Tag: Pope Francis

Memoirs of Hadrian

Saturday, 8 September, 2018

“There are books which one should not attempt before having passed the age of forty.” So advises the Roman emperor Hadrian, one of the greatest rulers of the ancient world, in Memoirs of Hadrian by Marguerite Yourcenar.

As it happened, Yourcenar was 48 when Memoirs of Hadrian was published in 1951. It was an immediate success proving, perhaps, that there are books one should not attempt to write until having passed the age of forty. Memoirs of Hadrian The novel is a recreation of the life and death of Hadrian in the form of a long letter to his adoptive son and successor, Marcus Aurelius. Having passed the age of forty, this blogger decided that the time had come to read Memoirs of Hadrian and it is superb, from start to finish. Given the current problems facing Pope Francis, this snippet from the final chapter, Patientia, gives cause for thought:

“If ever the barbarians gain possession of the world they will be forced to adopt some of our methods; they will end by resembling us. Chabrias fears that the pastophor of Mithra or the bishop of Christ may implant himself one day in Rome, replacing the high pontiff. If by ill faith that day should come, my successor officiating in the vatical fields along the Tiber will already have ceased to be merely the chief of a gang, or of a band of sectarians, and will have become in his turn one of the universal figures of authority. He will inherit our palaces and our archives, and will differ from rulers like us less than one might suppose. I accept with calm these vicissitudes of Rome eternal.”

Given what happened to ancient Rome, Hadrian’s “vatical” (resembling a prophecy) statement is delightful: “He will inherit our palaces and our archives, and will differ from rulers like us less than one might suppose.”

Language note: A “pastophor” was one of the bearers, who carried the image of a god in a shrine in processions.

History note: In September 476 AD, the last Roman emperor of the west, Romulus Augustulus, was deposed by a Germanic prince named Odovacar. Dark Age Europe was born out of the violent destruction of the Roman Empire as barbarism replaced civilization. Hadrian was prophetic.


Pope Francis – A Man Of His Word

Monday, 16 April, 2018 0 Comments

German director Wim Wenders will be back at the Festival de Cannes (8 to 19 May) with a new documentary titled Pope Francis – A Man Of His Word. According to Wenders, it’s “a personal journey with Pope Francis rather than a traditional biographical film about him. A rare co-production with the Vatican, the pope’s ideas and his message are central to this documentary, which sets out to present his work of reform and his answers to today’s global questions from death, social justice, immigration, ecology, wealth inequality, materialism, and the role of the family.”

Note: Today is the 91st birthday of retired Pope Benedict XVI. Felix dies Natalis tibi!


Homo homini lupus

Sunday, 4 September, 2016 0 Comments

The Latin proverb Homo homini lupus, or in its complete form Homo homini lupus est, means “A man is a wolf to another man,” or more concisely: “Man is wolf to man.”

“What is a saint supposed to do, if not convert wolves?” asked Umberto Eco in How to Travel with a Salmon and Other Essays, and when Pope Francis canonises Mother Teresa today in St Peter’s Square in Rome, he will be making a saint a woman who epitomises his desire for a Church dedicated to the poor and acting as a shelter for the weak who are at the mercy of homo lupus. Cormac McCarthy described the human wolf thus in The Crossing: “that malignant lesser god come pale and naked and alien to slaughter all his clan and kin and rout them from their house. A god insatiable whom no ceding could appease nor any measure of blood.”

The company of wolves

“Wolves are not ruled by law. They are ruled by the alpha wolf’s policy. Individual wolves can do anything not prohibited by the alpha wolf. They can do anything they can get away with doing. To the wolf — breaking sheep law or the alpha wolf’s policy only becomes serious if caught.” The Wolf and the Sheep


Amoris Laetitia backgrounder

Friday, 8 April, 2016 0 Comments

Pope Francis to make key marriage pronouncement” is how the BBC puts it in the run up to today’s publication of Amoris Laetitia, the Apostolic Exhortation about Catholic teaching on the family. The text, rumoured to be 250-pages long and divided into 300 points, will be presented by Cardinals Lorenzo Baldisseri, Secretary General of the Synod of Bishops, and Christoph Schönborn, Archbishop of Vienna, at a press conference in Rome. Scheduled to begin at 11:30 Central European Time, the event will be broadcast live via the Vatican’s Television Centre.

