Monday, 17 September 2012

The Pope in the Lebanon: Part Two

(With apologies, since this should have been posted a couple of days ago. Those days have been lost to a bad cold.)

So what is meant by “the Oriental Church”? Where exactly is the ecclesiastical “Orient”?

A rule of thumb might help. Take a map of Europe and North Africa. Place your ruler along the eastern coast of Italy. Barring the countries in central Europe, as you sweep your ruler round clockwise, the countries it traverses, right round to those on North Africa’s Mediterranean coast, are the home of Eastern Christianity, Catholic and Orthodox. All the way down to Ethiopia and across to India. But nowadays you have to take into account the various Diasporas.

I had the great honour of meeting a group of one part of one element of those Diasporasa in Rome during the weekend of the consistory in November 2007. These were a group of Iraqi Chaldean Catholics who had emigrated to the USA. They were present to see and support their Patriarch, Emmanuel III (Emmanuel-Karim) Delly, Archbishop of Baghdad, honoured by Pope Benedict with elevation to the Sacred College. As Patriarch of Babylon of the Chaldeans, Cardinal Delly joined the Order of Cardinal Bishops. As such, on the Sunday morning at the Ring Mass he was Principal Co-Concelebrant with the Holy Father.

The pictures below were taken by me, using a friend’s camera in St Peter’s Square on the Saturday morning (November 24, 2007) immediately after the public consistory for the naming of the new cardinals. Cardinal Delly is a lovely wee man. He greatly impressed with the way he concelebrated on the Sunday morning. In Latin. The love of his people for him was tangible. I must apologise for the fact that they are so poor. I’m not very good at taking pics, but to make matters worse, I got caught up in this scrum totally unexpectedly.

Pictures of His Beatitude Cardinal Mar Emmanuel III Delly, Patriarch of Babylon of the Chaldeans.


In the early Church there were three major centres: Rome, Alexandria and Antioch. In the earliest laws of the Church, the Bishops of these three cities were accorded the status of a Patriarch and the Bishop of Rome, as successor to Peter, was accorded the position of honour, he was primus inter pares. But each of the Patriarchs governed within his own territory. The Bishop of Rome had no jurisdiction over the other Patriarchs. And he did not appoint them. Nor did he appoint their bishops.

It would take too long, and it would all be rather boring, to recite the history of the development of the modern Patriarchates and the Rites and Churches associated with them. But today there are 5 Eastern Rites, each with a Patriarch. These, obviously, are geographically in the East.) Within each Eastern Rite there are separate territorial Churches headed by a Bishop, an Archbishop or a Major Archbishop. In all, there are 22 sui iuris Eastern Rite Churches in full communion with Rome (this legal term means that they have full competence to manage their own affairs; for example in Synod they elect their own bishops, who are then approved by the Pope). These are:

Alexandrian Rite: Coptic Church (Patriarchal), Ethiopic Church (Archiepiscopal);

Antiochean Rite: Maronite Church (Patriarchal), Syro-Malankar Church (Major Archiepiscopal), Syrian Church (Patriarchal);

Armenian: Armenian Church (Patriarchal);

Chaldean (Syro-Oriental): Chaldean Church (Patriarchal), Syro-Malabar Church (Major Archiepiscopal)

Byzantine (Constantinian): Albanese Church, Belarussian Church, Bulgarian, Croation Church (Episcopal), Greek Church, Greek-Melkite (Patriarchal), Hungarian Church (Episcopal), Italo-Albanese (Episcopal), Macedonian, Romanian Church (Major Archiepiscopal), Ruthenian Church (Archiepiscopal), Slovak Church (Major Archiepiscopal), Ukrainian Church (Major Archiepiscopal).

With the exception of most of the Byzantine Rite Churches, the association with the Middle East should be obvious.

