Tuesday, September 30, 2014


Hot off the press  I think we can say a cardinal speaking this way is a bit of a bombshell, but I hate using that word of course!

Cardinal Burke: No change in divorce, annulments

Not only should Catholics who have divorced and remarried not expect permission to receive Communion following the upcoming synod of bishops, but any streamlining to make the annulment process easier is unlikely, too.

That was the message from Cardinal Raymond Burke earlier today, in which he blasted those who advocate for change to the church’s prohibition on divorce and the loosening of the annulment process. He said any changes would “only further encourage a defective view of marriage and the family.”

Speaking with reporters on a conference call hosted by Ignatius Press, Burke said that restructuring the annulment process — which some say is church discipline open to adjustment and not core doctrine — would lead Catholics to believe that the church isn’t serious about its prohibition on the “insolubility” of marriage.

“It’s a very deceptive line of argument,” Burke said.

Burke, who heads up the Vatican’s Supreme Court, upped his public feud with another cardinal, Walter Kasper, dismissing Kasper’s proposal that the church restructure its annulment process.
“The Kasper positions have been discussed some decades ago,” Burke said, and “we came to the conclusion that the solution proposed by Cardinal Kasper is fundamentally flawed.”

“They claim to know on their own what truth is, but Catholic doctrine is not a closed system, but a living tradition that develops,” Kasper told the Italian daily Il Mattino. “None of my brother cardinals has ever spoken with me. I, on the other hand, have spoken twice with the Holy Father. I arranged everything with him. He was in agreement. What can a cardinal do but stand with the pope? I am not the target, the target is another.”

Burke, who was removed from the Vatican’s Congregation for Bishops last year by Pope Francis, bristled at this characterization.
“I find it amazing that the cardinal claims to speak for the pope,” Burke said. “The pope does not have laryngitis. The pope is not mute; he can speak for himself.”
Burke said proposals like Kasper’s are “disobedience to, or a non-adherence to, the words of the Lord himself.”

According to church teaching, Catholics who remarry civilly without an annulment of their first, sacramental marriage may not receive Communion unless they abstain from sexual relations, living with their new partners “as brother and sister.”
Critics say the annulment process can be expensive, demeaning, and take too long. Some Catholics have expressed hope that the synod may streamline the annulment process, and Kasper has been at the forefront of that movement.

“He is proposing a direction that in [its] whole history, the church has never taken,” Burke said.
James Hitchcock, a professor at St. Louis University, said that a change in the church’s prohibition on Communion for the divorce and remarried could alienate those living by the current teaching.

“There are people who have lived heroically by the teaching of the Church. They have not received Communion in living in the teaching of the Church, and they cannot be brushed away,” he said.
Burke defended his public challenge to Kasper and other bishops.

“For everyone to simply be silent while they see things being said that are not true, how can this be construed as being charitable?” he asked.

Rev. Joseph Fessio, a Jesuit priest and head of Ignatius Press who also was on the call, agreed. He called the focus on divorced and remarried Catholics a “very important, but very small issue” that Kasper’s ideas have amplified.

Still, he said that the public dispute was a blessing for the church.

“I don’t think it’s a bad thing these disputes are known; in fact, I think it’s a good thing,” he said.
“Remaining in the Truth of Christ,” which Ignatius Press will publish Oct. 1, includes essays in response to Cardinal Kasper’s proposal by three synod fathers: Cardinal Gerhard Muller, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith; Cardinal Burke, prefect of the Supreme Court of the Apostolic Signature, and Cardinal Carlo Caffarra of Bologna, Italy.

On the same day, Ignatius Press will also publish two other books in which synod fathers respond to Cardinal Kasper’s proposal: “The Hope of the Family,” an extended interview with Cardinal Muller; and “The Gospel of the Family,” which features a foreword by Cardinal George Pell, prefect of the Secretariat for the Economy. (Cardinal Kasper’s address, published by Paulist Press, is also titled “The Gospel of the Family.”)

Burke believes he said continuing the ban on divorce will strengthen marriage, and that the stakes are high.

“If the family is not strong, and the institution of marriage is not strong, society is in danger,” he said.
Material from Catholic News Service was used in this report.


When I was in Rome and listened to Pope Francis I discovered why Italians love him so much. He has a great Italian sense of humor. If you read the following without realizing His Holiness' Italian sense of humor and read it with that filter, you will think this is completely serious when it isn't. It is funny but with a punch and points well taken!

The biggest threat facing the Vatican isn't a bomb or bullet from the outside, but the insidious work of mischief-makers within, who plant discord and resentment, Pope Francis told the Vatican's security force.

"There are bombs in here, very dangerous bombs in here," he told security personnel. "Please, keep your eyes open, because in the darkness of so many wicked lives, the enemy has sown weeds," he said in his homily.

To help celebrate the Vatican security service's patron saint, St. Michael the archangel, the pope celebrated Mass for security personnel Sept. 27 in the chapel of the office governing Vatican City State. The Vatican newspaper, L'Osservatore Romano, published excerpts from the homily Monday, the feast of the archangels Michael, Gabriel and Raphael.

