News from the Papal Plane

Pope Francis gave one of his most gripping interviews ever today. He covered a multitude of subjects, and you can read the whole thing here.

Among the revelations was his possible plan to visit northern Iraq or Kurdistan to comfort the many Christian and other refugees who are fleeing the bloodbath created by the ISIS jihadists in Iraq, who are murdering, raping and driving people from their homes.   He spoke frankly about the need to stop these violent extremists. However, most news sources are reporting only a part of what he said, and implying that the Pope endorses the use of force; he didn’t quite say that. He certainly didn’t approve of unilateral U.S. action. Here is what he did say, uncut:

In these cases where there is an unjust aggression, I can only say this: it is licit to stop the unjust aggressor. I underline the verb: stop. I do not say bomb, make war, I say stop by some means. With what means can they be stopped? These have to be evaluated. To stop the unjust aggressor is licit.

But we must also have memory. How many times under this excuse of stopping an unjust aggressor the powers [that intervened] have taken control of peoples, and have made a true war of conquest.

One nation alone cannot judge how to stop an unjust aggressor. After the Second World War there was the idea of the United Nations. It is there that this should be discussed. Is there an unjust aggressor? It would seem there is. How do we stop him? Only that, nothing more

I take the last section to mean Pope-Koreathat the war should only be one to stop the aggression, but not aim at conquest or other goals. This is in accordance with Catholic just war theory.

All of that is food for thought and prayer. But here is matter for pure rejoicing. Pope Francis may be coming to New York!

There were a few rumors previously that I hadn’t been aware of. But now there’s this:

Next year I would like to go to Philadelphia, for the meeting of the families. Then, I have been invited by the President of the United States to the American Congress. And also the Secretary General of the United Nations has also invited me to the Secretariat of the UN in New York. So maybe the three cities together.

One his way to Korea, he had actually confirmed the Philadelphia part, which has also been rumored for some time. But now he seems to be confirming the other two cities as well. If he does come, he will be the third Pope I will welcome to New York!  (I also saw JPII in 1995 and Benedict in 2008).

And, from what I saw of his Asian World Youth Day talk, he’s been practicing his English! This trip should be really good.

The Real Pope Paul VI (Part I)

Today, August 6, the Feast of the Transfiguration, is the 36th anniversary of the death of Pope Paul VI. He is due to be beatified this October 19.

This announcement created some consternation (inexplicable to me) in some traditionalist corners and cubbyholes in the Church. They credit Paul VI with single-handedly destroying the Church in the wake of Vatican II.  The only good thing that they can recall about him is that he issued Humanae Vitae.  Though many in the progressive wing of the Church aren’t that happy with him either. After all, he did issue Humanae Vitae.

The thing that strikes me most about both these groups is their superficiality. Few of them give any evidence that they have really studied Paul VI’s life. On the other hand, I have read quite a bit about him, I hope with some depth.  So I have decided that, beginning today, and in installments leading up to his beatification, I will published posts illustrating little-known aspects of his personality.

PaoloVIToday I’ll begin with something simple, but profound. The popular perception of Paul VI was that he was a gloomy Pope, and deeply pessimistic. He brooded, and vacillated, and in fact, was another Hamlet; as Pope John XXIII was alleged to have said.

So was Paul VI gloomy or joyful?

The following comes from a conference held at the Lateran University in Rome, called “John XXIII and Paul VI: The Two Popes of the Council” held October 9-11, 2002. This reporting comes from an archived version of John Allen’s blog at the National Catholic Reporter, from October 18, 2002.

A touching moment came when Bishop Pasquale Macchi, who was Paul VI’s private secretary, rose to defend the image of the pope he obviously loved.

“Once and for all, may we please get rid of this phrase, falsely attributed to John XXIII, that Montini was a ‘Hamlet’”? Macchi asked. He said that John XXIII’s secretary, Bishop Loris Capovilla, has written an article denying that John XXIII ever called Montini, whom he knew and loved and actually made a cardinal, a “Hamlet.” In fact, Macchi said, John XXIII knew that people attributed this remark to him, and was bitter about it.

“This idea does not correspond in any way to the figure of Paul VI,” Macchi insisted. “He studied problems in depth, yes, but there was absolutely nothing Hamlet-like in his character.”

Someone then asked Macchi about the other common label for Paul: Paolo VI mesto, “the sad Paul.”

“Also this is absolutely false,” Macchi responded. “He was never sad. He had a profound serenity, and even if he was sometimes anguished, he never was an ‘anguished pope.’ He had an awareness of problems, he searched to understand them in depth, but he always felt a strong interior peace.”

Here is the testimony of someone else who knew Pope Paul intimately, his successor: Pope John Paul I, who wrote this comment two days after his death.

For me the true, authentic Paul VI is the one that we Venetians saw and heard in Venice in 1972: informed about our problems, full of tact, and poetically genial in expounding them. This is the Pope that I met in private audiences: not gloomy and pessimistic, as some have presented him, but optimistic, smiling, and even gently humorous. For me, a great Pope, who, however, has had to carry out his lofty mission in difficult times. About him Cardinal Hoeffner has written: “You have been crowned with thorns.” And Arturo Carlo Jemolo: “Paul VI is a martyr who has accepted, submissive to the will of God, one of the most painful pontificates that history can recall, with the decaying of a society that had been formed on the basis of a Christian morality.” (“Un grande Papa per un tempo difficile,” Il Gazzettino, August 8, 1978; Opera 8:579 83).

Other duties call, so — to be continued.

