from issue no.07 - 2003


Outs Cut

Ecclesia in Europa

On 28 June the Pope signed Ecclesia in Europa, the post-synodal exhortation of the European Synod which was celebrated in the Vatican from the 1st to 23 October 1999 on the theme “Jesus Christ, living in his Church, source of hope for Europe”.

A Blessed
of Jewish origin

On 22 June, during a lightning journey to Bosnia (the 101st abroad), the Pope beatified the layman Ivan Merz (1896-1928): The mass media reported the fact that he had grown up in a liberal, middle class family: The French Catholic daily La Croix (21 June) added that “his mother, of Jewish origin, was Hungarian”.

at Castel Gandolfo

On 25 June the director of the Press Office of the Holy See, Joaquin Navarro-Valls announced that for the summer period, beginning 10 July, the Pope will transfer to Castel Gandolfo where, among other things, “he proposes a book which he is writing about his pastoral and human experience as bishop”. Navarro-Valls added on the occasion: “In his program no operation is planned on his knee, about which there was baseless talk”.

Mani to Cagliari, Bagnasco Military Ordinary

On 20 June Giuseppe Mani, who was 67 years old the following day, was nominated Archbishop of Cagliari. A Tuscan from Ruffina, in the province of Ruffina and the diocese of Fiesole, ordained priest in 1960, Mani was auxiliary bishop of Rome from 1987 to 1986, when he was promoted Military Ordinary for Italy. Sixty year old Angelo Bagnasco takes over from him in this last post, a native of the province of Brescia but Genoese by adoption, ordained priest in 1966, Bishop of Pesaro since 1998 (a diocese which was elevated to the rank of metropolitan archdiocese in 2000). Bagnasco is a member, in the role of secretary, of the Episcopal Commission of the CEI for Catholic education, schools and universities; further he is president of the board of Directors of Avvenire.

The Capuchin O’Malley to Boston

On 1 July the successor to Cardinal Bernard Francis Law, who resigned last year, as the head of the Archdiocese of Boston, was nominated. He is the Capuchin Sean P. O’Malley, 59 years old on 29 June, Bishop of Palm Beach in Florida for only the past ten months. O’Malley, ordained priest in 1970, was nominated coadjutor in 1984 and ordinary in 1985 of the diocese of Saint Thomas in the Virgin Islands. In 1992 he was transferred to the diocese of Fall River in Massachusetts where he remained to the end of last year. In both Fall River and Palm Beach O’Malley had to deal with problems concerning the scandal of priests accused of paedophilia. His ability in dealing with this type of problem seems to have favored his promotion just a few months after another transfer of diocese. La Stampa in an article of July 1, which anticipated the nomination, recalled that O’Malley, in the past, had been nominated on several occasions “apostolic visitor” to seminaries in Central America and the Caribbean.

The neo conservatives against the position of the Pope on the war
in Iraq

“In the past three months, has the Holy See elevated the level of moral discourse or added to the discussion considerations which would otherwise have been ignored? It is not easy to reply affirmatively to these questions. His most devout admirers recognize that the Pope has a certain responsibility for this unhappy circumstance… As for establishing moral clarity about peace and war, it must be candidly admitted that this was not the most wonderful moment of this pontificate. But no one should be shaken too severely. Flannery O’Connor used to say that at times we suffer more because of the Church than for the Church”. Thus Father John Neuhaus, one of the leaders of the Catholic component in the neo-conservative movement, in his comment on the war in Iraq (The sounds of religion in a time of war) which appeared in the May number of the monthly First Things, directed by him.

