Thursday, 21 October 2010

Commentary of the list of new cardinals: Part I

Well, some I got right and some I got wrong.

But first I must apologise for a wee mistake in my last post. You will see that the last paragraph begins: “Another obvious choice which would be welcomed by the synod would be…”

Obviously, I have not given the first choice. Sadly, and stupidly, I failed to transfer what should have been the previous paragraph from my draft Word documents to my “New Post” thingy. I was working on several different pieces on the same topic at the one time and cutting and pasting them to put up in my Blog. You will see from my intermittent attempts at trying to keep the Blog going that I am not very computer-technically minded. I hope you will take my word for it, but the missing bit read:

“The most obvious choice form among the 6 Eastern-rite Patriarchs for elevation to the Sacred College would be Antonios Naguib (75), Patriarch of Alexandria of the Copts who was chosen by Pope Benedict to act as recording secretary of the October 2010 Special Assembly of the Synod of Bishops for the Middle East.”

Anyway, to business. As anticipated, the Holy Father has decided to create ten new cardinals in curia. However, two of the cardinals-elect are a bit of a surprise, Archbishops: Robert Sarah (Guinean, 65), President of the Pontifical Council “Cor Unum”, and; Kurt Koch(Swiss, 60), President of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity. Both have but recently been appointed, respectively on October 7 and on July 1.

They seem to have been advanced at the expense (if I may put it that way) of Archbishops Francesco Coccopalmerio (Italian, 72), President of the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts (appointed on February 15, 2007) and Antonio Maria Veglio (Italian, 71), Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People (appointed on February 28, 2009).

Clearly, taking into account that the Pope must have hesitated at the thought of creating so many cardinals “in curia” at the one time ― and these were not the only other Archbishop Presidents overlooked for a red hat ― the very fact that they are both Italians has counted against them. But bearing in mind that Msgr Sarah is placed so high in the list, at No 3, and that Msgr Koch at No 7 is placed ahead of the Prefect of a Congregation and a couple of Archbishop Presidents appointed before him, it is clear that their inclusion ahead of others is not simply a matter of seeking to avoid a nationality imbalance in favour of Italy.

Pope Benedict obviously has a very high opinion of Cardinal-elect Sarah and attaches great importance to the work of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity. Most especially does the Holy Father value the work of that dicastery in the ongoing (resumed) dialogue with the Orthodox Churches. He publicly stated at the outset of his pontificate that he did not have an agenda, a manifesto, but Benedict’s hopes for real movement towards healing with the separated brethren of the Apostolic-succession Churches of the East have been evident virtually from Day One. Day Two, in fact, for on Wednesday, April 20, 2005, the day following his election, he addressed the Sacred College of Cardinals and said:

“Fully conscious, therefore, at the beginning of his ministry in the Church of Rome, which Peter bathed with his blood, his present Successor aims, as a primary commitment, to work without sparing energies for the reconstitution of the full and visible unity of all the followers of Christ. This is his ambition, this is his imperative duty.” (Benedict XVI'S Message to Cardinals, April 20, 2005, N5)

A few days later, when Pope Benedict XVI first addressed the faithful gathered in St Peter’s Square from his study window, he said: “I greet with especial affection the Orthodox Churches and the Eastern Orthodox Churches which today celebrate the Resurrection of Christ. To these dear brothers and sisters of ours, I address the traditional announcement of joy: Christos anesti! Christ is risen!”

As with his first appointment, the first words addressed by a new Pope to the faithful on his first Sunday might be taken to have great significance. This was certainly the case here. It seemed that His Holiness had clearly placed improved relations with the Orthodox Churches at the top of his agenda. And if this were the case then his choice of a successor to himself at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith would be crucial.

A clue to that particular succession surfaced another few days later, on May 3. In that day’s Vatican News release it was recorded that Pope Benedict had received in audience the Most Reverend William J Levada, Archbishop of San Francisco, USA. Up to that point His Holiness had received in audience 11 cardinals. Of the six archbishops he had received, three were senior Vatican officials, two were members of the Presidency of the Latin American Episcopal Council (CELAM), which had been received as a group, and one was a Sri Lankan archbishop on his ad limina visit. He had also received six other Bishops, members of the Sri Lankan hierarchy.

He had officially received not one member of the hierarchy of the United States of America, not even any of the American cardinals! Moreover, before welcoming Archbishop Levada that day, His Holiness had received the President of Italy, Carlo Azeglio Ciampi, and his Foreign Minister, Gianfranco Fini, their wives and an entourage.

So to the astute observer the question was: What gives with this Californian? Cardinals, archbishops and bishops from all over the world in Rome and the new Pope receives the archbishop of San Francisco. A guy in an archiepiscopal See which doesn’t even rate a red hat!

When Cardinal Ratzinger was brought from Munich to Rome in 1981 to serve as Prefect of the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and as President of both the International Theological Commission and the Pontifical Biblical Commission, the Rt Rev Mgr Dr William Joseph (Bill) Levada was a senior official of the CDF. One of his areas of expertise was, and still is, the Orthodox Churches.

Another indication of the importance the Holy Father gives to this field was his appointment on June 9, 2007, of Leonardo Cardinal Sandri as Prefect of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches. For seven years Cardinal Sandri had served both Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict as sostituto, Secretary of State Substitute for General Affairs, essentially the Papal Chief of Staff.

If there is any doubt as to the importance of this position of sostituto, or about the calibre of prelate appointed to it, then one need only cite two names: Pope Benedict XV and Pope Paul VI. The appointment of Leonardo Sandri was therefore highly significant.

(A little aside: during WW II, under Pope Pius XII, Msgr Battista ― as he was known to his family and friends ― Montini served as Secretary for General Affairs and Msgr Domenico Tardini as Secretary of the Sacred Congregation for the Extraordinary Ecclesiastical Affairs of the Holy See, the position now held by Archbishop Mamberti under a different title. These were incredibly important jobs, but unlike today appointment to them did not bring the archiepiscopal dignity.

