Friday, June 30, 2006

More on the Presbyterians' Rock, Paper, and Holy Scissors thing


When I blogged about the Presbyterians mulling over adopting new wording for the Trinity last week, my immediate thought was "Rock, paper, scissors". Unsurprisingly, many others did, too. So you'd think that the delegates to the national assembly would have a, you know, light-bulb experience and think, "Better not. Bad associations."

Wellllll, the proposition passed 282-212, to "receive" the substitutions. And here's the kicker:
"For this and other distortions of Trinitarian doctrine we repent," the report said.
There's that word "repent". But only for the distortions. Get ready for: "Compassionate Mother, Beloved Child and Life-giving Womb" or "Rock, Cornerstone and Temple".

At the end of the summer, I will title the requisite "What I did over my summer vacation" report as "Watching the heretical ships go down".

UPDATE 20:05 EDT
I just have to add this cartoon.

Classical Anglicans are theo-terrorists?

Wow! The Episcopalian Meltdown is producing some very interesting new words and acronyms. Here's an excerpt from a battleplan that Pontificator quoted today. It's by a TECer loyalists/revisionist (I'm trying hard to keep up with all the labels):
Fourth, we are already an international church, spanning turf from Taiwan to France. We should offer alternative primatial oversight to any parish or Diocese anywhere in the world who would rather be associated with TEC (The Episcopal Church) than the curial-fundamentalist WWAC (Worldwide Anglican Communion, I would assume) emerging under ++Rowan’s mismanagement. Before he assigns us second class status, let’s demonstrate the power of a participatory democratic church. We should be prepared to welcome as Sister and Brother Provinces those like Scotland, Ireland, Wales, South Africa, Brazil, etc who will not support the emerging shape of the WWAC.

Hopefully the Executive Council and the PB’s office will take leadership in these matters, but if not, then instead of continuing to worry over the true impact of B033, we could instead become proactive in this full court press against the theo-terrorists of the ACN-IRD-AAC-NAG-ACI (aiy-eeeee, I give up. I hate alphabet soup) grouping.
Do read the whole thing.

UPDATE 16:01 EDT
I forgot "curial-fundamentalist".

Vatican Secret Archives on Pius XI to open in September

~From the Vatican Information Service

VATICAN CITY, JUN 30, 2006 (VIS) - Benedict XVI has decreed that from September 18 - when the Vatican Secret Archives and other archives of the Holy See resume activities after the summer vacation - all documents relative to the pontificate of Pope Pius XI (February 6, 1922 - February 10, 1939) be made available to researchers.

According to a communique made public today, signed by Frs. Marcel Chappin S.J. and Sergio Pagano B., respectively keeper of the Historical Archives of the Secretariat of State and prefect of the Vatican Secret Archives, "this opening, which had already been desired by John Paul II, ... makes available to historical research, within the limits of the regulations, all documentary sources up to February 1939 conserved in the various series of archives of the Holy See, and principally in the Vatican Secret Archives and in the Archives of the Second Section of the Secretariat of State (formerly the Congregation for Extraordinary Ecclesiastical Affairs)."

Will classical liturgy aid reunion with Eastern Orthodox?

~Brian Mershon's column this week explores this angle with Bishop Rifan and Archbishop Burke.
Is it truly feasible that the "freeing of the classical Roman rite of liturgy" is a small part of the Pope's overall plan for paving the way for the reuniting of the Latin Church with the separated Churches of the East?

Bishop Fernando Rifan, who heads up the Apostolic Administration of St. John Mary Vianney in Campos, Brazil, said he believed a further liberalization of the liturgical rite of Pope St. Pius V would aid ecumenical relations with the East.

"I really think that the Traditional Latin Mass widely and freely available would be, among many other good reasons, a great benefit in the field of the true ecumenism with the Orthodox," he said. "This would be primarily because the Traditional Liturgy is much more similar to the Oriental [Eastern] rites in the aspect of the sacred, veneration, and beauty."

Bishop Rifan and his priestly society achieved full canonical recognition and regularization with the Church on January 18, 2002.

It is hoped by many traditionalists and the Holy See that the positive example of this group of priests, which offers all the sacraments exclusively according to the ancient rites, will serve as a model for other traditionalist priestly societies such as the Society of St. Pius X (SSPX), to potentially reach full regularization with the Church.

Archbishop Raymond Burke, a notably obedient son of the Church, particularly with applying Pope John Paul II's request in Ecclesia Dei Adflicta to be "wide and generous" in allowing the Classical Roman liturgy for those Catholics who desire it, agrees with Bishop Rifan's assessment, but with a nuance.

"I wouldn't think that the Holy Father would be doing this simply as a strategy [for ecumenical relations with the Orthodox], but I do think it will be an effect of a restoration or in the 'reform of the reform' of the liturgy," Archbishop Burke said.

"It seems to me for the Eastern rites, and for those of the Orthodox Churches, the reform of the liturgy after the council and the concrete expression is so stripped of the transcendent, of the sacral elements, it is difficult for them to recognize its relationship with their Eucharistic Liturgies," he said.

Archbishop Burke agreed that the Eastern Churches would most likely identify more readily with the Classical Roman rite of liturgy, and its similarities with their own Divine Liturgies, than the Novus Ordo liturgy.

"It would be easier for them to see the unity, the oneness in the Eucharistic Sacrifice, by a rite of the Mass, just limiting ourselves now to talking about the Holy Mass, that it was richer in those dimensions — the elements of the transcendent — the symbols of the transcendent element of Christ — Christ in action in the Mass — the unbloody renewal of the Sacrifice of Calvary," Archbishop Burke said.
More

Comfort over sacrifice

Michael at Sacramentum Vitae has written a a reflection on this day of remembrance of the First Martyrs of Rome.
There are many reasons why Europe has become essentially secular, despite its Christian roots, and why American culture is predominantly secular despite the residual religiosity of many Americans. But I'm convinced that the biggest reason is our natural preference for comfort over sacrifice. As a result of scientific and technological advances, most of us in the West enjoy a standard of living inconceivable to our forebears. Fat and sassy, we treat God as just one more lifestyle option, and take for granted a power over life and death once thought to be God's alone. Even old-fashioned paganism is resurgent because it celebrates natural joy within the confines of a given, larger reality that does not require us to die and be reborn. One can experience echoes of such joy in folk music the world over. America's last good folk-genre flowered in the sixties with the likes of Pete Seeger, Joan Baez, and of course Peter, Paul, and Mary. The worldview implicit in such music is spiritually satisfying to many of my generation on the secular Left. But if Christianity is true, it is all a comfortable illusion.

Contemporary Westerners, at least for the most part, are quite willing to accommodate something called "man's search for God." Such a search makes people seem "deep," expressing dissatisfaction with the finite and broken without calling forth any particular commitment of heart and soul. But by the same token, people are often unwilling to accommodate actually being found by God. The explanation can be found by contemplating any crucifix. Peter and Paul were, by tradition, crucified upside down, and the larger group of "protomartyrs" were either burned alive as lampposts on Rome's streets or devoured by wild beasts in the Colosseum. Giving our lives for God as the Son of God gave his life for us is not what most people who accommodate, or even celebrate, man's search for God have in mind. Nor is that surprising. The flesh resists the message that what we are is broken, needing to be broken anew so that we may attain eternal life and glory.
Read more

New Blog dedicated to the Sacred Heart and the Immaculate Heart



Blogging friends Tom of Recta Ratio and Ginny of The Inspired Traditionalist have started a new blog dedicated the Sacred Heart of Christ and the Immaculate Heart of Our Lady. It's called Two Hearts Ablaze. Do visit.

Fr Z reflects on the Proto-martyrs of Rome

Fr Z quotes St. Augustine on festivals of martyrs for today's memorial of the First Martyrs of the Church of Rome.
If, then, holy love energizes people and tugs them to a material place, what kind of love must it be that tugs persons united in heart toward heaven, as they say to each other, We are going to the Lord’s house? Let’s run, let’s run fast, they say, for we are going to the Lord’s house! Let’s run and not weary, because we shall reach a place where fatigue will never touch us. Let’s run to the Lord’s house, and let our soul be gladdened by those who tell us these things; for those who cheer us on have seen our homeland before we have, and they shout from afar to us latecomers, “We are going to the Lord’s house! Walk! Run!”
And reflects on the Collect for today:
O God, who consecrated the rich beginnings
of the Roman Church with the blood of martyrs,
grant, we beseech You,
that from the struggle of such a great contest may be made steadfast in constant virtue
and we may rejoice always in pious victory.


When certain ancient portions of this prayer were crafted, the memories of the martyrs had not really faded from memory. The people of the Church knew that their freedom of Faith had been won by the blood of their forebears.

Can we say the same? The comfy Church of the 21st century may yet have to face terror, persecution and death. It already does in not so comfy places in the world. When will the “comfy” part change? We should remember the martyrs, friends, and take upon ourselves something of a daily martyrdom with the practice of voluntary penances. These will help us to secure a holy victory in the moment of challenge and a reward in heaven.

We can and must encourage each other each and every day. In a way, is not what many of us are doing with the Catholic blogosphere another way of urging each other on? With the technology of creating links and interconnecting our comments and informing each other, are we not in a way doing what in that sermon Augustine describes as making many individual flames become one brighter flame?

California Legislators Defeat Assisted Suicide Bill

~Via LifeSite News

SACRAMENTO, June 29, 2006 (LifeSiteNews.com) – The Senate Judiciary Committee of California has narrowly rejected an attempt to legalize assisted suicide.

The Committee voted 3-2 on Tuesday, with Joe Dunn, a Democrat, casting the deciding vote with two Republicans. Dunn said that he could not trust that this bill would not open the door for active euthanasia for those not suffering from terminal illnesses.

