Nov 302010

Albert Malcolm Ranjith Patabendige Don of Sri Lanka, The Next Pope? post by Anura Guruge on October 21, 2010.

Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith returns to Sri Lanka

YouTube video. PLEASE click to play.

I found a video on YouTube. You will enjoy it. We have always been good at this ceremonial stuff. See below.

Shame they didn’t have a few decorated elephants pulling it … but some might have worried that that would blur the lines between the religions. Buddhist ceremonies invariably involving gaudily lit-up elephants. Yes, they pull along a generator. Great example, given that the Buddhist President was there to greet him, of the ethnic and religious tolerance the country was justifiable proud of.

There is also a good article on the Sri Lankan homecoming in ‘Whispers in the Loggia’.

Well I really should show you what a real procession Sri Lanka style is all about, since Rome could pick up some useful pointers. I am sure they will be happy to provide those whip crackers for papal processions. I used to go to watch this perahera and a smaller version closer to Colombo. Last time, alas, was in 1983. As it happened, it was the first perahera of the new Lay Chief. He had recently gone back to Ceylon to assume this elected role, having lived with my parents as their surrogate son (because I was far away) for many years in Paris. So sit back, turn the volume down and click here.

Andrew Greeley's Making of the Pope 2005 errors by Anura GurugeP.P.S., I also updatedErrors in books about popes,‘ today, to include Andrew M. Greeley’s ‘The Making of the Popes 2005’.

Nov 282010

by Father Anthony, STL
Sussex, UK

Father Anthony’s initial reflections from attending the November 20, 2010 consistory.

Post consistory PICTURES by Father Anthony.


It is interesting to reflect on the 2005 conclave in that many of the electors will have come to Rome not expecting to chose Cardinal Ratzinger. What happened, I think, was that the experience of taking part in the funeral of John Paul II brought home to them what an extraordinary impact he had made during his nearly 27 years as Pope. The idea of electing a gentle smiling Italian was simply no longer adequate. John Paul had given the Papacy a global dimension and a global presence that made it impossible to elect someone who could not make his presence felt on the global stage. In Cardinal Ratzinger they saw a man of evident spiritual depth, of great erudition and theological learning combined with great courtesy and personal charm. They noticed that he knew them all by name, that he was always ready to listen to them, and that he conducted the affairs of the Sede Vacante with great skill. At the Funeral Mass they also saw his pastoral sensitivity in the manner of his celebration of the Mass.

At the beginning of the conclave there was already a solid block of voters in his favour. It rapidly became clear that his support had grown, and that for the sake of the unity of the Church it would be wise to support his candidature. It was also clear to the cardinals that he was very far removed from the widely spread caricature of “Panzer Cardinal”.

Whenever the next conclave takes place it is unlikely that there will be such a dominant personality in place. There will be a number of men who are well qualified, and, as I see it, no obvious outstanding candidate. Nationality will not, I think, be a major consideration. An Italian could be elected, but only if he were outstanding. I think Cardinal Ravasi might be such a person. Cardinal Scola might be another. Cardinal Amato is mentioned, but I do not think that he would be able to command enough support. Certainly if he were to move the Church on and deal with many of the problems facing the Church at the beginning of this century he would need to be able to “think outside the box” of the Italian culture.

Otherwise I think we are back to a number of men who have combined both Diocesan and Curial experience. Cardinal Scherer of Brazil, Cardinal Ouellet, Cardinal Turkson, are three obvious candidates. I would certainly include Cardinal Schönborn among the papabili. His critical remarks about Cardinal Sodano may well find an echo in many other cardinals who have not felt able to speak out, but who would largely share his views. He is a highly intelligent man, and is very close to Benedict XVI in his general view of the Church. He is, like the Pope, a man of wise judgment and pastoral wisdom.

These are just a few thoughts following my recent visit to Rome. The present Pope looks set to continue an active and very effective ministry for some time to come. The conclave may not happen for some time yet. When it does come it will mark a moment of decision that may not be easy for the Cardinals. The good thing is that we seem to have a good number of men who might be chosen and who might well be well place to move the Church forward.

