Nov 222011

by Anura Guruge

St. Mary Major post Bernard Law with Santos Abril y Castello by Anura Guruge

If you need help, please refer to

Putting all the other horrendously disturbing facets of this ugly issue aside, it had always bothered me as to why the pope picked THIS, the largest and most dear of the Roman Marian churches, as signified by ‘Maggiore’ — given that St. Mary is BEST known as A MOTHER and a VIRGIN.

We know that the pope, before his incapacitated by his ailments, had an impish sense of humor. Was he having a joke on all of us?

Nov 212011

Rejoice: Russian Orthodox Icon "All of Creation Rejoices in Thee"

Refers to today’s post on the unmentionable. The announcement he refers to is the Vatican Information Service (VIS)Other Pontifical ActsIMAGE (with white background) that appears towards the end. The AP article is the link at the very end.

Louis Epstein:

I knew you’d be jumping for joy over the Basilica of St. Mary Major becoming a Law-less place.

Since you reproduce the whole announcement, it’s worth noting that Bishop Pop of the Romanian Church becomes the world’s youngest bishop. (Younger than B XVI by more than any bishop ever appointed by JP II was younger than JP II).

The new Archpriest might be thought to take his place behind those who have been waiting longer for red hats in appropriate positions, or be allowed to move ahead because of his age … he retains the position of Vice-Camerlengo which is as a rule NOT held by a Cardinal, though his predecessor Cardinal Sardi did not give it up until January after being elevated in November 2010. During the next conclave, the Vice-Camerlengo will be administering the temporal affairs of the Church while the Camerlengo is locked away, just as the Vicegerent (if that vacancy were filled) will adminster the Diocese of Rome while the Cardinal Vicar-General is locked away. There is no retirement age for the Vice-Camerlengo, and Ettore Cunial (coincidentally a former Vicegerent) retired as Vice-Camerlengo only the month before his 99th birthday.

Nicole Winfield’s AP article, which you link to, errs in saying Cardinal Law retains his dicastery memberships after his 80th birthday,unless canon law has changed. I’ll drop her a line.

Louis’ interaction with AP:

Date: Mon, 21 Nov 2011 20:47:47 -0000

From: “Winfield, Nicole”

To: Louis Epstein

Subject: RE: Cardinal Law’s Retirement

Dear Mr. Epstein,

Thanks for your note.

That paragraph was based on incorrect information provided by the Vatican press office. It was removed in a subsequent update to the story.



Nicole Winfield
Associated Press
Piazza Grazioli 5
00186 Rome, Italy

 From: Louis Epstein

Sent: Mon 11/21/2011 8:14 PM

To: Winfield, Nicole

Subject: Cardinal Law’s Retirement

What’s your source on Cardinal Law retaining his dicastery memberships?

Pope Paul VI’s decree instituting retirement at age 80 also provided that Curial appointments automatically lapsed on a Cardinal’s 80th birthday unless the Pope explicitly extended them,regardless of whatever other office he might retain…has this changed?

Nov 212011

Anura Guruge, laughing, picture November 16, 2011.

by Anura Guruge
17-days ago, on November 4, 2011, the Unmentionable turned 80 and ceased to be a cardinal elector (though he for ever sullied the credibility of 2005 conclave by his presence).

Then the Vatican in yet another of those inexplicable lapses in sensitivity, let alone common sense, had the audacity to publicize the gala banquet that was organized for his birthday — with steps even taken to ensure that all of the prelates from Boston just happened to be in Rome that day!

Suffice to say there was outcry. The poor, innocent victims, yet again, asked the pope (way too politely) to end his tenure as a cardinal.

The pope yet again turned a deaf ear — highlighting that even Austrian Hans Hermann Groër died a cardinal. The last time a cardinal was deprived of his rank was in 1927! [See this post.] I, as a father, did what little I could to express my frustration and outrage.

I was out till noon today. When I got back I had two gleeful e-mails, one from Boston, the other a bit south of there. (Thank you.) Both wanted to make sure that I had heard the news.

It is actually funny but telling. The Vatican, at least in this instance, having got it wrong for so long, finally appeared to have seen the light.

