American archbishop advocates new power-sharing structures in the Catholic Church

American archbishop advocates new power-sharing structures in the Catholic Church

Archbishop John R. Quinn, emeritus archbishop of San FranciscoJohn R. Quinn advocates the expansion of the patriarchal structure in the Catholic Church and the attribution of decision making power to the synod of bishops, to remedy excessive centralization and strengthen communion…After serving as archbishop of San Francisco for 18 years (1977-95) and before that as archbishop of Oklahoma, John Raphael Quinn, who was ordained bishop at the age of 38, decided that the time had come for him to resign in 1995.

Since then he has devoted himself to a life of study, teaching at several universities, giving retreats and spiritual direction, writing and delivering occasional lectures.

A former president of the US Bishops Conference (1977-80), Archbishop Quinn gave a highly praised seminal lecture on The Exercise of the Papacy at Campion Hall, Oxford University, on 29 June 1996.

He later developed that lecture into an important book – The Reform of the Papacy: the costly call to Christian unity (Herder &Herder, New York, 1999), which has been translated into several languages, including Chinese.

Last week, he published a new book as a follow up to that major work, entitled – Ever Ancient, Ever New: Structures of Communion in the Church (Paulist Press, USA).

In this highly readable, stimulating 57 page-book he reviews the structures of communion that developed in the Church over the centuries, and concludes by proposing that, in line with the Second Vatican Council’s teaching on collegiality, new patriarchal structures be created in other parts of the world, and that the synod of bishops be given decision-making power.

He believes these proposals, if implemented, would remedy the excessive centralization and strengthen communion in the Catholic Church today.

We talked with him about all that in this exclusive interview….

What prompted you to write this book, and at this time?

My interest in this topic came from the encyclical of Pope John Paul II  Ut unum sint in which he cites the first millennium, and specifically the structures of communion in the Church of the first millennium, as offering a starting point for discussing a new way to exercise the primacy. I started working on the book in 2005 and it was completed and sent to the publisher in July 2011.

I see your new book as an important follow-up, or addendum to your earlier book – The Reform of the Papacy: the costly call to Christian Unity, and your Oxford lecture.  Is that a correct reading?

You are right! In actual fact my work on this whole subject began with that Oxford lecture in June 1996. The text of that lecture was given directly to Pope John Paul II at the same time as I delivered it in Oxford. I chose to speak on the reform of the exercise of papal authority because the Pope himself had invited bishops to dialog with him on the subject. He issued this invitation in his landmark encyclical Ut unum sint on Christian unity (May 1995). So, in actual fact it was not I but the Pope himself who had raised the topic of how the exercise of the primacy could be changed. My book, published three years after that Oxford lecture, went into greater detail and gave more background than was possible in the space of an hour’s lecture. I myself went to Rome and presented a copy of that book personally to Pope John Paul II in a private audience, and also – that same day – to Cardinal Ratzinger, then Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. The cardinal kindly referred to the book in his own publication God and the World and later made a positive reference to it when the Californian bishops visited the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in 2004.

Your new book takes the whole discussion a step further by proposing the creation of new patriarchal structures in parts of the world where they do not yet exist, and by advocating that deliberative or decision-making power be granted to the synod of bishops to enable it to function more effectively. Could you explain this?
To begin with, patriarchal structures are not a novelty in the Church. They began almost 1500 years before the modem democracies arose. The Council of Nicaea in 325 called the patriarchal structure ancient. In the Western Latin Church, the Roman synods held in the later part of the first millennium and during the first half of the second millennium were deliberative, decision-making synods. Consequently, these structures are not new, nor are they mechanisms to weaken papal authority since the Popes themselves used them, and the patriarchal structures, certainly as they exist in the Catholic Church, are all in communion with Rome. It should be noted as well that the theologian, Joseph Ratzinger, raised the idea of new patriarchates being created in Asia and Africa.

The new patriarchal structures that you propose in your new book would involve considerable decentralization in the present system of governance of the Catholic Church; it would mean a moving away from the centralized Roman Curia system that prevails to day. Is this so?
Patriarchal structures would involve some administrative decentralization. I emphasize, however, that this would always be in communion of faith and unity. Underlying everything is the truth that “There is one faith, one Lord, one baptism.” At the same time there has been longstanding dissatisfaction with what the earlier Joseph Ratzinger called “excessive Roman
centralization.”  In fact, St. Bernard using the strongest possible language warned against the increasing movement of administrative centralization of his time. So my book does propose the creation of new patriarchal structures in the Latin Church and these would mean some decentralization.

If these new patriarchal structures were created in the Latin Church then the bishops who would belong to those structures, say for example, the bishops of the United States or the bishops of Japan, would then have to take on new responsibilities. Could you mention some of the new responsibilities they would have?
Two major responsibilities which would fall within the competence of new patriarchal structures would be the appointment of bishops and the creation of dioceses. There would be other things as well such as
the determination of liturgical texts.

