Habemus Papam: Francis (Jorge Mario Cardinal Bergoglio)

Rowan Returns

H.H. Pope Benedict XVI and H.G. Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury on Saturday, November 21, 2009 (Reuters)

WHISPER IN THE LOGGIA:  A month after the Holy See announced its historic initiative to accommodate groups of Anglicans seeking inclusion into the Roman fold, and a fortnight since the Apostolic Constitution paving the way to “personal ordinariates” was released, this morning the Pope received the archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, for the duo’s third private meeting.

Here below, the joint release on the session:

This morning His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI received in private audience His Grace Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury.

In the course of the cordial discussions attention turned to the challenges facing all Christian communities at the beginning of this millennium, and to the need to promote forms of collaboration and shared witness in facing these challenges.

The discussions also focused on recent events affecting relations between the Catholic Church and the Anglican Communion, reiterating the shared will to continue and to consolidate the ecumenical relationship between Catholics and Anglicans, and recalling how, over coming days, the commission entrusted with preparing the third phase of international theological dialogue between the parties (ARCIC [the Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission]) is due to meet.

In an Audience Eve conference at Rome’s Pontifical Gregorian University, Williams raised some eyebrows by terming the state of ecumenism a “glass half full,” recent developments included.

George Washington and Roman Catholics

America has been blessed by God in many ways but perhaps no blessing has been greater than His granting us George Washington to lead us in our struggle for independence and to be our first President.  Catholics have perhaps more reason than other Americans to keep the memory of Washington alive in our hearts.  In a time of strong prejudice against Catholics in many parts of the colonies he was free from religious bigotry as he demonstrated on November 5, 1775 when he banned the anti-Catholic Guy Fawkes celebrations.

“As the Commander in Chief has been apprized of a design form’d for the observance of that ridiculous and childish custom of burning the Effigy of the pope – He cannot help expressing his surprise that there should be Officers and Soldiers in this army so void of common sense, as not to see the impropriety of such a step at this Juncture; at a Time when we are solliciting, and have really obtain’d, the friendship and alliance of the people of Canada, whom we ought to consider as Brethren embarked in the same Cause. The defence of the general Liberty of America: At such a juncture, and in such Circumstances, to be insulting their Religion, is so monstrous, as not to be suffered or excused; indeed instead of offering the most remote insult, it is our duty to address public thanks to these our Brethren, as to them we are so much indebted for every late happy Success over the common Enemy in Canada.”

Order in Quarters, November 5, 1775

George Washington

This stand against anti-Catholicism was not unusual for Washington.  Throughout his life Washington had Catholic friends, including John Carroll, the first Catholic bishop in the US.  He would sometimes attend Mass, as he did during the Constitutional Convention when he led a delegation of the Convention to attend Mass in Philadelphia as he had attended Protestant churches in that town during the Covention.  This sent a powerful signal that under the Constitution Catholics would be just as good Americans as Protestant Americans.

Washington underlined this point in response to a letter from prominent Catholics, including Charles and John Carroll, congratulating him on being elected President:

“[March 15], 1790


While I now receive with much satisfaction your congratulations on my being called, by an unanimous vote, to the first station in my country; I cannot but duly notice your politeness in offering an apology for the unavoidable delay. As that delay has given you an opportunity of realizing, instead of anticipating, the benefits of the general government, you will do me the justice to believe, that your testimony of the increase of the public prosperity, enhances the pleasure which I should otherwise have experienced from your affectionate address.

I feel that my conduct, in war and in peace, has met with more general approbation than could reasonably have been expected and I find myself disposed to consider that fortunate circumstance, in a great degree, resulting from the able support and extraordinary candor of my fellow-citizens of all denominations.

The prospect of national prosperity now before us is truly animating, and ought to excite the exertions of all good men to establish and secure the happiness of their country, in the permanent duration of its freedom and independence. America, under the smiles of a Divine Providence, the protection of a good government, and the cultivation of manners, morals, and piety, cannot fail of attaining an uncommon degree of eminence, in literature, commerce, agriculture, improvements at home and respectability abroad.

As mankind become more liberal they will be more apt to allow that all those who conduct themselves as worthy members of the community are equally entitled to the protection of civil government. I hope ever to see America among the foremost nations in examples of justice and liberality. And I presume that your fellow-citizens will not forget the patriotic part which you took in the accomplishment of their Revolution, and the establishment of their government; or the important assistance which they received from a nation in which the Roman Catholic faith is professed.

