Last week brought a Vatican appointment that didn't exactly cut in the direction of what I call "affirmative orthodoxy," meaning Pope Benedict XVI's strong defense of the faith coupled with a gentle, positive style. Archbishop Raymond Burke, named as prefect of the Apostolic Signatura, instead has a profile as something of a cultural warrior.
All Things Catholic
Since news of St. Louis Archbishop Raymond Burke’s appointment as prefect of the Apostolic Signatura was announced June 27, I’ve received numerous telephone calls and e-mails, from both sides of the Atlantic, posing some version of the following question: Was this a case of what the Italians call promuovere per rimuovere … promoting someone in order to get rid of him?
Since Fr. Isaac Hecker founded the Paulist Fathers in 1858, they’ve been the quintessentially “American” religious community in the Catholic church. The Paulists’ core mission is evangelization, with special emphasis on ecumenism, inter-faith dialogue, and outreach to the alienated and the marginalized. They typically execute all of the above with panache, great balance, and a keen sense of humor.
Last week I published a lengthy, and remarkably candid, interview with Archbishop Edwin O’Brien of Baltimore about a set of directives he’s issued for the Legionaries of Christ and their lay movement, Regnum Christi. Specifically, O’Brien demanded an accounting of all personnel and activities in his archdiocese from both groups, and he barred Legionaries and Regnum Christi members from one-on-one spiritual counseling with anyone under 18.
I'm in Orlando this week, covering the spring meeting of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. Reports can be found under the "Daily Updates" section of this site at http://ncrcafe.org/blog/2682.
NOTE: John Allen is in Miami Thursday through Sunday to cover the annual conference of the Catholic Theological Society of America. Watch Allen's daily updates on this site for regular reports.
During the John Paul II years, Canada often loomed, at least at the level of stereotypes, as a holdout to the wave of "evangelical Catholicism" cresting through the church, meaning a recovery of traditional markers of Catholic faith and practice plus new boldness about proclaiming the faith in public. After the 1997 Synod for America in Rome, Fr. Richard John Neuhaus memorably described the Canadian bishops as belonging to "the National Catholic Reporter wing of the church," by which he meant a liberal, reform-oriented outlook.
Though the parallel shouldn't be pushed too far, in some ways Christian/Muslim relations today might be compared to where things stood with personal computers back in the early 1980s. Everybody knew PCs were the future, but they wouldn't change the world until a simple, appealing, and reasonably standard way of making them work emerged.
Ever since his famous warning about a “dictatorship of relativism” shortly before his election three years ago, Pope Benedict XVI has been trying to kick-start a global conversation about truth. In particular, Benedict yearns for a new look at truth within the Western secular academy, that exotic region where Jacques Derrida’s relativist maxim “there is nothing outside the text” has, ironically, achieved the status of a near-absolute.
On Wednesday I spoke at the annual World Communications Day luncheon of the Diocese of Brooklyn, hosted by Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio. For this group of media professionals in the New York area, as well as local Catholics, I was asked to ruminate on lessons to be learned from the visit of Pope Benedict XVI to the United States.