By Peter Claver Oparah
When he entered the conclave, in the wake of the historical resignation of Pope Emeritus, Benedict XVI, Pope Francis (then Cardinal Bergoglio), like the nearly 120 Cardinals that made up the conclave, went with his little briefcase containing essentials he may need for the period of time the conclave will last. This was televised live to the entire world. Since he emerged, after two days, as Pope Francis, no one has known or seen him go back to his native Argentina, either to take his personal belongings or check on his father’s heirloom, lands and estates. Recall that Pope Emeritus Benedict had not visited his native Germany since he voluntarily abdicated the Papacy on February 28. He may not even visit Germany again in his life time as he lives in a sequestrated monastery at the Vatican. The late Pope John Paul II lost his last earthly close relative, his father, when he was barely eighteen. This was after the death of his brother Edward but he went on to become a priest and reached the very zenith of priesthood, which is the Papacy. At his death in 2005, he was known not to have left any earthly possession except his private mails, which he instructed his Secretary to burn at his death. He was not known to have gone to his native Poland to inspect or supervise his family estate, lands or businesses.
That is how it is for every Catholic priest. He is ordained for the Church and exists for the Church. By Church, I mean the Holy Catholic Church and not the church where he is born or is raised. By my understanding, a Catholic priest can be called upon to work anywhere his services are needed. He exists and lives his life at the behest of the Church, exercised through the delegated authority of the local ordinary, which is the Bishop of the Diocese where he works. A priest can work for a diocese other than the one he is born into. That becomes his diocese and if he dies, he is buried there. He may be required to work in a different diocese from the one he is born and where duty calls, he moves without question. He belongs to that diocese for life and when he dies, he will be buried in that diocese as his body may not even be laid in state in the diocese of his origin. A priest, on ordination, takes the vow of poverty, obedience and chastity. This forbids him from owning properties, estates, wives, children or heirlooms or to inherit his father’s estates or properties. As it is with priests, so it is with bishops and even the Pope. While a priest, he is expected to live on the goodwill of the Church and the community of the faithful. That is the rule for Bishops and even the Pope.
This is why I find really disturbing the on-going slugfest over who should succeed the late Bishop Victor Adibe Chikwe as the Catholic Bishop of Ahiara (Mbaise) Diocese. Since this battle was kicked off with the announcement of Msgr. Peter Ebele Okpalaeke as the second bishop of Ahiara, and the rejection by a section of the Catholic community in the diocese, I had maintained a studied silence over the issue. I had rather decided to study and perhaps learn more from that issue than interfere but above all, I prayed silently and wished that the combatants will do their best and let the wheel of progress roll on. Since the issue started, I had read extensively the submissions of the section of Mbaise people that rejected the appointment of Okpalaeke and the often engaging, deep and incisive reactions from others, mainly Catholic priests, from outside the diocese. Curiously, as I read, I had not found any opinion or any voice outside Mbaise support the rejection of Okpalaeke.
In all I read, I had been nit picking to see where any egregious infraction that impedes the choice of Okpalaeke could be advertised. I had read deeper to see if there is any impediment that would prevent him from being a Catholic bishop to the faithful of Ahiara diocese. I had searched for any hefty indiscretion that endangers his capacity to be an effective bishop for the people of Ahiara diocese. I believe such indiscretion should be founded on very strong reasons to sustain any strong opposition against his candidacy for the Bishopric as being touted by a section of the Catholic community and the huge number of non Catholics that have tapped into this issue for reasons best known to them. Curiously, I have not seen any such malfeasance. I have not seen any scandal and I have not seen any dent in the tons of paid adverts, features and opinions sent forth by those who have sworn that Okpalaeke will not be Bishop of Ahiara. In fact, in its first noted public statement on the rejection, these combatants made up of some priests and lay faithful have said they were not opposing Msgr. Okpalaeke’s candidacy as an attack against him as they said they found nothing wrong about him as a person. So what is firing the unusual obduracy so far displayed by these people?
They said they will never accept Okpalaeke because he is not from Ahiara, that he is from Anambra and they have gone further to allege what they call a deliberate policy of forcing Anambra priests on many dioceses in and outside the East. They have gone further to say that Okpalaeke is not qualified to shepherd the teeming faithful in Ahiara because, as they put it, he doesn’t speak our language or understand our culture. In a nutshell, these form the corpus of their opposition. I have continued to search for more beefy reasons to tag along them and have found out that the many press statements and features they have brought out on this issue revolve around these issues. Strictly speaking, and in line with Catholic traditions, are these weighty enough to disallow Okpalaeke from being Bishop of Ahiara? I don’t think so. Given historical evidences and with our knowledge of the Catholic priesthood and the general history of the Catholic Church, are these sufficient reasons to withdraw the candidacy of Msgr. Okpalaeke? I don’t think so and I feel that those that are sworn to the opposition of Msgr. Okpalaeke’s candidacy should advance further reasons to ground their positions.