One day a member of the staff of the Secretariat of State went to see Msgr Tardini. The young Monsignor it seems was much agitated and sadly told his superior that there was a scandalous situation which threatened to become public. Apparently it was being much talked about that one of the curial cardinals was having an affair with a married lady. Tardini loftily dismissed the young Monsignor telling him to “go and see Montini. He deals with Ordinary affairs.”)

Hopefully, I’ll get back to dealing with the affairs of the Sacred College later today.

Monday, 18 October 2010




Consistory may be announced Wednesday

In 2007, Pope Benedict announced the list of new cardinals at the end of the Wednesday audience on October 17,approximately five-and-a-half weeks before the consistory. While I had expected the announcement of the third consistory of this pontificate on Sunday, it may well be that it will come on Wednesday. If it does not, then it seems likely that His Holiness will not hold a consistory before Easter when he will have 25 vacancies in the roll of cardinal electors to fill. I could only presume that financial considerations would drive such a decision.

Apart from the necessity of creating new cardinals to bring the strength of the college of cardinal electors back up to its maximum of 120, there is also the no small matter of it perhaps being thought prudent to put in place both a younger Dean and a younger vice-Dean currently and respectively Angelo Cardinal Sodano, Cardinal Bishop of Albano and Ostia, who will be 83 on November 23, just about the time the next consistory is expected, and Roger Marie Élie Etchegaray (88), Cardinal Bishop of Porto-Santa Rufina.

At present, the other members of the order of Cardinals Bishop are, excluding the Eastern rite patriarchs who do not vote for, and are not eligible to be elected, the Dean or vice-Dean: Giovanni Battista Re (77 on January 30), Sabina-Poggio Mirteto, Prefect Emeritus of the Congregation for Bishops; Francis Arinze (78 on November 1), Velletri-Segni, Prefect Emeritus of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments ; Tarcisio Bertone (76 on December 2), Frascati, Cardinal Secretary of State and Camerlengo of the Holy Roman Church, and; José Saraiva Martins (79 on January 6), Palestrina, Prefect Emeritus of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints.

Bearing in mind all the other onerous duties the Holy Father has entrusted to the care of Cardin Bertone, it would seem most likely that he would favour the appointment of one of the other three to the Deanship and since he is known to respect Cardinal Arinze’s desire to pursue a quieter life at home in Nigeria then most likely Cardinal Re will get the papal nod for the Suburbicarian See of Ostia. But it must be emphasised that the rules state that it is free to the Cardinals Bishop to elect whomsoever it pleases them to from amongst their own number, although the Holy Father has to consent to the appointment of the elected.

There then follows the problem of who to appoint to Albano and to Porto-Santa Rufina. William Cardinal Levada, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith would seem an obvious choice for one. The other might well go to His Eminence Leonardo Cardinal Sandri, Prefect of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches, in recognition of his years of service to the Holy See and especially for the time spent as sostituto during the last years of the pontificate of Pope John Paul II and the early ones of this present one. Moreover, such an announcement during the Special Synod for the Middle East would go down well with the delegates present in Rome.

And IF the announcement IS made on Wednesday, October 20, while the Synod for the Middle East is in session, then it might very well be that the Holy Father, to show his solidarity with the region, will name cardinal one or two prelates connected with the Church very much suffering there.

Of the three cardinal patriarchs of Eastern-rite, none is now a cardinal elector and it would be a much appreciated gesture were Pope Benedict to announce the elevation of one of the other patriarchs while they are all in Rome

Another obvious choice which would be welcomed by the synod fathers would be that of His Beatitude Fouad Twal (70 on October 23), Patriarch of Jerusalem of the Latins (Coadjutor Archbishop of Jerusalem, September 8, 2005; succeeded as Patriarch, June 21, 2008) His Beatitude is a Member of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches.

Saturday, 16 October 2010

Consistory 2010: The List?

The Sacred College of Cardinals currently numbers 179 in all but only 103 are presently under 80 years of age and hence eligible to take part in a conclave as cardinal electors. If the consistory IS scheduled for Saturday, November 27, then a further two cardinals will have reached the electoral age limit: Cardinals Tumi, Cameroon, and Pujats, Latvia. This will allow for 19 nominations to the roll of cardinal electors.

In the unlikely event that the Pope should decide to leave summoning the cardinals to a consistory until the end of April, then another six places will become available, allowing for 25 nominations.

At the time of the release of the list for his second consistory (held on Saturday, November 24, 2007) Pope Benedict indicated that he was making an exception to the rule that there can be a maximum of 120 cardinal electors by nominating such a number as to temporarily, and for only a very short time, have 121.

IF he does call the consistory for November 27, it is entirely possible that he will again intimate that he is making an exception to the rule in order that he might include deserving nominees. If he then nominates 25 new cardinals it will be in the knowledge that, barring any visitations of the Grim Reaper, within a matter of only a few months the limit will honoured. (Pope John Paul II had no qualms whatsoever in exceeding the limit.)

It is possible that four Metropolitan Archbishops may well be included whose inclusion would be a notable, indeed controversial, exception to Pope Benedict’s generally applied principle that Metropolitans should only be elevated once their predecessor has ceased to be a cardinal elector. The inclusion of any, some, or all of them on the list is dependent upon whether or not the first named is included. These are Monsignori:

Cesare Nosiglia (66), Turin, Italy (October 11, 2010)

Timothy Michael Dolan (60), New York, USA (February 23, 2009)

Vincent Gerard Nichols (65 on November 8), Westminster, England (April 3, 2009)

Orani João Tempesta (60), Rio de Janeiro, Brazil (February 27, 2009)

As things presently stand, and irrespective of when the third consistory of this pontificate is to be held, and no matter how many cardinals are created, nominations from within the Roman Curia will include five Archbishops who by virtue of the offices to which they have been appointed since Pope Benedict’s second consistory (November 24, 2007) MUST be created cardinal. (See the Apostolic Constitution Sapienti consilio [Pope St Pius X, June 29, 1908] and relevant subsequent papal endorsements up to and including Pastor Bonus [John Paul II, June 28, 1988]). These five are Monsignori:

Angelo Amato (Italian, 72) Prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints (July 9, 2008

Raymond Leo Burke (American, 62) Prefect of the Apostolic Signatura (June 27, 2008),

Fortunato Baldelli (Italian, 75), Major Penitentiary of the Apostolic Penitentiary (June 2, 2009)

Francesco Monterisi (Italian, 76) Archpriest of St Paul’s-Outside-the-Walls (July 3, 2009).

