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Homélies du dimanche, homilies, homilieën, homilias. "C'est par la folie de la prédication que Dieu a jugé bon de sauver ceux qui croient" 1 Co 1,21

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Africa. The Religion That Immolates Children

dominicanus #homilies in English

In Assisi in general terms, and to the bishops of Angola with a direct denunciation, Benedict XVI has criticized the traditional African religions. Which go so far as to kill the elderly and children in a modern witch hunt 



pape assise



ROME, November 3, 2011 – The first person on the right in the photo, next to the pope, the patriarch of Constantinople Bartholomew I, and Rabbi David Rosen, is Professor Wande Abimbola, from Nigeria.

Abimbola spoke in Assisi, at the "pilgrimage" organized by Benedict XVI last October 27, "in the name of the leaders and followers of the indigenous religions of Africa." He himself is a priest and international representative of the religion Ifa and Yoruba, spread throughout much of sub-Saharan Africa and even to the Americas on immigration routes.

Speaking in Assisi, Abimbola asked that "the indigenous African religions be given the same respect and consideration as the other religions."

And Benedict XVI – who, when he writes his speeches himself, as in this case, is never politically correct – took him at his word.

In the talk he gave shortly afterward to the three hundred religious representatives and "seekers of the truth," the pope expressed critical considerations on all the religions, including the traditional African religions. He grouped them together in a history made up also of the "recourse to violence in the name of faith": a history, therefore, requiring purification for all.

But two days after the encounter in Assisi, Benedict XVI was even more blunt and to the point. Receiving the bishops of Angola at the Vatican on their "ad limina" visit, he denounced a violence that in the name of African religious traditions even goes so far as to kill children and the elderly:

"One obstacle in your work of evangelization is that the hearts of the baptized are still divided between Christianity and the traditional African religions. Afflicted by the problems of life, they do not hesitate to resort to practices that are incompatible with following Christ. The abominable effect of this is the marginalization and even the killing of children and the elderly, who are condemned under false charges of witchcraft. Remembering that human life is sacred in all its phases and situations, continue, dear bishops, to raise your voices on behalf of these victims. But since this is a regional problem, it is appropriate to launch a joint effort on the part of the ecclesial communities tested by this calamity, seeking to determine the deep meaning of such practices, to identify the pastoral and social dangers that they convey, and to establish a method capable of uprooting them for good, with the collaboration of the governments and of civil society."

Two years earlier, in 2009, during his voyage in Angola, Benedict XVI had raised this question:

"Many of them are living in fear of spirits, of malign and threatening powers. In their bewilderment they end up even condemning street children and the elderly as alleged sorcerers."

And he had also rejected a common objection within the Church itself:

"Someone may object: 'Why not leave them in peace? They have their truth, and we have ours. Let us all try to live in peace, leaving everyone as they are, so they can best be themselves.' But if we are convinced and have come to experience that without Christ life lacks something, that something real – indeed, the most real thing of all – is missing, we must also be convinced that we do no injustice to anyone if we present Christ to them and thus grant them the opportunity of finding their truest and most authentic selves, the joy of finding life. Indeed, we must do this. It is our duty."

Anna Bono, an expert on African traditions, commented on the Catholic online newspaper "La Bussola Quotidiana":

"What the pope denounced is not happening only in Angola. In Africa, witchcraft is one of the most deeply rooted and persistent tribal institutions. It not spoken of much, perhaps in part because its existence contradicts the prevalent representation of the traditional African communities as models of peaceful coexistence, tolerance, social equity and harmony, preserving human values that the West is instead seen as having sacrificed for power and money."

In the same commentary, Anna Bono cites some recent cases of the killing of children on charges of witchcraft in various countries of Africa, or their mutilation "because of special properties attributed to their organs," as happens with albinos.

Some have been stunned that Benedict XVI denounced these killings so explicitly in speaking to the bishops of Angola.

The pope's speeches to the bishops on their "ad limina" visits, in fact, always undergo the examination of Vatican diplomacy, which is usually very prudent.

This time, however, the reviewer in the secretariat of state who took care of it personally knew his subject matter.

Giovanni Angelo Becciu, now the substitute secretary of state for general affairs, meaning the second in command of the Church's central government right after Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, was the nuncio in Angola when Benedict XVI visited the country after a stop in Cameroon, and lifted the veil on that abomination.

Next November 18, pope Joseph Ratzinger will go to Benin to deliver to representatives of the continent's bishops the apostolic exhortation concluding the 2009 synod of bishops, dedicated precisely to Africa.

It will be interesting to see what the document says about the traditional African religions.

Sandro Magister


Benedict XVI's speech to the bishops of Angola on October 29, 2011:

> "Nella gioia della fede..."

And the pope's homily in Luanda on March 21, 2009:

> "As we have just heard..."

The commentary by Anna Bono in "La Bussola Quotidiana":

> La strage dei bambini "stregoni"

The previous articles dedicated by www.chiesa to the encounter in Assisi on October 27, 2011:

> Vatican Diary / The "spirit of Assisi" that the pope doesn't trust
The formula has great success in the media and is the mantra of the Franciscans and of the Community of Saint Egidio. While the Vatican authorities no longer repeat it. And Benedict XVI even less so

> The Commandment of Assisi: "Purify your own faith"
This is the way "so that the true God becomes accessible." The speech of pope Joseph Ratzinger to the "pilgrims of truth" gathered in the city of Saint Francis

> The Truth about Assisi. Never-Before-Seen Words from Benedict XVI
"I will do everything I can to make a syncretistic or relativistic interpretation of the event impossible." In a letter from the pope to a Lutheran pastor, the real reason for the convocation of the encounter

> Assisi Gives an Encore. But Revised and Corrected
The invitation is extended to nonbelievers, and prayer will be for private rooms. These are the two new features of the new edition of the meeting. Against this backdrop: the year of faith, and the martyrdom of Christians in the world

The program of Benedict XVI's next voyage to Africa: 

> Apostolic Journey to Benin, November 18-20, 2011

English translation by Matthew Sherry, Ballwin, Missouri, U.S.A.






Council Under Construction. But Some Are Folding Their Arms

dominicanus #homilies in English

Cardinal Cottier, the jurist Ceccanti, the theologian Cantoni are defending the innovations of Vatican II. But the Lefebvrists are not giving in, and the traditionalists are stepping up their criticisms. The latest developments in a fiery dispute 





ROME, October 17, 2011 – The controversy over the interpretation of Vatican Council II and the changes in the magisterium of the Church has in recent weeks registered new developments, including at the top level.

The first is the "Doctrinal Preamble" that the congregation for the doctrine of the faith delivered last September 14 to the Lefebvrists of the schismatic Priestly Fraternity of St. Pius X, as a basis for reconciliation.

The text of the "Preamble" is secret. But it was described in this way in the official statement that accompanied its delivery:

"This Preamble enunciates some doctrinal principles and criteria of the interpretation of Catholic doctrine necessary to guarantee fidelity to the magisterium of the Church and the 'sentire cum Ecclesia,' at the same time leaving for legitimate discussion the study and theological explanation of individual expressions or formulations present in the documents of Vatican Council II and of the subsequent magisterium."



A second development is the participation of Cardinal Georges Cottier (in the photo) in the discussion that has been underway for several months on www.chiesa and on "Settimo cielo."

Cottier, 89, Swiss, a member of the Dominican order, is theologian emeritus of the pontifical household. He published his contribution in the latest issue of the international magazine "30 Days."

In it, he replies to the theses upheld on www.chiesa by the historian Enrico Morini, according to whom the Church intended to use Vatican Council II to reattach itself to the tradition of the first millennium.

Cardinal Cottier warns against the idea that the second millennium was a period of decline and departure from the Gospel for the Church.

At the same time, however, he acknowledges that Vatican II was right to reinvigorate the vision of the Church that was particularly vibrant in the first millennium: not as a subject standing on its own, but as a reflection of the light of Christ. And he considers the concrete consequences that stem from this correct vision.

Cardinal Cottier's text is reproduced in its entirety further below on this page.



A third development of the discussion regards a thesis of Vatican II that is particularly contested by the traditionalists: that of religious freedom.

In effect, there is an unquestionable rupture between the statements in this regard from Vatican II and the previous condemnations of liberalism made by the popes of the nineteenth century.

But "behind those condemnations there was in reality a specific form of liberalism, that of continental statism, with its claims of monistic and absolute sovereignty that were seen as limiting the independence necessary for the mission of the Church."

While instead "the practical reconciliation brought to completion by Vatican II took place through the pluralism of another liberal model, the Anglo-Saxon one, which radically relativizes the claims of the state to the point of making it not the monopolist of the common good, but a limited reality of public offices at the service of the community. The clash between two exclusive models was followed by encounter under the banner of pluralism."

The previous citations are taken from an essay that Stefano Ceccanti, a professor of public law at the University of Rome "La Sapienza" and a senator of the Partito democratico, is preparing to publish in the magazine "Quaderni Costituzionali."

In the essay, Ceccanti analyzes the two important speeches delivered by Benedict XVI last September 22 at the Bundestag in Berlin and on September 17, 2010 at Westminster Hall, to show how both speeches "are in strict continuity with the reconciliation effected by the Council."

As soon as Ceccanti's essay is published in "Quaderni Costituzionali," www.chiesa will make it available to its readers.




