Paying A Mortgage

Much has been made of Pope Francis’ remarks on liturgy to Rome’s diocesan clergy. But I found it more interesting his comments on “retread” seminarians:

(Pope Francis) then referred to the case of some bishops who accepted “traditionalist” seminarians who were kicked out of other dioceses, without finding out information on them, because “they presented themselves very well, very devout.” They were then ordained, but these were later revealed to have “psychological and moral problems.”

It is not a practice, but it “happens often” in these environments, the Pope stressed, and to ordain these types of seminarians is like placing a “mortgage on the Church.” The underlying problem is that some bishops are sometimes overwhelmed by “the need for new priests in the diocese.” Therefore, an adequate discernment among candidates is not made, among whom some can hide certain “imbalances” that are then manifested in liturgies. In fact, the Congregation of Bishops – the Pontiff went on to say – had to intervene with three bishops on three of these cases, although they didn’t occur in Italy.

It happens here in the US, too. I served in one diocese where the bishop could not be dissuaded from taking out such mortgages, in one case when the deal had been turned down by two other bishops.

shedMortgage is about right. Immature but manipulative guys learn how to groom bishops, and while some traditional-leaning prelates may indeed be “saints” (I would agree with the personal holiness of my former bishop, Robert Finn) they also set themselves up as prime targets in naïveté for someone looking for an easy, sheltered life. Some clergy may indeed appear holy and saintly on the outside, but such things can mask more serious flaws. Bishops cannot function without a well-developed ability for discernment. The problem with the Congregation of Bishops under Pope Benedict and the later years of JP2 is not that they promoted too many conservative bishops. But that they gave us too many bad conservative bishops.

How much is the reform2 movement compromised? I have no idea about that. I think a lack of openness is a problem for musicians and artists. It’s a big problem in the spiritual life. I’ve mentioned several times here I think a hermeneutic of continuity is a danger to continuing conversion, and the essence of moving forward with the Lord. Continuity is a pastoral practice–not at all the same as a value in the mystical life.

Could a prospective seminarian have one bad experience in one diocese? Sure. That could happen. But it should raise a flag of concern. Seminarians are being asked to change their lives. Their contact with bishops, spiritual directors, vocation folk, and seminary rectors is not a mutual relationship of growth.

Posted in bishops | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Two Bishops Compared

In Australia, on the sex-abuse cover-up scandal, praise for the sacked bishop and jeers for the prelate promoted to head up the Church’s change-purse. From Frank Brennan:

We’ve never been given a coherent rationale for Pope Benedict’s sacking of (Bishop) Morris. When Morris was sacked, (Cardinal) Pell had explained to the Catholic News Agency that “the diocese was divided quite badly and the bishop hasn’t demonstrated that he’s a team player.” The Royal Commission’s report on Toowoomba shows just what a team player Morris was.

On the other hand, the Royal Commission’s report on Sydney provides evidence of a fairly disorganized team led by His Eminence. The report reveals a considerable disconnect even between Cardinal Pell and his Vicar General/Chancellor, Monsignor Brian Rayner. There was confusion whether Rayner had kept Pell informed of the Archdiocese’s formal dealings with Ellis.

Perhaps this is why George Pell has a Vatican desk job today. I can’t imagine that Pope Francis is going to reopen old wounds by reinstating Bill Morris. It certainly is possible that the institution’s judgment on these two bishops is accurate enough: Pell a talented guy, though a bumbler on scandal; Morris a stumbling block for opening up uncomfortable discussions, but not actually doing anything against Church doctrine. And unfortunately for Pope Benedict, the dismissal rather made Bill Morris a household name across Catholicism, and the pope emeritus into something of a bad guy.

Posted in bishops, sex abuse | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

Deep Freeze

Queen ElsaIowa’s really cold days were Tuesday and Wednesday this week. Supposedly it got a little warmer yesterday, but I wasn’t outside much to notice or compare.

The young miss sent me this news story. The thought struck me that a Kentucky kid might think it amusing to call the police on his Elsa-costumed sister on Halloween, suggesting she be detained on an eight-month-old arrest warrant.