Dunn told reporters at a press conference that it was with “a heavy heart” that he voted no. He said he was afraid that in the future, “the power of money” would result in euthanasia for the healthy.

“In this society, in California and the United States, more often than not public policy decisions are driven unfortunately by money concerns,” Dunn said.

Bill AB651 had been crafted on the model of Oregon’s assisted suicide legislation. A report by the International Task Force on Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide showed that the number of assisted suicide victims in Oregon's latest annual report indicates that reported assisted-suicide deaths have increased by more than 230% since the first year of legalization.

Opponents of the bill argued that it was unnecessary because under California law terminally ill patients already enjoy the right to refuse extraordinary treatment and have full access to advanced pain treatment.

Recent polls have shown that once the public understands what assisted suicide is, the support for it drops.

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger had hinted earlier this year that he would likely veto any assisted suicide bill that was passed in California.

+ + +
Companion story about Anne Lamott: Anne Lamott Kills a Man--And Writes About It

UK Doctors Move From Neutral to Rejecting Assisted Suicide

~Via LifeSite News

LONDON, June 29, 2006 (LifeSiteNews.com) – In a vote this week, the British Medical Association (BMA) took a clear stand against physician assisted suicide. 65% of the 500 doctors at the BMA's meeting in Belfast voted against the proposal to accept assisted suicide.

This represents a significant development from previous trends. In a narrow vote last year the BMA refused to take a position against assisted suicide, though individuals and pro-life organizations have said the practice is going on quietly and the courts have ruled that disabled patients do not have the right not to be dehydrated to death.

In July 2005 the BMA was discussing whether to support then-pending legislation in the House of Lords that would legalize assisted suicide. Members voted narrowly not to oppose the legislation.

Lord Joffe, the author of the bill, praised the BMA’s decision to stay out of the way of the movement that pro-life advocates say leads inevitably to active euthanasia. He said, “The BMA’s decision to adopt a neutral stance is an important move because the Government is really thinking carefully about the issue.”

The bill was blocked in May, but Lord Joffe and its supporters have vowed to reintroduce it until it is passed into law.

A poll of UK doctors showed that 70 per cent were opposed to assisted suicide. Dr Andrew Davies, from Cardiff, told the BBC that terminally ill patients in his care had “a lot on their minds,” but for many their main concern was the effect their illness was having on their families. “My worry is that a right to die will become a duty to die, a duty to unburden their families.”

China: No solemn funeral service for Mgr Guo Wenzhi, underground bishop of Qiqihar

Pie Iesu Domine, dona eis requiem. Dona eis requiem sempiternam.

~Via Asia News

30 June, 2006 - Mgr Guo Wenzhi, Bishop Emeritus of the unofficial Diocese of Qiqihar, who died yesterday in his residence after a long illness, is unlikely to have a funeral as befits a bishop. Sources of AsiaNews in China said the government was against the solemn funeral service that the priests and faithful of the diocese wanted to hold for the bishop, one of the most loved and respected of China’s Catholic Church.

Immediately after his death, local authority representatives said the deceased – who they recognised as a priest but not as a bishop – could only have a simple funeral and not a grand celebration.

Despite the government’s attitude, the Church of Qiqihar, led by Mgr Wei Jingyi, has called on all priests, official and not, to offer masses in suffrage for the soul of the deceased bishop.

According to the Julian calendar, the bishop was 88 years, but according to the Chinese calendar, he died aged 89: this is because in Chinese culture, the age of a person starts from the moment of conception.

Born to a Catholic family in the city of Qiqihar, the capital of the eastern province of Heilongjiang, Mgr Guo was ordained a priest in 1948. Accused of being a counterrevolutionary by the Chinese government, in 1954 he was sentenced to 10 years forced labour in different laogai [“re-education through labour” camps] across the country. Consecrated as bishop in 1989, he was arrested again for participating in a conference of China’s underground bishops.

After his release and despite hostile government opposition, his zealous evangelization greatly revitalized the Church in Qiqihar: he ordained his successor, Mgr Wen Jinyi, one of the four bishops invited by Benedict XVI to attend the Synod on the Eucharist that took place in Rome last October. Beijing did not allow the bishops to go, but the invitation was a sign of great honour and recognition of the Church and the bishop of Qiqihar.

Thanks to the efforts of Mgr Guo, many Catholic institutions and religious organizations were set up in the diocese, attracting religious vocations and conversions. In fact, apart from Mgr Wei, Mgr Guo formed and led many priests of the locality to ordination.

In paradisum deducant te Angeli; in tuo adventu suscipiant te martyres, et perducant te in civitatem sanctam Ierusalem. Chorus angelorum te suscipiat, et cum Lazaro quondam paupere æternam habeas requiem.

Optional Memorial of the First Martyrs of the Church of Rome


There were Christians in Rome within a dozen or so years after the death of Jesus, though they were not the converts of the "Apostle of the Gentiles" (see Romans 15:20). Paul had not yet visited them at the time he wrote his great letter in A.D. 57-58.
There was a large Jewish population in Rome. Probably as a result of controversy between Jews and Jewish Christians, the Emperor Claudius expelled all Jews from Rome in A.D. 49-50. Suetonius the historian says that the expulsion was due to disturbances in the city "caused by the certain Chrestus" [Christ]. Perhaps many came back after Claudius's death in A.D. 54. Paul's letter was addressed to a church with members from Jewish and gentile backgrounds.

In July of A.D. 64, more than half of Rome was destroyed by fire. Rumor blamed the tragedy on Nero, who wanted to enlarge his palace. He shifted the blame by accusing the Christians. According to the historian Tacitus, a "great multitude" of Christians were put to death because of their "hatred of the human race." Peter and Paul were probably among the victims.

Threatened by an army revolt and condemned to death by the senate, Nero committed suicide in A.D. 68 at the age of thirty-one.

Wherever the Good News of Jesus was preached, it met the same opposition as Jesus did, and many of those who began to follow him shared his suffering and death. But no human force could stop the power of the Spirit unleashed upon the world. The blood of martyrs has always been, and will always be, the seed of Christians.

Excerpted from Saint of the Day, Leonard Foley, O.F.M.

They suffered because of jealousy


~by St. Clement

Moving on from examples in the past, let us come to those who entered the contest in modern times – let us take the noble examples of our own generation. Through jealousy and envy the greatest and most righteous pillars of the Church were attacked and they kept up the struggle until death. Let us consider the holy apostles: Peter, who because of unrighteous jealousy suffered not one or two but many trials, and having thus given his testimony went to the glorious place which was his due. Paul, who through jealousy and strife showed the way to the prize of endurance: seven times he was in bonds, he was exiled, he was stoned, he was a herald both in the East and in the West, he gained the noble fame of his faith, he taught righteousness to all the world, and when he had reached the limits of the West he gave his testimony before the rulers, and thus passed from the world and was taken up into the Holy Place — the greatest example of endurance.

To these men with their holy lives were added a great multitude of the chosen, who were the victims of jealousy and offered among us the fairest example in their endurance under many indignities and tortures. Through jealousy women were made to appear as Danaids and Dircae, suffering terrible and unholy indignities; thev finished the race of faith unshaken and received a noble reward, weak in the body though they were. Jealousy has estranged wives from husbands, and made of no effect the saying of our father Adam, This is now bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh. Jealousy and strife have overthrown great cities and uprooted mighty nations.

My beloved, we are not only writing these things to you to teach you but also to remind ourselves, for we are in the same arena, and the same struggle is before us. Therefore let us put aside empty and vain cares, and let us come to the glorious and venerable rule of our tradition, and let us see what is good and pleasing and acceptable in the sight of our Maker. Let us fix our gaze on the Blood of Christ, and let us know that it is precious to his Father because it was poured out for our salvation and it brought the grace of repentance to all the world.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Church Seized by Soviets Returned to Catholics

~Via Zenit

MOSCOW, JUNE 29, 2006 (Zenit.org).- A Catholic church confiscated 50 years ago by Soviet authorities has been returned to the archbishop of the Archdiocese of the Mother of God in Moscow.

In a ceremony on Sunday, government authorities signed the Church of St. John the Baptist over to Archbishop Tadeusz Kondrusiewicz, and in a symbolic gesture handed him the keys of the church, and a cross bearing a representation of the temple.

The church, built in the early 19th century in the village of Pushkin in northwestern Russia, a short distance South of St. Petersburg, had been closed since 1938.

During the Soviet era the church was used for physical education and concerts.

"Prepare the way of the Lord!" said Archbishop Kondrusiewicz on taking possession of the church.

During the Mass, which gathered some 200 faithful, the archbishop said that "Christ comes to his disciples through the service of the Church."

More

Nice symbolism on this feast day of Peter and Paul.

New Dictionary of Popes published by Canadian bishops

~Via Catholic News Agency

A new dictionary delves into the remarkable 2000-year history of the papacy, providing a concise guide to all of the Popes, from St. Peter to Benedict XVI.

The Pocket Dictionary of Popes offers a succinct outline of each Pope’s life and the main characteristics of his reign. This reference book is also packed with lesser-known facts and provides answers to questions such as: Which Pope tried to bring about world peace on the eve of the First World War? Which Pope refused Henry VIII a divorce? Which antipope was a pirate before embarking on his ecclesial career? Is Benedict XVI the first German Pope? Who were the Borgia Popes?

The 184-page book conveniently lists the Popes alphabetically according to their papal and family names. There is also a chronology of the Popes so they can be followed in historical order. Italics are used in the case of antipopes, and dates marked with an asterisk indicate an abdication.

