Saturday, October 31, 2009

Feast of All Saints

From the Office of Readings:

A sermon by Saint Bernard, abbot.
Let us make haste to our brethren who are awaiting us
Why should our praise and glorification, or even the celebration of this feast day mean anything to the saints? What do they care about earthly honours when their heavenly Father honours them by fulfilling the faithful promise of the Son? What does our commendation mean to them? The saints have no need of honour from us; neither does our devotion add the slightest thing to what is theirs. Clearly, if we venerate their memory, it serves us, not them. But I tell you, when I think of them, I feel myself inflamed by a tremendous yearning.

Calling the saints to mind inspires, or rather arouses in us, above all else, a longing to enjoy their company, so desirable in itself. We long to share in the citizenship of heaven, to dwell with the spirits of the blessed, to join the assembly of patriarchs, the ranks of the prophets, the council of apostles, the great host of martyrs, the noble company of confessors and the choir of virgins. In short, we long to be united in happiness with all the saints. But our dispositions change. The Church of all the first followers of Christ awaits us, but we do nothing about it. The saints want us to be with them, and we are indifferent. The souls of the just await us, and we ignore them.

Come, brothers, let us at length spur ourselves on. We must rise again with Christ, we must seek the world which is above and set our mind on the things of heaven. Let us long for those who are longing for us, hasten to those who are waiting for us, and ask those who look for our coming to intercede for us. We should not only want to be with the saints, we should also hope to possess their happiness. While we desire to be in their company, we must also earnestly seek to share in their glory. Do not imagine that there is anything harmful in such an ambition as this; there is no danger in setting our hearts on such glory.

When we commemorate the saints we are inflamed with another yearning: that Christ our life may also appear to us as he appeared to them and that we may one day share in his glory. Until then we see him, not as he is, but as he became for our sake. He is our head, crowned, not with glory, but with the thorns of our sins. As members of that head, crowned with thorns, we should be ashamed to live in luxury; his purple robes are a mockery rather than an honour. When Christ comes again, his death shall no longer be proclaimed, and we shall know that we also have died, and that our life is hidden with him. The glorious head of the Church will appear and his glorified members will shine in splendour with him, when he forms this lowly body anew into such glory as belongs to himself, its head.

Therefore, we should aim at attaining this glory with a wholehearted and prudent desire. That we may rightly hope and strive for such blessedness, we must above all seek the prayers of the saints. Thus, what is beyond our own powers to obtain will be granted through their intercession.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Nationwide Bulletin Insert on Health Care

The US Council of Catholic Bishops has issued a nationwide bulletin insert asking all faithful to demand their government representatives remove abortion funding and mandates from health care reform legislation. The USCCB website on health care has valuable information on the Catholic perspective on proposed legislation. Sure to draw fire from critics and debate regarding the Church's role in the public square, here is the text:


Tell Congress: Remove Abortion Funding & Mandates from Needed Health Care Reform
Congress is preparing to debate health care reform legislation on the House and Senate floors. Genuine health care reform should protect the life and dignity of all people from the moment of conception until natural death. The U.S. bishops’ conference has concluded that all committee approved bills are seriously deficient on the issues of abortion and conscience, and do not provide adequate access to health care for immigrants and the poor. The bills will have to change or the bishops have pledged to oppose them.

Our nation is at a crossroads. Policies adopted in health care reform will have an impact for good or ill for years to come. None of the bills retains longstanding current policies against abortion funding or abortion coverage mandates, and none fully protects conscience rights in health care.

As the U.S. bishops’ letter of October 8 states:
“No one should be required to pay for or participate in abortion. It is essential that the legislation clearly apply to this new program longstanding and widely supported federal restrictions on abortion funding and mandates, and protections for rights of conscience. No current bill meets this test…. If acceptable language in these areas cannot be found, we will have to oppose the health care bill vigorously.”
For the full text of this letter and more information on proposed legislation and the bishops’ advocacy for authentic health care reform, visit:

Congressional leaders are attempting to put together final bills for floor consideration. Please contact your Representative and Senators today and urge them to fix these bills with the pro-life amendments noted below. Otherwise much needed health care reform will have to be opposed. Health care reform should be about saving lives, not destroying them.

