National Catholic Reporter

The Independent News Source

NCR Today

The pope has become an Italian story

 | 

Rome -- At one point during Pope Benedict XVI's trip to the Czech Republic last weekend, I strolled across the press center in the Prague Hilton. Taking in the conversations floating through the air, and gazing at the people in the room, I was struck by this insight: The pope has once again become largely an Italian story.

Pope John Paul II was a global newsmaker, and the press corps that followed him was strikingly international. These days, the non-Italians who regularly travel with the pope have dwindled to the media equivalent of a remnant church. On this trip, there was no one from The New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, or CNN (unless you count me, but my phone never rang), all of whom used to be regulars. Fox was on the papal plane, but only because their Rome correspondent is invested in the Vatican story; if he weren't around, it's a good bet Fox wouldn't be in the mix either.

Ambassador Diaz's remarks to Pope Benedict

 | 

John Allen reported earlier this morning that President Barack Obama's ambassador to the Holy See Miguel Diaz presented his credentials to Pope Benedict XVI today.

The U.S. Embasssy to the Holy See posted Diaz's remarks to its Web site. Here it is:

Presentation of Credentials Miguel H. Diaz Ambassador of the United States to the Holy See

Remarks
Vatican City

Your Holiness,

It is a distinct honor to present to you my credentials as Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Holy See and to bring to you warm greetings from President Barack Obama and the American people. I am very grateful to President Obama for the opportunity to represent him and my country to the Holy See. My wife and children, who have accompanied me to Rome, have also welcomed our President’s invitation to serve our country. They join me in offering our familial, cultural, and educational experiences at the service of diplomacy.

Liturgical impoliteness: what my mother would say

 | 

I've been thinking lately about the decision of Bishop Edward Slattery of Oklahoma City to begin facing the altar, rather than the people, at Mass.

Bishop Slattery says he is celebrating ad orientem, (facing East) as part of his urging Catholics "to draw upon the ancient liturgical practice of the church to recover a more authentic Catholic worship."

Authentic tradition of Catholic worship? From what age of the church, I wonder. Surely not the Last Supper. And surely not the "house churches" in the early centuries of Christianity where people sat around a table.

But mostly, I cannot image a faster way to alienate people in parishes than to do this. After decades of being taught that the Eucharist is a communal celebration, this feels like shunning the People of God. I want to ask Bishop Slattery: Are you afraid of the people? If not, then why… as my mother would say… are you being so impolite?

Pope pushes Obama envoy on abortion, conscience protections

 | 

Rome -- Miguel Diaz presented his credentials to Pope Benedict XVI this morning as President Barack Obama's ambassador to the Holy See, and the new envoy drew a pledge of cooperation on international issues from the pope, as well as clear insistence upon "the inalienable right to life from the moment of conception to natural death," as well as "the right to conscientious object on the part of health care workers, and indeed all citizens."

Obama in Copenhagen

 | 

Conservatives never tire of finding things to criticize about President Obama and his decision to go to Copenhagen to lobby on behalf of his hometown’s bid for the 2016 Olympic Games is no exception. Do they really think the President can’t fly and chew bubble gum at the same time? Hell, his plane comes with a bedroom so he can sleep soundly and conduct meetings on the flight back.

I was surprised about his decision to go in person to Copenhagen not because of his busy schedule but because he risks a highly visible loss. Chicago has never held the Games, but the city’s bid is now the American bid, not just the city’s. And America has hosted the summer Olympics four times, most recently in 1996 when Atlanta played host. Incidentally, the Atlanta Games were loudly criticized for their hyper-commercialization and the poor layout of the venues and consequent daily traffic nightmares. The United States has also hosted the winter games four times.

A new Catholic labor blog worth watching

 | 

Bill Lange, a long time Milwaukee Catholic labor activist has started a blog. Those interested in progressive Catholic social justice issues might be well served to keep an eye on it.

Lange writes:

Let me relate some of the many reasons I am doing this blog. First: the Labor Movement and the Faith Community can have a greater political impact for justice with a combined effort. Second: to show the path to reconciliation of positions if there is conflict between them such as the wedge issues of abortion, gay rights, and stem cell research. Third: A valuable contribution of the Encyclicals is that they establish the ‘why’ of an economic system and the ‘how’ follows. Contemporary economics assumes the ‘why’ as a given with little comment.

A time to build

 | 

One of the benefits of living next door to small children is that they have taken an interest in the toys we packed away long ago as our own son outgrew them. He is out of college now, so we are talking about ancient bins of plastic Legos and sets of Playmobile people who once inhabited little houses made of foamboard and lots of glue -- "projects" that threatened to take over whole rooms in our house. That first round of playing with him was a rediscovery of my own childhood, and now I get to do it again.

Pride, ambivalence about Americans in Benedict's Vatican

 | 

By JOHN L. ALLEN JR.
Rome

tI lunched with a veteran Italian vaticanista, meaning a journalist who specializes in the Vatican, this week. At one point, more or less out of the blue, he said to me: “You know, the American imprint on this pope’s curia is impressive.”

t(The Italian word he used was impressionante, which, if anything, is perhaps a bit stronger than “impressive,” suggesting something truly remarkable.)

tHe proceeded to tick off examples: Cardinal William Levada, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the Vatican’s powerful doctrinal office; Cardinal Francis Stafford and Archbishop Raymond Burke, who headed two of the three Vatican courts (Stafford just resigned in June); and Archbishop James Harvey, still the prefect of the Papal Household. (Harvey was appointed to that position by John Paul II in 1998.)

In addition, the Americans are the only national bloc other than the Italians to have at least one official working in virtually every Vatican office.

Pages

Subscribe to NCR Today

Friends of NCR 300x80 web ad.jpg

NCR Email Alerts