Sep 282011

by Anura Guruge

1/ Cardinal Angelo Scola’s ‘Promotion’ To Milan Bolsters His Papabile Standing — June 28, 2011 post.
2/ Papabile Cardinal Angelo Scola And His New, ‘Out-of-Cycle’ Pallium — Sep. 24, 2011 post.
3/ Upside Down Scola Pallium — A Sign Of Things To Come? — Sep. 26, 2011 post.

As soon as it became known in June that the pope, Benedict XVI (#266), was transferring is long-time collaborator, Cardinal Scola, from Venice to Milan, Europe’s (let alone Italy’s) largest diocese (and Italy’s most senior bar Rome), there was even more speculation than before that Scola was the pope’s anointed to be his successor (though we know that pope’s are not supposed to in any way designate their successor).

Then, when on September 21, the pope deviated from ‘the norm’ to confer the Milan pallium on Scola (albeit embarrassingly upside down), the ‘chatter’ as Scola as the next pope became feverish.

Cardinal Scola is my current #4 papabile for the next 18 to 24 months. He is up one from my 2009 rankings as they appeared in the 2010 ‘The Next Pope.’

papabile Cardinal Scola and Cardinal Ouellet from The Next Pope 2011 by Anura Guruge

Top 4 papabili from 'The Next Pope 2011' by Anura Guruge, published Sept. 2011

So, lets face it. I am partial, to a point, with Scola being the next pope. But, from my perspective the Milan transfer wasn’t really that significant. I can even argue that from a papabile standpoint, it was a detriment! Why? Because thanks to Pius X (#258), John XXIII (#262) and John Paul I (#264), three much liked popes, all of whom where Patriarchs of Venice when elected, Venice now has a cachet when it comes to popes. Yes, Milan has given us two popes: Pius XI (#260) and Paul VI (#263). Enough said. So, I do not put that much emphasis on the transfer — though there is no doubt that getting Milan is definitely an honor.

Both Ouellet and Scola have a very long history with the current pope. But, remember the current pope isn’t Italian either. So there is no Ratzinger-Scola axis that is that different to that of the Ratzinger-Ouellet axis. The pope likes them both. Of that there is no doubt or debate. But, Ouellet, when appointed to head up both Congregation for Bishops and the Pontifical Commission for Latin America, got the better deal — whichever way you look at it. Ouellet, on a daily basis, heading up ‘Bishops’ gets daily visibility among the electors — and the plumb ‘Latin American’ assignment boosts his already strong credentials as a pan-American candidate. He also gets ‘thank yous’ and ‘IOUs’ from countries, and their cardinals, if he gives them the bishops they want. In contrast, Scola is now heading up a diocese with declining membership and no doubt dissent within the ranks.

When watching the pallium ceremony, I was struck by how much Scola appears to have aged in the last couple of years. Then I saw this picture, in the Milan Diocese, Angelo Scola page. Wow, he sure has aged and his jowls have grown.

Angelo Scola, On Sep. 27, 2011 from his own page at the Milan Dioce

He is but 69. He was once handsome and debonair. He is not aging well. Yes, it is probably the good life as a Italian prince.

So this is how I see it stacking up, with the possibility that either prior to or at the conclave electing to be the ‘pope maker‘ for the other.
The next pope, Scola or Ouellet, by Anura Guruge

Click image to enlarge

Sep 282011

by Anura Guruge

We need to thank Father John, a great admirer of the ‘smiling pope,‘ for bring this to our attention.

Thursday, September 28, 1978, i.e., 33 years ago, was the pope’s last public day as pope.

He was discovered dead, early in the morning of Friday, around 4:30am, September 29, 1978, by his devoted housekeeper, from Venice, Sister Vincenza Taffarel when she brought him his daily cup of morning coffee. Despite the Vatican stories, (the now disgraced) John Magee was not the one that discovered the dead pope.

Though he might have died around 1 am on September 29th, September 28, 1978 is the official date for the end of his fleeting, 33-day papacy.