A funny bit of family serendipity: Harlan is my mother’s hometown.

Posted in humor, My Family | Leave a comment

DPPL 228: Roman Calendar

STA altar at night smallSeparate from the listing of saints in the martyrology is the liturgical calendar. Geeks know there is a universal calendar of saints that have (or the Church wishes they would have) worldwide appeal. Added to that in each nation is additional saints for liturgical observance.

228. The development of the Calendarium Romanum, which indicates the date and grade of the celebrations in honor of the Saints, is closely related to the history of the Martyrologium Romanum.

Vatican II dictated a reform to the old calendar:

In accordance with the desire of the Second Vatican Council, the present Calendarium Romanum (The Calendarium Romanum was published by Paul VI on 14 February 1969, with the Apostolic Letter Mysterii paschalis, in AAS 61 (1969) 222-226) contains only those memorials of the “Saints of a truly universal importance”(SC 111), and leaves mention of other Saints to the particular calenders of a given nation, region, diocese or religious family.

That revision was not without a spot of controversy here and there. But there were good reasons for particular decisions, however unpopular they might have been in some quarters:

It would seem convenient to recall, at this point, the reasons leading to the reduction in the number of commemorations in the Calendarium Romanum so as to translate it into pastoral praxis: the reduction was made because “the feasts of the Saints may not take precedence over commemorations of the mysteries of salvation”(SC 111). Throughout the centuries, “the multiplication of feasts, vigils, and octaves, and the growing complexity of the various parts of the liturgical year” often “led the faithful to observe particular devotions so that the impression was given of their detaching themselves from the fundamental mysteries of divine redemption”(Paul VI, Apostolic Letter Mysterii paschalis, 1, in AAS 61 (1969) 222).

We covered this point earlier in the document. Jesus and his salvific ministry is primary. Saints should not overshadow the essence of the story of salvation. Today, some still lament the simplification of the liturgical year. But particular devotions, such as the ones to Saint Christopher, are still options for individuals. Remember, the Directory on Popular Piety and the Liturgy is online at the Vatican site.

Posted in Directory on Popular Piety and the Liturgy, post-conciliar liturgy documents | Leave a comment

Lenten Reflections: Worthiness

In a letter to Dorothy Day, (cited on the HuffPo last year) Thomas Merton wrote:

Our job is to love others without stopping to inquire whether or not they are worthy.

I love this quote. It occurred to me it has a broader meaning than checking the cred of the people toward whom we might be inclined to show charity.

horse and buggyI have long been a skeptic on the Catholic emphasis on unworthiness. Of course we are unworthy. Doesn’t everybody know that? The truth of it is that God has offered to graft us into his family, and Jesus showed people the ultimate love in laying down his life for his friends. And all the rest of us.

It seems to me that Thomas Merton’s thought can be adjusted a bit for this season.

Our job is to make a good Lent without stopping to inquire whether or not we are worthy.

We just do it. If we falter or fall off the wagon, pick ourselves up. Get back on board.

Posted in Lent, spirituality | Leave a comment

Mutuae Relationes 36: Religious Working in a Diocese, Especially Clergy

SenanquecloisterFor the next week, in numbered sections 36 through 43, we’ll look at how bishops and religious women and men work together to further the pastoral mission with which they’ve been entrusted. You can check the full document online here.

36. The Council affirms that “members, too, of religious institutes, both men and women, also belong in a special sense to the diocesan family and render valuable help to the sacred hierarchy, and in view of the growing needs of the apostolate they can and should constantly increase the aid they give” (Christus Dominus 34).

For religious working in the chancery and parishes, this is clear. They have job descriptions. They work for the mission of the place where they draw their paycheck. Their witness of charity as lived through the evangelical counsels gives a particular and graced flavor to the efforts of communities made up of clergy and laity.

How do cloistered communities see themselves? My experience is that their simple presence in the peripheries of geography draw people to pray and reflect. This may well be the most valuable connection anyone could offer.

