Monday, May 30, 2011

"You may kiss the Cross."

I have never yet announced at a wedding: "You may now kiss the bride." But I wouldn't mind inviting them to kiss the cross, except that it is not part of the Rite and I am lothe to introduce innovations into the marriage rite. However, there are some long-standing customs in various places, and the Episcopal Conferences may adapt the Marriage Liturgy according to local circumstances.

There is a Croatian custom observed in Herzegovina whereby the bride and groom do not kiss one another but the kiss the Cross, the source of love. As you can read at Renew America:

(The people of Herzegovina) have indissolubly linked marriage with the Cross of Christ. They have founded marriage, which brings forth human life, on the Cross, which brings forth divine life.

The Croatian marriage tradition is so beautiful that it is beginning to take hold in Europe and America!

When a young couple is preparing for marriage, they are not told that they have found the ideal partner. No! What does the priest say?

"You have found your cross. And it is a cross to be loved, to be carried, a cross not to be thrown away, but to be cherished."

If the fiancés were told this in France (or America!), they would be struck dumb! But in Herzegovina, the Cross represents the greatest love and the crucifix is the treasure of the home.

When the bride and groom set off for the church, they bring a crucifix with them. The priest blesses the crucifix, which takes on a central role during the exchange of vows. The bride places her right hand on the crucifix and the groom places his hand over hers. Thus the two hands are bound together on the cross. The priest covers their hands with his stole as they proclaim their vows to be faithful, according to the rites of the Church.... the bride and groom do not then kiss each other, they rather kiss the cross. They know that they are kissing the source of love. Anyone close enough to see their two hands joined over the cross understands clearly that if the husband abandons his wife or if the wife abandons her husband, they let go of the cross. And if they abandon the cross, they have nothing left. They have lost everything for they have abandoned Jesus. They have lost Jesus.

Read it all at (Medjugorje-phobes beware.)

Images of the New Roman Missal for use in Britain

The new English translation of the Roman Missal by Catholic Church (England and Wales)
The new English translation of the Roman Missal, a photo by
Catholic Church (England and Wales) on Flickr.
© Mazur/

The Catholic Truth Society edition of the Missal appears as a very finely produced Missal in the images that are now available on the Bishops Conference flickr account. (I don't necessarily endorse the various positionings of the missal on the altar, particularly placing the missal in front of the corporal. This is where the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite must enrich the Ordinary Form to bring an end to priests following their own preferences.)

Girl Scouts and Planned Parenthood

What some fine young girl scouts discovered about Planned Parenthood's involvement in the Girl Scout movement. The website the two girls have founded is Speak Now : girl scouts.

Thanks to xt3.

Canon Law Conference for Canon Lawyers and Civil Attorneys

Dr Edward Peters has full details - and I am among those who have booked one of the limited places.

Community of Saint John Ordinations

Brother John Mary Jesus with children in Ivory Coast.

July 2nd fourteen priests and seven deacons will be ordained for the Community of Saint John in the Basilica of Sainte Madeleine, Vézelay, France, by His Excellency Bishop Benoît RIVIÈRE
Bishop of Autun, Chalon and Mâcon. Among those being ordained priest is my cousin's son (which makes him my second cousin) Brother John Mary Jesus (in the world Simon) Ashfield.

I remember attending Brother JMJ's first profession at Vézelay many years ago. A large number of other brothers made their profession with him.

The Community of Saint John is one of those new orders that continues to attract young vocations.

Sadly I shall not be able to attend the ordinations as from July 1st I take the reigns at St Anthony's parish in Gwinn.

Here are the names of the ordinands for your prayers.

Priestly ordination
Côme-Emmanuel CODJIA
Dominic BUCUR
François DIBONGO
Giovanni-Pietro PIAZZA
Jean-Bosco DEVAUX
Jean-Théotokos CAVALLI
Johannes-Paul ANDRE
John-Mary-Jesus ASHFIELD
Luis-Pascal PELLAT
Patrick AKOA
Théodore de la Croix KALAOU

Diaconal ordination
Roger-Marie YAO KOFFI
Thomas-Marie JOANNY

Priests appointed to Our Lady of Good Help shrine, Champion, WI

The diocese of Green Bay, WI has recently announced that the Fathers of Mercy will assume pastoral care of the shrine of Our Lady of Good Help as from July 7th:

Two Fathers of Mercy from Auburn, Ky., will begin serving on July 7, 2011, at the Shrine of Our Lady of Good Help in Champion, Bishop David Ricken announced. One priest will serve as the Shrine's rector and the other as chaplain.

The two priests will serve pilgrims to the Shrine by offering Masses, hearing confessions, and performing other priestly duties as needed.
Read more at the diocesan website.

St Francis Xavier Cathedral, Green Bay, WI

After visiting the shrines of The Packers, St Joseph and Our Lady of Good Help, Father Doerfler finally took me to visit the Cathedral. He is resident there and I had stayed the previous night in the Rectory.

I can only say I was completely stunned by the beauty of this magnificent Cathedral church dedicated to St Francis Xavier.

Father genuflected to the tabernacle which is in the centre of the sanctuary. I had not done so as I presumed that the Blessed Sacrament would be reposed in a side chapel and I hadn't averted immediately to a sanctuary light (there are many, many votive lamps burning in this lovely church.)

I completely disagree with tabernacles in ordinary parish churches being anywhere but in the centre but I do have some sympathy (or perhaps it's just that I have come to expect it) with the view that in a cathedral it should be elsewhere than in the sanctuary, particularly as the rubrics of the Novus Ordo (I don't know about the Usus Antiquior) indicate that, when a bishop is to celebrate the Mass, the tabernacle may/should be empty. But, yes, the Blessed Sacrament is reserved in the central tabernacle. Apparently, the previous bishop ordered that the tabernacle and the Blessed Sacrament be returned to the centre of the sanctuary. Well done that man!