Mauro Piacenza (Italian, 66), Prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy ( October 7, 2010)

In addition, there are five further cardinals in curia who are more or less confidently expected to be honoured:

Francesco Coccopalmerio (Italian, 72), President of the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts (February 15, 2007)

Gianfranco Ravasi (Italian, 68 on Monday, October 18), Prefect of the Pontifical Council for Culture and President of both the Pontifical Commission for the Cultural Heritage of the Church and that for Sacred Archaeology (all as of September 3, 2007)

Velasio de Paolis (Italian, 75), President of the Prefecture for the Economic Affairs of the Holy See (April 12, 2008)

Antonio Maria Veglio (Italian, 71), President of the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People (February 28, 2009

Paolo Sardi (Italian, 76), Vice-Camerlengo (or, Chamberlain), Pro-Patron of the Sovereign Military Hospitaller Order of St John of Jerusalem of Rhodes and Malta (June 7, 2009)

It is just possible, and no more than that, that the Holy Father might also honour the founding President of the newest dicastery of the Roman Curia, which he himself has erected, Monsignor:

Salvatore Fisichella (Italian, 59), President of the Pontifical Council for the New Evangelization (June 30, 2010)

Nominations from the Metropolitan Archbishops will definitely include Monsignori:

Donald William Wuerl (70 on November 12), Washington DC, USA (May 16, 2006)

Paolo Romeo (72), Palermo, Sicily, Italy (December 19, 2006)

Reinhard Marx (57), Munich, Germany (November 30, 2007)

Giuseppe Betori (63), Florence, Italy (September 8, 2008)

Braulio Rodriguez Plaza (66), Toledo, Spain (April 16, 2009)

Msgri Józef Kowalczyk (72), Gniezno, Poland (Primate, May 8, 2010)

Kazimierz Nycz (60), Warsaw, Poland (March 3, 2007)

It is virtually certain that other nominations will include Monsignor:

(Albert) Malcolm Ranjith (Patabendige Don) (63 on November 12), Colombo, Sri Lanka(June 16, 2009)
Other possibilities are Monsignori

Pierre Nguyên Van Nhon (72), Hanoi, Vietnam (Coadjutor, April 22, 2010; May 13, 2010).

Thomas Christopher Cillins (63), Toronto, Canada (December 16, 2006) (Cardinal Ambrozic was 80 in January of this year).

John Atcherley Dew (62), Wellington, New Zealand (April 1, 2005) (Cardinal Williams was 80 in March of this year).

Allen Henry Vigneron (62 on October 21), Detroit, USA (January 5, 2009) (Cardinal Maida was 80 in March of this year).

Mieczysław Mokrzycki (49), Lviv, Ukraine (Coadjutor, September 29, 2007; October21, 2008)

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Consistory 2010: Announcement expected Sunday, October 17

The announcement on Thursday, October 7, that Pope Benedict had accepted the resignation of His Eminence Cláudio Cardinal Hummes, Prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy, came as a surprise and is taken as a sign that the Holy Father intends to hold a third consistory for the naming of new cardinals at an early date, probably Saturday, 27 November.

If this IS the case, then the list of new cardinals should be issued this coming Sunday, October 17.

A Franciscan, Cardinal Hummes was Archbishop of São Paolo, Brazil, before being called to Rome in 2006 as Prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy. Although at 76 years of age already past the age limit, His Eminence is neither ill nor infirm and, indeed, still has a little over a year of his tenure to run.

It seems clear that the Pope must have had a good reason for acting now. And the best of reasons would be a desire to avoid having yet another head of a ranking dicastery, tribunal or other institute of the Holy See entitled by canon law, or by long custom and usage, to the cardinalatial dignity serving for some considerable time before being created cardinal.

This has already happened with Archbishops Raymond Leo Burke (American, 62) Prefect of the Apostolic Signatura (June 27, 2008), Angelo Amato (Italian, 72) Prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints (July 9, 2008), Fortunato Baldelli (Italian, 75), Major Penitentiary of the Apostolic Penitentiary (June 2, 2009), and Francesco Monterisi (Italian, 76) Archpriest of St Paul’s-Outside-the-Walls (July 3, 2009).

These will all be on the list whenever it is released and it is confidently expected that Msgr Angelo Amato, who served under the Holy Father at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, will have the position of honour, No 1 on the list. To him will go the signal honour of addressing the Pope on behalf of all the new cardinals at the public consistory on the Saturday morning.

The above named will be joined by the prelate chosen to succeed Cardinal Hummes as Secretary of the Congregation for the Clergy. This is the man largely responsible for ensuring the success of the Year of Priests, Msgr Mauro Piacenza, titular Archbishop of Victoriana (Victorian England, apparently; and, no, I don’t have a clue either).

These five are guaranteed to be on the list since the Apostolic Constitution Sapienti consilio (Pope St Pius X, June 29, 1908) and relevant subsequent papal endorsements up to and including Pastor Bonus (John Paul II, June 28, 1988) stipulate that the Prefects of all nine Congregations of the Roman Curia must either be a cardinal upon appointment or be created a cardinal at the earliest opportunity thereafter. The same applies to the Major Penitentiary of the Apostolic Penitentiary, the Prefect of the Apostolic Signatura, and has until now applied to those appointed Archpriest of the three Major Basilicas which have always in modern times had such a prelate. It has only been since 2005 and the motu proprio “The Ancient and Venerable Basilica” (May 31) that St Paul’s-Outside-the-Walls has had an Archpriest nominated by the Supreme Pontiff but it can be assumed that that practice will also apply now in that case.

