Via Media

Via Media

No letter

Pope will not write this sort-of traditional Holy Thursday letter to priests this year.

Father Ciro Benedettini, assistant director of the Vatican press office, said April 6 that no papal letter would be released this year. He did not say why the pope had decided to discontinue the practice.

In 1979, a few months after his election, Pope John Paul II began writing the Holy Thursday letter as a sign of his special concern for the priesthood and the burdens of pastoral ministry.

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Andy K.

posted April 10, 2006 at 10:39 am

Well, in case we have not noticed, Pope Benedict is doing things, or not doing things, that Pope John Paul II did. This simply is one more of those items.

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Chris Burgwald

posted April 10, 2006 at 11:05 am

I’ve been wondering about the letter… the CNS story was the first thing I’ve seen on it. In an email reply, John Allen said he’d asked about it last week, and been told “there are no plans,” which was confirmed by this story.
Kind of a bummer, but as Andy indicates, it does fit a trend; we were told — what, in December? — that B16 plans on writing less than JPII does, so that what is written is (hopefully) more thoroughly absorbed.

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Tim Ferguson

posted April 10, 2006 at 11:19 am

I think Benedict is very conscious of how these types of things have a way of developing into “traditions” that are difficult to contravene. Each pope has (and should have, praise God) a different style.
Instead of a Holy Thursday letter, we have had, with Benedict, the open dialogue of the question-and-answer period with the priests of Val d’Aosta during his vacation last summer, something not a regular practice during John Paul’s pontificate.
vive la difference!

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posted April 10, 2006 at 12:12 pm

Rumors are that a more serious document on the Mass will be released that day. I wonder if it therefore takes the place of the usual letter to priests?

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Maureen O'Brien

posted April 10, 2006 at 12:43 pm

Maybe the liturgical document was supposed to come out, but they’re having translation trouble again. (English translation seems to be the big holdup with a lot of church documents.)

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posted April 10, 2006 at 1:33 pm

I’m not surprised if English translation is the holdup.
Here the flow chart:
1. The Vatican releases a document.
2. It is translated into English and sent back to the Vatican for approval.
3. The Vatican asks that it be redone because it isn’t done well.
4. The document is retranslated and send to the Vatican for approval.
5. The Vatican sends it back because it isn’t done well.
6. The document is revised again and sent back etc.
7. Vatican sends it back etc.
8. Etc.
9. Etc.
10. Etc.
11. Etc.
12. Etc.
13. Etc.
14. Etc.
15. Vatican does its own translation.

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Patrick O'Carroll

posted April 10, 2006 at 6:41 pm

It would be rather peculiar (to use polite language), if Pope Benedict XVI felt compelled to do everything that John Paul II did just because John Paul was pope for nearly 30 years and he was beloved by many people and the same people still miss Him badly. Such as writing the Holy Thursday letter to priests.
Every Pope has (or should have) His own style and His own priorities. I am somewhat disturbed/disappointed that Benedict XVI has on more than one occasion done the same thing that John Paul II did on the same occasion years ago, but I am also delighted that He has re-introduced some things that John Paul II never would have thought of:
1).Processing thru the main door by the Bernini Collnades in the vast Piazza of St. Peters rather than just coming out the front door of the Basilica itself for ceremonies as John Paul II always did. Papal processions coming out the door leading out to the Bernini Collonades and then winding thru the piazza up to the facade of the Basilica itself was the way which most Papal processions began all the way from the beginning of the 20th century until the time Paul VI simplified the liturgy. This is a welcome return to Catholic tradition. Of course, no one can see the Pope as he walks in procession which is unfortunate (it would be nice if Benedict restored the Sedia so everyone could see Him during these wonderful processions). But alas, I guess this might be too much to hope for. But you never know.
Also, Benedict’s returned to using a form of a Papal throne on a multi-stepped platform at outdoor Masses instead of just plunking a chair in front of the altar like Paul VI and John Paul II did. Of course the mini-throne isn’t the grand Papal throne of past years, but it’s an improvement.
Benedict XVI is decidedly less ecumenical towards Protestants than John Paul II, which is a blessing for the Church, and also is rather cool to Islam and non-Christian religious save for Judaism which He shares a respect as did John Paul II.
In vesture, Benedict is much the traditionalist, and is fastidious in how He presents Himself. His vestments, though still of the modernistic type, are at least attractive. And He has re-introduced some elements of Papal vesture such as ermine and red velvet mozettas, jeweled gold pectoral crosses and red Papal shoes. John Paul II, even when He was well and hearty, often looked rumpled in His vestments, and slumped as if He was terrible bored by Papal ceremonies. I read where He wasn’t a bit interested in papal vesture, nor in the liturgy, nor in the details of ruling and governing the Church . Benedict XVI on the other hand is totally the opposite…which is a great blessing.
I think we’re in for another Papal surprise this week regarding the liturgy, if all the blogs I have read are accurate. And this will be a continuing blessing for the Church. As we celebrate the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ, we can hopefully celebrate the resurrection of the traditional Tridentine Latin Mass.

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posted April 11, 2006 at 5:29 pm

My first thought as to why he is not going to write a letter of encouragement to priests is because, unfortunately, not all priests are worthy of such a letter; he has some serious house cleaning he wants to attend to first.

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