The Cathedral is adorned with many statues of saints, most of which have a reliquiary by them containing a relic of the respective saint. I am sure you would have no problem guessing who the saints are but I have captioned the photos just in case:

St Agnes

St Therese of Lisieux

St Anthony of Padua (patron of
the parish I am to assume pastoral care of as from July 1st).

St Francis Xavier himself occupies a lovely side
chapel to the right of the sanctuary.

There are also statues of Our Lady and St Joseph but there are, unsurprisingly, no relics of these saints. However there is this beautiful Lady Chapel with a wonderful mosaic of Our Lady of Perpetual Succour. Beneath the altar mensa is a sculpture of the buried Christ with a white shroud over it.

The sculpture is on display throughout the Easter season after which the medallions which normally fill the circular holes will be replaced and the sculpture concealed from view.

View of the entrance to the Cathedral.

The bishop's crest on his seat: Charity, Knowledge, Fortitude.
I think the bishop's crest contains a very apt motto. I cannot immediately recall if this trinity of qualities comes from a scriptural quotation but it certainly reminds me of  2 Tim. 1:7 - "for God did not give us a spirit of timidity but a spirit of power and love and self-control." A bishop surely needs these infused gifts of the Holy Spirit of Charity, Knowledge and Fortitude.

I know nothing about heraldry but I notice the crest contains Jesus' Sacred Heart with the crown of thorns, a star above battlements on a blue background (no doubt referring to Our Lady), the St Andrew's cross with a boat (Andrew was the brother of Simon Peter, both of whom were fishermen; it was Peter's - and perhaps Andrew's too - boat that Jesus borrowed when he preached to the people on the shore of the Sea of Galilee), an arrow the significance of which I cannot guess. The lower left quadrant appears to show water flowing into land, perhaps a symbol of the waters of baptism irrigating the dry earth? I couldn't find any information on the shield at the diocesan website.

I was very happy to concelebrate at Mass the following morning. The Mass was preceded by the recitation of the rosary by a number of parishioners who offered prayers for vocations, for priests and for other wonderful intentions. There is clearly a very prayerful atmosphere in this parish.

And so it was off to Chicago...

Saturday, May 28, 2011

ARCIC III and "Receptive Ecuminism"

Anglican Archbishop David Moxon and Catholic Archbishop Bernard Longley

The Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity issued the following communique yesterday:

The Anglican - Roman Catholic International Commission has completed the first meeting of its new phase (ARCIC III) at the Monastery of Bose in northern Italy (May 17-27, 2011). The Commission, chaired by the Most Reverend David Moxon (Anglican Archbishop of the New Zealand Dioceses) and the Most Reverend Bernard Longley (Roman Catholic Archbishop of Birmingham) comprises eighteen theologians from a wide range of backgrounds across the world1. In response to the Programme set forth by Pope Benedict and Archbishop Rowan Williams in their 2006 Common Declaration, discussions have focussed on the interrelated issues: the Church as Communion, local and universal, and how in communion the local and universal Church come to discern right ethical teaching. The Programme also required the Commission to re-examine how the "commitment to the common goal of the restoration of complete communion in faith and sacramental life"2 is to be understood and pursued today, and to present the work of ARCIC II in its entirety with appropriate commentaries to assist its reception.

In addressing these issues, the Commission has devoted time to introducing its new members to the history and achievements of ARCIC, and has benefited from the shared experience of those who were members of previous phases. Members have worked both in plenary sessions and in small groups, developing plans to address the tasks that derive from its mandate.

Over the coming years, the Commission will examine how the abiding goal of the dialogues is currently perceived and understood, and how that goal will inform the entire dialogue process.

In considering the method that ARCIC III will use, the Commission was particularly helped by the approach of ‘receptive ecumenism’3, which seeks to make ecumenical progress by learning from our partner, rather than simply asking our partner to learn from us. Receptive ecumenism is more about self-examination and inner conversion than convincing the other; Anglicans and Roman Catholics can help each other grow in faith, life and witness to Christ if they are open to being transformed by God’s grace mediated through each other.

ARCIC is committed to modelling the receptive ecumenism it advocates. It intends to find ways to consult with the members of its churches at many levels as its work matures.

ARCIC III will present all the documents of ARCIC II, together with elucidations based upon responses already received, for reception by the relevant authorities of both communions, and for study at all levels of the churches’ life.

ARCIC III has decided that it will address the two principal topics together in a single document. It has drawn up a plan for its work that views the Church above all in the light of its rootedness in Christ through the Paschal Mystery. This focus on Jesus Christ, human and divine, gives the Commission a creative way to view the relationship between the local and universal in communion. The Commission will seek to develop a theological understanding of the human person, human society, and the new life of grace in Christ. This will provide a basis from which to explore how right ethical teaching is determined at universal and local levels. ARCIC will base this study firmly in scripture, tradition and reason, and draw on the previous work of the Commission. It will analyze some particular questions to elucidate how our two Communions approach moral decision making, and how areas of tension for Anglicans and Roman Catholics might be resolved by learning from the other. ARCIC III does this conscious of the fact that what unites us is greater than what divides us.

The work of the Commission members has been enriched by sharing in the liturgical and spiritual life of the sisters and brothers of the Monastery of Bose, whose ecumenical mission and constant prayer have provided a supportive context for ARCIC. They were encouraged by visits from the bishop of the local diocese and by the bishop responsible for ecumenism for the northern Italian dioceses. The Commission will now organize papers and continue its work along the lines it has proposed, in preparation for its next meeting in 2012.

