May 172011

Gregory II

by Anura Guruge, Mark Trauernicht and Leopold Fitzclarence

1/ 715: Start of Gregory II’s (#89) 15.75 year reign.

2/ 1296: Death of Celestine (god father of conclaves) V (#193), in prison (following one failed escape attempt), from an infection, 17 months after his carefully coordinated, canonically correct abdication, so that he could go back to being a monk — he being badly betrayed and deceived by his confidant, Boniface VIII (#194) who feared the threat of a schism if the very holy ex-pope was permitted to be out in public.

3/ 1611: Birth of Benedetto Odescalchi who 65 years later would be elected Innocent XI (#241).

4/ 1769: Election of Clement XIV (#250), the last pope, to date, to use the name Clement, his suppression of the Jesuit order in 1773 (reinstated in 1814 by Pius VII (#252)) possibly being the factor here.

5/ 1837: Gregory XVI (#255)’s ninth cardinal creating consistory at which he created but two cardinals (one in pectore) for a running total, to that point, of 35 (out of the total of 75 he would go on to create in 26 cardinal creating consistories).

St. Celestine V's body at the Basilica in Aquila


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May 172011

John I

by Anura Guruge, Leopold Fitzclarence and Mark Trauernicht

1/ 526: End of John I’s (#53) 2.75 year reign, when he died, in Ravenna, imprisoned by the Arian King Theodoric who accused him of conspiring with the Emperor in Constantinople. This is also his feast day.

2/ 1712: Clement XI’s (#244) seventh cardinal creating consistory at which he created 18 cardinals — two in pectore.

3/ 1894: Leo XIII’s (#257) twentieth cardinal creating consistory at which he created 5 cardinals (to bring his running total, to that point, to 99 out of the total 111 he would create over his 25.4 years).

Family home of the Wojtyłas in Wadowice

4/ 1920: Birthday of Karol Józef Wojtyła, in Wadowice, Poland who 58 years later would become John Paul II (#265).

5/ 1986: John Paul II’s (#265) Dominum et Vivificantem encyclical on the Holy Spirit in the life of the Church and the world in 1986.

6/ 1998: John Paul II’s (#265) Ad Tuendam Fidem motu proprio adding certain norms into the Code of Canon Law (1983) and into the Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches.

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May 172011

The pope, Benedict XVI (#266), will be visiting Croatia on June 4th and 5th — his first overseas trip of 2011. It will be his first trip to Croatia, though Croatia was bless with three visits from John Paul II (#265), in 1994, 1998 & 2003.

Ahead of this visit, the Vatican, today, issued statistical information on the Catholic Church in Croatia — with the data accurate as of December 31, 2009.

The pertinent details are as follows:

  • Croatia has a population of 4,429,000, of whom 3,981,000 (89.88%) are Catholic. [These numbers are close to previously available data on Wikipedia.]
  • There are 17 ecclesiastical circumscriptions and 1,598 parishes.
  • There are currently 25 bishops, 2,343 priests, 3,711 religious, 44 lay members of secular institutes, and 1,912 catechists.
  • Minor seminarians number 149 and major seminarians 43.
  • A total of 13,362 students attend the 41 centers of Catholic education, from kindergartens to university.
  • Other charitable and social organizations belonging to the Church or run by priests or religious in Croatia include: 1 hospital, 30 homes for the elderly or disabled, 53 orphanages and nurseries, 14 family counseling and other pro-life centers, 16 centers for social education or rehabilitation, and 6 institutions of other kinds.
May 172011

by Anura Guruge

The pope’s latest instructions on making the Latin Mass even more accessible got me thinking as to what the situation was in Sri Lanka. Other than it being my country of birth, there are a number of factors that make the situation in Sri Lanka (née Ceylon) interesting — not least that the church there is headed by the Tanned Ratziner, a.k.a. Cardinal Albert Malcolm Ranjith Patabendige Don. Sri Lanka is a multi-ethnic, multi-religious country with Catholics spread across all races — with only a small percentage of Christians in total [i.e., ~8%. 69% Buddhist, 15% Hindu, 8% Muslim]. There used to be 3 Official Languages: English, Sinhalese and Tamil. Now there are only two: Sinhalese and Tamil, though many still understand English, even if they are hesitant to speak it. English is the second-language taught in schools. 60 years ago, thanks to the British influence, a small percentage of the elite would have known some Latin. Today, Latin might as well be Greek (or for that matter Polish).

