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Christmas is the day on which we reopen our hearts to Christ, to receive Him as He was received more than 2,000 years ago. We find Him also in the people around us, with their questions, curiosity and need for confirmation in and strengthening of their faith.
Hence another round of questions to be answered. I find these questions in the search terms that have lead people to my blog. In some cases their search will have given them an answer, in other cases it won’t. For them, and for other as well, I will try and give short comprehensive answers that may be of help. All questions were asked in the last month.
Will Archbishop Georg Gänswein become a cardinal?
Archbishop Gänswein is the Prefect of the Papal Household, personal assistant to Pope emeritus Benedict XVI and one of the most visible prelates next to the Pope. At general audience and other major events with the Holy Father, he can be seen at his side. Will he be made a cardinal in next February’s consistory? I would expect not. There are a few reasons for this. No Prefect of the Papal Household has been a cardinal since Pietro Gasparri from 1914 to 1918, and he was already a cardinal when appointed to the office. However, the five Prefects between Gasparri and Gänswein were made a cardinal later: Giovanni Tacci Porcelli in 1921, after wrapping up his duties as Prefect of the Holy Apostolic Palaces and before being made Secretary of the Sacred Congregation for the Oriental Churches; Mario Nasalli Rocca di Corneliano in 1969, also immediately after completing his work as Prefect; the same goes for Jacques Martin in 1988; Dino Monduzzi in 1998; and James Harvey in 2012, when he was made Archpriest of St. Paul-Outside-the-Walls. So there is certainly a precedent for Archbishop Gänswein being made a cardinal after being given another position in the Curia or in a diocese somewhere. But will Pope Francis be the one to do it? I have my doubts. I expect that his first consistory may be fairly light on Curial prelates and heavy on diocesan bishops, shepherds in the truest sense. And creating men as cardinals as a form of reward? I don’t see Francis doing that either.
I am a Catholic but have not been to Church in a very long time. How do I get back?
Go. Just go to a Church near you, or further away of you want, and enter. You are always welcome. Christ is there and He will not turn you away. Enter and sit down, open your heart to Christ. Take all the time you need. And if the time is right for you, strike up a conversation. With a volunteer, the sacristan, a Massgoer, the parish priest, even. They can and will welcome you and help you in whatever way you want and need. Don’t think there is a lot you need to do as soon as you walk into the church. God is patient. Once you are ready, the priest can help you take the next steps to return to full communion with Christ and His Church.
Who is Catholic Bishop Lewis Zeigler?
He is the Metropolitan Archbishop of Monrovia in Liberia. Archbishop Zeigler is 69 and was appointed as Bishop of Gbarnga in Liberia in 2002. In 2009 he was appointed as Coadjutor Archbishop of Monrovia, ie. auxiliary bishop with right of succession, in 2009. In 2011, he became the archbishop. He has also been the President of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Liberia since 2005.
Cardinal Burke demoted?
I’ll leave that to Father John Zuhlsdorf to explain and interpret.
Sviatoslav Shevchuk as cardinal?
This one is a bit more likely. Major Archbishop Shevchuk is the head of a Church united to Rome, and Pope Francis knows both him and the Ukrainian Catholic Church. Until 2011, Archbishop Shevchuk was auxiliary bishop and apostolic administrator of Santa María del Patrocinio en Buenos Aires, the Ukrainian Catholic jurisdiction in Argentina, with its see in the same city where Pope Francis was archbishop until this year. Pope Francis has shown sympathy to the eastern churches, and Archbishop Shevchuk has lobbied for his church to be elevated to a Patriarchate. His position and Pope Francis’ familiarity and sympathy make him a very likely future cardinal. And at the age of 43 he would be the youngest cardinal by far.
77 years ago, one Jorge Mario Bergoglio cried his little lungs out in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
Happy birthday, Papa Francesco!
Photo credit: CNS photo/Paul Haring
For the Dutch readers of my blog (and those who don’t read it…):
As a way of reading Pope Francis’ Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium, I am making a Dutch translation of it while I am reading. I find that translating requires a concentrated absorbing of the text and its meaning, which is ideal for this long theological (but at times also pastoral and personal) text.
A the time of writing I have completed translating the introduction, so we’re not even at the meat of the text yet… But anyway, it’s a work in progress. That means that there will be errors in there (although not many), and although the text contains footnotes, I have not added them yet.
Pope Francis quotes from many sources, of course. Where possible, I have used existing Dutch translations of those sources. For official documents I referred to the excellent resource that is RKDocumenten.nl, and Bible quotes came from Willibrordbijbel.nl.
Readers of English or other languages may of course find the text here.
I have remade the Translation page of this blog, and split it in two: one page for the translations into Dutch and one for those into English. On the pages I have sorted the various texts by author, making it all look a bit tidier and easier to search. The collection of texts is by no means complete, of course, due to time constraints on my part.
I know some of you appreciate my translation work, which is certainly encouraging and a good reason to continue. I also accept donations, if you feel like supporting me in some other way. Click on the PayPal link below or in the left sidebar to do so. It will be much appreciated (which does not mean that other forms of support are any less appreciated, of course).
