German Cardinal Lashes Out Against New Catholic Proposals


A German cardinal has lambasted fellow church leaders who support admitting divorced and civilly remarried Catholics to Holy Communion, calling them heretics who are putting the unity of the Catholic Church at risk.

Cardinal Walter Brandmüller, a former head of the Vatican’s commission for historical sciences, told LifeSite News Tuesday that those who support such a change are “irresponsible” and “in contradiction to the teaching of the church.”

This is the first time that a cardinal has openly voiced what a number of senior figures have said privately that those promoting such admission are teaching heresy and are no longer Catholic.

Brandmüller was responding to a proposal, put forward last year by fellow German Cardinal Walter Kasper, for remarried Catholic divorcees to receive Holy Communion after a period of penance.

The church has always forbidden such a practice on the grounds it would undermine Jesus explicit teaching that marriage is indissoluble, and that a person who divorces and “remarries” commits adultery.

The church teaches that divorced and civilly remarried Catholics can only be admitted to communion if they have obtained an annulment of their first, sacramental marriages, or abstain from sexual relations with their new partners and live as “brother and sister.”

Kasper’s proposal, the subject of a church synod on the family, has therefore caused much hand-wringing in the church, with a number of cardinals publicly at loggerheads over the issue.

The church’s pastoral practice “cannot stand in opposition to binding doctrine nor simply ignore it,” Brandmüller said. “A change of the teaching, of the dogma, is unthinkable. Who nevertheless consciously does it, or insistently demands it, is a heretic — even if he wears the Roman purple.”

Kasper’s proposal has traction because of the crisis in marriage, the high rates of divorce, and increasing numbers of Catholics who married without knowledge of the faith.

Even though annulments continue to be a valid solution for some couples, not a few church leaders agree with Kasper that to allow some remarried divorcees receive communion would be both admissible and merciful.

Pope Francis is also rumored to be sympathetic to the proposal, but has never publicly expressed his support for it.

But opponents discount Kasper’s reassurance that his proposal offers remarried divorcees a “way out” while keeping their first marriage indissoluble. Instead, they argue that just to allow one exception would mean that marriage is no longer permanent, and therefore go against an inviolable teaching of the church.

They also believe it would open the floodgates to allowing all kinds if extramarital unions.

Brandmüller stressed that although the “proclamation” of the church’s teaching can adapt to the times to make it more effectively heard, its inviolable content never can. “An adaptation of the moral teaching is not acceptable,” he said. “‘Do not conform to the world,’ said the Apostle St. Paul.”

The cardinal’s criticisms are all the more powerful because his words are aimed largely at fellow German prelates. As well as Cardinal Kasper, these include Cardinal Reinhard Marx of Munich, who heads the German bishops’ conference and is close to Pope Francis, and Bishop Franz-Josef Bode, who will be one of the German church’s representatives at the upcoming synod.

Brandmüller criticized Marx in the interview for suggesting the German church might go it alone if the Kasper proposal is not adopted at a church synod in October.

Brandmüller said such a move would be “in contradiction with the dogma of the Church” and that Marx and others are being “irresponsible in a pastoral respect, because they expose the faithful to confusion and doubts.”

“If he thinks that he can take nationally an independent path, he puts the unity of the Church at risk,” Brandmüller added. “It remains the binding standard for all of the teaching and practice of the church are her clearly defined doctrines.”

The German church historian’s outspoken comments are just the latest bid to firmly resist the Kasper proposal. Last week Cardinal Wilfrid Napier of Durban, South Africa, said Cardinal Kasper was not “the Pope’s theologian” as some have called him.

And in a series of recent interviews, Cardinal Gerhard Müller, the Vatican’s doctrinal chief, reminded Catholics of the importance of doctrine, and stressed the church’s teaching must not succumb to pressure from the modern world to change.
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JP II Scholar Hailed as a Needed Voice Among Synod Consultors


VATICAN CITY — Before the 2014 Extraordinary Synod of Bishops on the Family, the Vatican faced criticism for failing to appoint a faculty member from the John Paul II Pontifical Institute for Studies on Marriage and Family in any capacity.

With the March 14 appointment of Father José Granados — a priest of the Disciples of the Hearts of Jesus and Mary and the vice president of the Pontifical John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and Family in Rome — as a consultor to the secretary general of the synod, that implied oversight has been corrected.
“Father Jose Granados is an excellent choice to serve as a consultor for the Ordinary Synod [of Bishops] on the Family,” David Schindler, dean emeritus and a professor of fundamental theology at the John Paul II Institute in Washington, told the Register.

“A consultor also for the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Father Granados taught for many years at the Washington session of the Pontifical John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and Family at The Catholic University of America. He is a great teacher and a profound and prolific author of books in patristics and in systematic theology and Catholic doctrine.

“His book, Called to Love, co-authored with Carl Anderson, is a widely read and well-respected study of St. John Paul II’s theology of the body,” Schindler noted.

Mary Shivanandan, who has retired from her position as a theology professor at the Washington session, also welcomed the news of Father Granados’ appointment.

“Father José Granados, who is one of the leading proponents of the theological anthropology of the John Paul II Institute, brings the whole Trinitarian vision of the family to the synod discussions.”
“The institute’s uniqueness lies in conceiving marriage and family and all the moral complexities associated with it as a manifestation of God’s self-revelation as a Trinitarian communion of Persons,” explained Shivanandan, who is the author of Crossing the Threshold of Love.

“Father José himself has made a special study of the theology of the body and its nuptial meaning, which alone is capable of making visible what is invisible: the spiritual and divine.”

Further, she noted that the priest is one of several professors from his religious order, founded in 1987, to study and teach at the various John Paul II institutes around the world.

“The Disciples of the Hearts of Jesus and Mary are dedicated to the family in all its aspects, theological and pastoral.”

Father Granados, who also serves as a visiting professor of patristics and systematic theology at the institute in Rome, will join 11 other consultors. They will be involved in preparations for the upcoming Ordinary Synod of the Bishops on the Family in October.