Clearly such far reaching responsibilities could not be assumed by regional structures without some preparation. I would think it very useful if this were to be done, that the planning might begin with taking a look at how the Religious Orders went about renewal after the Council. It would be wise to adopt some such process if these new structures were to be used in the Latin Church.

In your new book you also advocate that the synod of bishops should be given deliberative or decision-making power. Why do you propose this? And what difference do you think this would make in the life of the Church?
A deliberative or decision-making synod would have several advantages. First, its members would be the presidents of Episcopal conferences and the patriarchs and major archbishops of the Eastern Churches. In the case of the Episcopal conferences, the presidents are elected by the bishops of the conference, except for the Italian Bishops Conference. The patriarchs are elected by the patriarchal synod. These members would be bishops actually involved in the pastoral care and government of a diocese in various parts of the world. A second advantage is that they could meet for a relatively brief period to deliberate and make decisions with the Pope on matters of grave and urgent importance to the whole Church. In a world of rapid change and instant communication the ability to call on wide input such as this would be a very great advantage.

You have been a bishop for many years, and were also president of the US Bishops Conference.  How do you think these two proposals – the establishment of patriarchates and the giving of decision-making power to the synod of bishops –might effect the life of the US Church in the future?
I think that these structures would have the effect of strengthening communion with Rome.

One reason for this is that there would be an experience of the Churches in the United States as true churches, working with and experiencing practical communion with Rome.

These structures would increase respect for Rome too, because Rome would not be making important decisions without the participation of the regional Churches. In the modem world of electronic communication and the twenty-four hour news cycle I would think that new patriarchal structures would mean increased communication among the various regional churches and with Rome.

In regard to communication with Rome, this could enable the regional churches to have a better understanding of the concerns of Rome and vice versa. It would also help the regional churches to sharpen their universal view and increase their sensitivity to other parts of the Church.


Many hundreds of Churches all over the world have closed besides these. The result of the diabolical Vatican II.

Many hundreds of Churches all over the world  have closed besides these. The result of the diabolical Vatican II.

Daily Reflections- 4th May 2013

Home with Us

Today’s Gospel Text:  Jesus answered him, “If a man loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. 24 He who does not love me does not keep my words; and the word which you hear is not mine but the Father’s who sent me.25 “These things I have spoken to you, while I am still with you. 26 But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you. 27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. 28 You heard me say to you, ‘I go away, and I will come to you.’ If you loved me, you would have rejoiced, because I go to the Father; for the Father is greater than I. 29 And now I have told you before it takes place, so that when it does take place, you may believe.  John 14:23-29

ReflectionWho doesn’t require a house and, more so, if they were to be offered one free of cost on a platter or by answering a simple questionnaire or with a minimal contribution.
Every individual requires a house to stay in but not all of them would want an intruder in the house to intrude into their space.  Many a times, even a spouse or a friend cannot take that little privacy away from us and hence we may not really share everything within the home of our mind.
We will not mind a V.I.P. for a few minutes to give oneself the pleasure of importance and largely, many may not mind having them in their home even longer.
They will accommodate them with all the fanfare possible, going through all the inconvenience just to make them feel special so that the memories of them may remain in the hearts and minds of the V.I.P., with the hope of a future benefit.
What if demanding circumstances or a difficult or trying situation crops up, then if there was someone who would assuredly have a solution; will we not welcome such a person?
There are times we are strong enough with our ego to carry on with the struggles of life alone with our ideas and mindset.  Even though we may require help more than others yet we will not seek that necessary help because our pride will prevent us from doing so.
But to all who would be humble to turn to him, Jesus offers us himself as the expert consultant of life and much more, by being our joy and consolation, the assurance of a presence that comforts, heals and sets us free:
Jesus answered him, “If a man loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.” (vs. 23)
Prayer: O save thy people, and bless thy heritage; be thou their shepherd, and carry them foreverPs 28:9
DD Dedicated Discipleship:  Come grow in the Lord with us

Churches to close down in Augsburg

Churches to close down in Augsburg

Atila Sinke Guimarães

ÇA IRA! ÇA IRA!   –   These words (It’ll go! It’ll go!) from the song the French revolutionaries used to sing when they were taking the nobles to be summarily hanged or beheaded during the Terror, came to mind as I read the news report on the last meeting of the German Bishops of Bavaria. Indeed, on February 17, Bishop Konrad Zdarsa of Augsburg announced to his colleagues that he had decided to close 800 of the 1,000 parishes of his important Diocese. Zdarsa’s plan is to replace the 800 parishes with 200 pastoral centers where religious services will be available to the faithful (The Tablet, March 3, 2012, p. 30).