I thank you, gentlemen, for your kind concern for me. While my life and my health shall continue, in whatever situation I may be, it shall be my constant endeavor to justify the favorable sentiments which you are pleased to express of my conduct. And may the members of your society in America, animated alone by the pure spirit of Christianity, and still conducting themselves as the faithful subjects of our free government, enjoy every temporal and spiritual felicity.

G. Washington

His Holiness Pope Leo XIII of blessed memory recalled the attitude


Pope Leo XIII with Papal guard in the background - Circa 1890

of Washington towards Catholics in his encyclical (well worth the read)Longinqua:

“Nor, perchance did the fact which We now recall take place without some design of divine Providence. Precisely at the epoch when the American colonies, having, with Catholic aid, achieved liberty and independence, coalesced into a constitutional Republic the ecclesiastical hierarchy was happily established amongst you; and at the very time when the popular suffrage placed the great Washington at the helm of the Republic, the first bishop was set by apostolic authority over the American Church. The well-known friendship and familiar intercourse which subsisted between these two men seems to be an evidence that the United States ought to be conjoined in concord and amity with the Catholic Church. And not without cause; for without morality the State cannot endure-a truth which that illustrious citizen of yours, whom We have just mentioned, with a keenness of insight worthy of his genius and statesmanship perceived and proclaimed. But the best and strongest support of morality is religion.”

On November 5, the anniversary of Washington dealing a death blow to an anti-Catholic celebration in this country, Catholics have good reason to echo the words of Henry “Light Horse Harry” Lee, the father of (the great American General) Robert E. Lee, in his funeral eulogy of Washington in Congress on December 26, 1799: 

“First in war, first in peace, and first in the hearts of his countrymen.”


Another Dramatic Move

The Vatican today made a dramatic announcement: Pope Benedict has authorized a bold new plan to bring Anglicans back into full union with Rome. But many questions remain unanswered

By Robert Moynihan, reporting from Rome


VATICAN CITY, October 20, 2009 — Dramatic news today — as dramatic as the decision earlier this year to “un-excommunicate” the four Lefebvrist bishops, as dramatic as the decision on July 7, 2007 (in the motu proprio Summorum Pontificum) to restore the old Mass.

Pope Benedict XVI is proposing a special Church structure for those Anglicans who wish to come into full communion with Rome without giving up many of the things they cherish as Anglicans.

The news, which came without prior warning this morning, was precisely coordinated between Rome and London.
On a cool, sunny, crystal clear day here, at 11 this morning, Cardinal William Levada, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and Archbishop Joseph Augustine Di Noia, O.P.. Secretary of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, held a press conference to announce this unprecedented Roman initiative after almost 500 years of Anglican-Catholic division.
In London, at precisely the same hour, a parallel press conference was held by Archbishop Vincent Nichols, the head of the Catholic Church in England, and Archbishop Rowan Williams, the head of the Anglican Church.
“Rome is reabsorbing us, it’s as simple as that,” one prominent British journalist told me after the Vatican press conference, when I asked him what he thought this was all about.
That is too simplistic.
Rome is hoping to reunite with all those elements of the Anglican Church which still feel a deep connection with Rome and with the Catholic faith — and is willing to take considerable pains to make those Anglicans feel comfortable when they “come over to Rome.”
That is what is happening.
And quite a few people don’t want that to happen — and that explains some of the anomalies associated with today’s anouncement…

“New era begins”