A notable omission at last October’s synod was any faculty member from the John Paul II Institute, although some previous institute presidents did attend, including its founding president, Cardinal Carlo Caffarra.
But some observers contend that Father Granados will need backup support to have his voice heard, as most of the other consultors also took part in last year’s controversial synod and hold views contrary to those of the institute.

For example, Salesian Father Aimable Musoni, professor of systematic ecclesiology and ecumenism at the Pontifical Salesian University, wrote a book in 2007 entitled Identità e storicità nella Chiesa (Identity and Historicity in the Church). Father Musoni’s director for the book was Cardinal Walter Kasper, who also wrote its preface. Cardinal Kasper is regarded as the leading figure in the push for holy Communion for divorced-and-civilly-remarried Catholics.

Also, Father Maurizio Gronchi, a consultor at the last synod, who teaches dogmatic theology at the Pontifical Urbaniana University, penned a long article for L’Osservatore Romano in December 2013 that aimed to rehabilitate the thinking of the French philosopher Jesuit Father Pierre Teilhard de Chardin. The Vatican, in a 1962 monitum (reprimand) deemed Father de Chardin’s works “replete with ambiguities or, rather, with serious errors, which offend Catholic doctrine.”

Jesuit Father Georges Ruyssen, a canon-law expert at the Pontifical Oriental Institute and also a consultor at last year’s synod, once floated the idea of Eucharistic sharing between a Catholic and a member of a reformed denomination within a mixed marriage.

Professor Giuseppe Bonfrate, who teaches theology at the Pontifical Gregorian University, gave an interview around the time of last year’s synod, in which he speaks of a “need of feeling with the faith, which puts the imagination and emotion in play. You have to start with this,” he said. “Everything, then, in the Christian experience, is proclaimed and celebrated by having a graduality, introducing a path that remains open until the end.”

Furthermore, for a synod that will largely focus on moral issues, some have pointed out the lack of experts in moral theology or moral philosophy. They also highlight the absence of female theologians with expertise in the area of marriage and family. One such candidate suggested could be professor Tracey Rowland, dean of the John Paul II Institute in Melbourne, Australia.

The synod was also criticized for largely ignoring John Paul II’s teachings on marriage and the family, particularly his 1981 apostolic exhortation on the family, Familiaris Consortio (The Christian Family in the Modern World).

Father Granados has underlined the importance of upholding Church teaching when it comes to the family, saying in a recent interview, “Today, more than ever,” family ministry “needs the light of doctrine: a story that allows engaged couples to prepare their love for the ‘forever’ of marriage and that encourages parents to tell their children why life is worth living.”

During last year’s synod, he noted it had become clear this “rich vision” of the Church’s doctrine “has been lost.” He also said the proposal to admit Catholics who had divorced and remarried — and had not secured an annulment — to holy Communion reflected a “very poor” idea of Christian doctrine, which was viewed as an unreachable ideal that should instead be “adapted to their reality and weakness.”

The Spanish priest is also the author of Eucharist and Divorce: Towards a Change of Doctrine? He has asserted that if giving holy Communion to the divorced-and-remarried faithful were allowed, it would change “not only doctrine, but also the very source from which the doctrine comes.”

Also, given the fact that the upcoming ordinary synod is more binding on the faithful than last year’s mostly information-gathering event, the presence of Father Granados should allay some of the fears of many who believe a change in Church doctrine is imminent.

Edward Pentin is the Register’s Rome correspondent.
Joan Frawley Desmond is the Register’s senior editor.

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Easter at the Vatican 2015


VATICAN CITY — To enter the mystery of Easter, one must humble oneself, not be afraid of reality and seek to live in the service of others.

This was Pope Francis’ central message as he led the Church for his third Easter celebrations as pope. He also spoke about the “weariness of priests,” proposing the correct way to rest from their labors, and washed the feet of 12 inmates at a Rome prison.

In his message and blessing urbi et orbi (to the city of Rome and to the world), he called on the Lord to bring peace to numerous countries experiencing conflict and terrorism today, especially in Africa and the Middle East.

As is customary, the liturgical celebrations began when the Pope addressed priests during his homily at the chrism Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica on Holy Thursday.


Holy Thursday

Pope Francis began by telling clergy that he often thinks and prays about their weariness, which they all experience, stressing this fatigue is “like incense, which silently rises up to heaven,” “goes straight to the heart of the Father” and is of “greatest concern” to the Blessed Virgin Mary.

But he also said rest is “a key to fruitful ministry,” as is how priests “look at the way the Lord deals with our weariness.”

“Do I know how to rest by accepting the love, gratitude and affection, which I receive from God’s faithful people? Or, once my pastoral work is done, do I seek more refined relaxations, not those of the poor, but those provided by a consumerist society?” he said.

The Lord, he reminded them, “never tired of being with people,” but seemed “renewed by their presence.” Similarly, he said priests should not “hide in our offices or go out in our cars wearing sunglasses.”

“We cannot be shepherds who are glum, plaintive or, even worse, bored,” the Pope said. “The smell of the sheep and the smile of a father [are needed] … weary, yes, but with the joy of those who hear the Lord saying: ‘Come, O blessed of my Father.’”

But he also warned of other forms of fatigue: “the weariness of enemies,” which needs to be overcome by the Word of God, and the spiritually worldly “weariness of ourselves” — the “most dangerous of them all” that comes not from “going out of ourselves” but being “self-referential.”

“Our discipleship itself is cleansed by Jesus, so that we can rightly feel ‘joyful,’ ‘fulfilled,’ ‘free of fear and guilt’ and impelled to go out ‘even to the ends of the earth, to every periphery,’” the Pope said in closing. “In this way, we can bring the Good News to the most abandoned, knowing that he ‘is with us always, even to the end of the world.’ And please, let us ask for the grace to learn how to be weary, but weary in the best of ways!”

That evening, the Pope was driven to Rebibbia prison on the outskirts of Rome, where he celebrated the Mass of the Lord’s Supper and washed the feet of six men and six women, including a mother with a small child.

During his off-the-cuff homily, the Holy Father told those present that Jesus “gave his life for you, for you, for you, for me, for each one, with first and last name, because his love is like that: personal.” Jesus, he said, “loved each one of you ‘to the end.’”