The pope told his own "guardian angels" that their vocation is "to safeguard this state" so the church and the pope "can be free" to carry out their mission.

In addition to the more colorful Swiss Guard, the Vatican's other security body is its own police force, the gendarme corps. The corps of about 130 men is responsible for papal security, crowd control in St. Peter's Square and safety, law and order within the Vatican.

The pope said a good guardian, like the archangel, "has the courage to get rid of demons" and has the intelligence to be able to pick them out from the crowd. "He can't be, excuse my terminology, an idiot; he has to be quick on the uptake and alert." 
He said he knows their job is to be like sentinels, keeping watch and guarding entrances, "doors and windows so no bombs get in."

But, "I want to tell you something a bit sad; there are bombs in here" and it doesn't matter if it's "a homemade bomb or an atomic bomb," every single one is "dangerous" and "there are many."

"The worst bomb inside the Vatican is gossip," which "threatens the life of the church and the life of [the Vatican] every day," he said, because it "sows destruction" and "destroys the lives of others."
While there are many religious and laypeople in the Vatican who are "sowing good seed," the devil is still getting his way by using others "to sow weeds."

Even the pope is not immune to this temptation, he said; it's a danger "for me, too," because "the devil gives you that yearning."

So in addition to looking for the usual security threats, the pope told the security guards to also crack down on backstabbing and courageously call people out.

Stop them in their tracks and say, "Please sir, please ma'am, please father, please sister, please your Excellency, please your Eminence, please Holy Father, don't gossip; that's not allowed here," the pope said.

Whatever gripes or problems people have, they should take them directly to the people involved without also complaining to the world, he said.

The sower of weeds meets a bitter end, he said, in "burning furnaces" and condemned to "disgrace and eternal abomination."

But thanks to the security police's added vigilance and help, "the final word written about our lives will be, 'He was a good person. He sowed good seed,' and not, 'He was dreadful, he planted bombs of discord' -- that would be very sad."


On Sunday, without any fanfare or outcries of joy or sorrow from anyone, the papal outdoor altar on the steps of St. Peter's Basilica for the Mass honoring Grandparents and the elderly had a new look.

The six candles were in candlesticks that were much smaller and lower! Compare the above to the following photos:
I had heard that when Msgr. Marini placed the very, very large candlesticks and humongous crucifix and papal candle directly across the papal altar that the cameramen for papal Masses where miffed that the Pope Benedict was completely dwarfed and hidden by the phalanx of candles. It was hard for them to get good views through it all.

My own preference is that when Mass is facing the congregation, the altar accoutrements should not become like jail bars. But when the Mass is ad orientem, the taller the better!

However, last weekend's papal wedding Mass for 20 couples had what appeared to be the regular candlesticks. Will these be lowered more as it was for the papal outdoor altar?
Which do you prefer when Mass is celebrated facing the congregation?

This is Saint Joseph's arrangement when Mass is facing the congregation:
And some other papal altars over time!


Okay, I admit it! I was brought up by a father who didn't like family disagreements being aired publicly. Okay, I admit it, when we had family disagreements, my father's three half Italian children and their full Italian mother could be heard from inside the house the next block over! My poor Canadian, puritanical father. But that is another story.

As the Synod on the family begins this coming Sunday and lasts for two weeks and is only a prelude to the actual synod in 2015, there is controversy and dialogue galore and at the bottom of it all is Pope Francis.

We have cardinals disagreeing with one another and the pope. We have Cardinal Kasper trying to stir the pot by calling the five cardinals that disagree with him ideologues and fundamentalists and of course playing the card that Cardinal Kasper is the teacher's favorite when it comes to the pope.

Of course we have an inkling of what Pope Francis believes and it does seem to come down on the side of Cardinal Kasper but the Holy Father has tempered his remarks in recent days and weeks and acknowledges that not even the Pope can become a dictator (monarch for a South American pope isn't really appropriate given their political culture) and that the Pope has limits. He can't changed doctrine or dogma. Discipline he can change and I think he will.

So, is it good that we see the cardinals debating the marriage teachings publicly or is it better not to know how the sausage and hotdogs are made?

My final point might rankle a few of my readers. But I heard today that the opposite of faith isn't unbelief but rather fear.

How many conservative Catholics who once seem to be in favor with Rome since the days of Pope St. John Paul II fear that the other side, loyal to the Church but progressive, are now in favor.

Is fear a virtue now?


How many of you hear in your parishes homilies or even minor references to the devil? How many times has Pope Francis preached on the devil? He did so again yesterday at the Mass celebrating the Feast of the Angels. I can remember even in the 1990's that there were priests who questioned not only the existence of the devil but also of angels. I was taught in the 1970's seminary they both angels and demons where symbolic or metaphorical.

The Pope seems to disagree with that silly heresy. One would hope that the Holy Father would reinstitute the exorcisms of the pre-Vatican II baptismal rituals and of the Rite of Exorcism also.