NOTE: In the West, there is only one real Patriarch, the Pope. However, there are two minor Patriarchatess: the Patriarch of Venice (dating from 1457) and the Patriarch of Lisbon (October 22, 1716, and the Golden Bull In Supremo Apostolatus Solio). In the Latin Rite there are also the Patriarch of Jerusalem and the Patriarch of the East Indies [dating from 1886, the Archbishop of Goa and Damão, India].  

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

The Pope in the Lebanon: Part One: How I First Heard of the Oriental Catholic Churches Because of Cardinal Heard

While there was much speculation in the press and broadcast media that this weekend’s Apostolic Pilgrimage of Pope Benedict to the Lebanon might be called off because of security concerns, there was never really any chance of that. There IS a thing called Heroic Virtue, it just isn’t always exhibited in otherworldly, overtly saintly ways. And Papa Ratzinger has it in spades.

Prior to his Apostolic Pilgrimage this weekend, Pope Benedict XVI has visited the Middle East on three occasions: November 28 – December 1, 2006, to Turkey; May 8 – 15, 2009, to Jordan, Israel and Palestine, and; June 4 – 6, 2010, to Cyprus. None of these voyages, to use the Vatican’s quaint descriptor, was risk free. In any sense.

But why should I, a working class guy from the West of Scotland, have any interest in the Church in the Middle East?

About twenty years ago, a bit less, I set out to write an essay on Scotland’s “unheard of Cardinal Heard” (well, that’s how it seemed at the time; it’s worse now). In late 1994, 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 the obvious references to Cardinal Gray, and in some articles references to Cardinals Beaton and Erskine, and even in one newspaper to the Cardinal Duke of York, there was a total absence of any reference whatsoever to Cardinal Heard. He seemed to have become Scotland’s “forgotten cardinal” and in my mind he soon became “the unheard of Cardinal Heard”.

A couple of years later, I received an invitation to be part of the audience at a recording of a Kirsty Wark programme for BBC Scotland. I was supposed to be a bit of an expert on the issue of Catholic Schools. In preparation, I betook myself to the very wonderful Mitchell Library in Glasgow (the biggest public reference library in Europe). I was reading some material relating to the background to the passing of, and to the subsequent operation 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.

(As it turned out, nothing was of any relevance to what actually happened on the TV show. I ended up speaking about Scotland’s legal system in light of the verdict handed down that day in the appeals of Thomas “T C” Campbell and Joe Steele, the two men convicted of the heinous murder of the Doyle family during the Glasgow Ice Cream Wars. That day, contrary to all expectations, they lost their appeals. They were subsequently released some time later when those occupying the very highest reaches of the Scottish legal system were finally able to accept that even policemen, even in the CID, tell lies. Even under oath.)

The article I had stumbled across was a report of the appointment of Monsignor Gerard M Rogers, Vicar General of the Diocese of Motherwell and administrator of Our Lady of Good Aid Cathedral, Motherwell, as an auditor, judge, of the Sacred Roman Rota Appeal Tribunal in Rome. I hadn’t been a reader of The Glasgow Herald when I was eight years old, and so this was new to me. But It wasn’t news to me.
I had attended Our Lady of Good Aid Cathedral Primary School in Motherwell. Mgr Rogers had been a frequent visitor in his role as Parish Priest. Six years after Mgr Rogers departed Motherwell for Rome — I’ll save you doing the arithmetic, I was 14 at the time now in question — we got a new PP in my own parish, St Luke’s, Forgewood. And he came to us all the way from Rome. This was a friend of my late father’s, a certain Fr Tam Winning.  

His later, and now sadly late, Eminence had been a junior colleague of Mgr Rogers before following him to Rome in 1961 when he was appointed Spiritual Director to the students of the Scots College. (Oor Tam was the Bishop’s secretary; and the bishop was Mgr James Donald Scanlan, later Archbishop of Glasgow, whom Oor Tam would succeed.) While in Rome, apart from fulfilling his duties in the Scots College, His Eminence studied at the Rota studuum, a sort of post-Doctoral Law School run by the judges of the Rota to train consistorial advocates. Cardinal Winning qualified as an Advocate of the Sacred Roman Rota (Adv SRR) in 1965.

