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"Today the concept of truth is viewed with suspicion, because truth is identified with violence. Over history there have, unfortunately, been episodes when people sought to defend the truth with violence. But they are two contrasting realities. Truth cannot be imposed with means other than itself! Truth can only come with its own light. Yet, we need truth. ... Without truth we are blind in the world, we have no path to follow. The great gift of Christ was that He enabled us to see the face of God".Pope Benedict xvi, February 24th, 2012

The Church is ecumenical, catholic, God-human, ageless, and it is therefore a blasphemy—an unpardonable blasphemy against Christ and against the Holy Ghost—to turn the Church into a national institution, to narrow her down to petty, transient, time-bound aspirations and ways of doing things. Her purpose is beyond nationality, ecumenical, all-embracing: to unite all men in Christ, all without exception to nation or race or social strata. - St Justin Popovitch

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Friday, 2 August 2013

THE POPE IN RIO AND DOM ALEX IN THE UKRAINE

A video captures what is surely one of the most poignant moments of the pope's trip to Rio for World Youth Day, showing de Brito's urgent run to the Popemobile and the subsequent struggle to get him out of it, as neither the Holy Father nor the child wanted to be separated.After exiting the Popemobile, the video shows de Brito blowing the Pope a kiss before covering his face with his hands, completely overwhelmed by the incredible experience.

VATICAN CITYThe Francis Revolution is underway. Not everyone is pleased.
Pope Francis washing the feet of a Muslim girl
Four months into his papacy, Francis has called on young Catholics in the trenches to take up spiritual arms to shake up a dusty, doctrinaire church that is losing faithful and relevance. He has said women must have a greater role – not as priests, but a place in the church that recognizes that Mary is more important than any of the apostles. And he has turned the Vatican upside down, quite possibly knocking the wind out of a poisonously homophobic culture by merely uttering the word "gay" and saying: so what?

In between, he has charmed millions of faithful and the mainstream news media, drawing the second-largest crowd ever to a papal Mass. That should provide some insurance as he goes about doing what he was elected to do: reform not just the dysfunctional Vatican bureaucracy but the church itself, using his own persona and personal history as a model.

"He is restoring credibility to Catholicism," said church historian Alberto Melloni.

Such enthusiasm isn't shared across the board.

Francis' predecessor, Benedict XVI, had coddled traditionalist Catholics attached to the old Latin Mass and opposed to the modernizing reforms of the Second Vatican Council. That group greeted Francis' election with concern – and now is watching its worst fears come true. Francis has spoken out both publicly and privately against such "restoratist groups," which he accuses of being navel-gazing retrogrades out of touch with the evangelizing mission of the church in the 21st century.

His recent decision to forbid priests of a religious order from celebrating the old Latin Mass without explicit authorization seemed to be abrogating one of the big initiatives of Benedict's papacy, a 2007 decree allowing broader use of the pre-Vatican II Latin liturgy for all who want it. The Vatican denied he was contradicting Benedict, but these traditional Catholics see in Francis' words and deeds a threat. They are in something of a retreat.

"Be smart. There will be time in the future for people to sort what Vatican II means and what it doesn't mean," the Rev. John Zuhlsdorf warned his traditionalist readers in a recent blog post. "But mark my words: If you gripe about Vatican II right now, in this present environment, you could lose what you have attained."

Even more mainstream conservative Catholics aren't thrilled with Francis.

In a recent interview with the National Catholic Reporter, Philadelphia Archbishop Charles Chaput said right-wing Catholics "generally have not been really happy" with Francis.

To be sure, Francis has not changed anything about church teaching. Nothing he has said or done is contrary to doctrine; everything he has said and done champions the Christian concepts of loving the sinner but not the sin and having a church that is compassionate, welcoming and merciful.

But tone and priorities can themselves constitute change, especially when considering issues that aren't being emphasized, such as church doctrine on abortion, gay marriage and other issues frequently referenced by Benedict and Pope John Paul II.

The Vatican newspaper, L'Osservatore Romano, used the word "gay" for perhaps the first time in its 150-year history on Wednesday, in an article marveling at the change Francis has brought.

"In just a few words, the novelty has been expressed clearly and without threatening the church's tradition," the newspaper said about Francis' comments on gays and women. "You can change everything without changing the basic rules, those on which Catholic tradition are based."

The biggest headline came in Francis' inflight news conference on the way home from Brazil this week, when he was asked about a trusted monsignor who reportedly once had a gay lover.

"Who am I to judge?" he asked, when it comes to the sexual orientation of priests, as long as they are searching for God and have good will.

Under normal circumstances, given the sexual morality at play in the Catholic Church, outing someone as actively gay is a death knell for career advancement. Vatican officials considering high-profile appointments often weigh whether someone is "ricattabile" – blackmailable.

But Francis said he investigated the allegations himself and found nothing to back them up. And that regardless, if someone is gay and repents, God not only forgives but forgets. Francis said everyone else should too. By calling out the blackmail for what it is, Francis may well have clipped the wings of an ugly but common practice at the Vatican.

Francis also made headlines with his call for the church to develop a new theology of women's role, saying it's not enough to have altar girls or a woman heading a Vatican department given the critical role that women have in helping the church grow.

While those comments topped the news from the 82-minute news conference, he revealed plenty of other insights that reinforce the idea that a very different papacy is underway.

_Annulments: He said the church's judicial system of annulling marriages must be "looked at again" because church tribunals simply aren't up to the task. That could be welcome news to many Catholics who often have to wait years for an annulment, the process by which the church determines that a marriage effectively never took place.

