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Pontifications

Pontifications

February 2009 Archives

Ideas for Lenten Practices

posted by David Gibson

For many years this site, “Sacred Space,” a ministry of the Irish Jesuits, has been one of my preferred sites for contemplation and prayer. Well, really the only one. Its simplicity and Ignatian orientation draw me back time and again, […]

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Faces for a day of Fasting

posted by David Gibson

Job losses are mounting everywhere, and this sight–employees of The Rocky Mountain News reacting to word that today’s edition would be the last for the 150-year-old paper–is all too common. But I hope I always find it deeply affecting. And less common.

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SSPX Bishop Williamson apologizes. Sort of…

posted by David Gibson

The Holocaust-denying schismatic Traditionalist was just kicked out of Argentina, which seems unjust to me, despite Williamson’s noxious views. Today, back in his native England, Wiliamson issued an apology, via ZENIT (an arm of the Legionaries, which has had its […]

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Carnevale cocktail: A final Dolan mixer before Lent

posted by David Gibson

I’m not much for Mardi Gras–too old, too tired, too many hangovers. And that’s just the French Quarter. I, however, can’t take much forced revelry, either. But before Ash Wednesday strikes, let me point you to a Tim Dolan post I missed […]

Pope Benedict criticizes the criticizers

posted by David Gibson

The pontiff is taking unnamed critics to task, as per this CNS story, “Pope cautions against destructive polemics in the church.” The pope, speaking in German at his noon blessing Feb. 22, asked for prayers to St. Peter so that […]

Lenten recession reflection: Jim Martin on “The Colbert Report”

posted by David Gibson

Stephen Colbert wants to know why he should “jump on the poverty bandwagon” with the rest of us–and with those vowed religious who are ahead of the poverty curve (oh, and there’s chastity and obedience, too). Jesuit Father Jim Martin […]

And the winner is…Tim Dolan! (Who knew?)

posted by David Gibson

In perhaps the worst-kept secret in recent church history, Milwaukee Archbishop Timothy Dolan was named to succeed Cardinal Edward Egan in New York. Dolan confessed that he’d known for 9 or 10 days, which is a long time to keep […]

“Your Scaredest Moment”

posted by David Gibson

That’s the hedder on Father Komonchak’s post at dotCommonweal, asking about readers’ scariest movie memories. His Oscar-week post was prompted by stumbling on the original “Alien” movie again while channel-surfing. That’s a good choice. Mine is below. Saw it in […]

The liturgical reforms of “30 Rock”

posted by David Gibson

“Col-lapsed” Catholic Jack Donaghy, Alec Baldwin’s character on “30 Rock,” goes to Mass in a recent episode and is forced to improvise. Hilarious. I keep telling myself I have to start watching. My only must-see TV these days is “24.” […]

Bishop Tobin’s chat with Obama: Did he really say that?

posted by David Gibson

The journalistic device of the imaginary interview with a VIP or celebrity or dead person who you’ll never be able to talk to in real life is a risky one, even for the best writers. Rhode Island Bishop Thomas Tobin […]

Sebelius to HHS: Pro-lifers on alert?

posted by David Gibson

The New York Times is reporting that the mass-attending, barred-from-communion, pro-choice Catholic governor of Kansas, Kathleen Sebelius, is President Obama’s pick to run the Department of Health & Human Services. She replaces Tom Daschle, another pro-choice Catholic–but with reservations–whose nomination […]

Mickey Rourke’s guardian angel

posted by David Gibson

Lord knows the troubled actor needs one, and in one of the least-covered pre-Oscar stories you’ll see in the runup to the Sunday night movie awards, Rourke tells Our Sunday Visitor about the New York priest who helped turn him […]

WHAT were they thinking?

posted by David Gibson

You’ve likely read the story about the crazed chimp that went ape and critically mauled a woman in Stamford, CT (where such creatures are considered house pets). Police had to shoot and kill the poor simian. This morning, in an […]

Pope meets Pelosi: Something for everyone

posted by David Gibson

In a much-anticipated encounter, Benedict XVI met House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in a private meeting at the Vatican. No photos–officially–and just a 15-minute chat after his weekly public audience. (Besides, Pelosi already got her baciamano shot last April.) And as […]