One Sunday after twelve o’clock Mass, the then Fr Winning discussed with me Mgr Rogers’s work in the Vatican and a little about 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 (the Sunday Express, I suppose, as that was my dad’s paper of choice: he did the crossword; it was a perfectly respectable paper in those days). It quoted from an unidentified, but all-too-easily identifiable, curial priest. In ruefully ironic terms, he 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 LlB (Glas), DCL, PhD, DD (all the Greg, all summa cum laude; same as Cardinal Heard).

Although I was already aware of the existence of Cardinal Heard ― in 1960, the year after his elevation, on a visit to Our Lady of Good Aid Cathedral Primary School, Motherwell, organised by his friend Mgr Scanlan, Cardinal Heard had spoken to my class as we were the First Communion Class ― it was in the course of this conversation that I first become aware of how eminent (I know) and influential within the Vatican the Cardinal had been.

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. I formed a vague determination to find out, some time, more about this little-known Prince of the Church. So, on reading the various newspaper reports and comments upon the announcement of Cardinal Winning’s elevation, I decided to write an essay on him.

(I should, perhaps, note for posterity that in the course of an interview kindly granted to me by my old PP, Cardinal Winning, when I was researching my essay, it was made plain that Cardinal Heard had personally secured Mgr Rogers’s appointment to the Rota 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 – His Eminence wouldn’t say – to block it.)

And it was in researching that essay that I first found out about the Eastern Rite churches in communion with Rome. Although that’s not quite true, but when I first heard of them I was totally unaware of what I had just heard. That was because it was a mere aside, a jocular chaplain’s obiter dicta, as it were. And before you ask, I didn’t then know what an obiter dicta was.

It was my final year at Our Lady’s High School, Motherwell, alma mater of Cardinal Winning, Billy McNeil and Bobby Murdoch (for the latter two see the European Cup 1967). We had been digging up our chaplain, Fr, later Mgr, Jack Burns about priests not being allowed to get married. After explaining about celibacy, he mentioned, en passant, that his fellow students among “the Greeks” when he was a student in Rome were allowed to go home during the summer before their last year in Rome and get married before they were ordained as deacons. We just assumed, and were perplexed by the assumption, that for some reason prospective Greek Orthodox priests were being educated in Rome. Sadly, we never had the opportunity of pursuing this with him or I might have been better advised sooner.

Eventually, let’s say 35 years later at least. His Excellency Mgr William Theodore Heard, Dean of the Sacred Roman Rota, was named Cardinal by Good Pope John on December 15, 1959. His Holiness later appointed him a member of the Sacred Congregation for the Sacraments, the Sacred Congregation for Rites, the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura and as one of three Cardinal Consultants to the Pontifical Commission for the Authentic Interpretation of the Code of Canon Law.

And Good Pope John also named him Editor of the Code of Canon Law for the Oriental Church. When I first read this, my immediate reaction was: “A different Code of Canon Law for Catholics in the Far East? Why? And, by the way, what is a Code of Canon Law?

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Some Prelates to watch: Part Two

On Jan 31, 2012, Mgr Filippo Iannone, O.Carm (now aged 54 years), Bishop of Sora-Aquino-Pontecorvo, was appointed vice-Regent of the Diocese of Rome. The vice-Regent is the senior Auxiliary Bishop, the deputy, to the Pope's Vicar General for Rome, currently Agostino Cardinal Vallini.

Cardinal Vallini was born on April 17, 1940 (your humble but esteemed scrivener here was born on the same date twelve years later) at Poli in the Diocese of Tivoli, Italy, but because of the war his family soon moved to Barra, Naples.

