9 April 2005

We will decide who goes to New Zealand and under what circumstances! So there!

No Right Turn reports the imminent collapse of New Zealand civilisation into chaos, anarchy and not being relaxed and comfortable.

how to find a millstone

Gospel of Luke
17:1 He said to the disciples, "It is impossible that no occasions of stumbling should come, but woe to him through whom they come! 17:2 It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were thrown into the sea, rather than that he should cause one of these little ones to stumble.

Cardinal, Ousted in Scandal, to Preside at Funeral

Cardinal Bernard Law, the former archbishop of Boston who became a focal point of the Roman Catholic Church's sexual-abuse scandal in the United States, won a coveted role Thursday to preside at one of a handful of funeral Masses for Pope John Paul II.

The appointment, announced by Archbishop Piero Marini, master of liturgical celebrations, appeared to catch other U.S. cardinals by surprise. It stunned sexual-abuse victims' advocates.

One church source close to developments, said here Thursday that cardinals were not consulted about Law's participation. He said the cardinals were simply handed the list of assignments. "It was already printed," he said on condition of anonymity.

Law, who was forced to resign as archbishop of Boston in 2002 after nearly 20 years in that post, will preside at one of eight funeral Masses beginning Saturday following Friday's main farewell and Funeral Mass for the supreme pontiff at St. Peter's Basilica.

The Vatican said Law and the others were chosen because it was an "ancient custom" to entrust one of eight subsequent funeral Masses to a particular group with close ties to the pope. For example, the Saturday Mass is to be said on behalf of the "faithful of Vatican City." Law, in his new role here as archpriest of the Patriarchal Basilica of St. Mary Major, is scheduled to preside Monday on behalf of the four basilicas in Rome.

Law, 73, was appointed last year to the mainly administrative position. Law remains a cardinal and is eligible to vote for a new pope.

Statement by David Clohessy SNAP National Director

Cardinal Law is correct when he says this is the time to "focus" on Pope John Paul II. Thousands of caring Catholic and wounded victims, however, find it hard to keep that focus when Law is apparently exploiting this sad moment for his own hurtful rehabilitation attempt. Out of sensitivity and respect for those families who continue to suffer because of his cover ups, and in a spirit of genuine contrition, Law should avoid the public limelight.

If he genuinely wants to honor the Pope, he should avoid causing distractions to the solemn ceremonies and recuse himself from any other public role in the days and weeks again.

But there are other responsible parties here.

Vatican officials should prevail upon Law to stop rubbing salt into the already deep wounds of the American church and the hundreds of men and women whose faith has been stolen and whose pain still cripples them because of Law's abusive clerics.

Bishops and cardinals across the globe, especially in America, should forcefully speak out now on behalf of the wounded, and insist that Law put the memory of John Paul II and the needs of clergy abuse victims above his own self-aggrandizement.

The code of silence with which church officials shelter even the most egregious among themselves must be broken. Bishops and cardinals must find the strength and courage, as so many of us have found, to confront wrongdoing.

Sadly, this encapsulates the great weakness of this pontificate, an emphasis on form over content and neglect in governing the church in favour of presenting almost a rockstar spectacle. It is unthinkable and repugnant that Cardinal Law should want or be given such a role.

I was going to call this post 'Who's churching the old whore now?' and decided that was a tad extreme. Steve Gillard's post Hey, it was just a few raped kids, what's the fuss? is named more forthrightly.

8 April 2005

Don't tell the Neocons

Universe is full of Earths
Potential homes for life could be everywhere. Half of the known planetary systems identified beyond the kingdom of the sun could have their own 'Earths,' according to new research.

Barrie Jones of the Open University at Milton Keynes told the national meeting of the Royal Astronomical Society in Birmingham that 130 giant planets orbiting close to their parent stars had been discovered so far. Even though small, rocky planets that could support liquid water and dense atmospheres have not been detected, they could nevertheless survive close to the Jupiter-sized objects.

The reasoning, by three researchers at the Open University, is published in this month's Astrophysical Journal, and confirms other studies that suggest that the conditions for life extend not just among the 100 billion stars of the Milky Way galaxy, but perhaps through the estimated 100 million or more galaxies in the observable universe.

