Feb 292012

Anura Guruge, laughing, picture November 16, 2011.

    by Anura Guruge

Related posts:
1/ Rome Reports TV Credits ‘Anura Guruge’ and This Blog For Pope’s Age Statistics — February 28, 2012.
2/ Benedict XVI Will Be Fifth (5th) Oldest Pope, Since 1400, On October 31, 2012 — February 24, 2012.

Anura Guruge Benedict XVI by the numbers

On February 29, 2012, Pope Benedict XVI (#266) would have been on earth for 31,000 days.

John Paul II (#265) died on April 2, 2005, on his 31,000th day on earth. So, on Feb. 29, a leap year day, Benedict equals John Paul II’s age. John Paul II was the 6th oldest pope — as of 1400. So, on Feb. 29, Benedict XVI becomes joint 6th oldest — as of 1400.

On March 1, 2012, Benedict XVI draws ahead to become the 6th oldest as of 1400. He will be 5th oldest on October 31, 2012.

I thought it was appropriate to celebrate this papal landmark by looking at Pope Benedict XVI’s life, on March 1, 2012, in terms of numbers:

Benedict XVI life in numbers by Anura Guruge

Click to ENLARGE

Feb 282012
Rome Reports credits Anura Guruge Popes and papacy

Click image to access video and article at Rome Reports

This morning I had this e-mail from my friend, Robert, who lives in the shadows of the Vatican wall and was the founder of the amazing Il Sismografo (The Seismograph), Catholic news in 5 languages Web site that has covered my work quite a bit:

Click to ENLARGE.

This, I will confess, is gratifying. I am happy. The kids love it. Thank you to all for your continued help and support. Anura

Feb 272012

Benedict XIII (#246)

Anura Guruge, laughing, picture November 16, 2011.

   by Anura Guruge

On Friday, February 24, 2012, in the Hall of Conciliation of the Lateran Palace (Rome), Cardinal Agostino Vallini (#9 papabile in my 2009 list, but now no longer favored), Vicar General of Rome, hosted a formal ceremony to reopen the cause of beatification and canonization of Pope Benedict XIII (#246) [May 1724 to Feb. 1730]. (Maybe the choice of venue was no coincidence. This really does seem to be an act of conciliation.)

This seemed incongruous to say the least. He wasn’t a great pope. Many probably know the antipope of that name better than the pope. That they have reopened his cause is puzzling.

The first attempt to beatify him was opened in 1755, in northwestern Italy (in Tortona), 25-years after his death. That was a lead balloon! Then, in 1931, again in Tortona, they reopened the cause. Nine years later they closed it. Now it is being reopened again? Why?

He, born Pietro Francesco Orsini, in 1650,  is from the great Orsinis of Rome — that also gave us Celestine III (#176) and Nicholas III (#189), but even more significantly Matteo Orsini, the enforcer of the very first bona fide conclave in 1241. He became a Dominican as a youth and thanks to his family ties became a cardinal priest (supposedly against his will) at the age of 23. Though he continued as a friar he would be appointed a bishop and eventually become the Archbishop of Benevento (Italy).

He was elected pope, as a compromise candidate following a 9-week conclave, at the age of 74. He was reluctant to become pope but accepted at the urging of the head of his order.

Upon becoming Bishop of Rome he did not relinquish Benevento. Holding two bishoprics was a practice started by German popes in the early 11th century.

Benedict XIII was the last pope to retain his prior bishopric upon becoming pope. Maybe that is why they want to make him a Saint?

To be fair he was pious pope. He was frugal, ascetic, devout but extremely fond of liturgical celebrations. This desire to celebrate led to him canonizing 10 saints and consecrating close to 140 bishops across Europe and the ‘New World’ — though he was only pope for five years and eight months. Consequently, many of today’s apostolic succession lineage chains end up going through one of these Benedict XIII bishops. He (like John Paul II (#265)) liked to exercise and would ride out of Rome, in disguise, so that he could partake in physical activity in the countryside. All of that is good.

One of those that he canonized was Gregory ‘Hildebrand’ VII (#158) — who had proclaimed that all popes are automatically Saints given their Peterine succession. [There is lot to be said for this line of thought and I personally think that Benedict XVI (#266) should edict it so as to eliminate this somewhat unsavory distinction among popes — and even this post wondering why Benedict XIII is more special than say Benedict XV (#259).] Gregory was quite a pope, and Hildebrand was quite the power behind the throne. But, alas, Gregory’s legacy involves his bitter, non-stop, acrimonious battle with the then Emperor Henry IV which led to much abuse of Rome. The Romans were not pleased. Gregory’s canonization, which lauded his battles with the emperor, was not popular.

He tried, though not successfully, to curb the indulgent lifestyles of his cardinals and Italian clerics. He forbid cardinals and clerics from wearing wigs. OK, that is probably worthy of a beatification. He also abolished the Roman lottery. That probably wasn’t good because his papacy bankrupted the papal finances!

In 1624 Urban VIII (#236), with a bull, banned the use of tobacco in holy places — the punishment being automatic excommunication. Benedict XIII invalidated that ban. Is that the real cause?

