Oldest known portrait of St Paul revealed by Vatican archaeologists

The 4th-century portrait was found in the catacombs of St Thecla, not far from the Basilica of St Paul's Outside the Walls

The 4th-century portrait was found in the catacombs of St Thecla, not far from the Basilica of St Paul's Outside the Walls

By Richard Owen, UK TIMES

Vatican archaeologists have uncovered what they say is the oldest known portrait of St Paul. The portrait, which was found two weeks ago but has been made public only after restoration, shows St Paul with a high domed forehead, deep-set eyes and a long pointed beard, confirming the image familiar from later depictions.

L’Osservatore Romano, the Vatican newspaper, which devoted two pages to the discovery, said that the oval portrait, dated to the 4th century, had been found in the catacombs of St Thecla, not far from the Basilica of St Paul’s Outside the Walls, where the apostle is buried. The find was “an extraordinary event”, said Monsignor Gianfranco Ravasi, head of the Pontifical Council for Culture.

Barbara Mazzei, a restorer, said that centuries of grime had been removed with a laser. Fabrizio Bisconti, Professor of Christian Iconography at Rome University and a member of the team that made the discovery, said that it appeared to have decorated the tomb of a nobleman or high church official.

Professor Bisconti said that the catacombs contained hundreds of Christians who had wanted to be buried near St Thecla, a Roman Christian martyr — not to be confused with the friend of St Paul known from the apocryphal “Acts of Paul and Thecla” or the English 8th-century Benedictine nun of the same name. Pope Benedict XVI, who a year ago announced a “Pauline Year” dedicated to the apostle that ended yesterday, said that it had been “a true period of grace in which, through pilgrimages, catecheses, publications and various initiatives, the figure of St Paul was offered again to the entire Church. His vibrant message among Christian communities has revived everywhere the passion for Christ and the Gospel.”

It is widely believed that the spread of Christianity would not have been possible without St Paul. A Roman Jew from what is now Turkey, he founded churches throughout the Roman Empire. He was executed — it is believed beheaded — in AD65 for his beliefs.
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EVIDENCE POINTS TO AUTHENTICITY OF ST. PAUL’S TOMB

Pope Says Scientific Analysis Seems to Confirm Tradition

St. Paul Bascilica Outside the Wall

St. Paul Bascilica Outside the Wall

VATICAN CITY, JUNE 28, 2009 (Zenit.org).- The tomb of St. Paul may indeed contain the remains of the Apostle of the Gentiles, Benedict XVI affirmed in his homily at the closing of the Year of St. Paul.

The Pope presided at first vespers this evening for the solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul, which marked the conclusion of the Pauline Year. The celebration took place at the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls, where it has traditionally been believed St. Paul was buried.

“An authentic scientific analysis” conducted on the sarcophagus conserved in the basilica, the Holy Father said, “seems to confirm the unanimous and uncontested tradition that these are the mortal remains of the Apostle Paul.”
 

Looking from the back of the nave

Looking from the back of the nave

“A tiny hole was drilled into the sarcophagus — which over many centuries had never been opened — in order to insert a special probe, which revealed traces of costly purple colored linen fabric, laminated with pure gold and a blue fabric with linen filaments,” Benedict XVI explained.
 
“Grains of red incense and protein and chalk substances were also discovered,” he continued. “There were also tiny bone fragments, which were sent for carbon-14 testing by experts who were unaware of their origin. These were discovered to belong to a person who had lived between the first and second centuries.”
 
St. Paul is said to have been beheaded at Aquas Salvias — where the Church of Tre Fontane was then erected — while he was buried at the place where the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls now stands, and where two basilicas — one ordered by Emperor Constantine and the other the so-called basilica of the “Three Emperors” (Theodosius, Valentinian II and Arcadius) — were constructed during the fourth century.
 
AP_STPAUL_TOMB

Despite the fact that the original tomb of St. Paul had been the object of profound devotion on the part of pilgrims from the beginning, over the centuries it disappeared from view and eventually could no longer be identified.
 
During the reconstruction of the basilica, which had been destroyed by a fire in 1823, two marble plaques dating from the time of Pope Leo the Great (440-461), which contained the barely visible inscription “Paolo Apostolo Mart” (“Paul the Apostle Martyr”), were discovered beneath the “confessio” altar.
 
The first archaeological inspections, which took place in 2002-2003 in the area of the “confessio,” permitted the identification of the remains of the Constantinian and Theodosian basilicas.
 
Between May 2 and Nov. 17, 2006 excavations were carried out that brought to light a marble sarcophagus 2.5 meters long and about 1.2 meters long, which rested on layer of clay floor dating from 390, the time during which the Constantinian basilica was expanded.
 
