Cardinal watch: Cardinal Murphy-O’Connor turns 80

The first archbishop of Westminster to have retired, Cormac Cardinal Murphy-O’Connor turned 80 yesterday, bringing the number of cardinal electors down to 118 and leaving England and Wales without a cardinal elector able to participate in a future conclave.

Born of Irish parents in Reading, young Cormac was one of four children. After a school career in Reading and Bath, he went to Rome in 1950 to study for the priesthood at the Venerable English College. He earned a degree in theology there, and went on to earn licentiates in philosophy and sacred theology from the Pontifical Gregorian University. In 1956, he was ordained.

As a young priest, Father Murphy-O’Connor worked in Portsmouth and the surrounding area until 196, when he became the private secretary of Bishop Derek Worlock of Portsmouth. In 1970 followed an appointment as parish priest in Southampton, followed in late 1971 by a return to the Venerable English College, where Fr. Murphy-O’Connor became the new rector. With this appointment came the title of Monsignor in 1972.

In 1977, the aging Pope Paul VI appointed Msgr. Murphy-O’Connor as bishop of Arundel and Brighton. In his time as chief shepherd of that diocese, he worked much towards unity with the Anglican Church, which lead to him being awarded a Degree in Divinity by then-Archbishop of Canterbury George Carey. He later came under scrutiny regarding the presence of an abusive priest working in his diocese. In early 2000, Bishop Murphy-O’Connor became the tenth archbishop of Westminster, which led, one year later, to him being created a cardinal, with the title church of Santa Maria sopra Minerva.

Cardinal Murphy-O’Connor was a member of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, the Congregation for Bishops, the Administration of the Patrimony of the Apostolic See, the Pontifical Council for the Study of Organisational and Economic Problems of the Holy See and the Pontifical Councils for the Laity and for Culture. His most notable recent function was that of secretary of the Vox Clara commission which crafted the new English translation of the Roman Missal. Another high-profile task he was given was to oversee the  recent Apostolic Visitation of the Archdiocese of Armagh and its suffragans in Ireland, in the wake of the abuse crisis breaking in that country.

In 2009, Cardinal Murphy-O’Connor retired, the first archbishop of Westminster to live long enough to do so.

Photo credit: The Papal Visit on Facebook.

New jobs for new cardinals

In the run-up to the previous consistory, we’ve heard often that one of the duties of cardinals is to aid the pope in all manner of Church-related affairs. Exactly how that takes shape became clear yesterday, as the new cardinals have been appointed to seats on various congregations, tribunals, councils and committees. Here follows a list of the dicasteries and the new cardinals that were assigned to them.

  • Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith: Cardinals Alencherry, Filoni and Coccopalmerio
  • Congregation for the Oriental Churches: Cardinals Alencherry, Dolan, Muresan, Filoni and O’Brien
  • Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments: Cardinal Vegliò
  • Congregation for the Causes of the Saints: Cardinals Monteiro de Castro and Abril y Castelló
  • Congregation for Bishops: Cardinals Monteiro de Castro, Abril y Castelló, Bertello and Versaldi
  • Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples: Cardinals Tong Hon, Abril y Castelló, Bertello and Calcagno
  • Congregation for the Clergy: Cardinals Eijk and Braz de Aviz
  • Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life: Cardinals Duka and Versaldi
  • Congregation for Education: Cardinals Collins, Eijk, Betori, Woelki, Filoni, Braz de Aviz and O’Brien
  • Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura: Cardinals Coccopalmerio and Versaldi
  • Pontifical Council for the Laity: Cardinal Vegliò
  • Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity: Cardinals Woelki and Coccopalmerio
  • Pontifical Council for the Family: Cardinal Vegliò
  • Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace: Cardinals Duka and Bertello
  • Pontifical Council “Cor Unum”: Cardinal O’Brien
  • Pontifical Council for Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People: Cardinal Monteiro de Castro
  • Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Health Care Workers: Cardinal Calcagno
  • Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue: Cardinal Tong Hon
  • Pontifical Council for Culture: Cardinal Betori
  • Pontifical Council for Social Communications: Cardinals Collins and Dolan
  • Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelisation: Cardinal Dolan
  • Pontifical Committee for the International Eucharistic Congresses: Cardinal Braz de Aviz
Both new to the Congregation for Education: Cardinals Thomas Collins and Wim Eijk

All the Church’s cardinals under the age of 80 (and some over 80) have one or more functions within the dicasteries of the Roman Curia. This is in addition to their regular duties as diocesan bishops or curial prelates. In practice it means that they’ll have to be in Rome a bit more often than before.

