Tuesday, October 31, 2006


Pope's Latin mass plans spark concern
By Tom Heneghan, Religion EditorTue Oct 31

It isn't official. It may not even happen. But reports that Pope Benedict could soon revive the old Latin mass are stoking heated debates among European Catholics with some fearing this will turn the clock back.

The uproar is loudest in France, where clergy and laity are ringing alarm bells against bringing back the old liturgy.

Church leaders in Belgium and Germany have also grumbled, saying demand for the old Tridentine mass in Latin was minimal and warning the traditionalists could use it as a wedge to smuggle more divisive issues into the world's largest church.

"The (Tridentine Latin) rite is only the locomotive -- the issue is the carriages that are pulled behind it," Brussels Cardinal Godfried Danneels said last week. "Behind this locomotive are carriages that I don't want."

These rumblings hint that Benedict might alienate many mainstream Catholics if he opts for a deal to heal an 18-year schism with the Society of Saint Pius X, a Swiss-based group that rejects the landmark Second Vatican Council (1962-1965).
"We risk creating a front of sadness, discouragement and disappointment with the Holy See," said Toulouse Archbishop Robert Le Gall, using the Vatican's official name. "The liturgy is just the tip of the iceberg."

The Tridentine mass is seen as a symbol of rejecting modernizing reforms such as more participation by the faithful, respect for Judaism and cooperation with Protestants.
Most of the world's 1.1 billion Roman Catholics attend Sunday or daily mass in their own language rather than Latin which Vatican II sidelined. Many agree with the respect for other religions that Vatican II made official Church policy.

Priests can still say mass in Latin. All they need is permission from their bishop.

But in fact, few Latin masses are said and few faithful turn out for them, the German bishops conference noted last month after conducting an internal study. "We could not see any growth in interest in it, as some have asserted," they added.

The Society of Saint Pius X, which has about 1 million followers worldwide and is especially strong in France, does not just champion the solemn old Latin mass but flatly rejects what founder, late French Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, called "neo-modernist and neo-Protestant" reforms of Vatican II.

Benedict shares their love of Latin and the traditional liturgy and seems keen to bring them back into the fold so they don't set up a permanent parallel Catholic-like church.
Reports from the Vatican say he is also ready to meet their main demands -- which are the unconditional revival of the Tridentine mass as an alternative to the modern liturgy and the lifting of excommunications of the four SSPX bishops whom Lefebvre consecrated in defiance of the Vatican in 1988.

Paris Archbishop Andre Vingt-Trois bluntly spelled out the problems the traditionalists would bring at a Paris conference attended by Cardinal Francis Arinze, the Vatican official in charge of liturgical issues such as how to say mass.

"Under the cover of a campaign to defend a certain type of liturgy, there is a radical critique of the Vatican Council, even outright rejection of some of its declarations," he said.

"The rejection of new liturgies was followed by public insults against the popes and crowned by violent acts such as the forcible seizure of a parish church in Paris and an aborted attempt by the same people to repeat this," he said.

The warning from Vingt-Trois came after a rising chorus of criticism from other clergy in France, where the schism also has strong political overtones because of the links some SSPX followers have with royalist or far-right movements.

In an open letter, 30 young priests said Benedict, 79, should encourage them "to work in the world as it is ... rather than plunge us back into the liturgical life of another age."

Besancon's Bishop Andre Lacrampe said he would like to welcome traditionalists back into the Church but not in a quick deal that avoided answering the Vatican II question.

Danneels, an outspoken moderate in the overwhelmingly conservative College of Cardinals, urged the Vatican to be tough in its negotiations with SSPX.

"I've never heard their leaders say even once that they accept Vatican II," he told the Brussels daily De Standaard.

"I think the Vatican should demand this."

Monday, October 23, 2006

French clerics criticize Pope's Latin mass plans
By Tom Heneghan, Religion Editor Mon Oct 23, 8:52 AM ET

Pope Benedict's expected revival of the old Latin mass has provoked protests from Roman Catholic clergy in France, a major center of the traditionalist schism the Pontiff hopes to overcome with the gesture.

Five bishops and 30 priests -- a considerable number in a church normally wary of open dissent -- have expressed grave concern about making this concession to ultra-conservatives who reject the reforms of the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965).

Unswerving loyalty to the old Latin, or Tridentine mass, often goes hand in hand with a rejection of the Vatican II reforms, which opened the church to respect for and cooperating with other faiths and switched to a modern mass conducted in local languages.

The protests printed in the Catholic press highlighted serious issues the Vatican faces if, as church sources have reported, it announces soon that priests are free to say the vintage mass as an alternative to the modern liturgy.

