Thursday 25 December 2008

Response of Cardinal Napier on certain abuses in South Africa; including anti-Vatican sentiments aired in the Southern Cross

Cardinal Napier was informed of a Priest who got his congregation to sing happy Birthday to a member of it, and got them to clap for success in a recent fund raiser: something directly condemned by Pope Benedict XVI: as meaning that all meaning of the mass is lost: the mass centering on the Eucharist:

"You are obviously French-speaking, and that is why some of the points that you make in your correspondence do not come across as clearly as they would need to. That is a problem that would best be overcome by first speaking to someone face to face and only then putting your thoughts to paper.
Regarding the issues that you raise, namely 1) cheering and clapping in the Church at Margate and 2) the orthodoxy of the Southern Cross’s editorial policy and practice.

1)      Cheering and clapping in Church
The first thing to say is that anyone who attends Mass in St Peter’s Basilica in Rome, will know that it is quite common for the participants to cheer and applaud the Holy Father when he enters the Church for Mass, and that they do the same every time he mentions their country or nation in his message of greetings.
I had the good fortune to attend the African Synod held in St Peter’s in April-May 1994. The first thing that marked that Synod was the way in which Pope John Paul II accepted and even encouraged lively African style singing, which necessarily include ululating, cheering and clapping. I remember in particular that the choirs who sang at the opening and closing Masses used banjoes and drums among other instruments popular with African congregations.
The second element of good fortune that I attribute to the African Synod is proclamation of the principle of inculturation. Inculturation was introduced into Catholic thinking by Vatican II and was incorporated by the Holy Father in the post Synodal exhortation “Ecclesia in Africa”.
This important Church document sanctioned inculturation and then proceeded to spell out two criteria that were to be used to distinguish genuine from false inculturation. The first is “compatibility with the Gospel” and the second is “unity with the universal Church”.
So, the questions to be asked are: a) Is cheering and clapping incompatible with the Gospel? b) Does it break the unity of the particular Church with the universal Church?
I would say that in neither case does singing and clapping offend those two principles.
2)      The orthodoxy of the Southern Cross
In this case I would argue that from time to time, and on given issues, editorial practice does not follow stated policy as closely as one would expect. At times there may be justifiable divergence of opinion, at other times it would seem that editorial independence is being given priority.
If you are a regular reader of the Southern Cross you will know that I have often expressed my concern at its anti-magisterial bias. I do not mean that it openly opposes Church teaching but like a nagging sore keeps on putting the world’s view rather than the Church’s. This is often done I would say rather by the choice of letter for publication rather than by direct editorial statements.
As you can see I am not a total fan of the Southern Cross, but I would not seek to shut it up. I would prefer to see ordinary Catholics take issue with its position by affirming their faith in letter that tell their faith stories. I am confident that these stories would reveal a reality that is very different from the reality which certain people are trying to present through the Southern Cross.
By the way, the parish of Margate is in the Diocese of Umzimkulu, and is in the capable hands of one of the best young priests in the country. He is very much in touch with me as Apostolic Administrator and together with the other members of the Presybterium of that Diocese is very involved in seeking way to ensure that the Mass is a lived experience of our faith in the Real Presence of Jesus Christ, which becomes actualized when we receive Holy Communion and carry over its effects into our daily life.

May I use this letter to offer you some advice, and I do so not to put you down, but to point you in the right direction, because I sense that you are genuinely concerned about your faith and the way your Church is living, teaching and passing it on.
“Try to be humble enough to see good in others, even when you don’t, or even can’t, agree with what you see them do or say”.
Why? Because it was the way Jesus interacted with the “sinners” of his time. It was the way he led them in great numbers to conversion  them.
I am sure that a similarly humble, honest and compassionate approach will help you lead many more to conversion than your current approach, which falls more into the category of “hammering the heretics into orthodoxy.
With best wishes for a very Happy Christmas and a Peaceful New Year,

Cardinal Wilfrid Napier, OFM
Archbishop of Durban"
Email from the cardinal's office to a private individual: confirmed by our organization!

It was then pointed out that it was not the letters in the Southern Cross, which have been internationally condemned by the esteemed Trinity Communications, known for their connection, and the used of these by EWTN. No response was given.

While at time of publishing, no response was given, and while we have great respect for the Cardinal, we still are looking into what can be done on these issues, which we have got evidence of. We would like to remind our readers, that the bishops are the true heirs of the Apostles. Whether we agree or disagree: we cannot create animosity towards these men: only try the best we are able to obey our church, our pope first, and and then our bishops and others in line with Canon law. Much of what the Cardinal says is well said, and based on the experiences of a servant of the universal church. Perhaps, in future, something may be done, perhaps not.

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