Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Catholic Carnival 104

Catholic Carnival 104 is up. I submitted a post, but I'll make you check the link to find out which one it is.


Think You Know the Bible

Who says Catholics don't know the Bible? H/T to Brian.

You know the Bible 93%!

Wow! You are awesome! You are a true Biblical scholar, not just a hearer but a personal reader! The books, the characters, the events, the verses - you know it all! You are fantastic!

Ultimate Bible Quiz
Create MySpace Quizzes

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

The Future of Latin

Fr. Reggie Foster is the best Latin teacher around. I hope that someday I will get the opportunity to spend a summer studying Latin with him. I will have to get a lot better at it than I am now.

I don't know what got into him with some of these quotes. Although he is known to be pretty liberal and rough around the edges, I doubt he said some of the things he is quoted as saying.

From the Telegraph:

For years it was derided by unwilling schoolboys for being "as dead as dead could be". Now, despite the Vatican's best efforts, the Pope's top adviser on Latin has reluctantly joined them by saying the language of St Augustine and St Thomas Aquinas is almost extinct.

"It is dying in the Church. I'm not optimistic about Latin. The young priests and bishops are not studying it," said Fr Reginald Foster, 68, a Carmelite friar who was appointed the Papal Latinist 38 years ago by Pope Paul VI.

He said priests were no longer compelled to study Latin at seminaries, and now found it impossible to read vital theological tracts.

"You cannot understand St Augustine in English. He thought in Latin. It is like listening to Mozart through a jukebox," he told The Sunday Telegraph. "We still speak Latin in the elevators and around the house in my monastery at San Pancrazio, just like 45 years ago. But nowadays the students don't get it, and I don't blame them – it's not their fault."

Yet even though Fr Foster, who has translated speeches and letters for four popes, says he can see no future for the language, he has just launched a new Latin Academy in Rome, near the Pantheon, in his final effort to prevent it from dying out. He hopes to attract 130 students a year, though he will not say how the new school is being funded.

Originally from Milwaukee, Fr Foster is widely regarded as one of the world's foremost Latin scholars and until recently taught a hugely popular course at Rome's Jesuit-run Gregorian University.

He spends his mornings at the Vatican, in an office just along the corridor from Pope Benedict. Outside his door, he has reprogrammed a Vatican cash machine to display instructions in Latin: "Inserito scidulam quaeso ut faciundum cognoscas rationem" - which, translated loosely, means: "Insert your card so that the account may be recognised."

He said: "I'm not the boss, but I'm the oldest. I translated Deus Caritas Est, the last encyclical. We do bishops' appointments, which are still written on papyrus in Latin, and letters of congratulations from the Pope."

Although Pope Benedict grew up with Latin, and is fluent in the language, Fr Foster said he did not "have time" to compose and translate the hundreds of documents that the Vatican issues. Paul VI insisted on greater use of Latin within the Vatican, but Fr Foster said more junior members of the Catholic hierarchy were less enthusiastic now.

"I'm worried that if one Cardinal makes one or two decisions it could all go," he said. "Already, we are sending congratulation letters to some Cardinals and they say can we please provide a translation. They want to read them out in the church and so on. Of course, I won't provide translations. We might as well be writing in Mandarin."

He said reports that Pope Benedict will reintroduce the Tridentine Mass, which dates from 1570 and is largely conducted in Latin, were wrong – not least because of the Pope's desire to avoid more controversies. A speech last year offended Muslims and more recently he gave initial support to a Polish archbishop who was eventually forced to resign, after admitting that he had collaborated with the communist-era secret police.

"He is not going to do it," Fr Foster said. "He had trouble with Regensberg, and then trouble in Warsaw, and if he does this, all hell will break loose." In any case, he added: "It is a useless mass and the whole mentality is stupid. The idea of it is that things were better in the old days. It makes the Vatican look medieval."

He condemned the loss of Latin teaching in schools across most of Europe, and said that as a result students were missing out on important elements of history. "Like classical music, Latin will always be there. If we cannot understand it, it is we who are losing out."

Italy is, however, different: all schoolchildren, except those who attend technical colleges, must be taught Latin for at least four hours a week until they are 18. But Fr Foster said the techniques used to teach Latin were outdated. "You need to present the language as a living thing," he said. "You do not need to be mentally excellent to know Latin.

Prostitutes, beggars and pimps in Rome spoke Latin, so there must be some hope for us."

Last year Fr Foster was fired from the Gregorian University for allowing too many students to study without charging them.

"I was not going to play the policeman," he said. "I was happy to teach anyone who wanted to learn. Many of my students studied for three, four, five years -without -paying a single cent."

He argued that the only solution to the decline of Latin was for the Pope to lead by example. "Instead of a siesta, he should announce that from 2pm to 4pm every day he will read Latin at the Vatican."

He added with a twinkle: "People who come will get assignments. You will be picked on to answer questions, and if you mess up, the Pope will make you disappear. He can do that, you know."

Defacing the Sacrament of Reconciliation

Imagine someone approaching a priest to receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation and lying in the confessional. Then the fake penitent writes an "expose" article telling their experiences. Despite the disheartening results of the article, what the reporters did is a sacrilege. Sacraments are to never be recieved under false pretenses. To do so defaces the Sacrament and makes a mockery of it.

From the Guardian:

A yawning gulf between the stern doctrines preached by Pope Benedict and the advice offered by ordinary Roman Catholic priests has been exposed by an Italian magazine which dispatched reporters to 24 churches around Italy where, in the confessional, they sought rulings on various moral dilemmas.

One reporter for L'espresso claimed to have let a doctor switch off the respirator that kept her father alive. "Don't think any more about it," she was told by a friar in Naples. "I myself, if I had a father, a wife or a child who had lived for years only because of artificial means, would pull out [the plug]."

Another journalist posed as a researcher who had received a lucrative offer to work abroad on embryonic stem cells. With the extra cash, he said, he and his wife could think about starting a family. So should he take up the post?

"Yes. Yes. Of course," came the reply.

The church's official teaching is that homosexuality is "disordered" and that homosexual behaviour is wrong. Yet a practising gay man in Rome was told: "Generally, the best attitude is to be yourself - what in English is called 'coming out'."

On one issue alone - abortion - the priests all stuck firmly to official doctrine. A reporter who said his wife had discovered their child would be born with Down's Syndrome, and that they were preparing to terminate her pregnancy, was told: "I swear to God: if you do it, you'll be a murderer."

But on other issues, that "moral relativism" so detested by Pope Benedict was the order of the day.

A journalist who said he was HIV-positive and used condoms to protect his partner was told it was "more of a personal problem, one of conscience".

And from Catholic News Service:

The Vatican newspaper denounced an Italian journalist who posed as a penitent and confessed fake sins in order to write an expose on the sacrament of reconciliation.

"Fake confessions in search of a shameful scoop," the newspaper, L'Osservatore Romano, headlined a commentary condemning the cover story of L'Espresso magazine, one of the country's leading weeklies.

"Shame! There is no other word to express our distress toward an operation that was disgusting, worthless, disrespectful and particularly offensive," the newspaper said.

The commentary said the article had exploited the good faith of confessors and offended the religious sentiments of millions of people.
"It was a sacrilege, because it violated the sacred space in which a self-recognized sinner asks intimately to receive God's merciful love," it said.

The reporter made his false confessions to 24 different priests in five Italian cities, including Rome. The magazine said the idea was to see how priests handle difficult pastoral situations and whether they followed the strict norms laid out by church teaching.

The reporter, for example, told two priests he was HIV-positive and wondered whether he should use a condom when having sexual relations with his girlfriend. One told him no, and the other said it was a question of conscience, the magazine reported.

More than once, the magazine said, priests gave quite different advice on his supposed "sins," which included matters relating to homosexuality, divorce, stem-cell research, euthanasia and prostitution.

One issue that found unanimous condemnation by confessors was abortion, the magazine said.

Monday, January 29, 2007

iPod Transmitters and Satelitte Radio

I broke down this weekend and purchased two items I have been wanting for quite some time. I got a FM transmitter for my iPod and a Sirius Satellite Radio.

Let me just say that both of them are awesome and I couldn't be happier.

Now for the down side...I am disappointed with some of the programming on the Catholic Channel on Sirius. While I did enjoy hearing Rocco and Amy this afternoon, I was very disappointed in Dave and Susan Konig's show. I have never heard their show before so this is all I have to go on. I turned the radio on this morning at 11:15 a.m. and was promptly welcomed by their telling of the Mass they "attended" yesterday.

Why is attended in quotes? Well, because while Susan attended, Dave thought it was appropriate to leave the church with their children, aged 7 and 10, to wander around the church grounds. His excuse? The church was crowded, no seats were available, and he wasn't going to get anything out of standing in the foyer.

It got more appalling when he mentioned that his children got more religion in the churchyard then they would have in the church.

What did he teach his children? What did he teach his listeners? The message is simple. Mass is not important. It is not important enough to stand in the foyer and listen to the Mass because it wouldn't be the ideal, prayerful environment.

Guess what? Going to Mass with children isn't the ideal prayerful environment either, but we still bring them. A few weeks ago, I was at a Mass and there was a child in front of me who was running wild in the pew and completely distracting me. I didn't get as much out of the Mass as I would have otherwise, but I didn't even consider leaving.

