Monthly Archives: June 2009

Moynihan on Ranjith: “Inside the Vatican”

The Peacemaker

Pope Benedict XVI has decided to send one of the staunchest supporters of his liturgical reform in the Roman Curia away from the Eternal City. Why?

By Robert Moynihan

VATICAN CITY, June 12, 2009 — The Pope has decided that Archbishop Malcolm Ranjith (photo), the Secretary of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments and one of the strongest supporters of Benedict’s liturgical reform, will be transferred this summer to Colombo, the capital of Sri Lanka (his native country), where he will become archbishop, reliable Vatican sources confirmed today. The decision will be announced publicly in the next few days, the sources said.

According to veteran Vaticanista Andrea Tornielli (but this has not been confirmed), Ranjith will be replaced by the American Dominican J. Augustine Di Noia (photo), who has been Undersecretary of the Congregation of the Doctrine for the Faith (CDF) since 2002, where he was in daily working contact with then-Cardinal Ratzinger, the Prefect of the CDF before he became Pope. “After having been the number three of Ratzinger, he (Di Noia) will now become the number two of the ‘little Ratzinger,’ a nickname given to Spanish Cardinal Cañizares Llovera, who leads the Congregation of Worship,” Tornielli wrote in Il Giornale recently. “The liturgical dicastery is the Vatican office that has most often changed its Secretary in recent years: Di Noia will be the fourth in just seven years.”

Many Vatican observers believe that the decision to send Ranjith away from Rome is a “victory” for liturgical progressives, and a “defeat” for liturgical traditionalists, since Ranjith has been a prominent champion of more solemnity and decorum in the celebration of the Mass in the new rite, and a supporter of wider use of the old rite, and this interpretation can be found in numerous articles and blogs on the internet.

However, it is not certain that this is the true interpretation. And there are reasons to interpret the appointment in a different way.

Colombo is not presently a cardinalatial see, but there has been a cardinal in Colombo in the past, so it is certainly a possibility that Ranjith could receive the red hat in an upcoming consistory — something he could not have received if he had remained as a secretary of the Congregation.

Ranjith was a bishop in Sri Lanka in the 1990s, but in 2001 Pope John Paul II called him to Rome, appointing him secretary under Cardinal Crescenzio Sepe at the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples (Propaganda Fide). Due to tensions between the two, in April 2004,  Ranjith — who was not a Vatican diplomat — was named the nuncio in Indonesia and East Timor. Then, after Pope Benedict was elected, in April 2005, he called Ranjith back to Rome, making him secretary of the Divine Worship Congregation in December, 2005.

Some thought that Ranjith would succeed Cardinal Francis Arinze as head of the Congregation upon Arinze’s retirement for reason of age, but, Tornielli writes, Ranjith was “considered by his adversaries too close to the traditionalists and Lefebvrists.”

Tornielli sums up the consensus view: “Ranjith’s presence on the front lines in Asia will be important, because there the Church faces a decisive challenge. But it is difficult not to view his appointment as a ‘promoveatur ut amoveatur‘ (‘let him be promoted that he may be removed’).”

Still, there is a Sri Lankan proverb: “The tiger who is outside of his cage is more dangerous than the tiger who is inside of his cage.”

Ranjith, once in his own archdiocese, will have a chance to help bring true peace to his war-torn country, and to fight for social and economic justice in his homeland, something he has written and spoken about often in the past.

It is known that the president of Sri Lanka twice visited Rome in recent years, and twice told Pope Benedict that he would appreciate Ranjith’s contribution to the peace process in his country, as Ranjith is respected by all sides.

In this perspective, one could perhaps imagine that Benedict has actually followed the opposite logic from that which most Vatican watchers see here: “amoveatur ut promoveatur” (“let him be removed that he may be promoted”).

Only time will tell whether Ranjith will rise to the challenge his new post poses, and become a true peacemaker, binding up the wounds caused by a long civil war, as well as continuing to be a supporter of reverence and decorum in the Church’s liturgy, as desired by Pope Benedict.

Note: Inside the Vatican will soon publish an in-depth interview with Archbishop Ranjith.

