Category Archives: Benedict XVI

Is Fr James Kane Really Fit to Be Pastor?


The homily: “The homily is part of the liturgical action and is meant to foster a deeper understanding of the word of God, so that it can bear fruit in the lives of the faithful. […] For this reason preachers need to be in close and constant contact with the sacred text; they should prepare for the homily by meditation and prayer, so as to preach with conviction and passion” (Benedict XVI, Apostolic Exhortation, Verbum Domini, No. 59).

After two straight weeks of joyously positive experiences at a graduate’s coloquium marking the successful conclusion to years of study, and a beautiful convocation and liturgy presided over by his excellency Howard Hubbard, bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany, I felt my faith in our Roman Catholic tradition was in a phase of regeneration and revitalization; then I just happened, as if nudged to the television room to watch the celebration of the Sunday Eucharistic liturgy at St Patrick’s RC church in Ravena, New York, presided over by none other than Fr James Kane, the so-called “pastor” of that starving flock, and who is also director of the Commission for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany. It was then and there that I felt that sinking, bitter feeling rising again!

No sooner had Kane concluded the reading of the Gospel than he set off on a mercenary, pharisaical, pecuniary, worldly diatribe on the Bishop’s Appeal, and continued his disgraceful performance with a detailed, almost scrupulous step-by-step instruction on how to complete the Bishop’s Appeal envelope, and proceeding to instruct the greeters and ushers on how to collect the envelopes. The entire pitch was made from the ambo, with the Gospel (Lectionary) open in front of him and serving as a convenient support while he filled out a [mock] envelope during his “teaching.” All of this immediately following the Gospel proclamation and in lieu of the homily!

Isn’t Kane aware that this sort of worldly administrative junk is to be done at the end of the liturgy, during the time set aside for idiotic announcements?!?

Mixing Satan with the Cross

To my knowledge, Jesus Christ is not depicted on any currency denomination of any nation; so why does Kane take the time reserved for breaking open the word, probably the only time much of the congregation has for catechesis at all during the week, to talk about Bishop’s Appeal, filling out envelopes, and tithing? True, the local bishop can make exceptions but only in very special circumstances and I doubt that even in the Albany Diocese the time for homily and teaching would be set aside for Kane’s abominable display. In his ecumenical and interfaith activities, has Kane become contaminated with some of the bad habits and obsessions of the Reformists? (Probably not. At least they know how to preach.)

 For Kane’s benefit, here are some notes on the importance of the homily:

Key to Understanding the Word

The “Homily” is treatise given during the Catholic Mass in which the priest or deacon discusses the readings of that day (old testament, epistle, and gospel readings), not the bishop’s appeal! The Priest may discuss how the daily readings from the Bible relate to issues of the day and other moral and religious points he wishes to make. Not  how to fill out the bishop’s appeal envelope! Homilies are the kind of preaching that was used by the Apostles and Fathers in addressing the faithful. The homily is expository of the Word (sermo in latin) of God and therefore is not considered a sermon, the Word of God itself. This time for the Liturgy of the Word is not set aside to instruct greeters and ushers how to hand out envelopes or to inform those in the pew where the pencils are!

A group of theology students receive this lesson from an elderly teacher of homiletics – the art of writing and delivering homilies: “When you preach, remember that the first five minutes are for God, the second five are for the faithful, and the third for the devil.” Alongside the “guidebook” for the “Catholically correct” believer, there is something similar for “updated” homilies for services. The homily doesn’t always capture the attention of the faithful during Mass – quite the contrary. So why don’t we teach our so-called preachers how to preach?!?

The problem is quite clear to the men of the Church. Benedict XVI became concerned with the issue two years ago with his post-synod apostolic exhortation Verbum Domini, which gathers the reflections and proposals emerging from the XII General Ordinary Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, which met at the Vatican from 5 to 26 October 2008 with the theme “The Word of God in the Life and Mission of the Church.” The Pontiff’s theological recommendation was to “avoid generic and abstract homilies” as well as “useless digressions.” In short, the quality of sermons “must be improved.”

“Sacred scripture is of the greatest importance in the celebration of the liturgy. For it is from scripture that lessons are read and explained in the homily, and psalms are sung; the prayers, collects, and liturgical songs are scriptural in their inspiration and their force, and it is from the scriptures that actions and signs derive their meaning. Thus to achieve the restoration, progress, and adaptation of the sacred liturgy, it is essential to promote that warm and living love for scripture to which the venerable tradition of both eastern and western rites gives testimony.” (Sacrosanctum Concilium, No. 24)

“By means of the homily the mysteries of the faith and the guiding principles of the Christian life are expounded from the sacred text, during the course of the liturgical year; the homily, therefore, is to be highly esteemed as part of the liturgy itself; in fact, at those Masses which are celebrated with the assistance of the people on Sundays and feasts of obligation, it should not be omitted except for a serious reason.” (Sacrosanctum Concilium, No. 52)

“Sacred theology rests on the written word of God, together with sacred tradition, as its primary and perpetual foundation. By scrutinizing in the light of faith all truth stored up in the mystery of Christ, theology is most powerfully strengthened and constantly rejuvenated by that word. For the Sacred Scriptures contain the word of God and since they are inspired really are the word of God; and so the study of the sacred page is, as it were, the soul of sacred theology. (3) By the same word of Scripture the ministry of the word also, that is, pastoral preaching, catechetics and all Christian instruction, in which the liturgical homily must hold the foremost place, is nourished in a healthy way and flourishes in a holy way.” (Dei Verbum, No. 24)

