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Monday-morning reading

By Phil Lawler (bio - articles - email) | Jul 20, 2015

Some more interesting essays, gathered from other sites, which you shouldn’t miss:

The late Father Silvano Fausti, who was spiritual director to Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini, made some waves with an interview shortly before his death, in which he revealed that Cardinal Martini advised Pope Benedict XVI to resign in June 2012. According to his confessor, Cardinal Martini (who himself had only a few months to live at the time) told Pope Benedict that he would never be able to reform the Roman Curia.

The story comes to us third-hand, and all the principal players are now dead except Pope-emeritus Benedict, who isn’t talking. But Andrea Tornielli of La Stampa notes that by June 2012, Pope Benedict had already made his decision to step down, so it’s a considerable stretch to suggest that the resignation was Cardinal Martini’s idea. Perhaps a more interesting aspect of Father Fausti’s interview is the revelation that Pope Benedict and Cardinal Martini—who were often depicted as rivals in the conclave of 2005—saw themselves as allies of a sort in a battle to break the power of the Vatican bureaucracy.

Andrea Gagliarducci offers his own thoughts on the Fausti interview, and expands on them to discuss Pope Francis’ fight to reform the Vatican. It’s an interesting analysis, although Gagliarducci is—in the venerable tradition of Vatican-watchers—reading tea leaves, making a plausible case on the basis of scanty evidence, aided by a good deal of speculation.

Writing for the Homiletic and Pastoral Review, Father Regis Scanlon delivers a knockout argument against pastors who “forbid” their congregations to kneel during the Consecration at Mass. They don’t have the authority to do so; the Vatican has clearly ruled that the faithful have the right to kneel. It’s an offense against religious freedom to restrict that right. And the animus against kneeling reflects a Protestant sensibility, he writes.

Still more interesting is Father Scanlon’s critique of the logic behind a ban on kneeling. Pastors commonly make a case of uniformity in the congregation. In making that argument, Father Scanlon remarks, they are forcing the faithful to think about the people around them, at a time when their attention should be focused on our Eucharistic Lord. “Under the ‘sit, stand, bow, or else’ scenario, worshipers are being forced to think about “the community,” when they should be devoting their whole ‘body, soul, mind, and strength’ to our Lord becoming truly Present in the Eucharist.”

This link is long overdue. Excitement over the Obergefell decision temporarily pushed aside some useful reflections on Laudato Si’, and we failed to mention this useful perspective from Yuval Levin for National Review. Looking at the debate within the Catholic Church as an outsider, Levin (who is Jewish) thinks that many readers have things exactly backward in their interpretation of the encyclical. Pope Francis is not trying to convert Catholics to the cause of environmentalism, Levin argues: “The Pope is trying to hijack the standing and authority (in the eyes of global elites and others) of a left-wing or radical environmentalist agenda to advance a deeply traditional Catholic vision of the human good and to get it a hearing by dressing it up as enlightened ecology.”

Phil Lawler has been a Catholic journalist for more than 30 years. He has edited several Catholic magazines and written eight books. Founder of Catholic World News, he is the news director and lead analyst at CatholicCulture.org. See full bio.

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  • Posted by: Randal Mandock - Jul. 21, 2015 11:57 PM ET USA

    Recalling the discussion on 12 June in which the theology of the extraordinary and ordinary forms was confirmed by Cardinal Sarah to be "in continuity and without opposition," I pointed out that the focus of the sacred liturgy with everyone facing inward might become the immanent as opposed to the transcendent. This is precisely Fr. Scanlon's concern about abuse of proper posture during Mass. Where Fr. Scanlon refers to "being forced to think about 'the community,'" is this not the immanent?