Bishop Konrad Zdarsa

Bishop Zdarsa launched a trial balloon

This is the most radical initiative I have seen since the “iconoclast phase” of Paul VI’s pontificate ended. In those years that immediately followed the Council – from 1965 to 1975 – Catholics witnessed the drastic destruction of their churches’ interiors, which were stripped of altars, Communion rails, pulpits, confessional, statues, bells, etc.

Now, the destruction is aimed no longer at the interiors, but at the churches themselves. This German initiative seems to be a trial balloon. If people accept it, it will set the parameters for a mammoth increase in the process of church closures.

So far, this practice of closing/selling churches has been executed by invoking a variety of non-convincing reasons – not enough money to pay for the pedophilia crisis of the clergy, not enough priests to say Mass, not enough people going to Mass (check herehere and here). If the Augsburg experiment works out, the “prophecies” made by Cardinals Schönborn and Ratzinger predicting a complete change in the face of the Catholic Church will come to pass.

In 150 of the 800 parishes to be closed, the faithful organized protests. On March 4, the Second Sunday of Lent, they encircled their parishes after Mass in human chains to symbolize that they “embrace” or love their churches (The Tablet, March 10, 2012, p. 34).


Embrace Church movement, Augsburg

Parishioners in an Embrace Church protest rally in the Augsburg Diocese

Writing on “Being Church Today,” a discussion forum in Augsburg, Fr. Max Stetter affirms his opposition to Bishop Zdarsa’s plan. He states:
“We want to give the message that we are not in agreement with the plans to restructure the Diocese. There is much confusion and turmoil here. This reaction is not coming from some few grumblers on the margins, but from many Catholics who have been working day in and day out for their church.” These “Church Embrace” protests are a response to the closures in the form of a protest rally.

The action of Bishop Zdarsa is defended by others, such as the Facebook campaign “Pray for Bishop Konrad,” which opposes the protests. Diocesan spokesman Mark Kremser declared that if the aim of the protests was to demonstrate the displeasure of the faithful to diocesan leadership, then “the initiators have chosen the wrong sign” (

The trial balloon has been launched… Let us see if and how it flies.

PUSHING OCCUPY TO RETURN   –   When the Occupy Movement (OM) was at the height of its momentum last year, it claimed that there was no power, direction or organized leadership behind it. It pretended to be a spontaneously generated reaction, the fruit of the indignation of youth and workers responding to the unfair distribution of money and social injustice. When the American people became tired of hearing OM’s communist slogans and had enough of their public parks disfigured by its filth, that “spontaneous” indignation ended as quickly as it had started. The obedient youth returned to their middle-class homes to await another order to reunite.

Now, while OM is on vacation, guess who is pining for the return of its subversion? None other than the editorial staff of the Los Angeles Times, the influential spokes-organ for the left-wing wealthy bourgeoisie of California, quite familiar with the liberal Judaism that dominates the local macro economy. Indeed, in a March 7, 2012 official editorial, the newspaper calls for the anarchic action of OM to come back and continue its attempt to destroy the present day political-social status quo. I will transcribe some excerpts that summarize the editorial.


Occupy Oakland 2012, flag burning

Occupy anarchists return to Oakland City Hall in January 2012 to burn an American flag

Its expressive title is “Will Occupy be heard from?” The editorial begins with these questions: “Whatever happened to Occupy Wall Street? Are you folks still out there?” And continues: “As a political force that could rally the nation on behalf of the 99%, who tend not to contribute enormous sums to campaigns and so have less influence than their numbers deserve, you’re still badly needed.”

It is interesting to observe that the editorial cannot avoid acknowledging the failure of the movement: “It’s still hard to escape the feeling that since Occupy activists were kicked out of their encampments across the country this winter, the group has lost a good deal of its momentum as well as what little organizational coherence it possessed.”

In the last paragraph, the LA Times encourages OM to enter the electoral fight campaigning against those who represent Capitalism:

“Occupy leaders say they’re planning big protests during the Group of Eight economic conference in May. And there are of course splinter groups all over the country holding regular demonstrations at banks and city halls. But 2012 is an election year that presents a sharp contrast between candidates who aim to help level the playing field dominated by the 1% and those who don’t. If the Occupy movement is to have much influence over that contest, it will probably have to do something its leaders have so far resisted: get organized” (LA Times, March 7, 2012, p. A 16).

This codified language seems quite clear to me. It is the LA Times inviting the Occupy Movement to return to the stage to campaign for Obama against Mitt Romney. Even a bit more is implied: If Obama fails to be reelected, the LA Times is suggesting OM to take over the stage and break the political system, finishing with the myth of democracy in the U.S. Its wish could be expressed in the impasse: either Obama or the deluge.