“The proclamation of the Gospel and the homily are reserved to the ordained, while a lay person is prohibited from preaching at any time during Mass, even in the cases of a seminarian or pastoral assistant. Instructions or testimonies by a lay person, however, may be given after the Prayer after Communion for a serious reason, but the homily should not be omitted. Such matters are regulated by the Diocesan Bishop.” (USCCB, Thirty Questions on the Instruction Redemptionis Sacramentum for Diocesan Liturgy and Communications Personnel, No. 18)

On the the importance of the homily, Verbum Domini continues:

“Each member of the People of God “has different duties and responsibilities with respect to the word of God. Accordingly, the faithful listen to God’s word and meditate on it, but those who have the office of teaching by virtue of sacred ordination or have been entrusted with exercising that ministry”, namely, bishops, priests and deacons, “expound the word of God”. Hence we can understand the attention paid to the homily throughout the Synod. In the Apostolic Exhortation Sacramentum Caritatis, I pointed out that “given the importance of the word of God, the quality of homilies needs to be improved. The homily ‘is part of the liturgical action’ and is meant to foster a deeper understanding of the word of God, so that it can bear fruit in the lives of the faithful”.  The homily is a means of bringing the scriptural message to life in a way that helps the faithful to realize that God’s word is present and at work in their everyday lives. It should lead to an understanding of the mystery being celebrated, serve as a summons to mission, and prepare the assembly for the profession of faith, the universal prayer and the Eucharistic liturgy. Consequently, those who have been charged with preaching by virtue of a specific ministry ought to take this task to heart. Generic and abstract homilies which obscure the directness of God’s word should be avoided, as well as useless digressions which risk drawing greater attention to the preacher than to the heart of the Gospel message. The faithful should be able to perceive clearly that the preacher has a compelling desire to present Christ, who must stand at the centre of every homily. For this reason preachers need to be in close and constant contact with the sacred text; they should prepare for the homily by meditation and prayer, so as to preach with conviction and passion. The synodal assembly asked that the following questions be kept in mind: “What are the Scriptures being proclaimed saying? What do they say to me personally? What should I say to the community in the light of its concrete situation? The preacher “should be the first to hear the word of God which he proclaims”, since, as Saint Augustine says: “He is undoubtedly barren who preaches outwardly the word of God without hearing it inwardly.”  The homily for Sundays and solemnities should be prepared carefully, without neglecting, whenever possible, to offer at weekday Masses cum populo brief and timely reflections which can help the faithful to welcome the word which was proclaimed and to let it bear fruit in their lives. (Verbum Domini, No. 59)

“As Saint Jerome reminds us, preaching needs to be accompanied by the witness of a good life: “Your actions should not contradict your words, lest when you preach in Church, someone may begin to think: ‘So why don’t you yourself act that way?’ … In the priest of Christ, thought and word must be in agreement”. (Verbum Domini, No. 60)

I had occasion to comment on another recent televised liturgy at St Patrick’s when I observed the deacon, James O’Rourke, in total oblivion of what was going on at the altar while he was conspicuously occupied with what was going on in the pews. (See my post Deacon Watch: The Distracted Deacon. )

This most recent circus performance from the ambo was an absolute disgrace. Kane has been the subject of a great number of adverse observations from members of that parish community and he’s not collecting better marks as he continues his interfaith adaptations of the Roman liturgy. Get on the same page as the rest of us Kane or take a hike! But more than that, I hope that this post has helped Fr Kane to better understand the importance of the homily.

Here are some selected quotes from the Apostolic Exhortation Verbum Domini: Selected Quotes from Verbum Domini (Zenit).

To learn more about the community in which Fr James Kane operates the Church of St Patrick, visit the blog at Smalbany.

I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. He who is a hireling and not a shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees; and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. He flees because he is a hireling and cares nothing for the sheep.  (John 10:1-30)

Standing Around Watching His Flock Die!

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Liturgy: Epiclesis in Eucharistic Prayer I


Epiclesis in Eucharistic Prayer I
And More on Receiving Communion

Legionary of Christ Father Edward McNamara, professor of liturgy at the Regina Apostolorum university answers questions on the liturgy.

Q: As I have watched Pope Benedict XVI celebrate Mass on television, I have noticed that during the Roman Canon, he appears to perform the epiclesis twice: “Through him we ask you to bless and accept …” and “Bless and approve ….” Every priest I have seen pray the canon has simply blessed the gifts at the beginning of the canon and then performed the epiclesis later in the prayer. Is there a difference between these two gestures made by the Holy Father and by the priests .

A: Actually I think that the Holy Father is simply fulfilling the rubrics for the venerable Roman Canon, or Eucharistic Prayer I.

For your convenience you can read or download the entire article at Liturgy-Epiclesis in Eucharistic Prayer I.


What They Don’t Know Wont Hurt Them…


Could this be happening here, in your backyard? Parent! Beware! Be informed about state and federal school programs (Don’t ask Matt Miller, though!) Schools Infringing on Parents’ Rights, and Doing It Secretly

In an article published in Zenit by Rebecca Oas, PhD (Washington, D.C., April18, 2012),

she reports that in 2010, an article appeared in the UK newspaper The Telegraph reacting to a proposal to cut government funding for a certain beverage in schools. The author made the argument that the drink might be “doing more harm than good” and cited “negative side effects,” while noting that his viewpoint was heard relatively rarely in comparison to the large industry which vigorously promoted its product through advertising and with the support of government subsidies. The substance in question was milk, which would seem on the surface to be more innocuous than those fearsome beverages that have also come under fire for being available in schools in recent years, soft drinks.