The Most Reverend Bernard Longley, Archbishop of Birmingham, England
The Most Reverend David Moxon, Bishop of Waikato and Archbishop of the Dioceses of New Zealand
Roman Catholics
The Reverend Robert Christian OP, Angelicum University, Rome
The Most Reverend Arthur Kennedy, auxiliary bishop, Archdiocese of Boston, Massachusetts, USA
Professor Paul D. Murray, Durham University, England
Professor Janet E. Smith, Sacred Heart Major Seminary Detroit, Michigan, USA
The Reverend Vimal Tirimanna CSsR, Alphonsianum University, Rome
The Very Reverend Dom Henry Wansbrough OSB, Ampleforth Abbey, England
Sister Teresa Okure SHCJ, Catholic Institute of West Africa, Port Harcourt, Nigeria
The Reverend Adelbert Denaux, Dean; Tilburg School of Theology, Utrecht, The Netherlands
Dr Paula Gooder, Birmingham, England
The Right Reverend Christopher Hill, Bishop of Guildford, England
The Reverend Mark McIntosh, University of Durham, England.
The Right Reverend Nkosinathi Ndwandwe, Bishop Suffragan of Natal, Southern Area,
South Africa
The Right Reverend Linda Nicholls, Area Bishop for Trent-Durham, Diocese of Toronto,
The Reverend Michael Poon, Trinity Theological College, Singapore (unable to attend)
The Reverend Canon Nicholas Sagovsky, London, England
The Reverend Peter Sedgwick, St Michael’s College, Llandaff, Wales
The Reverend Charles Sherlock (consultant), Bendigo, Australia.
The work of the Commission is supported by the Co-Secretaries, Monsignor Mark Langham (Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity) and Canon Alyson Barnett-Cowan (Anglican Communion Office) and by Canon Jonathan Goodall, the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Secretary for Ecumenical Affairs.
1 For a list of members, see appendix.
2 1996 Common Declaration of Pope Paul VI and Archbishop Michael Ramsey.
3 cf Receptive Ecumenism and the Call to Catholic learning: Exploring a way for Contemporary Ecumenism., ed. Paul D. Murray., OUP 2008
[00827-02.01] [Original text: English]
I have no doubt that dialogue is a good thing.

As for the first topic - the Church as Communion, local and universal - I think Pope Benedict has himself given leadership in this matter in the erection of an ecclesiastical structure (the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham) to assist those who hold the Catholic faith come into full communion with the universal and local Church.

As for the second - how in communion the local and universal Church come to discern right ethical teaching - perhaps the answer to the solution lies in the title itself. Right ethical teaching can only be discerned when all are "in communion." It is therefore the search for ways of restoring communion that is most urgent.

I am interested in the notion of "receptive ecumenism" and can readily admit that there is much to learn from listening to one another. Now I know we can distinguish between ethics and morality but the two are closely linked. Even sacramentality and morality are tied in together. I note there is a woman bishop amongst the members. There is a question of morality (from a sacramental theological point of view)- right or wrong behaviour - in the very notion of a female bishop. Communion will inevitably entail the renunciation of any priestly or episcopal ambitions on the part of women.

We are constantly reminded in the ecumenical discourse that "what unites us is greater than what divides us." I'm sure this is true in a certain sense, but in another sense it is far from true, for what divides us - common faith in the Eucharist, Apostolic Succession, Priesthood and Sacrifice - are ultimately the source and summit of the Church's life from which the Church finds its strength. "The Church draws her life from the Eucharist." (Blessed Pope John Paul II, Encylical letter Ecclesia de Eucharistia, 17th April 2003, 1)

Also, the Catholic Church has a most comprehensive body of Social Teaching and is the de facto conscience of the world - oftentimes rejected - on the major ethical questions of the day. I suppose that if Anglicans and Catholics could unite on issues of life, sexuality, peace, justice, economics, it would be a major blessing for the world at large. I pray that the "self-examination and inner conversion" will bear fruit.

The Shrine of Our Lady of Good Help, Champion (New Franken), WI

The image of Our Lady of Good Help in the crypt beneath the chapel on the
site of the two trees by which Our Lady appeared to Adele.

On my recent vacation, the first "shrine" of the day was the Packers' Lambeau Field stadium (or atrium) in Green Bay and the second was the National Shrine of St Joseph in De Pere. The day ended with a visit to the shrine of Our Lady of Good Help in New Franken, Wisconsin, in the diocese of Green Bay. I was accompanied by Father John Doerfler, currently the Rector of the shrine who edits the shrine's newsletter.
View of the chapel and shrine centre from the road.
If you are hoping for something to "see", you will be disappointed. You could drive by and miss it completely. But this shrine honours the appearances of Our Lady to a young Belgian immigrant women named Adele Brise in 1859.

Adele's grave beside the church.
Our Lady appeared to Adele on three occasions. On the first, it was simply an apparition of a lady dressed all in white standing between two trees.

Remains of the trees found preserved under the 1880 chapel.
On the following Sunday, October 9th, the lady appeared again as Adele, her sister and a neighbour were on their way to Mass. On the third occasion Adele saw the lady clothed in dazzling white with a yellow sash around her waist and a crown of stars upon her head. Following the advice of her confessor Adele asked the lady: "In God's name who are you and what do you want of me?"

The lady replied:
I am the Queen of Heaven ... Gather the children in this wild country and teach them what they should know for salvation ... Teach them their catechism, how to sign themselves with the sign of the Cross, and how to approach the sacraments; that is what I wish you do do. Go and fear nothing. I will help you.
The lady raised her hands as if calling down a blessing from Heaven and vanished, leaving Adele overwhelmed and prostrate on the ground.

