Dutch translation of Pope Francis’ address to the families

I’ve made a Dutch translation of the address that Pope Francis gave to the gathering of families in Manila, yesterday. The full English text, with unscripted additions, is available via Whispers in the Loggia. The link to the text is also available in the sidebar at left.

saint joseph

Point and purpose – Whispers asks about social media

In a rare appearance of the open combox, Whispers in the Loggia asks what all this social media malarkey actually does for us:

“How do they help on the ground? When are they at their best (and, indeed, their worst)? What more could they do to live up to their highest potential? Or, conversely, what difference would it make if they all just up and vanished?”

Here’s my answer, cross-posted from the comments thread in Rocco Palmo’s exemplary blog:

“I’m a 33-year-old lay Catholic blogger from the Netherlands, have been blogging for little over two years now (well, on Catholic topics at least), and I also use Twitter and Facebook. That’s really it for social media, but I find that not jumping into every new experiment, network or what have you, helps to keep things focussed. The blog is the main thing for me.

I use social media, in the first place, privately. I like blogging and if others find what I write interesting; all the better. It’s tool to keep myself up to date on developments in the Church, and it also challenges me to keep thinking. Blogging’s no passive thing!

Generally speaking, social media on Catholic stuff shows me that I am a part of something big, practically and spiritually. I am not very much limited to my parish or even diocese: there is so much out there, in other dioceses, countries, Rome, elsewhere, that affects us and that we should be aware of and act on or against.

I would not want to miss it, because it serves a great purpose in my neck of the woods, especially when the official Church channels are cutting their budgets when it comes to communication. In that sense, I also feel a responsibility to communicate about faith and Church: if the ‘officials’ can’t do it, it falls to us. We can’t fall silent about our faith.”

Social media is an important frontier in the communication of our faith. The Church is slowly getting to grips with it, as are many faithful (many have been in the business for years already). It’s important to keep up the good work, but also to, every now and then, think about why we do it.

Shepherding the Synod

As next year major Synod of Bishops on the New Evangelisation slowly creeps closer, the Holy See appoints prelates to make sure the entire affair proceeds smoothly. One of the more important jobs, certainly the most visible, is that of Relator-General, in essence the spokesman for the Synod.

The Relator-General is responsible for the main opening address, and also for collecting the conclusions and results of the Synod for its final message and ultimately the ultimate papal document, today still some three or four years away.

For past Synods, the Holy Father has appointed prelates which subsequently received high postings in Rome, prelates held in high esteem by the pope. Among these illustrious names are those of Cardinal Angelo Scola (who was moved from Venice to Milan this year), Cardinal Peter Turkson (called to Rome to head the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace), and Cardinal Marc Ouellet (now heading the Congregation of Bishops).

The latest name on this list, appointed to be the Relator-General for the 2012 Synod, is that of Cardinal Donald Wuerl, the archbishop of Washington DC, United States (pictured at right having a laugh shortly before his elevation to cardinal last November). Rocco Palmo has more on the cardinal, who received the red hat last November.

Another important role in the Synod is that of the Secretary, who records the goings-on of the Synod and as such plays a vital role for the Relator-General too. Appointed for that job is Msgr. Pierre-Marie Carré (left), the archbishop of Montpellier, France. Msgr. Carré has been an archbishop since 2000, first of Albi, and since May 2010 as Coadjutor Archbishop of Montpellier. In June of this year he took over the reins from Archbishop Guy Thomazeau.

Two fairly recent appointments, a recently-created cardinal and a fairly recently-appointed archbishop, given high-profile duties at a Synod of Bishops from the entire worldwide Church. Ones to watch, I would say.

Photo credit: [1] Alex Wong/Getty Images,  [2] Vincenzo Pinto/AFP/Getty Images

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.

Beatification information

What with the celebration of Queen’s Day here in the Netherlands and the assorted social engagements that accompany it, I find little time to write something substantial about tomorrow’s big event: the beatification of Pope John Paul II, whom we may from then on call Blessed John Paul II. Luckily, several other bloggers and reporters are in Rome to share the amazing atmosphere in the eternal city with their readers. I happily link to them.

Father Roderick and Steve Nelson are in Rome for SQPN. They give a foretaste of the excitement and the crowds here. Anna Arco of the Catholic Herald shares her first Roman blog post to give an excellent overview of the events of today, including the closure of St. Peter’s Square at 1 this afternoon until 5:30 tomorrow. Finally, Rocco Palmo, of the excellent Whispers in the Loggia, offers several detailed posts about the preparations as well.

I will spend tomorrow morning in front of the tv. Dutch Catholic broadcaster RKK will start live coverage at 10 in the morning.

Fr. Michel Remery celebrated Mass for the Dutch pilgrims in Rome's church of the Frisians today

Photo credit: Louis Runhaar/RKK

Stats for February (and a bit of March) 2011

A return to the monthly stats reports, this one includes February and a tiny bit of March, a period which saw 4,154 visits to my blog, a pretty average number. In the top 10, it is striking to note a number of old posts (numbers 6, 8 and 9) as well as a very recent one at number 4. The situation around Bishop Schilder is of interest to many, it would seem.

I have noticed that a growing number of my blog posts tend to discuss hierarchical topics. In other words, the accusation leveled against me from some corners, that I am a bishop worshipper (or, in the words of a commenter here, an episcopolatrist), seems to develop some basis in fact. Of course I don’t worship bishops, but I do acknowledge their important role in the world Church. In many ways, I consider myself inspired by a blog like Whispers in the Loggia which discusses news topics about the hierarchy in the American Church. In my own small and inadequate way, I would like to offer something similar for the Church in northwestern Europe.

Anyway, on to the top 10:

1: A real church, “not one of those multifunctional things” 145
2: Another blogging bishop 80
3: Berlin is vacant, herald of things to come? 72
4: Dutch missionary bishop in the dock, Saint Valentine the Unknown 63
5: The archbishop gets his wish, Saint Paul’s prophetic words and Peter Seewald on the attack 56
6: The Stations of the Cross 52
7: Facing a difficult situation with “good humour” – Belgium veruss the archbishop 50
8: Another timely reminder, Het probleem Medjugorje 39
9: A poignant photo 34
10: Anti-life proposals questioned by its ‘target audience’ 31

Another timely reminder

As the behaviour of certain people on the digital continent continues to spiral downwards, reminders like this are necessary, although they’ll undoubtedly lead to the exact “irresponsible demagoguery” that it attempts to correct. Following Pope Benedict XVI and various other prelates, priests, and lay Catholics, it is now Donald Cardinal Wuerl, archbishop of Washington, who speaks about the bond between truth and love, especially in the media and in public. He specifically mentions blogs, as well.

The cardinal’s article, which is available via the excellent Whispers in the Loggia, was originally published in The Catholic Standard and is available in Dutch here.

70-year-old Donald William Cardinal Wuerl has been the archbishop of Washington since 2006. Before that he held the see of Pittsburgh since 1988 and since 1985 he was an auxiliary of Seattle. He was made a cardinal during the latest consistory in November.

Photo credit: REUTERS/Tony Gentile