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Vatican Insider

A new multi-lingual website has been opened by Andrea Tornielli in assocation with the Italian newspaper La Stampa. It appears to be interested in things other than inside-the-Vatican gossip. Here's the link to the English version.

About the Author

Rev. Joseph A. Komonchak, professor emeritus of the School of Theology and Religious Studies at the Catholic University of America, is a retired priest of the Archdiocese of New York.



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It is interesting, Father Komonchak, but the translation needs improvement. "A portrait of Timothy Dolan, a man who represents ortodoxy and dialogue." They need to hire an editor, I think.

I noted the following: "The pallium is woven of wool, and is made with the wool from lambs raised by Trappist monks of the abbey of Tre Fontane in Rome and blessed by the Pope on January 21st, the feast day of St. Agnes."A neat finesse! Occasion of the blessing is not explained by any alleged connection between the Saint's name and the Latin word "agnus" which does mean "lamb" but is unconnected with the Greek root from which "Agnes" is formed.

Here's a bit from John Allen's piece on Archbishop Dolan:"For the past fifty years, the conventional journalistic way of sizing up Catholicism has been in terms of a struggle between left and right. After more than thirty years of bishops appointments by Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI, however, that contest is largely over at the leadership level."That may be true, but Allen then jumps to the conclusion that "the real battle for the future runs between different currents in the broad conservative camp between cultural warriors who see the outside world primarily as a threat, and evangelists who see it as missionary terrain. The first instinct is a prescription for pulling back, the other for meeting the world halfway. "Given recent events, and the world-wide disillusion with the Bishops, is it so very clear that the real battle for the future of the church will run between conservative factions in the hierarchy?

That "alleged connection" --St. Agnes and lambs -- has been operative for a very long time. (See: virtually any representation of St. Agnes.) It's one of the Church's most venerable puns!

I noticed that the Site claims Michael Novak to be "one of the most authoritative American philosophers and theologians." But perhaps that is also a wrong note introduced by translation difficulties?

I believe those who prepare the palliums (a) are nuns, not monks.The paper for which Tornielli writes, La Stampa, is one of Italy's more conservative dailies. He is very much "in the know," owing to his many trusting contacts "on the inside."He is nothing but prolific, having written lengthy biographies of late 19th (Pius IX) and 20th century (Pius XII, Paul VI, John Paul II) popes. They are thorough, but somewhat hagiographic. I did admire his life of Paul VI, but then I have a prejudice there.

l. 4, for "but" read "if not"

Mr. Page --The more I read of Paul VI, the more I admire him.

"That alleged connection St. Agnes and lambs has been operative for a very long time. (See: virtually any representation of St. Agnes.) Its one of the Churchs most venerable puns!"Is that also true of the traditions of the Eastern Churches? The name "Agnes" or more properly "Hagnes" is Greek and means pure or chaste. The Latin equivalent would be St. Casta. The is no pun in Greek. I think in the West we have a false etymology rather than a pun.

I have no idea what the Eastern Churches do with St. Agnes. I only know that the lamb is how you can tell whether a given "virgin saint" image is meant to be her. It seems to me the difference between "false etymology" and "pun" in this case is the difference between pedantry vs. having a sense of humor.

Thanks, Fr. Komonchak, for providing the link. Please note this link to a hint of a forthcoming document on the reorganization of U.S. dioceses: One of the many problems is that the laity of some dioceses are not told the amounts of money forwarded to the various Vatican agencies and significant officials. We don't know the flow up, but apparently Rome is not getting what it thinks it should.Joe McMahon

I don't think I'd trust the reporting. It says that $10B in damages have been paid, which is off by at least 7 billion.

Reporting in the Italian press on matters related to the Church in the US is often well off-base. In some ways, Italian journalists, especially those in Rome, just can't comprehend how the Church is able to function (and indeed flourish) in a country in which the Catholic Church is not the "state religion." (At least in terms of numbers baptized and pride of place in Italy.)And the Roman Curia, despite its post-conciliar "internationalization," is often just as at sea in understanding how the Church functions in a pluralistic society. The nineteenth-century "Italian" Curia was frequently far more understanding and trusting of the pastoral instincts and needs of the US episcopate than is now the case. (And it wasn't just the Curia. The bishops were more daring and insistent.)Granted, the US press shows little interest in today's Italy (beyond travel and gastronomy), nonetheless Italian journalistic comprehension of the intricacies of US politics is often even more inadequate (wildly fanciful) than reporting on the US Church.

Mr. Page --The appointment of Fr. LOmbardi as a sort of press officer for the Vatican and the recent meeting of bloggers sponsored by the Vatican seem to show that the Vatican (whoever that might be) is starting to realize that it needs to get in better touch with the world. Do you think this might be so?I also read somewhere this week that one of the Vatican Cardinals was quoted as saying that the nuncios in different countries are there not only to speak to the local governments but also even to lay people who have complaints against their own bishops (though they mustn't call them "complaints", they must call them "concerns". Hmm.)"complaints", they must call them "concerns".)The Vatican with all it's worldwide contacts nevertheless seems extremely isolated.

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