Wednesday 30 June 2010

Will lax, incompetent, dissident bishop head Pope's new body designed to re-Christianise the West?

Article summary: Pope shows interest in defeating secularism; May appoint bishop who is out of favour with the (pro-life, orthodox Catholic church-going) public to head new diacastery for this; Bishop's fiasco in his last job may be seen as not incapacitating him for evangelisation, a different job where a perceived lack of loyalty to Canon Law is oft tolerated by the Church. Some see the possible appointment as a shelving of this bishop, without necessarily a shaming of him.



Pope solidifies conservatives at the Vatican | "New Evangelization" Appointment isn't an endorsement of a softer view on abortion

(Tridentine South Africa)

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Article by Marc Aupiais

"Pope launches mission to re-evangelise the West" - Europe, World - The Independent:
"At one of the last vespers' service [sic: services] before the Vatican shuts down for the summer break, the Pope announced the creation of a Pontifical Council for the promotion of New Evangelisation which would be dedicated to what he described as 'a grave crisis in the sense of the Christian faith'.

The creation of the council is a stark reminder of just how far secularisation has progressed in an area that was once called Christendom and is a tacit admission that the Church's recent attempts to reinvigorate Christianity in Europe have not succeeded.

The 83-year-old pontiff admitted that while there were many areas of the world that were still ripe for missionaries, Europe and North America have suffered from an 'eclipse of a sense of God' and needed to be re-evangelised."
UK Independent (Secular and secularist; British; Independent) 30 / 06 | June / 2010

One unfortunate possibility for head of this body involves a bishop who criticized another bishop for upholding Canon Law, and the teaching of the Church:

"From French blog Osservatore Vaticano:
In the past year, the Pontifical Academy for Life has been under the spotlight - including the ambiguous support of its chairman, Archbishop "Rino" Fisichella, for "therapeutic" abortion, in the sordid and painful Recife affair (Brazil).

Increasingly persistent rumors tell us that Bishop Fisichella will soon leave his post. [Rorate adds: but perhaps moved upwards?... Hopefully not!]"
Rorate Caeli (Catholic; Independent; Traditional leaning) 23 / 06 | June / 2010

Archibishop Fisischella, is thought to be the bishop to get the nod, either today or on Thursday (What Does The Prayer Really Say? [Catholic; Independent; American; Conservative leaning] 28 / 06 | June / 2010 ). Our own service has noted how the Archbishop has been accused of blatant fiasco as regards his attacking of a bishop who upheld Canon law to the letter, by declaring the already active automatic excommunications of doctors and one adult who caused the elective abortion / artificial termination of pregnancy of a nine year old girl, who the adult's life-partner allegedly raped.

John L. Allen JR. a noted observer of the Vatican and writer for the very liberal USA National Catholic Reporter says of the appointment:

"Benedict did not give a formal name for the new office, but reports indicate it will be called "Pontifical Council for the New Evangelization." Its job, according to the pope, will be to resist an "eclipse of the sense of God" in secular cultures.

Though Benedict did not reveal his choice to lead the enterprise, it’s widely expected that the new Vatican department, known as a “dicastery,” will be entrusted to Italian Archbishop Rino Fisichella, currently President of the Pontifical Academy for Life and a former chaplain to the Italian parliament.

If so, the move would amount to a papal vote of confidence for the embattled Fisichella, who has come under fire in his current post by pro-life groups for allegedly taking too soft a line on the question of excommunication for those involved in abortions [sic: Evangelisation and Abortion are two separate issues, the church often places liberals in positions involving evangelisation, and conservatives in place on social issues].

When Ratzinger was elected to the papacy five years ago, many cardinals at the time said they had turned to him because they regarded him as the figure best equipped to respond to the crisis of secularization in the West, especially in Europe. His choice of name, “Benedict,” was in part a reference to St. Benedict, the founder of European monasticism.

In the intervening five years, a series of controversies and scandals during Benedict’s pontificate – most recently, the global sexual abuse crisis swirling around the Catholic church – has often obscured that aim, and arguably made it far more difficult to realize, at least in the short term. Nevertheless, the creation of a new council suggests that Benedict has not thrown in the towel.


Aside from the overt logic of the new department, the creation of the new Council and Fisichella’s appointment to head it are striking for two other reasons.