While OM is out of the picture, it is worthwhile to register what powers are feeding it and its ultimate goal. Here we see the leftist LA Times promoting its return; before we saw the banks giving it support and supplies to keep it alive. Also the present administration gave OM all possible prestige with many declarations of support by Obama himself (here and here). No doubt the Communist Party was also pleased with OM’s past performance.

Thus, we have the answer of who is behind the “spontaneous” action of the Occupy Movement. It is good to keep this in mind when OM reappears.

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Related Topics of Interest

burbtn.gif - 43 Bytes   Still Waiting for the Spark – The Occupy Movement

burbtn.gif - 43 Bytes   An Encyclical to Foster the Revolution

catholic   Schornborn’s Prophecies

burbtn.gif - 43 Bytes  Occupy Movement & Communism

catholic   Preparing Your Children for the Occupy Movement
catholic  Closing Churches

catholic   The Destructive Ethos of Progressivism 

Recently published PhD thesis offers suggestions for Curia reform

Recently published PhD thesis offers suggestions for Curia reform

Curia ReformCuria Reform 

A PhD student at the Pontifical Lateran University recently published his thesis on Canon Law, suggesting that a change of mentality is needed if a potential reorganisation of the Curia is to bear any fruits

Gianni Valente taken from Vatican Insider

An extract from a PhD thesis on Canon Law, the functions of the Roman Curia and suggested areas of improvement, was published in an easy-to-read booklet, a few days ago. The PhD viva examination was held last year at the Pontifical Lateran University and is entitled “The Nature and Function of the Roman Curia according to the Apostolic Constitution Pastor Bonus”. The thesis was written by Stefano Rossano and supervised by Archbishop Giuseppe Sciacca, a Canonist and current Secretary of the Vatican City Governorate. He is also a professor of Stilus Romanae Curiae at the Pontifical Lateran University. The thesis describes the historical and legal characteristics and institutional functions of the Roman Curia’s dicasteries and other bodies. It then presents some theoretical and functional guidelines the author claims should be taken into consideration if these bodies undergo restructuring in the future.

First and foremost, Rossario says, there needs to be a clear distinction between the powers held by each body. “Some dicasteries have mixed competencies: they exercise judicial power whilst retaining a certain amount of executive power. By grouping these competencies together in a more uniform manner, jurisdiction disputes could be avoided.”

Another suggested – and more operational – approach to the reform of the Roman Curia is the merging of various Curia bodies according to area of expertise, which would reduce their number. Rossario suggests systematically merging Curia bodies and organisations along the lines of the mergers made by Benedict XVI. For example, in 2006, he joined the presidency of the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerants to the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace. He also merged the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue with the Pontifical Council for Culture. The thesis goes on to propose integrating institutional management across the whole communications sector, bringing the Vatican Press Office, Radio, Television Center and newspaper (L’Osservatore Romano) under the aegis of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications.

It has to be said that the recipes contained in this study are slightly dated. The author himself admits that a change of mentality is needed before any organisational overhaul within the Curia can produce any real fruits in terms of efficiency. Any changes need to take into account that the Curia’s prime aim as a tool of the Bishop of Rome, is to serve the universal and local Churches. The fact that Pope Francis has been celebrating daily masses with bishops and priests for the various “teams” of Vatican employees, seems to fulfil the wish expressed by Paul VI 50 years ago. And that is that the Roman Curia is not a bureaucratic, Canonist and ritualistic machine, as some would wrongly describe it, but a true community of faith and charity, prayer and action, made up of brothers and sons of the Pope, who work together to help him in his service to the brothers and sons of the universal Church and the whole world.

Pope:Church must build bridges and not walls, must listen to everyone, even those who are distant

Pope: Church must build bridges and not walls, must listen to everyone, even those who are distant..

The Christian and the Church must be “builders of bridges and not walls,” be aware that evangelization is not to proselytizing, but it is “attracting” people to Jesus with our lives and witness.

It is, ultimately, to do as Jesus did, who “spoke with everyone” with sinners, publicans, teachers of the law, without closing the door to anyone.

This was Pope Francis message during Mass celebrated this morning in Casa Santa Marta.

The Pope, as reported by Vatican Radio, reiterated that the Christian who wants to proclaim the Gospel must converse with everyone, knowing that no one owns the truth, because the truth is received through our encounter with Jesus.

Christians today are, therefore, like Paul, speaking to the Greeks at the Areopagus, building bridges to proclaim the Gospel without condemning anyone. The Pope called Paul’s attitude one that “seeks dialogue” and is “closer to the heart” of the listener. The Pope said that this is the reason why St Paul was a real pontifex: a “builder of bridges” and not of walls. This makes us think of the “attitude that a Christian ought always to have”.

