from issue no.06/07 - 2010


The supernatural sensus fidei is the “magisterium that goes first”

Theresa of Lisieux

Theresa of Lisieux

During the general audience of 7 July Benedict XVI spoke of Blessed John Duns Scotus. Here is an excerpt: “Concerning the teaching on the Immaculate Conception, important theologians like Duns Scotus enriched what the People of God already spontaneously believed about the Blessed Virgin and expressed in acts of devotion, in the arts and in Christian life in general with the specific contribution of their thought. Thus faith both in the Immaculate Conception and in the bodily Assumption of the Virgin was already present in the People of God, while theology had not yet found the key to interpreting it in the totality of the doctrine of the faith. The People of God therefore precede theologians and this is all thanks to that supernatural sensus fidei, namely, that capacity infused by the Holy Spirit that qualifies us to embrace the reality of the faith with humility of heart and mind. In this sense, the People of God are the ‘magisterium (teaching authority) that goes first’ and must then be more deeply examined and intellectually accepted by theology. May theologians always be ready to listen to this source of faith and retain the humility and simplicity of children! I mentioned this a few months ago saying: ‘There have been great scholars, great experts, great theologians, teachers of faith who have taught us many things. They have gone into the details of Sacred Scripture... but have been unable to see the mystery itself, its central nucleus.... The essential has remained hidden!... On the other hand, in our time there have also been “little ones” who have understood this mystery. Let us think of St Bernadette Soubirous; of St Thérèse of Lisieux, with her new interpretation of the Bible that is “non-scientific” but goes to the heart of Sacred Scripture’ ( Homily, Mass for the Members of the International Theological Commission, Pauline Chapel, Vatican City, 1 December 2009)”.


Norms concerning the most serious crimes

One of the incipits of the IDecretum Gratiani/I, Vatican Apostolic Library

One of the incipits of the IDecretum Gratiani/I, Vatican Apostolic Library

On 15 July the new version of the Norms concerning the most serious crimes (delicta graviora, in Latin) was published. The text, approved and promulgated by Benedict XVI during an audience granted to the Cardinal Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, William J. Levada, last 21 May, replaces the Norms issued first in 2001 with the motu proprio Sacramentorum sanctitatis tutela with which John Paul II attributed to the former Holy Office the power to deal with and judge in the scope of the canonical ordinance particularly serious crimes, such as the sexual abuse of minors committed by clerics.
At the briefing given by the director of the Holy See Press Office Father Federico Lombardi, Bishop Charles J. Scicluna, promoter of justice – in practice the “DA” – of the Congregation also attended and explained how what had been applied during the nine years between the first promulgation of the Norms and their current update was, in practice, what had originally been granted as “special faculties” but which now have been set within a more comprehensive regulatory framework: “This is a strong signal”, Scicluna clarified, “because the faculties have a somewhat ephemeral life: they depend very much on the will of the supreme pontiffs. However, Pope Benedict XVI – as soon as he was elected in 2005 – expressed the wish that the powers enjoyed by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith should be a fixed part of the legislation”. Because in fact the “special faculties” die with the pope who granted them, one of the first acts of Benedict XVI, on 6 May 2005, during an audience with Archbishop Angelo Amato, then secretary of the department, was that of confirming them. Not only. He also expressed the wish that those faculties be codified into true and proper law.
In fact, the new Norms codify the special faculties already granted by John Paul II and therefore the possibility, in extremely serious and proven cases, to have recourse to extrajudicial, and therefore more rapid, procedures (administrative trial or dismissal from the clerical state imposed directly by the pope); the possibility of having as members of the ecclesiastical courts, not only priests but also laity; the right, but only with the pope’s mandate, case by case, to judge cardinals, patriarchs, nuncios, bishops and superiors general of religious orders (though, Scicluna explained, to investigate them in relation to accusations of delicta graviora, the pontifical mandate is not necessary). The new Norms also extend the period of limitation from ten to twenty years, which, in the crime of abuse against minors is always calculated from the 18th birthday of the victim. Not only that. The former Holy Office also acquires the right to go beyond twenty years, which tends to make the delicta graviora “indefeasible” in fact (“a step forward in guaranteeing substantial justice”, Scicluna explained, “and the public good of the Church”).
The Norms published on 15 July include not only the special faculties granted in the past, but also other new features. The crimes against the faith are also included, that is heresy, apostasy and schism; the delicta graviora are better defined and updated by the addition of the crime of child pornography and the attempted priestly ordination of women [attentata sacra ordinatio mulieris]. The possibility of taking precautionary measures (removal from the office, obligatory residence, prohibition on celebrating Mass in public) beginning already with the investigation, and not after the start of proceedings.