Other nominations from within the Roman Curia are also expected, Archbishops:

• Francesco Coccopalmerio (Italian, 72), Legislative Texts (February 15, 2007)
• Gianfranco Ravasi (Italian, 68 on Monday, October 18), Culture, who is also President of both the Pontifical Commission for the Cultural Heritage of the Church and that for Sacred Archaeology (all as of September 3, 2007)
• Velasio de Paolis (Italian, 75), Prefecture for the Economic Affairs of the Holy See (April 12, 2008)
• Antonio Maria Veglio (Italian, 71), Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People (February 28, 2009)
• Paolo Sardi (Italian, 76), Vice-Camerlengo (or, Chamberlain), Pro-Patron of the Sovereign Military Hospitaller Order of St John of Jerusalem of Rhodes and Malta (June 7, 2009).

The first two will be honoured because of the historic importance of their positions, their intellectual brilliance, their priestly reputations, the esteem in which they are held by Pope Benedict and their value to this pontificate.

Msgr De Paolis would be made cardinal because of the singular importance of his office. The Prefecture was erected in 1967 and of Msgr De Paolis’s five predecessors, four were cardinals on appointment and the other, his immediate predecessor, was elevated at the second consistory after his appointment. However, Cardinal Sebastini was appointed on November 3, 1997, and the list of 22 new cardinals to be elevated at the consistory of February 21, 1978, was announced on January 18. It is likely that his appointment came just too late to accommodate him.

Msgr Veglio would be honoured not because of his current position but because of his long and devoted service to the Holy See, firstly, in its diplomatic service and then, secondly, in the Roman Curia where he served as Secretary of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches. Of course, if the list of new cardinals IS announced this Sunday while the Special Synod for the Middle East is in progress, Msgr Veglio’s elevation will be received with especial delight by the Synod Fathers.

Msgr Sardi, was and remains a very senior curialist and his appointment to succeed the late Pio Cardinal Laghi emphasises this. That style – “Pro-Patron” – means that for the time being the Holy Father has reserved the patronage to himself. A similar thing happened before the last consistory. Cardinal Foley was appointed Pro-Grand Master of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem on June 27, 2007 and was raised to the cardinalatial dignity five months later.

(The Vice-Chamberlain of the Apostolic Camera was until 1870 Governor of the City of Rome. He is the prelate whose authority during a sede vacante is next only to that of the Camerlengo and the Dean of the Sacred College. To him is entrusted responsibility for the security of the conclave, to which no one can be admitted without his permission.)

While this might seem to be rather more than enough cardinals in curia, since the Holy Father chose to officially launch the new dicastery, the Pontifical Council for promoting the New Evangelization on Tuesday, October 12, ahead of the expected announcement of the list of new cardinals on October 17, this may indicate that he intends to create cardinal its founding President, Archbishop Salvatore Fisichella. (In this regard it should be noted that the constitution of the new dicastery includes “Art. 4. Paragraph 1. The Council is headed by an Archbishop President…” but this is in conformity with the constitutions of the other dicasteries which have at their head Archbishops President who are also cardinals.)

That all comes to ten or eleven new cardinals; but, how many will there, or can there, be?

The Sacred College of Cardinals currently numbers 179 in all but only 103 are presently under 80 years of age and hence eligible to take part in a conclave as cardinal electors. If the consistory IS scheduled for Saturday, November 27, then a further two cardinals will have reached the electoral age limit: Cardinals Tumi, Cameroon, and Pujats, Latvia. This will allow for 19 nominations to the roll of cardinal electors. (In the unlikely event that the Pope should decide to leave summoning the cardinals to a consistory until the end of April, then another six places would be available, allowing for 25 nominations.)

The non-curial cardinals to be created will be chosen from the ranks of the Metropolitan Archbishops from throughout the Universal Church. In Rome, the three regarded as the most important outside of Italy are Munich, New York and London, that is Westminster.

In the week following the last consistory, on November 30, 2007, it was announced that Msgr Reinhard Marx had been nominated Archbishop of Munich in succession to Friedrich Cardinal Wetter. Unquestionably, the choice of Msgr Marx was known in advance of the consistory. So why was the announcement delayed until after it?

There are two possibilities. Firstly, the Archbishop of Munich is always created cardinal at the earliest opportunity after appointment. It may well have been that Msgr Marx had emerged as the preferred candidate just too late to be included in the consistory and so the announcement had to be delayed in order that the impression was not given that Munich had been snubbed. Or, secondly, at the time of the consistory Cardinal Wetter was still a cardinal elector and would remain so until February 20 in the following year, 2008. What did that matter?

Msgr Marx will definitely be on the list of new cardinals and so, too, will Msgr Paolo Romeo (Italian, 72) Archbishop of Palermo (December 19, 2006). Prior to his nomination to Palermo, Msgr Romeo was Apostolic Nuncio to Italy. In modern times those prelates who have risen to the summit of the diplomatic service of the Holy See with appointment as Nuncio to either Italy or France have at the end of their tenure then retired from the diplomatic service and have been given a red hat (see Pope John XXIII).

The problem for Msgr Romeo was that the man he was replacing, His Eminence Salvatore Cardinal de Giorgi, was only 76 years old and hence still a cardinal elector. Moreover, at the time of the last consistory, in November 2007, he was still only 77. This is a problem that has only really surfaced in relatively recent times: cardinal metropolitan archbishops retiring while they are still cardinal electors.

There is no law which says that their successors cannot be created cardinal until either they have turned their toes up or celebrated their 80th birthdays. But clearly Pope Benedict has decided that it is in general a bad idea, risking an undue bias, or weighting, should a conclave become necessary. It would be like a Tesco sale: two votes for the price of one!

This begs the question: Will the recently appointed Metropolitan Archbishops of New York, Westminster, and, and just as importantly, Rio de Janeiro be honoured at the forthcoming consistory?

Rio is in fact the greater problem for the Holy Father to decide on. The Cistercian Archbishop Orani João Tempesta (60, appointed February 27, 2009) has in his See not one but two Cardinal Archbishops Emeritus: Cardinals de Araújo Sales, who will be 90 in November, and; Cardinal Scheid, who will be 78 in December and who is, therefore, still a cardinal elector.

