The extraordinary tale of a pope, a pirate, and a dead bishop’s treasure

The extraordinary tale of a pope, a pirate, and a dead bishop’s treasure

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Documents published from the Vatican archives in 2014 revealed an incredible tale of pirate attacks and corruption involving a 14 th century bishop, whose lifelong accumulation of treasure was accosted by pirates on the way to Avignon, France, where Pope Innocent VI was based. One of the pirate ships ran aground and the pirates as well as a portion of the treasure was captured. The pope took the treasure and used it as gifts for royalty and to pay soldiers, courtiers and other staff.

According to Live Science , the medieval tale was recorded and stored in the Vatican archives and was published in a book titled "The Spoils of the Pope and the Pirates, 1357: The Complete Legal Dossier from the Vatican Archives" (The Ames Foundation, 2014), edited by Daniel Williman, a professor emeritus at Binghamton University, and Karen Ann Corsano, a private scholar.

According to the historical account, a French bishop named Thibaud de Castillon acquired a hoard of treasures through ‘commercial activities’ in the Mediterranean and Atlantic including various kinds of speculative trading and dodgy dealing. While the bishop was not required to take a vow of poverty, it was considered a mortal sin to lend money with a high interest and acquire profits through dishonest trading investments.

"He governed and exploited the bishopric through a vicar general for three years while he managed a commercial collaboration with the important Montpellier merchants,” Williman and Corsano wrote in their book. To get around his ‘mortal sin’, de Castillon made "clumsy efforts to pretend that his cash wealth and its profits actually belonged to his agents," and the papal administration seemed content to turn a blind eye as they intended to take all his wealth as spoils when he died, Williman and Corsano explained.

Following the death of de Castillon in 1357 AD, a ship named the São Vicente, laden with de Castillon’s lifelong accumulation of treasures, including gold, silver, rings, tapestries, jewels, fine plates and altars, set sail from Lisboa (modern-day Lisbon) in Portugal, to Avignon in France. Pope Innocent VI (reign 1352-1362) was based in Avignon due to political turmoil in Italy at the time.

The pirates who stole a dead bishop's treasure aboard the São Vicente ship in the 14th century likely used a galea sotile galley. Shown here, a model of a Galley of the Order of the Knights of St. John (Knights hospitaller), Malta. Credit: Myriam Thyes

However, the São Vicente was attacked by two pirate ships while sailing near the town of Cartagena, in modern-day Spain. One of the ships was captained by a pirate named Botafoc (“fire blast”), while the other was commanded by Martin Yanes.

“Botafoc's ship was armed to the teeth,” wrote Live Science . “Records indicate that his crew carried cutlasses (swords with curved blades used by sailors and pirates) and war pikes, and his galley had at least seven ballistae, which were large, crossbow-like devices capable of launching 9-inch (23 centimeters) stone bullets at high speeds.”

The crew of the São Vicente had little choice but to surrender de Castillon’s treasure to the two pirate ships. While the ship led by Martin Yanes appears to have made a clean getaway with a bounty of treasure, Botafoc’s ship ran aground near the town of Aigues-Mortes in France, and the pirates were captured by the local garrison. The crew were quickly hanged, while Botafoc and a few of his officers were sent to prison to await their fate.

Hanging was the usual manner in which pirates were executed. Image source

Williman and Corsano wrote that Botafoc “deposited a large amount of gold coin” with the resident Bishop, which appeared to have saved him and his officers from the hangman’s noose as they were let off with a fine.

As for the beached pirate vessel, local fishermen were quick to take items while local authorities were distracted with the pirates, and on 11 th February, 1357, a clerk of a local judge took inventory of the remaining goods.

"Apart from the ship's sail, cordage, oars, armament and rigging, the judge's clerk on the beach listed a great mass of clothing and cloth in odd lots — but also items like books and ecclesiastical vestments," Williman and Corsano wrote. These goods were promptly sent on to Pope Innocent VI to use as gifts for royalty and to pay his soldiers and staff.

The tale is just one account that was stored within the Vatican Secret Archives, which is estimated to contain some 84 kilometres of shelving full of state papers, correspondence, papal account books, and many other documents which the church has accumulated over the centuries. Occasionally, the Vatican releases documents for public viewing, but there are millions more that have never been seen, except by the few.

Featured image: One of the Archives' storage areas, known as the Scaffali in Ferro, which contains 13 kilometres of shelving over two floors. Credit: Marco Ansaloni

The extraordinary tale of a pope, a pirate, and a dead bishop’s treasure - History


Venerable Brothers,
Dear Sons and Daughters of the Church

1. The light of the East has illumined the universal Church, from the moment when "a rising sun" appeared above us (Lk 1:78): Jesus Christ, our Lord, whom all Christians invoke as the Redeemer of man and the hope of the world.

That light inspired my predecessor Pope Leo XIII to write the Apostolic Letter Orientalium Dignitas in which he sought to safeguard the significance of the Eastern traditions for the whole Church.(1)

On the centenary of that event and of the initiatives the Pontiff intended at that time as an aid to restoring unity with all the Christians of the East, I wish to send to the Catholic Church a similar appeal, which has been enriched by the knowledge and interchange which has taken place over the past century.

Since, in fact, we believe that the venerable and ancient tradition of the Eastern Churches is an integral part of the heritage of Christ's Church, the first need for Catholics is to be familiar with that tradition, so as to be nourished by it and to encourage the process of unity in the best way possible for each.

Our Eastern Catholic brothers and sisters are very conscious of being the living bearers of this tradition, together with our Orthodox brothers and sisters. The members of the Catholic Church of the Latin tradition must also be fully acquainted with this treasure and thus feel, with the Pope, a passionate longing that the full manifestation of the Church's catholicity be restored to the Church and to the world, expressed not by a single tradition, and still less by one community in opposition to the other and that we too may be granted a full taste of the divinely revealed and undivided heritage of the universal Church(2) which is preserved and grows in the life of the Churches of the East as in those of the West.

2. My gaze turns to the Orientale Lumen which shines from Jerusalem (cf. Is 60:1 Rev 21:10), the city where the Word of God, made man for our salvation, a Jew "descended from David according to the flesh" (Rom 1:3 2 Tim 2:8), died and rose again. In that holy city, when the day of Pentecost had come and "they were all together in one place (Acts 2:1), the Paraclete was sent upon Mary and the disciples. From there the Good News spread throughout the world because, filled with the Holy Spirit, "they spoke the word of God with boldness" (Acts 4:31). From there, from the mother of all the Churches,(3) the Gospel was preached to all nations, many of which boast of having had one of the Apostles as their first witness to the Lord.(4) In that city the most varied cultures and traditions were welcomed in the name of the one God (cf. Acts 2:9 - 1 1). In turning to it with nostalgia and gratitude, we find the strength and enthusiasm to intensify the quest for harmony in that genuine plurality of forms which remains the Church's ideal.(5)

3. A Pope, son of a Slav people, is particularly moved by the call of those peoples to whom the two saintly brothers Cyril and Methodius went. They were a glorious example of apostles of unity who were able to proclaim Christ in their search for communion between East and West amid the difficulties which sometimes set the two worlds against one another. Several times I have reflected on the example of their activity,(6) also addressing those who are their children in faith and culture.

These considerations now need to be broadened so as to embrace all the Eastern Churches, in the variety of their different traditions. My thoughts turn to our brothers and sisters of the Eastern Churches, in the wish that together we may seek the strength of an answer to the questions man is asking today in every part of the world. I intend to address their heritage of faith and life, aware that there can be no second thoughts about pursuing the path of unity, which is irreversible as the Lord's appeal for unity is irreversible. "Dearly beloved, we have this common task: we must say together from East and West: Ne evacuetur Crux! (cf. 1 Cor 1:17). The cross of Christ must not be emptied of its power because if the cross of Christ is emptied of its power, man no longer has roots, he no longer has prospects: he is destroyed! This is the cry of the end of the 20th century. It is the cry of Rome, of Moscow, of Constantinople. It is the cry of all Christendom: of the Americas, of Africa, of Asia, of everyone. It is the cry of the new evangelization."(7)

I am thinking of the Eastern Churches, as did many other Popes in the past, aware that the mandate to preserve the Church's unity and to seek Christian unity tirelessly wherever it was wounded was addressed to them. A particularly close link already binds us. We have almost everything in common(8) and above all, we have in common the true longing for unity.

4. The cry of men and women today seeking meaning for their lives reaches all the Churches of the East and of the West. In this cry, we perceive the invocation of those who seek the Father whom they have forgotten and lost (cf. Lk 15:18 - 20 Jn 14:8). The women and men of today are asking us to show them Christ, who knows the Father and who has revealed him (cf. Jn 8:55 14:8 - 11). Letting the world ask us its questions, listening with humility and tenderness, in full solidarity with those who express them, we are called to show in word an deed today the immense riches that our Churches preserve in the coffers of their traditions. We learn from the Lord himself, who would stop along the way to be with the people, who listened to them and was moved to pity when he saw them "like sheep without a shepherd" (Mt 9:36 cf. Mk 6:34). From him we must learn the loving gaze with which he reconciled men with the Father and with themselves, communicating to them that power which alone is able to heal the whole person.

This appeal calls on the Churches of the East and the West to concentrate on the essential: "We cannot come before Christ, the Lord of history, as divided as we have unfortunately been in the course of the second millennium. These divisions must give way to rapprochement and harmony the wounds on the path of Christian unity must be healed."(9)

Going beyond our own frailties, we must turn to him, the one Teacher, sharing in his death so as to purify ourselves from that jealous attachment to feelings and memories, not of the great things God has done for us, but of the human affairs of a past that still weighs heavily on our hearts. May the Spirit clarify our gaze so that together we may reach out to contemporary man who is waiting for the good news. If we make a harmonious, illuminating, life - giving response to the world's expectations and sufferings, we will truly contribute to a more effective proclamation of the Gospel among the people of our time.


5. "In the study of revealed truth East and West have used different methods and approaches in understanding and confessing divine things. It is hardly surprising, then, if sometimes one tradition has come nearer to a full appreciation of some aspects of a mystery of revelation than the other, or has expressed them better. In such cases, these various theological formulations are often to be considered complementary rather than conflicting."(10)

Pondering over the questions, aspirations and experiences I have mentioned, my thoughts turn to the Christian heritage of the East. I do not intend to describe that heritage or to interpret it: I listen to the Churches of the East, which I know are living interpreters of the treasure of tradition they preserve. In contemplating it, before my eyes appear elements of great significance for fuller and more thorough understanding of the Christian experience. These elements are capable of giving a more complete Christian response to the expectations of the men and women of today. Indeed, in comparison to any other culture, the Christian East has a unique and privileged role as the original setting where the Church was born. The Christian tradition of the East implies a way of accepting, understanding and living faith in the Lord Jesus. In this sense it is extremely close to the Christian tradition of the West, which is born of and nourished by the same faith. Yet it is legitimately and admirably distinguished from the latter, since Eastern Christians have their own way of perceiving and understanding, and thus an original way of living their relationship with the Savior. Here, with respect and trepidation, I want to approach the act of worship which these Churches express, rather than to identify this or that specific theological point which has emerged down the centuries in the polemical debates between East and West.

From the beginning, the Christian East has proved to contain a wealth of forms capable of assuming the characteristic features of each individual culture, with supreme respect for each particular community. We can only thank God with deep emotion for the wonderful variety with which he has allowed such a rich and composite mosaic of different tesserae to be formed.

6. Certain features of the spiritual and theological tradition, common to the various Churches of the East mark their sensitivity to the forms taken by the transmission of the Gospel in Western lands. The Second Vatican Council summarized them as follows: "Everyone knows with what love the Eastern Christians celebrate the sacred liturgy, especially the Eucharistic mystery, source of the Church's life and pledge of future glory. In this mystery the faithful, united with their bishops, have access to God the Father through the Son, the Word made flesh who suffered and was glorified, in the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. And so, made 'sharers of the divine nature' (2 Pt 1:4) they enter into communion with the most holy Trinity."(11)

These features describe the Eastern outlook of the Christian. His or her goal is participation in the divine nature through communion with the mystery of the Holy Trinity. In this view the Father's "monarchy" is outlined as well as the concept of salvation according to the divine plan, as it is presented by Eastern theology after Saint Irenaeus of Lyons and which spread among the Cappadocian Fathers.(12)

Participation in Trinitarian life takes place through the liturgy and in a special way through the Eucharist, the mystery of communion with the glorified body of Christ, the seed of immortality.(13) In divinization and particularly in the sacraments, Eastern theology attributes a very special role to the Holy Spirit: through the power of the Spirit who dwells in man deification already begins on earth the creature is transfigured and God's kingdom inaugurated.

The teaching of the Cappadocian Fathers on divinization passed into the tradition of all the Eastern Churches and is part of their common heritage. This can be summarized in the thought already expressed by Saint Irenaeus at the end of the second century: God passed into man so that man might pass over to God.(14) This theology of divinization remains one of the achievements particularly dear to Eastern Christian thought.(15)

On this path of divinization, those who have been made "most Christ - like" by grace and by commitment to the way of goodness go before us: the martyrs and the saints.(16) And the Virgin Mary occupies an altogether special place among them. From her the shoot of Jesse sprang (cf. Is 11:1 ). Her figure is not only the Mother who waits for us, but the Most Pure, who - the fulfillment of so many Old Testament prefigurations - is an icon of the Church, the symbol and anticipation of humanity transfigured by grace, the model and the unfailing hope for all those who direct their steps towards the heavenly Jerusalem.(17)

Although strongly emphasizing Trinitarian realism and its unfolding in sacramental life, the East associates faith in the unity of the divine nature with the fact that the divine essence is unknowable. The Eastern Fathers always assert that it is impossible to know what God is one can only know that he is, since he revealed himself in the history of salvation as Father, Son and Holy Spirit.(18)

This sense of the inexpressible divine reality is reflected in liturgical celebration, where the sense of mystery is so strongly felt by all the faithful of the Christian East.

"Moreover, in the East are to be found the riches of those spiritual traditions which are given expression in monastic life especially. From the glorious times of the holy Fathers that monastic spirituality flourished in the East which later flowed over into the Western world, and there provided a source from which Latin monastic life took its rise and has often drawn fresh vigor ever since. Therefore, it is earnestly recommended that Catholics avail themselves more often of the spiritual riches of the Eastern Fathers which lift up the whole man to the contemplation of the divine mysteries."(19)

Gospel, Churches and Culture

7. As I have pointed out at other times, one of the first great values embodied particularly in the Christian East is the attention given to peoples and their cultures, so that the Word of God and his praise my resound in every language. I reflected on this topic in the Encyclical Letter Slavorum Apostoli, where I noted that Cyril and Methodius "desired to become similar in every aspect to those to whom they were bringing the Gospel they wished to become a part of those peoples and to share their lot in everything"(20) "it was a question of a new method of catechesis."(21)

In doing this, they expressed an attitude widespread in the Christian East: "By incarnating the Gospel in the native culture of the peoples which they were evangelizing, Saints Cyril and Methodius were especially meritorious for the formation and development of that same culture, or rather of many cultures."(22) They combined respect and consideration for individual cultures with a passion for the universality of the Church, which they tirelessly strove to achieve. The attitude of the two brothers from Thessalonica is representative in Christian antiquity of a style typical of many churches: revelation is proclaimed satisfactorily and becomes fully understandable when Christ speaks the tongues of the various peoples, and they can read scripture and sing the liturgy in their own language with their own expressions, as though repeating the marvels of Pentecost.

At a time when it is increasingly recognized that the right of every people to express themselves according to their own heritage of culture and thought is fundamental, the experience of the individual Churches of the East is offered to us as an authoritative example of successful inculturation.

From this model we learn that if we wish to avoid the recurrence of particularism as well as of exaggerated nationalism, we must realize that the proclamation of the Gospel should be deeply rooted in what is distinctive to each culture and open to convergence in a universality, which involves an exchange for the sake of mutual enrichment.

Between memory and expectation

8. Today we often feel ourselves prisoners of the present. It is as though man had lost his perception of belonging to a history which precedes and follows him. This effort to situate oneself between the past and the future, with a grateful heart for the benefits received and for those expected, is offered by the Eastern Churches in particular, with a clear - cut sense of continuity which takes the name of Tradition and of eschatological expectation.

Tradition is the heritage of Christ's Church. This is a living memory of the Risen One met and witnessed to by the Apostles who passed on his living memory to their successors in an uninterrupted line, guaranteed by the apostolic succession through the laying on of hands, down to the bishops of today. This is articulated in the historical and cultural patrimony of each Church, shaped by the witness of the martyrs, fathers and saints, as well as by the living faith of all Christians down the centuries to our own day. It is not an unchanging repetition of formulas, but a heritage which preserves its original, living kerygmatic core. It is Tradition that preserves the Church from the danger of gathering only changing opinions, and guarantees her certitude and continuity.

When the uses and customs belonging to each Church are considered as absolutely unchangeable, there is a sure risk of Tradition losing that feature of a living reality which grows and develops, and which the Spirit guarantees precisely because it has something to say to the people of every age. As Scripture is increasingly understood by those who read it,(23) every other element of the Church's living heritage is increasingly understood by believers and is enriched by new contributions, in fidelity and in continuity.(24) Only a religious assimilation, in the obedience of faith, of what the Church calls "Tradition" will enable Tradition to be embodied in different cultural and historical situations and conditions.(25) Tradition is never pure nostalgia for things or forms past, nor regret for lost privileges, but the living memory of the Bride, kept eternally youthful by the Love that dwells within her.

If Tradition puts us in continuity with the past, eschatological expectation opens us to God's future. Each Church must struggle against the temptation to make an absolute of what it does, and thus to celebrate itself or abandon itself to sorrow. But time belongs to God, and whatever takes place in time can never be identified with the fullness of the Kingdom, which is always a free gift. The Lord Jesus came to die for us and rose from the dead, while creation, saved through hope, is still suffering its birth pangs (cf. Rom 8:22). The Lord himself will return to give the cosmos to the Father (cf. 1 Cor 15:28). The Church invokes this return, and the monk and the religious are its privileged witnesses.

The East expresses in a living way the reality of tradition and expectation. All its liturgy, in particular, is a commemoration of salvation and an invocation of the Lord's return. And if Tradition teaches the Churches fidelity to what give birth to them, eschatological expectation urges them to be what they have not yet fully become, what the Lord wants them to become, and thus to seek ever new ways of fidelity, overcoming pessimism because they are striving for the hope of God who does not disappoint.

We must show people the beauty of memory, the power that comes to us from the Spirit and makes us witnesses because we are children of witnesses we must make them taste the wonderful things the Spirit has wrought in history we must show that it is precisely Tradition which has preserved them, thus giving hope to those who, even without seeing their efforts to do good crowned by success, know that someone else will bring them to fulfillment therefore man will feel less alone, less enclosed in the narrow corner of his own individual achievement.