After explaining the meaning of the washing of the feet, he said: “We must have the certainty, we must be sure that the Lord, when he washes our feet, he washes everything, he purifies us! He makes us feel once again his love.”

He ended by calling on those whose feet he washed to pray the Lord “may also clean my filth, so that I may become more your slave, more of a slave in the service of people, as Jesus was.”


Via Crucis

In his meditation after leading the Via Crucis (Way of the Cross) at the Colosseum in Rome on Good Friday, the Pope explained how the humiliation and terrible suffering of Jesus on the cross makes each person aware of his or her own sins.

“In your obedience to the will of the Father, we become aware of our rebellion and disobedience,” the Pope said. “In you, sold, betrayed, crucified by your own people and those dear to you, we see our own betrayals and our own usual infidelity. In your innocence, Immaculate Lamb, we see our guilt. In your face, slapped, spat on and disfigured, we see the brutality of our sins.”

“Imprint in our heart, Lord, sentiments of faith, hope and charity, of sorrow for our sins, and lead us to repent for our sins that have crucified you,” he continued, adding that “God never forgets any of his children and never tires of forgiving us and embracing us with his infinite mercy.”

As the Pope led the Via Crucis, he had the papal almoner, Archbishop Konrad Krajewski, deliver envelopes containing a card with an Easter greeting, a picture of the Pope and some money to 300 of Rome’s poor.


Holy Saturday

At the Easter vigil in St. Peter’s Basilica, the Pope emphasized that Easter cannot be lived “without entering into the mystery” of the holy event. It’s not “something intellectual,” but “much more” than that: It demands not being “afraid of reality” and “locked into ourselves.” It means going “beyond our comfort zone, beyond the laziness and indifference which hold us back.”

“To enter into the mystery, we need humility, the lowliness to abase ourselves,” to renounce idols and to “adore” the Lord, he said. The “women who were Jesus’ disciples teach us all of this,” and they entered into the mystery by keeping watch with the Blessed Virgin.

During the Mass, the Holy Father baptized 10 catechumens, aged 13 to 66, from diverse backgrounds. They included five women, four men and one teenage girl; four were from Italy, three were from Albania, and three others were from Cambodia, Kenya and Portugal.


Easter Sunday

The Holy Father returned to the mystery of Easter in his urbi et orbi address, stressing the need to emulate Peter and John, who “bent down” in order to enter Jesus’ tomb on Easter morning. Similarly, “we need to ‘bend down,’ to abase ourselves,” in order to “understand the glorification of Jesus” and “follow him on his way.”

Each person must “live in service to one another” and not “be arrogant, but, rather, respectful and ready to help” — an attitude that is “not weakness but true strength,” he said.


Call for Peace

The Pope then called for peace and help from the international community in a variety of trouble spots in the world today, beginning in Syria and Iraq. He called for a “culture of peace to grow” in the Holy Land and prayers for peace in Libya, imploring that the “present absurd bloodshed and all barbarous acts of violence may cease.”

He also highlighted other areas, such as Yemen, Nigeria, South Sudan, Sudan, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ukraine and Kenya, where nearly 150 Christian students were massacred on Holy Thursday by the Islamist group al-Shabaab at Garissa University College.

The Holy Father also called for peace and freedom for trafficked people and victims of arms dealers and expressed hope that an agreement on Iran’s nuclear program may be a “definitive step toward a more secure and fraternal world.”

Lastly, he prayed that the “marginalized; the imprisoned; the poor and the migrants, who are so often rejected, maltreated and discarded; the sick and the suffering; children, especially those who are victims of violence,” and all those who “are in mourning and all men and women of good will hear the consoling voice of the Lord Jesus: ‘Peace to you!’

‘Fear not, for I am risen, and I shall always be with you.’”

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Pope Invites Homeless to the Vatican


A key reason for Pope Francis’ popularity is his warm and welcoming approach to those on the margins of society, particularly the poor and afflicted. It’s part of his vision of a “poor church for the poor” that acts as a merciful mother to all.

This effective outreach was witnessed again on Thursday evening when, on the Pope’s instruction, the papal almoner, Bishop Konrad Krajewski, invited 150 homeless persons to the Vatican museums.

They entered the Vatican via a side entrance normally used by cardinals where they were then divided into three groups, each one assigned a guide including earphones to hear the explanations. They then first visited the Vatican Gardens before passing through St. Peter’s basilica. On arrival at the Vatican museums, they were taken through the various galleries and finished their tour at the Sistine Chapel.

Pope Francis met them in the famous Michelangelo-frescoed chapel where he was elected two years ago. The Pope shook the hand of each homeless visitor, saying: “Welcome. This is everyone’s house, and your house. The doors are always open for all.”

After thanking Bishop Krajewski for having arranged the visit, he described it as a “little caress” for each of the guests.

Eyewitnesses said the emotion “was alive, deep, indescribable” when the Pope entered the chapel, and that it was like a “family occasion” between a father and his children.

As he does at the end of each audience, the Pope asked them all to pray for him. “I’m in need of prayers by people like you,” he said, and blessed the group, saying: “May the Lord protect and help you in the path of life and make you feel his tender love of a Father.”

The Pope spent at least 20 minutes conversing with the special visitors, after which he said farewell and left them to dine in the museum restaurant. He asked that no cameras or photographers be present during the meeting.

“This is the most beautiful Easter gift I could receive,” said a 65 year-old homeless man from Rome who had never seen those places.

The visit was just the latest of many benevolent papal gestures directed towards the poor and the marginalized.

Last month, the Vatican installed bathrooms and showers for the homeless in St. Peter’s square, complete with a barber to cut their hair every Monday. On the day of his 77th birthday, the Pope also invited three homeless people, along with a pet dog, to have breakfast with him at his residence.

Last weekend, Francis dined with about 120 male and female inmates in a jail in Naples. Among the prisoners lunching with Francis were 10 transsexuals and AIDS sufferers chosen to represent those sectors of the local prison population, according to the Vatican.