I am a Catholic from Ahiara diocese and I remain in full communion with the Catholic Church. To be fair to it, the Catholic Church has had least considerations for place of origin in deciding where its priests or bishops work. Why should it when it professes one Faith, one Baptism and one Father who is God? A priest once ordained becomes a member of the church. It does not assign roles to its priests on consideration of where one comes from. In other words, when ordained, a Catholic priest is primed to work in any part of the world. It may be true that most bishops particularly in the Eastern parts of the country are from Anambra, as insinuated by those that oppose Msgr. Okpalaeke. It may be true that Msgr. Okpalaeke was favoured over priests from Ahiara, in consideration for who succeeds Bishop Chikwe. It is true that Ahiara has one of the highest density of Catholic priests in Nigeria.
It is true that Ahiara has one of the highest density of Catholics in Nigeria. These facts have been well rehearsed by those that want someone from Ahiara as the next bishop of Ahiara. However, none of these facts dents the suitability of Okpalaeke for the Bishop of Ahiara. None is weighty enough to disqualify him for the position and those opposing him, especially the priests among them, know this fact. Okpalaeke is a priest of the Catholic Church and that qualifies him to be bishop of any diocese in the world. It is trite to insist that it must be ‘our son’ or nobody else as the provocateurs of the succession crisis in Ahiara are insisting. Their position finds no known anchor in the ordinances, practices and authorities of the Catholic Church. It is alien to the Church and that is why Ahiara priests work all over the globe.
Coming nearer home, it is an incontestable fact that more than sixty five per cent of Catholic bishops in Nigeria work in dioceses other their diocese of origin. It is an incontestable fact that more priests from Ahiara’s rich pool of priests work in several dioceses all over the world and in different religious congregations. If these were true, how can those opposed to Okpalaeke justify their position on the flimsy basis of ‘he is from Anambra’ or ‘he does not speak our language’ or ‘he does not understand our culture’? Okpalaeke, on my last check is Igbo, he speaks Igbo and is part of that culture, even when we insists that the Church is not a cultural platform. Igbo is a uniform people, with a single culture and language, albeit with slight dialectical variations so it is an abomination to hurl those charges on Igbo just because you want to strengthen a weak point. So if we must disallow Okpalaeke from Bishop of Ahiara on these flimsy grounds, what happens to the multitude of Ahiara born priests working in various parts of the world? Deport them to come and become parts of the okpulo inheritance syndrome that is firing the present tussle?
I know that the Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria, as a group and individually, has worked round the clock to solve this issue. I know that respectable Priests and Bishops have made rounds to Mbaise to clear this mess. But after each intervention, all you get is one belly-churning publication or the other, alleging injustice and name calling. I have tried my utmost best to understand the grouse of these agitators beyond the flabby articulation put forth so far. It is just repetition of why it should be ‘one of us of no other person’ and when you press it further, everything is collapsed into the magic word, ‘injustice’ and you begin to wonder if the issue is really about injustice. If it is, why is it that more than 65 per cent of Catholic Bishops in Nigeria work in dioceses outside their diocese of origin? When had justice in the Catholic Church been watered down to restricting priests and bishops to their home dioceses?
As it is, by the appointment of Okpalaeke as Bishop of Ahiara, he automatically becomes a citizen of Ahiara. If and when he dies, he would be buried in Ahiara and this conforms to the practice of the Catholic Church so why are we breaking our heads over nothing? Why have we willingly allowed agent provocateurs, fifth columnists into our barn such that they make rounds vilifying the Catholic Church and treating its traditions and practices to trampling? I ask this because I found out that those who have been most fanatical in this warfare are non-Catholics, self confessed traditionalists, people of doubtful Catholicity and those who have publicly renounced their communion with the Catholic Church. They have been carrying on as if their lives rest on the appointment of an Mbaise man as Bishop of Ahiara and shockingly, they are in cahoots with a section of priests and lay Catholics.
I do not see the protest of a section of Ahiara priests and lay faithful to Okpalaeke’s emergence as out of place. It is natural and should be limited to protests from which some useful lessons should be drawn. But then, they missed the opportunity to press the finest point in their position, which I believe, is asking why Mbaise priests cannot be Bishop of other dioceses. What prevents an Mbaise priest from being the Bishop of Awka or even the Archbishop of Onitsha when these positions become vacant? This was a beautiful ground the agitators for a native Bishop for Ahiara missed in the pent up obduracy to insist they must have their way.
