Monday, March 29, 2010

John Paul II The Great Memorial Mass

Pope Benedict XVI (L) leads the mass in memory of John Paul II on the anniversary of his death in Saint Peter's Basilic at the Vatican March 29, 2010. (Daylife-Reuters)
Venerated Brothers in the Episcopate and the Priesthood:

Dear Brothers and Sisters!

We are gathered around the altar, near the tomb of the Apostle Peter, to offer the Eucharistic sacrifice for the eternal repose of the chosen soul of Venerable John Paul II, on the fifth anniversary of his death. We do so a few days early, because this year April 2 is Good Friday. We are, in any case, in Holy Week -- a context that is much more propitious for recollection and prayer, in which the Liturgy makes us relive more intensely the last days of Jesus' earthly life.

I wish to express my gratitude to all of you who are taking part in this Mass. I greet cordially the cardinals -- in a special way Archbishop Stanislao Dziwisz -- the bishops, priests, men and women religious, as well as the pilgrims gathered purposely from Poland, and so many young people and numerous faithful who did not want to miss this celebration.

In the first biblical reading that was proclaimed, the prophet Isaiah presents the figure of a "servant of God," who is at the same time his chosen one, in whom he is well pleased. The servant will act with unbreakable firmness, with an energy that does not fail until he has realized the task that was assigned to him. However, he will not have at his disposition those human means that seem indispensable to act on such a grandiose plane.

He will present himself with the force of conviction, and it will be the Spirit that God has put in him that will give him the capacity to act with meekness and strength, assuring him of final success.

That which the inspired prophet says of the servant, we can apply to our beloved John Paul II: the Lord called him to his service and, in entrusting to him tasks of ever greater responsibility, also accompanied him with his grace and his continual assistance. During his long Pontificate, he spent himself in proclaiming the law with firmness, without weakness or hesitation, above all when he had to face resistance, hostility and rejection.
He knew he was taken by the hand of the Lord, and this enabled him to exercise a very fecund ministry, for which, once again, we give fervid thanks to God.

The Gospel just proclaimed takes us to Bethany, where, as the evangelist notes, Lazarus, Martha and Mary offered a supper to the Master (John 12:1). This banquet in the home of three friends of Jesus is characterized by presentiments of imminent death: the six days before Passover, the suggestion of the traitor Judas, Jesus' reply that recalls one of the pious acts of burial anticipated by Mary, the hint that they will not always have him with them, the intention to eliminate Lazarus, in which is reflected the will to kill Jesus.

In this evangelical account, there is a gesture to which I wish to draw your attention: Mary of Bethany "took a pound of costly ointment of pure nard and anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped his feet with her hair" (12:3). Mary's gesture is the expression of great faith and love toward the Lord: for her it was not enough to wash the feet of the Master with water, but she spreads them with a great quantity of precious perfume that -- as Judas will argue -- could have been sold for three hundred denari; she does not, thus, anoint the head, as was the custom, but the feet: Mary offers Jesus all that she has that is most precious and with a gesture of profound devotion.

Love does not calculate, does not measure, is not concerned about expenses, puts no barriers, but is able to give with joy, seeks only the other's good, overcomes stinginess, miserliness, resentment, the narrow-mindedness that man bears at times in his heart.

Mary places herself at Jesus' feet in a humble attitude of service, as the Master himself will do in the Last Supper, when -- the fourth Gospel tells us -- he "rose from supper, laid aside his garments, and girded himself with a towel. Then he poured water into a basin, and began to wash the disciples feet" (John 13:4-5), because, he says, "you also should do as I have done to you" (v. 15): the rule of Jesus' community is that of love that is able to serve to the point of giving one's life.

And the perfume spreads: "and the house was filled," notes the evangelist, "with the fragrance of the ointment" (John 12:3). The meaning of Mary's gesture, which is a response to the infinite love of God, is diffused among all the guests; every gesture of charity and of genuine devotion to Christ does not remain a personal event, does not concern only the relationship between the individual and the Lord, but concerns the whole body of the Church, it is contagious: It infuses love, joy, light.

"He came to his own home, and his own people received him not" (John 1:11): Contrasted with Mary's act are the words and attitude of Judas that, under the pretext of the help to be given to the poor, hides egoism and the falsehood of the man shut-in on himself, chained by the greed of possession, who does not let himself be enveloped by the good perfume of divine love.

Judas calculates where one cannot calculate, he enters with a mean spirit where the space is one of love, of gift, of total dedication. And Jesus, who up to that moment has been silent, intervenes in favor of Mary's gesture: "Let her alone, let her keep it for the day of my burial" (John 12:7).