Since there are some serious issues with the ‘official’ English translation of the recent interview with Pope Francis for Italian publication la Repubblica, I present my corrected translation here.
Consider this short notice a placeholder for a more in-depth reflection on the interview and its contents.
“That finger of Jesus, pointing at Matthew. That’s me. I feel like him. Like Matthew.”
“It is the gesture of Matthew that strikes me: he holds on to his money as if to say, ‘No, not me! No, this money is mine.’ Here, this is me, a sinner on whom the Lord has turned his gaze. And this is what I said when they asked me if I would accept my election as pontiff.”
“I am a sinner, but I trust in the infinite mercy and patience of our Lord Jesus Christ, and I accept in a spirit of penance.”
Pope Francis, in the interview with Fr. Antonio Spadaro S.J., on one of his favourite painting: The Calling of St. Matthew, by Caravaggio (1599-1600).
The European Citizen’s Initiative “One of Us“, which aims to collect 1 million signatures to block the financing of activities which require the destruction of human embryos, just reached its goal today.
With 1 million signatories from at least seven member states of the European Union, the Initiative organisers will now be heard by the European Commission and the European Parliament, before the Commission will formulate a response. The achieved goal is therefore not a guarantee that the EU will be taking steps to protect human life at all stages, but a chance for “One of Us” to be heard.
As part of the regulations for a European Citizen’s Initiative, a set number of signatures must be collected in every member state. This goal must be reached in seven states for the Initiative to be valid. “One of Us” reached that goal in Austria (almost 31,000 signatures), Germany (over 74,000), Spain (almost 62,000), France (almost 84,000), Hungary (almost 50,000), Italy (almost 360,000), Lithuania (over 9,000), the Netherlands (over 23,000), Poland (almost 160,000), Romania (almost 66,000) and Slovakia (almost 22,000). That’s 11 countries, while Portugal will most likely reach its goal in the next weeks.
”One of Us” has until 1 November to collect signatures and has stated the desire to collect 1,500,000 in total.
Haven’t signed yet? Do so here.
In Germany, few bishops have received as much attention as the bishop of Limburg, Msgr. Franz-Peter Tebartz-van Elst. This attention is the result of an escalation of tensions within the Diocese of Limburg, located in south-central Germany. At the heart of these tensions lie questions about the bishop’s expenses, mostly concerning the building of a new bishop’s house and a costly flight to India. Another factor is the perceived orthodoxy of Bishop Tebartz-van Elst in a liberal diocese, and his perceived lack of communication.
Last week, Bishop Tebartz-van Elst travelled to Rome to meet with Cardinal Marc Ouellet, the prefect of the Congregation for Bishops. The purpose of the meeting was undisclosed, although it is assumed to have been related to the situation in the diocese.
On Saturday, Bishop Tebartz-van Elst wrote the following letter to all faithful in the Diocese of Limburg, a conciliatory gesture that will hopefully start easing the tensions:
To all the priests and deacons in the Diocese of Limburg,
To all coworkers in the pastoral care,
To all religious communities,
To all Synodal departments,
To all Catholics in the communities, pastoral areas and parishes in the Church of Limburg,
The Bishop of Limburg
31 August 2013
Dear sisters and brothers in the Diocese of Limburg,
I know that many of you, in these past days, have been concerned about the future of our diocese, that there are many unanswered question and also discontent and criticism. That is why I turn directly to you today.
It is hardly possible to answer every single question in this letter. A closer look at and review of many details concerning the costs of the new bishop’s house (Diocesan Centre St. Nicholas) will be necessary. I gladly inform you that everything will be done to answer this question as clearly as possible. And even more importantly: I want to invite you all, every single parish community in our diocese, for a visit to the Diocesan Centre St. Nicholas in Limburg and for a personal meeting with me. That is not possible within a few days, so I have to ask you for patience. It will cost time, but I gladly take that time. The bishop’s house is our common house, and it is open to you all.
Some of what has been said and written in the past few weeks has hurt me. Other things have also caused me to think and have contributed to me seeing some decisions in a different light. Looking back, I would have done some things differently. It is true, even a bishop is not immune to doubts and must be able to bear criticism.
That is why I want to especially turn towards those who are observing me from a critical distance. Let us approach one another! I appreciate your skeptical and critical questions. But even more than that, I need your trust. No Christian community can come alive where only suspicions and mistrust rule.
I have already met this week with representatives of our synodal bodies in the diocese and held many conversations. Together we have considered how we can deepen our established synodal dialogue. For the future we both need dialogue and unity. Episcopal care consists precisely of concern for this cooperation.
I ask you all in these undoubtedly difficult days for your prayer for our diocese. And also I personally need your prayer. Be assured that I also include all of you in my prayers. Let us travel the road which lies before us together, in full faith in the risen Lord. Not we, but He is at the heart. And how comforting on our way is this Word of the Lord: He is with us, always!
With heartfelt greetings and blessings
+ Dr. Franz-Peter Tebartz-van Elst
Bishop of Limburg
(Original German text available here.)
Photo credit: Martin Oeser/ddp