✣Jesuit author’s talks are cancelled amid backlash
The “filial correction” sent by 62 clergy and lay Catholics to the Pope provoked much debate. Unlike previous appeals to Francis, it also drew the attention of secular outlets, perhaps thanks to the “h” word – the Associated Press headline read: “Conservative theologians accuse the Pope of spreading heresy”. Joseph Shaw, a signatory, said the correction had “attracted more support than I had dared to hope for”. A petition backing the initiative gained more than 11,000 signatures.
What Catholic commentators said
On his blog Fr Ray Blake explained why he had chosen not to sign the correction. After signing the letter of 45 academics and clergy to the Pope last year, he said he “immediately found Cardinal Nichols’ tanks parked on my lawn to inform me of his displeasure”.
He wrote: “I am afraid to sign and I know other priests who share my fear.” His reverence for the sovereign pontiff was another reason, he said. The idea of a pope promoting heresy is “so horrific for the Church I would prefer to put off admitting it,” he said. “At the moment I am like the majority of the priests I know, who remain silent and are praying that the question is not put to them.”
Jacob Wood, writing at Catholic News Agency, argued that the correction was not a good idea. In Donum Veritatis, he said, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith stipulated that theologians with concerns about non-infallible magisterial teaching should address them to the “responsible authority” – that is, the CDF or Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts – rather than the “mass media”. The correction causes scandal, Wood said, and “insinuates that the Pope is a heretic, and thereby weakens people’s trust in the pastors of the Church”. But Joseph Shaw, writing at his LMS blog, said the greater scandal would be if “a pope favoured error and faithful Catholics all remained silent”.
Stephen Walford, at the National Catholic Reporter, accused the signatories of hypocrisy for failing to respect magisterial teaching. Shaw rejected this, saying the Pope’s tacit signs of support for a particular reading of Amoris Laetitia were non-magisterial.
✣First ever corruption trial opens at the Vatican
Catholic bishops in Israel have expressed frustration with a lack of legal action against cases of desecration and vandalism of sacred places. The Assembly of Catholic Ordinaries of the Holy Land issued a statement last week condemning the latest attack on St Stephen Church near Jerusalem, in which a cross and a statue of Mary were broken.
Why was it under-reported?
The bishops said there had been 80 such attacks in the last decade. But as with many stories, the idea of Christians as victims is sufficiently counter-intuitive that Western media pass uncomprehendingly over the details. Nor is the other side of the story clear. It appears to be the work of Jewish ultra-Orthodox extremists, but police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said the authorities did not believe there was any connection between most of the cases, nor some sort of “vandalism cell” operating against Christian (and, indeed, Muslim) holy sites.
What will happen next?
Israeli police insist they take these cases seriously. The bishops’ statement casts doubt on that claim. Wadie Abunassar, who advises the bishops, pointed out that most of the attacks had led to no arrests or indictments. The authorities also need to take action against a few fringe ultra-Orthodox rabbis who stir up trouble, he said. But there appears to be little political appetite for stronger action: Abunassar said that prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu had not yet granted the bishops the audience they had requested on the subject.
✣The week ahead
A mass rosary prayer will be held along Poland’s border on Saturday to mark the end of the Fatima centenary. Organisers expect up to a million Catholics to participate. They said they hoped the “Rosary on the Borders” event, endorsed by the Polish bishops, may not only “change the course of events”, but also “open the hearts of our compatriots to the grace of God”.
Catholic composer Sir James MacMillan (pictured) will be the subject of Desert Island Discs on Sunday. He will be heard choosing eight pieces of music, a book and a luxury item for his imaginary island excursion from 11.15am on BBC Radio 4.
A marian procession will be held in Manchester on Saturday. Led by Bishop John Arnold of Salford, it will begin at St Edward’s church, Rusholme, and end at Platt Fields park. A statue of Our Lady and a large wooden cross will be carried aloft. The annual tradition, which draws about 1,000 Catholics, was revived in 2011 after a 20-year gap.
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