Friday, June 27

Someone very kindly sent me this excerpt from an interview with Cardinal Arinze that's in the new issue of Inside the Vatican, although not online yet.

I think it is a pity that many people in a parish never -- or rarely -- hear the Latin Mass. In Latin texts they would hear the very same words spoken that St. Thomas Aquinas, St. Bonaventure, Blessed Duns Scotus, and so many more recent saints, like Thomas More and Therese of Lisieux, would have spoken. This is a source of communion over time, it is an aid to sensing and believing in the mystical communion of the Church throughout the ages.

Today, when we have international congresses, we have no common language in which to pray and sing, so we use several -- English, Italian, French and so forth. Praying and celebrating the liturgy in Latin would be a beautiful _expression of our unity, of our oneness in the faith. Is there to be no symbol of our faith, no vehicle allowing us to express our shared faith with one voice?

The great Latin expressions and prayers are not awkward and distant; they are very near to us. Think of the words "Verbum caro factum est" ("the Word was made flesh"); "Agnus Dei" ("the Lamb of God"); "Sanctus, sanctus, sanctus" ("Holy, holy, holy"). These words are not difficult. And they are rooted in our tradition. Are we to forget all that? Have we no memory as a Church?

I worked in the field of interreligious dialogue for 18 years. Each of the major religions of the world has a collective memory, including the memory of an original, sacred language, which they do not hesitate to use.

The Muslims regard the Koran in Arabic as the official text. Some Muslims are able to recite the whole Koran by heart in Arabic. This is a remarkable testimony to their diligence in study, and to their love of the Arabic language in which the Koran was written.

In my own country of Nigeria, we have some 240 languages. Under such conditions, what language should we use for our common liturgical gatherings? Why should there not be a wider use of a traditional and universal language like Latin?

Interesting words on the perils of clericalism in an Dallas Morning News article

New Mexico Archbishop Michael Sheehan partially blames the Catholic clerical culture for his being buffaloed by the Dallas Diocese's most notorious pedophile priest. "Rudy Kos was my wakeup call," said the archbishop, who was rector of the Irving seminary where Mr. Kos trained in the 1970s. "I learned that you can't just take the priest's word as gospel truth when an accusation is made." It's a lesson some bishops still struggle to absorb, he said, despite the enormity of last year's sex scandals, which have cost more than 400 accused priests and a handful of bishops their ministries. ....

....Dallas Coadjutor Bishop Joseph Galante said that when he was ordained a priest in 1964, he struggled with the special treatment immediately given him by virtue of his position – a favored status he felt he hadn't earned. "To make Holy Orders mean that I'm above others and entitled to special privileges not attached to my call to service is wrong, wrong, wrong," he said. ...

Archbishop Sheehan holds the dubious distinction of having admitted Mr. Kos to an Irving seminary that had previously turned him away. At the time, the archbishop was a Dallas priest serving as the seminary's rector. "That Rudy Kos was ordained a priest, then did all of these terrible things, may have been the saddest part of my priesthood," Archbishop Sheehan said. "I was completely fooled by him." After being duped by Mr. Kos, he said, he developed a "zero tolerance" policy for priests who molest children – long before U.S. bishops made that their national standard. He credits the approach with turning around the Santa Fe Archdiocese, which was awash in pedophile priest scandals when he arrived in 1993. He believes the same approach will work in the Phoenix Diocese, where Bishop Thomas O'Brien resigned last week after being arrested in connection with a hit-and-run fatality, just weeks after admitting to a county prosecutor that he'd shielded abusive priests.

Bishop Donald Wuerl of Pittsburgh, a prelate widely thought to be on the fast track to cardinal, said there was a time when clericalism was a "healthy part" of the church because strict expectations were placed on priests. "The priest was held to accountability by the way he dressed, how he lived and his social life," he said. "You had to wear your clerical collar so people knew you were a priest. It was much like the wedding ring that spouses wear so that everyone knows that they're committed. The Roman collar said that very loudly."

Utah Bishop George Niederauer said that no priest, bishop or deacon is immune to clericalism. It surfaces when clergy see people as existing to serve them. "Jesus calls us to be servant leaders, not self-serving leaders," he said. Defining clericalism is easier than identifying it, many clergy said. Those guilty of the behavior often don't see themselves as purveyors.

The only missing piece in this article regards clerics' knowledge of other clerics' wrongdoing. It claims that clericalism works to blind clerics to the possibility of each others' wrongdoing. Balderdash. Certainly, there are surprises and secrets, but the clericalism we've seen at work in these scandals, and the scandal that makes it, indeed, scandalous, is the fact that known behavior was covered up by both fellow priests and bishops.