Nov 282010

Cardinal Ratzinger, 2003

Cardinal Ratzinger, 2003

by Anura Guruge

I just became aware of this 1997 interview, though I have to confess that it would appear that I read a transcript of it a few years ago in John L. Allen Jr’s 2002 ‘Conclave‘ book and obviously didn’t give it much import — maybe because I, subliminally, agreed with the Cardinal, then as the Prefect of the Doctrine of Faith (as of November 1981) was the supreme authority on these matters.

So, if Cardinal Ratzinger was willing to say that the age old wisdom that the Holy Spirit has a hand in electing the pope may be overstated, I was not going to disagree with him — though it appears many were dismayed when the cardinals interview was publicized in 2005 after he was elected pope. [Here is a April 23, 2005 New York Times article.]

It is, however, interesting that 13 months earlier, on February 22, 1996 Pope John Paul II (#265) had published Universi Dominici Gregis, the Apostolic Constitution that specified the Special Laws for subsequent sede vacantes and conclaves. One has to assume that Cardinal Ratzinger, even if he did not have a hand in writing the Constitution (which does have some inconsistencies), may have read it when it was published. The the pope does not say that the Holy Spirit ‘determines’ the next pope, but he does mention the Holy Spirit, by name, three times in Universi Dominici Gregis, with this memorable line in paragraph 10 of the Preamble: … the electors can more easily dispose themselves to accept the interior movements of the Holy Spirit, …’

It is as if the cardinal had a prescience of his destiny — which would be extremely apropos given that in eight years he was to become the new Vicarius Christi.

In May of this year, with Cardinal Ratzinger’s involvement in the Clergy Sex Abuse cover-up very much in the news, I wrote a post entitled: ‘The Role of the Holy Spirit in the Election of Pope Benedict XVI‘.

My hypothesis, as most of mine invariably, are was very simple. IF the Holy Spirit HAD a hand in electing Cardinal Ratzinger, THEN the Holy Spirit must have been ‘OK’ with Cardinal Ratzinger’s alleged actions re. the cover-up. [CNN documentary ‘What the Pope Knew‘.]

Now, with this 1997 statement, the Holy Spirit, thank God, is off the hook!

That is a relief, at least, to me. So, the Holy Spirit MAY NOT have been happy with all that took place re. Clergy Sex Abuse but didn’t prevent Cardinal Ratzinger being elected because … as the Cardinal’s statement concludes, because he was unlikely to ruin everything. I am wondering how many of the cardinal electors were au fait with their Dean’s views on the role of the Holy Spirit prior to the conclave. Was it even possible that Cardinal Ratzinger, mentioned his interview during one of the 11 pre-conclave general congregations so that the electors would not feel that they would in any way be implicating the Holy Spirit if they elect him?

Fair-use extract of page 135 of John Allen's 'Conclave' book. Click to ENLARGE.

It is best if you read the extracts from the original interview. You can do that in John Allen’s book, using Amazon’s LookInside feature. The interview is on pages 137 – 138. Do a search on ‘April 15, 1997’ interview. This link will get you to John’s book at Amazon.

To be fair to John, PLEASE buy a copy of the book too. There are used copies for $4.00 including shipping … which should within the budgets of most of you.

Nov 272010

Father Anthony, from Sussex, UK, a Licentiate of Sacred Theology (STL), has been a Catholic priest for over 35 years. He has spent quite a bit of time in Rome. He took part in the St. Peter’s Mass after the 1976 consistory. He was at the St. Peter’s Piazza to hear Habemus Papam when Pope John Paul II (#265) was elected. Refer to this post. He attended the November 20 cardinal creating consistory.

Father Anthony, as promised prior to his departure to Rome for the consistory, sent me this account, via e-mail, for posting here. It is posted here in its original form.

Here are some initial thoughts on my recent visit to Rome for the consistory.
The Holy Father seems to be in excellent form. He has inevitably aged somewhat in the last year, but, as we saw here in England in September, he is able to maintain a remarkable pace for a man who will be 84 next April. It is also very clear that he is held in great affection by so many people in Rome.  He is not really a “manager”, and there are many problems regarding the Roman Curia, but he is a great teacher and preacher.  As we saw here in Britain, when he is able to be seen and heard by people “in person”, he makes a great impact.  His gentleness and goodness are very striking. He is also a very prayerful celebrant of the Liturgy.
There is always discussion of “papabili“, but it remains highly theoretical.

