Father Mark, back from France, has been blogging up a storm about Pope Benedict's encyclical, Spe Salvi, will several quotes and bits of commentary, too many to link individually in fact. Just go to his December archives here.
Recently in Church News Category
Yesterday, Pope Benedict XVI created 23 new Cardinals. The liturgy was especially notable for being the public debut of the Pope's new Master of Pontifical Ceremonies, Guido Marini, who aided some flair with an old-school cathedra and some luscious vestments. For Catholic Nerdalicious coverage, check out Rocco, Fr. Z (liturgical commentary), Zadok, John Allen, the Vatican's homepage for the event (presumably English translations will be available there soon), Zenit (for unofficial -- and faster -- translatons), and a blog by the hometown newspaper of one of the new Cardinals: Daniel DiNardo, Archbshop of Galveston-Houston, Texas.
Here's a snip from one of Allen's posts:
While people typically joked with most of the new cardinals, or simply expressed their good wishes and posed for photographs, those who took Delly’s hands were often in tears, pouring out their concern and expressing their solidarity. Delly was gracious and consoling, but also obviously moved by the experience.
In the context of an analysis of Pope Benedict's visit to Turkey, the Economist goes into some of the tensions the Patriarch of Constantinople deals with. I have to say, I haven't seen many of these issues covered prominently anywhere else (though I guess there's not a huge demand for coverage of Orthodox controversies).
Perhaps the wariest observers are the Russian authorities, both lay and clerical. As the pope has quickly found, his declared wish for rapprochement with Orthodox Christians has opened up an old fault-line in the Orthodox world between the Russians, who see themselves as top Orthodox dogs by virtue of numbers and geopolitical power, and the Istanbul patriarchate, which enjoys an historic “primacy of honour” among Orthodox sees.
In September, when senior bishops of the Roman Catholic and Orthodox world held their first formal encounter for many years, the Catholics were embarrassed to find themselves witnessing a big Greco-Russian squabble, laced with intricate arguments over the meaning of decisions taken 1,500 years ago. In a world where politics and religion inexorably overlap, such matters affect diplomacy too.
Take the thorny issue over whether the Istanbul bishop may style himself “ecumenical” or universal patriarch. The Turkish state says no: his followers, including an influential lobby of Greek-Americans, say yes. A fresh spat broke out only this week when the Turkish authorities declared that the patriarchate's security badges for the papal visit were invalid because they employed the E-word. Officials in Ankara admit that they are under pressure from Russia on this issue of Christian nomenclature. The message from Moscow is that Turkey's present policy suits them just fine. Pity the pope as he tiptoes around this many-cornered fight.
The Tablet blurbs on an article that appeared in the Italian La Stampa on the discovery of the 60-year old diary of an Augustinian sister. The diary reveals that the convent sheltered Jews from the Nazis at the direct request of Pope Pius XII. Please note this will do nothing to quiet the chants of "Hitler's Pope!"
Zenit has a two-part (1, 2) interview with Catholic therapist Andrew Sodergren, a fellow U of I alum I know from the St. John's Newman Center. I was actually an usher at his wedding. I haven't had a chance to read it yet (I figure if I blog it, I won't forget), but it's probably worth your while.
Good work, Bongo!
I have a back-log of Zenit stories about the Pope, so I'll drop them all here:
Last week, the pope addressed two pontifical academies - the Academy of the Sciences and the Academy of the Social Sciences - and unveiled a sculpture of Pope John Paul II.
Zenit has the text of his address, in which he talked about the centrailty of the human person in society. An excerpt:
The concept of person continues to bring about a profound understanding of the unique character and social dimension of every human being. This is especially true in legal and social institutions, where the notion of "person" is fundamental. Sometimes, however, even when this is recognized in international declarations and legal statutes, certain cultures, especially when not deeply touched by the Gospel, remain strongly influenced by group-centered ideologies or by an individualistic and secularist view of society. The social doctrine of the Catholic Church, which places the human person at the heart and source of social order, can offer much to the contemporary consideration of social themes.
Here is the Zenit translation of the Pope's address at last week's general audience, which reflected on Ephesians 1:3-10.
Here is an excerpt:
Last week, the Pope also met with participants in a conference of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization. Here is the text of his remarks to them.
Here I wish to mention the importance of helping native communities, all too often subjected to undue appropriations aimed at profit, as your Organization recently pointed out in its "Guidelines on the Right to Food." Also, it must not be forgotten that, while some areas are subject to international measures and controls, millions of people are condemned to hunger, even outright starvation, in areas where violent conflicts are taking place, conflicts which public opinion tends to neglect because they are considered "internal," "ethnic" or "tribal." Yet these conflicts have seen human lives systematically eliminated, while people have been uprooted from their lands and at times forced, in order to flee certain death, to leave their precarious settlements in refugee camps.
An encouraging sign is the initiative of FAO to convene its Member States to discuss the issue of agrarian reform and rural development. This is not a new area, but one in which the Church has always shown interest, out of particular concern for small rural farmers who represent a significant part of the active population especially in developing countries. One course of action might be to ensure that rural populations receive the resources and tools which they need, beginning with education and training, as well as organizational structures capable of safeguarding small family farms and cooperatives (cf. "Gaudium et Spes," 71).
I haven't listened to it yet, but this promises to be interesting. The line-up includes John Allen of the National Catholic Reporter and Bishop William Skylstad, head of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops.
So it's officially out now. The document that some on both sides of the debate seem to think authorizes live-burning of gays was released officially today. The official English translation is here.
Here is the money quote:
A good article as far as it goes, though I dared Mama-Lu to write the editors to say: "It's about sex!"
Slate has an interesting if unhelpful little piece about Catholics and Confessing - specifically why the former ain't doin' the latter.
What stands out about this piece is the irony of a let-it-all-hang-out generation that somehow abhors the idea of anonymous confession.
All this public confessing testifies to the impulse to share our deepest shame. So, why isn't that impulse manifesting itself in Catholics practicing the ritual that was created expressly for that purpose? Of course, Catholic penance—whether it's done in a confessional booth or in a face-to-face meeting with a priest, an innovation introduced in 1973—is supposed to be private and confidential. It may be that in an age of media-fueled exhibitionism, some people want more attention for our misdeeds than can be had from whispering a list of sins in a box in a church. But those Internet confessions won't count toward absolution in the eyes of the church any time soon. "There are no sacraments on the Internet," declared the Pontifical Council for Social Communication unequivocally in 2002.
Despite a reasonably fair analysis of the situation, the author misses the most obvious factor keeping Catholics from receiving absolution: the prevalence (yes I'm using this word properly) of the idea that there is no such thing as sin. Call it relativism, call it the "loss of the sense of sin," no matter: if Catholics don't believe that their actions are in fact sinful, why should they seek forgiveness for them?
Another small point that sticks out: the author asserts that the Sacrament's "official" name is "The Sacrament of Reconciliation". This is untrue. The "official" name (according to the Catechism) is actually "The Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation".
Catholic News Agency had a very laudatory story about the Newman Center at my alma mater and its current chaplain on Friday. Fellow alumni might like to take a look.