Where did the BBC gets its headline? The document has been surrounded by secrecy, with no leaks to the media before its presentation. This makes Amoris Laetitia unusual, seeing that Francis’ encyclical on the environment, Laudato Si’, was published by the Italian magazine l’Espresso three days ahead of the official presentation.

What can we expect? The focus will be on the “many new situations requiring the Church’s attention and pastoral care.” In other words, partners living together before marriage, communion for divorced and remarried Catholics and homosexual unions vs. heterosexual marriage, to name just three areas of contested cohabitation that are facts of 21st century life. The Guardian has already pre-empted liberal disappointment: “Pope Francis to dismay reformists with ‘modern families’ document.” Francis wouldn’t be Francis, however, if he didn’t have a surprise or two up the sleeve of the papal cassock.


All men are fallible, not excepting the Pope — Fowler

Wednesday, 17 June, 2015 0 Comments

Tomorrow, at noon, the Vatican will issue Laudato Si, a major statement by Pope Francis on climate change. On Monday, the Italian magazine L’Espresso broke the publication embargo and leaked the 192-page encyclical in a “heinous act,” according to a Vatican official quoted by Bloomberg News. “We are not God,” Laudato Si proclaims. “The earth precedes us and was given to us,” notes Think Progress in its translation of the leaked document.

Hailed by many as the “Pope of the poor,” Francis is now linking environmental and economic issues in his encyclical in ways that are certain to ignite heated debate. Right on cue, the New York Times is using the leak as part of its campaign against Republican candidates for the presidency: “A Florida archbishop will highlight the pope’s climate change message in the hope that it will resonate in particular with Marco Rubio and Jeb Bush,” is the sub-head on “Pope’s Views on Climate Change Add Pressure to U.S. Candidates”. Jeb Bush, a convert to Catholicism, responded immediately, saying: “I hope I’m not like, going to get castigated for saying this in front of my priest back home but I don’t get economic policy from my bishops or my cardinals or my pope.”

The “green” Francis has a new supporter in the form of the notorious British atheist George Monbiot and we can expect other unbelievers to follow his lead. Some of them may even cite the atheist H. W. Fowler, author of A Dictionary of Modern English Usage (published 1926): “excepting as a preposition has one normal use. When a possible exception is to be mentioned as not made, the form used is, instead of not except, either not excepting before the noun or not excepted after it: All men are fallible except the Pope; all men are fallible, not excepting the Pope, or the Pope not excepted.”

Pope Francis will be infallible tomorrow for the climate change movement, but its adherents might not like some of his other pronouncements.


Francis redefines the Popemobile

Wednesday, 18 June, 2014 0 Comments

When he greets crowds at the Vatican, his custom Mercedes-Benz G-Wagen is completely open. So writes Alex Nunez in a Road & Track piece titled “Pope Francis on why he eschews a bulletproof Popemobile“. The Pontiff in trading security for intimacy and is quoted as telling Barcelona’s La Vanguardia: “It’s true that anything could happen, but let’s face it, at my age I don’t have much to lose.”

There might be more to that fatalistic quip than meets the eye because on Monday the Vatican’s news service announced that that Francis is drastically curtailing his schedule by suspending his popular Wednesday audiences in July and skipping his daily Mass at the Casa Santa Marta, where he lives.

He’s had a busy year so maybe it’s just a well-earned break.


#nota notandi

Tuesday, 15 April, 2014 0 Comments

The Latin Letters Office in the Vatican Curia is said to be the only modern workplace where the language of Cicero is still the lingua franca. Part of the day job is tweeting. Since Pope Benedict XVI started the Pontifex Latin Twitter account in January last year, it has gained 235,000 followers and Chicago native Monsignor Daniel Gallagher, who’s tasked with keeping pontifical reflections within the 140-character limit, told USA Today of the challenges facing him when he has to turn this…

… into this …

Gallagher’s approach: “The word ‘taboo’ comes from a Tongan/Fijian word that means ‘forbidden, prohibited.’ The Romans had a similar, even stronger, concept in Latin with nefandae, which comes from nefas, which comes from ne-fari, which means ‘not to be mentioned.'”