In London, Damian Thompson, a religion writer for the Telegraph Media Group, wrote an excellent article today on this papal decision, headlined: “New era begins as Benedict throws open gates of Rome to disaffected Anglicans.”
“This is astonishing news,” Thompson continues. “Pope Benedict XVI has created an entirely new Church structure for disaffected Anglicans that will allow them to worship together – using elements of Anglican liturgy – under the pastoral supervision of their own specially appointed bishop or senior priest…
“In theory, they can have their own married priests, parishes and bishops – and they will be free of liturgical interference by liberal Catholic bishops who are unsympathetic to their conservative stance. There is even the possibility that married Anglican laymen could be accepted for ordination on a case-by-case basis – a remarkable concession.”
Thompson goes on to report that both Archbishop Nichols and Archbishop Williams “are surprised by this dramatic move.”
He writes: “Cardinal Levada, head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, was in Lambeth Palace only yesterday to spell out to Dr Williams what it means. [Note: Levada flew back to Rome at midnight, and so, as one would expect, he was exhausted during this morning’s press conference. The Pope evdiently feels a deep urgency to get this done, or he wouldn’t be asking his cardinals to travel in this way.] This decision has, in effect, been taken over their heads – though there is no suggestion that Archbishop Nichols does not fully support this historic move.”
Thompson adds: “Incidentally, I suspect that Rome waited until Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor’s retirement before unveiling this plan: the cardinal is an old-style ecumenist who represents the old way of doing things. His allies in Rome, and many former participants in Anglican-Catholic dialogue, are dismayed by today’s news, which clears away the wreckage of the ARCIC process.”
He further adds: “The truth is that Rome has given up on the Anglican Communion. With one announcement, the Pope has given conservative Anglicans a protected route to union with Rome… Thousands of Anglicans who reject women bishops and priests and liberal teaching on homosexuality are certain to avail themselves of this provision.”
Will this really affect “thousands” of Anglicans?
Cardinal Levada seemed to think the number will be fewer, just a few hundred.
“‘Many’ is, of course, a relative term,” Levada said. “If I had to say the number of [Anglican] bishops [who may come over to Rome], I would say that is in the 20s or 30s. If I had to say individual [Anglican] lay people, I would say that would be in the hundreds.”
How will this work out, practically, in England?
Anglicans will have to request their own “Personal Ordinariate.”
Thompson says he suspects that the “most pro-Roman Church of England bishop,” the Right Reverend Andrew Burnham, Bishop of Ebbsfleet, could submit a request to Rome.
He would then be ordained a Catholic priest (as Anglican orders are not recognized by Rome) and might himself be made “ordinary” (bishop in all but name) of ex-Anglican clergy and lay people who have been received into the Catholic Church together.


Thompson concludes: “This is a decision of supreme boldness and generosity by Pope Benedict XVI, comparable to his liberation of the Traditional Latin Mass… I suspect that this will be a day of rejoicing for conservative Anglo-Catholics and their Roman Catholic friends all over the world.”
Strange proceedings
But I must say that today’s press conference was among the strangest I have ever attended at the Vatican.
Because many things either didn’t make sense, or were not explained.
For example, the “missing person.”
Who was missing?
German Cardinal Walter Kasper, head of the Council for Christian Unity, the man who has been nominally in charge for many years now of the decades-long Catholic-Anglican dialogue.
According to all usual protocol, Kasper should have been at this conference, but was not (he is in Cyprus for a few days carrying on a dialogue with the Orthodox).
Cardinal Levada said: “I invited both Cardinal Kasper and Bishop Farrell (Kasper’s second-in-command), and both looked at their calendars and said they were committed elsewhere.”
Levada added that the matter has increasingly come under his doctrinal congregation, and less under the ecumenism office headed by Kasper.
Another oddity was the strange haste to hold this press conference.
Why do I say “strange haste”?
Because the normal time-frame for advising all journalists of an upcoming Vatican press conference was not respected.
Normally, the Vatican gives a week’s advance notice for a major press conference. (This was confirmed for me today at the press office.)
But today’s conference was announced via a cell phone text message frrom Press Director Father Federico Lombardi, S.J, sent to journalists’ cell phones at only 5 pm yesterday — just 18 hours before the event, less than one day.
Journalists at the conference said the short notice was unusual for a document, something that was not an obvious emergency, like a accident or an assassination.
Finally, it seemed quite odd that the text of the document that the press conference was held to present was… not presented!
The document detailing all aspects of this new iniative was announced, but no copies were given out, and so no one knows yet what it really will say because… it isn’t finished — even though officials as recently as yesterday evening thought that it would be finished for today!
Cardinal Levada told journalists that the document wasn’t ready because “some questions of canon law need still to be clarified,” without expalining what those questions are or how long it may take to clarify them.
So these are mysteries….
What is going on?
Why the evident haste to make this announcement?
Why go ahead and hold a press conference about a document before the document is finalized?
Is someone is trying to “steal a march” on someone?
It would seem so.
But who is hurrying, and why?
Is it the Pope himself?
If so, why?
I don’t know. 
Does it have to do, perhaps,with the Pope’s age, that he wants to move on these questions now, while he is vigorous, rather than waiting even a week or a month, or longer?
Or is the question of married priests the difficulty? Are there perhaps potential “Trojan horses” for a married priesthood within the document that the Pope has only just noted, and has at the last minute decided to remove, even if it means delaying the document’s publication?
Or are there financial and political consequences of these ecclesial developments — much very valuable ecclesial property could be involved in future Anglican conversion en masse to Catholicism — which demand that “the thing be done quickly”?
A journalist asked: “To what extent does this step weaken the Anglican Church?”
“I wouldn’t even hazard a guess,” Levada replied. “I think it would be inappropriate.”
Journalist Robert Mickens of the London Tablet said he was “flabbergasted” that no one from the Council for Christian Unity was present.
“This is all rather vague,” Mickens said. “What type of numbers are we talking about here? And, who was involved?”

