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On his 87th birthday, Pope emeritus Benedict XVI will undoubtedly mark today quietly with friends, family and music. May it be a happy day for him!
Msgr. Klaus Metzl called it the most beautiful day of the year so far, and well he might. The Diocese of Passau, located where Germany meets Austria and the Czech Republic, had been without a bishop for 18 months, so the appointment of a new shepherd on Friday was indeed what both he and the faithful had “waited, hoped and prayed for”.
In october of 2012, Bishop Wilhelm Schraml retired after almost eleven years at the helm of the almost 1300-year-old diocese, but stayed on for one more year as Apostolic Administrator, after which Msgr. Metzl took over.
And now the choice has fallen on Bishop-elect Stefan Oster to be the 85th bishop of Passau. The new bishop is a member of the Salesians of Don Bosco (an order which boasts an additional 124 bishops and cardinals among its members) and will be the youngest ordinary of Germany upon his consecration on 24 May. There are five German bishops younger than him, but they are all auxiliaries.
The appointment of Bishop-elect Oster has been welcomed almost everywhere, which seems to be generally due to his unassuming yet communicative personality. A former journalist, the 48-year-old future bishop never held positions of power, either within or outside the Salesians. The fact that he was chosen must therefore be due to his person qualities, or, as the case may be, those which he exhibited in his life before joining the Salesians, when he was a journalist, student of philosophy, history and religion in Germany and the UK, and ultimately theology before ordained in 2001. After an award-winning dissertation at the University of Augsburg, he joined the future bishop of Regensburg, Rudolf Voderholzer, in Trier. In recent years he has been mainly active as a teacher. And he also juggles.
A trained dogmatist, Bishop-elect Oster has the ingredients for a long and fruitful occupation of the see that was first established by Saint Boniface: communication, an unassuming and fraternal personality and theological acumen.
The number of vacant dioceses in Germany is now back to five – Erfurt, Freiburg im Breisgau, Cologne, Limburg and Hamburg.
Photo credit: DPA
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).