Recently in Bishops Category

Does the next Pope have an S.T.D.?


That is: a doctorate in sacred theology?

In 1995, the eminent canon-law professor Ed Peters wrote a piece for Homiletic and Pastoral Review about the need for bishops to set aside some young priests with academic ability, and get them enough advanced study so that they would be prepared in the future, if called, to serve the Church as bishops. At the time, Peters foresaw a "coming bishop crunch" in the U.S.: a lot of bishops reaching retirement age and perhaps a shortage of qualified priests possessing an advanced degree as required by canon law for a bishop.

Canon 378 lists several official requirements for bishops, and one is that he "hold a doctorate or at least a licentiate in sacred Scripture, theology or canon law, from an institute of higher studies approved by the Apostolic See, or at least be well versed in these disciplines."

(In case the word "licentiate" is unfamiliar: it's a graduate degree of lower rank than a doctorate, but it qualifies the holder to teach in a Catholic seminary awarding the bachelor's in sacred theology.)

I thought about this topic the other day when I saw Sandro Magister's column; it was a little chatty talk about some of the cardinals attracting interest as possible choices to succeed Pope Benedict XVI.

One of the names mentioned happens to be my local bishop, Cardinal O'Malley, and it always surprises me to see him on a list like that, since he doesn't happen to hold either of those degrees. He does have a PhD, but it's in Spanish and Portuguese literature. While I trust that he's well versed in theology, I suspect that the cardinals are probably not going to elect anybody Pope unless he really fulfills the requirements with an earned degree in one of the sacred sciences named; and preferably at the doctoral level.

So I decided to make a little survey of the cardinal electors and see who studied what. For the sake of simplicity, I excluded about half the cardinals from my study population: those over 75 and those under 60 years of age, since I doubt that the cardinals will want to elect them.

Dr. Peters' web site has a helpful table of the cardinal electors soon to choose a successor to Pope Benedict XVI, with links to biographies of the 118 current electors. Here's a summary of who has earned a doctorate, and in what field; the lists are in descending order by age, and names marked with a star appear more than once.

Cardinals age 60-75 as of 2/17/13:

Doctorates in canon law
Romeo (IT)
Coccopalmerio (IT)
Monteiro de Castro (PT)
Cafarra (IT)
Brady (IE)
Grocholewski (PL)
Rai (LB)
Vallini (IT)
Bertello (IT)
Tauran (FR)
Versaldi (IT)
Sandri (AR)
Piacenza (IT)
Gracias (IN)
Filoni (IT)
Burke (US)
Harvey (US)
Erdö (HU)*

Doctorates in theology
Amato (IT)
Dziwisz (PL)
Hon (CN)
Wuerl (US)
Scola (IT)*
Irosa Savino (VZ)
Rodriguez-Maradiaga (HN)*
Calcagno (IT)
Sepe (IT)*
Cipriani Thorne (PE)*
Onaiyekau (NG)
Ouellet (CA)
Ricard (FR)
Schönborn (AT)
Alencherry (IN)
Cañizares Llovera (ES)
Collins (CA)
Braz de Aviz (BR)
Scherer (BR)
Koch (CH)
Erdö (HU)*

Doctorates in moral theology
O'Brien (US)
Rodriguez-Maradiaga (HN)*
Pengo (TZ)

Doctorates in Sacred Scripture
Monsengwo Pasinya (CG)
Betori (IT)
Turkson (GH)

Other fields:

Doctorates in philosophy
Scola (IT)*
Rodriguez-Maradiaga (HN)*
Bagnasco (IT)
Sepe (IT)*
Cipriani Thorne (PE)*
Filoni (IT)*
Barbarin (FR)

Pell (AU): Church history
O'Malley (US): Spanish literature
Rylko (PL): Social science
Nycz (PL): Catechetics
Dolan (US): Church history

Which cardinals have the most academic accomplishments? Well, it's a little hard to say, since I'm leaving out the licentiates here. But within this limited survey, the top is Oscar Rodriguez-Maradiaga of Honduras, with doctorates in theology, moral theology, and philosophy, plus a diploma in clinical psychology and conservatory studies in piano! What a guy!

Perhaps the most unusual field one of the cardinals has studied is industrial engineering. Cdl. Cipriani was an engineer working for W.R. Grace before he entered priestly studies.

