Nov 302011

Anura Guruge, laughing, picture November 16, 2011.

by Anura Guruge

What I am looking for is ONE SPECIFIC piece of information.

Sometime during 1997 A.D., while the very influential (and overall good guy and) Dutch Cardinal Johannes Willebrands was Camerlengo of the College of Cardinals, the post was eliminated … POOF!

No explanation. No documentation. No information as to who took over the responsibilities of this post were — which was that of the treasurer of the College. More than likely they were transferred to curial dicastery. But, which one.

I had spent a few days looking into this a couple of years ago. Hit brick walls. But, it wasn’t a big deal so I let it drop. However, my curiosity is piqued again SINCE many Camerlenghi also held this post. Hhhhmmmm. Usually you don’t get a post like this just going up in incense with no trace at all.

So, no jokes. I am serious. I will pay for this information. Check or PayPal. Or if you prefer I can pay you in books. What I am trying to find is … what happened to this post in 1997. That is it. Some clue would be good.

Nov 302011

Anura Guruge, laughing, picture November 16, 2011.

by Anura Guruge

¤ See ‘Camerlengo‘ fixed-page TAB at top (^) for links to all of the camerlengo related posts.

That Pius XII (#261) was camerlengo when elected pope on Thursday, March 2, 1939, his 63rd birthday, is fairly well known. As far as we know he is the only one elected pope on his birthday, and but just one of three on-duty camerlenghi to be elected pope. Two 13th century popes had been camerlenghi earlier in their careers but had relinquished this office by the time they were elected.

Pius XII was also the Secretary of State when elected. Again, just one of three that were ‘S.S.’ when elected pope.

Pius XII was pope for 7,161 days — 19 years, 7 months, 1 week, the 14th longest papacy to date.

During this fairly lengthy papacy, spanning all of WW II, he only had a Secretary of State for 27.82% of the time — and that was his childhood buddy. That was it. One S.S., for 5 years 5 months, and even that a person he had known since his childhood. When this S.S. died, he never appointed a permanent S.S.

Pop Quiz

So we have the stats for the S.S. What about the Camerlengo?

For what percentage of his 19.58 year tenure did Pacelli have an official Camerlengo (and I stress ‘official’ here because saying that Lehnert was his Vice-Pope (VP) doesn’t count). Have a stab?

9.31%. Yes, 667 days — 1 year, 9 months, 3 weeks and 6 days. That was IT. For the remainder of the 6,494 days, 17.78 years, this office was left vacant.

Ill health was a hallmark of his life. He was quite ill for the last 4 years of his life, hiccuping uncontrollably for much of this time! During this time he had many blood transfusions. But, he still did not appoint a Camerlengo to administer his funeral.

When he died, at Castel Gandolfo, with his quack physician taking pictures of the dying pope (per a commission from the French Match magazine), there was no Camerlengo!

The Dean of the College of Cardinals, the ever impeccable, French, Eugène Tisserant, stepped into the breach and performed the death verification duties of the Camerlengo — though he was probably out-of-order for doing so. What he should have done was to have a Camerlengo elected then and there. In reality they did do that, within the day, giving us then 79.3 year old Benedetto Aloisi Masella who would hold that post until he died in September 1970 aged 91.3. [He would have had to have relinquished the post in 3 months as Paul VI’s (#263), 80-year rules were about to kick-in on January 1, 1971. But, he died before the cut-off was even announced in November of 1970.]

Not appointing a S.S. or a Camerlengo does speak to Pius XII’s weak personality — not to mention his conspicuous reluctance to create cardinals. He was obviously an extremely insecure man. Who he did appoint for short stints as S.S. and Camerlengo are also telling. One was a childhood friend, the other was the Major Penitentiary. The M.P. is one office that the pope has to keep filled. So he makes that the Camerlnego too. Very strange. Very sad.

