Tweeting the Synod

Today the Synod of Bishops will convene for the first session of their fifteenth ordinary general assembly on “Young People, Faith and Vocational Discernment”, which will run until the 28th of October. In the past, the daily deliberations and individual contributions of delegates were summarised and published by the Holy See press office, but this is no longer the case. An unwise decision, in my opinion, as it makes the entire process a secretive one. As outsiders, all we will have are rumours and the eventual final document. During the previous Synod we have seen what damage rumours can do, especially when they are neither confirmed nor denied in any clear way..

twitterThat said, there is always social media, and a number of Synod delegates are enthousiastic (or less so) users of those media. Below, I present a short (probably incomplete) list of delegates who use Twitter. It is mostly western prelates using the medium, with English being the dominant language. Other languages used are Italian, French, Spanish, German and Maltese.

  1. Pope Francis (obviously). As pope he convenes the Synod and acts as its president, although he delegates that duty to four delegate presidents. Pope Francis will not be commenting on the Synod proceedings, but offer prayers and short items to reflect on spiritually.
  2. Archbishop Charles Scicluna. Archbishop of Malta. One of three members of the Commission for Disputes.
  3. Bishop Robert Barron. Auxiliary Bishop of Los Angeles and CEO of Word On Fire.
  4. Bishop Frank Caggiano. Bishop of Bridgeport, Connecticut.
  5. Archbishop José Gómez. Archbishop of Los Angeles.
  6. Archbishop Leo Cushley. Archbishop of Edinburgh.
  7. Archbishop Eamon Martin. Archbishop of Armagh.
  8. Archbishop Anthony Fisher. Archbishop of Sydney.
  9. Leonardo Cardinal Sandri. Prefect of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches.
  10. Robert Cardinal Sarah. Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments.
  11. Kevin Cardinal Farrell. Prefect of the Dicastery for Laity, Family and Life.
  12. Peter Cardinal Turkson. Prefect of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development.
  13. Gianfranco Cardinal Ravasi. President of the Pontifical Council for Culture.
  14. Gérald Cardinal Lacroix. Archbishop of Québec.
  15. Daniel Cardinal Sturla Berhouet. Archbishop of Montevideo.
  16. Blase Cardinal Cupich. Archbishop of Chicago.
  17. Carlos Cardinal Aguiar Retes. Archbishop of Mexico City.
  18. Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia. President of the Pontifical Academy for Life,
  19. Archbishop Peter Comensoli. Archbishop of Melbourne.
  20. Father Antonio Spadaro. Member of the Vatican Media Committee.
  21. Christoph Cardinal Schönborn. Archbishop of Vienna.
  22. Wilfrid Cardinal Napier. Archbishop of Durban.
  23. Luis Cardinal Tagle. Archbishop of Manila.
  24. Vincent Cardinal Nichols. Archbishop of Westminster.
  25. Carlos Cardinal Osoro Sierra. Archbishop of Madrid.

KLqGjJTk_400x400Not all of the prelates above use their accounts equally often or in the same way. For example, Cardinal Tagle only posts links to his ‘The Word Exposed’ Youtube catechesis talks, Cardinals Sturla Berhouet and Farrell mostly retweet, Archbishop Fisher hasn’t tweeted since February of 2017, and most use Twitter as a one-way channel. Among those who do respond to what their followers say are Cardinal Napier, Archbishop Comensoli (his Twitter profile picture at left) and Bishop Barron.

Other delegates, such  as Philadelphia’s Archbishop Charles Chaput and Passau’s Bishop Stefan Oster, are active on Facebook, while Belgian Bishop Jean Kockerols keeps the youth of his country up to speed via a blog.

Several delegates have already shared their arrival in Rome, and it is these (such as Archbishop Comensoli and Bishop Barron) who will perhaps offer the best idea of what goes on in the coming weeks. That said, all we will get are glimpses, and no tweeting delegate will share what goes on in the debates. So, in this age of social media and high-speed communication, the Synod of Bishops remains firmly behind closed doors.

