Friday, June 18, 2010

Personal Asides: Let’s Face it—Vatican Needs a Push to Change L’Osservatore Romano. More.

    Feast of Saints Mark and Marcellianus*   
                                The Inert Vatican Bureaucracy.
       An index of how long it takes the Vatican to change anything has to do with its so-called newspaper…which has been confusing the West with speculations as to its own identity. 
       The muscle-bound Rome leadership hasn’t yet settled the identity of its own supposed newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano.  For about two years now I…along with a number of others…have been pointing out the mortifying embarrassment of having a newspaper that is either (a) official or (b) isn’t. 
          On one hand it has an exclusive “in” at the Vatican, publishing official documents before any other paper does. It has an exclusive beat on listing all the Pope’s public activities, access to bishopric statements and publishes all official documents. That leads people to assume that it IS indeed the voice of the Pope, the Vicar of Christ on earth. 
       On the other hand, it is rogue, having taken issue with Church theology at least once in the past, stepping forth in a 2008 article calling for a re-opening on brain death because of “new developments in the scientific world.”  (Actually the “new developments” change Church theology not in the slightest).  It is wantonly frivolous: listing the top ten all-time great rock records.   
       Yesterday it came out with yet another rogue statement: the definitive promulgation that the film The Blues Brothers is a “Catholic classic” and should be viewed by Catholics everywhere. 
        It so happens The Blues Brothers is one of my own favorite films… I have a CD of it in my library and it’s one of my all-time favorites…but I can’t imagine anyone in his right mind equating it with, say, The Song of Bernadette. The comedy involves “a mission from God” for paroled convict “Jake” played by John Belushi and his brother Elwood (Dan Aykroyd) to rescue from foreclosure a Catholic orphanage where they grew up.  When Jake uses a vulgarism, the nun…a parody of the tough ones we may have had in our youth (at least I did) whacks him in the chops, beats him with a ruler and when it breaks pulls out a sword to hack him.  All in good fun but—wha?  A Catholic classic? 
          Then there’s a little bit of ribaldry. Doesn’t bother me. I’m not a Jansenist, someone almost too pure to exist, to whom a vulgarism causes me to faint. But again, the Vatican’s supposed newspaper calls this “a Catholic classic.” Huh?  
           The Blues brothers get stopped for speeding and the cop inventories what they have in their pockets.  Small change, a penknife and…the cop says…“aprophylactic—unused.”  A Catholic classic?  Please! 
      The story of L’Osservatore Romano is this. It calls itself the semi-official” newspaper of the Holy See. That’s what confuses people. The wire service story yesterday that proclaimed that the Vatican hails The Blues Brothers as a “Catholic film classic” quotes “the official newspaper L’Osservatore Romano as saying this.  
      It started publishing in Rome on July 1, 1861 a few months after the unification of Italy from warring, jealous states to one country. The original purpose of the paper was to defend the Papal States which had been under the jurisdiction of the Pope. But the defeat of the papal troops on Sept. 18, 1860 reduced his temporal power prompting some Catholics…including the deputy minister of the Interior, Marcantonio Pacelli (grandfather of Pius XII)… to start the paper.  We are told that since Leo XIII the paper was acquired and was made official in 1885.  But since then it has varied not a little bit.  Does this mean the editor just has a long leash and can do anything he wants…or that somebody in the Vatican is winking broadly as it veers from straight reporting?  Who knows?  
    All well and good if L’Osservatore Romano would either determine top be one thing or another: either the official voice of the Pope or just another Catholic paper.   That would have been great if it had left it there. But the current editor, some twerp named Giovanni Maria Vian, runs the rogue shop.   
    It would seem to be an easy solution—to anyone, I guess, except a Vatican bureaucrat.  Tell L’Osservatore Romano that if it wants to continue to get papal announcements and news direct from the source, it will have to play ball…and for God’s sake lay off picking the Top 10 rock records and citingThe Blues Brothers as a Catholic film classic.  OR resign itself to being just another newspaper with a Catholic slant and make all the lists and film recommendations it wants. 
    There: that shouldn’t be too hard to do should it…for the Vatican?  My question is: how are they going to reform the Church structure which so badly needs reforming…like changing seminary direction so they stop the flow of the Lavender Priesthood—when they seemingly can’t even control their own supposed newspaper which continually embarrasses them?   
    I think I may smell a rat as to why it’s acting like this. There was a dedication in October, 2006 of an exhibit about the history of the newspaper by…guess who?...Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, dean of the Sacred College of Cardinals.   Bertone is about as politics-free as the late Cardinal Wolsey.  He has been an apologist for the now sullied late head of the Legionnaires of Christ stemming from…some say (at least Philip Lawler says it)…a interplay between a relative who was hired by the Legionnaires and himself…greasing things with the late very ill and overworked John Paul II.   Lawler has taken the bull by the horns and has publicly advised that Bertone be forcibly retired. 
                                         It Occurs to Me… 
       …that Rep. Joe Barton (R-Texas) should take retirement and the people of the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex get a new congressman, one who won’t apologize to BP in such a groveling fashion as Barton did the other day.  He alleged the White House committed a “shake-down,” extorting $20 billion from the company for a “slush fund.”  Right after that gaffe Barton was summoned to the woodshed (House GOP Leader John Boehner’s) office where Boehner’s office showed him an apology already written for Barton—which was released by Boehner’s office, a definite rebuke.   On some issues (especially social ones), Barton has always been regarded as a loose cannon. Good news: Under Republican rules he is supposed to relinquish his ranking Energy & Commerce seat after this year. 
        …that the real reason the Obama administration is in trouble with various publics isn’t so much the president’s passivity (no drama Obama) at all but just, plain, simple failure to follow through and coordinate. Example: In late May he promised to send National Guard troops to guard Arizona’s borders.  Big media deal.  The troops haven’t arrived yet and it’s June 18!  No answer from the White House press office.  Another example: Hillary Clinton announces that the Justice Department is going to institute a law suit against Arizona for usurping federal authority on immigration.  Wha? It’s news to the Justice Department. And why is the secretary of state announcing it?  
         *: Saints Mark and Marcellianus [AD 287].  They were twin brothers, deacons, who were martyred early in the reign of Diocletian.  They were converted to Catholicism in their youth and had married. They were cast into prison and sentenced to be beheaded by Chromatius, lieutenant to the prefect of Rome.  They were given a 30-day reprieve, to enable them to change their minds and offer sacrifices to the gods which would get them off the hook.  Their wives and tearful children visited them, along with their pagan parents.  Secretly, Sebastian, an officer of the Emperor’s household, visited them and encouraged them to persevere in their Catholicism (Sebastian was later found out and martyred: he’s remembered today as Saint Sebastian). 
      Then two men who were converted by the twin brothers, Nicostratus and Chromatius, set the prisoners free.  Their freeing seemed to be successful but they were betrayed by a renegade in the Emperor’s household and recaptured. They were sentenced to be bound to two wooden pillars to which their feet were nailed.  When they had been exposed for 24 hours, they were pierced by lances.  Their relics are now in the basilica of Saint Praxedes in Rome.

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