Friday, January 30, 2009

A Communications Disaster

John Allen, columnist for the independent Catholic newspaper, The National Catholic Reporter, has an interesting take on the disastrous aftermath of the resolving of the excommunication issue.

The column was posted today (January 30, 2009) under the title, "The Lefebvrite case: What was the Vatican thinking?" Here are some of John Allen's quotes:

"I want to put all this on the record, because I don't want to be accused of over-simplification or partisanship when I submit the following: The way this decision was communicated was a colossal blunder, and one that's frankly difficult to either understand or excuse.

To be clear, my point has nothing to do with whether the excommunications should have been lifted in the first place. There's legitimate debate on that front, and not just due to its implications for Catholic/Jewish relations. There's also intra-Catholic discussion about what it means for the interpretation of Vatican II, and for the broader direction of the church. Instead, my argument is that even granting that the aim of restoring unity in the church justifies this step, its presentation was stunningly inept."

and again...

"Further, it's not as if the Vatican can claim to have been surprised by Jewish reaction. In September 2006, Benedict set off a similar firestorm in the Muslim world with his lecture at Regensburg, in which he quoted a 14th century Byzantine emperor to the effect that Muhammad had "brought things only evil and inhuman." Regensburg should have brought home the lesson that when the pope does something likely to cause alarm in another religious community, you have to see the train wreck coming in order to avert it."

You can read the rest of the article and what Allen's communication strategy would have been by going here.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

It's About Time! A Gag Order for Bishop Williamson

Statement of His Excellency Bernard Fellay, Superior of the Fraternity of St. Pius X

We have become aware of an interview released by Bishop Richard Williamson, a member of our Fraternity of St. Pius X, to Swedish television. In this interview, he expressed himself on historical questions, and in particular on the question of the genocide against the Jews carried out by the Nazis.

It’s clear that a Catholic bishop cannot speak with ecclesiastical authority except on questions that regard faith and morals. Our Fraternity does not claim any authority on other matters. Its mission is the propagation and restoration of authentic Catholic doctrine, expressed in the dogmas of the faith. It’s for this reason that we are known, accepted and respected in the entire world.

It’s with great sadness that we recognize the extent to which the violation of this mandate has done damage to our mission. The affirmations of Bishop Williamson do not reflect in any sense the position of our Fraternity. For this reason I have prohibited him, pending any new orders, from taking any public positions on political or historical questions.

We ask the forgiveness of the Supreme Pontiff, and of all people of good will, for the dramatic consequences of this act. Because we recognize how ill-advised these declarations were, we can only look with sadness at the way in which they have directly struck our Fraternity, discrediting its mission.

This is something we cannot accept, and we declare that we will continue to preach Catholic doctrine and to administer the sacraments of grace of Our Lord Jesus Christ.

Menzingen, January 27, 2009

~ Translation by NCR from the Italian ~

Monday, January 26, 2009

Spiegel Online International Article about the Excommunication Reversal

The English language German Spiegel Online International magazine has an interesting article written by Siobhán Dowling, with excerpts from German newspapers about the effect of the rescinding of the excommunications of the SSPX bishops, especially in the light of Catholic-Jewish Relations.

Here are a few of quotes:

"The Vatican has said that Williamson's comments on the Holocaust had no bearing on the excommunication issue. 'This act regards the lifting of the excommunications, period,' Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi told reporters. 'It has nothing to do with the personal opinions of one person, which are open to criticism, but are not pertinent to this decree.'

This apparent tin ear on the part of the Vatican comes at a time when relations are already strained with the Jewish community due to moves to have the war-time Pope Pius XII, who is accused by some of having turned a blind eye to the mass deportation and murder of Jews,
named a saint.

Despite warnings that this decision to rehabilitate a Holocaust denier could damage ties between Jews and the Vatican, the Israeli government said that it would not affect the pope's planned visit to Israel in May. Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Plamor told the Associated Press that this was 'not a matter that concerns the interaction between the states.'"

You can read the entire article here: Pope Benedict 'Is Sabotaging Christian-Jewish Dialogue'

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Excommunications Lifted!

The National Catholic Reporter has an interesting article by John L. Allen, Jr. titled, "Papal Reconciliation Move Will Stir Controversy." The article discusses the lifting of the 20-year old excommunication imposed on the four bishops who were ordained as bishops by the late Swiss Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, leader of the Priestly Fraternity of St. Pius X. This society broke with the Vatican because of their opposition to the reforms of Vatican II, especially in the areas of ecumenism and religious freedom.

Allen see serious reservations from the Jewish community because of the remarks made by one of the bishops, Bishop Richard Williamson, who recently denied the gassing of Jews in Hitler's gas chambers. The Jewish community also believes that Bishop Williamson and many in the SSPX are anti-semitic.

On the other hand, though many see the action of the lifting of the excommunications as a gesture of reconciliation, the Church's liberal wing may view the event as another example that a more traditional reading of Vatican II is being emphasized under Pope Benedict.

Go HERE for the complete article by John Allen and the many interesting comments by readers.

~ (CNS photo/Catholic Press Photo) ~

Friday, January 9, 2009

Times To Remember ~ Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy

I found an amusing quote earlier this week in Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy's autobiography, Times To Remember... It struck me because it had to do with one of my pet peeves about the length of Latin Masses back in my day. I used to get perturbed back in the day when people bragged about their priest being able to say Mass (I hesitate to say, "celebrate Mass") in twenty minutes!

Anyhow, here is the quote. The time period is 1938 and the location is Cannes, France where Rose and her family were vacationing.

"August 7
All went to church. Priest told Eunice that he was most appreciative of all the francs we give him as usually there are only the smallest coins in the collection. Says Mass very quickly. Mass and Benediction are finished in twenty-three minutes." *
(my emphases)

Twenty-three minutes??? Including Benediction??? My my...

* Publisher: Doubleday & Company, Inc.; Book Club Edition edition (1974)

Friday, January 2, 2009

Church Attendance on the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God Holy Day

The Curt Jester has an interesting article, Feast with the Least (attendance)? about Mass attendance on yesterday's holy day, the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God. Jeff Miller, the Curt Jester himself, sees the low attendance simply gives credence for the bishops to transfer holy days to the following Sunday.

How was the attendance at your church yesterday? My parish celebrated the Vigil Mass on Wednesday (New Year's Eve) and the church was filled almost as full as on a Sunday. I was very pleased to see that.