This homily must be read in part as Benedict’s commentary on the sexual abuse crisis and the increasing pressure being placed on the Church by secular judicial and law enforcement authorities. (see below)
“(1) The Holy Father today received in audience Cardinal Christoph Schonborn, O.P., archbishop of Vienna and president of the Austrian Episcopal Conference. The cardinal had asked to meet the Supreme Pontiff personally in order to report on the current situation of the Church in Austria. In particular, Cardinal Schonborn wished to clarify the exact meaning of his recent declarations concerning some aspects of current ecclesiastical discipline, and certain of his judgements regarding positions adopted by the Secretariat of State — and in particular by the then Secretary of State of Pope John Paul II — concerning the late Cardinal Hans Hermann Groer, archbishop of Vienna from 1986 to 1995.
“(2) Cardinal Angelo Sodano, dean of the College of Cardinals, and Cardinal Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone S.D.B. were subsequently invited to join the meeting.
“In the second part of the audience certain widespread misunderstandings were clarified and resolved, misunderstandings deriving partly from certain statements of Cardinal Christoph Schonborn, who expressed his displeasure at the interpretations given to his words.
“(a) It must be reiterated that, in the Church, when accusations are made against a cardinal, competency falls exclusively to the Pope; other parties may have a consultative function, while always maintaining due respect for persons.
“(b) The word ‘chiacchiericcio‘ (gossip) was erroneously interpreted as disrespectful to the victims of sexual abuse, towards whom Cardinal Angelo Sodano nourishes the same feelings of compassion, and of condemnation of evil, as expressed on various occasions by the Holy Father. That word, pronounced during his Easter address to Pope Benedict XVI, was taken literally from the pontifical homily of Palm Sunday and referred to the “courage that does not let itself be intimidated by the gossip of prevalent opinions”.
“(3) The Holy Father, recalling with great affection his own pastoral trip to Austria, via Cardinal Christoph Schonborn sends his greetings and encouragement to the Church in Austria, and to her pastors, entrusting the journey to renewed ecclesial communion to the celestial protection of the Blessed Virgin, so venerated at Mariazell”.
Early this morning, the Pope conferred the pallium on the 38 metropolitan archbishops named around the world over the last year.
A persistent tradition identifies Celestine V as the nameless figure Dante sees among those in the antechamber of Hell, in the enigmatic verses: “I saw and recognized the shade of him, who by his cowardice made the great refusal” (Inferno, III, 59–60)
POPE TO VENERATE RELICS OF ST. CELESTINE V
Former Pontiff Abdicated After 5 Months
VATICAN CITY, JUNE 16, 2010 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI will visit the earthquake-scourged Abruzzi region of Italy on July 4 and venerate the relics of St. Celestine V, the 13th-century Pope who abdicated the papacy after only five months.
The Vatican press office published the official program for the one-day trip to the city of Sulmona, located about an hour southwest of the epicenter of the April 2009 quake that left more than 300 dead and more than 65,000 homeless in and around the city of L’Aquila.
Benedict XVI visited the region that same month, at which time he made a stop at the Collemaggio Basilica in L’Aquila to pray in front of the casket with the remains of Celestine V. To emphasize his spiritual solidarity, the Pontiff left there the pallium that he received at the beginning of his pontificate.
The Pontiff then convoked a Celestine Year — from Aug. 28, 2009, to Aug. 29, 2010 — that celebrates the 800th birthday of the Pope. The saint’s remains have been on pilgrimage during this year throughout the dioceses of the region.
Born as Pietro Angeleri in 1209, the future Pope and saint became a monk and hermit who founded the Celestines. He was elected Pontiff in 1294, at the age of 80 and after a two-year deliberation by the College of Cardinals.
He resigned after five months in order to return to the life of a hermit, naming as his motivations: “the desire for humility, for a purer life, for a stainless conscience, the deficiencies of his own physical strength, his ignorance, the perverseness of the people, his longing for the tranquillity of his former life.”
Celestine V was imprisoned by his successor, Pope Boniface VIII, and he died 10 months later.