I am always perplexed when people assert that he was a ‘good’ pope. So today I checked. Richard P. McBrien in HIS ratings of the popes totally omits Pius XII. That alone speaks volumes. He doesn’t even get a mention as a historically important pope. Well in this case I am with McBrien.

Nov 292011

Anura Guruge, laughing, picture November 16, 2011.

by Anura Guruge

Please refer to the LOWER PART of the Vatican announcement
image on this post.

On July 25, 2011, with the charges in the hugely damaging Cloyne Report reverberating around the world, the Vatican, in a fit of high dudgeon recalled its nuncio to Italy, Giuseppe Leanza.

On September 15, 2011, Leanza, who had remained in Rome, was assigned to the Czech Republic — indubitably a promotion. So there was no Holy See nuncio to Ireland from that point on.

On November 4, 2011, 85% Catholic Ireland closed its embassy to the Holy See — though they kept an Ambassador to the Holy See in Rome (working out of the Ireland’s Italian Embassy).

On November 23, 2011, the pope accepted the resignation of a 71-year old Irish bishop sparking new speculation that the Vatican intends to reduce the number of dioceses in Ireland.

Then we get the news, on November 28, that on November 26, the pope has appointed a new nuncio to Ireland, a 52-year old monsignor, ‘Charles John Brown‘ (known to his disciples as ‘Charlie Brown‘), born in New York, who will be elevated to an Archbishop. That he comes from the Office of the Inquisitor is obviously no coincidence. It has yet to be established whether Lucy will be accompanying the nuncio to Ireland with her football.

Nov 292011

Anura Guruge, laughing, picture November 16, 2011.

by Anura Guruge


From November 28, 2011, Vatican Information Service (VIS) bulletin.

I got an e-mail late last night from Louis Epstein questioning why I had not commented on the above announcement re. my place of birth, Colombo, Sri Lanka, and vaguely curious as to whether I knew either of the two.

To be honest, as I confessed to Louis, I had not seen the announcement. I had opened the VIS that morning and had a quick scan of the highlights. I was kind of preoccupied with my research into Camerlengos [Ok, Camerlenghi] and did not bother to read the ‘Other Pontifical Acts’. So I only got around to reading the announcement close to mid-night last night.

Yes, a Sri Lankan in Canada had told me, a couple of months ago, that my #1 papabile, My Lord Cardinal Marc Ouellet, P.S.S., was working on identifying a couple of auxiliaries for Sri Lanka.

I found the timing of this announcement somewhat curious. It came hot on the heels of the media reports that a Catholic-run orphanage in Sri Lanka had been raided by the police. But, that could have been but a coincidence.

One thing BOTHERED ME, inordinately, about this announcement. Singling out, and signaling, one of them as a Vicar for the Tamils, in my opinion is WRONG! It is way to divisive, intentionally provocative and now anachronistic. This is dividing the church by ethnicity. There was no need for it. In a country of 26 million, just recovering from a bloody, 3 decade civil war involving the Tamils, only 18% of the population is Tamil and 6.2% Christian! So to single out an aux. for Tamils is just plain stupid. Why not name a aux. in South Carolina for the Confederates?

The majority Sinhalese (74%) and Buddhist (70%) still accuse the Catholic church as having sided with the Tamils during the civil war. So this move just incites the acrimony.

A part of the problem is the name of the Archdiocese. It is called Colombo but covers the whole country. I, as a Sinhalese, would have been totally cool if the aux. was called Vicar for Jaffna, Northern Province or even Northeast. But, to explicitly single him out for the Tamils was wrong. I checked with Louis. Asked him if he knew of any other ethnicity-based appointments. He thought that Halifax in Canada had an aux. for the French.

I was also amused by the DISRESPECT shown to us by the Vatican by not specifying the UNITS that relate to ‘area 3,838‘. Is that in cubits or papal handful? That was rude.