“If we have been vague, then so be it,” Levada replied.

A journalist from France asked what would happen if a maried bishop in the Anglican Church becomes a Catholic. “Could he become a married Catholic bishop?” she asked.
“This does not provide for married bishops,” Levada said, “respecting the long historical tradition of both the West and the East in which bishops were celibate. As for priests, many are asking, if these married Anglicans can be [Catholic] priests, what about us? The Church has now, over the past number of years,  dispensed (in the case of married Anglican priests who became Catholics) from the discipline that only unmarried men can be Catholic priests. When the Church deals with these cases, it is an exception…”
In sum, an announcement of such importance would ordinarily have been made with greater solemnity. The split between Rome and London since the time of King Henry VIII is one of the great fractures in the history of the Church, and its healing is one of the deep longings of all English Catholics and of many English Anglicans, who come out of the Roman tradition and consider themselves the heirs of that tradition.
But the announcement was made in an almost off-hand way, at a last-minute press conference, announced without any  description of its content, at 5 pm yesterday, allowing no time for journalists to prepare questions, and without the presence of any Anglicans who might have answered questions from their perspective, and with the text itself still unfinished.
Unease in England
The haste I sensed in Rome seems to have been felt in England as well.
Thompson has just added another note on his blog, saying that the Anglican archbishop, Williams, has written a letter to the Anglican clergy of England to express his feelings about this annoucnement.
Williams sounds “humiliated – and, I suspect, furious that the Vatican sprang the plans to welcome ex-Anglicans on him ‘at a very late stage,'” Thompson writes.
Here is the text of the emotional Williams letter (with emphasis added):
“The Vatican has announced today that PopeBenedict XVI has approved an ‘Apostolic Constitution’ (a formal papal decree) which will make some provision for groups of Anglicans (whether strictly members of continuing Anglican bodies or currently members of the Communion) who wish to be received into communion with the See of Rome in such a way that they can retain aspects of Anglican liturgical and spiritual tradition.

I am sorry that there has been no opportunity to alert you earlier to this;  I was informed of the planned announcement at a very late stage, and we await the text of the Apostolic Constitution itself and its code of practice in the coming weeks. But I thought I should let you know the main points of the response I am making in our local English context– in full consultation with Roman Catholic bishops in England and Wales – in the hope of avoiding any confusion or misrepresentation.


The View from Australia
My friend and colleague, Australian journalist Andrew Rabel, just filed this to me:
“At joint conferences today in both London and Rome, provisions were announced that will permit Anglicans with a Catholic bent, to enter the Roman Catholic Church, maintaining elements of Anglican liturgy (based on the 1662 Book of Common Prayer derived from the Sarum Rite) and discipline, such as married priests.

“Archbishop John Hepworth, the worldwide head of the Traditional Anglican Communion (TAC) received a special briefing beforehand, and it is likely that the new structures have been created, because of a recent request of theirs to formally join the Catholic Church in 2007, although they will be confined to this body and will encompass other conservative Anglican movements such as Forward in Faith, as well.

“This group consists of 16 member churches throughout the world with approximately 400,000 members, with a particularly large proportion from Africa, in nations like Zimbabwe and Tanzania. There are about 5,000 members in the USA, with about 1,500 members in Australia, the country of Archbishop Hepworth.

“An apostolic constitution was announced that will facilitate the integration of disaffected member of the Anglican Communion. But today’s announcements indicate that this movement only in the embryonic stages, as it will be up to individual bishops conferences to implement the strictures of the constitution.

“At the conferences, reference was made to the Anglican-Catholic dialogues pursued over the last 40 years, beginning with the visit of Archbishop Ramsay to Pope John XXIII.

“This is also an interesting situation coming with the visit of Pope Benedict to Britain in 2010, and the beatification of John Henry Newman, one of the founders of the 19th Century Oxford Movement, that was pushing for a greater Catholic revival in the Church of England, because of the onset of liberal ideas.

