FaithWorld

GUESTVIEW: No good deed goes unpunished

The following is a guest contribution. Reuters is not responsible for the content and the views expressed are the authors’ alone. Father Joseph Fessio, S.J. is founder and editor of Ignatius Press, which is the primary English-language publisher of the works of Pope Benedict XVI and which has published several books by Cardinal Christoph Schönborn. He is also publisher of Catholic World Report magazine. schoenborn 1

Cardinal Christoph Schönborn in Vienna, November 13, 2009/Heinz-Peter Bader

By Father Joseph Fessio, S.J.

Did Cardinal Christoph Schönborn of Vienna “attack” Cardinal Angelo Sodano, dean of the College of Cardinals and former Vatican secretary of state? If The Tablet weekly in London were your only source of information, you’d think so, because that’s what the headline screamed.

What happened?

Cardinal Schönborn, who like his mentor Pope Benedict is a model of openness and transparency, invited the editors of Austria’s dozen or so major newspapers to a meeting at his residence in Vienna. How many bishops can you name who have extended such an invitation to the press?

The journalists agreed that this would be an “off the record” meeting so that everyone could take part freely and frankly. Was this to impose silence on the press? To cover up once again the misdeeds of clerics? No, it was an attempt by Cardinal Schönborn to be as open as possible and to make himself available to answer any question that was asked. It was an attempt to help educate the press on matters that the press often finds difficult to grasp—such as the essential foundations of the hierarchical and sacramental structure of the Church, and the intricacies of moral theology. NG002104

St. Thomas Aquinas, by Carlo Crivelli

Cardinal Schönborn is a Dominican and a professor. Which means that he has a serious scholar’s grasp of the foundations as well as the conclusions of moral theology, particularly as expounded by St. Thomas Aquinas.

“Sin within the Church” is greatest threat to Catholicism: pope

pope portugal plane

Pope Benedict on the plane to Portugal, with spokesman Fr. Federico Lombardi at right, 11 May 2010/Stefano Rellandini

Pope Benedict said on Tuesday that the greatest threat to Catholicism came from “sin within the Church,” one if his most forthright comments so far on a sexual abuse scandal that has created turmoil in the church. The Church has “a very deep need” to recognize that it must do penitence for its sins and “accept purification,” he said.

“Today we see in a truly terrifying way that the greatest persecution of the Church does not come from outside enemies but is born of sin within the Church,” Benedict told reporters on the plane to Portugal, replying to a question about the scandal.

Cyprus Maronites reviving language link to Jesus

aramaic

Maronite Sunday mass in Kormakitis, 21 May 2002/Ayla Yackley

As the archbishop walks down the church aisle a melodic hymn rises from the congregation in an ancient tongue that Jesus would have recognized. The Aramaic language of the earliest Christians lives on in the church services of a tiny village on the Turkish Cypriot side of the Mediterranean island of Cyprus, where a hybrid dialect of Aramaic is commonly spoken by just 1,000 people who are striving to keep it alive.

Maronites from the village of Kormakitis, on a sun-baked peninsula in northwestern Cyprus, have for centuries used a unique language to communicate now codified by experts as Cypriot Maronite Arabic, or CMA.  Rooted in Aramaic, CMA evolved with influences from Arabic, Latin, Turkish and Greek.

Locals admit that not many in the congregation understand the meaning of the words in the Syriac-Aramaic hymns they were taught from infancy.  Like their own CMA language, it has been passed down to them phonetically. But in an attempt to boost dwindling numbers of people using CMA, an alphabet was established three years ago.

Crises plague centuries-old German passion play

passion

Andreas Richter hangs on the cross as he plays the character of Jesus Christ during a rehearsal of the Passion Play in Oberammergau on April 10, 2010/Michaela Rehle

Every 10 years, a mountain village cradled in the German Catholic stronghold of Bavaria nails Jesus Christ to a cross and charges spectators to watch. However, add a financial crisis, a wide-ranging scandal in the Roman Catholic Church and a cloud of volcanic ash to the mix, and suddenly enthusiasm for a 376-year-old Passion Play can begin to ebb.

“I don’t think the world has got the message yet. During the last passion play, people were suddenly knocking at my door looking for rooms and a ticket,” Renate Frank, owner of Gasthof zur Rose, a popular Oberammergau guesthouse told Reuters.  Today her lodgings are only half booked for the show. By this time 10 years ago, she was fully booked.

With new Catholic leader in Hanoi, a breakthrough in sight?

Protesters wave banners in support of Archbishop Joseph Ngo Quang Kiet of Hanoi outside the city's cathedral, 7 May 2010/Nguyen Huy Kham

Hanoi Catholics held a ceremony last Friday to welcome the man who is expected to become their new archbishop, but for many on hand – priests and faithful alike – it was a moment of sadness. There were no flowers at the altar of Hanoi’s 124-year-old cathedral welcoming Peter Nguyen Van Nhon, 72, to the role of coadjutor bishop. Outside on the steps, several dozen people brandished banners in protest of what his papal appointment represented.

It’s not that they had anything personal against Nhon, who is head of Vietnam’s bishops conference and hails from the southern city of Dalat. But Nhon happens to be taking over for Joseph Ngo Quang Kiet, 57, an archbishop who stood up to local Communist authorities by backing church groups embroiled in land disputes with the government in recent years.