A historian considers the apostolic constitution on the
conclave dangerous

In the issue of 24 May of the English Catholic weekly The Tablet there appeared a review of the book The Conclave: a sometimes secret and occasionally bloody history of papal elections by Michael Walsh. The article, signed by Professor Eamon Duffy, a member of the Pontifical Committee for Historical Sciences, contains a sharp criticism of the apostolic constitution Universi dominici gregis, which since 1996 lays down the rules for the election of the popes: “It is a revolutionary document and in my view (that of Walsh) dangerous”. For Duffy “the dangerous aspect” of the new norms lies in their having laid “aside the millenary requisite that the Pope must be elected by a two-thirds majority” introducing the possibility that after thirty ballots the absolute majority will be sufficient. “It is an unwise and unnecessary provision”, Duffy writes. And he concludes: “the Cardinals of the holy Roman Church are obviously above all suspicion: but if per impossible a sufficiently large group of them acted together, it could systematically block the two thirds majority for a candidate not acceptable to them, and on the thirty-first vote place their own man with a simple majority. It is a recipe for factions and the collapse of consent, without precedent in the history of the institution. We can only hope that nobody tells them”.

Catholics and the relative God

The relative God of the Italians: this is the title of a large inquiry by Repubblica into religion and Italians, the results of which were made public by the same newspaper on 22 June last. Apart from the comments of the newspaper, some data are striking. Such as that regarding the attendance at weekly mass practiced by 19.5% men and 38.3% women. Or the data regarding the doctrine of the faith: 78.1% believe in the resurrection of Jesus Christ; 53.5% in the existence of the devil; 31.3% in the resurrection of the body; 41.9% in the infallibility of the Pope; 50.1% in hell; 65.5% in heaven. The data about how many believe in the evil eye and magic spells, in the possibility of communicating with the dead, in reincarnation in the form of animals, are also significant, and oscillates between 16% and 19% of those interviewed. Significant also is the datum on Catholics and politics: only 4% of those interviewed maintain that Catholics should vote for a party of Christian inspiration.

Catholics and indifference
to politics

An article by Leonardo Zega was published in La Stampa on 25 June which commented on the inquiry into Italians and religion, published by La Repubblica on 22 June. We report a passage from it: “In such a confused phase of transition, it is singular that 40% of those interviewed declare that Catholics can vote for any party, without creating particular problems of conscience for them. To which must be added that 32% claim that they can adhere to any party, regardless of its ideology, as long as they try to promote Christian values from within it. How, is not said. And therefore, for two thirds of those interviewed, political choices are by now indifferent, almost as if the end of the “party of the Catholics” (which as such no one regrets) signifies disengagement from the civil and moral responsibilities anchored in religious faith itself”.

Agreement between India and the Celestial Empire

Agreement on Tibet, thaw between India and China. This is the title of an article which appeared in Corriere della Sera on 25 June, which gave the news of the end of a long quarrel between the two Asian giants, a third of the world’s population, about a pass on the border between the two States. According to what was reported by the Corriere, the agreement, sealed in solemn form in Peking and followed by a meeting between the premiers of both countries, would displease the Dalai Lama.

For a pluralist world

“Brazil is among the founders of the G3 along with India and South Africa, and China and Russia also seem interested. The objective? To lay the basis for a more democratic and representative world government. Thus Il Messaggero of 21 June, in which news was also given of the summit held in the United States, between the US President George Bush and the Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva.

Rota Romana
The Prelate Auditors become Emeritus
at 75 years old

The Prelate Auditors of the Roman Rota do not any longer become Emeritus on the completion of 74 years, as had happened since the time of Saint Pius X and as had been established by the Rota Norms of 1994, but at 75, thus going “into retirement” at the same age as the secretaries and the higher prelates of the rest of the Roman Curia. This is established by a rescript ex audientia Sanctissimi signed by the Secretary of State Cardinal Angelo Sodano, dated 8 April 2003 and published in the Acta Apostolicae Sedis of 3 May.

Threat of a schism

On 20 may the nomination of Canon Jeffrey John as Bishop Suffragan of Reading was announced. John is a declared homosexual (he has admitted to having a 27 year relationship with another cleric, though now its no longer physical) and this provoked numerouü protests on the part of the “evangelical” Anglican component, of a good nine Anglican bishops in England and of the heads of some communities in the Third World, who in fact threatened a schism, as also did the Nigerian Primate Peter Jasper Akinola. The Primate of the Anglican Communion Rowan Williams also had his say on the subject, in an interlocutory intervention. The consecration of John is scheduled for 9 October in Westminister.

of the century”