They'll have George the Unready decked out in silver underwear faster than you can say: 'Ming the Merciless'.

5 April 2005

The man who would be Pope I

The blogosphere seems to be sprouting amateur Vaticanistas in all directions. The first thing o remember about a conclave is that they are almost completely unpredictable. The only predicted election last century when Cardinal Montini of Milan (reigned as Paul VI was elected. Even that was wrong, because the smart money had said he'd get it at the previous conclave. I think any prediction that includes a curialist like Ratzinger or Sodano is wrong. Here's why:

Twenty-eight of the cardinals under 80 come from the Roman Curia, representing roughly 24 percent of the total. This means that 76 of the electors are from outside Rome, and many of them believe the election of a pope is an important opportunity to introduce another, non-Roman perspective into the governance of the church. This reality makes the prospect of electing a pope directly from the Curia fairly remote.

One other statistic, both revealing and potentially misleading, is that Pope John Paul II has named all but three of the 117 men who will elect his successor (the three under-eighty cardinals named  by Paul VI are Baum, Ratzinger, and Cardinal Jaime Sin of the Philippines). That fact testifies to the length of John Paul’s reign, almost 27 years, and his impact on shaping the leadership of the church.

Yet it does not mean that John Paul has “stacked the deck” and pre-determined that his successor will be a man very much like him. Historically speaking,  Colleges of Cardinals appointed by one pope do not simply duplicate that man in the election of his successor. Instead, they are trying in part to remedy what they perceive to the weaknesses and limitations of the former regime, as well as build on its strengths. That sort of electoral psychology is always a prescription for change.

Historians call this the “pendulum dynamic,” that papal approaches tend to oscillate from one perspective to the other rather than staying put. The Italians, as they always do, have a better phrase for it. They say, “You always follow a fat pope with a thin one.”

This conclave, in other words, will certainly bring surprise. The question is, a surprise of what kind?

I think part of the surprise is that the cardinals are unlikely to elect someone young enough to threaten another long reign and I agree with Allen they are unlikely to elect a curialist. John Paul II was the world's first Stalinist pope. Stalinism was what he grew up with and his addiction to tight central controls and bureaucratic interference was inherently Stalinist. S was his tendency to ignore managerial problems, like the shortage of priests, in favour of evangelising and proclaiming the church's unchangeable mission.

The Independent's list reads:

Cardinal Dionigi Tettamanzi (Italy)
The favourite. As Milan's archbishop, he runs the largest archdiocese in the world, and is a traditionalist on doctrine. His promotion by the Pope three years ago was "tantamount to an investiture" as the likely successor, according to La Repubblica.

Cardinal Francis Arinze (Nigeria)
Head of the influential Congregation for Divine Worship, he would be the first modern black pope and would be able to improve the Church's often-delicate relations with Islam. He helped to arrange the Pope's first visit to a mosque.

Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez Mardiaga (Honduras)
Frequently mentioned due to his mix of connections in the Vatican and support for the underprivileged. He is a media-friendly member of the Salesian Order, who argues it is time the Third World was represented on St Peter's Throne.

Cardinal Angela Scola (Italy)
The 63-year-old Patriarch of Venice is close to the Communion and Liberation movement. He is seen as a rising star within the Church. His nomination to be the "relator" at an Italian bishops' conference was seen as a sign of his having papal favour.

National Catholic Reporter gives a list of 20. If you were going to build a serious form guide I'd look for someone on the Reporter's list who is not a curialist and not so young as o threaten a repeat of John Paul II's lengthy pontificate.

I'd exclude Arinze as curialist with the same problems as Ratzinger. I'd also exclude Scola, who is linked closely to Communione e liberazione, a Catholic lay movement whose most famous member is Rocco Buttiglione, the European commissioner-designate rejected by the European parliament last year. Opus Dei and Communione e Liberazione are both closely related to curial intervention in local dioceses and being linked to them is not, I suggest, going to be a good thing for anyone fishing for election to the fisher's ring.

I'll look at the more unconventional, and therefore more likely, papabili in part II.