“A Christian,” said Pope Francis, “must proclaim Jesus Christ in such a way that He be accepted: received, not refused – and Paul knows that he has to sow the Gospel message. He knows that the proclamation of Jesus Christ is not easy, but that it does not depend on him. He must do everything possible, but the proclamation of Jesus Christ, the proclamation of the truth, depends on the Holy Spirit. Jesus tells us in today’s Gospel: ‘When He shall come, the Spirit of truth, shall guide you into all the truth.’ Paul does not say to the Athenians: ‘This is the encyclopedia of truth. Study this and you have the truth, the truth.’ No! The truth does not enter into an encyclopedia. The truth is an encounter – it is a meeting with Supreme Truth: Jesus, the great truth. No one owns the truth. The we receive the truth when we meet [it]“.

Like Saint Paul, who followed “the attitude of Jesus,” ” “The Christian who would bring the Gospel must go down this road: [must] listen to everyone! But now is a good time in the life of the Church: the last 50 or 60 years have been a good time – for I remember when as a child one would hear in Catholic families, in my family, ‘No, we cannot go to their house, because they are not married in the Church, eh!’. It was as an exclusion. No, you could not go! Neither could we go to [the houses of] socialists or atheists. Now, thank God, people do not says such things, right? [Such an attitude] was a defense of the faith, but it was one of walls: the LORD made bridges. First: Paul has this attitude, because it was the attitude of Jesus. Second, Paul is aware that he must evangelize, not proselytize”.

The Church, as taught Benedict XVI, “does not grow by means of proselytizing,” but “by attraction, by witnessing, by preaching,” and Paul had this attitude: proclamation does not make proselytization – and he succeeds, because, “he did not doubt his Lord.” The Pope warned that, “Christians who are afraid to build bridges and prefer to build walls are Christians who are not sure of their faith, not sure of Jesus Christ.” The Pope exhorted Christians to do as Paul did and begin to “build bridges and to move forward”: ” Paul teaches us this journey of evangelization, because Jesus did, because he is well aware that evangelization is not proselytizing: it is because he is sure of Jesus Christ and does not need to justify himself [or] to seek reasons to justify himself. When the Church loses this apostolic courage, she becomes a stalled Church, a tidy Church a nice, a Church that is nice to look at, but that is without fertility, because she has lost the courage to go to the outskirts, where there are many people who are victims of idolatry, worldliness of weak thought, [of] so many things. Let us today ask St Paul to give us this apostolic courage, this spiritual fervor, so that we might be confident. ‘But Father,’ [you might say], ‘we might make mistakes…’ … ‘[Well, what of it,’ I might respond], ‘Get on with you: if you make a mistake, you get up and go forward: that is the way. Those who do not walk in order not to err, make a the more serious mistake”.

Pope to nuns: Be spiritual mothers, not ‘old maids’

Pope to nuns: Be spiritual mothers, not ‘old maids’

Pope Francis has told nuns from around the globe they must be spiritual mothers and not “old maids”.


Francis also warned the sisters against using their vocations for personal ambition, saying priests and sisters who do so “do more harm to the Church”.

Francis has complained frequently about such “careerism” in the Church — a buzzword frequently used to describe Holy See bureaucrats.

The Pope made the comments during an audience with about 800 sisters attending an assembly of the International Union of Superiors General, which gathers the leaders of women’s religious orders from 75 countries.

The meeting came before Francis’ general audience in St Peter’s Square, where, in a break with tradition, he walked around a quadrant of the square greeting pilgrims.

Francis said that clergy who were “careerists” or “social climbers” were doing serious damage to the Catholic Church in his latest utterance aimed at instilling a sense of frugality and service in the Vatican and beyond.

Francis, 76, the former Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio of Buenos Aires, said: “Men and women of the Church who are careerists, social climbers, who use the people, the Church, brothers and sisters — those they should serve — as a springboard for their own ambitions and personal interests do great damage to the Church.”

“We learn poverty from the humble, the poor, the sick,” he added, urging clergy to work with those on the margins of society and shun the “idols of materialism” that cloud the true meaning of life.

“We have no use for theoretical poverty,” Francis said, departing from his prepared text.

Since his election on March 13, Francis has made it clear through his words and example that he wants clergy to live simpler lives, to serve the poor and shun temptations of power. He has decided not to live in the spacious, luxurious papal apartments in the Vatican’s Apostolic Palace used by his predecessors, opting instead for a small suite in a guest house, where he shares meals with other residents.

In his address, Francis appeared to be sending a message not only to priests, nuns and bishops around the world who serve the 1.2 billion-member Church, but also to bureaucrats in the Vatican.

Francis has inherited a Vatican rocked by a scandal in which documents leaked to the media spoke of alleged corruption in its administration and depicted prelates as fighting among themselves to advance their careers.

Last month he set up an advisory board of eight cardinals from around the world to help him reform the Vatican administration, known as the Curia. They will help him put into place changes in an administration which has been held responsible for some of the mishaps and scandals that plagued the eight-year reign of Pope Benedict before he resigned in February.