 

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State of the Church, 2012 – or the media’s failure at reporting the truth

benedict christmasBold headlines in the news yesterday. A brief selection from the ones I came across: “Pope wants to unite religions against gay marriage“, “Pope: Homosexuals destroy human nature“, “Pope: Gay marriage bad for future of family” and “Pope considers gay marriage threat to world peace“.

What was the reason for this flood of headlines? Pope Benedict XVI’s annual Christmas address to the Roman Curia, often considered to be the Holy Father’s ‘State of the Church’ address. In it, he looks back on the past year, summarising some of the high points and expounding on the general trends and topics that he considers significant. This year, the pope spoke about his visits to Cuba, Mexico and Lebanon, the International Meeting of Families in Milan, the Synod of Bishops on the new evangelisation and the Year of Faith. The bulk of the text, however, is a reflection of gender and the family, and how the understanding of both is interconnected and how they have changed in recent years. Rather than the male and female nature of humanity as a God-given reality, gender is now treated as something we can decide for our own. “Man calls his nature into question. From now on he is merely spirit and will,” the Holy Father writes.

A second topic is that of the dialogue between religions and what form it should take, and a third issue is that of the proclamation of the Good News. Especially the latter passages can be considered good food for meditation and prayerful reflection.

Upon reading the text, something which I strongly suggest you do (be it in English via the link above, or in Dutch) you will find that not once does the pope raise the topic of homosexuality or marriage, or any combination of both. The headlines I mentioned above are therefore strongly deceptive, the product of willful ignorance, laziness or suggestive reporting.

This is a very serious issue. When the media so easily chooses pandering to what they perceive the masses should think about a topic, in this case the pope, over reporting what was actually said and done, they have become unreliable sources, little better than paparazzi and gossip magazines. The text of the address in question was available online on the very same day it was read out, in seven languages no less, and although it requires some concentration, it is not a difficult one to understand. There is really no excuse for reporting these untruths. Sadly, many readers will accept what these media write without question, assuming they write what is true.

It is up to as, as Catholics faithful to the Church and the magisterium, to correct these wrongs, because, quite simply, no one else will. That is why I worked hard to present a Dutch translation so soon, and publish it quite visible on Facebook on Twitter. The truth not only deserves, but also must be known. What the media failed to do yesterday not only hurts us and the Church, but also the truth.

More than two years ago, Philadelphia’s Archbishop Charles Chaput, then of Denver, suggested in a different context that we should not rely on what the secular media tell us if we can read what the pope himself actually said. That is no less true in this case.

The little consistory

The consistory that Pope Benedict XVI announced at today’s general audience, and set for the 24th of November, has all the appearances of an in-between consistory. With only six cardinals to be created it is quite small, and it is as non-European as the previous consistory was European.

It’ll be Benedict’s fifth consistory, and by far his smallest. In fact, it will be the smallest consistory since Pope Paul VI elevated 4 cardinals in 1977. It will also be the first time since 1929 that there have been 2 consistories in one calendar year.

The six prelates to be elevated are:

Archbishop James Michael Harvey (63), the Prefect of the Papal Household, who will be appointed as archpriest of the papal basilica of St. Paul-outside-the-Walls..

Patriarch Béchara Boutros Raï (72), Patriarch of Antioch of the Maronite Church.

Archbishop Baselios Cleemis (Isaac) Thottunkal (53), Major Archbishop of  Trivandrum of the Syro-Malankarese Church. Pictured at right.

Archbishop John Olorunfemi Onaiyekan (68), Archbishop of Abuja, Nigeria.

Archbishop Jesús Rubén Salazar Gómez (70), Archbishop of Bogotá, Colombia.

Archbishop Luis Antonio Gokim Tagle (55), Archbishop Of Manila, Philippines.

Archbishop Tagle and Patriarch Raï were among the expected choices for the red hat at a future consistory, but the others were not. Only Archbishop Thottunkal is from a see which until now was not traditionally associated wih the title of a cardinal.

Archbishops Thottunkal and Tagle will be the youngest members of the College.

Another indicator that this is something of an in-between consistory, intended to keep the number of electors at or near 120, is that there are metropolitan archbishops of traditionally cardinalatial sees – such as Léonard of Brussels, Nichols of Westminster, Chaput of Philadelphia and Gómez of Los Angeles – still awaiting the red hat. At least some of them will be made cardinals in the future, but, apparently, now is not yet the time.

