Pope John Paul I: Let the Priests Be of Gold!

Pope John Paul I died 36 years ago today.

As bishop of Vittorio of Veneto he once told his people in a sermon:

The other day, at the Synod [either 67 or 69], a cardinal . . . said: “Sacerdotes auri calices ligni!  It matters nothing if the chalices are made of wood, instead of silver.  The important thing is that the priests be made of gold!” The people, when they come to church, and see themselves represented at this altar, want to be represented by priests of gold!  By priests who truly feel that they are, and try to be representatives and vicars of Christ. (Transcribed from a cassette tape put out by the diocese of Vittorio Veneto called Albino Luciani tra noi).


Happy Birthday in heaven, Pope John Paul I, golden priest and Vicar of Christ!

Update, same day: Out of curiosity, I decided to try and find the origin of the saying. It seems to have been first used by St. Boniface, the great medieval missionary. When asked whether it was lawful for a priest to use a wooden chalice, he said: “Formerly golden priests used wooden chalices, now, on the contrary, wooden priests use golden chalices.” The source for this is Walafrid Strabo, who was born about 50 years after St. Boniface’s death in 755, and was educated at Fulda, the monastery Boniface helped found and at which he was buried. This saying evidently comes from local tradition about the saint.

New Edition of a Passionate Adventure — With a Preface by a Cardinal!

Yes, it’s true. The new edition of A Passionate Aventure: Living the Catholic Faith Today by Pope John Paul I, has a preface by Justin Cardinal Rigali, Archbishop Emeritus of Philadelphia (who actually served under John Paul I during his 33-days as Pope). It also has a revised Foreword, and hopefully a text with fewer typos! It’s now available through pre-sales on Amazon, and will be published officially on September 28, the 36th anniversary of John Paul I’s death.

From the press release:

(New York, September 18, 2014). A year after its first release, the collection of the pre-papal writings of Pope John Paul I, A Passionate Adventure: Living the Catholic Faith Today, compiled and translated by Lori Pieper, is about to be reissued in a new edition with a preface by Justin Cardinal Rigali, Archbishop of Philadelphia.

9780979668883According to Dr. Pieper, “These works show the many sides of Pope John Paul I. He was known as ‘the smiling Pope’ and with his warmth he was as appealing to people as Pope Francis is. He showed how it was possible to live the faith as an adventure, out of a passionate love of God. But more than that, as a bishop, Albino Luciani was really a prophet for our time in regard to many areas of present concern in the Church, including the importance of the universal call to holiness and the apostolate of the laity, the ‘hermeneutic of reform in continuity,’ bioethics and in-vitro fertilization, and above all the New Evangelization which he anticipated and put into practice in his pastoral work as a bishop.”

The book contains, along with a short biography of the Pope, 38 sermons, articles, essays, synod interventions, talks and interviews, dating from 1959 to 1978, when Luciani was Bishop of Vittorio Veneto and Patriarch of Venice. Dr. Pieper did the translations over the course of many years as part of the team publishing the English-language edition of Humilitas, the quarterly publication on John Paul I.

Dr. Pieper says, “I’m happy that the publication of the book will concide with the consigment of the last part of the Positio for the cause of John Paul I’s canonization to the Congregation for the Causes of Saints sometime in October, during the Synod of Bishops on the Family and around the time of the beatification of Pope Paul VI. This is fitting, because Luciani was a great proponent of Catholic teaching on the family and the transmission of life. The book includes his pastoral letter in 1968 supporting Paul VI on Humane Vitae. He was prophetic in regard to IVH as Paul was to contraception. He foresaw the dehumanization of the ‘baby-manufacturing industry’ that IVH has brought into being. What he wrote about this has been misunderstood and distorted because the interview he gave on the first ‘test-tube baby’ in July 1978 has not been available in its entirety. That complete interview too is included in the book.”