Here is what he said as reported by the Vatican Insider:

“Satan is the enemy of mankind. He is astute: the first page of Genesis tells us so, he is astute.  He presents things as if they were a good thing. But his intention is destruction. And the angels defend us. They defend mankind and they defend the God-Man, the superior Man, Jesus Christ who is the perfection of humanity, the most perfect.” This was Francis’ message in the homily pronounced at this morning’s mass in St. Martha’s House on the Feast of the Holy Archangels Michael, Gabriel and Raphael. “The angels defend us,” he explained. “The Church honours the Angels, because they are the ones who will be in the glory of God – they are in the glory of God - because they defend the great hidden mystery of God, namely, that the Word was made flesh,” Vatican Radio quotes the Pope saying. "The task of the people of God - the Pope said - is to safeguard man: the man Jesus” because "He is the man who gives life to all men". Instead, in his plans for destruction, Satan has invented "humanistic explanations that go against man, against humanity and against God.” "This struggle is a daily reality in Christian life, in our hearts, in our lives, in our families, in our people, in our churches ... If we do not struggle, we will be defeated.”
The Pope based today’s teaching on readings which illustrate the vision of the glory of God described by the prophet Daniel with the Son of Man, Jesus Christ, before the Father; the archangel Michael and his angels fighting against "the great dragon, the ancient serpent, he who is called the devil" and "seduces all of inhabited earth," but who is defeated, as affirmed by the Book of Revelation; and the Gospel in which Jesus says to Nathanael: "You will see heaven opened and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of man.”
Pope Francis focused on "the struggle between God and the devil.” "This struggle takes place after Satan seeks to destroy the woman about to give birth to a child. Satan always tries to destroy man: the man that Daniel saw there, in glory, and whom Jesus told Nathanael would come in glory. From the very beginning, the Bible speaks to us of this: Satan’s [use of ] seduction to destroy. Maybe out of envy. We read in Psalm 8: 'Thou hast made ​​man superior to the angels,' and that angel of great intelligence could not bear this humiliation, that a lower creature was made superior to him; thus he tried to destroy it.”
Satan, therefore, seeks to destroy humanity, all of us: "So many projects, except for one's own sins, but many, many projects for mankind’s dehumanization are his work, simply because he hates mankind. He is astute: the first page of Genesis tells us so, he is astute.  He presents things as if they were a good thing.  But his intention is destruction. And the angels defend us. They defend mankind and they defend the God-Man, the superior Man, Jesus Christ who is the perfection of humanity, the most perfect. This is why the Church honors the Angels, because they are the ones who will be in the glory of God – they are in the glory of God - because they defend the great hidden mystery of God, namely, that the Word was made flesh.”
The Pope then stressed that “the task of the people of God is to safeguard man: the man Jesus” because "He is the man who gives life to all men". Instead, in his plans for destruction, Satan has invented "humanistic explanations that go against man, against humanity and against God.” 
"This struggle is a daily reality in Christian life, in our hearts, in our lives, in our families, in our people, in our churches ... If we do not struggle, we will be defeated. But the Lord has given this task mainly to the angels: to do battle and win. And the final song of Revelation, after this battle, is so beautiful: Now have salvation and power come, and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Anointed. For the accuser of our brothers is cast out, who accuses them before our God day and night.”

Monday, September 29, 2014


Yes Virginia this is an Ordinary Form Vernacular Latin Rite Mass:

As I have written time and time again, I do believe one does not need to be clairvoyant to predict that the privileges allowed the Anglican Ordinariate's  Revised Roman Missal will be, one day and one day soon, made available to the majority Latin Rite of the Church.

Everything allowed the Anglican Use Roman Missal could be applied to the current Roman Missal in English tomorrow with a simple well-prepared insert until a revised Roman Missal could be released.

To me it is a no brainer!

This is what Fr.John Hunwicke Mutual Enrichment Blog has to say about it and what I've been saying all along:

Quite apart from its sacral and hieratic style of English, the Ordinariate Order of Mass speaks very precisely to the problems of Liturgy in the modern Latin Church at this exact moment.

As you will remember, Pope Benedict XVI established that the 'Tridentine Rite' had, in fact, contrary to popular belief, never been canonically abolished. He clarified, authoritatively, that every single priest of the Latin Church had a right to use it without needing the permission either of the Holy See or any other ecclesiastical authority. So that there are two 'Forms' of the Roman Rite both lawfully in use.

But it is well-known that this great Pontiff looked ahead to a day when the two Forms would converge and eventually become again one single form of the Roman Rite. However, this is going to be a long job. There is so much irrational prejudice on both sides. Among some whose personal preference is for the Ordinary Form, the Extraordinary Form is seen as some sort of return to the Dark Ages of a pre-Conciliar, rigid, sin-obsessed, clericalist Catholicism which makes them wake up in the middle of the night in a feverish sweat. Among some whose own choice is the Extraordinary Form, their narrative of decades of ruthless persecution has made them resistant to the slightest change (in itself, an 'untraditional' attitude since Liturgy has always evolved, gradually and organically).