On Thursday next week, the Pope will continue his outreach by washing the feet of male and female inmates at a prison near Rome. Churches around the world wash the feet of 12 parish members, as Jesus did for the apostles, on Holy Thursday, although traditionally they should all be men.

This will be the third time he has visited a prison as Pope to wash the feet of prisoners, something he also used to do as archbishop of Buenos Aires.

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The Case for a Fair, Free and Authentic Synod Debate



Cardinal Vincent Nichols has voiced his opposition to an initiative of nearly 500 priests of England and Wales in which they signed an open letter stating their “unwavering fidelity” to Church doctrine on marriage and the family ahead of the upcoming Synod on the Family.

The Archbishop of Westminster said in a statement yesterday that their concerns about the synod should be raised with their bishop and are “not best conducted through the press.”

But his response is causing considerable concern among some in Rome, and probably elsewhere, who feel that for priests to merely uphold the Church’s teaching in a concerted and public way is now no longer permissible. A few of the faithful I have spoken with have been even more forthright and expressed anger and great sadness at the cardinal’s response. A petition has now been created to support the priests.

What this partly shows is that some Church leaders believe that promoting the traditional teaching of the Church on marriage and the family somehow obstructs Pope Francis’ will for the synod – despite no one knowing for sure what the Holy Father’s opinion really is, as he has purposely never explicitly made his views public, in order to encourage free discussion.

But this presumed view of the Pope, although probable given his appointments, words and actions, means that one half of the debate is being closed down. And this runs contrary to what is definitively known about the Holy Father’s will for the synod: that he wants a free and open debate.

Would Cardinal Nichols, for instance, have given the same response if the priests had signed a letter in support of Cardinal Walter Kasper and his proposal for divorced and ‘remarried’ Catholics? Possibly, possibly not. But it could legitimately be argued that the priests’ initiative is a direct consequence of proven attempts to manipulate the synod and silence one half of the debate.

And increasingly laity and clergy, in Rome at least, are regretfully pointing out that the Holy Father isn’t helping the situation. His recent morning homilies have frequently criticized “doctors of the law” and those who try to uphold doctrine, as if this were something wholly negative and anti-pastoral. They also regret that his regular warnings against gossip – although valid in themselves – are, in effect, closing down legitimate criticism for fear that such censure might be construed as harmful chatter.

The Holy Father has talked about a “protected space” for the synod in which the Holy Spirit can work, and authentic debate on all these issues can take place.

But as any impartial observer could point out, if only one half is protected (a half, it should be said, which many fear is a departure from the Church’s doctrine and practice) how can any debate be free, open and authentic?

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Hundreds of Priests State ‘Unwavering Fidelity’ to Church’s Doctrine


Almost 500 priests from England and Wales have signed an open letter stating their “unwavering fidelity” to the Church’s traditional doctrine regarding marriage and human sexuality.

Following “much confusion” that derived from the Extraordinary Synod of Bishops last October, and ahead of an Ordinary Synod on the Family to take place this autumn, the priests said they wished to “commit ourselves anew” to presenting the Church’s teaching in its fullness while reaching out “with the Lord’s compassion” to those struggling with living the Gospel “in an increasingly secular society.”

Implicitly addressing the debate of readmission of divorced and civilly remarried Catholics to holy Communion – a move discussed at the synod which opponents say would undermine crucial Church teaching on the indissolubility of marriage – they affirmed “the importance of upholding the Church’s traditional discipline regarding reception of the sacraments”. The priests also stressed that “doctrine and practice” must remain “firmly and inseparably in harmony.”

The clergy, who are theologians, philosophers, canon lawyers, well-known educators and evangelists, closed by urging all the participants of the Ordinary Synod to “make a clear and firm proclamation of the Church’s unchanging moral teaching, so that confusion may be removed, and faith confirmed.”

The priests reportedly felt the need to make their voices heard amid a climate “of moral confusion” created by media coverage of the synod and a lack of clarity from official Church leaders.

Quoting an anonymous priest, Voice of the Family, a coalition of pro-life groups which had no part in the initiative but welcomes it, said there had been “a certain amount of pressure not to sign the letter and indeed a degree of intimidation from some senior churchmen.” Another priest said so many signed the letter because “it’s a matter of pastoral concern and fidelity to the Gospel.”

Asked if the letter was reactionary or merely extreme traditionalism, another priest responded: “Were Saints Thomas More and John Fisher obscurantist conservatives? No. They gave their lives in defense of the indissolubility of marriage. Catholics at the time of Henry VIII were willing to give up a thousand years of Catholic life and culture to defend the inconvenient but timeless truth. Now is our time to give witness.”

The priests’ letter, which developed spontaneously and without any coordinating body, is the latest in a series of initiatives aimed at shoring up the traditional teaching of the Church ahead of this year’s synod. In January, a large confraternity of English-speaking clergy made a similar reaffirmation. Meanwhile, a laity-driven filial appeal, calling on Pope Francis to uphold the Church’s teaching on marriage, the family and human sexuality at the next synod, has at the time of writing received nearly 150,000 signatures.

These initiatives, along with that of the priests, are likely to serve to remind the synod organisers and those supportive of Cardinal Walter Kasper’s proposal for remarried divorcees that they will face considerable resistance come October. Today’s move is also being seen as heroic, probably limiting the chances of the signatories of their promotion to the episcopate.

In his homily on the eve of the conclave that elected him in 2005, Benedict XVI said that, in a world governed by a dictatorship of relativism, “having a clear faith based on the Creed of the Church is often labeled as fundamentalism”. Given the resistance to this initiative among some ecclesiastical leaders, it appears such an attitude now pervades the highest levels of the Church.

Cardinal Vincent Nichols, the archbishop of Westminster, has voiced his opposition to the priests’ initiative, saying their concerns are “not best conducted through the press.”

SIR – Following the Extraordinary Synod of Bishops in Rome in October 2014 much confusion has arisen concerning Catholic moral teaching. In this situation we wish, as Catholic priests, to re-state our unwavering fidelity to the traditional doctrines regarding marriage and the true meaning of human sexuality, founded on the Word of God and taught by the Church’s Magisterium for two millennia.