 Last of all, I realize that I should do some research into these names. For a start, as I have commented before, the name of our Tanned cardinal is atypical. Yes, we have a LOT of ‘Lionels’ in Ceylon — and it is INCONGRUOUS to have a ‘Lionel’ as representing the Tamils, since us ‘Sinhalese‘ get our name from ‘singha‘ — LION, as clearly shown in the flag. But, I have never heard of a ‘Fidelis’ in Sri Lanka. I wonder if it is a priestly name. ‘Grenville’ is new to me too, but I grew up with a lot of ‘Granvilles’ so I can live with that. But, these names are atypical. There is something here that needs to be checked.

The Dutch, c. 1680, storming into the legendary port of Colombo


Nov 282011

Anura Guruge, laughing, picture November 16, 2011.

by Anura Guruge

Another error by Frederic J. Baumgartner

Another HOWLER from Baumgartner’s ‘History of Papal Elections’

Jean-Marie Villot

Cardinal Jean-Marie Villot, the popular Camerlengo

On page 224 of Frederic J. Baumgartner’s ‘Behind Locked Doors — A History of the Papal Elections‘ [ISBN: 1403969620] it is clearly stated that Jean Villot of France was the first non-Italian camerlengo (as shown above).

Not so!

As with so many other claims in this book, this is but pure unadulterated fiction. Here is a list of 17 other errors in this book (along with a description as to how this used to be one of my favorite papal books until I started stumbling upon one error after the next). This statement is so patently false that it begs the question whether Fred threw in these claims, at regular intervals, just to poke fun at the readership — assuming that none would no better and would DEFINITELY not have heard of the Avignon papacy.

The chain-smoking, bespectacled, Jean-Marrie Villot, with the twinkling eyes and magnetic personality, mired in controversy during the 2nd 1978 conclave, can lay claim to many feats — including possibly trying to subvert the election of his longtime nemesis, Cardinal Benelli — but being the first non-Italian Camerlengo is not one of them. [See pages 199 – 200 of ‘The Next Pope 2011‘ for details as to how the Camerlengo is supposed to have called two ad-hoc timeouts during the voting to permit the ‘John Paul II’ contingent to regroup when they were losing steam.]

Jean-Marrie is NOT even the first French Camerlengo.

I just happened to look up the first Camerlengo from the Avignon period. Bertrand des Bordes. Sounded pretty French to me. And he is indeed French and was Camerlengo in 1311.

I just found another Frenchman. Pierre de Cros. And I was NOT even looking that hard.

Here is the ABSOLUTE kicker. The very first ‘official’ Camerlengo, following the creation of the College, in 1150, might have been a Frenchman — Jordan of Santa Susanna.

The 4th Camerlengo, after the creation of the College, is referred to as Boso Breakspeare — though I prefer the proper English variant ‘Breakspear‘.

Well, if you know your popes, you would know the name — that of Hadrian IV (#170). According to the 1917 Catholic Encyclopedia he was a nephew of the pope. That also makes him English. He was Camerlengo in 1155. So that is another non-Italian Camerlengo a few years prior to dear Villot.

I had to laugh. That Fred is such a joker. It is good to see academics, with tenure, with a good sense of humor. Made my day.

My Camerlenghi Excel spreadsheet now has 95 entries. It was when compiling this spreadsheet that I came across Breakspear — and immediately knew that he was not from Italy. As with the popes, dates prior to 1400, in this case the dates in office, tend to be problematic. I have solid dates for 47 of them; 49.4%. So that is a start.