Barring any deaths, next month’s conclave will bring to size of the College of Cardinals to 211, with a round 120 of them being electors (Cardinals Arinze and Martino will turn 80 beforehand), including all six new ones.

The Pallium Squad

Below is this year’s list of recipients of the pallium, the woollen band of office denoting their being metropolitan archbishops. As always, the Holy Father will be handing the pallia out on the feast of Saints Peter and Paul, 29 June, although the ceremony is somewhat changed this year: to make the ceremony shorter, and, like the most recent consistory, to avoid any suggestion that it is a sacramental rite. Whereas the imposition of the pallia previously took place during a Eucharistic celebration, after the homily, it will now be moved to before the Mass. As the Holy See press office explains: “Indeed, the rites which take place during a Eucharistic celebration following the homily are normally Sacramental rites: Baptism, Confirmation, Ordination, Matrimony, Anointing of the Sick. The imposition of the pallium, on the other hand, is not Sacramental in nature”.

Africa

  • Ignatius Chama, Kasama, Zambia
  • Alfred Martins,  Lagos, Nigeria
  • Benedito Roberto C.S.Sp., Malanje, Angola
  • Gabriel Yaw Anokye, Kumasi, Ghana

Asia

  • Abp. D’Rozario

    Jose Advincula, Capiz, Philippines

  • Joseph Coutts, Karachi, Pakistan
  • Patrick D’Rozario C.S.C., Dhaka, Bangladesh
  • Thomas D’Souza, Calcutta, India
  • John Du, Palo, Philippines
  • John Moolachira, Guwahati, India
  • Luis  Tagle, Manila, Philippines
  • Romulo Valles, Davao, Philippines
  • Andrew Yeom Soo-jung, Seoul, Korea

Europe:

  • Stanisław Budzik, Lublin, Poland
  • Waclaw Depo, Czestochowa, Poland
  • Arrigo Miglio, Cagliari, Italy
  • Francesco Moraglia, Venice, Italy
  • Filippo Santoro, Taranto, Italy
  • Wiktor Skworc, Katowice, Poland
  • Pascal Wintzer, Poitiers, France
  • Rainer Cardinal Woelki, Berlin, Germany

North America

  • Samuel Aquila, Denver, United States
  • Jesus Cabrero Romero, San Luis Potosí, Mexico
  • Charles Chaput O.F.M., Philadelphia, United States
  • Luc Cyr, Sherbrooke, Canada
  • Paul-André Durocher, Gatineau, Canada
  • Joseph Harris C.S.Sp., Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago
  • Abp. Lépine

    Christian Lépine, Montreal, Canada

  • William Lori, Baltimore, United States
  • Mario Alberto Molina Palma O.A.R., Los Altos, Quetzaltenango-Totonicapan, Guatemala
  • Francisco Cardinal Robles Ortega, Guadalajara, Mexico
  • William Skurla, Pittsburgh of the Byzantines, United States
  • Valery Vienneau, Moncton, Canada

Oceania

  • Mark Coleridge, Brisbane, Australia
  • Timothy Costelloe S.D.B., Perth, Australia
  • Francesco Panfilo S.D.B., Rabaul, Papua New Guinea

South America

  • Esmeraldo Barreto de Farias, Porto Velho, Brazil
  • Jacinto Furtado de Brito Sobrinho, Teresina, Brazil
  • Airton dos Santos, Campinas, Brazil
  • Ulises Gutiérrez Reyes O. de M., Ciudad Bolívar, Venezuela
  • Wilson Jonck S.C.I., Florianópolis, Brazil
  • Paulo Mendes Peixoto, Uberaba, Brazil
  • Salvador Piñeiro García-Calderón, Ayacucho o Huamanga, Peru
  • Jose Rezende Dias, Niterói, Brazil
  • Jaime Vieira Rocha, Natal, Brazil
  • Alfredo Zecca, Tucuman, Argentina

All but two of the archbishops above will be at the ceremony on Rome this Friday. Archbishops Yaw Anokye and Vienneau will receive their pallia at their own cathedrals.