Our own Cardinal Eijk has been appointed to the Congregations for Clergy (responsible for all secular priests and deacons) and Education (seminaries and Catholic schools). He will than be in Rome for up to four times a year, as these dicasteries meet. Cardinal Eijk will not be needed in Rome for the day-to-day affairs of the Congregations and, even then, he will of course be able to do a significant amount of work from Utrecht.

These appointments form one of two steps that fully integrate new cardinals into the curia. The other step is the official taking possession of their title churches. This can take some time, sometimes up to a year after the consistory in which a cardinal was created.  Of the latest batch, only Cardinals Filoni and Grech have done so. Cardinals Becker, Monteiro de Castro and Tong Hon will take possession of their churches today, and Cardinal Coccopalmerio will follow on Thursday. The dates for the other cardinals are not yet known.

Photo credit: Franco Origlia/Getty Images

Cardinal watch: Cardinal Quezada Toruño turns 80

While last month’s consistory raised the number of cardinal electors to 125 (5 more than the upper limit established by Pope Paul VI), natural processes are starting to bring that number down. Cardinals over 80 are no longer eligible to vote in a conclave, and today Rodolfo Cardinal Quezada Toruño joins that group, which now numbers 89.

Born in Guatemala City in 1932, Rodolfo Quezada Toruño was ordained a priest for the Archdiocese of Guatemala in 1956, with a Licentiate in Theology from the University of Innsbruck in Austria and a Doctorate in Canon Law from Rome’s Pontifical Gregorian University in his pocket. He held several teaching positions and was the first rector of Guatemala’s National Major Seminary of the Assumption.

In 1972, aged 40, Fr. Quezada Toruño was appointed as auxiliary bishop of the Diocese of Zacapa. In 1975, he was appointed as Coadjutor Bishop of that same diocese. In 1980 he succeeded Bishop Costantino Luna Pianegonda. From 1988 to 1992, and again from 2002 to 2006, he was president of Guatemala’s Bishops’ Conference.

In the 1990’s Bishop Quezada Toruño became a national hero as he led two organisations that played an important role in brokering a peace agreement that ended 36 years of civil war. His assistant in this work, Bishop Juan Gerardi, auxiliary bishop of Guatemala, was viciously beaten to death in 1998.

21 years after his consecration, in the summer of 2001, Bishop Quezada Toruño became the 36th Archbishop of Guatemala, his home diocese. He was created a cardinal in the conclave of 21 October 2003, the last one called by Blessed Pope John Paul II. Cardinal Quezada Toruño is the first cardinal-priest of San Saturnino. On 2 October 2010 he retired as Guatemala’s archbishop.

Cardinal Quezada Toruño is a member of the Pontifical Council for Culture and the Pontifical Commission for Latin America.

Photo credit: Estudio Esquipulas, via Wikipedia

Twittering Cardinal Ravasi now turns to blogging

With two posts in the past week, Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi has become the first cardinal in the Roman Curia with a personal blog. Like the cardinal’s Twitter account, the blog is written in Italian, but it can be quite easily read by using an online translator.

In his first post, Cardinal Ravasi explains his choice to take up blogging: “I have no intention of abandoning print, but the need to reach the younger generation, composed of highly skilled navigators of the “Internet Galaxy”, the digital natives, pushes me to face, with enthusiasm and creativity , this new adventure.”

The use of the words ‘Internet galaxy’ (galassia internet) reflect the Holy Father’s description of a ‘digital continent’, which he has used on a number of occasion. The cardinal and the pope seem, at first sight, to be on the same page when it comes to the use of social media.

Of particular interest may be Cardinal Ravasi’s work in the ‘Courtyard of the Gentiles’, a series of regular meetings and encounters with non-believers. In his latest blog post, the cardinal in fact writes that he is off to Bucharest to one such meeting, and that he intends to write about his experiences in the coming days.