Jesus understands that Mary intuited the love of God and indicates that now his "hour" is drawing close, the "hour" in which Love will find its supreme expression on the wood of the cross: the Son of God gives himself, so that man can have life, he descends into the abyss of death to take man to the heights of God, he is not afraid to humble himself "and become obedient unto death, even death on a cross" (Philippians 2:8). In the sermon in which he comments on this evangelical passage, St. Augustine addresses to each one of us, with pressing words, the invitation to enter into this circuit of love, imitating Mary's gesture and putting ourselves concretely in the following of Jesus.

Augustine writes: "Every soul that wishes to be faithful, unites itself to Mary to anoint with precious perfume the feet of the Lord. [...] Anoint the feet of Jesus: Follow the footprints of the Lord by leading a worthy life. Dry his feet with your hair: If there is something superfluous, give it to the poor, and you will have dried the feet of the Lord" (In Ioh. evang., 50, 6).

Dear brothers and sisters! The whole life of the Venerable John Paul II unfolded in the sign of this charity, of this capacity to give himself in a generous way, without reservations, without measure, without calculation. What moved him was love for Christ, to whom he had consecrated his life, a superabundant and unconditional love. It is precisely because he drew ever closer to God in love, that he was able to make himself a fellow wayfarer with the man of today, spreading in the world the perfume of the love of God.

Whoever had the joy of knowing and frequenting him, was able to touch with the hand how alive was in him the certainty "of contemplating the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living," as we heard in the Responsorial Psalm (26/27:13); a certainty that accompanied him in the course of his existence and that, in a particular way, was manifested during the last period of his pilgrimage on this earth: the progressive physical weakness, in fact, never affected his rock-like faith, his luminous hope, his fervent charity. He let himself be consumed by Christ, for the Church, for the whole world: his was a suffering lived to the end for love and with love.

In the homily for the 25th anniversary of his Pontificate, he confided having felt strongly in his heart, at the moment of the election, Jesus' question to Peter: "Do you love me? Do you love me more than these ...? " (John 21:15-16); and he adds: "Every day within my heart the same dialogue takes place between Jesus and Peter. In spirit, I fix my gaze on the benevolent look of the Risen Christ. He, however, aware of my human frailty, encourages me to respond with trust as Peter: "Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you" (John 21:17).

And then he invites me to assume the responsibility that He himself has entrusted to me" (Oct. 16, 2003). They are words charged with faith and love, love of God, who conquers all."

[In Polish, he said:]

Finally I wish to greet the Poles here present. Many of you have gathered around the tomb of the Venerable Servant of God with a special sentiment, as daughters and sons of the same land, raised in the same culture and spiritual tradition. The life and work of John Paul II, great Pole, can be a reason for pride for you.

However, it is necessary for you to remember that this is also a great call to be faithful witnesses of the faith, the hope and the love, that he taught us uninterruptedly. Through the intercession of John Paul II, may the Lord's blessing always sustain you.

[He continued in Italian]

While we continue the Eucharistic celebration, being on the point of living the glorious days of the Passion, Death and Resurrection of the Lord, let us entrust ourselves with confidence -- following the example of the Venerable John Paul II -- to the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of the Church, so that she will sustain us in the commitment to be, in every circumstance, tireless apostles of her divine Son and of his merciful Love. Amen!

Papal Holy Week Agenda:

A Response to the New York Times-Father De Souza:

The New York Times on March 25 accused Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI, of intervening to prevent a priest, Fr. Lawrence Murphy, from facing penalties for cases of sexual abuse of minors.

The story is false. It is unsupported by its own documentation. Indeed, it gives every indication of being part of a coordinated campaign against Pope Benedict, rather than responsible journalism.

Before addressing the false substance of the story, the following circumstances are worthy of note:

• The New York Times story had two sources. First, lawyers who currently have a civil suit pending against the Archdiocese of Milwaukee. One of the lawyers, Jeffrey Anderson, also has cases in the United States Supreme Court pending against the Holy See. He has a direct financial interest in the matter being reported.

• The second source was Archbishop Rembert Weakland, retired archbishop of Milwaukee. He is the most discredited and disgraced bishop in the United States, widely known for mishandling sexual-abuse cases during his tenure, and guilty of using $450,000 of archdiocesan funds to pay hush money to a former homosexual lover who was blackmailing him. Archbishop Weakland had responsibility for the Father Murphy case between 1977 and 1998, when Father Murphy died. He has long been embittered that his maladministration of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee earned him the disfavor of Pope John Paul II and Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, long before it was revealed that he had used parishioners’ money to pay off his clandestine lover. He is prima facie not a reliable source.