I feel the church however takes note of this salient point and move on. Those who are agitating for a native bishop should rest their war machine and work for the progress of the church. All those who are engaged in this battle should call the truce and embrace peace so that we all will further the ends of development for the diocese and Mbaise land. Equally, those on the other side who are murmuring that ‘they rejected our son’ are misguided because they did not take into consideration the sentiments of a people just coming in contact with such succession reality.
We should put this squabble behind us because it is meaningless. Let us embrace Msgr. Okpalaeke as our brother and put forth our well known Mbaise warmth and conviviality to him. I know my people are capable of this and know when to end a battle. Let the new Bishop start his work, with an urgent mission to pursue reconciliation and peace among the fractious divisions that have developed amongst our people. Let all hands get on the deck and let everybody put the past behind to work for our people. Welcome, Msgr. Peter Ebele Okpalaeke to Ahiara Mbaise and long may your reign be!
•Oparah wrote from Lagos. •E-mail:email@example.com
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In their ongoing effort to attack the Catholic Church, it seems not even something as uncontroversial and routine as the pope canonizing new saints can happen without the liberal media find some way to work in an attack. Witness Claudio Lavanga’s May 12 post at NBCNews.com headlined “A saint-making record is also a diplomatic headache for Pope Francis.” [h/t Creative Minority Report]
“Pope Francis canonized more than 800 Catholics in Saint Peter’s Square Sunday – the largest number to be elevated to sainthood at once in the history of the Catholic Church,” Lavanga noted. But alas, “The choice of some of the new saints was also striking, touching on the already-fragile relationship between Christianity and Islam” because the “new saints included hundreds of laymen from the southern Italian port town of Otranto who were slain in the 15th century by the invading Ottoman Turkish army after they refused to convert to Islam.”
After giving readers a brief history lesson into the invasion in 1480, Lavanga groused that Pope Francis’s “choice to highlight their sacrifice may put a strain on the already fragile relationship between the Catholic Church and Islam.” So who did Lavanga cite to substantiate that claim? Well, no one, it turns out.
You’d think that Lavanga could have found at least one diplomat from a Muslim nation who found fault with the pick, but no. Lavanga had squat.
Well, that’s not true, exactly. What Lavanga did have was an attack on the pope emeritus, Benedict XVI, whom the media loved to attack as reactionary and as having an antipathy towards Muslims (emphasis mine):
[W]hy risk creating yet another inter-faith row with a celebration which some in the Muslim world may be seen as a provocation?
The answer is that it wasn’t Pope Francis’ choice in the first place. The decision to canonize the hundreds of Otranto martyrs was rubber-stamped by his predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI, on Feb. 11 – the same day he announced his resignation.
It was a departing act of a pontiff that had become concerned about the mounting discrimination suffered by Christian minorities living in the Middle East in the wake of the Arab spring.
Pope Francis shares his predecessor’s concern. “By venerating the martyrs of Otranto” he said at Sunday’s canonization mass, “We ask God to protect the many Christians who in these times, and in many parts of the world, are still victims of violence”.
The Vatican’s relationship with Islam took a nosedive in 2006 when Benedict – now the Pope Emeritus – enraged Muslims by quoting the 14th-century byzantine emperor Manuel II Palaiogolos, who said: “Show me just what Muhammad brought that was new and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached.”
It was an uncomfortable parting gift for his successor, who now faces an uphill struggle to rekindle ties with Islam.
Again, Lavanga had nothing to back up his claims, nothing to prove the narrative he wished to engrain into the reader’s imagination. Nor did Lavanga consider that the newly-canonized saints might be of great comfort to persecuted Catholics all throughout the world, regardless of whether they live in Muslim countries or not.
When Francis became pontiff, the liberal media saw glimmers of hope that he might be the liberal reformer they’d long hoped for. That appears to not be panning out, but the pontiff’s humility and kindness to the poor and marginalized in society has seemed to inoculate Francis from harsher criticism.
But as this piece shows, to the extent that Francis follows in Benedict’s footsteps, the liberal media will resurrect specious and unsubstantiated charges that conform to a left-wing narrative.
The more something changes, the more it stays the same. It’s a cliché, yes, but it seems to be an increasingly apt one to apply to the situation between women religious and the Vatican.
For those watching the situation unfold since April 2012, when the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith mandated that the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR) be reformed by three U.S. bishops, this week promised to offer some explanations about where the new pope stands on the issue. Pope Francis even met with members of the International Union of Superiors General (UISG), a group of nearly 2,000 leaders of women religious throughout the world who have been meeting in Rome all week.
There have been high hopes for Pope Francis among those left spiritually bruised by the papacy of Pope Benedict XVI. Francis paid his own hotel bill after the conclave, took the bus with the rest of the bishops, refused to move into the papal apartment, claimed to want a “poor church,” and celebrated Holy Thursday at a juvenile detention facility where he washed the feet of 10 men and two women.
