Category Archives: Church (ecclesiology)

The work of the Theologian to the Papal Household

The life of the Church is very interesting. Even such obscure things, seemingly that is, like that of the Papal Theologian, piques my wonder and awe at what is expected in our communal pursuit of Truth. And that’s what the Papal Theologian helps us to do: seek the face of God. Perhaps in your seeking Truth, Beauty and Goodness you are genuinely curious about how the Church works and the people behind the work being done?


The Papal Theologian emeritus of the Papal Household, Georges Cardinal Cottier, OP, gave an interview to Jose Antonio Varela Vidal at Zenit (11 July 2012) about Blessed Pope John Paul II, with whom he worked intimately: “…he was a man of hope. When he said: ‘Do not be afraid,’ he certainly said it for the countries occupied by Communism, but he also said it because he saw that there was a certain decadence in the West. I would say he awakened the Church everywhere. Then, his love of life, this was fantastic and he witnessed this love of life in a life profoundly marked by illness, and young people understood him.”

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The Church in Ireland faces reality with her archbishop, Diarmuid Martin

Diarmuid Martin2.jpgThe apostle of change for good in the Church in Ireland today is Archbishop Diarmuid Martin, 66, the archbishop of Dublin. His Grace has a very tough job: healing the Church in Ireland following the devastating reality of sex abuse of children by the Catholic clergy. He acts according to his conscience and faith in Christ to open the doors to speaking about such heinous things; none of other bishops in Ireland have done so. 

I was moved to tears for the children and for the Church when I watched this report. I’ve read parts of the Murphy Report but 60 Minutes brought it together. More than a whistleblower the Archbishop’s a Good Shepherd. 

The CBS news journal 60 Minutes did a segment on Archbishop Diarmuid Martin, “The Archbishop of Dublin challenges the Church.”
His Grace has been a priest for nearly 43 years and a bishop for 13. He was educated by the Dominicans in Rome’s Angelicum. For several years he’s served the Church universal in the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, and then as the Pope’s representative (called a nuncio) at the United Nations in Geneva. In 2003, John Paul elected Martin as the archbishop of Dublin.
Saint Patrick, pray for us.

Cardinal Dolan’s church in Rome

OL Guadalupe Rome.jpgThe other day I mentioned that cardinals receive a church in Rome for them to have pastoral solicitude for and to be a parish priest in the Diocese of Rome. The latter is really a fiction because the cardinal rarely has much to do his parish but this a vestige of a time when all cardinals were resident priests of Rome. Cardinal Mahoney never paid too much attention to his Roman church but Cardinal O’Malley shows up to his when he’s in Rome. 

In time long ago the priests of Rome elected their bishop: this remains true, however, in the sense that a cardinal is inscribed as a priest of Rome and the cardinal enters a papal conclave to elect a bishop of Rome. Cardinal Timothy Michael Dolan is the Cardinal-Archbishop of New York, a Cardinal of the Holy Roman Church and a priest of the Diocese of Rome.

Regarding the Roman church aspect of being a cardinal is written about by Sharon Otterman of the NY Times in an article published today, “Cardinal Dolan Is Assigned a Roman Parish Founded by Mexican Refugees” and photo’s by James Hill.
Cardinal Dolan will now, it is hoped, provide some financial assistance to Our Lady of Guadalupe in Rome as he’s able.

Getting a title: Pope assigns parish churches to new cardinals

John Tong Hon helps Julien Ries with his mitre.jpg

In a public Consistory the Pope created 22 new Cardinals today, though 4 are over 80 years of age and therefore cannot vote in a papal conclave.

At the ceremony in which the Pope creates a cardinal, each one is assigned a church in Rome, a titular or diaconal church.  He becomes, in way, the pastor of a Roman parish and thus diocesan priests of Rome and therefore capable of electing the Bishop of Rome. This is “ecclesiology 101a.” 

The College of Cardinal is divided into three groups, cardinal bishops, priests and deacons. There is a dean and a vice dean of the College. Only by exception are cardinals not bishops or consecrated before being created cardinal per the Code of Canon Law (Cardinal Karl Becker was not consecrated a bishop prior to today’s bishop and very often Jesuits created a cardinal who are 80 and above are typically dispensed from being consecrated; Avery Dulles was). Cardinal priests who are diocesan bishops of dioceses, while curial officials are made Cardinal Deacons. 

The tradition of the Church is that after a number of years as a cardinal deacon one can be “promoted” to the order of cardinal priests. Some cardinals in key positions, such as the Dean of the College or prefect of an important Vatican congregation, e.g., CDF, are elevated to an open slot among the six Cardinal Bishops. There are seven cardinalatial titular dioceses, but by tradition the Dean always has two, Ostia and one other. There are also a four Cardinal Patriarchs of Eastern Churches, who rank in the College just after the Cardinal Bishops.