Beginning in 2007, visitors were allowed to enter below the basilica’s altar to pray before the tomb of the Apostle.

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ORDINATIONS BY FRATERNITY OF ST. PIUS X REMAIN ILLEGITIMATE

VATICAN CITY, 17 JUN 2009 ( VIS ) – The Holy See Press Office published the following communique at midday today:

 

  “In response to the frequent questions that have been raised over recent days concerning the priestly ordinations by the Fraternity of St. Pius X, scheduled to take place at the end of June, suffice it to refer to what the Holy Father wrote in his Letter to the Bishops of the Catholic Church on 10 March this year: “As long as the Society (of St. Pius X) does not have a canonical status in the Church, its ministers do not exercise legitimate ministries in the Church. … Until the doctrinal questions are clarified, the Society has no canonical status in the Church, and its ministers … do not legitimately exercise any ministry in the Church”.

 

  In the same Letter, the Pope also announced his intention to change the status of the Commission ‘Ecclesia Dei’, making it part of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. There is reason to believe that the definition of this new status is imminent. This constitutes a premise for launching dialogue with the leaders of the Fraternity of St. Pius X, with a view to clarifying the doctrinal questions, and consequently the disciplinary questions, which remain unresolved”.

OP/ORDINATIONS/FRATERNITY ST. PIUS X – VIS 090617 (230)

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Encyclical Background

What Direction for the Global Economy?

Pope Benedict XVI is preparing to publish an encyclical which will speak about the global economic crisis. What will he say?

 
By Robert Moynihan, reporting from Rome

 “Where God is excluded, there is a breakdown of peace in the world; without God, no orthopraxis can save us. In fact, there does not exist an orthopraxis which is simply just, detached from a knowledge of what is good. The will without knowledge is blind and so action, orthopraxis, without knowledge is blind and leads to the abyss. Marxism’s great deception was to tell us that we had reflected on the world long enough, that now it was at last time to change it. But if we do not know in what direction to change it, if we do not understand its meaning and its inner purpose, then change alone becomes destruction — as we have seen and continue to see. But the inverse is also true: doctrine alone, which does not become life and action, becomes idle chatter and so is equally empty. The truth is concrete. Knowledge and action are closely united, as are faith and life.” —Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, Lecture in Benevento, Italy, on “Eucharist, Communion and Solidarity,” on June 2, 2002 (see: http://www.catholic.org/featured/headline.php?ID=2066)

“It is undeniable that the liberal model of the market economy, especially as moderated and corrected under the influence of Christian social ideas, has in some parts of the world led to great success. All the sadder are the results, especially in places like Africa, where clashing power blocs and economic interests have been at work. Behind the apparent beneficial models of development there has all too often been hidden the desire to expand the reach of particular powers and ideologies in order to dominate the market. In this situation, ancient social structures and spiritual and moral forces have been destroyed, with consequences that echo in our ears like a single great cry of sorrow.” (Ibid.)

 

VATICAN CITY, June 16, 2009 — It is generally expected in Rome that a major encyclical letter on the Church’s social teaching, which will include reflections on the global economic crisis and what to do about it, will be signed by Pope Benedict XVI on June 29, the Feast of Sts. Peter and Paul, and be published soon after. (Note: This is not certain, and I was told yesterday that some translations of the encyclical are not yet finalized, which could mean that the publication will be delayed for some time yet; nevertheless, the essential point is that the encyclical is written, and in translation, and will be published soon.)
 
What will the encyclical say? Will it condemn the excesses of the globalized financial system, as immoral and fradulent manipulations which tighter regulation and a deeper commitment to honest dealing and fair business practices might have prevented?
 
Perhaps. No leaks of the encyclical’s contents have occurred, but the Pope has given hints in speeches in recent days, and over many years, of his general views on economic matters, which may provide a context as we prepare to read the encyclical when it does appear.
 
What we can say with certainty is that the encyclical will be a clarion call for justice in economic dealings, for an end to the oppression of the weak by the strong due to economic policies marked by recklessness and deception, enriching a few and impoverishing many.
 
From the time of the Hebrew prophets, and throughout the history of the Church, injustice in economic matters, robbing the widow, the orphan, the laborer, to supply the wealthy with ever greater wealth, has been denounced as against God’s will. God, in the Judeo-Christian belief, is a God of love, but also a God of justice, and his prophets and priests have always, in season and out of season, denounced the unjust oppression of the weak by the strong.
 
Are we in such a situation today? Certainly there has been a tremendous development of material prosperity in the world, both in technological and monetary terms. At the same time, there is an abyss of poverty which remains, and one can see it in shanty-towns in Africa, in villages in rural Russia, and in many inner cities and trailer parks throughout the United States. As far as the world has come in developing new technologies and spreading the benefits of man’s ingenuity and industry, there remains a long road yet to travel before one could say we have enthroned a just social order — an order as just as humanly possible — for all mankind.