Benedict left a secret report for Francis on the problems in the administration which came to light when sensitive documents were stolen from the Pope’s desk and leaked by his butler in what became know as the “Vatileaks” scandal.

Before the conclave that elected Francis, cardinals called for changes to the Curia to make it a model of good governance, including introducing term limits on Vatican bureaucrats.

Anger at the mostly Italian prelates who run the Curia was one of the reasons that cardinals chose the first non-European pope for 1,300 years.

Pope Francis blessed and encouraged Berta Soler, leader of Cuba’s “Damas de Blanco”, to continue their peaceful, non-violent struggle for human rights and freedom

Pope Francis blessed and encouraged Berta Soler, leader of Cuba’s “Damas de Blanco”, to continue their peaceful, non-violent struggle for human rights and freedom

gerard o’connell

rome taken from Vatican Insider

“Siga adelante!”, “Continue as you are doing!”,  Pope Francis told Berta Soler, the leader of Cuba’s courageous “Damas de Blanco”  (“Women in White”), when he met her after the public audience in the Vatican on  May 8, and gave her and the women his blessing.


She was overjoyed at meeting the pope, and at receiving his blessing for the more than 230  “Women in White” who work for the release of “hundreds” of political prisoners and for the affirmation of human rights and freedom in Cuba, she told me after meeting the pope.


She had left Cuba on March 11 after receiving a passport for the first time in her life under the Government’s new policy, and was in Madrid when she received confirmation that she could finally meet the pope, and so she flew to Rome.


Yesterday morning she took her place with the other special guests on the steps of Saint Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican just before the first Latin American Pope in the history of the Church arrived at the podium for the public audience. After addressing some 100,000 pilgrims from all continents in St Peter’s Square, Pope Francis then greeted the special guests individually.


Berta Soler, 48, and another member of the “Women in White”, Clara Maria del Valle, both dressed in white, waited with anticipation, and when he reached them she spoke rapidly in Spanish. She told him, “We are the ‘Damas de Blanco’ from Cuba, the relatives of hundreds of political prisoners, and we ask for your help, and also for your blessing on us and all the people who are in need in Cuba.”


Pope Francis listened attentively, smiled, held her hand, gave his blessing and told her, “Siga adelante!”  “Continue as you are doing!”


It was what she and the “Women in White” had long wanted to hear from the Pope. “It was a great day for me, we – the “Damas de Blanco” have always had great faith in Christ, and now it is doubled”


I had met her just over a year ago in Havana, on the eve of Benedict XVI’s arrival in Cuba and she told me then, “all we want is one minute with the Pope!”   But she and the “Damas de Blanco” were disappointed on that occasion; the Cuban authorities did not want them to meet the Pope and the Church authorities in Havana and Rome acquiesced.


But the “Women in White” never give up.  They re-presented their request for a meeting with the Pope at the end of 2012, and last February the papal nuncio in Havana, Archbishop Bruno Musaro, informed them that their request had been granted: they could meet Benedict XVI at a public audience in the Vatican.  But Pope Benedict resigned some days later and so they had to wait until May 8.  Berta Soler said the ‘Damas de Blanco” are most grateful to Benedict XVI for his willingness to meet them and, of course, they are overjoyed that the first Latin American pope blessed and encouraged them.


“We have great faith and hope in Christ, but not so much in man”, she said referring to the situation in Cuba. “We think a Latin American Pope is very good for us. Pope Francis knows a little better they problems that our peoples have, he comes from far down and he can help the people who are suffering”, she said.


She recalled the role the Catholic Church played in Poland and Czechoslovakia to help the people there have a new country and good things and said, “That is what we need in Cuba too.”


“The people of Cuba need many blessings, and we feel the blessing of Pope Francis will be very good for us”, she said happily.


“We need freedom, but first and foremost we need respect for human rights in Cuba”, she told me when we first met in the capital of this Caribbean island of some 11 million people, roughly 70% of whom are baptized Catholic.


“There is no respect for human rights in Cuba”, she said; she blamed the Government for this.  As for freedom, she believes “this depends on us Cubans, not on the Pope”.


Berta Soler first became active in human rights when her husband was arrested together with 74 other human rights activists in 2003. At that time she was working as a technician in the micro-biology field and liked her job, but after his arrest she left that work to campaign for this and heir release. “I did it for love, for love of my family, for love of my country”, she stated.

She and the “Women in White” are committed to peaceful protest and reject violence as a means to reach their end. In 2003 they started the tradition of going to Mass every Sunday before marching on the streets of Havana to promote their cause.  “We do not advocate revolution. We do not use violence. We march peacefully on the streets. We have two arms: our white dresses and the gladiolas – which represent the family”, she said. They dress in white “because it is a symbol of purity”, and they chose the church of Saint Rita “because she is the advocate of impossible situations” and the parish priest there supports them.


