Francis’s bishops: an uneasy relationship
The Pope is hoping to reshape the Church with the support of bishops, said Sandro Magister in L’Espresso. But apart from Italy, “The only national episcopates that he can count on today are those of Germany, Austria, and Belgium, nations in which the Catholic Church is in the most dramatic decline.”
Meanwhile, Magister wrote, “the more vital Churches of Africa are those that stood together, in the two combative synods on the family, against the innovations desired by the Pope”.
In the Americas, Francis also faces resistance. The US bishops elected as their chairman Cardinal Daniel DiNardo – who was a conservative voice at the family synod. In Canada, the bishops of Alberta have reaffirmed traditional Church teaching on Communion. In Latin America, the bishops of Venezuela, Bolivia and Colombia object to some of the Pope’s political interventions.
“Winning the agreement of the bishops is anything but easy for Francis,” Magister concluded.
Artists who made the saints smile
At New Liturgical Movement, Peter Kwasniewski asked: “Does the Christian tradition have a problem with smiling and laughing?” After all, “The famous paintings we see of Jesus, Mary and Joseph always show them utterly serious, dour and pious, without making room for smiling, laughter and recreation.”
The Gospels never showed Jesus smiling or laughing. “St Benedict in his Rule warns the monk against coarse or excessive laughter as a form of frivolity, and while laymen are not monks, the monastic life has always been seen as furnishing a high standard for all Christians to live up to, in whatever ways they can internalise its virtues.”
And yet, Kwasniewski wrote, “there is more to the story of Christian art than seriousness”. Medieval artists often put smiles on the faces of saints, he said. He posted photographs of medieval art, including one of a smiling sculpture from the Cloisters in New York. “Immense inward joy is not at all incompatible with an earnest mien: both express the truth that life is not a joke, a lark, a game, an entertainment, but an ecstasy of love from God and to God.”
The ideal gift for a newly ordained priest
At ncregister.com Patti Armstrong consulted priests about what to buy as an ordination gift. Fr Donald Calloway told her: “A travelling Mass kit is like gold. All his life he’s been able to rely on going to church for Mass and now wherever the priest goes he can have Mass.”
Money is always appreciated. But you don’t need to give a gift at all, because, Armstrong wrote, “A priest’s greatest joy is his ordination and he appreciates all those who share in his joy.” As Fr Joshua Waltz says: “One of the most beautiful things for me was just reading what people wrote in the cards they gave me.”
✣ If there are two things that define Italian culture, they are Catholicism and football – and the two can be hard to tell apart, as Ivanka Trump has discovered.
Visiting an Italian restaurant during her father Donald’s trip to the Vatican, Ivanka saw a photo on the wall of a figure with arms outstretched, looking towards the heavens. “Which saint is that?” she asked the owners. They explained to her that it was, in fact, the late Lazio striker Giorgio Chinaglia.
Ivanka’s mistake was excusable, not least because the photo appears between an image of Padre Pio and a crucifix.
✣ A Vatican official has praised an Oscar-nominated Hollywood director for his portrayal of the Pope in a new documentary film, Pope Francis – A Man of His Word.
Referring to the film’s writer and director Wim Wenders as “a master”, Msgr Dario Vigano, prefect of the Vatican Secretariat for Communications, said: “Wenders is aware that it is how we view the world that makes it pure or impure.”
According to Focus Features, which is distributing the film, it is the second production the Vatican has made with independent filmmakers and the first in which a pope addresses the audience directly.
✣The week in quotations
I won’t talk about that! Cardinal Sarah on ad orientem Mass National Catholic Register
Pope Francis is a pope of surprises. I just didn’t think I would be one of them Bishop-elect Bill Wack reacts to his appointment Twitter
It is not our task to unify in a totalitarian way Cardinal Müller on Church divisions EWTN interview
We must abandon the old paradigm of fortress Church Bishop Vincent Long responds to the royal commission on abuse Catholicoutlook.org
✣Statistic of the week
71% The number of Russians who describe themselves as Orthodox today Pew Research Centre
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