This information courtesy of my friend Kenny L., a hands-on expert on these matters.

Kenny tells me:

As for mass, it depends based on the parish. If it’s heavily Tamil, then mass will be Tamil, Sinhalese, then likewise and the same applies to English.

However, The Cathedral (in Colombo) is a mixed parish, as much as it has its own Sinhala and Tamil services to cater to these groups, ALL major masses at which the Cardinal [i.e., Tanned Ratzinger] presides, the main liturgy will be English, with no sub texts in either of the other languages on the liturgy. However, the 1st and 2nd reading will be in Tamil/Sinhala with the appropriate hymns in these languages + prayers of the faithful. The Cardinal in fact will give his homily in all three languages.

As for usus antiquior, nothing major so far, but the Cardinal have repeatedly expressed interest to celebrate mass in them. But the surroundings has not yet been conducive.

Trust this answers.

May 172011

by Anura Guruge, Leopold Fitzclarence and Mark Trauernicht

1/ 352: Start of Liberius’ (#36) 14.3 year reign — he being the earliest pope as yet to be canonized, most likely given his flip-flopping (some of it under imperial pressure) on the divisive Arian issue of the time.

2/ 884: Start of Hadrian III’s (#110) 1.3 year reign.

Hadrian III

3/ 1012: Start of  the Counts of Tusculum family, Benedict VIII’s (#144) 11.9 year reign, he (born Theophylactus) having gone straight from a layman to pope. He said to be the uncle, though he might actually have been the father, of the rebellious, 3-term Benedict IX (#146).

4/ 1570: Pius V’s (#226) third and last, cardinal creating consistory at which he created 16 cardinals (for a total of 21 during his papacy) — one of whom would go onto become Sixtus V (#228).

5/ 1706: Clement XI’s (#244) second cardinal creating consistory, 5.5 years into his papacy (having only created one cardinal during that time), at which he created 20 cardinals (one in pectore) — one of whom would go onto become Clement XII (#247). Another, Gabriele Filippucci, who objected, in writing, to being created in the first place, resigned within the month!

Benedict VIII

6/ 1852: Pius IX’s (#256) Probe Noscitis Venerabiles encyclical to the Spanish prelates on the discipline for the clergy.

7/ 1925: Pius XI’s (#260) Vehementer exultamus hodie (vehemently do We exult this day) bull canonizing Dutch, Saint Thérèse of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face.

8/ 1959: John XXIII’s (#262) Cum inde moto proprio granting ‘University’ status to the Pontifical Lateran Athenaeum.

9/ 1996: First day of John Paul II’s (#265) 3-day visit to Slovenia, the first of two he would make to this country.


May 162011

Anura Guruge: Reproduced here from the Vatican Information Service bulletin. Trying to find this letter isn’t easy. So I am reproducing it here, in its entirety, for the record. I do not believe that there is any copyright associated with this letter as it is an open, circular letter. Please feel free to comment.
My initial reactions are: 1/ Tacit admission that bishops were not forthcoming on what they knew and DEFINITELY did not cooperate with the police and victims (and that is a crime whichever way you butter your toast); 2/ Way too little, way too late; 3/ Foxes continue to guard the chicken coop (or the lunatics are running the asylum); 4/ Bishops still given too much wiggle room — in that these guidelines are not binding; 5/This is still the tip of a huge iceberg, victims in third-world countries still have not woken up to the realization that they have recourse. Coming from a third-world country that is what bothers me the most. If they managed to convince kids (and gals) in New Jersey that priests abusing them was THEIR FAULT (and that the priests were doing God’s will), I shudder to think what fear, guilt, and doubt they managed to instill on kids who herd cattle.


