nothing like this has ever happened to me.”

“You chose to leave academia to enter public life. Get used to it,” Fr. Fessio responded.

The priest also referenced Cardinal Kasper’s statement, “If cardinals who are the closest collaborators of the pope intervene in this organized and public manner, at least in regard to the most recent history of the Church we are facing an unprecedented situation.”

“Well, you did something unprecedented,” Fr. Fession replied. “And it was organized and public. Well, it was supposed to be done in secrecy, but then you published your consistory intervention as a book.”

Furthermore, Fr. Fessio responded to Cardinal Kasper’s statement that his consistory remarks had not offered “a definitive solution” but rather “posed some questions and offered considerations for possible responses.”

“Well, what are you complaining about then?” Fr. Fessio asked. “You got some answers and some responses to your considerations. Or weren’t those the answers you were expecting?”

Controversy over the subject arose when Cardinal Kasper delivered a prominent two-hour address to the February 2014 cardinals’ consistory, which focused on the topic of the family. He has advocated his positon in other interviews and speeches as well.

During the consistory speech, Cardinal Kasper asked “is it not perhaps an exploitation of the person” when a person who has been divorced and remarried is excluded from receiving Communion. He suggested that for “the smaller segment of the divorced and remarried,” perhaps they could be admitted to “the sacrament of penance, and then of Communion.”

In an interview with Italian newspaper Il Mattino published Sept. 18, Cardinal Kasper charged that some bishops in the upcoming synod “want a doctrinal war.”

Catholic doctrine is “not a closed system” but “a living tradition that develops,” he said, adding that he is not “the target of the controversy,” but rather that the Pope “probably is.”

The contributors to the Ignatius Press book write that the Bible and the Church Fathers do not support the practice advocated by Cardinal Kasper. The authors say that there is no contradiction between “genuine mercy and compassion” and Catholic doctrine and pastoral practice. Catholic teaching is “based on the teaching of Jesus himself,” they say, according to the Ignatius Press summary of the book.

The contributors also consider the Eastern Orthodox approach to divorce and remarriage and Catholic resistance to it. They find “serious theological and pastoral difficulties” in the practice.

Coverage of the rumors surrounding the Ignatius Press book has been prominent among those who speculate or assume that Pope Francis intends to side with Cardinal Kasper’s position at the bishops’ synod.

Pope Francis himself has reaffirmed the indissolubility and lifelong nature of Christian marriage, such as his April 2014 remarks to the bishops of South Africa.

“The holiness and indissolubility of Christian matrimony, often disintegrating under tremendous pressure from the secular world, must be deepened by clear doctrine and supported by the witness of committed married couples,” the Pope said, stressing that these truths must be taught “with great compassion.”

Other critical evaluations of Cardinal Kasper’s position have come from Cardinal Angelo Scola of Milan, Congregation for Bishops prefect Cardinal Marc Ouellet and Cardinal George Pell, the last of whom is on the council of nine cardinals who are special advisers to Pope Francis.


Friday, September 19, 2014


 This is the main interior of Napoli's Cathedral! When I went into last year to pray for my knee, I recalled being there as a two year old with my father!


And yet another take on the kerfuffles of the pope and cardinals and the synod. What are we to believe?

The Betting Is Open on the Next Synod

For the first time in decades, bishops and cardinals will get back together to clash over radically opposed ideas, in particular on the yes or no to communion for the divorced and remarried. It is Pope Francis who wanted to reopen the dispute. With an unpredictable outcome

by Sandro Magister

ROME, September 19, 2014 – The synod on the family scheduled for October at the Vatican resembles Pope Francis in one thing: it admits no predictions on how it will develop, far less on how it will end.

This is the way the pope wanted it: open to free discussion even on the most divisive points, like for example whether or not to give communion to divorced Catholics who have remarried in a civil ceremony.

One must go back more than forty years, to 1971, to the beginnings of the history of this institution, to find another nerve-wracking synod, that time on whether or not to dispense with the obligation of celibacy for the clergy of the Latin Church.

After a long and heated discussion, Paul VI set up a vote on two contrasting solutions among which the synod fathers had to choose.

The first was to hold celibacy firm for all, without exceptions. This second was to grant the pope the faculty to ordain “in particular cases, for pastoral needs and for the good of the universal Church” married man of mature years and untarnished reputations.

The first solution won with 107 votes, while the second received 87. Paul VI wanted the results of the voting to be published, including that on the final document of the synod, which was approved with 168 in favor, 10 against, 21 in favor with reservations, and three abstentions.

Since then, the obligation of celibacy has never been brought officially back into discussion. Nor has any other synod had to choose between such strongly contrasting options. The interest of the media in these events plunged to zero. Until this year.

Actually, there was one other upheaval that made the news, in 1999.

At the synod that year, Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini asked for the convocation of a sort of permanent council, with frequent sessions on hot-button issues like contraception, divorce, the place of women in the Church.

“I am not an antipope,” he said, “but an ‘ante’ pope, who goes ahead to open the way.” He guessed it. Because today there is a pope whose personal thoughts on the questions raised by Martini are not always understood, yet he has pulled them all back out and brought them back into discussion.

Francis began with the distribution, one year ago, of an open-ended questionnaire on all the questions concerning the family, from contraception to communion for the divorced, from de facto couples to marriage between homosexuals. And some national episcopates, with the German-speaking ones in the lead, revealed their results, igniting expectations of liberalization in the discipline of the Church.

But then, above all, Francis gathered a consistory of cardinals in Rome last February as a dry run for the upcoming synod. And to whom did he entrust the introductory presentation? To the German cardinal Walter Kasper, who back in the early 1990’s was a combative supporter of getting rid of the ban on communion for the remarried, but was defeated and reduced to silence, at the time, by John Paul II and Joseph Ratzinger.

Kasper’s talk is the only part of that consistory that has been made known, all the rest has remained secret. But to judge by the subsequent public forays of some of the cardinals, it is clear that the resistance to the changes proposed by Kasper has been and continues to be entrenched, belligerent, and authoritative.

Among the resisters who have come out into the open are cardinals Gerhard L. Müller, prefect of the congregation for the doctrine of the faith, Raymond L. Burke, Timothy M. Dolan, Marc Ouellet, George Pell, Fernando Sebastián Aguilar, Carlo Caffarra, Angelo Scola, all generally classified among the conservatives. But there are also cardinals viewed as progressive, like the Austrian Christoph Schönborn, who are joining the coalition against Kasper.

All of these will find themselves at the synod in a no-holds-barred fight against Kasper and his not equally solid supporters.

The fact that the “reactionaries” Caffarra, Scola, and Aguilar have been invited to take part in the synod by Francis himself has significantly chilled the enthusiasm for the current pope.

The American Jesuit Thomas Reese, the former director of the magazine “America” and an influential opinion maker, an all-out fan of Jorge Mario Bergoglio at the beginning of the pontificate, after this latest blow has moved definitively into the opposing camp, against what for him is a betrayal of the awaited revolution.

But the battle has just begun. The upcoming synod will not draw  any conclusions. It will have a second round in October of 2015. After which it will be not the synod, but Pope Francis, who decides what to do.


This commentary was published in "L'Espresso" no. 38 of 2014, on newsstands as of September 19, on the opinion page entitled "Settimo cielo" entrusted to Sandro Magister.