First, the decision to create the new Pontifical Council is another indication of Benedict XVI’s fondness for the Communion and Liberation movement. The idea for a “Council for the New Evangelization” was first floated by Fr. Luigi Giussani, founder of the Communion and Liberation movement, in the early 1980s, but was not taken up by Pope John Paul II. More recently, Cardinal Angelo Scola of Venice, himself close to the Communion and Liberation movement, represented the idea to Benedict XVI.

Benedict’s affinity for the movement is well known. Then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger delivered the homily at Giussani’s funeral Mass in 2005, and a group of consecrated women who are part of the Memores Domini group within Communion and Liberation run Benedict’s papal household.

Second, if Fisichella indeed becomes the first president of the new council, it would be a show of papal support for compassion in pressing the church’s pro-life argument [sic: the appointment is to a role involving evangelisation after many rumours that the pope was soon to remove the bishop from his role heading the Pontifical Academy for Life]


Fisichella is also an ambivalent figure, however, for some of the church’s most staunchly pro-life forces, as a result of his role in a 2009 controversy from Brazil involving an abortion for a nine-year-old girl. The girl had become pregnant after reportedly being raped by her stepfather, and her mother arranged for an abortion. Archbishop Jose Cardoso Sobrinho of Olinda and Recife, upon learning of the case, announced that the mother, the doctor, and others involved in the abortion were excommunicated.

Sobrinho’s position aroused widespread protest in Brazil and around the world, but drew swift backing from Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, prefect of the Vatican’s Congregation for Bishops. Fisichella, however, then penned a front-page essay in L’Osservatore Romano that appeared to criticize Sobrinho.

“Before giving thought to excommunication, it was necessary and urgent to safeguard the innocent life of this girl [sic: SACNS: noted at the time of the fiasco that the church had played an active role in attempting to aid the girl, and her parish priest went to great effort to attempt to assist her, and to give her dignity], and return her to a level of humanity of which we, men of the church, should be expert heralds and teachers,” Fisichella wrote.

What is needed now, he added, “is the sign of a testimony of closeness with the one suffering, an act of mercy that, even while firmly maintaining the principle, is able to look beyond the juridical sphere.”

That article brought protests both from bishops in Brazil and from pro-life activists all over the world, resulting in a July 10 “clarification” from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith indicating that church teaching on abortion has not changed and will not change.

Within the Pontifical Academy for Life, a group of members led by Belgian Monsignor Michel Schooyans wrote a lengthy letter calling for Fisichella’s removal, arguing that he had falsely invoked the concept of “compassion” to justify actions contrary to Christian morality.

Nonetheless, Fisichella has remained on the job … and now appears headed for a new one, obviously close to the pope’s heart."
28 / 06 | June / 2010

As I have noted on Va-Browser before: “referendarius” (formal expert advisor) to the Apostolic Signatura, which Thomas Peters of American Papist calls the highest court in the Catholic Church, Edward N. Peters JD JCD, states that the canonical plea of necessity, can only be mitigating at best when the oppressor has committed a delict which by its nature is intrinsically evil, such as the delict of abortion. He did this in referring to a case where doctors claimed a mother's life was in danger, although it is possibly uncertain whether her condition was related to her pregnancy. (Va-Browser Editorial 02 / 06 | June / 2010)

As the excommunication was automatic (i.e. had happened even without the statement of the Brazilian Bishop) in the case of those (other than the 9 year old) aiding in the abortion of the 9 year old, and as excommunication is designed to be pastoral: to call the person excommunicated to repentance and to prevent others from following their course:

The possible new head of a body designed to evangelize nations which increasingly endorse what the Church Dogma considers the mortal sin of masturbation (homosexual acts) and elective abortion (considered the worst form of murder by the church), is one who is not a touch enforcer of church rules, and caused a spread of pro-abortion sentiments during his position in a body which was set up to ensure the protection of human life from conception until natural death.

Vatican observers have noted that without a tough ally in the Congregation for Bishops, Benedict XVI may continue to find he must choose from different relative dissidents, or those he does not know well within the bishops of the church for many of his more important positions. While the Liberal American National Catholic Reporter suggests that the new body would be an endorsement of the bishop's de facto failure at combating abortion while heading the Pontifical Academy for Life, Benedict XVI is a pragmatist, and it is highly likely that any appointment would be because of any past experience the bishop in question has with Evangelization, a field where the church often puts its more liberal bishops and priests.

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