Demand for a return the Tridentine mass -- an austere ceremony in which the priest prays in Latin with his back to a silent congregation -- is minimal among the world's 1.1 billion Catholics.
In the modern mass, the priest faces the faithful, who pray and sing in active participation with him.

"This could create grave difficulties, especially for those who have remained loyal to Vatican II," Toulouse Bishop Robert Le Gall told the Catholic daily La Croix. In an open letter, 30 young priests said Benedict, 79, should encourage them "to work in the world as it is ... rather than plunge us back into the liturgical life of another age."

Dating back to 1570, the Tridentine mass was dropped in the 1960s and can now be said only with a bishop's special permission.

But the Society of Saint Pius X (SSPX), a Swiss-based group launched by the late French Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre to oppose 1960s reforms, has demanded a blanket permission, or indult, for the Tridentine mass as a condition for its return to the church.

SSPX leader Bishop Bernard Fellay and other leaders were excommunicated in 1988.

Fellay says the Vatican looks set to grant the indult soon to take the SSPX back into the church.
But he insists his million-strong movement, many in France, would continue to contest Vatican II reforms from inside the church, creating a loyal opposition keen to steer it back to earlier practices.

The Vatican has already provoked protest in Bordeaux by readmitting five SSPX priests who preformed a Tridentine mass in a church they occupied there.

Cardinal Jean-Pierre Ricard, Bordeaux archbishop and head of the French Bishops' Conference, has urged French Catholics to welcome rebel priests who return to the church.

"We can be charitable and welcoming but we also have to be honest," Besancon Bishop Andre Lacrampe told the daily L'Est Republicain. "I'm not ready to receive them because one cannot erase Vatican II with a stroke of a pen."

"There are very deep and painful theological reasons behind this schism," Angouleme Bishop Claude Dagens told the Catholic weekly La Vie. "You can't pretend that Archbishop Lefebvre's break with the church was only caused by the liturgy."

Lille Archbishop Gerard Defois said some SSPX faithful were linked to far-right political movements and noted in a statement that some had "resorted to violent means to occupy churches."

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Fascinating. Truly a touch of grace in life's final moments

Late Italian journalist/atheist saw Pope as ally against 'Islamic invasion'
Sat Oct 21, 1:28 PM
By Frances D'Emilio
ROME (AP) - An Italian journalist and self-described atheist who died last month has left most of her books and notes to a pontifical university in Rome because of her admiration for Pope Benedict, a school official said Saturday.

Oriana Fallaci had described the pontiff as an ally in her campaign to rally Christians in Europe against what she saw as a Muslim crusade against the West. As she battled breast cancer last year, she had a private audience with Benedict, who had been elected only a few months earlier, at the papal summer residence in Castel Gandolfo.

In one of her final interviews, Fallaci told The Wall Street Journal: "I am an atheist, and if an atheist and a Pope think the same things, there must be something true."

Benedict was surprised by the gift of the books, some of which date to the 17th century and included volumes about the formation of modern-day Italy, American history, philosophy and theology, said Msgr. Rino Fisichella, rector of the Pontifical Lateranense University in Rome.
"The veneration that she had for you, Holy Father, persuaded her to make this donation, which will be known as the Oriana Fallaci Archives," Fisichella said during a ceremony at the university Saturday to announce the gift of the books.

Benedict greeted Fallaci's nephew and his family during the ceremony, according to the Italian news agency ANSA. He then spoke briefly about the search for truth in science and academia.
"God is the ultimate truth to which all reason naturally gravitates," the pontiff told an audience of students and faculty.

A few weeks before her death, Fallaci had some 20 boxes of books sent to the university, Fisichella later told The Associated Press. Books are still awaiting shipment from her homes in New York and Tuscany, he said, as well as her notes as a journalist.
Fisichella said "the Pope has said we must live in the world as if God existed and she (Fallaci) took up the challenge."

After decades of conducting major interviews and covering wars as a correspondent for two of Italy's largest daily newspapers, Fallaci concentrated her passion and energy in her last years on vehement attacks against a Muslim world she judged to be the enemy of western civilization.
Absent from the publishing scene for nearly a decade, Fallaci burst back into the spotlight after the Sept. 11 attacks in the U.S. with a string of blistering essays in which she argued that Muslims were carrying out a crusade against the Christian West.

At the time of her death, she was on trial in northern Italy, accused of defaming Islam in her 2004 book, "The Strength of Reason." In it she argued that Europe had sold its soul to what she called an Islamic invasion.

