PASTORAL GUIDELINES OF THE HOLY SEE CONCERNING THE CIVIL REGISTRATION OF CLERGY IN CHINA

Here’s a good summary of the document and the issues it creates for Catholic priests in China where all clergy are asked to register with the state in order to perform their ministry. The state is also looking for loyalty from these ministers in an attempt, in particular vis-a-vis the Catholic Church, to separate them from Rome, the Pope, the Vatican. This suggests that the only loyalty that will be allowed is that to the state.
https://www.reuters.com/article/us-pope-china/vatican-says-china-intimidating-catholics-loyal-to-pope-idUSKCN1TT1MY

And here’s a CNA report that makes you weep – as I do every time I see similar stories from and about China – the reason I and countless others have been asking why the Vatican enacted the agreement it did last September 22 with the Chinese government regarding the naming of bishops: “Religion in China: ‘It’s never been worse than it is right now,’ Congress hears” – https://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/religion-in-china-its-never-been-worse-than-it-is-right-now-congress-hears-37664

PASTORAL GUIDELINES OF THE HOLY SEE CONCERNING THE CIVIL REGISTRATION OF CLERGY IN CHINA

For some time requests have been received by the Holy See, from Bishops in Mainland China, for a concrete indication of the approach to be adopted in relation to the obligation of presenting an application for civil registration. In this regard, as is known, many Pastors remain deeply disturbed since the modality of such registration – which is obligatory, according to the new regulations on religious activities, on pain of inability to function pastorally – requires, almost invariably, the signing of a document in which, notwithstanding the commitment assumed by the Chinese authorities to respect also Catholic doctrine, one must declare acceptance, among other things, of the principle of independence, autonomy and self-administration of the Church in China.

The complex reality of China and the fact that there does not appear to be a uniform praxis with regard to the application of the regulations for religious affairs, make it particularly difficult to decide on the matter. On the one hand, the Holy See does not intend to force anyone’s conscience. On the other hand, it considers that the experience of clandestinity is not a normal feature of the Church’s life and that history has shown that Pastors and faithful have recourse to it only amid suffering, in the desire to maintain the integrity of their faith (cfr. Letter of Pope Benedict XVI to Chinese Catholics of 27 May 2007, n. 8). Thus, the Holy See continues to ask that the civil registration of the clergy take place in a manner that guarantees respect for the conscience and the profound Catholic convictions of the persons involved. Only in that way, in fact, can both the unity of the Church and the contribution of Catholics to the good of Chinese society be fostered.

In what concerns, then, the evaluation of the eventual declaration that must be signed upon registering, in the first place it is necessary to bear in mind that the Constitution of the People’s Republic of China formally guarantees religious freedom (art. 36). In the second place, the Provisional Agreement of 22 September 2018, recognising the particular role of the Successor of Peter, logically leads the Holy See to understand and interpret the “independence” of the Catholic Church in China not in an absolute sense, namely as separation from the Pope and the Universal Church, but rather relative to the political sphere, as happens everywhere in the world in the relations between the Universal Church and the particular Churches. To affirm that for the Catholic identity there can be no separation from the Successor of Peter, does not mean making the local Church an alien body in the society and the culture of the country in which she lives and works. In the third place, the context of the actual relations between China and the Holy See, characterised as they are by a consolidated dialogue between the two Parties, differs from that which saw the birth of the patriotic structures in the 1950s. In the fourth place, a factor of great importance should be added, namely, that over the years, many Bishops who were ordained without the apostolic mandate have asked for and received reconciliation with the Successor of Peter, so that today all Chinese Bishops are in communion with the Apostolic See and desire an ever greater integration with the Catholic Bishops of the whole world.

In light of these facts, it is legitimate to expect a new approach on the part of everyone, also when addressing practical questions about the life of the Church. For its part, the Holy See continues to dialogue with the Chinese Authorities about the civil registration of Bishops and priests in order to find a formula that, while allowing for registration, would respect not only Chinese laws but also Catholic doctrine.

In the meantime, bearing in mind what has been noted above, if a Bishop or a priest decides to register civilly, but the text of the declaration required for the registration does not appear respectful of the Catholic faith, he will specify in writing, upon signing, that he acts without failing in his duty to remain faithful to the principles of Catholic doctrine. Where it is not possible to make such a clarification in writing, the applicant will do so at least orally and if possible in the presence of a witness. In each case, it is appropriate that the applicant then certify to his proper Ordinary with what intention he has made the registration. The registration, in fact, is always to be understood as having the sole aim of fostering the good of the diocesan community and its growth in the spirit of unity, as well as an evangelisation commensurate to the new demands of Chinese society and the responsible management of the goods of the Church.

At the same time, the Holy See understands and respects the choice of those who, in conscience, decide that they are unable to register under the current conditions. The Holy See remains close to them and asks the Lord to help them to safeguard the communion with their brothers and sisters in the faith, even in the face of those trials that each one will have to face.