Like me, they didn’t mention him by name!

Bravo. Thank you.

Rather than mention that he had been relieved of his post as Archpriest, they announced the new Archpriest — with no mention of what happened to the prior holder. Bravo.

Here is the actual announcement. It is worth seeing in its original form:

Contrary to what some are saying this had NOTHING to do with age.

Canon 401 of the 1983 Code of Canon Law only applies to diocesan bishops and he ceased to be that in December 2002. I checked the Code. There appears to be no retirement age for Archpriests. So this was NOT a retirement. Thank God.

The take from a Boston publication — send to me by the Boston correspondent.

Nov 202011

Anura Guruge, laughing, picture November 16, 2011.

by Anura Guruge

Refer to the ‘ConsistoryTAB (click here) right at the top, above the banner, for all the pertinent links.

The pope’s back from his 3-day trip to Benin.

Today is also the one year anniversary of the last cardinal creating consistory. [See above for all the links]. Though some were expecting another consistory this November, I had always advocated caution given the trip to Benin. There will not be a cardinal consistory this year. That had always been my take.

I think there is a chance that we might see one on or before the end of June — the Feast of Saints Peter and Paul being observed on June 29. But, deep down I think we are in for another November consistory — in 2012.

Here is what has happened to the College since the last consistory when we hit an all time high of 203 cardinals. There has been 10 deaths (and 0 resignations) since then, bringing the College down to 193. The 121 electors post consistory was in hindsight quite paltry. John Paul II (#265) gave us 135 electors, twice. Yes, 15 over the supposed 120 mark.

Nov 192011

Anura Guruge, laughing, picture November 16, 2011.

From MY BBC -- click image to read insightful article of Voodooism in Benin.

by Anura Guruge

Yesterday, Friday, November 18, 2011, Pope Benedict XVI (#266) arrived in Benin, at Cotonou, Benin’s largest city, after a 6 hour flight from Rome. He was greeted by the President, a 21-gun salute and tumultuous crowds — Friday having been declared a public holiday in honor of the pope — in this country which is about 44% Christian, with ~34% supposedly Catholic, and ~23% Islam. Officially, with about 20%, the next largest religion is Vodun (Voodoo).

Benin is actually considered to be the Home of Voodoo — with what is famously practiced today in the Caribbean having its roots with the slaves transported to the New World from West Africa’s Slave Coast, Benin smack-dab in the epicenter of that. In reality, Vodoo in Benin isn’t so much a religion as an innate way of life, with its own cultural substrata. Coming from Ceylon I can fully appreciate that. Though everyone in Ceylon, in my day, without fail, and sans hesitation, claimed to be a Buddhist, a Baptist, a Catholic, a Hindu, a Methodist, a Muslim most believed in and practiced other other superstitions, ‘devil worship’ and ‘witchcraft’. Some of these superstitions even got interwoven into the other religions. If you see any Sri Lankan’s, especially if they have just returned from Ceylon, you should not be surprised to see them wearing white string ‘bracelets’ around their right wrist (‘white’ rather an unfortunate color in that it really highlights the sweat and dirt). That white string is Sri Lankan voodoo — though the person wearing it will probably knock your teeth out for saying as such, because they will maintain that it is to ‘bring them luck’, ‘ward off evil spirits’ and ‘enhance their sex appeal’.

Voodoo in Benin

Click image for an uplifting YouTube video on Voodoo in Benin.

The belief is that about 40% of those in Benin practice Voodoo — though they are also classified as being Christians or Muslims. As with my brethren in Sri Lanka they do not, in any way, see this as incongruous or a contradiction.

Though the Vatican has not highlighted this aspect of the pope’s trip, it appears that he will indeed be meeting with some Voodoo leaders during his time in Benin. One of those that he is meeting is Dah Aligbonon. He has already told the media that he is going to be asking the pope to tell the real hardcore Catholics in Benin to be more tolerant of the native religions of Africa. Good for him. Good for the pope. This meeting, in many ways, could be good for the pope, who in his old age, appears to be even less tolerant of other religions that he used to be — and I present, Q.E.D., the recent day in Assisi. Who knows, maybe a bit of Voodoo might help the pope’s arthrosis and help with his looming legal troubles. If we see the pope running up the flight of stairs to his plane, when he leaves Benin on Sunday, I for one, will start wondering: ‘was that Voodoo‘?

