Mel Brooks proclaimed "it's good to be the king" as he pranced around as Louis XVI in "History of the World Part I," oblivious to the fate that awaited him.
The Revolution was about to separate his head from his torso, but there he was, in full divine right glory, denying reality.
Benedict XVI, on the other hand, must have no illusions that it's any fun being the religious counterpart, the supreme pontiff, both because he isn't a sinister hedonist and no doubt understands fairly well that the natives are plenty restless.
Still, he or his support staff persist in portraying the papacy in medieval, royalist privileges that alienate it further from the egalitarian ideologies that undergird, at least in theory, the modern world.
I refer to the pope's insistence that he alone is entitled to rap the knuckles of cardinals. Another cardinal may not. Let's be clear, as President Obama might say, I'm the pope and, in case you forgot the rules, I'm the critic in chief. The rest of you keep your sniping to yourselves, or at least within the college of cardinals dining hall.
Last week, I offered some praise for “The Catholic Key Blog,” the online presence of the Kansas City-St. Joseph archdiocesan newspaper edited by Jack Smith. Smith offers some provocative and generally well-written commentary that reflects the views of the conservative bishop he serves (or so it seems) and a good number of the faithful of the church.
But there’s provocative and then there’s … well, bizarre. Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan, Smith writes this week, is “thoroughly totalitarian.” (You have to scroll down a bit to see this posting.)
Accusing someone in political life of being “thoroughly totalitarian” is, to my mind, the equivalent of charging that someone is a fascist or communist, a Holocaust denier, a racist, an anti-Catholic, an anti-Semite, a bigot; someone, in other words, whose ideas and actions make them, by definition, illegitimate, not worthy of consideration in the civil discussion. Someone to be shunned.
This is from the Web site's "About" page:
The War Project is an independent online project created and edited by freelance journalist and photographer Susannah Breslin. The site presents the as-told-to stories of veterans of the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Interviews are conducted in person and edited and condensed prior to publication.
Created & edited by Susannah Breslin
Susannah Breslin is a freelance journalist, photographer, and blogger. She has written for Newsweek, Details, Harper’s Bazaar, The San Francisco Chronicle, The LA Weekly, The San Francisco Examiner Magazine, Variety, Slate, Salon, The Daily Beast, Wired News, The New York Post, and Playboy.com, among many other publications, and appeared on CNN, Fox News, “Politically Incorrect,” and National Public Radio.
By JOHN L. ALLEN JR.
tIf a Hollywood studio were casting a remake of “On the Waterfront,” it could do a lot worse than feeling out Archbishop Thomas Wenski about playing the Karl Malden role. He’s got both the look and the soul of a classic “labor priest” – tough but affable, plain-spoken and a man of the people (tooling around south Florida on his Harley motorcycle), and intensely concerned with the fate of the poor and downtrodden.
tOf course, the fact that Benedict XVI named Wenski the new Archbishop of Miami on April 20 probably means that the ship has already sailed on his acting career.
tWenski is in Rome this week to receive the pallium, the narrow band of woolen cloth that symbolizes the archbishop’s office, from Pope Benedict XVI. It’s one measure of his popularity that although Wenski was the last of the three new American archbishops to be named during the past year, his delegation in Rome is the largest. Some 250 people, evenly divided between his old diocese of Orlando and his new gig in Miami, made the trip.
Bishop Skylstad retires; Bishop Cupich named to succeed him in Spokane
Two new Boston auxiliary bishops named; Bishop Allue retires
By Catholic News Service
WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Pope Benedict XVI has accepted the resignation of Bishop William S. Skylstad of Spokane, Wash., and named Bishop Blase J. Cupich of Rapid City, S.D., to succeed him.
John Allen is to Vatican reporting what the Supreme Court is to the Constitution: The final arbiter. His reporting on the flood on new appointments at the Vatican hits the nail(s) on the head. Benedict is choosing theologians over diplomats, and the theologians he is turning to are those associated with the Communio school.
I will only add one comment. The Communio school is not simply an Ivory tower phenomenon. Its insights are at the heart of at least one of the new ecclesial movements, Communion & Liberation, in which Pope Benedict XVI has placed great hope for the future of the Church. These new ecclesial movements – Focolare, Sant’ Egidio and the Neo-Catechumenal Way are three of the other most prominent groups – are new wine in the life of the Church. Pope Benedict, who must confront daily the fallout from leaving the control of the Church to its diplomatic corps, is more aware than most for the need of new wine and new wineskins.
In what’s already a turbulent time, Pope Benedict XVI has triggered another Vatican earthquake, changing the guard in three senior leadership positions. Among those exiting the scene is the Catholic church’s most prominent ecumenical leader over the past decade, while the new arrivals complete the ascent of personal friends and theological protégés of the pontiff to the Vatican’s top positions.
The Vatican announced today two key personnel moves:
- Cardinal Marc Ouellet of Quebec replaces Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re as Prefect of the Congregation for Bishops, responsible for recommending new bishops to the pope all over the world;
- Archbishop Rino Fisichella becomes the first President of the new Pontifical Commission for Promotion of the New Evangelization, a new Vatican department devoted to reawakening the faith in the West, especially Europe.
A $7.3 billion pledge, including $5 billion from the Group of Eight countries, is not enough to stop millions of needless deaths among pregnant women and young children and is not enough for the G-8 leaders to say they've lived up to their responsibilities, representatives of Catholic aid groups said.
"We're disappointed with the G-8 leaders," said Michael Casey, executive director of the Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace, after the June 26-27 G-8 meeting in Huntsville, Ontario.
"It's kind of a failure," said Alexis Anagnan of the French Catholic aid agency World Solidarity.
As partners with Caritas Internationalis, the Catholic Church's umbrella humanitarian and development agency, both organizations pushed the G-8 leaders to boost their commitment to women's and children's health concerns under the Muskoka Initiative.
The development groups also urged the related Group of 20 economic summit in Toronto June 27-28 to ramp up efforts to reduce extreme poverty worldwide by 2015 as outlined in the Millennium Development Goals established by the United Nations.