While the role of government in regulating access to these beverages in schools has varied from place to place, it can’t be disputed that a key factor influencing school policies is the input of parents.

Wotz next? Study hall cocktails laced with the pill?

A 2005 survey found that parents of adolescents had strong opinions regarding nutrition in schools, and urged health professionals in school settings to work with parents in promoting good nutrition in schools. While it may not be practical or even possible for a parent to monitor everything a child consumes while at school, this fact reflects only that substances like soft drinks are widely available, and not subject to restrictions under the law. There’s no excuse for parents are not expressly prohibited from knowing their children’s dietary habits by not being aware of what goes on in schools, neither the school or the government has any right to prohibit a parent’s demand for information.

But here’s the real shocker: Dr Oas writes, “However, while parents’ input may be welcomed with regard to students’ intake of sugar, substances available only by prescription are being distributed to students at school-based clinics without their parents’ knowledge or consent. Recent reports from both the US and the UK reveal that students are receiving oral and implanted contraceptives while on school property, through government-funded initiatives.”

Is this happening at school?

A story aired on National Public Radio in March, discussing a provision of the new health care law that increases funding for school-based health centers, which exist to treat sick students, but which are also widely used to distribute condoms and oral contraceptives to students. The story focused on one such clinic located in California, where, according to state law, students older than 12 years of age can legally obtain prescribed contraceptives without their parents’ knowledge or permission. [Editor’s Note: 21 states explicitly allow minors to give consent to contraceptive services, meaning that parental consent, and consequently, knowledge, is not required.] This reflects an international trend. [For school implanation of contraceptives, please see the entire article.] Just as in the US, the contraception initiative in the UK was supported by a government effort to reduce teenage pregnancy.

These published news stories point to another key issue: the duties of parents and the larger society toward children, including older minors still under their parents’ legal guardianship.

It is worthwhile to note that the controversy regarding milk distribution in schools was in reference to children five and under, and the distribution of contraceptives is occurring among minors 13 and older. Clearly, society recognizes that personal responsibility increases as a child becomes more capable of making his or her own decisions, as evidenced by the fact that minors can be held liable for criminal activity. In the US, a parent or guardian must not only give consent, but must physically accompany a minor under 17 who wishes to go to a movie with a “Restricted” rating. It would seem that government regulations are frequently willing to defer to the wishes of parents with regard to the health and well-being of their children – except where their reproductive capability is concerned.

Nevertheless, parents who entrust their children to educational institutions rightly have concerns regarding their children’s exposure and access to many things on school grounds, from substances such as soft drinks or contraceptive pills to controversial curricula, to the influence of questionable teachers. That this access frequently occurs without the parents’ knowledge and is disturbing to many informed parents, but that such information is deliberately being kept from them constitutes a dangerous shift in the role of the parent and the local, state, and federal institutions making decisions relating to children in schools “in safeguarding the well-being of those who are not yet legally adults.”

***

Visit and Read Our Other Posts on this Topic at:

Contraception & Birth Control

Catholic Teaching on Contraception

OPINION: Abortion Issues

 To read or download the entire article, click here: What They Don’t Know Might Hurt Them.

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The Beauty of the Annunication


We are reproducing a fine article that appeared in Zenith. The article does not need an introduction.

Five Joyous Pieces

Contemplating and Enjoying the Annunciation Through Artistic Genius

ROME, MARCH 29, 2012 (Zenit.org).- A few weeks ago, the ever-alert editors at ZENIT sent me an interesting idea for a column. A writer for the Catholic Herald UK had selected his favorite images of Mary to present to his readers. Taking a leaf from his blog, I thought I might propose a list of my five favorite images of the Annunciation in honor of the feast day this week.

It is impossible to choose a single favorite, therefore the list doesn’t go in any particular order, but simply presents five ways that artistic geniuses inRomehave offered this great mystery for our contemplation and enjoyment.

Sta Maria Maggiore, Triumphal Arch, Mosaic, c. 450

 1. The triumphal arch in the basilica of St. Mary Major contains one of the most unusual images of the Annunciation as Mary sits in a throne surrounded by attendant angels. No simple girl in a plain woven dress, this Mary wears regal robes and sits with the dignity of an empress. This mosaic, crafted in 450 for the first Western church dedicated to Mary, was made for an audience ofRome’s senatorial elite. Fashioned only a few years after the Council of Ephesus, where the Nestorian heresy had been defeated and Mary proclaimed Mother of God, this elegant work, made for the local aristocrats, intentionally conferred a royal aspect on Mary to evoke due homage from the Romans. A particularly interesting touch is that the Annunciation to Mary is paired with the angel speaking to Joseph — this is the first image of Joseph in the history of art.