The bishop, for his part, “should nurture and publicly manifest his esteem for his priests, showing them trust and praising them, if they deserve it. He should respect and require others to respect their rights and should defend them against unjust criticism. He should act swiftly to resolve controversies, so as to avoid the prolonged disquiet which can overshadow fraternal charity and do damage to the pastoral ministry” (Apostolorum Successores, Directory for the Pastoral Ministry of Bishops, 22 February 2004, n. 77).

It is important, then, that also the lay faithful not only understand the complexity of the situation, described above, but in addition accept with an open heart the anguished decision taken by their Pastors, whatever it may be. The local Catholic community should accompany them in a spirit of faith, with prayer and affection, refraining from any judgement of the choices of others, maintaining the bond of unity and demonstrating mercy towards all.

In any case, until such time as a modality for the civil registration of the clergy that is more respectful of Catholic doctrine, and thus of the consciences of those involved, is established through a frank and constructive dialogue between the two Parties, as agreed, the Holy See asks that no intimidatory pressures be applied to the “non official” Catholic communities, as, unfortunately, has already happened.

Finally, the Holy See trusts that everyone can accept these pastoral indications as a means of helping those faced with choices that are far from simple, to make such choices in a spirit of faith and unity. All those involved – the Holy See, Bishops, priests, religious men and women and the lay faithful – are called to discern the will of God with patience and humility on this part of the journey of the Church in China, marked, as it is, by much hope but also by enduring difficulties.

From the Vatican, on 28 June 2019, Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus.

VATICAN INSIDER EXPLORES THE ACCU – JUNE 29, CELEBRATING THE FEAST OF STS PETER AND PAUL IN ROME

Last evening at 6 pm in St. Peter’s Basilica, Pope Francis said Mass to celebrate the 50th wedding anniversary of Prof. Guzmán Carriquiri Lecour and Lídice María Gómez Mango. Guzman, a Uruguyan, has held numerous positions in the Roman Curia, starting in 1971 and including Bureau Chief and later under-secretary of the Pontifical Council for the Laity and Secretary of the Pontifical Commission for Latin America. It seems the Pope heard the couple had planned a Mass and he decided to personally preside! A lovely way to thank the couple, especially Guzman, for his years of service!

From Canton Ohio: A miracle inquiry for the Cause of Beatification of the Servant of God Rhoda Wise was closed in the Catholic Diocese of Youngstown on June 25, 2019 and will be sent to the Congregation of Saints in Rome. More details will be shared at the special Mass on the Feast of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus in thanksgiving for the 80th Anniversary of the Healing of The Servant of God Rhoda Wise. The Mass is 7:00 pm at Saint Peter Catholic Church, Canton, celebrated by Bishop George V. Murry, S.J., of Youngstown.

There is a big breaking story on China from the Vatican – will try to post Vatican note ASAP.

VATICAN INSIDER EXPLORES THE ACCU

Join me on this final weekend of June for a new edition of Vatican Insider for Part II of my conversation with Michael Galligan-Stierle, outgoing president and CEO of ACCU – the Washington, DC-based Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities. Every June Michael and his wife Pamela lead the ACCU’s annual Rome seminar for university and college presidents. We talk about the history of ACCU the Rome seminar, the difference between college and university, the benefits of membership in ACCU for a college or university, the advantages of going to a Catholic college or university, and much more.

IN THE UNITED STATES, you can listen to Vatican Insider (VI) on a Catholic radio station near you (stations listed at http://www.ewtn.com) or on channel 130 Sirius-XM satellite radio, or on http://www.ewtn.com. OUTSIDE THE U.S., you can listen to EWTN radio on our website home page by clicking on the right side where you see “LISTEN TO EWTN.” VI airs at 5am and 9pm ET on Saturdays and 6am ET on Sundays. On the GB-IE feed (which is on SKY in the UK and Ireland), VI airs at 5:30am, 12 noon and 10pm CET on Sundays. Both of these feeds are also available on the EWTN app and on http://www.ewtnradio.net ALWAYS CHECK YOUR OWN TIME ZONE! For VI archives: http://www.ewtn.com/multimedia/audio-library/index.asp (write Vatican Insider where it says Search Shows and Episodes)

JUNE 29, CELEBRATING THE FEAST OF STS PETER AND PAUL IN ROME

Thirty-one metropolitan archbishops will receive the pallium tomorrow morning, June 29 in St. Peter’s basilica during Mass presided over by the Holy Father. The Pope will bless the palliums during Mass and hand each archbishop the symbol of his authority in his archdiocese and of his ties to the Successor of Peter, the Pope. The nuncio of each archbishop’s country will actually place the pallium on his shoulders in a ceremony in his home cathedral.

June 29 is the feast of Sts. Peter and Paul, Apostles and patron saints of Rome. There are a number of non-liturgical events that mark the day of you happen to be in the Eternal City. It is a big holiday for the Vatican and the City of Rome.

The historical Floral Painting known as Infiorata Storica, organized by the Pro Loco organization of Rome, will take place tomorrow between Via della Conciliazione and Piazza Pio XII, just yards from St. Peter’s Square.