As a bishop, Luciani took on the challenges that secularism presented to the faith of Catholics in the period immediately before, during and after the Second Vatican Council; most of them are still with us today.  In his vivid and original style, he offers his reflections on the first Year of Faith in 1967-68, and the mysteries of Catholic belief such as the Incarnation and Redemption, the Eucharist, the Cross, death and eternal life. He also speaks of evangelization and catechesis, birth control and abortion, faith and science, the meaning of the Church, the papal Magisterium, pluralism, ecumenism, prayer, devotion to Our Lady, and above all, becoming saints.

The new print edition ($17.50) and ebook ($8.99) will be available for sale at Tau Cross Books and Media taucrossbooks.com and on www.Amazon.com beginning September 28. Pre-sales start September 19.


Is 75 the Perfect Time to Die?

Hat tip to Jill Stanek for this article by Ezekiel Emmanuel, reputedly one of the architects of Obamacare. It is really chilling.

Emmanuel is right to decry the idea that some have now that we should look to earthly immortality through medicine. But the thing he wants to replace it with is just as bad if not worse.

The entire piece is a manifesto in favor of the utilitarian ethic as applied to people. The major thrust is that people are only valuable when they’re contributing to society. If you don’t actively contribute, if you’ve slowed down and are concentrated solely on enjoying your family and what time you have left, and especially if you have to be cared for by others, your worth is questioned, and you are a burden. That is what he is saying, however he tries to sugar-coat it. For instance:

How do we want to be remembered by our children and grandchildren? We wish our children to remember us in our prime. Active, vigorous, engaged, animated, astute, enthusiastic, funny, warm, loving. Not stooped and sluggish, forgetful and repetitive, constantly asking “What did she say?” We want to be remembered as independent, not experienced as burdens.

At age 75 we reach that unique, albeit somewhat arbitrarily chosen, moment when we have lived a rich and complete life, and have hopefully imparted the right memories to our children. Living the American immortal’s dream dramatically increases the chances that we will not get our wish—that memories of vitality will be crowded out by the agonies of decline. Yes, with effort our children will be able to recall that great family vacation, that funny scene at Thanksgiving, that embarrassing faux pas at a wedding. But the most-recent years—the years with progressing disabilities and the need to make caregiving arrangements—will inevitably become the predominant and salient memories. The old joys have to be actively conjured up. . .

Once I have lived to 75, my approach to my health care will completely change. I won’t actively end my life. But I won’t try to prolong it, either. Today, when the doctor recommends a test or treatment, especially one that will extend our lives, it becomes incumbent upon us to give a good reason why we don’t want it. The momentum of medicine and family means we will almost invariably get it.

My attitude flips this default on its head. I take guidance from what Sir William Osler wrote in his classic turn-of-the-century medical textbook, The Principles and Practice of Medicine: “Pneumonia may well be called the friend of the aged. Taken off by it in an acute, short, not often painful illness, the old man escapes those ‘cold gradations of decay’ so distressing to himself and to his friends.”

My Osler-inspired philosophy is this: At 75 and beyond, I will need a good reason to even visit the doctor and take any medical test or treatment, no matter how routine and painless.

Emmanuel keeps saying that this is just his own opinion about what he wants for himself. But he does apply it to policy — only in hints, but hints are enough to see where this is going. He laments we’re spending so much on chronic care for the elderly, while younger people are going without. Is this really an acceptable basis for our medical ethics?

Every Christian must be aware that it is not. Our worth is based on our innate dignity as human beings who are made in the image and likeness of God. That is ALL we need to be of worth to our fellow humans. It was Emmanuel’s utilitarian ethic gone crazy that led, by way of eugenics and euthanasia for the unfit, to the slaughter of millions in people of the “wrong” race in Nazi Germany. It was, of course, all necessary for society. And we seem to have learned absolutely nothing from that horror. I say let’s not even experiment with that again.

