Blog Archives

Celebrating Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI’s 90th Birthday

Celebrating Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI's 90th Birthday


Pope (Emeritus) Benedict XVI on Suffering

Pope Benedict XVI on Suffering

Benedict XVI on Truth

Pope Benedict XVI on Truth

Pope (Emeritus) Benedict XVI on Advent

Pope Benedict XVI on Advent

Pope (Emeritus) Benedict XVI on Ecumenism

Pope Benedict XVI on Ecumenism

Benedict XVI on Liturgy

Pope (Emeritus) Benedict XVI

Pope (Emeritus) Benedict XVI on Freedom

Pope Benedict XVI Freedom

Abbey Road on the Tiber?

The canonizations of Pope St. John XXIII and Pope St. John Paul II has been characterized as the day of four popes as Pope (Emeritus) Benedict XVI concelebrated the Canonization Mass with Pope Francis.

[L] Pope Francis and [R] Pope (Emeritus) Benedict XVI at Canonization Mass 27 April 2014 

One wag visually depicted this monumental moment in a homage to the Beatles.

As unprecedented of an occurrence as this “Day of Four Popes” was– Sorry John (sic), it was not bigger than Jesus either.

Some Consideration of the Heroic Virtues of Pope St. John Paul II

At his funeral in St. Peter’s Square in 2005, there were prolonged chants from the multitude gathered for “Santo Subito” (Sainthood Now!).  On April 27, 2014, the Catholic Church  celebrated the canonization of the 264th pontiff Pope St. John Paul II (born Karol Józef Wojtyła) along with the 262nd Vicar of Christ Pope St. John XXIII (ne Angelo Giuseppe Roncalli) in St. Peter’s Square in Vatican City.

Three American Presidents paying respects to Pope John Paul II, April 2005


Some Protestants bristle at the notion that the Church “makes” saints, as nobody (but Christ) is perfect and that we are all supposed to be called to sainthood in our Christian identity.  Certainly our baptism marks us as part of the Lord’s people and calls us to holiness.  The Catholic Church can recognize, based on investigation and guidance from the Holy Spirit,  that a person is already a saint, definitely in heaven and having led a life of great holiness that is worthy of veneration by the faithful.  Canonized
saints are important examples to the faithful of how to live a heroic (not perfect) Christian life.
Pope John Paul II was a remarkable man who wore many hats in his life. He was a Laborer, Thespian, Playwright, Patriot, Priest,  Philologist, Philosopher, Pilgrim, Bishop, Theologian, Sportsman, Scholar, Statesman and Vicar of Christ.  The cause for John Paul II’s canonization however  is not premised on doctrinal dissertations, academic accolades or even geopolitical accomplishments.
It is about how John Paul II lived his life to reflect the Christian virtue which still touches the faithful today.
After several years of investigation led by postulator Monsignor Slawomir Oder, the Vatican’s Congregation for the Causes of Saints recommended Servant of God John Paul II’s heroic virtue to the Pope. On December 19, 2009, Pope Benedict XVI proclaimed John Paul II as “Venerable”.  The Church normally requires that one miracle is attributable to intercessions of a Venerable, but the Vatican only investigates possible miracles after a candidate is declared Venerable. These miracles are almost always miraculous medical cures as these are the easiest to verify.
Sr. Marie Simon Pierre

Sister Marie Simon Pierre, a nun from the order of Little Sisters of the Catholic Motherhood in Aix au Province, France, had suffered with Parkinson’s Disease, like John Paul II, for four years. She intensely prayed along with her community for healing through the intercession
of John Paul II only two months after John Paul II’s death.  Doctors determined that Sr. Simon Pierre’s neurological symptoms had disappeared inexplicably.   This was deemed John Paul II’s first miracle in 2011. 

Floribeth Mora Diaz

In April 2011, Floribeth Mora, a 50 year old
Costa Rican grandmother, was diagnosed with an inoperable brain
aneurysm  and was sent home to die.  But on the day of John Paul II’s
beatification, Mora saw a photograph of John Paul II and the photograph spoke to her saying “Get up” and “Be not afraid”.  Remarkably, her aneurysm disappeared that same day. Neuro-surgeons in Rome could not medically explain the disappearance.  This miracle satisfied the Congregation for the Causes of Saints in the Vatican.