ACTION: Contact Members through e-mail, phone calls or FAX letters.
  • To send a pre-written, instant e-mail to Congress go to
  • Call the U.S. Capitol switchboard at: 202-224-3121, or call your Members’ local offices.
  • Full contact info can be found on Members’ web sites at &
“During floor debate on the health care reform bill, please support an amendment to
incorporate longstanding policies against abortion funding and in favor of conscience rights. If these serious concerns are not addressed, the final bill should be opposed.”
“Please support the Stupak Amendment that addresses essential pro-life concerns on abortion funding and conscience rights in the health care reform bill. Help ensure that the Rule for the bill allows a vote on this amendment. If these serious concerns are not addressed, the final bill should be opposed.”
WHEN: Both House and Senate are preparing for floor votes now. Act today! Thank you!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Bishop Tobin Extends Invitation to Congressman Kennedy, Kennedy Accepts

In an admirable move, Bishop Tobin of the Diocese of Providence sent a letter to Congressman Patrick Kennedy (D-RI) extending an invitation to discuss the Catholic church's longtime support of health care reform. This latest pastoral effort is in response to an interview with CNS in which Kennedy castigated the US bishops for withholding support of health care legislation, thus not being "pro-life". Bishop Tobin responded to that interview with a sharp statement asking for an apology. Newly reported, Kennedy has accepted the invitation for a yet to be scheduled meeting. Bishop Tobin's letter:

Congressman Patrick Kennedy
249 Roosevelt Ave
Pawtucket, RI 02860-2134

Dear Congressman Kennedy:

In the interview you gave last week with Cybercast News Service, you are quoted as stating: "I can't understand for the life of me how the Catholic Church could be against the biggest social justice issue of our time where the very dignity of the human person is being respected by the fact that we're caring and giving health care to the human person - that right now we have 50 million people who are uninsured."

For many years, the Catholic Church has been clear and consistent in its support of comprehensive health care reform; support that continues to this day. As Congress nears agreement on a final bill, I believe it is important that you are provided with specific facts about the Catholic Church's position on this critical issue.

In light of your comments, I would like to extend an invitation to you to discuss the Catholic Church's longtime support of comprehensive health care legislation and measures that protect and defend life. Please contact my office at your earliest convenience so that we can schedule a meeting to discuss this important matter that affects all Rhode Islanders, regardless of their religious beliefs.

I hope to hear from you soon.


Thomas J. Tobin
Bishop of Providence

Saturday, October 24, 2009

On the Front Lines for Life

[CNY Onine] I wish I could tell you that Church leaders were brave, countercultural and prophetic," I can still hear him say, "but that would not be the truth."

"With very few exceptions," he went on, "Catholics in the United States did little or nothing to condemn the dramatically moral evil of slavery, and demand its end. And that is to our shame to this day."

Those words came from my mentor, friend and teacher, Msgr. John Tracy Ellis, the legendary professor of the history of the Catholic Church in the United States, during his sobering lecture on the Church and slavery, when I was a graduate student at The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C.

Perhaps we have learned our lesson, for Catholic leaders—committed laity, religious sisters and brothers, clergy, bishops—have been on the front lines of the premier civil rights issue today, the right to life. And that is to our credit. And that's good to ponder during October, Respect Life Month.

The comparison of abortion to slavery is an apt one. The right of a citizen to "own" another human being as property—to control him/her, use him/her, sell him or decide her fate—was, prior to 1865, constitutional, sad to say.

That "right" to own a slave was even upheld by a decision of the U.S. Supreme Court (whose Chief Justice at the time, Roger Brooke Taney, was a Catholic, "personally opposed" to slavery!) in the infamous 1857 Dred Scott Decision, declaring that a slave who had escaped and claimed freedom had to be returned to his "master," because he had no rights at all.

Tragically, in 1973, in Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court also strangely found in the constitution the right to abortion, thus declaring an entire class of human beings— now not African-Americans, but pre-born infants—to be slaves, whose futures, whose destinies, whose very right to life —can be decided by another "master." These fragile, frail babies have no civil rights at all.

Our faces blush with shame as we Catholics admit we did so little to end slavery; but we can smile and thank God that the Church has indeed been prophetic, courageous and counter cultural in the right to life movement. As an evangelical pastor recently commented to me, "We may criticize you Catholics for some things, but we have sure been inspired by your early and courageous leadership in the pro-life movement."

A few years ago, I met with a prominent philanthropist, who described himself—and I always know I'm in for trouble when I hear this—as a "former Catholic." Now, he went on to say, he was a "progressive," and would consider a large gift to the Catholic Church "if you changed your position on abortion."