What happened to going to church to worship God. Why are we looking for what WE will get out of it. IT'S NOT ALL ABOUT US!!!! There are times when we sill be distracted, uncomfortable, inconvenienced. There will be times when the priest doesn't give good homilies or speaks with an accent. There are innumerable things that can cause us to get less out of a Mass than we normally would, but in the end why are we there. What is the essence of what we get out of Mass. It's the EUCHARIST! That is what we get out of Mass. We worship God and He gives us the Eucharist...His own Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity. Seriously, what more can we ask for.

By leaving the church to wander the churchyard, he deprived himself and his children of the opportunity to worship before the presence of God in the Eucharist. He also deprived himself and at least one of his children the opportunity to receive Jesus in the Eucharist. In addition, he caused his children to miss their Sunday obligation to attend Mass.

The one redeeming part of the show was that Susan was not exactly approving of her husband's Sunday activity, but she didn't seem to have tried to prevent it.

Needless to say, I was appalled to hear this on a Catholic Radio station, much less one operated by the Archdiocese of New York. I will continue to listen and I fervently hope that this is a one time event and not standard for their program.

I will keep you updated.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Catholic Carnival 103

Catholic Carnival 103 is up. It is being hosted by Deo Omnis Gloria.

I have submitted my post on St. Margaret of Hungary. It's the first time I have participated in the Catholic Carnivals.

Life With Karol

Pope John Paul II's secretary, Stanislaw Cardinal Dziwisz, has written a book aptly titled "Life With Karol". While plans for this book's release in English have not been announced yet, it is being released this month in Italian and Polish.

Catholic News Service has posted several articles about the book.

Here are few quotes:

In his last will and testament, made public after his death, Pope John Paul strongly hinted that he had considered resignation as he prepared to turn 80 in the year 2000.

Cardinal Dziwisz said the pope, in fact, decided at the time to consult on the question with his closest aides, including then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger.

The pope concluded that he would remain in office, saying that God had called him to the papacy and that "God will call me back, in the form that he wishes," Cardinal Dziwisz wrote.

"At the same time, John Paul II also established a specific procedure for giving his resignation, in case he would not have been able to carry out his ministry as pope to the very end," Cardinal Dziwisz said."So, as one can see, he considered this possibility," he said.

The book recounts other behind-the-scenes moments, according to excerpts provided by the Italian publisher, Rizzoli:

-- On Sept. 11, 2001, shortly after two planes crashed into the twin towers in New York, the phone rang in the pope's office in Castel Gandolfo outside Rome.

"On the other end of the line was the frightened voice of Cardinal (Angelo) Sodano, the secretary of state. We turned the television on, and the pope was able to see those dramatic images, the collapse of the towers with so many poor victims imprisoned inside.

"The pope passed the rest of the day going back and forth between the television and the chapel to pray, he said."

He was worried, strongly worried that it wouldn't end there, and that the attack could set off an endless spiral of violence," Cardinal Dziwisz wrote.

-- Toward the end of the book, Cardinal Dziwisz described the pope's final moments."It was 9:37 p.m. We had noticed that the Holy Father had stopped breathing. But only in that precise moment did we see on the monitor that his great heart, after continuing to beat for a few moments, had stopped." Someone, he said, blocked the hands of the clock to mark the hour of the pope's passing. Those around the pope's bed began singing a "Te Deum" of thanksgiving, not a requiem.

"We were crying. How could one not cry! They were tears of both sadness and joy. It was then that all the lights in the house were turned on. ... And then, I can't remember. It was as if it had suddenly become dark. It was dark above me, and it was dark inside of me," he said.

Read the complete article here.

And another:

In the winter of 1981, the pope, his secretary and two of his Polish aides decided to make a "getaway" to the mountains from the papal villa in Castel Gandolfo.

They packed into a car owned by one of the priests, in order not to raise suspicions, and when they passed the Swiss Guard post one prelate opened wide a newspaper to hide the pontiff in the back seat.

Then they drove to the central Italian ski town of Ovindoli without an escort, winding through mountain towns and carefully respecting the speed limits.

Once they arrived, they chose a deserted slope and the pope was able to ski all day long. On the way back, the pope smiled and said, "We did it!" It was the first of many such escapes, the papal secretary said.

In the beginning, no one -- including journalists and other Vatican officials -- knew about the mountain excursions.

And the odd thing was that, for a long time, no one recognized the pope, Cardinal Dziwisz said. He would dress as other skiers, with a ski jacket, beret and sunglasses, taking his place in line at the lifts with the rest.

One of the first people to recognize the pope was a young cross-country skier, a boy no more than 10 years old, who was lagging behind the rest of his family when he came upon the papal party. He asked them if they had seen his family go by, and one of the priests pointed to the trail.

At that moment, the pope arrived at the bottom of the slope.The boy looked astonished, pointed to the pontiff and began yelling, "The pope! The pope!"

One of the pope's aides intervened quickly: "What are you saying, silly! You'd better think instead about hurrying up, you're going to lose your group."

The boy skied away, and the pope and his friends quickly returned to their car and headed for Rome before the word got out.

Read the complete article here.

If the entire book is as good as these several stories, it should prove to be a vivid view into the life of our beloved departed Holy Father, John Paul the Great. I, as a proud member of the JPII generation, cannot wait for this book to be released in English.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

In Case You Were Wondering

So, what is Joaquin Navarro-Valls, the former Papal spokesman, doing in retirement?

Zenit is reporting that he is going to be president of the of the board of advisors of the Biomedical University of Rome. It is a natural move, since Dr. Navarro-Valls is a medical doctor.

Read the article here.

Also, I came across a website devoted to him. I don't know if it is his own site, or if it is run by an admirer, but there are some interesting links to articles about and by him.

Cardinal Stafford to Visit Archdiocese of Boston

Great idea, I wish I could go. I hope some of you can go, but as badly as I want to, I can't.

St. John's Seminary welcomes
J. Francis Cardinal Stafford,
Major Penitentiary of the Holy See

February 3 and 5, 2007

For Laity: Saturday February 3
4:00 pm The Role of the Laity regarding Reconciliation within the Church’s Life
5:30 pm Mass (priests invited to concelebrate; bring alb, stole)
6:30 pm Light reception (please RSVP)

For Priests: Monday February 5
12:00 Daytime prayer
12:15 Lunch (please RSVP)
1:30 The Role of the Bishop and Priest regarding Reconciliation within the Church’s Life

For Seminarians: Monday February 5
5:00 Holy Hour
6:00 Dinner (please RSVP)
7:00 Ministry of Reconciliation: with special focus on the Apostolic Penitentiary

For more information or to RSVP for meals, please contact Sister M. Pierre Jean, R.S.M.
Telephone 617-779-4369 ● Fax 617-787-2336 ● email

Can you guess why I can't go? Yes, I have to play for 4 p.m. Mass. My guess is that many people who would would want to go will have to be at their parishes also. Why isn't this on a Saturday morning?

Thursday, January 18, 2007

St. Margaret of Hungary

Today is the feast day of St. Margaret of Hungary. I knew practically nothing about her until Mass this afternoon, where the Dominicans as school preached about her life and how we can learn from her example. It was powerful stuff and exactly what I needed to hear today.

St. Margaret of Hungary was born in 1242. Her parents were Bela IV, king of Hungary and Croatia and his wife Marie Laskaris. Margaret's parents dedicated their next child to the Church if Hungary would be freed from the Tartars. Hungary was freed and Margaret was born. She entered the Dominican convent at the age of three.

When Margaret was 18, her father wanted her to marry the Bohemian king, King Ottokar II. She protested this vehemently, wishing to give her life to God and His Church. Saying, "I esteem infinitely more the King of Heaven and the inconceivable happiness of possessing Jesus Christ than the crown offered me by the king of Bohemia.”

She practiced severe corporal mortification and was known to spend each Friday in tears, contemplating the suffering of Our Lord.

Margaret died on January 18, 1271 at the age of 29.

She was canonized in 1943 by Pope Pius XII.

Now, what does this have to do with us. Well, everything. Margaret set an example for us that all the riches in the world cannot compare to the wealth of graces which come from God.

As the scripture reading for today, (St. Margaret of Hungary) said:

I prayed, and prudence was given me; I pleaded and the spirit of Wisdom came to me.
I preferred her to scepter and throne, And deemed riches nothing in comparison with her,
nor did I liken any priceless gem to her; Because all gold, in view of her, is a little sand, and before her, silver is to be accounted mire.
Beyond health and comeliness I loved her, And I chose to have her rather than the light, because the splendor of her never yields to sleep.

Wisdom 7:7-10

What fitting words for today's feast. St. Margaret did not turn down figurative jewels and riches, scepter and throne to serve the Lord. They were real, and I am sure they were tempting.

Serving the Lord is not always easy, actually it isn't even usually easy. We have to think counter-culturally. We have to put aside the things the world tells us is valuable, the jewels, and trappings of power, and pick up the humility, service and self sacrifice. Those things are considered by the world to be sand, but we know the truth.

I as continue on my journey of study and service, it is easy to get caught up and lose focus. I will never become powerful, famous, and definitely will never be wealthy, but that isn't what matters. It is easy to get caught up in the ways of the world and judge yourself against others. If I think I am holier, smarter or more talented than someone else, in reality I am more sinful, stupider, and less talented.

So, what's the point of this? I don't know. Perhaps, I wrote this just to sort things out in my very confused mind. I hope there is someone out there who will find this post at some time and need it just as I needed the readings and homily at Mass today. Perhaps, that is too arrogant an assumption on my part. Let's just say I am one confused theology student trying to muddle her way though life.