We commit ourselves anew to the task of presenting this teaching in all its fullness, while reaching out with the Lord’s compassion to those struggling to respond to the demands and challenges of the Gospel in an increasingly secular society. Furthermore we affirm the importance of upholding the Church’s traditional discipline regarding the reception of the sacraments, and that doctrine and practice remain firmly and inseparably in harmony.

We urge all those who will participate in the second Synod in October 2015 to make a clear and firm proclamation of the Church’s unchanging moral teaching, so that confusion may be removed, and faith confirmed.

Yours faithfully,

Fr John Abberton, Fr Raymond Abuga MSP, Fr Benedict Bullem Abuo, Fr John Adikwu CM, Fr Richard Aladics, Fr Dominic Allain, Fr Hugh Allan OPraem, Monsignor John Allen, Fr Jim L Allen, Fr Blaise Amadi, Fr Moses Amune, Fr Thomas Amungwa, Fr David Annear, Fr Matt Anscombe, Fr Paul Antwi- Boasiako CSSP, Fr Gabriel Arnold OSB, Fr Thevakingsley Arulananthem OAR, Fr James Austin, Fr Francis Austin, Abbot Francis Baird OSB, Fr Gerard Balinnya, Fr John Barnes, Fr Kurt Barragan, Fr Lee Barrett, Fr Bernard Barrett, Fr Andrew Barrett, Fr Christopher Basden, Fr Jeremy Bath, Fr Antoine Baya OFM, Fr Michael Beattie SJ, Fr Miceal Beatty, Fr Lee Bennett, Fr Jerome Bertram CO, Fr Kazimierz Bidzinski, Fr Pawel Bielak, Fr Jonathan Bielawski, Fr Robert Billing, Fr Martin Birrell OSB, Fr Paul Blackburn, Fr Raymond Blake, Fr Terry Boyle, Fr Constant Botter SCJ, Fr Bede Rowe, Fr Bernard Boylan, Fr Cornelius Boyle, Fr Stephen Boyle, Fr James Bradley, Fr Jonathan Brandon, Fr Martin Breen, Fr John Brennan, Fr Neil Brett, Fr Charles Briggs, Fr Marcus Brisley, Abbot Cuthbert Brogan OSB, Fr Andrew Brown, Fr Stephen Brown, Fr Martin Budge, Fr Solomon Gidu Bulus, Fr Alan Burgess, Fr Paschal Burlinson OFMCap, Monsignor Andrew Burnham, Fr David Burns, Fr James Burns, Fr Peter Burns, Fr Gerard P Byrne, Fr John Cahill, Fr John Cairns, Fr Xavier Calduch, Fr Joe Calleja, Fr Victor Camilleri OFM, Fr Darren Carden, Fr Patrick Carroll, Fr Bernard Caszo MSFS, FrJohn Chandler, Abbot David Charlesworth OSB, Fr.William Charlton, Fr Neil Chatfield, Fr Gregory Chillman OSB, Fr David Chinnery, Fr Dominic Chukka, Fr Eddie Clare, Fr Basil Clark, Fr James Clark, Fr Peter Clarke, Fr Jose Claveria, Canon Joseph Clements, Fr Michael Clotheir OSB, Canon Matthew Coakley, Fr Anthony Cogliolo, Fr Christopher Colven, Fr Anthony Conlon, Fr Thomas Connolly, Fr Philip Conner, Fr Francis R Cookson, Fr John Cooper, Fr Robert Copsey SOLT, Fr John Corbyn, Fr Eamon Corduff, Fr Hugh Corrigan OAR, Fr James Cosker, Fr Francis Coveney, Fr Ross SJ Crichton, Fr Finton Crotty SSCC, Fr Edward Crouzet OSB, Fr C Crowther, Fr Michael Crumpton, Fr Anthony Cussen SMA, Fr Justin Daanaah, Fr James Daley MHM, Fr William Damah, Fr Michael D’Arcy-Walsh, Fr Jeremy Davies, Fr Philip de Freitas, Fr Armand de Malleray FSSP, Fr Timothy Dean, Fr Patrick Deegan, Fr Scott Deeley, Fr Richard Diala CM, Fr Paul Diaper, Fr Gary Dickson, Fr Charles Dilk CO, Fr Stephen Dingley, Fr Michael Docherty, Fr Charles Dornan, Fr Kevin Dow, Fr Jeffrey Downie, Fr Francis Doyle, Fr Marcin Drabik, Fr Gerry Drummond, Fr Tom Dubois, Fr John Duckett, Fr Richard Duffield CO, Fr Anthony Dukes, Fr Bruce Dutson, Fr Paul Dynan, Fr Philip Dyson, Fr James Earley, Fr Peter Edwards, Fr Robert Ehileme SMM, Fr Wilfrid Elkin, Fr Mark Elliot-Smith, Fr Joseph Etim, Fr Jude Eze, Fr Josaphat Ezenwa, Fr John Fairhurst SJ, Fr Ian Farrell, Fr Joseph Farrell, Fr Robert Farrell, Fr James Fasakin CSSp, Fr Prassad Fernando, Fr Christopher Findlay – Wilson, Fr Tim Finigan, Fr Kieran Fitzharris SVD, F. Gerald Flood, Fr John Fordham CO, Fr Andrew Forrest, Fr Thomas Forster, Fr Peter Fox, Fr William Fraser, Fr Patrick Gaffney CSSp, Fr Michael John Galbraith, Fr Andrew Gallagher, Fr Francis Gallagher, Fr Michael Gallagher, Fr Piotr Gardon SC, Fr John Gaul SCJ, Fr Guy de Gaynesford, Fr Vincent George CM, Fr Paul Gibbons, Fr Damien Gilhooley, Canon Leo Glancy, Fr Peter Glas, Fr Matthew Goddard FSSP, Fr Gonzalo Gonzales, Fr Maurice Gordon, Canon David Grant, Fr Brian Gray, Fr Andy Graydon, Fr Christopher Greaney, Fr John Greatbatch, Fr Julian Green, Fr Ian Grieves, Fr Nigel Griffin, Fr Philip J Griffin, Fr Tom Grufferty, Fr Jozef Gruszkiewicz, Fr Anton Guziel CO, Fr Bernard Hahesy, Fr Henryk Halman FDP, Fr John Hancock, Fr Neil Hannigan, Fr Francis Capener, Fr Stephen Hardaker, Fr Andrew Harding, Fr Benedict Hardy OSB, Fr David Hartley, Fr Raymond Hayne, Canon Brendan Healy, Fr Ian Hellyer, Fr John Hemer MHM, Fr Simon Henry, Fr Jonathan Hill, Fr Michael Ho-Huu-Nghia, Fr Marcus Holden, Fr Angelus Houle, Fr John Hunwicke, Fr Geoffrey Hurst, Fr David Hutton, Fr Patrick Hutton, Fr Raymond Hynes OFM, Fr Jude Iseorah SMM, Fr.Matthew Jakes, Fr Dylan James, Fr Slawomir Jedrych, Fr John Johnson, Fr Michael Jones, Fr Peter Jones, Fr Darryl Jordan, Fr Kevin Jordan, Fr Nicholas Kavanagh, Fr Brendan Kelly, Fr Daniel M Kelly, Fr