The Word From Rome:

Lots on the Pope's Bosnian trip:

All this has left Bosnian Catholics with a unique sense of being orphans of history. This is especially acute in Banja Luka, where Catholicism was virtually wiped out by the latest war. There were 125,000 Catholics in the Banja Luka diocese in 1991, while today there are 51,500. Only 3 percent of the refugees have returned. Thirty-nine churches were destroyed and 22 damaged; nine chapels were destroyed and 14 damaged; two convents were devastated and one severely damaged, as were 33 cemeteries. (The convent at Petricevac was one of the places that went up in flames, leaving 80-year-old Friar Alojzije Atlija dead). A background paper said that the war had produced “a total exodus of the Catholic population from this region,” that the few who remain are “predominantly elderly,” and that the church in Bosnia now risks “total extinction.”In such a climate, it’s hardly surprising that many in the Catholic community seem underwhelmed by a policy of forgive-and-forget.

The Church in China:

Aid to the Church in Need, a charitable agency that delivers help to persecuted and suffering Christians, presented its annual report on religious freedom June 26. The highlight was an update on China, presented by Fr. Bernardo Cervellera, a veteran China-watcher and director of Asia News magazine.Cervellera reported on three recent documents published by the Chinese government, which assert sweeping new controls over the life of the Catholic Church, including matters of doctrine. They risk schism with Rome, which has been the object of Chinese policy since 1957 –an indigenous Catholic Church with no connection to the Vatican.The Chinese Catholic Church is divided between an official church approved by the government, and a subterranean church loyal to Rome. Together the two have some 130 bishops, Cervellera said, and of that number, more than 100 are over 80 years old. Hence the government is trying to put itself in a position to dictate the selection of the new generation of bishops.

The Pope's birthday emails

How many e-mails did Pope John Paul receive for his May 18th birthday? Between 22,000 and 23,000, according to Archbishop Claudio Maria Celli, who oversees the Vatican Web site. He was speaking at a June 24 press conference on the launch of a new site for the Vatican museums.Celli said the e-mails created a logistical challenge — not responding to them, which is the Secretariat of State’s problem — but printing them out.

Printing? But isn’t the point of e-mail to avoid paper?Maybe, but in the world of the Vatican, that’s not how things work.

An interview with Sr. Jeannine Gramick:

I asked Gramick about the split in the Anglican Communion over the ordination of a gay bishop, and if she worried about pushing the Catholic church, at least in the United States, towards a similar rupture. She replied that unity based on injustice is false.I then asked if Gramick had read Philip Jenkins’ book The Next Christendom, in which he argues that the demographic shift in Christianity towards Africa, Latin America and Asia will push the church in a conservative direction. What if the global church is not prepared to adopt Gramick’s view of homosexuality?Gramick said this is a dilemma for her — do you want democracy in the church if you lose the vote? But deep down, she doesn’t believe this is how things will shake out. She is convinced that her positive stance towards gays and lesbians will carry the day.

Hong Kong bishop continues to fight for democracy

The implications of the Supreme Court's ruling on molestation cases in California

It's scary how smart little kids are, how they are just taking everything in and you don't even know it. I tell these stories, not to brag on Joseph, for I think probably every toddler on the planet is just as observant. It's simply astonishing, though, and makes you wonder what we're teaching them, what we're not, and what we could be.

Joseph is barely two. 25 months old on July 4, he'll be. Three examples:

A few weeks ago, we went to a festival (enough with the festivals! Okay. Just one more) on a downtown plaza, in the shadow of a bank building, where little kids were invited to do fun activities. As I've been watching little kids do for twenty years now. Anyway, one of the featured players was the mascot of our local baseball team. The team is the Wizards, but the mascot is a dragon. A big, green goofy looking dragon. Joseph, given the opportunity to introduce himself, was terrified. Wouldn't get near the creature.

A couple of weeks later, we were driving by the same plaza, and Joseph calmly said, "Dragon dere." Mind you, we were on a street opposite the green stretch of grass where the dragon had been, mind you that the place was empty, no longer filled with booths and people - and he still recognized it.

Last week, we were cutting through the parking lot of our performing arts center which is, not exactly a notable-looking building. It's built of greyish brick or stone, I believe, and has no external adornments. Joseph said, out of the blue, "Katie pianny teacher dere."

A month ago, I'd taken him and Katie to a performance of Smokey Joe's Cafe that featured ...Katie's piano teacher on, well, piano of course.

This one is almost embarrasing, but maybe not. We were driving, and we passed the remnants of an accident on our left. There were two police cars. Joseph looked out the window and said, "Bad boys, bad boys."



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