Monday, November 30, 2009

Celibacy to blame for priest shortage? "The crisis runs deeper."

Why Ireland Is Running Out of Priests

Wanted: Clean-living young people for a long career (women need not apply). Responsibilities: Varied. Spiritual guidance, visiting the sick, public relations, marriages (own marriage not permitted). Hours: On call at all times. Salary: None, bar basic monthly stipend.

He hasn't placed classified ads in the Irish press just yet, but according to Father Patrick Rushe, coordinator of vocations with the Catholic Church in Ireland, "we've done just about everything" else to attract young men to the priesthood. And yet, the call of service in one of Europe's most religious countries is falling on more deaf ears than ever.

Earlier this month, the Archbishop of Dublin, Diarmuid Martin, made a grim prediction about the future of the church in Ireland: If more young priests aren't found quickly, the country's parishes may soon not have enough clergy to survive. He told the congregation at St. Mary's Pro-Cathedral in Dublin that his own diocese had 46 priests aged 80 or over, but only two under 35 years old. It's a similar story all over the island. According to a 2007 study of Catholic dioceses in the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland, about half of all priests are between the ages of 55 and 74.

Ireland's ties to the Catholic Church run deep. The ordination of a family member was once regarded as a moment of great prestige, especially in rural areas. Even as recently as 1990, over 80% of Irish people said they attended Mass at least once a week. But the country's relationship with the church began to change dramatically in the mid-1990s when Ireland's economy began to take off, ushering in years of unprecedented growth. Soon, disaffection replaced devotion among Ireland's newly rich younger generation. Most devastating of all, however, were the sex-abuse scandals involving pedophile priests that surfaced around the same time. Criticism over the handling of the case of Father Brendan Smyth - a priest who had sexually abused children for over 40 years - even led to the collapse of the Irish government in 1994. (Prime Minister Albert Reynolds was forced to stand down amid public anger over the lengthy delays in extraditing Smyth to Northern Ireland, where he was wanted on child abuse charges.)

But more was still to come. Last May, the government published the findings of a nine-year inquiry into child abuse at church-run schools, orphanages and hospitals from the 1930s to the 1990s. The report, which described "endemic sexual abuse" at boys' schools and the "daily terror" of physical abuse at other institutions, shook Ireland to its core and left the reputation of the church and the religious orders that ran its schools in tatters. Then, this week, another government inquiry found that the church and police colluded to cover up numerous cases of child sex abuse by priests in the Dublin archdiocese from 1975 to 2004, prompting the head of the Catholic church in Ireland, Cardinal Sean Brady, to apologize to the Irish people. "No one is above the law in this country," he said. There are now calls for similar inquiries to be held in every diocese in Ireland. (Read: "For Ireland's Catholic Schools, a Catalog of Horrors.")

The scandals have undoubtedly made it difficult to bring new men into the priesthood. Father Brian D'Arcy, superior of the Passionist Monastery in Enniskillen, Northern Ireland, says the only way to reverse the trend may be to relax the strict rules governing priests' lifestyles. Top of his list? The vow of celibacy. "Of course it would be a big help if priests were allowed to marry or if we could ordain married men," he says. Earlier this month, he says, a priest in the Derry diocese, Father Sean McKenna, announced to his congregation that he was in a relationship with a woman and was stepping down. His parishioners gave him a standing ovation. "Good men are being driven out by foolish [rules]," D'Arcy says. (Read a brief history of celibacy.)

But some clerical leaders say that allowing married or female clergy won't solve the problem. "They're easy solutions on paper but the crisis is deeper," says Father Patrick Rushe, vocations coordinator for the 26 dioceses in Ireland and Northern Ireland. He points out that the Anglican Church, which permits both married and female clergy, is also facing a shortage of vocations. "[Becoming a priest] is a lifetime commitment and a sacrifice. I think that's what's putting people off. It's not just celibacy," he says.

The church's solution was to launch a recruitment campaign last year, holding special Masses, workshops and conferences aimed at attracting young men to the priesthood. The initiative seems to have paid off, at least in the short term. Last September, a total of 38 Irish men began to study for the priesthood at seminaries in Ireland and Italy. The figure may pale in comparison to the 100 or so new seminarians who signed up annually in the 1960s, but it was the highest intake for the church in a decade. Five years ago, there was only one ordination in Northern Ireland out of a Catholic population of 700,000 people. "You're not just going to pull somebody off the street and they'll suddenly become a priest," Rushe says. "It's a decision that can take a long time to make."

Vincent Cushnahan, 29, currently the youngest serving priest in Ireland, says the church also needs to carry out structural reforms, such as cutting the number of parishes (and, therefore, the number of priests required to fill them) and giving greater responsibilities to lay people. In some Irish parishes, for example, non-ordained church members are now responsible for roles such as youth ministry.

Cushnahan knows how hard it is for the church to recruit young men these days - becoming a priest was a difficult decision for him to make. "I had to forsake married life, my own house, money," he says. "[Being a priest] can be more isolating and counter-cultural than it has been in the past. It's more challenging, but also more rewarding because of that."

Photo source: Vocations Scotland and Ireland

Sunday, November 29, 2009

The New York Times: "Latin Mass Appeal"

Interesting - this guy actually sounds like he knows what he is talking about...
Op-Ed Contributor

Latin Mass Appeal

Published: November 28, 2009


WALKING into church 40 years ago on this first Sunday of Advent, many Roman Catholics might have wondered where they were. The priest not only spoke English rather than Latin, but he faced the congregation instead of the tabernacle; laymen took on duties previously reserved for priests; folk music filled the air. The great changes of Vatican II had hit home.

All this was a radical break from the traditional Latin Mass, codified in the 16th century at the Council of Trent. For centuries, that Mass served as a structured sacrifice with directives, called “rubrics,” that were not optional. This is how it is done, said the book. As recently as 1947, Pope Pius XII had issued an encyclical on liturgy that scoffed at modernization; he said that the idea of changes to the traditional Latin Mass “pained” him “grievously.”

Paradoxically, however, it was Pius himself who was largely responsible for the momentous changes of 1969. It was he who appointed the chief architect of the new Mass, Annibale Bugnini, to the Vatican’s liturgical commission in 1948.

Bugnini was born in 1912 and ordained a Vincentian priest in 1936. Though Bugnini had barely a decade of parish work, Pius XII made him secretary to the Commission for Liturgical Reform. In the 1950s, Bugnini led a major revision of the liturgies of Holy Week. As a result, on Good Friday of 1955, congregations for the first time joined the priest in reciting the Pater Noster, and the priest faced the congregation for some of the liturgy.