VATICAN CITY, 16 MAY 2011 (VIS) – Below is the note from the director of the Holy See Press Office, Fr. Federico Lombardi S.J., regarding the Circular Letter from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith to the Episcopal Conferences on the Guidelines for dealing with cases of sexual abuse of minors by clerics:

“The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has asked every Bishops’ Conferences in the world to prepare ‘Guidelines’ for dealing with cases of sexual abuse of minors by clergy, in ways appropriate to specific situations in different regions, by May 2012.

In its ‘Circular Letter’, the Congregation has offered a broad set of principles and indications, which will not only facilitate the formulation of the guidelines and therefore a uniformity of conduct of ecclesiastical authorities in various nations, but will also ensure consistency at the level of the universal Church, while respecting the competence of bishops and religious superiors.

Priority is given to victims, prevention programs, seminary formation and an ongoing formation of clergy, cooperation with civil authorities, the careful and rigorous implementation of the most canonical recent legislation in the area are the principal considerations that must structure the Guidelines in every corner of the world.

* * *

In recent days, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has sent to all Episcopal conferences a ‘Circular Letter to assist Episcopal Conferences in developing Guidelines for dealing with cases of sexual abuse of minors perpetrated by clerics’.

The preparation of the document was announced in July, at the time of the publication of new rules for the implementation of the Motu Proprio ” Sacramentorum sanctitatis tutela ” (see Note Fr. F. Lombardi, in OR, 16/07/2010, 1, and, Abuse of minors. The Church’s response).

H.E., Cardinal Levada, Prefect of the Congregation, later informed of its preparation during the meeting of the Cardinals at the November Consistory (see Press Release on the Afternoon Session, 11/19/2010).

The document is accompanied by a letter of presentation, signed by Cardinal Levada, illustrating its nature and purpose.

Following the revision of norms on sexual abuse of minors by members of the clergy, approved by the Pope last year, ‘it seems opportune that each Episcopal Conference prepare Guidelines’ whose purpose will be to assist the Bishops of the Conference to follow clear and coordinated procedures in dealing with these instances of abuse. Such Guidelines would take into account the concrete situation of the jurisdictions within the Episcopal Conference.

To this end, the Circular Letter ‘contains general themes’ for consideration which naturally must be adapted to national realities, but which will help to ensure a coordinated approach by the various episcopates as well as – precisely thanks to the Guidelines – within the Episcopal Conferences.

Regarding the drafting of new Guidelines or the revision of existing ones, Cardinal Levada’s letter also gives two indications: first, to involve the Major Superiors of clerical religious Institutes (to take into account not only diocesan clergy, but also religious), and then to send a copy of the completed Guidelines to the Congregation by the end of May 2012.

In conclusion, two concerns are clear:

1.  The need to address the problem promptly and effectively with clear, organic, indications that are suitable to local situations and in relation to the norms and civil authorities. The indication of a specific date and a relatively short period within which all Episcopal conferences must develop Guidelines is clearly a very strong and eloquent statement.

2.  Respect for the fundamental competence of the diocesan bishops (and Major Superiors) in the matter (the wording of the Circular is very keen to stress this aspect: the guidelines are intended to ‘assist the diocesan bishops and Major Superiors’).

The Circular Letter itself is short but very dense, and is divided into three parts.

The first part develops a set of general considerations, including in particular:

Priority attention to the victims of sexual abuse: listening to the victims and their families, and a commitment to their spiritual and psychological assistance.

The development of prevention programs to create truly safe environments for children.

The formation of future priests and religious and exchange of information on candidates to the priesthood or religious life who are transferred.

Support for priests, their ongoing formation and informing them of their responsibilities regarding the issue, how to support them when they are accused, dealing with cases of abuse according to law, the rehabilitation of the good reputation of those who have been unjustly accused.

Cooperation with civil authorities within their responsibilities. ‘Specifically, without prejudice to the sacramental internal forum, the prescriptions of civil law regarding the reporting of such crimes to the designated authority should always be followed’. This cooperation should be implemented not only in cases of abuse by clergy, but by any employee who works in a Church structure.