I must admit I'm afraid I made no headway at all when I patiently tried to explain to him that this was hardly a "position" of the Church that could change, but a conviction grounded in natural law, shared by most other world religions, and, for that matter, dramatically obvious in our American normative principles, which hold that certain rights are "inalienable"—part of the inherent human makeup—the first being the right to life itself.

Many issues and concerns in addition to protecting the baby in the womb fall under the rubric of the right to life—child care, poverty, racism, war and peace, capital punishment, health care, the environment, euthanasia—in what has come to be called the consistent ethic of life. All those issues, and even more, demand our careful attention and promotion.

But the most pressing life issue today is abortion. If we're wrong on that one, we're just plain wrong.

When our critics—and their name is legion—criticize us for being passionate, stubborn, almost obsessed with protecting the human rights of the baby in the womb, they intend it as an insult. I take it as a compliment.

I'd give anything if I could claim that Catholics in America prior to the Civil War were "passionate, stubborn, almost obsessed" with protecting the human rights of the slave. To claim such would be a fib. But, decades from now, at least our children and grandchildren can look back with pride and gratitude for the conviction of those who courageously defend the life of the pre-born baby.

I well remember being in Baltimore two years ago for the installation of their new archbishop, Edwin F. O'Brien, a native son of this archdiocese in whom we are very proud. He gave a stirring homily, recounting how his predecessors had often been on the forefront of promoting issues of justice in our country: Cardinal James Gibbons came up, of course, for his defense of the rights of labor back in the 1880s; Cardinal Lawrence Sheehan, who was jeered at a City Council meeting in 1965 for speaking on behalf of open housing for African-Americans; Cardinal William Keeler, criticized for advocating the rights of immigrants. And now, the new archbishop concluded, the tradition has to continue, as the Church must be on the front lines of the premier justice issue of the day: the protection of the right to life of the baby in the womb.

It's October, Respect Life Month.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Patrick Kennedy Takes on the USCCB

The sophistry employed by Catholic politicians is nothing short of astonishing at times. When asked to respond to the Catholic Bishops' letter to Congress withholding support from any health care legislation funding abortion, Representative Kennedy, a Providence College alumnus, went on the attack.

Here is a transcript of the exchange between Rep. Patrick Kennedy (D.-R.I.) and

Nicholas Ballasy: "There’s a letter written by the US Conference of Catholic Bishops to Congress saying that they believe all of the health care proposals right now – the one in the House and the ones in the Senate – they all fund abortion as it stands and unless there’s an amendment or a change to those bills that specifically prohibits it, they’re not going to support it. Do you agree with them or is there something – "

Patrick Kennedy: "I can’t understand for the life of me how the Catholic Church could be against the biggest social justice issue of our time where the very dignity of the human person is being respected by the fact that we’re caring and giving health care to the human person – that right now we have 50 million people who are uninsured. You mean to tell me the Catholic Church is going to be denying those people life saving health care? I thought they were pro-life. If the church is pro-life, then they ought to be for health care reform because it’s going to provide health care that are going to keep people alive. So this is an absolute red herring and I don’t think that it does anything but to fan the flames of dissent and discord and I don’t think it’s productive at all."
Rep. Kennedy accused the bishops of fanning flames of dissent and of not being pro-life? A red herring is a deliberate attempt to change the subject or divert attention or an argument. It is evident to me that the red herring is Kennedy's attempt to divert attention from the fact that current legislation will fund abortion...the biggest social injustice of our time where the very dignity of the human person is not being respected. How does a health care bill which allows tax payer funded abortion provide health care that is going to keep people alive?


Statement of Bishop Tobin in Response to Congressman Kennedy’s Attack on Catholic Church


(PROVIDENCE, R.I.)-The Most Rev. Thomas J. Tobin, Bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Providence, today issued the following statement in response to a Cybercast News Service article that reported:
Rep. Patrick Kennedy (D-R.I) told that the Catholic Church is doing nothing but fanning “the flames of dissent and discord” by taking the position that it will oppose the health-care reform bill under consideration in Congress unless it is amended to explicitly prohibit funding of abortion.

“Congressman Patrick Kennedy’s statement about the Catholic Church’s position on health care reform is irresponsible and ignorant of the facts. But the Congressman is correct in stating that “he can’t understand.” He got that part right.