Holy Cards: The latest collectible

posted by David Gibson

An Italian fellow named Graziano Toni from the northeastern Italian city of Faenza has catapulted holy card collecting into a serious hobby–he has 50,000 cards in his personal collection and has compiled about 2,000 of his finest ones in a […]

Is this any way to run a railroad?

posted by David Gibson

The Church’s revenge on journalists? The paranoid in me suspects that’s what is at work in the never-ending, almost-here, gotta-be-today anticipation of the announcement of a new New York archbishop. Today was DEFINITELY it. Rocco expected it: “Good morning…you might […]

Be careful what you pray for: Salma Hayek’s tale

posted by David Gibson

Revenge of the Good Catholic Girl: Movie star Salma Hayek tells why prayer works, and why you should never doubt the power of holy water. Key line: “Please God, give me some breasts. And he gave me them!” Hat tip–or […]

Is the Devil in the details?

posted by David Gibson

What do you see when you look at this picture of Pope Benedict XVI? I swear I didn’t get it, and had to ask for help. But Catholics with more sensitive (or suspicious) eyeballs saw Devil’s horns on the pope’s […]

Vox populi moves Vatican: New Linz bishop withdraws

posted by David Gibson

The Austrian priest whose appointment earlier this month caused an uproar due to his earlier remarks about Katrina being the fault of sinful Lousianians (among other things he said) has asked that his nomination as the new auxiliary bishop of […]

Cross Purposes

posted by David Gibson

Is Boston College Catholic? No, that’s not a joke, at least not to those whose hackles start raising at the phrase “in the Jesuit tradition.” But it seems BC, and specifically its president, Fr. William P. Leahy, SJ, are moving […]

Does love conquer all? Religious affiliation still matters

posted by David Gibson

About one in four Americans (27 percent) who are married or living with a partner are in “religiously mixed” relationships. That’s the word for this Valentine’s Day from the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life, which mined data from […]

Pitchers and catchers report! Maybe A-Rod can take up golf…

posted by David Gibson

Ah, spring training starts this weekend. Yes, hope springs eternal, even for a woeful Mets fan like me. Of course the ritual springtime melodrama of the crosstown Yankees is usually enjoyable for me–practically a season highlight, lately–except that with the […]

SSPX: Did tough talk win papal concessions?

posted by David Gibson

A fascinating in-house SSPX interview with Bishop Bernard Fellay, head of the schismatic right-wing order, shows he was taken by suprise by Benedict’s sudden lifting of the excommunications. Why? As Reuters’ Tom Heneghan has it in this FaithWorld post, Fellay […]

Reax to Pope to Jews: “Could do better…”

posted by David Gibson

That is certainly my sense of Benedict’s address at the Vatican this morning to U.S. Jewish leaders. The meeting was the latest and probably last high-profile effort to soothe Jewish-Catholic relations in the wake of the pontiff’s outreach to the […]

Text of Pope’s meeting with U.S. Jewish leaders

posted by David Gibson

The official text, delivered in English, today: Dear Friends, I am pleased to welcome all of you today, and I thank Rabbi Arthur Schneier and Mr Alan Solow for the greetings they have addressed to me on your behalf. I […]

Prologue to Pope’s meeting with Jewish leaders

posted by David Gibson

In this story Reuters’ Vaticanista Phil Pullella has the lowdown ahead of Thursday’s critical meeting between Pope Benedict XVI and American Jewish leaders. Read transcripts of Pullella’s interviews with leading members of the Jewish delegation, and see a timeline on […]

Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes

posted by David Gibson

Today is also the date, in 1858, that the Virgin Mary first appeared to Bernadette Soubirous in a grotto in Lourdes, in southwest France. During subsequent apparitions, Our Lady of Lourdes–as she came to be known–revealed various messages to Bernadette, […]

Buon compleanno, Citta’ del Vaticano!

posted by David Gibson

“All I want is a small corner of the earth where I am master,” Pope Pius IX said in 1871, when the reunification of Italy had finally overwhelmed church resistance and the Papal States were no more. And a small […]