John B Kelly, Fr Michael Kelly, Fr Peter Kelly, Fr Joseph Kendall, Fr Vincent Kennedy OFM, Fr John Kennedy, Fr Ian Ker, Fr Brendan Killeen, Fr Peter Kirkham, Monsignor David Kirkwood, Fr Krzysztof Kita, Fr Peter Knott SJ, Fr Vitalis Kondo, Fr Jaroslaw Konopko OFMCap, Fr Saji Matthew Koottakithayil MSFS, Fr Wojciech Kowalski SDS, Fr Douglas Lamb, Fr Michael Lang CO, Fr Julian Large CO, Fr John Laybourn, Fr Brian Leatherland, Fr.Paul Lester, Fr Nicholas Leviseur, Fr Jacob Lewis, Canon Michael Lewis, Fr Joseph Liang AA, Fr Gladstone Liddle, Fr Christopher Lindlar, Fr Denys Lloyd, Fr Laurie Locke, Canon Bernard Lordan, Fr Christopher Loughran, Fr Roy Lovatt, Fr Robbie Low, Fr Alexander Lucie Smith, Fr John Lungley, Canon Brendan MacCarthy, Canon John Angus MacDonald, Fr Stanislaus Maciuszek, Fr Hugh MacKenzie, Canon Peter Magee, Fr Brian O Mahony CSSP, Fr Kieran Mullarkey, Fr John Maloney, Fr Aleksander Marcharski, Fr Geoffrey Marlor, Fr Francis Marsden, Fr Bernard Marsh, Fr Terry Martin, Fr John Masshedar, Fr William Massie, Fr Michael Bateman, Fr Stephen Maughan, Fr Laurence Mayne, Fr Paul McAlinden, Fr James McAuley, Canon Anthony McBride, Monsignor Canon Kenneth McBride, Fr Ian McCarthy, Fr Derrick McCulloch, Fr John McCullough, Fr.David McDonald, Canon John McElroy, Fr John McFadden CSSP, Fr Terry McGarth MSFS, Fr Brian McGilloway, Fr Denis McGillycuddy, Fr Brendan McGuinness SDB, Fr Rupert McHardy CO, Canon Patrick McInally, Fr Bernard McInulty, Fr Michael McLaughlin, Fr William McMahon, Fr Martin McPake SVD, Fr Anthony Meredith SJ, Fr Stuart Meyer, Fr Nazarius Mgungwe, Fr Jan Milcz CSsR, Fr Philip Miller, Canon Paul Mitcheson, Fr Thomas Monaghan, Fr.Augustine Monaghan MHM, Monsignor Vaughan Morgan, Fr Richard Moroney, Fr Mark Morris, Fr Stephen Morrison OPraem, Fr Frederick Moss MHM, Fr Andrew Moss, Fr Deodat Msahala, Fr Clement M Mukuka, Fr Ted Mullen IC, Fr Ghislain B Mulumanzi, Fr John Mundackal, Fr Aidan Murray SDB, Monsignor Provost Cyril Murtagh, Fr Noel Bisibu N’Tungu, Fr Bijoy Chandra Nayak CMF, Fr James Neal, Fr Arthur Nearey, Fr Roger Nesbitt, Fr Peter Newsam, Fr Ponder Paulinus Ngilangwa SDS, Fr Guy Nicholls, Fr Aidan Nichols, Fr Julius Nkafu, Fr Peter Norris, Fr Bernardine Nsom, Canon Kevin O Connor, Fr Dominic O Conor, Fr Liam O Conor, Fr Patrick O Doherty, Fr Kevin O Donnell, Canon Vincent O Hara ODC, Fr Conleth O Hara CP, Fr Dominic O Hara, Fr Andrew O Sullivan, Fr Kevin O Toole, Fr Robert Ogbede CM, Fr Flavin Ohayerenwa CSSp, Fr Tobias Okoro, Fr Addison Opkeoh, Fr.Clement Orango MCCJ, Fr John Osman, Fr Arockia Mariadass Pagyasamy OCD, Fr Binu Palakapally IC, Fr David Palmer, Fr Fortunato Partisano, Fr John Pascoe, Fr Michael Patey, Fr Eoin Patten, Fr Sunny Paul, Fr Maurice Pearce, Fr Anthony Pellegrini, Fr Neil Peoples, Fr Leon Pereira OP, Fr David Phillips, Fr Terry Phipps, Fr.Andrew Pinsent, Fr Dawid Piot, Fr Anthony Plummer, Fr John Lawrence M. Polis FI, Fr Graham Preston, Fr James Preston, Fr Peter Preston SDS, Fr Robert Pytel, Fr Gerard Quinn, Fr Behruz Rafat, Fr N Ratu, Fr John Ravensdale, Fr David Rea, Monsignor Gordon Read, Monsignor Alex Rebello, Fr Charles Reddan SDS, Fr Alexander Redman, Fr Stephen Reynolds, Fr John Rice, Fr Graham Ricketts, Fr Jonathan Rollinson OSB, Fr George M Roth FI, Fr Andrew Rowlands, Canon Luiz Ruscillo, Fr Tadeusz Ruthowski, Fr Paschal Ryan, Fr Mario Sanderson, Fr John Saward, Fr Nicholas Schofield, Fr Alphege Stebbens OSB, Fr Francis Selman, Fr Jean Claude Selvini, Very Rev’d Fr Daniel Seward CO, Fr John Sharp, Fr Alexander Sherbrooke, Fr John Shewring, Fr Chris Silva, Fr William Simpson, Fr Bernard Sixtus, Fr Thomas Skeats OP, Fr Gerard Skinner, Fr John Smethurst, Fr Bernard Snelder MHM, Fr Pryemek Sobczak, Fr Edward Sopala, Fr Michael Spain OCD, Fr Roger Spencer, Fr.Simon Stamp, Fr Andrew Starkie, Fr Pawel Stebel, Fr Jeffrey Steel, Monsignor George Stokes, Fr Brian Storey, Monsignor Richard Stork, Fr Damian Sturdy OSB, Fr Shaun Swales, Fr Martin Sweeney MHM, Fr Mark Swires, Fr Roman Szczypa SDB, Fr Ryssard Taraszka, Fr Brian Taylor, Fr Christopher A Thomas, Fr Sean Thornton, Fr Matthew Thottathimyali, Fr Adrian Tomlinson, Fr Edward Tomlinson, Fr Dennis Touw, Fr Simon Treloar, Canon Harry Turner, Fr Andrew Undsworth, Fr John Vallomprayil SDS, Fr Edward van den Bergh CO, Fr Ian Vane, Fr Peter Vellacott, Fr Gregory Verissimo, Fr Mark Vickers, Fr Neil Vincent, Fr David Waller, Fr Gary Walsh, Fr John Walsh, Fr Joseph Walsh, Fr Patrick Walsh, Fr Victor Walter, Fr Edward Wanat SDS, Fr Peter Wareing CMF, Fr Ged Watkins, Fr Peter Wells, Fr Richard Whinder, Fr Henry Whisenant, Fr Joseph Whisstock, Fr.David J White, Fr Christopher Whitehouse, Fr William Wilby, Fr Bruno Witchalls, Fr Anthony Wood, Fr Jeffrey Woolnough, Fr William Wright OSB, Fr William R Young, Fr Lucjan Zaniewski OFMCap, Fr Richard Mary Zeng SDS, Fr Paul Zielinski, Fr Bartholomew Zubeveil CSSp
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‘Jesus of Nazareth’ Concluded Benedict XVI’s Theological Work, Secretary Says


