Saturday, August 28, 2010

British Stamps to mark Papal Visit

Two £1.50 special stamps have been approved to commemorate the papal visit. This is a good and positive sign of recognition, although £1.50 are not the value of stamps that people use for ordinary mail. So they won't get much circulation. Still, it's something.

More at the Papal Visit website.

The Church is called to be a believing movement of resistance - Archbishop Chaput

In a remarkable speech to the Canon Law Association of Slovakia earlier this week, Archbishop Chaput speaks about the challenges of secularism and its attack upon the Church both in the US and in Europe. He notes however that the situation in Europe is much more serious than that in the US.

Among the many incisive comments he makes is this one:

The temptation in every age of the Church is to try to get along with Caesar. And it’s very true: Scripture tells us to respect and pray for our leaders. We need to have a healthy love for the countries we call home. But we can never render unto Caesar what belongs to God. We need to obey God first; the obligations of political authority always come second. We cannot collaborate with evil without gradually becoming evil ourselves. This is one of the most vividly harsh lessons of the 20th century. And it’s a lesson that I hope we have learned.
And so it is impossible to seek to 'negotiate' with a state that preaches tolerance and diversity but cannot live with the fact the Church actually preaches intolerance of evil:
This explains the paradox of how Western societies can preach tolerance and diversity while aggressively undermining and penalizing Catholic life. The dogma of tolerance cannot tolerate the Church’s belief that some ideas and behaviors should not be tolerated because they dehumanize us. The dogma that all truths are relative cannot allow the thought that some truths might not be.

I think we have many lessons to learn in Great Britain in this regard: the Church's acceptance of sex education into our schools' curricula; the acceptance of 'diversity' legislation when it comes to employment in our schools; the climb-down that many adoption agencies made in the face of anti-Catholic legislation forcing them to open adoption to same-sex couples; the backing of 'compromise' legislation to reduce the time limits on abortion when such legislation still legislates for abortion and usually results in further relaxation of the abortion law... This is hardly the stuff of 'resistance'.

Archbishop Chaput says that "abortion is the crucial issue of our age" and that "it is no accident" that

the Catholic beliefs that most deeply irritate the orthodoxies of the West are those concerning abortion, sexuality and the marriage of man and woman... These Christian beliefs express the truth about human fertility, meaning and destiny.

These truths are subversive in a world that would have us believe that God is not necessary and that human life has no inherent nature or purpose. Thus the Church must be punished because, despite all the sins and weaknesses of her people, she is still the bride of Jesus Christ; still a source of beauty, meaning and hope that refuses to die -- and still the most compelling and dangerous heretic of the world’s new order.
Hence these issues are the key issues of our age that we must be concerned with.

Archbishop Chaput uses the issue of abortion to illustrate the problem we face today in a rights-orientated culture that does not acknowledge the source of human rights:
My point in mentioning abortion is this: Its widespread acceptance in the West shows us that without a grounding in God or a higher truth, our democratic institutions can very easily become weapons against our own human dignity...

If human rights do not come from God, then they devolve to the arbitrary conventions of men and women. The state exists to defend the rights of man and to promote his flourishing. The state can never be the source of those rights. When the state arrogates to itself that power, even a democracy can become totalitarian.

What is legalized abortion but a form of intimate violence that clothes itself in democracy? The will to power of the strong is given the force of law to kill the weak.

Read the whole speech at the Archdiocese of Denver website. (With thanks to Rev. James Mackay for bringing it to my attention.) See also Lifesite News.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Each of us should have a special saint

Pope Benedict encourages everyone to have devotion to a particular saint, maybe our namesake.
The Holy Father said that it is important "to have 'travel companions' on the journey of our Christian life: I am thinking of a spiritual director, a confessor, persons with whom we can share the experience of faith, but I am also thinking of the Virgin Mary and of the saints."

"Each one," he said, "should have a saint that is familiar to him, to whom he feels close with prayer and intercession, but also to imitate him or her. Hence, I would like to invite you to know the saints better, beginning with the one whose name you bear, by reading his life, his writings. You can be certain that they will become good guides to love the Lord ever more and valid aids for your human and Christian growth."
(See Zenit for further details.)

Many people now do not have names that have any reference to saints. It used to be the case that Christians were given a saint's name or names at Baptism, and would take another saint at Confirmation. But names like 'Autumn', 'Bristol', 'Chelsea' while not being in any way anti-Christian and therefore not contrary to the provisions concerning batismal names contained in the Code of Canon Law, do not, I feel, help children to grow up with the idea of seeking the protection of a particular saint, or seeking to imitate the example of that saint.