Second thoughts: LA abuse story and Iraq vet

posted by David Gibson

Last week I linked to a story from the LA CityBeat paper that was making the rounds indicating that the Archdiocese of Los Angeles was engaged in an awful-sounding legal strategy to deny a possible abuse victim recourse to the […]

What do musical tastes tell about a Bishop?

posted by David Gibson

That’s the question I was asking as I tried to parse the latest blog posting from Bishop Richard Williamson, the un-excommunicated SSPX bishop who has become the focus of p.r. efforts by both the Vatican and his own confreres, who […]

Williamson removed as head of SSPX seminary

posted by David Gibson

SSPX leaders are continuing to quarantine the Holocaust-denying bishop, Richard Williamson. The Italian daily La Repubblica reports today that Williamson has been removed from the seminary in La Reja, outside Buenos Aries, which he had headed since 2003. What next?

Pope to meet Jewish leaders, Vatican source says

posted by David Gibson

In an important and I would think necessary step toward healing the Catholic-Jewish rift over the papal outreach to the SSPX, Benedict XVI is reportedly to meet next Thursday with leaders of the major Jewish organizations. A meeting with the […]

Has the purge begun?

posted by David Gibson

Not only has the SSPX started removing questionable texts on Jews from their websites, but word is now that clergy who refuse to adopt a new line are also getting the boot. Rorate Caeli cites Italian sources reporting that Father […]

Do they really want to go there?

posted by David Gibson

In Los Angeles, the U.S. attorney, Thomas O’Brien, has opened a federal probe of Cardinal Roger Mahony that is based on some questionable legal reasoning. Even Mahony’s foes concede that. But now it seems the LA Archdiocese is engaging in […]

“Recant?” Text of the Vatican statement on SSPX

posted by David Gibson

News reports of the latest Vatican statement on the SSPX Traditionalists and their standing and what they must do to enter true full communion centered on the Holy See’s demand that Bishop Richard Williamson, the most overt Holocaust denier, “recant.” […]

“The Mystery of the Jews” is no more…

posted by David Gibson

The SSPX “Tradicals,” whose anti-Semitic concoctions have landed their would-be new best friend, Pope Benedict XVI, in hot water, have apparently begun scrubbing the web of their worst musings. One article, “The Mystery of the Jews,” which I posted about […]

Update: The CAPTCHA has left the Blog!

posted by David Gibson

The Beliefnet Bosses have responded to laments about the difficulty of posting comments and the “captcha” system–which requires typing in the letters you see distorted in a box so your comment can go live–has been dropped, at least for now. […]

Egan leaving? “The piano is still here…”

posted by David Gibson

The buzz is a roar. The race to succeed Cardinal Edward Egan is nearing the finish line. And the winner is…! “Who knows?”, by a mile! Well, one sure bet is that the long-awaited announcement is nigh–Egan (he’s the one […]

Georg Ratzinger: “Lay off my brother!”

posted by David Gibson

Or that is more or less what the papstbruder told a German newspaper. Bild has the details on what Joseph’s protective older brother said in the interview. (Georg is three years older; a sister, Maria, died in the early 1990s.) […]

Vaticanista Sandro Magister blames the Curia

posted by David Gibson

This is how the preeminent Italian Vatican-watcher frames it: Double Disaster at the Vatican: Of Governance, and of Communication This is the upshot of the lifting of the excommunication for four Lefebvrist bishops. The isolation of Pope Benedict, the ineptitude […]

Bill Donohue blames “German guilt” for attacks on Pope

posted by David Gibson

That’s the typically pugnacious take of the head of the Catholic League in its latest release: “No one has been worse than the Germans. Reeking with guilt over the Holocaust, we now have the spectacle of German Chancellor Angela Merkel […]

Michael Dubruiel, RIP

posted by David Gibson

Michael Dubruiel, Catholic author and husband of the popular author and blogger Amy Welborn, father to their children, collapsed and died yesterday morning. As Amy wrote in a brief post last night: Michael collapsed this morning at the gym and […]

