Crack in the Wall of Vatican Secrecy!

It is very rare for any information to come out on what happened during a Conclave that elects the next Pope of the Roman Catholic Church. It appears, however, that Gerard O’Connell, Vatican Correspondent for the Jesuit magazine, America has found such a crack in the wall of silence. The information he gathered is now contained in a book he has written “The Election of Pope Francis: An Inside Account of the Conclave That Changed History.” It being published by Orbis Books, and I hear it will be in the stores in late April , 2019. An excerpt from the book was posted, March 22, 2019, on the America magazine website.

In the excerpt, Mr. O’Connell describes what took place in the Sistine Chapel during the first ballot of the Conclave, the preparations for it, how the ballots were marked, the ceremony involved in casting a vote, the counting of the ballots, and the disposal of the ballots, describing the elaborate system of creating the right smoke from the burning ballots in the stove, so that the crowd in St. Peter’s Square would know if a new Pope had been elected or not. There was a surprise for the cardinals when the results were announced; of the 115 cardinals present in the Conclave, at least 23 of them received at least one vote. Keep in mind, a two-thirds majority of cardinals voting was required for election. Reading the vote tallies, reported by Mr. O’Connell, one name stood out for me; Cardinal Sean O’Malley, OFM CAP, an American, who came in fourth, with 10 votes!

Cardinal Sean O’Malley, OFM CAP

It was not too much of a surprise to see that voting result. In the days leading up to the Conclave, the Italian press took notice of a Cardinal, who most of the time in Rome wore the brown robe of a Franciscan Friar. The American news media began to pick up the story. And soon Cardinal Sean was considered one of the papabile, the first American in my memory. Cardinal Sean Patrick O’Malley, 74, is a member of Franciscan Order of Capuchin. Ordained to the priesthood in 1970, he studied at the Catholic University of America, and graduated with a MA in religious education, and a Ph.d in Spanish and Portuguese literature. After some years as an university professor, he began ministering to the Latinos living in Washington D.C. He would eventually be appointed episcopal vicar for the Hispanic, Portuguese, and Haitian communities in the Washington, D.C. archdiocese. In 1985, he became Bishop of St. Thomas, V.I. In 1992, he was installed as the Bishop of Fall River, MA. It was there that he addressed the sexual abuse by clergy scandal, that was coming to light in the Diocese. He would be sent to the Diocese of Palm Beach, FL.,in 2002, to address again a clergy sexual abuse scandal coming to light. He would be at Palm Beach for only a year, when he was sent to the Archdiocese of Boston, MA. The Archdiocese had been rocked by reports in the Boston Globe, of clergy sexual abuse, and cover up by Church officials. The Archdiocese was also going through an, in my opinion, ill considered process of consolidating parishes, that caused additional trauma to parishioners.

Since his appointment in 2003, Cardinal Sean, again, in my opinion, has been a key person, pushing the Catholic hierarchy acknowledge the facts of clergy sexual abuse, and caring for the victims of that abuse. He was appointed by Pope Francis to an advisory council of Cardinals, called to come up with recommendations to reform the bureaucracy of the Vatican. He chaired a commission of clergy and laity, including survivors, to examine how the Vatican has failed to respond to the crisis, put forward corrections. When both Pope Benedict XVI, and Pope Francis visited the United States, Cardinal O’Malley arranged to have them both meet with American clergy sexual abuse survivors. Now, word has been leaking out that there is tension between Cardinal O’Malley and Pope Francis over the slow pace of reforms being implemented. Some Vatican observers felt is was significant that the Cardinal did not play any significant role in the planning of the meeting of heads of the national conferences of bishops to discuss the issue of clergy sexual abuse in the world wide Church. That said, he did address the gathering about the issue.

With Pope Francis seeming to still be in good health, it is way too early to discuss a future Conclave, but, aww heck, let’s go for it. Now Cardinal O’Malley is 74 years old, chances are good he will be one of the electors in the next Conclave. Question is will he once again be considered one of the top papabile. Conventional wisdom is that it will be unlikely, the Cardinals of the Southern Hemisphere and Asia would never support the election of an American Pope. Still, conventional wisdom went out the window with the election of Pope Francis! The Holy Spirit always wins out!

Welcome the Stranger

Cardinal SeanThere has been a lot of reporting recently on the effects of the Attorney General Sessions order to have all immigrants attempting to enter the country illegally, to be arrested and jailed.  A part of that order is to separate any children from their immigrant parents, and hold them in separate facilities, pending placement in foster homes.  Some in the government have advanced the theory that it will deter immigrants from attempting to cross the border, at the cost of losing their children.