• Laurie Goodstein, the author of the New York Times story, has a recent history with Archbishop Weakland. Last year, upon the release of the disgraced archbishop’s autobiography, she wrote an unusually sympathetic story that buried all the most serious allegations against him (New York Times, May 14, 2009).

• A demonstration took place in Rome on Friday, coinciding with the publication of the New York Times story. One might ask how American activists would happen to be in Rome distributing the very documents referred to that day in the New York Times. The appearance here is one of a coordinated campaign, rather than disinterested reporting.

It’s possible that bad sources could still provide the truth. But compromised sources scream out for greater scrutiny. Instead of greater scrutiny of the original story, however, news editors the world over simply parroted the New York Times piece. Which leads us the more fundamental problem: The story is not true, according to its own documentation.

The New York Times made available on its own website the supporting documentation for the story. In those documents, Cardinal Ratzinger himself does not take any of the decisions that allegedly frustrated the trial. Letters are addressed to him; responses come from his deputy. Even leaving that aside, though, the gravamen of the charge — that Cardinal Ratzinger’s office impeded some investigation — is proven utterly false.

The documents show that the canonical trial or penal process against Father Murphy was never stopped by anyone. In fact, it was only abandoned days before Father Murphy died. Cardinal Ratzinger never took a decision in the case, according to the documents. His deputy, Archbishop Tarcisio Bertone, suggested, given that Father Murphy was in failing health and a canonical trial is a complicated matter, that more expeditious means be used to remove him from all ministry.

To repeat: The charge that Cardinal Ratzinger did anything wrong is unsupported by the documentation on which the story was based. He does not appear in the record as taking any decision. His office, in the person of his deputy, Archbishop Bertone, agreed that there should be full canonical trial. When it became apparent that Father Murphy was in failing health, Archbishop Bertone suggested more expeditious means of removing him from any ministry.

Furthermore, under canon law at the time, the principal responsibility for sexual-abuse cases lay with the local bishop. Archbishop Weakland had from 1977 onwards the responsibility of administering penalties to Father Murphy. He did nothing until 1996. It was at that point that Cardinal Ratzinger’s office became involved, and it subsequently did nothing to impede the local process.

The New York Times flatly got the story wrong, according to its own evidence. Readers may want to speculate on why.

Here is the relevant timeline, drawn from the documents the New York Times posted on its own website.

15 May 1974

Abuse by Fr. Lawrence Murphy is alleged by a former student at St. John’s School for the Deaf in Milwaukee. In fact, accusations against Father Murphy go back more than a decade.

12 September 1974

Father Murphy is granted an official “temporary sick leave” from St. John’s School for the Deaf. He leaves Milwaukee and moves to northern Wisconsin, in the Diocese of Superior, where he lives in a family home with his mother. He has no official assignment from this point until his death in 1998. He does not return to live in Milwaukee. No canonical penalties are pursued against him.

9 July 1980

Officials in the Diocese of Superior write to officials in the Archdiocese of Milwaukee about what ministry Father Murphy might undertake in Superior. Archbishop Rembert Weakland, archbishop of Milwaukee since 1977, has been consulted and says it would be unwise to have Father Murphy return to ministry with the deaf community. There is no indication that Archbishop Weakland foresees any other measures to be taken in the case.

17 July 1996

More than 20 years after the original abuse allegations, Archbishop Weakland writes to Cardinal Ratzinger, claiming that he has only just discovered that Father Murphy’s sexual abuse involved the sacrament of confession — a still more serious canonical crime. The allegations about the abuse of the sacrament of confession were in the original 1974 allegations. Weakland has been archbishop of Milwaukee by this point for 19 years.

It should be noted that for sexual-abuse charges, Archbishop Weakland could have proceeded against Father Murphy at any time. The matter of solicitation in the sacrament of confession required notifying Rome, but that too could have been done as early as the 1970s.

10 September 1996

Father Murphy is notified that a canonical trial will proceed against him. Until 2001, the local bishop had authority to proceed in such trials. The Archdiocese of Milwaukee is now beginning the trial. It is noteworthy that at this point, no reply has been received from Rome indicating that Archbishop Weakland knew he had that authority to proceed.

24 March 1997

Archbishop Tarcisio Bertone, Cardinal Ratzinger’s deputy at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, advises a canonical trial against Father Murphy.

14 May 1997

Archbishop Weakland writes to Archbishop Bertone to say that the penal process against Father Murphy has been launched, and notes that the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has advised him to proceed even though the statute of limitations has expired. In fact, there is no statute of limitations for solicitation in the sacrament of confession.