In New York, Cardinal Ed Egan is 78 and will be 79 next April 2. In London, Cardinal Murphy-O’Connor is 78 and will be 79 next August 24. It may well be, then, that, along with Archbishop Tempesta, one or other or both of their successors ― Archbishops Tim Dolan (60; appointed February 23, 2009) and Vincent Nichols (65 on November 8; April 3, 2009) ― may well be disappointed this time round.

But then again maybe not.

Rio is a huge diocese and Latin America is statistically under-represented in the Sacred College; New York’s Catholics and their generosity are essential to the Church’s finances, and; England (and NOT Westminster) is the Mother of Parliaments and the Anglophone Catholic Churches throughout the developing world do look to her (and to Ireland and to Scotland) for direction and leadership.

So it would be no great surprise if all three were included in the list.

And it should also be remembered that even for Pope Benedict it is not written in stone that a new Archbishop cannot be made a cardinal while his predecessor remains a cardinal elector.

Giacomo Cardinal Biffi, then aged 75½, retired as Archbishop of Bologna on December 16, 2003, and on that same day Msgr Carlo Caffarra was named as his successor. On March 24, 2006, at the first Benedictine consistory Archbishop Caffarra was created cardinal DESPITE the fact that Cardinal Biffi was, aged 78 years, still a cardinal elector. And still very much on the go.

The Archbishops of Italy’s major Sees have always been rewarded with the Sacred Roman Purple at the next consistory after their appointment. These are the Archbishops of Venice (Patriarch), Bologna, Florence, Genoa, Milan, Naples, Palermo and Turin, and the Pope’s Vicar General for the Diocese of Rome. One only has to call to mind the furore caused when Pope Pius XII named Msgr Battista Montini Archbishop of Milan but failed to give him a cardinal’s hat. (That he never held a subsequent third consistory to fill a number of vacancies in the Sacred College is irrelevant. On July 15, 1929, Pius XI held a consistory at which only ONE cardinal was created: Alfredo Ildefonso Schuster OSB, Archbishop of Milan!)

It might well be highly significant that Msgr Cesare Nosiglia (66) was appointed Archbishop of Turin this very week, on Monday, October 11. As with Archbishop Tempesta in Rio de Janeiro, Msgr Nosiglia has two Cardinal Archbishops Emeritus to cope with and, as in Rio, one of them is still a cardinal elector, His Eminence Severino Cardinal Poletto, aged 77.

It might well be that the timing of the announcement of Msgr Nosiglia has a significance similar to that of Archbishop Piacenza’s. Perhaps it has been announced now precisely so that he CAN be created cardinal at this consistory. This would then act as a justification for the inclusion in the list of new cardinals of Archbishops Dolan, Nichols and Tempesta. After all, would it not be highly unfair to include an Italian whose predecessor remains a cardinal elector while excluding on that ground an American, a European and a Latin American?

Another Italian Metropolitan Archbishop, Msgr Giuseppe Betori (63), will also be named cardinal. He was appointed Archbishop of Florence (September 8, 2008) in succession to Ennio Cardinal Antonelli when the latter was appointed President of the Pontifical Council for the Family. (When Cardinal Antonelli was created cardinal in 2003 he received as his titular church San Andrea della Fratte, which had been Cardinal Winning’s church in Rome.)

In the same way that Msgr Betori was appointed because his predecessor had been tapped for service in the Roman Curia, Msgr Braulio Rodriguez Plaza was translated to Toledo when Antonio Cardinal Cañizares Llovera was appointed Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments. And so Msgr Rodriguez Plaza will be now be named cardinal.

Poland will likely see two of her prelates honoured: Msgri Józef Kowalczyk, Gniezno, the Primate, and Kazimierz Nycz (60), Warsaw.

Four years after his nomination as Archbishop of Washington DC, Msgr Donald William Wuerl, who will be 70 on November 12, will now receive his red hat, Cardinal McCarrick having turned 80 in July.

Out of Africa, it is expected that Msgr Laurent Monsengwo Pasinya (71), Archbishop of Kinshasa (formerly Leopoldville) Democratic Republic of the Congo, will be elevated. From 1964 to 1970, Monsengwo Pasinya was a student at Rome’s Pontifical Biblical Institute from which he graduated with a doctorate in Biblical Sciences, the first black African ever to do so. He is reputed to be fluent in 14 languages. An indication of his stature within the Church in Africa is the fact that in August of 2008, following the death of the Holy Father’s friend, Bishop Wilhelm Egger of Belzano-Bressanone, Msgr Monsengwo Pasinya was selected to replace him as special secretary to the Synod for Africa held in October of that year.

Thursday, 6 May 2010

Need for change: some introductory thoughts


Msgr John Tracy Ellis was the author of a two-volume life of the legendary James Cardinal Gibbons of Baltimore (pictured above) which according to Msgr. Thomas J. Shelley PhD, priest of the archdiocese of New York and Professor of Historical Theology at Fordham University, “set new standards for clerical biographies and won wide respect among historians”.

Cardinal Gibbons? Legendary? But one example: The story goes that at a dinner party the wife of a wealthy Baltimore businessman, and hence by definition a Protestant, asked the cardinal what he thought of papal infallibility. The cardinal confidentially replied so that the whole table might hear: “All I know, ma’am, is that every time I have met His Holiness he has called me Jibbons!”

In fairness it should be noted that as the second youngest bishop present at the First Vatican Council ― he was known to his fellow American bishops as “the boy bishop”; aged just 34 years and 3 weeks when he was consecrated bishop on 15 August 1868, he was six days younger than Jeremiah Francis Shanahan who had been consecrated Bishop of Harrisburg during the previous month (I don’t know whether it was meant as a joke or not, but on the Twelfth of July) ― he had voted in favour of papal infallibility.

Who can doubt that in this hour of the Church’s need some papal infallibility, or even just good decision making, is urgently required?

As to Msgr Shelley’s comment, he emphatically meant “historians” and not just “Church historians” when he praised Msgr Ellis’s Magnus opus. For Msgr Ellis was an intellectual giant. A big fish in the small pond of American Catholic intellectual life, he was yet a big fish in the big pond of American intellectual life.