VATICAN CITY — Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI is no longer writing on theology, as he doesn’t have the strength to continue with this work, his personal secretary has said.

In an interview with the Italian weekly magazine Oggi, published March 17, Archbishop Georg Gänswein said Benedict XVI “no longer dedicates himself to theological or scientific writings,” and with the completion of his three volumes of Jesus of Nazareth, “he has concluded his theological work.”

“He says he doesn’t have the strength to write anymore,” Archbishop Gänswein said. “He continues to preach a homily at holy Mass on Sunday — without notes. He has a great memory.”

Daily Life

The pope emeritus is “well for his age,” and every afternoon he takes a stroll in the Vatican Gardens (Oggi released photographs of Benedict and the archbishop walking on the grounds). “He usually goes with me; we recite the Rosary together. We walk for half an hour,” said Archbishop Gänswein, who has been Benedict’s personal secretary since 2003.

He said Benedict used to walk briskly, but on the advice of a doctor, he now uses a walker outside and a walking stick in his Mater Ecclesiae residence, a converted former convent.

A source close to the pope emeritus told the Register that Benedict’s inability to write has less to do with his age than physical state, noting that Joseph Ratzinger had never been physically strong. The pope emeritus also told private visitors at the beginning of last year that he would write no more theology after his trilogy on Jesus.

Archbishop Gänswein said the pope emeritus, nevertheless, keeps a daily routine.

“The day always begins with Mass, and I concelebrate with him every morning,” he said. “During the day, he prays, studies, responds to many letters and, not infrequently, plays the piano in the evening.”

Papal Perspective

Recalling the time when Benedict left the apostolic palace for the last time two years ago, on Feb. 28, the German prelate said he “was moved” to see him leave and did not have a heart “of stone.”

“After eight years as [his] secretary, I was living a historic moment,” he said. “Instead, Pope Benedict was serene.” That evening, he recalled, “all of [my] emotions that had been held back until then became tears.”
Archbishop Gänswein, who also serves as prefect of the pontifical household under Pope Francis, reflected on his unprecedented role of serving two pontiffs. “I started this journey with great faith, energy, but also a bit of apprehension. Now, after two years, it is easier.”

He continued: “At first, I was more insecure, also because, at the outset, some didn’t welcome the presence of the pope emeritus in the Vatican. Then came Francis’ welcoming attitude to Benedict XVI, which was, and is, exemplary. Between the two, there really is a very friendly and respectful relationship.”

Recalling the Vatileaks scandal and Benedict’s resignation, Archbishop Gänswein said it was “a difficult period,” and he “experienced disappointment; I felt betrayed.”

But he said Pope Benedict’s confidence in him was never lacking. “I felt, in a sense, responsible for not having been more vigilant, for bestowing trust on those who didn’t deserve it,” he said.

He consoles himself with the thought that “even among the apostles there were those who betrayed” Jesus, but said that when he realized someone so close to the pope had done so, he “was very shocked.”

“When I look back, I feel pangs in the heart,” he said.

On Pope Francis, he said that the Holy Father’s media image coincides with the Francis he has gotten to know on a personal level. “Francis is an authentic person,” he said, adding that he was “surprised at his capacity to work.”

“He always has many appointments, private and general audiences, personal meetings. And, at 78 years of age, he tackles everything with an extraordinary strength.”