Yes, Emmanuel says he’s opposed to legalized euthanasia. But that’s what they always say in the beginning. That is how they soothe people, introduce the idea gradually. It’s already happening in Europe. First it was no euthanasia except for the terminally ill, then for those in pain, then for the depressed, then for children, then for anyone who wants it. And just you wait; the need for the patient’s permission is going to go, for the “good of society.” Let’s stamp out the seeds right now, before the poisoned plant has a chance to grow.

I must admit Emmanuel makes a very good point about the need to concentrate some serious medical care bucks on reducing premature births and the U.S.’s shockingly high infant mortality rate – but this is completely against the tone and logic of the rest of the piece. How does he know if any of these children will contribute to society? And what if they have some serious medical condition that makes them a burden? If they have Down Syndrome will it be down the chute for them? I don’t know. Perhaps as a person he’s still better and more humane than his beliefs.

For his philosophy is in the end inhumane. It is a million miles away from the Christian philosophy. And the Christian philosophy is the one that is most human, the one that does us the most honor.

Examples? Well, Pope Francis has hinted he may have only a couple of years left; of course he was joking, but he recognizes his mortality without letting it slow him down. He is 77 years old, he may not get around the best in the world, and his pains may mean he can’t genuflect at the Consecration any more, but what a treasure he is! According to Emmanuel’s calculus, he’s past 75, and slowing down, even ill and should be useless — and he’s only the most influential and admired person on the planet! And he says again and again that we should learn from the elderly, that they do contribute just by their long life and their wisdom. This is the Christian ethic.

And I also think of brave Cardinal George of Chicago — who today handed over the reins of the diocese to his successor. He too is 77 and has been carrying his fight to the death against cancer for eight years. At the press conference, he joked that his new medication is making him walk funny and said he was planning if he is able, to go to Rome and work along with the Pope and Cardinals in his Congregations until he’s 80 (retirement age). And he wants to keep up his pastoral work to help the new Archbishop. This is the Christian ethic. (this part is at the very end, starting at 34:30).

Their philosophy? Do what you need to do for your health, leave everything in the hands of God, and keep on fighting, keep on doing what you are called to do. That’s because the Christian sees life not just as living a good (i.e. fulfilling) life until you’re too old to have the same fun you used to. To the Christian, life is a mission, because we all have a purpose here on earth, even when you have reached the age you can’t contribute anything than to be there with your grandchildren. And if others have to care for you, how good for them and you. You learn patience, they learn charity and compassion.

Emmanuel’s philosophy: Lay everything down when you’ve lived a good life, no doctor, no medication, and wait for the end. Don’t be a burden to people; why would even your loved ones want you around? Why should they have to “taint” their good memories of you with the present difficulty of having to care for you?

How paltry his philosophy looks beside theirs! He’s a man who doesn’t know in the end why he is living or what life is for.

Western society has totally lost the wisdom the Christian faith has to give it in these matters. The future of medical ethics doesn’t look pretty. I pray society turns around before it’s too late.

St. Patrick’s Day, Gay Pride and Cardinal Dolan

Well, I said the other day that Cardinal Dolan’s reaction to the St. Patrick’s Day Parade committee’s decision to admit a gay pride banner was “another whole post in itself.” So now I guess I owe you one.

As you may know the parade’s organizers have for years as a standing policy that the only theme allowed was being Irish and having fun. They have never allowed any organization pushing a cause to advertise themselves by a banner in the parade. Not even Catholic causes like pro-life advocacy. This year the gay lobby and NBC more or less forced the parade organizers to allow NCB’s gay-lesbian staffers to carry their “Out@NBCUniveral” banner on pain of NBC refusing to broadcast the parade if they were not accommodated. Cardinal Dolan’s reaction is here. He said:

“The Saint Patrick’s Day Parade Committee continues to have my confidence and support. Neither my predecessors as Archbishop of New York nor I have ever determined who would or would not march in this parade (or any of the other parades that march along Fifth Avenue, for that matter), but have always appreciated the cooperation of parade organizers in keeping the parade close to its Catholic heritage. My predecessors and I have always left decisions on who would march to the organizers of the individual parades. As I do each year, I look forward to celebrating Mass in honor of Saint Patrick, the Patron Saint of Ireland, and the Patron Saint of this Archdiocese, to begin the feast, and pray that the parade would continue to be a source of unity for all of us.”