Benedict XVI will leave the Vatican at 8:30 a.m. (Rome time) and fly by helicopter to Sulmona, where he will arrive at the Serafini Sports Field of the Coronada Sport Complex at 9:20 a.m.
The Pontiff will be welcomed in Garibaldi Square by the Mayor Fabio Federico of Sulmona and by Bishop Angelo Spina of Sulmona-Valva, where the Holy Father will preside at Mass.
Benedict XVI will lunch with the bishops of Abruzzo at 1:15 pm in the priests’ house of the diocesan pastoral center of Sulmona.
While there, at 4:30 p.m. he will greet the members of the visit’s organizing committee and will meet with a delegation of the penitentiary center (Casa Circondariale) of Sulmona.
At 5 p.m., the Pope will meet with young people, whom he will address in the Cathedral of Sulmona.
Afterward, the Pontiff will pray before the relics of St. Celestine V in the cathedral’s crypt.
The Pope will leave by helicopter at 5:45 pm and will arrive in the Vatican at 6:35 pm.
The visit to Sulmona is one of the Pope’s four pastoral visits within Italy this year: Turin (May), Sulmona (July), Carpineto Romano (September), and Palermo (October).
To the dear Brother,Abp. André Joseph Léonard,Archbishop of Mechlin-Brussels,President of the Belgian Episcopal ConferenceI wish to express to you, dear Brother in the Episcopate, as well as to all Bishops of Belgium, my closeness and my solidarity in this moment of sadness, in which, with certain surprising and deplorable methods, searches were carried out in Mechlin Cathedral and in places where the Belgian Episcopate were assembled in plenary session. During that meeting, aspects related to the abuse of minors by members of the clergy were to have been treated, among other things. I have myself repeated numerous times that these grave facts should be treated by the civil order and by the canonical order in reciprocal respect for the specificity and autonomy of each one. In this sense, I wish that justice will follow its course, ensuring the rights of persons and institutions, in respect for victims, with the recognition, without prejudices, of those who wish to collaborate with it and with the refusal of everything that could darken the noble duties that are ascribed to it.Assuring you that I daily accompany you in prayer for the path of the Church in Belgium, I gladly send you an affectuous Apostolic Benediction.Vatican City, June 27, 2010.BENEDICTUS PP. XVI[Original language: French]
By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
Filed at 4:17 p.m. ET
VATICAN CITY (AP) — The Vatican on Monday issued an unprecedented rebuke of a top cardinal who had accused the retired Vatican No. 2 of blocking clerical sex abuse investigations, publicly dressing down a man who had been praised for his criticism of church abuse cover-ups.
The silencing of Cardinal Christoph Schoenborn, the archbishop of Vienna and long considered a papal contender, drew heated criticism from clerical abuse victims. They said the Vatican should be honoring Schoenborn, not publicly humiliating him, for his calls for greater transparency and demands for a crackdown on priests who rape and sodomize children.
Schoenborn has also called for an open discussion of priestly celibacy; views that the Vatican said he ”clarified” on Monday during an audience with the pope.
As it admonished Schoenborn, the Vatican appeared caught on the defensive on two other fronts in the ongoing sex abuse scandal: it remained locked in a diplomatic tiff with Belgium over the brazen raid on church offices last week, during which police detained bishops and even opened a crypt in search of church abuse documents. And it bristled at the U.S. Supreme Court decision to let a sex abuse lawsuit in Oregon naming the Holy See go ahead.
Schoenborn had accused the former Vatican secretary of state, Cardinal Angelo Sodano, in April of blocking a church investigation into the late Austrian Cardinal Hans Hermann Groer, who was accused by victims in 1995 of abusing boys at a seminary — a scandal that rocked the Austrian church and cost Groer his job.
Schoenborn also accused Sodano of causing ”massive harm” to victims when he dismissed claims of clerical abuse as ”petty gossip” on Easter Sunday.