Bishop D'Arcy Ad Multos Annos

From Allston-Brighton TAB:

Not many people get to celebrate a jubilee in their lifetime, but Bishop John D’Arcy has earned that rare distinction. With the anniversary of his 50th year as a priest fast approaching, D’Arcy chose to celebrate the occasion by returning to his roots and giving a Mass in the beloved neighborhood where he was born and raised, and to which he still has close ties.

D’Arcy, who is currently the bishop of the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend, Ind., is Brighton-born and bred. The son of Irish immigrants, as a child he lived on Upcrest Road and worked in his father’s grocery store. But rather than follow in his father’s footsteps and go into the food trade, D’Arcy chose to follow a higher calling and entered the priesthood.

“It was always something I thought about,” D’Arcy said, “Especially since I grew up in a family with strong Catholic ties, in a town with so much of a Catholic presence.”
Our Lady of the Presentation was his local parish, and the church figured strongly in the D’Arcy family’s life. “My parents were married there, and I celebrated my first Mass there,” he said. “It was our church. It was my spiritual roots.”

D’Arcy has had a rich and rewarding career in the service of God, starting in 1949 when he entered St. John’s Seminary in Brighton. After being ordained in 1957, he served at St. Mary’s in Beverly for nine years. He was then sent to Rome from 1965-68, where he earned a doctorate in spiritual theology.

His path then took him back to St. John’s, where he was on the faculty for several years. In 1975, he was ordained as auxiliary bishop for Boston, and in 1981, he was appointed regional bishop for Lowell. Since 1985, he has been bishop of Ft. Wayne-South Bend, a tough job, but one he loves. “It’s been a joy being in Indiana, but demanding,” he said.

Recently, D’Arcy got a letter from Monsignor William Fay of St. Columbkille’s, inviting him to say a Mass there. Fay has known D’Arcy since their days at St. John’s Seminary, when Fay was a student and D’Arcy a faculty member.

“I thought it would be a great idea for him give a Mass back in his old neighborhood,” said Fay. “I think the world of him. He’s a good priest and a great bishop.”

Last Sunday, more than 400 people attended the Mass, and several dozen came to a celebratory reception on his behalf. Many of the attendees were relatives, former classmates from St. John’s and old friends from the former Presentation parish who came say hello and wish him well.

D’Arcy mourned the loss of Our Lady of Presentation, which was closed in 2004. “I feel sad that OLP was closed,” he said. “I have had to close parishes in Indiana, and I know that it’s hard.” But he expressed excitement that the parish’s former members seem to have transplanted themselves to St. Columbkille’s and continue to carry on Brighton’s strong Catholic traditions.

Though D’Arcy has been a resident of the Midwest for the last 21 years, he will never call anywhere but Brighton home. He has family and friends here, and returns every Easter for a week and every summer for almost a month.

Sandro Magister on Pope Benedict's New Book

Read it here.

Our Lady of the Highway

From ANSA:

The Catholic Church intends to reach out to lonely truck drivers by holding masses in motorway lay-bys and setting up mobile chapels in service stations.

The plan is one of the results of a conference held in the Vatican last month, when clerics and experts from 21 countries talked about how to provide pastoral support to the millions of people whose lives are spent travelling.On the basis of that meeting, the Vatican department which deals with travel and immigration this week released a document outlining its plans to care for the people who live 'on the road'.

Monsignor Agostino Marchetto, head of the department, said that "human mobility" is one of the characteristics of the modern age and so the Catholic Church must make sure its presence is felt in this sphere.

The proposal to create roadside support for truck drivers came from Germany, where Church officials note that about two million people are either drivers themselves or belong to the immediate families of drivers.

But it won keen support from Brazilian clergy, who also talked about the need to create a friendly, family atmosphere among frequent road users. They backed the idea of 'church trucks' moving from one motorway service to another. Monsignor Wolfgang Miehle, migration official at the German bishops' conference, underlined the solitude that truck drivers suffer as they spend days and weeks covering thousands of kilometers alone.

Their work frequently produces "difficulties in maintaining social relations, even within their own families," he continued.

"Their harsh working conditions, bordering on exploitation, mean they can genuinely be considered poor".

Last month's conference in the Vatican was intended as a wake-up call to the Catholic Church to focus more attention on the people who through their work or lifestyles either travel frequently or are involved in the transport infrastructure.

Priests, bishops and Catholic organisations are being called on to offer support not only to truck drivers, but also to bus drivers, tourists, traffic safety officials, petrol pump attendants, people working in motorway toll booths and roadside restaurants and railway workers.

The over-arching goal is "to help them show solidarity and charity towards each other" and so make their world safer and more "human".

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Fr. Ralph Tetrault 1938-2007

Most retired priests are never really retired. Instead, they continues to minister to the community at large and assist pastors in all the surrounding towns.

That is what Fr. Ralph Tetrault did. Despite serious heart problems and several heart attacks, he could be found at several area parishes doing what he loved best. Serving God and the faithful.

After he retired, he was given a small organ and decided that he was going to learn to play. He took organ lessons and we even appeared in a few recitals together.

I was blessed to know Fr. Tetrault as a priest, friend, and fellow musician. He will be deeply missed.

Rev. Ralph D. Tetrault, 68, of Fall River died Saturday January 13, 2007 at Catholic Memorial Home.

Born in New Bedford on October 16, 1938, he was the son of the late Norman G. and Mary Jesse (Langford) Tetrault. He was a graduate of Holy Name School in New Bedford and Fairhaven High School, Class of 1956. He began his studied for the Priesthood at St. Thomas Seminary, Bloomfield, Conn., receiving an Associates Degree in 1959 and a Bachelors Degree in 1961 from St. Mary's Seminary in Baltimore.
Father Tetrault was ordained a priest on May 1, 1965 in St. Mary's Cathedral, Fall River, by the Most Reverend James J. Gerrard, Auxiliary Bishop of the Fall River Diocese. His assignments as a Parochial Vicar included Immaculate Conception Parish, Fall River (1965-1969), St. Patrick's Parish, Wareham (1969-1974), Sacred Heart Parish, Fall River, (1974-1977), and St. Thomas More Parish, Somerset (1977-1981).

He served as Pastor of St. Mary's Parish, North Attleboro from 1981-1994. He was the Pastor of St. Patrick's Parish, Wareham from 1994 until his retirement from active ministry in January 1998 due to failing health. In retirement he resided in Fall River at the Cardinal Medeiros Residence for Retired Priests, while celebrating Mass at the former Our Lady of Fatima Parish, Swansea, St. Dominic's Parish, Swansea, and St. Thomas More, Parish, Somerset.

Survivors include four brothers, Norman of Margate, FL, Wayne and Paul, both of New Bedford, and Gregory of Westport; four sisters, Susan Bryan-Royster of Gloucester; Nancy Rochon of Cumberland, RI, Pamela Silva of Dartmouth; and Valerie Fogarty of Worcester; and many nieces and nephews.

He was the brother of the late Maryann J. DeMelo.

Father Tetrault will be transferred to Holy Name of the Sacred Heart of Jesus Church, 121 Mount Pleasant St., New Bedford on Tuesday at 2 PM, where he will lie in state until a Wake Service at 7 PM. A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated on Wednesday at 11 AM, with Bishop George Coleman as principal celebrant. Burial will be in Sacred Heart Cemetery. Please do not send flowers. Remembrances may be made to the Cardinal Medeiros Residence, 375 Elsbree St., Fall River, MA 02720. For directions and guestbook, please visit

I pray that at this moment the Lord is embracing you and saying, "Well done, my good and faithful servant. Well done".

A New Catholic Television News Agency

From the South African Sunday Times:
A new Catholic news agency that will serve television stations and Internet sites has won the backing of the Vatican, the Holy See’s spokesman said.

The Vatican’s television station CTV "is naturally available to collaborate with all initiatives that make for better communication within the Church and about the Church," Federico Lombardi told reporters at the Vatican.

Jesus Colina, director of the religious news agency Zenit, is among the founders of H2O - named after the water molecule to suggest a fount of information.

Lombardi stressed that H2O would be "absolutely independent" of Zenit, which is associated with Legionnaires of Christ, a conservative congregation that is active in Latin America as well as Rome.
Colina told the ANSA news agency that H2O planned to be "self-financing" and hoped to reach at least 20 million users - media, Internet and cell phone - by 2009.

It will enter into competition with an existing television news agency, Rome Report, which is close to the conservative Catholic organisation Opus Dei.

View the H2O site here.
Visit the Rome Reports site here.

All The Pope's Men

Here is an interesting article from the Salt Lake Tribune. Rocco is quoted, as can be expected. lol!

I don't agree with everything in the article, but it does give something to think about.

Since becoming pope in April 2005, Benedict XVI has appointed about 30 U.S. bishops, and some see a pattern emerging that is different from John Paul II's, particularly in his later years.
Benedict is more involved in the process, observers say, poring over dossiers and case files, and he appears to value competence more than ideology.

Benedict's bishops tend to be "unflinchingly positive (men) who avoid conflict at all costs," said Rocco Palmo, a Philadelphia-based Vatican watcher who writes for the Tablet in London.

Such leaders show by example that the essence of the church is to uplift, not condemn. They are "open not only within the church but in public," Palmo said. "They are working for the good of all, Catholics and non."

