Robert P. Imbelli

Rev. Robert P. Imbelli, a priest of the Archdiocese of New York, is Associate Professor of Theology Emeritus at Boston College.

By this author

"In the Bleak Mid-winter"

With wishes for Epiphany blessings:



False Mercies

Pope Francis today spoke to the Association of Italian Catholic Doctors. In his short, but powerful address he said:

The dominant thinking sometimes suggests a "false compassion", that which believes that it is: helpful to women to promote abortion; an act of dignity to obtain euthanasia; a scientific breakthrough to "produce" a child and to consider it to be a right rather than a gift to welcome; or to use human lives as guinea pigs presumably to save others.

He went on to speak of "the Gospel of Life" in that personal tone so distinctive to him:

Proceed with Caution! (Update)

There has been much helpful discussion, in various and diverse posts here and elsewhere, regarding the recently concluded Extraordinary Synod on the Family. The long delayed English translation of the final Relatio has now been published on the Vatican website.

I've been reading it in preparation for putting together some reflections, and already I've noticed some problems with the translation. Let me point to a particularly egregious one.

Devastation, Tribulation, Hope

Saturday evening Pope Francis went to Verano Cemetery in the San Lorenzo district of Rome. Allied planes bombed the area in 1943, causing Pius XII to rush there to console the victims. Francis celebrated there the Mass for All Saints Day.

In his extempore homily the Pope spoke of the even greater perils confronting humanity today.

Missing Sacramentality

Last Sunday, I was in New York to participate in the Mass celebrating the one hundreth anniversary of the founding of Regis High School. Since the Mass was celebrated at the church of Saint Ignatius Loyola, I decided to arrive early to see the Cubism exhibition at the nearby Metropolitan Museum of Art. The show featured works by Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque. Though fascinated by the artists' bravura technique, I left yearning for the sacramental presence I would experience at the Mass.

Humble and Prophetic Witness

At Mass this morning in Saint Peter's Square, closing the truly extraordinary Synod, Pope Francis beatified his predecessor, Paul VI. In his homily Francis said:

When we look to this great Pope, this courageous Christian, this tireless apostle, we cannot but say in the sight of God a word as simple as it is heartfelt and important: thanks!  Thanks! Thank you, our dear and beloved Pope Paul VI!  Thank you for your humble and prophetic witness of love for Christ and his Church!

The Drama Continues

So Cardinal Tagle predicted and so it proves to be.

After the dramatic publication of the small group deliberations, the committee designated with incorporating these into a final document by tomorrow faces an herculean task. Will they be able to achieve it and will it receive the approbation of a majority of the Synod participants? Indeed, will it be able to be quickly read and digested?

But, as is well known, even if passed, the document only concludes another act of the drama which will continue to unfold over the next year (with God knows how many tweets yet to come!).

Unanswered Questions

This afternoon’s news conference at the Vatican heard two questions posed, but not answered.

The reporter from "Catholic News Service" made the observation that the Synod has generated a lot of controversy, both within and without its confines. He suggested that some saw in the "relatio" Church teaching being muted in favor of "a kinder, gentler approach;" and that traditional teaching, if not abrogated, was being put into the shadow. Was this concern at all reflected in the "small groups?"

No answer was forthcoming.

Mater et Magister (Update)

At this morning's session of the Synod the document summarizing the first week's deliberations was released.

It will be the basis of this week's discussion in the small language groups, and will be closely parsed by the media who at last have a text to devour.

The English translation is here, though it does not yet contain the division into section numbers which appears in the Italian.