Vatican daily “L’Osservatore Romano” announces new recycling initiative

Rome (Vatican City) – For nearly 155 years, the “semi-official” daily newspaper of the Vatican city-state, “L’Osservatore Romano”, has printed papal discourses, statements, and news of appointments and audiences in its pages. Over the years, in addition to daily issues printed in Italian, the paper has added weeklies in such languages as English, French, German and Portuguese.

All of that adds up to a lot of paper, and particularly since the release of Pope Francis’ latest encyclical, Laudato Si’, questions have swirled within the editorial offices of the newspaper concerning whether it can continue to print without regard for its “eco-footprint”.

Shortly after the Holy Father issued his encyclical, current L’Osservatore editor-in-chief Giovanni Maria Vian began to fret. “Suddenly we have a Pope who cares about the environment, and a news outlet that looks entirely like an anachronism, with its newsprint and Latin motto. Then (on 27 June 2015) we get the motu proprio establishing a new Secretariat for Communications that will eventually absorb L’Osservatore Romano. The optics of this situation matter a great deal.”

According to Vian, the Pope appointed as new Prefect of the Secretariat for Communications none other than Msgr. Dario Edoardo Viganò, “who hates paper.” Ever since his appointment in 2013 to be Director of the Vatican Television Center, “…it’s been nothing but ‘digital’ this and ‘new media’ that. History and tradition means nothing to the likes of him.”


L’Osservatore Romano plan for “newspaper-only” recycling bins within St. Peter’s Square, the first of several locations throughout the Vatican city-state

So functionaries at L’Osservatore wasted no time in infiltrating Casa Santa Martae and embedding themselves “as cafeteria workers” who could discretely pass Pope Francis their idea, unhindered by papal handlers. The plan: recycling bins in St. Peter’s Square, circling the two granite fountains.

According to Vian, it was “This [the bins], or getting rid of the German weekly,” which he admitted no one actually reads but continues to enjoy a “cult following” due to its use for lining the cages of the birds of “high-ranking” clerics.

“Our big break happened one day in January of this year when the Holy Father accidentally dropped the panna cotta on his lunch tray as he was leaving the cafeteria line to join a group of youth from Brazil for lunch at a nearby table. One of our operatives quickly grabbed a new dessert from the line and brought it to Pope Francis, along with a copy of our proposal and a sketch that demonstrates the new bins,” said Vian.

Days later, recounts Vian, “the second assistant to Pope Francis called the offices of L’Osservatore to tell us that the Holy Father had seen the proposal and wanted the recycling bins placed at once, and preferably before the ‘Easter rush’.”

And, soon “we’ll have secured permission for placement of the bins at other major locations, including around the baldacchino inside the basilica, and within the Sistine Chapel.”

Thanks to another Vatican innovation, the future of L’Osservatore is again secure, “for weeks or months, at least.”


Pope Benedict is at the Synod on the Family

[NOTE: For the first time on Quartermaster of the Barque, I fired the censor and used the same profane word three times. Anyone who might be scandalized should go away.]

It is wearying that so much attention is paid — even in a circle so apparently festooned with the best kind of people as we churchblogging Catholics — to individuals who seem to delight in raising the anxiety level and drama of the Business.

Pope Francis, we are told, is presiding over pure chaos. Schism anon, because he intends to permit divorce. divorced and remarried Catholics to receive communion. Same-sex marriages, or at least blessings of civil ceremonies, or tacit approval of some unacceptable sort for same-sex relationships will be another fruit of the Synod. All the while, there will be a bunch of sloppy cloppy platitudinal relatios that either are meaningless in terms of content or loaded with ambiguity.

I call bullshit. And here’s why.

His Holiness, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI (ya know, the guy with all the memes currently trending on Facebook with the “clear teachings” on the family) is present at the Synod, at least figuratively.

A pope can’t be blamed for dying. Every pope has died. Every pope will die, until the end of time. But Pope Benedict didn’t die and, (Deo gratias) hasn’t died. No, he chose to renounce the chair.

And let’s not indulge any of those utterly absurd claims that he was somehow coerced to do it. Double triple quadruple infinity bullshit. Benedict told us that he was not coerced. Are you calling God’s Rottweiler, the one and only der panzerkardinal, a LIAR??? You’re actually going to accuse Joseph Ratzinger of committing a potentially supreme violation of conscience?

No? Good. So let’s roll that steaming nugget away, OKAY?