But a month after his election, a fly got caught in the balm Francis was pouring over the church’s body. LCWR leaders were informed in a meeting with the doctrinal congregation’s lead cleric, Archbishop Gerhard Müller, that the new pope had reaffirmed the mandated reform of the their organization.
Many Catholics who support both the LCWR and the new pope were at a loss to understand the news. Some imagined Francis simply wasn’t up to speed about the injustices behind the mandate. Speculation ran high that Müller hadn’t even spoken to Francis about the issue in any depth and that, somehow, Müller was speaking on behalf of Francis without the new pope’s approval.
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There was hope this week that all this conjecture was accurate when Cardinal João Braz de Aviz, head of the Vatican’s Congregation for the Religious, told the sisters at the UISG meeting that the doctrinal congregation made its fateful decision without his knowledge and that it caused him “much pain.”
Less than a day later after his stunning admission, Cardinal Braz de Aviz was apparently taken to the doctrinal congregation’s woodshed. The Vatican quickly released a statement claiming that the media (namely, the report in NCR) had misinterpreted Braz de Aviz’s words and that Braz de Aviz and Müller “reaffirmed their common commitment to the renewal of Religious Life, and particularly to the Doctrinal Assessment of the LCWR and the program of reform it requires, in accordance with the wishes of the Holy Father.”
The statement made two realities clear. First, as has typically been the case throughout the church’s history, the doctrinal congregation wields more power than any other congregation in the Curia. Second, Francis is more familiar with the saga between the doctrinal congregation and LCWR than some had hoped.
In a press conference the following day, Braz de Aviz claimed not to have seen this statement from the Vatican and affirmed NCR‘s report as “precise.” He said the only idea that got lost in translation was his explanation of authority.
Braz de Aviz went on to reassert what Pope Francis had said earlier in the day about authority and obedience during his speech to the UISG.
“Christ and the church. The two have to be together. For some people, Christ is fine, but the church isn’t. You can’t separate the two,” the cardinal told the press.
Braz de Aviz was echoing Francis’ statement to women religious: “It is an absurd dichotomy to think of living with Jesus but without the church, of following Jesus outside of the church, of loving Jesus without loving the church.”
Francis has offered this idea more than once over the last few weeks, but when directed at women religious, as it was on Wednesday, it takes on a particular weight.
At the UISG meeting the previous day, Congregation of Jesus Sr. Martha Zechmeister, an Austrian professor of systematic theology, told the gathering of 800 women superiors, “Religious obedience ultimately can only respond to God’s authority. In the traditional language, fulfilling the will of God is the only legitimate reason for religious obedience.”
It is a sentiment we’ve heard often since the doctrinal congregation’s crackdown on LCWR, and one for which the new pope apparently has little sympathy. Francis makes it clear that it is impossible to follow Jesus and not follow the church. In Francis’ eyes, it seems, to love and obey God is to love and obey the church.
Though Francis was the first pope to meet with the UISG, those who expected a dialogue with the new pontiff were likely disappointed. Francis offered a 15-minute reflection on religious life, then shook hands and exchanged brief pleasantries with the UISG’s executive board and staff.
As NCR‘s Joshua J. McElwee reported from Rome, Francis’ speech “focused on three themes, telling the sister leaders to keep their lives centered on Christ, to think of authority in terms of service, and that they must hold a ‘feeling with the church that finds its filial expression in fidelity to the magisterium.’ “
In other words, the way to be a true daughter of the church is to be faithful and obedient to the teachings of the pope and bishops.
With ideas that are no different from those of Pope John Paul II and Benedict, Francis told the sisters they should accept a “fertile chastity” because women religious are “mothers” who “generate spiritual children in the church.”
The new pope maintained his and his predecessors’ belief in the “special” (but not equal) role of women in the church, telling the sisters that without them, the church “would be missing maternity, affection, tenderness.” He went on to tell them to put themselves “in an attitude of adoration and service.”
If there is a point on which both Francis and the sisters agree, it is the importance of “touching the flesh of the poor Christ in the humble, the poor, the sick, and in children.”
But Francis does not seem to understand that it is precisely because women religious regularly touch that wounded body of Christ that they have such rich theological imaginations and a longing to delve into the spiritual questions of our time. Their intensely sacramental lives of service help clarify their priorities in their pursuits of justice and mercy.
All that women religious have done — the work they have committed to, the leadership style they have developed and the theologians they invite to their meetings — has been inspired by their ministry to the broken body of Christ. What Francis and the doctrinal congregation may interpret as a “deviation from doctrine” or a “failure to obey” are really just the fruits of women religious fulfilling their vocation as a prophetic life form.
Perhaps the greatest irony is that the Vatican is punishing women religious for failing to strictly adhere to doctrines that they have had no voice in developing and no role in shaping — precisely because they are women.