“These ideas have further developed in 20th Century Anglicanism, with the ordination of women and homosexuals, denial of Christ’s Resurrection, and a permissiveness regarding practices like abortion. Many Anglicans, both clergy and laity who previously had never had much sympathy towards Rome, fond themselves alarmed at the denomination they were in.

“Up until the present moment, procedures to incorporate disaffected Anglicans, have been largely temporary such as the Anglican Use in the USA, but the structures announced today will be permanent, though technical details are still to be worked out.

“One unexpected problem with this may be, with the movement towards married priests very much discouraged in the Latin Rite, an exception will appear to have been made to a group outside. How this will play out is unclear.”


The Text Announcing the Decision 
With the preparation of an Apostolic Constitution, the Catholic Church is responding to the many requests that have been submitted to the Holy See from groups of Anglican clergy and faithful in different parts of the world who wish to enter into full visible communion.
In this Apostolic Constitution the Holy Father has introduced a canonical structure that provides for such corporate reunion by establishing Personal Ordinariates, which will allow former Anglicans to enter full communion with the Catholic Church while preserving elements of the distinctive Anglican spiritual and liturgical patrimony. Under the terms of the Apostolic Constitution, pastoral oversight and guidance will be provided for groups of former Anglicans through a Personal Ordinariate, whose Ordinary will usually be appointed from among former Anglican clergy.

The forthcoming Apostolic Constitution provides a reasonable and even necessary response to a world-wide phenomenon, by offering a single canonical model for the universal Church which is adaptable to various local situations and equitable to former Anglicans in its universal application. It provides for the ordination as Catholic priests of married former Anglican clergy. Historical and ecumenical reasons preclude the ordination of married men as bishops in both the Catholic and Orthodox Churches. The Constitution therefore stipulates that the Ordinary can be either a priest or an unmarried bishop. The seminarians in the Ordinariate are to be prepared alongside other Catholic seminarians, though the Ordinariate may establish a house of formation to address the particular needs of formation in the Anglican patrimony. In this way, the Apostolic Constitution seeks to balance on the one hand the concern to preserve the worthy Anglican liturgical and spiritual patrimony and, on t he other hand, the concern that these groups and their clergy will be integrated into the Catholic Church.

Cardinal William Levada, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith which has prepared this provision, said: “We have been trying to meet the requests for full communion that have come to us from Anglicans in different parts of the world in recent years in a uniform and equitable way. With this proposal the Church wants to respond to the legitimate aspirations of these Anglican groups for full and visible unity with the Bishop of Rome, successor of St. Peter.”

These Personal Ordinariates will be formed, as needed, in consultation with local Conferences of Bishops, and their structure will be similar in some ways to that of the Military Ordinariates which have been established in most countries to provide pastoral care for the members of the armed forces and their dependents throughout the world. “Those Anglicans who have approached the Holy See have made clear their desire for full, visible unity in the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church. At the same time, they have told us of the importance of their Anglican traditions of spirituality and worship for their faith journey,” Cardinal Levada said.

The provision of this new structure is consistent with the commitment to ecumenical dialogue, which continues to be a priority for the Catholic Church, particularly through the efforts of the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of Christian Unity. “The initiative has come from a number of different groups of Anglicans,” Cardinal Levada went on to say: “They have declared that they share the common Catholic faith as it is expressed in the Catechism of the Catholic Church and accept the Petrine ministry as something Christ willed for the Church. For them, the time has come to express this implicit unity in the visible form of full communion.”

According to Levada: “It is the hope of the Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, that the Anglican clergy and faithful who desire union with the Catholic Church will find in this canonical structure the opportunity to preserve those Anglican traditions precious to them and consistent with the Catholic faith. Insofar as these traditions express in a distinctive way the faith that is held in common, they are a gift to be shared in the wider Church. The unity of the Church does not require a uniformity that ignores cultural diversity, as the history of Christianity shows. Moreover, the many diverse traditions present in the Catholic Church today are all rooted in the principle articulated by St. Paul in his letter to the Ephesians: ‘There is one Lord, one faith, one baptism’ (4:5). Our communion is therefore strengthened by such legitimate diversity, and so we are happy that these men and women bring with them their particular contributions to our common life of faith.”