According to the Financial Times of London, the concentration of wealth is extremely high today in the United States, with 10% of the population currently holding 72% of the country’s wealth, compared to 61% in France, 56% in the UK, 44% in Germany, and 39% in Japan. Of course, concentration of wealth by itself is not proof of injustice in the economic system, but it is an indication that the playing field may be slanted, that the opportunity is not equal for all to build a prosperous life, and perhaps to find and live out a personal life vocation, as God wills.

 
Three days ago, on Saturday, June 13, Pope Benedict gave us a glimpse into his mind on the eve of the publication of his new social encyclical.
 
He addressed the members of the Centesimus Annus Pro Pontifice Foundation, which had held its annual meeting here the previous day.
 
The Foundation “Centesimus Annus – Pro Pontifice” is based in the State of Vatican City and governed by the Church’s Canon Law and the Civil Law of the State of Vatican City. The Foundation’s purpose is to collaborate towards the diffusion of human, ethical, social and Christian values, which are described in particular in Pope John Paul II’s great social encyclical Centesimus Annus (published in 1991 to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the publication of Pope Leo XII’s social encyclical, Rerum Novarum in 1891). The Foundation therefore especially promotes informed knowledge of the social teachings of the Church.
 
This year, said the Pope, “our meeting has particular significance and importance in the light of the situation that all humankind is currently experiencing.”
 
He went on to say: “The financial crisis that has struck the industrialized nations, the emergent nations and those that are developing, shows in a clear way how the economic and financial paradigms that have been dominant in recent years must be rethought.”
 
He continued: “Your foundation has done well, then, to confront, in the international conference that took place yesterday, the theme of the pursuit and identification of the values and guidelines that the economic world must stick to in order to bring into being a new model of development that is more attentive to the demands of solidarity and more respectful of human dignity.”
 
The Pope expressed his satisfaction at the topics addressed in the Convention held the previous day, especially “the interdependency between institutions, society and the market, beginning — in accord with the encyclical Centesimus Annus of my venerable predecessor John Paul II — from the reflection according to which the market economy… can only be recognized as a way of economic and civil progress if it is oriented to the common good (cf. No. 43).”
 
He continued: “Such a vision, however, must also be accompanied by another reflection according to which freedom in the economic sector must situate itself ‘within a strong juridical framework which places it at the service of human freedom in its totality,’ a responsible freedom ‘the core of which is ethical and religious’ (No. 42).”
 
Benedict XVI expressed his hope that the research developed by the Foundation’s work, “inspired by the eternal principles of the Gospel, will elaborate a vision of the modern economy that is respectful of the needy and of the rights of the weak.”
 
He also specifically mentioned that his next Encyclical on the vast theme of economics and labor will soon be published.
 
“It will highlight what, for us Christians, are the objectives to be pursued and the values to be promoted and tirelessly defended, with the purpose of realizing a truly free and solidary human coexistence,” he said.
 
If one reads these words carefully, one can glimpse some of the themes which certainly will appear in the upcoming encyclical, especially the need for the “common good” to be defended even while the freedom of the individual to make economic decisions is also protected.
 
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A number of Catholic thinkers have helped in the preparation of the upcoming encyclical. In coming days, we will speak with several of these thinkers here in Rome, and attempt to sketch for our readers a context within which the encyclical may be read.

The Procession of the Holy

Pope Benedict XVI on Thursday led a procession for the Feast of Corpus Christi through the streets of Rome. Today, Archbishop Tadeusz Kondrusiewicz led a similar procession of some 10,000 people through the streets of Minsk in Belarus, under a gentle rain. Reflections on the meaning of “becoming the Eucharist” in a secularized age…

 
By Robert Moynihan, reporting from Rome

Editor’s note: We will be reporting more often from Rome during the next few weeks, during the days leading up to the Pope’s important encyclical on the Church’s social teaching. Today, the opening report in this series is on the Eucharist, source of summit of our faith. —The Editor

On Thursday evening, June 11 — the Solemnity of Corpus Christi, which is celebrated on Sunday (today) in the United States, Australia, and a number of other countries — Pope Benedict XVI, after driving in a car from the Vatican across Rome to St. John Lateran, celebrated Mass on the square in front of the basilica (photo), then led a Eucharistic procession to the basilica of St. Mary Major.

Today, in Belarus, Archbishop Tadeusz Kondrusiewicz led a similar procession for four and a half hours through the streets of Minsk, accompanied by some 10,000 Catholic faithful, despite a steady rain.