Nov 272011

Anura Guruge, laughing, picture November 16, 2011.

by Anura Guruge

Last night, by accident (since there was nothing serendipitous about it), I came across this disturbing headline on a social networking site, with a spooky juxtapositioning:

This shocked me to the core. Our family has a long, distinguished history with orphanages in Ceylon. During all the time I can remember, when living in Ceylon, my mother was the Secretary (and I think sometime Treasurer) of a large girls orphanage in Colombo. I remember going there at least once a week. It was a large two-story building with the customary full-length ‘verandahs’, at the front, on both floors. I remember the girls, all dressed in white. They knew my mother and my mother knew them. From what I could see, they were happy. Then, sometime later, after I had left, my uncle, who was a doctor, Director of Health in Ceylon for decades, private physician to prime-ministers and presidents, fire walker of distinction and overall bon vivant par extraordinaire set up and ran a very successful private orphanage. I used to be so proud of that. He was quite a guy. I now realize that he volunteered all of us kids (including his 4 sons), as a nation, as guinea pigs for the sugar-cube polio vaccine. It was a big deal though (at least the kids) didn’t know that we were being experimented on. We had to wear our best whites and stand in line. There was media coverage. We lucked out. I have seen more cases of polio in this country than I have in Sri Lanka. Right now I have a 5-year old relative, a beautiful young girl, who was adopted from a Sri Lankan orphanage 4 years ago. So, when I see ‘Sri Lanka’, ‘orphanage’ and ‘police raid’, I sit up and take notice.

Well here are three links. Read about it, without me interjecting. Link 1 & Link 2. Yes, I know, many of you are already thinking religious persecution in yet another banana republic. Since most have never even heard of the country you can’t expect them to know about our famed democracy, the world’s FIRST female prime minister and enviable record for religious tolerance. In Sri Lanka, when it comes to religion, ‘pluralism’ isn’t a word that you just hear the pope intoning, it is an accepted, taken for granted, way of life. You will notice that the Cardinal from Sri Lanka, the Tanned Ratzinger, the bishop of the archdiocese question, has not uttered a word in protest.

Our poor children. Please help.

The fire that my uncle, a western doctor, used to walk. Click to learn more.

Then we had the pope, Benedict XVI (#266), yesterday, Saturday, November 26, 2011, addressing, in Rome, bishops from New York state, led by Archbishop Dolan of New York (president of the U.S. bishops’ conference), who were in Rome for their ‘ad limina‘ visits.

After the initial greeting, this is what he had to say: ‘Our meetings are the first since my 2008 Pastoral Visit to your country, which was intended to encourage the Catholics of America in the wake of the scandal and disorientation caused by the sexual abuse crisis of recent decades. I wished to acknowledge personally the suffering inflicted on the victims and the honest efforts made both to ensure the safety of our children and to deal appropriately and transparently with allegations as they arise. It is my hope that the Church’s conscientious efforts to confront this reality will help the broader community to recognize the causes, true extent and devastating consequences of sexual abuse, and to respond effectively to this scourge which affects every level of society. By the same token, just as the Church is rightly held to exacting standards in this regard, all other institutions, without exception, should be held to the same standards.


Then, immediately, he drops the subject, like the hot potato it is, and starts to talk about the need for ‘new evangelization‘. Again, as with his speech, two days earlier, a non sequitur. No acknowledgement that the sex abuse crisis might have a lot to do with why folks are shying away from the church.

I had an e-mail from Fr. John this morning with his latest cardinalabili updates (which I will publish shortly). He thinks the pope is quite ill! I would tend to agree. Too many senior moments since this summer. But, I could, as ever, be wrong.

Nov 262011

Anura Guruge, laughing, picture November 16, 2011.

by Anura Guruge

The current Vice-Camerlengo, 76-year, Spainish Archbishop Santos Abril y Castelló.

On Monday of this week, November 21, 2011, we had the ‘jump for joynews that, Thank God, the Blessed Basilica Papale di Santa Maria Maggiore had a new and worthy Archpriest, 76-year old, Spanish Archbishop Santos Abril y Castelló (dob: Sep. 21, 1935), a past nuncio and now Vice-Chamberlain of the Apostolic Chamber. The Vatican announcement of Nov. 21 (which astutely did not name who he was replacing), with characteristic penchant for bland, pedantic accuracy, just specified ‘Vice-Chamberlain of the Apostolic Chamber‘.

