Ever since 2004, when then-Archbishop Raymond Burke warned that he would deny communion to Sen. John Kerry because of the senator’s pro-choice stance, many of us have argued that Burke’s interpretation of Canon 915 was mistaken, that it is not the place of the minister of communion to decide whether or not a person should receive communion, but that it is up to the communicant to make the decision whether or not to present herself for communion. Most American bishops, and the Bishop of Rome, have never followed Burke’s advice.
American Conservative has a fine profile of Professor David Schindler, Dean of the John Paul II Institute for Marriage and the Family and editor of Communio. As I noted the other day, if +Scola or +Ouellet walk out on to that loggia as the next pope, Schindler's theological influence will be obvious to all.
Yesterday, at the North American College, 62 seminarians were installed as Acolytes. When Archbishop Augustine DiNoia, O.P. agreed to celebrate the Mass and give the homily, little did he know that eight cardinals would be concelebrating the Mass! In town for the conclave, and staying at the NAC, the cardinals joined +DiNoia in the liturgy and this is the sermon they all heard:
Third Sunday of Lent: Institution of Acolytes [final]
Pontifical North American College
3 March 2013
Friday, noting that Cardinal Angelo Scola and Cardinal Marc Ouellet are the leading papabili, I commented upon the historical novelty of theologians as popes. In addition to novelty, I think this tendency unfortunately misunderstands the nature of the papacy in relation to theology, further abetting one of the ugly consequences of Napoleonic rule, Rome’s exercise of disproportionate influence in theological disputes.
My friend Austen Ivereigh has a great article up at the Tablet on the frank discussions the cardinals will be having - indeed, conversations began about two minutes after Benedict XVI announced his retirement. The whole process might strike some as unseemly in its frankness, but I confess I think such thoughts betray a kind of gnostic sensibility. The Holy Spirit works through very human instruments.
I will have more on the sequester subsequently. But, for the moment, the appropriate stance seems to be - a curse on both your houses! Speaker Boehner is hemmed in by his own caucus which seems not to understand basic economics. President Obama, understandably frustrated that his re-election is not providing more ease of decision, is hemmed in by - by what? The fact that the sequester was not avoided demonstrates an inexplicable lack of presidential leadership. He should have had the congressional leaders over for breakfast meetings every day until they solved this thing.
I go away for a week and the world turns upside down. I am sure there has been much commentary on this, but Cardinal Timothy Dolan penned a letter to the White House that breathes conciliation and solidarity.
It is fascinating to me that the two leading candidates to become Pope – Cardinal Angelo Scola of Milan and Cardinal Marc Ouellet, the Prefect for the Congregation for Bishops – are both theologians. And, not just theologians, but both men served on the editorial board of Communio at some point in their careers. So, if you cancelled your subscription to Concilium back in, say, the mid-80s because you thought the theological winds were blowing in a different direction, you have no need to re-think that decision.
Last week, I called attention to an article by David Gibson in which Gibson, one of the best reporters on religion writing today, discussed conservative complaints about Pope Benedict XVI, complaints that have only emerged now that Benedict is resigning. As part of his article, Gibson highlighted a column by Joseph Bottum, former editor of First Things. Mr. Bottum and his friends took exception to Gibson’s article and my wholehearted endorsement of it.
Hmmm. What do I want for my birthday? Maybe a new pope! Actually, depending on how things turn out, I would probably have been content to keep the pope we have for only one more day!