Potpourri of Popery, Pauline Year Kick-Off Edition


New Jubilee, new theme for the weekly Audiences: a full year on St. Paul. This morning B16 got started with this talk, in which he talks about the environment in which Paul lived, for, he says:
it is not possible to understand St. Paul adequately without considering the background, both Jewish as well as pagan, of his time.
And the whole point of the year is to learn from Paul
who Christ is...[and] the path for an upright life.
Know what's cool? Patriarch Bartholomew I of Constantinople (who was in Rome for the feast of Ss. Peter & Paul) has also called for a Pauline year (as we learn from the Pope's vespertine greeting to him on Saturday evening), as has Ignatius IV of Antioch, and the entire Christian community of Damascus: Catholic, Orthodox, Protestant. Bartholomew is leading a pilgrimage to the major cities where Paul preached, which you can read about in his homily below. All Christians studying the same texts and learning from the same teacher at the same time? That's the most hopeful ecumenical project I ever heard of.

The Feast of Ss. Peter & Paul was in fact a decidedly ecumenical affair, with Bart I and the reps of other churches joining the Holy Father to open the Pauline door and light candles on a brazier which will remain lit all year (pictures here --go forward). Here's the Pope's homily given at St. Paul's Outside the Walls, and it's like a pattern for ecumenism in itself. Too lengthy to quote as I'd like however.
For many, Paul appears as a combative man who knows how to use the sword of the word. Indeed, in his path as apostle, there was no lack of disputes.
[snip] However, what motivated him in the depth of his being was being loved by Jesus Christ and the desire to transmit this love to others. Paul was someone able to love, and all his work and suffering is explained from this center.
Those of us on the Conservative side of politics are a wee bit prone to rolling our eyes and thinking "ecumenism" means "kumbayah." Benedict, however, has this to say:
the Lord asked him: "Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?" He answered: "Who are you, Lord?" And he received the reply: "I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting." By persecuting the Church, Paul was persecuting Jesus himself. "You are persecuting me."
And Christ asks us the same question:
He addresses us with these words, at this moment, not just Paul but the Lord himself: "How were you able to lacerate my Body?" Before the face of Christ, this question becomes at the same time an urgent appeal: Bring us together again from all our divisions. Make this again a reality today: There is only one bread; therefore, we, despite being many, are only one body.
I've written previously that I think the faithlessness of our age is largely due to the inability of Christians to give a unified witness. That's why it's a bit senseless to be interested in either ecumenism or evangelization; they're inextricably linked. But I digress. The Pope was just getting started! Here's the homily for the actual feast the following day --plus great pix. (The Patriarch's homily, too.) It's by no means the main point, but I thought this description of Peter & Paul was evocative:
Through their martyrdom, they became brothers; together, they are the founders of the new Christian Rome. Through their martyrdom, through their faith and their love, the two apostles show us where true hope lies, and are the founders of a new kind of city, which must again and again form itself in the midst of the old city of man.
Peter & Paul as the new Romulus & Remus, then? Hmm. The Pope's been reading Plutarch, I think (he cited him in this morning's audience). Read what he says about why Peter came to Rome, and then there are lovely remarks for the bishops who received the pallium.

And since we're on the theme of ecumenism, here are some interesting developments: praise God, the Transalpine Redemptorists (an SSPX splinter group) have returned to communion! Read their announcement, I think you'll find it edifying. Curtsy to Fr. Z., who also has the best coverage of relations between Rome & the SSPX. Nothing definite, but more reason to hope --and he says, pray! pray right now! Here's the latest,(this too) but visit his home page and scroll down. So much promise of reconciliation for us.

  • Australia: WYDSYD developments here. Website for international pilgrims. Pre-emptive peace: Qantas workers won't strike...at least until after the Pope departs. And Bl. Pier Giorgio Frassati has arrived.
  • Brazil: St. Gianna Beretta's brother's cause of canonization opens. Great story.
  • Canada: Order of Canada given to abortionist. Cardinal says Canada's highest honor has been debased.
  • Great Britain: I don't pretend to understand the intricacies of the Church of England, but it seems to be falling apart. There's public talk of Anglican bishops Poping.
  • Italy: Focolare to elect a successor to Chiara Lubich.
  • SoKo: Priests protesting American beef.
  • U.S.: Fr. Damien's cause completed. Our loss, the universal Church's gain: Archbishop Burke made basically the Chief Justice of the Vatican (Prefect of the Apostolic Signatura). Watch his emotional farewell while the link lasts. He didn't go before excommunicating a nun gone wrong, however. Fr. Kapaun's cause was introduced. He was an Army chaplain who died a Korean POW. Treasures of Archd. of Minn/St. Paul filched. Look who was in Chicago last weekend!
  • I mean no disrespect in pointing this out, but the Pauline Year is a big deal in the rest of the world, yet my local dioceses seem not to have noticed it. Went to the websites of Washington, Arlington, even Richmond...not even mentioned. Philly's doing it up right, however. I wrote to the respective chancery offices and got responses along these lines:
    at the moment there's nothing to note
    (how about that there is a Pauline year and all the other Christians will be reading St. Paul? And the location of parishes or chapels dedicated to Paul for pilgrimage?)
  • Venezuela: Hugo starts his own Church (he really is learning from the Chinese, isn't he)?
    The Reform Catholic Venezuelan Church does not require priests to be celibate. The group also allows divorce, and proclaims that "homosexuality and bisexuality are not sins in and of themselves.' But the sect is uncompromising on one issue: "We completely support the socialist project led by Chavez,"
  • Vietnam: seminary to reopen after 31 years.
And finally: Pope likes kosher cake; the cat lover in the Vatican & Popes in Copes