The latest Benedict appointee who appears to bear this out is Bishop John Wester, the newly chosen leader of Utah's 200,000 Catholics, who is viewed as a pragmatist and nurturer and not as an ideologue.
Archbishop George Niederauer, of San Francisco, Wester's boss and the former head of the Salt Lake diocese, called him "one of the kindest-hearted persons I have ever met. He's solicitous of people's welfare. He has a good sense of humor and sees the inherent silliness in things."

Observers say Wester likely will not threaten to excommunicate Catholic politicians who support abortion rights, or attack gay activists or academics who challenge doctrinal interpretations. They do not think he will be rigid or authoritarian, or impervious to the needs of abuse victims.

"Some bishops come with their own or someone else's agenda," said Monsignor Francis Mannion, pastor at St. Vincent de Paul Church in Millcreek, Utah. "I don't think (Wester) is coming with any heavy agenda."

It is clear that Pope Benedict doesn't want "showboats as much as good, convincing men of integrity," said David Gibson, author of "The Rule of Benedict: Pope Benedict XVI and His Battle With the Modern Mind."

"It is part of a campaign for competency, especially after the sexual abuse crisis … (to find men) who can preach the Gospel and mind the store," he added.

Benedict has "actually disappointed people on the right who wanted a purge, and eased fears on the left," Gibson said. "He has not appointed crusaders, just good, strong orthodox bishops who can engage the culture without being flamboyant, without stirring divisions."
Niederauer, appointed by Benedict to be archbishop of San Francisco last year, is one such man.

He is gregarious, urbane, warm and witty. While he supports the church's positions, he is open-minded on such issues as gays in the seminary. Everyone, he argues, pledges celibacy whatever his attractions.

Niederauer "has been a hit," said the Rev. Thomas Reese, senior fellow at Georgetown's Woodstock Theological Center. "That was a great appointment."

Others see further evidence of Benedict's priorities in the choice of Archbishop Donald Wuerl, who took his place in June, for the Washington, D.C., diocese.

The Washington Post called the 65-year-old Wuerl a "poised, teacherly Pittsburgher … known as a behind-the-scenes bridge-builder, someone who preferred pressing quietly in private to making demands in public."

Wuerl is "thoughtful and well educated," Gibson said.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Priestly Chic

What's the latest in fashion? Clerical style. Namely, Msgr. Georg style. Don't believe me? Read this article from the Telegraph.
Priestly chic has hit the catwalk in Milan, with Pope Benedict's pin-up personal secretary inspiring the latest collection by Donatella Versace.
Father Georg Gänswein, or Gorgeous Georg to his admirers, represents a triumph of "more brain and less muscle", according to Miss Versace, who sent blond male models down the catwalk with clerical black jackets and priestly white shirts.

Clerical black and white in Donatella Versace’s collection at Men’s Fashion Week in Milan
"I was certainly inspired by him," she said. "I find his austerity very elegant. It is the right moment to show an ethical and spiritual man, free from all those pointless details. I also like Gregorian garb." She said her ideal man has biceps but "looks for his inside quality and trains it up, the muscles of the soul."

The collection at Men's Fashion Week in Milan won unanimous praise from the fashion press yesterday, and reignited Italy's fascination with the 50-year-old Bavarian who shares breakfast and lunch with the Pope every day.

Father Georg shot to fame after he was promoted to be Benedict's right-hand man in 2003 and became the pin-up of the Vatican, especially after pictures of him playing tennis appeared in Italy's gossip magazines.

Born in the Black Forest town of Riedern-am-Wald, Fr Georg was a part-time ski instructor in Germany and a professor at the Santa Croce University in Rome, run by Opus Dei, before joining the Pope's staff. His main duties involve handling correspondence.

"He is simply beautiful. He is the best news to come out of the Vatican," a female journalist at La Stampa gushed.

The austere and conservative priest, whose hair is now raffishly flecked with grey, fanned the flames of his female fans, who call themselves the Georgiste, by admitting that he had crushes on girls when he was younger. "My senses are healthy, and those that have healthy senses use them," he said.

And another article from the Times Online.
Donatella Versace has often raised eyebrows — and hemlines — with her outrageous designs for women. Yesterday, however, she stunned even blasé fashionistas by launching a “clergyman look” for men, inspired by Father Georg Gaenswein, the handsome 50-year-old private secretary to Pope Benedict XVI.

The outfit, modelled at the Milan menswear 2007-08 winter collection, features grey-black trousers and jacket with a clerical-style collar. “I was thinking of an austere, severe and ethical man. I find Father Georg’s austerity very elegant,” said Ms Versace.

Spirituality was “not the same as bigotry”, she said, adding that she was open to the idea of civil unions between gays or heterosexual couples. Proposals to make civil unions legal in Italy have divided the centre-left Government of Romano Prodi and aroused fierce opposition in the Vatican.

“It is the moment to display the muscles of the mind, not those of the gym,” Ms Versace said. “Fashion needs more rigour.” She said she had used a fabric that was “as soft to the touch as the wings of an angel”. The result was dubbed “priestly chic” by fashion writers.

Father Gaenswein, an amateur pilot and keen tennis player, hardly ever makes public comments, least of all on the frequent tributes to his good looks in Italian gossip columns. Last year he broke cover to complain about satirical sketches on Italian TV depicting the Pope. “Satire is fine. But these things have no intellectual quality and offend men of the Church,” he said. The sketches have been dropped.

Father Gaenswein became personal secretary to Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger in 2003, and moved into the Vatican with him after he was elected Pope. When Father Gaenswein turned 50 last July he gave a rare interview to Vatican Radio revealing their daily routine.

“The Pope’s day begins with Mass at 7am, followed by morning prayer and a period of contemplation,” he said. “Afterwards we eat breakfast together, and my day then begins with sorting through the correspondence, which arrives in considerable quantity.” He said that he accompanied the Pope to morning audiences, followed by lunch together, a “short walk” and a rest, after which “I present to the Pope documents which require his signature, or his study and approval”.

A Versace spokeswoman confirmed that the clergyman look had been inspired by Father Gaenswein, adding: “Few other places in the world are as influential as the Vatican.”

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Is It Cold?

From un-Muted Mumblings:
H/T to Brian

- Your lips freeze to the metal crucifix as you kiss your Rosary for the morning commute.
- You bless yourself with holy ice instead of holy water from the font by the front door.
- You experience an apparition walking by the front yard statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary; she isn't crying, but she appears to be shivering.
- The Rosary swinging from the rear view mirror chips ice off the windshield as you slam on the brakes.

and the number one way to know it is cold (not exclusive to Catholics)
- The environmentalists stop talking about global warming.

Interesting Use of the Pallium

Here is Archbishop-elect Cremona's coat of arms. I find it very interesting, especially since the pallium is superimposed on the Dominican symbol. The representation of the white habit and black cloak.

From Malta Star:

The coat of arms incorporates the three families of Mgr Cremona and his Episcopal insignia. In the top half of the shield there is the black cloak over the white habit of the Dominican order which has been the Archbishop’s religious family since he joined the order 45 years ago aged 16. In the remaining space of the shield the left half is taken up by the arms of the Cremona family while the Cauchi family, of Mgr. Cremona’s mother, is seen on the right.
The arms are surmounted by the green galero or Episcopal hat with a set of 10 tassels on either side. Emerging between the tassesls from behing the shield is a white Maltese cross to indicate the territory over which Mgr Cremona has pastoral responsibility. Below the galero and behind the shield there is also an archiepiscopal cross to indicate, together with the tassels and the pallium on the upper half of the shield, Mgr. Cremona’s rank.

At the bottom, below the shield is the new Archbishop’s motto – Prepare the way for the Lord!

Archbishop Cremona and the Papal Alb

Archbishop-elect Paul Cremona will be ordained a bishop on January 26th. At his ordination, he may be wearing a very interesting alb.

From Malta Star:

Archbishop-elect, Mgr Paul Cremona’s life long devotion and admiration for the pope of his childhood, Blessed John XXIII (Angelo Roncalli), has led to him being informed that he will be presented with the late pope’s alb for his Episcopal ordination later this month. is informed that the alb will then be kept at the Cathedral museum in Mdina.

The idea of having a memento of the man known as “Il Papa buono”, the good Pope, is the brainchild of Franciscan friar, Fr Anton Farrugia OFM. Fr Farrugia, who is a liturgy specialist, is currently posted at the Franciscan convent and church of Sacre Couer in Sliema, apart from assisting in the Maltese Curia’s Commission for the liturgy. Fr Farrugia is also a personal friend of Archbishop Loris Capovilla who is presently the Pontificial Prelate for the shrine of Our Lady of Loreto in Italy and, more importantly, was the private secretary of the Blessed John XXIII.

Fr Farrugia wrote to Mgr Capovilla, now 91 years old, after the announcement that Fr Paul Cremona had been nominated to succeed Mgr Mercieca as archbishop of Malta and informed him of the new archbishop’s devotion and admiration for the late Papa Roncalli, so much so that Fr Cremona’s doctoral thesis was entitled The Concept of Peace in Pope John XXIII. Fr Farrugia suggested that Mgr Capovilla find a suitable memento of the late Pope to present to Malta’s archbishop elect. For some reason, Mgr Capovilla took some time to answer and Fr Farrugia asked a lay friend of his, Mr Joseph Mifsud of Sliema and who communicates with the Italian prelate regularly by phone, being himself also a devotee of the John XXIII, to check and see whether Bishop Capovilla had received his letter.