A fourth development is the release of this book in Italy:

Pietro Cantoni, "Riforma nella continuità. Vaticano II e anticonciliarismo", Sugarco Edizioni, Milano, 2011.

The book reviews the most controversial texts of Vatican Council II, to demonstrate that they can all be read and explained in the light of the tradition and the grand theology of the Church, including Saint Thomas.

The author, Fr. Pietro Cantoni – after spending a few years as a young man  in the Lefebvrist community of Ecône in Switzerland – was educated in Rome at the feet of one of the greatest masters of Thomistic theology, Monsignor Brunero Gherardini.

But it is precisely against his master that he aims the criticisms of this book. Gherardini is one of the "anti-conciliarists" most under fire. 

In effect, in his most recent volumes Monsignor Gherardini has advanced serious reservations over the fidelity to tradition of some of the affirmations of Vatican Council II: in the dogmatic constitution "Dei Verbum" on the sources of the faith, in the decree "Unitatis Redintegratio" on ecumenism, in the declaration "Dignitatis Humanae" on religious freedom.

"La Civiltà Cattolica," the magazine of the Rome Jesuits printed after inspection by the Vatican secretariat of state, in a review of one of his books in September attributed to the elderly and authoritative theologian a "sincere attachment to the Church." 

But this does not prevent Gherardini from aiming his biting criticisms at Benedict XVI himself, guilty, in his view, of an exaltation of the Council that "clips the wings of critical analysis" and "prevents one from looking at Vatican II with a more penetrating and less dazzled eye."

For two years, Gherardini has been waiting in vain for the pope to do what he asked him in a public "appeal": to submit the documents of the Council for reexamination, and clarify in definite and definitive form "if, in what sense, and to what extent" Vatican II was or was not in continuity with the previous magisterium of the Church.

In March of 2012, he announced the release of a new book of his on Vatican Council II, which is expected to be even more critical than the previous ones. 

As for the book by Pietro Cantoni, a commentary on it by Francesco Arzillo is presented further below on this page, after the article by Cardinal Cottier.



Another new development is the Acqui Storia prize that will be awarded next October 22 to Roberto de Mattei for the volume "Il Concilio Vaticano II. Una storia mai scritta [Vatican Council II. A history never written]," published by Lindau and covered by www.chiesa at its publication.

The Acqui prize is one of the most prestigious in the field of historical studies. The jury that decided to award it to de Mattei is made up of scholars of various perspectives, Catholics and non-Catholics.

Their president, however, Professor Guido Pescosolido of the University of Rome "La Sapienza," resigned from his position precisely in order to dissociate himself from this decision.

In the view of Professor Pescosolido, de Mattei's book is spoiled by a militant anti-conciliar spirit, incompatible with the canons of scientific historiography.

Professor Pescosolido has received support from a statement released by the SISSCO, the Society for the Study of Contemporary History, headed by Professor Agostino Giovagnoli, a leading representative of the community of Saint Egidio, and from another representative of the same community, Professor Adriano Rocucci.

And in "Corriere della Sera," Professor Alberto Melloni – coauthor of another famous history of Vatican II, also staunchly "militant," but on the progressive side, the one produced by the "school of Bologna" of Fr. Giuseppe Dossetti and Giuseppe Alberigo, and translated into various languages – even insulted de Mattei.  While acknowledging that he had enriched the reconstruction of the history of the Council with previously unpublished documents, he equated his book with "just some anti-conciliar pamphlet" unworthy of consideration.

In comparison, the tranquility with which Professor de Mattei has endured  such affronts has been a lesson in style for everyone. 



Finally, also in the interpretive vein of Monsignor Gherardini and Professor de Mattei, another book was released in Italy on October 7 that identifies in Vatican Council II itself the problems that would come to light in the postcouncil:

Alessandro Gnocchi, Mario Palmaro, "La Bella addormentata. Perché col Vaticano II la Chiesa è entrata in crisi. Perché si risveglierà [Sleeping beauty. Why with Vatican Council II the Church entered into crisis. Why it will reawaken]", Vallecchi, Firenze, 2011.

The two authors are neither historians nor theologians, but they support their thesis with competency and with communicative efficacy, for a readership much more vast than the one reached by the specialists.

On the side opposite the traditionalists, the theologian Carlo Molari has also expanded the range of the discussion in a series of articles in the magazine "La Rocca" of Pro Civitate Christiana in Assisi, in which he examined and discussed the contributions that have appeared on www.chiesa and on "Settimo cielo."

Thanks in part to them, it is therefore likely that the controversy over Vatican II will be extended to the general public. Precisely on the eve of the fiftieth anniversary of the opening of the grand assembly, in 2012.

For the occasion, the Pontifical Committee of Historical Sciences is preparing a scholarly conference from October 3-6 of next year on how the bishops who participated in the Council described it in their diaries and personal archives.

And on October 11 of 2012, the anniversary of the opening of the Council, a special "year of faith" will begin, which will end on November 24 of the following year, the solemnity of Christ the King of the Universe. Benedict XVI made the announcement on October 16, during the homily of the Mass he celebrated at the basilica of Saint Peter with thousands of proclaimers ready to work for the "new evangelization." 

Sandro Magister



by Georges Cottier

In 2012, which is close upon us, there will be the fiftieth anniversary of Vatican Council II. Half a century later, what has been a major event in the life of the Church continues to provoke debate – which probably will intensify in the coming months – on the most suitable interpretation to give to that Council assembly.

Disputes of a hermeneutical nature, important though they be, risk becoming controversies among experts. Whereas it may be of interest to everyone, especially in the present moment, to rediscover what the source was of the inspiration that animated Vatican Council II.

The most common response acknowledges that the event was motivated by the desire to renew the inner life of the Church and also to adapt its discipline to the new exigencies so as to repropose with renewed vigor the requirements of its mission in the modern world, alert in the faith to the ‘signs of the times’. But to get to the root, we need to grasp the inner countenance of the Church that the Council sought to recognize and re-present to the world in its effort to come up to date.

The title and the first lines of the Dogmatic Constitution "Lumen gentium", devoted to the Church, are here illuminating in their clarity and simplicity: “Christ is the Light of nations. Because this is so, this Sacred Synod gathered together in the Holy Spirit eagerly desires, by proclaiming the Gospel to every creature, to bring the light of Christ to all men, a light brightly visible on the countenance of the Church”. At the start of its most important document, the last Council recognizes that the wellspring of the Church is not the Church itself, but the living presence of Christ Himself who personally builds the Church. The light that is Christ reflects itself in the Church as in a mirror.

The consciousness of this elementary given (the Church in the world is a reflection of the presence and action of Christ) illuminates all that the last Council said about the Church. The Belgian theologian Gérard Philips, who was chief drafter of the Constitution "Lumen gentium", emphasized precisely this datum at the beginning of his monumental commentary on the Council text.

According to him, “the Constitution on the Church adopts from the very beginning the Christocentric perspective, a perspective which is insistently affirmed throughout the development. The Church is profoundly convinced of it: the light of the Gentiles radiates not from her but from her divine Founder: yet, the Church well knows, that being reflected on her countenance, this irradiation reaches the whole of humanity”. A perspective taken through to the last lines of the same commentary, in which Philips repeated that “it is not for us to prophesy the future of the Church, its setbacks and developments. The future of this Church, of which God decided to make a reflection of Christ, Light of the Gentiles, is in His hands”.

The perception of the Church as reflection of the light of Christ unites Vatican Council II to the Fathers of the Church, who from the early centuries made use of the image of the "mysterium lunae", the mystery of the moon, to suggest the nature of the Church and the behavior that befits it. Like the moon, ‘the Church does not shine by its own light but by that of Christ’ (‘fulget Ecclesia non suo sed Christi lumine’), says Saint Ambrose. While for Cyril of Alexandria ‘the Church is bathed in the divine light of Christ, which is the only light in the realm of souls. Thus there is one single light: in this single light, however, the Church also shines, but it is not Christ himself however’.

On this point, the evaluation recently offered by the historian Enrico Morini in a discourse hosted on the site www.chiesa.espressonline.it, edited by Sandro Magister, deserves attention.

According to Morini –  professor of the History of Christianity and the Churches at the University of Bologna – Vatican Council II set itself ‘in the perspective of absolute continuity with the tradition of the first millennium, following a periodization not purely mathematical, but essential, since the first millennium of the history of the Church is that of the Church of the seven councils, still undivided... Encouraging the renewal of the Church, the Council did not intend to introduce something new – as  progressives and conservatives respectively desire and fear – but to get back to what had been lost’.

The observation might create misunderstanding, if confused with the historiographic myth that sees the history of the Church as a progressive decline and a growing estrangement from Christ and the Gospel. Nor can one pay heed to artificial criticisms such as that the dogmatic development of the second millennium does not conform to the Tradition shared during the first millennium of the undivided Church. As Cardinal Charles Journet highlighted, in reference to the Blessed John Henry Newman and his essay on the development of dogma, the "depositum" we have received is not a dead deposit, but a living deposit. And everything alive remains so by growing.

At the same time, the correspondence between the perception of the Church as expressed in "Lumen gentium" and that already shared in the early centuries of Christianity must be understood as an objective fact. That is, the Church is not assumed as a subject in itself, as pre-established. The Church keeps to the fact that its presence in the world flourishes and perdures as a recognition of the presence and action of Christ.