To summarize: of the 67 cardinals in this age range, 18 have doctorates in canon law; 21 in dogmatic theology; 3 in moral theology, 3 in Scripture.

And 24 do not have that top-level degree in one of the sacred sciences required by the canon -- which really surprises me.

And the names of those outliers include some illustrious cardinals whom I would not mind seeing as Pope: George Pell (Australia), Malcolm Ranjith Patabendige Don (Sri Lanka).

[Welcome, readers from WDTPRS!]

I got an e-mail today from, that helpful web site that tracks the appointments, transfers, and retirements of bishops, using the announcements from the Holy See as their data source.

The news is that a coadjutor bishop has been appointed for the see of San Diego. That should be good news.

But when I looked up the name of the new bishop with a web search, this article appeared near the top of the listing:

"Cirilo Flores Rarely Pursued Discipline of Molesting Priests While Serving on Important Church Board"

Now, from reading the piece, it's clear that the article isn't written from an unbiased perspective, and it doesn't give both sides of the story. But the existence of such an article means that the new coadjutor is guaranteed to get bad press at the least; at worst, he might not be a suitable appointment.

So it deserves investigation before he gets appointed to San Diego. It makes me wonder whether the responsible parties of the Congregation for Bishops are even thinking to run an internet search before they send a name to the Holy Father.

Despite the inconsistent talk of Bishop Roger Morin at the USCCB session this week, CCHD has not screened grant applicants thoroughly enough yet, and some of the groups exposed by CCHD critics for abortion advocacy are still receiving CCHD grant money.

More info at American Life League.

In his first interview since the Legion announced its apostolic visitation , Archbishop O'Brien of Baltimore speaks the truth in charity. Basically, this visitation is a chance for the Legion to gets its act together, but they need to cooperate fully with the Holy See.

Are you confident the Legionaries are ready to cooperate?

I hope so. I'll put it that way: I really do hope so. It depends on so many individuals being open, because it just takes a few to try to block it and to mislead. I hope that the Legionaries will realize that in the long run, this is going to help them.

You're recently had talks in Rome with Fr. Alvaro Corcuera, the superior of the Legionaries. Are you confident he's ready to cooperate?

I can't say. I'm quite sure he would want to see this thing cleared up, and I hope he'll realize that the best way is to encourage everyone to cooperate.

What are the issues that the visitation should consider?

In the first place, they have to look at Maciel himself. What are the facts, who knew them, when did they know them, and why did it take so long for them to become public? They should look at the financial dimension. They also need to examine who the victims are, and what's being done to meet the needs of those victims.

Then, they need to look at the structure that Maciel created. There was a good deal of secrecy in his own life, and there's secrecy in the structures he created. It would be helpful to know why there is such secrecy. For example, why is there such an effort with their seminarians to limit their exposure to the real world out there? What are their recruiting strategies for vocations to the priesthood? How above board are they? What are the numbers involved, how many priests have been ordained and how many are still active in the priesthood with the Legionaries?

The whole interview is worth reading by clicking here.

Qualifications for a Bishop

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Scranton's bishop Joseph Martino has been doing a great job lately of communicating the Catholic faith in public in spite of opposition, instructing Catholic institutions and public officials, and through them, the faithful at large. He's shown a commitment to prevent Church events from being used to honor reprehensible politicians. He's reminded a Catholic college to show its commitment to Catholic moral teaching and distance itself from any endorsement of immorality. He's taught politicians publicly about such as the injustice of government tolerance for abortion, let alone subsidy of it, and

When I read the Bishop's letter to the misguided Senator Bob Casey Jr., whose voting record is not worthy of the Casey name, I noticed that Bp. Martino is the holder of an earned doctorate in Church history. Now that's not a common accomplishment among bishops. The most prominent bishop I know of with a similar background is the estimable George Cardinal Pell, the Archbishop of Sydney, who made his studies at Oxford.

We certainly need more such bishops like these: able to stand against the fashions of the moment and teach Christian doctrine. Perhaps we can start looking for bishops among other priests with a background in Church history, and with reason: men with enough interest in Church history to study it in depth are likely to have particular qualities of temperament that the Church needs, such as an admiration for sacred tradition. That is an important quality in this time, when Pope Benedict wants to promote a correct understanding of the Second Vatican Council as a development in continuity with the preceding 1962 years of Church life, and not a breach from it.