Bishop Piero Marini, 61 years old, Master of Pontifical Celebrations, “could be called the ‘liturgist of the century’”. John L. Allen affirms this in an interview with the prelate in the column The world from Rome edited by him for the progressive US weekly National Catholic Reporter (20 June). In the discussion, Marini who, when very young, was the personal secretary of Annibale Bugnini, the architect of post-conciliar liturgical reform, states that the Tridentine mass “was the liturgical expression of the countries of the Mediterranean Basin. With the separation of the Protestants, also in France, what remained was Spain, Italy and Austria …. The Church was reduced to something relatively small. But with the new world, Latin America and the various missions to Africa and Asia, it was necessary to open this closed to new peoples. This happened with Vatican Council II and the journeys of the Pope”.

The death
of Father Orbe

On 8 June Father Antonio Orbe, a Basque Jesuit, Professor for almost half a century at the Pontifical Gregorian University, among the major experts on Gnosticism, died at the age of 86. The illustrious scholar was remembered in an article by Gian Maria Vian which appeared in Avvenire on 10 June with the title Orbe, the Jesuit who attacked Gnosticism.
Speech by Chirac
to the Masons

On 23 June the French President Jacques Chirac gave a speech for the 275th anniversary of the creation of the first French Masonic lodge, which occurred in 1728. In his speech Chirac declared himself “proud to receive the representatives of a philosophical tradition which had had such an important part in France and in the world in the working-out and spread of republican ideas”, and welcomed the contribution of the lodges to the most recent debates on biotech, the future of schooling, European construction, globalization.

New observer in
Geneva. Nuncios in
Libya and East Timor

On 10 June the nomination of the new permanent observer of the Holy See to the UN Office in Geneva and to the World Trade Organization, whose headquarters are in the same city, was announced. He is the Venetian Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, a Scalabrinian 63 years old in October, a priest since 1965, apostolic nuncio in Ethiopia and Eritrea since 1995 and in Jibouti since 2000. Tomasi, who was also special representative to the Organization for African Unity, was from 1989 until 1996 secretary of the Pontifical Council for the mission to emigrants.
On 24 June, the 66 year old Spanish Archbishop Felix del Blanco Prieto was nominated nuncio in Libya also. On 5 June the bishop had already been nominated pontifical representative to Malta.
Also on 24 June, 59 year old Archbishop Renzo Frattini, from the Marche, nuncio in Indonesia since 1998, was also nominated first apostolic nuncio in East Timor, the new Asian country with which the Holy See established diplomatic relations on 20 May last year.

New Libyan head
of mission to
the Holy See

On 1 July the new head of mission of the Libyan Popular Socialist Jamahiriya presented his letters of credential to the Holy See. He is 44 year old Abdulhafed Gaddur, a career diplomat, consul general in Palermo since 1990.

Czech Republic
rejects agreement
with the Holy See

On 21 May the Prague Parliament rejected the agreement between the Holy See and the Czech Republic which was signed in June of last year, by 110 voyes out of a total of 177 deputies present. It is not the first time that the Vatican has had difficulties of this kind with the former Iron Curtain countries. The Concordat with Poland, for example, was ratified by the Parliament of Warsaw only some years after the signing by both parties. In Slovenia the agreement with the Holy See signed at the end of 2001 has not yet been ratified.
Politi’s “brief, intense

“From the East comes / a fragment of light, / as a leaf / which sparkles / in the morning sun. / We are not afraid”. This brief lyric dedicated to John Paul II was composed by Marco Politi, the Vaticanologist of La Repubblica, who got it delivered to the Pope during the audience granted to journalists and collaborators to celebrate the 100th journey abroad. The “brief, intense composition” was published by L’Osservatore Romano on 13 June.

The Holy See
in international bodies

On 30 June the volume Words that matter was launched in the Vatican Press Office, edited by 63 year old French Archbishop André Dupuy, apostolic nuncio in Venezuela. The text brings together a reasoned collection of the interventions of the Holy See in international bodies from 1970 until 2000, preceded by a preface by the Cardinal Secretary of State Angelo Sodano. At the launch of the book, published under the auspices of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace and The Path to Peace Foundation of New York, Archbishop Jean-Louis Tauran, Vatican “Foreign Minister”, Archbishop Renato Raffaele Martino, President of the above mentioned Pontifical Council, and Monsignor Dupuy, participated. Archbishop Celestino Migliore, who for some months has substituted Monsignor Martini as permanent observer to the UN Center in New York, should also have been present, but he could not attend because he was in Geneva in a meeting of the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC).