I happen to know that I was named after St John the Evangelist and I therefore have particular devotion to the Beloved Disciple. My second baptismal name is Joseph, and therefore St Joseph is a particular friend of mine. I chose Francis of Assisi to be my confirmation patron. I have no doubt that these saints have helped me considerably throughout my life.

Maybe parents should be encouraged to always give a saint's name to their child immediately when they are born and these names be registered on the birth certificate. It's always a bit awkward suggesting a saint's name when the birth certificate has already been issued.

Blessed Dominic Barberi

In England & Wales today the Church keeps the Optional Memorial of Blessed Dominic Barberi. Blessed Dominic is best known as the one who received John Henry Newman into the Catholic Church.

The Office of Readings contains this excerpt from Pope Paul VI's homily at Dominic's beatification.

He had a great love for England
        The fact which makes us remember Father Dominic is well known and was his principal claim to fame. It is the fact of Newman’s conversion. At Littlemore on the evening of 8 October, 1845, it was Father Dominic who received from that most remarkable spirit his decisive profession of the Catholic Faith.
        Newman later wrote: ‘Father Dominic was a marvellous missioner and a preacher filled with zeal. He had a great part in my own conversion and in that of others. His very look had about it something holy. When his form came within sight, I was moved to the depths in the strangest way. The gaiety and affability of his manner in the midst of all his sanctity was in itself a holy sermon. No wonder that I became his convert and his penitent. He had a great love for England.’
        ‘He had a great love for England.’-This phrase would seem to define this humble but great follower of the gospel of Christ; it seems to sum up the historical current of the sentiments of the Church of Rome, towards that island of high destiny; it seems to give expression to this present spiritual moment of the Apostolic See, which now raises to the glory of the Blessed this generous missionary, whose arms are open wide towards all that is most venerable and most significant in that blessed country’s present portion of its magnificent Christian heritage; and it seems today to rise up from the heart of the Ecumenical Council, being celebrated in this basilica, like a sign of still suffering, but always confident, Catholic brotherhood.
        ‘He had a great love for England.’ Newman’s phrase, if properly meditated upon, means that the love of the pious religious, the Roman missionary, was directed to Newman himself, the promoter and representative of the Oxford movement, which raised so many religious questions, and excited such great spiritual energies; to him who, in full consciousness of his mission — ‘I have a work to do’ — and guided solely by love of the truth and fidelity to Christ, traced an itinerary, the most toilsome, but also the greatest, the most meaningful, the most conclusive, that human thought ever travelled during the last century, indeed one might say during the modern era, to arrive at the fulness of wisdom and of peace.
        And if that phrase was true and salutary for so distinguished a representative of a great people, so high an authority of a time like ours, will it not be still true and salutary today, in heaven, in the hearts of this beloved Beatus, and here below, in the hearts of all those who celebrate his glory, and wish to imitate his example?
More information about Blessed Dominic is available at the Passionists website.

Cardinal O'Brien's hopes for the UK Papal Visit

“I should particularly like the Holy Father to remind Catholics in Scotland of the basics of our Catholic faith and how we should be living it in these challenging times.”

This seems to me to be the greatest summary of what we all should hope to be achieved as a result of Pope Benedict's forthcoming visit to the UK.

See his interview at the Catholic Herald. H/t to Protect the Pope.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

On vacation in Vermont

Am taking a few days away with Fr Owl. Visited Newport today on the shores of Lake Memphremagog. I have visited this town on my previous stays in Vermont - it's a very pleasant place to visit and relax by the lake.

Very satisfying seafood lunch.

View of the lake.

St Mary's Catholic Church overlooks the lake.

Last Minute Changes to the New English Translation of the Missal?

Mgr Charles Pope of the Archdiocese of Washington has posted about some last minute changes to the new English translation, some of which are disappointing in his view.

More here.

Extraordinary Form Confirmations this coming November in London

This announcement from the Latin Mass Society.

Bishop George Stack, auxiliary bishop in Westminster, will administer Confirmations in the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite (Traditional Latin Rite) at St James’ Church, Spanish Place, London W1 on Saturday 20 November 2010 in a ceremony organised by the Latin Mass Society. This will be the seventh year the LMS has organised ceremonies.

As usual, permission for the Old Rite Confirmations has been given by Archbishop Vincent Nichols of Westminster.