The look and feel of the papacy may be changing under Francis, but the fundamental understanding magisterium’s authority and the requirement that the women obey the men, I’m afraid, will continue to stay the same.
[Jamie L. Manson received her Master of Divinity degree from Yale Divinity School, where she studied Catholic theology and sexual ethics. Her NCR columns have won numerous awards, most recently second prize for Commentary of the Year from Religion Newswriters (RNA).]
Editor’s note: We can send you an email alert every time Jamie Manson’s column, “Grace on the Margins,” is posted to NCRonline.org. Go to this page and follow directions: Email alert sign-up.
c. 2013 Religion News Service
VATICAN CITY (RNS) Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI returned to the Vatican on Thursday (May 2), where he will live a few hundred meters from his successor, Pope Francis, in an arrangement that has no precedent in the history of the Catholic Church.
Benedict, 86, flew by helicopter from the papal summer residence of Castel Gandolfo, where he spent the past two months since his resignation on Feb. 28.
All the Vatican’s top officials, including Secretary of State Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, showed up at the Vatican’s helipad to welcome Benedict, while Francis chose to meet the the former pope in front of the Mater Ecclesiae convent where Benedict will live out his retirement.
Francis greeted his predecessor “with great and fraternal cordiality,” according to a Vatican statement, before the two men stopped briefly in the convent chapel to pray.
Benedict was accompanied by his personal secretary, Archbishop Georg Gaenswein, who is also serving Francis as prefect of the papal household, charged with setting the new pope’s schedule and arranging his audiences.
According to the Vatican’s statement, the former pope is “happy to be back in the Vatican, where he intends to dedicate himself … to the service of the church primarily through prayer.”
Benedict’s return was a low-profile event; Vatican TV didn’t cover it and the Vatican’s semiofficial newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano, didn’t mention the former pope’s return in its afternoon editions.
While some church observers worry that Benedict’s presence could overshadow Francis and his course of reforms, John Thavis, a former Rome bureau chief for Catholic News Service and a frequent Vatican commentator, said the side-by-side popes shouldn’t cause a “crisis in the church.”
Thavis wrote in his blog that Benedict understands that “even an offhand remark by the retired pope … could echo within the hierarchy or across the blogosphere, and possibly be construed as criticism or divergence from the current pope.”
Before resigning, Benedict said he would “withdraw into prayer” and live his final years “hidden from the world.” He also pledged his “unconditional reverence and obedience” to his successor.
According to Rebecca Rist, a specialist in church history at the University of Reading in Britain, the two popes will have a “very cordial” relationship, unlike the 13th-century scuffles between Celestine V and his successor Boniface VIII.
Boniface persuaded Celestine that it was “in the best interests of the Vatican for him to resign,” Rist said. But Boniface, “fearing that enduring loyalties to the former pontiff could provoke a schism,” ordered Celestine imprisoned until his death.
In the small Mater Ecclesiae convent inside the Vatican walls, Benedict will be assisted by Gaenswein and four members of Memores Domini, the conservative lay group that staffed his apartment during his pontificate.
During the past two months, the convent was renovated to suit the needs of the former pope. His residence will include a guest room for his older brother Georg Ratzinger, who is also a priest.
CORPUS CHRISTI, TX (Catholic Online) – Many of you have been reading my homilies and articles on Catholic Online for the past few years. I am putting together a pilgrimage to Italy for the Year of Faith, and it just occurred to me that maybe some of you would like to join me.
I have six places left for our tour.
We are leaving from Houston, Texas on June 5 and returning on June 14. No matter where you are located you can join us in Houston or meet us in Frankfurt, Germany where we take a plane for Venice, Italy.
Venice is the first city of Italy that we will visit. After Venice, we will visit Padua, Florence, Siena, Assisi, Orvieto and then we will spend three days in Rome.
The highlight of the trip will be the General Audience with our new Holy Father, Pope Francis.
Rome is the center of our Catholic Faith. It is where Saint Peter, Saint Paul and so many martyrs gave the supreme witness of their lives for the Faith. It is the home of great saints, beautiful basilicas and churches. It is the city where every Catholic needs to visit at least once.
This special pilgrimage coincides with the Year of Faith proclaimed by Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI to remember the fiftieth anniversary of the beginning of the Second Vatican Council and the twentieth anniversary of the publication of the Catechism of the Catholic Church.
This journey to Rome and to the shrines of Italy also coincides with the twenty-fifth anniversary of my ordination to the priesthood.
I was ordained in Rome, on December 24, 1987 and I celebrated my first Mass the following day at Saint Mary Major, a magnificent second century basilica dedicated to the Blessed Mother.
Saint Mary Major is part of our trip and I will be celebrating Mass there at the same altar where I celebrated my first Mass twenty-five years ago.