Bruce Springsteen
The empty church
and the sweet bells
of mercy

Double concert in Italy by Bruce Springsteen. The workman of rock, as he likes to call himself, played in Florence and Milan, the 8 and 20 June respectively, and was a great hit both with the public and the critics. We report a passage from the song My city of ruins, contained in his last album: “The door of the church is thrown open. I hear the song of the organ, but the faithful are not there anymore …. And the sweet bells of mercy spread themselves among the evening trees”. It’s strange that Springsteen has never taken part in a concert for the Pope.


Opium returns

The UN: “The threat of heroin returns”. New report: in Afghanistan record production, the traffic towards Europe. This is the title of an article which appeared in La Repubblica on 23 June, in which the contents of a UN report on the production of opium in Afghanistan, soon to be published, were anticipated.


Catholics in slow but constant increase in the world. Strong development in Africa

On 18 June L’Osservatore Romano offered some previews of the Annuarium statisticum ecclesiae 2001, with some interesting comparisons with the data of 1978. In practice in the 23 years covered the faithful have increased by 40.22% ( from more than 756 million and a half to a little more than a billion), the bishops by 25.18% (from 3,714 to 4,649), the seminarians by 27.71% (from 63,882 to 112,244). In the same lapse of time however priests have decreased by 3.78% (from 420,971 to 405,857: this figure results in reality from an increase of 1.51% in the secular clergy with a fall of 12.54% in religious) and nuns by 20.03% (from 990,768 to 792,317). These overall statistics conceal divergent tendencies among the different continents. The faithful are in fact in very slow increase in Europe (5.34%) and exponentially in Africa (147.74%). The same is happening with seminarians: plus 8.33% in the Old Continent and plus 272.5% in Africa. As regards priests there is a “substantial decrease” in Europe (-17.46%) and Oceania (-15.26%), while there is a strong increase in Asia (plus 60.45%) and in Africa (plus 65.36%), where the increase of the secular clergy is described as “explosive” (plus 219.27%). For the female religious the fall in Europe (-34%), in Oceania (-37%) and in America (-23%), have been partially counterbalanced by the increases in Africa (plus 48.55%) and in Asia (plus 53.77%).


Declaration on GMO

From 23 to 25 June a ministerial Conference on science and agricultural technology was held in Sacramento in California, promoted by the US Ministry of Agriculture. Obviously GMO were also discussed. At the meeting Archbishop Renato Raffaele Martino, President of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, took part on behalf of the Holy See. We print some excerpts from the statement made by Martino below.
“The Holy See recognizes the urgent need to provide safe nourishment for everyone, especially those who suffer poverty, famine and malnutrition. The presence of a delegation at this meeting has given the Holy See the opportunity to observe, hear the testimonies of experts and to get information about various programs and projects which involve the use of genetically modified organisms (GMO). In this current discussion the Holy See is not present to enter into the merits of a new technology in the phase of development. The Holy See is well aware of the existence of plants that produce fruits in abundance. To feed the hungry is essential. To find the way of reaching this goal is an imperative. At the same time the Holy See continues to study the widest use of GMO… The information which has been gathered will be very useful, enabling the Holy See to develop a clear view on the use of GMO… The use of GMO needs to be discussed openly so that informed decisions can be taken by those who might receive and use these products. This would enable these people to continue on the road of sustainable development”.


The saints are a wonder

“It is a poll which helps to understand the relationship between Italians and religion”, Cardinal José Saraiva Martins, Prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of the Saints, said, when interviewed in La Repubblica on 23 June on the poll published by the same daily the previous day. After commenting positively on the fact that the data revealed that 51% of Catholics pray every day, the Cardinal was asked to respond to a question about the reality or not of the saints. This is the reply: “The Christian saints are a wonder which has never been lacking in the life of the church and which cannot be ignored by an attentive lay observer either. The new saints do not divide, but unite and are a help also to ecumenism. It should not be forgotten that such a prominent figure as Simone Weil, former president of the European Parliament and a Jew, has said that ‘the world has need of saints’”.