Throughout the rest of 1997 the preparatory phases of penal process or canonical trial is underway. On 5 January 1998 the Tribunal of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee says that an expedited trial should be concluded within a few months.

12 January 1998

Father Murphy, now less than eight months away from his death, appeals to Cardinal Ratzinger that, given his frail health, he be allowed to live out his days in peace.

6 April 1998

Archbishop Bertone, noting the frail health of Father Murphy and that there have been no new charges in almost 25 years, recommends using pastoral measures to ensure Father Murphy has no ministry, but without the full burden of a penal process. It is only a suggestion, as the local bishop retains control.

13 May 1998

The Bishop of Superior, where the process has been transferred to and where Father Murphy has lived since 1974, rejects the suggestion for pastoral measures. Formal pre-trial proceedings begin on 15 May 1998, continuing the process already begun with the notification that had been issued in September 1996.

30 May 1998

Archbishop Weakland, who is in Rome, meets with officials at the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith, including Archbishop Bertone but not including Cardinal Ratzinger, to discuss the case. The penal process is ongoing. No decision taken to stop it, but given the difficulties of a trial after 25 years, other options are explored that would more quickly remove Father Murphy from ministry.

19 August 1998

Archbishop Weakland writes that he has halted the canonical trial and penal process against Father Murphy and has immediately begun the process to remove him from ministry — a quicker option.

21 August 1998

Father Murphy dies. His family defies the orders of Archbishop Weakland for a discreet funeral.

Father Rolheiser via Deacon Kandra:

"To be connected with the church is to be associated with scoundrels, warmongers, fakes, child-molesters, murderers, adulterers and hypocrites of every description.

It also, at the same time, identifies you with saints and the finest persons of heroic soul of every time, country, race, and gender.

To be a member of the church is to carry the mantle of both the worst sin and the finest heroism of soul because the church always looks exactly as it looked at the original crucifixion, God hung among thieves."

Related Links:

The Anchoress provides a panoply of links of Papal defense

Pope John Paul II was a model of untiring love for God and for all men and women

The Vatican and other church officials have amplified their defense of Pope Benedict XVI

Archbishop Dolan of New York stridently defends the Pope

Metro bombings in Moscow almost kill Catholic parishioners

Jan Pawel II:

JP2's Belongings:


Recent accusations against the Vatican deserve a response.

• Fr. Lawrence Murphy apparently began his predatory behavior inWisconsin in the 1950s, yet the victims' families never contacted the police until the mid-1970s.

After an investigation, thecase was dropped.

• The Vatican did not learn of the case until 1996.

• Cardinal Ratzinger, now the pope, was the head of the office that was contacted. There is no evidence that he knew of it. But even if he did, he would have had to allow for an investigation. While the inquiry was proceeding, Murphy died.

• The Times questions why Murphy was never defrocked. But only the Vatican can do that, and since it never learned of the case until he was dying, it was never a realistic option.

• The Times says the Vatican's canonical inquiry was done in secret. Correct. The proceedings of internal investigations—even in organizations like the Times—are never shown on C-SPAN.

• The Times says repeatedly that Church officials did not report accusations of abuse to the police. The common response of all organizations, secular as well as religious, was to access therapy and reinstate the patient (I prefer the term offender). Today it is obvious that a more hard-line approach is necessary, though therapy is still popular in many quarters.

• The Times continues to editorialize about the "pedophilia crisis," when all along it's been a homosexual crisis. Eighty percent of the victims of priestly sexual abuse are male and most of them are post-pubescent. While homosexuality does not cause predatory behavior, and most gay priests are not molesters, most of the molesters have been gay.

Here's what's really going on. The Times has teamed up with Jeffrey Anderson, a radical lawyer who has made millions suing the Church (and greasing professional victims' groups like SNAP), so they can weaken its moral authority. Why? Because of issues like abortion, gay marriage and women's ordination. That's what's really driving them mad, and that's why they are on the hunt.

Those who doubt this to be true need to ask why the debt-ridden Times does not spend the same resources looking for dirt in other institutions that occurred a half-century ago.

Archbishop of Toronto-Thomas Collins:

"As we look to the continuing painful purification of the Church, we all need in a particular way to give thanks to God for the leadership of Joseph Ratzinger, as Cardinal and Pope, who has acted decisively, fairly, consistently, and courageously to purify the priesthood and to make the Church a safe place for everyone. Anyone with any knowledge of this terrible reality realizes that Pope Benedict has led the way in confronting this evil."

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