The candidates’ day will begin with a catechetical meeting in the Lady Chapel with Bishop Stack at 11.00 am. The Confirmation ceremony will begin at 11.30 am and will be followed by Pontifical Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament.

The choir and organist of Spanish Place will provide the music, and, as ever, a large congregation is expected.

After the ceremonies, a reception for the bishop and newly-confirmed will be held in the crypt during which Bishop Stack will cut the celebratory cake.

Anyone requiring Confirmation in the Extraordinary Form for their children – or themselves; we often have several adult candidates – should contact the LMS office urgently for registration forms and full details. (T) 020 7404 7284; (F) 020 7831 5585; (E mail)

St Mary's Big Bay

A bit late, a few things about the mission I look after most weekends.

A picture of some of the folk on my first weekend there in early July.

On the feast of the Assumption that statue of the Virgin Mary was beautifully decorated. The parish tradition is to keep it so decorated until the celebration of Our Lady's birthday on 8th Sep. Great love for the Virgin Mary!

And a picture of the Church with my GMC Jimmy.

Stubenville North Reunion

Bishop Sample and Father Mike Steber (Cathedral Pastor) join the young people for songs of prayer and praise in St Peter's Cathedral.

Last month a couple of hundred young people from the Marquette diocese attended a youth event sponsored by Stubenville University. Last Sunday a reunion took place at St Peter's Cathedral.

Bishop Sample gets 'plugged in' listening to 'Papal disco' on a young person's mp3 player.

Bishop Alexander Sample introduced the afternoon with a period of silent adoration before the exposed Blessed Sacrament on the High Altar of the Cathedral. The silence during the 15 minutes of adoration was impressive. Bishop Sample encouraged the young people to spend the time placing their lives before the Lord, asking Him to show them His will for them. He complemented the youngsters for the silence and devotion with which they spent those fifteen minutes.

Bishop Sample with a group from Ontonagon.

After Benediction, there were some songs of prayer and praise followed by a Question and Answer session with the bishop. Bishop Sample asked the young people for their impressions of the Stubenville north experience. They spoke about their introduction into the ways of prayer, the talks they received on Our Lady and other aspects of the event. Bishop Sample also fielded in a very humorous manner some questions about the robes the bishop wears!

Bishop Sample, Father Tim Ekaitis (former Associate Pastor at St Peter's Cathedral) with his group from St Mary's, Norway, and Father Mike Steber, pastor of St Peter's Cathedral.

In answer to a question about prayer, Bishop Sample said how young people are always 'plugged in' to various forms of media: internet, tv, ipods, music... He encouraged them to take the opportunity to experience silence so that they might hear the Lord who can only be heard in the silence of prayer.

Dustin Katona organises the games.

Afterwards there were games and food at nearby Presque Isle, organised by Cathedral youth minister Dustin Katona.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Enter by the narrow gate

When Our Lady appeared to the three children at Fatima in May 1917 Lucia, then aged 10, asked if she would go the heaven. The lady replied: ‘Yes, you will.’ ‘And Jacinta?’ she asked: ‘She also’ the lady replied. ‘And Francisco? Will he go to heaven also?’ The lady said: ‘Yes. But first, he must say many rosaries.’ They knew that heaven was the goal for which they were made and knowing that this apparition came from heaven, their immediate instinct was to know whether or not they would end up there.

The question of the unknown person in today’s Gospel is also an understandable enquiry concerning the destiny we journey towards in hope but also with some uncertainty: ‘Will there be only a few saved?’

The Lord does not directly answer the question. What he does tell us is that “many will try to enter and will not succeed.” There will, in other words, be many who will not be saved: a sobering summer thought! It is very easy to forget the possibility of not making it to heaven. Where do people get the idea from that everyone goes to heaven? How often at funerals do we hear a canonisation: “He’s with the Lord now!” Or people say: as long as you love everyone, that’s all that matters. Or what counts is being a good person. We can all too easily make up our own standards of what is good, forgetting how Our Lord once commented: “What is good? Only God.” St Teresa of Avila, a great mystic, said that the road to hell is paved with good intentions and God showed her souls falling into hell as leaves falling from the trees in the Fall. The children of Fatima, at the tender ages of 10, 9 and 7 were also shown a vision of hell by the Blessed Mother. Mary wanted them to know the urgency of conversion and prayer for sinners.