Monasticism as a model of baptismal life

9. I would now like to look at the vast panorama of Eastern Christianity from a specific vantage point which affords a view of many of its features: monasticism.

In the East, monasticism has retained great unity. It did not experience the development of different kinds of apostolic life as in the West. The various expressions of monastic life, from the strictly cenobitic, as conceived by Pachomius or Basil, to the rigorously eremitic, as with Anthony or Macarius of Egypt, correspond more to different stages of the spiritual journey than to the choice between different states of life. In any event, whatever form they take, they are all based on monasticism.

Moreover, in the East, monasticism was not seen merely as a separate condition, proper to a precise category of Christians, but rather as a reference point for all the baptized, according to the gifts offered to each by the Lord it was presented as a symbolic synthesis of Christianity.

When God's call is total, as it is in the monastic life, then the person can reach the highest point that sensitivity, culture and spirituality are able to express. This is even more true for the Eastern Churches, for which monasticism was an essential experience and still today is seen to flourish in them, once persecution is over and hearts can be freely raised to heaven. The monastery is the prophetic place where creation becomes praise of God and the precept of concretely lived charity becomes the ideal of human coexistence it is where the human being seeks God without limitation or impediment, becoming a reference point for all people, bearing them in his heart and helping them to seek God.

I would also like to mention the splendid witness of nuns in the Christian East. This witness has offered an example of giving full value in the Church to what is specifically feminine, even breaking through the mentality of the time. During recent persecutions, especially in Eastern European countries, when many male monasteries were forcibly closed, female monasticism kept the torch of the monastic life burning. The nun's charism, with its own specific characteristics, is a visible sign of that motherhood of God to which Sacred Scripture often refers.

Therefore I will look to monasticism in order to identify those values which I feel are very important today for expressing the contribution of the Christian East to the journey of Christ's Church towards the Kingdom. While these aspects are at times neither exclusive to monasticism nor to the Eastern heritage, they have frequently acquired a particular connotation in themselves. Besides, we are not seeking to make the most of exclusivity, but of the mutual enrichment in what the one Spirit has inspired in the one Church of Christ.

Monasticism has always been the very soul of the Eastern Churches: the first Christian monks were born in the East and the monastic life was an integral part of the Eastern lumen passed on to the West by the great Fathers of the undivided Church.(26)

The strong common traits uniting the monastic experience of the East and the West make it a wonderful bridge of fellowship, where unity as it is lived shines even more brightly than may appear in the dialogue between the Churches.

Between Word and Eucharist

10. Monasticism shows in a special way that life is suspended between two poles: the Word of God and the Eucharist. This means that even in its eremitical forms, it is always a personal response to an individual call and, at the same time, an ecclesial and community event.

The Starting point for the monk is the Word of God, a Word who calls, who invites, who personally summons, as happened to the Apostles. When a person is touched by the Word obedience is born, that is, the listening which changes life. Every day the monk is nourished by the bread of the Word. Deprived of it, he is as though dead and has nothing left to communicate to his brothers and sisters because the Word is Christ, to whom the monk is called to be conformed.

Even while he chants with his brothers the prayer that sanctifies time, he continues his assimilation of the Word. The very rich liturgical hymnody, of which all the Churches of the Christian East can be justly proud, is but the continuation of the Word which is read, understood, assimilated and finally sung: those hymns are largely sublime paraphrases of the biblical text, filtered and personalized through the individual's experience and that of the community.

Standing before the abyss of divine mercy, the monk can only proclaim the awareness of his own radical poverty, which immediately becomes a plea for help and a cry of rejoicing on account of an even more generous salvation, since from the abyss of his own wretchedness such salvation is unthinkable.(27) This is why the plea for forgiveness and the glorification of God form a substantial part of liturgical prayer. The Christian is immersed in wonder at this paradox, the latest of an infinite series, all magnified with gratitude in the language of the liturgy: the Immense accepts limitation a virgin gives birth through death, he who is life conquers death forever in the heights of heaven, a human body is seated at the right hand of the Father.

The Eucharist is the culmination of this prayer experience, the other pole indissolubly bound to the Word, as the place where the Word becomes Flesh and Blood, a heavenly experience where this becomes an event.

In the Eucharist, the Church's inner nature is revealed, a community of those summoned to the synaxis to celebrate the gift of the One who is offering and offered: participating in the Holy Mysteries, they become "kinsmen"(28) of Christ, anticipating the experience of divinization in the now inseparable bond linking divinity and humanity in Christ.

But the Eucharist is also what anticipates the relationship of men and things to the heavenly Jerusalem. In this way it reveals its eschatological nature completely: as a living sign of this expectation, the monk continues and brings to fulfillment in the liturgy the invocation of the Church, the Bride who implores the Bridegroom's return in a maranatha constantly repeated, not only in words, but with the whole of his life.

A liturgy for the whole man and for the whole cosmos

11. In the liturgical experience, Christ the Lord is the light which illumines the way and reveals the transparency of the cosmos, precisely as in Scripture. The events of the past find in Christ their meaning and fullness, and creation is revealed for what it is: a complex whole which finds its perfection, its purpose in the liturgy alone. This is why the liturgy is heaven on earth, and in it the Word who became flesh imbues matter with a saving potential which is fully manifest in the sacraments: there, creation communicates to each individual the power conferred on it by Christ. Thus the Lord, immersed in the Jordan, transmits to the waters a power which enables them to become the bath of baptismal rebirth.(29)

Within this framework, liturgical prayer in the East shows a great aptitude for involving the human person in his or her totality: the mystery is sung in the loftiness of its content, but also in the warmth of the sentiments it awakens in the heart of redeemed humanity. In the sacred act, even bodiliness is summoned to praise, and beauty, which in the East is one of the best loved names expressing the divine harmony and the model of humanity transfigured,(30) appears everywhere: in the shape of the church, in the sounds, in the colors, in the lights, in the scents. The lengthy duration of the celebrations, the repeated invocations, everything expresses gradual identification with the mystery celebrated with one's whole person. Thus the prayer of the Church already becomes participation in the heavenly liturgy, an anticipation of the final beatitude.

This total involvement of the person in his rational and emotional aspects, in "ecstasy" and in immanence, is of great interest and a wonderful way to understand the meaning of created realities: these are neither an absolute nor a den of sin and iniquity. In the liturgy, things reveal their own nature as a gift offered by the Creator to humanity: "God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good" (Gen 1:31). Though all this is marked by the tragedy of sin, which weighs down matter and obscures its clarity, the latter is redeemed in the Incarnation and becomes fully "theophoric," that is, capable of putting us in touch with the Father. This property is most apparent in the holy mysteries, the sacraments of the Church.

Christianity does not reject matter. Rather, bodiliness is considered in all its value in the liturgical act, whereby the human body is disclosed in its inner nature as a temple of the Spirit and is united with the Lord Jesus, who himself took a body for the world's salvation. This does not mean, however, an absolute exaltation of all that is physical, for we know well the chaos which sin introduced into the harmony of the human being. The liturgy reveals that the body, through the mystery of the Cross, is in the process of transfiguration, pneumatization: on Mount Tabor Christ showed his body radiant, as the Father wants it to be again.

Cosmic reality also is summoned to give thanks because the whole universe is called to recapitulation in Christ the Lord. This concept expresses a balanced and marvelous teaching on the dignity, respect and purpose of creation and of the human body in particular. With the rejection of all dualism and every cult of pleasure as an end in itself, the body becomes a place made luminous by grace and thus fully human.

To those who seek a truly meaningful relationship with themselves and with the cosmos, so often disfigured by selfishness and greed, the liturgy reveals the way to the harmony of the new man, and invites him to respect the Eucharistic potential of the created world. That world is destined to be assumed in the Eucharist of the Lord, in his Passover, present in the sacrifice of the altar.

A clear look at self - discovery

12. The monk turns his gaze to Christ, God and man. In the disfigured face of Christ, the man of sorrow, he sees the prophetic announcement of the transfigured face of the Risen Christ. To the contemplative eye, Christ reveals himself as he did to the women of Jerusalem, who had gone up to contemplate the mysterious spectacle on Calvary. Trained in this school, the monk becomes accustomed to contemplating Christ in the hidden recesses of creation and in the history of mankind, which is then understood from the standpoint of identification with the whole Christ.

This gaze progressively conformed to Christ thus learns detachment from externals, from the tumult of the senses, from all that keeps man from that freedom which allows him to be grasped by the Spirit. Walking this path, he is reconciled with Christ in a constant process of conversion: in the awareness of his own sin and of his distance from the Lord which becomes heartfelt remorse, a symbol of his own baptism in the salutary water of tears in silence and inner quiet, which is sought and given, where he learns to make his heart beat in harmony with the rhythm of the Spirit, eliminating all duplicity and ambiguity. This process of becoming ever more moderate and sparing, more transparent to himself, can cause him to fall into pride and intransigence if he comes to believe that these are the fruits of his own ascetic efforts. Spiritual discernment in continuous purification then makes him humble and meek, aware that he can perceive only some aspects of that truth which fills him, because it is the gift of the Spouse, who alone is fulfillment and happiness.

To the person who is seeking the meaning of life, the East offers this school which teaches one to know oneself and to be free and loved by that Jesus who says: "Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest" (Mt 11:28). He tells those who seek inner healing to go on searching: if their intention is upright and their way is honest, in the end the Father's face will let itself be recognized, engraved as it is in the depths of the human heart.

A father in the Spirit

13. A monk's way is not generally marked by personal effort alone. He turns to a spiritual father to whom he abandons himself with filial trust, in the certainty that God's tender and demanding fatherhood is manifested in him. This figure gives Eastern monasticism an extraordinary flexibility: through the spiritual father's intervention the way of each monk is in fact strongly personalized in the times, rhythms and ways of seeking God. Precisely because the spiritual father is the harmonizing link, monasticism is permitted the greatest variety of cenobitic and eremitical expressions. Monasticism in the East has thus been able to fulfill the expectations of each church in the various periods of its history.(31)

In this quest, the East in particular teaches that there are brothers and sisters to whom the Spirit has granted the gift of spiritual guidance. They are precious points of reference, for they see things with the loving gaze with which God looks at us. It is not a question of renouncing one's own freedom, in order to be looked after by others. It is benefiting from the knowledge of the heart, which is a true charism, in order to be helped, gently and firmly, to find the way of truth. Our world desperately needs such spiritual guides. It has frequently rejected them, for they seemed to lack credibility or their example appeared out of date and scarcely attractive to current sensitivities. Nevertheless, it is having a hard time finding new ones, and so suffers in fear and uncertainty, without models or reference points. He who is a father in the spirit, if he really is such -- and the people of God have always shown their ability to recognize him -- will not make others equal to himself, but will help them find the way to the Kingdom.

Of course, the wonderful gift of male and female monastic life, which safeguards the gift of guidance in the Spirit and calls for appropriate recognition, has also been given to the West. In this context and wherever grace has inspired these precious means of interior growth, may those in charge foster this gift and use it to good advantage, and may all avail themselves of it. Thus they will experience the great comfort and support of fatherhood in the Spirit on their journey of faith.(32)

Communion and service

14. Precisely in gradual detachment from those worldly things which stand in the way of communion with his Lord, the monk finds the world a place where the beauty of the Creator and the love of the Redeemer are reflected. In his prayers the monk utters an epiklesis of the Spirit on the world and is certain that he will be heard, for this is a sharing in Christ's own prayer. Thus he feels rising within himself a deep love for humanity, that love which Eastern prayer so often celebrates as an attribute of God, the friend of men who did not hesitate to offer his Son so that the world might be saved. In this attitude the monk is sometimes enabled to contemplate that world already transfigured by the deifying action of Christ, who died and rose again.

Whatever path the Spirit has in store for him, the monk is always essentially the man of communion. Since antiquity this name has also indicated the monastic style of cenobitic life. Monasticism shows us how there is no true vocation that is not born of the Church and for the Church. This is attested by the experience of so many monks who, within their cells, pray with an extraordinary passion, not only for the human person but for every creature, in a ceaseless cry, that all may be converted to the saving stream of Christ's love. This path of inner liberation in openness to the Other makes the monk a man of charity. In the school of Paul the Apostle, who showed that love is the fulfilling of the law (cf. Rom 13:10), Eastern monastic communion has always been careful to guarantee the superiority of love over every law.

This communion is revealed first and foremost in service to one's brothers in monastic life, but also to the Church community, in forms which vary in time and place, ranging from social assistance to itinerant preaching. The Eastern Churches have lived this endeavor with great generosity, starting with evangelization, the highest service that the Christian can offer his brother, followed by many other forms of spiritual and ministerial service. Indeed it can be said that monasticism in antiquity - and at various times in subsequent ages too - has been the privileged means for the evangelization of peoples.

A person in relationship

15. The monk's life is evidence of the unity that exists in the East between spirituality and theology: the Christian, and the monk in particular, more than seeking abstract truths, knows that his Lord alone is Truth and Life, but also knows that he is the Way, (cf. Jn 14:6) to reach both knowledge and participation are thus a single reality: from the person to the God who is three Persons through the Incarnation of the Word of God.

The East helps us to express the Christian meaning of the human person with a wealth of elements. It is centered on the Incarnation, from which creation itself draws light. In Christ, true God and true man, the fullness of the human vocation is revealed. In order for man to become God, the Word took on humanity. Man, who constantly experiences the bitter taste of his limitations and sin, does not then abandon himself to recrimination or to anguish, because he knows that within himself the power of divinity is at work. Humanity was assumed by Christ without separation from his divine nature and without confusion,(33) and man is not left alone to attempt, in a thousand often frustrated ways, an impossible ascent to heaven. There is a tabernacle of glory, which is the most holy person of Jesus the Lord, where the divine and the human meet in an embrace that can never be separated. The Word became flesh, like us in everything except sin. He pours divinity into the sick heart of humanity, and imbuing it with the Father's Spirit enables it to become God through grace.

But if this has revealed the Son to us, then it is given us to approach the mystery of the Father, principle of communion in love. The Most Holy Trinity appears to us then as a community of love: to know such a God means to feel the urgent need for him to speak to the world, to communicate himself and the history of salvation is nothing but the history of God's love for the creature he has loved and chosen, wanting it to be "according to the icon of the Icon" - as the insight of the Eastern Fathers expresses it(34) - that is, molded in the image of the Image, which is the Son, brought to perfect communion by the sanctifier, the Spirit of love. Even when man sins, this God seeks him and loves him, so that the relationship may not be broken off and love may continue to flow. And God loves man in the mystery of the Son, who let himself be put to death on the Cross by a world that did not recognize him, but has been raised up again by the Father as an eternal guarantee that no one can destroy love, for anyone who shares in it is touched by God's glory: it is this man transformed by love whom the disciples contemplated on Tabor, the man whom we are all called to be.

An adoring silence

16. Nevertheless this mystery is continuously veiled, enveloped in silence,(35) lest an idol be created in place of God. Only in a progressive purification of the knowledge of communion, will man and God meet and recognize in an eternal embrace their unending connaturality of love.

Thus is born what is called the apophatism of the Christian East: the more man grows in the knowledge of God, the more he perceives him as an inaccessible mystery, whose essence cannot be grasped. This should not be confused with an obscure mysticism in which man loses himself in enigmatic, impersonal realities. On the contrary, the Christians of the East turn to God as Father, Son and Holy Spirit, living persons tenderly present, to whom they utter a solemn and humble, majestic and simple liturgical doxology. But they perceive that one draws close to this presence above all by letting oneself be taught an adoring silence, for at the culmination of the knowledge and experience of God is his absolute transcendence. This is reached through the prayerful assimilation of scripture and the liturgy more than by systematic meditation.

In the humble acceptance of the creature's limits before the infinite transcendence of a God who never ceases to reveal himself as God - Love, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ in the joy of the Holy Spirit, I see expressed the attitude of prayer and the theological method which the East prefers and continues to offer all believers in Christ.

We must confess that we all have need of this silence, filled with the presence of him who is adored: in theology, so as to exploit fully its own sapiential and spiritual soul in prayer, so that we may never forget that seeing God means coming down the mountain with a face so radiant that we are obliged to cover it with a veil (cf. Ex 34:33), and that our gatherings may make room for God's presence and avoid self - celebration in preaching, so as not to delude ourselves that it is enough to heap word upon word to attract people to the experience of God in commitment, so that we will refuse to be locked in a struggle without love and forgiveness. This is what man needs today he is often unable to be silent for fear of meeting himself, of feeling the emptiness that asks itself about meaning man who deafens himself with noise. All, believers and non - believers alike, need to learn a silence that allows the Other to speak when and how he wishes, and allows us to understand his words.


17. Thirty years have passed since the bishops of the Catholic Church, meeting in council in the presence of many brothers from other churches and ecclesial communities, listened to the voice of the Spirit as he shed light on deep truths about the nature of the Church, showing that all believers in Christ were far closer than they could imagine, all journeying towards the one Lord, all sustained and supported by his grace. An ever more pressing invitation to unity emerged at that point.

Since then, much ground has been covered in reciprocal knowledge. This has increased our respect and has frequently enabled us to pray to the one Lord together and to pray for one another, on a path of love that is already a pilgrimage of unity.

After the important steps taken by Pope Paul VI, I have wished the path of mutual knowledge in charity to be continued. I can testify to the deep love that the fraternal meeting with so many heads and representatives of churches and ecclesial communities has given me in recent years. Together we have shared our concerns and expectations, together we have called for union between our churches and peace for the world. Together we have felt more responsible for the common good, not only as individuals, but in the name of the Christians whose pastors the Lord has made us. Sometimes urgent appeals from other churches, threatened or stricken with violence and abuse, have reached this See of Rome. It has sought to open its heart to them all. As soon as he could, the Bishop of Rome has raised his voice for them, so that people of goodwill might hear the cry of those suffering brothers and sisters of ours.

"Among the sins which require a greater commitment to repentance and conversion should certainly be counted those which have been detrimental to the unity willed by God for his People. In the course of the thousand years now drawing to a close, even more than in the first millennium, ecclesial communion has been painfully wounded, 'a fact for which, often enough, men of both sides were to blame.'(36) Such wounds openly contradict the will of Christ and are a cause of scandal to the world. These sins of the past unfortunately still burden us and remain ever present temptations. It is necessary to make amends for them and earnestly to beseech Christ's forgiveness."(37)

The sin of our separation is very serious: I feel the need to increase our common openness to the Spirit who calls us to conversion, to accept and recognize others with fraternal respect, to make fresh, courageous gestures, able to dispel any temptation to turn back. We feel the need to go beyond the degree of communion we have reached.