After this, Bishop Capovilla contacted Fr Farrugia and told him that he had decided to present Mgr Cremona with an alb, the white vestment priests dress when celebrating mass, which the Blessed Pope John XXIII used to wear when he was known Angelo, Cardinal, Archbishop Roncalli, Patriarch of Venice. Archbishop Capovilla said that the alb had been given to him by the late pope himself but that he would gladly let the new Maltese archbishop have it seeing how devoted he is to John XXIII. It was agreed that Bishop Capovilla would send the alb to the Roman convent of the Franciscan Friars Minor where Fr Farrugia would be attending a seminar this week and he would then bring it over to Malta with him to present to Mgr Cremona. is informed that it was Fr Farrugia who informed the Archbishop-Elect of the news. We are also informed that Fr Cremona was overjoyed and visibly moved with the news and that he insists that, if he does not wear it during his ordination, it should be put somewhere prominent in St John’s Co-Cathedral because the archbishop elect regards the alb of the late pope as a holy relic.

Vatican Shopping

Looking for after Christmas sales? How about the Vatican mall?

From the Guardian:

Crowds have been flocking to the Vatican this week, not to get a papal blessing or see the Sistine Chapel, but to snap up bargains at the winter sale at the Holy See's department store.
As Rome's post-Christmas sale season gets under way the Vatican store is offering some of the biggest savings in town on televisions, jewellery, designer handbags and clothing. But it is also the most exclusive event - it helps to know a cardinal to get in.

The three-floor emporium inside the Vatican is officially open only to Vatican staff, clergy and diplomats, but crafty Romans able to borrow a membership card from a friendly priest or Vatican cleaner are also taking advantage of the 20% to 40% discounts on the low tax-free prices offered all year round.

Italian daily Il Giornale said bargains included a leather handbag by Italian firm Coccinelle for £71, compared with £119 in shops a stone's throw away. Ralph Lauren shirts are being snapped up for £42, down from £79.

For the 1,500 staff of the tiny 108-acre state and their friends the store also offers suitcases, flat-screen TVs, chocolates, cigarettes and women's clothing including high-end brands such as Max Mara. Baume & Mercier watches worth thousands of euros are also available.
"It's not just the prices that I come for but the quality of the goods and the choice of top-notch brands," said a shopper.

The store was shifted from a basement to spacious premises in the Vatican's former railway station three years ago by Cardinal Edmund Szoka. The former archbishop of Detroit was appointed president of the Governorate of Vatican City, similar to the office of mayor, in 2001, with the mission to turn around the city state's forlorn finances.
Nearby another big earner is the Vatican's petrol pump, also open to membership card holders and offering tax-free fuel at around 60p a litre, 20p lower than Romans normally pay. A packet of Camel cigarettes costs £1.80, down from £2.30.

Vatican shopping also stretches to a supermarket and chemist, located in a small network of streets near St Peter's Square.

At the Paolo VI pharmacy the bargains can be had all year round, while across the street nuns pushing shopping trolleys take advantage of discounts of up to 10% in the well-stocked supermarket. A staff member said there were bigger savings in the wines and spirits aisle, where a three-litre bottle of Glen Grant whisky costs £19 and a bottle of Moët & Chandon £15.

I have to admit, while I have seen the Vatican supermarket and pharmacy, I have never been to the Mall. However, I have heard from friends with more priviledges that I, that it is a great place to shop.

Married Priest Embezzles from Parish

I don't know what to say. This story is shocking and the reaction of the parishioners might be even more shocking. I am sure we will be hearing a lot more about this guy.

From the Times-Dispatch:

Rodney L. Rodis' neighbors were shocked yesterday to learn the person they knew as a family man is actually a father of a different kind: a Catholic priest.

And one who is accused of stealing more than $600,000 from two churches in neighboring Louisa County.

"Totally dumbfounded," said Bev King, a former neighbor in the Sheraton Hills East subdi- vision in Spotsylvania County.
A court document listed Rodis as living with a "wife" and three children, without tying the children to Rodis. Louisa Commonwealth's Attorney R. Don Short declined to comment on why the word "wife" was on the document, but he confirmed that the court document was filled out accurately.

Neighbors say Rodis, a woman he referred to as his wife, and three children have lived together in the two-story brick home on Watson Lane for at least eight years.

They estimate the ages of the three girls as early 20s, early teens and between 5 and 8. Rodis told neighbors he was in the import-export business, they say, and he was often gone for days or weeks at a time.
"I did think there was something strange. He was always vague about what he did," said King, adding she thought he might be in the federal witness-protection program.

Another neighbor said he was never sure what Rodis did. "It all makes sense now. I would always see him leaving very early on Sunday mornings," said the man, who spoke on condition that he not be named.

Rodis generally arrived home from work in the late afternoons, typically wearing khakis and a white or blue shirt. "Never a [priest's] collar," the man added.

Rodis, 50, a Philippine citizen, faces a felony embezzlement charge accusing him of stealing donations to Immaculate Conception Catholic Church in Bumpass and St. Jude Catholic Church in Mineral, both of which are part of the Diocese of Richmond.

Health problems led Rodis to retire as pastor of both churches in May, according to prosecutor Short.

Diocesan lawyer William Etherington estimated the amount stolen at more than $600,000 from September 2001 through October 2006. Rodis allegedly funneled some donation money to a bank account that he set up in a church's name.

In Louisa General District Court on Thursday, Rodis agreed to surrender his passport as part of an agreement in which his bond was reduced from $100,000 to $10,000. It was not immediately clear yesterday whether he had made bond and been released from Central Virginia Regional Jail in Orange.

Neighbors referred to a woman named Joyce as being his wife.
The Spotsylvania County real estate assessment Web site lists a Joyce Sillador as owner of the house on Watson Lane in the Sheraton Hills East subdivision. It was assessed at $240,900 in 2006, according to the Web site.

A woman answering the door at that address answered, "Yes," when asked if Rodney Rodis lived there. Asked whether she was his wife, the woman replied, "I gotta go now," and closed the door.

At least five neighbors identified Rodis as the same man pictured in newspaper articles about the priest yesterday.

Four of the neighbors said the woman has worked as a nurse.
One neighbor recalled Rodis telling her that he planned to become mayor of his hometown in the Philippines and eventually president of that country.

The neighbor, who spoke on condition that she not be named, described the family as pleasant. The couple had remodeled the home over the years, putting in new hardwood floors, which the woman said she saw when she was invited over for Christmas and birthday gatherings.

The family also held a party when the youngest girl, then several months old, was baptized at St. Mary of the Immaculate Conception Catholic Church in Fredericksburg, which is part of the Diocese of Arlington and which a neighbor said the woman and children attended.

Rodis asked a neighbor he had known for a few years to be the girl's godfather, and the man accepted, neighbors said.

Rodis was ordained a priest in the Order of St. Camillus in the Philippines on March 25, 1986, and has been living in the United States since 1991.

After coming to the Diocese of Richmond, Rodis was parochial vicar at St. Mark Catholic Church in Virginia Beach for one year and then chaplain at Mary Immaculate Hospital in Newport News for one year before going to St. Jude and Immaculate Conception.

He has been leader of the two Louisa County parishes since 1993.
John Williams, a lifelong Catholic and member of Immaculate Conception, said he assumed Rodis lived in a small rectory for the parish pastor situated near St. Jude.

Williams said he thought Rodis was the best priest he'd ever encountered. He has a picture of Rodis -- hobbled by a stroke and walking with a cane -- with Williams' two children on Rodis' last day as pastor of the parish, he said.

One neighbor recalled Rodis suffering health problems, but neither that neighbor nor another close neighbor recalled seeing Rodis with a cane.

Williams said he can't imagine Rodis in jail or leading a double life. "I've never heard one negative word about him," he said.

The Catholic Diocese of Richmond also was surprised to hear about Rodis' living arrangements, said Etherington, the Richmond diocesan lawyer.

The Most Rev. Francis X. DiLorenzo, bishop of the Richmond Diocese, has already suspended Rodis' faculties, which means the priest is not allowed to represent the diocese or perform priestly duties, such as celebrating Mass.

All priests in the diocese are paid the same, $18,000 a year plus a car allowance and room and board, Etherington said.

Rodis would have taken a vow of poverty when he entered the Order of St. Camillus, which Etherington said the priest quit in 2002 when he became attached to the diocese.

Yesterday, a girl's purple bicycle, a pink plastic playset and yellow slide sat in the driveway of the Watson Lane home. The front yard was adorned with lawn ornaments and angel statues. Three vehicles were parked in the driveway: a late model silver Toyota Highlander, a red Ford Escort station wagon and a blue-gray Toyota 4Runner with a window sticker reading, "90 % ANGEL."

"He is very diligent about his yard," said Bob Hagan, a neighbor who also is president of the Fredericksburg Regional Chamber of Commerce.

Hagan, who said he waved to Rodis in passing, said the family seemed nice enough. "I figure the religious issues are for him to sort out and the legal issues are being sorted out for him," he said.

Bishop Joseph Meng Ziwen Dies At 103

I think I have mentioned on this blog that one of my cousins is a priest in Hong Kong. He has also served in Macao and in China. Therefore, I have a great concern and awareness of the underground Church in China.