Jesus tells us today that we can only enter His Kingdom by a narrow gate. In the parallel text from Matthew’s gospel, Jesus adds that “the gate is wide and the road broad that leads to destruction, and those who enter through it are many. How narrow the gate and constricted the road that leads to life. And those who find it are few.” (Mt. 7:13-14)

Ralph Martin, a modern speaker and author on the spiritual life comments: “In these words, Jesus … makes clear that drifting along with contemporary culture will not lead us to heaven but, rather, to hell. He clearly teaches that if we want to arrive at happiness – the fulfilment of all desire – rather than destruction … we need to take the road and enter through the gate that leads to heaven.”

The contemporary culture, of whatever age, tends to go in the opposite direction to Jesus. At the time of Jesus, Palestine was under Roman, pagan, occupation; they had a king, Herod, who lived a debauched lifestyle; early Christians had to choose between worshipping the emperor or worshipping God; and throughout the centuries the Church’s saints found their holiness in precisely those ways that the world disdains: in poverty, in purity, in suffering, in meekness, in gentleness, in forgiveness, in prayer… Whilst we should love all that is good in our culture and seek to raise it to its true meaning in Christ, we should always remember that it cannot save us and it can even be harmful.

And even though we are here at Mass and think we are good, faithful Catholics who think we know the Lord, we too need to listen to the challenging words of Jesus in today’s gospel: “Then you will find yourself saying, ‘We once ate and drank in your company, you taught in our streets’ but he will reply, ‘I do not know where you come from. Away from me, all you wicked men!’”

We once ate and drank in Jesus’ company. We were at Mass. Yes, but all you did was eat and drink. Is that all the Mass is? A fellowship meal? A gathering of the community that has to be made ‘fun’ and ‘relevant’ because, really, unless we jazz it up a bit, the Mass will be ‘boring’ and ‘irrelevant’ to the contemporary culture?

Yes, we ate and drank, but let us not hear the Lord say: but you didn’t sacrifice; you didn’t take up the Cross; you did not, at Mass, ascend Mount Calvary to be with me where I was when I said “It is accomplished”, “The Mass is ended.”; when I said “This is my body given for you; this is my blood poured out for you” you did not say in return: “Jesus, here is my body, here is my blood, which I offer completely to you, so that I may be totally yours.”

Yes, you taught in our streets, Jesus, we heard your beautiful words in the gospel and we loved the sermons of your priests. Let us not hear the Lord reply: but did you change? Did you convert? or did you accept the nice bits but forget those bits that, really, in the 21st century, sound a little irrelevant and outdated?

More positively, both in the Gospel and in the first reading prophecy from Isaiah, there is a prediction that men from all over the world, in large numbers, will take their places at the feast in the kingdom of God, people who bring offerings, who make sacrifices, in clean vessels.

We must present our offering at the altar in the clean vessels of our pure hearts and souls. To maintain this purity, we must again pass through the narrow gate by resisting negative things in our contemporary culture, particularly in the various forms of the mass media: (TV, internet, movies, songs…) and also in the company we keep. Not all our friends want to help us maintain these clean vessels of pure hearts and minds.

Furthermore, the prophecy of Isaiah says that from among those bringing the offerings in clean vessels the Lord will choose some as priests and Levites, i.e. sacred ministers – priests and deacons – in the Church. If our young people keep themselves pure, more of them will be strengthened to accept the call to the priesthood and diaconate to serve as ministers at the altar of sacrifice, which is already on this earth a participation in and foretaste of the feast in the Kingdom of God.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Police raid on Belgian archdiocese was illegal

No doubt many felt shocked when reports of the raid on the Brussels-Mechelen archdiocesan offices made the news a couple of weeks ago. Many of us will have been stunned to silence, not sure what to think. Now we can: the raid was illegal.

Will this judgement receive as much publicity as the illegal raids including the desecration of a grave of a former archbishop did?

See Catholic News Agency for more details.

Papal Visit to UK TV Coverage

If you plan to watch this event on TV, you need to get EWTN.
EWTN Global Catholic Network will provide live coverage of every public event during Pope Benedict XVI’s historic visit to England and Scotland Sept. 16-19, numerous original productions on the life and works of Cardinal John Henry Newman, who will be beatified by the Pope during his visit, and exclusive behind-the-scenes footage and interviews.
More details at Catholic Online.

Papal Masses in England will use new English texts

Catholic News Service reports that
People attending Pope Benedict XVI's Masses in Scotland and England in September will get a chance to hear and sing a few of the newly translated Mass texts, according to the pope's chief liturgist.

Msgr. Guido Marini, papal master of liturgical ceremonies, told Catholic News Service Aug. 19 that the prayers sung in English at the papal Masses in Great Britain will use the translations from the new Order of the Mass approved by the Vatican in 2008.