Ordained priest for the Archdiocese of Naples, His Eminence obtained his Licence in Sacred Theology at Naples before heading to the Pontifical Lateran University in Rome where he earned a doctorate in utroque iure in both canon and civil law (his dissertation was on the new Code of Canon Law). His Eminence became a noted Canon Lawyer, in time being appointed a Professor at the Pontifical Lateran University. He was named an auxiliary of Naples and provided to the titular See of Tortiboli on March 23, 1989. His episcopal ordination took place on May 13, 1989 in the cathedral of Naples. The Consecrator was His Eminence Michele Cardinal Giordano, archbishop of Naples. The Principal Co-Consecrators were Luigi Diligenza, archbishop of Capua, and Antonio Ambrosiano, archbishop of Spoleto-Norcia.

His Eminence was transferred to the suburbicarian see of Albano on November 13, 1999. Less than five years later he was named Prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura, on appointment being honoured as an archbishop. He was created Cardinal Deacon of San Pier Damiani ai Monti di San Paolo at the next consistory, on March 24, 2006. Just over two years later, on June 27, 2008, Pope Benedict named him his Vicar General of the Diocese of Rome and thus Archpriest of the Archbasilica of the Most Holy Saviour and Ss. John the Baptist and the Evangelist at the Lateran (to give it its proper title). He also became Grand Chancellor of his legal alma mater, the Pontifical Lateran University.

It would be safe to hazard that His Eminence must have had a great deal to do with the appointment of Mgr Iannone as his principal Auxiliary.

Mgr Iannone was born in Naples on December 13, 1957. After completing his high school education locally, he entered the Carmelite Order. Taking simple vows in 1977, he was solemnly professed three years later before being ordained priest on June 26, 1982. After graduating BTh, he followed Cardinal Vallini’s path to Rome to obtain the same legal qualification, a doctorate in utroque iure at the Pontifical Lateran University (while also attending special courses run by the Congregations for the Sacraments and for Religious). In 1987 Mgr Iannone qualified as an Advocate of the Sacred Roman Rota.

He subsequently held several positions of importance both within the Carmelite Order and the Archdiocese of Naples. In the Carmelite Order, he was commissariat procurator from 1985 to 1988, bursar from 1988 to 1991, commissariat councillor from 1988 to 1994 and Chairman of the Commission for the revision of the Constitutions from 1989 to 1995. In the Archiocese of Naples, he served as a lecturer in Canon Law at the Pontifical Theological Faculty of Southern Italy, a Judicial Vicar at the Diocesan Tribunal of Naples (1990-94), Episcopal Vicar (1994-96) and Vicar General (1996-2001).

It is hardly surprising, then, that Rome should have early identified Fr Filippo as a priest meriting and worthy of episcopal responsibilities. And so on April 12, 2001, he was named an Auxiliary Bishop of Naples and provided to the titular See of Nebbi. As with Cardinal Vallini, his episcopal ordination took place in the cathedral of Naples. His Consecrator on May 26, 2001 was also Cardinal Giordano. The Co-Consecrators were Bishop Vincenzo Pelvi, Auxiliary of Naples (now Archbishop of the Italian Military) and Mgr Agostino Vallini, then Bishop of Albano but today, as noted above, the Pope’s Cardinal Vicar for the Diocese of Rome. Cardinal Vallini later appointed Mgr Iannone a member of the Apostolic Signatura. His Excellency is also a consultant for the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life. In the Italian Episcopal Conference he is a member of the Committee on Legal Affairs and Chairman of the Committee for the Liturgy.

After spending eight years as an Auxiliary in Naples, on June 19, 2009, Mgr Iannone was translated to the nearby diocese of Sora-Aquino-Pontecorvo as ordinary when Bishop Luca Brandolini retired. Less than three years later came the call to Rome. As Vice-Regent Mgr Iannone was named an Archbishop upon appointment.

At 64, His Eminence Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke, Prefect of the Apostolic Signatura, is a mere youth by Roman Curia standards. In a bit over ten years time Cardinal Burke will retire and Archbishop Iannone will be the age His Eminence is today. Cardinal Burke's predecessor was Cardinal Vallini. There must be a very good chance that his successor will be Cardinal Vallini's deputy.

