The Roman Apostolic See is vacant.
Until we hear the words “Habemus papam,” please pray that the cardinals will be docile to the action of the Holy Spirit, and elect the man God chooses as the next successor of Saint Peter.
O God, eternal shepherd,
who govern your flock with
grant in your boundless fatherly love
a pastor for your Church
who will please you by his holiness
and to us show watchful care.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ,
who lives and reigns with you in the
unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.
Following what I posted recently regarding the Toowoomba situation, I draw readers’ attention to the following from the website of the Archdiocese of Melbourne:
Saturday 4 February 2012
Archbishop Denis Hart wrote yesterday to the Editor’s of both The Age and the Sydney Morning Herald in response to an article published in both newspapers last Thursday. The article presented opinions that suggested that former Toowoomba Bishop Bill Morris was denied procedural fairness and natural justice and that the Pope had breached canon law and exceeded his authority in removing Morris. The Archbishop’s letter to The Age is presented below.
The opinion piece “Bishop’s sacking reveals the Inquisition’s heavy hand remains ready to strike” (Age 2/2) re the removal of Bishop William Morris of Toowoomba is unfair and inaccurate. I understand WJ Carter QC is an eminent civil lawyer. Father Ian Waters’ Canon Law reflection is based solely on the Carter report.
In fact, the Holy See conducted a pastoral process of dialogue with Bishop Morris over eleven years involving senior officials of three offices of the Roman Curia, a number of meetings in Rome and a personal meeting with Pope Benedict. An Archbishop of another diocese from overseas appointed by the Holy See to investigate the matter has stated that he did discuss the contents of his report with Bishop Morris while he was in Toowoomba. Last October, in Rome, the Australian Bishops were informed of the care taken and the efforts made by the Holy See to achieve a mutually acceptable resolution.
In the Catholic Church, because the Pope is the Vicar of Christ and Pastor of the Universal Church, he has final power throughout the Church and can always freely exercise that power. This includes the appointment, transfer and removal of bishops.
Father Waters is misrepresented by the statement that the Pope has breached Canon Law and exceeded his authority.
In the final analysis the Pope always has freedom to act for the good of the Church in the appointment and removal of bishops.
[signed] + Denis J. Hart
The Holy Father has issued a new Apostolic Letter motu proprio entitled Porta fidei, in which he announces a Year of Faith that will commence next October. The beginning of the Year coincides with the 50th anniversary of the beginning of Vatican Council II.
Australia Incognita offers some reflections. There it is noted:
The Motu Proprio has three main themes:
- the continuity of the faith and God’s presence throughout the history of the Church;
- the importance of good catechesis on the actual content of the faith, with a paean to the importance of the Catechism of the Catholic Church; and
- the need to actually spread the faith through active evangelization.
The Holy Father writes in Porta Fidei:
It seemed to me that timing the launch of the Year of Faith to coincide with the fiftieth anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council would provide a good opportunity to help people understand that the texts bequeathed by the Council Fathers, in the words of Blessed John Paul II, “have lost nothing of their value or brilliance. They need to be read correctly, to be widely known and taken to heart as important and normative texts of the Magisterium, within the Church’s Tradition … I feel more than ever in duty bound to point to the Council as the great grace bestowed on the Church in the twentieth century: there we find a sure compass by which to take our bearings in the century now beginning.”I would also like to emphasize strongly what I had occasion to say concerning the Council a few months after my election as Successor of Peter: “if we interpret and implement it guided by a right hermeneutic, it can be and can become increasingly powerful for the ever necessary renewal of the Church.”
I certainly hope that the many initiatives that will be undertaken in the forthcoming anniversary year of the commencement of Vatican II will all take their lead from the Holy Father, and present the Second Vatican Council correctly. The Year of Faith, as announced by the Pope, is another example of the great gift to the Church that Benedict XVI is. If anyone is in any doubt as to how to correctly interpret the Council, we need just turn to the successor of Peter as he fulfils his role as chief shepherd and teacher.
Over at Australia Incognita we’re reminded to pray for the Holy Father and the Australian bishops as they make their ad limina apostolorum visit in the coming days. There is also a link there to a radio interview with Archbishop Phillip Wilson, president of the Australian Catholic Bishops’ Conference.
Canon 400 #1 of the Latin Code of Canon Law states that “in the year in which he is bound to submit the report to the Supreme Pontiff, the diocesan Bishop is to go to Rome to venerate the tombs of the Blessed Apostles Peter and Paul, and to present himself to the Roman Pontiff.” [see also c. 399: a report is to be submitted every five years to the Supreme Pontiff on the state of the diocese entrusted to the diocesan bishop].
The importance of the ad limina visits is also stressed in articles 28-32 of the Apostolic Constitution Pastor Bonus. Article 29 states: “These kinds of visits have a special importance in the life of the Church, marking as they do the apogee of the relationship between the pastors of each particular Church with the Roman Pontiff. For he meets his brother bishops, and deals with them about matters concerning the good of the Churches and the bishops’ role as shepherds, and he confirms and supports them in faith and charity. This strengthens the bonds of hierarchical communion and openly manifests the catholicity of the Church and the unity of the episcopal college.”
Given recent events in Australia, this is an important time for the bishops to spend some time with the Holy Father. There could well be some interesting conversations. Let’s indeed pray that the bishops’ pilgrimage to the tombs of the Apostles Peter and Paul, and their meetings with the successor of Peter, will be a time of grace.
* Tony Dixon has more to add about the ad limina visits at vexilla regis.
* There is an article on the Australian Bishops’ ad limina on ZENIT.
PAPAL PRAYER INTENTIONS – OCTOBER:
That the terminally ill may be supported by their faith in God and the love of their brothers and sisters.
Missionary intention: That the celebration of World Mission Day may foster in the People of God a passion for evangelization with the willingness to support missions with prayer and economic aid for the poorest Churches.