We know that Benedict prayed and received assurance that a decision to abdicate would not harm the Church, but perhaps even strengthen it. It would be utter bullshit to argue that His Holiness did otherwise, or that he neglected his sacred obligations, or intended to cause evil or harm.

Pope Francis, however enigmatic, has given no cause to be branded a heretic or enemy of the Church. And moreover, by all appearances the other bishop in white is serene. This moment in the Church is secondary to his will. He acted. From that we should all draw immense comfort. He continues to shepherd us, pray for us, and walk with God.

FrancisBeat: Cuba hoy, mañana Estados Unidos!

Vatican Radio

Vatican Radio

On Sunday 20 September the Holy Father, in connection with his apostolic journey to the island nation of Cuba, met with Fidel Castro and his brother Raul who is the current leader of the government there. He also celebrated mass publicly at Revolution Plaza in Havana.

From there, Pope Francis travels to the United States, where his public events will include the following schedule:

Tuesday, 22 September 2015

16:00 – Arrival at the Andrews Air Force Base in Washington, D.C. / Official welcoming ceremony at the Andrews Air Force Base in Washington, D.C.

Wednesday, 23 September 2015

9:15 – Welcoming ceremony at the South Lawn of the White House / Courtesy Visit to the President of the United States of America

11:30 – Meeting with the Bishops of the United States of America at St Matthew’s Cathedral in Washington, D.C.

16:15 – Holy Mass and Canonization of Blessed Fr. Junipero Serra at the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C. [I’m still chafing about this one]

Thursday, 24 September 2015

9:20 – Visit to the Congress of the United States of America

11:15 – Visit to the Charitable Center of St. Patrick Parish and meeting with the homeless in Washington, D.C.

18:45 – Vespers with the Clergy, Men and Women Religious at St Patrick’s Cathedral in New York

Friday, 25 September 2015

8:30 – Visit to the Headquarters of the United Nations

11:30 – Interreligious encounter at the Ground Zero memorial in New York

16:00 – Visit to “Our Lady, Queen of the Angels” School and meeting with children and families of migrants in New York (Harlem)

18:00 – Holy Mass at the Madison Square Garden in New York

Saturday, 26 September 2015

10:30 – Holy Mass with the Bishops, Clergy, Men and Women Religious of Pennsylvania gathered at the Cathedral of Sts Peter and Paul in Philadelphia

16:45 – Meeting for Religious Freedom with the Hispanic community and other immigrants at the Independence Mall in Philadelphia

19:30 – Festival of families and vigil of prayer at the B. Franklin Parkway in Philadelphia

Sunday, 27 September 2015

9:15 – Meeting with bishops taking part in the World Meeting of Families gathered at St. Charles Borromeo Seminary in Philadelphia

11:00 – Visit to detainees at Curran-Fromhold Correctional Facility in Philadelphia

16:00 – Holy Mass concluding the World Meeting of Families at B. Franklin Parkway in Philadelphia

19:00 – Greeting to the organizing committee, volunteers and benefactors at the International Airport of Philadelphia

19:45 – Farewell ceremony

Pope Francis, or rather, whoever among his functionaries responsible for the Pontifex Twitter Account, tweeted a request:

Screen Shot 2015-09-21 at 11.29.53 AM

So, let’s pray for him, mkay?

President Obama has lined up all the usual suspects of dissidents, reactionaries and infidels for the White House meet and greet. Can’t say it’s surprising that the President would hoist another indecorous and insulting flag up the pole as he lays out the unwelcome mat to the leader of over a billion Catholics. But hey, why should Bolivia’s president be the only classy one?

Laudato Si’: Surprise! They Don’t Get It

The Editors of the National Review, et al., don’t get Pope Francis’ encyclical. There is much accusation that Francis employs a simplistic approach to economic matters — a “pot calling the kettle black” scenario if ever there were one — since the writers are guilty of doing the very same thing (i.e., asserting without basis that the surest way for developing countries to improve living conditions is to increase their economies).

The Invisible Hand is an economic theory. It is not, in practice, infallible, any more than any other theory can be infallible. Something even greater than economic theory is the anthropological reality that people act chiefly out of self-interest. Christianity is the only true remedy to this reality.

It is not a given to state that the market is “self-correcting” and therefore any and all regulation is superfluous. Rather, that particular argument is a red herring now that we have examples of how unrestrained capitalism (read consumerism) AND communism — at their respective extreme polarities — are both capable of enslavement. Self-correction is not the same as “self-preservation”.