18. Every day I have a growing desire to go over the history of the Churches in order to write, at last, a history of our unity and thus return to the time when, after the death and Resurrection of the Lord Jesus, the Gospel spread to the most varied cultures and a most fruitful exchange began which still today is evidenced in the liturgies of the Churches. Despite difficulties and differences, the letters of the Apostles (cf. 2 Cor 9:11 - 14) and of the Fathers(38) show very close, fraternal links between the Churches in a full communion of faith, with respect for their specific features and identity. The common experience of martyrdom, and meditation on the acts of the martyrs of every church, sharing in the doctrine of so many holy teachers of the faith, in deep exchange and sharing, strengthen this wonderful feeling of unity.(39) The development of different experiences of ecclesial life did not prevent Christians, through mutual relations, from continuing to feel certain that they were at home in any Church, because praise of the one Father, through Christ in the Holy Spirit, rose from them all, in a marvelous variety of languages and melodies all were gathered together to celebrate the Eucharist, the heart and model for the community regarding not only spirituality and the moral life, but also the Church's very structure, in the variety of ministries and services under the leadership of the Bishop, successor of the Apostles.(40) The first councils are an eloquent witness to this enduring unity in diversity.(41)

Even when certain dogmatic misunderstandings became reinforced -- often magnified by the influence of political and cultural factors -- leading to sad consequences in relations between the Churches, the effort to call for and to promote the unity of the Church remained alive. When the ecumenical dialogue first began, the Holy Spirit enabled us to be strengthened in our common faith, a perfect continuation of the apostolic kerygma, and for this we thank God with all our heart.(42) Although in the first centuries of the Christian era conflicts were already slowly starting to emerge within the body of the Church, we cannot forget that unity between Rome and Constantinople endured for the whole of the first millennium, despite difficulties. We have increasingly learned that it was not so much an historical episode or a mere question of pre - eminence that tore the fabric of unity, as it was a progressive estrangement, so that the other's diversity was no longer perceived as a common treasure, but as incompatibility. Even when the second millennium experienced a hardening of the polemics and the separation, with mutual ignorance and prejudice increasing all the more, nonetheless constructive meetings between church leaders desirous of intensifying relations and fostering exchanges did not cease, nor did the holy efforts of men and women who, recognizing the setting of one group against the other as a grave sin, and being in love with unity and charity, attempted in many ways to promote the search for communion by prayer, study and reflection, and by open and cordial interaction.(43) All this praiseworthy work was to converge in the reflections of the Second Vatican Council and to be symbolized in the abrogation of the reciprocal excommunications of 1054 by Pope Paul VI and the Ecumenical Patriarch Athenagoras I.(44)

19. The way of charity is experiencing new moments of difficulty following the recent events which have involved Central and Eastern Europe. Christian brothers and sisters who together had suffered persecution are regarding one another with suspicion and fear just when prospects and hopes of greater freedom are appearing: is this not a new, serious risk of sin which we must all make every effort to overcome - if we want the peoples who are seeking the God of love to be able to find him more easily - instead of being scandalized anew by our wounds and conflicts. When, on Good Friday 1994, His Holiness Bartholomew I, Patriarch of Constantinople, offered the Church of Rome his meditations on the Way of the Cross, I recalled this communion in the recent experience of martyrdom: ". We are united in these martyrs from Rome, from the 'Hill of Crosses,' the Solovets Islands and so many other extermination camps. We are united against the background of these martyrs we cannot fail to be united."(45)

Thus it is urgently necessary to become aware of this most serious responsibility: today we can cooperate in proclaiming the Kingdom or we can become the upholders of new divisions. May the Lord open our hearts, convert our minds and inspire in us concrete, courageous steps, capable if necessary of breaking through clichés, easy resignation or stalemate. If those who want to be first are called to become the servants of all, then the primacy of love will be seen to grow from the courage of this charity. I pray the Lord to inspire, first of all in myself, and in the bishops of the Catholic Church, concrete actions as a witness to this inner certitude. The deepest nature of the Church demands it. Every time we celebrate the Eucharist, the sacrament of communion, we find in the Body and Blood we share the sacrament and the call to our unity.(46) How can we be fully credible if we stand divided before the Eucharist, if we cannot live our sharing in the same Lord whom we are called to proclaim to the world? In view of our reciprocal exclusion from the Eucharist, we feel our poverty and the need to make every effort so that the day may come when we will partake together of the same bread and the same cup.(47) Then the Eucharist will once again be fully perceived as a prophecy of the Kingdom, and these words from a very ancient eucharistic prayer will resound with full truth: "Just as this broken bread, once scattered on the hills and gathered up, became one, so may your Church be gathered from the ends of the earth into your kingdom."(48)

Experiences of unity

20. Particularly significant anniversaries encourage us to turn our thoughts with affection and reverence to the Eastern Churches. First of all, as has been said, the centenary of the Apostolic Letter Orientalium Dignitas. Since that time a journey began which has led, among other things, in 1917, to the creation of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches(49) and the foundation of the Pontifical Oriental Institute(50) by Pope Benedict XV. Subsequently, on June 5, 1960, John XXIII founded the Secretariat for Promoting Christian Unity.(51) In recent times, on October 18, 1990, I promulgated the Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches,(52) in order to safeguard and to promote the specific features of the Eastern heritage.

These are signs of an attitude that the Church of Rome has always felt was an integral part of the mandate entrusted by Jesus Christ to the Apostle Peter: to confirm his brothers in faith and unity (cf. Lk 22:32). Attempts in the past had their limits, deriving from the mentality of the times and the very understanding of the truths about the Church. But here I would like to reassert that this commitment is rooted in the conviction that Peter (cf. Mt 19:17 - 19) intends to place himself at the service of a Church united in charity. "Peter's task is to search constantly for ways that will help preserve unity. Therefore he must not create obstacles but must open up paths. Nor is this in any way at odds with the duty entrusted to him by Christ: 'strengthen your brothers in the faith' (cf. Lk 22:32). It is significant that Christ said these words precisely at the moment when Peter was about to deny him. It was as if the Master himself wanted to tell Peter: 'Remember that you are weak, that you, too, need endless conversion. You are able to strengthen others only insofar as you are aware of your own weakness. I entrust to you as your responsibility the truth, the great truth of God, meant for man's salvation, but this truth cannot be preached or put into practice except by loving.' Veritatem facere in caritate (To live the truth in love cf. Eph 4:15) this is what is always necessary."(53) Today we know that unity can be achieved through the love of God only if the Churches want it together, in full respect for the traditions of each and for necessary autonomy. We know that this can take place only on the basis of the love of Churches which feel increasingly called to manifest the one Church of Christ, born from one Baptism and from one Eucharist, and which want to be sisters.(54) As I had occasion to say: "the Church of Christ is one. If divisions exist, that is one thing they must be overcome, but the Church is one, the Church of Christ between East and West can only be one, one and united."(55)

Of course, in today's outlook it appears that true union is possible only in total respect for the other's dignity without claiming that the whole array of uses and customs in the Latin Church is more complete or better suited to showing the fullness of correct doctrine and again, that this union must be preceded by an awareness of communion that permeates the whole Church and is not limited to an agreement among leaders. Today we are conscious - and this has frequently been reasserted - that unity will be achieved how and when the Lord desires, and that it will require the contribution of love's sensitivity and creativity, perhaps even going beyond the forms already tried in history.(56)

21. The Eastern Churches which entered into full communion with Rome wished to be an expression of this concern, according to the degree of maturity of the ecclesial awareness of the time.(57) In entering into catholic communion, they did not at all intend to deny their fidelity to their own tradition, to which they have borne witness down the centuries with heroism and often by shedding their blood. And if sometimes, in their relations with the Orthodox Churches, misunderstandings and open opposition have arisen, we all know that we must ceaselessly implore divine mercy and a new heart capable of reconciliation over and above any wrong suffered or inflicted.

It has been stressed several times that the full union of the Catholic Eastern Churches with the Church of Rome which has already been achieved must not imply a diminished awareness of their own authenticity and originality.(58) Wherever this occurred, the Second Vatican Council has urged them to rediscover their full identity, because they have "the right and the duty to govern themselves according to their own special disciplines. For these are guaranteed by ancient tradition, and seem to be better suited to the customs of their faithful and to the good of their souls."(59) These Churches carry a tragic wound, for they are still kept from full communion with the Eastern Orthodox Churches despite sharing in the heritage of their fathers. A constant, shared conversion is indispensable for them to advance resolutely and energetically towards mutual understanding. And conversion is also required of the Latin Church, that she may respect and fully appreciate the dignity of Eastern Christians, and accept gratefully the spiritual treasures of which the Eastern Catholic Churches are the bearers, to the benefit of the entire catholic communion(60) that she may show concretely, far more than in the past, how much she esteems and admires the Christian East and how essential she considers its contribution to the full realization of the Church's universality.

Meeting one another, getting to know one another, working together

22. I have a keen desire that the words which Saint Paul addressed from the East to the faithful of the Church of Rome may resound today on the lips of Christians of the West with regard to their brothers and sisters of the Eastern Churches: "First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith is proclaimed in all the world" (Rom 1:8). The Apostle of the Gentiles then immediately and enthusiastically stated his intention: "For I long to see you, that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to strengthen you, that is, that we may be mutually encouraged by each other's faith, both yours and mine" (Rom 1:11 - 12). Here, the dynamic of our meeting is wonderfully portrayed: knowledge of the treasures of others' faith - which I have just tried to describe - spontaneously produces the incentive for a new and more intimate meeting between brothers and sisters, which will be a true and sincere mutual exchange. It is an incentive which the Spirit constantly inspires in the Church and which becomes more insistent precisely in the moments of greatest difficulty.

23. I am also well aware that at this time certain tensions between the Church of Rome and some of the Eastern Churches are making the path of mutual esteem more difficult with regard to future communion. Several times this See of Rome has made a point of issuing directives favoring the common progress of all the Churches at so important a time for the life of the world, especially in Eastern Europe, where dramatic events of recent history have often prevented the Eastern Churches from properly fulfilling the mandate of evangelization which they nevertheless felt keenly.(61) Situations of greater freedom are offering them fresh opportunities today, although the means available to them are limited because of difficult circumstances in the countries where they are active. I would like forcefully to affirm that the communities of the West are ready to encourage in every way - and many are already working along these lines - the intensification of this ministry of "diakonia," making available to such Churches the experience acquired in the years when charity was more freely exercised. Woe to us if the abundance of some were to produce the humiliation of others or a sterile and scandalous rivalry. On their part, Western communities will make it their duty above all to share, where possible, service projects with their brothers and sisters in the Eastern Churches, or to assist in bringing to successful conclusion all that the latter are doing to help their people. In any case, in territories where both are present, the Western communities will never show an attitude which could appear disrespectful of the exhausting efforts which the Eastern Churches are making, efforts which are all the more to their credit, given the precariousness of the resources available to them.

To extend gestures of common charity to one another and jointly to those in need will appear as an act with immediate impact. To avoid this or even to witness to the contrary, will make all those who observe us think that every commitment to a rapprochement in charity between the Churches is merely an abstract statement, without conviction or concreteness.

I feel that the Lord's call to work in every way to ensure that all believers in Christ will witness together to their own faith is fundamental, especially in the territories where the children of the Catholic Church - Latin and Eastern - and children of the Orthodox Churches live together in large numbers. After their common martyrdom suffered for Christ under the oppression of atheist regimes, the time has come to suffer, if necessary, in order never to fail in the witness of charity among Christians, for even if we gave our body to be burned but had not charity, it would serve no purpose (cf. 1 Cor 13:3) We must pray intensely that the Lord will soften our minds and hearts, and grant us patience and meekness.

24. I believe that one important way to grow in mutual understanding and unity consists precisely in improving our knowledge of one another. The children of the Catholic Church already know the ways indicated by the Holy See for achieving this: to know the liturgy of the Eastern Churches(62) to deepen their knowledge of the spiritual traditions of the Fathers and Doctors of the Christian East,(63) to follow the example of the Eastern Churches for the inculturation of the Gospel message to combat tensions between Latins and Orientals and to encourage dialogue between Catholics and the Orthodox to train in specialized institutions theologians, liturgists, historians and canonists for the Christian East, who in turn can spread knowledge of the Eastern Churches to offer appropriate teaching on these subjects in seminaries and theological faculties, especially to future priests.(64) These remain very sound recommendations on which I intend to insist with particular force.

25. In addition to knowledge, I feel that meeting one another regularly is very important. In this regard, I hope that monasteries will make a particular effort, precisely because of the unique role played by monastic life within the Churches and because of the many unifying aspects of the monastic experience, and therefore of spiritual awareness, in the East and in the West. Another form of meeting consists in welcoming Orthodox professors and students to the Pontifical Universities and other Catholic academic institutions. We will continue to do all we can to extend this welcome on a wider scale. May God also bless the founding and development of places designed precisely to offer hospitality to our brothers of the East, including such places in this city of Rome where the living, shared memory of the leaders of the Apostles and of so many martyrs is preserved.

It is important that meetings and exchanges should involve Church communities in the broadest forms and ways. We know for example how positive inter - parish activities such as "twinning" can be for mutual cultural and spiritual enrichment, and also for the exercise of charity.

I judge very positively the initiatives of joint pilgrimages to places where holiness is particularly expressed in remembering men and women who in every age have enriched the Church with the sacrifice of their lives. In this direction it would also be a highly significant act to arrive at a common recognition of the holiness of those Christians who, in recent decades, particularly in the countries of Eastern Europe, have shed their blood for the one faith in Christ.

26. A particular thought goes to the lands of the diaspora where many faithful of the Eastern Churches who have left their countries of origin are living in a mainly Latin environment. These places, where peaceful contact is easier within a pluralist society, could be an ideal environment for improving and intensifying cooperation between the Churches in training future priests and in pastoral and charitable projects, also for the benefit of the Orientals' countries of origin.

I particularly urge the Latin Ordinaries in these countries to study attentively, grasp thoroughly and apply faithfully the principles issued by this Holy See concerning ecumenical cooperation(65) and the pastoral care of the faithful of the Eastern Catholic Churches, especially when they lack their own hierarchy.

I invite the Eastern Catholic Bishops and clergy to collaborate closely with the Latin Ordinaries for an effective apostolate which is not fragmented, especially when their jurisdiction covers immense territories where the absence of cooperation means, in effect, isolation. The Eastern Catholic Bishops will not neglect any means of encouraging an atmosphere of brotherhood, sincere mutual esteem and cooperation with their brothers in the Churches with which we are not yet united in full communion, especially with those who belong to the same ecclesial tradition.

Where in the West there are no Eastern priests to look after the faithful of the Eastern Catholic Churches, Latin Ordinaries and their co - workers should see that those faithful grow in the awareness and knowledge of their own tradition, and they should be invited to cooperate actively in the growth of the Christian community by making their own particular contribution.

27. With regard to monasticism, in consideration of its Importance in Eastern Christianity, we would like it to flourish once more in the Eastern Catholic Churches, and that support be given to all those who feel called to work for its revitalization.(66) In fact, in the East an intrinsic link exists between liturgical prayer, spiritual tradition and the monastic life, For this reason precisely, a well - trained and motivated renewal of monastic life could mean true ecclesial fruitfulness for them as well. Nor should it be thought that this would diminish the effectiveness of the pastoral ministry which in fact will be strengthened by such a vigorous spirituality, and thus will find once more its ideal place. This hope also concerns the territories of the Eastern diaspora, where the presence of Eastern monasteries would give greater stability to the Eastern Churches in those countries, and would make a valuable contribution to the religious life of Western Christians.

Journeying together toward the "Orientale Lumen"

28. In conducting this letter, my thoughts turn to my beloved brothers and sisters the Patriarchs, Bishops, Priests and Deacons, the Monks and Nuns, the men and women of the Eastern Churches.

On the threshold of the third millennium we all hear in our Sees the cry of those oppressed by the burden of grave threats, but who, perhaps even without realizing it, long to know what God in his love intended. These people feel that a ray of light, if it is welcomed, is capable of dispelling the shadows which cover the horizon of the Father's tenderness.

Mary, "Mother of the star that never sets,"(67) "dawn of the mystical day,"(68) "rising of the sun of glory,"(69) shows us the Orientale Lumen.

Every day in the East the sun of hope rises again, the light that restores life to the human race. It is from the East, according to a lovely image, that our Savior will come again (cf. Mt 24:27).

For us, the men and women of the East are a symbol of the Lord who comes again. We cannot forget them, not only because we love them as brothers and sisters redeemed by the same Lord, but also because a holy nostalgia for the centuries lived in the full communion of faith and charity urges us and reproaches us for our sins and our mutual misunderstandings: we have deprived the world of a joint witness that could, perhaps, have avoided so many tragedies and even changed the course of history.

We are painfully aware that we cannot yet share in the same Eucharist. Now that the millennium is drawing to a close and our gaze turns to the rising Sun, with gratitude we find these men and women before our eyes and in our heart.

The echo of the Gospel - the words that do not disappoint - continues to resound with force, weakened only by our separation: Christ cries out but man finds it hard to hear his voice because we fail to speak with one accord. We listen together to the cry of those who want to hear God's entire Word. The words of the West need the words of the East, so that God's word may ever more clearly reveal its unfathomable riches. Our words will meet for ever in the heavenly Jerusalem, but we ask and wish that this meeting be anticipated in the holy Church which is still on her way towards the fullness of the Kingdom.

May God shorten the time and distance. May Christ, the Orientale Lumen, soon, very soon, grant us to discover that in fact, despite so many centuries of distance, we were very close, because together -- perhaps without knowing it -- we were walking towards the one Lord, and thus towards one another.

May the people of the third millennium be able to enjoy this discovery, finally achieved by a word that is harmonious and thus fully credible, proclaimed by brothers and sisters who love one another and thank one another for the riches which they exchange. Thus shall we offer ourselves to God with the pure hands of reconciliation, and the people of the world will have one more well - founded reason to believe and to hope.

With these wishes I impart my Blessing to all.

From the Vatican, on May 2, the liturgical memorial of Saint Athanasius, Bishop and Doctor of the Church, in the year 1995, the seventeenth of my Pontificate.

10 Real Places to Search for Legendary Buried Treasure

NEW YORK (MainStreet) — It is possible to find buried treasure in far-flung places if you&aposre willing to muster the gumption to try. A California couple most recently found a $10 million bounty randomly while walking their dog, so imagine how your chances would improve if you actually knew where to look.

And who could resist the lure of turning over that last spade of earth, inhaling deadly fungi and lifting out something lost to humanity for hundreds of years? Plus, you get ridiculously rich in the process. For anyone who wants to join MainStreet in the fruitless quest for obscene and instant wealth, here are ten lost treasures we can start hunting tomorrow.

I&aposll bring the satchel and fedora.

#1. The Amber Room
Last Seen: Kaliningrad, Russia

The Amber Room was a room decorated entirely with panels of amber, gold leaf and mirrors. It was built by master sculptor Andreas Schluter for the Catherine Palace near Saint Petersburg some 300 years ago.

With over six tons of pure amber, not to mention the extraordinary skill and beauty invested in this room, it was once known as the Eighth Wonder of the World.

