Visitations, Part II

On November 25, 1981, Pope John Paul II named Joseph Ratzinger Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which he held until his election as pope. That Joseph Ratzinger, a highly educated theologian, has just completed his fourth year as the pope. Pope Benedict.

Four of his former deputies from his days at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith where then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger ran the show for 24 years now are in charge of important Vatican offices, with Ratzinger’s former private secretary and close friend, Bishop Josef Clemens, the number two official at the Pontifical Council for the Laity.

In November 2000, William Levada was appointed one of the members of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith where he served under Cardinal Ratzinger. The American-born Cardinal William Levada became a cardinal in the consistory on March 24, 2006 and is currently serving as Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. He grew up in Long Beach, California, the son of natives of Concord in the San Francisco Bay area, where his father worked for Shell Chemical Corporation. Before moving to Rome he had served as the archbishop of Portland and San Francisco. From 1976 to 1982, Levada taught part-time at the Pontifical Gregorian University and was upon recommendation of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops, an official of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in the Vatican. He had been recommeded by Joseph Cardinal Bernadine.

On the fourth anniversary of Benedict’s papacy, the Vatican newspaper L’Osservatore Romano, headlined a story on Durban, “The Holy See deplores the use of the forum for taking extremist positions offensive to any state.” The article was about the inflammatory remarks by the Iranian premiere made ironically during the week of Holocaust Remembrance Day, about destroying Israel.

The Holy See deplores the use of taking extremist positions offensive to any state. Except, I was going to say, with regard to nuns. Until I read a few articles.

Back on December 22, 2008 the Vatican’s Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life had issued a decree that it would be beginning a comprehensive study to look into the quality of institutes of women religious in the United States and the life of the members of these religious institutes. Students of history might recognize the old German theory of a 2 front attack, once discussed at the time of World War I. The second front involved the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith’s “doctrinal assessment” of the women’s organization, separate from the inquiry by the Vatican’s Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life.

Nuns and Papal committees. John Allen, Jr., has reported that officers of Major Superiors of Men (CMSM), the main umbrella groups for women’s and men’s religious orders in the States, as well as officers of the Leadership Conference for Women Religious met with officials in the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. This week. There has been an absence of public statements about the motives and scope of the new inquiry by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, remembered for their historic part in the Inquisition. William Cardinal Levada sent a letter in February 2009 to the officers of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious and the officers of CMSM, and their meeting with him this week in Rome was part of a previously scheduled visit to various Vatican offices.

If this was the New York Post, the headline would be about a separate doctrinal inquiry mandated this time by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. While the previously announced visitation of all apostolic women’s religious orders in the United States, sponsored by the Vatican’s Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, is itself unusual, the fact that the Leadership Conference of Women Religious is now the target of Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith is, according to John Allen, virtually unprecedented.

Why the separate doctrinal inquiry which, according to John Allen, is virtually unprecedented? That February 2009 letter from William Cardinal Levada pointed to three areas of doctrine: over ordination of women; over homosexuality, and over the theoclogy {sic} of religious pluralism. The Vatican commissioned Bishop Leonard Blair of Toledo, Ohio, to conduct the doctrinal assessment. Bishop Blair is a member of Committee on Doctrine of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. According to Allen, sources told the National Catholic Reporter at least part of the push to conduct the doctrinal inquiry came from Bishop Blair. One of John Allen’s sources said the “concern ‘entirely’ was about speakers the Leadership Conference of Women Religious has invited to address their annual assemblies in recent years, based upon the texts of those presentations posted on the conference’s Web site.”

On background, the Leadership Conference of Women Religious was asked in 2001 by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger to promote “Ordinatio sacerdotalis,” a 1994 Apostolic Letter which represented Church teaching on the sacramental priesthood and restated the church’s position that ordination of women is impossible; to promote Homosexualitatis Problema, the Catholic position written by then-Cardinal Ratzinger in 1986 on homosexuality; and to promote “Dominus Jesus,” the 2000 document which holds the Catholic Church as the chief path to salvation.

Julia Duin, the Washington Times’ religion editor, has attributed to NCR a quote from Cardinal Levada’s letter that “This dicastery can only conclude that the problems which had motivated its request in 2001 continue to be present.”

While the bulk of women’s orders in America currently belong to The Leadership Conference for Women Religious (LCWR), some 1,500 members representing approximately 95% of the nation’s 63,032 nuns, in 1995 the Vatican also granted recognition to the Council of Major Superiors of Women Religious which is generally seen as a more conservative alternative to the leadership conference.

Catholic bloggers have pinpointed as an example, Sinsinawa Dominican Sister Laurie Brink’s 2007 speech given at an LCWR assembly in Kansas City. “Jesus is not the only son of God,” she added. “Salvation is not limited to Christians.” Her speech seemly endorsed universalism, speaking of the need to go “beyond Jesus.” positions at variance with Catholic doctrine and not precisely within the standards of orthodoxy.

As for the leadership conference, that KEYNOTE speech by Sister Laurie Brink was entitled “A Marginal Life: Pursuing Holiness in the 21st Century.” Commenting on the decline of many religious orders, according to the Catholic News Agency, she characterized some successful new orders as being “acquiescent” to others’ expectations and also discussed the possible future of women religious.