Fallaci had also taken the Catholic Church to task for being what she considered too weak before the Muslim world, despite her praise of Benedict.

She died three days after the Pope delivered a speech at a German university in which he quoted a Byzantine emperor who characterized some of the teachings of the Prophet Muhammad as "evil and inhuman," particularly "his command to spread by the sword the faith."

Benedict, who has been calling for more dialogue between Muslims and Christians while at the same time urging Europeans to defend their Christian traditions, will make his first pilgrimage as pontiff to a predominantly Muslim country when he visits Turkey in November.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006


The Times - October 11, 2006

Pope set to bring back Latin Mass that divided the ChurchBy Ruth Gledhill, Religion Correspondent

THE Pope is taking steps to revive the ancient tradition of the Latin Tridentine Mass in Catholic churches worldwide, according to sources in Rome.

Pope Benedict XVI is understood to have signed a universal indult — or permission — for priests to celebrate again the Mass used throughout the Church for nearly 1,500 years. The indult could be published in the next few weeks, sources told The Times.

Use of the Tridentine Mass, parts of which date from the time of St Gregory in the 6th century and which takes its name from the 16th-century Council of Trent, was restricted by most bishops after the reforms of the Second Vatican Council (1962-65).

This led to the introduction of the new Mass in the vernacular to make it more accessible to contemporary audiences. By bringing back Mass in Latin, Pope Benedict is signalling that his sympathies lie with conservatives in the Catholic Church.

One of the most celebrated rebels against its suppression was Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, who broke with Rome in 1988 over this and other reforms. He was excommunicated after he consecrated four bishops, one of them British, without permission from the Pope.

Some Lefebvrists, including those in Brazil, have already been readmitted. An indult permitting the celebration of the Tridentine Mass could help to bring remaining Lefebvrists and many other traditional Catholics back to the fold.

The priests of England and Wales are among those sometimes given permission to celebrate the Old Mass according to the 1962 Missal. Tridentine Masses are said regularly at the Oratory and St James’s Spanish Place in London, but are harder to find outside the capital.

The new indult would permit any priest to introduce the Tridentine Mass to his church, anywhere in the world, unless his bishop has explicitly forbidden it in writing.

Catholic bloggers have been anticipating the indult for months. The Cornell Society blog says that Father Martin Edwards, a London priest, was told by Cardinal Joseph Zen, of Hong Kong, that the indult had been signed. Cardinal Zen is alleged to have had this information from the Pope himself in a private meeting.

“There have been false alarms before, not least because within the Curia there are those genuinely well-disposed to the Latin Mass, those who are against and those who like to move groups within the Church like pieces on a chessboard,” a source told The Times. “But hopes have been raised with the new pope. It would fit with what he has said and done on the subject. He celebrated in the old rite, when Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger.”

The 1962 Missal issued by Pope John XXIII was the last of several revisions of the 1570 Missal of Pius V. In a lecture in 2001, Cardinal Ratzinger said that it would be “fatal” for the Missal to be “placed in a deep-freeze, left like a national park, a park protected for the sake of a certain kind of people, for whom one leaves available these relics of the past”.

Daphne McLeod, chairman of Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice, a UK umbrella group that campaigns for the restoration of traditional orthodoxy, said: “A lot of young priests are teaching themselves the Tridentine Mass because it is so beautiful and has prayers that go back to the Early Church.”


The Tridentine Mass is celebrated entirely in Latin, except for a few words and phrases in Greek and Hebrew. There are long periods of silence and the priest has his back to the congregation.

In 1570, Pope St Pius V said that priests could use the Tridentine rite forever, “without scruple of conscience or fear of penalty”.

Since the Second Vatican Council, the Tridentine Mass has been almost entirely superseded by the Mass of Pope Paul VI.
Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, who took the lead in opposing the reforms, continued to celebrate the old Mass at his seminary in EcĂ´ne, Switzerland, and formed a dissident group. He was excommunicated in 1988.

The advantages of the Mass, according to the faithful, are in its uniformity and the fact that movements and gestures are prescribed, so that there is no room for “personalisation”

Thursday, October 05, 2006

The last line of this article caught my attention because of the life and death I am dealing with with my mother.

The Universe: A Catholic Weekly Newspaper

The Catholic Church has a rich history of encouraging scientific research, according to pope Benedict XVI.Speaking at a recent symposium on Stem Cell research organised by the Pontifical Academy for Life, at Castel Gondolfo, the Pope said that while the Church remained opposed to the use of embryonic stem cells it was fully supportive of other research possibilities through adult stem cells. But he added that an "insurmountable limit" on how far scientists should go during research.