Msgr Ellis was a product of a small liberal arts college run by the French-founded teaching order, the Clerics of Saint Viator (a 4th century catechist in Lyons). Obscure before it became defunct in 1939, St Viator College, Bourbonnais, Illinois, was also the alma mater of Servant of God Archbishop Fulton J Sheen. Now granting that decisive and true papal leadership is our prime urgent need, this is one man who should live at this hour. As the Church is beset and beleaguered across and throughout the media and on both sides of the Atlantic, what would we not give for a latter day Fulton J Sheen? (Who, incidentally, studied and taught on both sides of the Atlantic.)

Later, many years after graduating, Msgr Ellis would say: “Had I the power to bring Saint Viator College back into existence, and that with a substantial endowment, for a variety of reasons I should hesitate to do so.” While I wouldn’t say the same about my old school ― Our Lady’s High, Motherwell; and I mean as it was when I was there: selective and all boys ― how many others would say precisely the same about their old Catholic schools? And, of course, we don’t have any Catholic universities in the UK.

Msgr Ellis came to prominence as Professor of American church history at The Catholic University of America, Washington, and as the managing editor of The Catholic Historical Review. He would later move to the University of San Francisco, not entirely for health reasons. In May of 1955, while still resident in Washington, he gave an address which was subsequently published in the autumn issue of the Fordham University quarterly, Thought, under the title “American Catholics and the Intellectual Life.”

Questioning the quality of the education available in Catholic higher education establishments and their fitness for purpose as regards their role in producing an intellectually astute Catholic priesthood and laity, this caused a storm which rages even to the present day, as was evidenced by the recent furore over the president of Notre Dame’s invitation to President Obama to both give the commencement address and to receive an honorary doctorate.

Msgr Ellis took as his starting point a comment of Sir Denis W. Brogan, Glaswegian and Professor of Political Science at Cambridge who was an expert on both French and American political history. Brogan had said in 1941 that “in no Western society is the intellectual prestige of Catholicism lower than in the country where, in such respects as wealth, numbers, and strength of organization, it is so powerful.”

Ellis, more in sorrow than in anger, made two observations on this quote, the first being: “No well-informed American Catholic will attempt to challenge that statement.” Well, I am not an American Catholic but a Scottish one; and, as such, were Brogan’s statement to be uttered today I would challenge it. For nowadays, here in Great Britain the intellectual prestige of Catholicism is absolutely rock bottom.

And in Brogan’s native Scotland it’s even lower.

But I would have to agree with the second of Msgr Ellis’s observation. He went on to aver: “Admittedly, the weakest aspect of the Church in this country lies in its failure to produce national leaders and to exercise commanding influence in intellectual circles…” Of course, I am again thinking of Great Britain and, and most especially, Scotland, and not the USA.

Msgr Ellis returned to his theme in 1966 when he gave another lecture which was later published as an essay entitled “A Commitment to Truth”. Here he quoted with approval from a then little-known German theologian who had been theological advisor to Cardinal Joseph Frings, Archbishop of Cologne, during the Second Vatican Council which had but recently ended. This junior German professor had written that what the Church needed was “not adulators to extol the status quo, but men whose humility and obedience are no less than their passion for truth.”

Ellis, reflecting and expanding on the thoughts of his Teutonic muse, warned that it would be impossible for the Church to realize the wonderful aspirations of the Council “unless her teaching, her intellectual apostolate, her liturgy and worship, yes, and the lives of her sons and daughters, bear a note of authenticity and carry the credentials of truth and honesty.”

Though this was not Msgr Ellis’s concern as he talked and wrote, it would be absolutely no use whatsoever if we had a wonderfully educated, vibrant and committed Catholic laity ― and that was the good Monsignor’s main concern ― if they were to be let down by their Church leadership, the Catholic episcopal hierarchy.

And, to be perfectly honest about it, all these years later here in Great Britain and, and more specifically, in Scotland we are still waiting for our bishops to give a proper lead in that teaching, intellectual apostolate and liturgy and worship in order that we might more fully live a more authentic Catholic Christian life as envisioned by the Council fathers.

But it isn’t all their own fault.

And, thankfully, that then little-known German theologian who inspired Msgr Ellis can do something about this. At the time Msgr Ellis wrote of him in 1966, he was in the process of relocating from Münster to Tübingen. Today he’s getting ready to visit Scotland. For the Rev Fr Dr Joseph Ratzinger is now His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI.

A wiser man than me, Fr Tim Finigan, wrote in his blog (The hermeneutic of continuity): “Through the Sacrament they have received, Bishops are stewards of the Lord’s gift. They are ‘stewards of the mysteries of God’ (I Cor 4: 1); as such, they must be found to be ‘faithful’ and ‘wise’ (cf. Lk 12: 41-48). This requires them to administer the Lord’s gift in the right way, so that it is not left concealed in some hiding place but bears fruit, and the Lord may end by saying to the administrator: ‘Since you were dependable in a small matter I will put you in charge of larger affairs’ (cf. Mt 25: 14-30; Lk 19: 11-27).”

I couldn’t have put it better myself. And to help them, the first thing that the Pope should do is order a reassessment of our diocesan structure. Have we too many bishops? Or too few? How are they selected and trained? Who is due to go and who should come in? And for those who might come in, how can we best use them? Can we improve our metropolitan structure?

But before we can decide where we want to go, might it not be a good idea to ask how we got to where we currently are?

Sunday, 25 April 2010

New York Times' Hypocrisy

Since this is Sunday morning and the world famous Mitchell Library in Glasgow is shut, I had to revert to Google and Wikipedia to learn that the definition of "hypocrisy" is: "the act of persistently professing beliefs, opinions, virtues, feelings, qualities, or standards that are inconsistent with one's actions. Hypocrisy is thus a kind of lie."

I refer you to the New York Times' recent abuse of the Catholic Church in general and our beloved Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI in particular.

Living witnesses uninterviewed; documents in languages other than English untranslated; time lines unexplored; opinion vouchedsafe as fact. Everything that would under normal circumstances merit the sack jimmied on to the front page.