 
The ceremony of a public eucharistic procession has in recent decades become less common, but these two processions, and many others elsewhere, suggest the return of this manifestation of popular eucharistic piety in the public squares of the world.
 
In his homily, Pope Benedict commented on the words pronounced by priests at the moment of consecration: “This is My Body… This is My Blood.”
 
Addressing his remarks to priests, the Holy Father said: “Becoming the Eucharist: let this be our constant desire and commitment!
 
“So that the offer of the Body and Blood of the Lord we make upon the altar may be accompanied by the sacrifice of our own lives.
 
“Every day we draw from the Body and Blood of the Lord the free and pure love that makes us worthy ministers of Christ and witnesses to His joy. What the faithful expect from a priest is the example of authentic devotion to the Eucharist. They like to see him spend long periods of silence and adoration before Jesus, as did the saintly ‘Cure of Ars’ whom we will especially recall during the imminent Year for Priests.”
 
The Pope continued: “Aware that, because of sin, we are inadequate, yet needing to nourish ourselves from the love the Lord offers us in the Eucharistic Sacrament, this evening we renew our faith in the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist. Such faith must not be taken for granted!”
 
He added: “Today there is a risk of insidious secularization, even inside the Church. This could translate into a formal but empty Eucharistic worship, in celebrations lacking that involvement of the heart which finds expression in veneration and respect for the liturgy.  
 
“There is always a strong temptation to reduce prayer to superficial and hurried moments, allowing ourselves to be overcome by earthly activities and concerns,” he warned.
 
“With the Eucharist, heaven comes down to earth, God’s tomorrow descends into the present moment and time is, as it were, embraced by divine eternity.”
 
After Mass, the Pope presided at the Eucharistic procession along Rome’s Via Merulana to the basilica of St. Mary Major. Along the route, thousands of faithful prayed and sang accompanying the Blessed Sacrament. A covered vehicle transported the Sacrament in a monstrance, before which the Holy Father knelt in prayer (photo).
 
Benedict did not hide his joy at being able to accompany the Blessed Sacrament along the path to St. Mary Major; he invited the faithful to raise up this prayer: “Stay with us, Christ, give to us the gift of yourself and give us the bread that nourishes us for eternal life. Free this world from the venom of evil, of violence and of hate, which contaminate consciences; purify this world with the power of your merciful love.” 
 
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Today, in Belarus, generally regarded as one of the most strictly-controlled, authoritarian states in the world, a similar procession followed Archbishop Kondrusiewicz. (Photo, left: this photo of the archbishop is not from today, but from another recent procession.)
 
“It was raining, but there were a lot of people,” Kondrusiewicz told me a few minutes ago by telephone. “The official estimates are from seven to ten thousand people, and I am sure they are not exaggerated. We began with Mass at the cathedral, the Church of the Most Holy Trinity, then we walked to Victory Square, where there is an eternal flame, then to the Square of the October Revolution, then to the so-called ‘Red Church’ of St. Simon and Elena, then back to the cathedral again. We had no problem receiving government approval to process through the main streets of the city.”
The Catholic Church in Belarus has very good relations with the government, Kondrusiewicz (photo), who previously was the archbishop in Moscow from 1991 until September, 2007, said. 
 
He noted that the Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, was treated as if he were a head of state when he visited Belarus one year ago, in June 2008. On that visit, Bertone met with President Alexandr Lukashenko and the Minister of Foreign Affairs and the Head of the Council of Religious Affairs. (Photo: Belarussian Foreign Minister Sergei Martynov shakes hands with the Vatican’s secretary of state, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, in Minsk, Belarus, June 19, 2008. Cardinal Bertone was on an official visit for talks with government, Catholic and Orthodox leaders in the country — CNS photo/Vladimir Nikolsky, Reuters)
 
Bertone was even invited to deliver an address to the State University, something very unusual for a religious leader. (In fact, some six months later, Kondrusiewicz was invited to deliver a lecture there as well.)

After the country’s majority faith, Orthodoxy, Roman Catholicism is respected as the second important traditional religion in the country.

Last year, Lukashenko, in Bertone’s presence, highlighted that Belarus is respectful of the right to religious freedom. Bertone thanked Lukashenko for his words, and offered the Church’s support for Belarus in its role as a bridge between East and West.

“I am very happy,” Kondrusiewicz told us. “But I need to build churches! And my curia! I need to build 15 or 20 churches in the coming years, for my 300,000 Catholics in Minsk. The government has given me permission to build the churches, which is the first and biggest hurdle. Now, I must build them. A small chapel costs about $400,000 to build. You have to organize your readers to build one church for me! When the churches are built, I will put up a plaque, thanking all those who have contributed!”