The date of the canonization may well have been chosen because it was the 2nd Sunday of Easter, which Pope John Paul II instituted during his Papacy as “Divine Mercy Sunday”, due to his Devotion to St. Faustina Kowalska (1905-1938).  The vigil mass of the feast of Divine Mercy had just been celebrated at John Paul II’s bedside when he fell into a coma and soon after died.
Pope John Paul II at Auschwitz (1979)

The date of John Paul II’s canonization also occurs on National Holocaust Rememberance Day in Israel and during the March of the Living where people  gather in in  Krakow,  Wojtyła’s home for 40 years, to march between the Nazi death camps of  Auschwitz to Birkenau to remember the Holocaust.  John Paul II had strong connections with the Jewish community in his childhood home off Wadowice, where ¼  of the town’s 8,000 residents were
eradicated for anti-Semitic aspirations of Nazi racial purity.  These
events strongly influenced John Paul II’s weltanschauung, since during his
pontificate, John Paul II made great strives to acknowledge the sin of
anti-semitism, especially in the Holocaust, and to strengthen the Church’s
relations with the Jewish Community. In May 1998, Pope St. John Paul II gave a formal apology about Catholic shortcomings in the Holocaust in the proclamation “We Remember: A Reflection of the Shoah”.  

Then Cardinal Karol Wojtyła was elected Pontiff in October 1977 during the Year of Three Popes.  While Pope John Paul II was the first non-Italian pope in 454 years and was from a nation behind the Iron Curtain, he was chosen because of his theology.  John Paul II chose as his papal motto “Totus Tuus”, which reflected his Reflected his personal consecration to Mary which was based on the spiritual approach of St. Louis de Montfort (1673-1716)—“Totus
tuus ego sum, et omnia mea tua sunt
” (“I am all yours, and all that I have is yours”).  In Crossing the Threshold of Hope,  he explained that the “Totus Tuus” motto expressed the understanding that he “[c]ould not exclude the Lord’s Mother from my life without neglecting the will of God-Trinity”.  Polish born composer Henryk Gorecki (1933-2010) wrote the choral
“TotusTuus” in honor of Pope John Paul II’s 3rd visit to Poland in 1987.
From the start of his Petrine ministry until his eventual death from Parkinson’s Disease 26 ½ years later, John Paul II’s message to the faithful was the Lucan exhortation “Be not afraid”.   In fact, John Paul II uttered the phrase three times during his homily at the Papal Inauguration.  This message “Be not afraid… open the door wide to Christ” was chosen as the slogan for his beatification.  

It was the same message that he brought when he first visited his homeland of Poland in June 1979.  The documentary Nine Days That Changed the World showed the power that John Paul II message of “Be not afraid” had with the Polish people to instill the dignity of the individual to live out their faith and, with the guidance of the Holy Spirit, renew the face of the Earth and their land.
The  millions of Poles who flocked to their favorite son’s first pilgrimage back to his homeland showed that the faithful were not alone in that officially atheistic state and served as a real retort to Stalin’s taunt of “The Pope! How man divisions does he got?”  Both Lech Walesa, the piously Catholic worker who lead
the Solidarity movement (and eventually became Poland’s President), and 
Vaclav Havel, the less spiritual leader of a free Czechoslovakia, credit the fall of the Iron Curtain to the message “Be not afraid” embodied in John Paul II’s 1st visit to Poland. 

On May 13, 1981, Pope John Paul II was shot  four times at close range and critically wounded in St. Peter’s Square by Mehmet Ali Ağca, a trained Turkish gunman. Many belief that this assassination attempt was a hit job coordinated by the Bulgarian
Secret Police with the complicity of the Kremlin.  Yet less than two and a half years later, John Paul II met with
Mehmet Ali Ağca and forgave the gunman on Christmas, 1983.

