Vatican unlikely to appoint additional Cardinals in the Philippines

Manila, Philippines, Nov.14,2007 (CINS/SAR) -The Vatican is not likely to name more cardinals in the country, Philippine Ambassador to the Holy See Leonida Vera said on November 11.

In an interview aired over Church-run Radyo Veritas, Vera explained that Philippine Senate (Upper House) Resolution No. 192 filed by Senator Joker Arroyo seeking additional cardinals in the country might be futile, as there is a standing rule in the Vatican's College of Cardinal s that only three cardinals would be assigned to the Philippines.

"We are allotted only three cardinals. For as long as our three cardinals are alive, they cannot nominate a new one. I think it is important to note that the Vatican has so many considerations in appointing a new cardinal. The process, for example, would take some time," the ambassador explained.

Vera was referring to Manila Archbishop Gaudencio Cardinal Rosales, Cebu Archbishop Ricardo Cardinal Vidal and Jose Cardinal Sanchez, Prefect Emeritus of the Congregation for the Clergy in the Vatican.

Only Rosales and Vidal are in the country as Sanchez is based in the Vatican. This means that only two cardinals are actually leading the country's Catholic hierarchy.

Vera stressed that only "a very special occasion" would prompt the Vatican to approve such a request from the Philippine government.

A prelate, Basilan Bishop Camilo Gregorio, also expressed opposition to the request of Arroyo that would be sent to the Vatican through new Papal Nuncio to the Philippines Archbishop Edward Joseph Adams.

"Thanks for the good intention of Sen. Joker Arroyo. But I am sorry because it is really none of his business to raise such an appeal. Creating cardinals is the sole prerogative of the Pope," Gregorio said.

Last week, Arroyo filed a resolution with the Senate seeking an official request to the Vatican for deployment of additional cardinals in the country. He argued that the current three Filipino cardinals are "disproportionate" to the 73 million Catholics in the country.

The senator practically questioned the decision of the Vatican to deploy more cardinals in other countries like the United States, France and Spain where there is a smaller Catholic population.

Arroyo claimed that there are even more cardinals in other Asian countries than in the Philippines.

"In fact, India only has 16 million Catholics but they have five more cardinals than the Philippines. Japan with only 505,000 Catholics has two cardinals. Taiwan with 305,000 Catholics has one Cardinal , so with Thailand with 273,000 Catholics," he said.

The Philippines has the third biggest Catholic population in the world. Latin American countries Brazil and Mexico occupy the top two spots.

The country has so far produced six cardinals from the time of Pope John XXII.

The three other cardinals were the late Rufino Cardinal Santos, Julio Cardinal Rosales and Jaime Cardinal Sin.

The College of Cardinal s plays a crucial role in the Vatican. It helps the Pope in governing the Catholic Church and is also in charge of various congregations of the Roman Curia.

But the most important function of cardinals, according to Church officials, is to elect a successor of the Pope in case he dies. The new Pope comes from the College of Cardinal s.


Saturday in the Vatican: A telegram of condolences, Portuguese Bishops and Italian Confraternities

Vatican City, Nov.12,2007 (CINS/EWTN:Joan's Rome) - It was a very busy Saturday morning for the Holy Father, who sent a telegram of condolences for the death at age 77 of Japanese Cardinal Stephen Fumio Hamao, and then met separately with Portuguese Bishops and, in St. Peter’s Square, with 40,000 members of Italian Confraternities.

In his telegram, Benedict spoke of Cardinal Hamao's pastoral ministry for nearly two decades in Yokohama, as well as his "lively concern for the poor and his generous service to the universal Church" as president of the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant Peoples. Commending "the soul of this proud son of the Japanese people to the loving mercy of God our heavenly Father,” the Pope also wrote to the cardinal’s sister, Teresa Teruko Uematsu, assuring her of his prayers for the repose of the soul of her late brother.

