Tag Archives: papal resignation

The Patriarch of Constantinople’s letter to Benedict

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The Patriarch of Constantinople, Bartholomew I, wrote a letter on occasion of the abdication of Pope Benedict. It is a warm letter and testimony to his co-worker in the vineyard. In an era of lots of change in the leadership of many changes, it is interesting to what is said,

It is with regret that we have learned of the decision by His Holiness Pope Benedict to retire from his Throne, because with his wisdom and experience he could have provided much more to the Church and the world.

Pope Benedict leaves an indelible mark on the life and history of the Roman Catholic Church, sealed not only by his brief papacy, but also by his broad and longstanding contribution as a theologian and hierarch of his Church, as well as his universally acknowledged prestige.

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Pope: The Lord is calling me to “climb the mountain”

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This is Pope Benedict’s final Angelus address as the Supreme Pontiff of the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church. Notice the imagery he uses: the climbing the mountain and “once you’ve met Christ, why come down to pain?” The Pope has a new vocation: to live in adoration of Christ.

On the second Sunday of Lent, the liturgy always presents us with the Gospel of the Transfiguration of the Lord. The evangelist Luke places particular emphasis on the fact that Jesus was transfigured as he prayed: his is a profound experience of relationship with the Father during a sort of spiritual retreat that Jesus lives on a high mountain in the company of Peter, James and John , the three disciples always present in moments of divine manifestation of the Master (Luke 5:10, 8.51, 9.28).

The Lord, who shortly before had foretold his death and resurrection (9:22), offers his disciples a foretaste of his glory. And even in the Transfiguration, as in baptism, we hear the voice of the Heavenly Father, “This is my Son, the Chosen One listen to him” (9:35). The presence of Moses and Elijah, representing the Law and the Prophets of the Old Covenant, it is highly significant: the whole history of the Alliance is focused on Him, the Christ, who accomplishes a new “exodus” (9:31) , not to the promised land as in the time of Moses, but to Heaven. Peter’s words: “Master, it is good that we are here” (9.33) represents the impossible attempt to stop this mystical experience. St. Augustine says: “[Peter] … on the mountain … had Christ as the food of the soul. Why should he come down to return to the labors and pains, while up there he was full of feelings of holy love for God that inspired in him a holy conduct? “(Sermon 78.3).

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Indulgences when there is no pope

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We Catholics have confidence in the proper use of indulgences for flourishing of the spiritual life on earth and in purgatory. Indulgences are often more known in concept but not always with the needed exactitude with regard to the high religious ideals of theology and sacramentality in following Jesus Christ more closely in His Resurrection.

Catholics know that one of the conditions of gaining the gift of indulgence is prayer for the Pope’s intentions. But when there is no pope, how does one fulfill the requirements of the indulgence? Are indulgences unavailable to the faithful during the papal vacancy?

The Apostolic Penitentiary answered this question in 2005 at the papal vacancy, stating that indulgences are still available to the faithful during the interregnum, since the “intentions of the Holy Father” perdure past the life of the same Holy Father, therefore prayer for those intentions made known by the Apostolic See remain necessary and efficacious for the purposes of indulgences.

I note the Pope’s Intentions on the first day of the month here on the Communio blog, but the Apostleship of Prayer, whose ministry it is in the USA, makes these intentions available online and in a nicely printed pamphlet. The papal intentions for February 2013 are noted here.

In the text, The Gift of the Indulgence (2000), the Apostolic Penitentiary writes,

1. This is how an indulgence is defined in the Code of Canon Law (can. 992) and in the Catechism of the Catholic Church (n. 1471): “An indulgence is a remission before God of the temporal punishment due to sins whose guilt has already been forgiven, which the faithful Christian who is duly disposed gains under certain prescribed conditions through the action of the Church which, as the minister of redemption, dispenses and applies with authority the treasury of the satisfactions of Christ and the saints”.

2. In general, the gaining of indulgences requires certain prescribed conditions (below, nn. 3, 4), and the performance of certain prescribed works (nn. 8, 9, 10 indicate those specific to the Holy Year).

3. To gain indulgences, whether plenary or partial, it is necessary that the faithful be in the state of grace at least at the time the indulgenced work is completed.

4. A plenary indulgence can be gained only once a day. In order to obtain it, the faithful must, in addition to being in the state of grace:

— have the interior disposition of complete detachment from sin, even venial sin;

— have sacramentally confessed their sins;

— receive the Holy Eucharist (it is certainly better to receive it while participating in Holy Mass, but for the indulgence only Holy Communion is required);

— pray for the intentions of the Supreme Pontiff.

5. It is appropriate, but not necessary, that the sacramental Confession and especially Holy Communion and the prayer for the Pope’s intentions take place on the same day that the indulgenced work is performed; but it is sufficient that these sacred rites and prayers be carried out within several days (about 20) before or after the indulgenced act. Prayer for the Pope’s intentions is left to the choice of the faithful, but an “Our Father” and a “Hail Mary” are suggested. One sacramental Confession suffices for several plenary indulgences, but a separate Holy Communion and a separate prayer for the Holy Father’s intentions are required for each plenary indulgence.

6. For the sake of those legitimately impeded, confessors can commute both the work prescribed and the conditions required (except, obviously, detachment from even venial sin).

7. Indulgences can always be applied either to oneself or to the souls of the deceased, but they cannot be applied to other persons living on earth.

The grants of indulgence are contained in the Enchiridion Indulgentiarum (4th ed., 1999). You will see special grants of the Holy See, such as for the Year of Faith, World Day of the Sick, World Youth Day or some special observance in dioceses or religious orders.

The Catholic Moment is over … where does hope exist?

The news media is hot to assess the Church and her legacy in the wake of Benedict XVIs abdication announcement on February 11, 2013. And, to be honest, much of the assessment is tedious and lacking substance, even from veteran and well-known and reliable Catholic thinkers. No shortage of prattle. Pick up the daily paper or turn on the TV/radio news and you will be treated to comparisons and rumination between the still current papacy (the Pope is not gone yet) and the previous one but too often with secular criteria and interests. Judging the pope and the Church with criteria other than a focus on God and the proclamation of the Gospel is not faithful. The media, we have to recognize, is not too conversant in matters of Catholic faith. In fact, they generally so very little and merely repeat clichés. Far more people are interested in questions of power, authority, the teaching, the numbers of faithful, “successes” and “failures,” the position of “the pope who resigned” and the like than they are in matters pertaining to the Word of God, the salvation of souls and to eternal life. 

Perhaps in the days to come we can come to a new and vital interest in the substance of the faith than in power.
Ross Douthat’s editorial, “The End of a Catholic Moment,” is correct and sad but true. His final thought is interesting and I with curiosity to see how and who will lead us both in the Church universal and in America….

Liturgical notes for the papal transition

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) under the direction of Monsignor Richard Hilgartner of the Secretariat for Divine Worship, has produced a packet of materials regarding the pope.

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]yahoo.com.
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