The chapel as it appeared in 1885.
So Adele set to work and attempted to catechise children by calling from house to house up and down the Green Bay Peninsula, travelling as much as 50 miles on foot whatever the prevailing weather conditions.
The chapel today.
Eventually other young women joined her and founded St Mary's Boarding Academy near the site of the apparitions.

Processional statue given to Adele from Holy Cross Church,
still used for processions today. The large reliquiary contains
wood from the trees where the Blessed Mother appeared to
Adele in 1859. The smaller reliquiary contains a relic of Mary's veil.
Following a formal investigation, Green Bay's diocesan Bishop, the Most Reverend David Ricken, published a decree giving official approval of the apparitions. The decree was dated 8th December 2010, Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception. In it the bishop stated:
I declare with moral certainty and in accord with the norms of the Church that the events, apparitions and locutions given to Adele Brise in October of 1859 do exhibit the substance of supernatural character, and I do hereby approve these apparitions as worthy of belief (although not obligatory) by the Christian faithful.

It was a privilege for me to be able to pray at this site and to offer the Holy Mass for the intentions of many people who had asked me to remember them there.


Our Lady of Good Help, Mother of GOD, Mother of Jesus, and Mother of the Church, it is with confidence in Thy tender mercy that we place our petitions before Thee as intercessor to Thy Divine Son. Resting our hope confidently in Thy Immaculate Heart to obtain for us that which will give glory to Thine only-begotten Son, we thank Thee.

O Queen of Heaven, as Thou didst ask Sister Adele to teach the children the holy catechism, so also teach us how to make the Heart of Jesus reign and triumph in us and around us, as it has reigned and triumphed in Thee. Reign over us, dearest Queen, that we may be Thine in prosperity and in adversity, in joy and in sorrow, in health and in sickness, in life and in death. Amen.

(Please report favours received through the intercession of Our Lady of Good Help to the Shrine.)
For further information visit the shrine website.

Cool licence plate and bumper sticker on a car outside the chapel.
UPDATE: Priests appointed to care for the shrine.

In praise of England

Who could fully tell the joy that has sprung up in the hearts of all the faithful because the race of the Angles, through the grace of Almight God and the labours of your brotherhood, has had the light of holy faith poured out on it and the darkness of error driven away? Now in purity of mind they trampmle down those idols which previously they served in insane fear. They worship Almighty God with pure hearts, and by the rules that they have learnt from the holy preaching they are restrained from falling into evil deeds. With their souls they serve the divine commandments and in their minds they are raised up by them. They bow down to the ground continually in prayers, that their minds may not lie prostrate on the earth. Whose work is this, if not the work of him who says: 'May father is working even now, and I am working'?
(From the letters of Pope St Gregory the Great, the Apostle of the English, presumably written to St Augustine of Canterbury, Liturgy of the Hours, Office of Readings 27th May)

Perhaps we need to pray that this may once again be the case.

Today I celebrated Mass in the Extraordinary Form. In that calendar today is the feast of St Augustine of Canterbury. I found the prayers of the Extroardinary Form very moving - reference to Augustine's preaching and miracles, prayers for those who have gone astray that they may be brought back to unity of faith, for sheep who have been lost that they may return to the true fold, all very appropriate for post-Reformation and post-Christian England - and thought how before the reform of the liturgy, these prayers were offered by the Universal Church as a 3rd class feast rather than the Optional Memorial that it now is. The whole Catholic Church was praying for England.

The Collect:
Deus, qui Anglorum gentes praedicatione et miraculis beati Augustini Confessoris tui atque Pontificis, verae fidei luce illustrare dignatus es: concede; ut, ipso interveniente, errantium corda ad veritatis tuae redeant unitatem, et nos in tua simus voluntate concordes. Per Dominum.

O God, who by the preaching and miracles of blessed Augustine, Thy confessor and bishop, dist vouchsage to enlighten the English nation with the light of the true faith; moved by his prayers, vouchsage that the hearts of those who have gone astray may return to the unity of Thy truth, and that we may ever be of one mind in doing Thy will. Through our Lord.
(Translation from the St Andrew Daily Missal)

The Secret:
Sacrificium tibi offerimus, Domine, in solemnitate beati Augustini Pontificis et Confessoris tui, humiliter deprecantes: ut oves, quae perierunt, ad unum ovile reversae, hoc salutari pabulo nutriantur. Per Dominum.

Very humbly, O Lord, on this fesival-day of blessed Augustine, Thy bishop and confessor, we offer up our sacrifice to Thee: beseeching that those sheep which have been lost, may once more be gathered into the one fold, and fed with this food of salvation. Through our Lord.

The Postcommunion:
Hostia salutari refecti: te, Domine, supplices exoramus; ut eadem, beati Augustini interveniente suffagio, in omni loco nomini tuo jugiter immoletur. Per Dominum.

We who are strengthened by this Victim of salvation, humbly beseech Thee, O Lord, that by the prayers of blessed Augustine, this sacrifice may be offered in every place to the glory of Thy name. Through...

The texts from the English Missal (Ordinary Form) read:
Opening Prayer:
Father, you sent Saint Augustine to be the first apostle to the people of England. May the work he began be renewed in his land and continue to prosper.

Prayer over the Gifts
Lord, accept the gifts we present to you in honour of Saint Augustine, whose life of innocence and simplicity converted many people to you.

Prayer after Communion
Lord, strengthen us by the sacrament we have received. Just as Saint Augustine perservered to the end in the fulfilment of his mission, so may we not falter in our work for Christian unity.


O Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God and our most gentle Queen and Mother look down in mercy upon England, thy dowry, and upon us who greatly hope and trust in thee.

By thee it was that Jesus, our Saviour and our hope was given unto the world; and He has given thee to us that we might hope still more.

Plead for us thy children, whom thou didst receive and accept at the foot of the cross, O Sorrowful Mother, Intercede for our separated brethren, that with us in the one true fold, they may be united to the Chief Shepherd, the Vicar of thy Son.

Pray for us all, dear Mother, that by faith, fruitful in good works we may all deserve to see and praise God, together with thee in our heavenly home.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Good Shepherd, New Addington, celebrates 50 years

Father Stephen Boyle, parish priest, with Archbishop Peter Smith.
(I think Archbishop Smith is wearing my brother's ordination
chasuble - 17 years old and still looking good.)

My brother's parish of Good Shepherd, New Addington, celebrated its Golden Jubilee last Sunday, as reported on the Southwark Archdiocesan website. Here are the text and photos of the report.

Father Stephen Boyle, parish priest, and the parishioners of the Good Shepherd, New Addington, welcomed Archbishop Peter to their parish on Sunday, 22nd May 2011, where he presided at a Mass to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the parish.

Canon Anthony Charlton, (previous parish priest) with two
Seminary students Mark Wharton (left) and Sam Davey
 More photos on RCSouthwark's Flick'r page

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Pope offered a tiara by German visitors

Father Ray Blake refers to this lovely incident at today's Wednesday Audience. The Holy Father did not try the tiara on.

Report from the Catholic News Agency:

Vatican City, May 25, 2011 / 07:05 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Pope Benedict XVI did not have a papal tiara until today. At the May 25 General Audience he was presented with one by the Catholics of his native Germany.

The man behind the project, Dieter Philippi, met with CNA before the handover ceremony.

“Well, we thought how every Pope in the past had a tiara. Even John Paul II had one. That was a present from Hungarian Catholics given to him in 1981. So we thought about making a tiara from German Catholics to hand over to the present Pope.”

Dieter is from Kirkel in the Saarland region of western Germany. By day he’s a chief executive of a telecommunications company. In his spare time, though, he’s an avid collector of religious headgear. In fact, he now has over 500 hats from numerous world religions.

And it was Dieter who commissioned the tiara from a workshop in the Bulgarian capital of Sophia.

“They specialize in Orthodox vestments and Orthodox mitres. So they have the knowledge and skill to make a tiara, because in other countries it’s now very difficult to find craftsmen and women with the knowledge of how to make a tiara. That’s because it takes such specialist skills.”

The metal used is a mixture of zinc, silver and brass. This made it very malleable when sculpting fine detail. The stones used are semi-precious.

Milka Botcheva, who was part of the team that worked on the project, explained, “When we were working on it we never expected it would come this far, that it would come to Vatican.”

“So I’m proud of all of us, all the team. I believe this really is a miracle,” she said.

The papal tiara was worn by Popes at their coronation between the 14th and 20th centuries. The last Pope to have a coronation was Pope Paul VI, in 1963.

It seems there’s no absolute certainty about the symbolism but during papal coronations the following words were uttered as the tiara was placed on the Pope’s head:

“Receive the tiara adorned with three crowns and know that thou art Father of Princes and Kings, Ruler of the World, Vicar of Our Savior Jesus Christ on earth, to whom is honor and glory in the ages of ages.”

Pope Benedict, of course, didn’t undergo a coronation. Neither does he have the tiara on his papal coat of arms. Dieter Philippi, though, would like to see some of the traditions surrounding the papal tiara revived.

“I think nowadays it would be very difficult because people wouldn’t understand the symbolism of a coronation … But from my personal view I would be very happy if we had a Pope who was crowned again like a king or a queen of any other country, yes.”

His more immediate concern is to find a home for the new papal tiara. There’s a possibility it might be put on display in at the birthplace of Pope Benedict—Marktl am Inn in Bavaria.

As for what Dieter planned to say to the Pope today?

“I will tell him that I’m very, very happy that I had the chance to hand the tiara over to him and that I’m very happy that a German Pope gets a tiara from the German Catholics.”

Methodist Ordination at Catholic Cathedral cancelled - Ecumenism has its limits

Liverpool's Catholic Cathedral
Archbishop Kelly - at the instance of the Pontifical Council for Christian Unity and the Congregation for Divine Worship - has withdrawn his invitation to the Methodist community to hold an ordination ceremony Liverpool's Cathedral of Christ the King.
Liverpool Cathedral interior - attribution

Full report from the Catholic Herald:
The controversial proposed ordination of Methodist ministers in Liverpool’s Metropolitan Cathedral in July has been called off. On the advice of the Vatican Archbishop Patrick Kelly of Liverpool has withdrawn the invitation he gave to the Methodist church last year. In a statement last week the archbishop said he had always recognised that “the occasion would be a symbol”.

Given “the iconic reality of the Metropolitan Cathedral far beyond Merseyside it would be watched, interpreted, scrutinised quite properly by many. And symbols are dangerous things; they can explode,” he said.

“Every pattern of ordination known to me is at the service of communion and an occasion for profound renewal of the most personal, hidden demands of discipleship. Spotlights, controversy, fear of misinterpretation undermine the prayer and discipleship into which the Spirit would lead us,” Archbishop Kelly said.

The proposed ordination service was roundly attacked by Catholic bloggers earlier this year. One called it “sacrilege”, while others criticised it for the confusion it would bring.

“It might result in people who protest against Catholic truth… conducting a service in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament in whose presence they don’t believe,” Ben Trovato wrote on the blog Countercultural Father. He continued: “It might lead people to imagine some equivalence between Methodism and the One True Church founded by Christ.”