Many Americans  came in support of Cardinals Burke and Weurl.  They represent two very different strains of American Catholicism.

It was  a very “Curial” consistory, also very Italian. Under Cardinal Bertone there is a much more Italian character to things. Many senior posts are held by Italians. It could well be that it will take an Italian Pope to sort out the problem of having too many Italian cardinals. Such a Pope would need to be able to think “outside the box”, i.e., outside the Italian culture.

Both Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi and Cardinal Angelo Amato are seen as “papabili“.

It is very difficult to imagine how the cardinals might feel at a future conclave because so much depends on the atmosphere at the time.

I will have some more reflections in the next day or two.

It was great to be in Rome at this time and to have the opportunity of meeting so many people and sharing ideas.

Nov 222010

Today, Nov. 22, 2010, two days after the latest cardinal creating consistory, 90 Year Old Spanish Cardinal Urbano Navarrete Cortés, S.J., died. He was a non-bishop cardinal. So we are now down to 3 living non-bishop cardinals.

Non-bishop cardinals post 1962 at popes and papacy.

Non-bishop cardinals post 1962 at popes and papacy. Click to ENLARGE.

Nov 222010

by Anura Guruge

Nov. 21, post on the pope’s related comment about his inability to continue making infallible statements.

The media frenzy on the pope’s comments about condom usage possibly being permissible in certain instances, as in the case of use by a  ‘male prostitute,’ continues, with ALL of the attention being focused, lasciviously,  ‘condoms.’

But, ALAS, this ignores 3 other very significant issues also embroiled within that one statement by the pope, viz. gigolos, prostitution in general and homosexuality.

Yes, there is already debate whether the pope, speaking in his native German, specifically referred to MALE PROSTITUTES, or whether he was using the ‘masculine’ sense to apply to all prostitutes.

Yes, there are those that say that the pope’s exception to the use of condoms, in this case, has to do with it not interfering with the creation of life, i.e., sex between two males cannot result in a birth, and as such wearing a condom does not violate the Church’s fundamental precept against interfering with the possible creation of life.

We have a problem. Despite the demeanor he projects, this European pope, who spent a lot of time in academia, is more worldly than he would like us believe. He has to know that the clients of male prostitutes does not necessarily always have to be other men! From what I can see, following a quick Google, there is no shortage of gigolos in Rome.

So, assuming, the pope really did mean just male prostitutes, was he also saying that condom usage is only permissible if their clients are other males? So, is the pope giving an ‘OK’ to homosexual sex? This seems very incongruous given the continuing clergy sex abuse scandal — with much of the abuse, coincidentally or otherwise, being of against boys. What gives here?

Irrespective of the translation, isn’t the pope’s statement also an acknowledgment, some cynics could even say endorsement, of prostitution?

Sixtus IV taxed Roman brothels and clerics with mistresses to pay for the Sistine etc.

Sixtus IV taxed Roman brothels and clerics with mistresses to pay for the Sistine etc.

This pope, by no means, is the only pope to have ‘acknowledged’ prostitution.
Sixtus IV (#213), who had the eponymous Sistine built, is famous for imposing a tax on Roman brothels to pay for his ambitious building projects. He also, inspired, taxed clergy that kept mistresses (the ultimate in a sin tax)! Maybe, the Vatican should reinstitute this tax to help pay for a good PR firm to handle Vatican spin. John (‘Octavian’) ‘boy pope’ XII (#131), who is said to have become pope when he was around 18, was repeatedly excused of running a brothel in the Apostolic Palace — catering for both genders.

So, lets not lose sight of the other issues raised by the pope’s condom statement. Is the pope, indirectly, also commenting on prostitution and homosexuality? I do not know. But, I wonder. What was the pope thinking?


