Francis, Bishop of Rome.

We give thanks for the election of the new Bishop of Rome, Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Argentina who has chosen the name Francis.

We will be praying for him in the hours, days, weeks, months and, God willing, years to come of his Pontificate.

Te Deum laudamus.

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Why not adopt a Cardinal?

8527403937_d47ac8f265_bThe Cardinals need our help; and a recent website has just been set up that allows users to log in and adopt a randomly-selected (one presumes!) Prince of the Church for the Conclave. It is a bit of fun, but has its serious side: we can be encouraged to focus prayer on one man as the Cardinals meet to choose the next Bishop of Rome.

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Farewell Benedict XVI

Nearly eight years ago, I know exactly where I was when I heard the joyful news that there was a new Bishop of Rome. I was working in an office, and turned on BBC Radio 4, and heard the ringing of the bells of St Peter’s. I knew then, in my heart, that there was a leader for the world’s Roman Catholics.

At the time, I did not foresee that the man elected that day would resign as Bishop of Rome. As we all know, it is not a decision that has many precedents, but it has been known. As the Code of Canon Law of the Roman Church says,

Can. 332 §2 Should it happen that the Roman Pontiff resigns from his office, it is required that the resignation be freely made and properly manifested, but it is not necessary that it be accepted by anyone.

This is clearly in the CCL but it has not been used before since the promulgation of the new code in 1983. However, it does seem a sensible move by Benedict XVI.

It is not that long ago since Bishops of Dioceses did not retire: they died in office. I don’t have the relevant reference to hand, but it appears to have started to change in the 1960s. For instance, in the Diocese of Down and Connor in the twentieth century and the early twenty-first century:

1895 1908 Henry Henry Appointed 16 August; consecrated 22 September 1895; died 8 March 1908.
1908 1914 John Tohill Appointed 5 August; consecrated 20 September 1908; died 4 July 1914.
1915 1928 Joseph MacRory Appointed 18 August; consecrated 14 November 1915; translated toArmagh 22 June 1928.
1929 1962 Daniel Mageean Appointed 31 May; consecrated 25 August 1929; died 18 January 1962.
1962 1982 William Philbin Translated from Clonfert; appointed 5 June 1962; retired 24 August 1982; died 23 August 1991.
1982 1990 Cahal Daly Translated from Ardagh and Clonmacnoise; appointed 24 August 1982; translated to Armagh 6 November 1990.
1991 2008 Patrick Walsh Appointed titular bishop of Ros Cré and auxiliary bishop of Down and Connor on 6 April 1983; ordained bishop 15 May 1983; appointed diocesan bishop of Down and Connor on 18 March 1991; retired 22 February 2008.

(from Wikipedia.org)

It can be clearly seen that the first Bishop of Down & Connor to resign in modern time rather than die in office was Bishop William Philbin, who resigned in August 1982, and died some time later in 1991.

To me it seems eminently sensible that the Bishop of Rome also has the chance to resign and I am pleased that Benedict XVI has started the practice by doing so himself.

I wish him every blessing in his retirement and assure him of my prayers and those of my brother priests in the Fraternity. We will be celebrating Votive Masses pro eligendo Summo Pontifice on days that are not Feasts or Solemnities until the election of the new Bishop of Rome. The Vicar General will issue an instruction as to the correct wording to be used in the Eucharistic Prayer to all Priests of the Fraternity.

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“more fraternal than authoritative”: an epistle to the Corinthians

When we hear of an Epistle to the Corinthians, most people will instinctively think of the St Paul the Apostle’s Epistles that are in the Canon of the New Testament, however epistles were being sent from many early Christian leaders to each other all over the known Christian world. This continues to this day, in each diocese all over the world, bishops can and do send pastoral letters to their flocks.

Today we celebrate the Feast of St Clement I, Bishop of Rome and Martyr. While many will regard a letter issued by him to be a letter with the authority of a Pope as the Roman Church understands that authority now, this may not be the case. It has been suggested by some scholars that St Clement’s epistle was “more fraternal than authoritative” – that is that he was not necessarily claiming that Rome was anything other than primus inter pares (first among equals). This is often the position that those of us who are independent Catholics find ourselves adopting or believing. We acknowledge the position of the Holy Father, Benedict ⅩⅥ, but we take his words as we would take the words of another bishop.  Continue reading

Cluniacs, Dominicans, Pope Benedict XV – a busy day

The Day of the Dead

The Day of the Dead (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Today was the Commemoration of the Faithful Departed, otherwise known as All Souls’ Day. Immediately following yesterday’s Feast of All Saints, today the Church encourages us to pray for the Faithful Departed. For priests it can be a very busy day – well busier than normal. The opportunity is there to celebrate three Masses:

  1. for the particular intention
  2. for all the Faithful Departed
  3. for the intentions of the Holy Father

We have to thank the Cluniac Order for the date as it was decreed by St Odilo, Abbot of Cluny (died 1048) that special prayers and the Office of the Dead be said for all the souls in Purgatory on 2 November after All Saints’ Day. Soon after it became established in the Calendar of the whole Church.

The three Masses that can be said by any priest was an extension to the universal church of customs that had started with the Dominicans in the fifteenth century. Pope Benedict XV extended it during World War One as a result of the number of war dead and the Masses that could not be said because of destroyed churches.

Rest eternal grant unto them O Lord
And let light perpetual shine upon them.

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