Furthermore, bishops with a knowledge of past relations between society, the state, and the teaching Church can have a realistic understanding about what is possible and what is not: that pleasing everyone and leaving problems unattended is not the pathway to peace.

Cdl. Laghi and the U.S. episcopate

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Noting the passing of Pio Cardinal Laghi, former apostolic pro-nuncio to the United States (grant him eternal rest, Lord), here is a 1990 analysis by Jesuit Father Thomas Reese, on the bishops appointed during Cdl. Laghi's tenure 1980-1990.

Fr. Reese's data disproved some liberal myths about the Laghi bishops, and his article contains one quote that might reinforce conservative complaints: Laghi's predecessor Abp. Jean Jadot said: "There is no difference between the appointments made by Laghi and myself. Most of the candidates appointed I would have proposed as my number one choice."

If only he'd called me.


Oh, dear. My archbishop has committed a bit of a faux pas: starting a blog, and a bit awkwardly.

Good evening.

I’m sure your day has been just as full as mine. I began my day by celebrating mass at the Cathedral Rectory Chapel at 7:30 this morning and had a productive meeting with the Presbyteral Council from 10:30 until 2:00 this afternoon.

Well, at least we know it's authentic, then. (And yes, I checked, the domain name does belong to the Archdiocese.)

Anyway, welcome to the Catholic blogosphere, your M&Ms!

Bp. Braxton wrote a pastoral letter for Pentecost that presents an unusually frank and in some ways clarifying treatment of factionalism in the Church. I haven't finished it yet, but wanted to draw it to your attention.

Thanks to Mark Waterinckx for the tip.

Would you agree that the Catholic Church has an image problem? The causes aren't just third-rate novels like "The Da Vinci Code" or the "discovery" of "The Gospel of Judas," as if spurious ancient writings about Jesus Christ were something new under the sun.

No, the image problem is largely self-imposed these days. The Church's enemies magnify the flaws of her members, to be sure, but they did not instill those flaws, nor do they install those members into positions of power.

Primarily, the Church's reputation has suffered because of the priest sex scandals. I would argue -- I have argued -- that the laity share the blame, for insisting that their clergy be "nice," non-judgmental, and non-dogmatic. But the primary responsibility rests with the bishops who did very little to stop the problem, beyond moving offending priests into therapy or reshuffling them into different jobs.

The scandal, then, stemmed from bad governance. (If you think the problem was because priests can't get married, you came to the wrong blog.) Instead of confronting the problem and causing a temporary disruption, bishops opted for a "soft" approach that would not cause grave scandal to non-Catholics. The result was an even more grave scandal when the facts came to light. To those outside the Church, it looked like bishops were doing what was good for their "tribe" instead of doing what was right. And there was much truth in that assessment.

In light of that, non-Catholics will be forgiven if they think the bishops' defense of illegal immigration is just another cynical ploy. In this case, the prelates want to continue the flow of immigrants so they can increase the size of their flocks and wield more influence in society.

I do not pretend to know what goes on in the heads of the bishops, whether individually or collectively. Personally, I doubt that they are that coldly calculating, and they genuinely believe that legal and illegal immigrants should all be granted citizenship, showered with various forms of public assistance, and receive a gentle kiss on the forehead before going to sleep every night. But you can't blame the public at large for harboring doubts.

Immigration hurts the poor


During my youth, I worked on a construction site and four different restaurants. A large percentage of my co-workers were immigrants, and I got to know their personal lives -- what it was like growing up in Central America, what their lives were like now. I also think of the kids in the multi-ethnic neighborhood where I grew up. For several years, I played on a league soccer team drawn from our housing development, and only two players had been born in the U.S. (Not me: I was born in Germany.) As you'd expect, we won almost every game.

So when I write about immigrants, I'm not just talking about the guys who cut my lawn. From first-hand experience, I can see how difficult it is for those in the lowest economic strata of our society...working two or three jobs, hoping they won't get sick, trying to survive in a very expensive area of the country.

To those of you who think illegal immigration is no big deal, I ask you this: why do you want to hurt those struggling workers? You may protest that you just want to give immigrants a chance at a better life. But admitting millions of unskilled or low-skill immigrants -- legal or illegal -- depresses wages among the poorest workers.