Sometimes, even in the most recent happenings in the Church, this perception of the wellspring of the Church seems to become blurred for many Christians, and a sort of reversal seems to occur: from reflection of the presence of Christ (who by the gift of His Spirit builds the Church) there is a shift to perceiving the Church as a body materially and conceptually committed to attesting and establishing its presence in history by itself.

This second model of perception of the nature of the Church, which does not conform to the faith, leads to real consequences.

If, as it must, the Church perceives itself in the world as a reflection of the presence of Christ, the preaching of the Gospel can only be done through dialogue and freedom, in the abandonment of all means of coercion, both material and spiritual. This is the path indicated by Paul VI in his first encyclical "Ecclesiam suam", published in 1964, which perfectly expresses the Council’s view of the Church.

The survey that the Council also made of the divisions between Christians and then of believers of other religions, reflected the same perception of the Church. Thus the plea for forgiveness for the sins of Christians, which shocked and caused debate within the body of the Church when it was presented by John Paul II, is also perfectly consonant with the consciousness of the Church described so far. The Church asks forgiveness not in line with the logic of worldly honor, but because it recognizes that the sins of its sons dim the light of Christ that it is called to reflect in its countenance. All its sons are sinners called to holiness by the workings of grace. A sanctification that is always a gift of God’s mercy, for He desires that no sinner – however horrendous the sin –­ be snatched by the evil one on the road to perdition. So one sees the point of Cardinal Journet’s formulation: the Church is without sin, but not without sinners.

The reference to the true nature of the Church as a reflection of the light of Christ also has immediate pastoral implications. Unfortunately, in the present context, there is the tendency on the part of bishops to exercise their magisterium through pronouncements in the media, in which they often provide, instructions and guidance on what Christians should or should not do. As if the presence of Christians in the world were the outcome of strategies and prescriptions and did not spring from faith, that is from the recognition of the presence of Christ and His message.

Perhaps, in today’s world, it would be easier and more comforting for everyone to listen to pastors who speak to everyone without presupposing the faith. As  Benedict XVI recognized during his homily in Lisbon on 11 May, 2010, “Often we are anxiously preoccupied with the social, cultural and political consequences of the faith, taking for granted that faith is present, which unfortunately is less and less realistic”.

(English translation of "30 Days")


by Francesco Arzillo

The release of the book  by Pietro Cantoni "Riforma nella continuità. Vaticano II e anticonciliarismo" is an event that deserves to be noted with approval. This is, in fact, an example of the rigorous exercise of a hermeneutic of continuity: excellent medicine for the disease represented by the polarization underway in ecclesial public opinion, as emerges above all from debates in the media fostered by minorities that are "committed" but little present in the life of the average Catholic parish, or among the large majority of the faithful.

The non-theologian reader is guided by Cantoni in reading some of the most famous controversial passages of the texts of the Council, to discover in the end that there is nothing in them that cannot be read and explained in the light of the tradition and the grand theology of the Church, including Saint Thomas.

It is unfortunate to have to point out that this attitude could be interpreted – by some – as a sort of a priori defense of Vatican II, which would prejudice the proper effort against the irritations and problems of a part of postconciliar theology and practice.

But then, how could a Catholic not defend an ecumenical council? On what theological or magisterial source could such an attitude be based? Could a Catholic select the teachings of the pastors by cherry-picking them according to his own sensibilities and cultural or religious tendencies?

The great impact of Vatican Council II has yet to be explored in the depths of its manifold richness, which certainly poses problems of interpretation, but also raises hopes and efforts toward an ever better understanding of the mystery of the Christian faith.

But what is the role of the ordinary believer in all of this? One certainly cannot expect him to join one of the activist theological-liturgical-ecclesial parties, sharing its idiosyncracies and its often unilateral and aprioristic assumptions.

Nor can one reasonably expect that the ordinary believer would be led, for example, to rank the Mass of Paul VI below the Mass of Saint Pius V or vice versa; or to rank Saint Edith Stein below Saint Teresa of Avila, or vice versa. That would mean depriving the Church of the centuries-spanning dimension of catholicity, and endorsing the crypto-apocalyptic conception of rupture believed to be seen in the modern era (whatever chronology and interpretation, positive or negative, one might like to give to this rupture).

The traditionalist world above all seems not to realize the fact that adherence – even in the form of opposition – to the conception of modernity as rupture represents an evident form of ideological subordination to the adversary, whose starting presupposition is accepted in the end.

The urge comes to suggest, in this regard, an exercise even more simple than the one reserved for theologians. We suggest that one read, for example, at least some part of the Catechism of St. Pius X in parallel with the "Compendium" of Benedict XVI.

Such a reading leads to exciting discoveries. It clearly shows not only how there is no contradiction whatsoever between the two catechisms, but also how their respective contents illustrate one another in an enhancement that is circular but not self-referential, because it is oriented to the ultimate point of reference, which is the Holy Mystery in its objective and transcendent reality.

This obviously does not mean not seeing the problems – some of them serious – of the present time, including the problem of the shortcomings of epistemology and content in the most widespread forms of theology (the subject of an exhaustive study in a book by the philosopher Fr. Antonio Livi, to be published soon).

It means, however, seeing these problems in the proper light, or rather, in the final analysis, seeing them in the Spirit who animates the Church, mother and teacher, and who has not ceased to support it in the contemporary era as well: the Spirit of Jesus Christ, who is with us all days, until the end of the world (cf. Mt 28:20).

The magazine that published the contribution of Cardinal Cottier:

> 30 Days

A commentary by Brunero Gherardini on the criticisms of Pietro Cantoni:

> Risposta a don Cantoni: fra teologia e amarezza

An interview with Gnocchi and Palmaro on their new book:

> Concilio Vaticano II: il mito di un "superdogma" da cui uscire

The speech of Benedict XVI on December 22, 2005 that ignited the discussion of the hermeneutic of the Council:

> "Your Eminences..."

On www.chiesa and on the blog "Settimo cielo," the discussion has been underway for several months. It has seen repeated participation from Francesco Agnoli, Francesco Arzillo, Inos Biffi, Giovanni Cavalcoli, Stefano Ceccanti, Georges Cottier, Roberto de Mattei, Masssimo Introvigne, Agostino Marchetto, Alessandro Martinetti, Enrico Morini, Enrico Maria Radaelli, Fulvio Rampi, Martin Rhonheimer, Basile Valuet, David Werling, Giovanni Onofrio Zagloba.

In order, here are the previous installments of the dispute, on www.chiesa: 

> High Up, Let Down by Pope Benedict (8.4.2011)

> The Disappointed Have Spoken. The Vatican responds (18.4.2011)

> Who's Betraying Tradition. The Grand Dispute (28.4.2011)

> The Church Is Infallible, But Not Vatican II (5.5.2011)

> Benedict XVI the "Reformist." The Prosecution Rests (11.5.2011)

> Religious Freedom. Was the Church Also Right When It Condemned It?

> A "Disappointed Great" Breaks His Silence. With an Appeal to the Pope(16..6.2011)

> Bologna Speaks: Tradition Is Also Made of "Ruptures" (21.6.2011)

And more, on the blog SETTIMO CIELO:

> Francesco Agnoli: il funesto ottimismo del Vaticano II (8.4.2011)

> La Chiesa può cambiare la sua dottrina? La parola a Ceccanti e a Kasper

> Ancora su Stato e Chiesa. Dom Valuet risponde a Ceccanti (30.5.2011)

> Padre Cavalcoli scrive da Bologna. E chiama in causa i "bolognesi"(31.5.2011)

> Può la Chiesa cambiare dottrina? Il professor "Zagloba" risponde (6.6.2011)

> Tra le novità del Concilio ce n'è qualcuna infallibile? San Domenico dice di sì

> Esami d'infallibilità per il Vaticano II. Il quizzone del professor Martinetti(27.6.2011)

> Il bolognese Morini insiste: la Chiesa ritorni al primo millennio

> La Tradizione abita di più in Occidente. Padre Cavalcoli ribatte a Morini(27.7.2011)

> Rampi: come cantare il gregoriano nel secolo XXI (3.8.2011)

English translation by Matthew Sherry, Ballwin, Missouri, U.S.A.




Vatican Diary / The bishop factory no longer speaks the language of Dante

dominicanus #homilies in English

The officials of this extremely important curia congregation were all Italian with John Paul II. With the current pope, they are all foreigners. Name by name, here's how they have changed










VATICAN CITY, October 12, 2011 – With Benedict XVI, is the Roman curia again becoming "too" Italian? The cry of alarm has been launched by the progressive English weekly "The Tablet," and picked up again here and there.

Church historian Andrea Riccardi, founder of the Community of Saint Egidio, which also has the reputation of being progressive, has defended such an evolution. He has repeatedly explained that the Holy See cannot become like just any great international organization: "The curia cannot become a kind of  UN, because it is part of the Roman Church and must maintain a particular ecclesial, human, and cultural connection with it."

With pope Joseph Ratzinger there is, however, one Vatican congregation – and it is one of the most important and delicate – that today has been completely de-Italianized in its leadership, with comparison to the organizational chart left by John Paul II.

