July 2013 Print

Church and World

Act of Consecration of the Priestly Society of Saint Pius X to Saint Joseph, Patron of the Universal Church, March 19, 2013

O glorious Saint Joseph, Spouse of the Immaculate Virgin, Foster Father of the Son of God, appointed Head of the Holy Family and raised up as Heavenly Patron of the Universal Church;

Thou whose faith triumphed over doubt, whose justice was as great as thy chastity, whose obedience was the servant of thy wisdom, whose strength went hand in hand with thy prudence, and whose magnanimity vied with thy humility;

Thou model of those devoted to labor, assurance of those in the midst of battle, terror of the demons unleashed against the work of the Redeemer;

Thou who didst employ all thy virtues in saving the God-man from grave perils, and who from on high dost protect His Mystical Body, subjected to the ever-renewed attacks of its enemies;

Cast thine eyes upon this little portion of the flock of Jesus Christ, which an inscrutable plan of God has raised up to safeguard the Catholic priesthood and the Catholic Faith.

Conscious of its nothingness and enlivened by a boundless confidence in thy powerful patronage, O Blessed Patriarch Joseph, the Priestly Society of Saint Pius X consecrates itself to thee, with all its members and all its undertakings, in order to magnify thy glories and thy virtues.

Deign in return, O most generous Steward of the King of Glory’s bounty, to grant to this little family the same benefits that thy paternity obtains for the entire Church: deign to make it thine own, to keep it faithful to its statutes, to make it live and propagate the Sacrifice of the Altar, to enrich it with spiritual life, to establish its members in the sanctity and chastity proper to their state, to strengthen it in its holy apostolic labors, to lead it in the combat for the Faith, to thwart the traps of the Enemy and to make it serve the interests of the Church.

Deign also, O our faithful Intercessor, to make of this humble legion of restorers a firm support for the Roman Pontiff in his mission to confirm his brothers in the clear and entire profession of Faith of St. Peter: Thou art Christ, the Son of the living God.

O thou who wast providentially placed at the side of Mary our Queen, grant that we, through thine irresistible intercession with Jesus, Sovereign Priest and King of Eternal Glory, may live and preach in all their most concrete consequences the divinity, the priesthood and the royalty of this same Jesus Christ, Who with the Father and the Holy Ghost liveth and reigneth, God, world without end.


Fatima and Devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary

On Monday, May 13, 2013, Cardinal José da Cruz Policarpo, Patriarch of Lisbon, consecrated the pontificate that has just begun to Our Lady of Fatima. This consecration was made during the Mass marking the 96th anniversary of the apparitions of the Virgin Mary, at the explicit request of Pope Francis.

“O Blessed Virgin, we are at your feet to carry out the request clearly expressed by Pope Francis to consecrate to you, O Virgin of Fatima, his ministry as Bishop of Rome and universal pastor,” Cardinal Policarpo declared, in the presence of 270,000 pilgrims who gathered at the Portuguese shrine on the occasion of the Feast of Our Lady of Fatima.

On October 31, 1942, in the midst of international conflict, Pius XII consecrated the Church and the world to the Immaculate Heart of Mary: “Queen of the Holy Rosary, Help of Christians, Refuge of the human race, Conqueress in God’s battlefields, here we are prostrate before your throne, beseeching you, in the assurance of obtaining mercy and grace and the helps needed in the midst of the present calamities.…To you and to your Immaculate Heart in this tragic hour of human history we entrust and give and consecrate not only Holy Church, the Mystical Body of your Jesus, suffering and bleeding in so many places and tormented in so many ways, but also the whole world, torn by bitter strife and consumed by the fire of hatred, the victim of its own wickedness.”

Mary, terrible as an army set in battle array, pray for us!

Death of Abbé Dominique Lagneau, Prior of Montgardin and Head Chaplain of Mary’s Militia

With profound sorrow, the General House of the Society of Saint Pius X announced the sudden death of Fr. Dominique Lagneau, superior of the house of priestly retreats at Montgardin, on Sunday, May 12, at about 5:30 in the afternoon. He apparently suffered a heart attack while taking some rest at the Marian sanctuary of Notre Dame de Laus.

A Frenchman, he was ordained at Ecône on June 29, 1981, by His Excellency Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, founder of the FSSPX. Posted to Unieux, a year later he became its prior and then was named professor successively at the seminaries of Ecône and Flavigny. He was then rector of the seminary at La Reja, Argentina, for thirteen years, prior at Dijon, associate priest at Meylan and Gastines, and finally prior of the house of priestly retreats at Montgardin, near Gap, since its opening in 2011. He was also the head chaplain of the Militia of Mary, which he directed with infectious zeal and enthusiasm.