Nov 212010


Titian's bedazzling Assunta, portraying the Assumption of the Virgin.

by Anura Guruge

Nov. 23, 2010 UPDATE: PLEASE read the comments, below. This too appears to be due to translation and misinterpretation problems … this time by the BBC. What it APPEARS is that the pope was not speaking about himself. He was talking about popes in general and their ability to make infallible statements. That is REALLY COOL. Far from being wrong, it is actually quite enlightened! Bravo, pope! Basically, this pope, to his eternal credit, is putting papal infallibility in its proper place. I THANK Marko B. in particular, but all the rest, including Fr. Peter and Darien, for helping me clear this up. As you can see from the post, my issue was one of confusion as to what the pope was saying. This is the SECOND major errors in translation I have stumbled upon this year. The other being the error about the precedence of cardinal bishops, where all the English translations state episcopal consecration [i.e., when first made a bishop] when what it really says, in Latin, when made a ‘CARDINAL bishop’. I also discovered an error between the UK English and US English translations of the 1983 Canon Law. Thank you. I feel so much better. That infallibility thing bothered me because I dearly hoped that this pope, of all people, got it. AND he does. That is GREAT. Thank YOU.

The media has been transfixed by the pope’s unexpected statement on a possible exception to the use of condoms.

But, they have all but ignored another MUCH MORE SIGNIFICANT statement, supposedly made by the pope as a part of that whole interview.

That statement apparently was: “Among other interesting topics that Pope Benedict touches on in the extracts of his long interview with Peter Seewald, are papal infallibility – he says he cannot continue to produce ‘infallible statements’; his attitude towards resignation -“ [Please refer to BBC article, of Nov. 21, 2010, containing this statement.]

That to the cognoscenti is much more significant that the about-face on condoms.

Why? It might indicate that the pope, at a minimum, was somewhat ‘distracted’ when doing this interview and ALL his comments during this interview might have to be taken with a ‘pinch of salt’!

Why? Contrary to what so many believe, a pope’s statements are ONLY infallible in some very tightly constrained, specific scenarios. For a start, the statements HAVE TO be about dogmatic teachings on faith or morals — and the pope MUST clearly spell out that he is making an infallible statement that is binding to the Church.

As far as I recall, and I, as ever, may be wrong, this pope has yet to make an infallible statement per those criteria for it to be deemed infallible. That is the problem. By most reckoning the last instance of papal infallibility was in 1950 when Pius XII (#261), via his Munificentissimus Deus, defined the Assumption of Mary. Prior to that, the other ‘big’ one was Pius IX’s (#256) Ineffabilis Deus, defining the Immaculate Conception. I again checked the Vatican Web site for this pope’s pronouncements. I cannot see ANY that meet the hurdles for infallibility!

So what is the pope talking about?

That he cannot continue to produce infallible statements. That is very strange.

That is akin to me saying that I cannot continue to produce sub-9 second, 100 meter sprints when I go running — as if, I was ever able to even do one of those.

This issue is disturbing to me. Why did the person doing the interview, supposedly a friend of the pope’s, not clarify it. Printing it, as it is, does not do the pope any favors.

Moreover, why did the Vatican newspaper L’Osservatore Romano print that excerpt from the interview. I hope that there is at least one person at L’Osservatore Romano that understands the parameters of papal infallibility.

Very strange. They are now trying to do damage control on the condom part of the story.

As a marketer, with 30 years of solid experience, I would shelf the condoms, and focus on putting right that infallibility statement. Because, that statement, more than anything else, indicates how the pope is ‘thinking’!


Nov 212010

by Anura Guruge

1/ Titles and deaconries assigned at the November 20, 2010 cardinal creating consistory. Click << here >>.
2/ Titles and deaconries available after the November 20, 2010 cardinal creating consistory. Click << here >>

Today’s consistory was atypical in terms of the number of cardinal deacons created. 13 of the 24 creations were cardinal deacons.
Rather unusually, there were more cardinal deacons created than cardinal priests.

High number of cardinal deacons at the Nov. 2010 consistory -- Anura Guruge.

High number of cardinal deacons at the Nov. 2010 consistory -- Anura Guruge. Click to ENLARGE.

There is nothing wrong with this and it is totally the pope’s prerogative as to the ‘order’ given to a new cardinal. And, there was no doubt that there were 8 curial cardinals — all of whom, at this consistory, came out as cardinal deacons. Though this is the supposed ‘norm’ for curial cardinals, exceptions have been made in the past. It would not have raised any eyebrows if the Major Penitentiary had been created a cardinal priest. IF I have time over the coming days (and my work on dwarf planets beckons), I will look further into this.
If you have any comments, please help out. Thank you.

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