Somatic stem-cell research the Pope said, "deserves approval and encouragement when it felicitously combines scientific knowledge, the most advanced technology in the biological field and ethics that postulate respect for the human being at every stage of his or her existence."

"The prospects opened by this new chapter in research are fascinating in themselves, for they give a glimpse of the possible cure of degenerative tissue diseases that subsequently threaten those affected with disability and death," he added."

I would like in particular to urge scientific structures that draw their inspiration and organization from the Catholic Church to increase this type of research and to establish the closest possible contact with one another and with those who seek to relieve human suffering in the proper ways."

May I also point out, in the face of the frequently unjust accusations of insensitivity addressed to the Church, her constant support for research dedicated to the cure of diseases and to the good of humanity throughout her 2,000-year-old history."

If there has been resistance -- and if there still is -- it was and is to those forms of research that provide for the planned suppression of human beings who already exist, even if they have not yet been born. Research, in such cases, irrespective of efficacious therapeutic results is not truly at the service of humanity."No one can dispose of human life," he added."

An insurmountable limit to our possibilities of doing and of experimenting must be established. The human being is not a disposable object, but every single individual represents God's presence in the world."

Monday, October 02, 2006

I've been quiet here for a few days just letting things settle. Today I ran across this interesting article.

Pope's statements were a 'fortunate fall': Egyptian priest
by Alain NavarroMon Oct 2, 2:51 AM ET

Pope Benedict's statements which linked Islam to violence and caused outrage in the Muslim world were in fact a "fortunate fall" which could lead to a more open dialogue between the two faiths according to an Egyptian priest.

Henry Boulad, the director of the Jesuit college in Cairo, believes the time has come for "clarity, an exit from the vagueness," in the relationship between Christianity and Islam.

Born in Alexandria in 1931 and now the head of Cairo's French Jesuit college, Boulad says that the speech given by Pope Benedict XVI which quoted a medieval Christian emperor who linked Islam with violence, while "unfortunate and regrettable" had the ability to spark a "more real and frank dialogue" between the two religions.

"If there was an error on the part of the pope, it could turn fortunate: it is a felix culpa," he told AFP, borrowing St. Augustine's expression "fortunate fall" in Latin, to describe an unfortunate event which brings about good.

Sitting in his modest office at the college of the Holy Family in the Fagallah district of Cairo, a melting pot of Cairo's elite for over a century, the priest predicts "the beginning of the experiment."

Boulad believes that moderate or reformist Islamists are today marginalized in Egypt, suppressed under a trend of "Islamization of society."

For him, Islamism, a trend advocating the re-organization of government and society in accordance with laws prescribed by Islam, "reflects the essence of an Islam that has been frozen, like a chick still in its egg.

"It's a type of totalitarian thought," says the priest who formerly held the post of vice president of the Christian aid agency Caritas in the Arab world.

"Girls are veiled younger and younger and the thrust towards fundamentalism continues with a radicalization of minds," he says.

The priest who studied in Lebanon, France and United States also talks of an "Islamic schizophrenia" especially on the issue of women who are seen as "objects of lust but forbidden" simultaneously.

"Gender is a central problem," he says.

Benedict's comments "fully reflect his will to clarify what separates Islam from Christianity over these fundamental questions," says Boulad.

According to the priest, Benedict is a man who understands Islamic theology well, allowing the pope "to say that 'Islam is inseparable from politics and a global social project.'"

As for the reactions of Muslim communities around the world which were at times violent, Boulad describes them as "understandable but often irrational."

"The pope's statements will force each person to expose what is in their heart, without pretense," he says.

"When they say Islam is a religion of tolerance, I'm waiting for the proof," he says pointing to the lack of religious freedoms in the 57 countries with majority Muslim populations.

In Egypt, it is inconceivable for a Muslim to freely and openly convert to Christianity. Ten percent of the 72 million population are Christian, most of which belong to the Coptic Orthodox church.

If they do convert, "it is in complete secrecy or in exile," he says.

"But a Christian man who wishes to marry a Muslim woman is forced to convert to Islam," he says.

"The pope knows this. He is very lucid and he has no illusions on religious reciprocity, or rather the lack of it," says Boulad.

In Egypt, "we see a lack of critical thinking and a pull towards fundamentalism in both Muslims and Christians," says Boulad insisting he hasn't given up hope yet.

"Is Islam able to reform? That is always the question and I hope with all my heart that it can adapt to a more pluralist time in states where the worldly and the spiritual are separate."

"Today, the Arab world is taken over by modernism... with technologies and consumer products, but it will not be able to indefinitely resist modernity."