Hans Kung papal criticism draws Vatican ire


The dissident theologian Father Hans Kung has criticized Pope Benedict XVI as isolated and unable to take creative steps to deal with a series of internal church questions, including priestly celibacy and birth control.

Father Kung said the pope's recent lifting of the excommunications of four traditionalist bishops illustrated the pontiff's desire for a smaller and purer church, and his inability to make necessary reforms.

"The church risks becoming a sect. Many Catholics no longer expect anything from this pope. It's very sad," Father Kung said in an interview published by the French newspaper Le Monde Feb. 24.

His remarks drew a sharp comment from the dean of the College of Cardinals, Italian Cardinal Angelo Sodano, who told Vatican Radio he felt "wounded" when he read the interview.

"Fraternal criticism has always been possible in the church, from the times of Sts. Peter and Paul. Bitter criticism, on the other hand, especially when it's so broad, does not contribute to the unity of the church, for which Pope Benedict is working so hard," Cardinal Sodano said.

Benedict's U.S. appointments follow a pattern


While Pope Benedict XVI’s appointment of Archbishop Timothy Dolan to New York hardly marks a dramatic break with key picks under recent popes, it may confirm an intriguing pattern-within-a-pattern under Benedict when it comes to the most important jobs in the United States.

In a sound-bite, one might call it a choice for “the center-right with a human face.”

In essence, that means leaders who are basically conservative in both their politics and their theology, but also upbeat, pastoral figures given to dialogue.

Archbishop Timothy Dolan headed to New York


Legendary pitcher Mitch “Wild Thing” Williams, who threw for six teams during his pro career, recently described the difference between playing on the West Coast and the East Coast during a segment on the brand new MLB Network.

“In L.A., if the Dodgers are losing in the seventh inning, people just go home and watch the end of the game on TV,” Williams said. “In New York or Philly, if you’re losing in the seventh inning, they go home, get the TV, come back to the ballpark and throw it at you.”

In a word, Williams said, the difference is “intensity.”

In reality, it’s not just sports where things are amped up back East. Church leaders, too, play on a much bigger stage, facing greater scrutiny from the press and higher expectations of national leadership. They also preside over flocks which are often more unruly, and more vocal when they’re unhappy.

Nowhere is that high-octane atmosphere more pronounced than the Big Apple, which means that Archbishop Timothy Dolan, announced at the Vatican and in Washington Feb. 23, as the 13th archbishop of New York, is stepping into the biggest pressure-cooker in American Catholicism.

Cardinal stops Vatican official from saying Mass

LONDON -- An English cardinal has used canon law to prevent a Vatican official from celebrating a Tridentine-rite Mass in Westminster Cathedral and instead has asked an auxiliary bishop to celebrate it.

Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor of Westminster refused to grant permission for U.S. Archbishop Raymond L. Burke, head of the Supreme Court of the Apostolic Signature, to celebrate Mass in the extraordinary form of the Latin rite, called the Tridentine rite, in the London cathedral June 20. The cardinal used the Code of Canon Law to insist that the Mass be celebrated instead by Auxiliary Bishop John Arnold of Westminster.

Archbishop Burke already had accepted an invitation from the Latin Mass Society, a British Catholic group committed to promoting the Tridentine rite, but the invitation has since been rescinded.

Cardinal Murphy-O'Connor invoked Canon 838, which says that the diocesan bishop and the Holy See have competence over the liturgy.

A spokesman for Cardinal Murphy-O'Connor told Catholic News Service in a Feb. 17 telephone interview that "the cardinal was keen for one of the local bishops to celebrate that Mass."

Religious-order bishops are a long but contested tradition


Few dioceses in the world have ever needed a breath of fresh air quite like Boston in early 2003, after the embattled Cardinal Bernard Law finally resigned amid a meltdown driven not only by the wider sex-abuse crisis, but also by Law’s own imperious, polarizing style.

When Bishop Sean O’Malley was introduced as Law’s successor, everything about him seemed to scream “change”: his bearded, beaming visage, his accessibility, his air of humility. The exclamation point came with O’Malley’s garb. Instead of French cuffs and other finery, he wore the simple brown robe of the Capuchin friars, the religious order he had joined while growing up in Pennsylvania in the 1950s.

Rome's gesture is just confusing


In an institution that regularly cites potential confusion of the faithful in justifying its disciplining of theologians and other thinkers, Pope Benedict XVI’s recent lifting of the excommunications of four schismatic bishops is truly confounding.

One might see the act as an extraordinarily generous gesture, the shepherd leaving the flock to seek the lost sheep. But implicit in the scriptural instinct for such a dramatic move is a certain humility on the part of the lost, a certain correction of one’s path. The four bishops, followers of the late Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, give no such indication. In fact, the movement and its leaders have consistently denounced the Second Vatican Council, and the movement’s adherents have repeatedly condemned all popes since Pius XII.

Benedict's reconciliation move stirs controversy


In a gesture billed as an “act of peace,” but one destined both to fire intra-Catholic debate about the meaning of the Second Vatican Council and to open a new front in Jewish/Catholic tensions, the Vatican today formally lifted a twenty-year-old excommunication imposed on four bishops who broke with Rome in protest over the liberalizing reforms of Vatican II (1962-65).

Ironically, news of the move came just one day before the 50th anniversary of the announcement by Pope John XXIII of his intention to call Vatican II.

The four bishops had been ordained in defiance of the late Pope John Paul II in 1988 by French Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, whose Priestly Fraternity of St. Pius X clung to the old Latin Mass after Vatican II and also expressed deep reservations about both ecumenism and religious freedom. Lefebvre died in 1991.

Cleric who shaped U.S. 'pastoral church' dead at 99


Brussels, Belgium

Archbishop Jean Jadot died peacefully at his residence in Brussels Jan. 21. He was 99. He had been apostolic delegate to the United States from 1973 to 1980, and at the direction of Pope Paul VI, he transformed the U.S. episcopal leadership by appointing pastorally oriented bishops.

With family and friends near him, Jadot had received Communion and last rites a couple of days before his death. Archbishop Karl-Josef Rauber, the apostolic nuncio to Belgium, had come to his bedside with a special papal blessing from Pope Benedict XVI.

Vatican calls for homosexuality to be decriminalized


VATICAN CITY -- After opposing a United Nations declaration that called for the decriminalization of homosexuality last month, the Vatican issued its own call to eliminate criminal penalties for homosexuality.

“The Holy See appreciates the attempts made in [the declaration] to condemn all forms of violence against homosexual persons as well as urge states to take necessary measures to put an end to all criminal penalties against them,” the statement said.

But the Vatican said that the U.N. declaration “goes beyond this goal and instead gives rise to uncertainty in the law and challenges existing human rights norms.”

The statement by the Holy See’s U.N. delegation was a response to the “Declaration on Human Rights, Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity,” presented to the U.N. General Assembly Dec. 18.

An explanatory note published in the official Vatican newspaper L’Osservatore Romano said that if the resolution on sexual orientation aimed simply at ensuring no country treated homosexuality as a crime, “there would have been no reason for [the Vatican] to criticize that document.”



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May 19-June 1, 2017