It is the congregation for bishops, the dicastery that collaborates most closely with the pope for the appointment of most of the bishops of the Catholic Church: in practice, of almost all of the bishops of the Western world.

In 2005, this congregation was headed by three Italian ecclesiastics, the only case of its kind among the dicasteries of the curia. Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re had been its prefect since 2000. Archbishop Francesco Monterisi had been its secretary since 1998. Monsignor Giovanni Maria Rossi had been its undersecretary since 1993.

But with current pope, little by little, the three have given way to foreigners.

In July of 2009, after turning 75, Monterisi was appointed archpriest of the papal basilica of Saint Paul's Outside the Walls and made a cardinal. A Portuguese was called in to replace him, Archbishop Monteiro de Castro, until that time the apostolic nuncio in Spain.

At the end of June, 2010, Cardinal Re, at the age of seventy-six and a half, had the pope accept the resignation that he had presented to him when he turned 75. And in his place Benedict XVI called the Canadian Marc Ouellet. Who, at the end of 2010, obtained the appointment as adjunct undersecretary (a novelty for the congregation)of a trusted fellow Canadian, Serge Poitras.

Last week, finally, Monsignor Rossi left his post after reaching the age of 70, which is the retirement age for undersecretaries (apart from an extension of two years that can be granted only with the "placet" of the prefect of the dicastery).

So that now, in order to find the highest ranking Italian cardinal in the congregation for bishops, one must move down to the third of the three officials in charge, Monsignor Fabio Fabene, who is also the substitute of the secretariat of the college of cardinals.

In short, the Roman curia may be more Italian than before with Benedict XVI. But the "bishop factory" is certainly much less so.

In part because in early September, another Italian member of this congregation for nine years, Monsignor Giulio Dellavite – a trusted ecclesiastic of former prefect Re – returned, at the age of 39, to the diocese of his origin, Bergamo. Appointed secretary general of the curia of this diocese by Bishop Francesco Beschi, a native of nearby Brescia, the diocese of birthplace of Cardinal Re himself.


Sandro Magister





English translation by Matthew Sherry, Ballwin, Missouri, U.S.A.

Vatican Diary / Not All Bishops Are of Good Will

dominicanus #homilies in English

The Italians are at the front of the line in disobeying Rome, with regard to the translation of the words of consecration. The Germans and Austrians are bringing up the rear. And even in the translations of the Our Father and of the Gloria, there is disagreement 







VATICAN CITY, October 4, 2011 – At the present time, all of the parishes and churches of the United States are receiving the new English version of the Roman Missal, which will be used starting on the first Sunday of Advent, this November 27.

The variations with respect to the previous version are numerous, and hotly debated. But the change that has prompted the greatest dispute is certainly the one that concerns the words of the consecration of the wine, where it says in the Latin version: "Hic est enim calix sanguinis mei [...] qui pro vobis et pro multis effundetur." The "pro multis" of this formula has generally been translated, in the vernacular translations of the postcouncil, as "for all": a translation that not only does not respect the letter of the original Latin, which in turn is derived from the Gospel texts, but has also generated a subtle but lively theological debate.

In order to resolve this problem, in October of 2006 the presidents of the episcopal conferences all over the world were sent a letter, under the "guidance" of Benedict XVI, from the congregation for divine worship, headed at the time by Cardinal Francis Arinze. It asked that "pro multis" be translated as "for many." This was done by the episcopates of Hungary (from "mindenkiért" to "sokakért) and of various countries in Latin America (from "por todos" to "por muchos"). The Spanish episcopate is preparing to do so, and the change has already been made, not without very lively discussions even among the bishops, by the episcopate of the United States (from "for all" to "for many"). As for the episcopates of Germany and Austria, they are showing strong resistance to the change from fur alle" to "fur viele."

As for Italy, the issue was addressed by the bishops during the plenary assembly of the episcopal conference held in Assisi in November of 2010, during the examination of the material of the third Italian edition of the Roman Missal.

On that occasion, the Italian bishops showed tremendous reluctance to introduce "per molti." During the sessions, in fact, it was insisted that the episcopal conferences of the individual regions were already "unanimous" in choosing the version "per tutti." And when the bishops of all of Italy were called to vote on this specific point of the Missal, the result was the following: out of 187 voters, in addition to one blank ballot, there were 171 votes in favor of keeping "per tutti," 4 for the introduction of the version "per la moltitudine" (taken from "pour la multitude," used in the French Missal), and just 11 for the "per molti" requested by the Holy See in 2006.

At the same meeting, the Italian bishops also voted in favor of two changes to the Our Father and the Gloria.

For the Our Father, in a two-part vote, the bishops first rejected the idea of keeping the phrase "non ci indurre in tentazione [do not lead us into temptation]"; this phrase, in fact, received only 24 votes out of 84, fewer than the two others that were then voted on: "non abbandonarci alla tentazione [do not abandon us to temptation]" (87 votes) and "non abbandonarci nella tentazione [do not abandon us in temptation]" (62 votes). Of these two, the largest number of votes went to the first, with 111 against 68.

As for the Gloria, out of 187 voters, 151 approved the variation "Gloria a Dio nell’alto dei cieli e pace in terra agli uomini che egli ama [glory to God in the heights of heaven and peace on earth to the men whom he loves," in the place of the phrase currently in use, "Gloria a Dio nell’alto dei cieli e pace in terra agli uomini di buona volontà [glory to God in the heights of heaven and peace on earth to men of good will," which obtained 36 votes.

Regarding these same texts, the bishops of the United States preferred not to touch the Our Father, leaving unaltered the phrase "and lead us not into temptation," linguistically more faithful to the Latin "et ne nos inducas in tentationem."

But with regard to the Gloria, they decided to change the words "and peace to his people on earth" to "and on earth peace to people of good will," also in this case following literally the original Latin, "et in terra pax hominibus bonae voluntatis."

English translation by Matthew Sherry, Ballwin, Missouri, U.S.A.

"Wir sind Kirche" - "We Are Church," Signed Ratzinger

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For the first time since he became pope, Benedict XVI has cited and criticized in public the movement of ecclesial opposition most widespread and active in German-speaking countries. He did so in an off-the-cuff speech to seminarians in Freiburg. Here are his words 



wir sind kirche



ROME, September 30, 2011 –  On just a very few occasions, in the speeches and homilies of his recent voyage to Germany, Benedict XVI departed from the written text.

The quip that he improvised while speaking to the Bundestag, on September 22 in Berlin, is the one that made the biggest impression.

In citing Hans Kelsen, a philosopher of law who in 1965, at the age of 84 – the same age as the pope now – had argued for a certain idea, the pope added off the cuff, smiling, "I find it comforting that rational thought is evidently still possible at the age of 84!"


Nonetheless, among the eighteen speeches that Benedict XVI gave over the four days he spent on German soil, there was one in which he did not read from any written text. And its contents were written down and made public only after the pope returned to Rome.

It is the speech that he gave to seminarians in the chapel of St. Charles Borromeo at the seminary of Freiburg im Breisgau, on the afternoon of Saturday, September 24.

Benedict XVI has always dedicated special attention to candidates for the priesthood.

One year ago, on October 18, 2010, he addressed to seminarians all over the world one of his most touching open letters, with autobiographical passages about his youth:

> "Dear seminarians, when in December 1944..."

Reflecting on this letter, the seminarians of Freiburg had sent to the pope a response, which Benedict XVI, in meeting with them, called "beautiful" and "serious."

The improvised speech that the pope gave to the seminarians of Freiburg on September 24 was the continuation of this dialogue.

A complete transcription of it, translated into six languages from the original German, can be found on the Vatican website:

> "It is a great joy for me to be able to come together here..."

Like all of his improvised speeches, this one also provides a direct view of the thought of pope Joseph Ratzinger, and of what is most important to him.

But there is one passage in it that deserves special attention.

It is the paragraph in which Benedict XVI reflects on the name – "We Are Church" – of the movement of ecclesial dissension most widespread and active in German-speaking countries, mobilized with special intensity at the approach of the pope's third voyage to Germany:


"We can only ever believe within the 'we'. I sometimes say that Saint Paul wrote: 'Faith comes from hearing' – not from reading. It needs reading as well, but it comes from hearing, that is to say from the living word, addressed to me by the other, whom I can hear, addressed to me by the Church throughout the ages, from her contemporary word, spoken to me the priests, bishops and my fellow believers. Faith must include a 'you' and it must include a 'we'. And it is very important to practise this mutual support, to learn how to accept the other as the other in his otherness, and to learn that he has to support me in my otherness, in order to become 'we', so that we can also build community in the parish, calling people into the community of the word, and journeying with one another towards the living God. This requires the very particular 'we' that is the seminary, and also the parish, but it also requires us always to look beyond the particular, limited 'we' towards the great 'we' that is the Church of all times and places: it requires that we do not make ourselves the sole criterion. When we say: 'We are Church' – well, it is true: that is what we are, we are not just anybody. But the “we” is more extensive than the group that asserts those words. The 'we' is the whole community of believers, today and in all times and places. And so I always say: within the community of believers, yes, there is as it were the voice of the valid majority, but there can never be a majority against the apostles or against the saints: that would be a false majority. We are Church: let us be Church, let us be Church precisely by opening ourselves and stepping outside ourselves and being Church with others."