Although her husband and the other 74 are now free, there are “hundreds more” political prisoners in Cuba today she says but the government seeks to label them as common criminals, and for this reason the “Damas de Blanco” continue praying and marching in Cuban cities.  Often the police intervene on the instructions of the Ministry of the Interior to break up their marches, and even beat the women, as happened recently in the city of El Cobre, but that does not stop them.


Asked whether she considered the Government’s new policy in allowing people to have passports marked a significant change, she said it is more “cosmetic” than substantial, and some people – including her husband – were refused passports. Substantial change is needed in Cuba and it has not come under Raul Castro she stated, and so the Damas de Blanco will keep on marching until they gain real freedom and until human rights are respected in this island.  She hopes people outside Cuba will continue supporting them.

Asked if she is afraid that the Cuban authorities might crack down on her once she returns home,  Berta Soler said, “I am not afraid. I have love for life and love for God, and now that I have been blessed by Pope Francis I have no fear.”

Vatican II: Papal bull omits reference to lay members of Christ’s faithful people

Vatican II: Papal bull omits reference to lay members of Christ’s faithful people copy of the Constitution with which John XXIII announced the Second Vatican Council back in December 1961 has been presented in the Vatican.

It’s no “mystery”, it’s probably just an act of carelessness.

Either way, the fact is that the reference to the “fideles laicos” (the lay members of Christ’s faithful people), in the Latin text of the Apostolic Constitution Humanae Salutis, with which Pope John announced the Second Vatican Council on 25 December 1961, is missing.

The man supposedly responsible for the oversight is the calligrapher Arrigo Bravi who was 32 at the time and worked as a miniaturist and for the Secretariat of Briefs to Princes.

This was one of the things that were discussions held today in the Synod Hall, in the Vatican, during the presentation of the fifth volume in the series Exemplaria praetiosa, the valuable edition of the Humanae Salutis bull Limited edition, put together by Scrinium for the Secret Vatican Archive. The proceeds from these publications – the limited edition versions are intended for collectors while the plainer version is intended for a wider audience of connoisseurs – will  fund restoration work on some of the most rare documents that make up the 84 linear  kilometres of preserved documents.
Fabio Zavattaro, Vatican correspondent for Italian public television channel RAI’s TG1news channel was the moderator during the presentation. Other attendants at the presentation included Mgr. Jean-Luis Bruguès, Archivist and Librarian of the Holy Roman Church, Mgr. Sergio Pagano, Prefect of the Secret Archive (and author of the commentary and the philological and comparative study that looks into the various versions of the document) and historian Alberto Melloni, Director of the city of Bologna’s Foundation for Religious Studies.

During the presentation, Prefect Pagano spoke about the mystery of the words in the parchment manuscript of the bull. “By some fortuitous circumstance – he said – we still possess all the drafts and corrections, so we were able to reconstruct every single phase of the bull’s preparation.” The text has always been referred to as an “apostolic constitution” because that is its heading, but in actual fact, as Pagano explains in his text, it should be seen more as a papal bull. “The evening before the Pope signed on 25 December 1961, the final version of the text was sent to Vatican newspaper L’Osservatore Romano and the Apostolic Chancery. The words “fideles laicos” appear in the version published by the newspaper, but are nowhere to be seen in the original bull manuscript, which simply mentions the term “christefideles”.

The Prefect of the Vatican’s Secret Archives explained that as far as the corrections go, even John XXIII’s personal secretary, Mgr. Loris Capovilla suggested pencil corrections and was careful “to use terms that would not bruise the sensitivity of atheists, non-believers and Christians brothers of other denominations.” Meanwhile, the corrections made by Mgr. Pericle Felici, the Council’s secretary, showed his concern “for the internal ecclesial implications and the relationship with the Roman Curia.”

Melloni explained that the Humanae Salutis contains an idea of the council that John XXIII expected: “The January 1959 speech in which Papa Roncalli announced his intention to convene a Council to the cardinals gathered in the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls, the bull and the Gaudet Mater Ecclesia allocution of 11 October 1962, the fist day of the Second Vatican Council, show a consistent development. The bull shows the following: a renewed climate of trust and ecumenical horizon.” Melloni thanked Paul VI for giving scholars access to the Council documents straight away.
When answering a question on the scope of enforcement of the Second Vatican Council and how current it was, Mgr. Pagano mentioned liturgical reform and the “strange and conflicting voices,” saying: “When I see those seven bronze candelabras that hang above the cross at some basilica altars, I think to myself how little was understood of the constitution of the Sacrosanctum Concilium liturgy. This was in reference to some of the decisions taken during Benedict XVI’s pontificate, regarding altar preparation.