And yet today I read:

"April 24, 2010, 2:58 PM
Criminal Charges Possible in the Case of the Lost iPhone
By NICK BILTON"

However all due respect was accorded the United States legal system:

"According to people familiar with the investigation, who would not speak on the record because of the potential legal case..."

"Gawker’s chief operating officer, said via e-mail late Friday that the organization had not been contacted by law enforcement officials, and declined to speak further on any legal aspects. Apple also declined to comment."

What happened to respect for the legal case when the Catholic Church was a party to both potential and active legal actions?

Monday, 29 March 2010

Pope Benedict falsely accused

Nicholas Kulish and Katrin Bennhold (The New York Times of 25 March) were quite emphatic in their opening: “The future Pope Benedict XVI,” they asserted “was kept more closely apprised of a sexual abuse case in Germany than previous church statements have suggested, raising fresh questions about his handling of a scandal unfolding under his direct supervision before he rose to the top of the church’s hierarchy.”

The then Cardinal Archbishop of Munich and Freising “was copied on a memo that informed him that a priest, whom he had approved sending to therapy in 1980 to overcome paedophilia, would be returned to pastoral work within days of beginning psychiatric treatment.”

All quite clear?

Just to make it absolutely crystal clear, they spell it out in black and white: “But the memo, whose existence was confirmed by two church officials, shows that the future pope not only led a meeting on Jan. 15, 1980, approving the transfer of the priest, but was also kept informed about the priest’s reassignment.”

But what is this followed by? Well, equivocation seems an appropriate word: “What part he played in the decision making, and how much interest he showed in the case of the troubled priest, who had molested multiple boys in his previous job, remains unclear.”

Straws are then clutched: “But the personnel chief who handled the matter from the beginning, the Rev. Friedrich Fahr, ‘always remained personally, exceptionally connected’ to Cardinal Ratzinger, the church said.”

“(T)he church said.” Now who exactly would that be? We are not told.

Attribution, though, is not entirely absent for the very next paragraph is based on an interview with a named archdiocesan official. The authors write: “Church officials defend Benedict by saying the memo was routine and was ‘unlikely to have landed on the archbishop’s desk,’ according to the Rev. Lorenz Wolf, judicial vicar at the Munich Archdiocese.”

Got that? It was “unlikely” that the memo landed on Cardinal Ratzinger’s desk. So they have no story. If this were meant to be a piece of fair and unbiased reportage it would be game, set and match to Papa Ratzi. But it was never meant to be that. And so we are next told: “But Father Wolf said he could not rule out that Cardinal Ratzinger had read it.”

Fr Wolf believed it to be “unlikely” but he couldn’t be absolutely one hundred percent certain. In criminal trials the burden of proof is “beyond reasonable doubt” and in civil cases it is the less exacting standard of “balance of probability”. Fr Wolf’s evidence doesn’t come anywhere near to swinging the balance of probability against the Holy Father’s defenders.

Indeed, we are told that “According to Father Wolf, who spoke with Father Gruber this week at the request of The New York Times, Father Gruber, the former vicar general, said that he could not remember a detailed conversation with Cardinal Ratzinger about Father Hullermann…”

In the interests of determining where the balance of probability lies, in the interests of fairness, the authors then point out: “but (that) Father Gruber refused to rule out that ‘the name had come up.’” Note that: he “refused” to rule it out, according to them. But is it not more likely that if we were to see the contemporaneous notes, if there are any, then in English translation what he probably had said was more along the lines of “can’t in all honesty absolutely” rule it out.

But to report it in that way, honestly, would require what is evidenced by its total absence: honesty.

Thursday, 25 February 2010

Children, Schools and Families Bill

The committee tasked with examining the Children, Schools and Families Bill in its response stated in part: “We welcome the requirement that the Secretary of State set out specific entitlements which pupils and parents are entitled to expect from their school. However, we have some concerns about the details of the plans. We recommend that the Secretary of State ensures that the entitlements fully reflect the relevant international human rights standards concerning the child’s right to education and the rights of parents in relation to their children’s education.”

What are these “relevant international human rights”?

Principal amongst them are those enshrined in the European Convention on Human Rights and the Protocols thereto. Section 1 of the ECHR provides at:

Article 8:
(1) Everyone has the right to respect for his private and family life, his home and his correspondence.
(2) There shall be no interference by a public authority with the exercise of this right except such as is in accordance with the law and is necessary in a democratic society, in the interests of national security, public safety or the economic well-being of the country, for the prevention of disorder or crime, for the protection of health or morals, or for the protection of the rights and freedoms of others.

Article 9:
(1) Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief, in worship, teaching, practice and observance.
(2) Freedom to manifest one’s religion or belief shall be subject only to the limitations as are prescribed by law and are necessary in a democratic society in the interests of public safety, for the protection of public order, health or morals, or for the protection of the rights and freedoms of others.

Article 12:
Men and women of marriageable age have the right to marry and to form a family, according to the national laws governing the exercise of this right.

Article 13:
Everyone whose rights and freedoms as set forth in this Convention are violated shall have an effective remedy before a national authority notwithstanding that the violation has been committed by persons acting in an official capacity.

Article 14:
The enjoyment of the rights and freedoms set forth in this Convention shall be secured without discrimination on any grounds such as sex, race, colour, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, association with a national minority, birth or other status.

Article 15:
In time of war or other public emergency threatening the life of the nation any High Contracting Party may take measures derogating from its obligations under this Convention to the extent strictly required by the exigencies of the situation, provided that such measures are not inconsistent with its other obligations under international law.

The Substantive Protocols to the Convention provide:

1. Protocol No.1, 20 March 1952
Article (1):
Every natural or legal person is entitled to the peaceful enjoyment of his possessions. No one shall be deprived of his possessions except in the public interest and subject to the conditions provided for by law and by the general principles of international law.
The preceding provision shall not, however, in any way impair the right of a State to enforce such laws as it deems necessary to control the use of property in accordance with the general interest or to secure the payment of taxes or other contributions or penalties.