As can be seen, Benedict XVI drew on the name of "We Are Church" to reverse its meaning: from a separate and contrasted "we" to a "we" that embraces the Church "in all times and places."

The movement "We Are Church" was created in 1995 with a collection of signatures in support of an "Appeal of the People of God" that proposed the democratic election of bishops, sacred orders for women, the removal of the division between clergy and laity, the elimination of the requirement of clerical celibacy for the clergy, a new sexual morality, etc. The collection of signatures, which came to two and a half million, began in Austria and was then extended to Germany, Italy, Spain, the United States, Holland, Belgium, France, England, Portugal, Canada. The first document was followed by many more. The epicenter of "we are Church" is still in Austria and Germany, with a vast following among the clergy, with a certain capacity to exert pressure on the bishops themselves, and with an aura of approval in various seminaries.

This would appear to be the first time that Joseph Ratzinger, as pope, has cited "We Are Church" in a public address.

The program and complete texts of the voyage of Benedict XVI, including the improvised speech given to the seminarians:

> Apostolic Journey to Germany, September 22-25, 2011

English translation by Matthew Sherry, Ballwin, Missouri, U.S.A.



Papal Mass in Freiburg: the Pope's Homily

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Pope Benedict XVI presided a big outdoor Mass at Freiburg's touristic airport just outside the south west German city. This is the final Mass of the Holy Father's four day visit to his homeland and comes on the last day of his trip. The following is the text of his Homily:

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

It is moving for me to be here once again to celebrate this Eucharist, this Thanksgiving, with so many people from different parts of Germany and the neighbouring countries. We offer our thanks above all to God, in whom we live and move. But I would also like to thank all of you for your prayers that the Successor of Peter may continue to carry out his ministry with joy and faithful hope, and that he may strengthen his brothers in faith.

“Father, you show your almighty power in your mercy and forgiveness”, as we said in today’s Collect. In the first reading we heard how God manifested the power of his mercy in the history of Israel. The experience of the Babylonian Exile caused the people to fall into a crisis of faith: Why did this calamity happen? Perhaps God was not truly powerful?

There are theologians who, in the face of all the terrible things that happen in the world today, say that God cannot be all-powerful. In response to this we profess God, the all-powerful Creator of heaven and earth. We are glad and thankful that God is all-powerful. At the same time, we have to be aware that he exercises his power differently from the way we normally do. He has placed a limit on his power, by recognizing the freedom of his creatures. We are glad and thankful for the gift of freedom. However, when we see the terrible things that happen as a result of it, we are frightened. Let us put our trust in God, whose power manifests itself above all in mercy and forgiveness. Let us be certain, dear faithful, that God desires the salvation of his people. He desires our salvation. He is always close to us, especially in times of danger and radical change, his heart aches for us and he reaches out to us. We need to open ourselves to him so that the power of his mercy can touch our hearts. We have to be ready to abandon evil, to raise ourselves from indifference and make room for his word. God respects our freedom. He does not constrain us. 

In the Gospel Jesus takes up this fundamental theme of prophetic preaching. He recounts the parable of the two sons invited by their father to work in the vineyard. The first son responded: “‘I will not go’, but afterward he repented and went.” Instead the other son said to the father: “‘I go, sir,’ but did not go.” When asked by Jesus which of the two sons did the father’s will, those listening respond: “the first” (Mt 21:29-31). The message of the parable is clear: it is not words that matter, but deeds, deeds of conversion and faith. Jesus directs this message to the chief priests and elders of the people, that is, to the experts of religion for the people of Israel. At first they say “yes” to God’s will, but their piety becomes routine and God no longer matters to them. For this reason they find the message of John the Baptist and the message of Jesus disturbing. The Lord concludes his parable with harsh words: “Truly, the tax collectors and the harlots go into the Kingdom of God before you. For John came to you in the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the harlots believed him, and even when you saw it, you did not afterward repent and believe him” (Mt 21:32). Translated into the language of our time, this statement might sound something like this: agnostics, who are constantly exercised by the question of God, those who long for a pure heart but suffer on account of our sin, are closer to the Kingdom of God than believers whose life of faith is “routine” and who regard the Church merely as an institution, without letting their hearts be touched by faith.

The words of Jesus should make us all pause, in fact they should disturb us. However, this is by no means to suggest that everyone who lives in the Church and works for her should be considered far from Jesus and the Kingdom of God. Absolutely not! On the contrary, this is a time to offer a word of profound gratitude to the many co-workers, employees and volunteers, without whom life in the parishes and in the entire Church would be hard to imagine. The Church in Germany has many social and charitable institutions through which the love of neighbour is practised in ways that bring social benefits and reach to the ends of the earth. I would like to express my gratitude and appreciation to all those working in Caritas Germany and in other church organizations who give their time and effort generously in voluntary service to the Church. In the first place, such service requires objective and professional expertise. But in the spirit of Jesus’ teaching something more is needed – an open heart that allows itself to be touched by the love of Christ, and thus gives to our neighbour, who needs us, something more than a technical service: it gives love, in which the other person is able to see Christ, the loving God. So let us ask ourselves, how is my personal relationship with God: in prayer, in participation at Sunday Mass, in exploring my faith through meditation on sacred Scripture and study of the Catechism of the Catholic Church? Dear friends, in the last analysis, the renewal of the Church will only come about through openness to conversion and through renewed faith.

The Gospel for this Sunday speaks of two sons, but behind them, in a mysterious way, there is a third son. The first son says “no,” but does the father’s will. The second son says “yes,” but does not do what he was asked. The third son both says “yes” and does what he was asked. This third son is the Only-begotten Son of God, Jesus Christ, who has gathered us all here. Jesus, on entering the world, said: “Lo, I have come to do thy will, O God” (Heb 10:7). He not only said “yes”, he acted on it. As the Christological hymn from the second reading says: “Though he was in the form of God, [Jesus] did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form he humbled himself and became obedient unto death, even death on a Cross” (Phil. 2: 6-8). In humility and obedience, Jesus fulfilled the will of the Father and by dying on the Cross for his brothers and sisters, he saved us from our pride and obstinacy. Let us thank him for his sacrifice, let us bend our knees before his name and proclaim together with the disciples of the first generation: “Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Phil 2:11). 

The Christian life must continually measure itself by Christ: “Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus” (Phil 2:5), as Saint Paul says in the introduction to the Christological hymn. A few verses before, he exhorts his readers: “So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any incentive of love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind” (Phil 2:1-2). Just as Christ was totally united to the Father and obedient to him, so too the disciples must obey God and be of one mind among themselves. Dear friends, with Paul I dare to exhort you: complete my joy by being firmly united in Christ. The Church in Germany will overcome the great challenges of the present and future, and it will remain a leaven in society, if the priests, consecrated men and women, and the lay faithful, in fidelity to their respective vocations, work together in unity, if the parishes, communities, and movements support and enrich each other, if the baptized and confirmed, in union with their bishop, lift high the torch of untarnished faith and allow it to enlighten their abundant knowledge and skills. The Church in Germany will continue to be a blessing for the entire Catholic world: if she remains faithfully united with the Successors of Saint Peter and the Apostles, if she fosters cooperation in various ways with mission countries and allows herself to be “infected” by the joy that marks the faith of these 
young Churches.

To his exhortation to unity, Paul adds a call to humility: “Do nothing from selfishness or conceit, but in humility count others better than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others” (Phil 2:3-4). Christian life is a life for others: existing for others, humble service of neighbour and of the common good. Dear friends, humility is a virtue that does not enjoy great esteem today. But the Lord’s disciples know that this virtue is, so to speak, the oil that makes the process of dialogue fruitful, cooperation simple and unity sincere. The Latin word for humility, humilitas, is derived from humus and indicates closeness to the earth. Those who are humble stand with their two feet on the ground, but above all they listen to Christ, the Word of God, who ceaselessly renews the Church and each of her members.

Let us ask God for the courage and the humility to walk the path of faith, to draw from the riches of his mercy, and to fix our gaze on Christ, the Word, who makes all things new and is for us “the way, the truth, and the life” (Jn 14:6): he is our future. Amen. 

The United States Rediscovers Its Mother Tongue: Latin

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With more and more Latin American immigrants, the number of Catholics will soon exceed one hundred million. But the first evangelization was also Catholic and Hispanic. A shocking reinterpretation of American history and identity, by the bishop of Los Angeles 


José H. Gómez



ROME, September 13, 2011 – The key appointments that have marked the recent phase of the pontificate of Benedict XVI, to the leadership of important dioceses, are not limited to those of Angelo Scola in Milan, Charles J. Chaput in Philadelphia, Rainer Maria Woelki  in Berlin, André-Joseph Léonard in Mechelen-Brussels, Timothy M. Dolan in New York.

There is also that of José H. Gómez in Los Angeles (in the photo).

Three of the appointments mentioned concern the leadership of the Catholic Church in the United States, which has become a model for worldwide Catholicism in terms of both quantity and quality.

There are now 77.7 million Catholics in the United States. But with the dynamics underway it is estimated that there will be 110 million by the middle of this century.

One of these dynamics is that of migration. Already one out of three Catholics in in the United States comes from Latin America, speaks Spanish or Portuguese, and prefers to go to churches attended by fellow immigrants.

