"Let unity, the greatest good of all goods, be your preoccupation." - St. Ignatius of Antioch (Letter to St. Polycarp)

Monday, June 29, 2009

Pallium: Unity by Participation in St. Peter's Authority

Today, on the Feast of Saints Peter and Paul, Pope Benedict gave the pallium to 34 archbishops from 20 countries. The use of the pallium goes back at least to the early fourth century. It symbolizes the unity of the Church, by visually representing each archbishop's participation in the authority Christ gave to St. Peter to shepherd His flock. Prior to the investing, the pallia are laid on St. Peter's tomb beneath the high altar of St. Peter's Basilica in Rome. The Catholic Encylopedia article includes the following:

"Worn by the pope, the pallium symbolizes the plenitudo pontificalis officii (i.e. the plenitude of pontifical office); worn by archbishops, it typifies their participation in the supreme pastoral power of the pope, who concedes it to them for their proper church provinces. An archbishop, therefore, who has not received the pallium may not exercise any of his functions as metropolitan, nor any metropolitan prerogatives whatever; he is even forbidden to perform any episcopal act until invested with the pallium. Similarly, after his resignation, he may not use the pallium; should he be transferred to anotherarchdiocese. He must again petition the Holy Father for the pallium. In the case of bishops, its use is purely ornamental. The new palliums are solemnly blessed after the Second Vespers on the feast of Sts. Peter and Paul, and are then kept in a special silver-gilt casket near the Confessio Petri until required."

Below is the video of today's Pallium Mass at St. Peter's Basilica in Rome.

Pallium Mass (Part 1)

Pallium Mass (Part 2)

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Pope Benedict receives delegation from Constantinople

This morning at the Vatican Pope Benedict XVI greeted a delegation from the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople, currently in Rome to attend celebrations to mark the closing of the Pauline Year on Monday 29th June, Feast of Saints Peter and Paul. On this occasion the pope highlighted the importance of ecumenical dialogue both at a theological and grass roots level. Your presence here the Holy Father went on to say is a sign of fraternity within the Church. And in this respect Benedict XVI praised the theological progress achieved by the International Catholic and Orthodox Commission which is due to meet in October to discuss the role of the Bishop of Rome. Finally, the Pope stressed, it is this climate of respect and love between us that has helped ovecome past controversies and tensions.

Here Pope Benedict encourages ecumenical dialogue at the grass roots level, something that takes place often now on the internet, where Christians of all traditions 'gather' to discuss what divides us and find ways to achieve reconciliation. At the same time Pope Benedict provides us with an example of how that dialogue should be conducted, with all civility, patience, hope, and charity.

Friday, June 26, 2009

"What will it take for a true ecumenical reconciliation?"

Metropolitan Jonah calls for Full Communion With New Anglican Province

Speaking on Wednesday morning to the ACNA Assembly, His Beatitude, Jonah, Metropolitan of All America and Canada and leader of the Orthodox Church in America (OCA), called for a "full... intercommunion" with the Anglican Church in North America. "What will it take," he asked, "for a true ecumenical reconciliation? That is what I am seeking by being with you today." (Read the rest of the article).

H/T: Michael F. Bird

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Fr. Longenecker's trilemma

Fr. Longenecker, drawing from Cardinal Newman, lays out a trilemma between latitudinarianism, sectarianism, and Catholicism. Read more.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Play church

What is "play church"? It is private judgment dressing itself up as though it is something other than private judgment. (Read more)

This Monday evening (June 22) I'll be giving a talk here in St. Louis on "Scripture and Tradition." If you are interested in attending, please send me an email.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

The heart of a good shepherd

Archbishop Burke reaches out to my daughter, Laura, outside the Saint Louis Cathedral Basilica, after the installation mass for Archbishop Carlson, on June 10, 2009.

The photo was taken by Lisa Johnston; click on the photo for a larger version.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Archbishop Carlson's installation

Today I'll be at Archbishop Carlson's installation. Watch it live on EWTN starting around 1:30 pm (CST), or live stream it at the Archdiocese of St. Louis website. More than 50 bishops will be attending, including the current Prefect of the Apostolic Signatura Archbishop Raymond Burke, Cardinal Justin Rigali of Philadelphia, Cardinal Francis George of Chicago and Archbishop Timothy Dolan of New York.

UPDATE: A photo of Archbishop Carlson with my family made the St. Louis Post-Dispatch

Monday, June 8, 2009

What does the visibility of the Church mean?

Thomas Brown and I recently addressed this question on Called to Communion in an article titled "Christ Founded a Visible Church."

2009 Letter and Spirit Summer Institute

Left to right: Taylor Marshall, Neal Judisch, John Kincaid, myself, Br. Sebastian CFR, David Wills, and Curtis Mitch. At the far right of the photo, Scott Hahn is serving pasta.

Last week I attended the 2009 Letter and Spirit Summer Institute in Steubenville, Ohio, hosted by the St. Paul Center for Biblical Theology. It was an outstanding experience. I won't go into the details here just now. (See Neal's entry for more details.) I want to reflect on it and bring out some more developed thoughts in the near future. It was a privilege to meet Scott Hahn, and to sit under his teaching for a week. Though he is more well known for his popular works, he is a first-rate scholar in biblical theology. That can be seen clearly in his recent book Kinship by Covenant (Yale University Press, 2009). Praying the hours with the Franciscan brothers was also very edifing. I especially enjoyed meeting Neal, Taylor, and John Kincaid. John is also a graduate of Covenant Theological Seminary. He went on to study at Duke, and is now working on a PhD in theology at Ave Maria. He was received into the Catholic Church last year, and very shortly he will be joining our team of contributors at Called to Communion. Below is another photo from last week; this is of the four of us with Scott Hahn in front of his house.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Fr. Jeffrey Steel jumps into the Tiber

Fr. Jeffrey Steel, a former Covenant Theological Seminary student, and former PCA pastor for 6.5 years, and more recently an Anglican priest, has decided to become Catholic. There he writes:
I am writing to make the announcement that I am becoming a Roman Catholic along with my wife Rhea and our six children. I realise that this decision is going to make some really happy, some very sad and others possibily angry. But, I have made the decision with the deepest sense of integrity and by conscience. I would like to share a bit of my faith journey though there are many gaps here, it is descriptive of my heart over the past few months. This is not particularly an academic account of what I have done in my studies but rather the spiritual wrestling that went on within me. The announcement was made this morning in all three parishes where I serve and is now a matter of public knowledge. My duties and licence in the parish end on 14 June 2009 (Corpus Christi Sunday) and my reception into Holy Mother Church is forthcoming.

My PhD studies really set me on my Catholic journey in a deep theological way though I did not realise it at the time. I have been looking at Bishop Lancelot Andrewes as a catalyst for ecumenism with the Catholic Church in the area of Eucharistic sacrifice. Andrewes was in regular dialogue with S. Robert Bellarmine SJ and it is in this dialogue and Andrewes’ other writings that I saw how Catholic he was with regards to the Eucharist being the Christian offering which consisted of more than a sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving. It was and is propitiatory as well as other things.

Through my time of study in Catholic sacramental theology and viewing my own priestly ministry within this theological framework the question of communio began to frequently come to mind. I had fully embraced Catholic sacramental theology and believed that I could be a Catholic in the Church of England and planned on retirement from the C of E later in life. With all that is going on around the Anglican Communion presently, and particularly within the C of E and how she makes decisions on matters of doctrine, I began to ask questions about authority. As a theologian praying for reunion with the Holy See the question I was now asking was, ‘on whose terms does this reunion take place?’
Please pray for him and his family as he makes this transition.