But the Ordinariate Rite constitutes a stage in that convergence for which Pope Benedict longed, and is thus of very profound significance not simply to members of the Ordinariate but to the whole of the Western Church. In many ways its basic structure is that of the Novus Ordo. But it includes ceremonial from the Vetus Ordo, perhaps most noticeably the double genuflexions at each Consecration. It includes optionally the Praeparatio at the foot of the altar, and the Last Gospel. Of doctrinal importance is its preference for the 'Tridentine' Offertory Prayers said by the priest, full as they are of the language of Sacrifice and Propitiation, and its restoration of the normativeness of the Roman Canon, the First Eucharistic Prayer, as a movement towards the longed-for and essential phasing-out of the alternative Eucharistic Prayers which Vatican II never envisaged and, indeed, by implication excluded.

These are all factors which contribute powerfully to the resacralisation of the Roman Rite, surely one of the most pressing needs of our time ... and I do not mean just liturgically.

Sunday, September 28, 2014


And notice the very nicely modified Benedictine Altar Arrangement with the central crucifix:

Friday, September 26, 2014


The arrest of former nuncio Józef Wesolowski in the Vatican three days ago (Wesolowski had already resigned from the clerical state after being accused of sexually abusing minors) and the replacement of Paraguayan bishop Rogelio Livieres (who was sacked for causing division in the Church after he accused other Paraguayan bishops of not nurturing doctrinal orthodoxy) gave the impression that things are speeding up ahead of the Synod on the Family in the coming weeks. The severity – as per the code of law – shown towards the former Polish archbishop sent out a strong message: that the days where impunity and cover-ups were the norm, have now come to an end. Wesolowski’s arrest is the final step on a path courageously begun by Benedict XVI, who sacked hundreds of priests and quite a number of bishops during his pontificate.

“Francis is a leader and is able to take difficult decisions,” Fr. Antonio Spadaro, editor-in-chief of Jesuit periodical La Civiltà Cattolica told Italian daily La Stampa. “But,” he added, “Pope Francis knows when it is important to do justice and act according to the law in cases such as that of Santo Domingo’s former nuncio.”

Straight after his election, having taken on board all that was said during the general congregations held prior to the conclave, Francis immediately set to reforming the Curia. Because of the inquiries that were being carried out by the Italian magistrates, he was forced to start with the Vatican’s finances. The process was slow and cumbersome and the aim was to make it harder for certain past scenarios to be repeated. But more than the structural reforms he has planned or already begun, it is his personal testimony as pastor and the words he pronounces every day that are calling into question certain dynamics within the clergy which are disfiguring the Church. Like an illness that manifests itself in the games played by cliques that form within the Church, in careerism, in the not-always-so-transparent relations with politics, in excessive bureaucracy and structures which transform into clots of self-referential power, losing sight of the real purpose of their existence: serving the people of God.

The powerful effects of the outcome of the 2013 Conclave are clear for everyone to see: Masses of people around the world fondly and carefully listen to the word and message of a Pope who has reignited people’s hopes after the years of scandals and court-like intrigues, which Benedict XVI went through. There are currents of opposition in the Church, some are more prominent or more structured than others. They use their alliances with certain media circles to try to discredit anything the Pope says or does, throwing the stone and then hiding their hands in their tunic pockets so to speak. This opposition does not accept Francis’ election and seeks to squeeze him into the comfortable framework of polarization between liberals and conservatives, an ideology-oriented framework which has helped many build prestigious ecclesiastical careers and is wrong. There have been numerous attempts to impose this way of thinking. The recent nomination of the new Archbishop of Chicago, Blasé Joseph Cupich, an outsider, is a case in point. Cupich is a pastor who cares a lot about social issues, he is a man of dialogue who does not focus only on speaking out against same-sex marriages and has the capacity to speak without barking.

“Francis does not have a rigid and abstract plan to implement in the Church,” Fr. Spadaro said. “The upcoming Synod illustrates this: he wants people to walk together and freely exchange different experiences and sensitivities in the appropriate place, which is the Synodal Assembly. It is wrong to interpret Francis’ words and decisions according to the old framework of division between liberals and conservatives. If there is one message he does not tire of stressing, it is that which he pronounced in his homily at St. Martha’s House the other day: all you need to do is listen to the Word of God and put it into practice. Of course doing this for real can be destabilizing…” Francis’ is not presenting us with a pre-engineered plan. His outlook is based on intimacy with the mystery of the Church, with the Gospel and with the most authentic tradition. In this outlook, there is certainly no room for bureaucrat bishops who are out of touch with the people, attached to their privileged lifestyles, obsessed with certain specific issues and incapable of being close to men and women just as they are and not as they would like them to be.


Fr. Christopher Smith has a good article on Pope Benedict and now Pope FRANCIS approach to the Liturgy. I do not think either is mutually exclusive but rather both/and rather than either/or.