During World War II occupying German soldiers looted the room, taking it apart and shipping the entire thing back to Konigsberg Castle, now known as Kaliningrad. That&aposs where the Amber Room vanished into history. Nazi officials began evacuating the treasure before Allied armies could seize it, but no one knows what happened next. Witnesses claimed to see it in crates, and rumors have placed pieces of the Amber Room across most of Europe. However Konigsberg Castle was the last time anyone has ever seen the room intact or even known where it was.

#2. The Treasure of Cocos Island
Last Seen: Lima, Peru

The legend of Cocos Island begins two hundred years ago in occupied Lima.

For hundreds of years, Spain looted the Incan Empire, collecting its wealth in Lima under the authority of the Catholic Church. When revolution began spreading across South America in 1820 the governor decided to ship this gold back to Spain, loading it onto the brig Mary Dear in the care of Captain William Thompson.

Once at sea, Thompson and his crew rose up and murdered the soldiers and clergy sent to guard the treasure, then buried it on Cocos Island off the coast of modern Costa Rica. They planned to come back for the gold when tensions had cleared but were captured before they could do so. Spanish authorities executed every member of the Mary Dear&aposs crew for piracy, sparing only Thompson and his first mate in exchange for a promise to lead them back to their stolen treasure.

That never happened. When searchers got to Cocos Island Thompson and his first mate escaped into the jungle. Neither were ever seen again, and the treasure was never found. To this day it remains hidden, buried somewhere on an island off of Costa Rica.

#3. The City of Paititi
Last Seen: Western Brazil

Somewhere deep in the jungle, east of the Andes, there is a city named Paititi just waiting to be found. According to stories, this city was one of the greatest capitals of the Incan Empire, one never discovered by the west despite hundreds of years of exploration and war.

The legend of Paititi started with an Italian missionary named Andres Lopez, a Jesuit who left behind journals from the year 1600. In them he described a great Incan city in the middle of the rainforest glittering with gold, silver and jewels. The locals, he said, called this city Paititi, although few had ever actually visited.

Lopez&aposs reports started the story of Paititi, but they didn&apost end there. Over the years other sources have fleshed out the legend, claiming that the city was founded by Incan hero Inkarri who built it as a refuge from the invading Spanish. Although some people claim that Paititi has been discovered, the fortress uncovered in 2008 doesn&apost match historic descriptions of Paititi or what little geography we have about the Incan refuge. For now, Lopez&aposs city of gold remains a mystery lost in the jungle.

#4. The Treasure of the Knights Templar
Last Seen: France

The Knights Templar were one of the great orders founded during the Crusades. For nearly 200 years they fought as one of the most powerful factions in medieval Europe until, almost overnight, they were wiped out. The story of how a French king, deeply in debt, joined forces with the Pope to smash this group of warrior monks is one of history&aposs best.

But we&aposre interested in their treasure. Unsurprisingly for a group that spanned from London to Jerusalem, the Knights Templar had immense wealth. Legend says that before King Phillip of France arrived, Templar agents managed to smuggle their treasures away for safekeeping. The agents ran while Templar knights fought with Phillip&aposs armies. They escaped while those knights died, and they hid the treasure of the Templars. somewhere.

That&aposs where the trail goes cold. Some reports claim that agents shipped their trust to Scotland, while others believe it&aposs hidden in the Rennes-le-Château in southern France. A few people even think that the Templar gold is at the bottom of a pit in Nova Scotia. The only thing we do know (mostly because we want to) is that it&aposs somewhere. Waiting.

#5. The Tomb of Genghis Khan
Last Seen: Mongolia

On a river in the Kandehuo Enclosure in Mongolia, devotees built a mausoleum to Genghis Khan. It is a massive temple dedicated to the worship of his spirit. The mausoleum has a coffin, but what it does not have is Genghis Khan.

His tomb has been lost for nearly a thousand years.

Before Khan died, he ordered that no one mark or even know the location of his grave. According to legend once workers completed the tomb, Khan&aposs personal guard slaughtered the slaves and soldiers who built it. They buried all of the bodies in Khan&aposs tomb, and then diverted a river to flood the site of his grave and seal Genghis Khan away from the world forever.

Civilizations have spent nearly a thousand years searching for this tomb in central Asia. Whether or not Khan was buried with treasures, the discovery alone would make history.

#6. Blackbeard&aposs Gold
Last Seen: North Carolina

Here&aposs what we all know about Edward Teach, the renowned pirate known as Captain Blackbeard. Some 300 years ago, he set sail, raiding ships and settlements across Mexico, the Caribbean and the southeast coast of North America. For less than a year, he captained his most famous ship the Queen Anne&aposs Revenge, but in that time was so successful that the ship itself became a legend before Teach finally ran it aground in North Carolina.

In 1718, Blackbeard was killed by a posse of soldiers and sailors from Virginia, bringing his days of piracy to an end but never recovering their spoils. Legends have spread about Blackbeard&aposs treasure almost since the day he died as people have speculated on what happened to the pirate&aposs ill-gotten gains. Rumors of Blackbeard&aposs gold have stretched from desert islands in the Caribbean to the Nova Scotia Money Pit, but the most popular theory is that Blackbeard buried his treasure where his ship died: in North Carolina, waiting for the captain to return.

Or, they could all be stories inspired by Robert Lewis Stevenson.

#7. The Treasure of the Copper Scroll
Last Seen: Ancient Israel

In the Great Cistern which is in the Court of Peristyle, in the spout in its floor, concealed in a hole in front of the upper opening: nine hundred talents.

This is the location of one of the Copper Scroll&aposs treasures. There are 63 more where that came from, if you can figure out what they mean.

When a shepherd discovered the Dead Sea Scrolls, they marked one of humanity&aposs greatest archeological finds. However one scroll was different. It was made out of beaten copper instead of parchment and papyrus like the rest, and instead of history and literature, this scroll listed the hiding places of treasures scattered and hidden across the Holy Land.

The Copper Scroll keeps its artifacts safe. It isn&apost just made of different material, it was written in a different style and language from the rest of the Dead Sea Scrolls. Most of its vocabulary doesn&apost exist in the Bible and intersperses Greek letters among the Hebrew while directing searchers to treasure buried the ruins of fortresses that fell down 2,500 years ago.

#8. La Ciudad Blanca - The White City
Last Seen: Honduras

Legends of golden cities have long lured adventurers to South and Central America, inspiring people to brave jungles, snakes and Michael Douglas in their quest for a place where, against catastrophic odds, the streets are actually paved with gold. Every now and again this quest even makes sense because, like Paititi, there&aposs a chance that The White City actually exists.

For centuries travelers and explorers in the Honduran jungles have passed down stories of the White City of Gold, a fabulous capital built of gleaming stones where nobles ate off golden plates and erected massive jeweled statues. In the 16th Century, the regional Bishop himself wrote about catching a glimpse of this city through the jungle canopy, and hundreds of years later, Charles Lindbergh would report spotting the ruins of a great white city while flying over the jungle, only to lose it again.

Throwing fuel on the flame, in 2012 scientists used aerial mapping to discover a topographical oddity deep within the Honduran jungle: undiscovered ruins. Whether or not it&aposs a city of gold, there&aposs something out there.

#9. Atlantis
Last Seen: The Cyclades Islands, Greece

Here&aposs the thing about Atlantis: it wasn&apost necessarily made up. Plato&aposs utopian, underwater empire? Fiction. A mystical realm beneath the Atlantic where people get power from crystals (for some reason)? So much fiction. An advanced society that sank beneath the sea long ago though? For that, you&aposll have to let me take you to the island of Santorini and the end of the Minoans.

Today Santorini is a crescent shaped resort island in the Aegean Sea with a smoldering volcanic caldera in the middle of its bay. Thousands of years ago, though, it had a lot more land and an advanced society thriving at the edges of Crete&aposs Minoan Civilization. Then the volcano erupted. Not only was this eruption powerful enough to wipe out the Minoans almost entirely, but it also blew a hole in the island, burying huge sections of ancient Santorini under the sea.

We know that some villages from ancient Santorini showed signs of great progress, hints of plumbing, technology and ideas far beyond the Bronze Age. We also know that the coast of Santorini, where its greatest towns would have been built, was swallowed by the sea. It isn&apost crazy to believe that, under that water, is a city far beyond anything the Greeks would have known.

#10.The Oak Island Money Pit
Last Seen: Oak Island, Nova Scotia

In good conscience I can&apost fully recommend the Money Pit, because we don&apost actually know there&aposs anything in it. I can&apost leave the pit off the list though, either, because come on: someone dug a pit more than 230 feet deep, lined it with brutally clever traps and irrigated it with the freaking Atlantic Ocean. We&aposre supposed to believe that they did all this on an 18th Century dare?

Mark my words, there&aposs something at the bottom of that hole. We just don&apost know what it is yet.

European Enthusiasm: A Bestseller for the Hungering Faithful

In the countries where it has been released, the Catechism of the Catholic Church has been a true bestseller: 700,000 copies have been sold in France and 500,000 in Italy, where for many weeks the publisher (the Vatican Press, which is not organized to distribute texts in such numbers) was unable to respond to the demand. In Spain, too, the Catechism has sold extremely well, although its absence from the newspapers’ bestseller lists shows how unreliable those lists are.

It was to this true “plebiscite” of the Christian people that Cardinal Ratzinger referred in a lecture to the clergy of Milan last March 24: the Catechism’s reception exceeded his most optimistic expectations. Very positive reactions were also received from the Protestant and Orthodox communities (to whose traditions the Catechism devotes a great deal of space), who have said of the new Catechism that they can accept it almost entirely.

The publication of this catechism is therefore an ecclesial event of primary significance. John Paul II considers it one of the most important acts of his papacy he summed it up in his meeting at the Vatican on March 20, with the bishops of Indiana, Illinois, and Wisconsin: “I consider its publication to be among the principal fruits of the Second Vatican Council and one of the most significant events of my pontificate.” Elsewhere, the Pope has emphasized the very close connection between this catechism and the Second Vatican Council even if one cannot technically call it the “Council’s Catechism,” in fact it is one of its fruits, destined to be most strongly engraved upon the Christian people. The Apostolic Constitution Fidei Depositum, with which the Pope ordered the publication of the Catechism, has truly dedicated itself to uniting the Catechism with the renewal of ecclesial life so desired since Vatican II.

In the years since the Council, as Cardinal Ratzinger recalled at the Milan conference, requests arose for a new summary of the Faith, but this proposal was judged to be premature. The Church was in too agitated a state to be able to produce an enduring work. The current situation of the Church, however, has finally permitted this instrument to be prepared in greater serenity.

In October 1985, the Extraordinary Synod of Bishops, which convened to reflect on the effects of the Second Vatican Council 20 years after its closing, declared in its final report the need to develop “a catechism or summary of all Catholic doctrine,” referring both to faith and to morals, that could be a point of reference for catechisms prepared worldwide. The Pope adopted this request, declaring in the same discourse during the closing of the Synod that it fully corresponded to a real need in the Church. Thus, in 1986, a commission of 12 cardinals and bishops was formed with the mission of offering guidance and monitoring the results of the seven diocesan bishops who, in preparing the Catechism, created nine successive drafts.

The project of the Catechism was subjected to a very lengthy examination by all Catholic bishops and institutions of theology and catechism. There were 938 replies stemming from this review, containing about 24,000 suggestions. In the 1990 synod of the bishops, Cardinal Ratzinger revealed that of these 938 replies, 73 percent considered the proposed revision “good” or “very good,” 18 percent “satisfactory with reservations,” 6 percent “negative,” and 2.7 percent “unacceptable.” The majority of the proposed modifications referred to the parts on morals and prayer. As a result, these two parts were modified extensively in the last draft, while the first two (on the Creed and the Sacraments) remained substantially unchanged.

The long project of compiling of the Catechism and the vast consultation which preceded the draft of the definitive text, was the result of a truly collegial labor. The Pope emphasized this aspect in Fidei Depositum: “One has reason to affirm that this catechism is the fruit of a collaboration of all the episcopacy of the Catholic Church, which generously received my invitation to assume their part of the responsibility in an initiative which is closely tied to the ecclesial life. Such a response stirs in me a profound feeling of joy, because the concord of many voices expresses truly what can be called the ‘symphony’ of the Faith. The completion of the Catechism thus reflects the collegial nature of the episcopacy, and is a testimony to the Catholicity of the Church.”

To understand the historical significance of this catechism, one must realize that the preceding universal catechism of the Catholic Church emerged in 1566, as an expression of the Council of Trent. At one time, it was urgent to reinforce the knowledge of the Faith in the face of the Protestant Reformation. It is known as the Roman Catechism, or that of Saint Pius V it was principally directed toward priests as instruments for the formation of the faithful its compilation took three years.

In the twentieth century, the Catechism of Pius X, which the Pope prescribed for the diocese of Rome in 1905, has been widespread. It was a simple work, composed of questions and answers, and modeled after a catechism used in the diocese of Milan. Its diffusion was remarkably quick, because it presented itself as an excellent instrument of catechesis, thanks to its accessibility and clarity it made no attempt, though, to be a catechism for the universal Church.

The Second Vatican Council brought a great desire for a revision of the catechism unfortunately, the results of this desire did not always correspond to its intentions. The intent to render the Christian message more relevant to the people influenced the national editions of catechisms, which at times omitted important aspects of Christian doctrine, or confused the need for universally accessible language with the use of fashionable philosophical categories. There was a great preoccupation with form, without perhaps an adequate assurance of the contents and the integrity of the proposed message.

The current Catechism was written not to be universally adopted, but is offered as an indispensable model and reference for the national editions adapted for different groups of people: children, young adults, adults, etc. The synopses at the end of each chapter will be helpful for the readers of this catechism and for the editors of national compendiums. It is intended to be a major catechism with the bishops and the editors of catechisms as its primary audience, but it is offered to all Christian people and, as noted, the sales figures show it has been well received.

One of the problems facing this edition of the Catechism was method of exposition. A deductive method was selected and used in a form offering a secure affirmation of the contents of the Faith. Some reference to contemporary issues is made, although overly specific problems are avoided in keeping with the Catechism’s didactic purpose. This work contains the Faith of the Church, not the opinions of theologians. For this reason it avoids subjectivism in its language and instead uses formulations like “The Church believes that…” and “We affirm that….” This means of expositions avoids devoting space to the prevailing subjectivism, according to which access to the truth itself is not possible, but rather all things depend essentially on the judging subject. The Catechism’s style is measured, and the editors have succeeded in gaining their objective of a full and ordered exposition of Catholic doctrine. The text has been enriched with brief citations from the Fathers of the Church, the liturgy, and the saints these offer to the reader beautiful gems of meditation and the mysteries that they present, illuminating the text and revealing the richness of the treasure of Christian spirituality and the secular tradition of the Church. There was no desire for originality, but rather for clarity and fidelity, sustained by the conviction that it is the profundity and simplicity of orthodoxy that captivates.

The scheme of this catechism follows the classic division into four parts found previously in the Roman Catechism: exposition of the Creed, the sacraments and liturgy, morals, and prayers—divisions which were abandoned in some recent catechisms. The four parts are bound to each other: the Christian mystery, which is the object of the Faith (first part), celebrated and communicated in the liturgical acts (second part), is present to illuminate and guide the children of God in their actions (third part), which is the foundation of our prayer (fourth part).

One of the criticisms aimed at this scheme is that it is hardly “Christocentric,” to which one of the Catechism’s editors, Alessandro Maggiolini, Bishop of Como, replied in an interview: Making this criticism “is like blaming the Apostolic Creed and the Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed for not being Christocentric. The Creed is Trinitocentric.’ And because of this, it is Christocentric: indeed, we do not apprehend the Trinity itself if not through Jesus Christ who sent us the Holy Spirit and formed His Church. In the first part we set forth the Creed. In the second we said that it is Christ who works in the liturgy, because above all He is present and acts in all the sacraments. In the third part we said that it is Christ, the perfect man, whom sanctity overtakes. Not to mention the fourth part, where all prayer is explained starting from Christ, model of the one who prays, master of praying. What more do they want?”

A second criticism which has been leveled at the Catechism is that it does not adequately illuminate the “hierarchy of truth,” according to which the essential truths are distinguished from the secondary ones. Maggiolini’s reply: “What does ‘hierarchy of truth’ mean? For me it can be understood in two ways. The first seems incorrect to me: that there is a hierarchy of truth because some things are solemnly from the Magisterium, and others are shown but not definite. In the other way of conceiving the hierarchy of truth, one grasps a center and truths are more or less important according to how close they are to this center. If you choose the first way, some expositions of ordained Christian thought are made impossible. That Jesus Christ is the Savior of men because He liberates them from sin and gives them grace is not defined by any council. The Church has not felt it necessary to define this. That God exists is not defined by any council.”

Christophe von Schoenborn, Auxiliary Bishop of Vienna and secretary of the editing of the Catechism, also referred to this problem, which seems to be one of the thorniest. In effect, there are truths which are less central, observes Schoenborn (for instance, the article of faith which speaks of Christ’s descent to the dead), but which are truths in the full sense and have the same degree of certitude as the truth that Christ is both truly God and truly man. Nonetheless, the distinction between defined truths of the Faith, common theological opinions, affirmations of the ordinary Magisterium of the bishops, and so forth, is made clear in the Catechism.

In a paragraph in Fidei Depositum on the “doctrinal value” of the Catechism, John Paul II affirms that this “is an exposition of the faith of the Church and Catholic doctrine, attested to and illuminated by Sacred Scripture, from the Apostolic Tradition and Catholic doctrine and the Magisterium of the Church. I recognize it as a valid and legitimate instrument in the service of the ecclesial community and as a secure means of the instruction of the Faith…. Therefore I ask the Pastors of the Church and the faithful to welcoming this catechism in the spirit of communion and to use it assiduously in fulfilling their mission of proclaiming the Faith and summoning the evangelical life. This catechism is given to them because it serves as a secure and authentic text of reference for the teaching of Catholic doctrine, and especially for the elaboration of local catechisms. Still, I offer it to all the faithful who desire to deepen their knowledge of the inexhaustible riches of salvation.”

New for this type of document is that the first compilation, from which the various translations will be made, was the French one. The official Latin text will appear shortly, and will benefit from the maturity and experience gained through the different translations. The release took place in Paris last November, preceding by weeks the official presentation of the Catechism in Rome on December 8. Perhaps this caused some slight discord, but in places like Italy it also had the effect of doubling the impact on the media of the release of the new Catechism, because it received twice as much publicity.