While there are now thousands of billionaires, there are billions of nothingaires. But stop counting. What resonates clearly in this encyclical, and what is desperately needed to respond to threats of a New Economic World Order, is that humanity is at the center of creation, and any economic or political system that intentionally violates the rights and dignity of even a single human being is not fully tenable in its current form.

Universal recognition of this clearly-defined principle (which is not at all novel when viewed through the lens of Church teaching) would actually solve the problem, in which case, no need for any other “Power” or “Authority”, and therefore no need for scary music or harsh lighting to emphasize the point. “Freedom consists not in doing what we like, but in having the right to do what we ought.”

There’s far more at stake than global warming. The “science” on that issue can be easily set aside for now. What about (a) pesticides harming people (and honeybees!), (b) hormones in municipal water supplies, (c) devastations to animal populations, (d) people living atop landfills, (e) “food” being sold, primarily to the poor, that isn’t really food, and (f) toxic pollutants in the air that people breathe? Are these not important to life and health?

Humans are chiefly responsible for these symptoms, even if climate itself is a far more tenuous connection. We are reminded by Pope Francis that to “fill the earth and subdue it” is not license to destroy and ruin for posterity. We are stewards, not masters.

The Ecology Encyclical: 6 Steps to Intelligent Comment

1. Ignore ALL news commentary, especially MSM.

2. Recall that Pope Francis is the Successor of Peter, Prince of the Apostles, and Chief Shepherd of the Church. He possesses a profoundly powerful charism as it regards teaching the Faithful. (If your mind just produced the words “antichrist” or “heretic”, stop and read CCC 882. A hallmark of authentic Catholic practice is union with the Bishop of Rome. If you can’t be brought to assent to his authority, then YOU have a problem. And let’s not get snarky. Cafeteria Catholicism isn’t just a phenomena of the Left.).

3. Actually read the Encyclical. Unless you’re a member of Congress, you should read before pontificating. We’ll stipulate that yes, an hour is a long time.

4. Pray about it. Forget about whether every word is infallible, ex cathedra, magisterial teaching. Ask God, does this document reveal truths about the nature of Creation and our relationship with it?

For example:

“Even as the quality of available water is constantly diminishing, in some places there is a growing tendency, despite its scarcity, to privatize this resource, turning it into a commodity subject to the laws of the market. Yet access to safe drinkable water is a basic and universal human right, since it is essential to human survival and, as such, is a condition for the exercise of other human rights. Our world has a grave social debt towards the poor who lack access to drinking water, because they are denied the right to a life consistent with their inalienable dignity.” (Para. 30).


“The culture of relativism is the same disorder which drives one person to take advantage of another, to treat others as mere objects, imposing forced labour on them or enslaving them to pay their debts. The same kind of thinking leads to the sexual exploitation of children and abandonment of the elderly who no longer serve our interests. It is also the mindset of those who say: Let us allow the invisible forces of the market to regulate the economy, and consider their impact on society and nature as collateral damage. In the absence of objective truths or sound principles other than the satisfaction of our own desires and immediate needs, what limits can be placed on human trafficking, organized crime, the drug trade, commerce in blood diamonds and the fur of endangered species? Is it not the same relativistic logic which justifies buying the organs of the poor for resale or use in experimentation, or eliminating children because they are not what their parents wanted? This same “use and throw away” logic generates so much waste, because of the disordered desire to consume more than what is really necessary. We should not think that political efforts or the force of law will be sufficient to prevent actions which affect the environment because, when the culture itself is corrupt and objective truth and universally valid principles are no longer upheld, then laws can only be seen as arbitrary impositions or obstacles to be avoided.” (Para. 123).

Can the Faithful say “Amen!”?

5. Consider whether, as a general proposition, we should be free to waste what God has supplied and whether this constitutes good stewardship. Are we truly free: to consume with abandon, to waste without regard for the needs of others, to amass more than what is necessary to prudently maintain our state of life? Why are you so upset with this question?

6. Then, after completing steps 1 through 5, comment.

Pope Francis: the Vocation of Families is to Educate Children

At today’s Wednesday General audience, the Holy Father spoke about the importance of families and their primary responsibility in educating children:

Dear Brothers and Sisters:  In our catechesis on the family, today we consider the vocation of families to educate their children, to raise them in the profound human values which are the backbone of a healthy society.  This educational mission, essential as it is, nowadays encounters a variety of difficulties.  Parents spend less time with their children and schools are often more influential than families in shaping the thinking and values of the young.  Yet the relationship between family and school ought to be harmonious.  Our children need sure guidance in the process of growing in responsibility for themselves and others.  Christian communities are called to support the educational mission of families.  They do this above all by living in fidelity to God’s world, cultivating faith, love and patience.  Jesus himself was raised in a family; when he tells us that all who hear the word of God and obey are his brothers and sisters, he reminds us that for all their failings, our families can count on his inspiration and grace in the difficult but rewarding vocation of educating their children.