From ANSA:

He was a “humble but extraordinary pastor who was dedicated to his community and had out of the ordinary energy and vitality,” said Fr Giancarlo Politi, a missionary with the Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions and a China expert, as he remembered Mgr Joseph Meng Ziwen, bishop of Nanning (Guangxi), who passed away last Sunday at the age of 103 as a result of a liver tumour. He was the oldest prelate in the whole of China.

Father Politi told AsiaNews that the bishop “was someone who up to three years ago still said mass every Sunday in three different parishes without sparing himself.” His coadjutor, Mgr John Baptist Tan Yanchuan, will celebrate the funeral tomorrow.

Born into a non-Catholic family on March 19, 1903, in Hengling, Bishop Meng was baptised as a youth. When he was 18 years old he spent eight years at a minor seminary. After studying six years of theology and philosophy at the major seminary in Penang, Malaysia, he was ordained into the priesthood in Nanning in 1935.

After the Communist revolution he was accused of collaborating with the Kuomintang and sent to a laogai (reform through labour) camp in the early fifties and released in 1957.

Upon his release that year, he resumed work at a church in Nanning, where, thanks to his medical training, he set up and ran a clinic, but was re-arrested the following year charged with helping the enemies of the Revolution. He was eventually released in 1970.

In the 1980s, Bishop Meng was able to reclaim some Church property and rebuild churches. He recruited young Catholics as nuns and seminarians to help in evangelisation work. “Bringing Christ to the world” remained his lifelong goal.

He was ordained bishop by the Holy See in 1984, but the Communist regime refused to accept his appointment. To avoid problems for his community he always signed diocesan papers as a simple priest. For his parishioners, he was affectionately known as lao shenfu, the old priest.

Father Politi remembers that the prelate “always led humble life. Although he could not call himself bishop he was always relatively free to move around Guangxi to visit small Christian communities and lived quietly. Here, there never were any of the open clashes with the Church as elsewhere in China”. The recent arrests on December 27 of nine priests in Baoding, in the central province if Hebei, are an example of this open conflict.

Bishop Meng’s death follows the passing of four official bishops, all in the last month. Whether official or not, prelates are getting older and the tense situation between the Patriotic Association (which seeks to control appointments) and the Vatican have made new nominations a thorny issue for the whole Church in China.

Father Politi is quite pessimistic about the future. “I can’t see any chance of solving the issue in the near future. The Communist Party only wants to maintain its power and thus must maintain the status quo”.

Yet, even though Sino-Vatican relations are difficult, “the life of the Church in the country is growing despite everything,” he said.

Clarification on Ministry of Priest

Regarding a my previous post about the millionaire turned priest, I do want to clarify one thing regarding a few comments I have heard about him.

Many of our priests are spread very thin and do not have as much free time as Fr. Iacona has. Many priests in my diocese have a parish, sometimes even several parishes, as well as another diocesan position.

Just because your priest doesn't seem to spend as much time with is parishioners as Fr. Iacona does, does not mean he considers the priesthood any less of a vocation.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Promoting the Priesthood Part 2

This ad is entitled Fulfillment.

Promoting the Priesthood

The Diocese of Providence has launched a media campaign to promote the priesthood.

I will be posting several of the ads.
This one is titled celibacy is the issue.

Learn more at

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Where is the Battle of Anghiari?

Permit me another art article. Since I just finished reading Irving Stone's "The Agony and The Estacy, this article is particularly interesting. I may just have to make a day trip to Florence on my next trip to Italy.

From ANSA:

The hunt for Leonardo da Vinci's greatest lost fresco is back on.

Italian Culture Minister Francesco Rutelli has greenlighted a dig behind a 'secret' wall in Palazzo Vecchio that may hide the fresco of the Battle of Anghiari.

The search will be led by art sleuth Maurizio Seracini, the one real-life character in Dan Brown's bestselling thriller The Da Vinci Code, and the man who uncovered the wall two years ago. "The city council finally gave its approval and we rubber stamped the excavation and analysis," the minister said.

A panel of art experts will assess any findings, under the supervision of Florence's famed heritage restoration body Opificio dell Pietre Dure.Seracini claims the wall could hide "significant" traces of the fresco.

The panel will examine new evidence as well as poring through past studies and Florentine archives.The discovery of the wall in summer 2005 raised new hopes of finding this Holy Grail of the art world.

But opinion was divided.

The world's top Leonardo scholar, Carlo Pedretti, was convinced the fresco could be hiding inside the palazzo's Salone dei Cincequento.

"I really believe it's behind that wall," said Pedretti, director of the Armand Hammer Center for Leonardo Studies at the University of California.

He said Renaissance accounts showed "the fresco can only be there".Pedretti rejected suggestions that a later artist, Giorgio Vasari, might have damaged the fresco when he was told to cover it.

Vasari was asked to paint over masterworks by Giotto and Masaccio in two other Florentine sites, but left the underlying works intact, Pedretti noted.

"If he didn't damage them, why should he have done so with the Leonardo?" This optimism contrasted with the views of Florence art chief Antonio Paolucci who said after the wall find was unveiled that "there's little or nothing behind that wall".

Paolucci, a former culture minister, may now have changed his mind - since he was one of the officials who decided to set up the international panel.

The Battle of Anghiari - described by sculptor Benvenuto Cellini as a ground-breaking masterpiece that any artist simply had to see and study - has long been known from sketches and copies.

But the original was thought lost for ever - a victim of Leonardo's typically unorthodox decision to jettison the traditional technique of applying paint to wet plaster.

Leonardo needed time for his painstaking approach and so used oils directly on the dry plaster in Palazzo Vecchio, the symbol of Florentine civic pride.

Like the Last Supper in Milan it soon began to crumble, helped on its way by a thunderstorm that hit the unfinished building.

Leonardo gave up and headed for Milan.

Though it has been wiped off the art map, the fresco's birth was well documented.Leonardo (1452-1519) started painting it on June 6, 1505, surrounded by an admiring throng.

Just Because I Think It's Interesting

This post has nothing to do with religion, but I think it is interesting and since it's about one of my favorite places on earth, Italy please give me the luxury of posting this.

It seems that many ancient works of art have gone missing in recent years. Well, a lot of them have been found.

From ANSA:

Italian police on Thursday recovered a haul of Etruscan and Roman tomb plunder as Italy continued to crack down on art theft.

Police raided a goldsmith's luxury villa belonging outside Arezzo, Tuscany and found what they called a "significant collection of ancient art, fit to grace a museum".

Among the artefacts recovered were several Roman statues including a particularly fine one of the Greek fertility and re-birth god Attis.

Other Roman items included stately Corinthian columns, ornate funerary urns and a striking marble sarcophagus dating from the First to Second centuries BC. Among the Etruscan artefacts were a dainty Seventh Century BC wine jug and a delightful Sixth Century BC tufa statuette of a cat. The plunder is believed to have come from tombs in southern Tuscany and northern Lazio.

Two Arezzo-based antiquities dealers have been implicated in the probe, which was initiated by chance after tax police spotted some outstanding examples of ancient art in the goldsmith's shop during a routine tax check. Investigations are continuing in a bid to find the wrecked tombs and the raiders who sold the artefacts, police said.

Italy is stepping up its efforts to combat tomb raiders and recover the loot they have traded. Last month art police unveiled their biggest recent coup, two magnificent Roman artefacts.

The Second Century AD works - a marble head of the sex-and-wine god Dionysus and a headless statue of a toga-garbed figure - were traced after decades of detective work.

The delicate little head of Dionysus was stolen from Rome's Villa Torlonia gallery in the 1980s and recently intercepted as it was about to go under the hammer at Christie's in New York.

The toga-clad figure, probably a Roman Senator, was tracked down in Barcelona after disappearing, again in the '80s, from a wall niche on Rome's Colle Oppio hill.Dionysus has just returned to the Villa Torlonia while the Senator has been put on show in the Capitoline museums, in the same room as the famed Marcus Aurelius equestrian statue.

Italy is tightening the screw on antiquities trafficking with a wave of raids that have reclaimed major tomb hauls.It has also signed landmark agreements with major American galleries to get looted works back, thus discouraging tomb raiders.

An accord with New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art in February dealt a major blow to art trafficking.Under the accord, Italy recovered a large collection of treasure in return for the promise of loans of equivalent value.

Italian Culture Minister Francesco Rutelli inked a carbon-copy accord with the Boston Museum of Fine Arts last month - while the minister is optimistic about reviving stalled talks aimed at securing a similar deal with the Los Angeles-based John Paul Getty Museum.

Italian authorities have prosecuted a former Getty Museum curator, Marion True, for allegedly receiving stolen artefacts.The Rome proceedings are the world's first such trial of a US art official.

BBC Creates Anti-Catholic Cartoon

When you think we have been attacked in every way possible, something like this is created. Just remember this program was created by the BBC.

From News 24:

The leader of the Roman Catholic Church in Lithuania said the church planned to sue cable music channel MTV Lietuva about the cartoon series Popetown, which he said mocked the Pope and all Lithuanian Catholics.

The series, which depicts the Pope as a rotund 77-year-old obsessed with his pogo-stick and surrounded by toys, was commissioned by the BBC in Britain in 2002, but dropped in 2004 due to concerns it would offend Catholics.

There were protests against the series in New Zealand and Germany, home country of Pope Benedict, but it has been aired in both. The second episode is due to be aired in Lithuania later on Wednesday.

"We are going to lodge a complaint in court because we believe that the rights of the faithful were violated by this mockery," Lithuanian Bishops' Conference President Sigitas Tamkevicius told Reuters this week.

