Democratic presidential candidate tells nation why abortion must be abolished

“I believe that the genius of this American experiment of ours is that in every generation we take actions to include more people more fully in the economic, the social, and the political life our country. That’s the broader arc of American history. We’ve yet to arrive at a perfect union, but every generation we have the opportunity to make it a more perfect union….

“One of the most powerful beliefs we share is our belief in the dignity of every person. That’s what’s motivated me, and the common good that we share. And, I will do everything in my power to move us forward as a nation, and make us more inclusive in every possible way I can across the board because that’s what makes us stronger as a country.”

That’s Governor Martin O’Malley speaking at last night’s Democratic Town Hall on CNN. (Full transcript here.) He was responding to a question about what he would do to secure full LGBT rights in the United States.

And in doing so, he articulated perfectly the case for the abolition of abortion.

“Especially the voiceless”: OMI’s mark 200 years this week

This week the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate mark the 200th anniversary of their founding by St. Eugene de Mazenod. Here’s my new article in Our Sunday Visitor marking the occasion. It takes a look at St. Eugene himself, as well as at the admirable work that the OMI’s do here in the U.S. today.

Congratulations, OMI’s!

“A development that follows the logic of the rite”: Augé on the foot-washing rite

Matias Augé is a highly regarded liturgical theologian and longtime professor at the Anselmo, the renowned Benedictine school of liturgical theology in Rome. Below are the reflections that Fr. Augé offered on his blog two days ago, with the announcement of Pope Francis’s change to the rubrics of the Holy Thursday foot-washing rite.

The original post is in Italian; the translation is mine, as are the bracketed translations of the Latin passages. (My thanks to Fr. Anthony Ruff, who helped me understand the reference to the “signal given with the tabula” in the second paragraph. More on that here.)

It’s worth noting in reading this: mimetic refers to imitating something, while anamnetic refers to liturgically memorializing it.

“The Rite of Foot-Washing in the Roman Liturgy”

By washing the disciples’ feet, Jesus made visible the logic of love and of service that guided his life toward his death on the cross. But this gesture of Jesus is also the foundation of an ecclesial practice. The Christian community is invited to follow the way of service: “…so you ought to wash one another’s feet” (Jn 13:14).

The Roman liturgy has included the foot-washing in the context of Holy Thursday rather recently, only in the second millennium, as we see in the twelfth century Pontificale Romano, in which the rite take place after Vespers. The thirteenth century liturgy of the Roman Curia includes this rite in an abbreviated form, which then passes into the Messale Romano of Pius V, in its 1570 edition, where it is celebrated outside of Mass during the afternoon. It is worth noting that the rubric of this Missal does not seem to preoccupy itself with the mimetic dimension of Jesus’s action. In fact, the rubric does not speak of washing the feet of “twelve” people; it says simply: “Post denudationem altarium, hora competenti, facto signo cum tabula, conveniunt clerici ad faciendum mandatum. Maior abluit pedes minoribus: tergit  et osculatur…” [“After the altar is stripped, and at the proper hour, the signal having been given with the tabula, the clergy present carry out the mandatum. The senior washes the feet of his lessers: he wipes and kisses them…”] Note that this gesture is carried out only among the members of the clergy. Here we see that that liturgy is in general more anamnetic than mimetic: it makes memorial of the Lord’s actions, interpreting them in a broad ritual context.

With the reform of Holy Week carried out by Pius XII in 1955, the foot-washing takes place after the homily of the Mass in cena Domini [the Mass of the Lord’s Supper]. The same is the case in the Messale Romano of 1962. Here the foot-washing is done to “duodecim viros selectos” [“twelve chosen men”]. Now it is no longer a solely clerical gesture and the reference to “twelve men” make it a more explicitly mimetic rite.

This, however, is corrected by the Messale Romano of Paul VI, which no longer makes reference to the number twelve, but speaks only of “viri selecti” [“chosen men”]. The antiphons that accompany the rite of foot-washing emphasize the great theme of charity with the texts taken from John and 1 Corinthians 13 (the hymn to charity), and the rite concludes at the beginning of the offertory, with the ancient hymn Ubi caritas et amor (in the Missal of Paul VI, happily, it becomes: Ubi caritas est vera). The foot-washing is now intended to help us understand and live better the great and fundamental precept of fraternal charity which applies to all baptized men and women.

If Pope Francis has now decreed that the foot-washing is done to “qui selecti sunt ex populo Dei” [“those who are chosen from among the people of God”], we can say that it is a development that follows the logic of the rite, keeping in mind that: 1) in the Missal of Paul VI, the mimetic dimension is no longer emphasized; 2) following Vatican II, the magisterium of the Church has strongly emphasized the equality of rights and duties shared by men and women (see Gaudium et Spes 9; Evangelii Gaudium 103-104); and 3) it is no longer a rite performed by members of the clergy. In this regard, we might recall that for several years, even after Vatican II, girls were forbidden to serve at the altar. That ban was lifted as the result of an interpretation of canon 230, §2 of the Code of Canon Law, which states: “Lay persons can fulfill the function of lector in liturgical actions by temporary designation. All lay persons can also perform the functions of commentator or cantor, or other functions, according to the norm of law.” The reference to “lay persons” obviously refers to both men and women.