In the “Declaration on Christian Education” Gravissimum Educationis 
(1965), the Church sets forth the following concepts:

First, Parents “must be recognized as the primary and principal educators” of their children. Their rights include: the primary and inalienable right and duty to educate their children and true liberty in their choice of schools.

Second, the family is the first school of the social virtues that every society needs.

Third, since the family often needs help to carry out their primary duty, certain rights and duties belong to civil society, whose role is to direct what is required for the common temporal good, and functions:

a. to protect the duties and rights of parents and others who share in education and to give them aid;

b. according to the principle of subsidiarity, when the endeavors of parents and other societies are lacking, to carry out the work of education in accordance with the wishes of the parents; and, moreover, as the common good demands, to build schools and institutions. (See also, CCC 2229).

c. to carry out the obligation that public subsidies are paid out in such a way that parents are truly free to choose according to their conscience the schools they want for their children.

d. to see to it that all citizens are able to come to a suitable share in culture and are properly prepared to exercise their civic duties and rights.

e. to protect the right of children to an adequate school education, check on the ability of teachers and the excellence of their training, look after the health of the pupils and in general, promote the whole school project. But it must always keep in mind the principle of subsidiarity so that there is no kind of school monopoly, for this is opposed to the native rights of the human person, to the development and spread of culture, to the peaceful association of citizens and to the pluralism that exists today in ever so many societies.

The Church clearly teaches that while the state has a legitimate interest in promoting the common temporal good, there is no kind of school monopoly, for this is opposed to the native rights of the human person… I am happy that Pope Francis uses positively the opportunity to reflect upon the family and its vital role in the education of children.

Verdict: The Quartermaster is Right about Cry Rooms

Over a year ago, I wrote a post (entirely grounded upon my opinion) condemning cry rooms in Catholic churches. That post generated a fair amount of traffic, comment and controversy. At least, a “tempest in a teapot” amount of controversy.

Then, in January 2014, the Holy Father baptized a group of babies at the Sistine and said that “the most beautiful choir of all is the choir of the infants who will make a noise…” I posted a followup to the original post on cry rooms entitled: Pope Francis agrees: Children Don’t Belong in Cry Rooms, and Neither Do You. I stated, somewhat “tongue in cheek”, that Pope Francis agrees with me.

Source: Flickr, under Creative Commons license; Author: jason john paul haskins

Source: Flickr, under Creative Commons license; Author: jason john paul haskins

Tongue in cheek because, while I am an avowed opponent of cry rooms myself, it seems fairly apparent (to me, at least), that I don’t speak for our Holy Father.

Everyone knows that fame and Catholic blogging are never partners, but shortly after I posted that blog about Pope Francis, I received an e-mail from a pretty “famous” Catholic “personality” who blogs, who objected (primarily) to the headline and my attempt to conflate the words of Pope Francis. He (fairly) pointed out that the secular media engages in this practice, and we should be careful not to do the same thing to try to bolster our own opinions.

I was somewhat humbled. Disappointed that my first one or two brushes with a “Catholic celebrity” hadn’t exactly garnered me any favorable ratings. I thought it charitable that this person elected not to make his disagreement public without first approaching me privately.

If nothing else, I wanted to be fair. And I was afraid of being denounced. So I changed the title of the blog post and I made a few modifications to the article. I thanked him via e-mail, and told him it had been very exciting to discover that he even knew who I was, much less had taken me seriously enough to spend the time to write me an e-mail.

Although I’m trying to be more circumspect when it comes to inferring the Holy Father’s positions, I don’t think there’s much left to infer regarding the Pope’s opinions regarding cry rooms, because on December 14, 2014, he said this:

“Children cry, they are noisy, they don’t stop moving. But it really irritates me when I see a child crying in church and someone says they must go out. God’s voice is in a child’s tears: they must never be kicked out of church.”

Read the rest here.