Archbishop Kelly gave permission for the ordination service last autumn when he was approached by the Rev James Booth, chairman of the Liverpool Methodist District.

Methodist ordinations take place in conjunction with the annual Methodist Conference. Buildings of other denominations are often used because the Methodist have fewer large churches of their own.

Archbishop Kelly said the event “was not just a question of a large enough venue. It could also be a word about the ecumenical journey to which we have been long committed, which was re-affirmed when Cardinal (Walter) Kasper visited Liverpool at Pentecost in 2010 and yet more powerfully by Pope Benedict during his visit to this island last September.”

But over the last few months, while convalescing following his hip replacement surgery, Archbishop Kelly said he had “time to reflect” on his decision.

“I found myself often wondering if what I had encouraged was inappropriate at this time and a possible scandal in the original meaning of that word, a stumbling block for an ordination and for the ecumenical journey.”

He said he was “not entirely surprised” when learning that “this was the judgment of the Holy Father’s Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments and the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of Christian Unity in their interpretation of the principles set out in the ecumenical directory of that same Pontifical Council”.

Sadly, he said, he would have to withdraw the invitation. “I recognise that this decision will bring pain to some, relief to others, and confusion to many. I am very aware that it gives rise to very practical problems for the Methodists only two months before their ordinations,” he said. “I can only apologise for any drift for which I am responsible and pledge that I will continue to be as faithful as I have for all the nearly 50 years of my life as a priest to the ecumenical journey to which the Second Vatican Council committed every Roman Catholic,” he said.

Mr Booth said he had been delighted when Archbishop Kelly had agreed to the ordination “in the glorious building that is the Metropolitan Cathedral”.

“There had been careful conversation about how the Methodist ordination service could appropriately and properly be held in the cathedral, honouring and respecting both Roman Catholic and Methodist tradition and understanding, while at the same time affirming the ecumenical journey that we share and the fact that the destination of that journey is not yet reached,” he said.

“To say that I am disappointed that this decision has had to be taken would be an understatement, but it is a decision that I, and the Methodist church, must respect and understand,” he continued.

Referring to Archbishop Kelly as “a colleague and friend” he said he knew it was “a decision he has not taken lightly, but under that discipline of belonging that, as Methodists, I hope we understand”.

The Methodist ordinations will now take place in the Anglican cathedral in Chester. [There is a very fine Anglican cathedral in Liverpool - I was wondering why this ordination ceremony could not take place there.]
Liverpool's Anglican Cathedral.
The Lady Chapel of Liverpool's Anglican Cathedral.
One of those who had been due to be ordained in the Metropolitan Cathedral, Mark Rowland, said in his blog that the withdrawal of the invitation “reflects the rather colder wind that is now blowing for our ecumenical dialogues and relationships”.

He said: “The 21st century will look very different to the 20th in that regard and it is perhaps regrettable that we did not seize more fully the opportunities that were then available but are now fast slipping away, if they have not already gone.

“If this can be a wake-up call to us all as to the urgency of the ecumenical task then it has the possibility to be a blessing, but I suspect it may simply be a sign of what is to come.”

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Father Finigan gets his 3,000,000th visitor!

Well, just visit and say "well done".

Much needed shake up of Caritas underway

Cardinal Sarah (left), President of the Pontifical Council Cor Unum,
visiting Tsunami devastated Japan

Some headlines:

Vatican bans Fr Timothy Radcliffe from speaking at Caritas meeting (Protect the Pope)

Cardinal Robert Sarah, President of Pontifical Council Cor Unum, calls for renewal as Caritas Internationalis celebrates 60 years (EF Pastor Emeritus)

As Caritas’ identity is refined, new slogan called unrealistic (Catholic News Agency)

It seems that there are concerns at the highest level about a liberalising tendency within Caritas, the charitable arm of the Pontifical Council Cor Unum, and said Pontifical Council is setting about putting things right.

In his social encyclical Deus Caritas est, Pope Benedict reminded the Church that:

it is very important that the Church's charitable activity maintains all of its splendour and does not become just another form of social assistance...

Christian charitable activity must be independent of parties and ideologies. It is not a means of changing the world ideologically, and it is not at the service of worldly stratagems, but it is a way of making present here and now the love which man always needs.(n.31)

He also reminds us that personnel working for these agencies must be inspired by love of Christ and the Church, and should always work in union with the Bishops and that prayer should take priority over activism.

Here are some interesting excerpts from the CNS report:

The goal of a new slogan adopted by the Vatican’s official charity is being called “unrealistic” by the Church official charged with overseeing the organization.

Cardinal Robert Sarah said he doesn’t understand Caritas International’s new theme – “One Human Family – Zero Poverty,” which was unveiled at the charity’s annual meeting this week in Rome.

“I think it would be wise not to follow some unrealistic slogans. But, I'm very hesitant to understand what zero poverty means, because Christ said we will always have the poor. So, what is a realistic way we can fight the poverty? But, it's difficult to absolutely cancel out poverty,” he told CNA May 22.

The slogan is both the theme for this week’s conference and for the organization’s strategic document for the next four years.

That must have been embarassing - for Caritas to unveil its slogan and then its Vatican "overseer" criticise it.

The cardinal’s comments come at a difficult time for Caritas. The organization faces criticism from Cardinal Sarah, president of the Pontifical Council Cor Unum, and others for a perceived lack of Catholic identity.
“I believe it is important to understand that our charitable organizations are located within the Church and not alongside her,” he said.

“A Caritas that wasn’t an ecclesial expression would have no meaning or existence. The Church cannot be considered as a partner of Catholic organizations. They are the organizations that take part in her mission.”