That point should be so obvious that only a fool or a professor would deny it. When they seek employment, workers don't apply for "a job," they seek jobs for which they are qualified. Employers such as restaurants and construction companies do not need to pay better wages or provide better working conditions, because they know they can replace their workers easily.

It will only get worse over the next decade. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, job growth will be almost exclusively in high-skill sectors. (Click the thumbnail to see the official chart.) Job losses will be in low-skill sectors (read the full article from the BLS.)

Yet if the Senate's immigration "reform" bill is enacted, it will increase, not decrease, the supply of low-end workers, as the number of low-end jobs dries up. We will have more people fighting for fewer jobs at lower wages.

Once again, could someone please explain what is "just" about that?

I have been stewing about the Church's response to the sham immigration "reform" bills percolating in the Senate. This response has been led by Cardinal Mahony of Los Angeles, who has never been noted for any political activism that didn't involve running interference for liberal Democrats.

The cardinal's position boils to this: the United States should abandon its southern border and let everyone in. In Mexico alone, according to a recent survey, something like a quarter of the population would move to the U.S. if given the chance. That means about 28 million people, in addition to the 11 million illegals already here.

This is not a teaching of the Roman Catholic Church. It has little to do with the Gospel. It is the cardinal's personal opinion. Let's go to the Catechism:

The more prosperous nations are obliged, to the extent they are able, to welcome the foreigner in search of the security and the means of livelihood which he cannot find in his country of origin. Public authorities should see to it that the natural right is respected that places a guest under the protection of those who receive him.
Political authorities, for the sake of the common good for which they are responsible, may make the exercise of the right to immigrate subject to various juridical conditions, especially with regard to the immigrants' duties toward their country of adoption. Immigrants are obliged to respect with gratitude the material and spiritual heritage of the country that receives them, to obey its laws and to assist in carrying civic burdens.

How can immigration possibly be a "natural right" in the same sense as the right to life, if it is subject to "various juridical conditions" -- and thus can be denied if the civil authority sees fit? The answer must be that it is a conditional right, based on dire circumstance. Like the classic hypothetical situation where a man takes bread from a store to feed his family, the Catechism presumably means that a person has the right to leave his homeland if the alternative is death (which is the literal reading of "livelihood.")

Mexico is a Third World country, but they are well-off by Third World standards. They have a trillion-dollar economy, which works out to over $10,000 per capita. Compared to regional neighbors Guatemala ($5,200), El Salvador ($5,100), Honduras ($2,800), and Nicaragua ($2,400), Mexico is quite wealthy. Its citizens aren't fleeing north because they are starving, they are trying to improve their economic prospects. Big difference.

The Mexican government wants to keep exporting its poor, mainly so it won't have to undertake necessary social and economic reforms to solve its internal problems. I cannot recall the good cardinal, or any other prelate, calling on Mexico to institute "social justice" measures -- for instance, to insist on honest judges or property rights for all classes, which would help their economy immeasurably.

What about the effect on black people? They are Americans who helped build this country, contributed sons to fight and die in its wars, and have contributed heavily to the cultural life of the nation. Two-thirds of blacks are middle class or richer, but one-third aren't. They deserve prior consideration in any social decision regarding mass low-skill immigration, and their interests should be protected. Same thing with poor whites, or poor Hispanics, or any other poor person.

No matter how rich or powerful it is, the United States is a country like any other, and it has the right to require documentation of immigrants, to refuse entry to criminals, and protect its poorest and most vulnerable citizens against economic calamity. Aiding and abetting a corrupt and dysfunctional government, impoverishing the poor, imperiling our common culture -- how exactly does mass immigration further social justice?

The Italian press agency AGI reports on the Pope's Chrism Mass homily:


(AGI) - Vatican City, April 13 - "Being a priest means being a man of prayer". Benedict XVI wanted to remind his listeners of this fact today: all the priests, bishops and cardinals who celebrated at his side the Chrism Mass, the first ritual of Maundy Thursday. "Being a priest", said the Pope, "means being a friend of Jesus Christ, and this ever more so with all of our existence. The world needs God, not just any god, but the God of Jesus Christ, the God who became flesh and blood, who loved us to the point of dying for us, who rose again and found room in himself for man. This God must live in us and we must live in Him".