Annunciation, Pietro Cavallini, Mosaic , 1290

2.  We cross the Tiberto Trastevere for the next image of the Annunciation, this time by Pietro Cavallini. This mosaic was crafted in 1290, almost a thousand years after that of St. Mary Major. The mosaic art was dying out, soon to be replaced by the medium of fresco, which was more versatile for narratives. Cavallini gave the art of mosaic its swan song in this series of small panels, very much an homage to the works in St. Mary Major. The gold ground of this Annunciation is dazzling and as light shimmers around the two figures it evokes the mystery and majesty of the event. But this mosaic is not all transcendence; Mary sits on a monumental throne, much like the triumphal arches of antiquity, still visible in the Forum. With Mary’s fiat to God, so begins the era of victory over sin and death. The Blessed Virgin is not bedecked in jewels nor swathed in folds of drapery as often portrayed in Byzantine art; her tunic falls around her revealing the human being underneath. In this work we also see God the Father in the upper left sending the Holy Spirit to Mary. As in all early representations of the First Person, He appears with the visage of Christ, the visible Person of the Trinity. Cavallini not only teaches but also delights. A bowl of figs sits by Mary’s one side while a vase of lilies stands by the other. It appears that Medieval artists rediscovered the still life a century before the Flemings and half a millennium before the Impressionists. Another innovation of Cavallini’s age was the rendering of perspective space. Over the head of the Virgin, the artists re-creates a coffered vault depicting a three dimensional space. In this ancient story, told in an archaic medium, Cavallini invents fresh new flourishes.

Annunciation, Filippo Lippi (student of Botticelli), 1492

3. The 13th century church of Santa Maria sopra Minerva forged a special bond with the Annunciation. Here, Cardinal Juan de Torquemada founded the Confraternity of the Annunciation in the 15th century. Together with other wealthy prelates, he started an endowment to provide poor girls with dowries. Every March 25, the Pope would preside over Mass in this space and then distribute the dowries to the future brides. It is therefore unsurprising that two ofRome’s best Annunciation paintings are in the same church. The first is in the right transept chapel, built by Cardinal Oliviero Caraffa in 1488. To decorate his chapel, Cardinal Caraffa consulted Lorenzo de Medici who suggested Filippino Lippi, the painter with finest pedigree in Renaissance art. As the son of Filippo Lippi, student of Botticelli and heir to Masaccio, there was nothing that could daunt this young painter. His Annunciation from 1492, turns traditional imagery around in a surprising new way. Mary receives the angel Gabriel not in a garden or bedroom, but in a study, much like a monastic cell. The wooden walls are constraining and her shelves are lined with books. Here, Mary embodies the motto of the Dominicans, who were and are the custodians of this church: Contemplare et contemplata aliis tradere – “to contemplate and to share with others the fruits of the contemplation.” In this dark enclosed space, Lippi painted Gabriel as an iridescent figure framed by an arch, who seems to gaze in awe at Mary. The Virgin, poised on a chair, is the pinnacle of the composition. To our surprise, she does an extraordinary thing; turning her back on the angel, she directs her attention to two onlookers, St. Thomas Aquinas who is presenting a kneeling Cardinal Caraffa. Could it be that the Virgin was distracted during the Annunciation? Of course not. The luminous hues of the angel also envelope her cloak while the matte red of her dress matches the robes of the Cardinal. Her hand is raised in blessing toward her devotees and thus we see Mary in this work as a conduit of grace. Having received the grace of the Lord, she already turns to pass it on to others.

Annunciation, Antoniazzo Romano, 1500

4.  A few steps down the same aisle will bring the pilgrim to the second image of the Annunciation, in the chapel of the homonymous Confraternity where they met and prayed together. This altarpiece is by Antoniazzo Romano, a painter born just a few steps away from the Pantheon. Despite being painted in 1500, the zenith of the High Renaissance, Antoniazzo’s work looks a little old-fashioned. The figures of the angel and Mary are larger compared to the others in the panel and the background is a wall of gold leaf. Antoniazzo was not ignorant of Renaissance innovations, however, he chose to use them sparingly so as to not distract from the central significance of the story. Mary and Gabriel are indeed the protagonists of this event, and the smaller cardinal with the young maidens are in fact of minor importance. Despite the elegant lines of the figures and his good drawing skills, with Antoniazzo the hierarchy of heaven takes precedence. Similarly, Antoniazzo has learned the new art of perspective as is visible in the floor tiles, but chooses to leave the gold ground like the many mosaicked apses ofRome. Antoniazzo sparingly adds details from the empirical world, but the true wonder of the Annunciation is in its mystery of incarnation, and Antoniazzo’s artistic decisions underscore this.

Annunciation, Marcello Venusti, 1500

5. The last is a little-known work by Marcello Venusti, a follower of Michelangelo. This Annunciation, dated around 1550, is kept in the Corsini Gallery in Trastevere. Venusti was part of Michelangelo’s closest circle and was commissioned to make a copy of the master’s Last Judgment for Cardinal Alessandro Farnese. Michelangelo often prepared designs for Venusti’s works and it is likely that the Florentine genius was responsible for the composition of this work. Unlike the other versions of the Annunciation, this was not meant for public display, but private devotion. In this panel, the Virgin does not kneel in submission, but looks startled, taken by surprise by the angel in her room. The sharp turn of her body and the raised hand indicate an immediate reaction to the unexpected. This type of image was well suited to private devotion as it captured the way that God often surprises us when He calls. A statue of Moses with the Old Law sits on her table. The prophet appears to be smashing his tablets. The Old Covenant with God will be now superseded by Mary, theArkof the New Covenant. This little panel must have provided much fruit for meditation for its former owner.