The next pope, John XXIII, named Bugnini secretary to the Preparatory Commission for the Liturgy of Vatican II, in which position he worked with Catholic clergymen and, surprisingly, some Protestant ministers on liturgical reforms. In 1962 he wrote what would eventually become the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, the document that gave the form of the new Mass.

Many of Bugnini’s reforms were aimed at appeasing non-Catholics, and changes emulating Protestant services were made, including placing altars to face the people instead of a sacrifice toward the liturgical east. As he put it, “We must strip from our ... Catholic liturgy everything which can be the shadow of a stumbling block for our separated brethren, that is, for the Protestants.” (Paradoxically, the Anglicans who will join the Catholic Church as a result of the current pope’s outreach will use a liturgy that often features the priest facing in the same direction as the congregation.)

How was Bugnini able to make such sweeping changes? In part because none of the popes he served were liturgists. Bugnini changed so many things that John’s successor, Paul VI, sometimes did not know the latest directives. The pope once questioned the vestments set out for him by his staff, saying they were the wrong color, only to be told he had eliminated the week-long celebration of Pentecost and could not wear the corresponding red garments for Mass. The pope’s master of ceremonies then witnessed Paul VI break down in tears.

Bugnini fell from grace in the 1970s. Rumors spread in the Italian press that he was a Freemason, which if true would have merited excommunication. The Vatican never denied the claims, and in 1976 Bugnini, by then an archbishop, was exiled to a ceremonial post in Iran. He died, largely forgotten, in 1982.

But his legacy lived on. Pope John Paul II continued the liberalizations of Mass, allowing females to serve in place of altar boys and to permit unordained men and women to distribute communion in the hands of standing recipients. Even conservative organizations like Opus Dei adopted the liberal liturgical reforms.

But Bugnini may have finally met his match in Benedict XVI, a noted liturgist himself who is no fan of the past 40 years of change. Chanting Latin, wearing antique vestments and distributing communion only on the tongues (rather than into the hands) of kneeling Catholics, Benedict has slowly reversed the innovations of his predecessors. And the Latin Mass is back, at least on a limited basis, in places like Arlington, Va., where one in five parishes offer the old liturgy.

Benedict understands that his younger priests and seminarians — most born after Vatican II — are helping lead a counterrevolution. They value the beauty of the solemn high Mass and its accompanying chant, incense and ceremony. Priests in cassocks and sisters in habits are again common; traditionalist societies like the Institute of Christ the King are expanding.

At the beginning of this decade, Benedict (then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger) wrote: “The turning of the priest toward the people has turned the community into a self-enclosed circle. In its outward form, it no longer opens out on what lies ahead and above, but is closed in on itself.” He was right: 40 years of the new Mass have brought chaos and banality into the most visible and outward sign of the church. Benedict XVI wants a return to order and meaning. So, it seems, does the next generation of Catholics.

Kenneth J. Wolfe writes frequently for traditionalist Roman Catholic publications.

Photo: His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI at first vespers of the first Sunday of Advent.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

'Obama Pride' Official Starts 'Church Outing' Website to Expose (or Smear) Catholic Priests

Is this how the Obama camp celebrates the "Year of the Priest"?

'Obama Pride' Official Starts 'Church Outing' Website to Expose (or Smear) Catholic Priests
Photo of Tim Graham.
By Tim Graham (Bio | Archive)
November 22, 2009 - 07:52 ET

Blogger Amanda Hess of the Washington City Paper suggests a new story for The Washington Post on the gay left waging war on the Catholic Church over the city council's imposition of "gay marriage" rules without a referendum:

A new Web site hopes to use the oldest trick in the book to combat the Catholic Church’s opposition to same-sex marriage: A good, old-fashioned forced outing!

At, you’re invited to scroll through a list of every Achbishop, Bishop, and Reverend in the Archdiocese of Washington, zero in on one you know is gay, and then submit your “detailed account of how you know the priest in question is being hypocritical through his silence.”

For the rest of the story, click here.

Friday, November 27, 2009

"Cash for prayers": If government health care covers healing prayers, then ...

The proposed government health care program may cover healing prayers.

"Healthcare provision seeks to embrace prayer treatments

"By Tom Hamburger and Kim Geiger

"November 3, 2009

"Reporting from Washington - Backed by some of the most powerful members of the Senate, a little-noticed provision in the healthcare overhaul bill would require insurers to consider covering Christian Science prayer treatments as medical expenses.

"The provision was inserted by Sen. Orrin G. Hatch (R-Utah) with the support of Democratic Sens. John F. Kerry and the late Edward M. Kennedy, both of Massachusetts, home to the headquarters of the Church of Christ, Scientist."

To read the rest click here.

I have a question: can the government discriminate between one healing prayer and another? Can they cover Christian Science healing prayers on the one hand but not cover Catholic healing Masses on the other? I think I see a potential lawsuit in the offing here.

Also, if every Catholic Mass can be defined as a "healing Mass" because of the healing presence of Jesus Christ, substantially and really present in the Eucharist, should not every Mass qualify for a health care reimbursement?

And then there are the logistics: does every priest file for reimbursement for "healing prayer-services rendered" every time he celebrates Mass? Does he change his fee based on how many people are present at Mass? If he does, who will come from the government to every Mass to verify that the numbers are correctly represented? Talk about a dream come true: government-financed evangelization!

Does this sound like the growth of a new beaurocratic arm of the federal "octopus"? I guess it would amount to just another method for normal taxpayers to get reimbursed for a portion of their high tax burden, which sounds like the direction the country is headed anyway.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving

I'm driving and these empty parking lots look great out here - might add up to more families spending time together. Walmart, however, remains open for the truly addicted...

A Blessed Thanksgiving to all! Thank you for visiting.

Marriage: Complementarity And Communion

The U. S. bishops at their fall meeting last week approved the text of their new pastoral letter on the Sacrament of Marriage, Marriage: Love and Life in the Divine Plan. The title of the November 17 document points to one of the primary issues driving the bishops to issue this teaching instru­ment: the loss of understanding on the part of many, even within the Church, of the unbreakable bond which God has established between love- giv­ing and life- giving and the fact that these gifts are intended by the Creator to be shared only by one man and one woman within the bond of marriage.

While they “rejoice” in the fact that so many couples live out their marriage bond in a holy and happy way, the bishops express their concern for a number of issues that afflict marriage and family life in our day. Among these they cite the lack of understanding on the part of many that marriage is “ a gift from God,” the high incidence of divorce, the lack of openness to the gift of children, the trend to view marriage as a private matter, and the attempt to redefine marriage as something other than a lifelong exclusive bond between man and woman.