On the Pope’s plans for reform, the archbishop said there are those who don’t share his vision, but he dismissed reports that the plans are being “hindered or thwarted.” The challenges of the missionary Church represent the theme of this pontificate, he said, adding that economic and financial questions and other aspects of Curial reform are ongoing, “but need patience and time.”

He added, “A large ship cannot change direction in a short time. It isn’t a small boat.”

Edward Pentin is the Register’s Rome correspondent.

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Miracle in Pope’s Presence Stirs Debate


The miraculous liquefying of a famous blood relic in the presence of Pope Francis in Naples last Saturday continues to stir debate, with some insisting it was the first time it had happened in front of a pontiff, and others arguing it was stage managed.

As Francis venerated the relic — two phials of coagulated blood of San Gennaro, Naples’ patron saint — the blood “half liquefied,” according to Cardinal Crescenzio Sepe, the city’s archbishop.

Sepe called it “a sign that San Gennaro loves Pope Francis: half of the blood turned to liquid.” Francis replied by saying it “means the saint loves us halfway. We all have to convert a little more so that he loves us more.”

The relic of San Gennaro, a 4th century saint, usually miraculously liquefies three times a year: on the saint’s feast day on Sept. 19, the Saturday before the first Sunday of May, and on Dec. 16. When it hasn’t done so, a calamity for Neapolitans has sometimes ensued.

The Catholic Church has never officially recognized the liquefaction as a miracle and has preferred to stay neutral about scientific investigations into the phenomenon. But some saints attest to its authenticity. Blessed John Henry Newman allegedly once said he thought it “impossible to withstand the evidence” of the liquefaction of the blood relic. St. Alphonsus Liguori even chastised “some heretics” for trying to “throw a doubt upon its genuineness.”

The semi-liquefaction on Saturday was reported to be the first time the miracle had occurred in front of a pope since Pope Pius IX in 1849, although this has now been disputed. According to Msgr. Vincenzo De Gregorio of the royal chapel of San Gennaro, the relic was put on display twice in September that year when Pius was visiting the chapel.

On the pope’s first visit on Sept. 6, 1849, “there is no mention of the miracle happening,” De Gregorio told Avvenire, the newspaper of the Italian bishops. The pope celebrated Mass there on Sept. 20, but the blood was already liquefied as the miracle had taken place the day before, on the feast day of San Gennaro, and so not in Pius’ presence.

This would mean that for the first time in the church’s history, the miracle occurred in front of a pope last Saturday. Even the presence of Francis immediate predecessors, Pope St. John Paul II and Benedict XVI, didn’t prompt the liquefaction. But did it really happen?

Some argue it was stage managed, and that by shaking the vials, which Sepe was seen to be doing before showing the relic to Francis, the coagulated blood naturally began to liquefy. If so, this would correspond to recent scientific studies by professor Giuseppe Geraci which purport to show blood from another relic, belonging to Eremo di Camaldoli of the 18th century, changing from solid liquid by shaking.

Others, particularly a few practicing Catholics uneasy with the direction Pope Francis is leading the Church, referred to the Bible, specifically Matthew 24:24: “For false messiahs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect.”

But those who watch the video insist they can see the blood moving in the phials. Sepe said the liquefaction should be “looked at from a different point of view” and that what matters is the Pope’s “gesture of devotion” to San Gennaro. “Then it becomes irrelevant that the blood liquefies on this occasion but not in the presence of other pontiffs,” he said. “In any case, our saint showed that he is close to us.”

“Do you know what the real miracle was?”, Sepe, a chain smoker, joked. “I didn’t smoke a cigarette all day. Now that’s a miraculous event.”


ISIS Threats Prompt Tight Security for Pope Visit


Following ISIS threats and the recent terrorist atrocity in Tunisia, a massive security operation is underway in the Italian city of Naples in preparation for Pope Francis’ visit to the city on Saturday.

Both Italian and Vatican security chiefs have been working flat out for the past month to ensure the Pope’s one-day visit to the city and a shrine at Pompeii passes without incident.

Three thousand security personnel, including police and firefighters, will be drafted in for the visit, many of whom will line a 16 mile route the Pope will take by car. They will also be patrolling the sea and skies around the Italian coastal city.

The high levels of security follow this week’s atrocity in Tunis, just 355 miles from Naples, when two Islamists from Libya attacked a museum resulting in the deaths of 23 people, including 20 tourists. Francis condemned the atrocity Thursday, calling it an “attack against peace and the sacredness of human life.”

As many as 3 million people are expected to turn out to see the Pope who will arrive from the Vatican by helicopter.

On arrival, he is to pray at Pompeii’s Marian shrine and greet families and the sick during his pastoral visit to Naples. He will also visit a prison and have lunch with inmates who will include AIDS sufferers and transgender detainees.

The Pope, who has made reaching out the poor a priority of his pontificate, will begin the Naples leg of his visit by visiting Scampia, an impoverished suburb. He is also expected to speak out against the Mafia in a city famous for its ties to organized crime.

The one-day visit, which takes part during Lent, therefore aims to be one of solidarity with the poor and afflicted, shunning the festive nature of some previous papal visits to the city.

This preference for sobriety resulted in Cardinal Crescenzio Sepe, the archbishop of Naples, reportedly having to shelve two major concerts he had helped to arrange to coincide with the visit. Italian media reports say the Vatican did not approve of the events, telling organizers they would have provided too much spectacle for a pastoral trip of Francis.

During his visit, the Pope will also venerate a relic of the city’s patron San Gennaro. Almost every year, the blood contained in two glass phials miraculously liquefies. When it doesn’t, locals believe disaster will strike the city, as it has on five previous occasions.

The miracle usually takes place on the anniversary of the martyrdom of San Gennaro in September 305 AD, but the Church says it can take place three times a year thanks to the devotion and prayers of the faithful.

This will be the Pope’s second visit to Italy’s Campania region in less than a year. St. John Paul II also visited Pompeii and Naples in October 1979 and October 2003. Benedict XVI visited the shrine at Pompeii in October 2008.


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