 
(Photo: A Catholic church is silhouetted during sunset in the village of Piarshai, about 40 miles west of Minsk, Belarus—CNS photo/Vasily Fedosenko, Reuters. If readers, upon reading this, feel moved to help Archbishop Kondrusiewicz, please contact us by email.)
 
Kondrusiewicz, who spent 16 years in Moscow, said he has not been back to the Russian capital since his transfer. I asked him if it had been difficult for him to leave after so many years.
 
“When I went to Moscow from Belarus in 1991, they asked me the same question,” Kondrusiewicz said. “Look, I am a soldier of the Church. I serve the Holy Father. I do not go where I want to go, and I do not stay where I want to stay. I am under orders. And this is my happiness — to carry out those orders, to the best of my ability, believing that this is what God wants from me, and nothing else.”
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This Sunday is the Feast of “Corpus Christi”, the Body and Blood of the Lord, in much of the Western Catholic Church.
 
After having received Jesus Christ in Holy Communion, Catholic Christians proceed from the Sanctuary into the streets of the world, pausing along the way for solemn worship, songs of adoration, and holding the Lord aloft, enthroned. The procession symbolizes the ongoing redemptive mission of Jesus Christ to the world as it is now lived out through his Church.

In this act of public procession, Catholics proclaim that God still loves the world so much that He still sends His Son, through His Church. This procession is a reminder of the baptismal vocation of every Christian to carry forward in time the redemptive mission of Jesus Christ until He returns. At an interior level, it also symbolizes the universal call to holiness, to continuing conversion in Christ.

The Overseer of Justice

Pope Benedict XVI one year ago ago called an American, Archbishop Raymond Burke, to head the Apostolic Signatura, the office which oversees the correct administration of justice in the Church. Here, after one year at his post, Burke discusses his work in Rome, but also the controversial shrine to Our Lady of Guadalupe he established in Wisconsin, and President Obama’s speech at Notre Dame…

 
By Andrew Rabel, reporting from Rome

Editor’s note: Archbishop Raymond Burke, Prefect of the Apostolic Signatura, recently invited Andrew Rabel, Australian ITV correspondent, to a friendly lunch nearby his offices at the Palazzo della Cancelleria (photo). Never to be outdone, Andrew always carries his dictaphone with him. So the former archbishop of St Louis, with his typical graciousness, consented to an interview, despite the noise in the crowded restaurant. It is the second interview ITV has conducted with His Excellency in less than a year.

  

Interview
 
“It is through our union with the heart of Mary, that she brings us to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.” —Archbishop Raymond Burke
 
Pope Benedict is continuing the tradition of his predecessors, John Paul II and Paul VI, in being a pilgrim Pope, as shown by his recent trip to the Holy Land.  Do you feel he is reaching the people just like John Paul did?

 

Archbishop Raymond Burke: Very much so. Surely Pope Benedict is of a different personality. He is a more reserved person than John Paul II, who seemed to thrive on contact with many people. But Pope Benedict reaches people in a similar way. I would like to cite two examples. 
On his visit to the United States in April of 2008, which the media had predicted would be a disaster, he won the hearts of the American people, even the critical media personnel. Some were overcome with emotion because they could not fail to perceive his holiness, the beautiful paternity of the Pope for the whole world.
 
My second example is the Wednesday audiences. Many people thought that, with the death of Pope John Paul II, the numbers attending them would drop. But the fact of the matter is that they have only increased. People are uplifted attending them, not because he is teaching anything that is innovative, but he is so good at being a teacher of the faith.
 
Since taking over the helm of the Apostolic Signatura last year, can you explain what your work in this dicastery has been like?
 
Burke: The Apostolic Signatura has several areas of responsibility which I will describe.
(1) It treats certain matters regarding the Roman Rota, for example, a complaint of nullity against a definitive decision of the Roman Rota, or a recourse against the denied new examination of a case, or an exception of suspicion against a Rotal judge. In this area, the Apostolic Signatura also handles conflicts of competence between tribunals which are not subject to the same tribunal of appeal. The amount of activity in this area of responsibility is somewhat limited.
 
(2) As the Church’s only administrative tribunal, the Apostolic Signatura handles recourses against individual administrative acts taken by the offices of the Roman Curia or approved by them. Normally, the recourses are against an administrative act of a Bishop or other administrative authority in the Church, which an office of the Roman Curia has approved. The administrative recourse before the Apostolic Signatura must contend that the Church’s law was violated either in the deciding of the act or in the procedure by which the act was made. For example, the Apostolic Signatura has handled recourses involving the suppression of a parish or the dismissal of a religious from his or her institute, or the alienation of temporal goods of a diocese or institute of consecrated life. There is a large volume of activity in this area of responsibility.
 