If you watched the ceremony each of the cardinals walked away from the Pope with a scroll. The scrolls documents man’s name as a cardinal and gives the name of his Roman church.

New cardinal deacons and their titles:

Cardinal Fernando Filoni, diaconate of Nostra Signora di Coromoto in San Giovanni di Dio.

Cardinal Manuel Monteiro de Castro, diaconate of San Domenico di Guzman.
Cardinal Santos Abril y Castello, diaconate of San Ponziano.
Cardinal Antonio Maria Veglio, diaconate of San Cesareo in Palatio.
Cardinal Giuseppe Bertello, diaconate of Santi Vito, Modesto e Crescenzia.
Cardinal Francesco Coccopalmerio, diaconate of San Giuseppe dei Falegnami.
Cardinal Joao Braz de Aviz, diaconate of Sant’Elena fuori Porta Prenestina.
Cardinal Edwin Frederick O’Brien, diaconate of San Sebastiano al Palatino.
Cardinal Domenico Calcagno, diaconate of Annunciazione della Beata Vergine Maria a Via Ardeatina.

Cardinal Giuseppe Versaldi, diaconate of Sacro Cuore di Gesu a Castro Pretorio.


New cardinal priests and their titles

Cardinal George Alencherry, title of San Bernardo alle Terme.
Cardinal Thomas Christopher Collins, title of San Patrizio.
Cardinal Dominik Jaroslav Duka, O.P., title of Santi Marcellino e Pietro.
Cardinal Willem Jacobus Eijk, title of San Callisto.
Cardinal Giuseppe Betori, title of San Marcello.
Cardinal Timothy Michael Dolan, title of Nostra Signora di Guadalupe a Monte Mario.
Cardinal Rainer Maria Woelki, title of San Giovanni Maria Vianney.
Cardinal John Tong Hon, title of Regina Apostolorum.

The over 80 cardinal:


Cardinal Lucian Muresan, title of Sant’Atanasio (still head of the Romanian Byzantine Church)
Cardinal Julien Ries, diaconate of Sant’Antonio di Padova a Circonvallazione Appia.
Cardinal Prosper Stanley Grech, O.S.A., diaconate of Santa Maria Goretti.
Cardinal Karl Josef Becker, S.J., diaconate of San Giuliano Martire.

At the moment, the ranking Cardinal Bishop is the Dean, Angelo Cardinal Sodano who has both Diocese of Albano and the Diocese of Ostia. The Salesian Tarcisio Cardinal Bertone, the Secretary of State, is a cardinal bishop of Frascati.  He is the Camerlengo.

The ranking Cardinal Deacon is Jean-Louis Pierre Cardinal Tauran of the diaconal church S. Apollinare alle Terme Neroniane-Alessandrine. He is still an elector. That makes him the Protodeacon. He gets to announce the name of the newly elected Pope.

Benedict to new Cardinals: you are entrusted with the service of love: love for God & for Church –it’s absolute and unconditional

Tu es Petrus, et super hanc petram aedificabo Ecclesiam meam.

Timothy M Card Dolan.jpg

With these words the entrance hymn has led us into the solemn and evocative ritual of the ordinary public Consistory for the creation of new Cardinals, with the placing of the biretta, the handing over of the ring and the assigning of a titular church. They are the efficacious words with which Jesus constituted Peter as the solid foundation of the Church. On such a foundation the faith represents the qualitative factor: Simon becomes Peter – the Rock – in as much as he professed his faith in Jesus as Messiah and Son of God. In the proclamation of Christ the Church is bound to Peter and Peter is placed in the Church as a rock; although it is Christ himself who builds up the Church, Peter must always be a constitutive element of that upbuilding. He will always be such through faithfulness to his confession made at Caesarea Philippi, in virtue of the affirmation, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God”.

The words Jesus addressed to Peter highlight well the ecclesial character of today’s event. The new Cardinals, in receiving the title of a church in this city or of a suburban Diocese, are fully inserted in the Church of Rome led by the Successor of Peter, in order to cooperate closely with him in governing the universal Church. These beloved Brothers, who in a few minutes’ time will enter and become part of the College of Cardinals, will be united with new and stronger bonds not only to the Roman Pontiff but also to the entire community of the faithful spread throughout the world. In carrying out their particular service in support of the Petrine ministry, the new Cardinals will be called to consider and evaluate the events, the problems and the pastoral criteria which concern the mission of the entire Church. In this delicate task, the life and the death of the Prince of the Apostles, who for love of Christ gave himself even unto the ultimate sacrifice, will be an example and a helpful witness of faith for the new Cardinals.

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About the author

Paul A. Zalonski is from New Haven, CT. He is a member of the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation, a Catholic ecclesial movement, and an Oblate of Saint Benedict. Contact Paul at paulzalonski[at]
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