These five joyful pieces have allowed generations of Romans to contemplate the mystery of the Incarnation through different perspectives, styles and techniques in a case where all roads lead to God.

 * * *

Elizabeth Lev teaches Christian art and architecture at DuquesneUniversity’s Italian campus and Universityof St. Thomas’ Catholic Studies program. Her new book, “The Tigress of Forlì: Renaissance Italy’s Most Courageous and Notorious Countess, Caterina Riario Sforza de’ Medici” was published by Harcourt, Mifflin Houghton Press this fall.  She can be reached at lizlev@zenit.org

Read or download the full article on Sacred Art And Its Most Intimate Essence.

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A Farewell to Pope Benedict XVI


A Farewell to Pope Benedict XVI

Papal Arms ofBenedict XVI

Papal Arms of
Benedict XVI

In these momentous days, I ask you to pray for me and for the Church, trusting as always in divine Providence. (Twitter Pontifex)

(Vatican Radio) The Pontificate of Pope Benedict XVI will come to an end with the Sede Vacante (“Vacant See”) beginning at 8pm Rome time (7pm GMT). On the last full day of his pontificate, Pope Benedict will hold a special farewell meeting with members of the College of Cardinals in the Clementine Hall. At 4.55 p.m. the Pope will bid farewell to the pontifical household, an depart the Apostolic Palace by car from the San Damaso Courtyard. From there, he will be driven to the Vatican heliport, where he will be seen off by the Dean of the College of Cardinals, Cardinal Angelo Sodano. At 5.15 p.m. he will be flown to Castel Gandolfo, about 30 km from Rome. The Holy Father will then briefly greet the faithful of the Diocese of Albano from the central balcony of the Apostolic Palace. This will be the last public appearance of Pope Benedict XVI while in office. At 8 p.m, the reign of the 265th Pope, the 264th successor of St. Peter, will come to an end, having lasted 7 years, 10 months, and 9 days.

If only everyone could experience the joy of being Christian, being loved by God who gave his Son for us! (Twitter Ponifex)

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Benedict XVI: A supremely liturgical Pope

liturgical pope(Vatican Radio) One of the lasting legacies of Benedict XVI’s pontificate will be the mark he has left on the Liturgy as it is celebrated today. In short, he has re-focused our attention on how we, as Catholics, celebrate our faith in the light of tradition.From his highly discussed 2007 Motu Proprio, Summorum Pontififcum, to his approval of the equally debated New English Language translation of the Roman Missal; from his elimination of all rites and gestures that are not specifically sacramental in nature from Papal liturgies to his recent changes to rites for the beginning of a pontificate, the “Ordo Rituum pro Ministerii Petrini Initio Romae Episcopi”, Benedict XVI has brought the Universal Churches’ focus back to prayer and the Eucharist, the source and summit of what makes us Church. In a way Benedict XVI has been a supremely liturgical Pope.

“I think we will be unpacking the significance of his impact on the liturgy for many years to come”, says Monsignor Andrew Wadsworth, executive director of the Secretariat for the International Commission on English in the Liturgy.
Mons. Wadsworth, who was deeply involved in the New English Language translation of the Roman Missal, dropped by Vatican Radio to speak to Emer McCarthy about the liturgical mark Benedict XVI has left on the English speaking Church.

“When the Holy Father spoke to his own clergy, the priest of the diocese of Rome for the last time, he said two very significant things about the Liturgy: Firstly he said that the Second Vatican Council was very right to treat of the Liturgy first, because it thereby showed that God has primacy. And in the Liturgy the most important consideration is adoration. He linked this to the fact that he has desired that in the celebration of our Mass there should be a Crucifix on the altar. So that the priest looks at the Cross and remembers that it’s the sacrifice of Calvary that’s being represented in the celebration of the Mass and that the people should look at the Cross rather than at the priest”.

“The Motu Propiro really is a very important moment in which the Holy Father puts two forms of the Roman Rite which potentially have been at loggerheads which each other since the Second Vatican Council in a creative dynamic relationship with each other. The Holy Father really is reminding us that the light of tradition should fall on all of our liturgical experience”.
“In relation to the New English Translation of the Missal…it was the Holy Father who judged on the whole question of pro multis for many, chalice rather than cup, those are his particular judgements and his prerogative as the Pope. He showed a great interest in the process as it was unfolding …over ten years in the making”.

Lent is a favourable time in which to rediscover faith in God as the foundation of our lives and of the Church’s life. (Twitter Pontifex)

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Benedict XVI will be “Pope emeritus”

We must trust in the mighty power of God’s mercy. We are all sinners, but His grace transforms us and makes us new. (Twitter Pontifex)Vatican City, 26 February 2013 (VIS) – Benedict XVI will be “Pontiff emeritus” or “Pope emeritus”, as Fr. Federico Lombardi, S.J., director of the Holy See Press Office, reported in a press conference on th final days of the current pontificate. He will keep the name of “His Holiness, Benedict XVI” and will dress in a simple white cassock without the mozzetta (elbow-length cape).

More than 50,000 tickets have already been requested for the Pope’s final general audience tomorrow morning, 27 February, but greater attendance is expected. Except for the trip around St. Peter’s Square in the popemobile and the exclusion of the “bacciamani” (brief personal greetings that take place after the ceremony), the audience will take place as usual. On its conclusion, the Pope will go to the Clementine Hall of the Vatican Palace to meet with some of the civil authorities who are present in Rome or who have travelled here to wish him farewell. Among these dignitaries will be the presidents of Slovakia and of the German region of Bavaria.

