LONDON -- In the old days, the normal Vatican pattern was that the pope would say or do something controversial, and then his aides would try to calm the waters. It’s a measure of how out of sorts the Vatican’s communications enterprise has been that these days, things seem to work exactly the other way around.
On the wire this morning:
By Catholic News Service
WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Pope Benedict XVI has accepted Seattle Archbishop Alex J. Brunett's resignation and appointed Bishop J. Peter Sartain of Joliet, Ill., as his successor.
The changes were publicized in Washington Sept. 16 by Archbishop Pietro Sambi, apostolic nuncio to the United States.
Archbishop Brunett, who was named to Seattle in 1997, is 76 years old. Under canon law, bishops must submit their retirement at age 75.
Archbishop Sartain, who is 58, has headed the Joliet Diocese since 2006. Before that he was the bishop of Little Rock, Ark., for about six years.
MORE TO COME
Writing in The Guardian, 50 British notables (including Richard Dawkins and Terry Pratchett) released a letter this morning decrying the fact that the Pope is being given "the honor of a state visit" to the UK this week.
The letter has sparked a response from Bill Donahue, president of the Catholic League here in the U.S.
For your ease, here's excerpts from both.
From the letter:
Opposing the distribution of condoms and so increasing large families in poor countries and the spread of Aids.
Promoting segregated education.
Denying abortion to even the most vulnerable women.
Opposing equal rights for lesbians, gay, bisexual and transgender people.
The New York Post reports this afternoon that a Saint John's University fundraiser "embezzled more than $1 million from the Queens school, spending the stolen lucre on casinos sprees, shopping at Victoria’s Secret and funding her son’s tuition at St. John’s Law School."
The report goes on:
John Cornwell's essay in the Financial Times, The papal hijacking of Cardinal Newman, is creating quite a stir. Cornwell's biography of Newman, Newman’s Unquiet Grave: The Reluctant Saint, is the book of choice this week in the NCR Book Club, with a review by Jesuit Fr. Peter L’Estrange.
Cornwell's thesis in his essay is that "John Henry Newman has always been a source of inspiration to Catholic liberals for his tendency to see both sides of every question and to follow conscience wherever it may lead," and this makes his imminent beatification "paradoxical."
The Catholic Diocese of Spokane must raise more than $800,000 this fall to pay sex abuse claims. From the Seattle Times.
From the Dallas Morning News:
"As Mexico prepares to celebrate the bicentennial of its independence from Spain and the 100th anniversary of its revolution today and Thursday, many Mexicans are questioning how much liberty and opportunity they really have in a country racked, again, by bloodshed and still plagued by poverty.
Catholic News Service ran a story this morning quoting the U.S. ambassador to the Vatican that a U.S. pastor's threat to burn copies of the Quran has damaged the image of the United States.
"The deliberate destruction of any holy book is an abhorrent act," said the ambassador, Miguel H. Diaz.
CNS reported that the expressed plans by a small Florida Pentecostal church to burn the Quran Sept. 11 represent "disrespectful acts" and in no way reflect "the sentiments of the American people or the U.S. government," he said in a written statement Sept. 10.
The ambassador's remarks came after the Florida pastor, the Rev. Terry Jones, announced he had called off the event, even though later he said he was going to "rethink" that decision.
"The U.S. government condemns the on-again, off-again plans" by the small evangelical group, Diaz said. "The mere threat by a pastor of a small Florida church has already damaged the image of the U.S."
Diaz's comments were the latest in a series of condemnations by international church leaders and officials.
Catholic bishops in Iraq and Pakistan joined a growing chorus of international religious leaders denouncing the planned burning.