According to historical sources, the custom of creating floral paintings was born in Rome in the year 1625, when on the occasion of the patronal feast of Saints Peter and Paul on June 29, the head of the Vatican Floristry, Benedetto Drei had carpets made of “leafy flowers and vines to emulate the works of the mosaic” in front of the Basilica of St. Peter. At the death of Benedetto Drei, it was Gian Lorenzo Bernini who succeeded him, and it is through his influence that the tradition spread to the localities of Castelli Romani, rooting itself strongly in Lazio and beyond.

At 9:30 pm on June 29, go to the terraces of the Pincio (Piazza del Popolo) for the 13th edition of the historical re-enactment of the “Girandola di Roma,” (the Roman pinwheel), a fireworks display conceived by Michelangelo and reworked by Bernini.

NEWS IN BRIEF –THURSDAY JUNE 27

NEWS IN BRIEF – THURSDAY JUNE 2

POPE FRANCIS MET WITH NATIONAL DIRECTORS, CHAPLAINS AND VOLUNTEERS FROM THE STELLA MARIS APOSTOLATE, urging them to be missionaries of compassion and to confront issues that are the fruit of human greed. The Stella Maris apostolate – the name means Star of the Sea – is active in over 300 ports worldwide, offering spiritual and material assistance to sailors, fishermen and their often-distant families. The Pope said, “without sailors, the global economy would come to a standstill; and without fishermen, many parts of the world would starve.” He asked those present to convey his esteem and encouragement to all the sailors and fishermen they come across in their work. He also noted that, “the life of a sailor or fisherman is not only marked by isolation and distance. At times it is also painfully affected by shameful experiences of abuse and injustice, by the snares of those engaged in human trafficking.”

THE VATICAN ANNOUNCED THAT ON MONDAY JULY 1, 2019, at 10 am in the Clementine Hall of the Apostolic Palace, the Holy Father Francis will preside over the celebration of the Third Hour and the Ordinary Public Consistory for the Canonization of 5 Blesseds, including John Henry Newman, Cardinal of the Holy Roman Church, Founder of the Oratory of Saint Philip Neri in England. Others to be canonized at a date to be announced Monday include: Italian Sister Giuseppina Vannini (born Giuditta Adelaide Agata), founder of the Daughters of Saint Camillus; Indian Sister Mariam Thresia Chiramel Mankidiyan, founder of the Congregation of the Sisters of the Holy Family; Brazilian Sister Dulce Lopes Pontes (born Maria Rita) of the Congregation of the Missionary Sisters of the Immaculate Conception of the Mother of God and Marguerite Bays of Switzerland, virgin of the Third Order of Saint Francis of Assisi.


POPE FRANCIS ADDRESSED 500 PARTICIPANTS IN THE 41ST GENERAL CONFERENCE OF THE ROME-BASED UNITED NATIONS FOOD AND AGRICULTURE ORGANIZATION (FAO), urging the cooperation of all in order to tackle the “scourges of hunger and food insecurity” in the world. One way to fight hunger and food insecurity, the Holy Father suggested, is to reduce the wastage of food and water. Addressing the group in his native Spanish, the Argentine Pope called for tackling the underlying causes of the lack of food and access to drinkable water. He blamed the tragedy on “a failure of compassion, the lack of interest on the part of many and a scant social and political will to honor international obligations.” The lack of food and water, he pointed out, is not an internal and exclusive affair of the poorest and most vulnerable countries, but one that concerns each of us. He said that responsibility lies on all for increasing or alleviating the suffering of many of our brothers and sisters whose desperate cries we are called to hear. (source: vaticannews.va)

THE EARLY CHURCH, A PARADIGM FOR ALL CHRISTIAN COMMUNITIES – POPE TO VISIT JAPAN IN NOVEMBER

I heard this story for the first time in my life in a homily during Mass a few weeks back at St. Patrick’s in Rome – an astronaut who had communion on the moon! I had watched the moon landing all those decades ago on television in New York as I was getting ready the following day to sail to Europe. The 50th anniversary is next month! https://www.history.com/news/buzz-aldrin-communion-apollo-11-nasa

I never did sleep because, in addition to being riveted by the moon-landing story, I had to grade the final test papers of my four French classes at the Academy of the Holy Names and place all the grades and tests in a big envelope to mail the next morning to the academy. I had received special permission to take the tests off of school property given the proximity of the final school day to my sailing date for Europe.

The scary part of that hot July night was never the moon landing. It was when I checked into the hotel and realized the huge folder with all my test papers had been left in the taxi! I think I prayed a novena of thanksgiving for that honest taxi driver who remembered at what hotel he had dropped me off!

FYI: For those hungry for news from the Pontifical Council for Culture (soon to be merged with who knows what other Vatican office to then become a dicastery, according to rumors about the overhaul of the Roman Curia), here you go:
http://www.cultura.va/content/dam/cultura/docs/pdf/coms/newsletter25.pdf

FYI 2: Today’s weekly general Wednesday audience was the last one until early August as July is the month in which Pope Francis has been traditionally reducing his schedule vis a vis private audiences and general audiences. He is, however, scheduled to appear at his study window on Sundays for the noon Angelus in July.