And he has indicated he will serve as Grand Marshall of the parade.

_MG_0240.JPG SNNEWS ORDAINSome self-appointed combox inquisitors are now calling for Cardinal Dolan’s head. They are saying he is abandoning the faith, teaching heresy, misleading his people, and caving to the homosexual lobby. If you listen to some people, “Cardinal Dolan is presiding over debauchery and sin by endorsing and leading the parade where homosex are promoting their vice.”

Here is my reply to them.

Cardinal Dolan teaches THE WHOLE of the Church’s teaching in regard to both homosexual inclination and those who have it. I am referring to the entirety of his teaching as a bishop, with which you are apparently unacquainted. If you don’t understand the whole of Catholic teaching on this subject, you aren’t going to “get” what he is saying here.

Catholic teaching includes both explaining why homosexual practice is wrong, and extending compassion and understanding to those who suffer from the inclination to it. And yes, they do suffer in many ways. Cardinal Dolan is aware of this. He has expressed human solidarity with them in the past, but without ever approving of sin. If you know a case where he has said “Homosexual sex is okay” then please bring it forward. I’m confident you won’t be able to do it.

In regard to the parade, I feel that the homosexual lobby has once again strong-armed an organization into going along with them. The parade organization caved, it’s true. That is regrettable. But that decision was not made by Cardinal Dolan. Nevertheless, I think he should have at least protested it. I would not have been unhappy if he had stepped down as Grand Marshall.

But there is another side to this as well, and I can see it.

Stepping down or asking that the parade be cancelled would have been a good defiant gesture, but would it have been fair to the 99% of parade marchers who aren’t proclaiming themselves homosexuals? What about all the faithful Catholics, Irish and otherwise, in the parade? And in the end, would disbanding the parade have done anything to calm the violence of the culture war rhetoric on either side? As the Cardinal said, the parade should be about unity.

Exactly what, in essence, is going to happen? The St. Patrick’s Day parade, is now, like it or not, a secular event. There will be ONE group there marching as gay. They are not one of the groups that violently protests against the Church, not one of the groups that denigrated Cardinal O’Connor. They are a group of NBC employees who want to march under a banner saying “Out@NBCUniversal.” That’s it. Their sign is not openly advocating sin or depravity or gay marriage.

If you don’t actually understand the world “out”, please note that it means acknowledging your homosexual inclination, and even chaste homosexuals use it to say they’ve informed friends, family and employers of their inclination. For instance, Dan Mattson, a faithful, chaste Catholic of homosexual inclination, recently told Catholic Answers Live radio show, in regard to his appearance in the film The Desire of the Everlasting Hills, where he talks about his Catholic faith and his homosexuality, that he was nervous about it because “I haven’t exactly come out to people at work yet.” If this is all the banner means, should a Catholic have to reject it? Some people fear they will engage in lewd behavior, as marchers at Gay Pride parades have frequently done. But they do that because the parade organizers permit and probably encourage it. But I’m sure the St. Patrick’s Day Parade organizers will not. If the group misbehaves, I’m sure they will be thrown out, and that will be it for this experiment.

The parade organizers seem to have revised the rules about allowing organizations to promote their causes, but still retain the right to approve or reject all banner content. In a way, this is good, because they can now admit pro-life and other Catholic-approved banners, which by the time the parade is ready to march, will overwhelm the one gay voice.

And yes, Cardinal Dolan will be marching along with some people who acknowledge themselves homosexuals. By his behavior, he will be saying, “Yes, I acknowledge we are in the same society and we can talk to each other. I look on you with compassion and a sense of human brotherhood, even though we disagree.” Is that so bad?