Former Archbishop of York accused of covering up abuse allegations

Former Archbishop of York accused of covering up abuse allegations former Archbishop of York has been accused of covering up allegations that a senior member of the Church of England had abused choirboys and school pupils. 

Lord Hope of Thornes was told of the accusations against the Very Rev Robert Waddington, a former Dean of Manchester Cathedral who was made responsible for Church schools, in 1999 and then again in 2003.

The then archbishop did not refer the allegations to police or to child protection agencies, according to The Times.
Following the accusations, Lord Hope, who was then the second most senior bishop in the Church, revoked Waddington’s right to conduct church services and also ordered internal investigations into the alleged abuse.
However, concerns over Waddington’s state of health meant the Archbishop failed to report the case to the authorities. He now admits there “ought to have been” a report.
“I didn’t report to the police. With hindsight, probably there ought to have been [a report]. He was in such a fragile and frail state,” Lord Hope said.

Internal reports within the Church show that Right Rev Nigel McCulloch, who was the Bishop of Manchester at the time, was aware of the allegations made by the family of a former cathedral chorister in 2003.

He then reported to the matter to his immediate superior, the Archbishop of York, as well as to his diocesan child protection officer.

Lord Hope, who was Archbishop of York from 1995 to 2005, did not take the allegations any further. However, he denied a cover-up, saying he had followed the procedure in place at the time.

He said: “I would strongly resist any suggestion that I was in the business of covering up anything. I would absolutely deny that. There’s no way I was interested in any cover up.”

Greater Manchester Police have expressed concerns that the case was not reported to them while Waddington was still alive. The former dean died of throat cancer in 2007.

The force was only made aware of the allegations when a former Manchester choirboy, Eli Ward, reported his abuse to officers.

Mr Ward said this past week: “After so many years of suffering alone, I find myself in a position where the more research I do, the more shocking the cover-up of the Church.”

Mr Ward, 40, said he was groomed and abused by Waddington in the 1980s when he was a chorister in Manchester. He is taking legal action against The Diocese of Manchester.

The Diocese of Manchester said that it was aware of “allegations of abuse from the past against a former dean of Manchester Cathedral and we are working co-operatively with the parties concerned”.

Pope Francis on Judas and poverty as an ideology

Pope Francis on Judas and poverty as an ideology

Kiss of Judas (Giotto)Kiss of Judas (Giotto)

During this morning’s mass in the Sanctae Marthae residence, Bergoglio spoke about the moment in the Gospel when Judas criticised the Magdalene for washing Jesus’ feet with nard. “The ideologue does not know what love is,” Francis said, before going on to mention Satan who “always rips us off”

ANDREA TORNIELLI Taken from Vatican Insider
vatican city
“The ideologue does not know what love is, because they do not know how to gift themselves,” Pope Francis said during the mass he celebrated in the Sanctae Marthae residence this morning. The mass was attended by a group of Vatican Museum employees and some students of the Pontifical Portuguese College of Rome. As always, a summary of the Pope’s homily has been published on the Vatican Radio website.

If we really want to follow Jesus – the Pope said – we must “live life as a gift” to give to others, “not as a treasure to be kept to ourselves.” The Pope quoted the words of Christ: “No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” But Tuesday’s liturgy, he noted, also presents us with another person: Judas, “who had the exact opposite attitude.” And this, he explained, was because Judas “never understood what gift really means.”

“Let us think of that moment with the Magdalene, when she washed the feet of Jesus with nard, which was so expensive” – the Pope continued –. “It is a religious moment, a moment of gratitude, a moment of love. And he [Judas] stands apart and criticizes her bitterly: ‘But … this could be used for the poor!’. This is the first reference that I personally found in the Gospel of poverty as an ideology. The ideologue does not know what love is, because they do not know how to gift themselves.”

Francis pointed out that Judas stood apart “in his solitude” and this attitude of selfishness grew to the point of his “betrayal of Jesus.” He said those who love “give their lives as a gift”, the selfish instead “safeguards his life, grows in this selfishness and becomes a traitor, but is always alone.” However, those who “give their life for love, are never alone: they are always in the community, part of the family.” The Pope warned that those who “isolate their conscience in selfishness,” in the end “lose”. This is how Judas ended up, the Pope said, he “was an idolater, attached to money”.
“This idolatry has led him to isolate himself from the community of others: this is the drama of the isolated conscience. When a Christian begins to isolate themselves, he or she also insulates his or her conscience from the sense of community, the sense of the Church, from that love that Jesus gives us. Instead, the Christian who gifts his or her life, who loses it, as Jesus says, finds it again, finds it in its fullness. And those who, like Judas, want to keep it for themselves, lose it in the end. John tells us that ‘at that moment Satan entered into Judas’ heart’. And, we must say: With Satan the payback is rotten. He always rips us off, always!”.