I love both forms of the Mass and I pray one day the revised Ordinary Form incorporates elements removed in the revision that we now have again in the EF but maintaining the overall ethos of the OF.

I believe we already have this template in the soon to be released Roman Missal revised for the Anlican Ordinariate.

In that new Missal provisions for TPATFOTA are allowed; the older Offertory Prayers, rubrics similar for the Roman Canon in the EF; kneeling for Holy Communion, ad ORIENTEM and the Last Gospel.   The Anglican Ordinariate Calendar II's also a superior reform of the reform expression!

Of course all this could been implemented TODAY using the current OF Roman Missal!

Mutual Enrichment and the Coexistence of Varying Models of Liturgy in the Church

Thursday, September 25, 2014


The Diocese of Springfield in Illinois is getting some interesting answers:
Notice the reasons why people stop going to Mass. It is all about a loss of Catholic Faith. Those who stay want the Faith to change and transform them. Those who leave want to change the Faith!

September 23, 2014 2:45 pm  •  

The Diocese of Springfield in Illinois has taken a page from Pope Francis, asking the faithful to reflect on their experiences in the Roman Catholic Church.
Specifically, Bishop Thomas John Paprocki has investigated one crucial question: Why have some Roman Catholics in the diocese stopped attending Mass? 
To answer the question, Paprocki enlisted several professors at Benedictine University at Springfield to survey parishioners.
Professors Phillip Hardy, Kelly Kendra and Brian Patterson surveyed 575 lapsed Roman Catholics from November 2012 to March 2013, asking them why they had stopped attending Mass or had left the church altogether; what might motivate them to return; and whether the church's stance on issues like homosexuality and abortion had factored into their decision.
Meanwhile, from February to March 2014, 827 Roman Catholics still active in the church were asked about whether their spiritual needs were being met.
Results from the survey released last week indicate four major reasons why some Roman Catholics stop going to church, among them: Disagreement with church doctrine on birth control, women as priests, homosexuality; A view that there are too many scandals in the church; A feeling parishioners are being judged by the church or are not welcomed.
Here's a sampling of some of the comments left by lapsed Roman Catholics completing the survey:
-- “My daughter came out to me as gay, and I went through a divorce after 28 years of marriage. The Church doesn't want either one of us.”
--“Being divorced they do not let you take communion. Treat you like an outsider. But they allowed priest [sic] that they knew were bad to stay in the church.”
-- “The archaic idea that only men can lead a congregation and be in the clergy, the underlying message of guilt and fear and the lack of diversity and openness to gays.”
-- “I struggle with the way the Catholic Church has not adapted an ever changing world. I also feel sometimes people are looked down upon instead of being lifted up by the church.”
-- “I have visited many parishes in the Springfield community trying to find a priest that seems dedicated to his parishioners and the word of God. All of the priests seem too wrapped up in themselves and the ‘power’ they perceive they hold. They all seem more wrapped up in themselves, much like politicians.”
-- “My parish was a cold place. You could walk in on Sunday, go to mass and walk out without speaking to another soul, I longed for fellowship.”
And here is a sampling of comments left by active Roman Catholics:
-- “I believe in the Catholic Church and this is my parish, born and raised where I raised my family. This parish has supported me thru good times and bad, it is where Our Lord gives me comfort.”
– “I attend to serve Jesus and the people. I attend to be close to Jesus, and partake of the Eucharist. I go to honor God as he has commanded. I enjoy the people around me, I go to be inspired throughout the week.”
– “Our priest is amazing, very down to earth, loves the people. We have a wonderful choir that adds to our masses. There are so many very special people in this parish that work together to make things happen. We have a group of young families that are also very active.”
When asked what the church could do to increase attendance, some suggested a media campaign, others recommended taking full responsibility for the child sexual abuse scandals, while still others pushed for higher-quality priests.
As the survey points out, however, there might not be much that can be done about Roman Catholics who have left the faith because they disagree with the church's teachings -- short of changing that doctrine.  
If you're curious to hear more about the survey results and what the Springfield diocese plans to actually do given the responses, Bishop Paprocki is hosting a forum on Monday, November 24 at Benedictine University at Springfield.


This is a great video and shows how the EF is very masculine but also appeals to the feminine!
This shows how men like crystal too!

Currently slated for dedication as Christ Cathedral in early 2016, the following video lays out the process behind the liturgical redesign – and, for the first time, reveals the anticipated result:

While the main church is the climax of the project (an effort funded as part of a $100 million capital campaign), much of the 35-acre campus has already been put into use by the Orange church: the diocesan offices and a school moved into other buildings there last year, and 11 weekend Masses are now celebrated in three languages at the campus'Arboretum – the site's first structure erected by Dr Robert Schuller – which opened as Catholic worship-space in mid-2013. In the future, the plot will likewise host the West Coast base of EWTN under a recently reached agreement.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014


While Bishop Blase Cupich has a friendly way of interfacing with the Church's opponents, he is no heterodox bishop. He is middle of the road and faithful to the Church. He is no ideologue. He is solid. One might not like his liturgical leanings, although there is nothing radical about these. He is a trained liturgist in the modern sense and likes in the post-Vatican II liturgy some of the things that might well be revised--theology isn't dogma.His emphasis on the "assembly" the word itself fraught with progressive meaning, guides his thinking. In this regard it is very much 1980's!  I prefer Pope Benedict's vision which His Holiness did not make or declare into dogma. Time will hash things out.