Stressing that this is "our priestly calling", Pope Ratzinger gave homage to Don Andrea Santoro, murdered last February in Trebisonda, Turkey, while praying, by repeating a phrase Cardinal Marco Ce' said during Spiritual Exercises. "The word", said the Pope, "said 'I am here to live among these people and allow Christ to do so by lending him my flesh. One becomes capable of salvation only by offering up their bodies. The evil in the world needs to be carried and the pain shared, absorbing it in one's bodies completely, as did Jesus".

Pope Ratzinger stressed that every priest needs prayer, "a mount", "an interior height that we must climb". "Only in this way", the Pope noted, "can friendship develop. Only in this way can we carry out our priestly duties, only in this way can we bring Christ and his Gospels to men". Benedict XVI didn't hide the fact that "simple activism can be heroic". But, he warned, "external acting, at the end of the day, doesn't produce fruit and loses effectiveness if it does not arise from the deep, intimate communion with Christ. The time that we use for this is time of pastoral activity, of authentic pastoral activity".
131214 APR 06

The homily (in Italian) is online at the Vatican site.

Over the weekend, I transcribed Ed Peters' 1995 HPR essay, "The coming bishop crunch". At the time, Peters observed that two-thirds of America's bishops were scheduled to retire in a twelve-year period and the Church would have to replace them, with the "crunch" years falling now, from 2005 to 2007.

So where can the Church find 15 priests a year "outstanding for their solid faith, good morals, piety, zeal for souls, wisdom, prudence and other virtues and talents, possessing advanced degrees or true expertise in scripture, theology, canon law..." for the work of a bishop in this country? The piece offers bishops and laymen some suggestions on how they can help meet the shortage of candidates. The years of peak demand are upon us now, but the need isn't going away.

AP says:

A priest charged with molesting three boys had been accused years before of having questionable conduct with a minor while he was in the seminary and was still allowed to be ordained, according to a report released Monday that outlines a widespread breakdown in communication at the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Chicago. [...]

McCormack is accused of molesting three boys between September 2001 and January 2005.

Officials at St. Mary of the Lake Seminary in Mundelein were told McCormack acted inappropriately with two adult males and one adult minor in 1992, according to the report. McCormack was ordained in 1994.

Archdiocese spokesman Jim Dwyer said the allegation of questionable behavior with a minor was never fully developed. The report acknowledged that the archdiocese does not review seminary files.

In the whole piece, the name Bernardin (d. 1996) doesn't appear once.

Take the insults elsewhere

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I just deleted a comment, for the second time ever. It was by someone who has been commenting a lot recently, and he shall remain nameless. Here was the comment:

Maybe if those bishops at that worthless synod that Paul VI instituted after Vatican II would have some guts and decided to excommunicate these "Catholic by name only" murders, or at least deny them communion, we would not have this discussion. But you see the Popes after Vatican II and the Bishops themselves are no better than the pharisies of the 1st century who handed our Lord over for crucifixion, only now they are handing our Lord over to baby killers. And you contribute money to this baby killing church?

They are more worried about being Loved by the world like JPII than doing what is right by God, and they are paying the price now.
I can't speak for anyone else here on Catholic Light, but if you want to insult me, go right ahead -- I've got a thick skin, and I can hold my own. But you will not use this space to disparage any pope, or the bishops collectively.

Offering a critique of a pope's governance of the Church, with respect and true charity, is fine. Nobody said any pope is perfect (and any pope would agree with that.) But you simply cannot claim to be a faithful Catholic while throwing around phrases such as "baby killing church."

I'm frustrated that many bishops don't firmly rebuke Catholic politicians for publicly betraying the Faith. Everybody else on Catholic Light thinks the same way, too. If you really want to see the bishops take action, do you think baseless, angry accusations are the best way to accomplish that?

Episcopal Spine Alert!

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Bishop Robert Vasa of Baker, Oregon, has served notice that he is not going to comply with USCCB policy on "safe-environment" programs for children. While he's willing to offer one in Catholic schools, he's not going to push it on every child in the diocese, out of respect for parents' right to direct the education of their children in sexual matters.

Thanks to Bishop Vasa for his willingness to buck the demands of the bureaucracy.