The book is co-published by Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops Publications and Burns and Oates. To order or for more information, e-mail publi@cccb.ca

A Unique Status

~Oswald Sobrino reflects on The Unique Status of the Catholic Church
There are two ways to argue about the unique status of the Catholic Church (and I mean the Roman Catholic Church headed by the Pope, in case someone wants to play silly word games). The first way is more academic and intellectual. The abundant evidence of Christian history is that the Church founded by Christ and led by the apostles is none other than the Catholic Church headed by the Pope. As John Henry Newman said, "[t]o be deep in history is to cease to be a Protestant." Another, more mundane way to get to the same conclusion is simply to go to Rome.

As persons educated narrowly in an Anglophile American culture, we tend to think of Canterbury Tales when thinking of a pilgirimage. But, when you go to Rome, you see how parochial and narrow Chaucer's classic is (at least in my memory of it). In Rome, the entire world is on pilgrimage: every race and language imaginable. Asians, Europeans, Americans, Latin Americans: they are all there. There was even a contingent of Catholics from Romania in St. Peter's Square for the Sunday blessing--Romania is a majority Eastern Orthodox country. Go on Saturday to the Basilica of St. Mary Major where confessions are available in several languages (the same is true in St. Peter's). You can't ignore the universality and scope of the Catholic Church: the evidence is undeniable. This universality was Christ's mandate to the Apostles. The visible Church of Christ is not the creature of any particular state or its colonial legacy (compare the Anglican Communion). The visible Church of Christ is catholic and comprehensive.

You also see the real historical links to the Apostles and early Christianity. Just visit the catacombs to see the hard evidence that the Church at Rome was there at the beginning. Visit the remains of Peter under St. Peter's Basilica. If you can, book (early) a tour of the archaeological excavations under St. Peter's (the "scavi") to complete the picture. Go to the church of St. Paul Outside the Walls to visit the remains of St. Paul. Take a visit to the Church of San Clemente near the Colosseum to see the archeological layers of our faith built upon the defeat of paganism. Of course, the Colosseum itself is a memorial to untold early Christian martyrs. By the way, today is the Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul, the founding Martyr-Apostles of the Church at Rome, a feast that will be enthusiastically celebrated today in Rome.

Then finally attend a papal audience or attend the Pope's Sunday noon blessing in St. Peter's Square. The atmosphere of real authority, humbly borne, is palpable. No royal family, not even the British Windsors, and no president can come close to matching it. And in Rome the authority figure has no missiles or modern divisions and has sovereignty over a mere tiny city-state whose most important physical asset is an art museum. Yet, the Catholic Church is broader and bigger than any empire the world has ever seen. In every culture and nation and language, the Catholic Church is there: the only real empire in the world because founded by the world's only true ruler, emperor, and Lord: Jesus of Nazareth. There is nothing even remotely comparable under the sun.

Continuing Episcopal Aftershocks

~Via VirtueOnline

June 29, 2006

Two of Northern Virginia's largest and most historic Episcopal churches -- Truro and the Falls Church -- informed Virginia Bishop Peter J. Lee yesterday that they plan to leave the diocese and that as many as two dozen other parishes may follow suit.

And the Rev. Martyn Minns, rector of Truro Church, was elected a bishop yesterday by the Anglican province of Nigeria with the mandate to oversee a cluster of U.S. parishes that minister to expatriate Nigerians.
...
Diocese of Virginia officials were surprised by the news. "The fact of Martyn's election raises a host of issues that will be addressed in due course," spokesman Patrick Getlein said.

Truro and the Falls Church have a combined $27 million in assets. Situated on some of Northern Virginia's most valuable real estate, both churches are having 40-day "discernment" periods of prayer, fasting and debate, starting in September and ending just before Thanksgiving, before announcing a final decision.
...
The Falls Church and Truro Church presented their plan in Fairfax on Saturday to a meeting of officials representing 20 to 30 Episcopal churches around Virginia. Thirteen to 14 churches already have agreed to have their own 40-day period, he said.

Rectors of two other large Northern Virginia parishes also told The Washington Times yesterday, on condition of anonymity, that they, too, may be leaving.

One is involved in secret negotiations with the diocese over property issues; another says his vestry, or governing board, approved the 40-day idea Tuesday night, but his parish needs to vote on it Sunday.
...
Episcopal canon law mandates that departing churches turn over all their assets to the diocese, and Mr. Yates is part of a six-person team of negotiators trying to figure out how conservatives can depart without bankrupting themselves or the diocese through lawsuits.

More

UPDATE 20:41 EDT

Truro Church and Falls Church deny this Washington Times story. The Falls Church website says:
This certainly is not true and misrepresents where we are as a congregation. It is true that we think an extended period of study, prayer, and deliberation about how we are to respond to the serious rift in our denomination is wise and we are hoping to engage in such a time this fall.
Per Stand Firm, a traditional Anglican website, a phone call to Truro Church also confirmed that no announcement has been made.

Bishop Lynch's take on the Great Translation Vote of 2006

~Excerpted from The Florida Catholic

Catholics in the United States have been praying since 1970 using a translation approved by the Holy See following the decision of the fathers of the Second Vatican Council to allow for the use of the vernacular (in our case, English) in the celebration of the sacraments. The translation currently in use was admittedly rushed, is at times somewhat inelegant, but has generally served the nation's Catholics well, receiving high marks for intelligibility, proclamation and prayerfulness.

Five years ago the bishops of the United States voted for a new translation of the Roman Missal, which in my opinion responded extremely well to the criticism of the lack of elegance in the original 1970 translation. The new translation passed by a vote of approximately 235-33 of the bishops of the United States and was forwarded to the Holy See for the appropriate approval.

The translation was rejected by the Holy See because between its passage and its approval by the Vatican, new principles of translation were forthcoming which insisted on a slavish, strict translation of the Latin text. In other words, the ground rules for the translators were changed and yet a third translation was required to meet the stricter rules of the governing document approved by Pope John Paul II.

Last week, after two years of discussion and debate, the bishops approved the third effort at translating according to the new norms by a vote of 171-29. Why this new translation? Because it was made necessary to meet the requirements of an action of the Holy See regarding the principles of translation.

Where can you expect to pray this new translation? The action of the bishops sends our approved translation to the Holy See for review and approval. It is highly unlikely that the appropriate office of the Holy See will approve everything we have forwarded to them, but when and if it does, this will become the text everywhere in the United States for the celebration of Mass. The text is highly anglicized (that is to say, replete with words more likely heard spoken in England than the United States), somewhat wordy when compared to common parlance in the U.S., and also occasionally inconsistent in the application of the principles of translation. We made some minor changes or amendments to the text, which other countries will not use, even if they are ultimately approved by the Holy See. But in answer to the question where will this text be used, the answer would not be inappropriate to say throughout the English-speaking world.

When will we make the change? The time of implementation is uncertain because the translation work is not yet complete. The translators are still working on the prayers of the Mass, the prefaces before the eucharistic prayers, etc. I would guess, and it would just be my guess, that implementation of the new translation is at least two years away at the earliest.

Prior to implementation, we will need to work together to prepare some catechesis. Several examples which come to my mind are that the strict interpretation of the Latin "Dominus Vobiscum" and "et cum spiritu tuo" leads to the new response to the priest's words, "The Lord be with you" as "And with your spirit." What does that mean? More later. And just prior to receiving Communion you will now say "Lord, I am not ... that you should come under my roof ... " What does that mean? More later.

This is not a cataclysmic moment for priests and people, but marks the first major change in our spoken prayers at Mass in 36 years. Twenty-five years after the change has been made, few of us will even remember what we used to say as we will have become accustomed to the new translation. Change is always difficult to be sure, and the bishops in spending so much time on this matter recognize the challenge this change will evoke in catechesis and acceptance. This is but the first of a number of columns which I intend to write in preparation for the change when it comes. I hope this column has been helpful in understanding what took place in Los Angeles last week.


Good grief! Slavish and strict translations of Latin?? Changing the ground rules for translators??

Bishop Burbidge to be installed at Meymandi Concert Hall

~Our cathedral, Sacred Heart, is too small...


so installation will be at Meymandi Concert Hall:



From the Diocese of Raleigh website:

Bishop Michael F. Burbidge will be installed as the fifth Bishop of the Diocese of Raleigh on August 4, 2006. The installation Mass will take place at 2:30 p.m. at Meymandi Concert Hall in the Center for the Performing Arts, East South Street in Raleigh. Representatives will be invited from each parish.

Bishop Burbidge was appointed by Pope Benedict XVI on June 8, 2006. A priest of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia since his ordination in 1984, Bishop Burbidge has served as an auxiliary bishop of Philadelphia since 2002.

"Bishop Burbidge is a skillful leader, who will shepherd the people of Raleigh with great care and concern for their spiritual well-being," said Cardinal Justin Rigali of Philadelphia, commenting on the appointment. "They will come to know Bishop Burbidge as we do; as a compassionate, wise and faith-filled priest and Bishop. He exhibits deep joy in carrying out his priestly duties and serving in Jesus' name; it is a gift to witness his zeal for his ministry."

In a news conference in Raleigh, Bishop Burbidge expressed deep gratitude to the Holy Father for the honor bestowed upon him, pledging "to be a faithful and dedicated shepherd after the heart of Christ." He thanked Cardinal Rigali and Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua, who ordained him to the episcopacy.

"I entrust my new ministry to Mary our Mother," he said in conclusion, "and through her to the Sacred Heart of her Son Jesus Christ, who is Lord forever."

Virginia rector elected bishop in Nigerian Anglican province

Things are getting very interesting in the Episcopal meltdown...

~Via The Washington Times

June 28, 2006 - The Rev. Martyn Minns, rector of Truro Episcopal Church in Fairfax, was elected a bishop today by the Anglican province of Nigeria with the mandate to oversee a cluster of expatriate Nigerian parishes in the United States.

Mr. Minns, 63, pronounced himself "stunned" by the news, which he received midmorning on his cell phone.

The priest said he was notified by the archbishop of Nigeria, the Most. Rev. Peter J. Akinola, who immediately put him on a speakerphone to address hundreds of Nigerian Anglicans gathered in Abuja, the country's capital.