The Vatican said Monday that only the pope can level such accusations against a cardinal, not another fellow prince of the church. And it sought to clarify the ”petty gossip” comment, noting that the pope himself had used the same phrase a week earlier, referring to the need to have ”courage to not be intimidated by the petty gossip of dominant opinions.”
The phrase, and Sodano’s repetition of it, had sparked widespread criticism that the Vatican simply didn’t appreciate the significance of the clerical abuse scandal. It suggested the pope himself and his collaborators believed the hundreds of reports that were flooding in of children being molested by priests, and the ensuing questions about the Vatican’s handling of such cases, were mere gossip, not serious crimes.
The Vatican said that interpretation was ”erroneous,” although it didn’t explain what the pontiff or Sodano meant by the phrase. The Vatican said both men felt compassion for victims and condemnation for those behind the abuse.
Victims groups said the Vatican should have praised Schoenborn for his honesty in taking Sodano to task, not humiliate him and stifle other potential whistle-blowers within the church.
”By choosing instead to publicly embarrass Cardinal Schoenborn, the pope is sending an unmistakable message to his bishops that in his administration, avoiding scandal still trumps truth,” said Terence McKiernan, president of BishopAccountability.org, which compiles information and documents on clerical abuse.
The main U.S. victims’ group, SNAP, said the dressing down of Schoenborn, coupled with the pope’s harsh denunciation of the Belgian raid over the weekend, showed that the pope’s professed claim to do everything possible to stop priestly abuse was little more than lip service.
”With his words, Benedict professes concern for victims. But by his actions, Benedict shows concern for his colleagues,” said David Clohessy, executive director of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests.
The Holy See issued the statement after Schoenborn met with the pontiff in a private audience Monday. The audience was then broadened to include Sodano and the current Vatican secretary of state, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone.
The Vatican communique said Schoenborn had wanted to ”clarify the exact sense of his recent comments” concerning celibacy and Sodano. It said Schoenborn ”expressed his displeasure for the interpretations.”
When asked by The Associated Press for further comment, Schoenborn’s spokesman said the cardinal would not be available for an interview.
Schoenborn has been a leading figure in the abuse crisis, forcefully denouncing abuse, presiding over service of reparations for victims and openly calling for an honest examination of issues like priestly celibacy.
Just last week, he unveiled measures designed to prevent clerical abuse and help victims in Austria, including the creation of a foundation for victims to cover their therapy costs and possible compensation demands.
Schoenborn’s comments about Sodano were remarkable in that they were directed at Pope John Paul II’s No. 2, who is also under fire for his alleged stonewalling of a Vatican investigation into the founder of the Legionaries of Christ, who was found to have abused seminarians and fathered at least three children.
Though retired as secretary of state, Sodano still wields enormous influence in Vatican circles as the dean of the College of Cardinals.
The Vatican’s public and formal reprimand of such a highly regarded cardinal is extremely rare. Previously, cardinals who have stepped out of line questioning church policy or doctrine have quietly issued their own mea culpas.
Schoenborn made the comments April 28 to a select group of Austrian journalists. He made them in a bid to defend Pope Benedict XVI, who was coming under fire himself for his handling of abuse cases both during his time as archbishop of Munich and as the head of the Vatican’s doctrine office.
In the discussion, Schoenborn said then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger had immediately pushed for an investigative commission to look into the allegations against Groer. The cardinal stepped down shortly after the first allegations surfaced — officially due to old age. He died in 2003 but never admitted any guilt.
But Schoenborn said Ratzinger was thwarted by others in the Vatican — described by Schoenborn as the ”diplomatic track,” meaning the secretariat of state, a clear reference to Sodano.
The Vatican statement Monday recalled that ”in the church, only the pope has the competence to deal with accusations against a cardinal; other instances can have a consultation function, but always with the necessary respect for the people involved.”
In other comments on April 28, Schoenborn was quoted as saying the quality of a gay relationship should be taken into greater consideration, the church needed a new perspective on the remarriage of divorcees, and it was no secret the Vatican government was ”in urgent need of reform.”
[End of AP story]