On the morning of 28 February, the last day of his pontificate, the Pope will meet with, again in the Clementine Hall, the cardinals what are present in Rome. At 4:55pm, in the San Damaso Courtyard of the Vatican Apostolic Palace and before a detachment of the Swiss Guards, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, S.D.B., secretary of State of His Holiness, and and other members of that dicastery will bid him farewell. The Pope’s helicopter will land at Castel Gandolfo at 5:15pm, where he will be received by Cardinal Giuseppe Bertello and Bishop Giuseppe Sciacca, respectively president and secretary general of the Governorate of Vatican City State along with Bishop Marcello Semeraro of the Diocese of Albano, and civil authorities of the locality.

Benedict XVI will appear at the balcony of the Castel Gandolfo Apostolic Palace to greet those who have gathered in the square to wish him well. The Sede Vacante will begin at 8:00pm and the Swiss Guards assigned to him at Castel Gandolfo will take their leave, as their corps is dedicated to the safe-guarding of the Roman Pontiff. Instead, the Vatican Gendarmerie will take over the Pope emeritus’ safety detail.

Fr. Lombardi also explained that Bendict XVI will no longer use the “Fisherman’s Ring”, which will be destroyed along with the lead seal of the pontificate. This task falls to the cardinal camerlengo and his assistants. Likewise, the Press Office director announced that the Pope will no longer wear the red papal shoes.

Regarding the beginning of the Congregations of Cardinals, the dean of the College of Cardinals will send a letter to all the cardinals on 1 March, calling them to Rome. “It is likely, therefore,” Fr. Lombardi added, “that the congregations will begin starting next week.”

We would like to thank Vatican Information Service for its daily updates on the development of these historic events.

Spiritual Reflection

Do you wish your prayer to rise up to God? “Add to it two wings, fasting and almsgiving.” “Share your bread with the hungry” (Isaiah 58:7), Isaiah said. Do not think that fasting is enough. Fasting humbles you, it does not help others. Your hardships will be fruitful if you donate to others abundantly. Here, your soul has been bereaved; to whom shall you give that which you deprived yourself of? Where shall you place what you have denied yourself of? How many poor people could have been fed with the lunch you have stopped eating today! Your fasting should be this: while another takes food, be pleased in nourishing yourself with the prayer which you will be granted. As Isaiah says: “While you speak, I tell you: behold, I am here, if with joy you will share the bread with the hungry.”

"Vergelt's Gott"Dio La ricompensi!

“Vergelt’s Gott”
Dio La ricompensi!

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For an overview of the final days of the pontificate of Benedict XVI, please visit the Final Days of Benedict XVI site at Final Days.


Abuse of Catholic Conscience


The Antichrist?

In the great civil rights struggle to secure the right to life for all, Archbishop John Roach, testifying on behalf of the Catholic Bishops, expressed the guiding vision: “We are committed to full legal recognition of the right to life of the unborn child, and will not rest in our efforts until society respects the inherent worth and dignity of every member of the human race.” (November 5, 1981 Statement before the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution)

Wacha gonna do?

On January 20, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) reaffirmed a rule that virtually all private health care plans must cover sterilization, abortifacients, and contraception. The rule is set to take effect August 1, 2012.

Non-profit religious employers that do not now provide such coverage, and are not exempt under the rule’s extremely narrow definition of religious employer, will be given one year—until August 1, 2013—to comply.

Dolan in "Say Wot?" Mode

Responding to the announcement, Cardinal-designate Timothy Dolan, archbishop of New York and president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, stated: “In effect, the president is saying we have a year to figure out how to violate our consciences.” Cardinal-designate Dolan continued: “To force Americans to choose between violating their consciences and forgoing their healthcare is literally unconscionable. . . It is as much an attack on access to health care as on religious freedom.” Noting that the Obama administration “has now drawn an unprecedented line in the sand,” the Cardinal-designate urged that the HHS mandate be overturned. “The Catholic bishops are committed to working with our fellow Americans to reform the law and change this unjust regulation.”

WASHINGTON—The Catholic bishops of the United States called “literally unconscionable” a decision by the Obama Administration to continue to demand that sterilization, abortifacients and contraception be included in virtually all health plans. Today’s announcement means that this mandate and its very narrow exemption will not change at all; instead there will only be a delay in enforcement against some employers.

“In effect, the president is saying we have a year to figure out how to violate our consciences,” said Cardinal-designate Timothy M. Dolan, archbishop of New York and president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. Read more at U.S. Bishops Vow to Fight HHS Edict.

Howard Hubbard, Bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany, New York, has written several letters to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Religious Freedom in the Middle East and a letter to the United States Congress on International Religious Freedom but we could not find a single statement by Hubbard on the subject of Conscience Protection at home in the USA. (USCCB Religious Freedom) [I would be very grateful if anyone knows of such a statement you could provide the link or a copy.]