So let us all pause to reflect on what this death meant to the Church and the world. He promised so much and was not given time to deliver anything but an abiding memory of goodwill and cheer.

John Paul I tomb

John Paul I tomb

Sep 272011

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by Anura Guruge

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Scroll down through posts for recent posts on pope’s trip to Germany.

On the last day of Benedict XVI’s 4-day trip to Germany, i.e., Sunday, September 25, 2011, at 5 pm, a couple of hours prior to his flight back to Rome, the pope met with representatives of leading German Catholic associations. Prior to the trip the Vatican had billed this event along the lines of ‘… meet with a group of local Catholics luminaries.’ As it transpired it was quite an elaborate affair held at a concert hall in Freiburg im Breisgau, the last city on the pope’s 3-city tour.

The local Catholics had arranged a short concert for the music-loving pope — to provide him with relaxation prior to his 2-hour flight back to Rome. You can see a video of the whole event, starting with the concert, here.

Following the musical soiree the pope delivered a short speech whose punch line was: ‘It Is Time For The Church To Set Aside Her Worldliness.’

When I saw the headline in the Vatican Information Service report, highlighting this remark, I was delighted.

It immediately brought to mind dear John Paul I (#264) who planned to give away ‘half of the’ Church’s riches — though he never, alas, got a chance to implement this godly plan during his fleeting 33 days as pope. [Yes, among those that do not believe that this wonderful pope died of heart failure, there is a contingent that believes that he was murdered because the Vatican ‘old guard’ was mortified at the thought of the Church’s riches being given to benefit the poor.]

I read the speech. It had statements such as: “A Church relieved of the burden of worldliness is in a position, not least through her charitable activities, to mediate the life-giving strength of the Christian faith to those in need, to sufferers and to their carers.”

The pope, thank God, also talked about the sex abuse crisis: “This scandal, which cannot be eliminated unless one were to eliminate Christianity itself, has unfortunately been overshadowed in recent times by other painful scandals on the part of the preachers of the faith.”

But, in the end, I did NOT see any concrete proposals as to how the pope was going to minimize the Church’s worldliness.

Click image for YouTube video of pope's speech from Sunday.

So here is my REAL problem. Look at the image above ^. That is the pope delivering this message.

He, noted for his vanity, is dressed in top-notch watered silk and wearing a hunking chunk of gold that any LA gang leader would be proud of. The least he could have done was wear a wooden cross. With gold prices what they are (though they did come down quite a bit at the end of last week), the pope could sell that jeweled, golden cross and feed a refugee camp in Africa for a day.

And here is where it gets worse. The pope doesn’t even see the irony of this! Yes, he definitely is getting old. The upside down pallium incident attests to that. But, this is where it gets even more scary. As with the pallium, his entourage is too scared to point any of this to the pope. Really becoming, quite literally, a case of of “The Emperor’s New Clothes.

Words are cheap. Gold, today, is at US $1,653/ounce. The pope is 84 and the Church is more flamboyant than ever — though spending billions of dollars (US) to stay ahead of the clergy sex abuse crimes.

Ahhh, for a John Paul I or John XXIII (#262). I would say John Paul II (#265) but for the pool.

Sep 262011

Anura Guruge

1/ Papabile Cardinal Angelo Scola And His New, ‘Out-of-Cycle’ Pallium — Sep. 24, 2011 post.

That #4 papabile, Cardinal Angelo Scola, the new Archbishop of Milan, a longtime, close collaborator of Pope Benedict XVI (#266), received the pallium for his new ‘metropolis,’ personally from the pope, outside of the now customary June 29th ceremony was itself deemed noteworthy and significant by many. See this post — which also includes some background on palliums.

Within hours of my post, which included pictures and a video from the Diocese of Milan, I started seeing comments and e-mails pointing out that the pallium was placed upside down! [Check all the comments. There is more than one on it being upside down.]

Cardinal Angelo Scola upside down pallium by Anura Guruge

Cardinal Scola's upside down pallium from the Diocese of Milan video. Click image for video.

There were other discussions on this too.