Monday, 10 September 2012

Some Prelates to watch: Part One

The current Secretary of State Substitute for General Affairs, sostituto, the Number Two man in the Secretariat of State, is His Excellency Monsignor Giovanni Angelo Becciu, titular Archbishop of Rusellae. (Some commentators, particularly Americans, have it that he is Number Three. Well, no he isn’t. The clue is in the names of their respective sections and their formal titles: Mgr Becciu is head of Section One and he is the Secretary of State Substitute for General Affairs; Mgr Mamberti is head of Section Two and he is simply the Secretary for Relations with States.)

Born June 2, 1948 at Pattada in the Sassari province of Sardinia, Italy (Diocese of Ozieri) Mgr Becciu was ordained priest on August 27, 1972. A member of the Academia Class of 1980, after four years he had obtained his Diploma in diplomacy and a Doctorate in Canon Law and so also having demonstrated himself fluent enough in English, French, Spanish and Portuguese he was deemed fit to represent the Holy See to the world.

He went on to serve the Pontifical Representations in the Central African Republic, Sudan, New Zealand, Liberia, the United Kingdom, France and the United States of America. On October 15, 2001 (the same year in which his predecessor, Cardinal Filoni, was appointed an Apostolic Nuncio) he was nominated as Apostolic Nuncio to Angola and was ordained bishop about six weeks later, on December 1, 2001. The Principal Consecrator was Cardinal Secretary of State Angelo Sodano and the Principal Co-Consecrators were Paolo Cardinal Romeo, then Apostolic Nuncio to Italy and San Marino, and Bishop Sebastiano Sanguinetti, ordinary of Ozieri, His Excellency’s home diocese.

On July 23, 2009, Archbishop Becciu was transferred to Cuba from whence he was, unexpectedly (at least to all bar Andrea Tornielli of La Stampa), called back to Rome a little under two years later, on May 10, 2011, upon his being promoted to sostituto.

Every sostituto preceding Archbishop Becciu going back to 1953 has later been elevated to the Sacred College of Cardinals, eight in all. And it is worth noting that in the 20th century two cardinals who earlier in their prelatial careers had served as sostituto eventually became Pope: Benedict XV and Paul VI.

On the same day as Mgr Becciu was appointed to succeed him, May 10, 2011, sostituto Filoni was appointed Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples (the Red Pope), President of Interdicasterial Commission for Consecrated Religious and Grand Chancellor of Pontifical Urbaniana University. Number One on the last list of new cardinals, he was created Cardinal-Deacon of Nostra Signora di Coromoto in San Giovanni di Dio on February 18, 2012. Now aged 66 years, Cardinal Filoni will definitely enter the next conclave (barring the intervention of the Grim Reaper, or something closely approximating thereto) as papabile.

Now wearing the cardinal’s red zucchetto, symbolically representing his willingness to lay down his life for the Faith and for Christ’s Vicar here on Earth, as Apostolic Nuncio to Iraq and Jordan during the Gulf War he refused to abandon his post in Baghdad, the only diplomat of ambassadorial rank to remain. He came close to being killed on February 1, 2006 when a car bomb exploded next to the nunciature. Of staying at his post, he later tersely commented: “It was nothing exceptional”. And of the car bomb, merely: “Thank God we survived.”  

With the exception of Archbishop Giovanni Benelli (1967.06.29 – 1977.06.03) sostituti from the second half of the 20th Century and into the first decade of the Third Millennium were all promoted within the Roman Curia. Archbishop Bennelli was appointed Metropolitan Archbishop of Milan by Pope Paul VI and in short order created Cardinal Priest in the title of Santa Prisca (Good Pope John’s title) at the consistory of June 27, 1977. This was the smallest held since 1961, the fourth of the pontificate of Good Pope John and there has not been a similarly small one since. At this same consistory Pope Benedict was created cardinal (along with Cardinals Bernardin Gantin and Mario Luigi Ciappio OP). No one seriously doubts that Cardinal Benelli’s appointment to Milan and elevation were together the product of the desire of Pope Paul to protect his protégé.