In places where there are more than one rite, religious, when carrying out activities on behalf of the faithful of rites different from their own, should follow the norms regulating the relationships between themselves and bishops of other rites (cf. Eccl. Sanctae I, 23).

It is important that such criteria be applied, not only in the final stages but also in determining and elaborating a plan of action, without prejudice, however, to the role proper to the bishop of making the decisions.

Bishops are leaders, of course. But they do not work in a vacuum.

Religious priests, by virtue of the very unity of the priesthood (cf. Lumen Gentium 28; CD 28; 11) and inasmuch as they share in the care of souls, “may be said, in a certain sense, to belong to the diocesan clergy” (CD 34); therefore, in the field of activity, they can and should serve to unite and coordinate religious men and women with the local clergy and bishop.

That “certain sense” of belonging to a brotherhood of clergy is true enough. But they do not “belong” to a bishop. It seems that religious clergy within a diocese have an opportunity for careful and thoughtful discernment.

Thoughts or comments, especially from religious clergy?

Posted in bishops, Mutuae Relationes, women religious | 1 Comment

DPPL 226-227: Celebrations of Saints and Blesseds

STA altar at night smallSince we skipped yesterday to observe Ash Wednesday, let’s do two in one post today:

226. The reciprocal influence of Liturgy and popular piety is particularly noticeable in the various forms of cult given to the saints and to the Beati. Here, it would seem opportune to recall, however briefly, the principle forms of the Church’s veneration of the Saints in the Liturgy: these should enlighten and guide expressions of popular piety.

The liturgy forms and focuses the devotional expression: we’ve heard variations on that theme before.

Let’s look at saint celebrations as they occur in the liturgical year, and quite often, as they are recalled at the celebration of Mass:

Celebration of Saints
227. The celebration of a feast in honor of a Saint – and what is said in this regard also applies to the Beati, servatis servandis – is undoubtedly the most eminent expression of cult that the ecclesial community can give: in many cases it implicitly involves the celebration of the Holy Eucharist. Determining a day for such an observance is a relevant, and sometimes complicated, cultic event, in which various historical, liturgical, and cultic factors cannot always be easily accommodated.

Observing the date of death is ancient, and connected to the cult of early martyrs.

In the Roman Church and in other local Churches, the celebration of the memorial of the martyrs on the anniversary of their passion (their assimilation with Christ and heavenly birth)(The tradition of the “dies natalis” or date of death of the martyrs. This usage dates at least from the fifth century. Cf. St. Augustine, Sermo 310, 1: PL 38, 1412-1413), the recollection of the Ecclesiae conditor or of other saintly Bishops who ruled these sees, the memorial of Confessors for the faith or of anniversaries such as the dedication of the Cathedral, progressively gave rise to the development of local calendars, which kept the date and place of the deaths of particular Saints, or groups of Saints.

Cathedral dedications are vital, though not always recognized outside of cathedral parishes.

The martyrologies quickly evolved from the local calendars: the Syriac Martyrology (fifth century), the Martyrologium Hieronymianum (sixth century), the Martyrology of Bede (eight century), the Martyrology of Lyons (ninth century), the Martyrology of Usardo (ninth century) and that of Adon (ninth century).

The Church reminds us of the Tridentine and modern martyrologies:

On 14 January 1584, Gregory XIII promulgated the editio typica of the Martyrologium Romanum for liturgical use. On 29 June 2001, John Paul II promulgated the first post-Conciliar revision of the Martyrologium Romanum (Martyrologium Romanum ex decreto Sacrosancti Oecumenici Concilii Vaticani Secundi instauratum auctoritate Ioannis Pauli PP. II promulgatum, Editio Typica, Typiis Vaticanis 2001). The revision was based on the Roman tradition and incorporated the dates of many historical martyrdoms, and collects the names of many Saints and Beati. The Martyrologium Romanum bears witness to the extraordinary wealth of sanctity which the Spirit of the Lord has raised up in the Church in different places, and at different times in her history.

The Directory on Popular Piety and the Liturgy is online at the Vatican site.

Posted in Directory on Popular Piety and the Liturgy, post-conciliar liturgy documents | Leave a comment