More News on John Paul I’s Cause

More details about the news I posted last week. Here is an article I wrote for the coming edition of Humilitas:

Papa Luciani’s Cause will Advance Another Step

By Lori Pieper

(July 31, 2014). “Papa Luciani is well on his way to beatification. I learned a few days ago that his Positio is ready to be deposited in September.” These are the words of former Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, in his his homily at Mass in the cathedral in Belluno, on Sunday July 20, 2014, in the course of a visit to John Paul I’s native diocese.

This declaration breaks almost two years of silence on the late Pope’s cause, since the first part of the Positio was turned in to the Congregation for the Causes of Saints two years ago, on October 17, 2012, the centenary of Albino Luciani’s birth.

jpi_saludando_con_brazos_abiertosThe submission of the complete Positio is an important milestone in Luciani’s cause. This document, which is studied by the Congregation for a saint’s cause, is formally called the Positio super virtutibus (Position on the virtues). It contains the testimonies on a person’s virtues gathered during the diocesan phase of the process, a biography and a summary of the case for the his canonization, including pros and cons. The Positio can run to as many as 1,000 pages. The Positio for John Paul I, prepared by Bishop Enrico Dal Covolo, Rector of the Lateran University, the postulator of his cause, and Italian historian and journalist Signora Stefania Falasca, was not completed in time in 2012, so only the first part was submitted.

Last week, John Paul I’s niece, Pia Luciani, who is aiding in the documentation of her uncle’s life for the cause, answered complaints about the slowness of the work by saying: “Stefania Falasca is doing a towering work that shows my uncle as a person. It is a complex, scholarly work. I personally would rather they put in another year than do things in a hurry with anecdotes, little stories (fioretti) and testimonies from people who speak from hearsay.”

After the complete Positio has been submitted, theologian consultants to the Congregation for the Causes of Saints and the Promoter of Faith will study the documents and vote on whether to approve Luciani’s heroic virtues. After that, members of the congregation itself will vote. If the results are positive, they will be given to the Pope, who will pronounce the final judgment.  If the Pope’s opinion is favorable, he will promulgate the decreee declaring him Venerable. Once a miracle has approved by a panel of doctors, the Congregation and the Pope, he can be beatified.

During his homily, Bertone made another significant statement: “Among many graces, let’s pray for the miracle.” Earlier during his visit, Bertone joked with journalists who asked him about the cause, “We are well on the way, but it also depends on whether you journalists also pray to obtain the famous miracle as the supernatural seal of [Luciani’s] holiness.”

A miracle has already been submitted to the Congregation: the 1992 healing of Giuseppe Denora, from the Diocese of Altamura in southern Puglia region of Italy. Denora was suddenly healed from non-Hodgkins lymphona, a type of stomach cancer, after seeking the late Pope’s intercession. Bertone’s statement may indicate doubts about the miracle. This could be due to the fact that the Congregation has called for extra scrutiny of cancer cures, since medical science can do much more than it once could, when all cancer was thought incurable.  Father Giorgio Lise, the vice-postulator of the cause, said on July 26, “Last year, some doubts came out in the commission over whether what happened to Giuseppe Denora was a miracle; the case is helped by the gravity of his condition, and the sudden and inexplicable cure. He did receive a cycle of chemotherapy, and they need to know if this has an effect on the inexplicable nature of the cure.”

There may be more than one saint involved in this cause. The diocesan process was opened in 2003 and eagerly promoted by Bishop of Belluno at that time, Cardinal Bertone’s close friend and fellow Salesian, Vincenzo Savio. Savio died in 2004. Since then, fame of his own sanctity has spread. During his homily, Bertone said that Savio possessed “a charity and the kind of life, as an educator and diocescan pastor, of high quality, that reveals sanctity.” Bertone clearly hopes Savio’s cause will be opened, though he later told Catholic News Agency, “We will have to wait for something more for him.”

(Based on stories in Corriere delle Alpi, July 21 and 27, 2014 and TMNews of July 19, with additional reporting by Catholic News Agency’s Andrea Gagliarducci).

To subscribe to Humilitas or to learn more about the Missionary Servants of Pope John Paul I, who publish it, go here.

More Great John Paul I News

I missed this when it first came out, but it is great news.

John_Paul_I_Credit_ANSA_OLDPIXJohn Paul I’s cause for beatification is clearing a final hurdle: Beginning in September, the documents can be considered by the Congregation for the Causes of Saints.

The Positio was turned in more or less symbolically two years ago, on the centenary of his birth, but some parts were still incomplete. It was prepared by Signora Stefania Falasca, who was finishing up her doctoral dissertation during the centenary, and so had less time to work on the cause. She also contributed a paper to our 2012 conference in Brooklyn. Now everything will be turned in and in order!  Here are the details:

John Paul I’s beatification cause may advance, cardinal says

By Catholic News Agency’s Vatican Observer, Andrea Gagliarducci

Belluno, Italy, Jul 24, 2014 / 12:04 am (CNA/EWTN News).- A document advancing the beatification of John Paul I is ready, and will be given to the Congregation for the Causes of Saints this autumn, according to the emeritus Secretary of State.

Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone announced the milestone during his homily at Mass in the Belluno cathedral July 20.

The beatification process of John Paul I had been slowed because the “positio” had not been completed. The positio is the document that the postulator prepares, presenting the “pros” and “cons” of a person’s possible beatification.

After the positio is submitted, theologian consultants to the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, and the Promoter of Faith, will vote on whether to approve the document for further consideration.  (Read the rest)

Wonderful news! The date will probably coincide with the 36th anniversary of his death on September 28.