Many spokespersons of civil rights and religious organizations have spoken out sharply against this policy.  The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, meeting in Florida have condemned the policy, and is discussing sending a delegation of bishops to the border to examine the conditions at these facilities, and the condition of the immigrants being held.  Here in Boston, MA, Cardinal Sean O’Malley, OFM Cap, Archbishop of Boston has issued a statement on the current immigration situation.

While our country has the right to control it’s borders, and who is be allowed into this country, humane policies should be implemented in enforcing immigration laws.  What we are beginning to see on our screens, and reading newspapers, shows a failure of empathy and charity by this government.  It is yet to be seen if the American public will voice it’s concern for the immigrant children, given the growing hostility towards illegal immigrants in general.

What is really upsetting many religious leaders is the attempt by Attorney General Sessions and Press Secretary Sanders to use Scripture to back the government immigration policies.  There are commentators who criticize  the use of Scripture passages out of context.

Well, I may about to do the same thing; but I close with this Scripture passage that always turn to when reflecting on the moral issues of immigration policies.  It is from the Book of Leviticus:

When an alien resides with you in your land, do not molest him.  You shall treat the alien who resides with you no differently than the natives born among you; have the same love him as for yourself; for you too were once aliens in the land of Egypt.  I, the Lord, am your God.”  (Lv 19: 33-34, NAB)

We are citizens of a country of immigrants; we are all descendants of immigrants.  Those who come to our shores, approach our borders; need to be treated with dignity, care, and respect.

“I am in Your Midst as One Who Serves.” An Ordination of Deacons – 2017

Deacon ordination 2017 4This past Saturday, my brother Deacons and I gathered at St. Edith Stein Church, in Brockton, MA. We were there to celebrate the ordination of 7 new Deacons for the Archdiocese of Boston. It was being held at St. Edith Stein, rather than at Holy Cross Cathedral, because the cathedral is undergoing a massive interior renovation. St. Edith Stein is a beautiful church, with an interior decoration that you do not see in more modern designed churches. It does have one drawback, very narrow stairs between the basement and main levels. The basement was where we gathered to vest for the ceremony.
Now, it had been raining heavily in eastern Massachusetts on Saturday, but the rain hadDeacon ordination 2017 stopped long enough for us to organize the procession into St. Edith Stein. The church itself was packed with the families and friends of the men to be ordained. A choral group from Holy Cross Cathedral lead the congregation in song, as we walked down the main aisle; bowed before the altar and took our seats

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I have been graced with good spiritual experiences, when I attend Sunday liturgies of the Eucharist, the Mass. But there is something about a grand liturgy, like an ordination, that really draws me into a holy place. Our presider was Cardinal Sean O’Malley, OFM Cap, Archbishop of Boston, lead us in prayer. During his homily, he referred to the second Scripture reading, Acts of the Apostles, Chapter 6: verses 1 to 7. The passage describes how the Apostles had the early Christian community name seven men to serve the Hellenist widows. The Apostles laid their hands on the seven chosen men, and the Holy Spirit came upon them. Cardinal Sean noted that it was interesting that we now had before us seven candidates for ordination. He reminded us all that we, as deacons, are called to a life of service, both within the Church, and to the world.

 
After the ordination rite, we previously ordained went up into the sanctuary to welcome our new brothers into the fraternity of Deacons. We are joined together; to be servants by proclaiming the Good News to people, and by living the Good News. We are joined together; to be servants at the Eucharistic altar, to help add to the people’s experience of liturgy, to help distribute the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ to the community through Holy Communion. We are joined together, to be servants to the poor, to those in pain and are alone. As a fraternity of deacons, we support each other, and learn from each other. Together, we help the Church bring the Good News to the world.

 

deacon red stole

 

Weekend Coffee Share – 09/25/2016

deacon coffee mugOver a cup of coffee, I would apologize for not coming to the counter for a while.  One could say I have been struggling with one huge case of writer’s block.  It is a combination of trying to carve out a period of time to write something online; and not be able to think of anything to write.company-picnic

Anyway, let me share with you that earlier this week I attended my first company cookout earlier this week.  It was on a Tuesday, and the weather could not have been more cooperative.  Tents were set up in the parking lot of our office building.  The food was placed out buffet style.  And there were round tables for us to sit at.  Part of menu was BBQ pulled pork, sausages in a roll, hamburger sliders, very good macaroni and cheese, shrimp, and salads.  It must be sign of my getting older; but there was a time I could hit a buffet table at least twice; that is no longer true.  My wife would say that is a good thing.