The current archbishop of Los Angeles is himself one of these. He is Mexican, a native of Monterrey. He is a member of Opus Dei. Previously he was the archbishop of San Antonio, Texas. 

Los Angeles and San Antonio: two emblematic names. Because well before the Anglo-Protestant pilgrim fathers arrived on the east coast, a previous evangelization, Catholic and Hispanic, had made inroads into what is now part of the United States from the south and from the west, as early as the 16th century, leaving extensive traces in the place names themselves. 

Today, with immigration, another wave of Hispanic Catholics is renewing the face of this nation. And it is bringing back to the forefront that chapter of its origins, mostly overlooked until now.

At a talk given last July 28 at the Napa Institute in California, during an annual conference on the theme of "Catholics in the Next America," Los Angeles archbishop José H. Gómez wanted to bring to light precisely this "missing piece" of American history.

Gómez's thesis is that the United States will lose its national identity if it forgets that it is rooted in the Hispanic Catholic missions in the new world.

The archbishop of Los Angeles argues against the positions of Samuel Huntington, who in his last book asserted that the Latin Catholicism of the new immigrants is incompatible with the Anglo-Protestant culture of the founding fathers.

The opposite is true, Gómez maintains: "I believe our immigrant brothers and sisters are the key to American renewal. And we all know that America is in need of renewal – economic and political, but also spiritual, moral and cultural renewal."

The following is an abridged version of the talk, produced by Gómez himself for "L'Osservatore Romano," which published it in its August 11 issue.

Simply reading it provides a glimpse of the "affirmative" vigor that distinguishes the magisterium of some of the recently appointed American bishops, when they speak to Catholics and to the country.


Sandro Magister




by José Horacio Gómez

[...] One of the problems we have today is that we have lost the sense of America’s national “story”. If our people know our history at all, what they know is incomplete. And when we don’t know the whole story, we end up with the wrong assumptions about American identity and culture.

Our national story

The American story that most of us know is set in New England. It is the story of the pilgrims and the Mayflower, the first Thanksgiving, and John Winthrop’s sermon about a “city upon a hill”.

It is the story of great men like Washington, Jefferson and Madison. It’s the story of great documents like the Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights. It is a beautiful story. It is also true. Every American should know these characters and the ideals and principles they fought for. From this story we learn that our American identity and culture are rooted in essentially Christian beliefs about the dignity of the human person.

But the story of the founding fathers and the truths they held to be self-evident is not the whole story about America. The rest of the story starts more than a century before the pilgrims. It starts in the 1520s in Florida and in the 1540s here in California.

It is the story not of colonial settlement and political and economic opportunity. It is the story of exploration and evangelization. This story is not Anglo-Protestant but Hispanic-Catholic. It is centered, not in New England but in Nueva España – New Spain – at opposite corners of the continent.

From this story we learn that before this land had a name its inhabitants were being baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. The people of this land were called Christians before they were called Americans. And they were called this name in the Spanish, French and English tongues.

From this history, we learn that long before the Boston Tea Party, Catholic missionaries were celebrating the holy Mass on the soil of this continent. Catholics founded America’s oldest settlement, in St Augustine, Florida, in 1565. Immigrant missionaries were naming this continent’s rivers and mountains and territories for saints, sacraments and articles of the faith.

We take these names for granted now. But our American geography testifies that our nation was born from the encounter with Jesus Christ. Sacramento (“Holy Sacrament”). Las Cruces (“the Cross”). Corpus Christi (“Body of Christ”). Even the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, named for the precious blood of Christ.

The 19th-century historian John Gilmary Shea said it beautifully. Before there were houses in this land, there were altars: “Mass was said to hallow the land and draw down the blessing of heaven before the first step was taken to rear a human habitation. The altar was older than the hearth”.

The missing piece of American history

This is the missing piece of American history. And today more than ever, we need to know this heritage of holiness and service – especially as American Catholics. Along with Washington and Jefferson, we need to know the stories of these great apostles of America. We need to know the French missionaries like Mother Joseph and the Jesuits St Isaac Jogues and Father Jacques Marquette, who came down from Canada to bring the faith to the northern half of our country. We need to know the Hispanic missionaries like the Franciscan Magin Catalá and the Jesuit Father Eusebio Kino, who came up from Mexico to evangelize the Southwest and the Northwest territories.

We should know the stories of people like Venerable Antonio Margil. He was a Franciscan priest and is one of my favorite figures from the first evangelization of America. Venerable Antonio left his homeland in Spain to come to the New World in 1683. He told his mother he was coming here – because “millions of souls [were] lost for want of priests to dispel the darkness of unbelief”.

People used to call him “the Flying Padre”. He traveled 40 or 50 miles every day, walking barefoot. Fray Antonio had a truly continental sense of mission. He established churches in Texas and Louisiana, and also in Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Guatemala and Mexico.

He was a priest of great courage and love. He escaped death many times at the hands of the native peoples he came to evangelize. Once he faced a firing squad of a dozen Indians armed with bows and arrows. Another time he was almost burned alive at the stake.

I came to know about Fray Antonio when I was the Archbishop of San Antonio. He preached there in 1719-1720 and founded the San José Mission there. He used to talk about San Antonio as the center of the evangelization of America. He said: “San Antonio… will be the headquarters of all the missions which God our Lord will establish… that in his good time all of this New World may be converted to his holy Catholic faith”.

This is the real reason for America, when we consider our history in light of God’s plan for the nations. America is intended to be a place of encounter with the living Jesus Christ. This was the motivation of the missionaries who came here first. America’s national character and spirit are deeply marked by the Gospel values they brought to this land. These values are what make the founding documents of our government so special.

Although founded by Christians, America has become home to an amazing diversity of cultures, religions and ways of life. This diversity flourishes precisely because our nation’s founders had a Christian vision of the human person, freedom, and truth.

The American creed

G. K. Chesterton said famously that “America is the only nation in the world that is founded on a creed”. And that “creed”, as he recognized, is fundamentally Christian. It is the basic American belief that all men and women are created equal – with God-given rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

Every other nation in history has been established on the basis of common territory and ethnicity – the ties of land and kinship. America instead is based on this Christian ideal, on this creed that reflects the amazing universalism of the Gospel. As a result, we have always been a nation of nationalities. "E pluribus unum." One people made from peoples of many nations, races, and creeds.

Throughout our history, problems have always arisen when we have taken this American creed for granted. Or when we have tried to limit it in some way. That’s why it is essential that today we remember the missionary history of America – and rededicate ourselves to the vision of America’s founding “creed”.

When we forget our country’s roots in the Hispanic-Catholic mission to the new world, we end up with distorted ideas about our national identity. We end up with an idea that Americans are descended from only white Europeans and that our culture is based only on the individualism, work ethic and rule of law that we inherited from our Anglo-Protestant forebears.

When that has happened in the past it has led to those episodes in our history that we are least proud of – the mistreatment of Native Americans; slavery; the recurring outbreaks of nativism and anti-Catholicism; the internment of Japanese Americans during World War ii; the misadventures of “manifest destiny”.

There are, of course, far more complicated causes behind these moments in our history. But at the root, I think we can see a common factor – a wrong-headed notion that “real Americans” are of some particular race, class, religion or ethnic background.

A new threat of nativism? 

I worry that in today’s political debates over immigration we are entering into a new period of nativism. The intellectual justification for this new nativism was set out a few years ago in an influential book by the late Samuel Huntington of Harvard, called "Who Are We?". He made a lot of sophisticated-sounding arguments, but his basic argument was that American identity and culture are threatened by Mexican immigration.

Authentic American identity “was the product of the distinct Anglo-Protestant culture of the founding settlers of America in the 17th and 18th centuries”, according to Huntington. By contrast, Mexicans’ values are rooted in a fundamentally incompatible “culture of Catholicism” which, Huntington argued, does not value self-initiative or the work ethic, and instead encourages passivity and an acceptance of poverty.

These are old and familiar nativist claims, and they are easy to discredit. One could point to the glorious legacy of Hispanic literature and art, or to Mexican-Americans’ and Hispanic-Americans’ accomplishments in business, government, medicine and other areas. Unfortunately, today we hear ideas like Huntington’s being repeated on cable TV and talk radio – and sometimes even by some of our political leaders.

There is no denying significant differences between Hispanic-Catholic and Anglo-Protestant cultural assumptions. This kind of bigoted thinking stems from an incomplete understanding of American history. Historically, both cultures have a rightful claim to a place in our national “story” – and in the formation of an authentic American identity and national character.

Toward a new patriotism 

I believe American Catholics have a special duty today to be the guardians of the truth about the American spirit and our national identity. I believe it falls to us to be witnesses to a new kind of American patriotism.

We are called to bring out all that is noble in the American spirit. We are also called to challenge those who would diminish or “downsize” America’s true identity. Since I came to California, I have been thinking a lot about Bl. Junípero Serra, the Franciscan immigrant who came from Spain via Mexico to evangelize this great state.

Bl. Junípero loved the native peoples of this continent. He learned their local languages, customs and beliefs. He translated the Gospel and the prayers and teachings of the faith so that everyone could hear the mighty works of God in their own native tongue! He used to trace the sign of the cross on people’s foreheads and say to them, Amar a Dios! Love God!