Mgr Marini seems to draw a distinction between those texts that have already been approved:
"The songs from the Order of the Mass -- for example the Gloria -- will be from the new translation, which was approved a while ago," he said.

and those that have not already been approved:
The words for the rest of the Mass prayers "will be from the text currently in use," he said, because when the papal Masses were being planned, the Vatican had not yet granted final approval to the bishops of Scotland, England and Wales for the complete English translation of the Roman Missal.

This would seem to imply that those texts that have already been approved may already be used. Some priests, including myself, had already started to use some of the new texts to introduce the faithful to them. As CNS points out, however,

Although the new translation of the Order of the Mass, which contains the main prayers used at Mass, was approved by the Vatican two years ago, bishops' conferences in English-speaking countries decided to wait to introduce the prayers until the entire Roman Missal was translated and approved.

It would seem to me that this delay is entirely unjustified.

Birmingham Oratory events for Beatification of Newman

New Liturgical Movement gives details of talks, cultural and liturgical celebrations in honour of the Beatfication of Cardinal Newman.

The American Bishops Conference is also doing its bit to draw attention to Newman and his beatification in England next month.

Get on your Popebox?

If you could get on a soapbox and have the Pope as a captive audience for 30 seconds, what would you say to him? Email us and let us know and every week between now and the Papal visit we will broadcast a selection of your thoughts.
So the BBC invites us on its Sunday programme website.

They are also suggesting that the events may not be well attended:

With little over a month to go before Pope Benedict's historic visit to the UK, thousands of tickets for key events are being returned to organisers because dioceses are finding less people than expected want to go. We ask the Papal Visit Coordinator what's going on
If I were in England, I would certainly be encouraging a huge turnout. But this is not the message we parish priests were given. Only very few tickets per parish were allocated and individual names had to be submitted. In practice, people had only a week or two to sign up and commit themselves. Everything appears geared to downplaying the event. Every parish was asked to send just one young person to a youth event. (As I said elsewhere, I could have got a group of young people without a problem, but one? That would be more difficult, if not impossible. What young person would want to be alone?) Information was given far too late. Many parish priests are away on their summer holidays in July and August and, with the visit taking place mid-September, will have been unable to organise things. I left my parish on 6th July. It was only after I left that any concrete information was distributed. So I fear the BBC might be right. I look forward to hearing what the Papal Visit Coordinator has to say.

Thanks to Mulier Fortis for bringing this to our attention. I can't really bring myself to get on my popebox and make a speech to the Pope. I'm much more interested in listening to him.

But if you can think of some positive things that might get aired, maybe you can send a comment. I'd want to thank His Holiness for the address he gave to our bishops (of England and Wales) on their ad limina visit and say how much I look forward to further clear teaching on life, family, marriage, for a renewal in our Catholic education and catechesis, and continued renewal and reform of the Sacred Liturgy.

But I'm not sure how I'd say this in a manner that befits the Pope's dignity as the Vicar of Christ and mine as mere faithful member of the Church. I hope he is truly aware of the needs of the Church in Great Britain and will not allow his visit to be used to promote inter-religious dialogue, ecumenism, etc, but rather really encourage the Catholic faithful to be on fire with the love of Christ with desires to spread this fire to every heart in the land.

You can read about Father Lombardi's great expections for the Papal Visit at Vatican Radio.

Southwark Servers Summertime

Another activity I always help out with when I am in England is the Southwark Diocese Altar Servers Summertime activity organised by my brother, Father Stephen (pictured on the extreme right of the above photo). You can see some photos and a report at the Southwark Diocesan website.

I am pleased that three youngsters from my beloved former parish, St Simon Stock, South Ashford attended.

Do keep all the young people in your prayers.

Seminarians Retreat at Marygrove Retreat Centre

Yesterday afternoon I travelled with Father Mike Steber, Pastor here at St Peter's Cathedral, to Graden on the shores of Lake Michigan where the diocesan retreat centre, Marygrove, is located.

The seminarians and priests after the panel discussion.

Seminarians and prospective seminarians were spending a few days of prayer, reflection and recreation to consider the priestly vocation. Yesterday evening priests of the diocese were invited to dinner and to take part in a panel discussion, answering questions or responding to points raised by the young men.

Same, but with me included.