Before the Catechism was released, the newspapers were most concerned with the section on morals, in search of a scoop on “new sins.” Themes that provoked hypothesis and anticipation were above all the pain of death, the “just war” problem, the issue of taxes, and the Sixth Commandment. These themes were treated by the media with great superficiality and often with very little knowledge of Church doctrine. But every cloud has its silver lining: this game of anticipation, scoop, and polemics helped to place this catechism in the forefront of public discussion. A novelty of this catechism is the amount of space dedicated to the Church’s social doctrine in the section on morals, with a chapter on the relations between man and society in the treatment of the Seventh Commandment. Cardinal Ratzinger referred to the mass media’s interest in the moral themes during the official presentation of the Catechism in Rome. The passion with which they were debated so far in advance of its release was, according to Ratzinger, a sign that the problems it covers truly touch people. The problem of what we as human beings should do, of how we must build our lives so that we and the world grow just, is the problem of all ages, as well as of today. The Catechism treats these questions and thus is a book which is properly of interest to all because it does not merely suggest a private opinion, but rather formulates the response of the communal and secular experience of the Church: “So is the Catechism truly a book of morals?… It is this, and something more. It treats of the human being, but with the conviction that the question of man cannot be separated from the question of God…. Therefore the moral prescriptions that the Catechism offer must not be separated from what it says about God and the history of God with us. The Catechism must be read as a unity. The pages on morality are misread if they are separated from their context, that is, the profession of faith, the doctrine on the sacraments.”

Among the most eagerly awaited fruits of this catechism will be a new missionary zeal throughout the Church. The time of disputing and debating everything ad nauseum is over. The Catechism desires to be an instrument of that unity on essential things that, in conjunction with the broader liberty on nonessential things, is one of the preconditions for the new evangelization that the Pope has spoken of for some time. It was the lived Faith and the clarity on the essential, and not the perfection of complex pastoral issues, which created in the primitive Church the evangelical enthusiasm that in a few decades brought about the conversion of the pagan world in antiquity. Today, too, it is with a more profoundly known and fully lived faith that the Church can experience a rejuvenation.

From Pius XII to Vatican II: The Hidden History of a Key Church Epoch

In this interview, Inside the Vatican talks with Fr. Charles Theodore Murr, author of The Godmother: Mother Pascalina: A Feminine Tour de Force (2017). Fr. Murr is a former secretary to Edouard Cardinal Gagnon and worked at the Vatican in the 1970s. During this time, Murr befriended Mother Pascalina Lehnert, the housekeeper of Pope Pius XII for 41 years, from his time as Papal Nuncio in Germany to his death as Pope in 1958. The Godmother recounts many of their encounters in the 1970s, with topics ranging from serious Church news and issues to a lighthearted and humorous attending of a stage performance of The Pirates of Penzance. Fr. Murr sits with Inside the Vatican and gives us a look into his life, the life of Mother Pascalina, and a bird’s-eye view of events that happened inside the Vatican.

This is Part 1 of a 2 Part Interview. Part 2 can be found here.

Fr. Murr, thank you for sitting with Inside the Vatican for this interview about your book The Godmother: Mother Pascalina: A Feminine Tour de Force. Before going into the book, would you mind telling us a little about yourself?

FR. CHARLES THEODORE MURR: Saint Paul, Minnesota is my birthplace. I was born in 1950, the eldest of seven children. I attended grammar schools and high school in Minnesota and college in Wisconsin, majoring in Romance languages.

When did you enter the seminary and who would you say was your biggest influence in getting you to consider the priesthood?

MURR: The rector of the Pontifical Mexican College in Rome admitted me as a lay student in 1972, when I was 22. I was in Rome to study classical philosophy, especially Aristotelian logic, and Latin and Italian, and to absorb every bit of European culture I could manage to take in.

It was Don Mario Marini, a minutante [a kind of secretary] of the Vatican’s Secretariat of State, who invited me to become a priest. This great personal mentor and outstanding example of a priest made it very clear, late one evening in 1975, that he was calling me to become a priest. I answered positively. Archbishop Francisco Javier Nuno y Guerrero of Guadalajara, the first bishop of San Juan de los Lagos, invited me to be ordained a priest for San Juan. I continued my studies at the Gregorian University and I was ordained in Rome on May 13, 1977, in the Basilica of Saints John and Paul, Monte Celio. Later, I worked in the Archdiocese of New York at the invitation of Cardinal O’Connor.¹

The Godmother: Mother Pascalina, A Feminine Tour de Force by Fr. Charles Theodore Murr, is available through Amazon. It was also recently translated into Italian and Spanish. Those editions are also available on Amazon.

How much of an influence were your studies in Rome upon you and your priesthood?

MURR: Rome had a tremendous influence on me. Long before I was formally introduced to Rome at 17 years of age, the Eternal City was an integral part of me. I was an educated and proud-to-be-Roman Catholic. With French, Bavarian and Irish roots, Catholic was often used as a distinguishing adjective. When I later walked the streets of Rome and, after college, returned to study at 21, I took in everything I could, quickly made Roman friends, and learned Italian.

When you were studying in Rome, who were some of the most notable people that you came to know or befriend?

MURR: Among the most notable personages were, of course, Monsignor Mario Marini, and then-Cardinals Edouard Gagnon and Giovanni Benelli. Gagnon was from Montreal, Canada and the Rector of the Canadian College.² Benelli was from Tuscany and worked in the Secretariat of State as sostituto (substitute).³ Then there was Mother Pascalina Lehnert, CSC. She was the most impressive woman I ever met during those ten years. We both esteemed greatly a most impressive person: Eugenio Pacelli, Pope Pius XII.

/>Yes, let us talk now about Mother Pascalina. How did you come to know her?

MURR: My first meeting with Mother Pascalina was in the fall of 1974, in Rome. I was 24. It was in the chaotic aftermath of [my] having been attacked by “Wolf,” her German shepherd. She immediately felt sorry for me. In spite of a badly torn cassock — perhaps because of it — our friendship was off to a very positive start.

A young Father Murr and Mother Pascalina

Please tell us a little about her life and person.

MURR: Josefine was her baptismal name. She was born August 25, 1894, on the family farm in Ebersberg, Bavaria, the seventh of Georg and Maria Lehnert’s 12 children. Women religious “of yore” took their vocations most seriously. The “call” was Christ’s personal invitation to be His completely to be joined to Him in a spiritual marriage. When a young woman entered religious life, or, as they say, “joined the convent” — which Josefine did at age 15 — she left the world behind, was given a new name — if you will, a new identity in Christ Jesus — and, rarely, if ever, made reference to her past life again. As a novice in the Congregation of the Holy Cross, Josefine Lehnert would now be known as Sister Pascalina (from the Latin for Easter: Pascha). As for her personality, she was a no-nonsense woman. Straightforward — most of the time. She would not tolerate lies or false criticisms of Pope Pius XII such as that he “hated the Jews,” or that he “secretly sided with the Nazis in WWII.” She became indignant and would rush to the Pope’s defense with facts and figures. Even in old age, she remained a sharp and clear thinker. In our 8-year friendship, I always found her loving, maternal, unselfish, concerned for others, pious, a woman of true, deep faith, Catholic to the core.

Some people refer to Sister Pascalina as “Mother” Pascalina — which form is correct, or are they both accurate?

Officially, it is and has always been “Sister.” Unofficially, however — yet absolutely true to Roman form, called Romanità— when Cardinal Eugenio Pacelli became Pope Pius XII in 1939, his personal secretary, Sister M. Pascalina Lehnert, was immediately “promoted” to “Reverenda Madre” by most of the Vatican’s Curia members. It was a very Latin, very Roman, mark of respect. When she protested the impropriety of her new title to Pope Pius, he laughed and joked that she should consider it the closest thing the Church (or he) could do to making her a Monsignor!

Sister Pascalina is mentioned, and portrayed unfavorably, in John Cornwell’s notorious polemic, Hitler’s Pope. Have you read this book, and what would Mother say in response, to both its portrait of her and its no-holds-barred attack against Venerable Pius XII?

MURR: It doesn’t surprise me in the least to learn of Mr. Cornwell’s unfavorable portrayal of Sister Pascalina Lehnert in his book. I believe anyone low enough to call the one man on earth who did more than anyone else in all of human history to save the Jewish people from extermination, “Hitler’s Pope,” would be shameless enough to hold God Himself in contempt. I willingly admit to never having read Mr. Cornwell’s book, nor do I ever intend reading it. I have, however, read The Myth of Hitler’s Pope by David Dalin, and therefore have a good idea what it is Cornwell alleges in his own book.

I’ve heard every criticism of Pope Pius XII since Hochhuth’s play The Deputy came out in 1964, to just recently, when another malcontent had the temerity to share “the well-known fact” that, as a young man, Eugenio Pacelli cheated at polo! I try to keep in mind Fulton J. Sheen’s caveat: “What a man says is not as important as why he says it.” In time, perhaps Cornwell’s truer, more personal motives for slandering Pope Pius XII will become evident — that is, besides his obvious anti-Catholicism.

What would Sister Pascalina say about Cornwell’s opinion of her? Not a word. Maybe a slight roll of the eyes, but not a word. Part of the “secret of her success” was her humility. True humility lets you know the truth of yourself and once you know that, you’ve practically got it made. In fact, in the case of Mother Pascalina — irony of ironies — her humility would make her “proud” to endure another insult in defense of her saintly friend.

The late journalist Paul Murphy published the 1983 book La Popessaabout Sister Pascalina. Dr. Martha Schad, Sister Pascalina’s biographer, thought that La Popessa was a lurid “fairy tale.” What is your opinion on this matter?

MURR: To categorize Paul Murphy’s book, La Popessa, as a “lurid fairy tale” shows a great degree of restraint and kindness — even mercy — on the part of Dr. Schad. In 1983, I was in JFK Airport on my way to Rome when I entered a newsstand. Right in front of me were stacks of books with Mother Pascalina’s photo on them! Mother Pascalina, the very woman I would be sitting with and visiting soon after I got to Rome! Naturally, I bought a copy and, though it was some of the worst fiction I had ever read, I finished it before we landed at Leonardo Da Vinci. Two days later I met Mother at Pastor Angelicus. She asked me: “Have you seen my book? It was just released!” I remember being shocked. “You’re pleased with that book?” I asked, “I read it on the plane and…”

She knew at once, by the expression on my face and the tone in my voice, that we were not talking about the same book. “No, no, no,” she exclaimed, “the book I have been working on for years about the Holy Father!” and, without missing a beat she gave a wave of her hand and said, “Not that garbage [book]!” She explained that some months before, Mr. Murphy had asked to see her under false pretenses. When, after a few awkward minutes, she figured this out, she dismissed him unceremoniously. Mother then proceeded to tell me how elated she was with Ich durfte ihm dienen: Erinnerungen an Papst Pius XII, her new book!

/>William Doino Jr., a Pius XII expert, wrote a review of Sister Pascalina’s memoirs entitled “La Popessa Speaks.”⁴ Have you read either her memoirs, Doino’s article, or both?

MURR: Doino gives a splendid presentation of Mother Pascalina’s book His Humble Servant. For those whose German is not quite up to snuff — myself among them — this long-awaited English translation of the [1983] German memoirs is remarkable both in content and style. I don’t know if Mr. Doino ever had the opportunity to meet Mother in person, but he certainly seems to know and represent her well.

What did Sister Pascalina tell you about Pope Pius XII that most people do not know? We know she was interviewed by those responsible for Pius XII’s Cause and she supported his canonization. What would she say in response to those who say he was a deeply flawed Pope, and no saint or hero? Did she ever reveal to you any concrete actions Pius XII took to rescue persecuted Jews?

MURR: Simply put: to know Mother Pascalina was to know His Holiness, Pope Pius XII. The admiration in the tone of her voice as she recounted this or that story about him the sparkle in her eyes as she described his kindnesses and virtues the smile on her face when she shared one of his many witticisms and humorous anecdotes, and the love and respect for him that she manifested when, on more than one occasion, she shared her photograph collection of the pontiff — particularly photos of him smiling. What a warm and inviting smile the Pope had enough to melt the heart of an atheist. What I’m trying to say is that Mother Pascalina’s love and admiration of Pope Pius “softened” the rather strict, all-business image I had of him. Her authentic love and devotion to him “humanized” him for me — made him more accessible to me, especially in prayer. The saints, after all, are God’s friends and our friends they are with us to bring us closer to God, the beginning and end of all friendship and all love.

To those who would dismiss Pope Pius XII as “deeply flawed and no saint or hero,” Mother Pascalina would almost certainly respond (with words similar to these): “Only someone who did not know the Holy Father at all someone who obstinately refused to see the brilliance of his pontificate, examine the almost insurmountable challenges he took on daily, and the unsung accomplishments he won for humanity — not the least of which was the saving of hundreds of thousands of Jewish lives — would hold such an ignorant opinion of him.”

Below left, a young Father Murr with Pope Paul VI (1963-1978). Below right, a slightly older Fr. Murr with Pope John Paul II (1978-2005)

Saturday, 26 July 2014

Black Hawk, Part 12

Black Hawk, Part 12

Tornado Issue 15

This issue of Tornado also featured The Angry Planet, The Mind Of Wolfie Smith, Wagner's Walk, The Lawless Touch, Victor Drago, Storm, Captain Klep and Victor Drago's Black Museum Of Villains, with a cover by Massimo Belardinelli.

Black Hawk: The Intergalactic Gladiator.

Black Hawk and his men attempt to escape rebel occupied Londinium.

Following the Roman departure from Londinium, the rebel troops turned on the Romanised Britons.

He and his men are trapped in Londinium and surrounded by British rebel forces. Black Hawk orders his men to wrap heavy chains around a Roman archway, he confronts the rebels alone and leads them back to the archway where his men pull it down on them. They move their position, but are trapped again by a rebel barricade. Black Hawk considers an escape by water.

She hovers over a hiding Barabba and Pocus.

He and Pocus hide in an outdoor Roman bath rather than fight. He is revealed by the hawk. This inspires Black Hawk to escape via water.

At least a couple of dozen. We see five British rebels buried in falling masonry from the archway and an unknown number of Romanised Britons drown when their boat sinks.

Black Hawk: "You wanted to see Roman London fall, Britons - now you have it!"

The crushed Britons scream an "Aieeeeeeeeee!", Black Hawk uses Zeus' name in vain.



Script: G.F. Day
Artist: Azpiri
Letters: Unknown

This strip achieves very little in story terms, but it adjusts the character of Barabba from conniving coward to comedy coward.


According to Respect For Unborn Human Life: The Church's Constant Teaching, a document released by United States Conference of Catholic Bishops Committee on Pro-Life Activities, the Catholic Church has condemned procured abortion as immoral since the 1st century. [13] However, this claim has been disputed by several historians, including John Connery, [14] Ann Hibner Koblitz, [15] Angus McLaren, [16] John Noonan, [17] and John Riddle. [18] [19]

Early Christian writings rejecting abortion are the Didache, the Epistle of Barnabas, the Apocalypse of Peter, [20] and the works of early writers such as Tertullian, Athenagoras of Athens, [21] Clement of Alexandria and Basil of Caesarea. [22] The earliest Church legislation did not make a distinction between "formed" and "unformed" fetuses, as was done in the Greek Septuagint version of Exodus 21:22–23 this position can be found in the writing of early Church Fathers such as Basil of Caesarea and early Church council canons (Elvira, Ancyra). [23] [24]

In the 4th and 5th centuries, some writers such as Gregory of Nyssa and Maximus the Confessor held that human life already began at conception, others such as Lactantius – following Aristotle's view – spoke rather of the soul that was "infused" in the body after forty days or more, and those such as Jerome and Augustine of Hippo left the mystery of the timing of the infusion to God. [23]

Augustine of Hippo "vigorously condemned the practice of induced abortion" as a crime, in any stage of pregnancy, although he accepted the distinction between "formed" and "unformed" fetuses mentioned in the Septuagint translation of Exodus 21:22–23, and did not classify as murder the abortion of an "unformed" fetus since he thought that it could not be said with certainty whether the fetus had already received a soul. [25] The US Conference of Catholic Bishops considers Augustine's reflections on abortion to be of little value in the present day because of the limitations of the science of embryology at that time. [13]

Later writers such as John Chrysostom and Caesarius of Arles, as well as later Church councils (e.g. Lerida and Braga II), also condemned abortion as "gravely wrong", without making a distinction between "formed" and "unformed" fetuses nor defining precisely in what stage of pregnancy human life began. [23] [24]

Changing beliefs about the moment the embryo gains a human soul have led to changes in canon law in the classification of the sin of abortion. [26] In particular, several historians have written that prior to the 19th century did not regard as an abortion what we call "early abortion"—abortion before "quickening" or "ensoulment." [19] : 158 [27] [28] [29] Some historians argue that certain Catholics saw nothing wrong with compiling lists of known abortifacient herbs and discovering new ones. In the 13th century physician and cleric Peter of Spain wrote a book called Thesaurus Pauperum (literally Treasure of the Poor) containing a long list of early-stage abortifacients, including rue, pennyroyal, and other mints. [17] : 205–211 It is believed by some that Peter of Spain became Pope John XXI in 1276. Similarly, the medicinal writings of Hildegard of Bingen included abortifacients such as tansy. [19] : 105

Some prominent theologians, such as John Chrysostom and Thomas Sanchez, believed that post-quickening abortion was less sinful than deliberate contraception. [16] : 161 [30] : 172,180 John Chrysostom believed that late-stage abortion was not as bad as deliberately killing an already-born person, whereas contraception was definitely worse than murder, according to him. [17] : 98–99

Catholic theologians have long wrestled with the question of whether one can truly be forgiven for a sin that one confesses while either still engaged in the sinful practice or else fully intending to resume the action as soon as absolution has been obtained. When a woman confesses to having had an abortion, she can make a sincere act of contrition if she believes that she will never commit the sin again. "It only happened once" is a frequent (though not necessarily accurate) refrain when an unintended pregnancy occurs. Daily use of contraception, on the other hand, is impossible to rationalize to oneself in this manner, and so it is a sin that, to many Catholics, cannot be satisfactorily expunged.