Early in the document the bishops address one of the underlying causes of the malaise afflicting many marriages today. The gift of life and the gift of love have been “joined” by God in the one mar­ital act. It is sinful for husband and wife to break the bond between these gifts.“ Couples too often reflect a lack of understanding of the purposes of marriage. There is a loss of belief in the value of those purposes when couples readily treat, as sep­arate choices, the decisions to get married and to have children.”

The document repeats here the longstanding teaching that man and woman must shun an “ anti­life will” which is always present, for example, in the use of contraception.

The bishops make clear that it is precisely the complementarity between man and woman, the differences between them, that enables husband and wife in marriage to bring the new communion of the family into being through their own mutual gift of the communion shared between them, through both the life- giving or procreative aspect
of marriage and the love- giving, or unitive, aspect of marriage. Neither of these can be rejected with­out doing damage to the bond of love in the mar­riage as a whole.

This concept of “complementarity,” then, pro­vides a key ingredient in the Church’s effort to provide a compelling witness for the truth that the word “ marriage” can never be truthfully used to describe any combination of persons other than one man- husband and one woman- wife.

“ It is precisely the difference between man and woman that makes possible this unique commun­ion of persons, the unique partnership of life and love that is marriage. A man and woman united in marriage as husband and wife serve as a symbol of both life and love in a way that no other rela­tionship
of human persons can.” The bishops remind us that the “two ends” of marriage are the “unitive” and the “ procreative and educative.” For teaching on the relationship be­tween these two ends of marriage the bishops turn to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, n. 2363, which teaches that “ these two meanings or values of marriage cannot be separated without altering the couple’s spiritual life and compromising the goods of marriage and the future of the family” and, also, that “this inseparability arises from the very na­ture of conjugal love, a love that ‘stands under the twofold obligation of fidelity and fecundity’.”

Among the challenges to the nature and purpos­es of marriage the bishops list contraception, same­sex unions, divorce, and cohabitation, which they teach is “ intrinsically evil.”

+ + + More next week. For the full text of the bishops’ letter, go to Marriage: Love and Life in the Divine Plan. For daily pairings of the Scriptures of Holy Mass and the teachings of the Catechism of the Catho­lic Church, visit Meeting Christ in the Liturgy.

(This column appeared in the 26 November 2009 issue of The Wanderer Catholic Newspaper. Fr Cusick writes weekly for The Wanderer.)

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Christmas Concert Dec 5 @ Annapolis Statehouse

Join this blogger and the Prince George's Choral Society for a Christmas performance under the oldest capitol dome in the U.S. at Annapolis on 5 December at 8 p.m.


What do you think?

Monday, November 23, 2009

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Sunday at St Mary of the Assumption: "Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice."

"For this I was born and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice."

We belong to the Truth. We listen to His voice. His kingdom is in the world but not of the world.

We hear the Lord's voice in love, and with him we testify to His truth and in His love, that He may do the work of His Kingdom in and through us.

- we testify with His voice and in His love to the truth that abortion is always wrong because it is always and in every case the intentional taking of human life and never necessary for self defense as sometimes, tragically, is the case with capital punishment or war

- we testify with His voice and in His love that we can never support such taking of human life with our tax dollars as is proposed by the current health care proposal before Congress

- we testify with His voice and in His love that any health care plan that pays for, reimburses for or in any way condones or supports abortion would involve our financial support which is excluded by the laws of Almighty God as cooperation in a moral evil

- we testify with His voice and in His love that we are bound to oppose such measures with our lives, our actions and our words

His Kingdom is justice, love and peace for every human person, born and preborn. His kingdom is without end. Amen.
-- ((((..))))

"Viva Cristo Rey!" -- Blessed Miguel Pro, S.J., martyr, Mexico, 1927. For more on Blessed Miguel click here.

"Eulogy" for the paten

Elogio del piattino

During the distribution of Communion some fragments of the sacred Host might inadvertently fall. To avoid that the Body of the Lord might end up on the floor and trampled on the Church provides, today and not only in the past, that during the distribution of communion the minister holds the paten under the chin of the communicant, in the event that fragments fall on it they will not be scattered and profaned.

The use of the paten has been expected up until now, and is not optional, in no. 118 of the General Instruction of the Roman Missal and in no. 93 of Redemptionis Sacramentum, the instruction of Pope John Paul II and published in 2004: "It is necessary to maintain the use of the paten for the Communion of the faithful, to avoid dropping the host or a fragment of it."

From the GIRM:

"118. The following are also to be prepared:

  1. "Next to the priest's chair: the Missal and, as needed, a hymnal;
  2. "At the ambo: the Lectionary;
  3. "On the credence table: the chalice, a corporal, a purificator, and, if appropriate, the pall; the paten and, if needed, ciboria; bread for the Communion of the priest who presides, the deacon, the ministers, and the people; cruets containing the wine and the water, unless all of these are presented by the faithful in procession at the Offertory; the vessel of water to be blessed, if the asperges occurs; the Communion-plate for the Communion of the faithful; and whatever is needed for the washing of hands.
"It is a praiseworthy practice to cover the chalice with a veil, which may be either the color of the day or white."


Durante la distribuzione della Comunione può accadere che alcuni frammenti dell'Ostia santa inavvertitamente cadano. Per evitare che il Corpo del Signore finisca per terra e venga calpestato, la Chiesa dispone (oggi, non solo ieri!) che durante la distribuzione della comunione il ministrante tenga il piattino sotto il mento del comunicando, affinché eventuali frammenti cadano su di esso e non vengano dispersi e profanati.
L'uso del piattino è tuttora previsto (e non è facoltativo!) al n. 118 dell'Ordinamento Generale del Messale Romano e al n. 93 di Redemptionis Sacramentum (l'istruzione voluta da Giovanni Paolo II e pubblicata nel 2004): "È necessario che si mantenga l’uso del piattino per la Comunione dei fedeli, per evitare che la sacra ostia o qualche suo frammento cada".
Ed è un peccato che questo piccolo ma prezioso gesto di riverenza verso il Corpo e Sangue del Signore sia finito nel dimenticatoio di tante parrocchie, inclusa la Basilica Vaticana: alla S.Messa (extraordinaria) celebrata lo scorso 14 novembre da mons. Pablo Colino, il ministrante in mancanza di piattino ha dovuto utilizzare la palla del calice...

