Thursday, May 13, 2010

Today on Kresta - May 13, 2010

Talking about the Things That Matter Most on May 13

4:00 – Cardinal Schonborn attacks Sodano; Calls for new look at gays and remarried Catholics – Really?
Did Cardinal Christoph Schönborn of Vienna “attack” Cardinal Angelo Sodano, dean of the College of Cardinals and former Vatican secretary of state? Did he say the Church should reconsider homosexual relationships? Did he say the Church should find a way for divorced and remarried Catholics to access the sacraments? If The Tablet weekly in London were your only source of information, you’d think so, because that’s what the headline screamed. What happened? Fr. Joseph Fessio is here to explain.

4:20 – Pope Benedict XVI Visits Fatima on Our Lady’s Feast Day
Benedict XVI is encouraging the faithful to imitate Mary in her surrender to the will of God, recommending the rosary as a method to contemplate her participation in our lives today. The Pope reflected on Our Lady's role and the rosary today during a pilgrimage at the Fatima Shrine. The Holy Father is in Portugal for the second day of a four-day trip. On this feast of Our Lady of Fatima we look at the visions, the seers and the “third secret” of Fatima. Mark Miravalle our guest.

5:00 – Viewing The Shroud of Turin
The Shroud of Turin, one of history’s most controversial and perplexing relics, is drawing millions to Turin, Italy to see the ancient burial cloth. The Pope saw it a few weeks ago and now Teresa Tomeo has had her chance. Teresa joins us to share her experience from earlier today.

5:20 – The New Mormon Challenge
Current facts about Mormonism • Over 11 million members. • Over 60,000 full-time missionaries—more than any other single missionary-sending organization in the world. • More than 310,000 converts annually. • As many as eighty percent of converts come from Protestant backgrounds. (In Mormon circles, the saying is, "We baptize a Baptist church every week.") • Within fifteen years, the numbers of missionaries and converts will roughly double. • Within eighty years, with adherents exceeding 267 million, Mormonism could become the first world-religion to arise since Islam. You may know the statistics. What you probably don’t know are the advances the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS) is making in apologetics and academic respectability. Francis Beckwith is here to discuss the New Mormon Challenge.


  1. Dear Al,

    Thank you for the interview of Fr. Fessio on the Schonborn incident. I had read his response in the Reuters blog when it first came out.

    I wish I could ask Fr. Fessio some of the questions I raise here, but I do not have access to him.

    When Cardinal Sodano made his remark about "petty gossip", I had heard it when watching the Mass and I knew it was not as it was being portrayed in the media.

    Cdl Sodano was not referring to allegations of sexual abuse by priests as "petty gossip" and it's an injustice to portray it this way. Rather, my understanding of what he was referring to, were the attacks upon the Holy Father himself in the press, which were running very high at Easter. In fact, it was peaking at that point.

    Look at the difference in how it is revealed in the full text at Zenit, and how it was communicated by AP (which feeds so many outlets).

    Here is what Vatican Radio released.

    "Cdl Angelo Sodano, the Dean of the College of Cardinals greeted the Pope expressing the closeness and solidarity of the entire church for him especially at this moment when as he being unjustly slandered by media accusations regarding the priestly sex abuse scandal in the Church. “Holy Father, the people of God are with you and will not let themselves be influenced by the petty gossip of the moment, by the trials that sometimes assail the community of believers,” Cardinal Sodano said. "The Church is with you," Sodano told the pope

    Cdl Schonborn criticizes Sodano based on an errant interpretation of what was said. He is defended by Fr. Fessio for having been misunderstood. But, no one is willing to emphasize the truth of what Sodano said. He then criticized Sodano for preventing then Cdl Ratzinger from investigating Cdl Groer in 1995. This, I believe, in the purest sense, was not only an injustice to Sodano, but to Pope Benedict XVI. Why was he discussing a matter that was between Pope Benedict and Cdl Sodano with the media behind both of their backs?

    I got a very bad taste in my mouth, that a member of the College of Cardinals, who had all the way from 1995 when he replaced Groer, to make his criticism of Sodano - and in the proper forum. Instead of going to the Holy Father, he goes to the media in 2010, some 15 years after the fact. Why now, and not earlier?

    Should our bishops purify the church of the filth by unholy means - that is, to make use of the media, especially behind the backs of other bishops, to hold those they deem guilty of something, accountable?

    There seems to be a double standard, and I am perplexed.

    Cdl Saraiva Martins spoke on the matter. I can only give it to you through a translator (use the radio toggle for Italian in the upper right hand corner if you desire that):

    Cdl Saraiva Martins speaks on the problems with the kind of behavior Cdl Schonborn engaged in.

    There are several other bishops interviewed by Pontifex who spoke along the same line.

    Since it was an "off the record" meeting, this is how it could have played out:

    "An unnamed member of the College of Cardinals has attacked the former Vatican Secretary of State, Angelo Sodano for preventing an investigation of Cdl Groer..."

    I'm sorry, but that is even more slimey than going on record with that kind of thing.

  2. I'd like to ask one more question:

    Pope Benedict XVI just told bishops in portugal to be fathers to their priests. Just the same, I believe very strongly that the Holy Father seems himself as a father to his bishops.

    We should ask ourselves if His Holiness approves of handling matters through the media that should be handled internally? Or, do bishops, especially those in high ranking positions, disappoint their father with such public finger pointing?

    To me, it's like throwing chum into shark infested waters and then not expecting the sharks to feed.

  3. Sr. Diane,
    You are very thoughtful. I wish I had seen your remarks before my interview with Fr. Fessio. I have filed them for future reference.