Fr. Lagneau’s funeral was held on Friday, May 17, at 3 o’clock in the church of Saint-André-des-Cordeliers, Gap. The Most Reverend Bernard Fellay, Superior General of the SSPX, was the celebrant. The wake was held at the Chapel of Maison Notre-Dame. His mortal remains were laid to rest in the cemetery on the retreat house grounds.

Syria: The Long Calvary of the Christians

Bishop Antoine Audo, S.J., Chaldean bishop of Aleppo and president of Caritas Syria, spoke to the news agency Fides on April 10 about the precarious situation of the inhabitants of Aleppo, who can be seen in the streets with plastic bags, searching everywhere for a bit of food. Hundreds of Catholic families have had to leave the Cheikh Maksoud quarter after the arrival of the rebel militias in early April. Many streets are closed, unusable, making visits to the sick and the dying difficult. Most of the doctors were forced with threats to flee, and the fate of two priests, an Armenian Catholic and a Greek Orthodox, kidnapped by armed men two months ago on the road between Aleppo and Damascus, is still unknown, explained Bishop Audo.

The Cheikh Maksoud quarter, situated on a hill dominating Aleppo, added Fr. David Fernandez, a missionary of the Institute of the Incarnate Word, is a strategic sector for those who wish to take over the city center where the government buildings are located. Some of the city-center streets are already closed and “no one can travel on them anymore because snipers fire on any moving thing.” In Cheikh Maksoud, Christians used to make up the majority of the population. In the last few years, the Kurdish population became the majority, but there remained many Christian families, grouped around the Armenian-Catholic and Greek Orthodox churches.

Archbishop Samir Nassar, Maronite archbishop of Damascus, reported on April 13 the crucifying dilemma of the Syrian Christians, “forced to choose between two bitter chalices: death or exile,” which is “another, [slower] way to die.” In the neighboring countries, where the number of refugees is constantly increasing, the situation is more and more critical. The High Police Precinct for the refugees of the United Nations (HCR) has “sounded the alarm.” The operations to help Syrian refugees are coming to an end for lack of sufficient funds. In the city, there are bombings, trapped cars, starvation, and a lack of medication and care. “Two hundred thirty-three hospitals have been closed and the doctors are fleeing,” explained the Archbishop of Damascus. The parishes have “become a wailing wall to which the Christians turn every day to find protection and help in their attempts to obtain a visa to leave.” “The indifference and silence of the international community before their long, sad calvary” is oppressing for the Syrian Christians, who, “abandoned,” find themselves “condemned to death and unable to flee,” continued the prelate. “The consulates have been closed for a year and a half.” The wealthier have been able to leave, but the poorer Christians do not understand why they must die in a senseless war. “Today, the Church is the only resource for these shipwrecked souls.…But the pastors, too, are confronted with a dilemma: to tell their faithful to stay is to condemn them to death; but helping them leave means emptying the Biblical Land of its last faithful Christians,” concluded Archbishop Nassar.

The Syrian Christians proclaimed Saturday, May 11, a day of prayer to “beg God to grant mercy to Syria and to put an end to the violence,” asking all to “limit themselves to local reunions throughout the country, in homes, meeting places, and churches,” because of the high risks of traveling in the combat zones. Fr. David Fernandez, present in Aleppo, explained to the agency Fides that “the population was waiting with anguish for the month of May, to ask Mary for the grace of peace. We celebrate Mass every afternoon with the refugees and those who are able to come and we recite the Holy Rosary for this intention. Everyone sings the litany and the final hymn to the Virgin with great emotion. They ask Mary for the gift of peace, turning to her as the only one who can still help them to keep hope alive in the terrible situation that we are living through.”

(Sources: Apic/Fides/afp – DICI, No. 275 May 17, 2013)

Toward a Rapid Reform of the Roman Curia?

On April 13, 2013, the Secretary of State of the Holy See issued the following communiqué: “Pope Francis, adopting a suggestion made during the General Congregations that preceded the conclave, established a group of cardinals to advise him in the government of the Universal Church and to study a plan for revising the Apostolic Constitution Pastor Bonus [dated June 28, 1988,] on the Roman Curia.” The communiqué stated that this group of cardinals is composed of Giuseppe Bertello, President of the Governatorate of Vatican City State; Francisco Javier Errázuriz Ossa, Archbishop emeritus of Santiago del Cile (Chile); Oswald Gracias, Archbishop of Bombay (India); Reinhard Marx, Archbishop of Munich and Freising (Germany); Laurent Monswengo Pasinya, Archbishop of Kinshasa (Democratic Republic of Congo); Sean Patrick O’Malley, O.F.M. Cap., Archbishop of Boston (U.S.A.); George Pell, Archbishop of Sydney (Australia); Oscar Andrés Rodríguez Maradiaga, S.D.B., Archbishop of Tegucigalpa (Honduras), who will also be in charge of co-ordinating the members. Bishop Marcello Semeraro, Bishop of Albano, was appointed secretary of this group of advisors.