Grazie a Messa in Latino

Saturday, November 21, 2009

"Sarah's Choice": pro-woman, pro-life and pro-family

"Sarah's Choice" is a new pro-life film which shows compassion for expectant young mothers in need of the true support of authentic love. Sponsor a showing or obtain a personal copy to show to families, youth groups or parishes. For more information on where to see or how to order "Sarah's Choice" click here.

"...less than fully Catholic"

Episcopal Governance and Catholic Communion

If such is not the universally accepted sense of Catholic communion, we bishops must look to ways to strengthen Church unity. Relations do not speak first of control but of love. If there is a loosening of relationship between ourselves and those whom Christ has given us to govern in love, it is for us to reach out and re-establish connections necessary for all to remain in communion. As you know, we have recently begun discussions on how we might strengthen our relationship to Catholic universities, to media claiming the right to be a voice in the Church, and to organizations that direct various works under Catholic auspices. Since everything and everyone in Catholic communion is truly inter-related, and the visible nexus of these relations is the bishop, an insistence on complete independence from the bishop renders a person or institution sectarian, less than fully Catholic.

Friday, November 20, 2009

The Manhattan Declaration

Christians, when they have lived up to the highest ideals of their faith, have defended the weak and vulnerable and worked tirelessly to protect and strengthen vital institutions of civil society, beginning with the family.

We are Orthodox, Catholic, and evangelical Christians who have united at this hour to reaffirm fundamental truths about justice and the common good, and to call upon our fellow citizens, believers and non-believers alike, to join us in defending them. These truths are:

  1. the sanctity of human life
  2. the dignity of marriage as the conjugal union of husband and wife
  3. the rights of conscience and religious liberty.

Inasmuch as these truths are foundational to human dignity and the well-being of society, they are inviolable and non-negotiable. Because they are increasingly under assault from powerful forces in our culture, we are compelled today to speak out forcefully in their defense, and to commit ourselves to honoring them fully no matter what pressures are brought upon us and our institutions to abandon or compromise them. We make this commitment not as partisans of any political group but as followers of Jesus Christ, the crucified and risen Lord, who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life.

Jesus cleanses...

... the temple of body and soul in every holy Mass.

How to choose a Catholic College

Dear brother or sister in Christ,

Do you know anyone who could use some help choosing a college?

How about a teacher, counselor or priest who advises Catholic parents and teens?

For many years, an important part of my priestly ministry has been helping parents and students get a solid Catholic education.

And now I have a way to reach even more families, but I need your help to do so!

I don’t have to tell you how important it is that young people walk in the Way of Christ during their college years.

Fortunately there are many faithful Catholic colleges that help students discern Christ’s calling for them as they prepare for leadership in the Church and society.

But there are also many Catholic colleges where the opposite may be the case... where the lure of the secular world dominates campus life, and respect for Catholic teaching is too often absent from the classroom.

At the wrong college, students risk losing sight of Christ.

To help families navigate the confusing college search process, I helped The Cardinal Newman Society author a new brochure, “How to Choose a Catholic College.”

My essay in the brochure was adapted from my article in The NewmanGuide to Choosing a Catholic College, as was the note to parents and students from my friend Father Benedict Groeschel, C.F.R.

I hope that you will help me get this important FREE resource into the hands of as many Catholic families as possible.

The Cardinal Newman Society—which has faithfully worked for the renewal of Catholic higher education for more than 16 years—is offering these brochures for you to distribute at no cost.

If you would like a ten pack of “How to Choose a Catholic College,” you may request them by
clicking here

Thank you for distributing this simple but effective new resource for Catholic families, and may God bless you and our Holy Mother Church!

Yours in Christ,

Rev. C. John McCloskey, III

P.S. I should add a note of thanks to The Cardinal Newman Society for producing and underwriting the distribution of tens of thousands of these helpful FREE brochures!

If you can donate to support this and other efforts of The Cardinal Newman Society to restore Catholic identity in America, I encourage you to
click here.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Jesus weeps...

...because of our lack of faith that He is our peace.

The Synod for Africa and the presence of the Church

Bishop Wilton Gregory of Atlanta, appointed by Pope Benedict XVI as a representative to the recent Synod on Africa in Rome, shared his disappointment this week at the US Bishops' Fall meeting in Baltimore with the lack of coverage in the media of the work of the Synod.

As part of the effort to help undo this injustice I am sharing with you here the testimony of an African woman religious following the genocidal conflicts in Rwanda in 1994. Sister Genevieve Uwamariya spoke at the Synod on Africa in Rome which had as its theme "The Church in Africa at the Service of Reconciliation, Justice and Peace."

The following is the Vatican translation of Sr Genevieve's testimony given in her native French.

"A large part of my family was killed while in our parish church. The sight of this building used to fill me with horror and turned my stomach, just like the encounter with the prisoners filled me with disgust and rage.

"It is in this mental state that something happened that would change my life and my relationships.

"On August 27th 1997 at 1 p.m., a group from the Catholic association of the “Ladies of Divine Mercy” led me to two prisons in the region of Kibuye, my birthplace. They went to prepare the prisoners for the Jubilee of 2000. They said: “If you have killed, you commit yourself to ask for forgiveness from the surviving victim, that way you can help him free himself of the burden/weight of vengeance, hatred and rancor. If you are a victim, you commit yourself to offer forgiveness to those who harmed you and thus you free them from the weight of their crime and the evil that is in them.”

"This message had an unexpected effect for me and in me....

"After that, one of the prisoners rose in tears, fell to his knees before me, loudly begging: 'Mercy'. I was petrified in recognizing a family friend who had grown and shared everything with us.

"He admitted having killed my father and told me the details of the death of my family. A feeling of pity and compassion invaded me: I picked him up, embraced him and told him in a tearful voice: 'You are and always will be my brother'.

"Then I felt a huge weight lift away from me... I had found internal peace and I thanked the person I was holding in my arms.

"To my great surprise, I heard him cry out: 'Justice can do its work and condemn me to death, now I am free!'

"I also wanted to cry out to who wanted to hear: 'Come see what freed me, you too can find internal peace'.

"From that moment on, my mission was to travel kilometers to bring mail to the prisoners asking for forgiveness from the survivors. Thus 500 letters were distributed; and I brought back mail with the answers of the survivors to the prisoners who had become my friends and my brothers... This allowed for meetings between the executioners and the victims....

"From this experience, I deduce that reconciliation is not so much wanting to bring together two persons or two groups in conflict. It is rather the re-establishment of each in love and allowing internal healing which leads to mutual liberation.

"And here is where the importance of the Church lies in our countries, since her mission is to offer the Word: a word that heals, liberates and reconciles."