Inside the Vatican is a magazine I read cover to cover. I find it balanced and informative. I especially appreciate its coverage of art and architecture. It is not only an important magazine, it is also a beautiful one.” —Prof. Mary Ann Glendon, Harvard University Law School, former United States Ambassador to the Holy See

June 10, 2009 Aftermath: University of Notre Dame’s disgraceful treatment of pro-life protesters By Matt C. Abbott

Brian Kindzia reports (edited):

    ‘I was among those arrested at Notre Dame a few weeks ago when the university decided to honor President Obama with a law degree — even though he is the biggest advocate of child-killing to ever hold that position. A number of you had asked about what was happening, so I thought I would send out an update.’I returned yesterday from South Bend where I entered my plea, which was, for a number of different reasons, ‘not guilty.’ We are being very well represented by a group out of Washington D.C. and a local lawyer right in South Bend. There were about 40 people in court with me. Norma McCorvey was in court yesterday. Alan Keyes was in my group last week, but I don’t know when some of the other big-name people, like Father Weslin, are set to go back.

    ‘One of the lawyers representing us tried to meet with President Jenkins of Notre Dame. President Jenkins refused to talk with our lawyer, saying only that the issue is behind him and it is now in the hands of the criminal courts. I will be returning for my trial, but that is a few months away. So I have time before having to go back again, after going there twice in three weeks. I feel very good about what is happening now, and I’m not worried in the least bit. It was definitely worth it.

    ‘The liberal media are taking every chance they can now to say that pro-lifers are extremists, radicals and life-threatening. But just know that the South Bend/Notre Dame police found the pro-lifers to be so peaceful that when they arrested us, instead of using steel handcuffs, they found a shoelace to be effective enough.’ [Check out the photos at the end of this column.]

It’s utterly disgraceful that Father Jenkins has apparently refused to ask the civil authorities to drop the trespassing charges against the pro-life protesters. There simply is nothing charitable that can be said about him at this point.

On the same topic, a friend recently sent me a link to an excellent post on The Catholic Guys blog (check it out), which I reprint below in its entirety:

    ‘In October 1964, Barry Goldwater’s running mate, Congressman William E. Miller of New York, visited Notre Dame. Miller, the first Notre Dame graduate (class of 1935) to run for national office on a major party ticket, attended a home football game, virtually next to university president Rev. Theodore M. Hesburgh, C.S.C. Apart from a perfunctory handshake, Father Hesburgh showed little interest in his guest. In fact, Congressman Miller had not been invited by the university, but by a friend and fellow alumnus.’After the game, Miller was invited to speak on a platform (erected for an earlier rock band performance) in front of Sorin Hall. Father Hesburgh’s introduced Miller to a crowd of a few hundred along these lines: ‘Men of Notre Dame (there were no women in those days), you should always listen to people with respect, even when you do not agree with them. I give you Congressman William Miller.’

    ‘Contrast that chilly reception — of an orthodox, pro-life Catholic Notre Dame graduate — to the recent jubilation surrounding the arrival of the proudly pro-abortion leader of the international culture of death who was granted an honorary degree by Notre Dame at its commencement on May 17. The look on the face of university president John Jenkins, C.S.C. as he hugged President Barack Obama was totally bereft of the dark and distant disapproval evident in Father Hesburgh’s stern gaze of some 45 years before.

    ‘Father Jenkins was simply giddy with exultation. His introduction sounded like a cause for canonization. Jenkins was impressed, he insisted, that Obama had deigned to accept his invitation: ‘Obama has come to Notre Dame, though he knows well that we are fully supportive of Church teaching on the sanctity of human life, and we oppose his policies on abortion and embryonic stem cell research. Others might have avoided this venue for that reason. But President Obama is not someone who stops talking to those who differ with him.’

    ‘Sorry, Father John. Obama is not even someone who stops to talk to those who differ with him. Thousands of peaceful pro-life demonstrators lined every major route to campus that day, and Obama was forced to enter the campus by a nondescript back road, with police cars blocking every residential cross street for over a mile. No way would this fearless lover of conversation even have to see the demonstrators ‘who differ with him.’ Nor did he see the thousands praying at the other end of campus, or the dozens of graduates who held their own (very crowded) pro-life graduation ceremonies at the Grotto.

    ‘Obama didn’t have to worry inside the hall, either. Not one official discouraging word was heard. The message? Even if Obama doesn’t stop the killing, Notre Dame will still cheer him on. Meanwhile, Father Jenkins, knowing his place, never mentioned Obama’s support of abortion, partial-birth abortion, infanticide, contraception, worldwide abortion-on-demand, or any other of those pesky little issues that might make ‘The One’ feel unwelcome. No, we save the cold shoulder for the likes of our own pro-life graduates, like Bill Miller.