Just to be fair, this article does not state that Pope Francis is speaking directly about cry rooms. Okay? But it strains credulity to suggest that a pope is in favor of cry rooms when he says children must never be kicked out of church, because that’s exactly what cry rooms do.

14745079586_c1d31054d3_osuppose, if we must get really pedantic, that some parents may view cry rooms as a comfort or oasis from worry about disturbing others during mass. I suppose that some might not agree that cry rooms equate to being “kicked out of church”.

But I say in response, “If you built it, they will come.” If a parish constructs a cry room, it sends the clear message that crying babies and their errant parents should go there. It sends the clear message that certain members of the faithful are not welcome to take part in mass with the rest of the assembly. In effect, a cry room effectively does what Pope Francis says must never happen.

The Pope’s statement is NOT infallible, magisterial, take it or leave it dogma of the Holy Roman Catholic Church. It falls squarely into a matter normally relegated to the local Ordinary, at least to date (AFAIK). But if you, like me, believe that Pope Francis is the type of pastor who is always pointing to Christ, then we need to earnestly reevaluate whether cry rooms belong in our churches, because as of now it’s not purely about my opinion (or yours).

Holy Father has Message for Fathers suffering Workaholism

From January 28, 2015 general audience:

“Father is a universal word, known to all. It indicates a fundamental relationship that is real and ancient as the history of mankind. Today, however, we have reached the point of affirming that ours would be a ‘society without fathers’…. And, as often happens, we have passed from one extreme to the other. The problem of our times no longer seems to be the invasive presence of fathers, but rather their absence. … Fathers are so focused on themselves, on their work and at times their personal fulfilment, that they even forget their families, leaving children and the young to their own devices. … Now, on this shared path of reflection on the family, I would like to say to all Christian communities that we must be more careful: the absence of the paternal figure in the life of children and the young produces lacunae and wounds that can be very serious. And in effect the deviances of children and adolescents may to a considerable extent be due to this lack of examples and authoritative guidance in their everyday life, to this lack of closeness and love from their fathers”.

Truth. Read the rest here.

Even though, as a father, I am “here” much of the time (at least physically) it is still too easy to forget that what frequently occupies our attention — respect, success, money — is entirely unimportant compared to the magnificent gifts we find in our children and family.

And, the one thing (no matter how distracted I am) that constantly catches my attention is how quickly it all goes — how one minute you’re holding a little baby, bouncing him on your knee and changing his diapers, and how the very next minute he is bounding through the door with youthful vigor, emptying your refrigerator, and “borrowing” your underwear and socks. In another minute, he’ll be standing on the lawn of some college quad somewhere, watching you drive away. And in a minute after that, God willing, you’ll be bouncing a grandchild on your knee, and passing him back to mom or dad when the little one has a soiled diaper.

I suspect that a question we may have to answer to Our Father in Heaven, relative to our roles as fathers, is “Where were you?” Not, “Where were you, when your {boss}{client}{customer}{coworker}{vendor} needed you?”

Bl. Junipero Serra to be Canonized in Washington, D.C.?!?!?

Sour grapes.

Last week I posted an entry concerning the Holy Father’s announcement (aboard the papal plane from Sri Lanka to the Philippines) that during his visit to the United States in September, he intends to canonize Bl. Junipero Serra, father of the California missions.

IMG_1148speculated that this announcement could be a signal that perhaps Pope Francis would visit California during the same trip. But aboard the papal plane from the Philippines to Rome the Holy Father stated that the canonization would occur in Washington, D.C.. He said it would take an additional two days to go to California for the canonization. So?

It doesn’t make any sense. Sure, Washington D.C. is the nation’s capital, and California is now a part of the territorial U.S., but that is the complete extent of the connection between the District of Columbia and Bl. Junipero. Bl. Junipero is buried in California. His legacy is in California. Culturally, his connection is to Spain, Mexico, and California — not the East Coast United States.

When Bl. Junipero established the missions, he (to my knowledge) never traveled along the East Coast. He never visited Washington D.C., or Philadelphia, or New York. He traveled from Spain to Mexico, and then traveled from Mexico north to California.

I can’t even see the point of a canonization in Washington, D.C. It would be better (as the Holy Father indicates in the article linked above) to wait for a forthcoming trip to Mexico, and to do the canonization in Mexico City, where Bl. Junipero actually visited and made contact.

really hope that this decision is reconsidered. The canonization would be far more significant if it took place in: Rome, Spain, Mexico, or California. A canonization in Washington, D.C. might as well be Toronto, or Detroit, or Tokyo.