As I wrote to Congressman Kennedy and other members of the Rhode Island Congressional Delegation recently, the Bishops of the United States are indeed in favor of comprehensive health care reform and have been for many years. But we are adamantly opposed to health care legislation that threatens the life of unborn children, requires taxpayers to pay for abortion, rations health care, or compromises the conscience of individuals.

"Congressman Kennedy continues to be a disappointment to the Catholic Church and to
the citizens of the State of Rhode Island. I believe the Congressman owes us an apology for his irresponsible comments. It is my fervent hope and prayer that he will find a way to provide more effective and morally responsible leadership for our state.
link here

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

The Power of Prayer

Originally posted here:

"That they may be one" (John 17:21)
Posted by Fr. Brian Mulcahy, O.P. on October 20, 2009

On February 21, 2009, many Dominican priests, brothers, sisters and laity received an e-mail with an urgent prayer request requested by (then) Fr Augustine Di Noia, O.P., Undersecretary of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, asking all Dominicans to pray the Litany of Dominican Saints from February 22 (the Feast of the Chair of St Peter) through March 25 (the Solemnity of the Annunciation) for an at-the-time undisclosed intention. Today, we received an e-mail from Archbishop Augustine Di Noia, O.P., the Secretary of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, with the following announcement:

"Today there was announced -- at press conferences in Rome and London -- the forthcoming publication of an apostolic constitution in which the Holy Father allows for the creation of personal ordinariates for groups of Anglicans in different parts of the world who are seeking full communion with the Catholic Church. The canonical structure of the personal ordinariate will permit this corporate reunion while at the same time providing for retention of elements of Anglican liturgy and spirituality.

When I asked the friars (and other OPs - Ed.) to pray the Dominican litany from 22 February to 25 March earlier this year, the intention was that this proposal would receive the approval of the cardinal members of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith which was necessary if the proposal of some structure allowing for corporate reunion was to go forward. Our prayers at that time were answered, and now that the proposal has become a reality we can tell everyone what we were praying for then.


+Abp. J Augustine Di Noia, OP

This momentous news has already hit both the secular and Catholic press, but Archbishop Di Noia wanted all of you to know that your prayers were very effective, and that he extends his most profound fraternal thanks.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

And on the Eastern Front...

Pope Benedict has said that healing the schism and uniting all Christians is a fundamental priority of his papacy. Standing on the shoulders of a giant, Pope Benedict seems to be pruning and reaping what the Servant of God John Paul II began. Pope John Paul II was the first pontiff to visit Orthodox Greece in 1,231 years, as well as the first pope to visit and Eastern Orthodox country since the Great Schism of 1054.

Quietly happening behind the scenes...
Theological discussions have been occurring in Cyprus between Catholic and Russian Orthodox representatives. Most recently on the agenda were discussion on Ecclesiology and the primacy of the Pope. Serious progress has been made since Patriarch Kirill was elected following the death of the more hard-lined Alexy II last January. He had headed the external relations department of the world's largest Orthodox Christian church for nearly 20 years, making him point man for ties with the Vatican. In that capacity, he met with Benedict in December 2007. They share a mutual respect for each other and it is reported that Kirill is a big fan of Benedict's writing.

Cardinal Kasper, president of the Pontifical Council for Christian Unity and leading the talks, said “The main problems that need to be addressed are the ones of Ecclesiology: what is the Church, where does it find itself? Who are its ministers? Apostolic Succession, etc. These problems have consequences in the Eucharist, for example, because the ordained person is the minister of the Eucharistic celebration.”

On September 18, Pope Benedict met with Russian Orthodox Archbishop Hilarion, president of the Moscow Patriarchate's Department for External Church Relations. The private meeting took place at the pope's summer residence in Castel Gandolfo. AP reported on October 1st that Pope Benedict is planning a June 2010 trip to the island of Cyprus at the invitation of a Cypriot Orthodox archbishop, Chrysostomos II. Speculation abounds that Chrysostomos II's meetings with both Pope Benedict and Patriarch Kirill indicates a Catholic/Orthodox Ecumenical Summit.

Perhaps today's big news about the Anglican Personal Ordinariates has set the precedent for the canonical structure to reunite the Orthodox as well. Deo Volente!