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

USCCB marriage pastoral letter approved: "Marriage, Love and Life in the Divine Plan"

The USCCB has approved the text of their pastoral letter on the sacrament of marriage.

The text of the pastoral "Marriage: Love and Life in the Divine Plan" is available here.

About the antiphons: "Tell out among the nations His glory":

Bishop Trautman suggested yesterday, in an intervention at the US Bishops' Fall meeting in Baltimore, that a particular translation of an antiphon from Latin into English would present a problem for worshipers in the United States. The antiphon in question is "Tell out among the nations His glory".

The latest from Bishop Trautman is that he is considering going to the Signatura in order to have his concern addressed. His opinion is that the whole body of US bishops should be given the translations of the antiphons for consideration before their inclusion in the final draft of the English translation of the Missale. He has called it an example of "going back on Vatican II" to remand the work of the antiphon translations to the congregation for worship in Rome, in order to speed up the process, at Rome's suggestion.

Would you be happy to proclaim or chant the above antiphon at holy Mass? Would it be a problem for you to say this antiphon at Mass as he has suggested?

Please see the poll at right to register your response.

History was made today when all of the agenda items regarding the proposed draft English translation of the Roman Missal, the book used for the prayer of holy Mass, were passed by wide margins by the bishops.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Cardinal George: "A discerning heart is free, disinterested, eager to do what God wants"

"When we have to make decisions, at a bishops’ meeting for example, a lot of different voices clamor for attention, sometimes from the outside and sometimes inside our minds and hearts. Sorting out all the messages and determining where the voice of God might be is an exercise in discernment.

"We listen for the Spirit’s voice with our heart as well as with our head. To listen well, one has to be interiorly free. To be free requires one to be disinterested, not driven by self-interest. Disinterested is not uninterested. When we are uninterested, we just don’t care. When we are disinterested, we care passionately but freely. We are open to what God wants us to do in a particular situation, what God wants us to decide about an issue so important that we put aside our self-interest. A discerning heart is free, disinterested, eager to do what God wants. It takes some practice"
-- Cardinal George

$1000 raised: Thanks again to Marine Corps Marathon Sponsors

Knights of Columbus Council No. 9302, Church of Saint Mary of the Assumption


Richard and Mary C.

Erik and Lydia D. and Sons

Gretchen G.

John H.

Mary Ann H.

Wayne J.

The McD family of Saint Peter's parish in Olney: Tim, Lisa, Matthew, Chris, Elizabeth, Sophia, Francis and Baby # 6

Regina and John P.

Kay S.

Yvonne T.

Linda and Dale T.

Dan and Maureen W.

Genna W.

Sheila Z.

Thank you very much for your sponsorship of my participation on the "Run for Vocations" team of the Archdiocese of Washington in the 34th Marine Corps Marathon on 25 October 2009.

"Venerable" Pope John Paul II

Italian media reports that the Vatican's Congregation for Causes of Saints voted unanimously yesterday to declare John Paul II 'Venerable,' recommending that Pope Benedict XVI move to affirm the late pontiff's heroic virtue. An official decree could come next month.

-- Source: CNS

On the Common Ground Initiative: "not a forum for negotiating Catholic doctrine"

The bishops this morning are discussing the upcoming move of the "Common Ground Initiative" from NYC back to its birthplace in Chicago. Note this definition of the CGI mission by Cardinal George:

Cardinal George welcomed Common Ground home, noting that it's "not a forum for negotiating Catholic doctrine but a means to review the challenges to understanding and living our faith in constantly changing circumstances.”

Cardinal George defines Health Care: "Everyone should be cared for and no one should be deliberately killed."

This statement by the president of the USCCB during the first day of the bishops' Fall meeting in Baltimore yesterday comes amid news announced by the White House that President Barack Obama has vowed to strip the Stupak Amendment, designed to prevent use of Health Care dollars to pay for abortions, from the final Health Care bill.

Read this again from Cardinal George's statement on the proposed Health Care reform approved yesterday by the body of US Bishops:

"In an essential step, the House voted overwhelmingly to reaffirm the longstanding and widely supported precedent that no federal funds will be used to pay for elective abortions. In doing so, the Representatives honored President Obama’s commitment to the Congress and the nation that health care reform would not become a vehicle for expanding abortion funding or mandates. The Conference will remain vigilant and involved throughout this entire process to assure that these essential provisions are maintained and included in the final legislation. We will work to persuade the Senate to follow the example of the House and include these critical safeguards in their version of health care reform legislation. We also thank the members of the House who took this courageous and principled step to oppose measures that would force Americans to pay for the destruction of unborn children, and the Democratic leadership for allowing the Representatives to vote on this amendment that protects the common good."

Cardinal George: "Jesus Christ is the Savior of the whole world, of our public lives as well as our private lives"

My dear brother Bishops:

The Year for Priests proclaimed by our Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, aims to renew among ordained priests a sense of the sacred vocation that is theirs in the Church, drawing ever more confidently on the grace that was given them with the laying on of hands (I Timothy 4:14). It is also an opportunity for the whole Church to thank God for this grace, which is given to those called to Holy Orders for the sake of others’ salvation. It has already moved some of the faithful to thank their priests for their lives of self-sacrifice for Christ’s people. In this gratitude, we bishops, who shepherd our Churches with and through our priests, join wholeheartedly.

Pope Benedict XVI, in a recent homily, spoke about the Church’s “sacerdotal form,” explaining that the category of priesthood is an “interpretative key of the mystery of Christ and, in consequence, the Church…Jesus Christ’s priesthood is no longer primarily a ritual one but an existential one,” the Pope preached; the ordained priesthood affects every dimension of the Church’s life. Ordained so that Christ’s headship of his Church might be visible and so that the baptized will know where they must gather if they want to be visibly one in Christ, priests are called to ever-greater depths of pastoral charity by the demands of their ministry. To appreciate the many dimensions of priestly ministry, it helps to consider what the Catholic Church would be without the sacrament of Holy Orders.

Priestly Ministry rooted in Holy Orders

The priest teaches the people in Christ’s name and with his authority. Without ordained priests, the teaching ministry would fall primarily on professors, whose obligation is first to seek the truth in the framework of their own academic discipline and whose authority to teach derives from their professional expertise.

The priest governs the people in Christ’s name, exercising Christ’s authority in collaboration with the bishops. Without ordained priests, the only instance of real governance in any society would be that of civil and political leaders. Their authority comes from God through the people they have sworn to serve; but, in Catholicism, secular kingship confers no religious authority and a civil government has no right to deprive the Church of freedom to govern herself by her own laws and under her own leaders.