As I said, by protesting or stepping down he would have sent a strong and needed message. But it was his decision. And maybe the message he is now sending is one that is equally needed in our day.

Let’s all pray for him.

Are NY and Cardinal Dolan to Blame for Halting Sheen Cause?

Everyone knows by now that the beatification of Archbishop Sheen, which was expected to take place as early as next year, has been suspended. In fact, according to Daniel Jenky, the bishop of Peoria, Illinois, who is in charge of Sheen’s cause, the whole process is being relegated to the Vatican’s historic archives. Why? Jenky blames the Archdiocese of New York, because it won’t release the Archbishop’s body to Peoria. So, apparently, does almost everyone else.

NBC News: Move to Canonize Fulton Sheen Hits snag: Request to release body denied.

Over at Creative Minority Report: “The Cause For Archbishop Sheen Suspended Because Cdl. Dolan Refuses To Transfer Body.”

Even the National Catholic Register:

New York Archdiocese Stalls Fulton Sheen Canonization Process

Tradtionalist-minded comboxes are going crazy. The venom against Cardinal Dolan there is incredible. (Exasperated, of course, by his agreement to serve as Grand Marshall of next year’s New York St. Patrick’s Day Parade, in spite of the fact that for the first time a gay group’s banner will appear there. But that’s a whole post in itself).

This is a complex and tangled tale. Let’s look at the history.

For almost 34 years since his death in December 1979, Fulton Sheen’s remains have lain in the crypt of St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York, the diocese where he was for some years auxiliary bishop. It was apparently Sheen’s own wish that he be buried in New York, and his surviving family members support this. But Dolan’s predecessor Cardinal Egan, was not interested in pursuing Sheen’s cause. In 2002, the bishop of Sheen’s native diocese, Peoria, Illinois, Daniel Jenky, undertook the diocesan cause for his beatification, which does involve considerable expense.

bishopfultonjsheen1This story is from 2010, 4 years ago, the first time Jenky called a halt to the canonization. It seems that Jenky insisted then that in 2002 the NY diocese agreed to transfer the body, and that he accepted the labor of pursuing the cause on that understanding that Sheen’s remains would be buried in Peoria. We have only Jenky’s word that this understanding took place. But the story also said that “negotiations” continued for the following nine years. Why negotiate if the matter was settled? Jenky doesn’t say. The actual statement Jenky released in 2010 says he was giving up the cause because New York would not agree to the transfer. It seems that Jenky was eventually forced to continue the cause because of the public outcry.

According to yesterday’s press release by Bishop Jenky: “The Holy See expected that the remains of Venerable Sheen would be moved to Peoria, where an official inspection would take place, and first-class relics be taken. Subsequently the Archdiocese of New York denied Bishop Jenky’s request to move the body to Peoria. After further discussion with Rome, it was decided that the Sheen cause would now have to be relegated to the Congregation’s historic archive.” He says that the Archdiocese of New York made repeated promises to allow the transfer of the body, but admits he has nothing in writing.

The Vatican technically calls the moving of a saint’s body prior to beatification by the Latin term translatio or transfer. This doesn’t necessarily mean that the body has to travel outside the city of burial, but it usually does mean moving to a new burial place, even if it’s within the same church (we saw this when John Paul II was beatified; his body was moved from the crypt to the nave of St. Peter’s). At the same time, the identity of the body will be verified, and some first-class relics will be taken for veneration at the beatification ceremony.

