Wednesday, November 28, 2007

A few hierarchy notes

The German news agency DPA, according to my good friend Rocco over at Whispers, describes Bishop Reinhard Marx, who is expected to be named on Friday to be the next archbishop of Munich and Freising, the archbishopric held by the Holy Father from 1977-81, as politically "left-of-center," while being "moderate conservative" on matters doctrinal. He sounds like a person with whom I have a lot in common.

I want to offer one final note on the recent consistory held in Rome, a note from John Allen, who is NCR's Rome corespondent and author of its web feature All Things Catholic. Allen takes the right tone after such ceremonial, which I love and think very vital to the life of the Church, but it can cause us to lose our focus a bit. So, here it is:

"As a final footnote, while admission to the Vatican for the courtesy visits is free, my evening wasn’t. As I walked home, I bumped into a cook from one of my favorite Roman restaurants. Initially I thought he might have been on hand for the Vatican festivities himself, but instead he had been visiting the nearby Santo Spirito hospital, where his wife is awaiting the birth of their first child. Because he’s not working this week, and because undocumented cooks in Roman kitchens generally don’t have health insurance or paid parental leave, I offered him the few Euro I had in my pocket to help make ends meet.

"Listening to my friend describe both his joy and his anxieties at the birth of what he hopes will be a healthy boy seemed, perhaps providentially, to offer an important bit of perspective. While the glitz of a consistory is always a treat, real life continues to go on outside those Vatican halls … and unless the new princes of the church can find ways to make the gospel they are now charged in a new way to pronounce and defend relevant to real life – relevant, for example, to faithful Catholics like my Lebanese immigrant friend, struggling to hold his family together in a new land – the pageantry of last night will ring a bit hollow.

"That's perhaps something to think about, and to pray on, during today's Ring Mass."


Reading Allen's remarks reminded me of Archbishop Niedrauer's closing talk given at a supper on the evening of Bishop Wester's installation after three wonderful days of celebration, which I can only paraphrase: It is time for us now to conclude our celebration and and get on with being Church. Extraordinary times of celebration are great, but it is really in the ordinariness of everyday life in Christ that we live and move and have our being, making Christ present to all we meet. It is kind of like the dimissal at the end of Mass that sends us forth to live what we have celebrated: Eucharist.

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