The second part addresses applicable canonical legislation in force today, after the revision of 2010.

It refers to the power of bishops and Major Superiors in preliminary investigation and, in the case of a credible allegation, their obligation to refer the matter to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which offers guidance for the handling of the case.

It speaks about the precautionary measures to be imposed and information to be given to the accused during the preliminary investigation.

It refers to the canonical measures and ecclesiastical penalties that can be applied to offenders, including dismissal from the clerical state.

Finally, it specifies the relationship between canon law valid for the entire Church and any additional specific particular norms that given Episcopal Conferences deem appropriate or necessary, and the procedure to be followed in such cases.

The Third and final part lists a number of useful observations in formulating concrete operational guidelines for bishops and major superiors.

Among other things, the need to offer assistance to victims is stressed as well as the need to treat the complainant with respect and ensure the privacy and reputation of the people involved; to take due account of the civil laws of the country, including any obligation to notify the civil authorities; to ensure the accused information on the allegation and an opportunity to respond, and in any case a just and worthy support; to exclude the cleric’s return to public ministry, in case of danger to minors or of scandal to the community. Once again, the primary responsibility of bishops and Major Superiors is reiterated, a responsibility which can not be replaced by supervisory bodies, however useful or necessary they may be in support of this responsibility.

The Circular therefore represents a very important new step in promoting awareness throughout the Church of the need and urgency to effectively respond to the scourge of sexual abuse by members of the clergy. Only in this way can we renew full credibility in the witness and educational mission of the Church, and help create in society in general, safe educational environments of which there is an urgent need.”

OP/                                                                                       VIS 20110516 (1170)

May 152011

John XVII who should have been XVI

by Anura Guruge, Leopold Fitzclarence and Mark Trauernicht

1/ 1003: Start of John XVII’s (#141) brief 5 month, 25 day papacy.

2/ 1605: Start of Paul V’s (#234) 15.6 year papacy (during which he met with Galileo (who would only run foul of the Vatican two popes hence) and canonized Charles Borromeo).

3/ 1672: Clement X (#240) publishes the names of two cardinals, created in pectore, on August 24, 1671.

4/ 1803: Pius VII’s (#252) sixth cardinal creating consistory at which he created two cardinals, one in pectore.

Paul V

5/ 1823: Pius VII’s (#252) nineteenth (and last) cardinal creating consistory at which he creates but just one cardinal, his ninety-ninth.

6/1901: Leo XIII’s (#257) Gravissimas encyclical on religious orders in Portugal.

7/ 1920: Benedict XV (#259) canonizes Joan of Arc, 489 years after a death, by execution, at the age of 19.

8/ 1957: Pius XII’s (#261) Invicti Athletae encyclical to the Polish on the 300th anniversary of the martyrdom of Polish Jesuit missionary, St. Andrew Bobola.

Joan of Arc being grilled by Cardinal Winchester

Benedict XV when a cardinal

May 152011

by Anura Guruge, Leopold Fitzclarence and Mark Trauernicht

1/ 884: End of Marinus I’s (#109) brief 1.4 year reign — he being the first known instance of an existing bishop (of Caere, ~30 miles NNW of Rome) being elected Bishop of Rome (translation of bishoprics not permitted per seminal Canon Law enacted at the First Council of Nicaea in 325). He was also from outside of Rome, thus contravening the papal eligibility edicts of the 769 Synod that mandated that only Cardinal Priests and Cardinal Deacons (i.e., bona fide Roman clerics) could be elected pope. During his short papacy he  reinstated Cardinal Bishop Formosus who had been dismissed for alleged political intrigue. Formosus, obviously also another bishop à la Marinus I, would become pope 9 years later and then go onto be best known for the eponymous cadaver synod. Marinus I is sometimes mistakenly referred to as ‘Martin II’ due to a transcription oversight in the 13th century.

2/ 1555: Start of the conclave, following the death of Marcellus II (#223) after his fleeting 22 day reign, attended by all 56 cardinals, that elected Paul IV (#224) on the 9th day.