Click image for YouTube video of Pope's arrival in Benin

Nov 182011

by Anura Guruge

The pope, this morning, despite his arthrosis, did a gallant job mounting the steps to the huge, chartered Alitalia Airbus that whisked him to Benin.

The Pope departed from Italy’s main airport, the Leonardo da Vinci-Fiumicino Airport, in Rome, at 9 am (local time), landing at the Cardinal Bernardin Gantin airport in Cotonou at 3 pm (local time). Benin and Rome are in the same time zone; i.e., London GMT+1. So the trip took 6 hours. Hhmmmm. It is possible that 3pm was an ‘good’ time and they took their time getting there. When I eyeballed the map, I thought it looked like a 4-5 hour trip. [When the pope flew to Germany in September, he, as is usually the norm, flew out of Rome's auxiliary Ciampino airport, as is the norm for chartered flights.]

On arrival he was greeted by Thomas Yayi Boni, President of Benin, Archbishop Antoine Ganye of Cotonou, and other civil and religious authorities.

Here is a good video from YouTube. The pope did well climbing the stairs, though halfway up there is a heart-stopping grab for the rail. They should have had a cardinal close by. Talking of which, my #2 papabile, is shown in all his glory with the pope. He sure looks youthful, energetic and presidential. But, I do not, alas and alack, see him becoming the next pope. I estimate that Benedict XVI (#266) will be around till he hits 96. I just have a feeling that we are currently watching THE POPE destined to be OLDEST documented pope — handily surpassing Leo ‘the eternal pope’ XIII (#257) who lived to see 93. My #2 will be 89 by then. I will be long gone so will not be around to document this.

Click to watch YouTube video. Enjoy.

Nov 182011

by Anura Guruge

Details of Father Anthony’s latest trip to Rome was posted here on October 26. His 9-day trip started on November 4, 2011.

As promised he sent me 13 pictures this morning. He included this short message: “I thought that you might like to see a few of the photos I took in Rome last week. I was especially pleased to be able to get some real close-up shots of the Holy Father at the audience on Wednesday. As you can see we were blessed with wonderful weather for November.” [I think that this was Wednesday, November 9, 2011.]

Here are five pictures of the pope. The copyright of these pictures do belong to Father Anthony though he is usually more than happy to let others use them — but, if you do, PLEASE attribute them to him, at least as ‘Father Anthony, U.K.[I cropped the first picture slightly to take out the shoulder of a person blocking the image. Father Anthony's identity is not a secret, and his name appears thrice in 'The Next Pope 2011' book since the cover photo is also by him. Also compare the closeup of the pope with the image used by Benetton re. my remarks that the skin on the Benetton model was nowhere close to that of the pope.]

Thank you.

Nov 172011

Map on Benin. Click for Wikipedia on Benin.

by Anura Guruge

Tomorrow, the 84-year old Benedict XVI (#266) sets off for his long scheduled, 3-day visit to Benin. This will be his 23rd papal visit outside of Italy.

It is his 2nd trip to Africa, the region experiencing the fastest growth in Catholicism (and surfeit of priests), following his 7-day visit to Cameroon & Angola in March 2009. The 3-day trip will conclude on Sunday, November 20, the Solemnity of Christ the King — the one year anniversary of last year’s cardinal creating consistory.

The Vatican, on Tuesday, outlined three of the key goals and justification for this trip. The first is to promulgate the Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation of the Second Special Assembly for Africa of the Synod of Bishops — which was held in 2009 and proposed 57 recommendations. The signing ceremony is said to take place at a seminary. The ceremony will be attended by is due to take place in 35 presidents of national episcopal conferences, and the seven heads of the continent’s regional conferences.

It is also believed that the pope will unveil a sacrament of reconciliation — to atone for both recent and past atrocities, Benin being at the heart of what was West Africa’s Slave Coast.

The third intent is for the pope to visit the tomb of his predecessor as the Dean, Benin’s one-and-only cardinal, Bernardin Gantin, who died in 2008.