[L] Pope John Paul II shot May 13, 1981, [R] Pope forgives Agca December 25, 1983


Pope St . John Paul II was convinced that Our Lady of Fatima kept him alive during the ordeal where he lost 3/4ths of his blood.
The Third Secret of our Lady of Fatima can be seen as predicting the assassination attempt on the Pope. The John Paul II’s
faith filled connection between his assassination attempt and the visions of Fatima that a bullet from his wounds now tops the golden finery of the Our Lady of Fatima processional statue. 
One of the hallmarks of Pope St. John Paul II’s reign was being a Pilgrim as Vicar of Christ to proclaim Jesus as the Redeemer of Humanity to all the Earth. Frankly, he came pretty close to covering it all.  It is speculated that the curia spent about a fourth of their time planning for and executing his 104 foreign trips to 125 countries which totaled 725,000 miles.  
At the behest of Pope St. John Paul II, World Youth Days were held every couple of
years at rotating international locations. Skeptics certainly questioned in
disengaged youth would care about such events, but the youth loved to rally
around the Pope and open themselves to the new evangelization.  The
vitality of  World Youth Day tradition has not subsided in the loss of
John Paul II.  These large conclaves of young people meeting to renew
their faithful inclinations echoes how John Paul II loved to channel the energy
of crowds in a positive manner to allow people to feel connected in a vibrant
and visceral way.
While Pope Benedict XVI did not formally recognize John Paul II as a martyr in his
beatification mass
, many feel that the manner in which John Paul II lived with his debilitating disease and how he died with dignity in the Vatican was exemplary.  His final words were uttered in Polish “Allow me to depart to the house of the Father”.  
John Paul II had run the good race and was not afraid to go home to the Father by extending his life through extraordinary medical procedures for terminal illness.
In addition, Pope St. John Paul II left a large body of theology during his long pontificate, which will have a long lasting influence upon the Church.  [***]  Many feel that Pope St. John Paul II will be best remembered for his “Theology of the Body”, which was based on 129 lectures from his Wednesday audiences, which focused on Christian marriage, celibacy and virginity, contraception and the sacrament of marriage. 
In  Washington, DC, the new seminary  has dedicated to the now Pope St. John Paul II. The John Paul II Cultural Center in Washington DC has been converted into a Church and Shrine and will be rechristened the “St. John Paul II Shrine”.
Pope St. John Paul II’s example of the new evangelization, his example of forgiveness and fearlessness for standing up for the faith certainly gives the model to “Be Not Afraid” in our own paths toward being part of the Community of Saints.

 SEE MORE at DC-LausDeo.US

A Bit About Twitter, Tribulations and Talkers

Editor’s Note:  This open letter is in response to a segment on the Jay Severin program, in which he railed about a BBC World Service Report about more sexual exploitation of children.  The Blaze Radio host then took responses from the audience, starting with Twitter replies. 