New Bridge Over the Tiber

At a Holy See press conference this morning, Cardinal Levada, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and Archbishop Di Noia O.P., secretary of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, made a stunning announcement regarding the fruit of ecumenical efforts reuniting the Anglican Communion with Rome. Presenting a "note" they explained a forthcoming Apostolic Constitution defining a new legal structure--Personal Ordinariate--by which Anglican clergy and faithful can reunite with the Roman Catholic Church. Cardinal Levada explained "with the preparation of an Apostolic Constitution, the Catholic Church is responding to the many requests that have been submitted to the Holy See from groups of Anglican clergy and faithful in different parts of the world who wish to enter into full visible communion".
An "apostolic constitution" is the form of document used by the Holy See to make the most significant canonical and disciplinary provisions for the Church. It is not, then, a simple "decree" (1983 CIC 29 etc), say, or an "instruction" (1983 CIC 34).

The establishment of a "personal ordinariate" will be something of an innovation in modern canon law, although this ordinariate is apparently going to be similar to "personal arch/dioceses" such as those used for the military (1983 CIC 368 and ap. con. Spirituali militum), or to personal prelatures (1983 CIC 294-297), with Opus Dei being the only example thereof to date. One wonders, though, why both of these structures were apparently found to be inadequate for the reception of Anglicans, and why a third way was invented? We'll have to see. [from Canon Lawyer Ed Peters]
Archbishop Augustine DiNoia, who helped draft the new structure in his former capacity as under-secretary of the CDF, said: “We’ve been praying for unity for 40 years. Prayers are being answered in ways we did not anticipate and the Holy See cannot not respond to this movement of the Holy Spirit for those who wish communion and whose tradition is to be valued.” He said there has been a “tremendous shift” in the ecumenical movement and “these possibilities weren’t seen as they are now.” He rejected accusations that the new Anglicans be described as dissenters. “Rather they are assenting to the movement of the Holy Spirit to be in union with Peter, with the Catholic Church,” he said. Technical details still need to be worked out, and these Personal Ordinariates may vary in their final form, Archbishop DiNoia said. Full details of the Apostolic Constitution will be released in a few weeks but today’s press conference went ahead because it had been planned sometime ago.

Cardinal Levada stated “It is the hope of the Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, that the Anglican clergy and faithful who desire union with the Catholic Church will find in this canonical structure the opportunity to preserve those Anglican traditions precious to them and consistent with the Catholic faith. Insofar as these traditions express in a distinctive way the faith that is held in common, they are a gift to be shared in the wider Church. The unity of the Church does not require a uniformity that ignores cultural diversity, as the history of Christianity shows. Moreover, the many diverse traditions present in the Catholic Church today are all rooted in the principle articulated by St. Paul in his letter to the Ephesians: ‘There is one Lord, one faith, one baptism.'”

Meanwhile in London...Catholic Archbishop Vincent Nichols of Westminster and Anglican Archbishop Rowan Williams of Canterbury affirmed that the announcement of the Apostolic Constitution "brings to an end a period of uncertainty for such groups who have nurtured hopes of new ways of embracing unity with the Catholic Church. It will now be up to those who have made requests to the Holy See to respond to the Apostolic Constitution", which is a "consequence of ecumenical dialogue between the Catholic Church and the Anglican Communion. "With God's grace and prayer we are determined that our on-going mutual commitment and consultation on these and other matters should continue to be strengthened. Locally, in the spirit of IARCCUM, we look forward to building on the pattern of shared meetings between the Catholic Bishops Conference of England and Wales and the Church of England's House of Bishops with a focus on our common mission".

"The on-going official dialogue between the Catholic Church and the Anglican Communion provides the basis for our continuing co-operation", the declaration adds. "The Anglican Roman Catholic International Commission (ARCIC) and International Anglican Roman Catholic Commission for Unity and Mission (IARCCUM) agreements make clear the path we will follow together.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

New Auxiliary Bishop for Providence

Among the four episcopal appointments in this morning's Vatican News Service announcement was the welcomed news of Monsignor Robert C. Evans as Auxiliary Bishop of Providence.

Pastor of St. Philip Church in Greenville, Bishop-Elect Evans is a North American College classmate of Bishop Thomas Tobin, Ordinary of the Diocese of Providence. Born September 2, 1947, in Moultrie, Georgia, Msgr. Evans attended public elementary schools in Providence, Our Lady of Providence High School and College Seminary, North American College in Rome, and was ordained a priest for the Providence Diocese in 1973 in St. Peter's basilica by Bishop James Hickey (later Cardinal Archbishop of Washington DC). Bishop-elect Evans holds a Bachelor of Sacred Theology degree from the Pontifical Gregorian University, Rome; Master of Theology degree from the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas, Rome, and a Licentiate in Canon Law from the Gregorian University.