Benedict, atypical, of the time shunned nepotism. He didn’t even create a ‘nephew’ as the cardinal nephew though he was asked and expected to do so. Instead, his weakness, a fatal one at that, was for his old staff from his bishopric in Benevento. He brought his old staff over to Rome to help him be pope. Two in particular, both created cardinals, Paolucci and Coscia proved to be class reprobates — particularly the later who embezzled from the papal treasury!

So, some of the contemporary commentary of Benedict’s prowess as a pope included: “He did not have any idea about how to rule” and “All the money of Rome go to Benevento“.

Upon his death this little ditty came to be:

“This tomb encloses the bones of a little friar:
more than a saint’s lover a protector of brigands”

He was, as the above indicates, extremely unpopular by the time he died, particularly in Rome.

So, this begs the question, why is his cause being reopened. Aren’t there more worthy causes around?


Feb 262012

Anura Guruge, laughing, picture November 16, 2011.

   by Anura Guruge

In this January 11, 2012 post I touched on what would happen (in the very unlikely scenario given that I think the pope is still hale) if there were to be a conclave while there were more than 120 cardinal electors — assuming, of course, that ill health among some of the cardinals didn’t keep the number below 120.

Contrary to what some pundits will claim, I, having studied conclave protocols and lore in more detail than most, am fairly sure is that the College of Cardinals, meeting in their sede vacante General Congregations, will not permit more than 120 electors to participate in the conclave. Exceeding the 120 limit is an explicit violation of Universi Dominici Gregis and such an blatant and intentional violation would invalidate the election — at least in the eyes of some. So, that option has to be taken off the table.

Yes, you can then come up with all sorts of other, totally arbitrary, criteria as to how to select the 120 electors that will be permitted entry. We have already heard the oldest 120 and youngest 120 (both in terms of age) suggested. But, you could come up with other criteria too: longest as consecrated bishops, residentials given priority over curialist etc. But, none of these scheme have any accepted basis for validity or a precedent vis-à-vis College protocols. Hence, my contention all along that the only scheme that makes sense and has any legitimacy is to use the standard, accepted order of precedence within the College to determine which 120 can enter the conclave. Per this scheme the junior most cardinal deacons get left out (now that the College has so many cardinal deacons that it is unlikely we would ever get to the junior most cardinal priests when talking about the lower-end of precedence scale).

So right now the five junior most cardinal deacons, per precedence [i.e., order in which they were created as opposed to their age], have to wait their turn for a slot to open up. Versaldi is the most junior of the under-80 cardinals.

So, barring deaths, this is how they will get slotted in as other more senior cardinals age out:

Anura Guruge February 18 new cardinals aging out

Click to ENLARGE.

Refer to the ‘Consistory‘ TAB right at the top, above the banner ((↑)), for all the requisite links, including those for the February 18, 2012 consistory.

Feb 242012

As I have commented twice to the ‘Citizen of Des‘, this letter, in a nutshell, captures why I refuse to waste my time trying to get involved in this issue. I respect women too much — plus I have 3 daughters and one wife.

My wife liked this letter. I had seen it earlier in the day in the physical newspaper I pickup each day. I fully concurred with what the letter said — and I even thought that the person who wrote it might be related to the J.P. who married us in 2003. Later in the day when I picked up the paper to finish reading it I found that my wife had circled the letter and written: ‘I like this’. So, based on that I thought I will share it. If you want to follow the letters, to that newspaper, the Laconia Daily Sun, here is a link to their online archive.

Click image to access letter page with actual letter.

Feb 232012

I am posting this without too much commentary or comment because, to be honest, I am not impartial when it comes to this issue!

I happened to stumble upon this article, serendipitously, while looking for a reference to my father! That alone might give some a clue as to why I don’t really want to get too deep into the fray. As some of the more faithful readers of this blog might remember Mrs. Bandaranaike, is Aunty Bandaranaike, a person I spoke with, near daily, for many year while a youngster in Ceylon. (I left, aged 13.9 years, in 1967.)

The author is former High Court judge.

Click image to access article.

P.S., I love the deference in which the cardinal is addressed. ‘His Lordship‘. So, now what do I call Bertone?

Feb 212012

Paul G., from Pennsylvania, provided the 1st cut of this document on January 26, 2012, when he set out to identify the prelates shown in the 1967 St. Patrick’s Day parade in New York. The list elicited a few remarks from our Fr. John.

Paul, sent me a new list yesterday, with these remarks:
“Attached is an updated and corrected list of cardinals from the US.

Dates are spans during which a man served as a residential or curial cardinal. In some cases. i.e., Baum, a man served in both capacities while a cardinal.

Fr. John was correct in his comments and I found another missing name, John Murphy Farley, cardinal-archbishop of New York from 1911 to 1918.

Egan ages out soon and that will drop the number of US electors to 11.

Really enjoying the analyses following the consistory…keep it going!”

Click here to access the list as a small (safe) Adobe Acrobat PDF.
3rd spin, Thursday, February 24, 2012.

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