The UN has a fundamental role

On 20 June the Holy See made public a letter from the Cardinal Secretary of State Angelo Sodano to the Secretary General of the UN Kofi Annan. In the letter, dated 5 June, the Cardinal writes: Pope John Paul II, recognizing the importance of the United Nations, requested me to express to your Excellency the support of the Holy See for the fundamental role of the United Nations Organization at this moment. As you know, the Popes have on different occasions spoken of the necessity for an international and independent authority, capable of serving not only as mediator in potential conflicts, but also as a guide for all of humanity, leading the human family in peace towards the sovereignty of law”.


21 Cardinals from the conclaves of 1978

The 25th anniversary of that which can be defined the summer of the two conclaves is approaching. But how many members are there today of the actual Sacred College who took part in both “papal electoral sessions” of 1978? In almost a quarter of a century John Paul II has celebrated eight consistories, creating 201 new cardinals. At present the Sacred college is composed of 167 members and of these 146 have received the hat from Pope Wojtyla.
The “veterans” of 1978 are therefore 21.
Twenty were created by Paul VI; only one, the 98 year old Archbishop Emeritus of Vienna Franz König received the purple from John XXIII on long ago 15 December 1958.
There are five senators of the Pope who took part in the conclaves of 1978 and who are still electors; three of them are active now and are: the 76 year old German Joseph Ratzinger, Dean of the Sacred College and Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith; the 79 year old Brazilian Franciscan Aloísio Lorscheider, Archbishop of Aparecida; the Philippine Archbishop of Manila Jaime Sin, 75 years old on 31 August; two instead are in retirement already: the 77 year old American William Wakefield Baum, the Grand Penitentiary Emeritus, and the Asian Marist Pio Taofinu’u, Archbishop Emeritus of Samoa-Apia, who will however be 80 years old on 8 December next.
The other sixteen are already over eighty and therefore cannot take part in further conclaves. Among them there are the Italians Corrado Bafile, from the Abruzzi, the oldest of the Sacred College – 100 years on 4 July - former Prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of the Saints; 95 year old Corrado Ursi from Puglia, Emeritus of Naples; 85 year old Salvatore Pappalardo, Sicilian, Emeritus of Palermo, and 93 year old Opilio Rossi, born in New York but belonging to the Piacenza clergy, formerly President of the Pontifical Council for the laity.
Besides König there are two other non-voting European “veterans of 1978”: the 94 year old Dutchman Johannes Willebrands, President Emeritus of the Pontifical Council for the promotion of Christian Unity, and the 85 year old Spaniard Marcelo González Martín, Archbishop Emeritus of Toledo.
The patrol of Latin American “veterans” is numerous: Along with Lorscheider there are two other Brazilians: 83 year old Eugenio Sales de Araújo, Emeritus of São Sebastião do Rio de Janiero, and the 82 year old Franciscan Paulo Evaristo Arns, Emeritus of São Paulo. To whom must be added the Argentinians, 84 year old Raúl Francisco Primatesta, Emeritus of Cordoba and 91 year old Juan Carlos Aramburu, Emeritus of Buenos Aires; as well as the 81 year old Central American Luis Aponte Martínez, Emeritus of San Juan de Puerto Rica.
There are three African “veterans”, all already “non-voters”: the Kenyan Maurice Michael Otunga, 80 years old in January, Emeritus of Nairobi; the 82 year old Senegalese Hyacinthe Thiandoum, Emeritus of Dakar; the 81 year old Beninese Bernardin Gantin, Dean Emeritus of the Sacred College and formerly Prefect of the Congregation for Bishops.
Finally as regards Asia and Oceania, as well as the “voters” Sin and Taotinu’u, there is also the 81 year old Korean “non-voter” Stephen Kim Sou-hwan, Emeritus of Seoul.

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