_Divorce and remarriage: He suggested an opening in church teaching which forbids a divorced and remarried Catholic from taking communion unless they get an annulment, saying: "This is a time for mercy."

_Church governance: He said his decision to appoint eight cardinals to advise him was based on explicit requests from cardinals at the conclave that elected him who wanted "outsiders" – not Vatican officials – governing the church. Francis obliged, essentially creating a parallel government for the church alongside the Vatican bureaucracy: a pope and a cabinet of cardinals representing the church in each of the continents.

And then there was Rio.

From the moment he touched down, it was clear change was afoot. No armored popemobile, just a simple Fiat sedan – one that got swarmed by adoring fans when it got lost and stuck in traffic. Rather than recoil in fear, Francis rolled down his window. Given that popes until recently were carried around on a chair to keep them above the fray, that gesture alone was revolutionary.

He told 35,000 pilgrims from his native Argentina to make a "mess" in their dioceses, shake things up and go out into the streets to spread their faith, even at the expense of confrontation with their bishops. He led by example, diving into the crowds in one of Rio's most violent slums.

"Either you do the trip as it needs to be done, or you don't do it at all," he told Brazil's TV Globo. He said he simply couldn't have visited Rio "closed up in a glass box."

___

Follow Nicole Winfield at http://www.twitter.com/nwinfield

My Comment on the withdrawal of the automatic permission to celebrate Mass according to the extraordinary rite from the Friars of the Immaculate.
Here :is the news (taken from L'Expressonline)

The decree bears the date of July 11, 2013, the protocol number 52741/2012, and the signatures of the prefect of the congregation, Cardinal Joao Braz de Aviz, a focolarino,  and of the secretary of the same congregation, Archbishop José Rodríguez Carballo, a Franciscan.
The decree installs an apostolic commissioner - in the person of the Capuchin Fidenzio Volpi - at the head of all the communities of the congregation of the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate.
And this in itself is cause for astonishment. Because the Franciscans of the Immaculate are one of the most flourishing religious communities born in the Catholic Church in recent decades, with male and female branches, with many young vocations, spread over several continents and with a mission in Argentina as well.

They want to be faithful to tradition, in full respect for the magisterium of the Church. So much so that in their communities they celebrate Masses both in the ancient rite and in the modern rite, as moreover do hundreds of religious communities around the world - the Benedictines of Norcia, to give just one example - applying the spirit and the letter of the motu proprio “Summorum Pontificum" of Benedict XVI.

But precisely this was contested by a core group of internal dissidents, who appealed to the Vatican authorities complaining of the excessive propensity of their congregation to celebrate the Mass in the ancient rite, with the effect of creating exclusion and opposition within the communities, of undermining internal unity and, worse, of weakening the more general "sentire cum Ecclesia."

The Vatican authorities responded by sending an apostolic visitor one year ago. And now comes the appointment of the commissioner.

I do not think what is reported merits the headline given it by the newspaper: "For the First Time, Francis Contradicts Benedict."   This is a specific solution to a specific problem about which we do not know the details, but which is obviously very serious.   Clearly there has been a breakdown of charity and hence of community that goes to the very heart of the message that they preach to the world, with no one within the community with sufficient stature to bring about reconciliation.   The problem is centred on the celebration of the two rites; so, to diffuse the problem they return to the Misa normativa for the time being.  The latter Mass is the one most Catholics attend.   The Capuchin superior, put in place by the Vatican, is not likely to be there more than a few years; and, no doubt, he will attempt to get them to agree to a policy that has the support of all, and then to elect a superior.   The res sacramenti of the Eucharist is the unity of the Church, and it is a complete mis-use of the Mass in any language for it to be a centre of friction.   I cannot read anything further into the decision.   Conflicts can happen anywhere and about anything; and this is a problem of conflict resolution, not of liturgy in itself.


Now for something completely different:
Brother Alex has written a letter from the Ukraine.


Alex is a deacon, a Peruvian monk studying theology at Blackfriars, Oxford; and he is also an iconographer, a pupil of Aidan Hart.   At the moment he is in the Ukraine, doing a course at the Catholic University on icon painting.   In one of his letters, he told me that he is practising a technique that involves painting seven layers of very thin paint of the same colour, one on top of the other.   It is very slow and prayerful, he told me.
The photos here are of icons that he has "written" in England or Peru.   When he returns to England he will probably send me some photos of the Ukraine.



He writes:

 I am in Lviv again with Fr Manuil. We came back this mrning from Univ Lavra. I was in Kiev on Monday and I was really impressed by that ancient city, especially in Sancta Sophia. Frescoes and mosaics of good quality took my attention. I also went to visit the Orthodox monastery with the caves, museums of icons and other fascinating sites. I can say, all this has helped me to understand the faith of the people here. It really reflects what they believe. I also heard from people about their  own experience. They have a history of persecution and violence. They suffered the Soviet Union, wars and oppression, and all this has marked them, leaving deep scars, and forming them into the people they are. Even so, they are able to trust. I have noticed this in little details, like in the bus, people at the back passed their money down the rows of passangers to the driver who sent back their change in the same way. Amazing! 

Of course, he is completely bowled over by the Divine Liturgy.   He has discovered, like I did in Belarus, that it is one thing to take part in the Divine Liturgy in a Catholic church in England that has been lent for the occasion, and it is another thing again to take part in a church that has been built for it.   It seems he has mastered some Ukrainian, because he acted as deacon in the Basilian monastery of St Onuphrius.
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