Article (2):
No person shall be denied the right to education. In the exercise of any functions which it assumes in relation to education and to teaching, the State shall respect the right of parents to ensure such education and teaching is in conformity with their own religious and philosophical convictions.

It is apparent that this last provision is of paramount importance. I believe that the Government's determination to dictate to "Faith Schools" what they must teach in relation to HSE is ultra vires and can be successfully contested at law. Having adopted the European Human Rights into British law even measures passed by Parliament are subject to the test of compatibility with ECHR and this plainly ain't!

Friday, 22 January 2010

Oxford Blue, Roman Purple: Cardinal William Theodore Heard

What follows came about as the result of a happy coincidence, or, rather, a happy sequence of coincidences. I was engaged in researching some material relating to a wholly separate matter - the workings of the Education (Scotland) Act of 1918 - when, on trawling through the 1960 issues of The Glasgow Herald, I came across an article which, although of no relevance to the matter at hand, nonetheless grabbed my attention. This article reported the appointment of Monsignor Gerard M Rogers as an auditor, judge, of the Vatican’s Sacred Roman Rota Appeals Tribunal. I attended Our Lady of Good Aid Cathedral Primary School, Park Street,Motherwell, where Mgr Rogers had been a frequent visitor in his role as Parish Priest of Motherwell’s Cathedral Parish.

Moreover, in the 1960s, as a youth growing up in the North Forgewood housing scheme in Motherwell, I had come to know His Eminence Thomas Joseph Cardinal Winning. His Eminence had for a time been Parish Priest of St Luke’s, Forgewood, following his return to his home diocese from Rome, where he had served as Spiritual Director to the students of the Scots College. His return had been occasioned by his appointment as Vicar Episcopal and Officialis under His Lordship Francis Thomson, Bishop of Motherwell. To his dying day Cardinal Winning regarded this appointment as being fortuitous. Not only was he able to renew his love affair with Glasgow Celtic Football Club, but he was also permitted to enjoy at first hand, in early middle age yet still a Bhoy at heart, their greatest ever season, 1966-67. Ecclesiastic authority enabled him to actively participate from his seat in the stand as his beloved Glasgow Celtic won every domestic competition. There is also the no small matter that this was the season in which they became the first British team to win the European Cup!

His Eminence had been a junior colleague of Mgr Rogers before going to Rome ― the good Monsignor was Vicar General of the diocese and Fr Tom was the Bishop’s Secretary. While in Rome, apart from fulfilling his duties in the Scots College, the future cardinal had studied at the Rota studuum, a sort of post-Doctoral Law Faculty run by the judges of the Rota to train consistorial advocates. He qualified as an Advocate of the Sacred Roman Rota (Adv SRR) in 1965. After coming to St Luke’s, one Sunday after twelve o’clock Mass the then Fr Winning discussed with me Mgr Rogers’s work in the Vatican and how he had come to be appointed. This discussion arose as a result of an article appearing that morning in one of the Sunday newspaper colour supplements. In it was quoted an unidentified, but all-too-easily identifiable, curial priest. In ruefully ironic terms, this curialist discussed having been taken away from his parish work and summoned to Rome having been identified by the Vatican as a particularly well-qualified lawyer. This was obviously Mgr Rogers possessor of the triple doctorate from the Gregoriana: in Canon Law, Philosophy, and Divinity; in addition while working as a priest he had obtained a Bachelor of Law degree from the University of Glasgow.

Although I was already aware of the existence of Cardinal Heard ― in 1960 while on holiday in Scotland and staying with his friend, the then Bishop James Donald Scanlan 9this was before JDS became Archbishop of Glasgow) His Eminence paid a visit to Our Lady of Good Aid Cathedral Primary School, Motherwell, in the company of Mgr Scanlan and he visited and spoke to my class ― it was in the course of this conversation that I first become aware of how eminent and influential within the Vatican the Cardinal had been. Mgr Rogers’s appointment to the Tribunal had, apparently, been secured through Cardinal Heard’s good offices. In the course of an interview kindly granted to me by Cardinal Winning early in the preparation of this work, His Eminence made it plain that Cardinal Heard had secured Mgr Rogers’s appointment in the face of attempts by a person or persons unknown, but presumably either a member of the Scottish hierarchy or someone with great influence within it, to block it. However, His Eminence would not go into any detail.

Over the years I learned a little more about Cardinal Heard, most especially from University friends who had been students at the Scots College in Rome. Among these former candidates for the priesthood, the late Cardinal enjoyed a reputation as a “bit of a character”. They recalled most especially his visits to the College on the feast day of Scotland’s patron, St Andrew. Whilst it would not be right in what is after all intended to be a serious work to retail any of the stories these Old Boys of the Scots College related to me, they engendered a certain curiosity about His Eminence. I formed a vague determination to find out, some time, more about this little-known Prince of the Church.

Years later, on reading the various newspaper reports and comments upon the announcement of Cardinal Winning’s elevation,I was struck by the fact that although there were references to Cardinals Beaton and Erskine in many of the articles published at the time, there was a total absence of any reference whatsoever to Cardinal Heard. It seemed to me that Cardinal Heard had become Scotland’s “forgotten cardinal”. Too ill at the time to seek to redress this lamentable state of affairs, the accidental discovery of the report in The Glasgow Herald about the appointment to the Rota of His Eminence’s protégé, Mgr Rogers, reawakened my interest. I hope that his modest effort might help to raise awareness of this Scottish, Protestant-born, rugby playing, dance loving, rowing Blue who went on to take part as the only Cardinal Elector from Great Britain (but not from what is customarily but debatably referred to as the British Isles) in the conclave which elected Giovanni Battista Montini, Pope Paul VI .

Thursday, 7 January 2010

New Year's Resolution




I have decided that I am going to try to to keep this blog thing going. It is not quite a case of "Si monumentum requiris, circumspice" but it does seem a pity not to try, especially now someone has actually asked about it!




Just as an experiment, here is a photo of my favourite Cardinal, His Eminence Estanislao Esteban Cardinal Karlic, who I met in St Peter's Basilica on the Monday after this was taken at his induction into the Sacred College.