Most would not recognize this title, given that they will also not be conversant as to who is the Chamberlain of the Apostolic Chamber. The Chamberlain of the Apostolic Chamber is the The Camerlengo of the Holy Roman Church, theCamerlengo‘, the maestro of the sede vacante — currently, and as of April 4, 2007, the most eminent, 76-year old, #2 papabile Lord Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, S.D.B. (dob: Dec. 2, 1934), Cardinal Bishop of Frascati and Secretary of State.

Thus, the Vice-Chamberlain of the Apostolic Chamber is the non-cardinal Vice-Camerlengo. Archbishop Abril y Castelló’s appointment to this post, for an atypically disclosed 3-year term, on January 22, 2011, as the replacement for the newly created Cardinal Paolo Sardi, was discussed here.

#2 papabile, soon to be 77, Lord Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, S.D.B.

Archbishop Abril y Castelló’s new appointment, as the head of Rome’s largest and most beloved Marian papal basilica, makes him a marginal cardinalabili. That is not really a problem. If created a cardinal, as was the case with Paolo Sardi, they will have to find a non-elector cardinal to replace him BECAUSE the Vice-Camerlengo has to stay outside of the conclave to monitor external, perimeter security.

Yes, in theory, he could be created once he has turned 80 and he could then continue as Vice-Camerlengo — but that atypical 3-year term gets in the way (though, of course, the pope can extend that at will).

Talk about the Vice-Camerlengo led to a discussion as to what would happen to the current Camerlengo given the chances that Benedict XVI (#266) will be around for quite a few more years.

Cardinal Bertone will turn 77 next week.

So, he still has 3 years, i.e., until Dec. 3, 2014, as a cardinal elector. He can continue as Camerlengo till then — without nary an issue. Period. He does not have to continue as Secretary of State to be the Camerlengo. He just needs to reside in Rome. I covered much of this in this July 3, 2011 post, some of this material from the new Appendix F of ‘The Next Pope 2011‘.

You will notice we have only had five (5) Camerlengos (or to be precise Camerlenghi) since the 80-year cut-off for conclaves kicked in on January 1, 1971. [Interestingly the Camerlengo when Paul VI (#263) instituted the new law in 1970 died in September of 1970, aged 91, 3 months prior to the cut-off!]

Of these five only one the prior Camerlengo, Cardinal Martínez Somalo, retired upon turning 80. Actually be retired 4 days after he turned 80. That brings up the issue of what would have happened if a sede vacante had occurred two days after he turned 80. I am convinced that it would not have been an issue.

Universi Dominici Gregis is very specific about the need to have a Camerlengo who is cardinal elector — so that he can be at the conclave, if nothing else to preside over the Particular Congregations. Since the Camerlengo is a head of a dicastery, the Apostolic Chamber, you could argue that per Paul VI’s 1970 edict he automatically loses his office even if he hasn’t resigned. We have already seen over 80 Deans not attending the conclave. So I do not see an issue. Yes, you could have the scenario that the over-80 Camerlengo certifies the popes death and attends the first few General Congregations. He will then be replaced seamlessly and without issue.

This, with luck, will be the start of a regular series on Camerlenghi. Yesterday I started creating  Anu-special Excel spreadsheets for Camerlenghi. I intend to collect a fair chunk of data. I already know the longest serving Camerlenghi. So stay tuned. All the best.

Nov 252011

Anura Guruge, laughing, picture November 16, 2011.

by Anura Guruge

One of the ancient Hindu cum Jain temples in Khajuraho

The Pontifical Council for the Laity, headed by Poland’s Cardinal Stanislaw Rylko as of 2003, is in the midst of celebrating its 25th plenary assembly along the motif of: ‘The Question of God in Today’s World‘.