FYI 3: The news about the papal trip to Japan in November has not been confirmed by the Holy See but I’m sure it will be soon. I have been to a number of events recently where the Japanese ambassador to the Holy See was present. At one event, about 4 or 5 weeks ago, when asked about a possible trip, he said he knew only that the Pope wanted to go to Japan but did not know specific dates.

THE EARLY CHURCH, A PARADIGM FOR ALL CHRISTIAN COMMUNITIES

This morning, before going to a sun-splashed and very hot St. Peter’s Square for the weekly general audience, Pope Francis stopped by the Paul VI Hall to greet those pilgrims who were ill and could not be in the square.

“Today,” said Francis, “you came here because it’s too hot outside, too hot … It’s quieter here and you can see the audience well on the (television) screen. There will be two communities: that of the square, together with you. You are definitely attending the audience! Surely they will accommodate you to be able to see the screen well. And now, I give you my blessing, to everyone.”

Later, in the square, the Holy Father began the weekly catechesis on the Acts of the Apostles, noting that, “we now consider the way of life of the first Christian community. Saint Luke presents the Church of Jerusalem, gathered in response to the Apostles’ preaching, as the paradigm of all Christian communities. As brothers and sisters in Christ, the first believers “devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.”


“Luke,” the Pope explained, “portrays a community united in prayer, fraternity, charity and concern for those in need. In every age, the Church is called to be the leaven of a reconciled humanity and the foreshadowing of a world of authentic justice and peace. In this way, she is enabled to live an authentic liturgical life, experiencing the Risen Lord’s presence in prayer and in the Eucharist, in order then to bring that saving love to the world.

Francis concluded by saying, “like the early Church gathered around the Apostles, may our communities increasingly become places of deep prayer, encounter with the Lord and fellowship with our brothers and sisters, doors that open to the communion of the saints and the heavenly Jerusalem!”

In greetings following the English language summary of the papal catechesis, the Pope acknowledged visitors from England, Scotland, Wales, Australia, Japan, Guam and the United States. Archbishops from Australia, the United States and Guam are scheduled to receive the pallium this coming Saturday, feast of Sts. Peter and Paul, Apostles.

POPE TO VISIT JAPAN IN NOVEMBER

Tokyo (AsiaNews / Agencies) – Pope Francis will visit Hiroshima and Nagasaki on November 24, on the occasion of his four-day apostolic trip to Japan. The pontiff will offer prayers for the victims of the atomic attacks on the two cities, which took place in 1945 at the hands of US aviation during the Second World War. The Japanese media reported this, citing sources close to the organization of the trip.

Last January 23, it was Francis himself who announced the trip, on the flight that was taking him to Panama for the celebration of the 34th World Youth Day (WYD). A few days after the announcement of the apostolic journey, Japanese Catholics invited the pope to launch a message against nuclear weapons from Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

According to rumors, the Pope plans to meet the atomic bomb survivors on the second day of his visit, which opens on November 23rd. Francis’ journey will be the second of a pontiff to the Land of the Rising Sun after John Paul II in February 1981. The pontiff will meet Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Emperor Naruhito in Tokyo, and will celebrate Mass at the Tokyo Dome stadium on November 25th.

Government sources report that the Pope sent letters to the mayors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and to the governor of the Hiroshima prefecture last May, promising to offer prayers for their citizens. Officials had extended the invitation to visit the two cities during an audience in the Vatican.

(for more: http://www.asianews.it/news-en/Pope-Francis-in-Hiroshima-and-Nagasaki-on-November-24th-47382.html)

VATICAN WOMEN’S ASSOCIATION COMMENTS SOCCER MATCH INCIDENT – VIENNA WOMEN’S SOCCER TEAM ISSUES STATEMENT OF REGRET

Pope Francis has been meeting today with his council of cardinal advisors, now numbering 6 prelates instead of the original 9. It has been a quiet day here (including a public transportation strike), and pretty much the only noise you hear are fans and AC running to combat the high temperatures.

Warnings are out about high temps expected this week in France in particular where the 2019 FIFA women’s soccer tournament is being played.

A months-long super heat wave in 2003 went down in the history books, as you can see from this wikipedia report from various news sources: The 2003 European heat wave led to the hottest summer on record in Europe since at least 1540.France was hit especially hard. The heat wave led to health crises in several countries and combined with drought to create a crop shortfall in parts of Southern Europe. Peer-reviewed analysis places the European death toll at more than 70,000. The predominant heat was recorded in July and August, partly a result of the western European seasonal lag from the maritime influence of the Atlantic warm waters in combination with hot continental air and strong southerly winds.

I have actually not been out of the house today. I am awaiting confirmation of a late afternoon or early evening appointment but other than that will probably not venture out.

I did go to a concert last night at the Anglican church of St. Paul’s Within the Walls with my friend, Marie, who works for Air Canada and was in town for the night. We were treated to some opera arias and then listened to a stunning rendition of Vivaldi’s “Four Seasons” with a wonderfully talented stringed sextet.

(Someday, one of the systems I try to use to enlarge photos will work!)