My initial reaction, without having watched the video, was that the pope had another ‘senior moment.’

Lets face it, as my handy countdown clock reminds me, the 84-year old pope is just 155 days away from becoming the 6th oldest pope since 1400. At this juncture in John Paul II’s (#265) papacy, the pope was barely functional. So to be fair this pope is doing better.

I finally got around to watching the video today.

Yes, the pallium was handed to the pope (most likely by a Master of Ceremonies from Guido Marini’s Office of the Liturgical Celebrations of the Supreme Pontiff) awkwardly and upside down.

Now this pope, known for his vanity, is no stranger to palliums. He had one bestowed on him by his friend, John Paul II, in 2002, when he became the Dean of the College of Cardinals even though he was NOT a metropolitan archbishop! Plus, he as described in my Sept. 24, 2011 post, changed the style of the pallium he wore. So, he knows a lot about palliums.

That he did not realize that he had placed the pallium upside down is worrying. It is the lack of awareness that is worrisome. If he had noticed, he had plenty of time to rectify it.

You can tell by the mortified look in his eyes that Guido realizes that they are screwing up even as he lends a hand. And then as I pointed out in my reply to the original comment, he is too petrified to say or do anything! So the bottom line is that Guido would rather let an embarrassing incident such as this go uncorrected rather than having the guts to help the pope put it right. It really is a new twist to the tale of “The Emperor’s New Clothes.” As I also pointed out earlier today, in another reply, the Master of Ceremonies that precipitated this faux pas probably got fired by Guido.

While the pope’s physical health seems to be exceptional this lapse in awareness is a concern.

We should keep an eye on it, though there is nothing we can do. Plus, he will not be the first or last pope to reign in such a state.

page 299 from 'The Next Pope 2011' book by Anura Guruge

HE should have fixed it! Guido Marini from page 299 of 'The Next Pope 2011' book by Anura Guruge.

Sep 242011

by Anura Guruge

1/ Cardinal Angelo Scola’s ‘Promotion’ To Milan Bolsters His Papabile Standing — June 28, 2011 post.

Cardinal Scola receiving his Milan pallium from the pope. From the Milan diocese Web site,

On Wednesday, September 21, 2001, on the eve of his 4 day trip to Germany, Benedict XVI (#266) took time off to confer a new pallium on the recently appointed Archbishop of Milan (Europe’s largest diocese), his close friend, and my #4 papabile, Cardinal Angelo Scola — at Castel Gandolfo.

Per ‘recent’ norms this was an exception. In ‘modern’ times, the pope confers palliums on all of the recently appointed Archbishops on the Feast of Saints Peter and Paul, which fall on June 29. On June 29, 2011, Cardinal Scola had not been installed as Archbishop of Milan — he was still the Patriarch of Venice, and palliums are not transferable.

Louis Epstein, our frequent contributor, was the first to point out the possible significance of this ‘out-of-cycle’ pallium conference. He did so with this Comment on Sept. 21:
Today’s Vatican news bulletin has a batch of appointments and a remarkable note that the Pope has imposed the pallium for Milan on Cardinal Scola at Castel Gandolfo,rather than making him wait for the worldwide ceremony at the Vatican next June. (It’s a curious practice that a pallium is neither handed on between holders of a metropolitan see,nor kept when a metropolitan archbishop moves from one see to another,but a new one is procured from the wool of those blessed-then-slaughtered-and-eaten lambs each time man or office changes). Rocco Palmo is “Whispering” (well,Tweeting, he hasn’t blogged) that this marks Scola as B XVI’s chosen successor,but there are no sure things).”

Then last night, David Destefanis sent me a nice e-mail suggesting that I really should do a post about Scola’s new pallium. He also sent me this article. That article points out that September 21, 2011, happened to be the 20th anniversary of Angelo Scola’s ordination as a bishop.


I am hesitant to read too much into this incident.