Many times, Pope Francis has asked for expanded roles for women in the Church (cf. Evangelii Gaudium 103-104). The Pontiff’s approach to the issue of the role of women in society and in the Church is quite attentive to modernity. It is a vision in which women are equal to men in rights and duties, but complementary and different as the bearers of specific characteristics, making his own the new social paradigm of “reciprocity in equivalence and in difference.”

In this area, however, one must keep in mind the possible impediments to washing the feet of women in public in some cultures. Note therefore that the rubric “qui selecti sunt ex populo Dei” is generic (it does not carry any obligation that women are always included), and therefore the bishop can interpret it in light of the various local situations.

A day of penance and prayer

In all the dioceses of the United States of America, January 22 (or January 23, when January 22 falls on a Sunday) shall be observed as a particular day of penance for violations to the dignity of the human person committed through acts of abortion, and of prayer for the full restoration of the legal guarantee of the right to life. The Mass “For Peace and Justice” (no. 22 of the “Masses for Various Needs”) should be celebrated with violet vestments as an appropriate liturgical observance for this day.

General Instruction of the Roman Missal, no. 373

“A climate deal Francis would approve?”: New from OSV

My new article for Our Sunday Visitor considers the question, “Would Pope Francis approve of the U.N. climate deal brokered in Paris last month?” My work on this one was particularly interesting and enjoyable.

That’s probably because the initial reaction of most folks — including me — would probably be, “Of course he would.” But the ways the deal differs from (and even ignores) Francis’s approach are as interesting as the ways the two are aligned.

The whole thing is here. Have a look.

New from OSV: My article on the revised rite of matrimony

Our Sunday Visitor has published my new article on the revised Order of Celebrating Matrimony, recently approved by the U.S. bishops for use in the United States. It includes a full run-down of what’s new, what’s not, and, interestingly, what the bishops wanted included but was nixed by the Vatican. The article is here.

“A resounding success”: new review from the Catholic Historical Review

The autumn 2015 issue of The Catholic Historical Review includes a new review of my book, Struggle, Condemnation, Vindication: John Courtney Murray’s Journey toward Vatican II. Here’s the full text of that review, written by Thomas O’Brien, associate professor of religious studies at DePaul University.

This reviewer was both intrigued and skeptical when the author claimed in the introduction that “this is a theological adventure story” (p. xxiv). It is difficult to imagine the quiet, scholarly, and scrupulous John Courtney Murray as the subject of an “adventure” in the more common understanding of the term. Nevertheless, by the end of this concise and readable account of Murray’s life, Hudock’s characterization is convincing. Those who have worked with the Murray corpus for decades are all too familiar with Donald E. Pelotte’s authoritative biography, and many might have questioned the need for another historical survey of Murray’s life and work. However, this book represents a substantially fresh perspective on Murray’s archival record from someone who was not a contemporary. It is a contextual reading of Murray from the vantage point of several generations removed from the events described and from the controversies that arose around Murray’s work in the last two decades of the twentieth century.

For this reason, one could argue that this book has the advantage of understanding Murray and his work from a sufficient historical distance, and for this reason, the controversies and scandals of those eras have much less influence on the way the story is told and the way the theology is interpreted. Although the book does not claim to be breaking new ground in Murray research, it is a treasure trove of information about Murray and his opponents, especially Msgr. Joseph Clifford Fenton, Redemptorist priest Francis Connell, and Cardinal Alfredo Ottaviani. Hudock excels at reconstructing the conversations on both sides of the Catholic religious-liberty issue—before, during, and after the Second Vatican Council. It is particularly illuminating when it reviews and analyzes the personal journals and confidential correspondence of those immersed in these conversations.

So, although the author is forthcoming that the purpose of the book is not to introduce new archival information on Murray’s life or offer a novel interpretation of Murray’s work, it nevertheless presents  he reader with a remarkably lucid introduction to the life and work of the most influential American Catholic theologian For this reason, the book might be used with students and other uninitiated readers to give an overview of Murray’s life and career, and introduce the various theological themes and controversies that were the hallmarks of his life’s work.

The weaknesses of the book are minor in comparison to the previously mentioned virtues. One shortcoming is the thin treatment of Americanism regarding how it both deeply influenced Murray and dogged him as a convenient condemnation of his work. The dismissal of Murray by his opponents via the category of Americanism was personally vexing for Murray, and he expended a great deal of time and effort trying to demonstrate that the Church, in many ways, had always tacitly endorsed what he called the American proposition.

Overall, the book is a resounding success at offering the Murray neophyte a current, lucid, and extremely well-written overview of Murray’s life and work. It also offers the seasoned Murray scholar a fresh interpretation of Murray within the context of mid-twentieth century American Catholic theology and its impact on the proceedings of the Second Vatican Council.

 

This is exciting and gratifying. I also happen to agree with the criticism mentioned in the penultimate paragraph. My thanks to Professor O’Brien for his gracious words.