But Hubbard, Roman Catholic Bishop of the diocese of Albany, New York, responded to an op-ed column by Maureen Dowd, “Cooperation in Evil,” (NYT, October 1, 2011), in which Dowd comments: “The church has aggressively meddled in politics on abortion, trying to defeat candidates who support abortion rights and prevent some liberal politicians from receiving Communion. But American bishops have been inconsistent in preaching their values.” In a letter to the editor published by the New York Times on October 4, 2011, Hubbard cites the USCCB document, “Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship,” a [rather lengthy, 45-page book[let]] which he writes is a “statement overwhelmingly adopted by the full body of bishops in 2007, is clear evidence of consistency in ‘preaching their values.’ We condemn abortion, euthanasia, genocide, torture, racism and the targeting of non-combatants in acts of terror or war as ‘intrinsically evil.'”

Cooperating with Evil?

Cooperating in Evil? You Decide!

Well, the statement may have been adopted by the “full body of bishops” and may be, at least in Hubbard’s assessment, “clear evidence of consistency in “preaching their values” (I purposefully emphasized the “their“) but “their” does not read in any way, fashion or form to be the Church’s values or the received or held values of the faithful. While I don’t doubt for a moment that Hubbard’s laundry list of condemned evils reflects his own beliefs; any flesh and blood human being is compelled to condemn such abhorrent practices! That said,  Hubbard is noted to be [one of the] most liberal RC bishops in the United States, and has indeed preached his values in the diocese entrusted to his pastoral care (see our post Condoning the Failure Option). And he has been inconsistent in reconciling his own and  representing the Church’s and the majority flock’s beliefs!

In his October 2008 monthly statement, “Voting with a Catholic Conscience,” Hubbard writes: “The Church calls for a different kind of political engagement: one shaped by the moral convictions of a well-formed conscience and focused on the dignity of every human being, the pursuit of the common good and the protection of the weak and the vulnerable.

“The Catholic call to faithful citizenship affirms the importance of political participation and insists that public service is a worthy vocation.

“As Catholics, we should be guided more by our moral convictions than by our attachment to a particular political party or interest group. When necessary, our participation should help transform the party to which we belong; we should not let the party transform us in such a way that neglects or denies fundamental Christian values and moral truths.”

Even without commenting on the empty clichés of that statement, the boilerplate statements, we note that the bishop refers several times to the lengthy document “Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship,” but very honestly I don’t know of anyone at all who has heard of the document nor where there is any indication of where to get it. (The only reason I have one is because I need it in my writing activities; it’s long and not an easy read for anyone with a real life!).

What’s more, the troubling statement comes in a section entitled “Doctrine Counts,” (we agree, but doctrine must be efficaciously taught!) where the bishop writes:

“We must weigh these issues in a fashion that neither treats all issues as moral equivalents (for example, giving abortion and racism the same moral status as the federal standard for the minimum wage or the best policies to combat global warming) nor reduces Catholic social teaching to one or two issues. Catholics often face difficult choices about how to vote. A Catholic cannot vote for a candidate who takes a position in favor of an intrinsic evil. [But no instruction is given on how to assess the magnitude of the “intrinsic evil,” totally lacking in effective guidance or teaching on how racism differs from a minimum wage standard, which for most is either rhetorical or irrelevant, depending on ones sociocultural status!]

“As Faithful Citizenship teaches, “those who knowingly, willingly and directly support public policies or legislation that undermine fundamental moral principles coöperate with evil. Voting for candidates who hold such an unacceptable position would be permissible only for grave moral reasons, not to advance narrow interests or position preferences or to ignore a fundamental moral evil.” [So this statement would mean that we shouldn’t vote for Mario Cuomo who lives in concubinage and does not oppose abortion but receives communion from the bishop’s hands?]

I recently published an editorial on Schizoid Catholics; it seems I was right on the mark if this HHS debacle is sustained.

We also note that “the use of the death penalty, resorting to unjust war … and the failure to respond to those who are suffering from hunger or a lack of health care, or an unjust immigration policy are all serious moral issues that challenge our consciences and require us to act.”

This is where the bishop gets confusing. Hubbard has been taken to task on this blog for “knowingly, willingly, and directly supporting” public figures (Andrew Cuomo, for example, see our page Bad! Bishop Hubbard) who “undermine the fundamental moral principles” of the Catholic Tradition and even some non-Catholic faiths, and yet he refutes, rebuffs, and contests a journalist’s factual remarks pointing out just such “coöperation with evil.”

I find it very odd that the Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany’s official rag, The Evangelist, does not list a single mention of conscience, contraception, human life, abortion, etc. in its “Top 2011 Headlines” (Kate Blain). Why is this? In fact, the ‘faithful citizenship document” receives but  one single sentence hidden (November 22, 2011) in the voluminous multipart “Rome Diary” series commemorating the bishop’s most recent ad limine visit to Rome (October 2011). One might ask the editor of the Evangelist why this silence is so deafening. We did and the Evangelist promptly answered (see the Addendum, below). The issue of the National Committee for a Human Life Amendment has been around and under intense discussion since at least 2010!

A Tebow Moment!

Bishop at prayer? Maybe. But actually bishop Howard Hubbard is watching a CBA victory over Schenectady in the a championship game at Pepsi Arena. (Luanne M. Ferris / Times Union) Well, we all have our priorities, don’t we?

I'm Catholic and ain't heard nothin'!

I would ask bishop Hubbard when he last addressed a statement to Nancy Pelosi, to Barack Hussein Obama, to Justice Scalia, to Andrew Cuomo or the myriad Catholic politicians and opinion leaders on the bishop’s A-list regarding “coöperation with evil?” Or the last time he refused or instructed denial of sacraments to recalcitrant, obstinate, derelict apostate heretical public figures who, on a routine basis “cooperate with evil!”