It was noted that “the first meeting of the Group will take place October 1-3, 2013.” The pope “however is already in contact with…the above-mentioned Cardinals.”

The news agency Apic, in a dispatch dated April 13, commented on this communiqué: “By the creation of this informal group—not a Pontifical Council or a Commission, Vatican sources specify—which is tasked with advising him in governing the Church and in preparing a reform of the Curia, the new Supreme Pontiff seems to be trying to respond to the urgent request of many cardinals who met before the last conclave with a view to Curial reform and greater collegiality.…For this group, which is ‘consultative and not decision-making,’ as Vatican spokesman Fr. Federico Lombardi explained, Pope Francis called on only one Italian, the diplomat Giuseppe Bertello. Although he is not a full-fledged member of the Curia, since he heads the Vatican City State, he is the only one who resides in Rome. That being the case, some imagine that he could be appointed Secretary of State in the near future.”

Apic made several clarifications: To co-ordinate this group, the pope designated the Honduran Cardinal Oscar Andrés Rodríguez Maradiaga, who is a Salesian, the Archbishop of Tegucigalpa and also the President of Caritas Internationalis. The secretary of the group is the Bishop of Albano—a diocese near Rome in which Castel Gandolfo (the summer residence of the popes) is located—Bishop Semeraro. He already collaborated with Cardinal Bergoglio in 2001, during the Synod of Bishops in which the future pope was special secretary and the Italian prelate was general reporter.

On April 13, the Agence France Presse added: “These cardinals will have to revise the Apostolic Constitution Pastor Bonus promulgated by John Paul II in 1988 for the Roman Curia, an organization that Benedict XVI was not able to reform.…The government of the Holy See was affected by the ‘Vatileaks’ affair in which confidential documents of Benedict XVI were leaked. A 300-page report written by three cardinals was delivered to the new pope. But there is also an avalanche of revelations, whether founded or not, concerning sexual and financial scandals that has swept over the Vatican and the Church—above all, revelations about pedophilia scandals involving thousands of priests in the past, which have profoundly shaken the Church. The fact that the collegiality called for by the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965) has remained to a great extent a dead letter under Benedict XVI—who used to convene his ‘ministers’ in a very formal manner at most twice a year—had very often been deplored in this regard.”

The April 15 issue of Le Figaro provided a similar explanation: “This pope wants to continue the reform of the Curia explicitly carried out by John Paul II from 1985 to 1988, the application of which, however, because of passive internal resistance, was only carried out very incompletely. He hopes, along the same lines, to accomplish what Vatican II had decided on: greater ‘collegiality’ in the government of the Church. An end, therefore, to the ‘papal court’ and ‘Roman centralism’ for the sake of greater involvement of the cardinals and bishops from all five continents in major decisions.”

In fact, on April 15, the secretary of the newly formed group, Bishop Marcello Semeraro, granted an interview to the Corriere della Sera that confirmed the journalists’ analyses. “We cannot rule out the possibility that the Secretariat of State of the Holy See will have fewer powers,” the Bishop of Albano asserted. Whereas Paul VI had increased its powers so that the Secretariat of State could serve as a unifying connection between the pope and the dicasteries, it is necessary to adapt structures with regard to the needs of the Church today, he opined, recalling that Benedict XVI himself, at the time when he announced his resignation, had spoken about the need to confront the rapid changes of today’s world.

Bishop Semeraro declared that the heads of dicasteries, and particularly the prefects of Congregations, wished for a return to regular audiences granted by the Supreme Pontiff, for more frequent and direct contact. “In recent years,” he confided, “those in charge of dicasteries had lost their autonomy and the Secretariat of State had closer contact with the pope, too close for some people’s taste.” The Italian prelate answered a question about the precise role of this group by saying that this unprecedented entity would by no means replace the organizations of the Curia and would not be a part of it. He preferred to speak about a “little synod of communion that gathers bishops from all continents,” and he did not hesitate to draw a parallel with the synod of bishops desired by Paul VI. Nevertheless, he announced, the group of cardinals will meet much more often, probably every two or three months. “We will know within the next few days what subjects will be treated in October, at the first meeting.”