Also on Saturday, the Pope met with the bishops of the Portuguese Episcopal Conference as they concluded their quinquennial "ad limina" visit. He gave an overview of activities and initiatives undertaken by the Church in Portugal in recent years, and spoke in particular of the need “to change the manner of organization of the Portuguese ecclesial community and the mentality of its members," so as to ensure "that the Church marches to the rhythm of Vatican Council II and that the functions of clergy and laity remain clearly established." Benedict XVI underscored that, “ecclesiology of communion in accordance with the Council, is the right path that must be followed," without however, "losing sight of possible obstacles such as horizontalism, ... democratization in the attribution of sacramental ministries, parity between conferred orders and new services, and discussion over which of the members of the community is first (a useless discussion because the Lord Jesus has already decided who is last)."

The Pope pointed to “the large number of non-practicing Christians in your dioceses," saying, "it might be worthwhile to verify 'the effectiveness of current approaches to Christian initiation, so that the faithful can be helped both to mature through the formation received in our communities and to give their lives an authentically Eucharistic direction.” He closed by recalling celebrations for the 90th anniversary of the apparitions of Our Lady of Fatima.

An estimated 40,000 members of confraternities in Italian dioceses gathered in St. Peter’s Square Saturday morning for Mass, at the end of which the Pope arrived in the square to greet everyone. He highlighted "the importance and influence confraternities have had in the Christian communities of Italy since the early centuries of last millennium" and how they soon became "groups of lay faithful dedicated to accentuating certain features of popular religiosity associated with the life of Jesus Christ ... and with devotion to the Virgin Mary and the saints," often combining this with "works of mercy and solidarity."

He noted how confraternities were formed in the Middle Ages, “a time when structured forms of public assistance ensuring social and health care for the weakest groups of society still did not exist.” However, he said, confraternities "are not mere mutual-assistance societies or philanthropic associations, but groups of brothers who, wishing to live the Gospel in the awareness of being a living part of the Church, aim to put into practice the commandment of love, which encourages people to open their hearts to others, especially to those in difficulty. … In the period of great change we are going through, the Church ... also needs you, dear friends, to ensure that the announcement of the Gospel of charity reaches everyone, along old paths and new.”


Discovering the unkown Bernini, the Vatican’s artist

Vatican City, Nov.10,2007 (CINS/ROMEreports) - Lorenzo Bernini was the Vatican’s artist par excellence. During his life, he produced a prodigious output of artwork for seven popes, including Urban VIII and Innocent X. The great columns in St. Peter’s Square – designed to symbolise the Church’s embrace of the faithful – were his creation. So, too, was the sublime baldaquino in St Peter’s basilica. Both have become great Christian icons.

Most of his artwork was in the form of sculpture or architecture. But what’s less well known is that Bernini was also a great painter. Evidence of this can be seen in an exhibition that has just opened at Palazzo Barberini.

The exhibition is putting on display the artist’s 50 best paintings. For the first time, these works of art are shown together in the same hall. Normally they are displayed around the world’s most prestigious museums such as El Prado in Madrid or London’s National Gallery.

When Bernini painted, he did so with a special relationship with the Church in mind – that, say art historians, makes his religious works more vivid and human. Tommaso Montanari, curator of the exhibition, explains that Bernini “represents the saints and the figures of salvation’s history as if they were people who walked with us in the street. In fact, that is what the Church herself says”.

The exhibition, which shows his famous “Insults to Christ” and portrait of Pope Urban VIII, lasts until January 20th.

Vatican official criticizes narrow reading of Tridentine ruling

Vatican City, nov.09,2007 (CINS/CNS) -- The secretary of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments criticized bishops and priests who have given a narrow interpretation to Pope Benedict XVI's permission for the wider celebration of the Tridentine Mass.

Archbishop Albert Malcolm Ranjith Patabendige Don told an Italian Internet news site that he found it difficult to understand the action "and even rebellion" of churchmen who have tried to limit access to the older Mass.

"On the part of some dioceses, there have been interpretive documents that inexplicably aim to limit the 'motu proprio' of the pope," he told the Web site Petrus Nov. 5.

Pope Benedict 's apostolic letter, published in early July, eased restrictions on the use of the 1962 Roman Missal, which governed the liturgy before the new Order of the Mass was introduced in 1970.