"I said I was honored by their willingness to place their trust in me," said Mr. Minns, who immediately called Virginia Bishop Peter J. Lee with the news.

"We haven't really had an opportunity to think about this yet," a diocesan spokesman said this afternoon.

The cluster, known as the Convocation for Anglicans in North America, is a group of 20 to 25 churches established by the Anglican Church of Nigeria as a conservative alternative to the liberal U.S. Episcopal Church.

"We have deliberately held back from this action," Archbishop Akinola said in a statement, in the hope the 2.2-million-member Episcopal Church would turn back from its 2003 consecration of Canon V. Gene Robinson as the world's first openly homosexual bishop.

But the actions of last week's Episcopal General Convention, he added, "make it clear that far from turning back they are even more committed to pursuing their unbiblical revisionist agenda."

Mr. Minns, who already had planned to retire from Truro, has been runner-up several times as bishop for U.S. Episcopal dioceses. No date has been set for his consecration to the episcopate.
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Will the revisionists claim that this election violates Windsor Report's putting a moratorium on crossing boundaries (poaching in another bishop's jurisdiction)? And those dioceses who've asked for alternate overisight, will Schori and gang claim the sees vacant and send in a sympathizer to take over the diocese? As the Episcopal World Turns...

Pope: Primacy of Peter


~Via Asia News

A man sharing in the infirm weakness of the Cross, but also in the strength of God, he whose faith Jesus himself prayed for and to whom the Risen Lord entrusted his flock. This is the Petrine Primacy as Benedict XVI described it today, by his own admission leaving aside the juridical, so to speak, aspect of sentences in the Gospels that indicate the “power” of the primacy, a traditional subject of disagreement between Christians. Instead he underlined the aspect of service to the faith and charity of the entire Church. A Church that “suffers” today, “shaken by the wind of ideologies” tending to sideline it, but that finds its defence in the prayer of Jesus for the faith of Peter.

An “ecumenical” slant on the day dedicated to the feast of Saints Peter and Paul, before a delegation of the Patriarchate of Constantinople, which was present, as always, for this occasion, and who Benedict XVI drew attention to, reading out the words in which he renewed “the ardent desire once expressed by Patriarch Athenagoras and Paul VI: to drink together from the same Chalice and to eat together the Bread that is the Lord himself”. A greeting repeated, at the end of the Angelus prayer, when he prayed to Mary for the “gift of full unity”.

The Angelus provided the opportunity for a new appeal by Benedict XVI for the Holy Land. The pope expressed concern about the new outbreak of violence and called for prayers “that all those kidnapped may be restored to their dear ones”, and he exhorted Palestinian and Israeli leaders to, with the help of the international community, arrive at “a negotiated settlement of the conflict, which alone will assure the peace which their peoples aspire to”.

First the solemn ceremony was held in the Basilica of St Peter, with the fisherman’s lobster pot suspended over the entrance, the statue of the prince of the apostles covered in garments, and with 27 archbishops from around the world who came to receive the pallium, the scarf of white wool that indicates a particular, close bond with the pope, and the delegation of the Ecumenical Patriarchate led by the Metropolitan Ioannis (Zizioulas), of Pergamon, chairman of the International Mixed Commission for Theological Dialogue between the Catholic and Orthodox Churches. The visit by the Orthodox is traditionally reciprocated by a delegation of the Catholic Church on 30 November, the feast of the apostle Andrew, considered to the “founder” of the Church of Constantinople. This year, the Catholic delegation will be, so to speak, led by the pope himself, who should be going to Turkey at that time.

Benedict XVI dedicated his entire homily to the primacy of Peter and later, the reflection for the Angelus too, focusing on three Gospel passages that draw attention to him. At the end of the mass, in his words to the crowd gathered in St Peter’s Square for the recital of the Angelus prayer, he recalled the martyrdom of Peter and Paul, and after apologizing for the delay due to the prolonged rite in the basilica, he said: “This is why the Bishop of Rome, Successor to the apostle Peter, undertakes a specific ministry in the service of the doctrinal and pastoral unity of the People of God scattered around the world.”

During the mass, explaining the logic of the three Gospel passages, he said they “tackle the same task, but the diversity of situations and imagery used makes it clear for us what interested and interests the Lord.” The first was the passage from Matthew in which “his specific task is conferred upon him through three images: that of the rock that becomes the foundation or cornerstone; that of the keys and of loosening and binding”. At this time, continued the pope, “I do not intend to interpret once again these three images, which the Church, throughout the centuries, has constantly explained anew; rather, I would like to draw attention to the geographical and chronological context of these words. The promise was made near the source of the Jordan, at the border of Jewish land, on edge of the Pagan world. The moment in which the promise was made marks a decisive turning point in the journey of Jesus: now the Lord is walking toward Jerusalem, and for the first time, he tells his disciples that this journey towards the Holy City is a journey to the Cross.” “Both things go together and determine the inner place of the Primacy, in fact, of the church in general: the Lord is continually on a journey towards the Cross, towards the lowliness of the suffering and killed servant of God, but at the same time, he is also headed for the vastness of the world, in which He goes before us as the Risen Lord, so that the light of his word and the presence of his love may shine in the world.”

“The Church – and Christ in it – still suffers today. In the Church, Christ is relentlessly mocked and stricken over and again; there are always efforts to push it out of the world. The small boat of the Church is forever being buffeted by the wind of ideologies that penetrate it with their waters, seemingly condemning it to sink. And yet, right in the suffering Church, Christ is victorious. Notwithstanding everything, faith in Him is renewed in strength again and again. Still today, the Lord commands the waters and reveals himself as the Lord of the elements. He stays on his boat, the ship of the Church. Thus even in the ministry of Peter is revealed on the one hand the weakness of what comes from man, but together with the strength of God.”

The second passage recalled by Benedict XVI was that from the Gospel of Luke which is about the Last Supper, when “Jesus, straight after the institution of the Sacrament, talked about the meaning of being disciples, the ‘ministry’, in the new community: he said it was a commitment of service, the same as He himself, who was among them as one who served. And then he turned to Peter. He said Satan had demanded to sift the disciples like wheat.” Akin to the biblical narrative of Job, “this is what happens to the disciples of Jesus – in all times.” However, “Jesus continues: ‘I have prayed for you that your own faith may not fail’ (Lk 22:32). The prayer of Jesus is the limit posed on the power of evil. The prayers of Jesus are the protection of the Church. We can seek refuge under this protection, cling to it and be sure of it. But, as the Gospel tells us, Jesus prayed especially for Peter: ‘that your faith may not fail’. There it is: don’t ever allow this faith to become dumb, always reinvigorate it again, even in the face of the cross and all the contradictions of the world – this is the task of Peter. This is precisely why the Lord does not only pray for the personal faith of Peter but for his faith in the service of others. This is what He means when He says: ‘and you, when once you have turned back, strengthen your brothers’ (Lk22:32).”

“The Lord entrusts to Peter the responsibility for his brothers through the promise of his prayer.”

The third reference to the Primacy that Benedict XVI referred to was from the Gospel of John (21:15-19). “The Lord rose and as the Risen Lord he entrusted his flock to Peter. Here too, the Cross and the Resurrection are intertwined. In his words to Peter, Jesus portends his journey towards the cross. In this Basilica, erected over the tomb of Peter – a pauper’s grave – we see that the Lord, thus, through the Cross, always triumphs. His power is not a power according to the rules of this world. It is a power of goodness, of truth and love, which is stronger than death. Yes, his promise is true: the power of death, the gates of hell will not prevail against the Church He built for Peter (cfr Mt 16:18), and that He, precisely in this way, continues to edify in person.”

The Pope's New SUV

The Curt Jester has dubbed the new Volvo SUV given to Papa yesterday as the Sacramental Utility Vehicle:


Edmund Casimir Cardinal Szoka points out the cool fold-down side altar in the new Volvo XC90 SUV (Sacramental Utility Vehicle) given to the Holy Father


The Pope was also impressed by the specially mounted holy water font that won't spill when moving.

Orthodox delegation attends papal Mass


A general view inside St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican Thursday, June 29, 2006, during a mass in which Pope Benedict XVI, seated under Bernini's baldachin, bestowed the pallium, or a woolen shawl, on 27 archbishops from around the world to symbolize their bond with the Vatican. Pope Benedict XVI pressed ahead with his appeals for a unified Christian church as he celebrated a Mass in St. Peter's Basilica attended by a delegation of Orthodox Christians.(AP Photo/Pier Paolo Cito)

~Via Yahoo News

VATICAN CITY - Pope Benedict XVI pressed ahead with his appeals for a unified church Thursday as he a celebrated a Mass in St. Peter's Basilica attended by a delegation of Orthodox Christians.

"We again implore, on this occasion, that such a a gift be granted soon," Benedict said.

Benedict has made uniting all Christians and healing the 1,000-year-old rift with the Orthodox a primal goal of his papacy, although he acknowledged key differences.

He combined his call for Christian unity with a warning that the Catholic Church was threatened by those seeking to "push it outside the world."

"Again the little boat of the church is shaken by the winds of ideology," Benedict said.

During Mass, Benedict bestowed the pallium, a woolen shawl, on 27 archbishops from around the world to symbolize their bond with the Vatican. The archbishops, wearing crimson vestments, knelt one-by-one before the pope to receive it.

The Orthodox delegation was sent by the spiritual leader of the world's 200 million Orthodox, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I, for the Mass marking the feast of St. Peter and St. Paul.

Benedict said he was grateful to Bartholomew "for this sign of fraternity that clearly shows the desire and commitment" to work for unity.

The Orthodox delegation was led by Metropolitan John Zizioulas, a leading Orthodox theologian.

Papal authority remains a key difference in efforts to bring Catholics and Orthodox closer together.