The grace of faith and the sense of sin

Jesus with some sinners: St Peter, King David, the Good Thief, St Mary Magdalene

Jesus with some sinners: St Peter, King David, the Good Thief, St Mary Magdalene

In la Repubblica on 10 July, Pietro Citati published an interesting article entitled The grace of faith and the sense of sin. We quote some excerpts: “According to Benedict XVI, at the the end of the twentieth and the beginning of the twenty-first century, the kingdom of sin expanded. Almost no one prays, crosses the threshold of cathedrals, thinks of God and Christ, respects the Church’s laws on life and death. Society is deeply anti-Christian and irreligious. If we can’t spot Satan, as in the days of Hitler and Stalin, thousands of small Satans frequent and dominate the world. Even the walls of the ark have collapsed: sin has entered the Church, as the business of pedophile priests, which has so stricken the heart of Benedict XVI, reveals. Almost every trace of the luminous and triumphant feeling that emanated from the words of John Paul II seems to have disappeared. In the words of Benedict XVI, there is above all pain and bitterness. The acute sense of sin contributes to the richness and complexity of Christianity, a complexity that, for example Islam, largely ignoring the sin of Adam does not have. The Christian pays heed to himself: studies his own feelings, analyzes his thoughts, and scrutinizes whether, somewhere in his heart, lying and rebellion have left their shadow. He doesn’t let himself be fooled by the theatrical representations of the good. He mistrusts any form of optimism. This is how great experiences of the soul, like those of Paul, Augustine and Pascal are born. Whenever Christianity has erased the idea of sin, it has risked losing itself”. After mentioning the “consciousness of sin, which fills the heart of Benedict XVI”, Citati continues as follows: “The Christian life cannot but be dominated by joy: the joy of existing, of living, of laughing, of seeing, of strolling, of thinking, of noting the images of the mind and of the world: the joy of the present that recovers the joy of the past and anticipates the happiness of the future; the joy of children, who may perhaps be able to maintain their childlike state until death. We know what the origin of this joy is. The light of grace descends from heaven and gradually envelops the whole earth little by little: it illuminates thoughts and feelings and every corner whether inhabited or deserted. Under the form of faith, this grace returns to heaven from which it descended: because faith is nothing other than humanized grace”. Citati ends his article by saying that “the Church must remain a reflection or a glimmer of the Christianity of the apostles and fathers in the midst of today’s society”.


De Felice: 1968 and Nazism

Aldo Moro

Aldo Moro

Avvenire of 22 July contains a review of an essay by Giuseppe Parlato published in the latest issue of Ventunesimo secolo, and entitled De Felice, Nineteen Sixty-Eight and the defence of the rule of law (an analysis spanning the years 1968-1978).
Among other things the reviewer states: “In 1972, the fiftieth anniversary of the March on Rome led to tautological comparisons with the present, which De Felice countered by comparing the ‘68 protesters with the Nazi anti-Weimarian, anti-parliamentarian left wing, characterised by that “revolutionary nihilism” which Del Noce was then reflecting on (something De Felice had been aware of since his first analyses of fascism). This vacuum of ideas glimpsed in that confused extraparliamentary wishful-thinking... was linked by De Felice to the end of the historicist culture and the invasion of Anglo-American sociology that would have deleterious effects on the Italian intellectual landscape”.