I don’t think the Vatican particularly cares exactly where a saint is buried, but they insist that the canonical norms for the translatio must be followed. Apparently canon law does state that inspection and the taking of relics be done from the diocese where the cause originated, in this case, Peoria. If so, then there is a problem, because Dolan is committed to keeping the body in New York. [Update: I originally wrote this because I heard it on EWTN. Actually, it's not true. I looked it up, and the latest canonical regulations from the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, simply state that the bishop in charge of the cause is responsible for taking the relics; they say nothing about where this must be done. Significantly, the regulations do say that if the bishop desires the body be transferred from another diocese, he must get that bishop's permission. Evidently Bishop Jenky asked and Cardinal Dolan refused. However, it is not a canonical requirement that the body be moved, and it is mystifying that Jenky would insist that the cause be shut down because of it. You can read the regulations here]. Whatever the canonical requirements might be Bishop Jenky has long desired to have Sheen’s body in Peoria, because he wants to build a national shrine to the Archbishop there.

As I was writing this today, a statement was released by the Archdiocese of New York.

Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen expressly stated his desire that his remains be buried in New York, a request that was granted by Cardinal Terence Cooke when he was laid to rest beside the Archbishops of New York in the crypt beneath the high altar of Saint Patrick’s Cathedral. To date, the only official instruction that the Archdiocese of New York has received from the Holy See regarding this matter was, from a decade ago, that his body not be moved to Peoria. To date, we have not received any further direction or request from the Congregation for the Causes of Saints. In addition, Archbishop Sheen’s closest surviving family members have also expressed their desire that their uncle’s wishes be respected and that his body remain in New York.
The Congregation for the Causes of Saints did recently ask the Archdiocese of New York and the Diocese of Peoria to enter into a dialogue to see if there was a way to continue progress in moving the cause forward. Discussions with Peoria centered on two areas: the possible exhumation and study of the body; and the possible collection of “first class relics” of Archbishop Sheen.   Cardinal Timothy Dolan did express a hesitance in exhuming the body, unless the Congregation for the Causes of Saints directed that it be done, unless the process was approved by the family, that it be done modestly and reverently, and that the exhumation met the requirements of New York State law. He consulted with the family, who gave their approval if it would help advance the cause.
Regarding first-class relics, Cardinal Dolan does object to the dismemberment of the Archbishop’s body.   However, if the body is exhumed, there is the strong likelihood that some relics would be present in the coffin, which could be reverently collected without disturbing the body, and then shared generously with the Diocese of Peoria. The family is at peace with this; and we will await directions from Rome.

The reference to dismembering the body would strike non-Catholics as strange, even horrific. But in the Middle Ages, this was standard procedure. Then, the solution to a dispute like this would have been to remove Archbishop Sheen’s heart (or some other part) and send it to Peoria for the new shrine, and keep the rest in NY.  Cardinal Dolan is against this, as I think, most modern Catholics would be. The other first-class relics he is not opposed to taking probably include hair and fingernails; removing them would not impair the integrity of the body. There is no hint here that he would be opposed to the taking of other relics, and the Archdiocese insists they are not disobeying any requests by the Holy See. Is this true? Is the canonical requirement of the relics being taken in Peoria insuperable? [Update: No]

The statement adds, significantly, that if Bishop Jenky cannot continue the cause, New York will be glad to take it up. If the diocese of New York gains control, they might then take control of the proper distribution of relics. [update: Perhaps we can read here regrets by Egan and Dolan that they weren't in control all along?].

Who is in the right? I don’t know that there is an easy answer, but let’s not put all the blame on Cardinal Dolan. [Update: Perhaps the bishop of Peoria is overreaching himself in his grand dreams for a national Shrine for Bishop Sheen].

The postulator of the cause in Rome now says he expects the halt to be temporary.

Dr. Andrea Ambrosi “has been aware of the issue regarding the transfer of Archbishop Sheen’s remains, but does not believe that this will be a lasting impediment,” his office said in comments made to CNA Sept. 4.

He expects “that the suspension of the cause will be temporary, since there are many people still committed to this cause and the Beatification of Archbishop Sheen,” they explained. “At this point, however, he cannot give a timeframe as it depends upon negotiations between others.”

Let’s pray that this is accomplished soon.