In a meeting with the Orthodox delegation after the Mass, Benedict described his role as "the first in the choir who has the task of maintaining the harmony of the voices."

He said their visit showed a common commitment "to eliminate all dissonance from the choir of the one church of Christ."

Benedict told them that the cooperation will be strengthened when he makes a scheduled trip in November to Turkey and visits Bartholomew at his headquarters in Istanbul.

Imposition of Palliums


Pope Benedict XVI holds the book of the gospels as he leads a solemn mass to celebrate the feast of Saints Peter and Paul in Saint Peter's Basilica at the Vatican June 29, 2006. REUTERS/Max Rossi (VATICAN)


Pope Benedict XVI looks on as he leads a solemn mass to celebrate the feast of Saints Peter and Paul in Saint Peter's Basilica at the Vatican June 29, 2006. REUTERS/Max Rossi (VATICAN)


Pope Benedict XVI (L) presents United States Archbishop Daniel N. DiNardo with a Pallium during a solemn mass to celebrate the feast of Saints Peter and Paul in Saint Peter's Basilica at the Vatican June 29, 2006. REUTERS/Max Rossi (VATICAN)


Pope Benedict XVI (L) presents Brazilian Archibishop Joviano De Lima Junior with a Pallium during a solemn mass to celebrate the feast of Saints Peter and Paul in Saint Peter's Basilica at the Vatican June 29, 2006. REUTERS/Max Rossi (VATICAN)


Pope Benedict XVI presents U.S. Archibishop Donald William Wuerl with a Pallium


Pope Benedict XVI (L) presents United States Archbishop George Hugh Niederaurer with a Pallium

Solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul, apostles

Veneration of the two great Apostles, Peter and Paul, has its roots in the very foundations of the Church. They are the solid rock on which the Church is built. They are at the origin of her faith and will forever remain her protectors and her guides. To them Rome owes her true greatness, for it was under God's providential guidance that they were led to make the capital of the Empire, sanctified by their martyrdom, the center of the Christian world whence should radiate the preaching of the Gospel.

St. Peter suffered martyrdom under Nero, in A.D. 66 or 67. He was buried on the hill of the Vatican where recent excavations have revealed his tomb on the very site of the basilica of St. Peter's. St. Paul was beheaded in the via Ostia on the spot where now stands the basilica bearing his name. Down the centuries Christian people in their thousands have gone on pilgrimage to the tombs of these Apostles. In the second and third centuries the Roman Church already stood pre-eminent by reason of her apostolicity, the infallible truth of her teaching and her two great figures, Sts. Peter and Paul.

A plenary indulgence may be gained today by anyone who makes devout use of a religious article blessed by a bishop and who also recites any approved profession of faith (e.g. the Apostles Creed), as long as the usual conditions are satisfied.

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St. Peter

Peter's original name was Simon. Christ Himself gave him the name Cephas or Peter when they first met and later confirmed it. This name change was meant to show both Peter's rank as leader of the apostles and the outstanding trait of his character — Peter (in Hebrew Kephas) the Rock. Peter was born in Bethsaida on the Sea of Galilee. Like his younger brother Andrew, he was a fisherman and dwelt at Capernaum. Peter's house often became the scene of miracles, since the Master would stay there whenever He was teaching in that locality. Together with his brothers John and Andrew, Peter belonged to the first of Jesus' disciples (John 1:40-50).
After the miraculous draught of fish on the Sea of Galilee, Peter received his definitive call and left wife, family, and occupation to take his place as leader of the Twelve. Thereafter we find him continually at Jesus' side, whether it be as spokesman of the apostolic college (John 6:68; Matt. 16:16), or as one specially favored (e.g., at the restoration to life of Jairus' daughter, at the transfiguration, during the agony in the garden). His sanguine temperament often led him into hasty, unpremeditated words and actions; his denial of Jesus during the passion was a salutary lesson. It accentuated a weakness in his character and made him humble.

After the ascension, Peter always took the leading role, exercising the office of chief shepherd that Christ had entrusted to him. He delivered the first sermon on Pentecost and received the first Gentiles into the Church (Cornelius; Acts 10:1). Paul went to Jerusalem "to see Peter." After his miraculous deliverance from prison (Easter, 42 A.D.), Peter "went to a different place," most probably to Rome. Details now become scanty; we hear of his presence at the Council of Jerusalem (Acts 15:1), and of his journey to Antioch (Gal. 2:11).

It is certain that Peter labored in Rome as an apostle, that he was the city's first bishop, and that he died there as a martyr, bound to a cross (67 A.D.). According to tradition he also was the first bishop of Antioch. He is the author of two letters, the first Christian encyclicals. His burial place is Christendom's most famous shrine, an edifice around whose dome are inscribed the words: Tu es Petrus, et super hanc petram aedificabo ecclesiam meam.

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St. Paul

Paul, known as Saul (his Roman name) before his conversion, was born at Tarsus in the Roman province of Silicia about two or three years after the advent of the Redeemer. He was the son of Jewish parents who belonged to the tribe of Benjamin, was reared according to the strict religious-nationalistic party of the Pharisees, and enjoyed the high distinction of Roman citizenship.

As a youth he went to Jerusalem to become immersed in the Law and had as a teacher the celebrated Gamaliel. He acquired skill as a tent-maker, a work he continued even as an apostle. At the time of Jesus' ministry he no longer was at Jerusalem; neither did he see the Lord during His earthly-life. Upon returning to the Holy City, Paul discovered a flourishing Christian community and at once became its bitter opponent. When Stephen impugned Law and temple, Paul was one of the first at his stoning; thereafter his fiery personality would lead the persecution. Breathing threats of slaughter against the disciples of Jesus, he was hurrying to Damascus when the grace of God effected his conversion (about the year 34 A.D.; see January 25, Conversion of St. Paul).

After receiving baptism and making some initial attempts at preaching, Paul withdrew into the Arabian desert (c. 34-37 A.D.), where he prepared himself for his future mission. During this retreat he was favored with special revelations, Christ appearing to him personally. Upon his return to Damascus he began to preach but was forced to leave when the Jews sought to kill him. Then he went to Jerusalem "to see Peter." Barnabas introduced him to the Christian community, but the hatred of the Jews again obliged him to take secret flight. The following years (38-42 A.D.) he spent at Tarsus until Barnabas brought him to the newly founded Christian community at Antioch, where both worked a year for the cause of Christ; in the year 44 he made another journey to Jerusalem with the money collected for that famine stricken community.

The first major missionary journey (45-48) began upon his return as he and Barnabas brought the Gospel to Cyprus and Asia Minor (Acts 13-14). The Council of Jerusalem occasioned Paul's reappearance in Jerusalem (50). Spurred on by the decisions of the Council, he began the second missionary journey (51-53), traveling through Asia Minor and then crossing over to Europe and founding churches at Philippi, Thessalonia (his favorite), Berea, Athens, Corinth. He remained almost two years at Corinth, establishing a very flourishing and important community. In 54 he returned to Jerusalem for the fourth time.

Paul's third missionary journey (54-58) took him to Ephesus, where he labored three years with good success; after visiting his European communities, he returned to Jerusalem for a fifth time (Pentecost, 58). There he was seized by the Jews and accused of condemning the Law. After being held as a prisoner for two years at Caesarea, he appealed to Caesar and was sent by sea to Rome (60 A.D.). Shipwrecked and delayed on the island of Malta, he arrived at Rome in the spring of 61 and passed the next two years in easy confinement before being released. The last years of the saint's life were devoted to missionary excursions, probably including Spain, and to revisiting his first foundations. In 66 he returned to Rome, was taken prisoner, and beheaded a year later. His fourteen letters are a precious legacy; they afford a deep insight into a great soul.

~Excerpted from The Church's Year of Grace, Pius Parsch

The martyrs had seen what they proclaimed

~by St. Augustine

This day has been consecrated for us by the martyrdom of the blessed apostles Peter and Paul. It is not some obscure martyrs we are talking about. Their sound has gone out into all the earth, and their words to the ends of the world. These martyrs had seen what they proclaimed, they pursued justice by confessing the truth, by dying for the truth.

The blessed Peter, the first of the Apostles, the ardent lover of Christ, who was found worthy to hear, And I say to you, that you are Peter. He himself, you see, had just said, You are the Christ, the Son of the living God. Christ said to him, And I say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church. Upon this rock I will build the faith you have just confessed. Upon your words, You are the Christ, the Son of the living God, I will build my Church; because you are Peter. Peter comes from petra, meaning a rock. Peter, “Rocky”, from “rock”; not “rock” from “Rocky”. Peter comes from the word for a rock in exactly the same way as the name Christian comes from Christ.

Before his passion the Lord Jesus, as you know, chose those disciples of his whom he called apostles. Among these it was only Peter who almost everywhere was given the privilege of representing the whole Church. It was in the person of the whole Church, which he alone represented, that he was privileged to hear, To you will I give the keys of the kingdom of heaven. After all, it is not just one man that received these keys, but the Church in its unity. So this is the reason for Peter’s acknowledged pre-eminence, that he stood for the Church’s universality and unity, when he was told, To you I am entrusting, what has in fact been entrusted to all. To show you that it is the Church which has received the keys of the kingdom of heaven, listen to what the Lord says in another place to all his apostles: Receive the Holy Spirit; and immediately afterwards, Whose sins you forgive, they will be forgiven them; whose sins you retain, they will be retained.

Quite rightly, too, did the Lord after his resurrection entrust his sheep to Peter to be fed. It is not, you see, that he alone among the disciples was fit to feed the Lord’s sheep; but when Christ speaks to one man, unity is being commended to us. And he first speaks to Peter, because Peter is the first among the apostles. Do not be sad, Apostle. Answer once, answer again, answer a third time. Let confession conquer three times with love, because self-assurance was conquered three times by fear. What you had bound three times must be loosed three times. Loose through love what you had bound through fear. And for all that, the Lord once, and again, and a third time, entrusted his sheep to Peter.