There were fans but no AC inside the church. The fans were turned off for the soprano but back on (mercifully!) for Vivaldi! The doors for the 8:30 concert opened at 7:30 and guests were served a very small plate of pasta “arrabbiata” as soon as you stepped inside. That was included in the ticket price but water or wine was extra. The water was a blessing, for sure! A late and light meal at La Vittoria, sitting outside with a hint of a breeze, topped off the day,

VATICAN WOMEN’S ASSOCIATION COMMENTS SOCCER MATCH INCIDENT

The following communiqué was issued yesterday afternoon by D.VA, Women in the Vatican, an official Vatican association, regarding the incident in Austria that occurred between the Vatican women’s soccer team and a team from Austria on June 22:
.
“Following the ugly episode that took place on Saturday 22 June in Vienna, which saw the cancellation of the (soccer) match between the female team of the Vatican and its Austrian rival, the Women in the Vatican Association expresses regret and regret over the incident.

“As you know, the newly-formed Vatican team was forced to give up the scheduled game with the FC Mariahilf team due to an unfortunate and unpleasant provocation. The exploitation of the sports meeting not only offended the components of the Vatican formation, and the Vatican itself represented by it, but damaged the very idea of sport, fair competition between opponents, not enemies.

“Taking advantage of a football match to contest the well-known positions of the Catholic Church in support of life and sexuality with gestures, writings and banners was in fact an entirely inappropriate choice. But in what happened, we see something more: because it was women, even if not only, who put themselves against other women. We, women, would like to say to them that acceptance, capacity for dialogue, respect also for those with different ideas are qualities we must never give up, because they are part of our richness and diversity as women. A football field is certainly not the right place to lead an ideological battle but rather, as it has always been conceived, sport must be experienced as a place for meeting and promoting fraternity and peace. Otherwise the consequences are further closures and increasingly deeper separations.”

VIENNA WOMEN’S SOCCER TEAM ISSUES STATEMENT OF REGRET

(EWTN/CNA).- Vienna’s FC Mariahilf (FCM) football team has issued a statement of regret after a friendly with the Vatican women’s football team was cancelled Saturday after several FCM members lifted their jerseys while the Vatican anthem was playing, displaying painted ovaries and pro-abortion messages.

The Vatican soccer team, who had been invited to Vienna by FCM, decided not to go ahead with the June 22 match.

“The action of the three players was independently organized and carried out,” FCM stated. “We sincerely apologize to the Vatican team’s players and guests from near and far that the game was not played.”

The club noted that, “tolerance, diversity, of life forms, and peaceful coexistence are important to us, as we have pointed out with rainbow symbols. We therefore understand the demands and message of our players, but we find the timing of their expression inappropriate and therefore understand the emotion it caused.”

The friendly was scheduled to kick off in the early afternoon in a sports arena in Wien-Simmering. Beforehand, both sides had participated in a prayer service and blessing of the pitch.

Austrian state broadcaster ORF quoted one of the FCM players involved in the protest as saying the activists were “not aware of the consequences of their action in any way and would have liked to play the football match”.

The activists also handed out leaflets to journalists attending the match. These stated that the activists did not assent to the Church’s teaching on abortion and same-sex marriage.

“They were not aware that the timing of the action during the playing of the Vatican anthem and in the presence of the Apostolic Nuncio could be detrimental to the idea of sport and ruin many weeks of preparation,” reported the ORF.

When announcing the upcoming game, the German section of Vatican News reported FCM founder Ernst Lackner as saying he had initially not expected that the Vatican team would really accept the invitation, but that the Archbishop of Vienna, Cardinal Christoph Schönborn, had assured the Vatican team that FC Mariahilf was a serious team that was also strongly committed to charity.

The papal women’s football team had its first appearance in 2018 and immediately received an invitation from FCM, which is currently playing in the Wiener Landesliga, the third highest league in domestic women’s football

CELEBRATING THE FEAST OF ST. JOHN THE BAPTIST – THE SOLEMNITY OF CORPUS CHRISTI: THEN AND NOW

CELEBRATING THE FEAST OF ST. JOHN THE BAPTIST

If your name is John, Joan or another derivative of John, today is your onomastico or name day! Congratulations and best wishes to everyone marking the June 24 feast of St. John the Baptist!

June 24, the feast day of St. John the Baptist, is in fact a big day in Italy and in several Italian cities whose patron saint he is, including Turin and Florence. This is a very old celebration – also known as Saint John’s Day in ma y countries in the world – as it was established by the undivided Christian Church in the 4th century A.D., to honor the birth of John the Baptist.

As we know from accounts of the Visitation, John was six months older than his cousin Jesus whom he baptized as an adult in the River Jordan. Jesus was born, according to tradition on December 25, so John’s birthday was presumed to be mid-summer.

Florentines celebrate the city’s patron saint, considering John the “symbol of moral rectitude and political correctness. The daylong events including parades, boat rides on the Arno River and tables laden with local food and wine. An evening soccer match and rowboats carrying lit candles followed by fireworks traditionally end the day.