While  it is preferable  to praise in public and chastise in private, this is impossible in this instance. But this open letter is more than a comeuppance to a cheeky commentator.    What should be of interest to religious readers is insisting on context and combating slander.
Jay Severin in Sede Vacante Contretemp, the Sweet Sistine Edition
To Jay Severin:
I have been a
loyal listener for a year. I appreciate that you are open to diffuse means to engage in talk radio dialogue, including Twitter.  However, my experience shows that your Twitter treatment could use some tweaking. In addition, your knowledge of things Catholic could use some catechesis.
You started the 2/6 show  in a lugubrious monologue keying off of a BBC World News report about rampant sex abuse in the Catholic Church.  Your laborious lead up to the break lamented yet the “umpteen” report about systematic child abuse among Catholics. immediately responded on Twitter wondering: 
 You chose to read my Tweet on the air, characterizing my opinion as irrational and then went on to also excoriate my grammar.
I read the report which the BBC piece was based.  It came from a UN Conference on Children.  The UN report also recommended that the Catholic Church change its views on homosexuality, contraception and abortion.  Those subjects were not in the UN Conference’s purview and expose its bias as an ideological cudgel for progressive politics, which I succinctly characterized as a “kangaroo court”. 
Your radio retort mocked my grammar.  It is worth nothing that Twitter only allows 140 characters to respond.  In that short span, I included your handle, three hashtags (letting others interested in subjects know of the exchange) and
a shortened hyperlink which gave the source to my views.   The tweet in question was rewritten several times to include all elements under those limitations and was posted within minutes. Apologies for the kangaroo typo in the tweet.
 It would be  would be wise for you to  revise your analyses of Twitter communications.  Remember, it’s only 140 characters.  Sometimes terms are used in hashtags to draw wider attention.  The writer may use phraseology intended to be brief for that form of communication.  Had I not had a length restriction, I probably would have written: “Why are you leading with a story based upon a UN Child Conference which went beyond its scope in  to tell the Holy See to change to the Catholic Church’s beliefs on contraception, abortion and homosexuality?  This report failed to consider  changes in Catholic child safety practices or to critically analyze the  UN’s own woeful record with Congolese troops rapes of children”  Granted the message is a little long, but it succinctly packs in the argument.
I  dispute your accusation that my viewpoint was irrational. My tweet noted the originator of the report (the UN), gave a link for a detailed point by point refutation by Catholic Voices and allowed for the possibility that the  radio raconteur may put  a different spin on the news item  (hence the “where are you going w/”).  That would seem to be both charitable and rationally argued.
Since you admit that you are not religious in nature, you are naturally ignorant about most Church matters.  You quibbled about Catholic and the Vatican being the same.  Well, there are 23  churches which comprise the Catholic Church.  You rightly identified Roman rite as being one of them (and by far the largest).  Vatican is often a synonym of
Catholic but it refers to the Bishop of Rome.  There are over 2,000 bishops in the world, each rules his diocese.  Juridically, the Holy See can not simply issue an edit and immediately overrule the local bishop—there is Canon Law
which regulates the Church.
Regarding the sexual molestation of minors—only 4% of Catholic clergy have been accused of sexual impropriety with minors (with 1.7% being proven guilty).  This rate is lower than the general US population. Research from Richard Blackman at the Fuller Theological Seminary (an evangelical  Protestant seminary in Pasadena, California) indicates that 10% of Protestant clergy suffer the stain of pedophilia.  While the figure from Blackman’s dissertation may be inflated, it certainly indicates that it is not just a Catholic thing.
 Yet the charges of Catholic pedophila  draw an incredible amount of ire because of the Roman Catholic discipline of celibacy for the clergy, an influx of “lavender ordinations” (misson minded persons who took vows as a vocational beard for their sexual orientation), and hazy pop psychological practices in the ‘70s.  Following liberal psychology practices of the times, those who slipped up were given second chances by being quietly transferred to another parish without serious discipline or other precautions.
The lax treatment of these child molesters in priestly garb was wrong.  Some diocese in the US have paid a heavy
legal price for their wanton discipline on the matter.  Steps have been taken to correct them.  Consider that Pope emeritus Benedict XVI laicized (canned for the church challenged)  400 priests during his reign (2006-2013) on the Petrine Throne.  The USCCB (The U.S. Conference on Catholic Bishops enacted the Dallas Charter in June 2002 which has a zero tolerance policy and a stringent background check for any church members having contact with children.   
It might have been interesting for a conservatively oriented show hosted by a news junkie to do critical analysis.  Although the BBC can do fine and seminal reporting, it is a state owned news enterprise.  It is also true that Britain
nominally has a state religion (the Anglican Church) and has a history of Catholic bigotry (does the Bloody Mary and  Remember the 5th of November ring any bells?).  The BBC has reputation for a pan-Arabist sensibility and follows a progressive internationist intellectual path.  Ironically, the BBC had reported Benedict XVI’s defrocking 400 priests weeks before, but made no mention of them in context of the UN Conference on Children’s damning report. Instead the reportage just pointed to what seemed like vacuous Vatican rhetoric soft pedaling the charges.  Might there have been some agenda journalism slandering the faith and bolstering a progressively lead public perception?
Did the  BBC World News report or the underlying UN Child Conference report consider these abatements
by the Catholic Church and the Holy See?  The short answer is no.  Did you? I have no personal knowledge after being rhetorically round-housed and hearing the first couple of callers just Catholic  bashing since I need not listen to no nothings on the issue.  Thus, my pithy Twitter characterization of “besmirching” seems accurate.