I have a feeling that people are equating the conference of this Milan pallium to Cardinal Scola to what Albino Luciani (i.e. John Paul I (#264)) said in his first Angelus about Paul VI placing a STOLE on his shoulders on a footbridge in St. Mark’s Sqaure in Venice, when Luciani was the Patriarch there. Yes, I will agree that the symbolism is the same. But, I even checked the original Italian. Paul VI placed his STOLE on Luciani, not a pallium.

When getting to Rome was not as easy as it is now, palliums used to be conferred to new Archbishops on their first visit to Rome. So, there was no fixed day as is the case now. If the pope was not in town, the cardinal protodeacon would confer the pallium or palliums. So, one could say that, given that it was the cardinal’s 20th anniversary as a bishop, this was just a small ceremony by the pope for one of his closest friends.

The pope did not have to present a pallium to the cardinal for us to know that the pope thinks very highly of Scola. That is well known and no secret. Hence, why he is my #4 papabile, up one place from my 2009 list. I still think Scola is too young.


Since around the ninth century, the wearing of palliums had become the exclusive prerogative of popes and metropolitans.

Then John Paul II (#265) bent the rules a bit — without in any way saying that this should be the new norm. When his friend, Joseph Ratzinger (now Benedict XVI) became the Dean of the College of Cardinals in 2002, he presented Ratzinger with a pallium though Ratzinger was not a metropolitan! When Ratzinger became pope he conferred a pallium to the new Dean, Cardinal Sodano — though as yet there is no documentation that this is to be a new custom.

Prior to Benedict XVI’s papacy, palliums were about three fingers wide, mainly white, with six black crosses. Made from wool, some say that it is meant to symbolize a lamb being carried on the shoulders of a shepherd. Thus, it was worn in a loop-like manner across the shoulders and chest, with two tails – front and back, each ending in a black pendant. The tails and the loops created a ‘Y’ shape both forward and aft. Four of the crosses were on the loop, with one cross each on the tails.

Ahead of the 2005 election, the Office for the Liturgical Celebrations of the Supreme Pontiff, aware that the new pope would most likely continue with the pallium tradition at the inauguration started by John Paul I in 1978, issued new guidelines for its design. They harked back to its style in ancient times. Consequently, it was to be broader, more loosely draped, with the tails, now longer, hanging on the left (rather than the center). The one worn by the pope would have five red crosses, three pierced by pins to denote the five wounds and three nails of Christ’s Crucifixion. The pins, typically jeweled, will be used to keep the pallium in place.

Per custom, the wool used to make palliums, whether for the pope or metropolitans, comes mainly from two lambs. These lambs are specifically blessed each year on the feast day of St. Agnes (i.e., January 21), usually by the pope, and kept at Sant’Agnese fuori la mura (Saint Agnes Outside-the-Wall), one of Rome’s minor basilicas. Cloistered, white-habited Benedictine nuns of St. Cecilia, living in a convent adjacent to Rome’s Santa Cecilia in Trastevere, weave the actual palliums. Once woven, they are placed until needed in a golden casket above the tomb of St. Peter at the Vatican. The palliums now worn by popes, the successors of St. Peter, contain wool from both lambs and sheep, since in John 21, Jesus tells ‘Simon Peter,’ both to ‘feed my lambs’ and ‘feed my sheep.’

Palliums from page 201 of 'The Next Pope 2011' by Anura Guruge

Palliums from page 201 of 'The Next Pope 2011' by Anura Guruge


Click to play video of the pallium ceremony from the Archdiocese of Milan.

Click to play video.

Sep 242011

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by Anura Guruge

Click image on right –>>> for more related posts, including detailed schedule etc.

Scroll down through posts for recent posts on pope’s trip to Germany.

The BIG news this morning [i.e., Saturday, September 24th — the 3rd day of the 4 day trip] was the inconsequential shooting incident prior to the pope’s open air Mass at Erfurt’s Domplatz [i.e., Cathedral Square]. The pope was unharmed and wasn’t even close by. He didn’t even know that there had been an incident until after the Mass.

