Daily Archives: February 8, 2010

On popular acclamation

Someone recently said to me (or did I read it somewhere?) that they can understand the cause of John XXIII and John Paul II and Mother Teresa being pushed along at the rate of knots because of popular veneration and cult (the historical way in which canonisation was driven), but they could not understand why Pius XII was being pushed for canonisation. They said that when they visited the tombs of the popes in St Peter’s, there were always flowers and crowds at the tombs of John XXIII and John Paul II, but non and no-one at that of Pius XII. There is, they said, no cult of Pius XII that would indicated a popular desire for his canonisation.

But consider these two statements:

“The position of the successor of the Prince of the Apostles held, and for many Catholic Christians still holds, a place of great veneration. During the final years of the reign of John Paul II, that veneration came alarmingly clos to a personality cult.”

“Western politicians saw John Paul II as the greatest anti-communist crusader of the day.”

I expect you would not find these two opinions overstated?

In fact, both statements come from Paul O’Shea’s book “A Cross Too Heavy”, and I did the “naughty” thing of exchanging the name of John Paul II for Pius XII, about whom O’Shea actually wrote these things. If we consider the veneration in which John Paul II is now held, and his impact on the politics of Western Europe, as a parallel to the situation in the late 50′ and early 1960’s with Pius XII, we can perhap understand why the cause for Pius’ canonisation was already begun within a few years of his death. BEFORE any of the damning accusations began to be voiced in 1963.

It is worth remembering that there WAS a cult of Pius XII (still is, in some circles) which started the process off. The fact that later accusations, and a change of tenor in the Chuch after the Second Vatican Council, changed the situation somewhat, does not change the fact that the cause had already begun, and was continued throughout the last fifty years. It was inevitable that, once begun, the process of investigation had to continue through to its conclusion as it now has. Where it goes from here is, as I have said before, in God’s hands.


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On Medjugorje

As I was driving him into Melbourne from the airport, Mark Shea asked me, in order to confirm a theory of his that the Marian dogmas and devotions are the greatest hurdle for Protestant converts to the Church, whether this was the case with me. In fact, it wasn’t. The problem of the Christocentricity of the Gospel vs the supposed Universalism of Roman Catholicism was by far the greatest concern (following after my acceptance of the Catholic teaching on Justification). Dominus Iesus set all that right for me in mid-2000. Devotion to Mary and the Saints was no problem – in fact, it was a joy. I had a little more trouble thogh with the officially recognised Marian Apparitions, such as Lourdes and Fatima. I have come to understand that there is no need for me put much store on these – although quietly, St Bernadette has achieve a place in my devotions, and that of my daughters, as it is the name of our parish and school, and St Bernadette is someone who, I think, young girls can readily identify with. In fact, there is a statue of our Lady of Lourdes outside my office in the courtyard, with St Bernadette kneeling before her. When there are flowers blooming in the courtyard (there aren’t at the moment) I delight in placing a couple of buds in St Bernadette’s concrete hands.

But Medjugorje. Well. If I had difficulty accepting even well attested and officially approved apparitions, I am not really going to go ga-ga over this one, am I?

My friend, Andrew Rabel, a journalist whom I esteem very highly, sent out this circular email today. I found the interview to which he links most helpful in both understanding the nature of the officially recognised Marian apparitions, and, on the other hand, Medjugorje itself.

Dear friends,

Since the visit of Cardinal Schönborn to Medjugorje, and all the commentary that has appeared in cyberspace, I have been reluctant to engage in the subject until now.

I have always liked Fr Hauke’s (dogmatic theologian) writings, and I own his book Women In the Priesthood, published by Ignatius Press. He has expressed the concerns of many of us on the subject, better than we could do. In this article he references the recent interview on this subject given to Cardinal Jose Saraiva Martins CMF, the recently retired Prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints and a great devotee of Our Lady of Fatima, where he said quite openly, “Medjugorje may be a trick of the devil.” I have interviewed His Eminence on two occasions, through an interpreter.

Regardless, I look forward to a definitive judgment on the matter by the Holy See

in the hearts of Jesus & Mary


I think Fr Hauke does an excellent job in this article of “discerning the spirits”.


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And another one for the “really weird” book

Joan of Arc’s “relics” turn out to be Egyptian mummies (including a cat)!