(3) The Apostolic Signatura also serves as a kind of department of justice for the Church, in the sense that it has the responsibility of overseeing the correct administration of justice in the Church. The supervision of the tribunals of the universal Church clearly constitutes a great deal of work. There is always more that could be done. Apart from responding to questions regarding officials or advocates of the tribunals, it also responds to petitions of a dispensation from the academic title required for various tribunal offices or of the extension of the competence of a tribunal.
 
(4) Finally, the Apostolic Signatura fulfills certain responsibilities given to it through concordats between the Holy See and certain nations, for example, the examination of declarations of nullity of marriage for which effects in civil law are sought. There is a steady amount of activity in this area.
 
In August 2008, you dedicated the church of the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe at La Crosse, Wisconsin, where you were bishop for several years, before being transferred to St. Louis, and then Rome. Did your decision as bishop of La Crosse to erect a shrine to Our Lady of Guadalupe have any connection to the unapproved Marian cult at Necedah, also in Wisconsin?

 

Burke: Interestingly, the town of Necedah is in the same diocese, that of La Crosse, and when I was made the bishop there, I saw that as late as 1995, pilgrims were still going there, long after the death of the alleged seer, Mrs. Mary Ann Van Hoof. 
I judged that one of the reasons why unapproved seers like Mrs. Van Hoof gained so much power was the failure to promote fully authentic Marian devotion. I was inspired to found the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe, first of all, as a means of fostering genuine Marian devotion in the Church. In that way, I wanted also provide a place of true devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary in the Diocese of La Crosse.  The devotion to Our Lady of Guadalupe has a long history and belongs especially to the continent of America, but it is not as well known in North America as it is in Central and South America. The devotion speaks especially to the apostolate of the respect for human life. Our Lady of Guadalupe is, therefore, more recently and rightly known as the Mother of the Unborn. Her intercession on behalf of all human life was a particular inspiration to me in founding her shrine at La Crosse.
 
One of the things which struck me as a newly ordained priest and has continued to strike me throughout my entire life as a priest and a bishop is simply the radical decline of the devotional life in general. We know that our faith in the Sacraments needs to have ways to express itself in our everyday living, and at times when we are not, for instance, participating in the Holy Mass or praying before the Most Blessed Sacrament.
Devotions provide precisely very concrete ways to express our love of Christ, of the Blessed Mother and of the saints in our homes and places of work, throughout the day. When I was named a Bishop, I understood that I needed to do something to renew the devotional life. Being Bishop of the Diocese of La Crosse, in which there was a false shrine to the Blessed Mother, it seemed particularly fitting to establish a Marian shrine. 
I thought that Our Lord wanted very much an authentic devotional life, and seemingly He has blessed the work of the Shrine.
It has not been easy to establish and develop the Shrine, and there is still more to do. There has been, for example, a fair amount of negative reaction from people who erroneously think that the Second Vatican Council wanted to do away with all devotions and who were of a mind that devotional life was not important.
 
Then there have been others who objected to it because they said that the money which has been used for the Shrine should instead haven been given to the poor. 
 
These have been the objections which have been raised, but through it all Our Lord has sustained the work.
 
Now that President Obama has completed the visit to Notre Dame, and delivered his address, what lessons can be learnt from the event?

 

Burke: We all have witnessed the compromise and, indeed, betrayal of the Catholic identity of Notre Dame University. Thoughtful Catholics cannot help but reflect upon the great danger for a Catholic institution in pursuing a kind of prestige in the secular world, which leads to a betrayal of the sacred aspect of its work, namely the fidelity to Christ and His teaching. 
 
So I think everybody now realizes the gravity of the situation. Also I believe that the whole situation has sensitized more people with regard to the gravity of the practice of procured abortion in our nation, that is, they realize even more how far we have gone away from God’s will for human life. That the premiere Catholic university in the United States would give an honorary doctorate of law to one of the most aggressive pro-abortion politicians in our history is profoundly shocking.
 
Now, we cannot forget what has happened at Notre Dame. We need to take the measures that are necessary so that this is not repeated in other places. If it could happen at Notre Dame, where else could it happen?
 
We have to give witness to the Gospel of Life in a way that people can receive it. Bishop John D’Arcy of Fort Wayne-South Bend, Indiana, the diocese in which Notre Dame University is located, has given a very powerful witness. He knows the good things that are happening at Notre Dame, for example, a very strong participation in sacramental life among the students, daily Mass, regular confession and so forth.  As a Bishop, he wants to save these good things, while at the same time correcting what is gravely wrong.
 