Background information

Since the sixteenth century, when King Henry VIII declared the Church in England independent of Papal Authority, the Church of England has created its own doctrinal confessions, liturgical books, and pastoral practices, often incorporating ideas from the Reformation on the European continent. The expansion of the British Empire, together with Anglican missionary work, eventually gave rise to a world-wide Anglican Communion.

Throughout the more than 450 years of its history the question of the reunification of Anglicans and Catholics has never been far from mind. In the mid-nineteenth century the Oxford Movement (in England) saw a rekindling of interest in the Catholic aspects of Anglicanism. In the early twentieth century Cardinal Mercier of Belgium entered into well publicized conversations with Anglicans to explore the possibility of union with the Catholic Church under the banner of an Anglicanism “reunited but not absorbed”.

At the Second Vatican Council hope for union was further nourished when the Decree on Ecumenism (n. 13), referring to communions separated from the Catholic Church at the time of the Reformation, stated that: “Among those in which Catholic traditions and institutions in part continue to exist, the Anglican Communion occupies a special place.”

Since the Council, Anglican-Roman Catholic relations have created a much improved climate of mutual understanding and cooperation. The Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission (ARCIC) produced a series of doctrinal statements over the years in the hope of creating the basis for full and visible unity. For many in both communions, the ARCIC statements provided a vehicle in which a common expression of faith could be recognized. It is in this framework that this new provision should be seen.

In the years since the Council, some Anglicans have abandoned the tradition of conferring Holy Orders only on men by calling women to the priesthood and the episcopacy. More recently, some segments of the Anglican Communion have departed from the common biblical teaching on human sexuality—already clearly stated in the ARCIC document “Life in Christ”—by the ordination of openly homosexual clergy and the blessing of homosexual partnerships. At the same time, as the Anglican Communion faces these new and difficult challenges, the Catholic Church remains fully committed to continuing ecumenical engagement with the Anglican Communion, particularly through the efforts of the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of Christian Unity.

In the meantime, many individual Anglicans have entered into full communion with the Catholic Church. Sometimes there have been groups of Anglicans who have entered while preserving some “corporate” structure. Examples of this include, the Anglican diocese of Amritsar in India, and some individual parishes in the United States which maintained an Anglican identity when entering the Catholic Church under a “pastoral provision” adopted by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and approved by Pope John Paul II in 1982. In these cases, the Catholic Church has frequently dispensed from the requirement of celibacy to allow those married Anglican clergy who desire to continue ministerial service as Catholic priests to be ordained in the Catholic Church.

In the light of these developments, the Personal Ordinariates established by the Apostolic Constitution can be seen as another step toward the realization the aspiration for full, visible union in the Church of Christ, one of the principal goals of the ecumenical movement.


“He that takes truth for his guide, and duty for his end, may safely trust to God’s providence to lead him aright.”Blaise Pascal (French mathematician, philosopher, physicist and writer, 1623-1662)
A Talk by Dr. Robert Moynihan on CD

“The Motu Proprio: Why Latin Mass? Why Now?”

In order to understand the motu proprio one must understand the history of the mass. Dr. Moynihan gives a 2000 year history of the mass in 60 minutes, which is clear and easy to understand. Dr. Moynihan’s explanation covers many questions, like:

–  How does the motu proprio overcome some of the confusion since Vatican II?
–  Is this the start of the Benedictine Reform?
–  The mind of Pope Benedict: How can the Church restore the presence of God in the Liturgy?

Special Announcement: Please join me in Rome during Holy Week in 2010. For more information, click on the image below:

The Judge of Bishops

PHOTO: Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest

WHISPERS IN THE LOGGIA– As the Holy See remains open for business on Saturdays, weekend news is always a possibility on the beat… and true to form, a move announced this morning will likely garner no shortage of reaction in church circles, and from all sides at that.

Earlier today, B16 named the church’s “chief justice” Archbishop Raymond Burke to the membership of the Congregation for Bishops, giving the 61 year-old prelate a seat at the dicastery’s all-important Thursday Table, whose votes recommend prospective appointees to the Pope.

As a result, Burke’s impact on the process and its outcomes could extend for two decades; normally renewed on a five-yearly basis, Curial memberships automatically cease at age 80 both for bishops and the college of cardinals, which the Wisconsin-born prefect of the Apostolic Signatura is likely to join at the next consistory, currently expected to take place sometime in mid-2010.