This is a good way to understand our duty as Catholics in our culture today. We need to find a way to “translate” the Gospel of love for the people of our times. We need to remind our brothers and sisters of the truths taught by Bl. Junípero and his brother missionaries. That we are all children of the same Father in heaven. That our Father in heaven does not make some nationalities or racial groups to be “inferior” or less worthy of his blessings.

Catholics need to lead our country to a new spirit of empathy. We need to help our brothers and sisters to start seeing the strangers among us for who they truly are – and not according to political or ideological categories or definitions rooted in our own fears.

This is difficult, I know. I know it is a particular challenge to see the humanity of those immigrants who are here illegally. But the truth is that very few people “choose” to leave their homelands. Emigration is almost always forced upon people by the dire conditions they face in their lives.

Most of the men and women who are living in America without proper documentation have traveled hundreds even thousands of miles. They have left everything behind, risked their safety and their lives. They have done this, not for their own comfort or selfish interests. They have done this to feed their loved ones. To be good mothers and fathers. To be loving sons and daughters.

These immigrants – no matter how they came here – are people of energy and aspiration. They are people who are not afraid of hard work or sacrifice. They are nothing like the people Prof. Huntington and others are describing! These men and women have courage and the other virtues. The vast majority of them believe in Jesus Christ and love our Catholic Church, They share traditional American values of faith, family and community.

Immigration and American renewal 

This is why I believe our immigrant brothers and sisters are the key to American renewal. And we all know that America is in need of renewal – economic and political, but also spiritual, moral and cultural renewal. I believe these men and women who are coming to this country will bring a new, youthful entrepreneurial spirit of hard work to our economy. I also believe they will help renew the soul of America.

In his last book, "Memory and Identity," written the year he died, Bl. John Paul II said: “The history of all nations is called to take its place in the history of salvation”. We must look at immigration in the context of America’s need for renewal. And we need to consider both immigration and American renewal in light of God’s plan for salvation and the history of the nations.

The promise of America is that we can be one nation where men and women from every race, creed and national background may live as brothers and sisters. Each one of us is a child of that promise. If we trace the genealogies of almost everyone in America, the lines of descent will lead us out beyond our borders to some foreign land where each of our ancestors originally came from.

This inheritance comes to American Catholics now as a gift and as a duty. We are called to make our own contributions to this nation – through the way we live our faith in Jesus Christ as citizens. Our history shows us that America was born from the Church’s mission to the nations. The “next America” will be determined by the choices we make as Christian disciples and as American citizens. By our attitudes and actions, by the decisions we make, we are writing the next chapters of our American story.

May Our Lady of Guadalupe, the Mother of the Americas, obtain for us the courage we need to do what our good Lord requires.

The California institute at which the archbishop of Los Angeles gave the talk:

> The Napa Institute

And the Vatican newspaper that published an abridged version of it on August 11, 2011:

> "L'Osservatore Romano"

The major findings of a survey by the Pew Forum on Latin American immigration in the United States:

> Benedict XVI Is in Brazil. But Meanwhile, the "Latinos" Are Invading the North(9.5.2007)

English translation by Matthew Sherry, Ballwin, Missouri, U.S.A

Ratzinger's Favorite Bach Cantata

dominicanus #homilies in English

It is the one for the last Sunday of the Lutheran liturgical year, centered on the parable of the wise and foolish virgins. All the details of a personal memory of Pope Benedict, on the eve of his next voyage to Germany 


johan sebastian bach



ROME, September 5, 2011 – At the audience last Wednesday with the pilgrims and faithful gathered in the small square of Castel Gandolfo, Benedict XVI spoke of the beauty of art as "the true path to God, the supreme Beauty."

It is not the first time that Pope Joseph Ratzinger has called art and music "the greatest apologetic for our faith." On a par with the "luminous trail" of the saints and more than the arguments of reason.

This time, however, the pope added a personal recollection:

"I remember a concert performance of the music of Johann Sebastian Bach –- in Munich in Bavaria – conducted by Leonard Bernstein. At the conclusion of the final selection, one of the Cantate, I felt –- not through reasoning, but in the depths of my heart – that what I had just heard had spoken truth to me, truth about the supreme composer, and it moved me to give thanks to God. Seated next to me was the Lutheran bishop of Munich. I spontaneously said to him: Whoever has listened to this understands that faith is true – and the beauty that irresistibly expresses the presence of God's truth."

What was the Cantata of Bach that so profoundly touched the heart of the future pope?

It was the one that Bach composed for the Mass of the twenty-seventh Sunday after the feast of the Holy Trinity, the last Sunday before Advent in the Lutheran liturgical year.

Among the roughly two hundred Cantatas that Bach left for us, it is the one that bears the catalog number BWV 140.

The Cantatas were real and proper liturgical music. They filled the space between the readings of the Mass and the homily. With Luther, they were a simple hymn. But in the 1600's, the developed into the form that was later used by Bach: with organ and orchestra, choir and soloists, chorales, recitatives, duets.

The text of the cantata was based on the readings for the Mass of the day, especially of the Gospel. Making these the object of intimate spiritual meditation, even with poetic features. Sometimes the homily was given not at the end, but at the middle of the Cantata.

The faithful listened to it in silence. And sometimes the text of the entire composition was distributed to those present, so they could follow it better.

On the twenty-seventh Sunday after the feast of the Holy Trinity – the Sunday of the Cantata conducted by Bernstein that so deeply moved Joseph Ratzinger – the readings were eschatological in tone, related to the end of time.

The first reading was taken from the second letter to the Corinthians (5:1-10) or from the first letter to the Thessalonians (5:1-11), while the Gospel was that of Matthew 25:1-13, with the parable of the wise and foolish virgins:

"The kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish and five were wise. The foolish ones, when taking their lamps, brought no oil with them, but the wise brought flasks of oil with their lamps. Since the bridegroom was long delayed, they all became drowsy and fell asleep. At midnight, there was a cry, 'Behold, the bridegroom! Come out to meet him!' Then all those virgins got up and trimmed their lamps. The foolish ones said to the wise, 'Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.' But the wise ones replied, 'No, for there may not be enough for us and you. Go instead to the merchants and buy some for yourselves.' While they went off to buy it, the bridegroom came and those who were ready went into the wedding feast with him. Then the door was locked. Afterwards the other virgins came and said, 'Lord, Lord, open the door for us!' But he said in reply, 'Amen, I say to you, I do not know you.' Therefore, stay awake, for you know neither the day nor the hour."

In 1599, the author of the text of the Cantata, Philipp Nicolai, took this parable as the inspiration for his meditation, with lyrical references to the Song of Songs and to its nuptial symbolism.

As in the recitative that follows the opening chorale:

"He comes, he comes,
The bridegroom comes!
You Zion's daughters, now come out,
He's leaving right now from the Heavens
For your own mother house.
The bridegroom comes, who like a roe deer 
and like a young stag ev'n
Up on the hills now springs,
To you the feast of wedding brings.
Wake up, arouse your hearts
The bridegroom to encounter!
There, see it, his vis't now comes to pass."

Or in the following duet between soprano and bass:

S: When come you, my Health?
B: I come, your All.
S: I wait, with lit, burning oil.
B: Throw open the hall.
S: I open the hall.
Both: To the heavenly meal.
S: Come, Jesu!
B: Come, dear lovely soul!

In Leipzig, Bach composed a Cantata that is rightly among his most famous. Like all of them, it takes its name from the first words of the introductory chorale: "Wachet auf, ruft uns die Stimme."

The choice of this typically eschatological Cantata, which ends with the vision of the heavenly Jerusalem, was not made by accident for the concert that Bernstein conducted in Munich, with Joseph Ratzinger in the audience.

It was 1981. Ratzinger had been the archbishop of Munich for four years. And on February 15 of that year, one of the greatest interpreters of Bach's music, both as an organist and as a harpsichordist, Karl Richter, had died suddenly in the capital of Bavaria.

That concert was held in Richter's memory, with the Bach-Orchestra and Bach-Choir of Munich. All with music from Bach. In order:

- the coral "Wenn ich einmal soll scheiden" of the St. Matthew Passion (BWV 244);

- the Brandenburg Concerto no. 3 in G major (BWV 1048);

- the Cantata "Wachet auf, ruft uns die Stimme" (BWV 140).

And after the intermission:

- the Magnificat in D major (BWV 243).

So the Cantata that so deeply moved the future pope concluded, properly speaking, not the entire concert, but its first part.

The Lutheran bishop sitting beside him, to whom Ratzinger confided his thoughts, was Johannes Hanselmann, who died in 2002, a leading figure in the ecumenical dialogue that led to the declaration on the doctrine of justification signed jointly in 1999 by the Catholic Church and the Lutheran World Federation:

> "The doctrine of justification..."

This article by the American vaticanista John L. Allen – published two weeks before the next voyage of Benedict XVI to Germany – presents a riveting reconstruction of the tempestuous origins of that declaration, with Ratzinger and Hanselmann among the protagonists:

> A German pope heads for the Land of Luther



Sandro Magister


The complete text of the Cantata BWV 140 by Johann Sebastian Bach, in the original German and in translation:

> "Wachet auf, ruft uns die Stimme..."

The complete text of the Benedict XVI's general audience on August 31, 2011:

> "Dear brothers and sisters..."