It was not a rifle or assault gun. It was an air gun! It wasn’t even fired at the pope or even in his direction. Instead, a 30-year old man with connections to Erfurt, though living in Berlin, fired the airgun at a security guard on the perimeter of the security zone for the open air Mass — which is said to have been attended by 30,000 people. Those from what was communist, atheist East Germany were told by the pope that they must rediscover their faith. If my memory serves me right, Lucius II (#167) who died in 1145, after being pelted by heavy stones leading an assault against the Commune of Rome, was the last (possibly only) pope to have died as a result of an projectile.

The shooter, as was to expected was arrested. It is said that the police found an air rifle and air pistol in a top floor apartment associated with the suspect. It is not clear whether the suspect fired the air gun from this vantage point.

Though this will get talked about as yet another ‘scare’ on a papal visit abroad, this does seem somewhat innocuous. The man, unlike the broad that jumped on the pope in St. Peter’s prior to the Christmas Eve Mass in 2009, didn’t even get close to the pope. Plus, no pope has ever been killed with a bullet! Being poisoned is the most common danger.

Though it was not on the official schedule per se, the Vatican states that while in Erfurt the pope did meet with victims of Catholic clergy sex crimes.

Also in Erfurt, a city closely associated with Martin Luther the Father of the Protestant Reformation, the pope met with Protestants. See the YouTube video by clicking on image below.

Click to play YouTube video on pope meeting with Protestants

Sep 232011

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by Anura Guruge

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Scroll down through posts for recent posts on pope’s trip to Germany.

On Friday morning, September 23, at 9 am, as scheduled, the pope met with representatives of the Muslim community, at the apostolic nunciature in Berlin. The pope told them that they could expect support and cooperation from the Germany’s Catholic population provided they staid within the German constitution [i.e., that they have to be bound by German law]. Germany has about 4 million Muslims — about 1/6th that of the Catholics there. See YouTube video by clicking on image below:

Click on image to play YouTube video on pope's meeting with the Muslims.

Yesterday, Thursday, September 21, was the first day of the visit. On the 2 hour flight over to Germany, per what is now a long-standing tradition, a few, carefully handpicked journalists from the larger news corp traveling on the the plane with the pope (thus helping to defray the cost of chartering the flight), are permitted to ask the pope a few, pre-screened, ‘soft-ball’ questions. [I guess the belief always has been that pope, despite all of his supposed credentials is incapable of answering any ‘tough’ questions from the press.] Well one of the more inane questions that was asked was: “How much do you still feel yourself to be German, and in what aspects do your origins still influence you?” Wow. The pope is 84. He has been pope for six years. Prior to that, though living in Rome for decades, he was still a cardinal from Germany. Thank God the pope, no doubt helped by a bevvy of cardinals and others, had the presence of mind to say: “I was born in Germany and that root cannot and must not be severed. I received my cultural formation in Germany, my native language is German and language is the way in which the spirit lives and works. … The fact of my being German is a vital part of the cultural framework of my life.”

There was, as had been the case in the last couple of trips, a carefully ‘set-up’ question about the clergy sex abuse crimes.

“Over recent years increasing numbers of people have been leaving the Church in Germany, also as a result of acts of child abuse committed by members of the clergy. What are your feelings about this? What would you say to those who wish to leave the Church?” Though the word ‘crime’ was not mentioned in the question, the pope, again to his credit, started by using that word. “Let us first distinguish the specific motivations of those who are horrified by the crimes that have recently come to light. I can understand how …. one would say: ‘This is no longer my Church. ….”

As was also scheduled for Thursday afternoon, the pope met with representatives of the Berlin Jewish community. Given the recent developments with the SSPX this meeting could have been tense. But, it appears it wasn’t. Read this article.

Angela Merkel was at the airport to greet the pope. And the pope did leave the airport in a black limo as opposed to the slow moving popemobile. See YouTube video by clicking on image:

Click image to watch YouTube video of pope arriving in Berlin.

Sep 222011

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by Anura Guruge

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Scroll down through posts for recent posts on pope’s trip to Germany.

Video, on YouTube, of pope’s open Air Mass before estimated crowd of 70,000 at the Berlin Olympic Stadium. Click on image to play video.