Best known for his oft-controversial commentary on public life, the naming of the former St Louis archbishop gives the US its fifth seat on the 30-member A-list group, joining Cardinals Bernard Law (archpriest of St Mary Major), William Levada (prefect of CDF), Francis Stafford (retired Major Penitentiary) and Philadelphia’s Justin Rigali, a former #2 at Bishops who’s become the Stateside hierarchy’s standout kingmaker since his appointment to the congregation in September 2007.

While Burke is the youngest US member the congregation’s seen since Law’s arrival at the peak of his clout in the early 1990s, its most youthful American until today was Levada, 73; Stafford and Law are both 77, and Rigali turns 75 next April. By custom, the heads of both the Signatura and the Apostolic Penitentiary (the top tribunal for matters pertaining to the internal forum) each hold a seat on Bishops.

Though it can only be gauged with time, the emergence of a potential — and potentially significant — “Burke effect” on Stateside appointments bears watching.

Since Rigali’s return to the table, the congregation’s American choices have trended heavily toward pastoral, conciliatory candidates whose ideological leanings have proven tough to read. Along these lines, the recent picks have mostly shown little inclination to enforce Burke’s reading of Canon 915, whose preclusion from Communion of anyone “obstinately persevering in manifest grave sin” would, in the prefect’s clearly and frequently articulated judgment, see the Eucharist denied to Catholic politicians who defy church teaching on abortion.

While last spring’s selection of Archbishop Robert Carlson as Burke’s St Louis successor can easily be viewed among said bunch, the new prelate-maker’s penchant for unstinting fidelity with a taste for stoking public debate was reflected in at least one recent high-profile pick: Oakland Bishop Salvatore Cordileone, a protege of Burke’s who was named to head the northern California diocese in March.

Again, whether the presence of the sanctions’ first and most prominent advocate will lead to a shift won’t become clear for some time. In the meanwhile, though, it makes a process that’s lately become far more complex all the more interesting.

Also named to Bishops this morning was the Vatican’s “Worship Czar,” the Spanish Cardinal Antonio Cañizares Llovera, whose longstanding ties to Pope Benedict have seen him dubbed the Ratzingerino, or “Little Ratzinger.”

Tomorrow morning, Burke will offer a Pontifical High Mass in the Roman rite’s “extraordinary form” in St Peter’s Basilica. The celebration with the 1962 Missal — a cherished cause of the archbishop’s — is believed to be the first public use of the pre-Conciliar Mass at the Vatican since the liturgical reform was implemented in 1969.

Papal Masses as “liturgical paradigms”

UNAM SANCTAM CATHOLICAM – The Holy Father recently gave an improvised talk to the members of the Choir of the Pontifical Chapel. In this talk he made some truly extraordinary statements regarding the function that papal liturgies play in setting the liturgical tone for the universal Church. Benedict said:
Papal liturgies, broadcast internationally, are a model by which all liturgical celebrations can be measured…papal ceremonies should be liturgical paradigms for the entire world. Those who follow papal ceremonies probably use them as a measure of accord by which the liturgy must be measured. In this way, the liturgy is transformed into a path through which the Pope teaches the Catholic faithful, giving them a proper idea of what they should expect [from the liturgy].” (Miles Christi Report, no. 107, Sept. 2009).
Two things to point out about this simple but true statement:

Number one. The pope is very clearly stating that his own liturgies are meant to be instructive. This means that when he decides that all communicants at papal masses will receive kneeling, or that he will celebrate Mass ad orientam in the Sistine Chapel, he is not simply doing these things because he is an antiquarian who happens to personally have a taste for them. When he celebrates ad orientam, he is saying in effect, “I am doing this to show you what you should be doing.” This should give some ammunition to priests or bishops who want to institute these practices in their own parishes – the pope has stated that he is intentionally setting an example that he wishes the faithful to follow. I think this is common sense, so I’ll move on to point two.

Second, the pope states something that should give us pause: whether or not the pope intentionally tries to teach through the liturgy, he points out that this is what will in fact happen regardless:

Those who follow papal ceremonies probably use them as a measure of accord by which the liturgy must be measured.

In effect he is saying, “I know that my liturgies will be used as examples to follow regardless of whether I want them to or not; therefore, I’d better make sure all my liturgies give positive examples.”