On the panel were priests ranging from just over a year since ordination to one celebrating over forty years of ordination. The wisdom, joy and dedication of these priests to their vocations was truly impressive. All spoke of the importance of relying on the Lord, trusting in Him, dedication to prayer, availability to the people, obedience to the bishop when it comes to accepting assignments, the joy and fulfilment that love in celibacy brings. It was pointed out that in surveys Catholic priests are predominantly happy and busy. This was borne out very much by those who were present.

Thank God there is a great love for the priesthood in the Marquette diocese with enthusiastic vocations promotion programmes. Many young men are seriously considering whether or not they are being called.

Here are some photos from the retreat centre:

Blessed Sacrament Chapel


Bookshop. Keen eyes might recognise Carinal Ratzinger's 'The Spirit of the Liturgy'(circled). Many other good books are on sale too.


Memorial monument for all the bishops, priests and permanent deacons of the diocese who have died.

Couple of deer spotted in the garden.

A Labyrinth, modelled on the one in Chartres Cathedral, under the watchful protection of the Sacred Heart.

Lourdes grotto.

Outdoor Stations of the Cross

Ninth Station.

One of the priests is a keen kayaker!

Further information about Marygrove here.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Cardinal Newman's Prayer for Church Unity

For the last month or two I have been using a collection of prayers by John Henry Newman. It is entitled 'A Newman Prayer Book' published in 1990 by Vincent Ferrer Blehl, S.J., The Newman Secretariat, The Oratory, Hagley Road, Birmingham B16 8UE, England and contains a short prayer for each day of the month.

Here's the prayer for the 18th of the month:

Lord Jesus Christ, who, when you were about to suffer, did pray for your disciples to the end of time that they might all be one, as you are in the Father, and the FAther in you, break down the walls of separation which divide one party and denomination of Christians from another. Teach all men that the see of St. Peter, the Holy Church of Rome, is the foundation, centre, and instrument of unity. Open their hearts to the long-forgotten truth that our Holy Father, the Pope, is your Vicar and Representative; so that as there is but one holy company in heaven above, so likewise there may be one communion, confessing and glorifying your holy name here below.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

The Church as Mirror of Justice

This was the Marian title Archbishop Burke, Prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura, chose to describe the image that the Church should present to the world in its practice of Canon Law when he spoke to delegates attending the recent Canon Law Conference at the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in La Crosse, Wisconsin.

The fact that the Church had perhaps not been a very good 'mirror of justice' in recent years was a theme running through the presentations of the other speakers, Father James Conn SJ, Professor of Canon Law at the Pontifical Gregorian University, Father John Coughlin, OFM, Professor of Law and Concurrent Professor of Theology at the University of Notre Dame, and Benedict Nguyen, Chancellor of the Diocese of La Crosse.

Father John Coughlin

One of Archbishop Burke's presentations concerned the Administration of the Church's Temporal goods. The following are notes I took during his lecture so they are in no way intended to be textual or attributable to the Archbishop.

It is a pre-eminent mission of the Church to order the use of temporal goods to God, above all in and through the sacraments and the liturgy. We speak of Sacred Vessels, Sacred Art, Sacred Linens, etc. These temporal things are ordered towards the worship of Almighty God.

Consider the anointing of Jesus at Bethany with the expensive ointment: the love of Christ should lead us to use the most noble of the goods of the earth for the glory of God. There is, of course, always a Judas who will condemn the Church’s use of temporal goods.

It is arguable that the barbaric and iconoclastic reordering of so many of our churches over the last 40 to 50 years was a gravely dishonest use of the temporal goods that had been given to the Church by people of past generations. It constituted a violation of the wishes of the donors.

The Church must manifest justice in its care of temporal goods. This constitutes a matter of trust between shepherd and flock. The misappropriation of temporal goods damages the Church’s image in the world. It makes the Church less a Mirror of Justice.

Temporal Goods as Property

The reasons for owning temporal goods are enumerated in Canon 1254 §2:
  • - to order divine worship
  • - to care for the decent support of the clergy and other ministers
  • - to exercise works of the sacred apostolate and of charity, especially toward the needy.
On 12th February 2004, the Pontifical Council for the Interpretation of Legislative Texts (PCILT) published a ‘nota explicativa’ stating that ‘the ecclesial nature common to all these goods derives from their destination towards the mission of the Church’, not from who owns them.