(via CWN)

Martyrdom: OK; suicide: not OK

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A bishop in Brazil has started a hunger strike and threatens to go to his death, if the country's President doesn't put the kibosh on a proposed water diversion project. He seems to have forgotten that direct intentional suicide, even as a means to a good end, is immoral; and that threatening to commit suicide is immoral.

2281 Suicide contradicts the natural inclination of the human being to preserve and perpetuate his life. It is gravely contrary to the just love of self. It likewise offends love of neighbor because it unjustly breaks the ties of solidarity with family, nation, and other human societies to which we continue to have obligations. Suicide is contrary to love for the living God.

2282 If suicide is committed with the intention of setting an example, especially to the young, it also takes on the gravity of scandal. Voluntary co-operation in suicide is contrary to the moral law. Grave psychological disturbances, anguish, or grave fear of hardship, suffering, or torture can diminish the responsibility of the one committing suicide.

The scandal involved is not insignificant. The Punjabi bishop who shot himself in 1998 in outrage over the invidious blasphemy law in Pakistan is still treated as somewhat of a hero.

The chair of the convention, Catholic Bishop Joseph Coutts of Faisalabad, said "the present [election] system here is really nothing but political apartheid."

"We want to be treated as equal citizens. We will continue our struggle peacefully for that," said the bishop, who had succeeded Bishop John Joseph. In 1998, Bishop Joseph shot himself in protest against Pakistan's Blasphemy Law and what he considered to be the harassment of Christians.

Asserting that the "qurbani" (sacrifice) of his predecessor "has not gone in vain," Coutts said that "change does not take place all of a sudden. We need to be consistent and keep trying."
[from CT]

"Qurbani" or "sacrifice", in whatever language, is a religious word; and linking self-murder to it is gravely misleading.

(via Amy.)

+Bishop Luigi Locati

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Missionary-bishop Luigi Locati, nine years the ordinary of the Vicariate of Isiolo in Kenya, has been apparently martyred a few hours after he returned from a national bishops' meeting.

At a time when Africa is shocked by a massacre between rural clans in Kenya's Marsabit province, and the bishops have been criticizing public corruption and official dithering, is it possible that someone wants to shut the bishops up?

It took murder to stop this bishop, too: he had not been stopped by a previous attempt on his life by attackers who invaded his home in September.

Our Lord freely laid His life down for us, and this man, 50 years a priest, gave his for God's people living in Kenya. May God be glorified in His saints!

Bishop Luigi Locati, pray for us.

I caught the last half of the papal installation Mass today, but missed the Holy Father's homily. Here is the text if you missed it, too. It is truly magnificent and transcendent.

In particular, I am interested to know what non-Catholics think of Benedict's words. Anyone care to comment?

Discussions about the papacy revolve mainly around the duties of the office, and its function within the Catholic faith. That is not the only essential aspect of the pope's role, however. The papacy is not solely an instrument that performs certain actions, it is good and beautiful in its own right.

It is a sign of God's providence that he would entrust the Gospel to an unbroken line of successors, who are God's primary liaisons to mankind until Christ comes again. The charism of infallibility, often misunderstood and derided, is a gift not only to the pope, but to all of us. Jesus went to the trouble of becoming incarnate, teaching his disciples, getting crucified for our sins, and rising from the dead. Having gone to all that effort, the Good Shepherd wants to ensure that his truth will remain intact, pure and entire.

Too often, that gets buried in media coverage that emphasizes the political aspect of the papacy to the exclusion of the central fact: God loved the world so much that he gave his only son, and the protection of his saving message are manifestations of God's perpetual love.

A little more about Pope Benedict's "Nazi past." When membership in an immoral political party is compulsory, and you are not obliged to commit any heinous acts, then I do not think joining it is morally wrong. Since everyone living under the party's regime understands the rules, and that membership is not a personal statement backing the party's crimes, they cannot possibly be scandalized.

A personal anecdote: When I was in Iraq, one of our translators invited us to dinner with his family. His brother was a teenager who loved everything about America, which he had learned about on the Internet. He loved our laws, our music and movies, our guns, and our freedoms. He completely hated the Ba'athist Party, but to go to high school, he had to join it. The brother didn't have to gas Kurds or feed women into industrial shredders, he just had to go through the motions. I don't think he did anything wrong, either.