Moses Khano of Inspirational Tours and his staff have a remarkable reputation for putting together affordable and superbly organized pilgrimages that thousands of people have enjoyed for many years.
The cost of the ten day trip is $3,090.00. The price includes everything except lunch and tips.
If you would like to join me, or if you need more information please call Inspirational Tours at (713) 961 – 2785.
Father James Farfaglia is a contributing writer for Catholic Online You can visit him on the web at www.fatherjames.org.
In May each year there are many celebrations of Confirmation and First Communion, Graduations, and sometimes, Ordinations. In the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph, we annually gather to honor couples marking their 50th Anniversaries of Marriage. This year that will happen a little later on June 23, 2013, at the Cathedral.
This week we celebrate Jubilees with two gatherings: Wednesday, May 1, we had a dinner with all our priests to thank God for the accomplishments of 25, 40, and 50 years of ordained service as priests. Friday Evening, May 3, we come together at the Cathedral to offer Holy Mass in thanksgiving for 25 years of service as a bishop of Bishop Raymond Boland. The Mass, to which you are all invited, is at 7:00 p.m. with a reception at the Catholic Center to follow.
This year we are noting these many examples of faithfulness within the Year of Faith, begun by Pope Benedict XVI last fall, and continued by Pope Francis with its completion on the Feast of Christ the King, November 24, 2013.
Faith, of course, is wonderfully expressed in the work of “being faithful,” what we call faithfulness, or faithful love. “God so loved the world …” St John’s Gospel (Jn 3;16) teaches, that He sent His Son to share our human experience: to suffer, die, and rise. Faithfulness often includes the gracious act of “being with” those whom we love. God is faithful in His love despite our unworthiness and sins. We, in turn, live our Catholic faith in many ways, but also by being faithful to our calling and commitments. When all is said and done, we know that it is God’s grace, His faithful and never-ending love, which makes it possible for us to be faithful; and we must make the decision to be faithful over and over again in our lives.
The Jubilee celebrations this week – and next month – draw attention to this dynamic power of God in the lives of those He calls. The names of the priests, whose anniversaries we know about, and that are currently living and working in the Diocese are these:
50 YEARS OF PRIESTHOOD
Reverend A. James Blumeyer, S.J.
Reverend Kenneth Criqui
Reverend Joel Derks, O.S.B.
Reverend Charles Jones
Reverend Quentin Kathol, O.S.B.
Reverend William Miller, CPPS
Reverend Xavier Nacke, O.S.B.
Right Reverend Abbot Marcel Rooney, O.S.B.
Reverend Reginald Sander, O.S.B.
Reverend Thomas Wiederholt
40 YEARS OF PRIESTHOOD
Reverend Martin DeMeulenaere, O.S.B.
25 YEARS OF PRIESTHOOD
Reverend Matthew Brumleve
Reverend Gregory Lockwood
Reverend Benedict Neenan, O.S.B.
25TH ANNIVERSARY OF EPISCOPAL ORDINATION
Most Reverend Raymond J. Boland, DD
Twenty-five-year old Raymond James Boland was ordained a priest of the Archdiocese of Washington D.C. on June 16, 1957, and spent more than 30 years serving there.
On February 2, 1988, he received his call to become a bishop, and was ordained Bishop of Birmingham, Alabama on March 25 of that year. After serving for five years as the Second Bishop of Birmingham, Pope John Paul II named him Fifth Bishop of Kansas City-St. Joseph on June 22, 1993. He came to this place he now calls home and was installed on September 9, 1993. The Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI accepted his letter of retirement on May 24, 2005.
God continues to bless Bishop Boland, and our Diocese through him. He has weathered some health challenges recently and remains joyful and active. On the occasion of this special anniversary I know you join me in a hymn of praise to God for Bishop Boland and all our Jubilarians. We thank God for their faithfulness which shows itself in generosity, wisdom and dedication. May God continue to watch over you all. Ad multos annos!
VATICAN CITY, April 19 (UPI) — Pope Francis plans to visit a Roman parish in late May for his first pastoral visit as bishop of Rome, the Vatican announced Friday.
The pope will visit Santi Elisabetta and Zaccaria and attend a mass at which 44 children are to receive their first communion, the Italian news agency ANSA reported. It is scheduled for May 26.
Francis was archbishop of Buenos Aires from 1998 until his election March 13 to succeed Pope Benedict XVI. He was known for his modest lifestyle, living in an apartment and preparing his own meals.
The pope celebrated mass at a school for troubled teenagers on Holy Thursday, also known as Maundy Thursday.