    The relationship between a bishop and his priests is one very different than a boss and his subordinates. The Church is an institution like no other. It is a communion, a family that operates according to a different cultural assumptions. The relationship of bishops to priests is not that of a CEO to a vice-president of marketing.

    There is, as you know, a lot of rethinking of what should be handled internally and what should be a matter of public disclosure and commentary because of poor judgment exercised by many bishops over the last generation. Much of the evil that went on was directly related to a misplaced sense of paternal protection. I do wonder if religious women had been part of some of these decisions to transfer offending clergy, that their spiritual maternity would have asserted itself and said: "Do you really want to expose more children to this guy?"

    The Catholic media have a similar problem. We are, first of all, members of a family but need to report on that family with honesty and firmness. Would it have been better for the Boston Pilot or Our Sunday Visitor rather than the Boston Globe to have uncovered the terrible stories?

    Recent history also shows that a praying, catechized, chattering laity makes a positive difference in administrative policy and the willingness of the bishops to make public statements correcting misleading statements made by Catholic laity in public office.

    I don't think, for instance, that without the voice of the lay faithful, that public officials like Biden and Pelosi would have been confronted by their bishops. NOr do I think, without the praying, catechized, chattering laity that so many bishops would have spoken out against Notre Dame.

    This is not a matter of manipulation. It is familial conversation that the "fathers" of the household notice and it helps them to recognize public teaching moments.


  4. Dear Al,

    I'm breaking this up into two posts because it is too long...

    I'm not a consecrated religious, but a secular Carmelite. If I'm not mistaken, the designation, "sister" is reserved for those who are consecrated. But, I am a sister in Christ!

    If you don't mind extending the dialogue, I've been chewing on this a little more and why it has caused me concern.

    Using Fr. Fessio's response in a post, Jimmy Akin did a great job of breaking the Schonborn/Sodano matter down into five areas, with these questions:


    1) What about the claim that we should move away from a morality based on duty and toward one based on happiness?

    2) What about the claim that the Church ought to view long-term homosexual relationships as less bad than promiscuous ones?

    3) What about the claim that the Church should rethink the situation of divorced and remarried couples?

    4) What about the claim that the Roman Curia needs to be reformed?

    5) What about Cardinal Schonborn’s “attack” on Cardinal Sodano?


    Part 5 should be broken down into two parts

    a) Sodano's "petty gossip" message, which Schonborn refueled based on an errant interpretation of what was actually said as illustrated above.

    b) Sodano's alleged impeding of Cardinal Ratzinger to investigate Cdl Groer.

    [End part 1]

  5. [Part 2]

    For now, I simply want to zero in on number 5a.

    Let's think for a minute, that if it is true that Cardinal Sodano prevented Cdl Ratzinger from investigating Groer as alleged by Cdl Schonborn what are some possible motivations for such behavior. We could brainstorm these, but two come to mind off the top of my head. There are many more possibilities, but I use these two extremes to illustrate a point:

    1) He believed that such immoral acts by a cardinal were possible or true, but was more concerned about reputation of the Church than welfare and safety of young people?

    2) He had the inability, incapacity, or unwillingness to believe that a cardinal could commit such an act, therefore was dismissive?

    Let's recap the CCC under 2478: "Every good Christian ought to be more ready to give a favorable interpretation to another's statement than to condemn it. But if he cannot do so, let him ask how the other understands it. And if the latter understands it badly, let the former correct him with love. If that does not suffice, let the Christian try all suitable ways to bring the other to a correct interpretation so that he may be saved."

    That having been said, which of the two possibilities that came to my mind, interpret the alleged behavior of Cdl Sodano in the most favorable way?

    Keep in mind, all I have is second and third hand information. In dot-connecting these days, many like to invent dots that aren't there just so they can keep the line going.

    Now lets return to the CCC (backing up one):

    2477 Respect for the reputation of persons forbids every attitude and word likely to cause them unjust injury.278 He becomes guilty:

    - of rash judgment who, even tacitly, assumes as true, without sufficient foundation, the moral fault of a neighbor;

    - of detraction who, without objectively valid reason, discloses another's faults and failings to persons who did not know them;279

    - of calumny who, by remarks contrary to the truth, harms the reputation of others and gives occasion for false judgments concerning them.

    Is there an objectively valid reason to disclose to the press, in a private meeting, the faults allegedly committed by Sodano 15 years earlier? If there was a valid, objective reason, could it not have been taken up with the Holy Father himself?

    Now I want to return to 5b: Schonborn supposedly said that Sodano's "petty gossip" remark was an insult to sex abuse victims. This of course, is an untruth. If the untruth was told knowingly, it then became a lie. Only Schonborn knows the answer to this. In any event, harm was done to Sodano, as we witnessed in the press in the wake of Schonborn's comments, based on this untruth.

    Cdl Schonborn's behavior in this matter seems to be out of harmony with the CCC. He's subject to human fallen nature just like you and I. However, the faithful should be able to see, in our bishops and cardinals, exemplary behavior which is in harmony with the CCC, not just in sexual morality, but also in dealing with conflicts.

    In our pursuit of truth and justice, we cannot set aside other parts of the Gospel, especially that which pertains to charity.

    In closing, if I am in error on something, or not considering something else, I am open to further discussion.

    As an aside, I agree on the fact that the Catholic media has done much to light a fire under bishops and others who were not acting. As a Catholic blogger, I've done my share of stirring the pot. But we must always examine our consciences that our online actions are compatible with the Gospel. I've made my share of mistakes over the last few years blogging and can tell you that many of my trips into a confessional were prompted by those mistakes. ;)

  6. Oh - and in defense of you and Fr. Fessio not getting into all of this, with only 7 minutes, you didn't have the time. Each of those 5 areas could have taken 5 minutes each!