On April 17, Cardinal Francesco Coccopalmerio, President of the Pontifical Council for the Interpretation of Legislative Texts, declared during a program on the Italian public television channel Rai Storia that a reform of the Curia would be carried out “rapidly.” “This pope is losing no time,” he reassured the listeners. “The reform ought to begin with the Roman Curia, which is the tool in the pope’s hands.” According to the Roman prelate, the pope cannot carry out his activities alone, but should entrust this work to the dicasteries; this implies that the pope must always be acquainted with the work of each dicastery. In his view, the Secretariat of State of the Holy See could remain in place, with its individuality and its functions, but it would be assisted more permanently by a little college of three or four persons, which, however, would be different from the group of cardinals recently appointed by the pope.

Cardinal Coccopalmerio, former auxiliary bishop of the very progressive Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini—Archbishop of Milan for more than 15 years and a proponent of greater collegiality in the Church—thus confirmed that the trend started by Pope Francis was headed in the direction of a more collegial papal power. “One of the demands of the conclave that appeared during the General Congregations,” the Roman cardinal asserted, “was to place alongside the pope competent persons from all four corners of the world, who will convey the complaints of the various Christian communities.”

However on April 30, in L’Osservatore Romano, the daily Italian edition of the Vatican newspaper, Archbishop Angelo Becciu, substitute of the Secretariat of State, granted an interview that reframed the commentaries by those prelates and journalists over the previous two weeks. To the question: “Concerning the reform of the Curia, many have called for a balance of powers, moderators, co-ordinators, ‘superministers of the economy,’ revo­lutions…,” Archbishop Becciu replied: “It is rather odd: the pope has not yet met this group of advisors that he selected, and already there is a torrent of advice. Having spoken with the Holy Father, I can say that at the moment it is altogether premature to advance any hypothesis whatsoever concerning the future organization of the Curia. Pope Francis is listening to everybody, but in the first place he will want to listen to those whom he has chosen as advisors. Then a plan for reforming Pastor Bonus will be organized, which obviously will have to run its course.”

As for the question about a “rapid” reform, here is Archbishop Becciu’s response: “I cannot tell when it will be done.…All [heads of dicasteries] will continue in office ‘until other arrangements are made’ (donec aliter provideatur). This shows the Holy Father’s intention to take the time necessary for reflection—and for prayer, we should never forget—so as to have an in-depth picture of the situation.” To the objection that this group of advisors could call into question the primacy of the pope, the Roman prelate responded: “We are talking about a consultative body, not a decision-making body, and really I do not see how Pope Francis’ choice could call the primacy into question. On the other hand, it is true that this is a very important gesture, which intends to give a clear signal as to the methods by which the Holy Father will want to carry out his ministry.” He explained: “The function of advisor must be interpreted in a theological sense: from a worldly perspective we would have to say that an advisory panel without deliberative authority is irrelevant, but that would mean equating the Church with a business. Instead, theologically, the act of advising absolutely does have an important function: it helps the superior in his work of discernment, it helps him understand what the Spirit is asking of the Church at a precise historical moment. Without this [theological] reference, moreover, one would not understand either the authentic meaning of the activity of governance in the Church.”

On the occasion of this interview, the substitute of the Secretariat of State remarked on the rumor that has made the rounds in the press of a possible suppression of the Institute for Works of Religion (IOR): “The pope was surprised to see attributed to him statements that he never uttered and that misrepresent his thinking. The only time he mentioned this subject was during a brief impromptu homily at the Casa Santa Marta [on April 24], in which he passionately recalled that the essence of the Church consists of a love story between God and humanity, and that the various human structures, among them the IOR, are less important. The allusion was made in a humorous tone, prompted by the presence at the Mass of several employees of the Institute, within the context of a serious invitation never to lose sight of the essential character of the Church.”

Commentary: This clarification, which appeared on the front page of L’Osservatore Romano, is explained by the peculiar atmosphere that prevails in Rome at the start of this new pontificate. A Roman observer confided to DICI that several prelates and some Vatican-watchers are eager to attribute to the pope the intentions that they would like to see implemented. They anticipate, hoping that their personal desires will turn into Roman decisions, or else into appointments; and they urgently want this anticipation of theirs to become a news item. In this case, it was a disappointment instead.

(Sources: News.va/Osservatore Romano/AFP/Apic/IMedia/Corriere della sera – DICI, No. 275, May 17, 2013)