The papal document said the Latin-language Tridentine Mass should be available when a group of the faithful requests it and should be celebrated by qualified priests. However, differences exist over what the precise characteristics of the group should be and over what specific knowledge and training a priest must have before he can celebrate the Mass according to the 1962 missal.

Behind the attempts to define the terms in a way that limits the availability of the Tridentine Mass, "there hide, on the one hand, ideological prejudices and, on the other hand, pride, which is one of the most serious sins," the archbishop said.

"I repeat: I invite everyone to obey the pope. If the Holy Father thought it was his obligation to issue the 'motu proprio,' he had his reasons and I share them fully," he said.

"The bishops, in particular, have sworn fidelity to the pontiff; may they be coherent and faithful to their commitment," he said.

Archbishop Patabendige Don often is rumored to be in line to succeed Cardinal Francis Arinze as prefect of the congregation; on Nov. 1 the cardinal turned 75, the normal retirement age for bishops and Vatican officials.

"The Tridentine rite," the archbishop said, "belongs to the tradition of the church. The pope has duly explained the reasons for his provision, which is an act of freedom and justice toward the traditionalists."

The archbishop's comments to Petrus were published about a month after he strongly criticized church members, including bishops, who publicly disagree with papal decisions.

Speaking to a Latin liturgy association in the Netherlands, he said, the church needs members who are obedient to God's will, "which is manifested in a special way through the church and its visible head, the Roman pontiff."

While discussion and debate can be appropriate, he said, "if it does not in the end lead to a spirit of obedience in the service of unity then it divides and can only be interpreted as a manifestation of the intent of the evil one to disturb and retard the noble mission of Christ. Even those wearing ecclesiastical purple or red are not exempt from the tempter's enchantments."

Cardinals called to Vatican for extraordinary assembly

Vatican City, Nov.09,2007 (CINS/totalcatholic) - For the second time in his pontificate, Pope Benedict XVI has summoned all the cardinals to the Vatican for an “extraordinary consistory”.

The assembly, on November 23, will cover the current state of the Catholic dialogue with the other Christian Churches and  the situation of  “the life of the Church in general.”

Cardinal Angelo Sodano, Dean of the College of Cardinal s sent a letter to the cardinals on 26 October inviting them to the assembly, which will involve a morning and evening session, in the presence of the Pope

Benedict, who called a similar one-day assembly of the cardinals last March will address the meeting twice.

In the morning he will greet the cardinals and speak for a short time and may also indicate some questions which he wishes them to answer or comment on during the day. 

Cardinal Walter Kasper will then deliver the keynote speech to the meeting, where he will explain the present state of the ecumenical dialogue, almost certainly focusing on relations with the Orthodox Church, with particular attention to the Russian Orthodox.

Cardinals will be free to speak for about seven minutes each after Cardinal Kasper’s speech in the morning, and also throughout the evening session which goes from 5-7.30pm.

The 23 new cardinals-elect, including Ireland’s Archbishop Sean Brady have been invited to attend, meaning all 202 members of the College of Cardinal s have been called to Rome.

Ireland will therefore have three cardinals at the meeting: the 90-year-old Cahal Daly, 81-year-old Desmond Connell of Dublin and 68-year old-Sean Brady – the only one of the three who will be able to vote in the next conclave, as he is under 80.

Scotland’s Cardinal Keith O’Brien, 69, will also be at the meeting and will brief his fellow cardinals after his recent trip to Vietnam and China.

Cardinal Cormac Murphy O’Connor, 75, of England and Wales is one of the most experienced cardinals in the Ecumenical field.

He created quite a stir at the last extraordinary consistory held by John Paul II in May 2001, when he proposed that the Pope should call “a kind of ecumenical council or assembly” of the leaders of all the other main Christian Churches – Orthodox, Anglican, Lutheran and Free Churches, which the pope would preside over “with a primacy of love, not a primacy of jurisdiction”.

Cardinal Murphy-O’Connor is expected to speak again this time.


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