Belief in delayed animation Edit

Following Aristotle's view, it was commonly held by some "leading Catholic thinkers" in early Church history that a human being did not come into existence as such immediately on conception, but only some weeks later. Abortion was viewed as a sin, but not as murder, until the embryo was animated by a human soul. [31] In On Virginal Conception and Original Sin 7, Anselm of Canterbury (1033–1109) said that "no human intellect accepts the view that an infant has the rational soul from the moment of conception." [21] A few decades after Anselm's death, a Catholic collection of canon law, in the Decretum Gratiani, stated that "he is not a murderer who brings about abortion before the soul is in the body." [21]

Even when Church law, in line with the theory of delayed ensoulment, assigned different penalties to earlier and later abortions, abortion at any stage was considered a grave evil by some commentators. [32] Thus Thomas Aquinas, who accepted the Aristotelian theory that a human soul was infused only after 40 days for a male fetus, 90 days for a female, saw abortion of an unsouled fetus as always unethical, [33] a serious crime, [34] a grave sin, a misdeed and contrary to nature. He wrote: "This sin, although grave and to be reckoned among misdeeds and against nature. is something less than homicide. nor is such to be judged irregular [35] unless one procures the abortion of an already formed fetus." [21] [36] [37]

Juridical consequences Edit

Most early penitentials imposed equal penances for abortion whether early-term or late-term, but others distinguished between the two. Later penitentials normally distinguished, imposing heavier penances for late-term abortions. [38] By comparison, anal and oral intercourse were treated much more harshly, as was intentional homicide. [14] : 67–74 [17] : 155–165 [30] : 135–213

Although the Decretum Gratiani, which remained the basis of Catholic canon law until replaced by the 1917 Code of Canon Law, distinguished between early-term and late-term abortions, that canonical distinction was abolished for a period of three years by the bull of Pope Sixtus V, Effraenatam, [a] of 28 October 1588. This decreed various penalties against perpetrators of all forms of abortion without distinction. Calling abortion murder, it decreed that those who procured the abortion of a fetus, "whether animated or unanimated, formed or unformed" should suffer the same punishments as "true murderers and assassins who have actually and really committed murder." As well as decreeing those punishments for subjects of the Papal States, whose civil ruler he was, Pope Sixtus also inflicted on perpetrators the spiritual punishment of automatic excommunication (section 7). [39] Sixtus's successor, Pope Gregory XIV, recognizing that the law was not producing the hoped-for effects, withdrew it in 1591 by publishing new regulations by its apostolic constitution Sedes Apostolica [b] (published on 31 May 1591), limiting the punishments to abortion of a "formed" fetus: [39] [40] "When abortion was neither 'an issue of homicide or of an animate fetus,' Gregory thought it 'more useful' to return to the less-harsh penalties [for early abortion] of the holy canons and profane laws: those who abort an inanimatus [soulless] will not be guilty of true homicide because they have not killed a human being in actuality clerics involved in abortions will have committed mortal sin but will not incur irregularity." [41]

With his 1869 bull Apostolicae Sedis moderationi, Pope Pius IX rescinded Gregory XIV's not-yet-animated fetus exception with regard to the spiritual penalty of excommunication, declaring that those who procured an effective abortion incurred excommunication reserved to bishops or ordinaries. [42] From then on this penalty was incurred automatically through abortion at any stage of pregnancy. [43]

In another respect Catholic canon law continued even after 1869 to maintain a distinction between abortion of a formed and of an unformed fetus. As indicated above in a quotation from Thomas Aquinas, one who procured the abortion of a quickened fetus was considered "irregular", meaning that he was disqualified from receiving or exercising Holy Orders. Pope Sixtus V extended this penalty even to early-term abortion (section 2 of his bull Effraenatam), but Gregory XIV restricted it again. Pius IX made no ruling in its regard, with the result that the penalty of irregularity was still limited to late-term abortion at the time of the article "Abortion" in the 1907 Catholic Encyclopedia. [44] [ failed verification ] The 1917 Code of Canon Law finally did away with the distinction. [45]

In summary, with the exception of the three-year period 1588–1591, early abortion was not prohibited by Catholic canon law until 1869. [17] : 362–364

Discussions about possible justifying circumstances Edit

In the Middle Ages, many Church commentators condemned all abortions, but the 14th-century Dominican John of Naples is reported to have been the first to make an explicit statement that if the purpose was to save the mother's life abortion was actually permitted, provided that ensoulment had not been attained. [46] This view met both support and rejection from other theologians. In the 16th century, while Thomas Sanchez accepted it, Antoninus de Corbuba made the distinction that from then on became generally accepted among Catholic theologians, namely that direct killing of the fetus was unacceptable, but that treatment to cure the mother should be given even if it would indirectly result in the death of the fetus. [46]

When, in the 17th century, Francis Torreblanca approved abortions aimed merely at saving a woman's good name, the Holy Office (what is now called the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith), at that time headed by Pope Innocent XI, condemned the proposition that "it is lawful to procure abortion before ensoulment of the fetus lest a girl, detected as pregnant, be killed or defamed." [47] [48]

Although it is sometimes said that 18th-century Alphonsus Liguori argued that, because of uncertainty about when the soul entered the fetus, abortion, while in general morally wrong, was acceptable in circumstances such as when the mother's life was in danger, [49] he clearly stated that it is never right to take a medicine that of itself is directed to killing a fetus, although it is lawful (at least according to general theological opinion) to give a mother in extreme illness a medicine whose direct result is to save her life, even when it indirectly results in expulsion of the fetus. [50] While Liguori mentioned the distinction then made between animate and inanimate fetuses, he explained that there was no agreement about when the soul is infused, with many holding that it happens at the moment of conception, and said that the Church kindly followed the 40-day opinion when applying the penalties of irregularity and excommunication only on those who knowingly procured abortion of an animate fetus. [51]

A disapproving letter published in the New York Medical Record in 1895 spoke of the Jesuit Augustine Lehmkuhl as considering craniotomy lawful when used to save the mother's life. [52] The origin of the report was an article in a German medical journal denounced as false in the American Ecclesiastical Review of the same year, which said that while Lehmkuhl had at an earlier stage of discussion admitted doubts and advanced tentative ideas, he had later adopted a view in full accord with the negative decision pronounced in 1884 and 1889 by the Sacred Penitentiary, [53] which in 1869 had refrained from making a pronouncement. [54] According to Mackler, Lehmkuhl had accepted as a defensible theory the licitness of removing even an animated fetus from the womb as not necessarily killing it, but had rejected direct attacks on the fetus such as craniotomy. [55]

Craniotomy was thus prohibited in 1884 and again in 1889. [53] In 1895 the Holy See excluded the inducing of non-viable premature birth and in 1889 established the principle that any direct killing of either fetus or mother is wrong in 1902 it ruled out the direct removal of an ectopic embryo to save the mother's life, but did not forbid the removal of the infected fallopian tube, thus causing an indirect abortion.(see below). [54]

In 1930 Pope Pius XI ruled out what he called "the direct murder of the innocent" as a means of saving the mother. And the Second Vatican Council declared: "Life must be protected with the utmost care from the moment of conception: abortion and infanticide are abominable crimes." [56]

Unintentional abortion Edit

The principle of double effect is frequently cited in relation to abortion. A doctor who believes abortion is always morally wrong may nevertheless remove the uterus or fallopian tubes of a pregnant woman, knowing the procedure will cause the death of the embryo or fetus, in cases in which the woman is certain to die without the procedure (examples cited include aggressive uterine cancer and ectopic pregnancy). In these cases, the intended effect is to save the woman's life, not to terminate the pregnancy, and the death of the embryo or fetus is a side effect. The death of the fetus is an undesirable but unavoidable consequence. [57] [58]

Ectopic pregnancy Edit

An ectopic pregnancy is one of a few cases where the foreseeable death of an embryo is allowed, since it is categorized as an indirect abortion. This view was also advocated by Pius XII in a 1953 address to the Italian Association of Urology. [59]

Using the Thomistic Principle of Totality (removal of a pathological part to preserve the life of the person) and the Doctrine of Double Effect, the only moral action in an ectopic pregnancy where a woman's life is directly threatened is the removal of the tube containing the human embryo (salpingectomy). The death of the human embryo is unintended although foreseen. [60]

The use of methotrexate and salpingectomy remains controversial in the Catholic medical community, and the Church has not taken an official stance on these interventions. The Catholic Health Association of the United States, which issues guidelines for Catholic hospitals and health systems there, allows both procedures to be used. The argument that these methods amount to an indirect abortion revolves around the idea that the removal of the Fallopian tube or, in the case of methotrexate, the chemical destruction of the trophoblastic cells (those which go on to form the placenta), does not constitute a direct act upon the developing embryo. Individual hospitals and physicians, however, may choose to prohibit these procedures if they personally interpret these acts as a direct abortion. [61] [62] Despite the lack of an official pronouncement by the Church on these treatments, in a 2012 survey of 1,800 Ob/Gyns who work in religious hospitals, only 2.9% of respondents reported feeling constrained in their treatment options by their employers, suggesting that in practice, physicians and healthcare institutions generally choose to treat ectopic pregnancies. [63] [64]

Embryos Edit

The Church considers the destruction of any embryo to be equivalent to abortion, and thus opposes embryonic stem cell research. [65]

Sanctions Edit

Catholics who procure a completed abortion are subject to a latae sententiae excommunication. [2] That means that the excommunication is not imposed by an authority or trial (as with a ferendae sententiae penalty) rather, being expressly established by canon law, it is incurred ipso facto when the delict is committed (a latae sententiae penalty). [66] Canon law states that in certain circumstances "the accused is not bound by a latae sententiae penalty" among the ten circumstances listed are commission of a delict by someone not yet sixteen years old, or by someone who without negligence does not know of the existence of the penalty, or by someone "who was coerced by grave fear, even if only relatively grave, or due to necessity or grave inconvenience." [67] [68]

According to a 2004 memorandum by Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, Catholic politicians who consistently campaign and vote for permissive abortion laws should be informed by their priest of the Church's teaching and warned to refrain from receiving the Eucharist or risk being denied it until they end such activity. [69] This position is based on Canon 915 of the 1983 Code of Canon Law and has also been supported, in a personal capacity, by Archbishop Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke, the former Prefect of the Apostolic Signatura. [70] Pope Francis reaffirmed this position in March 2013, when he stated that "[people] cannot receive Holy Communion and at the same time act with deeds or words against the commandments, particularly when abortion, euthanasia, and other grave crimes against life and family are encouraged. This responsibility weighs particularly over legislators, heads of governments, and health professionals." [71]

Forgiveness of women who abort Edit

Apart from indicating in its canon law that automatic excommunication does not apply to women who abort because of grave fear or due to grave inconvenience, the Catholic Church, without making any such distinctions, assures the possibility of forgiveness for women who have had an abortion. Pope John Paul II wrote:

I would now like to say a special word to women who have had an abortion. The Church is aware of the many factors which may have influenced your decision, and she does not doubt that in many cases it was a painful and even shattering decision. The wound in your heart may not yet have healed. Certainly what happened was and remains terribly wrong. But do not give in to discouragement and do not lose hope. Try rather to understand what happened and face it honestly. If you have not already done so, give yourselves over with humility and trust to repentance. The Father of mercies is ready to give you his forgiveness and his peace in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. [72]

On the occasion of the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy in 2015, Pope Francis announced that all priests (during the Jubilee year – ending November 20, 2016) will be allowed in the Sacrament of Penance to remit the penalty of excommunication for abortion, which had been reserved to bishops and certain priests who were given such mandate by their bishop. [73] This policy was made permanent by an apostolic letter titled Misericordia et misera (Mercy and Misery), which was issued on November 21, 2016. [74] [75]

Recent statements of the Church's position Edit

The Church teaches that "human life must be respected and protected absolutely from the moment of conception. From the first moment of his existence, a human being must be recognized as having the rights of a person – among which is the inviolable right of every innocent being to life." [1] This follows from the fact that probabilism may not be used where human life may be at stake [76] [77] the Catholic Catechism teaches that the embryo must be treated from conception "as" (Latin: tamquam, "as if") a human person. [78] And "morally significant is the large proportion of embryos lost before and during the process of implantation," [77] estimated at 70 percent that fail to last the first five days. [79]

After a certain stage of intrauterine development it is perfectly evident that fetal life is fully human. Although some might speculate as to when that stage is reached, there is no way of arriving at this knowledge by any known criterion and as long as it is probable that embryonic life is human from the first moment of its existence, the purposeful termination (is immoral).

The modern magisterium has carefully avoided confusing "human being" with "human person", and avoids the conclusion that every embryonic human being is a person, which would raise the question of "ensoulment" and immoral destiny. [81]

Since the 1st century, the Church has affirmed that every procured abortion is a moral evil, a teaching that the Catechism of the Catholic Church declares "has not changed and remains unchangeable." [82]

The Church teaches that the inalienable right to life of every innocent human being is a constitutive element of a civil society and its legislation. In other words, it is beholden upon society to legally protect the life of the unborn. [83]

Catholic theologians trace Catholic thought on abortion to early Christian teachings such as the Didache, the Epistle of Barnabas and the Apocalypse of Peter. [20] In contrast, Catholic philosophers Daniel Dombrowski and Robert Deltete analyzed Church theological history and the "development of science" in A Brief, Liberal, Catholic Defense of Abortion to argue that a position in favor of abortion rights is "defensibly Catholic." [84]

Although the church hierarchy campaigns against abortion and its legalization in all circumstances, including threats to a woman's life or health and pregnancy from rape, many Catholics disagree with this position, according to several surveys of Western Catholic views.

United States Edit

A majority of U.S. Catholics hold views that differ from the official Church doctrine on abortion, though they also hold more anti-abortion stances than the general public. [85] According to a 1995 survey by Lake Research and Tarrance Group, 64% of U.S. Catholics say they disapprove of the statement that "abortion is morally wrong in every case". [86] According to a 2016 survey by Pew Research Center, 51% of U.S. Catholics say that "having an abortion is morally wrong." [87] Surveys conducted by a number of polling organizations indicate that between 16% and 22% of American Catholic voters agree with Church policy that abortion should be illegal in all cases the rest of the respondents held positions ranging from support for legal abortions in certain restricted circumstances to an unqualified acceptance of abortion in all cases. [6] [7] [8] [88] According to a 2009 survey by Pew Research Center, 47% of American Catholics believe that abortion should be legal in "all or most cases", while 42% of American Catholics believe that abortion should be illegal in "all or most cases". [10] When posed the binary question of whether abortion was acceptable or unacceptable, rather than a question of whether it should be allowed or not allowed in all or most cases, according to polls conducted in 2006-2008 by Gallup, 40% of American Catholics said it was acceptable, approximately the same percentage as non-Catholics. [11] According to the National Catholic Reporter, some 58% of American Catholic women feel that they do not have to follow the abortion teaching of their bishop. [89]

However, the results in the United States differ significantly when the polls distinguish between practicing and/or churchgoing Catholics and non-practicing Catholics. Those who attend church weekly are more likely to oppose abortion. [8] [10] [11] [12] According to a Marist College Institute for Public Opinion's survey released in 2008, 36% of practising Catholics, defined as those who attend church at least twice a month, consider themselves "pro-choice" while 65% of non-practicing Catholics considers themselves "pro-choice", [90] According to polls conducted in 2006-2008 by Gallup, 24% of practicing Catholics, defined in this poll as those who attend church "weekly or almost every week", believe abortion is morally acceptable. [11]

It is said that "Latino Catholics" in the United States are more likely to oppose abortion than "White Catholics". [12]

Some reasons for dissenting from the church's position on the legality of abortion, other than finding abortion morally acceptable, include "I am personally opposed to abortion, but I think the Church is concentrating its energies too much on abortion rather than on social action" [91] or "I do not wish to impose my views on others." [92] [93] [94] [95]

According to a poll conducted by Zogby International, 29% of Catholic voters choose their candidate based solely on the candidate's position on abortion most of these vote for anti-abortion candidates 44% believe a "good Catholic" cannot vote for a politician who supports abortion rights, while 53% believe one can. [6]

According to 2011 report from Public Religion Research Institute, 68% of American Catholics believe that one can still be a "good Catholic" while disagreeing with the church's position on abortion, approximately as many as members of other religious groups. [12] On this long-standing phenomenon of a number of Catholics disagreeing with the Church's official position on abortion, Pope John Paul II commented: "It is sometimes claimed that dissent from the Magisterium is totally compatible with being a "good Catholic" and poses no obstacle to the reception of the sacraments. This is a grave error." In what the Los Angeles Times called a key admonition, he added: "It has never been easy to accept the Gospel teaching in its entirety, and it never will be." [96] [97] Many, however, suggest that this is the problem, that some of the strongest anti-abortion advocates seem unconcerned about critical social issues in the complete spectrum of the Church's moral teaching. [98] US Cardinal Bernardin and Pope Francis have been prominent proponents of this "seamless garment" approach. [99] The US Bishops have called on Catholics to weigh all the threats to life and human dignity before placing their vote: [100] the tag "intrinsic evil" can lead to an over-simplification of issues. [101] In his column in the Jesuit magazine America, Professor John F. Kavanaugh, S.J., observed: [102]

Most people open to the facts recognize that a human life has begun by the end of the first trimester of a pregnancy. It is at this point that some common ground may be reached to protect unborn human life. There is political will at hand to ensure such protection but as long as the extreme positions hold sway, no action will be taken.

United Kingdom Edit

A 2010 poll indicated that one in fourteen British Catholics accept the Church's teaching that abortion should not be allowed in any circumstances. [9] A 2016 poll found that Catholics in Northern Ireland were far more conservative in their views of abortion than people in Britain. [103]

Poland Edit

In Poland, where 85% of the population is Catholic, [104] a Pew Research poll from 2017 found that 8% of Polish respondents believed abortion should be legal in all cases and 33% that it should be legal in most cases. On the other hand, 38% believed that it should be illegal in most cases and 13% that it should be illegal in all cases. [105]

Australia Edit

According to one survey, 72% of Australian Catholics say that the decision to have an abortion "should be left to individual women and their doctors." [106]

Italy Edit

According to the Italian polling organization Eurispes, between 18.6% and 83.2% of Italian Catholics believe abortion is acceptable, depending on the circumstance. The highest number, 83.2%, is in favor of the voluntary termination of pregnancy in case the mother's life is in danger. [107]

Belgium Edit

Prior to 1990, Belgium remained one of the few European countries where abortion was illegal. However, abortions were unofficially permitted (and even reimbursed out of 'sickness funds') as long as they were registered as "curettage". It was estimated that 20,000 abortions were performed each year (in comparison to 100,000 births). [108]

In early 1990, despite the opposition of the Christian parties, a coalition of the Socialist and Liberal parties passed a law to partially liberalize abortion law in Belgium. The Belgian bishops appealed to the population at large with a public statement that expounded their doctrinal and pastoral opposition to the law. They warned Belgian Catholics that anyone who co-operated "effectively and directly" in the procurement of abortions was "excluding themselves from the ecclesiastical community." Motivated by the strong stance of the Belgian bishops, King Baudoin notified the Prime Minister on March 30 that he could not sign the law without violating his conscience as a Catholic. [109] Since the legislation would not have the force of law without the king's signature, his refusal to sign threatened to precipitate a constitutional crisis. [110] However, the problem was resolved by an agreement between the king and Prime Minister Martens by which the Belgian government declared the king unable to govern, assumed his authority and enacted the law, after which Parliament then voted to reinstate the king on the next day. [108] [111] [112] [113] [114] [115] The Vatican described the king's action as a "noble and courageous choice" dictated by a "very strong moral conscience". [116] Others have suggested that Baudoin's action was "little more than a gesture", since he was reinstated as king just 44 hours after he was removed from power. [109]

Brazil Edit

In March 2009, Archbishop Jose Cardoso Sobrinho said that by securing the abortion of a nine-year-old girl who had been raped by her stepfather, her mother and the doctors involved were excommunicated latae sententiae. [117] [118] This statement of the Archbishop drew criticism not only from women's rights groups and the Brazilian government, but also from Archbishop Rino Fisichella, president of the Pontifical Academy for Life, who said it was unjust, [119] and other churchmen. In view of the interpretations that were placed upon Archbishop Fisichella's article, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith issued a clarification reiterating that "the Church's teaching on procured abortion has not changed, nor can it change." [120] The National Conference of Bishops of Brazil declared the Archbishop's statement mistaken, since in accordance with canon law, when she had acted under pressure and in order to save her daughter's life, the girl's mother certainly had not incurred automatic excommunication and there was insufficient evidence for declaring that any of the doctors involved had. [121]

England Edit

In September 2013, Archbishop Peter Smith, Vice-President of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of England and Wales, decried the decision of the Crown Prosecution Service not to proceed against two doctors who accepted a request to perform an abortion as a means of sex selection, a procedure that is illegal in Britain and that Archbishop Smith described as one expression of what he called the injustice that abortion is to the unwanted child. [122] [123]

India Edit

Mother Teresa opposed abortion, and in the talk she gave in Norway on being awarded the 1979 Nobel Prize for Peace, she called abortion "the greatest destroyer of peace today". [124] [125] She further asserted that, "Any country that accepts abortion is not teaching its people to love but to use violence to get what they want." [126] [127] [128] [129]

Ireland Edit

In October 2012, Savita Halappanavar died at University Hospital Galway in Ireland, after suffering a miscarriage which led to sepsis (blood poisoning), multiple organ failure, and her death. She was denied abortion under Irish law because the fetus had a heartbeat and nothing could therefore be done. A midwife explained to her, in a remark for which she later apologized: "This is a Catholic country." Widespread protests were subsequently held in Ireland and India, and there was a call to re-examine the Irish abortion laws. [130] [131] [132] [133] On 25 May 2018, the Irish electorate voted by a majority of 66.4% to repeal the 8th Amendment which banned abortion in almost all circumstances, thus allowing the government to legislate for abortion. An exit poll conducted by RTE suggested that almost 70% of those who voted yes considered themselves to be Catholic. New law created by the Irish Parliament allowed for abortion in the first twelve weeks of pregnancy (with an exception to the time limit if the woman's life is at risk). Abortion services commenced on 1 January 2019.