I have friends who are professors or students at the university who tell me that there are a great number of the students are very devout in their practice of the Catholic faith, and strive in every way to live their faith and grow in it. We certainly want to save that and promote it.  

Why did you take umbrage at the conduct of Mr. Randall Terry of Operation Rescue in playing at the National Press Club in Washington, DC, an interview he videotaped of you on a visit to Rome?

Burke: The only thing I would say is what I said it in a public statement which I made after I became aware of how Mr. Terry used the video. I think it bears repeating that I consented to the video as a means of encouragement of people who are involved in prolife work.
I thought that Mr. Terry was making the little home video to show it to his prolife workers at one of their meetings. But in no way did I understand that it was it to be used to criticize my brother bishops. That is the part I consider reprehensible. I stand by everything I said in the video, but when you put the two things together, that is, his public criticism of two bishops at a press conference during which he also played the video, one could not help but think I was joining him in criticizing these bishops. That was gravely wrong.

Recently you participated in an ordination to the priesthood of some Franciscans of the Immaculate at Tarquinia, north of Rome, according to the extraordinary form of the Roman Rite (the old rite). It is not very often that one sees a senior Churchman celebrating so solemn a ceremony according to the extraordinary form. What was your reason for doing this?

Burke: First of all, I have celebrated a number of priesthood ordinations according to the extraordinary form. One very beautiful one took place in Saint Louis in June of 2007, on the feast of the Sacred Heart.  When the Friars of the Immaculate requested that I celebrate the ordinations according to the extraordinary form, I was happy to accept because I have known them for a long time, and they staff the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe at La Crosse. 

To put it another way, I have never tried to downplay or hide in any way my strong support of what Pope Benedict XVI has asked the Church to do in Summorum Pontificum, and what his predecessor, the servant of God John Paul II asked us to do in Ecclesia Dei adflicta, but rather to accept their liturgical direction fully and wholeheartedly.  

In responding to a request like this from the Franciscans of the Immaculate, do you have any sympathy with the Kolbean Marian theology which is their charism, and its current manifestation, in pushing for a final Marian dogma of Our Lady as Co-Redemptrix and Mediatrix?

Burke: I certainly am very sympathetic to the Kolbean theology by which I have been enriched for many years. The first papal ceremony that I ever attended, as a first-year seminarian at the Pontifical North American College, was the beatification of Saint Maximilian Kolbe, and I have had the blessing over the years to get to know his writings and to visit the sacred places of his heroic life and death in Poland. I am certainly very steeped in the whole spirituality of the Immaculate Heart of Mary as the way to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. It is through our union of heart with Mary, and our striving to imitate her, that is, our making our hearts like hers, that she brings us to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

With regard to the fifth Marian dogma as it is often called, for my part, I believe it to be part of the ordinary teaching of the Church. Although I have no special competence in the area, I certainly am supportive of such a declaration. The teaching is part of my faith.

Some devotees of Our Lady of America, are rather critical of the letter you wrote when you were Archbishop of St. Louis, claiming that the devotion had now been approved.  They say that because Sister Mary Ephrem Neuzil (the seer who initiated and encouraged this devotion until her death in the year 2000) came from Ohio, it was not within your authority to write the letter?

Burke: I was simply asked to give a canonical opinion as to whether the devotion had ever been properly recognized. It was perfectly proper to ask me to write the letter because I have a certain knowledge of canon law and was provided all of the necessary documentation to reach a conclusion about the question of the approval of the devotion. After studying the documentation, I was able to write the letter. The letter was sent to my brother Bishops in the United States; it was not written to a wide audience. Before sending the letter, I sent a draft of it to the Archbishop of Cincinnati and the Bishop of Toledo, in whose jurisdiction Sister Mary Ephrem lived a good part of her religious life.

So what the letter simply says is that, yes, Archbishop Paul Leibold [a previous archbishop of Cincinnati] knew of this devotion from its beginning, when he was a priest, and eventually approved it.

I am sad there are these divisions in regard to the devotion, because I think it is a very beautiful devotion and especially fitting for our time. Our Lady’s message on the living of the Holy Trinity within us, and its manifestation in the purity of the young is so much needed in our culture, today. 

I was not in a position to approve anything. You can criticize me for many things, but what I did in writing the letter was correct.

Well because of the position you have now in Rome, can you expedite Mary’s request to have the statue of Our Lady of America enshrined at the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception in Washington DC?

Burke: No, there is nothing I can do here. That decision entirely rests with the competent bishops in the United States.

 

 
Inside the Vatican is a magazine I read cover to cover. I find it balanced and informative. I especially appreciate its coverage of art and architecture. It is not only an important magazine, it is also a beautiful one.” —Prof. Mary Ann Glendon, Harvard University Law School, former United States Ambassador to the Holy See

 
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The Peacemaker

Pope Benedict XVI has decided to send one of the staunchest supporters of his liturgical reform in the Roman Curia away from the Eternal City. Why?