The Jerusalem Post had an editorial on Monday defending the new pope's reputation against slanderers: "Ratzinger a Nazi? Don't believe it":

London's Sunday Times would have us believe that one of the leading contenders for the papacy is a closet Nazi. In if-only-they-knew tones, the newspaper informs readers that German-born Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger was a member of the Hitler Youth during World War II and suggests that, because of this, the "panzer cardinal" would be quite a contrast to his predecessor, John Paul II.

The article also classifies Ratzinger as a "theological anti-Semite" for believing in Jesus so strongly that gasp! he thinks that everyone, even Jews, should accept him as the messiah.

To all this we should say, "This is news?!"...

As the Sunday Times article admits, Ratzinger's membership in the Hitler Youth was not voluntary but compulsory; also admitted are the facts that the cardinal only a teenager during the period in question was the son of an anti-Nazi policeman, that he was given a dispensation from Hitler Youth activities because of his religious studies, and that he deserted the German army....

The only significant complaint that the Times makes against Ratzinger's wartime conduct is that he resisted quietly and passively, rather than having done something drastic enough to earn him a trip to a concentration camp. Of course, whenever it is said that a German failed the exceptional-resistance-to-the-Nazis test, it would behoove us all to recognize that too many Jews failed it, as well.

Read the article here (registration required.)

The world is not "progressive"


(This was taken from a comment I made in an earlier thread that deserves its very own post.)

We keep hearing about how the new pope must reach "progressives," but who are these people, and how many of them are there? The world at large is not "progressive." Africa isn't, nor the Middle East. India and China are not, and that's a third of the world's population right there. Nor is Latin America, or most of Asia.

There are pockets of "progessive" people in all those regions, but by and large, they have not signed on to the liberal-secularist project. The "progressives" that need to be pleased are thus white Western elites with college educations — which is, what, maybe one percent of the world's population? That's a rather narrow perspective.

I have another word for "progressive": it's "decadent," a word that means "falling down" in Latin. The people who embrace this agenda are not advocating a more just and prosperous society, which are the measures of true earthly progress. The main objectives are simultaneously to remove any stigma against practically any sexual activity, and to get the state to pay for life's necessities. This has resulted, among the "progressive" societies of Western Europe, in the declining birthrates that are dooming their own existences. It's an unsustainable societal model, and it's collapsing as we speak.

How is that progress, exactly?

Welcome, Holy Father

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Everybody gets to be a papal expert today, so here are my observations, worth precisely what you paid for them.

1. The choice is not a sentimental one. It does not play to the crowd, much less to the zeitgeist's desire for a nice, kind, "flexible" man.

2. The choice is a safe one. The cardinals all know the new pope and they know what to expect (or at least they think they do.)

3. The speed of the choice indicates that if the cardinals did not know who they wanted, they at least knew what they wanted.

3. The problems within the Church stem from a lack of orthodoxy, compounded by insufficient and often flawed leadership. Cardinal Ratzinger is intimately familiar with both shortcomings, has been dealing with them for years, and now has the power to correct them at the higher levels.

4. This does not absolve us, the laity, from correcting the flaws at our lower level. Indeed, that is our job. We should start with the lowest level of all — our own hearts.

5. Orthodox Catholics may be hoping for a Gtterdmmerung of the heterodox liberals, when the internal enemies of the True Faith will be cast out into the darkness. We should instead hope for their conversion and repentence for whatever misunderstandings they have created, and for the faiths they have stifled. (I say this as someone who is infuriated every time a priest, religious, or Church employee questions Catholic teaching in public.) The Holy Father will sort things out the way he deems prudent, and we should be careful not to indulge ourselves in revenge fantasies, however psychologically satisfying they may be. "For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you" (Matt. 7:2).

Let the work begun with Pope John Paul II find its consummation in the papacy of Pope Benedict XVI.

CORRECTION: I hope it was clear from the original text, but I was saying we should not indulge in revenge fantasies. I left out the "not" in the original.

Congratulations to Paris!


CWN reports that Pope John Paul has chosen the Archbishop of Tours, Andr Vingt-Trois, to succeed Cardinal Lustiger as the archbishop of Paris. Since the archbishop's name means "twenty-three" in French, I think he is ready to take over Cardinal Sin's place as the prelate with the most unusual and amusing name. Ad multos annos!

What? Who?

On life and living in communion with the Catholic Church.

Richard Chonak

John Schultz

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