Benedict XVI in Sulmona, Sunday 4 July 
BR[© Osservatore Romano]

Benedict XVI in Sulmona, Sunday 4 July BR[© Osservatore Romano]

“God always anticipates us”

Sunday, 4 July visiting Sulmona, Benedict XVI said in sermon during Mass: “However it is also important to emphasize a second element: Pietro Angelerio’s [Pope Celestine V] discovery of God was not the result of his own efforts but was made possible by the grace of God itself that anticipated him. What he had, what he was, did not come from himself: it was given to him, it was grace, and so it also entailed responsibility to God and to others. Although our life is very different from his, the same also applies for us: all that is essential in our existence was bestowed upon us without our contribution. The fact that I am alive does not depend on me. The fact that there were people who introduced me to life, who taught me what it means to love and to be loved, who handed down the faith to me and opened my eyes to God: all of this is grace and was not ‘done by me’. We would not have been able to do anything on our own had it not been granted us: God always anticipates us and in every individual life there is a beauty and goodness that we can easily recognize as his grace, as a ray of the light of His goodness”.

Sacred College
The resignations of the Archbishops of Jakarta and Bogota are accepted

On 28 June the resignation of Jesuit Cardinal Julius Riyadi Darmaatmadja, 76 years old in December, Archbishop of Jakarta, Indonesia, a post he has held since 1996, was accepted. His successor is 60 year-old Monsignor Ignatius Suharyo Hardjoatmodjo, who has been coadjutor since July 2009.
On 8 July the resignation of Cardinal Pedro Rubiano Sáenz, 78 years old in September, Archbishop of Bogotá, Colombia, a post he has held since 1994, was accepted. Monsignor Rubén Salazar Gómez, 68 years old in September, Archbishop of Barranquilla since 1999 and currently president of the Episcopal Conference of Colombia, takes his place.

Cardinal Ouellet Prefect of the Bishops

On June 30, 66 year-old Canadian Cardinal Marc Ouellet was appointed Prefect of the Congregation for Bishops and President of the Pontifical Commission for Latin America. He is successor to Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, who turned 75 in January 2009. Ouellet, ordained priest in 1968, was Secretary of the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of Christian Unity from 2001 to 2002, when he was promoted Archbishop of Québec. In 2003 he was created cardinal by John Paul II.

Fisichella to the Council for the New Evangelization, Koch to Christian Unity

On 30 June 59 year-old Archbishop Rino Fisichella was appointed president of the newly founded Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelization. Originally from Codogno, in the province and diocese of Lodi, he was ordained priest in the diocese of Rome in 1976. Previously he was president of the Pontifical Academy for Life and rector of the Pontifical Lateran University.
On 1 July the Swiss Bishop Kurt Koch was promoted to archbishop and president of the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of Christian Unity. Ordained a priest in 1982, Koch has been Bishop of Basel since 1995. He takes the place of German Cardinal Walter Kasper, who was 77 years old in March.

Tobin Secretary of the Congregation for the Religious

On 2 August the 58 year-old American Redemptorist Joseph William Tobin, was appointed Secretary of the Congregation for the Religious. Originally from Detroit, Tobin made his temporary profession in 1972 and perpetual one in 1976. Two years later he was ordained a priest.
Elected General Consultor of the Redemptorist Fathers in 1991, he became Superior General in 1997, and was then reconfirmed in the post from 2003 to 2009.

Holy See/1
Dal Covolo rector of the Lateran University, Carrasco to the Academy for Life

On 30 June Don Enrico dal Covolo, 60 years old in October, a Salesian, was appointed rector of the Pontifical Lateran University. Ordained priest in 1979, since 2003 he has been postulator general for the Causes of Saints of the Salesian family. Since 2002 he has also been a consultor of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and since 2008 for the Congregation for the Clergy. Since 1999 he has been a member of the Pontifical Committee of Historical Sciences and adviser to the Pontifical Academy of Theology. Last year he was appointed member of the Pontifical Commission for Sacred Archaeology. Author of numerous scholarly publications, last February he was named by Benedict XVI to preach the spiritual exercises to the Pope and the Roman Curia.
Also on 30 June the 73 year-old Spanish Monsignor Ignacio Carrasco de Paula, of the Opus Dei clergy, was appointed President of the Pontifical Academy for Life, of which he was previously chancellor.