But John Allen points out that the Holy Father, Pope Francis made some other appointments and these might raise a few eyebrows. Guess which ideological eyebrows?

For instance, there’s last Thursday’s appointment of Anthony Fisher as the new Archbishop of Sydney in Australia. A protégé of Cardinal George Pell, who today is overseeing Francis’ financial reform, Fisher is a Dominican theologian who would almost universally be seen as a conservative... Fr. Richard Umbers recently said that Fisher is “an exemplar of what George Weigel calls Evangelical Catholicism,” boldly committed to Catholic orthodoxy and impatient with “theological dishwater.”

John Allen also indicates that the press is focused on the women Pope Francis appointed to the International Theological Commission. But John Allen goes on to describe the men and women. Guess which ideological eyebrows will be raised? 

Fr. Thomas Weinandy, for instance, is a Capuchin Franciscan who served from 2005 to 2013 as the chief of staff for the U.S. bishops’ Committee on Doctrine. He was instrumental in the bishops’ negative verdict on the writings of Sr. Elizabeth Johnson, a feminist theologian at Fordham. He was also a supporter of the Vatican’s investigation of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, the more liberal grouping of American nuns.

Sr. Prudence Allen, also from the United States, is a member of the Religious Sisters of Mercy of Alma, Mich. She’s the kind of nun unapologetic about wearing the habit, and in 2010 she publicly criticized progressive Catholic sisters who broke with the bishops by supporting the Obama health care reform despite abortion-funding issues. (My comment: When I saw Sister of Mercy, I thought of the LCWR version which is soon to be defunct because their youngest members are in their late 50's. But no, it is the Alma Sisters of Mercy. They wear a long habit with veil. They frequent the North American College in Rome and one of them is a nurse who gave me my flu shot while I was there. They are as solid as solid comes and traditional too! They are like the Nashville Dominicans!)

Tracey Rowland of Australia is close to both Pell and Fisher, and would be seen as among the leading intellectual lights of the “Evangelical Catholicism” movement to which Umbers referred. She writes frequently for publications with a conservative editorial bent, and is seen as an articulate defender of traditional Catholic doctrine.

Fr. Piero Coda is one of Italy’s best-known theologians and a member of the Focolare movement. He’s no ideologue, but back in 2008 he defended Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI against accusations by liberal doyen Hans Küng that they had betrayed the spirit of the reforming Second Vatican Council.

One could go, but these five examples make the point.

John Allen continues:

To be clear, all of these people are accomplished thinkers who are eminently qualified to advise the Vatican on doctrinal matters. It’s hard not to be struck, however, by the fact that they seem to come largely from one side of the street.

So, what gives? Is Francis suffering from multiple personality syndrome, or is there another explanation?

For one thing, in both the Fisher appointment and the ITC nominations, the driving force wasn’t the pope himself. Pell was the prime mover with Fisher, and the choices for the theological commission came from German Cardinal Gerhard Müller, head of the doctrinal congregation, and his staff.

Yet Francis is a hands-on pope, and he wouldn’t sign off on these decisions if he weren’t aware of what they meant. 

Perhaps the best hypothesis is that what Francis is really after isn’t a turn to the left, but a new balance. He’s said he wants the church to be in dialogue with everyone, and one way to accomplish that is to ensure a mix of points of view in leadership positions. 

Pope John XXIII allegedly once said, “I have to be pope both for those with their foot on the gas, and those with their foot on the brake.” Though the saying may be apocryphal, the wisdom is spot-on, and Francis’ recent personnel moves seem to reflect some of the same thinking.

Among the other monikers the news business has invented for Francis – the “People’s Pope,” the “Pope of the Poor,” and so on – perhaps we’ll have to add one more if this keeps up: the “Pope of Balance.”

Tuesday, September 23, 2014


At this critical juncture in salvation history, we have a pope in Pope Francis who isn't afraid to speak about the devil, hell or the devil's influence in our lives and on the world.

We know that the devil is prowling the world seeking the ruin of souls. That's the way it is. And some of us he possesses and some ideologies he makes attractive even to Christians and others normally of good will, no matter their religion.

Are we at another tipping point in terms of the influence of Satan on individuals, groups of people and the ideologies that are hate-filled?

ISIS and their minions and other terrorist groups have the potential to do to innocent people what Hitler, his minions and ideology did to 6 million Jews, 6 million gypsies, (Christians) and countless disabled people of all religions.

We have Russia longing for the good old days and willing to go to war to prove their virility.