The National Committee for a Human Life Amendment is dedicated to pursuing this vision. The organization’s objectives include educating citizens, developing pro-life legislative networks, and offering programs in support of pro-life legislation. Among its various activities, NCHLA produces educational and program resources, communicates with leaders about legislative priorities, and presents legislative seminars throughout the year. In a special way, NCHLA assists dioceses, state Catholic conferences, and Catholic lay groups. The Committee also works closely with the Secretariat for Pro-Life Activities of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Some Relevant Links
Complete USCCB Conscience Page
National Committee for a Human Life Amendment Fact Sheets
Action Alert: Support Respect for Rights of Conscience Act 

Addendum

We contacted the Evangelist, the official newspaper of the Roman Catholic Diocese  of Albany (New York) as to whether the Evangelist covered this issue of the Obama administration’s Health and Human Services Department requirement that employers must include contraception and abortion-inducing drugs in health-care coverage, and  Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship with the question: “If the Evangelist has covered either of these subjects in 2010, 2011, or more recently, can you please let me know in which issues?”

The Evangelist promptly wrote back : “We have covered both issues. You’re not finding them in the online archives because for the most part, the stories come from the news service and we do not have the rights to post them online. You may find them at www.catholicnews.com. ”

The editor of the Evangelist informs us that the paper will be running “two major stories on the HHS issue” in the February 1st issue of the Evangelist. Whether they will be canned stories from the news services or whether they will be relevant to the Albany Diocese is yet to be seen. We wait with bated breath.

FqC


Pope Addresses the Vatican Rota


VATICAN CITY, 21 JAN 2012 (VIS) – This morning in the Vatican, Benedict XVI received the dean, judges, promoters of justice, defenders of the bond, officials and lawyers of the Tribunal of the Roman Rota, for the occasion of the inauguration of the judicial year.

Benedict XVI focused his remarks on a fundamental aspect of judicial ministry: the interpretation of canon law with a view to its correct application. The hermeneutic of canon law “is closely associated with the very concept of Law in the Church”, the Pope explained, and he went on to define two forms of interpretation which lead to impoverishment of the law: “The identification of canon law with the system of canonical legislation”, which effectively means overlooking “natural law, divine positive law and the vital relationship of all law with the communion and mission of the Church”. In the second form of interpretation, “the specific situation becomes a decisive factor in determining the authentic meaning of a legal precept in a particular case”; but in this way “it is human interpretation that decides what is juridical, and a sense of objective law is lacking”.

 “But there is another way”, said the Holy Father, “in which a correct understanding of canon law leads to its being interpreted as part of a search for the truth about law and justice in the Church. … Authentic law is inseparable from justice. Obviously, this principle also holds true for canon law, in the sense that it cannot remain closed in a merely human system of norms but must be associated with a just ordering of the Church in which a higher law holds sway. In this perspective, human positive legislation loses its primacy … and can no longer simply be identified as the Law. Nonetheless human legislation is an important expression of justice, first and foremost for what it declares to be divine law, but also for what it identifies as being the legitimate ambit of human law.

 “In this way”, Benedict XVI added, “it becomes possible to apply a legal hermeneutic that is authentically juridical, in the sense that, in keeping with the meaning of the law, we can raise the crucial question of what is just in each particular case. … Human rules must be interpreted in the light of the situations with which they deal. These situations always contain a core of natural law and of divine positive law, with which all norms must be in harmony if they are to be rational and truly juridical.

 “From this realistic standpoint, the sometimes arduous task of interpretation acquires a meaning and a goal. … It is revitalised by an authentic contact with the overall situation of the Church, which facilitates access to the true meaning of the law”.

 “It follows that the interpretation of canon law must take place within the Church. … ‘Sentire cum Ecclesia’ also applies to discipline, because of the doctrinal foundations which are always present and operative in the Church’s legal norms. Thus the hermeneutic of renewal in continuity, about which I have spoken with reference to Vatican Council II (which is so closely associated with current canonical legislation), must also be applied to canon law”.

 “This basic approach is applicable to all forms of interpretation: from academic research on canon law … to the daily search for just solutions in the lives of the faithful and their communities. Meekness is necessary in order to accept the laws, seeking to study … the juridical tradition of the Church in order to identify with that tradition and with the legal dispositions issued by pastors, especially pontifical laws and Magisterium on canonical issues, which are binding in their teachings on the law”.

 All this has particular importance “as regards laws on the act of Marriage and its consummation, and Holy Orders. … Particular care must be taken to apply all juridically binding measures which tend to ensure coherence in the interpretation and application of laws, as required by justice. These measures include the Pontifical Magisterium in this field, contained above all in addresses to the Roman Rota; the jurisprudence of the Rota itself, … and the norms and declarations issued by other dicasteries of the Roman Curia”.

The Holy Father continued: “This hermeneutical unity in the essentials in no way prejudices the function of local tribunals, which are called to face the complex real situations that arise in all cultural contexts. Each of them must proceed with a sense of reverence towards the truth of law, applying judicial and administrative norms so as to achieve exemplary communion in discipline, this being an essential aspect of Church unity”.

 Finally Pope Benedict turned his attention to the recent transfer to the Roman Rota of an office dealing with the procedures for dispensation from unconsummated marriage and causes for the nullity of priestly ordination. “I am sure”, he said, “that there will be a generous response to this new ecclesial task”.

AC/


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