Hello Friends, Clients and Electronic Acquaintances:
Over past years some of you have followed my activity involving the Roman Curia and many North American parishioner groups faced with the loss of their churches – I stopped counting when my canon appeals tally passed 100.
To date I have limited myself to communicating with you via occasional blast emails, as well as infrequent blog posts that have been gathering electronic dust.
But since we all suffer from too much email, I have decided to stop cluttering your Inboxes (except for this parting shot), and instead to use my Facebook page (Peter Borre) for more frequent and shorter-form commentary on Res Catholicae.
I will keep postings down to a manageable size, around 800 wds; will post more frequently, maybe leavened by pics and links to relevant articles from the world media I peruse; and will try to remain fact-based, where possible making clear any connection I might have with a posting; and limit (most) editorializing to a Close Comment.
In the next few days I will post something on the Pope’s recent Motu Proprio (essentially an instruction, not cleared with the Curia) regarding Quickie Annulments.
My own connection is fact-finding in Rome regarding the eight-year canon proceeding involving the annulment of an annulment for members of Massachusetts premier political family.
Why more reports on Catholic stuff?
There are hundreds (maybe thousands) of commentators on developments within the Church, ranging from astute, long-time observers of the Vatican in Rome, major media outlets that periodically glom onto the Roman esperti, metro dailies that re-write diocesan press releases, and local parishioner blogs and opeds across 175 U.S. dioceses.
(Richard Milhous Nixon, demon of my youth, you were right about One Big Thing: the media.)
With no pretense at modesty, the hundred+ canon appeals I have handled are spread across 40 American dioceses, and my bi-monthly trips to Italy to push the appeals directly within the Roman Curia give me an unusual transatlantic perspective – a grass-roots view of the spreading dysfunction within many American dioceses, and the tilted appellate playing field in Rome where many of these appeals are treated with brutal disregard for the facts as well as the Code of Canon Law itself.
This involves much more than arcane debates over Canon 1222 or 515. My focus is upon the maneuvers I have observed – with gritted teeth – by such luminaries as New York’s Cardinals Dolan and Egan; Boston’s Cardinal O’Malley; Philly’s Archbishop Chaput; Cleveland’s Bishop Lennon; Metuchen’s Bishop Bootkoski; Youngstown’s Bishop Murry; and Esztergom-Budapest’s Cardinal Erdo [sorry, I cannot get the symbol for the Hungarian umlaut, aka the double acute accent]; et alii prelati.
What about the traditional media?
With noteworthy exceptions, the coverage of the Vatican and the Church Universal by mainstream media, by specialists and by the new media, leaves a lot to be desired:
Some of this coverage is outright cheer-leading; to paraphrase The Eagles, I guess every form of access has its price;
Other coverage lines up along the typical spectrum of progressive-to-conservative, and tilts accordingly;
Some reporting descends to the mind-numbing minutiae of doctrinal debate, usually evoking a WTF from readers, while others in this sub-species treat doctrinal developments like a WWE event, which prelate took down another…”OMG! Cardinal Burke pinned Cardinal Kasper, video at 11pm.”
On the level of dioceses and parishes where real stuff actually happens, media coverage consists mostly of softball inquiries to the hierarchy and poignant quotes from distraught parishioners thrown out of their parishes; but without any reporting.
From a recent $3 million church sale in East Boston:
No digging for essential facts – was the sale of two city blocks of parish property at fair market value, or was it a sweetheart deal for two developers living at the Four Seasons; and
No effort to put this deal into the broader context of the accelerating decline of one of America’s oldest dioceses, where since 2000 the parish presence has been downsized from 400 to about 130 (by 2017), and where Catholic Boston has an abysmally meager Mass attendance ratio – in the Low Teens, one of the worst across the country).
One other point:
With the rock-star popularity of Pope Francis, his imminent trip to Cuba and the U.S., and his October face-off in Rome with 250 cardinals and bishops during the Synod of Bishops, the global relevance of developments inside the Church is surging, spilling into domains such as the U.S. Congress (first-ever papal address to a Joint Meeting); the 2016 Presidential election cycle, with at least five RC contenders of the GOP side, and four maybes on the Dem side); U.N. deliberations on climate change; E.U. policy on refugees; and the chaos ranging from Western Asia, through the Middle East and across North Africa, where Christians are being slaughtered because of their professed faith.
Ave atque Vale.