We have godless secularism already having overrun Europe and making deep inroads into American life in the years since President Obama took over the White House. The culture of death has been ratcheted up to a virtue under his presidency and the redefining of marriage has made the unnatural natural in eyes of a significant portion of our country, but certainly not all, but those opposed are afraid to speak out because of the tyranny of secularism in this regard.

I met with about 30 juniors and seniors at Macon's Presbyterian Day School. What a nice group of kids. I gave them a tour of our church and spoke about Catholicism, what we have in common and what the differences are.

I spoke a little bit, and really only briefly, on the devil. After the talk, the kids milled about and about 15 of them surrounded me and wanted me to talk about exorcisms. Oddly enough, just this past Saturday I celebrated an EF Baptism and quite frankly I felt like an exorcist at that baptism as you can tell on my previous posts about it.

They asked me if I had ever done a major exorcism. I told them I can't that the bishop has to give permission for such a thing and all the other reasons why a person might seem to be possessed must be ruled out.

I told them that normal priests and deacons can only do minor exorcisms. The laity are not permitted to do this ministry as far as I am aware.

I warned them that no one should engage the devil in a conversation even to expel. That the prayed should be made to Jesus asking him to do it or to one of the saints like the prayer to St. Michael. Only a priest who is appointed to do a major exorcism may speak to the demon directly in the prayers of the Church.

These kids feel that the devil is on the prowl and they need strength to resist him.

The world does too at this critical juncture in our human history! Will the world resist the devil or will there be another catastrophe that fomented both World Wars I and II?

And let us not forget the Satanic Mass (Black Mass) in Oklahoma City and this response:

From the Rite of Baptism of Infants, Extraordinary Form:

I. "Go forth from this child, unclean spirit, and give place to the Holy Spirit, the Paraclete."

II.  "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 commands thee o accursed one, Christ 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..."

III. "I exorcise thee, every unclean spirit, in the name of god the Father almighty, in the name of Jesus Christ His Son, our Lord and judge, and in the power of the Holy Spirit, that thou be depart from this creature of God which our Lord hath deigned to call unto His holy temple, that it may be made the temple of the living God and that the Holy Spirit may dwell therein. Through same Christ our Lord, who shall come to judge the living and the dead and the world by fire!"



Today, Tuesday, September 23, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., took place, in a cordial atmosphere, in the offices of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the meeting between His Eminence Cardinal Gerhard L. Müller, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and H. E. Bp. Bernard Fellay, Superior General of the Priestly Fraternity of Saint Pius X. At the meeting were present their Excellencies: Abp. Luis Ladaria S.I., Secretary of the same Congregation, Abp. Augustine Di Noia O.P., Adjunct Secretary, and Abp. Guido Pozzo, Secretary of the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei, as well as the assistants of the FSSPX, Rev. Frs. Nikolas Pfluger and Alain-Marc Nçely.

During the meeting, some problems of a doctrinal and canonical nature were examined, and it was agreed to proceed in reasonable degrees and times towards overcoming the difficulties and the desired achievement of full reconciliation.


Modern liturgists despise this image of Jesus Christ the High Priest because it exalts the "sign" of the ordained priest who in fact is a sacramental image of Jesus the High Priest during the Mass and orders the laity or the assembly (of which the ordained priest is also a member) to Jesus Christ who is their Head, Lord and Savior and to whom every knee shall bow and every tongue profess! What's wrong with modern liturgists? They are the reason why the Church's liturgy in the post-Vatican II era has undermined the mission and evangelization of the Church and reduced the number of men considering the priesthood thus depriving the Church of the Holy Eucharist in many places in the world!

Many liturgists of the progressive type (and keep in mind that liturgists tend to be control freaks and dogmatic about their theological perspective turning theology into infallible dogma) are "not nostalgic for what they regards as the repetitive nature of the old Mass, neither the exaltation of the celebrant to the detriment of the people of God; and they deplore the marked split between the priest and the assembly."

What these liturgists want is an egalitarian Church where there are no distinctions between clergy and laity and there is a blurring of the ministerial priesthood with the common baptismal priesthood of the laity and clergy together. They also want an egalitarian Jesus Christ, a buddy, a brother, a casual friend not Lord of lords and King of kings! They want Milquetoast Jesus that is symbolized in the image below.

The true sign of Holy Orders in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass should never be diminished. No matter the form of the Mass Jesus Christ is to be exalted as Head of the Church, High Priest and Bridegroom to His Bride the Church. In the ancient form of the Mass, the priest himself is not exalted simply because he is a priest, but Jesus Christ, the High Priest is exalted the sacramental sign of the ordained priesthood! This is the sign of the Sacrament of Holy Orders especially during the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass that must be abundantly clear but for some reason is not as clear in the Ordinary Form and by design of those who promote their weak theology as dogma in this regard!

The fact that in the design of the Ordinary Form of the Mass liturgists purposely do not exalt Jesus Christ as Head of the Church, High Priest and Bridegroom obscures this most powerful sign of the liturgy within the sacramental sign of the person of the ordained man especially in the sacramental rites of the Church. This is a terrible aberration to say the least.