Italy Edit

Speaking to a group of anti-abortion activists from the Congress of the Movement for Life of Italy, Pope Francis called them Good Samaritans and encouraged them "to protect the most vulnerable people, who have the right to be born into life." He called children a gift, and emphasized the dignity of women. He said they were doing "important work in favor of life from conception until its natural end." [134]

Poland Edit

It is widely believed that the Catholic Church in Poland is the main source of opposition to the liberalization of abortion laws and the reintroduction of sex education in Polish schools in accordance with European standards. However, research studies have shown that Polish Catholics have a wide range of views on sex and marriage. Many Polish people, including devout Catholics, complain that the Catholic Church makes demands that very few Catholics want and are able to satisfy. [135]

Before the transition to democracy, Poland's government presided over some of the highest abortion rates in Europe, with approximately 1.5 million procedures done per year. Polling in 1991, coming after the collapse of the past communist regime in Poland, found that about 60% of Polish people supported nonrestrictive abortion laws. [136]

That being said, ultra-conservative groups remain prominent in Polish politics and often use notions of Polish-Catholic national identity to encourage factionalism and support an agenda that includes weakening democratic institutions like the judiciary and free press as well as supporting restrictions on reproductive decision-making. [137]

United States Edit

An advocacy organization called Catholics for Choice was founded in 1973 to support the availability of abortion, stating that this position is compatible with Catholic teachings particularly with "primacy of conscience" and the importance of the laity in shaping church law. [138] In October 1984, CFC (then Catholics for a Free Choice) placed an advertisement, signed by over one hundred prominent Catholics, including nuns, in the New York Times. The advertisement, called A Catholic Statement on Pluralism and Abortion contested claims by the Church hierarchy that all Catholics opposed abortion rights, and said that "direct abortion . can sometimes be a moral choice." The Vatican initiated disciplinary measures against some of the nuns who signed the statement, sparking controversy among American Catholics, and intra-Catholic conflict on the abortion issue remained news for at least two years in the United States. [139] Bishop Fabian Bruskewitz excommunicated Catholics in his jurisdiction who were associated with this organization in 1996, [140] and the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops stated in 2000 that "[CFC] is not a Catholic organization, does not speak for the Catholic Church, and in fact promotes positions contrary to the teaching of the Church as articulated by the Holy See and the USCCB." [141]

Position of the Church Edit

Catechism of the Catholic Church [83]

Since the Catholic Church views procured abortion as gravely wrong, it considers it a duty to reduce its acceptance by the public and in civil legislation. While it considers that Catholics should not favour direct abortion in any field, according to Frank K. Flinn, the Church recognizes that Catholics may accept compromises that, while permitting direct abortions, lessen their incidence by, for instance, restricting some forms or enacting remedies against the conditions that give rise to them. Flinn says that support may be given to a political platform that contains a clause in favour of abortion but also elements that will actually reduce the number of abortions, rather than to an anti-abortion platform that will lead to their increase. [142]

In 2004, Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, then Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, declared: "A Catholic would be guilty of formal cooperation in evil, and so unworthy to present himself for holy Communion, if he were to deliberately vote for a candidate precisely because of the candidate's permissive stand on abortion and/or euthanasia. When a Catholic does not share a candidate's stand in favor of abortion and/or euthanasia, but votes for that candidate for other reasons, it is considered remote material cooperation, which can be permitted in the presence of proportionate reasons." [143]

Church treatment of politicians who favor abortion rights Edit

Many controversies have arisen between the Church and Catholic politicians who support abortion rights. In most cases, Church officials have threatened to refuse communion to these politicians. In some cases, officials have stated that the politicians should refrain from receiving communion in others, the possibility of excommunication has been suggested. [144]

Some medical personnel, including many Catholics, have strong moral or religious objections to abortions and do not wish to perform or assist in abortions. [145] [146] The Catholic Church has argued that the "freedom of conscience" rights of such personnel should be legally protected. For example, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops supports such "freedom of conscience" legislation arguing that all healthcare providers should be free to provide care to patients without violating their "most deeply held moral and religious convictions." [147] [148] The Virginia Catholic Conference expressed support for pharmacists who consider that they cannot in conscience be on duty during a sale of emergency contraception, which they believe is the same as abortion. [149]

In response to such concerns, many states in the U.S. have enacted "freedom of conscience" laws that protect the right of medical personnel to refuse to participate in procedures such as abortion. [149] In 2008, towards the end of the second Bush administration, the U.S. federal government issued a new rule that ensured that healthcare workers would have the right to "refuse to participate in abortions, sterilizations or any federally funded health service or research activity on religious or ethical grounds." The new rule was welcomed by anti-abortion organizations including the Catholic Church however, abortion rights advocates criticized the new regulation arguing that it would "restrict access not only to abortion but also to contraception, infertility treatment, assisted suicide and stem-cell research." The incoming Obama administration proposed to rescind this rule. [150]

Attempts have been made to oblige Catholic hospitals to accept an obligation to perform emergency abortions in cases where the pregnant woman's life is at risk [151] however, hospitals that agree to perform abortions in contradiction to Church teaching may lose their official qualification as "Catholic". [152] [153] Church authorities have also admonished Catholic hospitals who, following medical standards, refer patients outside the hospital for abortion or contraception, or who perform tests for fetal deformity. [154]

One Catholic hospital devotes care to helping women who wish to stop an abortion after the process has begun. [155] [156]

In November 2009, when Sister Margaret McBride, as a member of the ethics board of a Catholic hospital, allowed doctors to perform an abortion to save the life of a mother suffering from pulmonary hypertension, Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted determined that she had incurred a latae sententiae excommunication, on the grounds that direct abortion cannot be justified. [157] [158] [159]

As of December 2011 [update] , the hospital stated that McBride had reconciled with the Church and is in good standing with her religious institute and the hospital. [160]

For the Love of Latin

Pages from "The New Roman Missal (In Latin and English)" by Rev. F. X. Lasance (Benziger Brothers, 1937)

When I saw the notice of this book’s publication, I did a double-take as I mistook the author’s surname for “Spadaro,” with a “d” rather than a “t”! Had the infamous Jesuit Antonio Spadaro had a conversion? Or, was this book going to be a hatchet job on both the extraordinary form of the Mass and the Latin language? I breathed a sigh of relief upon discovering my error: Father Spataro is the secretary of the Pontifical Academy for Latin. Whew!

Now, in the interests of full disclosure: First, I have taught Latin since I was a sophomore college seminarian and have had a love affair with the language since I first learned the altar boy’s parts of the Mass at the age of eight. Second, although I am not a committed aficionado of the so-called extraordinary form, I do celebrate it when asked to do so – and, further, I firmly believe that the so-called ordinary form of the Mass as we have it was not what the Fathers of the Second Vatican Council envisioned.

The work has a hefty introduction (24 pages) on the history of Latin and its “many-sided reality” by Patrick Owens, an accomplished Latinist who sat at the feet of the premier Latinist of our age, Father Reginald Foster. Owens does not merely sing the praises of the language, he also offers “causes of [its] diminishment” and highlights the negative influence of the self-declared Enlightenment. This section is a kind of “mini-version” of Nicholas Ostler’s Ad Infinitum: A Biography of Latin and alone is worth the price of the book.

The rest of the volume is a compilation of lectures by Father Spataro, originally delivered in Italian but presented here in a very fine translation. Thus, as one might expect, there is much repetition, which is in the very nature of such a work. One of the most irritating repetitions is the author’s almost incessant drum-beat either praising Pope Francis or calling him to his side as an ally for the Tridentine Mass and Latin. To be sure, Cardinal Bergoglio was exceedingly generous to the Society of St. Pius X in Buenos Aires – and continues to be such as Pope. However, Francis’ affability toward “traditionalists” in full communion with the Church has been noted in the breach more than in the observance. Need one mention his frequent dalliances with extremely problematic theological positions? Spataro refers approvingly to the “magisterium of the current pope” (38) and asserts that Francis “seems to stir up enthusiasm” (47) – amazingly said, in light of the fact that even the Vatican-released statistics show a massive downturn in those who show up for papal events over the past six years. At the same time, he can write:

Unfortunately in the past few years, with a rapidity that should raise serious questions and concern, the Church has become engrossed with issues of a sociological nature, all affecting more or less the Church’s moral teaching. Many dubious proposals have been made by pastors, even those who bear serious ecclesial responsibilities, that are frankly incompatible with the Gospel. (118f)

The “dubia cardinals” would know about “dubious proposals.” Who would come to mind as the principal actor in the scenario Spataro decries to any objective reader, other than Pope Francis? So, the constant paeans to Francis are certainly irritating and suggest no small degree of disingenuousness. Indeed, he “doth protest too much.”

Spataro does not use the official terminology of “extraordinary form” very often, preferring “Tridentine Mass” or “usus antiquior” (older usage) or “vetus ordo” (old order) quite happily, he does not call it “the traditional Mass,” which expression suggests that the ordinary form is not “traditional.” Indeed, every validly celebrated Mass is “traditional” by its very intent and execution.

Chapters 4 and 5 are the most helpful. Spataro informs us that there is an organized effort “to encourage the United Nations to declare the Latin and ancient Greek languages ‘an immaterial patrimony of humanity’” (63) – which was most welcome news to me. He explains that “if these languages are lost or neglected, everyone is culturally impoverished, which is equivalent to saying that the humanity of everyone is impoverished.” He goes on to ask what should be a rhetorical question: “Who could deny that the historical roots and the inexhaustible treasure of the common memory of Europe reside principally in the Greek and Latin civilizations?” (64). Wasn’t this one of the points constantly made by Pope John Paul II in the lead-up to the formation of the European Union, closely linked to his fundamental stress on the Christian roots of Europe – one studiously omitted from the foundational documents of the EU? Isn’t this likewise at the heart of the discussion about what the restored Notre Dame Cathedral ought to look like?

Our author brings forth another interesting factoid: “The earliest examples of Latin’s literary use, the extremely ancient carmina, were ritual texts” (66). Hence, a wonderful connection to the preservation of the language through the Sacred Liturgy. He cites with approval the position of Father Michael Lang that one reason that Latin is “sacred” is because “it is immutable” (67). Indeed, this was one of the arguments of Pope John XXIII in his 1961 “dead-on-arrival” apostolic constitution, Veterum Sapientia: “The Latin language is set and unchanging. It has long since ceased to be affected by those alterations in the meaning of words which are the normal result of daily, popular use.” Pressing for recourse to a “sacral” language, Spataro brings to his side the former secretary of the Congregation for Divine Worship, Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith, who notes that in Hinduism, Buddhism and Islam recourse is had to ancient forms of languages no longer in common use, concluding that “the use of a sacred language helps us to live the sense of the transcendent” (71). Or, as a charismatic Catholic replied to me when I asked why he prays in tongues, “It’s important for me to speak to God in a language in which I have never cursed another man.”

Under the rubric of “universality” or “supranationalism,” Father Spataro is both practical and academic. Thus we read that “Latin possesses the character of synchronic universality,” by which he means its accessibility across linguistic boundaries at the present moment. However, he notes that “this property derives from its diachronic universality.” He explains: “I mean to say that within and outside of the Church Latin has been employed for centuries as the lingua franca par excellence of educated persons and in contexts calling for a communication unfettered by national linguistic forms” (77). Quite a mouthful but very true nonetheless.

When the push for the vernacularization of the liturgy beyond the limits staked out by Sacrosanctum Concilium was in full swing, wags of the left snidely remarked that the great thing about Latin in the Mass was that “you could go anywhere in the world and not know what it means.” In the highly mobile world we currently inhabit, a universal language for prayer is more relevant than ever. Further, what are we to make of the balkanization of parish communities, some of which have five weekend Masses in four or five different languages – with the result that those distinct language groups become islands unto themselves and whereby common celebrations of the Sacred Liturgy is well-nigh impossible?

The nineteenth-century Jesuit sociologist, Luigi Taparelli, uttered what he thought a truism when he said, “a Church that embraces all peoples of the world needs a universal language.” He continued: “On the human level, the Church needs a universal language, unchanging and intellectual, that rescues her from a choice detrimental to her unity” (78). With the banishment of Latin from ecclesiastical academia, for instance, the pontifical universities in Rome effectively force students from around the globe to use Italian – a language they will be most unlikely ever to use once their studies are finished. When Latin was in place, all comers were at an equal advantage or disadvantage.

Our author seals his apologia for Latin by pointing out its beauty: “It is full of majesty and nobility. The Latin language is artistic” (84). Anticipating a “who cares” challenge, he raises the question himself: “Why did I bring up this property of the Latin language? Because the truth, to which the texts of the Magisterium intend to lead us and which they desire to demonstrate, is intrinsically tied to the mystery of beauty” (85). The theologian of beauty, Hans Urs von Balthasar, would declare without fear of contradiction:

We no longer dare to believe in beauty and we make of it a mere appearance in order the more easily to dispose of it. Our situation today shows that beauty demands for itself at least as much courage and decision as do truth and goodness, and she will not allow herself to be separated and banned from her two sisters without taking them along with herself in an act of mysterious vengeance. We can be sure that whoever sneers at her name as if she were the ornament of a bourgeois past – whether he admits it or not – can no longer pray and soon will no longer be able to love.

In the sixth chapter, we encounter the figure of Benedict XVI, whom Spataro dubs a “doctor of the Church,” in “anticipation,” as he says. His enthusiasm for Benedict as a liturgical reformer does not resonate with me. I would argue that as Joseph Ratzinger the theologian, he did more for “the reform of the reform.” While as pope, he showed by example how he thought Holy Mass ought to be celebrated, apart from the promulgation of Summorum Pontificum, he did nothing to enshrine his liturgical vision in law – although he had nearly seven years to do it.

Unlike some devotees of the Tridentine Mass, Spataro does not feel compelled to blame Vatican II for the liturgical mess we have endured for half a century. On the contrary, he observes: “Several practices and orientations that followed the liturgical reform after the Second Vatican Council – but not caused by the Council – have obeyed this anthropocentric logic” (94, emphasis added).

Taking up the vision of Pope Benedict, expressed in Summorum Pontificum, he writes:

. . . the Vetus Ordo is a schola liturgica that, when placed side by side with the Novus Ordo, becomes a sensitive educator that draws out all the positive potential contained in Paul VI’s Missal. In the same way, the Novus Ordo can improve the celebration of the Vetus Ordo by enriching it with some sensibilities typical to the ordinary form of the Roman rite. (94)

I should warn Father Spataro that when I expressed a similar hope to his second suggestion (see my January 31, 2017 CWR essay “How the ordinary form of the Mass can ‘enrich’ the extraordinary form”), I was roundly castigated on numerous “traditional” websites! While on this topic of what Benedict called “mutual enrichment,” it is worth reminding priests and liturgists that it is not within our province to do that “mutual enrichment,” which is to say that we cannot lawfully import rubrics from one rite to another. In other words, it would be just as wrong for a priest to insert multiple genuflections into the ordinary form of the Mass as it would for another priest to impose the contemporary lectionary on the extraordinary form of the Mass.

Under the heading of “the miserable failure of Christian initiation,” the author brings to our attention some shocking statistics of Italian ignorance of basic Catholic doctrine. Although Italians self-identifying as Catholic still make up the vast majority of the nation, we learn that a sociological study in 2014 revealed that “50% of the population cannot distinguish between Jesus and Moses and that 60% know almost none of the commandments besides the seventh, ‘Thou shalt not steal’”! (98). I suspect that even the United States would not be that bad.

He uses that datum to argue that if the extraordinary form of the liturgy were in place, things would be different. Calling the Tridentine Mass “a catechism for our times,” so as to suggest that it would or could provide a full catechesis, is naive at best. One need only look to the abysmal state of Catholicism in Latin America where, for five centuries, the Tridentine Mass was in full force to behold the phenomenon of a people who, for the most part, were “sacramentalized” but poorly evangelized and catechized. Hence, the prevalent superstitions making them ready prey for the incursions of the fundamentalist sects. And now the promoters of the upcoming Amazon Synod want to spread the ignorance by having an equally ignorant priesthood, drawn from so-called “viri probati” who will never attend a seminary! Historically, many of the Eastern churches claimed that the liturgy taught the Faith, tout court. However, having been a pastor of a Byzantine parish, I can assure all that, although the liturgy is a locus theologicus, it is not a replacement for a full, all-encompassing catechesis. That is why the Fathers of Trent taught that the first responsibility of a priest was not celebration of the rites of the Church but preaching and teaching.

Spataro correctly comments that secular journalism is “sadly the only source from which the ordinary Catholic receives news about the Church” (103). Again, this is not a failure of liturgy it is a failure of catechesis.