There is one day for the passion of two apostles. But these two also were as one; although they suffered on different days, they were as one. Peter went first, Paul followed. We are celebrating a feast day, consecrated for us by the blood of the apostles. Let us love their faith, their lives, their labours, their sufferings, their confession of faith, their preaching.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Naming your baby

And now, for some fun...naming your baby. Here's an article about celebrities naming their babies. It all filters down to the common man. So, we've gone through a period of Tiffanys and Chelseas, Madisons and Taylors. Can you imagine in 60 years or so, a nursing home full of Tiffanys and Madisons? Chuckle, chuckle.

~Via Newsday

Many parents, especially celebrities, are choosing distinctive names or spellings to make their children stand out

Choosing a name for your newborn requires a certain level of sober reflection, contemplation and introspection.

Expectant parents consult relatives and friends, leaf through scores of books and scour the Internet for just the right handle to reflect their little cherub's shining personality, obvious brilliance and unquestionable character.

So it makes you wonder what the recent spate of Hollywood celebrity parents were thinking - or drinking - when they chose such distinctive names, to put it kindly, for their high-profile offspring. That goes for Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt, who named their daughter Shiloh, and Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes, who named their girl Suri.

Sure, we've had a chuckle at some and scratched our heads over others, but before you go calling your sons Dilbert after your favorite cartoon character or christening your daughters Brangelina because you adore Couple-of-the-Moment Pitt and Jolie, give it some thought, baby and parenting experts say.

Celebrity baby names

Like all parents, celebrities see their children as extensions of themselves and choose names that reflect their tastes and values, says Babytalk magazine senior editor Christina Vercelletto.

"What's driving this is this whole sort of Gen-X competitive parenting trend," Vercelletto says. "Parents who are now in their 30s, they have their children, and they feel that from birth it's practically a competition. You want your child to stand out. We live in a competitive society, and you don't want your child to blend into the woodwork."

"Names are really brands," says Rachel Weingarten, a branding and trends expert and the president of GTK Marketing Group in Brooklyn.

Take Brangelina's baby, Shiloh. "You're saying we have turned this into a money-maker from birth," Weingarten says. "It's this whole, 'Look at me' kind of thing."

But while not-so-famous parents may want to make sure their child isn't one of four Emmas in their kindergarten class, most are not willing to go quite so far out as some celebrities do. They may delight in knowing that their little angel is riding in the same $700 Bugaboo stroller as their favorite star's baby, but their celebrity worship seems to end there.

A recent Parenting.com poll of 43,000 moms found that an overwhelming majority - 68 percent - said they wouldn't consider a single one of the latest crop of celebrity baby names when selecting a name for their own child. Of the names they would consider, Shiloh captured 18 percent. Kingston, the name of singer Gwen Stefani's son, followed with 12 percent. At the bottom of the list was the name of former Spice Girl Geri Halliwell's daughter, Bluebell, with only 2 percent.

"Many movie stars go the unconventional route when naming their babies because they like to impress or shock - and because they consider themselves 'creatives,'" says Diane Stafford, author of "50,001 Best Baby Names (Sourcebooks, $8.95), which includes nearly all of Hollywood's latest picks and also thousands of others.

"They like a name like 'Dare' better than 'Jennifer' because they never want to be mainstream," she says.

Have mercy on baby

When it comes to choosing your own baby's name, though, Stafford and others urge parents to be wise - and merciful.

"Ask yourself how the kid will feel about it at 5, 40 and 65," says Stafford, of Newport Beach, Calif. "See how you think that name will hold up."

Also ask yourself how well the name will go over in the classroom and, if you think your little one's on the corporate track, in the boardroom.

Westbury resident Undena Y. Leake got her unique name from her Southern maternal grandmother, Corinne, who overruled her parents' choice of Rosemary.

"My grandmother said that Rosemary was too old-fashioned, and she came up with Undena," she says.

More

Companion piece: Baby's Named a Bad, Bad Thing: A Primer on Parent Cruelty

Excommunication for stem-cell research

~Via Catholic World News

Jun. 28 (CWNews.com) - Scientists who conduct research involving the destruction of human embryos are subject to excommunication, the president of the Pontifical Council for the Family has warned.

In an interview with the Italian weekly Famiglia Cristiana, Cardinal Alfonso Lopez Trujillo said that the canonical penalty of excommunication, which is applied to those involved in abortion, also applies to involvement in stem-cell research.

Controversial Organ Donation Method Begins in Canada

~Via LifeSite News

OTTAWA, June 27, 2006 (LifeSiteNews.com) - In a press conference at the Ottawa Hospital today, doctors announced the first-ever non-heart beating organ donation (NHBD) procedure preformed in Canada.

The procedure, also known as donation after cardiac death (DCD), typically involves a person who requires a ventilator and, although he has measurable brain function, is determined to have no hope of recovery. The doctors then remove ventilation from the patient and wait for the heart to stop beating. If the heart stops for five minutes, death is pronounced and the organs are harvested by another surgical team.

One of the major ethical problems with the procedure is that there are cases where the heart has recommenced beating and circulation after five minutes of stoppage; another is that the stoppage of the heart is caused by the removal of the ventilator.

Organ donation by "brain death" remains controversial after 30 years of the procedure being practiced, but DCD is even more controversial since there is very little time left for ethical considerations. While with "brain death" organs can be harvested at leisure since machines keep air flowing into the lungs and blood circulating, with DCD the stoppage of the heart necessitates very quick harvesting as organs deteriorate without blood flow.

The presentation of Canada's first DCD sounded more like an emotion-laden sales pitch than a medical press conference. The Therien family was on hand to lend support to the organ donation method as their 32-year-old daughter, Sarah Beth, was the first-ever donor in Canada. Sarah's father noted that the family was Roman Catholic and needed to be assured that the procedure was not in violation of the faith. Mr. Therien said that he was assured by hospital staff, "Dr. Kim and his team", that it was not in violation of the Catholic faith.

Those assurances, however, ring hollow. The Catholic Church has not even finally pronounced itself on organ donations by "brain death" let alone the new DCD procedure. In 2003, the Archdiocese of St. Louis condemned the NHBD protocol saying it is "cruel and dangerous and does not meet standards of respect for human life." It called for an immediate moratorium on the practice "until such time as clearer, objective moral standards of determination of death are enacted."

More

Disgraced cloning scientist to resume embryonic stem cell research

~Via Asia News

Hwang Woo-suk has collected private funding to set up a new laboratory, where he intends to manipulate embryonic stem cells again. It is not clear from where he will get the eggs necessary for his research, given that he no longer has a licence from the Health Ministry.

Seoul (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Dr Hwang Woo-suk, South Korean “cloning pioneer” has announced plans to open a new laboratory next month to resume research. This was revealed today by his lawyer, Lee Geon-haeng.

Lee said the researcher had managed to obtain private funds to open a laboratory in Seoul early next month. "Dr Hwang feels that the only way to win people's forgiveness and reclaim his honour is to resume research and show accomplishments," Mr Lee said in a telephone interview. "He's executing his plans very carefully in efforts not to stir any misunderstanding."

The vet was disgraced when the international scientific community and the capital’s university revealed that the results of his research about embryonic stem cells had been completely falsified in the laboratory, to give the impression that he had managed to clone healthy cells from sick people stricken by incurable diseases.

Hwang used to be considered as one of the world’s leading scholars in the genetics field. The results of his research were published in 2004 and 2005 in two issues of the major US scientific journal Science. The researcher claimed he had created stem cell lines with the cloning of human embryos.

Science withdrew both articles after the Seoul National University (SNU) said the studies were faked and the stem cells had not been created genetically but came from the eggs of donors.

Hwang will resume his research together with members of his old staff, who used to work with him at the SNU, but he is worried he will not be able to procure enough human eggs for this type of research. The South Korean Health Ministry, after the scandal, revoked his licence and forbade him from cloning human embryos or from receiving eggs from national reserves. It is not yet clear how the researcher intends to overcome this obstacle.

Hwang is currently facing trial for the misappropriation of state and private funds worth an estimated 2.8 billion won (around 2.5 million euros) and for buying the eggs needed for his experiments, a practice forbidden by the country’s bioethics law.

Interview with Bishop Sartain

~Excerpted from The Chicago Tribune

Since his appointment, Sartain said, his emotions have been in overdrive. A farewell mass last week in Little Rock, Ark., where he served as bishop since 2000, was filled with his favorite Southern foods, some laughter and many tears. He arrived in Joliet quietly Friday afternoon and spent much of the weekend privately in prayer.

In the interview Saturday morning, Sartain exuded the humor, warmth and honesty that have become legendary among the parishioners of Memphis and Little Rock where he has served.

When asked about how he would handle the lingering sexual abuse scandal in Joliet, Sartain said matter-of-factly that he would need time.

"The first thing that I have to do is come to understand the situation here ... to understand the concerns of everyone, so that I have a handle on things. But it's going to be a process for me, because I'm not familiar with the circumstances here.

"All I can do is approach it as I think God asks me to," he said.

Brother Chris Englert, headmaster at Christian Brothers High School in Memphis, said he envied the people in the Joliet diocese for getting Sartain as their leader.

"They are so lucky," said Englert, who was traveling from Memphis for the installation. "He is so good with people and such a wonderful homilist. They loved him so much that people cried when he left Memphis. And people cried again when he left Little Rock.

"Bishop Sartain is the real deal, and I hope you take care of him," Englert said.

Sartain, a lifelong Southerner originally from Memphis, was born June 6, 1952. He grew up in a devout Catholic home, where it was not uncommon for priests and nuns to visit like aunts and uncles. He said that upbringing is part of the reason he became a priest.