3/ 1758: Start of the conclave, following the death of Benedict XIV (#248), attended initially by 45 (of the possible 55) cardinals which finally, after 52 days and one Imperial veto later elected Clement XIII (#249).

4/ 1871: Pius IX’s (#256) Ubi Nos encyclical on the loss of the Papal States the year before.

5/ 1891: Leo XIII’s (#257) perspicacious, humility-ridden Rerum Novarum encyclical on the human rights of workers. q.v. May 14.

6/ 1931: Pius XI’s (#260) Quadragesimo Anno (the 40th year) encyclical to commemorate Leo XIII’s landmark Rerum Novarum (above) — updating Leo’s message with ethical implications of the social and economic order in the context of capitalism and communism.

7/ 1956: Pius XII’s (#261) Haurietis Aquas (You will draw waters — from Isaiah 12:3) encyclical to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Pius IX’s (#256) establishment of the feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, urging the whole Church to embrace the significance of the Sacred Heart.

8/ 1961: John XXIII’s (#262) Mater Et Magistra encyclical on Christianity and social progress — yet again commemorating Leo XIII’s Rerum Novarum on its 70th anniversary. q.v. above.

Leo XIII, with his hand on the tiller, of the Barque of St. Peter


May 142011

by Anura Guruge, Mark Trauernicht and Leopold Fitzclarence

1/ 649: End of Jerusalem-born, Greek, Theodore I’s (#73) 6.4 year reign.

2/ 964: The end of John ‘Octavian’ XII’s (#131) troubled, supposedly amoral, 8.4 year reign, at the age of 26 or 27, which concluded the sordid 60 year Saeculum obscurum (the dark age of the papacy, a.k.a. pornocracy), when the pope, probably the youngest to elected, died, supposedly in the bed of a married women — the pope said to have been attacked by an enraged husband.

Supposed image of John XII though he only lived to be 26 or 27

3/ 1572: Start of Gregory XIII’s (#227) 12.9 year reign. q.v. May 12.

4/ 1919: Benedict XV’s (#259) In Hac Tanta encyclical to the German archbishops at the conclusion of World War I to in effect lay the ground work for a new future.

5/ 1971: Paul VI’s (#263) Octogesima adveniens Apostolic Letter, a day ahead of the 80th eightieth anniversary of Leo XIII’s (#257) influential Rerum Novarum encyclical (on the rights of the working class) — Paul VI’s message focusing on democracy.

Paul VI with Nixon, at the Vatican, in 1970

May 132011

by Anura Guruge

Benedict XVI’s (#266) Summorum Pontificum motu proprio of July 7, 2007 (effective as of September 14, 2007) facilitated the wider use of the traditional Latin Mass, in effect permitting individual priests, once ‘petitioned’ by a ‘stable quorum’ of parishioners, to freely administer the Mass in pre-Vatican II [i.e., pre-1962] form. While this relaxation of the ‘rules’ was joyfully embraced by the more traditional, it has not, suffice to say, sat well with the ‘progressive,’ pro-Vatican II crowd. Among the cognoscenti it has become a polarizing issue diving the ‘conservative’/Benedict XVI/John Paul II camp (which includes the likes of Cardinals Cañizares Llovera, Patabendige Don and even my top papabili Ouellet) from the ‘liberal’/John XXIII camp. There has been a feeling that the current regime will favor (via Ouellet) new bishops, and via the pope, new cardinals, that favor the Latin Mass (the creation of the ‘dark horse’ cardinal from Sri Lanka, against the grain, tending validate this belief).

Today, May 13, the Vatican, through the Pontifical Commission ‘Ecclesia Dei‘ (acting as a proxy for the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith), issued a Benedict XVI Apostolic Letter, Universae Ecclesia (the Universal Church) with instructions, to bishops around the world, as to how the Latin Mass can be reintroduced if it is requested by a congregation.

Here is a good primer, from Reuters, on the Latin Mass issue — including coverage of the latest Apostolic Letter.

Here is a link to the English translation of the letter — plus a short video, from Rome reports.

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