Then Pope Benedict XVI was right when he said in February that his then impending depature from the papacy was no flight from the Cross. Proof of this is his continuing crucifixion by critics of the Church and pseudo-fans of Pope Francis. The latter extol the simplicity of the new Pope at the cost of tarnishing the character of the old one. They equate the Pope Emeritus with their own poor notion of the Middle Ages—dark, backward and decadent—and speak as if the saintliness of the new Pontiff is an anomaly among the Successors of Saint Peter.
It is fantastic that Pope Francis is conveying a resounding message of Gospel simplicity to the world by shunning the popemobile, wearing a silver rather than more bejeweled pectoral cross, donning simpler-looking liturgical vestments and choosing indefinitely to live in the Domus Sancta Martha rather than in the Apostolic Palace. Nevertheless, Church watchers, especially Christians, because they ought to suffer with the crucified rather than help those who nail him; especially journalists, because they are supposedly paragons of accuracy, fairness and balance ought to resist jumping to the conclusion that Pope Emeritus Benedict stood for a triumphalism, opulence or tyranny.
Those who take issue with the previous Pontiff’s official and liturgical garments would be well advised to brush up on their understanding of the meaning behind such garb, which does not rest on a taste for kingly style but grows out of the conviction that craftsmanship is a means to suggest the majesty of and give praise to the Almighty. Before those who carp start clamoring for churches without stained glass windows, manicured gardens or intricately designed adoration chapels, they need to meditate on why the Magi brought gold, frankincense and myrrh to the Child of Bethlehem, why Mary of Bethany poured a jar of nard onto her Master’s feet, why the Savior of mankind accepted acclaim from a crowd while making a glorious entrance into Jerusalem prior to his passion and death.
So-called Vaticanistas who praise Pope Francis for being more outgoing and in touch with the people than Benedict only evince how they limited their coverage of the Church to occasions like conclaves, a new Pope’s honeymoon with the media or an archdiocese’s payment of settlement money to victims of sexual abuse by priests. It is easy, since Pope Emeritus Benedict has a staggeringly weighty intellect, to typecast him as a professorial shepherd who was out of touch with his flock. That poor sketch persists in part because there were not five thousand journalists from around the globe who covered the moments when Pope Benedict cried with the molested, ate with and comforted the aged in a home, had to be prevailed upon by aides to spend the night in warmer accommodations rather than outdoors in a winter vigil with hundreds of thousands of youth, or celebrated Mass with children in conflict with the law. And does not launching Twitter, Facebook and YouTube accounts count as outreach? How about authorizing a catechism stylized for young people?
The crucifixion of Pope Benedict persists among those who deride him for being allegedly obsessed with theology when in fact his speeches and writings that point to the Gospel were and are messages that the world needs to heed. “Deus Caritas Est” is timeless source of inspiration. “Love is the light—and in the end, the only light—that can always illuminate a world grown dim and give us the courage needed to keep living and working. Love is possible,” he said in this letter, “and we are able to practise it because we are created in the image of God. To experience love and in this way to cause the light of God to enter into the world—this is the invitation I would like to extend.” “Spe Salvi” is a potent cure for despair. Consider what he wrote: “It is when we attempt to avoid suffering by withdrawing from anything that might involve hurt, when we try to spare ourselves the effort and pain of pursuing truth, love, and goodness, that we drift into a life of emptiness, in which there may be almost no pain, but the dark sensation of meaninglessness and abandonment is all the greater. It is not by sidestepping or fleeing from suffering that we are healed, but rather by our capacity for accepting it, maturing through it and finding meaning through union with Christ, who suffered with infinite love.”
For all the critics’ claim that a juggernaut Church under Benedict habitually imposed its will and refused to listen to the faithful, he was actually the only Pope who wrote treatises that he insisted should not be taken as magisterial, but as an intimate sharing of his own search for the face of God. I am referring to his “Jesus of Nazareth” trilogy of books that should be standard reading for anyone who wishes to deepen their familiarity with the person of Christ. In this book, Pope Benedict set out his philosophy of stewardship of the Church that would have prompted those who thought or think it a community with an deep will to naked power room to pause. If only they cared enough to read and ponder. The Pope said that as he did with Saint Peter, the Lord has to be vehement and tell us, “Get thee behind me, Satan!” when our way of doing things contradicts God’s essentially skirting the path of renunciation and the Cross. We can see in this reflection the root of Pope Benedict XVI’s dialog with the peoples of different faiths and convictions.
In one of his Palm Sunday homilies, Pope Benedict said happiness comes from saying “yes” to the will of God. People will have missed the point if they continue interpret the Pope Benedict’s renunciation of the Chair of Saint Peter as a surrender in the face of the weight of the problems besetting the Church militant. Early in his pontificate, Pope Benedict said a pope does not shine his own light but only that of Christ. In receding into the background Benedict XVI simply underscored that no pope is a master, they are only stewards who serve at the pleasure of a Supreme Judge and Christ alone is the light of the Church and the world.