In Rome, among other events, there is a huge concert on June 24 at the archbasilica of the Most Holy Savior and Saints John the Baptist and John the Evangelist at the Lateran – the church you and I know as St. John Lateran. St. John, by the way, is also the cathedral church of the bishop of Rome, the Pope.

Rome’s patron saints are Peter and Paul and their feast day, June 29 is a holiday in the city and in the Vatican.

For many, the only place to be in Rome on the 24th is the Church of San Silvestro in Capite, where the decapitated head of St. John on public display. The words in capite in fact, refer to his head. People actually come here from around the world and all year around to pray, place flowers, light candles and venerate the relic of the precursor of Christ.

It seems that St. John’s head was brought to Rome by Greek monks in 1169 who then build a church dedicated to him and also to Pope St. Sylvester – thus the name of the church.

THE SOLEMNITY OF CORPUS CHRISTI: THEN AND NOW

The feast of the Body and Blood of Christ, known in many countries as Corpus Christi or Corpus Domini, is always a holiday in the Vatican. For years, the public celebration occurred on the Thursday before the Sunday feast of Corpus Christi and the main event on the papal schedule that day was Mass at 7 p.m. in the square outside the Pope’s cathedral church of St. John Lateran, a procession with the Blessed Sacrament down Via Merulana to St. Mary Major Basilica and a blessing of the crowd gathered there.

In March 2017, Pope Francis moved the traditional celebration in Rome of the feast of Corpus Christi from Thursday to the following Sunday. One of the reasons seemed to be the Pope’s desire to attract more people to this annual Mass and procession, including people who would have Sunday as a day off of work.

After the Corpus Christi Mass on June 18, 2017, the Holy Father travelled by car to St. Mary Major where he welcomed the huge procession carrying the Blessed Sacrament. For the first time, the monstrance was carried on a platform instead of placed in an open truck. It was held aloft on the shoulders of four men, alternating with others at points. A canopy was held over the Eucharist by 8 other men.

In 2018, the Holy Father celebrated Corpus Christi in the seaside town of Ostia, not far from Rome, celebrating Mass in front of the parish of Santa Monica. St. Pope Paul VI had celebrated Corpus Christi in Ostia in 1968. Before 1978, Mass was celebrated in different areas of Rome but since 1978, it had been held at St. John Lateran basilica, the cathedral church of the Pope who is the bishop of Rome. (photo Daniel Ibanez EWTN/CNA)

This year, 2019, Francis celebrated the Feast of Corpus Christi in Rome’s Casal Bertone neighborhood the evening of June 23 with Mass at 6 pm outside the parish of Santa Maria Consolatrice, followed by a Eucharistic procession.

Let’s look back at the history of this important feast day.

Via Merulana, originally called Via Gregoriana, was laid out by Pope Gregory XIII during the Holy Year 1575. There is a Via Gregoriana in Rome today but it is located near the famed Spanish Steps. Among Pope Gregory’s achievements: He reformed the calendar, founded the papal observatory, as well as several colleges and seminaries, including the Gregorian University, and built the Quirinale Palace, for years the summer residence of Popes and now home to the president of Italy.

The procession between the two Roman basilicas began in the 1400’s. Its current itinerary began in 1575 when Pope Gregory XIII built Via Gregoriana – now Via Merulana. This route was followed for more than 300 years when the procession fell into disuse until 1979 when St. John Paul II revived the custom.

He processed the distance on foot every year except 1981, after the attack on his life in St. Peter’s Square, and 1994 following hip surgery. Starting in 1995 he rode in an open, canopy-covered vehicle, seated before a small altar bearing the monstrance and host. Pope Benedict XVI continued this tradition. (shuttercock file)

The feast of Corpus Christi is due in part to the visions of a 13th century Augustinian nun, Julianna of Lièges, known for her devotion to the Eucharist. In one vision, Our Lord appeared to her, reminding her there was no solemnity honoring the Blessed Sacrament and she began to promote such a feast.

Pope Urban IV, who also wished to honor the Eucharist, wrote a Bull in 1264 in which he spoke of the love of Our Lord and Savior as expressed in the Holy Eucharist, ordering Corpus Christi to be celebrated annually on the Thursday after Trinity Sunday. Indulgences could be gained, he wrote, by attendance at Mass and reciting the Office composed at Urban’s request by St. Thomas Aquinas, which many say is the most beautiful office of the Breviary.

Thomas was at the time the papal theologian (they have always been Dominicans) and one of the main defenders of the corporeality of Christ’s presence in the Eucharist against those scholastics who denied this.

You can thank St. Thomas when you sing the beautiful Adoro te Devote, or Pange Lingua. You may have indeed sung this if you have ever participated in a Corpus Christi Eucharistic procession in your parish or your home diocese of possibly even in Rome. By the way, the last two stanzas of Pange lingua are usually referred to and/or sung separately as Tantum ergo at Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament.

According to the Catholic Encyclopedia, about this same time in history – which was a period of infrequent communion – the elevation of the chalice and host came into being at Mass as well as placing the host in a monstrance for Eucharistic adoration.

Corpus Christi is a moveable feast and in some countries is observed on the first Sunday following Trinity Sunday.