    ‘Barack’s Bernardin

    ‘As usual, Obama played the crowd like a very pliant fiddle. With a keen eye for the ideological fault line, he zeroed in on a leader of a bygone Catholic era, Chicago Archbishop Joseph Cardinal Bernardin. Now there was Obama’s kind of Catholic! ‘Heterodox to the core, Bernardin was ‘congenial and gentle in his persuasion’ — but, Barack, he didn’t seem to persuade you. In fact, didn’t Bernardin preside over the most disastrous period in the history of the American Catholic Church? You know, when homosexual abuse prospered under the guise of ‘the spirit of Vatican II,’ when Bernardin’s bishops covered up for criminals, defied Pope Paul VI, and allowed their cohorts to defile the liturgy? And where were Bernardin’s brigade when their priests deep-sixed Humanae Vitae? Were they all too busy partying with his friend next door, Archbishop Weakland?

    ‘Nor did Obama forget Father Hesburgh, who in the 1960s decided that to be a ‘great university,’ Notre Dame had to shed its parochial Catholic character so it could qualify for major funding from the federal government. Great Job, Father Ted! Today, Notre Dame prospers without its Catholic character, but it would collapse without that generous government funding, which public records indicate now runs around $57 million dollars a year. This is the Notre Dame Obama praises: the one that depends not on Catholic truth, but on federal money, for its very survival. Obama’s got Notre Dame right where he wants it.

    ‘Not since John F. Kennedy traded his faith for political gain has an American president so brazenly manipulated the Catholic Church. Meanwhile, Father Jenkins is pleased to play Obama’s lapdog, confident that the money and prestige will keep on flowing. He knows where his bread is buttered — and it’s not the Bread of Life.

    ‘Obama’s ‘Patriotic Catholic Church’

    ‘Obama’s Notre Dame marks an important ‘coming out’ of what we might come to call the National Patriotic American Catholic Church (NPACC). NPACC is modeled on the official ‘Catholic’ church in communist China, which receives government support while the underground Catholic Church that is loyal to Rome is mercilessly persecuted. NPACC and the USCCB ardently support the entire left-wing Democrat agenda, while soft-pedaling abortion and never complaining about taxpayer-funded contraception. Through Notre Dame and various other ‘Catholic’ universities and institutions, NPACC receives billions of taxpayer dollars annually. Even those bishops who condemned Obama’s appearance at Notre Dame have a hard time dealing with Obama’s pro-abortion Catholic colleagues — they too realize how much money is at stake. But Notre Dame might be a turning point. NPACC has been around for decades, but has enjoyed a relatively ‘peaceful coexistence’ with the Church of Rome for most of that time. In future years, Obama’s Notre Dame visit might well be seen as marking the end of that era.

    ‘Jenkins’s Comfort Zone

    ‘Brushing abortion aside, Father Jenkins applauded Obama’s leadership on other issues that apparently unite him with NPACC Catholics. Such as? ‘Extending health care coverage … improving education… promoting renewable energy … [the] fight against poverty, to reform immigration.’ In other words, more left-wing USCCB mush to placate the Democrats who happen to be in charge of handing out all that government money.

    And what about the graduates? For Jenkins, what is the greatest challenge confronting the Class of 2009? Is it living the Gospel in a hostile world? Preaching Christ Crucified to itching ears? Saving souls? Repentance and sacrifice? Prayer and fasting? Selfless service to the cause of truth? Teaching the fullness of the Faith in the face of mockery and contempt?

    ‘Sorry, folks — none of the above. No, Father Jenkins told the crowd that ‘easing the hateful divisions between human beings is the supreme challenge of this age.’

    The Oxford English Dictionary defines ‘to ease’ thus: ‘to render more comfortable, to relieve from pain.’ Apparently, the task of Notre Dame-NPACC Catholics is to make our relationship with our sworn enemies — with abortionists, for instance — more ‘comfortable.’ Hence, Father Jenkins’s goal was to make Obama as comfortable as possible at Notre Dame. Well, the unborn are human beings too. What about relieving their pain? Or healing the ‘hateful division’ between them and their abortionist? In the end, Father Jenkins knows that a university cannot serve two masters. As Donoso Cortes puts it, ‘Liberalism can survive only in that brief moment that man decides, ‘Christ — or Barabbas!”

I couldn’t pass up this item:

According to, “The Witchita, Kan., abortion clinic run by murdered doctor George Tiller will be closed permanently, the Tiller family announced Tuesday as Rep. Louise Slaughter, D-N.Y., offered a House resolution honoring the slain abortion provider….”

Rep. Louise Slaughter wants to honor the late (and late-term) abortionist?

Well, she does have an appropriate last name…

© Matt C. Abbott