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The Canary in the Orthodox Coal-mine?

I had no idea that such things were afoot until I was directed to this blog post in the Ochlophobist: “Homosexual activism in and around the Orthodox Church; updates, ephemera…”. It seems that there has been a growing movement in the Finnish Orthodox Church to approve homosexual intercourse, with even the Finish Orthodox Archbishop, Leo Makkonen, saying that:

“registered same-sex couple relationships aren’t a problem in regard with Orthodox laymen; neither do they prevent their full-scale participation in the sacramental life of the Church.”

Finland, of course, is one of those silly place that have brought in a law legally registering same-sex relationships (I don’t know if they call it “marriage” there).

As the Ochlophobists friend, Herman Middleton suggests:

“To my mind [the Finnish Church] seems to be the canary in the coal mine, which makes it particularly significant for us in the States. Today in Finland, tomorrow here…”

Well, to be honest, it would be a problem for the Orthodox Church throughout the world, wouldn’t it? Especially if one of these Autocephalous Churches starts ordaining active homosexuals? How will the Orthodox communion sort this one out? What will it mean for the Catholic Church’s relationship with the Orthodox Churches?


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A Papal Lecture At Oxford?

Wouldn’t that be one for the books! According this this TIME article, Austen Ivereigh said:

“The Pope’s mission when he comes to Britain will be to confront the rise of aggressive secularism and atheism on its own turf. And that turf is reason,” says Ivereigh. “The Pope will challenge secularism by appealing to an English tradition of pluralism which he sees as being eclipsed by these laws.” Although details of the itinerary won’t be known for months, there has been talk of a possible papal lecture at Oxford University.

Newman would have been astounded. But wouldn’t this be a perfect completion to the trilogy that began with Regensburg, and was followed with the Sorbonne?

The TIME article (“Pope Talks Tough on Vacation”) is actually fairly sensible (except for the title) and deals with the reason why Pope Benedict is concentrating his efforts on Europe. The article concludes with this:

Before his English autumn trip, however, Benedict will have some lecturing to do this spring in Portugal. This traditionally observant Catholic nation has rapidly moved to the forefront of progressive social causes with the initial approval by its Parliament last month of a bill legalizing gay marriage. Final approval could coincide with the May arrival of Benedict, who has already referred to the bill as an “attack” on creation, which “strikes at the biological basis of the difference between the sexes.” After last month’s vote, Prime Minister José Sócrates declared…: “This is a step that will seem completely natural in the near future, in the same way that gender equality, abortion rights and unmarried couples living together are normal now.” That is just what Benedict fears.


Meanwhile, an AFP report is saying that Fr Lombardi has commented on the British press reaction to the Holy Father’s comments. I can’t find the verifyng statements in any recent VIS reports, but here is the AFP:

Vatican denies pope comments on Britain an ‘interference’

VATICAN CITY — The pope’s condemnation of Britain’s equality legislation seen as friendly to gays does not constitute an “interference” as alleged by his critics, his spokesman said Saturday.

“Serious people will understand immediately that it does not in any way constitute an interference on the part of the church in the social and political dynamics but a brave manifestation of his position to serve the common good,” Federico Lombardi said in an editorial on Radio Vatican.

The 82-year-old pontiff Benedict XVI ruffled feathers Monday by saying that although Britain is known for its commitment to “equality of opportunity” the effect “has been to impose unjust limitations on the freedom of religious communities to act in accordance with their beliefs”.

“In some respects it actually violates the natural law upon which the equality of all human beings is grounded and by which it is guaranteed.”

Observers said the pontiff was referring to legislation that took effect on January 1, 2009 preventing adoption agencies — including Catholic ones — from discriminating against gay couples.

Gay activists in Britain have called for protests during the pontiff’s visit in September.

British human rights campaigner and gay activist Peter Tatchell said the pope’s remarks were an attack on the legal rights granted to gay people and women.

The date of the papal trip has not been confirmed but Britain’s Scottish Secretary Jim Murphy was quoted last year as saying ministers had drawn up a programme for a papal visit from September 16 to 19.

A “brave manifestation of his position to serve the common good” is what I believe we will hear at the Oxford Lecture. A pity, really, that the Regensburg professor couldn’t have a “dialogue” with the Oxford don Dawkins… I guess that would be asking for too much.

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