68-year-old Cardinal Ravasi is the President of the Pontifical Council for Culture and has worked, for one, with the Pontifical Council for Social Communications to organise last May’s first Vatican blogmeet. He is no stranger to blogging, then.

Photo credit: AP Photo/Andrew Medichini

The Vatican Blogmeet: impressions from the outside

Yesterday’s Vatican blogmeet – the second major event (from a blogger’s point of view) in as many days – seems to have been a success. I was unable to follow the live feed provided by SQPN’s Fr. Roderick, but my Twitter timeline was swamped with tweets hashtagged #vbm11 (for Vatican Blogmeet 2011).

From that flood of information (evidence, with the coverage of Sunday’s beatification and the death of Osama bin Laden that Twitter is a serious contender for providing rapid news as it happens) I gather that there have been several important elements to the whole bloggers’ meeting.

One of them is the very welcome positive attitude from Church officials towards the blogging community. Father Federico Lombardi, the Vatican press chief, spoke about the importance of service over ego when blogging, but also indicated that the Vatican is listening. He himself spends some time every morning readings several blogs, to prepare for what the day may bring. He also expressed gratefulness to Catholic bloggers who sprung into action when the regular media distorts Church developments. An example is the hubbub around Pope Benedict’s perceived permittance of the use of condoms. Before the Vatican could come with clarifications, Catholic bloggers made sure to correct the media reports and explain what the Holy Father had really said.

Related to that, Thomas Peters (the American Papist) asked why blogs could not be included among the Vatican’s accredited media, so that certain selected bloggers could receive advance copies of important documents and publications, just like newspapers and other media do now. A very valid question, I would think.

The Vatican itself also seems to be moving forward in social media. An advance view of a new news site (www. news.va) triggered much positive comments. I don’t know when that is supposed to be up and running, but a new Vatican news website would be very welcome.

The results of this first blogmeet (I say ‘first’, because I get the impression that several participants would like to see this become an annual event) will become more clear over the course of the coming weeks and months. It will be interesting to see the developments on both sides; will the sense of community in the blogosphere increase in a spirit of service, and will the Vatican, through the Pontifical Councils for Culture and Social Communications make more and more effective use of this enormous resource? And how will the latter take shape? The measure of involvement of local bishops’ conferences and Church communities is still up in the air.

Fr. Roderick Vonhögen participated in the first panel and spoke of how he, as a simple parish priest from the Netherlands, reaches an audience of thousands through social media.
Rocco Palmo moderated the first panel
Father Federico Lombardi spoke about the attitudes of Catholic bloggers during the second panel: service should prevail over ego.

Photo credits: intermirifica.net

The Vatican blognic

Abp. Claudio Maria Celli, head of the Council for Social Communications, and Fr. Federico Lombardi, Vatican press chief, will attend the conference

As is common for the blogosphere, 1,001 opinions have cropped up about what I think is a very interesting initiative from the Pontifical Councils for Culture and Social Communications. On the 2nd of May, the day after the beatification of Pope John Paul II, they are hosting what Father Tim calls ‘an official blognic’. The bloggers’ conference, which is open to essentially any Catholic blogger will aim to collect their experiences and identify the needs of the blogging community. It’s another careful outreach of the Church into the digital continent.

The date of 2 May is not random. The Councils figure that many bloggers will be in Rome anyway for the beatification ceremony and won’t need to undertake an extra journey. The conference will be held in the St Pius X auditorium, which can host some 150 people, so despite the invitation being open to all Catholic bloggers, only a select view will be able to actually participate. The organisers desire to have a representation of the entire blogosphere, with various kinds of bloggers from various countries. Fr. Tim has collected more information in the blog post linked above.

In light of this event, and spawning from some thoughts I have had about it over the past months, I have added a Paypal donation button to the sidebar on the left. I don’t expect to be swamped by enough donations that I can fly over to Rome, but perhaps, if you think this blog is worth a read from your part and some time from mine, you can offer some small support. After all, also on the digital continent, time is money, and maintaining a blog with some level of seriousness can sometimes take up more time than is readily available. Any donations will be spent on this blog or related causes.