This morning Benedict XVI (#266) met with those attending the assembly and delivered a short, prepared statement. In his remarks the pope opted to focus on two recent major initiatives handled by this Pontifical Council, viz. the Congress for Lay People in Asia and World Youth Day in Madrid, Spain.

Obviously since I am Asian, I paid particular attention to what the pope had to say about my sun-burnt neck of the world.

He started by saying (and the emphasis is all mine): ‘The great continent of Asia is home to many different peoples, cultures and religions of ancient origin, but the Christian message has so far reached only a small minority who often live their faith in difficult circumstances, sometimes even suffering real persecution. The congress was an opportunity … to reinforce our missionary commitment and courage. These our brothers and sisters bear admirable witness to their adherence to Christ, enabling us to see how, thanks to their faith, vast fields of evangelisation are opening for the Church in Asia in the third millennium’.

So, as ever, I stopped and mulled those words. I am so glad he acknowledged the ‘religions of ancient origin‘ because I think about those and what they connote on a daily basis.

Then as ever we get the non sequitur.

Dear Holy Father, Vicar of Christ, can YOU please stop and explain HOW these ‘religions of ancient origin‘ came to be and why they still persists. You immediately, WITHIN THE SAME sentence no less, start talking about the ‘Christian message’. Stop. You are confusing me. ‘Only a small minority has heard the Christian message‘. Whose fault is that? I have asked this many times before. Is this a RESULT of man’s free will? There is also that crack about ‘often living in difficult conditions‘. Why do you generalize SO? Are the good Catholics in the Philippines living in difficult circumstances? I can’t really attest to what is happening in India but I suspect that most of the Catholics there are not living in difficult circumstances. I sure do know about the situation in Sri Lanka. Have you, of late, had a chat with the Tanned Cardinal from there. The Catholics in Sri Lanka are not living their faith in difficult circumstances. I hate it when we get tarred with the same brush. So, I am stymied yet again. I still am no wiser as to how and why these religions of ancient origins came to be and WHY the pope just talks about these, three times a year, without taking decisive action.

I need to go and think more about this ancient religion thing. Something just does not add up.

Nov 242011

  by Father Anthony, STL
  Sussex, UK

The two latest Father Anthony related posts. Do a search for all the others (or follow some of the links):
1/ Nov. 18, 2011 — Pictures of Pope Benedict XVI, Last Week, From Father Anthony, STL.
2/ Oct. 26, 2011 — Father Anthony Visiting Rome Again; and A Few Thoughts On The Pope’s Health.

Papal apartment, at the Papal Palace, by Fr. Anthony from this trip. (Copyright protected)

Dear Anura,
It is very obvious that the Pope has slowed up somewhat.  I had not seen him except on TV since he was with us in London at Westminster Cathedral in September last year. He seems to have aged during these last months and seems rather more frail than he was. They say that he is suffering from a form of arthrosis which involves the degeneration of the joints. I would imagine that it  must be quite painful. On the other hand he is clearly on good form mentally. The talks that he writes himself are thoughtful and show that his mind is as sharp as ever. I heard no talk about the succession. There was no sense of things coming to an end.

At the same time people are realistic about the prospects for a man of 84 who has never been in robust health. Plans are still being made for journeys outside Italy including Mexico and Cuba.

While I was in Rome the focus of the media was on the downfall of Berlusconi. It will be interesting to see how this impacts on the Church and the Vatican. It would be fair to say that under Cardinal Bertone the Curia has become more heavily Italian, and that Italian politics have an effect on what happens at the Vatican. There is certainly no one Italian view among the senior Italian  Cardinals on the role of the Church in Italy and the proper role of the Vatican. I do not think that in the event of a conclave it would be easy to unite the Italian Cardinals around one Italian candidate. Again many outside Italy think that this pontificate has been too “Eurocentric”, and this could lead to a different direction in the next pontificate. However I am better as an observer than a prophet, so we shall have to wait and see.

God bless,
Father Tony

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