"There was no lightning bolt. It was just sort of the environment I grew up in, and a gradual sense that this is what God calls me to do," he said. "I find that's how God deals with me generally--no lightning bolts, just slowly, gradually, I figure it out."

Like his namesake St. Peter, Sartain loves fishing, though he said he's not very good at it. He also believes that as bishop he has a calling similar to St. Peter's: to encourage more young men to join the priesthood. Although the Catholic Church nationwide is struggling with a priest shortage, Sartain believes more bishops could reverse the trend if they use their roles to personally encourage men to enroll in seminary.

"I enjoy encouraging young people to enter the priesthood because God has given me so much joy being a priest," Sartain said. "One of my closest friends is a doctor, and I told him I can't understand why everyone doesn't want to do this. He said, `you know it's funny you should say that because I think the same thing about being a doctor.'

"Because I believe so strongly in the vocation and because I have no doubt God is calling young men to be priests, it's something that, as a bishop, I take very seriously, my own personal role in encouraging vocations. I tell people that as a bishop I have a responsibility to cast the net like Jesus did."

Complete article

St. Irenaeus: Eucharist as Pledge of Resurrection


~Here is one of my favorite passages by St. Irenaeus excerpted from Against Heresies.

If our flesh is not saved, then the Lord has not redeemed us with his blood, the eucharistic chalice does not make us sharers in his blood, and the bread we break does not make us sharers in his body. There can be no blood without veins, flesh and the rest of the human substance, and this the Word of God actually became: it was with his own blood that he redeemed us. As the Apostle says: In him, through his blood, we have been redeemed, our sins have been forgiven.

We are his members and we are nourished by creatures, which is his gift to us, for it is he who causes the sun to rise and the rain to fall. He declared that the chalice, which comes from his creation, was his blood, and he makes it the nourishment of our blood. He affirmed that the bread, which comes from his creation, was his body, and he makes it the nourishment of our body. When the chalice we mix and the bread we bake receive the word of God, the eucharistic elements become the body and blood of Christ, by which our bodies live and grow. How then can it be said that flesh belonging to the Lord’s own body and nourished by his body and blood is incapable of receiving God’s gift of eternal life? Saint Paul says in his letter to the Ephesians that we are members of his body, of his flesh and bones. He is not speaking of some spiritual and incorporeal kind of man, for spirits do not have flesh and bones. He is speaking of a real human body composed of flesh, sinews and bones, nourished by the chalice of Christ’s blood and receiving growth from the bread which is his body.

The slip of a vine planted in the ground bears fruit at the proper time. The grain of wheat falls into the ground and decays only to be raised up again and multiplied by the Spirit of God who sustains all things. The Wisdom of God places these things at the service of man and when they receive God’s word they become the eucharist, which is the body and blood of Christ. In the same way our bodies, which have been nourished by the eucharist, will be buried in the earth and will decay, but they will rise again at the appointed time, for the Word of God will raise them up to the glory of God the Father. Then the Father will clothe our mortal nature in immortality and freely endow our corruptible nature with incorruptibility, for God’s power is shown most perfectly in weakness.

Bishop Sartain installed as Bishop of Joliet


Bishop J. Peter Sartain, bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Joliet, leaves the altar after his installation ceremony in Joliet, Ill., Tuesday, June 27, 2006. Sartain, 54, is Joliet's fourth bishop. He was named by Pope Benedict XVI to replace retired Bishop Joseph Imesch in May. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)


Bishop J. Peter Sartain installed as bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Joliet during a ceremony Cathedral in Joliet, Ill., Tuesday, June 27, 2006. Sartain was bishop in Little Rock, Ark., before his appointment by Pope Benedict XVI to replace Bishop Joseph Imesch, who announced his resignation in May. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)


Seth Knox, 11, holds a sign as he waits for Bishop J. Peter Sartain, the newest bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Joliet before an installation ceremony in Joliet, Ill., Tuesday, June 27, 2006. Sartain, 54, is Joliet's fourth bishop. He was named by Pope Benedict XVI to replace retired Bishop Joseph Imesch in May. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

General Audience: “inseparable ties” link Christianity and Judaism


Pope Benedict XVI greets the faithful during the weekly general audience in St. Peter's square at the Vatican, Wednesday, June 28, 2006. (AP Photo/Pier Paolo Cito)

~Via Asia News

Vatican City (AsiaNews) – The “inseparable ties” linking Christianity to the Jewish faith “as to its perennially alive and valid womb”, and the need to concretely express one’s faith in good works, are the two qualifying elements of the legacy of James “the Less”, the apostle to who Benedict XVI dedicated his meditation today. The pope was addressing a crowd of around 40,000 people in St Peter’s Square for the general audience. There was a festive atmosphere, despite the very hot weather that prompted the pope – for the second consecutive week – to “cut short” his prepared speech which, he smilingly assured the crowd, they would “be able to read in the Osservatore Romano”.

Progressing in his depiction of the personalities of the “Twelve”, Benedict XVI talked about James the Less, claiming that the “most relevant act” undertaken by this apostle, who played a very important role in the ancient Christian community, was his “intervention in the matter of the difficult relationship between Christians of Jewish origin and those of pagan origin”. Refusing to impose upon converted pagans the obligation to submit to all the norms of the law of Moses, as some wanted, “he contributed together with Peter to overcoming, or better to integrating the original Jewish dimension of Christianity” with its expansion. Benedict XVI recalled the “solution of compromise, proposed precisely by James and accepted by all the Apostles present, which was that pagans who came to believe in Jesus Christ would be asked only to abstain from the idolatrous practice of eating the meat of animals offered in sacrifice to the gods, and from ‘immodesty’, a term which probably referred to forbidden marriage unions. In this way, two significant and complementary results were achieved, both still valid to this day: on the one hand, the inseparable ties linking Christianity to the Jewish religion as to “its perennially alive and valid womb”; on the other, Christians of pagan origin were allowed to preserve their sociological identity, which they would have lost had they been obliged to observe the so-called “ceremonial precepts” of Mosaic Law: these no longer had to be considered as obligatory for converted pagans. In essence, this marked the beginning of a practice of mutual esteem and respect, which despite later regrettable misunderstandings, aimed by its very nature to safeguard what was characteristic of both sides.”

The pope then highlighted what was written in the Letter that bears the name of James the Less. “This is rather an important writing, which insists much on the necessity of not reducing one’s faith to mere verbal or abstract statements, but to express it concretely in good works. Among other things, he invites us to constancy in trials joyfully borne, and to faith-filled prayer to obtain from God the gift of wisdom, thanks to which we reach an understanding that the true values of life are not found in transitory riches but rather in knowing how to share what we have with the poor and needy (Jm 1:27). A very significant phrase in this letter is the one that says ‘faith without works is dead’ (Jm 2:26). At times, this statement of James has been contrasted to the affirmations of Paul that we are justified by God not because of the virtue of our works, but thanks to our faith (cfr Gal 2:16; Rm3:28). However, as St Augustine did, it is possible to reconcile the two perspectives and to understand the works rejected by Paul as those which would proudly ‘merit’ justification and to interpret the call made by James as the normal fruit of faith, essential ‘to manifest visibly’ the justification conceded by God to the believer.”

Memorial of St. Irenaeus, bishop and martyr

Saint Irenaeus was born in the year 120; he was of the Greek tongue, and probably a native of Asia Minor. His parents, who were Christians, placed him while still young under the care of the great Saint Polycarp, Bishop of Smyrna. It was in this holy school that he learned the sacred science which later made him a great ornament of the Church and the terror of her enemies. Saint Polycarp cultivated his rising genius and formed his mind to piety by his precepts and example, and the zealous young scholar was careful to reap all advantages offered him by the solicitude of such a master. Such was his veneration for his tutor’s sanctity that he observed all the acts and virtues he saw in that holy man, the better to copy his example and learn his spirit. He listened to his instructions with an insatiable ardor, and so deeply did he engrave them in his heart that the impressions remained vivid even in his old age. In order to confound the heresies of his age, this Doctor of the Church acquainted himself with the conceits of the pagan philosophers, and thereby became qualified to trace every error to its sources and set it in its full light. By his writings he was already known to Tertullian, Theodoret and Saint Epiphanus, who speak of him as a luminous torch of truth in the darkness of those times.

After Irenaeus had spent a number of years in combat against the eastern gnostics and philosophers of error, Saint Polycarp determined to send him to Gaul, where many of the heretics of Asia Minor had already migrated to pursue the Catholic religion, which was beginning to find roots there. With a company of about forty Christians, the valiant soldier of Christ ascended the Rhone to Lyons to rejoin and aid Saint Pothinus, its bishop. Saint Pothinus was already advanced in age, and his church’s neophytes could not always distinguish truth from the gnostic aberrations. Saint Pothinus received the apostles with joy and soon ordained Saint Irenaeus.

A hundred times he exposed himself to martyrdom by his zeal, acting as the right arm of the aging bishop, but God was reserving that crown for him twenty-five years later. When Saint Pothinus had glorified God by his splendid martyr’s death in the year 177, Ireneus was chosen to be the second bishop of Lyons. The persecutors imagined that Christianity had been stifled in Lyons, and they ceased their pursuits for a time.

This great Doctor of the Church wrote many important works, of which the most famous is his Adversus Haereses, Against the Heresies, in explanation of the Faith. By his preaching, Saint Irenaeus in a short time converted almost the whole country to the Faith; the Christians of Lyons became models by their candor, their estrangement from all ambition, their poverty, chastity and temperance, and in this way confounded many adversaries of their religion. Saint Irenaeus continued to imitate what he had seen done by his beloved master, Saint Polycarp, himself the disciple and imitator of Saint John the Apostle. One can readily imagine the excellence of the administration and the breadth of charity reigning in the Church of Lyons.