Michael and Francis in a country church

Sunday, 30 March, 2014 0 Comments

On the left: “And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels, and prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven” — Revelation 12:7 On the right: “To depict the pope as a sort of superman, a sort of star, […]

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Transfer window: Boston Globe signs John L Allen

Friday, 10 January, 2014 0 Comments

Background: The transfer window is a period during the year in which a football club can purchase players from other teams to strengthen their lineup. With the January window is now open, all kinds of fascinating questions have been raised: Will struggling Manchester United sign the workhorse Diego Costa or the workshy Fabio Coentrão? Can Arsène Wenger find suitable subs for the injury-plagued Arsenal bench? Is the flamboyant Chelsea star David Luiz heading to Barcelona? Was it arrogance or indigence that led Real Madrid manager Carlo Ancelotti to say that he won’t be signing any new players?

The transfer window is not confined to soccer, however. There’s a permanent media version and the Boston Globe made news this week when it signed the superb John L Allen from the National Catholic Reporter. “Allen, widely hailed as the best-sourced and most knowledgeable English-speaking reporter on the Vatican, will help lead coverage of Catholicism and the Vatican as an associate editor of The Globe,” declared the press release. And then comes the really interesting bit: “He will also help us explore the very real possibility of launching a free-standing publication devoted to Catholicism, drawing in other correspondents and leading voices from near and far,” said Boston Globe editor Brian McGrory.

The Globe would be placing a big bet on Pope Francis if this were to happen, but it might pay off nicely. The whirlwind pontiff has set the media industry alight and more headlines are sure to come as he attempts to fill the “God-shaped void”, as Blaise Pascal put it some 300 years ago. While core doctrine is not going to change, Catholic theology is set to become more dynamic and millions of people will want to read all about it. Secular fads like the Occupy craze and the global warming cult offer little of substance to those in need of spiritual comfort so it falls to Francis to curate his global, 2,000-year-old movement in a way that makes it relevant to both sides of the digital divide. There’s no better person to interpret the coming Church changes than John L Allen. Game on!

Francis


Pope Francis: “È una battuta uscita non so da dove”

Monday, 16 December, 2013 1 Comment

“May I ask you if the Church will have women cardinals in the future?” That was the question posed by Vatican writer Andrea Tornielli in a lengthy interview with Pope Francis that appeared in La Stampa on Saturday. “Posso chiederle se avremo donne cardinale?” is how it went in the original Italian. Francis gave the idea a good knock on the head, calling it una battuta — a sound-bite. His complete, translated, answer: “It’s a sound-bite and I don’t know where it came from. Women in the church must be valued, not ‘clericalized’. Whoever is thinking about women cardinals suffers a little bit from clericalism.”

As Freddy Gray pointed out in The Spectator: “It can only be a matter of time before the journalists who now laud Francis turn on him. They will say he has disappointed them when he does not embrace all gay rights, condoms, and women popes.”


What the Time ‘POY’ award tells us about Time

Thursday, 12 December, 2013 0 Comments

Time magazine began its tradition of selecting a “Man of the Year” in 1927, when the honour was conferred on Charles Lindbergh. In 1999, the title was changed to “Person of the Year” and the winner was Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon. Today, lots of publications copycat the Time idea and just as dog-owners are often said to resemble their pets, the awardees usually mirror the prejudices of those doing the awarding. No wonder, then, that Edward Snowden was voted Guardian person of the year 2013 and no surprise, either, that its German ideological replica, Der Spiegel, followed suit.

Mercifully, Time bypassed the data thief currently residing in Russia, and, instead, it picked Pope Francis. But the award is not quite the occasion for joy that it might appear to be as Freddy Gray points out in The Spectator in a post titled “Why Time’s Person of the Year should be Pope… Benedict”:

“It was telling that, in their blurb about the nominees, Time announced that ‘the first Jesuit Pontiff won hearts and minds with his common touch and rejection of church dogma’. Of course Pope Francis has not rejected Church dogma at all. Time were quick to correct themselves, yet their mistake revealed again the liberal bias against Catholicism: Catholics are only praised if they are seen to rebel against their Church. This attitude makes Catholics distinctly uneasy. It can only be a matter of time before the journalists who now laud Francis turn on him. They will say he has disappointed them when he does not embrace all gay rights, condoms, and women popes.”

We should be grateful that the Time award did not go to Assad, Putin or Snowden, but we should be wary of its dogma. After all, it resembles its owners and they’re no friends of the legacy Francis represents.

Time Person of the Year