Books will help readers explore world of popes
By Therese O’Halloran
Kenosha Public Library
With extensive media coverage of the recent resignation of Pope Benedict XVI and election and installation of Pope Francis, inquiring minds want to know: Who are the men who wield power within the Catholic Church, why do the internal workings of one religion demand such world-wide attention, what is the history and the future of the Church in the Americas and world-wide, what do Catholics believe and why, etc.
The Kenosha Public Library houses an extensive collection of materials to answer these questions and more, many written in very readable and intriguing styles.
“Chronicle of the Popes” is a chronological, “Reign-by-Reign Record of the Papacy” beginning with St. Peter and continuing through Pope John Paul II. This well-illustrated history of the popes, the Catholic Church, and its influence on world history, can be read beginning to end, or used as a reference source for information about various popes and the times in which they ruled. “A History of the Popes from Peter to the Present” by John W. O’Malley explores in more depth not only the history of the papacy but its involvement in and influence on world events.
For some true-life espionage and intrigue, check out Eric Frattini’s “The Entity: Five Centuries of Secret Vatican Espionage.” The author claims the Vatican has used the Holy Alliance, now known as the Entity, as its own secret service and through it has been deeply involved in international intrigue, assassinations, money-laundering, manipulations of financial markets, and more.
Another fascinating book is John L. Allen Jr.’s “Opus Dei,” which claims to be “an objective look behind the myths and reality of the most controversial force in the Catholic Church.” The organization that played such a major part in Dan Brown’s “Da Vinci Code” is examined in detail.
To get a fuller, balanced view of the church, read Thomas E. Woods Jr.’s “How the Catholic Church Built Western Civilization.” It extols the influence the Church has had in science, law, art, music, economics, and education, and gives credit to the Church for ensuring the survival of western Civilization as we know it.
The “Catholicism Answer Book: The 300 Most Frequently Asked Questions about the Church” by the Rev. John Trigilio Jr. and the Rev. Kenneth Brighenti answers in concise sections questions about Catholic theology, Sacraments, history, and practices — interesting reading for Catholics and non-Catholics alike.
Finally, for the armchair traveler, “The Vatican Revealed” is an AE documentary DVD covering Vatican City itself, St. Peter’s Basilica, the Sistine Chapel and many more beautiful sites. If you wish you had been in Rome for recent events, enjoy this visual tour.
Off the Shelves is published Sundays. Each week a different Kenosha Public Library or Community Library staff member organizes reviews of a handful of books (all centered around a certain theme) available through the library system.
This is a syndicated post from CNA Daily News. [Read the original article...]
Vatican City, Apr 3, 2013 / 10:45 am (CNA).- Pope Francis will be praying or celebrating Mass at all four of Rome’s major basilicas between now and Pentecost, as well as holding four public Masses in St. Peter’s Square.
The Holy See’s press office released on April 3 the places and times the pontiff will be presiding over the seven public Masses that will be held between now and May 19.
After he was elected Pope in 2005, Benedict XVI ordained priests for the Rome diocese and celebrated Mass for Pentecost.
In 2005, Pope Benedict beatified two women, Sisters Marianne Cope and Ascension Nicol Goñi.
But Pope Francis will be going a step further and canonizing three saints, two of whom are Hispanics, even though canonizations typically take place during the month of October.
The future saints include Colombian Sister Laura di Santa Caterina da Siena Montoya y Upegui and Mexican Sister Maria Guadalupe Garcia Zavala.
Blessed Antonio Primaldo and Companions, from Italy, will also be canonized in the same Mass on May 12. He was an artist who led 800 men in refusing to convert to Islam during the 840 Turkish invasion of Italy, resulting in their martyrdom.
The new Pope will also preside over Masses or prayers in the four major basilicas of Rome.
On April 7 he will celebrate Mass in the Basilica of Saint John Lateran at 5:30 p.m. and officially take possession of the Roman cathedral as the Bishop of Rome.
The following Sunday, April 14, he will preside over Mass at the Basilica of Saint Paul Outside-the-Walls at the same time of day.
On April 21 he will ordain priests at a 9:30 a.m. Mass in Saint Peter’s Basilica, and the next Sunday he will celebrate the Sacrament of Confirmation at a 10:00 a.m. Mass in Saint Peter’s Square.
The weekend of May 4–5 will be a busy one, with Pope Francis leading the Rosary in Santa Maria Maggiore Basilica at 6:00 p.m. on Saturday and then celebrating a Mass for Confraternities in St. Peter’s Square at 10:00 a.m. on Sunday.
Pope Francis will finish off his string of public liturgies by celebrating the Vigil of Pentecost on May 18, and Mass the next day for the solemnity itself. Both of the liturgies will take place in St. Peter’s Square and will include the participation of the numerous Church movements.
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