Why the separate doctrinal inquiry from Rome? According to John Allen, “The Leadership Conference of Women Religious has been recognized by the Vatican as an official entity under the church’s Code of Canon Law since 1959. The Vatican thus has the capacity to issue official recommendations or mandates, whereas the bishops’ conference can present only non-binding guidance. By way of explanation, officials said that the reason for the doctrinal congregation’s involvement is because the issues touch on matters of theological orthodoxy.”

That is why the Vatican is sponsoring the inquiry led by Bishop Leonard Blair of Toledo rather than the bishops’ conference.

A bishop’s responsibility is to safeguard the unity of the Catholic Church and protect the souls of the faithful. The duty proper to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith according to Article 48 of the Apostolic Constitution on the Roman Curia, dated June 28, 1988, “is to promote and safeguard the doctrine on faith and morals. If the purpose of religion was unite people in belief, that Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith seemed to be doing a better job than under the previous prefect.

On the other hand, in the 28 years since Pope John Paul II election to pope, there had never been an investigation into the goings on in other nations such as Ireland. The Ryan Child Abuse Commission has been investigating 18 Catholic religious congregations examining their failures in their duty of care to children while the various Congregations including the Congregations for the Doctrine of the Faith sat idly by. That Ryan Commission report was due sometime in May.

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  1. paperlessworld on

    In italy, it is being reported that Monsignor Luigi Capozzi has not answered the phone. His never-detached cell phone remained silent throughout the day. On Sunday evening, however, he had expressed a desire not to give interviews.

    Luigi Capozz is remembered at home as a smart and never dull boy, always at the forefront to organize festivities of the coastal communities. Capozzi was born in Salerno 50 years ago, where his parents sold fabrics in a shop in Via Santa Tecla, in the family store in Maiori. He was ordained a priest in 1992 in Amalfi and is incardinated in the Archdiocese of Amalfi-Cava de ‘Tirreni. After he moved to Rome, however, he never lost touch with his Maiori, which is confirmed by the local press in contacting the former mayor, Antonio Della Pietra.

    His work at the Diocese of Palestrina and in the Vatican, is the result of a simple detachment so every measure could only be signed by the Archbishop Orazio Soricelli or directly by Pope Francis. According to il Fatto Quotidiano, he performs in the Vatican duties of assistant to the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts, chaired by Cardinal Francesco Coccopalmerio, also a known figure on the Amalfi Coast.

    Il Fatto Quotidiano reported that the Holy See’s gendarmerie disrupted a homosexual drug-party in an apartment of the Palazzo del Sant’Uffizio in Rome, where the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith is located. Not destined for simple monsignors, the apartment belongs to a unnamed monsignor who was caught in flagrant[e]. According to Il Fatto Quotidiano, an unnamed monsignor is the secretary of a cardinal who heads a dicastery of the Roman Curia; the cardinal had proposed that the monsignor become a bishop. The monsignor drives an exclusive car with Vatican license plates, which are reserved for higher Vatican dignitaries.

    Il Fatto Quotidiano writes that the cardinal, for whom the monsignor was working, is well over 75 – true for two cardinals at the Roman Curia. This would be Cardinal Angelo Amato (79) of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, and Cardinal Francesco Cocopalmerio (79) of the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts, a member of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith on since 23 December 2010, with a five-year renewable term. Cardinal Cocopalmerio retains voting rights in papal conclaves until 8 March 2018, his 80th birthday. Cardinal Coccopalmerio’s most important responsibilities would be to revise Canon Law and how the church handles sex abuse by clergy. Recently, Pope Francis had the Vatican’s secretary of state, Cardinal Pietro Parolin request an opinion from the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts, led by Cardinal Francesco Coccopalmerio, regarding the possibility of transferring competence to deal with abuser priests from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith back to Clergy and the Rota. Coccopalmerio’s office responded with a positive answer.

    “We want to make this delicate material more accesible, more understandable and easier for bishops to apply,” Coccopalmerio said in 2014, speaking of Book VI: Sanctions in the Church.

    Speaking of delicate matters, the arrested was brought to the Roman clinic Pio XI in order to be detoxified. One Italian newspaper has claimed that calls to the police were made about disruption of the peace, including by other cardinals residing in the building. The unnamed monsignor currently is in a rehab retreat in a monastery in Italy. Now, Monsignor Luigi Capozz has been arrested for possession of drugs, with allegations of being involved in drug-based ‘gay’ parties near the Vatican. More specifically, cocaine. With the entrance of the building opening out onto the square of the Holy Office, located on Italian territory outside of the control of the Swiss Guard and Vatican police, police arrested Monsignor Luigi Capozzi who reportedly admitted to having used the illegal drugs during his party. The prelate of Salerno immediately stopped by the gendarmerie; Monsignor Capozzi was first hospitalized in Rome for a short period in the Pius XI Clinic to detox from drugs. He was nominated to become bishop by his boss. That appointment, however, has been stopped by the Pontiff.

    The circulation of il Fatto Quotidiano has been falling since its announced 78,669 copies in 2010, down from 113,000 circulation on 25 December 2009. No mention was made of the identities of other people at the party. If this was a drug-based party, how many others were arrested? Was the unnamed monsignor a sacrificial lamb?

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