 
By Robert Moynihan

VATICAN CITY, June 12, 2009 — The Pope has decided that Archbishop Malcolm Ranjith (photo), the Secretary of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments and one of the strongest supporters of Benedict’s liturgical reform, will be transferred this summer to Colombo, the capital of Sri Lanka (his native country), where he will become archbishop, reliable Vatican sources confirmed today. The decision will be announced publicly in the next few days, the sources said.

 
According to veteran Vaticanista Andrea Tornielli (but this has not been confirmed), Ranjith will be replaced by the American Dominican J. Augustine Di Noia (photo), who has been Undersecretary of the Congregation of the Doctrine for the Faith (CDF) since 2002, where he was in daily working contact with then-Cardinal Ratzinger, the Prefect of the CDF before he became Pope. “After having been the number three of Ratzinger, he (Di Noia) will now become the number two of the ‘little Ratzinger,’ a nickname given to Spanish Cardinal Cañizares Llovera, who leads the Congregation of Worship,” Tornielli wrote in Il Giornale recently. “The liturgical dicastery is the Vatican office that has most oft en changed its Secretary in recent years: Di Noia will be the fourth in just seven years.”

Many Vatican observers believe that the decision to send Ranjith away from Rome is a “victory” for liturgical progressives, and a “defeat” for liturgical traditionalists, since Ranjith has been a prominent champion of more solemnity and decorum in the celebration of the Mass in the new rite, and a supporter of wider use of the old rite, and this interpretation can be found in numerous articles and blogs on the internet.

 
However, it is not certain that this is the true interpretation. And there are reasons to interpret the appointment in a different way.
 
Colombo is not presently a cardinalatial see, but there has been a cardinal in Colombo in the past, so it is certainly a possibility that Ranjith could receive the red hat in an upcoming consistory — something he could not have received if he had remained as a secretary of the Congregation.
 
Ranjith was a bishop in Sri Lanka in the 1990s, but in 2001 Pope John Paul II called him to Rome, appointing him secretary under Cardinal Crescenzio Sepe at the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples (Propaganda Fide). Due to tensions between the two, in April 2004,  Ranjith — who was not a Vatican diplomat — was named the nuncio in Indonesia and East Timor. Then, after Pope Benedict was elected, in April 2005, he called Ranjith back to Rome, making him secretary of the Divine Worship Congregation in December, 2005.
 
Some thought that Ranjith would succeed Cardinal Francis Arinze as head of the Congregation upon Arinze’s retirement for reason of age, but, Tornielli writes, Ranjith was “considered by his adversaries too close to the traditionalists and Lefebvrists.”
 
Tornielli sums up the consensus view: “Ranjith’s presence on the front lines in Asia will be important, because there the Church faces a decisive challenge. But it is difficult not to view his appointment as a ‘promoveatur ut amoveatur‘ (‘let him be promoted that he may be removed’).”
 
Still, there is a Sri Lankan proverb: “The tiger who is outside of his cage is more dangerous than the tiger who is inside of his cage.”
 
Ranjith, once in his own archdiocese, will have a chance to help bring true peace to his war-torn country, and to fight for social and economic justice in his homeland, something he has written and spoken about often in the past.
 
It is known that the president of Sri Lanka twice visited Rome in recent years, and twice told Pope Benedict that he would appreciate Ranjith’s contribution to the peace process in his country, as Ranjith is respected by all sides.
 
In this perspective, one could perhaps imagine that Benedict has actually followed the opposite logic from that which most Vatican watchers see here: “amoveatur ut promoveatur” (“let him be removed that he may be promoted”).
 
Only time will tell whether Ranjith will rise to the challenge his new post poses, and become a true peacemaker, binding up the wounds caused by a long civil war, as well as continuing to be a supporter of reverence and decorum in the Church’s liturgy, as desired by Pope Benedict.

Note: Inside the Vatican will soon publish an in-depth interview with Archbishop Ranjith.

 
Inside the Vatican is a magazine I read cover to cover. I find it balanced and informative. I especially appreciate its coverage of art and architecture. It is not only an important magazine, it is also a beautiful one.” Prof. Mary Ann Glendon, Harvard University Law School, former United States Ambassador to the Holy See

 
This newsflash is free. However, there are costs associated with producing it. If you would like to support this free newsflash, you may click on the icon above and contribute via credit card. If you would like to make a token gift of $1 per month, or $12 per year, it will help us to expand and improve this service. You may call our toll-free number in the USA, 1-800-789-9494, and ask how you may support our work. —The Editor