Deacon Nick of Protect the Pope gives his own comment on the banning of Fr Timothy Radcliffe. My own experiece of CAFOD is entirely consonant with the comments he makes and I could not in conscience send parishioners' money to CAFOD. It was for a long time run by an openly homosexual man and ambivalent to say the least on the question of condoms.

Also, when I see campaigns for "justice" and "zero poverty" or "make poverty history", I fear that we are losing the plot. Blessed Mother Teresa never campaigned for an end to poverty or for justice for the oppressed and marginalised. She just helped the poor with love, the greatest gift man can offer man. With this, all sorts of projects for the development of the poor can be achieved, without any of the ideology of slogan.

It's refreshing to see some signs of a shake up in these important areas of the Church's activity.

Mugabe, the Beatification, Holy Communion and the "Internal Forum"

Bishop James Harvey welcomes Robert Mugabe before the funeral
of Pope John Paul II on April 8, 2005.

Father Eamon Whelan has published a report from UCAN/Southern Cross/SWRadio Africa which raises a number of questions. Here's the report:
When television broadcasts of the beatification of Pope John Paul II in the Vatican showed Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe receiving Holy Communion, many Catholics in southern Africa were scandalised.

Gunther Simmermacher, editor of the South African Catholic newspaper Southern Cross, said that many readers wrote to express their anger and hurt at Mr Mugabe’s warm welcome in the Vatican and his reception of the Eucharist at so public and exalted an event. He said: "How, many ask, can it be that a man who is responsible for the killing and persecution of so many people may take his place at the Lord’s Table?"

Defending the Vatican, Cardinal Wilfrid Napier, spokesman for the Southern African Catholic Bishops’ Conference and a critic of the president’s human rights record, explained: “For any Christian, receiving Communion is an act of personal choice made out of conscience before God. As such, it is a matter for the internal forum — between God and the believer.” No person but Mr Mugabe and perhaps his confessor can know whether he was in a state of grace when he presented himself for Communion in St Peter’s Square. It is not our place to interrogate Mr Mugabe internal forum.

"Moreover, as long as Mr Mugabe is not under interdict (as some Catholic pro-choice politicians in the United States are, at the discretion of local bishops), he may continue to receive Communion. We must hope that his personal chaplain will offer him the appropriate spiritual advice."

Many critics also ask why Mr Mugabe was allowed to attend the beatification ceremony of the Pope who in 2003 gave the Zimbabwean ambassador a most devastating public dressing-down over his regime’s reign of terror? He is banned from travelling to the EU, but several times now has come to Italy with his wife to attend events at the Vatican.

Simmermarcher wrote that televised images of “the tyrant being warmly embraced by a broadly smiling prelate was embarrassing for the courageous bishops of Zimbabwe, and to the clergy, religious and laity who strive for a peaceful transition to an equitable and accountable democracy."

Writing for SW Radio Africa, Tererai Karimakwenda says: "The church’s mandate to welcome all sinners, including murderers and dictators, has been defended even by those who were upset by Mugabe’s visit. But it is the level of warmth that was shown to the ZANU PF leader that has been of great concern."

Father Whelan comments:
Mr. Mugabe must have an elastic conscience, He has a price on the head of one of my classmates who is doing great work for the church and people in Hwange diocese in Zimbabwe.

I didn't keep a copy of my comment but it went something like this:

Dear Cardinal Napier

The reception of Holy Communion is a very external act and not at all to do with the internal forum. Defend Mugabe's admission to Holy Communion on some other grounds if you will, but not on the "internal forum" ground. This has been the means some have used to get round the prohibition from the admission to Holy Communion applicable to those who are divorced or remarried, in accordance with Canon 915 of the Code of Canon Law. Mugabe has some serious external forum issues to look at which pale into insignificance when compared to the difficulties of those who have found their marriages are not all they should be.


Perhaps the suggestion of interdict was made seriously?

Joplin Tornado and the Catholic Church

Witnessing the television reports of the devastation and loss of life in Joplin I couldn't help being struck by the huge Cross that stood out from the rubble. From Fr Z's blog we learn that this is pretty much all that remains of St Mary's Catholic Church.
I'm sure we are all praying for everyone affected.

From National Catholic Register we learn how significant the Catholic Church is in Joplin:

The Catholic Church was especially hard hit, with the loss of the town’s largest Catholic parish and rectory, an elementary school and a hospital.

“It’s devastating,” said Gene Koester, principal of the local Catholic high school. “It looks like a bomb hit Joplin.”

“The neighborhood around St. Mary’s was scoured clean,” said Bishop James Johnston of Springfield-Cape Girardeau. Bishop Johnston was preparing to travel to Joplin today with the director of Catholic Charities of Southern Missouri. “Our biggest challenge will be addressing the needs of the grade school, which was just flattened, and pastoral care for families in the parish.”

All that remained of the church were some walls and a large cross.

“Father Justin Monaghan, pastor of St. Mary’s, was hunkered down in a bathtub at the rectory when the tornado ripped through Joplin,” said Recy Moore, director of the communications office for the Diocese of Springfield-Cape Girardeau. “Parishioners were able to dig through the rubble to get him to safety.”

Father Monaghan was uninjured and spent the evening at a parishioner’s home.

St. John’s Regional Medical Center was hit hard, as well.

“All the windows were blown out. The roof was torn off. They’ve found patient X-rays and records 70 miles away,” said Bishop Johnston.

“No part of the hospital is functional,” said Joanne Cox, a spokeswoman for the Sisters of Mercy Healthcare System.


Immediately following the tornado, all of the hospital’s patients were evacuated to other medical facilities, triage centers and Freeman Hospital in Joplin. Some of them were taken to the local Catholic high school.