After ordination he held several assistant pastor positions in the Providence Diocese and was secretary to the bishop and Vice Chancellor, 1983-1987; Vice Chancellor and Tribunal Judge, 1989-1991; Chancellor and Director of the Office for Priests’ Personnel, 1991-2001; Director, Institute for Continuing Theological Education, North American College, Rome, 2001-2005; Secretary, Apostolic Nunciature, Washington, 2005-2007; and Pastor, St. Philip Church, Greenville, Rhode Island, 2007-2009.

Like all auxiliary bishops in the Catholic Church, Bishop-elect Evans is provided a "titular diocese," or a diocese that once existed, but was suppressed by the Holy See. Bishop-elect Evans has been assigned Aquae Regiae, present-day Tunisia, as his titular diocese. He will join Bishop Tobin, retired Archbishop Pearce, SM; Retired Bishops Boland, OP; Roque; Gelineau, and Mulvey all residing in Providence. Also worth noting is Bishop-Elect Evans will be one of seven living native sons of the Diocese of Providence to be name Successor to the Apostles: McManus (Worcester), Matano (Burlington), Boland (ret), Roque (ret), Riley (ret), Angel (ret).

A Mass of Episcopal Ordination is tentatively scheduled for Jan. 5, 2010, at 2 p.m. in the Cathedral of SS. Peter and Paul.

Friday, October 9, 2009

This Week In Rome

John Allen writing for NCR recaps this weeks events:

Rome certainly has its own rhythms, which can be either charming or annoying depending upon your point of view. On the ecclesiastical scene, periods of relative calm alternate with occasional bursts of near-frenzy. This week is one of those peak moments, as even a partial run-down of what's going on will illustrate:

  • The Synod for Africa, a gathering of almost 300 bishops from around the world to discuss the promise and the perils of the faith on the continent where it's experienced the most explosive recent growth, is meeting Oct. 4-25. So far, the synod has considered a bewildering variety of topics, from the challenges of Islam and Pentecostalism to the perennial problems of tribalism and ethnicity -- including, notably, echoes of ethnic prejudice inside the church.
  • The officers of the United States Conference for Catholic Bishops are in town, making their regular annual rounds of Vatican offices. (On Wednesday, I almost literally ran into Bishop Gerald Kicanas of Tucson, Ariz., vice-president of the conference, on his way to a meeting with Cardinal William Levada of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. We were both walking through a tunnel linking two sides of a street, and I stopped just short of plowing into Kicanas -- who was his usual gracious self.)
  • Cardinal Francis George of Chicago, president of the USCCB, presented his new book, The Difference God Makes, at the Lateran University on Wednesday. Present were the new U.S. Ambassador to the Holy See, Miguel Diaz, and his wife Marian, along with legendary Italian philosopher, politician, and confidante of Pope John Paul II, Rocco Buttiglione.
  • Five new saints will be canonized on Sunday, including Fr. Damien of Molokai, the famed Belgian "missionary to the lepers." (Among other things, that's made for the unusual spectacle of Belgian and Hawaiian pilgrims mingling in the streets of Rome).
  • Díaz is making his first round of public events and comments to the press since presenting his credentials to Pope Benedict XVI on Oct. 2.
  • Leaders of the Conference of Major Superiors of Women Religious, one of two groups for superiors of women's religious orders in the United States -- by reputation, the more conservative one -- are in Rome for regular annual meetings in the Vatican. (I bumped into three officers of the CMSWR in a coffee bar Thursday morning while meeting an old friend who works in the Vatican. That's the thing about Rome; stand near the Vatican long enough, and you'll probably see every Catholic you've ever met, or even heard about.)
  • Several religious orders are currently in the middle of their general chapter meetings, or getting ready for them.
  • An article on Tuesday in the Italian paper Il Foglio by Archbishop Charles Chaput of Denver, responding to a friendly essay about U.S. President Barack Obama by Swiss Cardinal George Cottier over the summer, set tongues wagging. (The headline was especially striking: "The Axe of the Redskin Bishop," a reference to Chaput's Native American ancestry, which goes to show that the canons of political correctness often just don't apply in Italy.) In the piece, Chaput suggests that Cottier, while well-meaning, doesn't quite appreciate American political realities.

In light of all that activity, to call this week "eventful" would be an exercise in understatement.