A colourful nuncio for a colourful nation

With sadness I read the news of the passing of the papal nuncio to the United States, Archbishop Pietro Sambi, after complications following lung surgery. Although I have never written about or ben involved with the archbishop, either personally or through the medium of this blog, from other writers I get the unmistakable impression that he was a colourful character, a perfect fit for such a large and dynamic nation as the United States, and he will be sorely missed.

Whispers has a full report with all the details, including the great quote below, given by Archbishop Sambi in 2007 at an education convention:

[A] young man, 22 years old, once took a piece of marble and sculpted in  it two of the most deep human sentiments: suffering accepted from the  hand of God does not diminish the beauty of the human person but  increases it, and — second sentiment — even in death, a son continues  to have full confidence in his mother.

This is the Pietá of Michelangelo, that you can see everytime you enter in the Basilica of St Peter in Rome.

Michelangelo, the author of the Pietá, is considered one of the greatest artists in the world. I don’t believe it! The greatest artists are the educators — are you– because you try to sculpt the best of yourselves, of who you are and  what you know, not in a piece of marble, but in living, breathing human  beings, who are the glory of God.

Also be sure to read the touching words written by Bishop Robert Lynch of Saint Petersburg, Florida.

Even a cursory glance at the rota of bishop appointments overt he ast few years will reveal the good that Archbishop Sambi has done. Even in the final weeks, his work led to the appointment of Archbishop Charles Chaput to Philadelphia: a sign of promise and hope for the future, and an indication of the nuncio’s good nose for prelatial transfers.

Pope’s life vigil homily online and translated

The pope’s homily at the vigil for all nascent human life, held last Saturday, is now available online. NCR has the Engish translation, and I have a Dutch one. Particularly timely in the light of a small resurgence in pro-life debate in the Netherlands (in the wake of Bishop de Jong’s letter to all Dutch MPs, the initiative was then enthusiastically taken up by Katholiek Nieuwsblad editor Mariska Orbán), the homily is workmanlike, as Father Z put it; the pope makes his points clearly and unashamedly.

Again paraphrasing Msgr. Chaput, the good Archbishop of Denver: Forget the media headlines, just read the pope.

Sadly I was unable to attend the vigil offered in the cathedral of my diocese. Instead I was two dioceses over, in Oldenburg in the diocese of Münster. The local church, St. Peter’s in the city centre, sadly offered nothing in the way of prayer or celebration, at least not when I was there. I’d be interested to find how well (or poorly) attended the vigils across the Netherlands were. All cathedrals held them, and a number of parishes, seminaries and rectorates did the same.

Photo credit: REUTERS/Stefano Rellandini

Let me say once more…

(picture courtesy of Father John Boyle’s blog Caritas in Veritate)

As misleading headlines continue to appear left, right and centre (even in Christian newspapers such as the Nederlands Dagblad), the best source to find out anything sensible is still the pope himself. Numerous Catholic news sites offer full texts and quotations to counter the damage done by L’Osservatore Romano, who broke the embargo that was supposed to have stayed in place until tomorrow.

In a previous post I already linked to Jimmy Akin’s post about the subject, and I also have a Dutch translation of the same available here.

In closing I quote Archbishop Charles Chaput of Denver:

In the context of the book’s later discussion of contraception and Catholic teaching on sexuality, the Pope’s comments are morally insightful. But taken out of context, they can easily be inferred as approving condoms under certain circumstances. One might reasonably expect the Holy Father’s assistants to have an advance communications plan in place, and to involve bishops and Catholic media in a timely way to explain and defend the Holy Father’s remarks.

Instead, the Vatican’s own semi-official newspaper, l’Osservatore Romano, violated the book’s publication embargo and released excerpts of the content early. Not surprisingly, news media instantly zeroed in on the issue of condoms, and the rest of this marvelous book already seems like an afterthought.

Don’t let that happen. Don’t let confusion in the secular press deter you from buying, reading for yourself, and then sharing this extraordinary text. It’s an astonishing portrait of an astonishing man.

From Open, Disarming, and Inevitably Misunderstood.