On Friday evening, the pope will attend, in the coastal city Cotonou, a concert, on the theme of peace, justice and reconciliation featuring three prominent African singers: Papa Wemba, Bonga and Fifito.

Benin’s estimated adult HIV prevalence rate (aged 15-49), in 2009 was 1.2%. So the pope may be able to get by without broaching the subject of condoms.

Nov 172011

From Tweak image for more.

by Anura Guruge

Yesterday, shortly after I caught it, serendipitously, on CNN TV news at 5:59pm, I posted the image of Benetton’s fake pope ad — to further Benetton’s latest unhate campaign. Already by then, Benetton had agreed to withdraw the controversial ad — though some were even then arguing in the media that ‘kiss of peace‘ is an established Christian tradition emanating from St. Paul’s (#0) exhortation in Romans 16:16 that ‘Christians greet each other with a holy kiss‘, and that this ad was per that motif.

This morning the Vatican let it be known that they are seeking a legal injunction against Benetton’s — who has an impressive track record of gaining enormous amounts of FREE worldwide publicity by using SHOCK ADs that they then agree to withdraw. To be fair it is very clever and part of a neat marketing strategy.

From Click to read.

The Secretariat of State, led by my #2 papabile Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, S.D.B., has been tasked with trying to pursue this legal challenge. The official statement is as follows:  The Secretariat of State has authorised its lawyers to initiate actions, in Italy and elsewhere, to prevent the circulation, via the mass media and in other ways, of a photomontage used in a Benetton advertising campaign in which the Holy Father appears in a way considered to be harmful, not only to the dignity of the Pope and the Catholic Church, but also to the sensibility of believers. In addition, it appears that the Vatican is also investigating: The Secretariat of State is examining the steps that may be taken with the competent authorities in order to guarantee adequate protection for the figure of the Holy Father. [My emphasis.]

Let me start with that last statement. That bothers me because of the ambiguous use of the Papal ‘we’ so to speak. ‘The Holy Father’ — current pope, all popes or even the notion of the pope? Does this mean that I will no longer be allowed to use Caravaggio’s depiction of St. Peter (#1) being manhandled?

I do not know what the laws are about this type of thing in Italy. For a start, it is very clear that the white-haired person in the picture is NOT Benedict XVI (#266). His skin is that of a younger man, devoid of as many liver spots. The ears are different (and as anybody who has applied for a U.S. Green Card or citizenship will tell you, the U.S. attests that one’s right ear is as unique as one’s fingerprints, which is why they take a picture of it) and the hair is not the same. Plus, nowhere in the ad does it mention ‘Benedict XVI’ or ‘pope’. So the Vatican really is objecting to the IMAGE of the pope being used.

So does this mean that we will no longer be able to have movies or documentaries in which actors depict the pope? No more pope cartoons or pope jokes? [Did you know that there is a Web site:]

Wasn’t this the same Vatican that just a week ago criticized Britain for its censure of Tintin?

I could be wrong, given that I still have problems with its full scope, but I have to think that this is probably protected in the U.S.A. by the First Amendment. I know we have some practicing lawyers, from some large, prestigious international law firms, that visit us on a regular basis. Maybe one of them could enlighten me and I can pass it on.

I checked to see whether my President, the most esteemed Mr. Obama, had instructed the White House lawyer to take Benetton to task. I have yet to find that, and again I think that the laws and customs in the US are different — and the satires on Saturday Night Live (SNL) come to mind. To be honest, when I first saw an image of my President kissing the Chinese leaders it didn’t cross my mind that it was a PhotoShop! I just assumed that it had happened during this week’s Asian Summit in Hawaii. I also thought that the kiss involving the blessed Mrs. Angela Merkel was enviably sexy. But, that is me.

I would have to assume Benetton knew what they were doing. They are a very savvy bunch. Plus, they have already agreed to take down the pope-related images. So lets wait and see. But, IF they stop me using

Rss Feed Tweeter button Facebook button Technorati button Reddit button Myspace button Linkedin button Webonews button Delicious button Digg button Stumbleupon button Newsvine button