PS: Archbishop Becciu’s own number two, Mgr Peter Brian Wells, is also a prelate with a big and bright future. Appointed Assessor for General Affairs (assessore) on July 16, 2009 he had previously been head (caposezione) of the English Language Section of the First Section of the Secretariat of State. (He was succeeded in that post by Scotland’s own Mgr Leo Cushley). Apart from Mgr Wells’s two immediate predecessors, who are still relatively early in their diplomatic careers, the other five going back to 1970 have all later been elevated to the Sacred College of Cardinals.

Saturday, 1 September 2012

"same-sex marriage": What it's really all about

This is the text of an article by me published in The Scottish Catholic Observer on Friday, August 17, 2012.

Let’s get something absolutely clear. For the militant “gay rights” lobby the campaign to have the Scottish Parliament legislate in favour of “same-sex marriage” in face of the opposition of the majority of the Scottish people is not about human rights, or civil rights, or equality. It isn’t even about marriage. It is all about recruitment. And it always has been.

In its wisdom, the 44th Parliament of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland by enacting the Sexual Offences Act of 1967 accepted the Wolfenden Commission’s recommendation (Report 1957) that homosexual acts committed by consenting adults in the privacy of their own homes should be made legal. These acts were not, thankfully, made compulsory. And at least so far this remains the case.

But legalisation was never going to be enough to satisfy the militant homosexualist life-style proselytes. Prince among these is, of course, the Australian draft-dodger, Peter Tatchell. In 2009 Tatchell informed the readership of a well-known English left-wing broadsheet: “Good quality sex and relationship education... should start from the first year of primary school onwards, with age-appropriate information about love, emotions, relationships and the physical changes they will experience at puberty.”

Others must decide for themselves what measure of trust could possibly be placed on this guy if he were ever left to determine (and if certain people get their way, this is a real possibility) what is or what is not “age appropriate” at any particular point. Personally, I am not at all reassured when he goes on to say: “In secondary school, this information should become more explicit, giving pupils the knowledge, skills and confidence to make wise sexual and emotional decisions.”

Tatchell was, of course, speaking of homosexual sex education, although he would deny it and claim that such education must merely be “inclusive”.

And beware for this is the homosexualist proselyte who, in a letter to that same well-known English left-wing broadsheet adverted to above, wrote: “While it may be impossible to condone paedophilia, it is time society acknowledged the truth that not all sex involving children is unwanted, abusive and harmful” (Guardian, June 26, 1997). And he has the gall to harangue the Catholic Church!

In the United States they, too, have their Tatchellistas. One at least of whom is refreshingly honest. David Villareal is one America’s foremost “gay activists” and has a website “Queerty: Free of an agenda. Except that gay one”. (Be warned, IF you should choose to check out this website much on it will seriously embarrass and gravely offend readers of SCO.)

Commenting on a National Organisation for Marriage TV ad, Villareal criticized the homosexual movement’s knee-jerk reaction against accusations of meddling in public schools. He said: “They accuse us of exploiting children and in response we say, ‘NOOO! We’re not gonna make kids learn about homosexuality, we swear! It’s not like we’re trying to recruit your children or anything.’ But let’s face it—that’s a lie. We want educators to teach future generations of children to accept queer sexuality. In fact, our very future depends on it… Why would we push anti-bullying programs or social studies classes (he is referring here to California, I think) that teach kids about the historical contributions of famous queers unless we wanted to deliberately educate children to accept queer sexuality as normal?”

This is what the defence of marriage is all about: saving our children, and our children’s children, from this garbage. Change the law to bring same-sex relationships within the legal definition of marriage, then as night follows day the Tatchell-Villareal programme for homosexual recruitment in schools, undemurely and indecorously tarted up as sex and relationships education, will ensue in early course.