One of the goodies the company was giving away, were “selfie” sticks.  Here is my first try with it.selfie

Over a cup of coffee, I would tell you that there was a big event in the Archdiocese of Boston, MA, recently; the coming of a relic, the heart of Saint Pio of Pietrelcina; also padre-pioknown as Padre Pio.  Padre Pio was a Franciscan Capuchin friar, born in 1885, in Italy, and died on September 23, 1968.  He was ordained a priest in 1910.  In 1918, he received the stigmata, after experiencing a powerful vision of the Crucified Christ.  He bore the five wounds of Christ for the rest of his life.  News of this miracle got out to the world, crowds of people gathered to witness it.  Padre Pio would be examined many times by physicians, with conflicting diagnosis’.  The Church would investigate him many times; would forbid him to say Mass or hear confessions for a period of time.  He would eventually be cleared of unorthodox thinking or practices, and returned to his priestly ministry.  He would spend a good deal of his time hearing confessions, offering spiritual council, and celebrating the Eucharist.  He remained at the Capuchin friary at San Giovanni Rotondo for the rest of his life.  He worked at, and successfully caused a hospital to be built near the town.  34 years after his death, he was declared a saint, by Pope St. John Paul II.

We Catholics have a unique relationship with our saints; we believe that they are in heaven with God, that they are praying for us, interceding for us before the Father.  Their lives continue to inspire us, encourage us to live more intensely the Gospel life.  They are very real for us; so when we come before a relic of theirs, we venerate it; knowing we are giving honor to the person, not the object.  And that is what has been happening with heart of Padre Pio; thousands of pilgrims have gathered in churches, in the North End of Boston, in Lowell, and in the Cathedral of the Holy Cross in Boston.  All to venerate the relic, to ask for his intercession, or to thank him for a prayer answered.  It was a powerful demonstration of faith.  It is also a demonstration of the “juice” Cardinal Sean O’Malley, Archbishop of Boston still has in Rome.  It also does not hurt that he himself is also a Franciscan Capuchin!padre-pio-heart

Over a cup of coffee, I am going to start saying something that will sound like the beginning of a bad joke; “A Catholic priest, a Methodist minister, and a Yale humanist enter a room;” what you get is “The Great Bible Experiment!”  Father Warren Savage, Catholic chaplain at Westfield State and Amherst College; the Rev. Anne Robertson, Executive Director of the Massachusetts Bible Society; and Tom Krattenmaker, of the mbs_logo__0Yale Humanist Community, have been gathering in  New Haven CT, Albany, NY, Providence, RI, and on September 27, 2016, in Boston, to hold a town meeting style discussions on the Bible.  These locations, according to recent surveys, are the least Bible minded cities in America.  The final meeting in Boston, will actually be held at Harvard University; the event will be live streamed.

Well, the cup is empty; and will try to here next week, with another cuppa.

Cardinal O’Malley Speaks Out on Anti-Immigrant Rhetoric

Cardinal SeanCruxnow.com is reporting on comments made by Cardinal Sean O’Malley, OFM CAP, Archbishop of Boston on the anti-immigrant rhetoric that has infected the presidential campaign this year.  In an interview he had with Irish media, he warned that such speech, demonizes a minority group, and can bring about unjust treatment.  He called on Americans to remember that it was that long ago, that our Irish immigrant ancestors were seen as a threat to America; and subjected to anti-immigrant treatment.  He called on Americans to stop blaming our current troubles on the immigrant, and instead work together to care for one another and find solutions together.

A Different Type of Cardinal

Cardinal Sean Weed WhackerThe Boston Pilot reported that on May 11th, 2015,Cardinal Sean O’Malley OFM CAP, Archbishop of Boston, joined staff members of the Archdiocesan Pastoral Center, at St. Mary of the Angels Parish in the Roxbury neighborhood of Boston.  They were participating in Parish Service Week, where Pastoral Center employees spend the day at an inner city parish, helping to spruce up the parish grounds.  It is an opportunity for the staff to have contact with the urban parishes; get a sense of what is happening on the local level, and see what their needs are.  Cardinal Sean, after some instruction, went to town with a weed whacker, clearing the over growth around the parish buildings and yards.  He even cleared the brush around a statue of St. Francis of Assisi

Pope Francis has stated that he expects bishops and pastors to have the smell of their sheep.  It seems that Cardinal Sean is trying to live up to that expectation.  It is one of the reasons I have a great deal of respect for my fellow Franciscan.