Click on image to play video (on YouTube)

>> Protests, by around 9,000, muted and not as disruptive as they were in Spain.

>> Article on pope’s speech to the German parliament.

Sep 222011

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by Anura Guruge

1/ Pope Benedict XVI’s trip to Germany: The Protests — September 20, 2011 post.
2/ Pope’s meeting with Angela Merkel — September 21, 2011 post.
3/ Must watch video on pope’s trip to Germany — September 21, 2011 post.

Click image on right –>>> for more related posts, including detailed schedule etc.


Berlin-Tegel International Airport

Please refer to the Pope’s trip itinerary for more details, background and pictures.

>> Pope left Rome from Ciampino airport at 8.15 am as planned.

>> Pope Benedict XVI (#266) landed at Berlin-Tegel airport ~10:15 am, a few minutes ahead of schedule. It was the 21st trip away from Italy, his 3rd to his mother land — albeit his first State visit to Germany.

>> Though this had not been initially publicized, he was met on the tarmac by Christian Wulff, the Catholic President of Germany and Angela Merkel, the Chancellor Germany (the daughter of a Lutheran pastor).

>> This pope, unlike John Paul II (#265) of old in his limber days, does not appear to want anything to do with kissing tarmacs. You really can’t blame him given that he is now 84 years old. Getting up and down, in public, from kissing the dirt might be problematic — and having people help you do it will diminish the dignity.

>> Per the ‘standard,’ international protocol for heads of state on State visits he was honored with a 21 gun salute — which does sound incongruous in the case of a religious leader.

>> Archbishop Rainer Maria Woelki of Berlin and Archbishop Robert Zollitsch of Freiburg im Breisgau, President of the German Bishops’ Conference, were also at hand at the airport to greet the pope. Germany currently has 7 cardinals, 5 of them electors (one of them being the loose-cannon Kasper). There is, however, no mention of any of the cardinals greeting the pope at the airport.

>> The pope traveled by limo to the President’s official residence, Bellevue Castle for a welcome ceremony in the castle grounds.

>> There was a small, muted protest. Here is the video. Click on image below.

Click image for video and commentary by EuroNews,

>> The pope then had a private meeting with the President and his family inside the castle.

>> The pope then traveled to headquarters of the German Episcopal Conference (DBK) as scheduled. He was greeted by Archbishop Robert Zollitsch, President of the DBK.

>> Then the pope, as planned, had a private meeting which Chancellor Merkel in the DBK library. Merkel’s husband, a scientists, and other members of the Chancellor’s entourage then came into meet the pope.

>> Following this meeting, the pope walked to the refectory of the nearby Catholic Academy for lunch.

Some quotes from the pope’s address at the welcome ceremony in the gardens of the Bellevue Castle:

“Even though this journey is an official visit which will reinforce the good relations existing between the Federal Republic of Germany and the Holy See, I have not come here primarily to pursue particular political or economic goals, as other statesmen rightly do, but rather to meet people and to speak about God.”

“We are witnessing a growing indifference to religion in society, which considers the issue of truth as something of an obstacle in its decision-making, and instead gives priority to utilitarian considerations.”

“All the same a binding basis for our coexistence is needed; otherwise people live in a purely individualistic way.”

“Religion is one of these foundations for a successful social life. ‘Just as religion has need of freedom, so also freedom has need of religion’.”

1/ Pope warns German legislators not to abuse power (which may seem rich coming from the pope). Article.


Sep 212011

Click image for schedule, quotes etc.

by Anura Guruge

1/ Pope Benedict XVI’s trip to Germany: The Protests — September 20, 2011 post.
2/ Pope’s meeting with Angela Merkel — September 21, 2011 post.
Click image on right –>>> for more related posts, including detailed schedule etc.

Good video, available on YouTube that discusses many of the facets of the pope’s September 22 trip to Germany, starting in Berlin. There is even a segment on the planned protests.

Click on image to play the YouTube video.

Click on image to play video


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