The priest counsels people to see the hand of God directing human affairs, using the discernment of spirits to govern souls and to free people from what oppresses them. Without ordained priests, counseling passes into the hands of therapists, dedicated to their clients and skilled in examining the dynamics of human personality, but without consideration of the influence of God’s grace.

The priest leads his people in worship, making possible the real presence of Christ, the head of his Church, under the sacramental forms of bread and wine. Without ordained priests, the Church would be deprived of the Eucharist, and her worship would be centered only on the praise and thanksgiving, the petition and expiation open to all by reason of baptism.

Without ordained priests who love and govern their people in the name of Christ and with his authority, the Church would not be connected to Jesus Christ, the great High Priest, as Christ himself wants us to be joined to him. Without ordained priests, the Church would be a spiritual association, a faith community, but not fully the Body of Christ.

Episcopal Governance and the Sacrament of Holy Orders

During this Year for Priests, we bishops are called to reflect on our relationship to our priests, to help them grow in holiness, to deepen our fraternity with them, to unite them with us around Jesus Christ. We are called as well to examine the ministry that is properly ours by reason of the fullness of the priesthood given us at episcopal ordination. To us bishops, gathered into this Conference established by the Holy See in order to strengthen our unity with the Holy Father and among ourselves, the words of St. Ignatius of Antioch speak across nineteen hundred years of the relationships that constitute our own participation in the sacrament of Holy Orders and in the governance of the Church. On his way to martyrdom in Rome, Ignatius wrote to the Philadelphians: “For all who belong to God and Jesus Christ are with the bishop; all who repent and return to the unity of the Church will also belong to God, that they may live according to Jesus Christ.” And again, in his letter to the Trallians: “Your submission to your bishop, who is in the place of Jesus Christ, shows me that you are not living as men usually do but in the manner of Jesus himself, who died for us that you might escape death by belief in his death. Thus one thing is necessary,…that you do nothing without your bishop…”

Episcopal Governance and Catholic Communion

If such is not the universally accepted sense of Catholic communion, we bishops must look to ways to strengthen Church unity. Relations do not speak first of control but of love. If there is a loosening of relationship between ourselves and those whom Christ has given us to govern in love, it is for us to reach out and re-establish connections necessary for all to remain in communion. As you know, we have recently begun discussions on how we might strengthen our relationship to Catholic universities, to media claiming the right to be a voice in the Church, and to organizations that direct various works under Catholic auspices. Since everything and everyone in Catholic communion is truly inter-related, and the visible nexus of these relations is the bishop, an insistence on complete independence from the bishop renders a person or institution sectarian, less than fully Catholic. The purpose of our reflections, therefore, is to clarify questions of truth or faith and of accountability or community among all those who claim to be part of Catholic communion.

Our pastoral concern for ecclesial unity does not diminish our awareness of our own mistakes and sins. There are some who would like to trap the Church in historical events of ages long past and there are others who would keep the bishops permanently imprisoned in the clerical sexual abuse scandal of recent years. The proper response to a crisis of governance, however, is not no governance but effective governance. Loss of trust, we know, weakens relationships and will continue to affect our ministry, even though clerical ranks have been purged of priests and bishops known to have abused children and the entire Church has taken unprecedented means to protect children and to reach out to victims. In any case, the sinfulness of Churchmen can not be allowed to discredit the truth of Catholic teaching or to destroy the relationships that create ecclesial communion.

Relations in the Church and among priests and people are mutual. The faithful need the bishops in order to be Catholic, and the bishops need the faithful in order to be Catholic pastors. Pastors are given authority by Christ to govern the Church not according to their own whims or desires but according to the will of Christ and to keep the faithful united around him. Every pastor has Councils for this purpose: to listen to those to whom he has been sent to guide and govern. I believe I speak for all of us here when I say that the bishops look forward to the dialogues that will clarify and strengthen the conditions necessary for all of us to be Catholic.

The Unity of the Church and her Mission to the World

The Church, as St. Paul reminds us, has the mind of Christ (Philippians 2:5). If we are not of his mind, not of one mind, we cannot preach who Christ is to a divided world. The Second Vatican Council reminded the entire Church that we are to be a leaven for the world’s transformation. Catholic communion is to be the counterpart of human solidarity. Recently, we have tried to be such a leaven in the debate about health care. It is not for us to speak to particular means of delivering health care; it is our responsibility, however, to insist, as a moral voice concerned with human solidarity, that everyone should be cared for and that no one should be deliberately killed.

This voice and these concerns are not novel. My predecessor as Archbishop of Chicago, Cardinal Bernardin, speaking to the National Press Club in 1994, said that concern for health care “requires us to stand up for both the unserved and the unborn, to insist on the inclusion of real universal coverage and the exclusion of abortion coverage, to support efforts to restrain rising health costs, and to oppose the denial of needed care to the poor and vulnerable.” Participating in the same debate fifteen years later, we are grateful for those in either political party who share these common moral concerns and govern our country in accordance with them.

The challenge to governing effectively and pastorally as bishops and priests is to be public without being co-opted and to be who we are without being isolated. We approach every issue from the perspective of the natural moral law and the Gospel of Jesus Christ, for issues that are moral questions before they become political remain moral questions when they become political. To limit our teaching or governing to what the state is not interested in would be to betray both the Constitution of our country and, much more importantly, the Lord himself.

Jesus Christ is the Savior of the whole world, of our public lives as well as our private lives, of our business concerns and of our recreational outlets, of our families and of our institutions, of the living and of the dead. In his name and as bishops of his Church, we gather now to seek his will for his people, and with his authority we govern. May Christ bless and guide, with the power of his Spirit, our deliberations and this meeting of our Conference. Thank you.

-- Francis Cardinal George OMI, Archbishop of Chicago
Presidential Address, 16 November 2009
Annual Fall Meeting, US Catholic Bishops

Monday, November 16, 2009

Cardinal George Health Care Reform Statement Approved by US Bishops

The text of Cardinal George's statement approved today by the US Bishops on the first day of their annual Fall meeting now taking place in Baltimore:

The US House of Representatives advanced major legislation to provide adequate and affordable health care to all. The Catholic Bishops of the United States have long advocated that adequate health care be made available to everyone. In an essential step, the House voted overwhelmingly to reaffirm the longstanding and widely supported precedent that no federal funds will be used to pay for elective abortions. In doing so, the Representatives honored President Obama’s commitment to the Congress and the nation that health care reform would not become a vehicle for expanding abortion funding or mandates. The Conference will remain vigilant and involved throughout this entire process to assure that these essential provisions are maintained and included in the final legislation. We will work to persuade the Senate to follow the example of the House and include these critical safeguards in their version of health care reform legislation. We also thank the members of the House who took this courageous and principled step to oppose measures that would force Americans to pay for the destruction of unborn children, and the Democratic leadership for allowing the Representatives to vote on this amendment that protects the common good.