Holy See/2
De Paolis delegate for the Legionaries of Christ

On 9 July the Scalabrinian Archbishop Velasio De Paolis, President of the Prefecture for Economic Affairs of the Holy See, 75 years old in September, was appointed pontifical delegate for the Congregation of the Legionaries of Christ.

Tettamanzi in Lebanon: the Eastern influence in the Ambrosian Church

On 21 July, at the Mar Roukoz convent of Dekwaneh, on the outskirts of Beirut, the Archbishop of Milan, Cardinal Dionigi Tettamanzi, gave a lecture in the presence of religious and political authorities of Lebanon. We report a few passages published in the L’Osservatore Romano of 24 July: “The Eastern influence remained alive – and still is – in the Church of Milan, as is clear from very many aspects of its liturgical life. The melodies of the sacred songs, the rhythms of the fasts and feasts that give prominence to the Sabbath, processions such as that of the Holy Nail of the Cross and of the Holy Magi, the ritual of the Lamp that is brought on Easter night from the church of San Sepolcro to light the paschal candle of the cathedral, the particular anaphora and cycles of sacred readings, are all signs that still firmly bind the tradition of the West with that of the East in Milan. But it is especially in the rites of Holy Week that an original and happy synthesis between the Byzantine mysticism of the mild and joyous light that celebrates the glory of creation and redemption, and Western pragmatism, Roman and Gallican, is manifested”. The archbishop concluded by quoting passages from the Instrumentum laboris prepared for the Special Assembly of the Synod of Bishops for the Middle East: “‘To the Christians of the Middle East still today it can be repeated: “Fear not, little flock” (Lk 12, 32), you have a mission, your country’s growth and the vitality of your Church depend on you, and this will come about only with peace, justice and the equality of all its citizens’ (no. 119). Finally: ‘The hope, born in the Holy Land, has animated all nations and people in difficulty in the world for two thousand years. In the midst of difficulties and challenges, it remains an inexhaustible source of faith, love and joy to form witnesses to the Risen Lord, ever present among the community of His disciples’ (no. 120). Of this hope, which comes from the Risen Lord and his Spirit, we all have immense need”.

Middle East/1
Cameron in Turkey: “Gaza: an open air prison”

British Prime Minister David Cameron, visiting Turkey, condemned the embargo set on the Gaza Strip. An article in La Stampa of 28 July declares: “The British prime minister made his statement in front of a group of Turkish businessmen during his visit to Ankara: ‘Let us be clear. The situation in Gaza must change. We cannot and should not allow the Strip to remain an open air prison’. ‘Although progress has been made’, he added, ‘we still find ourselves in a difficult situation. It has been a long time that we have supported the lifting of the Gaza blockade’”.

Middle East/2
Amos Gitai, Israel should return to the wisdom of the old Jews

On 11 July an interview with Amos Gitai appeared in La Stampa. According to the Israeli movie director ‘anxiety’ is in the air: “Today the religious currents are stronger, Russian emigration was very important, but the Russians have a very nationalist view. We well know that Israel is surrounded by hostility in the region, and occasionally the Israelis are not prudent. For example, they got themselves into a mess with the story of the Turkish ships. I think the Israelis should learn to be more prudent... They have to decide what they want to do. They must find some of the wisdom of the old Jews, those qualities that allowed a small group of people, which the Jews are, to survive for so many centuries. It is the art of measure and balance”.

A representative of the Holy See in Vietnam

On June 26 a communiqué from the Secretariat of State, issued on completion of the second meeting of the Vietnam-Holy See Joint Working Group, announced that “in order to deepen relations between the Holy See and Vietnam, as well as ties between the Holy See and the local Catholic Church, the appointment by the Pope of a non-resident representative of the Holy See to Vietnam was agreed upon as a first step”. The joint group is chaired for the Vatican by Monsignor Ettore Balestrero, Undersecretary of the Section of the Secretariat of State for Relations with States.

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