(The Italian original reads: L’ecclesialità, comune a tutti questi beni, deriva dalla destinazione ai fini propri della Chiesa. Questo, però, non impedisce che la proprietà appartenga esclusivamente a ciascuno degli enti singolarmente considerati. Translation: the ecclesial nature common to all these goods derives from their destination to the proper ends of the Church. This, however, does not prevent the property from belonging exclusively to the particular entity in question.’ (Nota Explicativa La funzione dell’autorità ecclesiastica sui beni ecclesiastici, No. 1)

Canon 116 of the Code of Canon Law tells us what a Public Juridic Person (PJP) is:

  • an aggregate of persons or of things which are constituted by competent ecclesiastical authority so that, within the purposes set for them, they fulfil in the name of the Church, according to the norm of the prescripts of the law, the proper function entrusted to them in view of the public good.
All of the goods belonging to a PJP are ecclesiastical goods in accordance with Canons 1257 and 1258. And in accordance with Canon 1256, ownership of these goods by a PJP is under the authority of the Roman Pontiff even though they remain under the ownership of the PJP.

Interpretation of Canonical Norms

The starting point for us in dealing with temporal goods has to be Canon Law, not Civil Law. Civil Law must be obeyed, but this is not sufficient.

Ecclesiastical Law will accept into its own law certain provisions of Civil Law. For example: prescription as a means of acquiring temporal goods or of freeing oneself from them is accepted in accord with the Civil Law of the nation concerned, unless the Code of Canon Law provides otherwise. (Cann. 1268, 197-199)

Furthermore, administrators of ecclesiastical goods must make sure that their ownership is protected by civilly valid methods. (Can. 1284 §2, 2°) The primary concern is with Ecclesiastical Law. The Civil Law is used to protect the ownership in accord with Ecclesiastical Law.

All ecclesiastical juridical entities must have statutes approved by the competent authority (Can. 117) before they can be erected as juridical persons, and any changes in these statutes also need the approval of the competent authority. (Can. 314) This is so that the ownership of its temporal goods is adequately protected. In all things not foreseen in the statutes, the Code of Canon Law will apply.

The term ‘Administration’ has a double semantic weight:
  • on the one hand, to administrate can signify the proper function of ecclesiastical authority in placing an act of governance in accordance with the law;
  • but there is also an economic function: ensuring the conservation and the betterment of the ecclesiastical patrimony. (Nota explicativa no. 4)
Archbishop Burke also discussed the will of founders and benefactors and acquired rights.

Three things can happen to alter the status of PJP’s and give rise to consequences concerning the ecclesiastical goods that belong to them:
  1. Merging/Joining of PJP’s (Can. 121)
    If two or more PJP’s are joined so that one new PJP is formed, all the goods belonging to the previously separate PJP’s pass to the new PJP. But the intention of the founders and donors (benefactors) must always be respected. This is particularly important when two or more parishes are merged to form one parish. Great care must be taken when, for example, deciding to close one or more of the churches. Proceeds from the sale of any church or other property do not pass to the diocese but remain with the new parish.
  2. Division of a PJP (Can. 122)
    If a PJP is divided so that either a part of it is united with another PJP or the separated part becomes a distinct PJP, firstly the intention of the founders and donors must be observed. Also the goods, rights, debts etc. of the original PJP must be divided amongst the new PJP’s with due proportion in equity and justice, taking into account the circumstances and needs of each. (So, if a parish is divided and two new parishes formed, the assets and debts of the original parish are to be divided in an equitable manner between the two new parishes.)

    Furthermore, the use and usufruct of common goods which are not divisible accrue to each PJP. In the above scenario of division of parishes, some arrangement must be made so that the new parish also benefits in some way from the indivisible goods of the original parish. It might be that the new church for the new parish is built out of funds from the original parish, given that the new parish will need a church and the original church is an asset that cannot be divided.

    In my previous parish, we received a share each year of the income from an endowment that had been left to the original parish before my parish was erected from the division of the parishes and that could not be divided.
  3. Extinction of a PJP (Can. 123)
    When a PJP is ‘wound up’, its goods are dealt with in accordance with Canon Law and the statutes of the PJP. If these are silent, they go to PJP immediately superior to the extinguished PJP, always with attention being paid to the intention of founders and donors. This does not mean, however, that a Bishop can extinguish a parish and take possession of the goods for the diocese. For when a parish ceases to exist, it actually merges with another parish, and its goods are dealt with under Can. 122. This was the subject of a clarification by the Congregation for the Clergy when it heard complaints that parishes were being closed and the assets being transferred to the diocese rather than remaining with the community for which they were originally intended.