This provides the justification of the well-known disdain of trads for the masses of John Paul II, which were frequently the scenes of grave liturgical abuse (click here for a video of JPII’s World Youth Day Mass from 1995, and watch around the 0.55 – 1.20 area to see liturgical dancing and a weird neo-pagan incensing from a bowl). This is one reason why I think that John Paul II, for all his personal piety and self-service, failed fundamentally as a shepherd of the Church. Pope Benedict points out the obvious truth that people will mimic what they see the pope doing – what does it mean then when John Paul II declares in encyclicals like Redemptionis Sacramentum and Eucharistia de Ecclesia that liturgical abuses are to be curbed immediately but then permits them at his own masses? We can only conclude one of two things: that John Paul II was terribly naive or else he was just a negligent pastor. However you slice it, John Paul II’s liturgical administration was definitely not praiseworthy. I’m not going to say that this alone makes or breaks his papacy, but it should definitely be taken into consideration, especially when questions about canonization come up.

Papal liturgies should be teaching moments, Benedict reminds us. The pope should do the liturgy the way he wants the Church to do it. He ought not to do a liturgy one way and then tell the Church to do it another; it was doing precisely this that led to the confusion of the JPII years. Hopefully we will see more bishops and priests taking the pope’s liturgies as paradigms around which to structure their own masses.

The “Reform of the Reform” is in motion

From Rorate Caeli – In today’s edition of Italian daily Il Giornale, religious journalist Andrea Tornielli brings the news that several “propositiones” approved by the plenary of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments (reserved session held on March 12, 2009) regarding several reforms of the new Mass of Paul VI. Full translation below:

ROME The document was delivered to the hands of Benedict XVI in the morning of last April 4 by Spanish Cardinal Antonio Cañizares Llovera, Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship. It is the result of a reserved vote, which took place on March 12, in the course of a “plenary” session of the dicastery responsible for the liturgy, and it represents the first concrete step towards that “reform of the reform” often desired by Pope Ratzinger. The Cardinals and Bishops members of the Congregation voted almost unanimously in favor of a greater sacrality of the rite, of the recovery of the sense of eucharistic worship, of the recovery of the Latin language in the celebration, and of the remaking of the introductory parts of the Missal in order to put a stop to abuses, wild experimentations, and inappropriate creativity. They have also declared themselves favorable to reaffirm that the usual way of receiving Communion according to the norms is not on the hand, but in the mouth. There is, it is true, and indult which, on request of the [local] episcopates, allows for the distribution of the host [sic] also on the palm of the hand, but this must remain an extraordinary fact. The “Liturgy Minister” of Pope Ratzinger, Cañizares, is also having studies made on the possibility to recover the orientation towards the Orient of the celebrant, at least at the moment of the eucharistic consecration, as it happened in practice before the reform, when both the faithful and the priest faced towards the Cross and the priest therefore turned his back to the assembly.

Those who know Cardinal Cañizares, nicknamed “the small Ratzinger” before his removal to Rome, know that he is disposed to move forward decisively with the project, beginning in fact from what was established by the Second Vatican Council in the liturgical constitution Sacrosanctum Concilium, which was, in reality, exceeded by the post-Conciliar reform which came into forceat the end of the Sixties. The porporato, interviewed by monthly 30Days in recent months, had declared regarding this: “At times change was for the mere sake of changing from a past perceived as negative and outdated. Sometimes the reform was regarded as a break and not as an organic development of Tradition.”

For this reason, the “propositiones” voted by the Cardinals and Bishops at the March plenary foresee a return to the sense of sacredness and to adoration, but also a recovery of the celebrations in Latin in the dioceses, at least in the main solemnities, as well as the publication of bilingual Missals – a request made at his time by Paul VI – with the Latin text first.

The proposals of the Congregation, which Cañizares delivered to the Pope, obtaining his approval, are perfectly in line with the idea often expressed by Joseph Ratzinger when he was still a Cardinal, as it is made clear his unpublished words on the liturgy, revealed in advanced by Il Giornale yesterday, and which will be published in the book Davanti al Protagonista (Cantagalli [publisher]), presented beforehand at a congress at Rimini. With a significant nota bene: for the accomplishment of the “reform of the reform”, many years will be necessary. The Pope is convinced that hasty steps, as well as to simply drop directives from above, serve no good, with the risk that they may later remain a dead letter. The style of Ratzinger is that of comparison and, above all, of example. As the fact that, for more than a year, whoever approaches the Pope for Communion, have had to kneel down on the kneeler especially placed by the cerimonieri.

RORATE note: The Pope needed, for practical purposes, this first bureaucratic step by the Congregation for Divine Worship. His decisions on this matter will come in the next few months and years. May God grant him many more fruitful years of work as Successor of Peter.