Two news items that may elicit celebration or anxiety, depending on one's view of life in the church these days.First, Archbishop Raymond Burke, formerly of St. Louis and of late heading the Apostolic Segnatura in Rome--when he's not roiling the waters of American or church politics--has been named to the Congregation of Bishops. Rocco has the story from Saturday. As Rocco notes, Burke joins U.S.prelates such as Cardinal Justin Rigali (the real move-and-shaker, it is said), Cardinal Bernard Law (remember him?) and Cardinal William Levada (ex-Frisco, now heading CDF) as the main vetters and promoters of the men who will be made bishops.That is interesting, to say the least, as Burke has certainly come down squarely on one side of the internal battles in the church and inside the hierarchy.It also may presage more appointments like that of Bishop R. Walker Nickless of Sioux City, Iowa, who was last seen on these pages dismissing the idea of a "right" to health care, contra the pope and Catholic teaching.In a new pastoral letter (hat tip to Catholic World News), Bishop Nickless takes on the idea of church reform and uses Pope Benedict's parsing of a "hermeneutic of reform" (often labeled continuity) as opposed to a "hermeneutic of rupture." The first is viewed as the valid view of the Ratzingerian camp, the second the invalid and destructive view of the "liberals" who champion the "Spirit of Vatican II."Nickless has a money quote about the latter, which will grab the attention--as it should--when he says "The so-called spirit of the Council has no authoritative interpretation. It is a ghost or demon that must be exorcised if we are to proceed with the Lords work."Cardinal George recently told John Allen that he wished Catholics would stop paying attention to the bishops so much. But devil-may-care Catholics who may find themselves in the sites of Nickless or Burke may want to take note.Or not? Read and discuss.PS: A couple other notes worth mentioning in this regard. Also appointed to the Congregation of Bishops was Cardinal Antonio Canizares Llovera, prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, a small man (he is known as "Little Ratzinger) with a love of very big vestments. Also, Archbishop Malcom Ranjith of Colombo, who recently returned to Sri Lanka, after reading the riot act on the liturgy in the Curia for a few years, has (according to CWNews) "called for an end to "inordinate and loud music, clapping, long interventions and gestures which disturb the sobriety of the celebration." The archbishop said that "para-liturgical" celebrations should not be scheduled to conflict with Sunday Mass. He reminded priests that Catholics should be sensitive to the impact their parish celebrations might have upon Buddhist and Evangelical neighbors, who look askance at disorderly religious rituals."Add to that the directive of Cardinal Juan Luis Cipriani of Lima that lay people should received Communion on the tongue, kneeling, in that city's cathedral. The cardinal urged others to adopt the same practice, saying that this is "the most respectful way to receive the Eucharist." He explained that he is instituting the policy because "we must regain the respect and reverence that is due to the Eucharist."And Robert Moynihan of the Traditionalist-leaning mag, "Inside the Vatican," reports on the opening of talks between Rome and the schismatic SSPX, and sees it--as many do--as a chance to re-open discussions on what the Second Vatican Council was really about:
With Benedict's decision, the Second Vatican Council is, in a certain sense, as it were, being called in "for further questioning" -- for an new examination and cross-examination, like a witness in a trial, to determine what the Council actually said, and intended.And this means that theology, the strong point of this "theologian-Pope" (his career before he was consecrated a bishop was as a professor of theology in Germany), is about to take center stage in Benedict's pontificate.And the goal in all this will be to arrive at clarity and a common understanding of the faith which will allow the reunion of the Lefbevrists with Rome, and so end of the only formal schism since Vatican II.So it goes?