My conclusion
Maybe this is a bit boring to the non-canonist. All of the above seems very logical but has not always been observed, leading to failures in the observations of justice and a dimming of the Church's reflection of justice. But also I had the impression of an extremely 'priestly' approach to temporal goods, that the Church somehow gives matter its ultimate orientation to God by owning them and destining them to the three purposes mentioned above, particularly the Divine Worship and the works of Charity.

This very much coincides with the approach our lecturers at the Angelicum had. We were to be priests of justice.

I'll try and write a few more reflections from the other lectures that throw further light on the matter.

St Hyacinth

Today, in the 1962 calender, is the feast of St Hyacinth, one of the first Dominicans, sent by St Dominic to Poland. As the Catholic Encyclopedia says:

A Dominican, called the Apostle of the North, son of Eustachius Konski of the noble family of Odrowaz; born 1185 at the castle of Lanka, at Kamin, in Silesia, Poland (now Prussia); died 15 August, 1257, at Cracow. Feast, 16 Aug. A near relative of Saint Ceslaus, he made his studies at Cracow, Prague, and Bologna, and at the latter place merited the title of Doctor of Law and Divinity. On his return to Poland he was given a prebend at Sandomir. He subsequently accompanied his uncle Ivo Konski, the Bishop of Cracow, to Rome, where he met St. Dominic, and was one of the first to receive at his hands (at Santa Sabina, 1220) the habit of the newly established Order of Friars Preachers. After his novitiate he made his religious profession, and was made superior of the little band of missionaries sent to Poland to preach. On the way he was able to establish a convent of his order at Friesach in Carinthia. In Poland the new preachers were favourably received and their sermons were productive of much good. Hyacinth founded communities at Sandomir, Cracow, and at Plocko on the Vistula in Moravia. He extended his missionary work through Prussia, Pomerania, and Lithuania; then crossing the Baltic Sea he preached in Denmark, Sweden, and Norway. He came into Lower or Red Russia, establishing a community at Lemberg and at Haletz on the Mester; proceeded into Muscovy, and founded a convent at Dieff, and came as far as the shores of the Black Sea. He then returned to Cracow, which he had made the centre of his operations. On the morning of 15 August he attended Matins and Mass, received the last sacraments, and died a saintly death. God glorified His servant by numberless miracles, the record of which fills many folio pages of the Acta SS., August, III, 309. He was canonized by Pope Clement VIII in 1594. A portion of his relics is at the Dominican church in Paris.

Nice photo of the Dominican Church in Krakow here.

See also Roman Miscellany.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

LMS Conference at Downside Abbey

 Father Ray Blake has photos and reports of his participation at the LMS training conference at Downside Abbey in England. I don't yet know how much the extraordinary form of the Mass is desired by the faithful here in Marquette.

Anyone interested please check out here and here.

You can also find more about the LMS summer schools and other activities at the LMS Chairman's blog.

Bishop Jukes reflects gratefully on celibacy

Bishop Jukes, former auxiliary bishop of my home diocese of Southwark with pastoral responsibility for the Kent area where I was parish priest for 9+ years before my sabbatical here in the US, has a reflection on celibacy at Damian Thompson's blog.

For me, the commitment to life-long celibacy has proved a constant reminder to me of Jesus Christ who came to our world to give of Himself even to suffering death as an act of loving service of me and fellow sinners in ensuring the achieving of eternal salvation for all.

As an American child sees my description of a car...

It all seems so logical!

Confessions at St Peter's

No secrets being revealed, don't worry. But a typical morning: confessions advertised 11am to 12 noon. Today I began at 11 and finished after 1.30pm. Good to be needed. One kind lady brought me in a sandwich and some water... Rather than the long line of people approaching for Holy Communion, it is the number of people going to Confession in a parish indicates the spiritual health of a parish.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Roadside Pro-Life ads in the USA

It is not unusual to see this type of ad here in the US. These are two roadside ads I saw in Wisconsin on my way to and from La Crosse. Nothing like this exists in the UK.

Canon Law Conference at La Crosse, Wisconsin, people

Just a quick post before I go off to Big Bay for the vigil Mass. Following on from my previous post (first, second):

Archbishop Burke was obviously the star of the few days, a remarkably humble and learned man, effusing great love for the Church and for the Law, truly embodying Caritas and Veritas. I was fortunate to have a number of brief conversations with him over the couple of days:

Bloggers were present too: the renowned Fr Z as well as Dr Edward Peters, author of the blog In the Light of the Law where you can read his reflections on the conference. I hope to write something of mine soon too.

More pics and comment to follow.


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