In the national discussion on how to provide the best kind of health care, we bishops do not claim or present ourselves as experts on health care policy. We are not prepared to assess every provision of legislation as complex as this proposal. However, health care legislation, with all its political, technical and economic aspects, is about human beings and hence has serious moral dimensions. Our focus is the concrete realities of families with children and their access to doctors, the poor and the elderly, those with limited means and those with few or even no means, such as the mother carrying a child in her womb. Our Catholic commitment to health care picks up the pieces of our failing system in our emergency rooms, clinics, parishes and communities. This is why we believe our nation’s health care system needs reform which protects human life and dignity and serves the poor and vulnerable as a moral imperative and an urgent national priority.

We remain deeply concerned about the debate that now moves to the Senate, especially as it will affect the poor and vulnerable, and those at the beginning and end of life. We will continue to insist that health care reform legislation must protect conscience rights. We support measures to make health care more affordable for low-income people and the uninsured. We remain deeply concerned that immigrants be treated fairly and not lose the health care coverage that they now have. We will continue to raise our voices in public and in prayer; we ask our people to join us in making the moral case for genuine health care reform that protects the life, dignity, consciences and health of all.

Reform CCHD Now

For more on current efforts by Human Life International and Bellarmine Veritas Ministry efforts to reform the Catholic Campaign for Human Development, which was recently caught funding the deeply corrupt ACORN organization, visit the web site for Reform CCHD Now by clikcing here.

Thank you.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Index of recent posts

An Italian Journey:

- Vi Ringrazio, amici Italiani / I thank you Italian friends

- La Domenica a la Basilica di San Pietro / Sunday at Saint Peter's

- Un giretto con la bici / A ride on the bike

- Il cibo italiano / Italian food

- Una Santa Messa a la Basilica di San Pietro / A holy Mass at Saint Peter's

- Italian 101

- The Amalfi Coast

- Pizza in Naples

- Views of Rome

- L'Udienza Generale / Wednesday General Audience

- Una passeggiata Romana / a Roman stroll


- Wear the Crucifix!

- Cardinal Vallini on the Crucifix in Italian Classrooms

- Prayers for the Army and Fort Hood

- FEAR: the official religion of the EU

- "If You Deny Me Before the World"

- Pelosi and pro-abort pals: you can run, but you can't "Hyde"

- "nowhere else to go": NYT insults sincere Christians in reporting on Church's new Anglican Ordinariate provision

- Sunday at Saint Mary of the Assumption: Jesus says "no"

34th Marine Corps Marathon:

- MC Marathon update/photo

- Finish time 4:07:55

- Thank you

The Church teaches

- A Letter from Bishop Knestout: "Setting the Record Straight: Same-Sex Marriage Bill & Social Services"

US Bishops: True Health Care Protects All Life!

- Pelosi and pro-abort pals: you can run, but you can't "Hyde"

- The "longest war"

- Archbishop Dolan on anti-Catholicism

- US Bishops offer four principles to guide Health Care Reform


- Go Maine!

- "Singing with the Angels": Images of the Fall Pilgrimage: Gregorian Chant at the National Shrine, Washington, D.C.

- More images of the Chant Pilgrimage here.

- Cantemus Domino has made available recordings of the chants for the Extraordinary Form Mass celebrated as the culmination of the Pilgrimage on Saturday evening, 26 September. More info here.

- Reflective analysis by John L. Allen, Jr., on "affirmative orthodoxy" as the key to understanding Pope Benedict's trip to the Czech Republic

- Buy the new book on new English translation of the Mass at discount.

(Photo: Pope Benedict at Wednesday audience, 28 October 2009, by Fr. Kevin M. Cusick)

Saturday, November 14, 2009

A Letter from Bishop Knestout: "Setting the Record Straight: Same-Sex Marriage Bill & Social Services"

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Recent news reports have mistakenly claimed that the Archdiocese of Washington and its social services arm, Catholic Charities, are threatening to cease providing social services in the District of Columbia if the proposed bill to legalize same sex marriage is passed.

Catholic Charities is not threatening to end its services if a same sex marriage bill passes. Catholic Charities is vowing to continue its services even if a same sex marriage bill passes. However, the bill, as it now reads, will diminish the resources we have to do so. Why is that so? Because without a meaningful religious exemption in the bill, Catholic Charities and other similar religious providers will become ineligible for contracts, grants and licenses to continue those services.

What we have said to the Council is this: While we are opposed to redefining marriage in the District of Columbia, if the Council moves forward to do so, we respectfully request that religious individuals and organizations be afforded protection from restrictions on their deeply held religious beliefs and that the Council preserve the ability of Catholic Charities and other providers to continue to serve the growing and unmet needs of the poor and most vulnerable residents of the District of Columbia.

Attached is a fact sheet (click here to read fact sheet) with further information that we hope may assist you in understanding the issues. Please share this with your colleagues, friends, and others. Additional information, including testimony, press releases and other material, is available at

Sincerely in Christ,

Most Reverend Barry C. Knestout
Auxiliary Bishop of Washington
Vicar General and Moderator of the Curia

Thursday, November 12, 2009

US Bishops: True Health Care Protects All Life!

“Genuine health care reform that protects the life and dignity of all is a moral imperative and a vital national obligation”

— Bishop William F. Murphy, chairman, USCCB Committee on Domes­tic Justice & Human Development.

The bishops of the United States recently asked that all Catholics be informed of their position on the current health care reform proposals. Plans be­ing debated by Congress include coverage for abortions. Abortion is not health care; abortion is murder. Any health care plan that includes paying for abortions is not health care and cannot be sup­ported by the bishops or any Catholic in good con­science. The most recent letter from the bishops dated October 8, 2009 is reprinted here.

+ + + Dear Member of Congress: On behalf of the United States Conference of Cath­olic Bishops (USCCB), we are writing to express our disappointment that progress has not been made on the three priority criteria for health care reform that we have conveyed previously to Congress. In fact, the Senate Finance Committee rejected a conscience rights amendment accepted earlier by the House En­ergy and Commerce Committee. If final legislation does not meet our principles, we will have no choice but to oppose the bill. We remain committed to work­ing with the administration, congressional leader­ship, and our allies to produce final health reform legislation that will reflect our principles.