I am often asked: What is the difference between a solemnity and a feast day in the Church? Liturgy is, of course, the Church’s public worship and includes all rites and ceremonies by means of which the Church expresses her worship of God. The principal acts of liturgy that would immediately come to mind to all of us would be the seven sacraments, called sacramental liturgies.

There are also categories of liturgical days. The three technical categories are, in descending order: Solemnity, Feast and Memorial.

According to the Catholic Encyclopedia, a feast is “technically, one category of liturgical day, a lesser rank than ‘solemnity’ and a higher rank than ‘memorial’. In popular usage, however, ‘feast’ is applied indiscriminately by the faithful to all liturgical days on which the Church commemorates a mystery of Our Lord or Our Lady, or keeps the memory of a saint.” Thus, these days mark an event in the life of Jesus or Mary or a saint.

The Vatican is very careful to make the distinction between solemnity, feast or memorial: Corpus Christi is a solemnity.

Often the observance starts on the vigil, that is, the evening prior to the actual date. Many solemnities occur on fixed dates such as January 1 – Mother of God, January 6 – Epiphany, March 25 – the Annunciation, June 29 – Sts. Peter and Paul, August 15 – the Assumption, December 8 – the Immaculate Conception. Others are movable dates: Easter, the Ascension, Pentecost and Corpus Christi.

A memorial refers to the so-called lowest type of feast found in the Church’s liturgical calendar. There is the obligatory memorial that must be celebrated and the optional memorial that is celebrated at Mass at the priest’s discretion. May 10th is, for example, an optional memorial of Saint Damien de Veuster of Molokai, the priest who treated lepers.

 

VATICAN INSIDER EXPLORES THE ACCU – POPE IN NAPLES: DIALOGUE AND WELCOME FOR MEDITERRANEAN OF PEACE

Today’s talk by Pope Francis in Naples was one of the longest he has given in recent memory – 4.500 words and about a half hour in length, all told. He addressed a two-day, Jesuit-organized conference in Naples on the theme “Theology after Veritatis gaudium in the context of the Mediterranean.”

I started reading the Italian version – the only one published so far – and found I had to re-read some paragraphs and even re-read a third time as they touched on so many topics and ideas and ideologies and usages of the word ‘theology’ that I found myself wishing I was sitting with a theologian, a philosopher and a Church historian.

The priest next to the Pope in this photo is wearing the same expression I probably had as I was reading the discourse, aka, “I’m not sure what you mean!” (I am quite sure this Jesuit Father did understand!)

I really need to spend some more time with theologians to grasp more thoroughly exactly what the word “theology” means and the many contexts in which it can be used (dogmatic theology, moral theology, systematic theology, biblical theology, theology of the body, pastoral theology, a theology of welcoming as the Pope said today, and so on. I know some of those categories but do not understand (and want to) for example, “theology of sports,” “theology of suffering,” “theology of work.”

The most concise definition of theology I ever read (and the first one I ever learned) was: “theology” is derived from two Greek words (theos and logos) that combine to mean “the study of God.”

Even though I spent many hours online researching theology yesterday and today, I have a lot to learn (and just wish I had some time for some formal courses).

VATICAN INSIDER EXPLORES THE ACCU

My special guest this week on Vatican Insider is Michael Galligan-Stierle, outgoing president and CEO of ACCU, the Washington, D.C.-based Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities. I’ve known Michael and his wife Pamela for a number of years and we renew that friendship every June when Michael leads the ACCU’s annual Rome seminar for university and college presidents.

We look at Michael’s decades-long career in education, ACCU’s history and structure and mission, its members, how one becomes a member, the benefits of joining ACCU, the difference between college and university, the many advantages of attending a Catholic university, the annual Rome seminar and much more!

IN THE UNITED STATES, you can listen to Vatican Insider (VI) on a Catholic radio station near you (stations listed at http://www.ewtn.com) or on channel 130 Sirius-XM satellite radio, or on http://www.ewtn.com. OUTSIDE THE U.S., you can listen to EWTN radio on our website home page by clicking on the right side where you see “LISTEN TO EWTN.” VI airs at 5am and 9pm ET on Saturdays and 6am ET on Sundays. On the GB-IE feed (which is on SKY in the UK and Ireland), VI airs at 5:30am, 12 noon and 10pm CET on Sundays. Both of these feeds are also available on the EWTN app and on http://www.ewtnradio.net ALWAYS CHECK YOUR OWN TIME ZONE! For VI archives: http://www.ewtn.com/multimedia/audio-library/index.asp (write Vatican Insider where it says Search Shows and Episodes)

POPE IN NAPLES: DIALOGUE AND WELCOME FOR MEDITERRANEAN OF PEACE

Pope Francis makes a strong appeal for a theology of welcome based on dialogue and proclamation, that contributes to building a fraternal society among the peoples of the Mediterranean.

The Pope’s speech concluded a two-day conference in Naples on the theme “Theology after Veritatis gaudium in the context of the Mediterranean.” With that Apostolic Constitution, Pope Francis provided for a renewal of theological studies in the context of a Church that goes forth.