The many fine points of the work are marred by several errors or over-statements, usually made apodictically, which might cause one to respond, “Quod gratis asseritur, gratis negatur” (for those not attuned to the lingua franca, “What is asserted gratuitously may be denied gratuitously”). So, for a few examples:

• “. . . it is an objective fact that the lay faithful who love the Tridentine Mass find, in a most evident way, abundant spiritual resources for being faithful spouses, fertile parents, responsible educators, honest citizens, obedient believers, charitable neighbors, and penitents who confess frequently” (31f). Says who? Whence comes the “objective fact”? Having heard the confessions of such persons for years, the only difference I find in the confessions of ordinary form Catholics and extraordinary form Catholics is the frequency of their confessions.

• “The Tridentine Mass ensures that the priest recites beautiful prayers as he vests, before leaving the sacristy and when standing before the altar. He enters a dimension of time where there is no more reason to move hastily” (33f). If that were so, one would have to ask why St. Alphonsus Liguori had to list offering Mass in less than fifteen minutes within his catalogue of mortal sins.

• “Pope Leo XIII ordered [the Archangel Michael] to be invoked at the end of every Mass” (35). Not true. The “Leonine Prayers” are recited only after a Low Mass.

• He regrets the elimination of the Indulgentiam prayer as part of the Penitential Act, perhaps unaware that one reason given for its deletion was a concern that not a few of the faithful had come to see it as absolution for all sins, not just venial sins. Spataro then makes a quantum leap by suggesting that Pope Francis would be a supporter of that prayer since he “has repeatedly told us that God is good, indulgent, merciful!” (41). Ugh!

• He rightly condemns the “chatty Cathy” type of celebrant who makes comments throughout the Mass (42). However, he does not seem to know that with the Roman Missal of 2002, the possibilities to proclaim something “in these or similar words” are eliminated. Of course, that does not mean celebrants don’t still do it, unfortunately. At the same time, Spataro likewise does not seem to know that the Council of Trent actually encouraged priests to offer a running commentary throughout the Mass as a means of liturgical catechesis. Thankfully, that never really took off – at least not until the post-Vatican II era.

• Very helpfully, he makes a statement from which “Rad-Trads” would recoil: “I don’t intend to affirm that the Vetus Ordo Missae has an exclusive claim on grace and that the ordinary form is not an abundant dispenser of it” (46). However, he goes on to contend that the ordinary form “interprets participatio actuosa in terms of a plurality of gestures, and thus expresses in its ritual a certain human agency.” Where does that come from? What document? What rubric? In point of fact, numerous statements of the Holy See categorically reject such an interpretation regrettably, praxis may deviate from theology and law, but that is a problem of enforcement.

• Oddly, he defends the recitation of the Rosary during Mass (56) and apparently thinks that the corporal is no longer required in the ordinary form (57).

• Carelessly, he credits the writing of the Vulgate to St. Jerome (68) when, as we know, Jerome was its translator.

This very slim volume has much to offer. However, I think Father Spataro has done the cause some injustice by linking too closely the Tridentine Mass and the Latin tongue. What I mean is this: There are supporters of the Tridentine Mass who want it celebrated in the vernacular, while there are devotees of Latin who do not desire the Tridentine Mass and prefer a Latin Mass in the ordinary form. A case can be made for both the Tridentine Mass and Latin, without making an unnecessary and artificial joinder of the two.

Very early on in John Paul’s pontificate, he issued his apostolic letter, Dominicae Cenae (it, too, was a DOA document, sadly). However, in a succinct sentence, he sums up what I believe lies at the heart of the work under consideration: “The Roman Church has special obligations towards Latin, the splendid language of ancient Rome, and she must manifest them whenever the occasion presents itself” (n. 10).

In Praise of the Tridentine Mass and of Latin, Language of the Church
By Fr. Roberto Spataro
Translated by Zachary Thomas
Foreword by Raymond Cardinal Burke
Introduction by Patrick M. Owens
Angelico Press, 2019
Paperback, 123 pages

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Popeye's story and characterization vary depending on the medium. Originally, Popeye got "luck" from rubbing the head of the Whiffle Hen by 1932, he was instead getting "strength" from eating spinach. [58] Swee'Pea is Popeye's ward in the comic strips, but he is often depicted as belonging to Olive Oyl in cartoons.

There is no absolute sense of continuity in the stories, although certain plot and presentation elements remain mostly constant, including purposeful contradictions in Popeye's capabilities. Popeye seems bereft of manners and uneducated, yet he often comes up with solutions to problems that seem insurmountable to the police or the scientific community. He has displayed Sherlock Holmes-like investigative prowess, scientific ingenuity, and successful diplomatic arguments. In the animated cartoons his pipe also proves to be highly versatile. Among other things, it has served as a cutting torch, jet engine, propeller, periscope, musical instrument, and a whistle with which he produces his trademark toot. He also eats spinach through his pipe, sometimes sucking in the can along with the contents. Since the 1970s, Popeye is seldom depicted using his pipe to smoke tobacco. [52]

Popeye's exploits are also enhanced by a few recurring plot elements. One is the love triangle among Popeye, Olive, and Bluto, and Bluto's endless machinations to claim Olive at Popeye's expense. Another is his near-saintly perseverance in overcoming any obstacle to please Olive, who often (if temporarily) renounces Popeye for Bluto.

Thimble Theatre was cartoonist Segar's third published strip when it first appeared in the New York Journal on December 19, 1919. The paper's owner, William Randolph Hearst, also owned King Features Syndicate, which syndicated the strip. Thimble Theatre was intended as a replacement for Midget Movies by Ed Wheelan (Wheelan having recently resigned from King Features). [59] It did not attract a large audience at first, and at the end of its first decade appeared in only half a dozen newspapers.

In its early years, the strip featured characters acting out various stories and scenarios in theatrical style (hence the strip's name). It could be classified as a gag-a-day comic in those days. [59]

Thimble Theatre's first main characters were the thin Olive Oyl and her boyfriend Harold Hamgravy. After the strip moved away from its initial focus, it settled into a comedy-adventure style featuring Olive, Hamgravy, and Olive's enterprising brother Castor Oyl. Olive's parents Cole and Nana Oyl also made frequent appearances. [51]

Popeye first appeared in the strip on January 17, 1929, as a minor character. He was initially hired by Castor Oyl and Ham to crew a ship for a voyage to Dice Island, the location of a casino owned by the crooked gambler Fadewell. Castor intended to break the bank at the casino using the unbeatable good luck conferred by stroking the hairs on the head of Bernice the Whiffle Hen. [60] Weeks later, on the trip back, Popeye was shot many times by Jack Snork, a stooge of Fadewell's, but survived by rubbing Bernice's head. After the adventure, Popeye left the strip, but, owing to reader reaction, he was quickly brought back. [52] [59]

The Popeye character became so popular that he was given a larger role, and the strip was taken up by many more newspapers as a result. Initial strips presented Olive as being less than impressed with Popeye, but she eventually left Hamgravy to become Popeye's girlfriend and Hamgravy left the strip as a regular. Over the years, however, she has often displayed a fickle attitude towards the sailor. Castor Oyl continued to come up with get-rich-quick schemes and enlisted Popeye in his misadventures. Eventually, he settled down as a detective and later on bought a ranch out west. Castor has seldom appeared in recent years. [ citation needed ]

In 1933, Popeye received a foundling baby in the mail whom he adopted and named Swee'Pea. Other regular characters in the strip were J. Wellington Wimpy, a hamburger-loving moocher who would "gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today" (he was also soft-spoken and cowardly Vickers Wellington bombers were nicknamed "Wimpys" after the character) George W. Geezil, a local cobbler who spoke in a heavily affected accent and habitually attempted to murder or wish death upon Wimpy and Eugene the Jeep, a yellow, vaguely doglike animal from Africa with magical powers. In addition, the strip featured the Sea Hag, a terrible pirate, as well as the last witch on Earth—her even more terrible sister excepted Alice the Goon, a monstrous creature who entered the strip as the Sea Hag's henchwoman and continued as Swee'Pea's babysitter and Toar, a caveman. [53] [51]

Segar's strip was quite different from the cartoons that followed. The stories were more complex, with many characters that never appeared in the cartoons (King Blozo, for example). Spinach usage was rare and Bluto made only one appearance. Segar signed some of his early Popeye comic strips with a cigar, his last name being a homophone of "cigar" (pronounced SEE-gar). Comics historian Brian Walker stated: "Segar offered up a masterful blend of comedy, fantasy, satire and suspense in Thimble Theater Starring Popeye". [53]

Thimble Theatre became one of King Features' most popular strips during the 1930s. A poll of adult comic strip readers in the April 1937 issue of Fortune magazine voted Popeye their second-favorite comic strip (after Little Orphan Annie). [53] By 1938, Thimble Theatre was running in 500 newspapers, and over 600 licensed "Popeye" products were on sale. [53] The success of the strip meant Segar was earning $100,000 a year at the time of his death. [53] Following an eventual name change to Popeye in the 1970s, the comic remains one of the longest-running strips in syndication today. After Mussolini came to power in Italy, he banned all American comic strips, but Popeye was so popular the Italians made him bring it back. [ citation needed ] The strip continued after Segar's death in 1938 a series of artists performed the work. In the 1950s, a spinoff strip, Popeye the Sailorman, was established.

Toppers Edit

Thimble Theatre had a number of topper strips on the Sunday page during its run the main topper, Sappo, ran for 21 years, from February 28, 1926, to May 18, 1947. (Sappo was a revival of an earlier Segar daily strip called The Five-Fifteen, aka Sappo the Commuter, which ran from February 9, 1921, to February 17, 1925.) For seven weeks in 1936, Segar replaced Sappo with Pete and Pansy -- For Kids Only (Sept 27 - Nov 8, 1936). [61]

There were also a series of topper panel strips that ran next to Sappo Segar drew one of them, Popeye's Cartoon Club (April 8, 1934 - May 5, 1935). The rest were produced by Joe Musial and Bud Sagendorf: Wiggle Line Movie (Sept 11 - Nov 13, 1938), Wimpy's Zoo's Who (Nov 20, 1938 - Dec 1, 1940), Play-Store (Dec 8, 1940 - July 18, 1943), Popeye's Army and Navy (July 25-Sept 12, 1943), Pinup Jeep (Sept 19, 1943 - April 2, 1944), and Me Life by Popeye (April 9, 1944-?). [61]

Artists after Segar Edit

After Segar's death in 1938, many different artists were hired to draw the strip. Tom Sims, the son of a Coosa River channel-boat captain, continued writing Thimble Theatre strips and established the Popeye the Sailorman spin-off. Doc Winner and Bela Zaboly, [62] successively, handled the artwork during Sims's run. Eventually, Ralph Stein stepped in to write the strip until the series was taken over by Bud Sagendorf in 1959.

Sagendorf wrote and drew the daily strip until 1986, and continued to write and draw the Sunday strip until his death in 1994. [61] Sagendorf, who had been Segar's assistant, made a definite effort to retain much of Segar's classic style, although his art is instantly discernible. Sagendorf continued to use many obscure characters from the Segar years, especially O. G. Wotasnozzle and King Blozo. Sagendorf's new characters, such as the Thung, also had a very Segar-like quality. [63] What set Sagendorf apart from Segar more than anything else was his sense of pacing. Where plotlines moved very quickly with Segar, it sometimes took an entire week of Sagendorf's daily strips for the plot to be advanced even a small amount.

From 1986 to 1992, the daily strip was written and drawn by Bobby London, who, after some controversy, was fired from the strip for a story that could be taken to satirize abortion. [64] London's strips put Popeye and his friends in updated situations, but kept the spirit of Segar's original. One classic storyline, titled "The Return of Bluto", showed the sailor battling every version of the bearded bully from the comic strip, comic books, and animated films. The Sunday edition of the comic strip is currently drawn by Hy Eisman, who took over in 1994. The daily strip began featuring reruns of Sagendorf's strips after London was fired and continues to do so today.

On January 1, 2009, 70 years since the death of his creator, Segar's character of Popeye (though not the various films, TV shows, theme music and other media based on him) became public domain [65] in most countries, but remains under copyright in the US. Because Segar was an employee of King Features Syndicate when he created the Popeye character for the company's Thimble Theatre strip, Popeye is treated as a work for hire under US copyright law. Works for hire are protected for 95 years from publication or 120 years from creation, whichever is shorter. Since Popeye made his first appearance in January 1929, and all US copyrights expire on December 31 of the year that the term ends, Popeye will enter the public domain in the US on January 1, 2025, assuming no amendments to US copyright law before that date. [66]

Reprints Edit

  • Popeye the Sailor, Nostalgia Press, 1971, reprints three daily stories from 1936.
  • Thimble Theatre, Hyperion Press, 1977, ISBN0-88355-663-4, reprints daily from September 10, 1928, missing 11 dailies which are included in the Fantagraphics reprints.
  • Popeye: The First Fifty Years by Bud Sagendorf, Workman Publishing, 1979 0-89480-066-3, the only Popeye reprint in full color.
  • The Complete E. C. Segar Popeye, Fantagraphics, 1980s, reprints all Segar Sundays featuring Popeye in four volumes, all Segar dailies featuring Popeye in seven volumes, missing four dailies which are included in the Hyperion reprint, November 20–22, 1928, August 22, 1929.
  • Popeye: The 60th Anniversary Collection, Hawk Books Limited, 1989, 0-948248-86-6 featuring reprints, a selection of strips, and stories from the first newspaper strip in 1929 onwards, along with articles on Popeye in comics, books, collectables, etc.
  • E. C. Segar's Popeye, between 2006 and 2011, Fantagraphics Books published six oversized hardcover volumes, reprinting all dailies and Sundays (in color, along with Sappo) featuring Popeye, plus various extras.
    • Vol. 1: I Yam What I Yam – covers 1928–30 (November 22, 2006, 978-1-56097-779-7)
    • Vol. 2: Well Blow Me Down! – covers 1930–32 (December 19, 2007, 978-1-56097-874-9)
    • Vol. 3: Let's You and Him Fight! – covers 1932–33 (November 15, 2008, 978-1-56097-962-3)
    • Vol. 4: Plunder Island – covers 1933–35 (December 22, 2009, 978-1-60699-169-5)
    • Vol. 5: Wha's a Jeep – covers 1935–37 (March 21, 2011, 978-1-60699-404-7)
    • Vol. 6: Me Li'l Swee'Pea – covers 1937–38 (November 15, 2011, 978-1-60699-483-2)

    There have been a number of Popeye comic books, from Dell, King Comics, Gold Key Comics, Charlton Comics and others, originally written and illustrated by Bud Sagendorf. In the Dell comics, Popeye became something of a crimefighter, thwarting evil organizations and Bluto's criminal activities. The new villains included the numerous Misermite dwarfs, who were all identical.

    Popeye appeared in the British TV Comic becoming the cover story in 1960 with stories written and drawn by "Chick" Henderson. Bluto was referred to as Brutus and was Popeye's only nemesis throughout the entire run.

    A variety of artists have created Popeye comic book stories since then for example, George Wildman drew Popeye stories for Charlton Comics from 1969 until the late 1970s. The Gold Key series was illustrated by Wildman and scripted by Bill Pearson, with some issues written by Nick Cuti.

    In 1988, Ocean Comics released the Popeye Special written by Ron Fortier with art by Ben Dunn. The story presented Popeye's origin story, including his given name of "Ugly Kidd" [67] and attempted to tell more of a lighthearted adventure story as opposed to using typical comic strip style humor. The story also featured a more realistic art style and was edited by Bill Pearson, who also lettered and inked the story as well as the front cover. [68] A second issue, by the same creative team, followed in 1988. The second issue introduced the idea that Bluto and Brutus were actually twin brothers and not the same person, [69] an idea also used in the comic strip on December 28, 2008, and April 5, 2009. [70] [71] In 1999, to celebrate Popeye's 70th anniversary, Ocean Comics revisited the franchise with a one-shot comic book, titled The Wedding of Popeye and Olive Oyl, written by Peter David. The comic book brought together a large portion of the casts of both the comic strip and the animated shorts, and Popeye and Olive Oyl were finally wed after decades of courtship. However, this marriage has not been reflected in all media since the comic was published.

    In 1989, a special series of short Popeye comic books were included in specially marked boxes of Instant Quaker Oatmeal, and Popeye also appeared in three TV commercials for Quaker Oatmeal, [72] which featured a parrot delivering the tag line "Popeye wants a Quaker!" The plots were similar to those of the films: Popeye loses either Olive Oyl or Swee'Pea to a musclebound antagonist, eats something invigorating, and proceeds to save the day. In this case, however, the invigorating elixir was not his usual spinach, but rather one of four flavors of Quaker Oatmeal [72] (a different flavor was showcased with each mini-comic). The comics ended with the sailor saying, "I'm Popeye the Quaker Man!", which offended members of the Religious Society of Friends or Quakers. [73] Members of this religious group (which has no connection to the cereal company) are pacifists and do not believe in using violence to resolve conflicts. For Popeye to call himself a "Quaker man" after beating up someone was offensive to the Quakers and considered a misrepresentation of their faith and religious beliefs. [73] In addition, the submissiveness of Olive Oyl went against the Quakers' emphasis on women's rights. The Quaker Oatmeal company apologized and removed the "Popeye the Quaker Man" reference from commercials and future comic book printings. [73]

    In 2012, writer Roger Langridge teamed with cartoonists Bruce Ozella, Ken Wheaton, and Tom Neely (among others) to revive the spirit of Segar in IDW's 12-issue comic book miniseries, Popeye, Critic PS Hayes reviewed:

    Langridge writes a story with a lot of dialogue (compared to your average comic book) and it's all necessary, funny, and entertaining. Bruce Ozella draws the perfect Popeye. Not only Popeye, but Popeye's whole world. Everything looks like it should, cartoony and goofy. Plus, he brings an unusual amount of detail to something that doesn't really need it. You'll swear that you're looking at an old Whitman Comics issue of Popeye, only it's better. Ozella is a great storyteller and even though the issue is jam packed with dialog, the panels never look cramped at all. [74]

    In late 2012, IDW began reprinting the original 1940s–1950s Sagendorf Popeye comic books under the title of Classic Popeye.

    In January 2019, in celebration of its 90 years of character, King Feature Syndicate launched the webcomic Popeye's Cartoon Club. In a series of Sundays-format comics, a wide assortment of artists depicted the characters in their own styles in one comic each, including Alex Hallatt, Erica Henderson, Tom Neely, Roger Langridge, Larry deSouza, Robert Sikoryak, Jeffrey Brown, Jim Engel, Liniers, Jay Fosgitt, Carol Lay, and Randy Milholland. [75] At the end of the year, Milholland's Cartoon Club comic was declared the number one comic of the year on King Features' website, Comics Kingdom. [76] From February through April 2020, Cartoon Club ran an additional five comics by Milholland. [77] [78] [79] [80] [81]

    From May 28 through July 6, 2020, Popeye's Cartoon Club ran daily comics from Randy Milholland, [82] making Milholland the first person to write a daily-update Popeye comic for King Features since 1994.

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