We continue to urge you to:

1. Exclude mandated coverage for abortion, and incorporate longstanding policies against abortion funding and in favor of conscience rights. No one should be required to pay for or participate in abor­tion. It is essential that the legislation clearly ap­ply to this new program longstanding and widely supported federal restrictions on abortion funding and mandates, and protections for rights of con­science. No current bill meets this test.

2. Adopt measures that protect and improve people’s health care. Reform should make quality health care affordable and accessible to everyone, particularly those who are vulnerable and those who live at or near the poverty level.

3. Include effective measures to safeguard the health of immigrants, their children, and all of so­ciety. Ensure that legal immigrants and their fami­ly members have comprehensive, affordable, and timely access to health care coverage. Maintain an adequate safety net for those who remain uncovered. We sincerely hope that the legislation will not fall short of our criteria. However, we remain ap­prehensive when amendments protecting freedom of conscience and ensuring no taxpayer money for abortion are defeated in committee votes. If accept­able language in these areas cannot be found, we will have to oppose the health care bill vigorous­ly. Catholic moral tradition teaches that health care is a basic human right, essential to protect­ing human life and dignity. Much- needed re­form of our health care system must be pursued in ways that serve the life and dignity of all, never in ways that undermine or violate these fundamental values. We will work tirelessly to remedy these central problems and help pass real reform that clearly protects the life, digni­ty, and health of all.

Sincerely, Bishop William F. Murphy ( Diocese of Rockville Centre, chairman: Committee on Do­mestic Justice & Human Development); Justin Cardinal Rigali ( Archdiocese of Philadelphia, chairman: Committee on Pro-Life Activities); Bish­op John Wester ( Diocese of Salt Lake City, chair­man: Committee on Migration).

+ + + Take Action! Join the efforts of the U.S. Catho­lic bishops in supporting health care that respects the life and dignity of all people. You are invited to visit the National Committee for a Human Life Amendment web site at http:// actions. nchla. org and use the online form to send a message to your representatives that you stand up for life and against abortion coverage masquerading as health
care. Thank you.

+ + +
(See coverage of my journey in Italy and my run­ning in the 34th Marine Corps Marathon at apriestlife. blogspot. com.)

This column by Fr Cusick was published in the 12 November 2009 edition of The Wanderer Newspaper.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Wear the Crucifix

Exercise your religious freedom: wear the crucifix where Christ crucified is not welcomed, is denied, is spurned, is blasphemed.

Wear the crucifix in schools, in courts, in palaces, in the halls of Congress, in state capitol buildings.

Wear the crucifix on the street, in the shops, in the subway, on the bus and in the train.

Wear the image of the Savior in the act of consummating His divine love for the human race.

The crucifix pins pictured are available by visiting this link.

See the previous post on Cardinal Vallini's comments following the decision by the European Court of Human Rights that crucifixes should be removed from classrooms because it impinges on religious freedom.

In truth, this decision impinges on the human rights of the Italian people who have chosen the crucifix as a symbol of their culture, history and experience.

Read more here.

Vi ringrazio, amici italiani!

With many thanks to friends in Italy

Father Francis Tiso, pastor, and the people of the parish of San Michele Arcangelo at Fornelli in the region of Molise

Don Giuseppe Procope, pastor and the parish of San Gioacchino in Bacoli near Naples

Francesco, center, and the Castiglia family, proprietors of Da Garibaldi Restaurant in Bacoli

the sarto in Bacoli

Teresa and the Carannante family, (not pictured) Enzo, Donato and Maria Rosaria

Zia Anna, Nonna Carannante and Donato Carannante

Maria Rosaria Carannante

Lunalba Labriola, my previous landlady

Arcangelo and crew at Giardini degli Aranci restaurant in Cuma

Michele and Raffaele Ercole and Monica (not pictured) and her sisters and their families

Sante in Roma

Also, not pictured: Franco and the Luongo family in Succivo, the Ghigliero family in Latina, and Andrea Strenghetto and family in Verona.

Grazie mille e arrivederci!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

La Domenica a la Basilica di San Pietro

Sunday at the Basilica of Saint Peter

Taking in the view form the porch of the Church of Santa Trinita dei Monti, above the Spanish steps, on the walk to San Pietro. The dome of Saint Peter's is visible in the far distance at the center of the photo. The Vatican observatory can be seen on the hilltop to the right.

The view from Santa Trinita' toward the Gianicolo hill.

Santa Trinita' dei Monti

Workers are setting up a display commemorating the twentieth anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall on the Spanish Steps and a stage on the Piazza di Spagna in preparation for a concert to mark the 9 November anniversary.

Castel San Angelo, tomb of emperors and refuge of popes under attack.

Approaching the Basilica of San Pietro from the Tiber River on the Via della Conciliazione.

Fountain of three tiaras near the Leonine wall which stretches from Vatican City to Castel San Angelo and which served as a means of escape for the pope during the Sack of Rome.

The clergy in procession after Sunday Mass in the Basilica of Saint Peter's at the Altar of the Chair.

The cardinal, bishops and priests depart the sanctuary at the conclusion of the liturgy.

Note the "Benedictine arrangement" of six candles and crucifix on the altar, so named for Pope Benedict who proposed this, what he calls "open iconography", to remedy the consequences that resulted from the priest having his back to the crucifix while he stands at altars which require that he and the people look at each other.

This arrangement pictured, with the crucifix placed on the altar, allows for the priest to view the image of the Lord when he celebrates Mass "facing the people". Also known as "versus populum", this trend has become very common after Vatican II, although the documents presumed the priest and people would be facing toward the Lord together during the part of the Mass which we call the Liturgy of the Eucharist.

The traditional custom of one prominently placed crucifix in church sanctuaries followed from the fact that both priest and people could view the image of the crucified Lord together in liturgies celebrated "facing East" while the priest offered the sacrifice at the altar.

The abundant and generous light shed by the use of six candles proclaims the solemnity of this most august sacrifice of Christ, truly present in the Eucharist. The inner connection between the Eucharistic presence of Christ in the Mass and adoration of the Lord in Eucharistic exposition and benediction is also symbolized by the number of candles used, as seen in the fact that the maximum number of candles prescribed for exposition is six, and the minimum four.

Buona Domenica!
Happy Sunday, everyone, and thank you for visiting.

Thank you for visiting.


Kamsahamnida, Dziekuje, Terima kasih, Doh je, Grazie, Tesekur, Gracias, Dank u, Shukran

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