In the late afternoon of that same Wednesday, August 31, Benedict XVI attended, in the courtyard of the pontifical residence of Castel Gandolfo, a concert offered for him by maestro Cardinal Domenico Bartolucci, 94, a former conductor of the Sistine Chapel choir and an illustrious musician.

The concert, with all of the music by Bartolucci himself, was conducted by one of his most proficient students, maestro Simone Baiocchi, and opened with a "Benedictus" in honor of the pope, composed for the occasion.

In his thanks, Benedict XVI complimented Cardinal Bartolucci for his "dedication to the precious treasure that is Gregorian chant and wise use of polyphony, faithful to tradition, but also open to new sonorities."

This is the complete text of the pope's speech at the end of the concert:

> "This afternoon we were immersed in sacred music..."

All the articles from www.chiesa on these topics:

> Focus on ART AND MUSIC

English translation by Matthew Sherry, Ballwin, Missouri, U.S.A.

Pope Benedict's Homily at WYD Mass Madrid 2011

dominicanus #homilies in English

Hundreds of thousands of young people attended a huge outdoor World Youth Day mass presided by Pope Benedict XVI at Madrid's Cuatros Vientos airbase Sunday. Read the text of the Holy Father's Homily below:


pope homily wyd mass

Dear Young People,

In this celebration of the Eucharist we have reached the high point of this World Youth Day. Seeing you here, gathered in such great numbers from all parts of the world, fills my heart with joy. I think of the special love with which Jesus is looking upon you. Yes, the Lord loves you and calls you his friends (cf. Jn 15:15). He goes out to meet you and he wants to accompany you on your journey, to open the door to a life of fulfilment and to give you a share in his own closeness to the Father. For our part, we have come to know the immensity of his love and we want to respond generously to his love by sharing with others the joy we have received. Certainly, there are many people today who feel attracted by the figure of Christ and want to know him better. They realize that he is the answer to so many of our deepest concerns. But who is he really? How can someone who lived on this earth so long ago have anything in common with me today?
The Gospel we have just heard (cf. Mt 16:13-20) suggests two different ways of knowing Christ. The first is an impersonal knowledge, one based on current opinion. When Jesus asks: “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?”, the disciples answer: “Some say John the Baptist, but others Elijah, and still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets”. In other words, Christ is seen as yet another religious figure, like those who came before him. Then Jesus turns to the disciples and asks them: “But who do you say that I am?” Peter responds with what is the first confession of faith: “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God”. Faith is more than just empirical or historical facts; it is an ability to grasp the mystery of Christ’s person in all its depth. 
Yet faith is not the result of human effort, of human reasoning, but rather a gift of God: “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father in heaven”. Faith starts with God, who opens his heart to us and invites us to share in his own divine life. Faith does not simply provide information about who Christ is; rather, it entails a personal relationship with Christ, a surrender of our whole person, with all our understanding, will and feelings, to God’s self-revelation. So Jesus’ question: “But who do you say that I am?”, is ultimately a challenge to the disciples to make a personal decision in his regard. Faith in Christ and discipleship are strictly interconnected. 
And, since faith involves following the Master, it must become constantly stronger, deeper and more mature, to the extent that it leads to a closer and more intense relationship with Jesus. Peter and the other disciples also had to grow in this way, until their encounter with the Risen Lord opened their eyes to the fullness of faith.
Dear young people, today Christ is asking you the same question which he asked the Apostles: “Who do you say that I am?” Respond to him with generosity and courage, as befits young hearts like your own. Say to him: “Jesus, I know that you are the Son of God, who have given your life for me. I want to follow you faithfully and to be led by your word. You know me and you love me. I place my trust in you and I put my whole life into your hands. I want you to be the power that strengthens me and the joy which never leaves me”.
Jesus’ responds to Peter’s confession by speaking of the Church: “And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my Church”. What do these words mean? Jesus builds the Church on the rock of the faith of Peter, who confesses that Christ is God. 
The Church, then, is not simply a human institution, like any other. Rather, she is closely joined to God. Christ himself speaks of her as “his” Church. Christ cannot be separated from the Church any more than the head can be separated from the body (cf. 1 Cor 12:12). The Church does not draw her life from herself, but from the Lord. 
Dear young friends, as the Successor of Peter, let me urge you to strengthen this faith which has been handed down to us from the time of the Apostles. Make Christ, the Son of God, the centre of your life. But let me also remind you that following Jesus in faith means walking at his side in the communion of the Church. We cannot follow Jesus on our own. Anyone who would be tempted to do so “on his own”, or to approach the life of faith with kind of individualism so prevalent today, will risk never truly encountering Jesus, or will end up following a counterfeit Jesus.
Having faith means drawing support from the faith of your brothers and sisters, even as your own faith serves as a support for the faith of others. I ask you, dear friends, to love the Church which brought you to birth in the faith, which helped you to grow in the knowledge of Christ and which led you to discover the beauty of his love. Growing in friendship with Christ necessarily means recognizing the importance of joyful participation in the life of your parishes, communities and movements, as well as the celebration of Sunday Mass, frequent reception of the sacrament of Reconciliation, and the cultivation of personal prayer and meditation on God’s word.
Friendship with Jesus will also lead you to bear witness to the faith wherever you are, even when it meets with rejection or indifference. We cannot encounter Christ and not want to make him known to others. So do not keep Christ to yourselves! Share with others the joy of your faith. The world needs the witness of your faith, it surely needs God. I think that the presence here of so many young people, coming from all over the world, is a wonderful proof of the fruitfulness of Christ’s command to the Church: “Go into all the world and proclaim the Gospel to the whole creation” (Mk 16:15). You too have been given the extraordinary task of being disciples and missionaries of Christ in other lands and countries filled with young people who are looking for something greater and, because their heart tells them that more authentic values do exist, they do not let themselves be seduced by the empty promises of a lifestyle which has no room for God.
Dear young people, I pray for you with heartfelt affection. I commend all of you to the Virgin Mary and I ask her to accompany you always by her maternal intercession and to teach you how to remain faithful to God’s word. I ask you to pray for the Pope, so that, as the Successor of Peter, he may always confirm his brothers and sisters in the faith. May all of us in the Church, pastors and faithful alike, draw closer to the Lord each day. May we grow in holiness of life and be effective witnesses to the truth that Jesus Christ is indeed the Son of God, the Saviour of all mankind and the living source of our hope. Amen.

Vatican Diary / Focolare beats Communion and Liberation

dominicanus #homilies in English

New appointments in diplomacy and in the curia. At the secretariat of state, the followers of Fr. Giussani increase to three. But the spiritual sons of Chiara Lubich are getting the more influential posts 


Giovanni Angelo Becciu


VATICAN CITY, August 11, 2011 – Every year, in July, transfers of junior personnel in pontifical delegations all over the world are made official.

Among the news this summer is that Spanish monsignor Luis Miguel Muñoz Cardaba is leaving the nunciature in Italy, heading to Australia. He is being replaced by the Italian Luza Lorusso, from the region of Puglia, who is moving from the nunciature in Canada.

This means that the delegation of the Holy See in Italy is once again becoming the only one staffed exclusively by "autochthonous" churchmen. Monsignor Cardaba was the first and so far the only non-Italian to serve there.

The other news is the arrival in the second section of the secretariat of state, which deals with relations with states, of Monsignor Andrea Ferrante, who before entering into Vatican diplomacy, with his last post in Uganda, had been the personal secretary, in the curia, of then titular archbishop Crescenzio Sepe – who then became the cardinal prefect of "Propaganda Fide" and is now archbishop of Naples – at the time responsible for organizing the Great Jubilee of 2000.

At the secretariat of state, Monsignor Ferrante is taking the place of Monsignor Luigi Accattino (being sent to Washington), who had been appointed to a few Latin American countries, including Cuba (in this capacity his name had appeared in cables released by WikiLeaks) and Ecuador (where he had also worked on the virulent dispute between the Heralds of the Gospel and the Carmelites at the apostolic vicariate of Sucumbios).

With the arrival of Ferrante at the "Terza Loggia," the number of churchmen belonging to Communion and Liberation who are part of the Vatican foreign ministry rises to three. The other two are the Spanish monsignor Alberto Ortega Martin (who is following the delicate chessboard of the Middle East) and Fr. Massimiliano Boiardi, of the Priestly Fraternity of the Missionaries of Saint Charles Borromeo, closely connected to the movement founded by Fr. Luigi Giussani.

The increase in the presence of Communion and Liberation in the Roman curia (to whom must be added the four Memores Domini who serve in the pontifical residence) nonetheless remains a small matter with respect to the posts occupied by members of the Focolare movement.

In the span of a few months, in fact, to Cardinal Ennio Antonelli, president of the pontifical council for the family, have been added to the curia two other churchmen who are also spiritual sons of Chiara Lubich: the Brazilian archbishop, and soon to be cardinal, João Bráz de Aviz, who in January was appointed as prefect of the congregation for religious (and has implemented an about-face there with respect to the highly conservative leadership of his predecessor, the Slovenian cardinal Franc Rodé) and Archbishop Giovanni Angelo Becciu (in the photo), who in May was called to take on the delicate post of substitute at the secretariat of state, a key role in the governance of the Roman curia.
Sandro Magister

English translation by Matthew Sherry, Ballwin, Missouri, U.S.A.

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