He did not say when the church would lodge the complaint.

"The Popetown series is not only an insult to the pope, but to all the Catholics of Lithuania," he added.

The court earlier rejected a request from the Bishops' Conference to postpone the show's debut and the first trailer was shown on December 25. The first episode was aired last week.

The series depicts the Vatican as an office where the Pope's cardinals act like scheming managers.

"Artistic satire and nothing more"

Tamkevicius, who as a priest was persecuted by the Soviet regime, said he sees MTV Lietuva's airing of the series as an attempt to diminish the role of the Church.
The head of the Lithuanian Evangelical Lutheran Church, Mindaugas Sabutis, told the Delfi news portal the series was an attack against all Christians.

MTV Lietuva, run by MTV Networks Baltic, rejected the suggestion the series was an insult to Catholics.

"This is just an artistic satire and nothing more. We neither attempted to mock the religion, nor God himself," Ema Segal, spokeswoman for MTV Lietuva, said.
MTV Lietuva had received positive viewer feedback and plans to air all 10 episodes, she added.

Andrius Serva, MTV Lietuva programme director, said: "We expected some protests, but not that sort of outcry.
"We think our audience is wise enough to distinguish between the caricature and the religion."

American Court Says Vatican Can Be Sued

I never thought I would see this, but unfortunately I am.
From the Louisville Courier-Journal.

A federal judge issued a “historic” decision Thursday by refusing to dismiss a lawsuit against the Vatican that alleges a cover-up to protect priests who molested American children.

“This is the first and only case which has as its sole objective holding the Vatican financially accountable for all of the childhood sexual abuses committed in the U.S.,” said Louisville attorney William McMurry, who filed the suit in 2004 on behalf of three men alleging abuse as far back as 1928.

The ruling by U.S. District Judge John G. Heyburn II allows the men to pursue negligence claims against the Vatican over allegations of sexual abuse by priests in the Archdiocese of Louisville.

McMurry, who in 2003 represented 243 abuse victims in reaching a $25.7 million settlement with the Archdiocese of Louisville, said in an interview that he expects the ruling would be appealed.

But if the decision holds up, it could open the door for attorneys to take depositions of Vatican officials, obtain copies of church documents and ultimately determine “what prompted all of the bishops to keep quiet, hide these pedophiles and refuse to report child abusers,” McMurry said.

Vatican officials declined to comment on Heyburn’s ruling, according to The Associated Press.

In the suit, McMurry is asking for unspecified monetary damages from the Vatican. He also is requesting injunctions requiring the Vatican to “cease its violations of the internationally recognized human rights of children” and “to report all allegations of childhood sexual abuse” in the United States.

And he is asking a federal judge to supervise the Vatican’s conduct for 10 years. One of the three plaintiffs in the suit is Michael Turner of Louisville, who also filed the first in a wave of roughly 250 lawsuits against the Archdiocese of Louisville between 2002 and 2003.

The litigation culminated in a $25.7 million settlement with most of the plaintiffs. McMurry and his legal team received 40 percent of most plaintiffs’ payments.Turner was molested by the Rev. Louis E. Miller in the 1970s, when Turner attended St. Aloysius Church in Pewee Valley. Turner, 46, said he joined the suit to complete unfinished business — finding out who was responsible for tolerating abuse.

The other two plaintiffs are James H. O’Bryan and Donald E. Poppe, both of whom live in California and say they were abused by priests while growing up in Louisville.

The Ministry of a Priest

Now some good news from the Springfield News-Leader.

I know nothing about thie priest's theology or anything other than what it says in this article, but I do know that we need more priests who see the priesthood as a vocation and not a 9-5 job. I think Fr. Iacona understands that it is a vocation.

During most Wednesday morning Masses at Sacred Heart Church, the pews are lightly peppered with people.

But Wednesday, attendance swelled.

Some missed work and others dragged themselves out of bed for an 8 a.m. service to honor Father Frank Iacona, who congregants say has turned around this parish.

"I don't do mornings, so for me to do this is a sacrifice," laughed Sandy James, who has been a member here for 37 years.

The parishioners credit Iacona with stitching together a sense of community among the Anglo and Hispanic members, organizing the church, being a dynamic speaker and bringing a new level of compassion. Above all, he has been a friend to many.

They surprised him with a party for the fifth anniversary of his priesthood.

"He arrived exactly when we needed him," said Rolanda Avila, 42.

The 59-year-old priest helped oversee construction of a church expansion. Also a former lawyer, Iacona is admired for the millionaire lifestyle he gave up to become a priest and shepherd a north-side church.

"I had it all, but I felt a hunger," Iacona said.

That hunger led him to volunteer, get more involved with the Catholic church and eventually decide to follow a more spiritual life. This is his fourth parish. Bishop John Leibrecht said it is not unusual to celebrate a priest's anniversary, but the 25th and 50th are usually milestones.

"I'm really delighted they are celebrating Father Frank's fifth anniversary," Leibrecht said. "No use waiting."


Joe and Mary Bridges live in Brighton, and both have cancer.

"Me and my wife have both been ill, and he's been down here twice to see us. He's a terrific guy," Joe said over the phone.

Iacona visits the sick, elderly and homebound every Wednesday.

"He has, oh boy, how can I say it, he has more than just a call, he has a gift from God," said Estera Enciu, who organized the party. "He's so much more than a priest. I was sick in September and he came every day for a week."


Read the complete article here.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Bad News in France, Good News in Austria

The Editor of Le Monde des Religions is quoted as saying that France is no longer a Catholic country.

Barely half the French population describe themselves as Catholic, according to a poll released yesterday, sparking a leading religious publication to declare France "no longer a Catholic country".

A poll published in Le Monde des Religions yesterday showed the number of self-declared French Catholics had dropped from 80 per cent in the early 1990s and 67 per cent in 2000 and to 51 per cent today.

The number of atheists has risen sharply to 31 per cent from 23 per cent in 1994.

"In its institutions, but also in its mentalities, France is no longer a Catholic country," wrote Frederic Lenoir, editor in chief of Le Monde des Religions.


Yesterday's poll showed that only 10 per cent go to church regularly — mainly to Sunday mass or christenings. Of the 51 per cent who still call themselves Catholics, only half said they believed in God. Many said they were Catholics because it was a family tradition.

On the other hand, more Austrians are staying Catholic:

Significantly fewer Austrians left the Roman Catholic Church in 2006, the Archdiocese of Vienna said Tuesday -- a sign that a mass exodus of believers triggered by priest sex scandals and the nation's unpopular church tax is slowing.
Across the overwhelmingly Catholic country, 36,645 people formally withdrew from the church last year, a nearly 18 percent drop from the 44,609 believers who canceled their memberships in 2005, the archdiocese said.

The exodus peaked in 2004, when 45,000 Austrians left a church bedeviled by scandal and a chronic shortage of priests.

Many cited disgust over the discovery of up to 40,000 lurid images at a seminary in St. Poelten, 50 miles west of Vienna, including child porn and photos of young candidates for the priesthood fondling each other and their older religious instructors.

Other dropouts expressed discontent with a church tax collected by the government for the church -- a levy that averages more than $300 a year. Catholics wishing to avoid paying it must formally renounce their affiliation to their church.

The Vineyard of the Lord

This St. Petersburg Times article puts a new spin on my headline.

The Diocese of Oakland has found a new use for unused cemetary land. They are using it to grow grapes for sacramental wine.

"Wine and the blood of Christ is very much a strong symbol," he said. "We're always looking for signs and symbols to place in the cemetery, whether it's a statue of a saint or some building. People like those things."

The vineyard began as a beautification project. Unused land at Holy Sepulchre Cemetery needed sprucing up. The diocese decided to spend $25,000 for grapevines rather than $50,000 per acre for weed-free, irrigated turf.

The nearest graves are about 60 feet away from the grapes, though Seelig suspects some people will request plots closer to the vines.


Still, a church-operated vineyard makes sense, she said. After all, Franciscan friars introduced wine grapes to California in the late 1700s.

Seelig plans to start out with sacramental wine. Should the wine prove worthy, it might be sold at parish fundraising dinners or in diocesan gift shops. And plans are afoot to plant grapes at two other cemeteries.

Someday, the diocese just might produce a Bishop's Private Reserve - particularly appropriate in that Oakland's bishop is the Most Rev. Allen Vigneron.
Vigneron is French for vine grower.

Read the complete article here.

Pope Benedict Will Not Visit Fatima

Pope Benedict XVI has turned down an invitation to visit the Roman Catholic shrine of Fatima in Portugal later this year, a senior Portuguese church official said in comments published Wednesday.

"The reply was that it would not be possible to schedule the visit in 2007 as the Holy Father, due to his advanced age, limits his travels," Bishop Carlos Azevedo, the spokesman for Portugal's Catholic Episcopal Conference, told daily newspaper Publico.

In November Portuguese church officials invited the 79-year-old pontiff to visit the shrine on October 13, 2007 for the celebrations marking the 90th anniversary the final apparition of the Virgin Mary there to three shepherd children.

The pope will instead send a representative to the celebrations, Bishop Azevedo said.
Pope Benedict XVI's predecessor John Paul II visited the shrine of Fatima, located some 130 kilometres (80 miles) north of Lisbon, three times during his papacy.

He claimed the Virgin of Fatima saved his life after he was shot by a Turkish gunman in St. Peter's Square in 1981.