What has this led to in the post-Vatican II experience of the Liturgy and the life of the Church? A decline in vocations to the priesthood as well as scores of priests leaving the priesthood for the lay life of marriage and secular employment. 

Why were there more men in the seminary prior to Vatican II and why has there been a recovery of interest in the priesthood since Pope St. John Paul II and Pope Benedict? Because there has been a recovery of the true nature and sign of the sacrament of Holy Orders and in continuity with the pre-Vatican II understanding of this sign not in rupture to it. 

Will going back in time by liturgist to the day when there was not the hermeneutic of continuity; when the 1962 Roman Missal was thought a pariah of inequity, duplicity and repetition serve the Church well? 

Of course not!  “You cannot base your decisions on a past era where things were different...”


Small-minded liturgical distractions removing the emphasis from Jesus Christ and our personal encounter with Him in the Liturgy to signs and symbols making these small gods and horrible distractions:

We cannot live in the past when the Ordinary Form of the Mass was the only form of the Mass that parishes could celebrate. That changed in the 1980's when Pope St. John Paul II allowed for a limited indult for those who wanted the 1962 Missal to have it. It changed further when Pope Benedict XVI allowed it to be one of the two form of the one Latin Rite which any priest in the world could celebrate. It has spread to almost every diocese throughout the world because of this.

But many (bishops included) live as though this change has not happened as though it is still the time prior to St. Pope John Paul's indult and the blanket permission for this Mass by Pope Benedict in 2007.  What are we to make of this?

Even Archbishop Blase Cupich has said, “You cannot base your decisions on a past era where things were different...”

The same archbishop wisely states the obvious about the liturgy:

It is clear [the bishops] must give priority to educating priests and people about the doctrinal and pastoral principles of liturgical renewal outlined by the Council. Specifically, that means bringing people to an authentic understanding of the Christian notion of the assembly. It means stressing the importance of liturgical signs. It also involves clearly defining worship as liturgical action, as dialogue between God and his people, and as a celebration of the mystery of salvation. These are all central principles.

What Archbishop Cupich writes can and should be applied to both forms of the Mass. But bishops today shirk their responsibility when it comes to the Extraordinary Form of the Mass, but sadly also for the Ordinary Form, to make sure these celebrations are as they should be in all their parishes.

For example, today, those who seek the Extraordinary Form of the Mass, participate in an active way, understand what is taking place and the majority receive Holy Communion. I can't speak for others, but I consecrate enough hosts at the EF Mass so that the laity receive Holy Communion from the particular Mass I am celebrating with them joining me. Just because a congregation is using the EF Mass doesn't mean that Vatican II's Sacrosanctum Concilium can't be implemented in terms of actual participation and understanding stressing the importance of the signs of the liturgy.

But shouldn't our liturgical celebrations in either form make sure that the "signs" of the Liturgy enable people collectively and individually to meet Christ? Should we be more concerned about "signs" and forget that one can become obsessed with these and place a religious encounter with the risen Lord in the back seat?  What has been the "small minded" preoccupation of liturgists for the past 50 years as the 1970 missal and its General Instruction were implemented? It was on signs almost disconnected from Christ Himself and the encounter with the Sacred that Catholics have had in the Liturgy for 2000 years and the awe, wonder and reverence this created and nourished them!

For example, a preoccupation with small minded rules about signs led to the iconoclasm of church buildings; emphasizing the assembly as if it were some sort of god; making more of who proclaimed the Scriptures, who entered the sancturay and served the altar and distributed Holy Communion rather than Who we worship; Who we hear in the Scriptures; why we have a sanctuary; and Who it is we receive in the Most Blessed Sacrament. 

There was more concern with how the bread and wine looked and tasted, the action of a procession marching lockstep to Communion stations and joining in a song of some sort than actually receiving our risen Lord in the most personal and intimate encounter a Catholic can have with their Savior in the context of being a member of the Mystical Body of Christ.

Isn't it time that we actually recover the actual encounter with our Risen Lord in the Ordinary Form of the Mass where small-minded preoccupations and distractions placed the emphasis everywhere but where it should be? Should not both liturgies enable everyone clergy and laity to encounter in a most personal, communal and intimate way, Jesus Christ, His one Sacrifice and preparing us for our personal judgment wearing the white, unstained robe of salvation? 

Liturgists trained in the 1970's, 80's and 90's will have a hard time letting go of their academic gods as it concerns the liturgy. Yes much of their studies was wasted on the wrong things and this is painful for those who have post-graduate degrees to acknowledge. No one wants to admit that they might have invested so much time, study, energy and money on something that is now irrelevant. 

But this happens to people in and outside of the Church all of the time. Just think of factory workers replaced by machines, key-punch operators whose training and skill is no longer needed and priests who thought there would only be one form of the Mass (in either form) who have to move on from their academic small-minded rules to something else?

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...