Cardinal George on Bishop Williamson: “Deeply offensive”

posted by David Gibson

More reaction from the hierarchy, this time Stateside. Chicago Cardinal Francis George, president of the USCCB, issued this statement today: Statement of Cardinal Francis George, President USCCB Pope Benedict XVI has lifted the personal penalty of excommunication incurred by four […]

Father Maciel scandal: A father to more than his flock?

posted by David Gibson

The late Father Marcial Maciel Degollado, the venerated and vilified founder of the powerful conservative Catholic order, the Legionaries of Christ, may have been a father in the biological as well. At American Papist, Thomas Peters confirms rumors circulating in […]

The Pope and the Jews: A failure to communicate?

posted by David Gibson

The Catholic “silence” over Benedict XVI’s self-made SSPX fiasco was raised earlier, with a focus on the relative absence of strong American voices. But overseas, at least, and from the Pope’s native Germany in particular, objections are being raised as […]

Pope to Israel? An “optimistic” Jewish voice

posted by David Gibson

Raymond Cohen, a top expert on relations between Israel and the Holy See, thinks Benedict’s planned visit this May to the Holy Land could happen. Cohen, a professor of international relations at Hebrew University of Jerusalem, is at Boston College […]

Confessions of an ex-Traditionalist

posted by David Gibson

This does not come from an angry ex-con-turned-lib, but from Austin Ruse, a stalwart of orthodoxy who writes regularly at The Catholic Thing. His latest column, “Up from Traditionalism,” is a must-read in light of the SSPX-Pope Benedict XVI controversies. […]

America’s new national pastime?

posted by David Gibson

I mean football, not Catholic-bashing–though any faithful Catholic should be outraged at this morning’s Super Bowl headlines announcing “Steelers beat Cardinals.” I will look for Bill Donohue’s righteous anger at some point today. (“Would The New York Times have allowed […]

“Katrina was New Orleans’ fault”–another new Benedict bishop

posted by David Gibson

Oy vey. Benedict has just appointed a new auxiliary bishop in the Austrian diocese of Linz–the Rev. Gerhard Maria Wagner, 54, who thinks Katrina was punishment for New Orleans’ sins (and he hates “Harry Potter”, too). As Rocco notes, Linz […]

Silence and the SSPX: Where are the Catholic voices?

posted by David Gibson

Given the never-ending debate over Pope Pius XII and whether he was “silent” during the Nazi extermination of the Jews–or just prudent, as other claim–one woud think bishops across the world, and especially in the United States, would be speaking […]

SSPX: A “pattern of anti-Semitism”

posted by David Gibson

That’s the only conclusion one can come to, I think, and that’s the one Fr. Jim Martin arrives at in his post examining a sampling of the “gibberish” (Cardinal Kasper’s words) on the SSPX sites. Fr. Martin links to one […]

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So...my recent vacation and related absences also coincided with an offer from PoliticsDaily.com to cover religion for them, as editor Melinda Henneberger announces here in her roundup on the site's very successful first 100 days. That means, in short, that I'll have to sign off from blogging h

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Calvin at 500, Calvinism 2.0
If you thought you knew John Calvin--who turned 500 last week--you probably don't know enough. For example, that he was French, born Jean Cauvin. And if he was in fact scandalized by dancing, he was also a lot more complex than that. I explored the new look Calvin in an essay at PoliticsDaily, "Patr

posted 11:53:35am Jul. 16, 2009 | read full post »

Apologia pro vita sua...Kinda
 In my defense, I've had computer outages and family reunions and a few days of single-parenthood, which is always a bracing reminder of what many parents go through all the time. And this weekend it's off for a week's vacation. Anyway, hence the long absence. Apologies to those who have chec

posted 10:51:36am Jul. 16, 2009 | read full post »

When Benny met Barry: "I'll pray for you!"
The first word via Vatican Radio and first image (that I saw) via Rocco: Speaking to Vatican Radio, Press Office Director Fr. Federico Lombardi said "moral values in international politics, immigration and the Catholic Church's contribution in developing countries" were key topics of discussio

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