Pope Francis began his reflection by recalling that “the Mediterranean has always been a place of transit, exchange, and sometimes even conflict” and today it is a place that “poses a series of questions, often dramatic. To face them – he observes – we need “a theology of welcoming”, aimed “at developing an authentic and sincere dialogue (…) for the construction of peace in an inclusive and fraternal society and for the protection of creation”.

Dialogue and kerygma
The Pope indicates two elements, kerygma, that is, the proclamation of Christ who has died and risen, and dialogue, as “criteria” for renewing studies for a Church that puts evangelization at its center. Dialogue is above all a “method of discernment” and of proclamation, capable of relating to every human situation. It is Saint Francis of Assisi who outlines how dialogue and proclamation can take place, by witnessing to God’s love for all men and women. It requires docility to the Spirit, that is, “a style of life and proclamation without a spirit of conquest, without a desire for proselytism and without an aggressive intent to refute”. It is a dialogue with people and their cultures that also includes witnessing to the point of sacrificing life as did, among others, Charles de Foucauld, the monks of Tibhirine, and the bishop of Oran, Pierre Claverie.

Dialogue with Muslims and Jews
This dialogue was established by encouraging courses in Arabic and Hebrew language and culture in the theological faculties to foster relations with Judaism and Islam in order to understand common roots and differences. With Muslims, he says, “we are called to dialogue to build the future of our societies and our cities,” “to consider them partners to build a peaceful coexistence, even when there are shocking episodes by fanatical groups that are enemies of dialogue, such as the tragedy of last Easter in Sri Lanka.”

“Yesterday the Cardinal of Colombo told me this: ‘After I did everything I had to do, I realized that a group of people, Christians, wanted to go to the Muslim neighborhood to kill them. I invited the imam with me, in the car, and we both went there to convince the Christians that we are friends, that these are extremists, that they are not our own.’ This is an attitude of closeness and dialogue.”

With Jews, we are called to “live our relationship better on the religious level”. The Mediterranean – the Pope observes – is a “bridge” between Europe, Africa and Asia, a space in which to build a “great tent of peace” where the different children of the common father Abraham can live together.

Theology of Compassion
The Pope launches an appeal to theologians: “In this continuous journey of going out of oneself and meeting with the other, it is important that theologians be men and women of compassion, touched by the oppressed life of many, by the slavery of today, by social wounds, by violence, by wars and by the enormous injustices suffered by so many poor people who live on the shores of this ‘common sea’. Without communion and without compassion, constantly nourished by prayer, theology not only loses its soul, but loses its intelligence and ability to interpret reality in a Christian way.”

Therefore, it deals with the complex events of “aggressive and warlike attitudes,” “colonial practices,” “justifications for wars” and “persecutions carried out in the name of a religion or a claimed racial or doctrinal purity.” The method of dialogue, guided by mercy, can enrich a reinterpretation of this painful history by promoting also “by contrast, the prophecies of peace that the Spirit has never failed to arouse.”

“Now that Western Christianity has learned from many errors and criticisms of the past, it can return to its sources, hoping to be able to bear witness to the Good News to the peoples of East and West, North and South. Theology (…) can help the Church and civil society to get back on the road in the company of many shipwrecked people, encouraging the people of the Mediterranean to reject any temptation to re-conquest and to identitarian closure”.

Theological Pentecost
The task of theology is to tune in to the Risen Jesus and “reach the peripheries,” “even those of thought.. In this sense, theologians must “encourage an encounter of cultures with the sources of Revelation and Tradition,” but the Pope warns, although “the great theological syntheses of the past” are mines of theological wisdom, they “cannot be applied mechanically to current issues”: “It is a matter of treasuring them to seek new ways. Thanks be to God, the first sources of theology, that is, the Word of God and the Holy Spirit, are inexhaustible and always fruitful; therefore, one can and must work in the direction of a ‘theological Pentecost’, which allows the women and men of our time to listen ‘in their own language’ to a Christian reflection that responds to their search for meaning and full life.”

To do this, it is necessary to “start again from the Gospel of mercy” because theology is born in the midst of concrete human beings, met with the gaze of God who goes in search of them with love: “Practicing theology is also an act of mercy (…). Even good theologians, like good shepherds, smell of the people and the streets and, with their reflections, pour oil and wine on the wounds of men. Theology should be the expression of a Church that is a ‘field hospital’, that lives its mission of salvation and healing in the world!

The Pope emphasizes that “theological freedom” is necessary because without the possibility of experimenting with new paths, nothing new is created: “everything must be oriented” to “encourage as much as possible the participation of those who wish to study theology”, such as lay men and women, in addition to seminarians and religious. “I dream of theological faculties where one lives the conviviality of differences, where one practices a theology of dialogue and acceptance; where one experiences the model of the polyhedron of theological knowledge in place of a static and disembodied sphere. Where theological research is able to promote a challenging but compelling process of inculturation.”

The theology after Veritatis gaudium, concludes Pope Francis, is therefore in dialogue with cultures and religions “for the construction of the peaceful coexistence of individuals and peoples.” (source: vaticannews.va)