The attack, on May 13, coincided with the anniversary of the first apparition of the Virgin to the children in 1917.

The shrine, built on the site where the children said they saw the Virgin in a series of apparitions in 1917, draws millions of visitors from around the world each year. More than 100,000 people from dozens of countries routinely attend the annual commemorations of the sightings.

Source: The Nation

Get Your Fake Tickets

Reuters is reporting that a Brazilian man claiming to be a priest celebrated Mass and heard confessions in an attempt to get people to buy tickets to the upcoming Papal Mass.

Here is the story:
A man posing as a Catholic priest was arrested for selling phony tickets to get near Pope Benedict

Erivandro Ferrer de Lima had charged believers 175 reais ($81.78) in cash and another 375 reais in installments for the possibility of "getting close and touching" the Pope, Police Inspector Rosicleide de Castro said by telephone from Fortaleza in the northeastern Ceara state.Lima carried a false credential from the Brazilian Bishops Conference, held mass and heard hundreds of confessions to prey on his victims, Castro said.

"There are a lot of upset people," Castro said.

Brazil has more Catholic believers than any other country in the world.In May, Pope Benedict will open the Latin American Episcopal Conference.($1 = 2.15 reais)

Source: Reuters via Yahoo News

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Welcome and Wielgus Comments

Welcome to all of you who are coming over from the Times Online article. It was an honor to be included between Dom and Amy.

Now here is my response to the article.

First one must remember that communique I posted was written before Archbishop Wielgus admitted to aiding the Communist government in Poland. At the time the Archbishop was taken at his word. Unfortunately, the truth was that he had spied.

Since he has admitted it, resigning was the right thing to do. The Church needs leaders with inspire confidence, not questions or possible scandal. While I do not know the reasons why the Archbishop cooperated, I do know that he cannot be judged based on his past actions. Perhaps he was afraid? Perhaps he was misled? Perhaps he was simply a willing participant?

It doesn't make as much difference what he did then as what he does now. We all have things in our past that we wish we hadn't done, but the past cannot be erased. Unfortunately, as this has shown, the things we do can have consequences for the future.

For me, the Archbishop's mistake is not that he had cooperated, but that he tried to cover it up. Had he admitted it, we probably wouldn't still be talking about it.

While we do that confession, confessing our sins does not mean we are free from the worldy effects of our sins. A robber still has to turn himself into police and serve his sentence. The Church does not teach that confession lifts or should lift those responsibilities.

It is unfortunately that this talented bishop is now unable to serve the Archdiocese of Warsaw, but the good of the faithful must come first. If Archbishop Wielgus' involvement would cause the faithful to doubt his sanctity or the faithfulness to the Church, then it was right for him to resign.

Monday, January 08, 2007

The Official Release regarding Archbishop Wielgus

In a note released at midday yesterday, the apostolic nunciature to Poland stated that: "Metropolitan Archbishop Stanislaw Wielgus of Warsaw, Poland, on the day in which he was scheduled to enter the cathedral basilica to begin his pastoral ministry in the Church of Warsaw, has presented His Holiness Benedict XVI with his resignation from canonical office, in accordance with canon 401 para. 2 of the Code of Canon Law.

"The Holy Father has accepted the resignation of Archbishop Stanislaw Wielgus and has appointed Cardinal Jozef Glemp, primate of Poland, as diocesan administrator of Warsaw, until further notice." The note bears the signature of Archbishop Jozef Kowalczyk, apostolic nuncio to Poland.

For his part, Holy See Press Office Director Fr. Federico Lombardi S.J. released the following declaration to journalists today:

"Archbishop Wielgus' conduct in the past years of the communist regime in Poland has seriously compromised his authority, even with the faithful. Therefore, despite his humble and touching request for forgiveness, his resignation from the see of Warsaw and its prompt acceptance on the part of the Holy Father seemed an appropriate way to address the disorientation that has been created in that country.

"It is a time of great suffering for a Church to which we all owe so much and which we love. A Church that has given us pastors of the stature of Cardinal Stefan Wyszybnski and, above all, of Pope John Paul II. The universal Church must feel spiritually united to the Church in Poland and support her with prayer and encouragement, so she may soon recover her serenity.

"At the same time, it must be remarked that the case of Archbishop Wielgus is not the first and will probably not be the last time that personalities of the Church are attacked on the basis of documentation from the security services of the former regime. There is an enormous amount of material and, in attempting to assess its value and draw reliable conclusions, it must not be forgotten that it was produced by officials of an oppressive and blackmailing regime.

"So many years after the end of the communist regime, with the loss of the great and unassailable figure of Pope John Paul II, the current wave of attacks against the Catholic Church in Poland, rather than a sincere search for transparency and truth, has many hallmarks of being a strange alliance between the persecutors of the past and their adversaries, a vendetta by those who used to persecute the Church and were defeated by the faith and the thirst for freedom of the Polish people.

"'The truth will make you free,' says Christ. The Church is not afraid of the truth and her members, to be faithful to their Lord, must be able to acknowledge their own faults. We hope that the Church in Poland will be able to live and surmount this difficult period courageously and clearly, so that she will be able to continue to offer her precious and extraordinary contribution of faith and evangelical energy to the Church in Europe and the world."


Sunday, January 07, 2007

Bishop Wolf To Marry

Thankfully, SHE isn't Catholic. Unfortunately, in the article she is quoted as saying on this occasion "being a bride is more important than being a bishop".

From the Providence Journal:

The Right Rev. Geralyn Wolf, who next month marks her 11th anniversary as Rhode Island’s Episcopal bishop, is getting married.

The bishop says that until she met her husband-to-be, Thomas Charles Bair Jr., at a visit last summer to St. John’s Parish, in Newport, she assumed she would always remain single.

But that changed when Bair, who runs his own financial-services company in New Paltz, N.Y., and who had come to help the Newport parish with its stewardship campaign, saw her there and invited her out for lunch.

Bishop Wolf, who is 59, says that toward the end of August, “I began to feel I had met a very special man, and he felt he met a special woman.”

It wasn’t until the end of October that the two became increasingly certain that they wanted to marry, and they kept the news from close friends and family members until recently. A letter to diocesan clergy was mailed Friday.

“My family is rejoicing and shocked at the same time,” the bishop said Thursday.
Although it is not common for a sitting Episcopal bishop to get married while heading a diocese, it is not unprecedented. Bishop Wolf noted that Bishop Carolyn Irish, the Episcopal bishop of Utah, married an old friend a few years ago. Bishop Wolf and her fiancé are planning to be wed at the Cathedral of St. John, Providence, on April 21, with the U.S. Episcopal Church’s former presiding bishop, Frank Griswold, officiating.
To reserve the cathedral for that day without tipping their hand, Bair requested use of the cathedral for that date for the purpose of holding a retreat. Staff members in on the secret developed the practice of referring to Bair not as the bishop’s fiancé, but as the “retreat director.”

Bishop Wolf acknowledged that even she was surprised by how it all developed.
“I’ve never had any suitors. When I went out with him, I told him it was my first date in 11 or 12 years. Nothing before was serious. I had always assumed I would remain single.”


Bair is a member of his parish vestry in New Paltz.
The marriage will be the second for Bair, who divorced 10 years ago and has two sons, ages 15 and 19. Bishop Wolf said that because of the divorce, they will need to get permission to marry from the Episcopal bishop of New York. They have already spoken at length about their plans with Bishop Griswold, who now lives in Philadelphia, and with the U.S. Episcopal Church’s new presiding bishop, Katherine Jefferts-Schori.

Bishop Wolf said that by the time of the wedding, she and Bair will have received all the premarital counseling required by the church and “some more.”

Bishop Wolf said she hasn’t picked out a wedding dress as yet but plans on wearing a white A-line gown rather than her usual Episcopal garb.
“I think that on this one day, being a bride is more important than being a bishop,” she said. (...)

Read the complete article here.

Want to Smell Like Pope Pius IX?

They say that truth is stranger than fiction, and in this case, I think that is correct. This morning, I came across this article in the Marin Independant about "The Pope's Cologne".

Growing up in San Rafael, Dr. Fred Hass would never have admitted to an interest in men's fragrances.
In those days, Hass recalled, he and his brother even had to hide their interest in Shakespeare from their peers.
"My brother and I were voracious readers," Hass says. "He and I would read poetry to each other. We'd read Sinclair Lewis, Hemingway, Shakespeare. We really liked Shakespeare, but that was something we didn't want anyone else to know."
These days, things are different. Hass' brother Bob - encouraged by Fred to pursue his love of literature - is the former U.S. poet laureate. And Hass, the plain-spoken head of a Terra Linda family practice, is producing a cologne formula first created by Pope Pius IX.


The fragrance Hass dubbed The Pope's Cologne has that light, slightly sweet, slightly medicinal smell one might associate with the interior of a favorite grandmother's purse. Hass describes it as a "crisp freshness with subtle notes of citrus and violet."
"There's no unpretentious way to write about smell," he added.
What's important, he says, is that the fragrance's smell is distinctive - and that most people who try it seem to enjoy it.

So far, his hunch seems to have paid off. Since news reports described his discovery, Hass has fielded inquiries about the cologne from as far away as Texas and Arizona. The cologne retails for $24.95 at his Web site,
Sales have been slow, however, at the Mission San Rafael gift shop. Manager Helen Berrardoni has adopted a "wait and see" attitude.

Read the complete article here.

Am I the only one who thinks this marketing ploy is simply pitiful?