Finally he suffered martyrdom there, with many others, in the year 202, under the Emperor Septimus Severus, after eighty years spent in the service of the Lord. The imperial decrees renewing the persecutions arrived at Lyons at the time of the celebration of Severus’ tenth year of reign; the pagans found amid the celebrations an opportunity to take vengeance on the Christians, who refused to participate in the debaucheries which accompanied these feastings. Assassins armed with daggers, stones and knives filled the city with blood, and thousands of Christians won, with their bishop, the crown they had always admired as the greatest glory God could grant His servants.

~From Little Pictorial Lives of the Saints, a compilation based on Butler’s Lives of the Saints, and other sources by John Gilmary Shea (Benziger Brothers: New York, 1894); Les Petits Bollandistes: Vies des Saints, by Msgr. Paul Guérin (Bloud et Barral: Paris, 1882), Vol. 7.

Life in man is the glory of God; the life of man is the vision of God

~by St. Irenaeus

The glory of God gives life; those who see God receive life. For this reason God, who cannot be grasped, comprehended or seen, allows himself to be seen, comprehended and grasped by men, that he may give life to those who see and receive him. It is impossible to live without life, and the actualisation of life comes from participation in God, while participation in God is to see God and enjoy his goodness.

Men will therefore see God if they are to live; through the vision of God they will become immortal and attain to God himself. As I have said, this was shown in symbols by the prophets: God will be seen by men who bear his Spirit and are always waiting for his coming. As Moses said in the Book of Deuteronomy: On that day we shall see, for God will speak to man, and man will live.

God is the source of all activity throughout creation. He cannot be seen or described in his own nature and in all his greatness by any of his creatures. Yet he is certainly not unknown. Through his Word the whole creation learns that there is one God the Father, who holds all things together and gives them their being. As it is written in the Gospel: No man has ever seen God, except the only-begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father; he has revealed him.

From the beginning the Son is the one who teaches us about the Father; he is with the Father from the beginning. He was to reveal to the human race visions of prophecy, the diversity of spiritual gifts, his own ways of ministry, the glorification of the Father, all in due order and harmony, at the appointed time and for our instruction. where there is order, there is also harmony; where there is harmony, there is also correct timing; where there is correct timing, there is also advantage.

The Word became the steward of the Father’s grace for the advantage of men, for whose benefit he made such wonderful arrangements. He revealed God to men and presented men to God. He safeguarded the invisibility of the Father to prevent man from treating God with contempt and to set before him a constant goal toward which to make progress. On the other hand, he revealed God to men and made him visible in many ways to prevent man from being totally separated from God and so cease to be. Life in man is the glory of God; the life of man is the vision of God. If the revelation of God through creation gives life to all who live upon the earth, much more does the manifestation of the Father through the Word give life to those who see God.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Bishop Carlson's Pastoral Letter Regarding Liturgy

~Via Catholic Diocese of Saginaw Website

Dear Fathers, Deacons, Pastoral Administrators, and Faithful of the Diocese:

Since my installation as your bishop more than one year ago, I’ve had the privilege to celebrate liturgy with many of you and have come to know you as a people of deep faith for the Gospel and a strong commitment to excellence in liturgy.

As I have said before, I am grateful to know that our diocese has benefited from the liturgical leadership of my predecessors, I affirm the rich liturgical involvement of the many lay ministers of our diocese, and I appreciate the educational opportunities in liturgical celebration provided during the past 30 years.

It is in that spirit of commitment to worship that we begin on June 25, 2006, the 12th Sunday of Ordinary Time, the implementation of the General Instruction of the Roman Missal (GIRM) in the Catholic Diocese of Saginaw as promulgated by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) [March 2003], just one short year prior to the death of Bishop Untener [March 2004].

In a previous May 3, 2006 letter to priests, deacons, and pastoral administrators, I already have directed the GIRM and Apostolic Letter Redemptionis Sacramentum [April 2004] be followed regarding the preaching of homilies at Mass and the recipe used for substantial bread for the Holy Eucharist as of June 25, 2006.

Also in that letter, I promised that a special insert would be included in a June issue of The Catholic Weekly to offer instruction and commentary about the GIRM’s implementation in the Saginaw diocese. This issue is being mailed to each registered household in the diocese, regardless of whether they subscribe to the newspaper or not. Families who have not received this mailing should contact their local parish or the diocesan Office of Liturgy at (989) 797-6665 to obtain their complimentary copy.

The directives, posted implementation document, and the educational tools for parishes were prepared by the Implementation Committee following the November Quarterly Meeting of priests, deacons, and pastoral administrators. This letter, along with that instruction and commentary, is meant to be a helpful tool in the process to implement the GIRM in the Saginaw diocese. It is understood that each parish is unique and these guidelines will require more involvement and planning in some communities than in others. For that reason, I ask parish leaders to provide for the proper catechesis during the coming months to ensure the complete implementation of the GIRM by the First Sunday of Advent, Dec. 3, 2006 with the exception of one or two areas mentioned in the commentary that have a different implementation period.

I pray that the coming months will be a time of enrichment and renewal for your lives in the areas of faith and worship as we — as a diocese — continue in our efforts to live as the Body of Christ, united with the Church in the United States, Rome, and the Saints in heaven.

Sincerely yours in Christ,

Most Reverend Bishop Robert J. Carlson
Bishop of Saginaw

GIRM Implementation Materials

Sandro Magister: A Change of Tune in the Vatican

~Via Chiesa

ROMA, June 27, 2006 – Step by step, Benedict XVI is impressing a new form and a new style on the governance of the universal Church.

Recent days were marked by the announcement of a change in the secretary of state: from Angelo Sodano to Tarcisio Bertone.

But another event orchestrated by pope Joseph Ratzinger is of no less importance: the concert conducted in the Sistine Chapel, on Saturday, June 24, by maestro monsignor Domenico Bartolucci.

With this concert, Benedict XVI has symbolically restored the Sistine Chapel to its true maestro. Because the famous chapel is not only the sacred place decorated with the frescoes of Michelangelo, it also gives the name to the choir that for centuries has accompanied the pontifical liturgies.

Maestro Bartolucci was named the “perpetual” director, the director for life, of the Sistine Chapel by Pius XII in 1959. Under this and later popes, he was an outstanding interpreter of the liturgical music founded upon Gregorian chant and sacred polyphony. But after a long period of opposition, in 1997 he was dismissed and replaced by a choirmaster thought to be more fitting for the “popular” music dear to John Paul II.

Bartolucci’s replacement was the finishing stroke of the almost complete elimination of Gregorian chant and polyphony as desired by the authors of the postconciliar liturgical reform.

The person responsible for Bartolucci’s removal in 1997 was the master of pontifical ceremonies, Piero Marini, still in service with Benedict XVI although close to his own dismissal. Marini brought in monsignor Giuseppe Liberto as head of the Sistine Chapel, having noticed and appreciated his work as music director during John Paul II’s visits to Sicily. It was easy to get pope Karol Wojtyla’s permission for the maneuver.

At the time, the only significant figure in the Roman curia who came to Bartolucci’s defense was Ratzinger, for reasons that were both musical and liturgical, as he explained in essays and books.

His positions then were isolated. But with his election as pope, Ratzinger immediately indicated his intention to proceed, in the liturgical and musical field, with what he calls “the reform of the reform.”

This was clear from the inaugural Mass of his pontificate in St. Peter’s Square, the celebration of which was distinguished by a classical style that had been overshadowed in the mass rituals of his predecessor.

It was clear from one of his first changes in the Roman curia, when he replaced the secretary of the Vatican Congregation for Divine Worship.

In the areas of liturgy and music, Benedict XVI knows that decrees from the authorities are not enough. His intention is that of reeducating more than issuing orders. The concert by maestro Bartolucci in the Sistine Chapel is one of these teaching moments that the pope wants to leave a mark.

In the concert, Bartolucci masterfully executed an offertory, two motets, and a “Credo” by Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina, the prince of sacred Roman polyphonic music and maestro of the Sistine Chapel until the end of the 1500’s.

But he also executed some of his own compositions: three motets, an antiphon, a hymn, and an “Oremus pro Pontifice nostro Benedicto,” composed in 2005 after Ratzinger’s election as pope.

The juxtaposition of ancient and modern polyphony was not a casual one. Speaking at the end of the concert, Benedict XVI noted:

“All of the selections we have listened to – and especially in their entirety, where the 16th and 20th centuries stand parallel – agree in confirming the conviction that sacred polyphony, in particular that of what is called the ‘Roman school’, constitutes a heritage that should be preserved with care, kept alive, and made better known, for the benefit not only of the scholars and specialists, but of the ecclesial community as a whole. [...] An authentic updating of sacred music can take place only in the lineage of the great tradition of the past, of Gregorian chant and sacred polyphony.”

Before this, maestro Bartolucci had addressed Benedict XVI:

“Most blessed Father, we all know the great love of Your Holiness for the liturgy, and thus for sacred music. Music is the art that has benefited the liturgy of the Church most of all: the space for the choir represented its cradle, thanks to which the Church was able to form the language that we admire today. The most beautiful examples that the faith of past centuries has left to us and which we must keep alive are Gregorian chant and polyphony: these require a constant practice capable of enlivening and animating divine worship.”

Among the prelates of the Roman curia present at the concert were Marini and Liberto. But Benedict XVI’s attention was entirely dedicated to maestro Bartolucci – a vigorous 89 years old, – his choir, and the superb quality of their performances.

The pope defined these as “a vehicle of evangelization,” but he doesn’t want them to remain simply the matter of concerts, but rather that they should again animate and adorn the liturgies. Beginning with the pontifical liturgies.

This is the road ahead. By restoring the Sistine Chapel to maestro Bartolucci, Benedict XVI has pointed it out in an unmistakable way.