Read more at NCR.

Almost 30,000 attend pro-life march in Peru

From Catholic News Agency:

Lima, Peru, May 24, 2011 / 01:50 pm (CNA).- The Natural Family Planning Center of Peru reported that 30,000 people participated in the March for Life in Lima.

Auxiliary Bishop Raul Chau of Lima noted that the May 21 event “was a festival in which Catholics clearly said that we do not want abortion in our country because that would mean legalizing the deaths of thousands of innocent babies.”

The thousands of participants carried banners, balloons and signs as they marched through the streets of the Peruvian capital.

Martin Tantalean, the president of the Natural Family Planning Center, told CNA the massive event was a sign of the growing grassroots movement among Peruvians to make their voices heard to the country’s leaders.

“It is important that Peruvians speak out in support of life and demand that both of the candidates in the runoff elections on June 5 respect the constitution, in order to defend all unborn babies in Peru,” he said.

The march concluded with addresses by numerous leaders and a Catholic music concert.

Day of Prayer for China

Our Lady of She-Shan (found at Public Vigil)
May 24th, feast of Our Lady Help of Christians, is kept by the Church as a day of prayer for China but, according to Catholic News Agency, the Chinese government is reacting by restricting access to the Shrine of Our Lady of Sheshan and canceling the celebration of Mass.

Rome, Italy, May 24, 2011 / 05:34 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Prayers are being said around the globe today for the Church in China, but the Chinese government is reacting by restricting access to the Shrine of Our Lady of Sheshan and canceling the celebration of Mass.

May 24 marks the Feast of Our Lady Help of Christians, a day specially set aside by Pope Benedict XVI for remembering the plight of Chinese Catholics.

"For us, for our community, I can say the Pope is like a father who loves his children,” said Father Pietro Cui, the priest in charge of the Pastoral Care of Chinese Catholics in Italy.

“The Holy Father made a special appeal for the people of China and we must thank him for that because it’s very important, also that the world may know that this day is important for all Catholics,” he told CNA May 24.

Our Lady of China (found at Public Vigil)

The day has particular significance for Chinese Catholics as it occasion when many traditionally make a pilgrimage to the shrine of Our Lady of Sheshan in Shanghai. Various media reports, though, suggest that the Chinese government set up security checkpoints around the shrine to prevent pilgrims from visiting - a fact confirmed by Fr. Cui.

“The sanctuary of Our Lady of Sheshan is very important to us. She is our Madonna, the Madonna of China. I've heard that pilgrims are not very free to go to Sheshan. I've heard of problems today, though.” Those problems also seem to exist in other parts of China too.

Fr. Cui said that in the north of China Catholics are “not very free to celebrate Mass.” Although he described the restrictions on the Church as “normal” for locals, Fr. Cui said that he spoke with some families on the phone who said that today “there is no Holy Mass because the government says they can’t.”

At present, the Chinese government only allows the state-controlled “Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association” to operate freely within the country. The Association does not acknowledge the authority of the Pope. It’s estimated there are some 6 million such Catholics in China although millions more are worshiping outside the official church.

Hence the call of the Pope for prayer as explained today by his spokesman, Father Federico Lombardi, S.J.

“The Pope’s latest appeal to all the faithful for the Day of Prayer for the Church in China, on May 24th, should be understood for what it is meant to be: that is, above all, an appeal for prayer. The Pope believes in the power of prayer and invites us to be ‘confident that, through prayer we can do something very real’ for the Church in China.”

National Shrine of St Joseph, De Pere, Wisconsin

On a recent post-Easter vacation which took in Green Bay and Chicago, I visited the National Shrine of St Joseph which is at St Norbert's Abbey in De Pere, Wisconsin, not far from Green Bay. The abbey is set in beautiful grounds. The National Shrine is beneath the abbey church and is quite small. The shrine was recognised as the National Shrine by Pope Leo XIII in 1892.

I was struck by the beauty of the crowned statue. If Jesus is truly God, then Joseph bore - and bears - God in his holy arms. If Christ is the Head of the Church, Joseph is truly the Protector of the Church for he bears our Head in the safety of his arms. If the Church is the Mystical Body of Christ, and the Head and members are one, then Joseph also bears the Church - the Body of Christ - in his arms.

And as the Holy Joseph of Israel was in charge of the grain and Pharoah directed the hungry people to "go to Joseph", so too must we "go to Joseph" to obtain the Bread of Life whom he bears for us.

In this image, St Joseph is also shown as king.

My friend Father John Doerfler and I were the only ones in the crypt shrine. The quiet atmosphere and the beauty of this sculpture led easily to contemplation and simple theological thoughts.

Memorare of St Joseph

Remember, O most illustrious Patriarch Saint Joseph,
never has it been heard that anyone who asked for your protection
or sought your intercession was left unaided.
In this confidence, I come before you,
my loving protector, chaste Spouse of Mary;
foster father of the Saviour and dispenser of the treasures of His Sacred Heart.
Despise not my earnest prayer but graciously hear and obtain my petition...

O God Who by Your providence
chose Blessed Joseph for the spouse of Your Most Holy Mother,
grant, I ask, that he whom we venerate as our protector on earth
may be our intercessor in Heaven. Amen.

I should say that this was not the first "shrine" we visited. This was:

Vince Lombardi was the legendary 1960's coach
of the Packers. Under his watch they won
the first two Super Bowls in 1966 and 1967. He was
also a practising Catholic and attended Mass at
the Cathedral Church of St Francis Xavier.

Earl Louis (Curly) Lambeau (1898 - 1965) was
founder, player, and first coach of the Packers.


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